In 1944, two satellite camps of Neuengamme concentration camp were set up in Beendorf near Helmstedt, one for men and one for women. Some of the male and female prisoners were housed on different floors of the same building. Both satellite camps were managed by the SS as “A III” camps. They were used for the underground relocation of the armaments production facilities of Askania Werke AG and the Hakenfelde GmbH aeronautical equipment plant on behalf of the Jägerstab (“Fighter Staff”) of the Ministry of Armaments and War Production. The Jägerstab had been established by the Ministry of Armaments and War Production in March 1944 under the leadership of SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Kammler, an architect, to coordinate the relocation of production facilities critical to the war effort in order to protect them from bomb attacks. SS-Obersturmführer Gerhard Poppenhagen was the commander of both the men’s and women’s satellite camps. The camps were guarded by members of the air force.
The first prisoners arrived in Beendorf on 17 March 1944. The men were used to excavate underground production halls in two neighbouring salt mines, “Marie” (Beendorf) and “Bartensleben” (Morsleben). Important equipment for manufacturing air force munitions was moved to the two tunnels, and the secret projects were given the code names “Bulldogge” and “Iltis”. The hard physical labour and terrible working conditions in the shafts damaged the prisoners’ eyes and lungs in particular. According to a report from 29 March 1945 by Dr. Trzebinski, the SS Garrison Physician at Neuengamme concentration camp, there were 749 male prisoners in Beendorf on 25 March 1945. However, it is likely that the Beendorf camp had a much larger number of prisoners throughout its existence since prisoners who were “unable to work” were replaced with new prisoners.
On 10 April 1945, both camps were evacuated, and the women and men were loaded onto goods cars and taken via Magdeburg, Stendal und Wittenberge to the Wöbbelin “reception camp”, which they reached on 16 April. The survivors were liberated by American troops two weeks later.
17 March 1944 to 10 April 1945
750 Male Prisoners
Construction work for moving production underground
SS Führungsstab A III, Askania Werke AG, Hakenfelde GmbH
KZ-Gedenkstätte Beendorf (im Keller der Bernhard-Becker-Grundschule)
At the Beendorf Cemetery there is a mass grave which holds around 100 concentration camp prisoners. In 1995, a memorial stone with explanatory text was placed next to an older stone inscribed with “FIR” (Fédération Internationale de Résistants).
In the 1960s, a monument to the victims of the Helmstedt-Beendorf satellite camp was dedicated in the centre of the village. Since Beendorf was in the restricted area of the GDR border, the site of the former camp was inaccessible until 1989.
At the initiative of the headmaster of the Beendorf school, an exhibition space was set up in the school in 1971. Since 1996, this space has held a concentration camp memorial with a provisional exhibition on the history of the satellite camp sponsored by the community of Beendorf.
Tel.: +49 (0) 39050 – 2 23 9
Tel.: +49 (0) 39050 – 2 23 5