On 25 September 1944, 1,500 male prisoners were transported from Neuengamme concentration camp to Schwesing near Husum. On the following day, the men arrived at an empty camp of huts located on the embankment of what was then the railway line between Flensburg and Husum. The camp was designed to hold just 400 people and had been established for the Reich Labour Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst). The camp is also known by the name “Engelsburg”, the part of Schwesing in which it was located.
The prisoners were used to construct the so-called “Friesenwall”, a series of fortifications designed to defend against a feared Allied landing on the North Sea coast. This work was commissioned by the Reich Defence Commissar (Reichsverteidigungskommissar) in Military District X (Wehrkreis X). Each day, the men had to perform ten to twelve hours of hard labour. In October 1944, a second transport with 1,000 prisoners arrived at the camp, bringing the total number of prisoners forced to live in the completely overcrowded huts to over 2,500. This overcrowding led to mass deaths. The exact number of deaths at the Schwesing camp is not known; only 297 prisoner deaths were registered.
The Schwesing camp was probably disbanded because the Wehrmacht High Command abandoned the construction of the “Friesenwall” when the military situation changed. On 29 December 1944, the SS took the prisoners back to the main camp at Neuengamme.
The commander of the Schwesing camp was SS-Untersturmführer Hans Hermann Griem. His deputy was SS-Oberscharführer Emanuel Eichler.
26 September 1944 to 29 December 1944
2500 Male Prisoners
Construction of fortifications and anti-tank ditches ("Friesenwall" project)
Reich Defence Commissar in Military District X
From Husum city centre, take Bundesstraße 200 (A-road) in the direction of Flensburg, after about 4 km turn right towards Schwesing (street sign: “Gedenkstätte”), after 100 metres there will be a car park on the right with information boards.
Following a decision by the Nordfriesland district council, an artistic memorial was dedicated on 27 November 1987. The memorial was initiated by survivors of the camp and the “Working Group for Researching North Frisian Concentration Camps” (Arbeitsgruppe zur Erforschung der nordfriesischen Konzentrationslager), which had campaigned since the early 1980s for a memorial and whose efforts led to public debates on the issue.
The grounds of the former camp, which contain numerous scattered traces of the camp buildings, were placed under a preservation order in October 1995. In 1998 a multi-lingual plaque was installed, and in 2000 the cobblestone camp street was excavated. The memorial was completed in 2002 with the erection of steles for each of the 297 prisoners known by name who died at the camp.
In April 2017 a permanent exhibition was opened.
(postal adress:) Kreis Nordfriesland, Fachdienst Kultur
Schloss vor Husum
Tel.: +49 (0) 4841 – 8 97 30
Information leaflets and audioguides available in German, English, Danish, French, Dutch, Polish.