In August 1944, over 500 male prisoners from Neuengamme concentration camp were taken to the Kaltenkirchen satellite camp in goods cars belonging to the AKN (Altona–Kaltenkirchen–Neumünster railway company). They were housed in an existing camp of huts set up for the Luftwaffe in Nützen in the district of Springhirsch. The prisoners were forced to extend an airfield runway for a new air force jet fighter. The number of prisoners at the camp varied as those “unable to work” were continually exchanged for other prisoners from Neuengamme main camp.
The malnourished prisoners were eventually forced to carry out 11 hours of hard physical labour every day, which caused the number of deaths to rise. 214 prisoners who died are known by name, but according to survivors there were well over 500 deaths. The exact number of deaths cannot be determined because prisoners taken back to Neuengamme main camp were continually replaced.
On 17 April 1945, the SS evacuated the satellite camp and the prisoners were crammed into goods cars and transported to the Wöbbelin “reception camp” near Ludwigslust.
The first commander of the camp was SS-Hauptsturmführer Otto Freyer, followed by SS-Hauptsturmführer Bernhard Waldmann. Both men had been assigned to concentration camp duty by the Wehrmacht. Around 85 Luftwaffe soldiers worked as guards, and two or three SS-Unterführer reported to the camp commander.
August 1944 to 17 April 1945
500 Male Prisoners
Expansion of a military airfield
Camp cemetery: “Gräberstätte für Kriegsgefangene und KZ-Opfer” on Landesstraße 210 (B-road), around 3.5 km from the centre of Kaltenkirchen.
Concentration camp memorial: On the site of the former camp in the Springhirsch district of the Nützen municipality, directly on Bundesstraße 4 (A-road) between Quickborn and Bad Bramstedt.
After the war, the camp huts were used to house refugees. All of the buildings were torn down in the early 1970s. The “Moorkaten Gravesite for POWs and Concentration Camp Prisoners” (“Gräberstätte für Kriegsgefangene und KZ-Opfer Moorkaten”) is in a secluded spot in the army training grounds in Kaltenkirchen. The Kaltenkirchen town council decided in 1977 to mark the location in a more appropriate way, and one year later the gravesite opened in its current form. This was made possible largely through the work of two international youth camps of the German War Graves Commission.
Gerhard Hoch published information on the history of the satellite camp as early as 1979, but it was not until the mid-1990s that the first remains of the camp buildings were uncovered. After extensive excavations, a local initiative established a memorial at the site in 2000. Two years later, this was supplemented by a permanent exhibition housed in a container building. Memorial stones designed by sculptor Ingo Warnke addressing various aspects of concentration camp life can also be found on the site. A revolving stone cylinder marks the location of the former parade ground.
The Kaltenkirchen Concentration Camp Memorial, which has continually expanded since it was first founded, is sponsored by an association whose members include numerous individuals from the Segeberg district along with towns and communities from the region, church congregations and schools.
The memorial is accessible at all times. The document building is open on Sundays and holidays from spring until autumn, 11:00 AM–5:00 PM.