The Watenstedt/Leinde satellite camp of Neuengamme concentration camp was established in May 1944 to house concentration camp prisoners forced to work in the Braunschweig steel works. The camp was located about two kilometres from the plant. The prisoners were housed in a camp of huts which had previously been used to hold forced labourers. The SS deployed a work detail from the Salzgitter-Drütte satellite camp to convert the camp and surround it with an electric fence. The camp was then occupied by around 2,000 male prisoners. Another camp section was set up in July 1944 to house around 800 female concentration camp prisoners.
The Braunschweig steel works were an independent company which had been founded in 1940 by the industrial conglomerate known as the “Reichswerke Hermann Göring” in cooperation with the Wehrmacht High Command. This modern, high-performance factory was used primarily to produce ammunition to be dropped or fired for the Wehrmacht. Between 1944 and 1945, the prisoners were forced to carry out heavy physical labour in Halls 16 and 17. In the final months of the war, the camp was turned into a “reception camp" for the surrounding satellite camps. At the end of 1944, the Braunschweig-Schillstraße (Büssing-NAG) and Braunschweig (SS Riding School) satellite camps transferred prisoners who were “unable to work” to the Watenstedt/Leinde camp. When the satellite camp was evacuated in the spring of 1945, other prisoners who had been forced to work in the surrounding area were taken to Watenstedt/Leinde. When the SS began evacuating the camp on 7 April 1945, it held over 5,000 prisoners. The men were loaded into goods cars together with the female prisoners from the Watenstedt/Leinde satellite camp and transported on two or three trains. The trains with the completely overcrowded goods cars, some of which were not enclosed, drove for days through north-eastern Germany before finally arriving at the Ravensbrück concentration camp on 14 April. Many prisoners did not survive the transport, while others were severely weakened by the time they reached Ravensbrück. Nonetheless, the prisoners who were “able to march” were forced to walk west a few days later. Some of them reached the Wöbbelin "reception camp", where they were liberated by American troops on 2 May, while others were liberated near Malchow.
The camp commander was SS-Scharführer Peter Wiehagen.
May 1944 to 7 April 1945
2000, gegen Kriegsende bis zu 5000
Artillery shell production
Braunschweig steel works
On A-road (Bundesstraße) 248 from Braunschweig in the direction of Salzgitter-Bad, between the towns of Immendorf and Leinde, level with the Friedrich company, 38239 Salzgitter, Germany.
Directions by public transportation: From the Salzgitter-Lebenstedt railway station, take bus 630 in the direction of Wolfenbüttel to the “Abzweigung Leinde/B 248” stop.
On A-road (Bundesstraße) 248, there is a stele with an inscription which was erected in 1991 by the Salzgitter city council at the initiative of the French Amicale de Neuengamme. Plaques on a nearby wall provide information about the Watenstedt/Leinde satellite camp in several languages.