Steinöl GmbH was founded in 1943 as a subsidiary of the German Asphalt Group. Prisoners of various nationalities from the Neuengamme concentration camp were forced to set up an experimental factory for the company around four kilometres outside of Schandelah. The goal was to extract, process and sell combined petroleum. Starting in May 1944, a prisoner work detail continuously quarried oil shale in an open-cast mine. A second, larger group of around 100 prisoners laid railway tracks in the factory grounds and built a railway siding leading to the Schandelah train station. The prisoners called this dreaded work detail the “Staatsbahn”. Other commandos carried out excavation and concrete work, and some prisoners also worked in a chalk and cement factory.
The camp commander was SS-Unterscharführer Friedrich Ebsen, who was sentenced to death by a British military tribunal after the war for his crimes in the camp.
In early April, evacuation transports from the Porta Westfalica camps reached Schandelah, bringing the total number of prisoners to around 1,300. On 10 April, all of the prisoners were taken in goods cars via Magdeburg, Stendal and Wittenberge to the Wöbbelin “reception camp” near Ludwigslust. The train arrived there on 13 April, but the prisoners had to spend another two days in the cars before they finally entered the camp, which was already overcrowded and lacking food and supplies. According to accounts from former prisoners, at least 200 prisoners from the Schandelah satellite camp did not survive their imprisonment. The survivors were liberated by American troops on 2 May.
The first camp commander was SS-Oberscharführer Ewald Jauch, who was followed by SS-Unterscharführer Friedrich Ebsen. The latter was sentenced to death by a British military tribunal after the war for his crimes in the camp.
8 May 1944 to 10 April 1945
782 Male Prisoners
Extracting and processing oil shale
Memorial stone at site of former camp: at the western entrance to the Schandelah-Wohld housing estate, north of B-road (Landesstraße) 633 between Hordorf and Scheppau.
Scheppau community cemetery: on B-road (Landesstraße) 633 between Hordorf and Scheppau, around 300 metres outside of Scheppau, east of B-road 633, 38154 Königslutter, Germany.
Directions by public transportation: On school days, take bus 45 from Braunschweig to the “Schandelah-Wohld” stop.
In 1982 on Repentance Day (a Protestant holiday in November), the “Grüne Bürgerliste”, a local Green party, erected a wooden cross in the grounds of the former camp, a site which now belongs to the German Army. Following protests from the residents of the Schandelah-Wohld housing estate, it was removed again on the order of the road construction office. After persistent efforts by the "Grüne Bürgerliste” and the Belgian Amicale de Neuengamme, a memorial stone was dedicated on 6 May 1985 by the Cremlingen local authority and the Wolfenbüttel regional administration.
These activities also drew attention to the community cemetery in Scheppau, a district of Königslutter am Elm, for the first time. 113 victims of the Schandelah satellite camp had been reburied there in 1954. On 1 May 1995, the Königslutter city council erected a memorial stone with information on the prisoners who died and the Schandelah satellite camp.
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