"A City and Its Concentration Camp. Prisoners of the Neuengamme concentration camp in wartime Hamburg, 1943-1945" is the title of an exhibition by the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial which will be shown from 8 July to 23 August 2019 in addition to our main exhibition.
The bilingual (German and English) exhibition deals with the situation of Neuengamme concentration camp prisoners forced to work in the inner city and with the backgrounds of the different historical actors involved in this programme.
Today, the concentration camps are mostly seen as sites of SS terror, while other historical actors who contributed to or profited from the concentration camp system and the suffering of its prisoners are often disregarded. The City of Hamburg’s considerable involvement in the establishment and expansion of the Neuengamme concentration camp is a case in point. In 1940, it paid one million Reichsmark towards the construction of the camp’s brickworks because the City wanted to use the bricks produced there for large-scale redevelopment. In many cases, Hamburg-based companies also used concentration camp prisoners as slave labour.
Following the severe aerial attacks on Hamburg in July and August 1943, prisoners of the Neuengamme camp were forced to clear rubble and recover dead bodies in many parts of the city. This kind of slave labour put them in plain sight of the locals. The state of emergency following the air-raids further increased demand for concentration camp prisoner labour: Both local government and private enterprises wanted prisoners to build provisional housing for locals, recycle debris into construction materials, work in armaments production or on shipyards. 15 Neuengamme satellite camps were established in Hamburg over the course of 1944. Municipal authorities and local companies were the driving forces behind this development, which also meant that the inhabitants of Hamburg regularly encountered concentration camp prisoners in the street, on their way to or from work and in their workplaces.
This special exhibition was already shown in January 2019 in the Hamburg townhall. Due to the great interest and the large response we decided to show the exhibition again. You are welcome to visit during the opening times of the main exhibition (Monday to Friday: 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturday, Sunday: 12 noon–7 p.m.