06/26/2020 Archival Research

International researchers visit the archives of the Neuengamme concentration camp memorial

Therkel Straede, Professor of Contemporary History at the Syddansk Universitet - University of Southern Denmark is leading a new research project on "concentration camp ships" on the Baltic Sea. The project is dedicated to the ships that started shortly before the end of the war with several thousand prisoners on board from the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig. Some of them landed in the Bay of Lübeck, as did ships where the SS had taken prisoners from Neuengamme concentration camp. More than 300 prisoners from Stutthof reached the town of Klinkholm on the Danish island of Mön on May 5, 1945.

Many facts about the "evacuation transports" of the Stutthof concentration camp on the Baltic Sea remain uncelar - very little is known about the routes of some ships. "We want to find out facts about the maritime transports: Where were the ships' routes? How did the decision-making processes for the transports proceed? What were the names and roles of the perpetrators? We also want to consider the quantitative dimension: How many people were on these ships, how many were thrown overboard, how many concentration camp prisoners died?", says Professor Therkel Straede.

This is why he is now conducting research for the project, which is funded by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, in the archives of the Neuengamme concentration camp memorial. The archivists from Neuengamme have been collecting a lot of material about the "evacuation transports" and "concentration camp ships" of Neuengamme and Stutthof concentration camps for years. Archivist Dr. Reimer Möller from the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial is also part of the research team and prepared the material before the visit of the Danish historians. Further research will take the team to Polish Archives, among others, in order to find out the technical data of the ships. At the beginning of 2021, a report will be published that attempts to present the new facts about the "evacuation transports" of the Stutthof concentration camp on the Baltic Sea.