The Hamburg-Hammerbrook subcamp (also known as the Spaldingstrasse subcamp ) was a subcamp in the Hamburg district of Hammerbrook and, with around 2000 prisoners, the largest subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp . It existed from October 1944 to April 1945 and was located in the historic Georgsburg building .
Georgsburg was built in 1910 and initially served as a tobacco factory and warehouse for the L. Wolff company . The western part of the building has eight and the eastern part nine floors. It is located directly on Spaldingstrasse, one of the city's busiest access roads. The rear of the complex was originally located directly on a canal, today Nordkanalstrasse runs here. Among other things, a hotel, an office furniture store and a motorcycle clothing store have been rented there.
In the National Socialist German Reich , Georgsburg was the seat of the collecting society for the coal and steel industry . In October 1944 the SS set up a satellite camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp in the building. The Hammerbrook district was almost completely destroyed by the Allied bombing and was cordoned off as a restricted area in July 1943 . In contrast, the Georgsburg remained virtually undamaged and was rebuilt by concentration camp inmates . The partially collapsed front building received a kitchen. Washrooms and toilets were installed on every floor, but they did not work because the water supply in Hamburg had come to a standstill due to the bombing. A bathtub was the only source of water. Since pee basins were also cleaned in it, diseases spread quickly. The windows of the building were bricked up, the entrance to Spaldingstrasse could be well guarded. The headquarters and the security services were housed in the rear building.
Concentration camp inmates
Around 2000 prisoners from the Neuengamme main camp were housed in the house. Most of the prisoners were Russians, Poles, French, Belgians, Danes, Czechs and Germans. They slept in a confined space on floors two through five. A sick bay was set up on the sixth floor.
The inmates were woken up at 4:30 a.m. This was followed by the bed inspection, breakfast - consisting of acorn coffee - roll call in the inner courtyard of the Georgsburg and the division of prisoners into work details . Inmates' hunger was omnipresent, forcing prisoners to search garbage cans or eat run-over animals on their way to work. Many prisoners starved to death.
The Hammerbrook subcamp was the subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp with the highest number of fatalities: there is evidence that around 500 people died during their imprisonment, an estimated 800 prisoners. 300 prisoners died in December 1944 alone. The way back from work to the sub-camp often involved carrying dead people. Quite a few prisoners had been killed by concentration camp guards or died from exhaustion. The bodies were placed in a room on the first floor. Dying prisoners were left to the doctor in the infirmary. Every week the corpses were transported to the main camp in Neuengamme, where they were cremated in the crematorium.
Since most of the men had to do military service during the Second World War , there was a shortage of workers in Hamburg. The concentration camp inmates were therefore used for various types of work. Most of the commandos reached their workplaces on foot, while others took the tram or the S-Bahn. The main work was to clear away rubble from destroyed, war-important buildings or to move sand, building materials and other heavy loads back and forth. Searching for mines and disarming duds was particularly dangerous. The track repair work for the Deutsche Reichsbahn , which had to be carried out outdoors in all weathers, was also difficult . When working in the Bill brewery or in the telegraph office, however, the prisoners had a roof over their heads and were given a bowl of soup at noon.
Camp management and guards
Until November 1944, the first camp manager of the satellite camp was SS leader Karl Wiedemann , who was also the base manager of all Neuengammer concentration camps in the Hamburg city area. After an interim solution, from December 1944 SS leader Arnold Strippel , who was also responsible for the murder of the children in the Bullenhuser Damm school, supervised all satellite camps of the Neuengamme concentration camp from there as camp manager. Deputy warehouse manager was always Hans Fiekers in the function of a report manager . The camp staff consisted of members of the police and customs who were transferred to the Waffen SS .
Final phase of the camp
The evacuation of the subcamp began in mid-April 1945. The prisoners were taken to the Sandbostel concentration camp near Bremen on foot or by truck , where many died of illness or exhaustion. The British liberated the Sandbostel concentration camp on April 29, 1945.
Dispute over the memorial plaques
A former history teacher at the Klosterschule grammar school and the Neuengamme concentration camp memorial have been campaigning since 2007 for memorial plaques to be installed in the building complex that was newly built after the Second World War. In 2009 the owner at the time, IVG Immobilien , successor to Montan and privatized since 1993, agreed to do so. The official inauguration took place on October 26, 2009 by the State Council of the Hamburg cultural authority . The text on the plaques read:
“In the last months of the war, the SS administered the Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg from here. From October 1944 to April 1945, the Secret Annex, a former tobacco warehouse, housed over 2,000 concentration camp prisoners on six floors. On behalf of the city, they had to carry out clearing work, repair railway tracks and defuse bombs in the heavily destroyed Hammerbrook district and in the free port. 800 inmates lost their lives in the six months of the camp. Many more died in the course of the clearance in the Sandbostel reception camp. "
However, the inauguration was not without incidents, as employees of the office furniture store Broders & Knigge, located in the building, loudly opened and closed the shutters. Just three weeks later, the owner company IVG had removed the boards without consulting the cultural authority, as they had a damaging effect on business in the front area and tenants of the building are said to have complained. IVG had the boards set up in the inner courtyard, but it was forbidden to enter it.
The culture authority in Hamburg was “deeply surprised”. The chairman of the Jewish community in Hamburg spoke of a “mockery of the dead” and the relocation of the memorial plaques was “subsequent desecration of the dead”. Detlef Garbe , the head of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial , requested that the plaques be attached to the previous location. A few days later the memorial plaques were reassembled at the original location.
In the foyer of the A&O Hamburg City hostel , which has been in the building complex since May 2012, two publicly accessible, illustrated display boards explain the building's past in German and English. In the run-up to the opening, the new owner contacted the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial in order to have these plaques created.
- Marc Buggeln: Hamburg-Hammerbrook (Spaldingstrasse). In: Wolfgang Benz , Barbara Distel (eds.): The place of terror . History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps. Volume 5: Hinzert, Auschwitz, Neuengamme. CH Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-52965-8 , p. 406 ff.
- Hamburg's forgotten concentration camp . In: Hamburger Morgenpost , August 6, 2007.
- Marc Buggeln: Hamburg-Hammerbrook (Spaldingstrasse). In: Benz, Distel (ed.): The place of terror. Vol. 5. 2007, p. 406 ff.
- Roger Repplinger: A concentration camp in the middle of Hamburg . taz.de, October 26, 2009.
- Aren't you ashamed? In: Hamburger Morgenpost , November 21, 2009.
- VVN-BdA : dispute over memorial plaque . In: antifa , January / February 2010, p. 15.
- Spaldingstrasse subcamp (St. Georgsburg). In: gedenkstaetten-in-hamburg.de. Retrieved October 8, 2019 .