Husum-Schwesing
Concentration Camp
Memorial
Satellite camp of the
Hamburg-Neuengamme
Concentration Camp
The
concentration camp
Husum-Schwesing
British intelligence
from 25 December 1944
Husum-Schwesing was one of 87
satellite camps of the central concentration camp Neuengamme
which was established in 1938.
The Husum-Schwesing camp
existed for only 3 months.
On 26 September 1944, 1,500 inmates arrived from Neuengamme
followed by 1,000 more on October 19. They were all transported
by rail in cattle wagons which
directly passed the site of the
camp. All 2,500 prisoners had to
live in huts which were built for
400 people at most. Their living
conditions were appalling: malnutrition, hard labour, inadequate
clothing, permanent maltreatment, lack of sanitary equipment
and medical treatment resulted
in a high mortality rate. Although
around 1,000 prisoners were taken to another camp in Ladelund
on 1 November 1944, the terrible
working and hygienic conditions
did not improve. In the middle of
November there were 734 sick in
the camp, suffering from lung and
heart diseases, severe diarrhoea,
rheumatic fever, diphtheria and
tuberculosis. The first transport
back to Neuengamme was carried
out on 5 December 1944. The
camp was ultimately closed on
29 December 1944.
The two North Frisian concentration camps, Husum-Schwesing
and Ladelund, were built following
Hitler’s order of 28 August 1944, to
build the “Friesenwall”, a fortification meant to secure the whole
North Sea coast against an allied
invasion. Several lines of dugouts,
bunkers and anti-tank defences
were planned along the coast. At
the end of October 1944, in North
Frisia alone, nearly 25,000 people
built the so-called “Friesenwall”,
among them many prisoners of
war, forced labourers, but also
German civilians and soldiers,
Hitler Youth, “Arbeitsdienst” men,
members of the “Organisation
Todt” as well as concentration
camp prisoners. They were
assigned the task of constructing
defense mechanisms and bunkers
to defend against the allied troops.
The work went on until December
1944. It was not until this date that
the camps in Husum-Schwesing
and Ladelund were closed down.
Most of the prisoners came from
the Netherlands, among them
were many people from the village
of Putten whose male inhabitants
had been deported. The Nazis
wanted to take revenge for an
attack on a German army vehicle
which had been bombed by the
Dutch resistance. Other groups
came from France, Denmark,
Anti-tank ditches
in the marsh
Poland, the Soviet Union and Germany, individual prisoners came
from Belgium, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Spain, Greece and
England. Among them were active
members of the resistance, clergymen, officers of the Red Army and
people who had been denounced
for minor offences.
As prisoners, they had to dig
anti-tank ditches which were 4-5
metres wide (0.5 metres wide at
the base) and 2.5 metres deep. It
was hard work moving wet clay
while standing up to their hips in
cold water. The prisoners worked
10 to 12 hours a day as well as having to walk 10 kilometres to work
every day. First they walked, later
they were transported in cattle
wagons. They had little more
to eat than stale bread and thin
turnip soup. The wardens abused
the prisoners brutally. In the camp
itself there were hour-long roll
calls which were held on the camp
street for want of a better place.
There, nobody could escape the
cruelty of the camp commander,
Hans Griem. The inmates especially dreaded having to sit on a
hydrant with outstretched arms
and legs. When they fell, they
were beaten up by the guards.
Many of them died following
these beatings.
What happened in Husum-Schwesing happened in the public eye.
Over a long period of time, the
prisoners were driven through
Husum every morning and evening. The reactions of witnesses
were mixed: there was derision
and contempt but also pity. Some
people tried to help by slipping
the prisoners some food, but few
protested and most looked the
other way.
Camp commander Hans Griem
was responsible for the atrocities
committed in the concentration
camp Husum-Schwesing.
On the basis of knowledge acquired to date, 297 people died in
the Husum-Schwesing camp. It is
difficult to determine the exact
number of deaths, as many prisoners died as a result of their detention during the transport back to
Neuengamme, or not long after,
and these deaths should be added
to the number. The bodies were
put into paper sacks and dumped
in mass graves at the Husum
cemetery. After the war many of
the dead were exhumed, identified
and sent back to their native countries. The survivors of the camp
suffered for the rest of their lives.
After their liberation, their lives
were marked by the psychological
and physical consequences of their
horrific experiences. The concentration camp was not mentioned
in this region for almost 40 years.
The huts were used as shelters for
Benjamin Mørch,
former prisoner, reported in
public on 30 January 1983 about
the suffering in the camp
Paul Thygesen,
former camp physician
refugees until the late 1950s when
they were demolished. Only parts
of the kitchen remained.
Shortly after the liberation, the British military started investigating
the crimes committed at the camp.
March 1947 saw the beginning of
the trial against camp commander
Hans Griem, his deputy Eichler,
“Blockführer” Klingler and the
“Kapo” Schneider (abbreviation for
“Kameradschaftspolizei”) in the
Curio Haus in Hamburg. “Kapos”
were prisoners who were doing
time for crimes and who tormented their fellow prisoners on behalf
of the guards. Griem managed to
escape from the internment camp
in Neuengamme under mysterious
circumstances shortly before the
trial began. Klingler was sentenced
to death, Eichler to five and Schneider to four years imprisonment
and the verdicts were enforced.
Griem lived undetected in Hamburg
until 1963 when charges were once
again brought against him. He was,
however, not remanded in custody
and died before the trial began. The
history of the concentration camp
was ignored for almost 40 years.
The memorial site
Former French
prisoners visited
the camp after
40 years
In 1983 the KZ working group
Husum-Schwesing published the
history of the camp, and a memorial service was hosted there on 30
January 1983, the 50th anniversary
of Hitler’s seizure of power. More
than 1,000 people came to listen
to the shocking and poignant memories of the survivors. The silence
was broken at last.
In 1985, the Nordfriesland county
council acquired the eastern part
of the former camp from the federal government. The other part
was privately owned; in the meantime a residential building had
been built on the historic cellar of
the former kitchen block.
After lots of controversial discussions the county council decided
to erect a memorial on the site of
the camp in 1986.
On 27 November 1987 the memorial was officially inaugurated in
the presence of survivors and their
relatives. The memorial building
was designed by the working
group and sculptor Uli Lindow in
consultation with survivors from
Denmark, France, the Netherlands
and England. Upon entering, you
will be struck by the confinement
of the room which only offers a
view of the sky. A ramp leads the
visitor to a narrow, barred window
through which a concrete model of
the camp can be seen. This model
fills the entire room. Bit by bit, the
outlines of the huts can be identified as if from an aerial photo. The
complex view from a seemingly
great height shows the distance to
the historical reality and the suffering of the prisoners. Visitors can
experience the claustrophobia and
the threat of violence. However,
unlike the prisoners in 1944, they
can leave at any time.
In 1994, further parts of the camp
were acquired and listed on which
the remains of the foundations
of the kitchen block and the infamous hydrant are to be found.
In 2000/2001 the field of stelae
was created by Uli Lindow. The
names of the 297 known victims
have been engraved into the
stelae. The material used is a
special type of steel covered with
a layer of rust. The names of the
dead were deliberately not engraved deeply, so that rust covers
them. It takes an effort to decipher
them, just as it is a constant effort
to keep the memory of the NS
history alive. The apparent random
arrangement of the stelae is
meant to indicate the arbitrariness of the murder and randomness of death in the camp.
In 2007 the council acquired the
former kitchen block and held
a symposium on the further
development of the concentration camp memorial. As a result
the county council approved the
addition of documentary material
to the artistic design in 2009.
For this purpose a building is to
be built on the site to house an
exhibition on the history and
rise of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in
North Friesland, the history of the
Husum-Schwesing concentration
camp and the post-war history of
the Nazi regime in Schleswig-Holstein. A feasibility study is to be
carried out.
In 2012 the residential building
which had later been built on
the kitchen block was removed,
the historic cellar was stabilized
and the memorial building was
refurbished.
In 2013 explanatory plaques were
erected for the various exhibits as
well as a 15-part steel plaque bearing the names of the dead. Accessible pathways were constructed.
Chronology
1938/39
The erection of a camp for not more
than 400 men who were employed in
the construction of the Husum-Schwesing airfield.
25 September 1944
Satellite camp of the Hamburg-Neuengamme concentration camp. 1,500
prisoners are transported from Neuengamme by railway in cattle wagons
and put to work building anti-tank
ditches (“Friesenwall”).
19 October 1944
The arrival of a further 1,000 prisoners
from Neuengamme. There follows
an increase in the number of deaths
from starvation, excessive hard labour,
emaciation, illness and corporal
punishment.
1 November 1944
Approximately 1,000 prisoners are
moved from Husum-Schwesing to the
satellite camp of Ladelund.
29 December 1944
Due to the change in the military
situation, the “Friesenwall” is redundant. Husum-Schwesing is closed, the
surviving prisoners are taken back to
Neuengamme. 297 prisoners were
murdered in this place, further victims
died as a direct result of their detention in this camp.
Post 1945
Partially used as a refugee camp.
30 January 1983
On the 50th anniversary of Hitler’s
seizure of power, former prisoners
come to Husum at the invitation of the
“concentration camp working group
Husum-Schwesing” to recount what
they suffered in the concentration
camp.
1985
Acquisition of part of the camp grounds
by the North Frisian county council
1987
Erection of the memorial. Construction
of the monument.
1994
Acquisition of a further part of the
grounds with remains of the foundation and the hydrant which are put
under a preservation order.
1998
Installation of a multilingual information panel in the parking lot.
2000
The historic camp street is exposed.
2001/2002
Construction of the field of stelae.
2007
Acquisition of the former kitchen block
which in the interim has been rebuilt as
a residential house.
2012
Demolition of the non-historic part of
the kitchen block and stabilising of the
cellar. Refurbishment of the memorial
building.
2013
Addition to the documentation in the
form of a sign showing the names, nationality and personal details of those
murdered as well as an explanatory plaque for the historic exhibits and works
of art. Construction of an accessible
pathway to the site.
Husum-Schwesing
Concentration Camp
Memorial
Sponsor
Stiftung Nordfriesland
Schloss vor Husum
König-Friedrich-V.-Allee
D-25813 Husum
Telephone +494841-89730
Telefax +494841-8973111
E-Mail stiftung@nordfriesland.de
Member of ”Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft Gedenkstätten und Erinnerungsorte in Schleswig-Holstein”
Member of ”Bürgerstiftung
Schleswig-Holsteinische Gedenkstätten”, www.gedenkstaetten-sh.de
A list containing the complete record
of those prisoners who died in
the Husum-Schwesing camp can be
seen in the internet:
www.kz-gedenkstaette-husumschwesing.de
Approach from Husum
From the town centre, take the
main road 200 in the direction of
Flensburg. After about 4 km, turn
off the right towards Schwesing
(Signpost: Gedenkstätte); 100 m
on the right is a parking area with
information panel.
Text:
KZ-Working group Husum-Schwesing,
Perke Heldt, Husum
Translation: Ciara Colgan-Buchenau
Design:
Rainer Kühnast, Husum
Cover illustration by Ulrich Lindow, Schobüll
Photos:
Archive KZ-Working group Husum-Schwesing
Archive Jörn-Peter Leppien, Flensburg
Rainer Künast, Husum
District archive Nordfriesland
Printing: Lempfert, Bredstedt
The publication of this brochure was made
possible by:
NOSPA Kulturstiftung Nordfriesland
Johannes und Irene Thordsen Stiftung
Bürgerstiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische
Gedenkstätten
Stiftung Vermächtnis Johan van Wouwer
Killed at camp
Husum-Schwesing :
Wilhelm Hendrik Abersson
Christiaan Adams
Tamme Afman
Hendrik van Akkeren
Eduard Alberts
Pieter Ammerlaan
Leendert Arlmann
Pierre Arnaud
Fier van Asch
Josef Ascherl
Poul Erik Astrup
Lucien Augel
Johan Averbeek
Reintje Bakker
Jacobus van Balen
Teunis van Barneveld
Andre van Beaumont
Antoni van der Beerenkamp
Johannes Beijk
Willem Benkelman
Laurens van der Berge
Yves Berre
Valerio Bertocchi
Armand Bescond
Jan Bischop
Pierre Blanchet
Bernardus van den Bleek
Egbertus Josef Blom
Cornelis de Boer
Jan A. C. van Boeijen
Jan Bokma
Arend Bonen
Lucas Bongers
Frederik Bonnekamp
Dirk Boonstra
Johannes Borsje
Louis Bourrat
Jan Evert Hendrik Boven
Martinus den Braber
Cornelis Brand
Melis van den Brink
Jan van den Brink
Peter J. van den Brink
Bernard den Broeke
Gerrit Broekhuis
Jan Brons
Joseph van de Bruin
Hendrikus Bruinekool
Dirk Brusse
Albert Bruun
Martin Buurmans
Klaas Bartel van de Burgt
Augustinus Captyn
Alphonse Chataignier
André Chudt
Antonius Cleizen
Johannes Clemens
André Coquet
Johannes Claus Cordes
Anton van Dalen
Lobbert van Dam
Sven Davidsen
Pieter Dekkinga
Jan Derksen
Pieter Dijk
Coenraad Dijkstra
Jentje Dijkstra
Geert Dik
Hendrikus Ditzel
Jan Willem H. M. Dols
Pieter Doorn
Joop van Driest
Hendrik van Driesten
Arie Ducaat
Joseph Dumont
Louis Echampard
Johannes van El
Aaldrik Elringa
Johannes Eikenhout
Johannes Elferink
Hendrikus Erlings
Dirk C. van Essen
Dirk van Essen
Lammert van Essen
Jacob Fienstra
Theo Fienstra
Cornelis Felins
August Albert Fischbach
Adrianus Fontaine
Christian Fries
Isaak van Gelderen
Jan Gerrit
Gaston Gillet
Alexander Gindulin
Simon Girod
Godefriedus van Gog
Gijsbert de Groot
Jacobus de Groot
Reinier P. Grotenhuis
Theodorus de Haan
Dirk Hagendoorn
Antonius van Hal
Theunis Hardenberg
Carel-Mari Haverman
Petrus Heemskerk
Sikke Heerlijn
Witold Heimowski
Egbert Hein
Bartholomeus Hendrik
Jan Hendriks
Josephus-Antonius Hennekam
Cornelius Herwich
Jan Willem Heyink
Nicolaas van Heyningen
Anton Hiddink
Gerhard Hillen
George Hindriks
Johannes van Hoevelaak
Richard van t‘ Hof
Wilhelmus van t‘ Hof
Christiaan Hoffmann
Antoon Holkenborg
Harrie Holtkes
Cornelis Homburg
Derk Hommes
Josephus Hooftmann
Pancras van Hoorn
Harm Horstede
Josef van Hout
Egbert Johan van Houttum
Arnoldus Huibers
Anton Huisman
Petrus Huitema
Hendrikus Iking
Jean Iwens
Cornelis Jacobs
Charles Jansen
Cornelis Jansen
Johannes Jansen
Gerrit Jarigsma
George Jaspar
Knud Jensen
Albert Gerrit de Jong
Henricus Jurissen
Alexej Jurtschenko
Francizek Kapral
Adriaan Kartee
Rudolf Ernst Kaul
Jan Keijzers
Gysbertus Kemp
Dirk Kerkhof
Hendrikus Kerkhoff
Johannes Hendrikus Kirkels
Nicolaus Kivits
Martinus Klaassen
Jan van Klink
Nicolay Klynjuk
Gerard Klijnhout
Jan Knik
Martin Koch
Pieter Koning
Willem Koopmann
Matwej Kowalenko
Cornelis van de Kraatz
Hendrikus Krenzen
Iwan Krewiak
Julian Kukla
Wassilij Kuschtsch
Guerino Lavina
Eugène Lecoq
Noël Le Gac
Job Leene
Robert Lelièvre
Marinus van Leeuwen
Martinus van Leyden
Hendrikus van Lith
Antonius Logtenberg
Bertus Lubbertsen
Wijnand Luitjes
Antonil Maas
Johannes Marcelissen
Hendrik van Marle
Antonius van Meel
Peter van Meerveld
Jan Meesters
Jan Mensink
Albertus van der Mey
Arthur Miana
Klaas Middeljans
Hendrik Mijerink
Simon Mollette
Kurt-Georg Müller
Hendrikus ten Napel
Zdyslaw Nasalik
Wilhelm Nellemose
Knud Nordentoft
Hendrik van Oel
Gerrit van der Oever
Johannes Oosterwijk
Klaas Oostindie
Gerard Ovenweg
Albert Christian Pauls
Marius Petrou
Jozef Philippaerts
Geurt Pieper
Cornelis Pijper
Gerrit Pijper
Alphons Plokars
Jan Pol
Tjerk Pol
Jacob Ponstra
Johannes Prins
Piet Prins
Arie Pronk
Jan Raas
Antonius Raats
Nico Rakers
Willem Cornelis Ratering
Jacob van der Ree
Theo Repkes
Jan Reznicek
Marcel Rigal
Jan Arend Roelof
Klaus Rönholt
Gerardus Roeten
Leon Roland
Jacobus Roos
Wijte de Roos
Josephus Rootlieb
Aage Buhl Rosenkjær
Ariën Ruitenbeek
Albert Ruitenbeek
Theodorus van Schie
Martinus Schoenmakers
Johannes Scholtemeyer
Jan Geert Schoots
Steven Schreuder
Hendrik Seldewijk
Antoine Serre
Jørgen Simoni
Johan Slot
Gerrit Jan Sluiter
Willem Smit
Cornelis Snel
Johannes Snijders
Cornelis Sombeeck
Jacobus van der Spiegel
Jan Spin
Spiridione Sepic
Hendrik van Steeg
Jan Stefaniak
Huibert Stoof
Jacobus Suiding
Leendert Tanis
Willem Tegchelaar
Johannes Gerardus Tesselaar
Mattheus Timmermans
Lucas Touber
Jan Arend Roelof Trip
Anton Uelen
August Vanhellemont
Hendrik van Veen
Stouke Veenema
Hendrik Vegelin
Cornelis Verkerk
Cornelis Vermaas
Horst Adolf Victor
Jacob van Vlieth
Aart Voogel
Jan Vos
Peter de Vos
Adrianus Vunzen
Klaas Weijl
Henricus Wilhelmus
Cornelis van Werkhoven
Hendrik Westervoorde
Jan Westra
Martinus Wetsteijn
Ferdinandus van der Wiel
Johannes van Wieren
Liuve Wiersma
Johannes Harmen Wijnstroot
Abram Wijnveen
Thomas Willems
A. de Wilt
Frank van Woersem
Matthijs Wulffele
Joseph Wymientowski
Leendert van Zandbergen
Albertus van der Zanden
Pieter Zanhugh
Tadeusz Zawadzki
Jacobus Zuyddyk
Paul Zumpolle
Johannes van Zwanenburg
Reinier Zwanepol
Gerrit Zwols
Jan Zych
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Husum-Schwesing Concentration Camp Memorial