Grapes from Thorns

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Friday, September 12, 2008

Young scholars

At top, is my WWII class in Lueneburg, Germany. A good bunch of young scholars. In the middle is program director Soeren Koeppen and former program director Iris Heine. I teashed them to keep their eyes open. At bottom is a larger group of students on a visit to Bremen. Check out the windmill in the background.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Neuengamme V

The top two photos are of a large building designed as bomb shelters for the SS guards. The building is made out of concrete but in an effort to fool any allied bombers, windows were painted on the sides and you can still see the faded images of the painted windows. In the second photo, the students walk past the building. The third and four photos are of the foundation of the crematorium. While this was not a death camp, thousands of prisoners died here and something had to be done with their bodies. Hence, the crematorium. The wording on the plaque says, this was the "place of the crematorium in former concentration camp Neuengamme." The photo at the bottom is of a rail car like the ones that might have transported prisoners to Neuengamme. Click to enlarge.

Neuengamme IV

At top is a canal that prisoners dug to connect the camp to the Elbe River that flows through Hamburg. In the middle was the camp commandant's house. At the bottom is a trench where clay was dug out of the ground and the little rail cars it was loaded into for transport to the brick factory.

Neuengamme III

The primary work done at Neuengamme was making bricks. At the top, you can see a photo of the camp during the war. At left is a prisoner in the striped uniforms standing in front of the big building where the bricks were made. Clay was dug out of the soil nearby and loaded in little rail cars which were brought up these ramps and into the building. Next, is a photo of the building today. The next photo is of an administration building. Some of the prisoners with office skills were put to work here. At bottom are some portable housing that was built at the camp. The bricks are concrete and meant to create housing that would be bomb proof. Many of these houses were shipped to Hamburg which was bombed so severely during the war.

Neuengamme II

In the memorial building at Neuengamme, there are lists of those who perished at the concentration camp. While there are over 20,000 names listed, estimates are that the death toll was actually closer to 28,000. At the base of some of the lists, flowers had been placed, apparently by family members. The death rate increased significantly during the winter months and toward the end of the war.

Neuengamme I

During my WWII course in Germany, my students and I traveled to Neuengamme near Hamburg. It was a concentration camp, a work camp, not a death camp. It was the center of a network of such camps in the Hamburg area, part of the system the Nazis used to squelch dissent and eliminate their opposition.

Neuengamme had a total off 106,000 inmates over its years operation. The largest number of them (over 34,000) came from the Soviet Union. There were many POWs.

At top is a sculpture of a prisoner dying of hunger. In the memorial building are books that were kept listing the names of prisoners who died. You can view them by lifting the cloths that protect them from light. If you click on the photo, you should be able to read the names and causes of death.