Cultural and Resistance Activities – Maintaining the Will to Survive

In their daily struggle for survival, prisoners clung to friendships and relationships in small groups. Intellectual and religious activities helped them to maintain their will to survive,as did the rare opportunities for cultural activities like drawing, woodcarving, talking about literature and reciting poetry or songs. In 1943/44, music, football, and evenings of entertainment were occasionally permitted, but only higher-ranking prisoners were allowed to attend such events. Prisoners could only send or receive a limited amount of letters, and the letters they did receive orsend were read by the camp’s censors.

The black and white photo shows a prisoner showing a British cameraman a radio hidden in an electric meter after liberation.



Former prisoner Arthur Lange showing a British cameraman a radioreceiver hidden inside an electricitymeter. On this receiver, Langehad covertly listened to Allied radio broadcasts. Still from a film made by the British Army on May 5, 1945.

Self-assertion and cultural activity

Harassment and violence led many prisoners to think only of bare survival. Brutal egoism and tough assertiveness often seemed to be the only way. The experience that despite everything there was also comradeship and solidarity helped many get over difficult situations. The daily struggle for survival left little room for cultural activities. The will to assert oneself was expressed in conversations about the literature and music of the homeland.

Escape Attempts, Solidarity and Resistance

Until the period immediately prior to its evacuation in April 1945, all escape attempts from the main camp had failed. By contrast, prisoners did manage to escape from satellite camps on several occasions, but most of them were recaptured later. Prisoners were forbidden to help each other on pain of punishment. But despite such regulations, prisoners tried to work to get her against the aims of the SS and tried to organise help for especially needy fellow prisoners such as the Soviet POWs who arrived at the camp in the autumn of 1941.

Media Library

The complete permanent exhibition "Time Traces" and the other side exhibitions on the grounds of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial are also available digitally in the memorial's media library. Unfortunately, the media library is only available in German.

media library
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