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. Prisoners who worked at the sick-bay as doctors or nurses tried their best to help others. Some prisoner functionaries at the work deployment office tried to arrange better work places for prisoners who were especially weakened or otherwise threatened. 

“It was impossible [to escape]. For example I worked myself once as a glasser in a garden center and was guarded there by a SS man. I was supposed to insert a windowpane in a greenhouse. The SS man went away to the garden center owner's wife to flirt with her a bit. I could have escaped, but where to? For a Pole near Hamburg it was almost impossible to escape, because there was no chance of saving oneself.

Tadeusz Kwapinski, former prisoner from Poland, November, 1943, until May, 1945, KZ Neuengamme, survivor of “Cap Arcona”. Interview, August, 1984.

Pencil drawing of the bridge from a watchtower to the road to the Neuengamme concentration camp. There are eight guards on the bridge, four of them walking in a row, each with a guard dog.



Pencil drawing by Félix Lazare Bertrand “La parade des chiens 15.1.45 (“The Parade of the Dogs“). On the back he wrote “Return from excursion and practice for our four legged guard”. In the foreground on the left is the masonry of a watchtower, behind it a bridge to the Lagerstraße (today Jean-Dolidier-Weg). When trying to escape, the sharply trained dogs found prisoners in hiding places. Often they hurt them.

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
Contact us at

Do you have questions or have you encountered errors while using the website? Then please write to us at:


Phone: +49 40 428 131 551