The Camp 1938 until 1945

Neuengamme concentration camp was established in 1938 as a satellite camp of Sachsenhausen concentration camp and became an independent institution in spring 1940. It was the central concentration camp for north-western Germany until 1945. According to current research, a total of more than 80,000 men and more than 13,000 women were registered at Neuengamme concentration camp and given a prisoner’s number; another 5,900 prisoners were never registered in the camp’s records. The initial impulse for establishing the camp was the National Socialist Leadership’s requirement for a cheap source of bricks for their large-scale construction projects in Hamburg.The first prisoners came from Sachsenhausen concentration camp and the first guard squads were brought in from Buchenwald concentration camp. The huts that made up the prisoners’ barracks were erected in 1940/41 and were later supplemented by two stone buildings erected between 1943 and 1945. Until 1945, more and more companies and SS-owned enterprises settled around the prisoners’ barracks and the SS barracks.

Aerial view, black and white photo: roof of a house in the foreground, prisoners' barracks and roll call square in the background.
Neuengamme Concentration Camp and its Surroundings

Despite secrecy, the concentration camp was not completely isolated. Local residents encountered the prisoner columns and observed them at work. SS dog squads searched farms and fields for escaped prisoners. The camp road of Neuengamme Concentration Camp was the working route of some residents on weekdays. Many local companies supplied the concentration camp. SS members were entertained in restaurants.

The SS

The commandant was in charge of both the main camp and its satellite camps. The organisation of the concentration camp fell into the responsibility of different departments: Headquarters, the Political Department (Gestapo), the Department for Managing the Prisoners’ Barracks, the Administration, the Coordination of work Deployment (from 1942), the Medical Department, the Education and Training Departmant as well as the guard squads.

Number of prisoners at the Neuengamme concentration camp (including satellite camps)

A tabular overview of the number of prisoners at the main concentration camp in Neuengamme and its subcamps, broken down by national origin.

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

E-mail: lernwerkstatt@gedenkstaetten.hamburg.de

Phone: +49 40 428 131 551