Station: [4] Prisoners' Barracks

  •  Prisoners' Barracks
  • Historical photography:  Prisoners' Barracks
  • Historical drawing: Inside the  Prisoners' Barracks

You are now standing in front of the long rows of cages filled with stones.
They symbolically represent wooden barracks
which used to stand here during the concentration camp period.
The barracks had no insulation which meant that it was impossible
for the prisoners to keep warm in winter.
The insufficient number of stoves in the barracks, only two or three per barrack,
could not warm them up.

The barracks consisted of two rooms.
The smaller one was the so-called Tagesraum meaning common room or day room
and it contained benches and stools.
This was also the room where the block leader and room leaders slept.
The rest of the prisoners slept in the bigger room,
furnished with three-level bunk beds.

Due to the fact that the barracks were overcrowded,
it often happened that three prisoners had to share the same bunk.
The beds were dirty and it was the prisoners who had to clean the barracks.
One of the tasks was to make their beds perfectly
which was literally impossible given the conditions in the barracks.

There were up to 300 prisoners in each block.
The sanitary conditions were horrible.
The toilet consisted of a simple hole in the ground covered with a plank.
A hand pump next to it offered the only possibility for the prisoners to wash themselves.
The result of these conditions was the unbearable stench in the camp.

You can see that the cages are filled with two different kinds of stone
representing two significant periods in connection to this place.
The reddish stones on the outer side of heaps symbolize the walls of the barracks.
They are clinker bricks produced by the prisoners of the Neuengamme concentration camp
 under forced labor.
The grayish stones in the middle represent the prison era.
After the war, the City of Hamburg began using the site as a prison.
For this purpose, the barracks were torn down and replaced by a large new building.
The stones you can see in the cages were collected
after the prison building was eventually torn down in 2007.

Let us now go to the next station.
Move away from the place where the barracks used to be and cross the roll call square.
Behind the metal posts which symbolize the former fence,
you will see a small open house with a glass roof.
This is where the so-called detention bunker used to be.
Play the next track when you reach it.