You are now standing on the courtyard of the former SS garage.
It served as a roll call square for the guards – the so-called Totenkopfverbände meaning Death's Head Units.
On your right, you can see a building with white doors
which was used as a garage for the trucks belonging to the SS.
In October 1944, between 50 and 60 Soviet prisoners of war were housed here before being executed.
On your left, you can see a large green area, which is where the guards' barracks used to be during the concentration camp period. The area was surrounded by an impressive fence. It stood in stark contrast to the barbed wire fence surrounding the prisoners' barracks and was supposed to make the SS camp seem more pleasant. At the end of the SS camp, right next to the street, there was a flower garden, a so-called oasis. This haven of peace, where the SS guards used to relax, even contained a fountain which stood in the middle of the garden. The remains of the fountain can still be seen today. Due to its proximity to the street, the garden served another purpose, namely, to keep up the illusion of normalcy presented to the outside world.
A former Danish prisoner, Jörgen Barfod, who was liberated by the Swedish Red Cross in April 1945, said the following about the construction of the SS camp: “The prisoners involved in the building of new buildings for the SS were treated in an unusually rough manner. The work consisted of digging a sewer trench and the construction of new buildings. Beatings were a daily occurrence. I saw, among other things, a foreman standing on a centrifugal pump and flogging 12 prisoners while they were trying to get the pump out of the mud. The more they were pulling, the deeper they were sinking into the mud. Four of them fainted and fell down before the foreman stopped beating them.”
The SS or the Schutzstaffel were a militant political organization which perceived itself as the elite of the Nazi movement. One's professional qualifications were not a determining factor when it came to a career with the SS. New members were admitted upon their own request but only after having provided a proof of their so-called Aryan ancestry. Moreover, the members had to be fully committed to the racist Nazi ideology. One of their beliefs was that all prisoners were dangerous enemies of the state, far inferior to them.
Most SS guards working in concentration camps had direct contact with prisoners. There was harassment, mistreatment and death every day. There were around 4500 SS guards employed at the Neuengamme concentration camp and its more than 80 satellite camps. Most of the documents about the perpetrators were destroyed and only few were brought to trial.
You can go into the former SS garage and take a look at the exhibition there. Otherwise, follow the audio guide to the camp's canal. In order to get there, turn around, putting your back to the courtyard. On your left you can see a path going around, behind the former SS garage. Follow this path for a while. You are on the right way if you come across the remnants of the white walls.Stay on the right, pass them by and keep going until you reach the canal, which is to the right of the large brick building.