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1. Calais Camp / Lettow Vorbeck OT CampThe Calais Camp was a major camp, which originally start as the Lettow Vorbeck OT camp as stated in the affidavit by Prisoner of War, Michael Hamacher. He stated that on his arrival to the camp at Calais, 'The camp was already prepared and surrounded by barbed wire. It used to be the Lettow-Vorbeck Camp of the OT'. In this capacity it appears to have received many of the Belgian Jewish deportees during the first main period of the camps, between July and October 1942.
The camp at Calais is recorded in the Rapport Definitif No. 5 as one of the kommandos operating out of Lager Tibor, titled 'Israel III', operated by the OT and under the control of an SS guard. There is also extensive references to the camp at Calais in the 'Liste des Israelites...' with large numbers of Belgian Jews encamped at Calais, as well as multiple contractors for the OT, being recorded. Contractors at Calais included: Stuzenberger, Max Fruh, Siegfried Flockerzie, Friedrich Wolff, Leonhard Hanbuch & Sohne. This is little surprise as Calais was a major site of fortification activity, with multiple work-sites, as the Germans had been convinced that this was the likely place for an Allied invasion force to land.
The Belgian Jewish prisoners are described as wearing civilian clothing with the addition of the Jewish star. Two convoys of Jewish prisoners to the camp are believed to have occurred on 14.07.1942 when a train arrived in Calais and Port-Mahon, and another 250 men arrived in Calais on 5.8.1942 and the final transport of prisoners towards Dannes-Camier took place on 31.10.42.
The Report Definitif states that the camp was housed in an old girls' school at 42 Rue ChÃ¢teaubriand, close to the port and the appended plan in the report shows that it was on the eastern side of the street. The report states that it was in stone buildings surrounded by high walls and barbed wire and there were two barracks at the rear.
An examination of aerial imagery of 9 May 1944, suggests that a group of larger buildings on a 70m x 70m plot, on the eastern side of Rue ChÃ¢teaubriand, with a series of large trenches (probably primitive air-raid protection), is a likely location, situated at 50Â°57'30.67"N 1Â°52'15.12"E . While the camp plans drawn from memory are usually topographically unreliable, the two huts are the rear of the camp are clearly visible. This also coincides exactly with the modern street address of, 42 Rue ChÃ¢teaubriand and suggests this is the probable location. The No-Ball Target lists a camp designated XI/B/3 CALAIS at 50Â°57'26'' N, 01Â°53'13'' E. This location is 0.84 km east of Rue ChÃ¢teaubriand, just west of Chemin Parmentier. Available aerial imagery at the resolution available offers no indications of an encampment at this site to challenge this finding.
The Rapport Definitif then describes a second subsequent period of activity from October 1942 to May 1943, with a prisoner cohort of around 800 non-Jewish prisoners, engaged in construction works. These appear to be mostly prisoners from the Merxplas jail, condemned by a German Council of War, who started to occupy the camps of Calais and Fort-Mahon, starting in October of 1942. The camp was evidently operating as a 'punishment camp' ('Straflager') as it included refractories inmates working a 3 month detention. Inmates of punishment camps had to work a 3 month sentence and would only be released when they has signed another work contract 'volunteering' to continue working for the Germans and would transfer to an open camp, such as Freudenthal at Camier. In these respects the camp it was similar to the Peuplingues Camp. The camp commandant was a Lagerfuhrer Lange, an SS Obersturmfuhrer.
The Report states that the camp was supressed in May 1943, but this statement appears to be entirely erroneous, as we know from the reports on the Emsland Camps that a large number of prisoners were transferred into the camp towards the end of 1943 and if Hamacher's statement is correct, they moved into the existing Calais Camp.
The Lettow Vorbeck Camp was later transformed by transfer of 1,500 prisoners transferred from Esterwegen and other camps in the Emsland group of camps, on and around the 26 October 1943 and detachment of prisoners called 'Einsatz X', or 'Sondereinsatz West (Frankreich)'. The camp leader (Vorsteher) was a brutal type called 'Viccocitcs' and replaced the previous camp leader, who had been killed on a journey to Berlin. The Quartermaster Schwartz was also notorious for leading a beating up crew, in beating prisoners, but not doing the dirty work himself. A Russian doctor came to the camp once a week to see the prisoners.
The Emsland group of camps were founded in 1933 for a category of Special Prisoners and became a group of 15 camps in the Ems Valley, with a mixture of military, political and criminal prisoners and some being held in indefinite detention. A report concludes, 'The camps, therefore housed every type of man from conscientious objectors, democrats and listeners to the British wireless to deserters, homosexuals and murderers. After the outbreak of war foreign nationals began to be included - Poles who had deserted from the German Army, members of the French and Belgian Resistance Movements and a variety of Czech, Dutch and Luxemourgeois civilians whose conduct had been prejudicial to the Good Order and Military Discipline of the Third Reich'. The camps also contained Allied nationals and Jews, specifically in camps IV, V, and VII. The presence 'of Jews of various nationalities' is noted specifically at Esterwegen (camp VII) in London Cage testimony.
Drafts of labour were sent from Camps I, II, III, VII and perhaps also Camps IV and V, of the Emsland group of camps in October 1943, they, 'were sent to France where they engaged principally in heavy construction works VI emplacements etc. A Working camp was established at Calais (Lettow-Vorbeck Camp) with working parties at Saleux and Pixhen. This was later moved to Arras with a branch at Samer. In January 1944 a second draft was sent to Berck-Plage and in April 1944 a third draft was sent to Berck-Plage. The inmates were almost entirely German as the regulations prohibited the transfer of foreigners from the Emsland Camps for labour abroad. Conditions in Calais were somewhat better than in the home camps, elsewhere they were similar.
Conditions were similar to Esterwegen, which was for deserters and those convicted of High Treason, but one prisoner, Michael Hamacher, describes it as having a little more food and some fewer beatings. Hamacher ended up in concentration camp, as he deserted the Russian Front and was captured and a Courts Martial sentenced him to death commuted to 4 years penal servitude and loss of all civil rights and declared a person unfit for military service. Prisoners in this phase worked on, 'sinking shafts and similar work in the neighbourhood of Pixhen and Carrieres, where V-weapon sites were being built. The names of the firms engaged thereon were 'Fuehrerschackt', Julius Berger and Moll, from Munich. O.T. personnel were in charge, they behaved decently on the whole. However, the area commandant ... O.T Obertruppuehrer Becker was responsible for the excessive amount of work which he required from us and both he and the Amtmann saw to it that virtually the last ounce of energy was squeezed out of the prisoners... Reveille was a 0500 hrs. Breakfast consisted of coffee, and bread saved from the previous evening's supper could be eaten with it. Roll-call was at 0700 hrs, we then marched to the station and arrived at the working site at 0730 hrs. We worked there until 1200 hrs. For lunch we received Â½ Litre 'bunker soup', a sort of vegetable soup. Work re-started at 1230 hrs and finished 1830 hrs. As the conditions on the railway were very bad we only arrived back in camp at 2100 hrs. For supper we received 1 litre fairly good thick soup, 1/2 loaf of bread, margarine and sausage. On Sundays we got Â½ litre boiled potatoes with gravy. Every third Sunday was free. Clothing and sleeping accommodation was similar to that in Esterwegen, but the OT issued a thin coat and some 300 of us were issued with wooden-soled leather boots instead of clogs.' (Affidavit by PW Michael Hamacher, p 5. - 6.)
Hans Stava ended up in the Emsland system because he was convicted of trafficking stolen army petrol. He states, 'In mid-January 1944 I was put on a draft of about 1,000 prisoners from various camps and came to a camp in Berck Plage. This camp was moved in the middle of April to Watten and at the beginning of July to Cambrai.'The Camp in Cambrai was in the center of town in an old silo and the prisoners were then engaged in repairing railways and railway stock. (cf. Werner Stirrenberg).
Walter Simon describes one of the most dramatic and inhumane episodes in the camp history, 'During an air-raid on Calais in Nov 1943, about 500 inmates were killed as Loos had forbidden us to take cover during the air-raid, although there was plenty of room in the shafts. Approx. 200 victims, who could be found in the rubble being buried in the Military Cemetery in Calais. The victims, being under-nourished were packed 2-3 dead in one coffin.
The No-Ball list also supplies one of the probable worksites for the inmates of the camp as, XI/A/13, CALAIS FORESHORE (50Â°58'20" N, 01Â°53'00" E) which is 1 mile. Or 1.6 km north of the labour camp and is a point just east of the road entry of the modern Hover Port on the Rue des Dunes. The point indicated is just east of the deep-water dock at Calais port, also, large German bunkers are evident at the indicated point in the near vicinity, on both sides of the road, and to the east is a large gun battery systems, the 'Fort Vert' and 'Batterie Oldenburg', all of which would have needed very large amounts of labour to construct and was of significant strategic importance to the Germans. The reference to 'Oldenburg' also suggests that this battery was constructed by the Lettow-Vorbeck cohort of labour, as the town of Oldenburg is close to the Emsland group of camps.
The Sangatte camp is important as it was the first Jewish camp in the Nord Pas de Calais and was before the main Jewish deportations to the area. The Sangatte camp was opened on 12 September 1941 and was essentially a temporary camp or Kommando. The main work was in the construction of the mighty Lindemann Batterie (on Mount d'Hubert) which included three 406mm guns (named after the Commander of the battleship 'Bismarck' which sank in 1941). The camp was also in operation during the key period in 1942 and is also referenced in the 'Liste des Israelites...' and we find, for example that Jewish prisoner, Ammon Merkers was captive at the camp and the main contractors was Durr et Rosetzky, of Stuttgart.
The batteries on Mount d'Hubert were one of the biggest obstacles when the Canadians spear-headed the invasion of the area and only captured by use of smoke screens and tank-mounted flame-throwers.
The Report Definitif states that it was 10 km from Calais on the coastal road to Boulogne and consisted of large canvas tents surrounded by wire. Its exact location according to the report, was in a pasture belonging to M. Condette, right next to a small wood and among the trees. It is related that the prisoners could see the sea and England on a clear day.
Delmaire offers a different description as she says that the camp was located, 'in the pasture of Mme Bourdrel', though both description indicate the transient nature of the camp. Most of the former battery is now under a lake formed when the Channel Tunnel was built and is located at 50Â°55'54.99"N 1Â°44'4.95"E .
3. Wissant Camp (OT Lager Prinz Eugen?)An Allied aerial reconnaissance shows a photograph of a labour camp at the edge of Wissant which may be OT Lager Prinz Eugen. Several camps were identified as targets during Operation Cross Bow to eliminate the Nazis V-weapons capacity, and many hundreds of prisoners and other labour was killed in the raids. This camp is almost certainly the forced labour camp to which Joseph Bochenski was sent from Guernsey to work at Mimoyecques V3 blockhouse 7km away. He describes his camp as being situated between the village and the cemetery, in a marsh and this answers the description. This was not a Jewish camp.
Joseph Bochenski (born Poland, 1922) was sent to concentration camp when he refused conscription into the Wehrmacht in 1940. He was sent as slave labour to Guernsey and then to France to work at Mimoyecques V3 blockhouse from Wissant Camp and left in July 1944 to another concentration camp, having survived the 'Tallboy' bomb raids, where he was liberated by the Americans in April 1945.
Some existing local buildings were within the camp perimeter and probably part of the camp and still survive along with other elements of the camp and an anonymous memorial is on the junction near to the camp entrance.
4. Boulogne sur MerThis Jewish camp is listed in the 'Liste des Israelites...' and it is stated that workers here included Mordka Miler (no. 1361) and were contracted to the firm Ph. Holzmann. Holzmann's trading address was unusually local, at the Villa Speranza, the Rue des Dunes, at Wimereux. The site of the camp no doubt relates to fortification works near to the harbour, or perhaps the high ground over-looking the port at the suburb of La Portel, but there are no indications as to its locale but it seems to be distinct to the camp at St Martin, Boulogne.
5. Boulogne St MartinBoulogne St Martin is listed in the 'Liste des Israelites...' with the OT contractors, Hermecke, Magdebourg. A small number of the Belgian Jews are recorded as being at this camp, for example an Abraham Goudket, who was here and at Isques and also Martin Isaac Mintz (no. 1370) who was born in Jerusalem and was also captive here and at Isques. It is stated by a witness that there may have been a small camp for Jewish women in St Martin, as he saw Jewish women working there by the side of the road. This location was area of intense fortification activity on the strategic high ground at the edge of the city, remains of which are still visible. The general location is at 50Â°43'32.08"N 1Â°37'49.14"E. However, a precise location for this camp is not known, but it is clear that it is a different kommando (and not a confusion of places) to the one at Boulogne sur Mer, particularly as the entries for both camps can been seen on the same page in the 'Liste des Israelites...' and different contractors are named and we also have eye-witness testimony to Jews working here.
6. Camp Brauneck, (College Mariette) - BoulogneIn August 1942 a rail convoy came to this camp from Antwerp with Jewish prisoners. 350 Russian POWs arrived in April 1943. Camp Brauneck, was situated in the Lycee Mariette, in Boulogne, and obtained a notorious reputation among Jewish deportee, over the time of its operation due to the sadism of some its guards. For its earlier operation we have the account of Edmund Weiss a Czech Jewish Dentist, who experienced the brutality first hand and was employed 11-12 hours daily on road making, fortifications etc. (see earlier testimony).
There are other accounts of its later operation (particularly the Rapport Definitif No. 4) of the 650 Jews (stated to be German Jews living in France) were deported off the Isle of Alderney in May 1944, the older men in the group were sent to the Brauneck. The top (fourth) floor of the school LycÃ©e Mariette was used as the camp, where various rooms were barricaded with barbed wire to make a prison. The other floors were used as accommodation for volunteers. The prisoners were set to work making block-houses.
The prisoners were forced to rise between 3 and 5 a.m. and would go to work a half hour later having been given ersatz coffee. They had virtually no access to washing facilities and very limited time for washing. The would be organised into work groups of 20--50 men and sent to various work sites, sometimes staying on site for 7--8 days at the discretion of the site foreman, before returning to camp. At night 250 men would sleep crammed into two small rooms, with only a single blanket each and they were not permitted to go out to use the toilet. Their rations were a small amount of bread (200 grams) with a piece of margarine, or sausage and soup.
The inmates there were treated with great brutality by their guards who were armed with batons and guns. Some of the guards were French and Belgians. One guard, Thiele and his assistant Klink, were the ring-leaders for inhumanity and cruelty. They forced exhausted and sick Jews to crawl into thorny bushes or to do punishment drills to the point of passing out. If prisoners returned late from work, they were ordered to weed the court yard by hand and move the weeds a few meters further down and they would not hesitate to hit prisoners.
British intelligence reports are able to provide a fuller picture of the most sadistic of the staff, and indicates the mundane back-ground of these staff - the most feared - Klink - was apparently a sweet-shop owner in civilian life and was partially disabled due to a war wound. O/Truppfuhrer Georg Klink was an SS member in the uniform of the OT, who had a 'shortening of the left arm owing to a wound received during an air attack when with the Pz Regt ... All PW agreed that he was a complete sadist and was the worst character at the Camp. He was always ready to report anyone at every opportunity to the Camp Commandant. He constantly beat up prisoners at every pretext and carried a piece of lead-piping for the purpose. Believed to owned confectionary at Aachen.'
Oberlagersfuhrer Theile had been a photographer in civilian life and was described in British intelligence reports as married and his appearance was 'corpulent' with a 'bulldog' face, and he was a drinker and smoker, 'a quick-tempered and brutal type.' It appears from another British intelligence report that he may be one and the same as the Thiele, of similar appearance ('bulldog face'), who was at some time the Gerichtsoffizier for Camp Ellrich (a former factory converted into a camp in March 1944, to serve local industries and near to camp Dora), a, 'Very bad type, bullied guards and prisoners alike'.
Hilfspolierer Philipp Edinger was described as a 'thoroughly objectionable type, who was accustomed to beat up all workers in his gang'. Obertruppen Orgis, is also of additional interest, as other British intelligence documents note that a Paul Orgis was also the Lagerfuhrer of Norderney Camp on the Island of Alderney in 1942. Nordeney was notorious for its treatment of Jewish and other prisoners.
The college and the site have been re-developed since the war, due to damage to the site, but the location of the camp was at 50Â°43'53.10"N 1Â°36'40.25"E., just off the Rue de Beaurepaire.
7. Isques CampThis Jewish camp is listed in the 'Liste des Israelites...' and it is stated that workers here were contracted to the firm Leonhard Hanbuck & Sohne. For example we find Israel Wajsberg (no. 2075), as one of the Jewish slave labourers at the camp in 1942. The precise location of the camp is not known, though it is likely to have been within 1km of the vicinity of intensive fortification activity just to the north of the village, as shown in contemporary aerial imagery (location 50Â°40'43.75"N 1Â°39'17.91"E).
8. Condette CampCamp Condette was a small and initially tented, labour camp. This was a small camp with 250 inmates. It was set up 13 June 1942 and eventually had long barrack huts, but was closed by c. August 1944. Detachments of workers would be marched to their work from both Camiers and Dannes (probably along the Chemin du Facteur), the trek to Condette taking up to two hours. David Shentow may have been temporarily at this camp, as well as at Dannes, as attested to in the, 'Liste des Israelites...' Its exact location is not certain but a local contact reported that it was just off the road exit from the village to Ecault and it had come to his attention because there were objections to its development for houses, 'because it was a site of memory'. This is a housing development now called 'Parc du Rouvre' and is located at 50Â°39'16.04"N 1Â°37'10.32"E .
9. Hardelot Plage CampHardelot Plage appears as a distinct camp in the 'Liste des Israelites...' For example entry 1135, states that a prisoner there was Mayer-Wolf Lachman and the contracting firm was Joh. Schneider of Saarbruck. There was a beach depot for building materials (located at 50Â°39'12.13"N 1Â°34'27.05"E) with a small railway station and depot, located behind the ruins of Villa Sambra, in Hardelot, which would explain the reason and site of the camp, and there was also a concrete access spur to the main Chemin des Juifs too. Therefore this appears to be distinct from Camp Condette. The general location of the camp was at geo-location 50.643488, 1.577097, if it is supposed it was near the concrete road spur from Hardelot and the small river, a key water supply.
It important to note that Jews laboured in Hardelot Plage resort itself. There is one account by a prisoner Kleiman - one of the Jews from Belgium deported to Lager Tibor in 1942 - who was engaged in demolishing villas in the south of Hardelot (l'Avenue de la Mer and south of Avenue Guy Barbe Blanche) being cleared to created a clear line of fire for the local gun batteries. The area formerly occupied by these villas is now modern flats and sea-front shops.
It may well be the case that the concrete sea-wall and other defenses, constructed by the Germans, were built by the Belgian Jews.
10. OT Straflager at DannesThere was an OT Straflager at Dannes which was a punishment camp for STO work refusers from Belgium and Germany (started 12 July 1942, closed March / April 1943 and the detainees sent to Watten) and was situated outside the village, near the beach and Lager Tibor, on the border of the country lane or track. This location may be next to the car-park for the 'Site Naturel des Dunes du Mont St Frieux', just north of the 'Route de la Mer' (D940E2)as there is evidence of war-time concrete roads emanating from this site and hard standing (geo-location: 50.591654, 1.603417).
This was one of the 4 camps in the immediate Dannes - Camier area. Inmates of this camp had to work a 3 month sentence and would only be released when they has signed another work contract 'volunteering' to continue working for the Germans. This was not a Jewish camp.
11. Lager Tibor - The Camp at Dannes
The exact date of the foundation of the OT camp at Dannes (known to locals as the 'Camp for Jews') is not clear, but the official Belgian report on the French camps, ('Rapport Definitif No. 4 - 'Dannes-Camiers') places it on 13 June 1942. The first group of prisoners probably arrived on 5 August, 1942, with a group of Belgian Jewish deportees arriving at Dannes-Camiers railway station. The Jews were segregated within the camp from other prisoner groups who included French, Italian, Spanish and Russian prisoners. Dannes became the primary and central local camp used to assemble and register the new arrivals and then allocate prisoners to the other camps or kommandos. Conditions at the camp were arduous and often brutal.
To closely paraphrase the official report, which must be regarded as a major source of near contemporary information on the camp, notes that up to the end of October 1942, it had 9 tents (4 large and 5 small), 2 barracks, plus a barrack for the guards. There were 65 guards composed of SS, SK, Luftwaffe, Pioneers, and Wehrmacht. By December 1943 all the tents had been replaced by Barracks and the guards were lodging in neighbouring houses and the camp was surrounded with barbed wire. It was divided into 2 independent sections, one for Jews and one for deportees of different nationalities (French, Spanish, Italians, Russians). Lager Tibor was the administrative centre for the different kommandos in the region working under the direction of the OT and the direct command of Frontfuhrer Rhoel.
From June 1942, to October 1942, there were a 1,200 Jews of different nationalities and a number of Belgians. On 5 August 1942 a convoy of Jews from Antwerp Central Station arrived, but from 31 October 1942, Jews were deported via Mechelen to Auschwitz, leaving only native Belgian Jews and Jews in mixed marriages to Ayrans (a deliberate policy by the Nazis). Thus by the end of October 1942 the number was reduced to plus or minus 100 Jews and all of the Jews had been withdrawn from most of the kommandos. At the end of October 1942, Jews of the Condette and Merlimont kommandos were remanded in Dannes and on 20th December 1942, Jewish detainees of Fort Mahon arrived.
In the first phase prisoners wore their own clothes and in the second and third periods, the rest of the time of the camp prisoners wore grey trousers and a blue shirt. In the third period the Belgians wore a dark blue uniform, the French a grey canvas uniform, and the Spanish wore blankets and the Russians wore a mix of uniforms, boots and civilian clothes 'that did not belong to them'.
The following transfers of prisoners are also noted: in June / July 1942, to Ferques, of c. 100 prisoners. On 14 August 42, 300 prisoners were transferred to Boulogne and at the end of September 1942, some 250 of the toughest prisoners were transferred to Etaples. The last transport at the time of the Allied landings, was via the camp at Samer and then towards Dixmunde, with the intended destination being the concentration camps at Mauthausen and Buchenwald, but the train was in fact liberated by the Belgian resistance on 4 September 1944.
Conditions in Lager Tibor
In terms of conditions in the camp, the Jewish prisoners wore their own clothes and the Jewish star. They were later joined by Jews arriving from Alderney, who wore the striped concentration camp uniform. They were always guarded by armed German guards (SS and OT Police). Food was insufficient, they were allowed no correspondence and received negligible medical help. Roll call (Appel) was any hour of the day and sometimes the middle of the night. Work was constructing earth works, fortifications on the Atlantic Wall, the construction of roads and concreting. They worked 10 hours a day and could walk very long distances to work. They had no passes to leave the camp (Ausweis) and no pay and minimal access to washing facilities and water.
The official report also relates the following Kommandos operated out of Lager Tibor; Lager Gneisenau at Camier, as well as at Boulogne, Calais, Etaples, Fort Mahon, Condette, Merlimont, Sangatte, Ferques.
This account accords with other sources, with the addition of Mazures in Belgium. Virtually all of the kommandos were in the Boulonnais region (bar Mazures). Most kommandoes were temporary, apart from Lager Gneisenau, Calais / Lager Lettow Vorbek, Lager Braunek, and Mazures (the latter operated for July 1942 to 4 January, 1944). Audinghen was the central administration point for the OT in the region.
We find that in David Shentow's account, that initially conditions at the camp, under the control of the Werhmacht, were arduous, with excessive work, starvation rations and perhaps some beatings, but the Werhmacht at the time of his stay did not subject the inmates to the terror and gratuitous violence of the SS.
The account of Edmund Weiss makes it clear that all of the camp Kommandants were brutal (particularly towards the Jews) except that in December 1943 when a non-Nazi party member, Rutter, became Kommandant and was less stringent in his dealings with the Jewish prisoners to the extent that he was arrested for 'mild treatment of the Jews' and then replaced with Ulrich [= Ulrich Muller?], 'an exceptional brutal type, notorious for his brutal treatment of Jews in Germany'. The Rapport definitif differs from this report, in that it states that Muller replaced Hermann, unless his name was Hermann Rutter.
Some testimony states that Prisoners at Dannes had limbs broken and teeth broken and were beaten with metal rods and with rifle-butts. It is estimated that 3-4,000 prisoners passed through the camp of whom 85% died. The later account of the camp at Camier contains the key witness allegation that the Lime kilns in the local cement factory may have provided the Nazis with an effective crematorium for the disposal of dead prisoners.
Also, prisoner Kleiman in his memoire, recounts that he was puzzled as to why he did not see sick people in the camp, even though there were supposed to be designated barracks. He found out one Sunday when the camp Kommandant sent them to work at the 'Cimema', a local chalk quarry half an hour away from the camp. Here he saw the sick forced to carry out heavy labour, hewing chalk and carrying it away in wheelbarrows. This was how they were finished off - a report which correlates to the allegation that the dead prisoners were then cremated in the kilns of the local cement factory. The location of this abuse of the prisoners was almost certainly the chalk pit at the 'Boulonnaise' concrete factory, in sight of the camp and contemporary aerial images show that there was a single large amphitheatre shaped quarry being dug at the time.
The Rapport definitif does not include all of the transports that came to the camp and which gradually increased the greatly depleted numbers caused by the mass deportation in October 1942. In May 1943: 200 Spaniards arrived, followed in June 1943 by 250 Frenchmen. In November 1943, a contingent of French Jewish prisoners from Alderney (Aurigny) were transferred to Dannes and the same happened on 7 May, 1944, when 650 Jewish prisoners were evacuated from Alderney (Aurigny) by boat to Cherbourg and 500 of that group were sent to Dannes. In April 1945 a transport of 350 Russians, including children, arrived from Smolensk bringing the number of inmates at the camp up to 750.
The French report states that prisoners were evacuated to Lager Gneisenau on 30 June 1944, though Weiss states that the end of the camp came on 5 September 1944, when the Germans started to evacuate all of the prisoners with them and organized a train at Boulogne to deport the prisoners to Mauthausen and Buchenwald. However, the transport was liberated by the Belgian resistance at Dexmude.
The inmates were also engaged on some other large-scale local construction projects in the very near vicinity of Dannes, such as the Kreigsmarine (Naval munitions store) which was under construction from August 1941 to October 1943 and the Construction of the Radar Station and fortress on Mt St Frieux, as well as other local bunker swarms, or were sent out to more distant construction projects as kommandos.
The camp can be seen in Operation Crossbow aerial imagery targeting the Kriegsmarine, but is not identified as such in the intelligence reports. Using GIS, the the camp appears to have been bisected by a track called the Chemin du Facteur. The central point of the main compound of the camp is at c. 50Â°35'44.79"N 1Â°37'12.92"E. The aerial imagery shows that only the gateway and entry compound fronted the road (the location of the entrance is at 50Â°35'42.43"N 1Â°37'17.46"E). The three house just north of the site of the camp entrance were billets for German soldiers working at the camp during the war. A small section of corrugated iron, probably from the 'half-moon shelter' at the camp entrance lies abandoned in the woodlands nearby.
Overlay work shows that the main camp compound was c. 112 x 165 m and the gate complex was c. 35 x 40 m. The largest huts were c. 30 m in length. The current memorial is c. 68 m south of the perimeter of the camp. At the end of the war the camp was not dismantled, but survived as a POW camp for German Prisoners (P.G. no. 12) and according to David Shentow, huts were still extant on a post-war visit.
12. Lager Freudenthal at CamierLager Freudenthal, was an open camp for 'volunteer workers' and also possibly part of or adjacent to Lager Gneisenau, or a portion of it. This was not a Jewish camp but was integrated into the network of local camps.
13. Lager Gneisenau - CamierAlong with Lager Tibor, the most important and central local camp was the slave labour camp, Lager Gneisenau and was often termed the 'Jew's Camp'. The Rapport Definitif No. 4 on the camps provides detailed information on the camp and asserts that it was a kommando of Lager Tibor and that it was originally an open volunteer workers camp called 'Freudenthal', with French and Belgian prisoners, until the beginning of 1943, when the penal camp developed from it. After 1943 the camp was used for Russians and Jews (from France and Belgium) and a racial and penal character was established. Additional inmates came off a transport from the island of Alderney, and they were joined by Jews from the camps at Hardelot, and Dannes, after the bombing campaign of 1944 and the subsequent Normandy Landing.
It was close to the railway station at Camiers and had averagely 450--500 inmates, though perhaps 1200 inmates at its peak, including Jewish inmates, who were segregated, but moved its inmates to the satellite camps as required. Conditions in this camp were harsher than in Lager Tibor. The Jewish prisoners were 'employed' by H. Micka of Saarbrucken. One of the Commandants was 'Hermann', aged 40--45 years, who was corpulent, and aided by brutal assistants, Baptist Stukart, Kurt Heiezelman, Robert Berger, Ulrich Muller, as well as some Belgian guards.
In terms of the camp regime, the inmates were guarded day and night by armed guards of the Belgium, Dutch, German members of the OT and NSKK. The prisoners wore civilian clothes and their reveille was at 6 am. They suffered too little food, water, poor conditions, hygiene but there was much lice. The prisoners were not allowed access to the water which was otherwise nearby at the factory.
Their work was working with cement, the construction of blockhouses, placing of mines and wire, working with picks and shovels, and they were brutalised by guards during work. They worked 12-14 hours per day and could work 36-40 hours at a stretch with no rest (presumably when pouring the concrete for bunkers). It is thought that some of the prisoners may have worked at the local cement factory ('Le Boulonnaise') next to the camp and two eye witnesses of 1942 (local French youth 'volunteers' at the factory) stated that 'Jewish intellectuals' worked at the cement plant. Conditions at the Gneisenau Camp were particularly severe and prisoners are reported to have been systematically mistreated, tortured, and killed. Prisoners suffered deliberate mistreatment, malnutrition, torture, and possibly murder. Beatings with iron bars were common. Some Jewish prisoners were punished by being made to work barefoot in the concrete, which in winter would lead to gangrene and death. One such set of foot-prints has been observed by the author in the concrete on the Chemin de Juifs, at Hardelot. They were never paid or permitted an ausweis (pass out of camp).
It is also alleged by one eyewitness that the bodies of prisoners were disposed of by being thrown into the lime-kilns and were thereby combined with the cement used in the local constructions. There are only 6 'official' Jewish graves in Dannes - Camier, in the local cemetery, next to the site of Lager Tibor and no evidence of the remains of the many prisoners who died at the local camps.
The Rapport Definitif No. 4, states that of an unspecified group of 300 inmates, after 3 months, only 150 were fit for work and the rest were sick or dead. French victims of the camp included Marcel Grinnosel and Jean Gordon, who seem to have died while working from the camp at Camier, in a Kommando at Etaples, when the work group was subjected to allied bombing raids.
There were also heavy bombing raids on the camps at Camier themselves during the course of February, 1944, leading to dismantlement of some of the target sites by the end of the month. There were a further 40 raids in July 1944 in and around Camier. It might be speculated that the Jewish commando could have been moved to the site near the station.
At the end of August 1944, with the threat of invasion, the detainees were sent to Samer Camp, where they were liberated by the Canadians in September 1944. There was also a transport to Germany via Boulogne that was liberated by the Resistance at Dixmunde.
The exact site of the camp is not entirely clear: according to the main report, it was on private property on the route Ste Cecile, at the crossroads of the Hotel des Voyageurs and might have been in a building or factory within the private property. Industrial buildings are visible adjacent to this site in photographs. However, the camp is not visible on available aerial reconnaissance photographs to confirm this location. This first general location is at 50Â°34'31.98"N 1Â°36'42.19"E.
An alternative location is also given in the report on the open labour camp at Camier, Lager Freudenthal, which states that Freudenthal was in the vicinity of the Rue du Preventorium and had seven barrack huts, stating that it was just 'at the exterior of Lager Gneisenau' and on the 'route du Preventorium'. This may refer to the designated 'Rue du Preventorium', or the road to the hospital (still extant) leading north, just off this. The wife of Belgian veteran of the camp (Madame van Houdenaeghe) said that her husband was at the volunteer camp, but was billeted in a few barracks allocated to Jewish workers. Allied aerial photographs do identify adjacent 'camps' at Camier, which covered an area of approximately 270m x 180 m, near the Rue du Preventorium, which fit this description. There are three distinct groups of barrack huts in the aerial image, comprising 36 huts. That is to say they are 150m south-east of the railway line, and either side of the Route de Widehem, with the original entrance close to the road junction with Rue de Buisson Fleury. There is a separate group of seven huts, just out-side the larger main camps(s) south of the Route de Widehem, at precise location 50Â°34'1.45"N 1Â°37'4.90"E and this accords well with the locational description of Freudenthal (RÃ©sidence de la Colline). There is another group of some 10 huts with ancillary structures, at the south-eastern corner of the site, at precise location 50Â°34'2.17"N 1Â°37'11.18"E. These appear to be for the guard and personnel for the camps. This may be deduced from the fact that a number of clearly marked paths lead in either direction to the other barrack huts as well as south east to defensive positions, suggesting that this had the privileged access. This leaves the largest number of the long row of 17 barracks and ancillary buildings, on the north side of the Route de Widehem, also nearly agrees with the 15 barracks pertaining to Lager Gneisenau, as described Rapport Definitif No. 4 and may be regarded as either the original or alternative site of Lager Gneisenau (location 50Â°34'3.25"N 1Â°37'9.88"E). This side of the camp, was on industrial and vacant land which has previously been the main British field hospital in World War I and was close to the WWI British 'Kaffir Camp'.
14. Samer CampThe Rapport Definitif No. 4 states that an OT camp operated at Samer (general location 50Â°38'23.43"N 1Â°44'44.88"E), from the beginning of the German occupation and that, 'it was occupied by German common criminals, those who wore the striped outfit'.
British intelligence reports and statements from the London Cage amplify these statements somewhat. The camp at Samer was another camp linked to Emsland, which was operated by a Danish Schutzkommando, on behalf of the O.T. and which operated until Christmas 1943. In British intelligence reports, it states that 'Einsatz X', the Lettow Vorbeck camp was established at Calais, 'and that this was moved to Arras with a branch at Samer.'
Brutality was practiced at this camp, as at the others, and one prisoner at the camp, Rudolf Hammers, who described himself as Catholic anti-Nazi and was convicted for desertion, states that there was more brutality in France than in the Emsland camps (the conditions in the later according to British intelligence reports was exceptionally brutal and included the murder of prisoners) and that, 'about the middle of December one of the Danes shot a prisoner dead. I saw the corpse being carried into the cement shed' (Rudolf Hammers 11 Dec 1945). The affidavit of Rudolf Hammers also states that the man shot dead in December 1943 by a Dane, was called Brennecke. The latter statement also suggests that cement and concrete work was being carried out at the camp. The Einheitsfuerhrer of Camp Samer was one Luebbering (who was married and lived at Oldenburg and had also worked at Emsland Camps I. II, IV, V, VII), until the inmates were transferred to Calais.
Another inmate of Samer, was Edmund Callies, who had suffered barbarously at the hands of the Nazis, because his parents were Communists and anti-Nazis, inconsequence of which he was forcibly sterilised in 1938 in the Rudolf Virchow Hospital in Berlin. He was called up and got in trouble for making anti-Nazi remarks and also deserted and was captured and sent to the Emsland Camps, Norway, back to Emsland and thence to Samer, Calais and then Arras from where he made his escape.
Camp functionaries who all served at Lettow Vorbeck, Calais and Samer, were, Vorsteher Viccocits (1944), Einheitsfuehrer, Loos (1944) and Luebberling (1944), Abteilung C, Schwartz (1944), Straf. KP Esskuchen (1944), and Brant (1944).
However, the deportation lists compiled by the Foundation pour la Memoire de la Deportation, show that 46 Jewish prisoners were also transferred from Alderney on 12/08/1943, 11/10/1943 and 12.08.43, to Samer, and escaped between, 01.09.44 and 05/09/1944. The deported Jews were mostly French, though 7 nationalities were represented and it is of interest that up to 5 of the Jews were Turkish
At the close of the War the Rapport Definitif No. 4 states the camp briefly became a Jewish camp, though is not aware of the Jews deported previously from Alderney. The report states that in August 1944, Jewish prisoners of different nationalities, from Belgium, were evacuated from Lager Gneisenau, at Camiers and were installed in the camp, ahead of the Allied advance and that the guards were Belgian, German and Dutch. It further states, 'the detainees were dressed in rags and subjected to a very hard diet. They were occupied in making earthworks.' One Jewish death at the camp was registered, that of a Hungarian Jew, Lazare Friedman. This later phase of the camp only lasted a month, before the Liberation.
It seems then that the camp was used by the Allies at the end of the war, as a 'collecting camp', as one escapee, a Jew, Edmund Wiess, from the nearby camp at Dannes was sent to Samer, when he presented himself to the British with no papers at Boulogne, so we have the suggestion that Jews may have remained in the camp, at least temporarily, after the Liberation. The site of the camp is not currently known.
15. Lager Erika - EtaplesIn September of 1942, 250 of the toughest of the Belgian Jews started work at Etaples and were registered in the Dannes-Camiers camps. This was a strategic and dangerous work place, as important road, rail and bridge communications and Etaples railway station, all coincided and were heavily targeted in Allied bombing raids. The prisoners were often in the thick of the bombing while clearing road and rail and repairing the bridge. In one attack, nine prisoners died.
It appears likely that this camp was a local OT camp, Lager Erika. A contemporary photograph shows a camp surrounded with wire and with a banner over the entrance with the name 'Lager Erika', with two lines of barracks, approximately 10 in all, situated in the dunes. A group of 3 civilian houses can be seen directly in the line of sight, in the background. The precise location of the camp is unknown from the documentation, though it is likely to have had some proximity to the German bunker system in the dunes to the NE of the town.
However, an examination of aerial imagery of November 1943, shows the probable camp site, only 1.2km, west of the main grouping of fortifications just noted. This 'camp; is off the Boulogne Road (Route 940) isolated in the dunes and consists of some 15 main huts arranged along a central path and some civilian houses or chalets can be seen in the background. The shadow profile of the huts indicate that they are half-moon huts and there is an adjacent trench system as well as kettle pits showing it is in a military zone. When the aerial image is located accurately using GIS, the camp shown is NE just off the modern-day Rue de la Garenniere. The group of three houses in direct sight line of the central avenue of the camp appear to be on the AllÃ©e des Libellules, which is pre-war in date and the round-about evident in the aerial image is still extant and a useful landmark. The precise location is at geo-location 50.527305, 1.630880. These observations require further verification.
16. Montreuil CampThe Historic fortified hill-top town of Montreuil was occupied by the Nazis not least because of its strategic position. The second Panzer Division arrived in May 1940 and they principally occupied the castle in the town and stayed for four years and the officers occupied the Hotel Acary de la Riviere. In 1940 Montreuil became part of the Forbidden 'Red Zone'. It was decided to construct an underground barracks for the soldiers in the chalk hill on which the town is sited. The barracks were constructed under the supervision of the O.T. from October 1943, using a labour force of 150 of non-political men taken from the prison at Loos, along with local men, and the bastions and defences of the citadel became their camp and prison. This labour contingent appears to have included Jews, as a correspondent has related that at a reunion at the tunnels he met a former Jewish prisoner lodged at Montreuil.
This statement is reinforced as it can be confirmed that two Jewish prisoners were deported back from Alderney to Montreuil sur Mer. A Turkish / French Jew, Jacques Motro, was deported from Alderney on 11/10/1943 and escaped from Montreuil-sur-Mer on 01/09/1944. Likewise, a French Jew, Adrien Monteux was also deported on 11/10/1943 from Alderney and escaped on 02/09/1944 from Montreuil-sur-Mer.
The prisoners dug out the tunnels using pneumatic drills and 8,000 m3 of chalk excavated was taken out by trucks pushed by hand along rails out of the tunnels. The chalk (which was camouflaged by a net to prevent it being seen from the air) was deposited in the large ditch at the foot of the town wall, near to Bastions 4 and 5, and a large mound of excavated material can still be seen.
Four tunnels were dug to provide a double entry and exit for each of the two barracks, which were designed to be self-sufficient and gas-proof barracks. The barracks were used from the summer of 1944. The first barrack had two vaulted chambers 4.6m wide x 50m long. The second barrack was never fully completed, but the first chamber was used as a medical facility. Since the War one of the barracks has partly collapsed. The entrances to the barracks are in the ditch on the south-west side of the town wall, and can be accessed not far from the tourist information centre, just off the 'Promenades des Ramparts' and can be accessed from a path down from the first bastion towers off the rampart path, near to the main citadel. The entrances are gated and normally closed to visitors, but are usually opened once a year in mid-September for tours on a heritage open day in August. The area in front of the gate house of the Citadel was a war cemetery during the War and German soldiers were buried there, though the graves were removed at the end of the War.
17. Merlimont CampWhile Merlimont is listed as one of the commandos operating out of Dannes (general location 50Â°27'20.32"N 1Â°36'48.25"E), in the Rapport Definitif No. 4, which also states that the prisoners there were remanded back to Dannes at the end of October 1942, there is virtually no other information about the camp. There is strangely no record of any prisoners at Merlimont, or companies operating contracts there, in the 'Liste des Israelites...' and there seems to be little current evidence of any significant fortification works in the near vicinity of Merlimont. It seems that it only operated in the first phase of the camps and probably closed at the end of October 1942, with the deportations to Auschwitz. While the information that is given may be perfectly correct, if extremely limited, it needs to be ascertained whether there is a serious geographical confusion at play.
This is because there was a Jewish camp operating at the Dolomite quarries, with 49 Belgian Jewish labourers working in the quarries for a company called Matissen, at Merlemont, Philippeville, only 33 km north of the camp at Mazures, meaning it could have been an additional outlying satellite camps along with Mazures. The Merlemont camp operated from the summer of 1942 until March 1943 and the Jewish labourers were housed in billets rather than a formal camp.
However, while this may be an explanation, it must also be mentioned that there is another Merlemont, 55km south of Amiens and another claimed camp site. Among the No-Ball target list of Labour Camp sites, is a target code-named XI/E/3 MERLEMONT, which is 0.5km west of Merlemont Village, original given target location, 49Â°23'25'' N, 02Â°10'10''. No further information has been located for this target camp.
18. Berck-sur-Plage CampBerck Plage Camp is a camp that is little known today, particularly because for many French and English people, its association with its beach and famous hospitals is so strong. New local research by Cyril Brossard, shows that after the local resident Jews of Berck were deported, Jewish prisoners from Belgium and prisoners of different nationalities were then brought in to construct the defensive point 'Terminus', which is near modern day 'Le Terminus' in the north of the town and a large bunker swarm can be still seen at the nearby beach at location 50Â°25'39.71"N 1Â°33'58.82"E.
Local witnesses saw the poor treatment and endless hours of labour of the prisoners constructing block houses as they worked 14 - 18 hours daily. The empty premises of the 'Institut Helio-Marin' facility, served as the Kommando. This was a pre-war medical fresh-air facility for patients, right by the sea, at the north of Berck, in an elegant two storey pavilion with much glass and wide verandas for the patients to take the sea air and light. The Helio Marin, A and B, was constructed by 1929. This building was situated at Rue du Docteur Calot and the original refurbished building appear to survive at location 50Â°25'5.86"N 1Â°33'58.37"E, opposite the junction with Impasse Andrin and was 1km from the work-site.
Brossard notes that later on 20 (Ukrainian?) prisoners died on a construction site, in the rubble of the general hospital, Leclerc, during the bombing of 8 February, 1944.
These original Jews were replaced by German political prisoners and prisoner Walter Huchatz describes a penal camp in the sand dunes for largely German prisoners engaged in the construction of anti-tank defences over-seen by Danish and Dutch O.T. personnel, which other sources state were members of the Organisation Todt Police (OT Shutzkommando). He states that the O.T. staff generally treated them decently, but that some professional prison warders, 'appointed for surveillance over us, exercised their customary brutality and cruelty'. The camp appears to have been moved in April 1944 to Watten, and then in July, to Cambrai, from where many prisoners made their escape.
Although it is not possible to ascertain whether any of these subsequent prisoners were Jews (though one of the prisoners quoted, Erich Ganz, had a 'Jewish' surname), since the prisoner cohort of the Emsland Camps did include Jews in several of the camps, and the draft of prisoners to Berck were drawn from several camps, it is possible that some Jews, or part Jews, continued to be part of the prisoner cohort at Berck and it may be noted that many of the people who the Nazis labelled as 'Jews' would not have recognised themselves to be such.
Werner Stirrenberg also relates that there were 1,000 inmates, including a few Poles, French and Luxembourgers who had been in the Wehrmacht and that, 'we built gun-emplacements and A/Tk [anti-tank) ditches under the supervision of the O.T.' He also relates that in April 1944 the entire camp, was transferred to Watten.
Willi Welke gives the most detailed picture of the organisation of work at Berk Plage,' Work was carried out mainly by 3 working parties, Berck-Sud, Where V-I sites were constructed: Berck Nord, where heavy artillery sites were constructed, and in Beck Mitte, where anti-tank defences were set up.'
Erich Wanke also describes the work at Berck-Plage, 'we worked in various squads out-side the camp. The squad in which I worked was guarded by Danes who volunteered to work with the O.T. I did not know them by name, but I saw how some beat 3 or 4 prisoners to death on several days in January 1944... The foreman Max Geil, an inmate, was a man who beat prisoners every day in the most vicious manner'.
The camp commander of both Berck and Watten was a Sekretaer Rode, 'he did not do any beatings himself, but I heard him say to Marschall: "wade in with your rubber truncheon", and Justizoberwachtmeister Marschall would then ill-treat prisoners in Rode's presence. Justizhauptwachtmeister Seidelberger once beat me with the handle of a spade until I collapsed...' (Statement of Franz Hiebler)
Kaspar Fuchsenthaler confirms this incident but states that it took place at Rang Du Flier, near Berck.
Another prisoner, Heinz Albrecht describes having been imprisoned for neglect of duty and for disobedience and was eventually moved from Esterwegen Camp to Berck-Plage in January 1944, but succeeding in escaping in June 1944 and living and working with French farmers until liberation.
Walter Simon also got sent to Berck-Plage, and his back-ground was as an ardent supporter of the Social Democratic Party which lead him to come to the attention of the security services in the 1930s, a two year stay in an NS Indoctrination Camp in 1935, further arrest by the Gestapo and sent to a small concentration camp. At the out-break of war, he was conscripted to the Luftwaffe, deserted, imprisoned and then sent to Esterwegen and then on to the Lettow-Vorbeck Camp, before he finally successfully escaped.
Prisoner Werner Baldauf was also sent to Berck-Plage in January 1944 and eventually escaped from a camp at Arras and hid in Paris. He is of interest as he was an anti-Nazi who had been convicted in connection of the affair of the 'brothers Scholl' at Munich University in c. 1941, but called up to military service where he was convicted of desertion from Russia. This indicates that he was one of the White Rose resistance group, whose leaders Sophie and Hans Scholl were guillotined for their non-violent resistance as they distributed anti-war leaflets in the university. Since the 1970s, Sophie Scholl has been celebrated as one of the great German heroes who actively opposed the Third Reich during the Second World War.
Max Fischer was also at Berck and describes how Halbzugfuehrer Busche (or Busse) was killed by a bomb. Kaspar Fuchsenthaler also describes that a Busse - probably the one killed by the bomb - in France, excelled in Brutality.
The whole area of Nord Pas de Calais was very heavily bombed and there were many civilian casualties as well as in a number of instances, prisoners who were forbidden from taking cover at camps and in one instance at Calais, there were mass causalities.
Eric Ganz gives a further detailed account of his time at Berck. He had been incarcerated in Esterwegen, Ascendorer Moor, Neusustrum, Dalum and then in. 'January 1944 joined the draft from various camps in Emsland to Berck Plage, where we were put to work under the technical supervision of the OT. In May 1944 the whole camp was moved to Watten. On 15 June 1944 I escaped to the F.F.L. and on 15 September was handed over to the British...' Elsewhere in his statement he elaborates on his move and conditions at the camp, 'In January 1944 I came with the big draft to Berck Plage in France. Eihheitsfuehrer Hartman came with us, but as there were about 700 - 800 inmates there, the man in charge of it was Vorsteher Inspektor Roder. Hartmann, who in Dalum had seldom beaten a prisoner, and also Roder behaved here with the utmost brutality. Conditions in the camp were worse than in any other camp I have known. I myself and many other were all too frequently beaten by Justizwachtmeister Marschall and Justizwachtmeister Schumach. The latter stuck me on the nose and broke it.
The firm Woelfer & Goebel from Stuttgart were executing a contract for the O.T. in Berck Plage and I was employed there. The O.T. personnel behaved rather well, with the exception of two O.T. men who supervised the penal colony and indulged in brutality. The name of one of them was Wilhelm Schmidt.
[At the] End of January 1944, we stood in the railway station in Berck Plage, with the Justizoberwachtmeister Ripke in charge. A Frenchman by the name of Richaux who frequently, on previous occasions, gave us bread and cigarettes, gave also this time a few cigarettes to one of us. Seeing this Ripke jumped to the Frenchman and dealt him such a blow on the head with the rifle-butt that he dropped on the spot, dead Justizhauptwachtmeister Kniess then busied himself with the removal of the body. He had, however, no part in the actual murder. [Kaspar Fuchsenthaler confirms this last incident of murder but states that it took place at Rang du Flier near Berck]
In May 1944 the whole establishment, incl. the Justiz and SA personnel were transferred from Berck to Watten. Consequently, the treatment in the new camp was the same as before, i.e. blows on every occasion, for the slightest reason or without one, showered upon the prisoners mercilessly, with the rubber-truncheons, pieces of wood or any object. We were employed in Watten on building 'V-1' sites. I do not know of any particular incidents there. One was exposed every day to so many acts of brutality that one was made insensitive and could not take much notice of what happened to others. (27 Nov 1945) Erich Ganz.'
19. Fort-Mahon CampThe OT camp at Fort-Mahon was among the most southerly of the Jewish camps on the coast-line of the Cote D'Opale (general location 50Â°25'21.96"N 1Â°37'2.83"). On July 14, 1942, a convoy of Belgian Jews and other nationalities were sent by the Germans to Fort-Mahon. From October 1942 prisoners from Merxplas jail were sent to the camps at Fort-Mahon and at Calais. In December 1943 there were c. 200 - 250 Jewish prisoners there. Jews were at the Fort-Mahon camp until February of 1944; when they were replaced by Russians who remained there until April 1944. Their work was road construction in the sand and making concrete road on the coastal areas as well as clearing stations and bombed roads'. Workers had working days of 10 to 18 hours and often had to walk some kilometres to work sites.
20. Saint-Quentin-en-Tourmont Camp, near RueThe camp of St Quentin was another commando and transient satellite camp in the local camp system, whose numbers might rise and fall according to requirements, but temporarily had larger numbers of prisoners (general location 50Â°16'52.75"N 1Â°35'28.95"E). In the 'La MÃ©moire de Dannes-Camiers' description, this camp is referred to as the camp at Rue, which is close to Saint-Quentin, but the latter appears to be the better description of its general location, though its precise location remains unknown.
Prisoner Edmund Weiss, a Czech Jew, whose account of the camp at Boulogne was referred to earlier, was moved from LycÃ©e Mariette after an initial sojourn at that camp, to St Quentin and suggests that the camp may have had a short existence:
'After a period of five weeks we were sent to Rue and held in a concentration camp at St Quentin near Rue. We arrived at the same time as another transport of 500 Jews. Treatment consisted of the usual beatings, stamping, kicking etc. I was employed as a camp Medical Orderly whilst other inmates were used for loading work. A fortnight after arrival, approx., the middle of October, all inmates, with the exception of Belgian subjects, semi-Ayrans and a few technical specialists were sent to Poland. I was left behind as medical orderly and dentist, with about 70 other inmates. The deportation was under the command of O'Stuvarn Schmidt and carried out with the usual ill-treatment. Prisoner Edmund Weiss was then moved to the main camp at Dannes-Camiers.
21. Hesdin / DoullensPost-War reports on the camps relate that the SS Baubrigade V operated in the Nord Pas de Calais from c. March 1944. The SS Baubrigade V was based in Doullens and a sub-camp operated in Hesdin. The detachment of prisoners at Hesdin numbered around 500-600 and they were accommodated in the Napoleonic Cavalry Barracks, La FrezeliÃ¨re. There are remnants of the stables for the barracks at La Residence FrezeliÃ¨re and an examination of RAF Aerial reconnaissance photographs shows what appear to be a large group of some 10 barrack huts, approximately 25m x 9m, just 30m NE of the surviving buildings, at 50Â°22'33.52"N 2Â° 2'31.59"E, which is now the site of a car park and green space.
The detachment was engaged in dealing with un-exploded bombs, clearing bombed towns and the construction of fortifications. One group of 300 prisoners constructed an under-ground depot for bombs.
They were also actively engaged in VI construction projects in the locality. The immediate vicinity of Hesdin had a number of VI sites, requiring large volumes of labour - there were VI construction works at ForÃªt d'Hesdin and just south of PrÃ©defin, a large concrete bunker and associated bunker complex, containing a large base for radio detection and radio transmission channelling, was raised by a force of 1200 labourers, from early 1943. The SS Baubrigade V at Hesdin were returned to Germany in August 1944 from the base camp at Doullens towards Buchenwald.
22. Bergueneuse OT CampA work detachment from Hesdin Camp was sent to work at an OT camp at Bergueneuse, as well as a camp near Mimoyeques. The VI storage tunnels constructed under the chalk hill near the village by this detachment still survive in the vicinity of the Rue du Mont and are along the published walking route, 'Le sentier du Bliot Ã Anvin'. The three tunnels were, 2.9 m wide and high, with railway access.
23. 'La Coupole' V2 Base (Wizernes / Helfaut) - St Omer'La Coupole' near St Omer was a principal V2 rocket construction and launch site. The construction over seen by the OT and subcontracted to the firm, Philipp Holzmann AG, took 10 months in 1943 and used a vast labour contingent which included Jews and Russian prisoners of war, who lived in the tunnels and worked on the weapons, as at L'Eperlecques. A major feature of the site was the construction of a giant dome, or lid of concrete, 5.5m thick, to give protection to the works and V2 base beneath. This proved to be nearly indestructible, despite being attacked with several thousand tons of bombs, in 1944, but one mighty bomb managed to dislodge it by a few degrees. The base never fired a V2 Rocket as the Allied invasion intervened and the Germans withdrew from the base. At the end of the War and in 1951 there was top secret correspondence to the effect that there was considerable concern that in the event of a Russian offensive against the Allies, the V bases in the Pas de Calais could be reused by the Russians to bombard London and the Allies wanted to pressure the French authorities to make sure the sites were unusable.
The site is open to visitors and is the most developed of the former Nazi heavy construction sites. The space under the former dome houses a well-constructed Holocaust Museum (which also memorialises and traces the Holocaust history of the Pas de Calais) and history of the site, but means that only the outer-wall of the former space under the dome is clearly visible. The museum also correctly links the development of successful space-flight to the V2 programme, but the celebration of the 'conquest of space' in the interpretation does not sit so easily with the history of the site and the new 3D Planetarium show.
The site of one of the slave labour camps for Wizernes is identified as No-Ball target XI/B/5 WIZERNES (50Â°42'17'' N, 02Â°15'08'' E) which is 0.37 miles 0.59km, east of the site in a forested area.
There was a labour camp specifically for Belgian Jewish deportees, very close to the VII construction site at La Coupole (Wizernes). (pers. Comm. Danielle Delmaire) It is not clear if this is a different camp from that identified as XI/B/5 WIZERNES only 1km from Halfaut mentioned above?
24. Blockhaus d'Eperlecques / WattenA large V2 rocket site and concrete block house was built using over 35,000 forced labourers near Watten and the Foret d'Eperlecques. The construction of this blockhouse started in 1943. It used 120,000 cubic meters of concrete and slave labour working for the Todt Organisation. It was designed to launch 36 rockets a day and make enough liquid oxygen to fuel them (representing 65 tonnes of it every day). Grouping the factory with the launching platform had the advantage for Nazi to avoid the evaporation losses of transporting liquid oxygen.
The site was the first heavy site in the area to be observed by the Allies in May 1943, when they saw excavations in the Foret d'Eperlecques. In August 1943, shortly after the RAF attack on Peenemunde, 185 Flying Fortresses of the US Eighth Air Force pounded the Watten site, just at the stage the concrete had been poured, but not cured, causing the construction on this part of the site to be ruined. As a result the Germans switched work to new constructions on the south of the site, which were then attacked by the RAF and the new 'Tallboy' bombs, designed by Barnes Wallis. The attacks meant that the Nazis considered the site too vulnerable and converted the Blockhouse to use as a oxygen factory, to supply the close by new launch site at 'La Coupole'. The site was eventually abandoned by the Germans in July 1944, following the Allied invasion of northern France in early June.
There was also a VI rocket site in the nearby Foret d'Eperlecques, parts of which still survive.
The workforce was multi-national comprising French STO worker, French political prisoners, Spanish Republicans, Belgians, Dutch, French, Polish, Czech and Soviet prisoners of war. The cohort specifically included young German mischlinge or 'half' Jews.
The slave labourers were situated in at least two camps at Watten, about 2km from the site titled Todt Watten Zwangsarbeitslager 62 (Forced Labour Camp 62). The site employed over 35,000 foreign workers. Conditions were very harsh, especially for the Jews and East Europeans and there are accounts of workers falling into the castings and being entombed in the concrete. We know also that German prisoners were moved from Berck Camp to the site in April 1944 and it may be that the memorial plaque at the site to the young German prisoners of Jewish origin, who were deported in summer 1944 might refer to some of the Berck contingent.
The No-Ball target lists a camp XI/B/4 - WATTEN a/ OUEST MONT and b) NORD BROUCK at 50Â°49'10'' N, 02Â°09'00'' E, which is at Ouest Mont, near to the Rue de Nordstraete, 1.5 miles south-south-west of Eperlecques.
The site is well interpreted with a full history and explanation of its operations. There are several memorial plaques at the site to the slave labourers, including one to German 'Half-Jews' who died at the site and another one to the young Belgians who were deportees under obligatory service (travail obligatoire).
25. Ouest Mont Camp EperlecquesThe No-Ball target list locates two of the camps as, XI/B/4 - WATTEN a/OUEST MONT and b) NORD BROUCK at 50Â°49'10'' N, 02Â°09'00'' E, which is near to the Rue de Nordstraete, 1.5 miles south-south-west of Eperlecques. An examination of the WWII aerial imagery reveals a single camp at Ouest Mont, north-west of the junction of the Rue de Nordstraete and Rue du Mont, at precise location 50Â°49'1.74"N 2Â° 8'59.69"E. The camp was 159m x 186m and the entrance was nearly opposite Rue l'Eglise, with 12 main huts, a guard tower and a zig-zag slit trench probable as an air-raid precaution. This appears to be one of the labour camps supplying labour for the construction at the V2 Eperlecques 2.86km eastwards.
26. Mimoyecques V3 SiteThe V3 'super-gun' site employed many Jewish labourers, as well as political prisoners and volunteers. The intention of the installation was to create a series of guns, with super-length barrels, housed in shafts aligned with the capital, which would have fired a stream of rocket-assisted shells with high-explosives on to London. The effect, if it had succeeded would have been devastating. However, the site was rendered in operable in one of the Tall Boy raids, when one of the giant bombs penetrated a shaft and then shattered an aquifer, which subsequently drowned many prisoners in the lowest shafts at the site.
Prisoners and workers were housed at many sites around Mimoyecques, including at Wissant, Calais, Caffiers, and Phinen les Guines. The site is open to the public for visits and has extensive underground galleries and is also an official war grave. The Kennedy Memorial deep underground pays tribute to all of the nations and groups enslaved in the tunnels
27. STO camp at Pihen-les-GuinesThe STO camp at Pihen-les-Guines, was on the road leaving north of the village in the direction of Bonningues and was for French workers obliged to work for the Vichy / German regime. A camp worker, Laurent Mosna, recalled, '... there was a windmill with two sails and facing the mill were 20 or more barracks with around 20 people in each one.' The camp was partially destroyed in a bombing raid. Mosna worked on the concreting the interiors of the tunnels at Mimoyecques, particularly at the -100m level, which was to be devasted by the Tall Boy bomb attack. While he had freedom of movement and was paid, his diary reveals the constant terror of air-raids and many close misses by bombs and crashing aircraft in June and July 1944. He also see the terror of the local population under the bombardment. He is also just meters away from the Tall Boy impact at Mimoyecques. This was not a Jewish camp.
28. Ferques Camp - FerquesThis Jewish camp, or kommando, is listed as a distinct camp in the 'Liste des Israelites...'and it is stated that workers here were contracted to the firm, Erbes Bau and Julius Berger. For example Desire Szeszler (no. 1935) is listed as a slave worker at this camp before his deportation and Samuel Godschalk (no. 618) died at Ferques camp. The exact location of the camp is not known, but would most likely have been in a pasture in the near vicinity of the village (general location 50Â°49'52.67"N 1Â°45'41.56"E).
29. PeuplinguesThe OT camp at Peuplingues was officially titled 'Arbeitslager Marck-bei-Calais', but known by prisoners as the 'Camp de Peuplingues'(Marck itself is just east of Calais). The camp was run by a camp commandant with the assistance of Hitler Youth and had 200 - 300 inmates and was a closed penal establishment. However, the sources do not allow a particularly coherent picture of the history of the camp to be drawn, especially in relation to the presence of Jews in the camp and their specific treatment.
However, the 'Report definitive - No. 6 - Peuplingues' and Delmaire agree that Peuplingues was a camp used to detain Belgian Jews, and notes that it was operated for this purpose, from 5 October till 10 December 1942. However, the camp is not specifically noted in the 'Liste des Israelites...', though since the camp only opened towards the end of the first main period of the Jewish camps in November 1942 it may not have come into its purview. The Report definitive agrees that Belgian Jews from Lille were initially present in the camp and managed from Lager Tibor. It would appear that as usual, the Jews were segregated from other prisoners and workers and were enclosed by barbed wire. One of the only Jewish prisoners, Max Bleiberg (b. 01.03.1907), mentioned in the annexes of the Report, went to Peuplingues, from Merxplas prison, from 17.09.42 to 31.12.42 and was deported as a Jew, via Mechelen, to Auschwitz.
Other prisoner groups included Belgians and French prisoners convicted by German military tribunals, and transferred from prisons such as Merxplas, for offenses such as listening to the BBC, issuing anti-German propaganda and publications, or falsifying papers, or possessing illicit weapons, so the camp contained many resisters.
Many of the prisoners originated from a convoy of 900 prisoners sent out of Merxplas on 5.10.42. and the report suggests that the main history of the camp is from this date.
The Report states that the inmates were kept in 2-3 wooden barrack huts, 10-20 meters long and 6 wide, with another special hut for the guards, with a hut for the guards canteen and kitchen. Another part of the report also states a hut was used for administration, so there were 5-6 huts making up the camp. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire, and was in a meadow, in a pasture belonging to the local Marie.
The main guard of the camp were OT guards from Holland and Belgium, but at some point they were replaced by Dutch SS. The camp had the usual insufficient food and privations, prisoners were beaten by the guards, though the volunteers would have had better conditions and treatment. The prisoners worked for the OT on the Atlantic Wall and carried out the usual constructional works, concreting, working on roads, transporting construction materials and they would have to walk to the work sites - about a half hour each way.
An examination of RAF Aerial reconnaissance photographs shows a group of 6 barrack huts in a line, approximately 24m x 10m in size, on an E-W orientation, in a pasture, 40 m N of the Route d'Escalles, at precise location, 50Â°54'50.05"N 1Â°45'25.80"E and which are just 100m S of a cluster of relict bomb craters, on the current aerial Google Earth image, suggesting they were the intended target. The photograph also has a long shadow at the northern end of the camp commensurate with the profile of a watchtower. It seems likely this is the Jewish camp described in the report.
The report notes that there were another 2-3 camps at or around Peuplingues for Hitler Youth, with 10-20 barracks for 300-400 young Germans. There were also barracks for volunteer workers from Holland and France, working for German firms, though an examination of the aerial imagery available has not revealed or verified their locations.
30. Charleville les Mazures CampThere was one additional camp in the Ardennes region, referred to as 'Charleville les Mazures' in the 'Liste des Israelites...'. This nomenclature seems to present a geographical conflation and confusion, as 'Mazures' is a small village in the Ardennes, very close to Revin, in the district of 'Charleville-Mezieres' (general location 49Â°53'18.61"N 4Â°37'35.22"E). By context of other reports, it absolutely clear that the actual kommando referred to in the report was at, or near the village of Mazures, and the work-site was in the forestry around Revin, though there are reports of an entirely different camp at Charleville-Mezieres 15km southwards, noted in British intelligence report of September 1942, as a large concentration camp for Jews near the town.
Even though this camp was in actuality 230km inland from the coast and Dannes itself. However, contemporary sources quoted in Delmaire, shows that it was administered direct from Lager Tibor, and always regarded as one of this groups of camps. Delmaire quotes one official who wrote to the camp as the, 'Camp des Mazures, Dannes-Camiers, Ardennes'(!)
Furthermore this was one of the camps which had permanent operation from July 1942, to its liquidation in 1944. The camp at Mazures started on 18 July 1942, when some 200 Jews from Antwerp arrived via Revin and it functioned for 18 - 20 months, until liquidation on 4 January, 1944. The work at this camp included road maintenance, work at Revin station, cutting down trees for charcoal production, as well as camp based work. Exceptionally at this camp the Germans did paid salaries to prisoners and their families for the duration of the first eight months. The 'Liste des Israelites...' notes that the companies Viot and Vaisset employed the slave-workers in forestry.