Module T: Internment, Re-Education and Punishment: The British Internment Camp at Neuengamme, 1945-1948
This seminar is suitable for all kinds of groups, including groups of adults – especially employees or trainees/students of public administration, the police, judiciary, medicine and nursing, the railway and the armed forces – as well as school classes from the 10th grade up and vocational school classes
Themes and goals
As early as 30 October 1943, the Allies added to the Moscow Declarations the Statement on Atrocities in which they fundamentally agreed on the punishment of Nazi criminals. They agreed that the persons accused should be tried in the countries where the crimes had been committed and that those perpetrators whose crimes had no particular geographical localisation would be punished by joint decision.
After Germany’s capitulation, roughly 320,000 Germans were interned in the four occupation zones according to subsequent Allied decisions – with about 93,000 of these in the British zone. The majority of the internees had been members of the SS and functionaries of the Nazi state. Former concentration camps, including Neuengamme in the British zone, Dachau in the American zone, and Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen in the Soviet zone, were used as internment camps. How the internments and investigation procedures were carried out, how charges were brought and verdicts reached all took place under different conditions in each occupation zone and sometimes under the application of different legal norms and procedures. How to punish those German Nazi criminals whose victims were Germans and not Allied citizens was left up to the German judiciary.
In this seminar, we take a closer look at the British Civil Internment Camp (CIC) No. 6 located at Neuengamme from 1945 to 1948, using it as a basis to explore the question of how the re-education and denazification of the prisoners and the legal punishment of Nazi crimes was planned and implemented in the British occupation zone. Participants become acquainted with those parts of the grounds and exhibitions of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial that relate to this subject. We discuss how the military occupation force’s interest in security was closely connected to their interest in effective prosecution and their political goal of “re-education”. We also work on the following issues: What was the mind-set of the British occupation authorities regarding the Germans, especially the internees? What measures were taken to secure, punish and re-educate them? Who were the internees? What were the living and prison conditions like in CIC No. 6? How did the internees see themselves?
The seminar can be booked for one, two or several days and can serve as an addendum to the module Criminal Behaviour within the Wehrmacht under the Nazis (module R).