Memorial pillar commemorating forced labourers at Hanseatisches Kettenwerk
In 1934, the Reich Army Office commissioned Pötz & Sand, a chain manufacturer from Monheim, to build a shell casing factory in Hamburg. This factory was later known as Hanseatisches Kettenwerk GmbH (Hak). The construction of the factory violated the Treaty of Versailles, which prohibited German armaments production.
Fuses for the shells were produced by the company Deutsche Messapparate GmbH (Messap). The Hak and Messap facilities made Langenhorn one of the biggest armament production sites in Hamburg. The factories were architecturally disguised: the buildings were scattered, and there were green spaces as well as company housing built in both a Black Forest style and the North German Heimat style.
More and more foreign labourers were put to work here from the early 1940s, and Hak and Messap built their own labour camps in the grounds of their factories. A total of over 5,000 male and female forced labourers had to work here. In September 1944, a women’s satellite camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp was also built in the grounds of the Hak plant. In the nearby 'Ostarbeiterlager Tannenkoppel' and the 'Heil- und Pflegeanstalten Langenhorn' were babys and toddlers murdered by wilfully underfeeding. The babys from pregnant forced labourers and prisoners from concentration camp were taken away after their birth. To 49 of these youngest victims commemorate stumbling stones which are directly beside to the remembrance stone for the satellite camp victims.
Post-war use and remembrance
After the end of the Nazi dictatorship, the grounds were taken over by the state-owned Verwertungsgesellschaft für Montanindustrie GmbH (renamed the Industrie- und Verwaltungsgesellschaft [IVG] in 1951 and privatised in 1998). In 1995, an art association known as the Kunstverein Kettenwerk e.V. became the main tenant in the former Hak administrative building. The artists created studio spaces and strove to preserve the building and raise public awareness of its history. At the end of the 1990s, IVG tore down the remaining buildings from the old chain factory and opened the Businesspark Hamburg Nord on the site on Essener Strasse. Following an initiative by the Willi-Bredel-Gesellschaft (a local history association), and with financial support from IVG, a memorial was dedicated in the new business park on 21 February 2008. A column with three short texts on the history of the site was erected on the remains of old building foundations. The column became a target of frequent vandalism and was moved on 9 June 2020 to its current location at the Ochsenzoll central bus station.