Memorial plaque for the Norderstrasse forced labour camp
In 2013, a plaque was placed in front of the Technisches Rathaus (Technical Town Hall) in Altona in memory of the forced labour camp that had been established nearby in April 1942. Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) were also laid for 13 French forced labourers who died in the camp during air raids in July 1943. These monuments were the result of a request made by a former French forced labourer who had contacted the government of the city of Hamburg.
The text on the plaque reads:
South of here, in the area between Virchowstrasse, Eschelsweg, Grotjahn- and Mörkenstrasse, there was an old building complex that housed a municipal nursing home and ‘mental asylum’ until 1941. In mid-1941 the buildings were cleared and the nursing home residents were moved to private facilities or to the municipal nursing home in Bahrenfeld on Friedhofstrasse, now Holstenkamp. 20 women and 25 men from the ‘mental asylum’ were taken to Meseritz-Obrawalde (Posen), and 11 women were sent to Zwiefalten in Württemberg. Both of these institutions are infamous for having participated in ‘euthanasia’ killings. 22 of the people deported to Meseritz-Obrawalde are known to have been murdered there.
The empty buildings were used to house forced labourers from April 1942. These labourers had been conscripted by the Nazis in the occupied countries to work in Germany, and some had been abducted. They had to replace the German men who had been sent to the front lines. The majority of them were young men from the former Soviet Union – Ukraine and Belarus. A second large group comprised young Frenchmen, and the camp also held a few Belgians and Poles. Most of the men were transferred to different camps around Altona after a few weeks or were sent to forced labour camps in the East, such as Kattowitz. Others were sent to the Buna factory in Auschwitz, where they were forced work under brutal conditions for the IG Farben group.
From 1942 until the camp was destroyed, at least 3,000 forced labourers passed through the Norderstrasse camp. On the night of 24 July 1943, the centre of Altona was destroyed by Allied bombs, as was the forced labour camp. An unknown number of the camp’s inmates died in the attack.
This plaque is dedicated to the people exploited as forced labourers, many of whom lost their lives on Norderstrasse or were sent from here to their deaths.