Italian burial ground in the Öjendorf Cemetery
In the garden cemetery in Öjendorf there is a central burial ground for Italian citizens. In the post-war period, 5,849 Italians from all over north-western Germany and the Ruhr region were reinterred here. Some were civilians, while others had died in labour camps or the Neuengamme concentration camp and its satellite camps. A ten-metre-high cross was erected in 1959 in memory of the dead. In 2014, the burial ground was provided with additional information (showcase).
Italian forced labourers in Germany
After Mussolini was deposed and Italy broke from its alliance with Nazi Germany in July 1943, the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS disarmed many Italian military divisions. The only way for Italian soldiers to avoid being taken prisoner was to agree to continue fighting alongside the Germans. Most refused, however, and they were subsequently transported to Germany, where they were categorised as ‘Italian military internees’ and pressed into forced labour. By denying them prisoner of war status, Germany was bypassing the Geneva Convention. The internees were placed on the lowest rung alongside ‘Eastern workers’. They were viewed as ‘traitors’ and were treated especially badly.
The number of Italian forced labourers was considerable. Around 15,000 of the total of more than 500,000 Italian military internees were sent to Hamburg. Many of them were forced to carry out heavy labour constructing makeshift housing. A large number died due to the difficult working conditions and poor treatment.
8am to 9pm (April to October),
8am to 6pm (November to March)