Through the Middle of Town

Marching gangs of concentration camp inmates had already long been a common sight in the Ruhr town of Witten-Annen. The SS had set up a Buchenwald subcamp there for the Ruhrstahl AG company in September 1944. In addition to forced labourers and prisoners of war, the management of the local cast-steel works had also taken to exploiting inmates from concentration camps.

On 13 February 1945, like every day, members of the SS drove hundreds of inmates in rows of five along busy streets through the middle of town to the factory. The inmates, however, could hope for no more than sad gazes, as the Frenchman Albert Chambon later remembered:

“On the street … on the way to the factory, we were insulted by ten to twelve-year-old children, who threw stones at us and threatened us with clenched fists. But Jacques told me he had seen an old German man at a window sadly shaking his head when he saw our troop, as if to say: Really, such misery!”

(Michael Löffelsender)

Source: Albert Chambon, 81490, Paris 1961.

Reference: Ralph Klein, Das KZ-Aussenlager in Witten-Annen: Geschichte, städtebauliche Nutzung und geschichtspolitischer Umgang seit 1945, Berlin 2015.