Room - "Natzweiler on the Neckar"

A Name without a Place

At first glance, the name of this room is quite puzzling. However, for a few months, the "Natzweiler Concentration Camp" was actually located on the Neckar. The smallest room in the memorial exposes this almost unknown story.

When the Natzweiler main camp and all its annexed camps on the left side of the Rhine were dissolved in the fall of 1944, the commandant of the entire Natzweiler complex along with his closest staff moved to the Neckar. The commandant´s documents still showed "Natzweiler Concentration Camp". The "Natzweiler" concentration camp survived only in name, and in its satellite camps on the right side of the Rhine

Maps shape the Room

The most important aspects of the Natzweiler main camp are presented on revolving boards. Portraits of those in charge in the later phases of the camp can be seen alongside the boards.

A sequence of maps, all related to each other, bring the events even closer together. First, the larger "main camps" are introduced, to which Natzweiler, as well as Dachau or Buchenwald belong. The maps also show the death factories of the extermination camps as well as the locations of the "Euthenasia" - Death Institutions.

The most important element is the illuminated map which shows the many Natzweiler-Satellite camps on both sides of the Rhine. By activating a switch, the visitor can see the two different time periods, and follow the movement of the camp to the east. Although the camp ceased to exist on the left side of the Rhine, "Natzweiler" lived on in the camps on the right side of the Rhine.

The third map shows the new positions of the relocated headquarters, namely the villages of Guttenbach, Binau and Neunkirchen - framed by the already existing six annex camps around Neckarelz. From November 1944, these nine sites made up the most important agglomeration within the entire  "Natzweiler Concentration Camp" complex. This complex was administered by the Guttenbach headquarters.

52,000 Names

There are also revolving boards on the other side of the room. They portray and describe almost the same officers as before, but portray them after the relocation to the Neckar area. The newest addition is the last commandant from "Natzweiler" - who had actually never set foot in the area bearing its name.

In the middle of the room there is a cumbrous pillar made of wood and rocks.  This pillar, along with the pink granite - depicts the original reason why the Natzweiler Camp was set up in 1941; In addition the pillar holds two interactive screens. One of the screens is permanently linked to the homepage of the Natzweiler Concentration Camp Memorial. The second screen contains a databank of names.

The visitors can do their own research here. The databank holds the names of, and information pertaining to the 52,000 prisoners of the entire Natzweiler complex - every person who had ever been imprisoned in the main camp, or any one of the satellite camps.

The former prisoner Jean Samuel looks for his own name in the data base. Photo: Marie-Clarté Cart