The Concentration Camp Complex on the Neckar

During the course of the years 1944/45, more and more concentration camp prisoners were needed to implement the "Goldfish" project. They were required to set up, and turn the gypsum mine into a modern factory -  a job that would never be completely finished, although the production of engines had already begun. At the same time, accomodations for the Daimler-Benz workers (free workers and forced labourers) had to be set up. Several larger camps were planned for these workers, however only the "Hohl" and "Hammerlager" camps were actually completed.

In addition to the concentration camp Neckarelz I (school), a further five camps were set up for the concentration camp prisoners.  A satellite camp that was only to exist for a short period of time turned out to be an entire camp complex by the end of the war. An additional camp was added for the forced labourers who worked on "Goldfish."

When the camp was dissolved on March 28, 1945, and the prisoners were to be transported in various ways to the Dachau concentration camp, more than 5,000 concentration camp prisoners had filtered through the so called "Neckar Camps".

The Neckargerach Concentration Camp

The annex camp Neckargerach concentration camp was opened in April 1944, as a result of the increasing need for concentration camp prisoners required for construction work. It was set up on the property of the former "Reichsarbeitsdienstlager", and was located at the city limits between Seebach and the road to Schollbrunn. From the beginning of April 1944, a daily command made up of 20 prisoners from the Neckarelz camp were sent to Neckargerach to transform the barracks into a concentration camp.

On April 27, 1944, a transport of 900 prisoners from the Groß-Rosen concentration camp arrived in Neckargerach. Everyday, these prisoners travelled to the constructions sites in Obrigheim by train. On May 15, 1944, a further 340 prisoners from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp arrived in Neckargerach. More transports followed. The occupancy fluctuated between 870 and 1,536 prisoners (Mid September 1944).

Due to overcrowding, it was sometimes necessary to erect a "circus tent" in the yard, whereby the prisoners had to sleep on the ground. Toward the end of the year 1944, Neckargerach evolved more and more into an infirmary where sick prisoners from the other five camps were sent to. This camp was chosen because it was furtherst away from the construction sites (gallery, accomodation for workers).

The Neckarelz II Concentration Camp

As a result of the increasing occupancy in the Neckar camps, barracks for the concentration camp annex camp Neckarelz II were built  at the old train station in July 1944. The barracks were located 700m south of the school; Today the company "Eisenguss" is located on the property.

Initially, 300 prisoners were housed here. In 1945, the occupancy increased to up to 1,400 men. As a result of its proximity to the construction sites (approximately 1 km away from the mine´s entrance), Neckarelz II would evolve into the most important work camp at the turn of the year.

The accomodation and the sanitary conditions in camp II were devastating. The camp, and its block elder were known to be exceptionally brutal.

"Room 3 was a revolting, wretched accomodation, where every night,  the prisoners had to lie on top of each other in order to sleep. The plank beds stood in three rows under a roof made of tar and cardboard, through which condensation dripped ...."

(Albert Fäh, former Neckarelz II camp prisoner from France)

The "Small Camps"

In September 1944, three smaller camps came into existance as annex camps to the Neckarelz concentration camp. The Asbach and Neckarbischofsheim camps were built by commands of prisoners from Neckarelz and Neckargerach, who would return to their respective camps every evening. The new camps were not intended for concentration camp prisoners, but rather for Daimler´s forced labourers. Since the construction took longer than planned, the commands were finally permanently relocated. 


A piece of property in the forest near the old sports field was chosen as the location for the camp. Although the property was actually in Daudenzell, the name "Asbach" remained. Asbach was probably chosen because during the course of the relocation project A8, Daimler-Benz´s supplier "Frankl and Kirchner" (Mannheim), were to use the Asbach train tunnel. This project had already been given the code name "Kormoran" (Cormorant), but it never was carried out.

The Asbach camp was to be made up of 32 barracks, that for the most part were never completed. The approx. 150 concentration camp prisoners of the concstruction command were housed in two completed barracks.


The concentration camp was about two kilometers northwest of Neckarbischofsheim, near the "Neckarbischofsheim North" train station on the Schwarzbach. Of the 18 planned barracks, only a few were actually completed. They were intended for the so-called "free-foreigners"- Daimler-Benz´s  foreign civilian workers. 

The camp however, only housed the 100 concentration camp prisoners of the construction command. After the war, the barracks were completely renovated, and today they are being used as the "Schwarzbach Settlement".

Bad Rappenau

The Bad Rappenau camp was set up in two former drilling houses of the saltworks. It was officially called the "SS-Weapon Warehouse". The approximate 50 concentration camp prisoners who worked at the SS-warehouse, worked either in agriculture, in the saltworks or in forestry. The SS-warehouse administered amongst other things, trophies from the occupied areas. The prisoners who worked here were not active in the "Goldfish" project, but there were exchange relationships with other "Neckar camps"". This is the reason that this camp was included in the Neckarelz concentration camp complex.

The "Concentration Camp Complex" - also a Psychological Term ...

In addition to the definition "collection of smaller and larger concentration camp satellite camps", one can also understand the term in a psychological sense. After the war, no one ever spoke about this dark chapter in their local history. It was repressed, but it remained subliminally. It led to some very agressive reactions, and prevented a real confrontation or discussion of this subject matter.

It was a new generation -who in the 80´s - started asking questions, looking for contemporary witnesses, researching in archives, and slowly but surely putting the pieces of the history of the concentration camp complex together like a puzzle.