German Town Considers Housing Migrants in Former Concentration Camp

The camp gate with the inscription "to give each his due" is pictured at former concentration camp Buchenwald near Weimar
REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

The small township of Schwerte in North Rhine-Westphalia has turned to a novel solution for providing accommodation to their foreign guests – a housing block from former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald.

Finding itself the home of more political and conflict refugees than it has space to keep, the town is now facing heavy criticism for making efficient use of the buildings available to the community.

A number of barrack houses at the camp presently stand empty and despite their age remain habitable, having been used as a children’s nursery recently. During the Holocaust, the Schwerte sub-camp was the home to Polish inmates who were employed in a railway works. Today almost all of the camps have been demolished.

During the war the town was home to a satellite establishment for the notorious Buchenwald camp, where thousands were murdered or worked to death. The camp was home to the notorious Ilse Koch, wife of the SS-officer camp commandant who, as legend has it, was savagely sadistic and killed inmates for her own pleasure. Accusations that she collected interesting body parts of those she, or the guards killed are persistent but have never been conclusively proven.

Birgit Naujocks, the Director of the North Rhine-Westphalian Refugee Council, called the decision “questionable”, and asked why the town couldn’t instead invest in converted shipping containers, as others had.

She said “The plans recall bad memories and sinister pictures”, reports

German government policy has made the country the largest importer of refugees in the world, a policy which has angered many Germans who see themselves of taking on an unfair burden while other wealthy countries accepts comparatively few.


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