The town of Neuengamme, so near bustling industrial Hamburg, appears as an oasis in a desert. One of the garden spots of Germany, Neuengamme's major industry is the production of flowers. The townspeople make their living from the millions of multicolored flowers that grow in its more than one hundred translucent greenhouses. A quiet, slow-moving river winds through Neuengamme, and a variety of small boats moor along its banks. Lush, idyllic, the town is a kaleidoscope of every color known to flowers.
The concentration camp of Neuengamme is named after the village and clearly visible from the town's center. The townspeople do not wish to be reminded of the camp's existence. They tear down signs directing people to the camp and have fabricated an effective falsehood to keep people away. Few markings for the camp are visible. An arrow points to "Gedenkstätte Neuengamme," but the so-called camp, when found, turns out to be simply a small well-kept park, perfect for an afternoon stroll, a bike ride, or for just sitting among the flowers. Children race their bikes through the park and older people wander on the paths in a small area no more than a block square. The paths through the park are well laid out and the rose bushes are beautifully tended. In the center stands a large rectangular memorial reaching high into the sky, and next to it is a haunting sculpture of a suffering camp inmate, in his dying agony making one last desperate effort to rise.
The markings and the townspeople identify this park as the sole camp site, but if one challenges that identification, a surprise awaits. One half block down the road stands a large modern youth hostel -- on the grounds of the former SS barracks. And one block from the youth hostel is a large brick encampment. When curiosity pressed me to walk through the gates and into the office, I found that I was standing in one of Germany's largest maximumsecurity prisons, holding 400 murderers and incoffigibles. Initially, the prison warden denied that the prison was part of the camp. It soon became clear, however, that the major part of Concentration Camp Neuengamme was indeed this maximum-security prison. The Germans tore down the most ramshackle prisoner barracks, back where the park is, but left the major portion intact. Here, on this side of the youth hostel, is the real camp, the