Channel Islanders Imprisoned in Bockenheim Forced Labour Camp:
By Roderick Miller
At least one Channel Islander was imprisoned in Bockenheim Forced Labour Camp (Zwangsarbeiterlager Bockenheim) in Frankfurt am Main, a city in the German state of Hessia and the fifth largest city in Germany. The forced labour facility was located in a former sports hall in the Frankfurt district in Bockenheim called the Turnverein Bockenheim. The camp was a Gemeinschaftslager or ‘collective camp’, probably called because prisoners of both genders performed forced labour there.
It is not known decisively for which organizations or private company or companies the prisoners worked. The Alfred Teves parts manufacturing company and the Martin Becker construction company are variously attributed as possible companies for whom the prisoners worked. The specifics of their work are therefore unknown, but it can be stated with certainty that they were forced to perform labour directly related to the Nazi war effort.
Guernseyman Nelson Breton was deported to Germany after his conviction on 20 December 1943 by the German military court, the Feldkommandantur 515. His arrival date in Frankfurt am Main is unknown, but he was transferred out of Bockenheim to Rheinbach Prison on 9 February 1944, so it is likely he only spent a few weeks there. The Frankfurt-Klapperfeld Police Prison administered the prisoners working in Bockenheim, but it is uncertain if the prisoners were housed in the sports hall itself or transported every day between the forced labour facility and the prison.
The city of Frankfurt am Main was heavily bombed in the Second World War, and the Bockenheim district was heavily damaged in January and February 1944, a time when Nelson Breton was incarcerated there. Air raids in September 1944 destroyed up to 90% of the industrial district where the Bockenheim Forced Labour Camp was located. The original sports hall no longer exists and an apartment building was built on the site after the war.
Frankfurt am Main was liberated from the Nazis by the US Army at the end of March 1945. Nelson Breton survived the war, but like many of those who survived, would probably suffer from a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of his life.
Carr, Gilly; Sanders, Paul; Willmot Louise: Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation, 1940-1945, Bloomsbury Academic, London & New York, 2014.
Hessisches Landesamt für geschichtliche Landeskunde: Topografie des Nationalsozialismus in Hessen (in German), here.
ITS Archives, Wiener Library, document 11364208 (Breton, Nelson)