Kaisheim Prison

Country Germany
GPS 48° 46' 1.47576" N, 10° 47' 53.78028" E
Address Abteistr. 10, 86687 Kaisheim, Germany
Dates Active 1816 – current

Channel Islander Imprisoned in Kaisheim Prison

Jack Harper, Philip George Ozard, Patrick Quinn

By Roderick Miller

At least three Channel Islanders are known to have been imprisoned in the town of Kaisheim in the German state of Bavaria. The buildings housing Kaisheim Prison (Zuchthaus Kaisheim, Strafanstalt Kaisheim, Justizvollzugsanstalt Kaisheim) were originally constructed in the 14th century as part of an abbey. The abbey was secularised in 1803 and began use as a prison as early as 1816, where it was a forced labour facility for men and women prisoners, a sort of workhouse for people labelled as ‘antisocial’. From 1863 to 1945 it was a maximum security prison, and like all prisons during the Nazi Regime, housed both criminal and political prisoners.

The prison was a place of incarceration for several hundred Nacht und Nebel (‘Night and Fog’, NN) prisoners: ‘During the war, NN-prisoners were imprisoned here from 1943 until 1945, when they were transferred to Dachau. Some prisoners worked in the Maschinenfabrik Donauwerth, in the ammunition factory of Löpsingen and in repairing railroads at Unterhausen near Neuberg a. D.’ [1]

Norwegian NN-prisoner Torbjørn Øvsttun survived Kaisheim:

Kaisheim was by far the best of the concentration camps [sic] the men were sent to. The food was better and the weather had improved. The prisoners were served pea soup and half-decent bread on arrival. “We almost had enough to eat for once”, Torbjørn said. This prison was their home for the next eleven months. A group of Belgians shared a large room with the Norwegians. They were even allowed to exercise, and the Belgians joined them. A choir was formed – much to everyone’s joy. Torbjørn was once again in the sewing room, making uniforms. Two of their Belgian friends were shot whilst in Kaisheim. They had access to machinery and made duplicate keys, leading to the main gate. They were caught and shot immediately. Torbjørn said they were both well-educated university professors and very likeable. Several people died in Kaisheim due to mistreatment in other camps. The men became aware that the war was not going well for the Germans. There were constant bombing raids and rumours about advancing allied troops. That last Christmas in a prison was not quite as bad previous ones. The feeling was that there would soon be change, and freedom may be on its way. But the worst was still to come. [2]

Torbjørn Øvsttun and nearly 300 other NN prisoners were forced marched over 50 miles from Kaisheim to Dachau Concentration Camp on 9 April 1945, an experience that many of them would not survive.

Channel Islanders Jack Harper, Philip Ozard, and Patrick Quinn were transferred to Kaisheim Prison on 9 May 1944, Harper and Ozard from Neuoffingen Labour Camp — it is uncertain from which camp Quinn came, possibly Neuoffingen as well. Harper recounted:

I was later taken to a labour camp with other prisoners and worked in a shell case factory near Kaisheim. I remained there until February 1945 and as the war was nearing its end all prisoners in the camp were ordered to march back to Kaisheim Prison — a distance of about 60 miles. When back in Kaisheim one morning the labour master who was in charge of us at the Shell Factory ordered all prisoners in my room to parade outside to receive leather shoes; replacing wooden shoes. I was in the toilet at the time of the order and when I entered the room all the other prisoners had left the room to be fitted with leather shoes. When they returned the labour master began to scream at me; dragged me out in the hallway and knocked me down on the flagstone. As a result of this I injured my left leg temporarily and this left me with a permanent limp. I was dragged to the sick bay — being unable to walk — where I remained without any medical treatment by the Nazi doctor. At 4 a.m. one morning a prison official came into the sick bay and ordered me to get up and follow him to the admission room which I did and I saw most of my fellow prisoners sitting around waiting for removal back to Landsberg Prison where we were all sent. — Jack Harper, February 1965

The labour camp he mentions was most likely a munitions factory in the town of Löpsingen, mentioned in Weinmann (see Sources below) as being a work commando of Kaisheim Prison. Löpsingen is actually only about 18 miles by road from Kaisheim, but it doubtless seemed like much more given Harper’s poor physical condition.

According to Kaisheim records, the men were also forced to perform labour in a shoemaking commando, most likely making boots for German soldiers. Around 17-20 April 1945 they were placed on a forced march with the intended destination of Dachau Concentration Camp, but in the end arrived at Landsberg Prison instead, where they were liberated by US troops on 30 April 1945. Like most survivors, they probably suffered from a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of their lives.

Kaisheim was liberated by US troops on 25 April 1945. It is unlikely that any prison officials were ever brought to justice for the maltreatment — or indeed the killing, as described by Øvsttun — of prisoners. The use of the prison for Nacht und Nebel prisoners, a Nazi program that was declared a crime against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials, is not memorialised on the prison site in any way. Kaisheim Prison continues to operate as a penitentiary (Justizvollzugsanstalt) with a capacity for around 600 prisoners.

[1] Tracing report, Belgian Liaison Officer, US Zone. See Weinmann in Sources below.

[2] Quotation from story on Torbjørn Øvsttun. Link

Further Reading

Carr, Gilly; Sanders, Paul; Willmot Louise: Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation, 1940-1945, Bloomsbury Academic, London & New York, 2014.


Bavarian State Ministry for Justice (publisher): Overview of the development of Kaisheim Prison, 2014 (in German). Link.

The National Archives, Foreign Office, Claims Department: Correspondence and Claims Files. Link

Weinmann, Martin (editor): Das nationalsozialistische Lagersystem, Zweitausendiens, Frankfurt am Main, 4th edition, 2004. A reprint of Catalogue of Camps and Prisons in Germany and German-Occupied Territories, published by the International Tracing Service (ITS) 1948-1952, p. 196 (Natzweiler reference), p. 552 (Nacht und Nebel and Kaisheim/Löpsingen reference).

The Wiener Library, London: Kaisheim prison document dated 9 May 1944, document 11748951.

The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO):
TNA FO HNP/1358 (Harper)