Channel Islander Imprisoned in Magdeburg Prison:
By Roderick Miller
Only one Channel Islander, Emma Marshall, is known to have been imprisoned in the city of Magdeburg in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. No records have been found that can verify with certainty the location of her imprisonment, but it was most likely in either Magdeburg-Sudenburg Prison or Magdeburg-Neustadt Prison.
Magdeburg-Sudenburg Prison (Landgerichtsgefängnis Magdeburg, Justizvollzugsanstalt Dessau-Roßlau Außenstelle Magdeburg) was built in 1903 as a prison for the state court. As with all prisons in Nazi Germany, it too was used to incarcerate political prisoners. Magdeburg-Neustadt Prison (Stadtgefängnis Magdeburg, Amtsgerichtsgefängnis Magdeburg) was built in 1876 as a prison for the district court. It was used by the Nazis for prisoners in so-called ‘protective custody’, a typical Nazi euphemism for people arrested for racial and political reasons.
Emma Marshall was incarcerated very briefly in Magdeburg in early 1945 after incarceration in Gommern Prison, which was administrated by the Magdeburg prison authorities. In her 1965 application for compensation as a British victim of Nazi persecution, she wrote:
Went to Magdeburg, it had just been bombed and was on fire everywhere. We left our clothes there, they gave us prison clothes. Up to then we had used our own. They then took us to Schönebeck.
She further wrote that, after liberation, she
… had to collect clothes, as my clothes had been destroyed at Magdeburg. It had had another heavy bombing and everything at the prison had been destroyed.
US troops liberated Magdeburg on 18 April 1945, but were required to hand the eastern half of the city over to the Red Army on 5 May and the western half on 1 July. From July 1945, Magdeburg-Sudenburg Prison was used by the Russians as a military prison for Soviet soldiers and for German political prisoners. It continued to operate as a German state prison until 2013, administered by the Dessau-Rosslau prison authorities, with a capacity for 189 male prisoners. Since 2013, it has used as a location for various cultural projects. After the war, Magdburg-Neustadt Prison was used by the Russian Secret Service and later by the East German State Security (Stasi) to incarcerate political prisoners. It closed as a prison in 1989 and is now a memorial site called the Gendenkstätte Moritzplatz (see links).
Emma Marshall was liberated on 12 April 1945 in Schönebeck Prison, but like most survivors, probably suffered from a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of her 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.
International Tracing Service Arolsen, Catalogue of Camps and Prisons in Germany and German-occupied Territories, 1949-1951
The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO) and War Office (WO)
TNA FO 950/1185 (Marshall)