Neue Bremm Gestapo Camp

Country Germany
GPS 49° 12' 40.40136" N, 6° 57' 55.29744" E
Address Alstinger Weg, 66117 Saarbrücken, Germany
Dates Active 1940 – 1944

Channel Islanders Imprisoned in Neue Bremm Gestapo Camp:
William Stanley Canute Cordrey, Albert Raymond Durand

By Roderick Miller

At least two Channel Islanders were incarcerated in Neue (pronounced ‘noy-uh’) Bremm Gestapo Camp (Erweitertes Polizeigefängnis Neue Bremm). Neue Bremm was not a concentration camp according to standard definition, in that it was not run purely by the SS, but rather under the SS via the Saarbrücken Gestapo, or secret police. When the camp was created in 1940 it was used as a work camp for non-German forced labourers, then later for prisoners of war and for the overflow of prisoners from the then-overcrowded Saarbrücken Prison. In its final incarnation starting in summer 1943, Neue Bremm used as a transit camp for male and female prisoners being deported to concentration camps like Buchenwald, Dachau, Mauthausen, Natzweiler-Struthof, and Ravensbrück. The prisoners, mostly from France, the Soviet Union, and Poland, were forced to exist in extremely harsh living conditions, and were regularly tortured and outright murdered. It is estimated that 20,000 people passed through Neue Bremm in its five years of operation and that at least several hundred prisoners died or were murdered here.

Channel Islanders William Cordrey and Albert Durand were transferred from Fresnes Prison in Paris to Neue Bremm. Durand arrived on 7 December 1943 and Cordrey at an unknown date between January and 8 June 1944.

Camp of Neue Bremm, near Saarbrücken : a kind of sorting centre, where convoys were made up for transfer to different camps in Germany. Here was our first contact with the life we were to lead from now on. Being only a small camp, it was terrible. But I only stayed here about a week. — Albert Durand, 14 July 1965

William Cordrey was also probably in Neue Bremm a short time, as he only only mentions it in passing in his application for registration as a British victim of Nazi persecution:

Sent to Fresnes Prison, Paris. Beaten up, kicked, toes broken, all the usual treatment. Sent to camp at Neue Bremm near Saarbrücken, on to Rheinbach near Bonn… —William Cordrey, 24 July 1965

A woman prisoner who was in Neue Bremm from April to September 1944 testified that ‘the women looked thin, but when I saw the men, they appeared skeletal’. The prisoners ate whatever they could find, and a gardener for the camp later testified that he saw prisoners eating old potatoes out of the pigs’ feed trough. Prisoners were regularly tortured with what the Nazi personnel considered ‘camp sporting’ (‘Lagersport’) activities, intended to physically torture and psychologically humiliate the prisoners.

The entire day long, from sunrise until nightfall, we were forced to perform various physical exercises until one of us died from exhaustion. We had to march around a pond, then go on all fours, then crawl and finally hop like ducks with our hands behind our heads. And all of this whilst being constantly beaten. And if we failed to maintain the mad rhythm of this exercise, then one of us was picked out randomly and drowned in the pond. — Bernard Cognet, former prisoner in Neue Bremm [1]

The skeletal corpses were removed and stacked up under roofed structure with no walls near the watchtower until a truck came to remove them — but only when there were corpses to make it worth the transport. They were thrown onto the bed of the truck, covered with a tarp and taken to an unknown location. — Marcel Saussard, former prisoner in Neue Bremm [2]

The 1946 war crimes trials in Raststatt, Germany of the Neue Bremm personnel were the first of their kind in the French zone of occupation. For many years, the extent of the crimes in Neue Bremm had been underestimated. The camp appears as ‘Neuenbremme’ in the 1949 International Tracing Service’s Catalogue of Camps and Prisons, yet the 2009 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos contains no mention of Neue Bremm Camp. Part of the reason for this is that most of the documents from the camp were destroyed as the allies approached, and the records from the war crimes trials are not available for public access under French law for 100 years. Much of the knowledge we now have about Neue Bremm is because German historians were given special access to the French trial transcripts in the last two decades.

The camp commandant was the 30-year-old Police Inspector and SS-Untersturmführer Fritz Schmoll, and the head of the guards was the 24-year-old SS-Oberscharführer Karl Schmieden. Schmoll claimed that his position was purely administrative, but witnesses testified how, in his presence, he had forced prisoners to witness mass executions of other prisoners. Schmoll, Schmieden and 13 others were sentenced to death and executed within the year for crimes against humanity. The first memorial plaque was placed on the site of the former Neue Bremm Camp in 1985 and a proper full-scale memorial was built on the site in 1985.

William Cordrey and Albert Durand survived a series of prisons and concentration camps, but like many survivors would suffer from a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of their lives.

[1] From Jellonnek (see Sources below), p. 12, translated from the German by Roderick Miller.
[2] Ebenda, p. 15

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.

d’Harcourt, Pierre: The Real Enemy, Longmans, London, 2nd impression 1967. Pages 77-103 have a detailed first-hand account of Neue Bremm.


Jellonnek, Burkhard, Die Hölle von Saarbrücken, Geschichte des Gestapo-Lagers Neue Bremm an der deutsch-französichen Grenze, Schriftenreihe der Landeszentrale für politische Bildung des Saarlands, Nr. 1, Saarbrücken, 2008 (in German). Available online as PDF: Link.

International Tracing Service Arolsen, Catalogue of Camps and Prisons in Germany and German-occupied Territories, 1949-1951, p. 174.

The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO):
TNA FO 950/2292 (Cordrey)
TNA FO 950/1698 (Durand)

Thalhofer, Elisabeth: Neu Bremm – Terrorstätte der Gestapo: Ein erweitertes Polizeigefängnis und seine Täter 1943-1944. 2nd edition, Röhrig Universtitätsverlag, St. Ingbert, 2003 (in German).