Channel Islander Imprisoned in Plauen Remand Prison:
By Roderick Miller
Only one Channel Islander, Emma Marshall, is known to have been imprisoned in Plauen in the German state of Saxony. Emma Marshall arrived in Plauen at an unknown date in late spring of 1944 and stayed only briefly. As of date (2017), no documentation has yet been found to determine the exact location of her imprisonment there. It is most likely that she was incarcerated in Plauen Remand Prison (Untersuchungsgefängnis Plauen, Justizvollzugsanstalt Plauen), which was located inside the walls of the 13th century Plauen Castle and was used as a prison from 1852 onwards. As with all prisons in the Third Reich, Plauen Prison was used to incarcerate both criminal and political prisoners.
It is, however, also possible that she was in imprisoned in a forced labour factory in Plauen that was a sub-lager of Flossenbürg Concentration Camp. This factory, originally a cotton mill, had around 200 female political prisoners from throughout Nazi-occupied Europe and was located at Hans-Sachs-Str. 15-17 in Plauen. The prisoners were forced to produce lightbulbs there for the Osram Company from September 1944 until the factory was destroyed in an allied air raid in April 1945.
Plauen was liberated by US troops on 16 April 1945. On 30 June 1945, the US troops left Plauen and the city was handed over to the Soviets, as per agreements made between the allied powers at the Yalta Conference. The head prison guard at Plauen Prison, Max Bühring, was convicted in 1947 for mistreating prisoners, and was tried with three other guards again in 1949. Bühring received a prison sentence of twelve years, and the other three sentences ranging from two to four years. The court testimonies of the former prisoners show that maltreatment ranging from insufficient medical care and clothing during outdoor forced labour in winter to random brutal beatings leading to prisoners’ deaths was commonplace in Plauen Prison during the Nazi Regime.
The Soviet secret police used Plauen Prison after their takeover of the city to incarcerate around 6000 male youths who the Soviets felt did not fit in with the communist system. Some were given death sentences and executed, and many others were given sentences of 15 to 25 years’ hard labour and sent to gulags in the Soviet Union. Others were sent to former Nazi concentration camps utilized after the war by the Soviets, such as Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Many of these young political prisoners did not survive, and a plaque in their memory is at the site of the former prison. Plauen Prison was razed in 2013 (see photos above) to make way for a planned university. The original remaining medieval castle walls and tower and the 19th century courthouse building were retained.
Emma Marshall survived the war, but like most survivors, would suffer 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 (publisher), Catalogue of Camps and Prisons in Germany and German-occupied Territories, 1949-1951, p. 236.
Kaminsky , Annette & Gleinig, Ruth: Orte des Erinnerns: Gedenkzeichen, Gedenkstätten und Museen zur Diktatur in SBZ und DDR, Ch. Links Verlag, 2016 (in German), page 437.
The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO)
TNA FO 950/1185 (Marshall)
Rüter, C. F. (publisher): DDR-Justiz und NS-Verbrechen, Vol. IX, Amsterdam University Press, 2007 (in German), pp. 271-277, Plauen Prison Trial, 4 March 1949.