Channel Islander Imprisoned in Schönebeck Prison:
By Roderick Miller
Only one Channel Islander, Emma Marshall, is known to have been imprisoned in the city of Schönebeck (Elbe) in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Schönebeck Prison (Amtsgerichtsgefängnis Schönebeck) was built as part of the district courthouse in Schönebeck in 1911 in a Renaissance revival style. The prison was a 4-story building in the rear courtyard of the district court, where a building to house the prison guards was also constructed. Like all prisons in Nazi Germany, Schönebeck was used to incarcerate political prisoners.
According to the Catalogue of Camps and Prisons, published by the International Tracing Service in 1949, 70 prisoners were transferred from Gommern Prison in March 1945 to perform forced labour at a munitions factory at Schönebeck Prison in March 1945 as part of the so-called Nacht und Nebel (‘Night and Fog’) action. These NN prisoners were part of a secret hostage programme devised by the Nazis as a means of controlling potential resistance in occupied territory, and the action was declared a crime against humanity during the post-war Nuremberg trials.
It is not known if Marshall herself had been labelled an NN prisoner or if she had simply been placed into a group of non-German political prisoners, among which other female NN prisoners were to be found. Emma Marshall was transferred from Gommern Prison to Schönebeck on 3 April 1945. In her 1965 application for compensation as a British victim of Nazi persecution, she testified:
They then took us to Schönebeck and put us in a munitions factory filling shells, etc. We had very little food, 1 slice of bread & 3 potatoes, working 5:30 [a.m.] until 6 p.m. daily. Only been there 8 days when the Americans overran the place April 12 1945. They told me to stay there, as an English officer was following along to release the soldiers, and they would tell him about me being there: Major A. J. Martys of the Scots Greys… He arrived a couple of days later… he said he would report my case and call again. I was to stay where I was, two battles had been raging to take a bridge over the river Elbe… April 19th… Major Martys handed me over to an American officer of the Red Cross who took me further back to Brunswick.
Schönebeck Prison was placed out of commission at some point after the reunification of Germany and was sold to private owners. It is currently being used as an automobile repair workship. There is no memorial at the site of the former Schönebeck Prison for the political prisoners who were incarcerated there.
Emma Marshall survived the war, 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.
Gruchmann, Lothar: ‘Nacht und Nebel-Justiz: Die Mitwirkung deutscher Strafgerichte an der Bekämfung des Widerstandes in den besetzten westeuropäischen Ländern 1942 – 1944’, in Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 29th year, Vol. 3 (1981), p. 373 (in German). Link
International Tracing Service Arolsen, Catalogue of Camps and Prisons in Germany and German-occupied Territories, 1949-1951, page 244.
The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO):
TNA FO 950/1185 (Marshall)