The „war of extermination“ (Operation Barbarossa) against the Soviet Union began on 22 June 1941. The main responsibility for the prisoners of war lay with the German Armed Forces. Every third Soviet POW entering the German Reich between 1941 and 1945 had to go through the Stalag system 326 (VI K) Senne, which served mainly as a recruitment and transition camp for Wehrkreis VI, the latter corresponding more or less to the present federal state 0f North Rhine – Westphalia. The main purpose of the so-called „Russenlager“ (Russian camp) was the supply of forced labour.
Stalag 326 was an important location not only for the deployment in the Ruhr (the most densely populated and largest economic region in the German Reich) but also for other regions. For example, large numbers of Soviet POWs had to work in factories and businesses, producing all kinds of goods, including the extraction of raw materials and exploitation of of natural recources. The so-called „Russian deployment“ affected almost every sphere of civil life.
The deployment of labour was organized and implemented in coordination with the POW camps that were being set up from 1939 on. The first Soviet POWs arrived on 10 July 1941 at Stalag 326. On 2 April 1945 the camp was liberated by the US Army. During that period, between 180,000 and 200,000 Soviet POWs were registered at Stalag 326. In addition, French, Polish, Serbian and Belgian POWs, among others, were imprisoned in separate sections of the camp during that time.
Of the 5.3 to 5.7 million Soviet POWs 2.3 up to 3 million did not survive German captivity. The Nazis had ratified both the Geneva and Hague Conventions, but they did not fulfil their obligations toward the Soviet POWs as prescribed in these internationally binding treaties.The situation of most of the Soviet POWs was determined by malnutrition, inadequate medical treatment, appalling hygienic conditions and exploitation by forced labour. The majority of them died of undernourishment and severe diseases as well as of the consequences of forced labour.
After the camp’s liberation the British Military Government set up the Civil Internment Camp No 7 on the site. Approximately 8,500 persons were detained there: persons suspected of war crimes, leading figures from trade and industry and the Nazi Party as well as members of Nazi organizations.
At the end of 1947 the camp was handed over to the Ministry of Social Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia in order to establish Sozialwerk Stukenbrock (1948 – 1970). The idea was to use the grounds for the accommodation of refugees and displaced persons. A persistent emergency situation was caused by an incessant influx of people in need, and serious problems arose regarding their accomodation. The responsible charitable organizations Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO), the German Red Cross (DRK),Westfälisches Blindenwerk, Caritas und Evangelisches Hilfswerk (later called Evangelisches Johanneswerk), were put in charge of separate sections of the grounds.
Since 1970 the site has been used by the Police Training Academy (LAFP) Erich Klausener.
70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of World War II, the Federal President, Joachim Gauck, attended a commemoration ceremony at the Gedenkstätte. For his speech and further information go to the following link: