On 25 April 2017, the operator responsibilities for the Asse II mine as well as the Konrad and Morsleben repositories were transferred to the Federal Company for Radioactive Waste Disposal (Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH, BGE). This website of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) will therefore no longer be updated and displays the status as on 24 April 2017. You will find current information at the BGE: www.bge.de

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The repository

History of the Morsleben repository

1934 – 1945: Armaments production and forced labour in National Socialism

  • Between 1937 and 1944, the air force used the Marie mine to develop an ammunition plant at the surface and to store aircraft ammunition underground.
  • From 1944 until the end of World War II in 1945 the entire mine was confiscated for armament production. Concentration camp prisoners from the Neuengamme concentration camp were forced to produce armaments underground. The work killed many people.
  • Today the repository is also a memorial site for survivors and their next of kin

The sub-camp Helmstedt-Beendorf

In the middle of 1942, armament companies and businesses demanded concentration camp prisoners be used as work forces. Concentration sub-camps were established to accommodate these prisoners. A sub-camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp was built in Beendorf: From March 1944 a men's camp for about 800 concentration camp prisoners used for building works and from August a women's camp for up to 2,500 concentration camp prisoners for armament production.

The prisoners slept in primitive, unheated storage halls of the former ammunition factory. From autumn 1944 the camp was overcrowded. The food rations for the prisoners were insufficient and most of the prisoners were always hungry. Prisoners who were terminally ill were taken to other camps.

Eventually, the number of prisoners increased to 4,500. Designed for about 2,000 persons, the camp was thus completely overcrowded.

Armament production underground

Arms production underground Arms production undergroundArms production underground

From 1944, the SS deployed about 2,500 female prisoners in armament production in the Bartensleben and Marie mine. They worked for the Askania factory in the Bartensleben mine and Luftfahrtgerätewerk Hakenfelde in the Marie mine. Supervised by German and foreign skilled workers, they manufactured electro-mechanical components such as control units and steering gear for the V1 and fighter aircraft.

Under time pressure, the prisoners did very hard work. As a result of the insufficient diet and the high work load, the prisoners were weak and sick. The exhausting work killed many people in the building squads.

From the evacuation of the camp until today

The evacuation of the camp on 10 April 1945 extended the misery of the prisoners by weeks. At the time of evacuation over 4,000 prisoners were in the camp. In freight wagons and without food, they were taken to other places. The exertions killed over 500 people.

The male prisoners were freed by US soldiers in Wöbbelin. The female prisoners arrived in the already evacuated Hamburg sub-camps, from where they could be evacuated and saved by the Swedish Red Cross.

When the war was over, not all perpetrators were held accountable for the crimes committed in the Helmstedt-Beendorf sub-camp, despite of several court proceedings.

At the end of the war, the Marie and Bartensleben mines were located within the Soviet occupation zone and later on in the Border Area of the GDR. Commemoration of the victims was only possible to a limited extent. In the centre of Beendorf, a memorial stone and, on the cemetery, a mass grave remind of the victims. Only since 1989, have survivors had the option to visit this location as memorial site.

Exhibitions on the mine's history in National Socialism

The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) presents the repository’s history in an exhibition at the Info Morsleben. An important part of the exhibition is the mine's use for armament production.

In Beendorf, a small exhibition commemorates the concentration sub-camp. The exhibition also displays a collection of documents on armament production in Beendorf.

The key data in brief
1934 - 1937Lease of Marie mine to the air force
From July 1937Expansion and use of Marie mine as air force ammunition plant
March 1944Construction of a sub-camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp in Beendorf and fitting out of production facilities underground
End of May 1944Armament production underground launched
10 April 1945Evacuation of the concentration sub-camp in Beendorf
From 1990Former concentration camp prisoners and their next of kin could again visit the premises of the concentration sub-camp
State of 2017.01.03

Transfer of operator responsibilities

On 25 April 2017, the operator responsibilities for the Asse II mine as well as the Konrad and Morsleben repositories were transferred to the Federal Company for Radioactive Waste Disposal (Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH, BGE). Previously, the responsibility for the projects was with the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS). The foundations for the change of operatorship are laid down in the "Act on the Realignment of the Organisational Structures in the Field of Radioactive Waste Disposal", which became effective on 30 July 2016. The BfS focusses on the federal tasks of radiation protection, for example in the field of defence against nuclear hazards, medical research, mobile communication, UV protection or the measuring networks for environmental radioactivity.

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