The camp, which was quite large, was one of the approximately 3,000 different locations where foreign and German forced laborers were housed during the Second World War. They were put to work in large factories and small craftsmens’ shops, in the public sphere, in private households, and also in churches.
Men and women from the Soviet Union, Poland, the Netherlands, France, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, annexed by the German Reich in 1939, worked in Stralau.
They were forced to work for the Engelhardt Brewery, Stralau Glassworks, and Victoria Mühle, among others. Some came from different districts in the city, others lived on the grounds of the glassworks or in the main hall of the Alte Taverne, others in the boarding house on the corner of Markgrafendamm.
Forced laborers also worked at the Stralau town cemetery. There is verifiable evidence that the Stralau congregation was involved in financing the “cemetery camp” at St. Thomas cemetery in Neukölln with a loan. There, over 100 forcibly displaced Ukrainians and Russians lived under inhumane conditions, digging graves for 39 Protestant and three Catholic churches around Berlin.
During air raids, forced laborers, as well as Jews and prisoners of war, were not allowed to enter the bomb shelters. Sometimes factories, businesses, and co-workers ignored the rule prohibiting entry, but most often ditches were the only source of protection from falling bombs for the displaced and marginalized during air raids. In the Stralau tunnel under the River Spree, these groups had their own section.
In 1952, a building was constructed here for a division of the Research Institute for Shipping and Hydraulic and Foundational Engineering, an important site for the scientific community. It was closed in 1990.