Cemetery Westerholz

Gedenkstein, Bäume Westerholz

In February 1940, the District Administrator of Wolfenbüttel ordered the closing of the cemetery in Hallendorf by the National Police. The Reichswerke “Hermann-Göring” needed the terrain.

Instead, an area in Westerholz was to be made available to the municipality of Hallendorf. Dead persons from the municipality of Hallendorf could be buried on the cemetery in Watenstedt until the new cemetery was finished.

Those who had been buried on the Cemetery in Hallendorf since 1910 were transferred to the new site. Delays in the work at the new cemetery caused feelings of discontent among the population of Hallendorf. The following complaint was sent to the minister-president of Braunschweig, Dietrich Klagges: “Because of the new moist terrain the grave stones were tossed all over the place. Now thistles and weeds that are several meters high are growing on the graves and between the gravestones. (…) We, as National Socialists, want to honor our dead with dignity.”

From January 1941 on, all dead persons from the municipality of Hallendorf were buried on the newly established cemetery in Westerholz. The Cemetery Westerholz is also referred to as Cemetery Hallendorf in official documents.

Soon non-German victims from the area were also buried on this cemetery, apart from dead civilians. Those who had died in the Arbeitserziehungslager – Lager 21 („disciplinary camp“ run by Gestapo) represented a large part of this group. Forced workers and European civilian workers were also laid to rest there. Between the end of April and the beginning of July 1943 at least three prisoners from KZ Drütte were buried there.

Such a rapid growing number of interments had not been expected. Soon the wells were in danger because of the very high ground-water level. Further interments could not take place on this cemetery any longer. In the early summer of 1943 the so-called “cemetery for foreigners” Jammertal was set up for the non-German dead from the municipal area.

The Memorial Place

Already shortly after the Allies had liberated the city of Salzgitter, a memorial stone was put up on this cemetery by Ukrainian survivors. For many years, this was the only indication of the fact that victims of the National Socialist regime were buried there. In the 70s, metal plates, showing the names, dates of birth and death, were set in the ground in the places of several graves. This information was based on the incomplete files belonging to the cemetery. A memorial stone in the center of the cemetery lists “857 victims of war and tyranny.” This number has to be questioned. In fact, about 1,000 persons who were victims of National Socialist crimes in the Salzgitter area between 1941 and 1943 were buried on the Cemetery Westerholz. Until today, there is no further information about it at this site.