The Nazi KZ-Gedenkstätte Memorial where Dietrich Bonhoeffer Died
Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer died in the Nazi Concentration Camp (Konzentrationslager) Flossenbürg in the Oberpfalz in Bavaria, Germany
Concentration Camp Flossenbürg was erected in May 1938 due to its favorable geographical location in the heart of Germany close to Czechoslovakia, a railway line, and granite quarries.
Originally, the camp was intended for criminals, social undesirables (a category that ranged from homosexuals to prostitutes), and political opponents of the Nazi regime. During the war, an increasing number of foreign prisoners as well as Soviet prisoners of war were held in Flossenbürg.
Granite production was initially the main intend but as the war progressed, the emphasis moved to producing war equipment. Although not an extermination camp, the policy was to work prisoners to death, and at least a third of the around 100,000 prisoners incarcerated here died during the war.
The most famous prisoner to have died at Flossenbürg is Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45). This Protestant theologian opposed the Nazis from the beginning and had close contact to the militant resistance. He was already in jail in Berlin from April 1943 but hanged on April 9, 1945, two days after being moved to Flossenbürg and only two weeks before the American army liberated the camp.
At the time of liberation, only 1,600 seriously ill prisoners were left in the camp. Just days before, around 10,000 were force-marched towards Dachau. At least 5,000 died en route.
Other famous religious leaders who died in the region for opposing the Nazis include:
- Pastor Johann Maier, who was hanged in front of the Regensburg Cathedral on April 24, 1945, for demanding that the city should surrender to the American army rather than lose life and limb in a lost fight. Fortunately for Regensburg, the city received very little war damage. His grave is in the Regensburger Dom.
- Priest Rupert Mayer, who survived Dachau but died shortly after the war. He was declared a saint in 1987 – his grave is in the Bürgersaal in Munich.
After 1945, the camp was used for German prisoners and later for evacuees and refugees from Eastern Europe. After the mid-1950s, much of the camp was destroyed and used for normal housing. However, numerous buildings survived and are preserved as memorials.
The KZ-Gedenkstätte Flossenbürg (Concentration Camp Memorial Site), Gedächtnisallee 5-7, 92696 Flossenbürg, tel 09603-921-980, is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
- For conservation reasons, some buildings are closed from December to March.
- Guided tours are available most weekends at 2 pm but many visitors may prefer visiting in private with the help of the excellent and detailed English pamphlet. Admission is free.
Getting to Flossenbürg, Germany
- Bus 8573 from Weiden Hauptbahnhof runs hourly in 45 minutes to Flossenburg, stop Gedenkstätte.
- By car, follow the signs KZ Gedenkstätte from the Autobahn A93, exit 21 Neustadt. Flossenburg is around 15 km/10 miles to the east of Neustadt an der Waldnaab.
Further Destinations in the Oberpfalz / Upper Palatinate:
- Amberg – Old Town and Baroque Churches
- Weiden – Neo-Gothic, Art Nouveau, and the International Ceramics Museum
- Flossenbürg – Concentration Camp Memorial Site where Dietrich Bonnhoefer died
- Waldsassen – Cistercian Monastery Church & Library, and Holy Trinity Chapel
- Outdoor Adventures – Hiking, Cycling, and Canoeing in the Oberpfalz
- Hotels & Restaurants in the Oberpfalz – Including the World’s Smallest Hotel
- Introduction to the Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate Region in Bavaria)