[Radtour Nord2]

Dorsten's History - Station 12: Forced Labourers Translation: Lyn

"We must not forget them" ("Wir dürfen sie nicht vergessen") is the warning of the Memorial at the so-called "Russian Cemetery" (directly next to the woodland cemetery, "Waldfriedhof") ("Russenfriedhof").
8th February 2003: A large number of citizens (including the pupils of the History Club of the Petrinum Grammar School and many members of the organisation "LC Dorsten-Hanse") have gathered for the official opening of the new plaque. The Mayor "Bürgermeister Lütkenhorst": "These people are a part of our history. The new History-Station is a reminder of the guilt but also of the civil courage of the people of this town." („Diese Menschen sind Teil unserer Geschichte. Die neue Station erinnert an die Schuld, aber auch an Zivilcourage von Menschen dieser Stadt".)

Josef Ulfkotte, the president of the Lions Club organisation "LC Dorsten-Hanse" in 2002/03, and Hans-Jochen Schräjahr, the head of the History Club, have been occupying themselves for years with the theme of forced labourers in Dorsten ("Zwangsarbeiter in Dorsten"): "More than 600 Russian forced labourers are buried, here" ("Hier sind deutlich mehr als 600 russische Zwangsarbeiter und Zwangsarbeiterinnen begraben") . The History-Station is financed by the members of the Lions Club organisation "LC Dorsten-Hanse".

Hitler unleashes the Second World War, with the invasion of Poland by German troops




Following the start of the war, prisoners and civilian forced labourers from the occupied regions work in Dorsten's companies and in the agricultural industry. More than 35 labour camps are formed in the area of the present town.

Soviet Prisoners of War before being put to work.



By the end of the year, the first 1000 Soviet prisoners of war arrive at the camp close to the lock ("Lager an der Schleuse"). The town is ordered to immediately prepare a cemetery for about 2000 Russians, which is created at this site. Many die, after a short time, of physical exhaustion, from the inhumane working and living conditions; many are beaten and shot. Despite warnings of drastic penalties, many citizens of Dorsten secretly provide food for the Eastern workers "Ostarbeiter", the latter classified by the Nazis as Slavonic subhuman creatures ("slawische Untermenschen")

The Battle of Stalingrad denotes the turning point of the war.




The female forced labourers, who live in the camps in Dorsten, have to give birth to their babies in the maternity and abortion camp for Eastern workers in Waltrop-Holthausen. Many mothers and new-borns die after the delivery, as a consequence of insufficient medical care or malnutrition.

Female Eastern Workers working at the Munitions Factory (Muna Wulfen)

1943 / 1944


The Catholic Priest, Laurenz Schmedding, is arrested by the Gestapo and deported to the concentration camp in Dachau "KZ Dachau" because he gave the Eastern Workers and the prisoners of war religious support. A camp for 3000 forced labourers is erected at Tönsholt for the Krupp Company.

The allies capture Sicily and land in Italy and France. On the 20th July the assassination attempt on Hitler fails.




Many forced labourers see no way out other than escape or suicide. Others are killed by an explosion at the Muna or during the allied air-raids. Particularly in the country, friendships between the farmers and the Eastern workers working on their farms develop and continue after the war.

The German Empire / Realm




Folowing the allied invasion, the population is scared by freed Eastern workers pillaging and carrying out violent attacks.



In September, the British Occupation Forces register 2070 "Displaced Persons" (freed foreign prisoners of war and forced labourers)

Memorial at the Russian Cemetery



The research group "Dorsten under the Swastika" ("Dorsten unterm Hakenkreuz") recalls the fates of the eastern-European forced labourers in Dorsten during the Second World War.



The Catholic Worker's Union "KAB St Bonifatius Holsterhausen" takes over responsibilty for the upkeep of the Russian Cemetery ("Russenfriedhof").

Diese Zeile wurde immer gelöscht und nicht richtig gespeichert. Deshalb habe ich die englische Übersetzung im




16 Companies create the Foundation Initiative of the German Economy ("die Stiftungsinitiative der deutschen Wirtschaft") for the compensation of former forced labourers.


Daten und Fakten

Eröffnung - 8th February 2003

Adresse - The Russian Cemetery "Russenfriedhof", at "Emmelkämper Mark"

Geodaten - 51°41'34.3 6°57'05

The Official Opening of the History Station Plaque on 8th February 2003

The Official opening Ceremony with the Mayor (Mr Lambert Lütkenhorst)

Entrance to the Cemetery

Memorial at the Russian Cemetery

"We must not forget them." ("Wir dürfen sie nicht vergessen")

View of the Cemetery

Blick auf den Friedhof