In April 1944 the first forced labourers, Italian, arrived in Kahla.
Finding suitable accommodation for the thousands of forced labourers arriving every day was not a priority for the "REIMAHG" authorities.
In the beginning, they were placed in improvised rooms in local guest houses and empty buildings.
The camps were then slowly constructed by the so-called "camp columns". Similar wooden barracks were used in all the camps, as they were of uniform construction and laid out in a regular pattern inside the camp.
Every camp had it own camp leader, who held absolute power over the inmates. He was also responsible for problems between the inmates.
Daily life in the camps was of decisive importance on the physical and psychological state of the forced labourer.
In addition to the long working day of hard labour, long marches to work and then back to the camps, lengthy morning and evening roll calls, there was also a lot of time needed for the meagre meal, which was often accompanied by beatings from the camp staff.
There was little time for personal hygiene and leisure. The harsh winter of 1944/45 has to be added to this daily struggle to survive. In the beginning, the dead were buried in separate graves, but as from autumn 1944, the numerous dead were thrown into mass graves.
Two of the "REIMAHG" camps were so-called Punishment Camps.
The Camp "O" was situated on the south side of the mountain in the Dehna Valley, just above the Dehna mill. It was later moved into one of the tunnels inside the mountain.
The other camp, on the northern side of the mountain, was in the vicinity of the Bibra camp and used mainly for the East European labourers.
The forced labourers who did not work "hard enough", received only half of the daily rations and were subjected to very hard labour, sometimes in continual shifts. Only a few of them survived.
In April 1944, most of the people who arrived from all over Europe were mixed up in different camps. The "REIMAHG" authorities only began to arrange the camps according to nationalities from the beginning of 1945. This resulted in some forced labourers passing through several camps
According to testimonies of former Belgian forced labourers, Camp "E" near Eichenberg in the Dehna Valley was a so-called "Labour Education Camp".
Drawing Lager E
In all of the "REIMAHG" camps there were terrible hygienic, medical and food supply conditions. By the end of the war the conditions had deteriorated so badly that the sick barracks couldn`t even provide basic medical support.
It was decided by the "REIMAHG" authorities that in the former hunting castle in Hummelshain a hospital had to be created.
Most of the "REIMAHG" camps were situated in the Leubengrund Valley: camps number 4, 5, 6 and 7. The number of inmates is estimated to have been in the region of 4000-5000 people.
Camp number 4 was occupied by voluntary foreign workers.
In the camps number 5, 6 and 7 there were only forced labourers. At the end of the war camp number 7 had a tragic role: all those who were dying or sick, plus those that were too weak to participate at the forced evacuation by the SS, were put together in this camp and abandoned.
Old porcelain factory Kleindembach (left), Memorial stone former camp 2 (top), Kitchen of camp 3 (bottom)
For the Hitler Youth, Bund Deutscher MÃ¤del and the German workers, there were camps in the Zwabitz, Gumperda and Schindler Valley. These had stone barracks. As for most of the forced labour camps, these camps were not finished at the end of the war. Living conditions were also very bad there.
View into the camp in Zwabitztal Valley (left), Aerial view camp Schindlertal Valley (rights)