The camp was situated on a German army training ground. In World War I there was a large POW camp for Russian prisoners of war located here. It was also one of the first Nazi concentration camps established in 1933 to house German communists.
Late September 1939 the camp was changed to a POW camp to house Polish soldiers from the September Campaign, particularly those from the Pomorze Army Group. In December 1940, 1691 Polish prisoners were recorded. At first they lived in tents, throughout the severe winter 1939-1940. The building of all the huts was not completed until 1941.
In June 1940 French and Belgian prisoners from the Battle of France started arriving. To make room for them many of the Poles were forced to give up their status as Prisoner-of-war and become civilian slave laborers.
The construction of the second camp, Lager-Ost started in June 1941 to accommodate the large numbers of Soviet prisoners taken in Operation Barbarossa. It was located on the south side of the railway tracks.
November 1941 a typhoid fever epidemic broke out in the Lager-Ost. It lasted until March 1942 and an estimated 45,000 prisoners died and were buried in mass graves. The camp administration did not start any preventive measures until some German......