History of the Eibia GmbH powder factory

In 1939, Wolff & Co began construction of a powder factory between the settlements of Liebenau and Steierberg in the Ninburg area. It became one of the largest military enterprises in the Third Reich. From late summer 1941, the Eibia GmbH  launched the production of so-called smokeless gunpowder for the Nazi army. The factory complex covered: an area of ​​over 12 square km, 420 buildings – bunkers of various designs, partly underground, their roofs covered with trees and shrubs, two heavy-duty power plants, 200 kilometers of cable, 84 km of concrete roads, 42 km of railway tracks, various barracks and residential brick buildings for German and foreign workers.

This powder factory employed relatively few Germans and more than 11,000 foreign workers. Most were Poles, Belgians, Frenchmen, and people from the Soviet Union, mainly from Ukraine.

Just like everywhere else, entrepreneurs that serviced the Nazi army were indifferent to the lives of Soviet workers. They were held half-starved in terrible conditions in a separate camp for “Eastern workers”. The camp consisted of three zones: for women, for men and for prisoners of war. It was these captives that suffered the most from illness and hunger; such living conditions sentenced them to death. By 1945, more than 2,500 women and men had died at the powder factory from physical exhaustion. In addition, at least 250 more prisoners died of disease, were killed or perished at the Libenau “correctional camp”. Most of these victims were buried in the factory cemetery in Hesterberg, which today has the status of an official burial ground.