Italian military internees
Beginning in October 1943, in the wake of Italy's surrender on 8 September, several transports of Italian prisoners of war arrived in Zeithain. These prisoners were referred to as 'Italian military internees'. These prisoners consisted of the personnel and patients of Italian army hospitals who had previously been stationed in southeastern Europe. They moved into 78 huts that had previously housed Soviet prisoners and set up their own hospital.
To this day, Zeithain is remembered among former Italian prisoners as the 'campo di morte' (camp of death). The combination of malnourishment, hard labour, insufficient warm clothing and lack of medications contributed to the widespread outbreak of tuberculosis among the Italian prisoners within a few months.
After recovering, most of the Italian prisoners went sent back to work. Yet the number of Italians who contracted tuberculosis on the work details and the number of infected prisoners transferred to Zeithain from other camps rose steadily. Most of these prisoners were chronically unfit for labour with little chance of being cured of the disease. Mortality rose steadily as time progressed. Zeithain became a death camp for the Italian prisoners of war as well. Initially the dead were buried at the Neuburxdorf cemetery about 15 km from the camp. From February 1944 on, they were buried at the new Italian military cemetery in Jacobsthal. Unlike the Soviet prisoners of war, the approximately 900 Italians who died at Zeithain were buried in individual graves with military honours. The remains of the Italian victims were returned to their homeland in 1991. The memorial commemorates the victims with nameplates at the former grave sites.