||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the German Wikipedia. (November 2011)|
|Opened||28 August 1943|
|Closed||9 April 1945|
|Director||Commandants: Otto Förschner (? –February 1945)
Richard Baer (February – April 1945)
Mittelbau-Dora (also Dora-Mittelbau and Nordhausen-Dora) was a subcamp of Buchenwald concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Its prisoners were used by the SS mainly in the tunnel excavation and nearby underground stations of the Mittelwerk Ltd., in Kohnstein, situated near Nordhausen, where the V-2 rocket and the flying bomb V-1 rocket were produced.
During 18 months about 60,000 prisoners from 21 nations passed through Dora. An estimated 20,000 inmates died; 9000 died from exhaustion and collapse, 350 hanged (including 200 for sabotage), the remainder died mainly from disease and starvation. The subcamps of Konzentrationslager Mittelbau (Concentration Camp Central Construction) eventually totalled more than 40.
Following Hitler's 22 August 1943 order for Heinrich Himmler to use concentration camp workers for A-4 (or V-2 rocket) production, 107 inmates arrived at Nordhausen from Buchenwald on 28 August 1943, followed by 1,223 on 2 September. Peenemünde workers departed for Dora on 13 October 1943.
Originally called Block 17/3 Buchenwald, the SS administration ordered Dora to be politically separated from Buchenwald at the end of September 1944 and to become the center of Konzentrationslager Mittelbau. In effect, the camp became operational on 1 November 1944 with 32,471 prisoners.
Tunnels in the Kohnstein were used as quarters until workers completed the Dora camp on 31 December 1943, less than a kilometre from the tunnel B entrance to the South. The camp had 58 barracks buildings and the underground detainee accommodations ("sleeping tunnels") were dismantled in May 1944.
Official visits included a 10 December 1943 visit to Dora by Albert Speer, and Wernher von Braun visited the Nordhausen plant on 25 January 1944. Von Braun returned for a 6 May 1944, meeting with Walter Dornberger and Rudolph where Albin Sawatzki discussed the need to enslave 1,800 more skilled French workers.
The prisoners were subject to extreme cruelty. As a result they often suffered injuries, including permanent disability and disfigurment, and death. Severe beatings were routine, as was deliberate starvation, torture and summary executions. Between January and February 1944, approximately 2,000 of the most sick and disabled prisoners were transferred to the Majdanek concentration camp in German occupied Poland where they were murdered.
The SS used the Boelcke Kaserne, a former barracks in the town of Nordhausen, as a dumping ground for hopeless prisoner cases. On the night of 2 April 1945, Royal Air Force bombers burned down much of Nordhausen in two nighttime fire raids, killing 1,500 sick prisoners at Boelcke Kaserne. On 3 April 1945, prisoners began leaving Dora to the Harzungen sub-camp about 10 miles (16 km) around the hill of Kohnstein.
Private John M. Galione discovered Mittelbau Dora on 10 April 1945, and broke into the camp with the help of two other soldiers before sunrise on 11 April. Galione then radioed the Third Armored Division and various 104th Division attachments, giving them directions to the camp. The medics of the 3rd Armored Division (United States) reported that they discovered Nordhausen Camp on the way to Camp Dora (Dora and Nordhausen are two separate camps within the same complex). Lying in both camps were about 5,000 corpses. Over 1,200 patients were evacuated, with 15 dying en route to the hospital area and 300 subsequently dying of malnutrition.
Following the June 1945 Fedden Mission investigation of the Dora conditions, The United States of America versus Arthur Kurt Andrae et al. trial commenced on 7 August 1947 at the Dachau internment camp against the following defendants:
The trial convicted 15 Dora SS guards and Kapos (one was executed). The trial also addressed the question of liability of Nordhausen scientists — Georg Rickhey was acquitted and Arthur Rudolph of the Mittelwerk (recruited in 1945 under Operation Paperclip and then exiled from the US in 1984) was not even charged. A related trial was also held 1959–1961 in Essen.
The Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial uses the former crematorium building (one of the two buildings still intact) as a museum. In 1970 the muster ground was restored and an administration building erected. The tunnel entrances were closed in 1947 using explosives; a new entrance was cut in 1995, allowing visitors to tour the tunnel areas.
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|List of KZ Mittelbau-Dora subcamps|