Befreiung der Häftlinge im KZ Mittelbau-Dora [1945]

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Coordinates: 51°32′07″N 10°44′55″E / 51.535278°N 10.748611°E / 51.535278; 10.748611 (Nazi-Era KZ Mittelbau-Dora)

Nordhausen-Dora
Nordhausenmassgrave.jpg
Location Nordhausen, Germany
Coordinates 51°32′59″N 10°45′19″E / 51.54972°N 10.75528°E / 51.54972; 10.75528
Opened 28 August 1943
Closed 9 April 1945
Managed by Schutzstaffel
Director Commandants: Otto Förschner (? –February 1945)[1]
Richard Baer (February – April 1945)[1]
Map of Mittelbau-Dora
Dead workers lie in uneven rows on floors of barracks at Nordhausen.
Emaciated survivors of Nordhausen discovered after liberation of the camp, 12 April 1945.
An American soldier and medical officer view the bodies of prisoners lying on the ground in a barracks in the Nordhausen concentration camp.
Parts of bombs and rockets still litter the underground corridors of the camp (2012)
Rows of dead inmates fill the yard of the Boelcke Barracks, a subcamp of Mittelbau-Dora in Nordhausen, 12 April 1945
Rusty V2-rocket engine in the underground production facilities of the camp (2012)

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.[2] The subcamps of Konzentrationslager Mittelbau (Concentration Camp Central Construction) eventually totalled more than 40.

Operation[edit]

Following Hitler's 22 August 1943 order for Heinrich Himmler to use concentration camp workers for A-4 production,[3] 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.[1][4]

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.[4]

Tunnels in the Kohnstein were used as quarters until workers completed the Dora camp[4] on 31 December 1943, less than a kilometre from the tunnel B entrance to the South.[5] The camp had 58 barracks buildings[6] and the underground detainee accommodations ("sleeping tunnels") were dismantled in May 1944.[1]

Official visits included a 10 December 1943 visit to Dora by Albert Speer,[1][4] and Wernher von Braun visited the Nordhausen plant on 25 January 1944. Von Braun returned for a 6 May 1944,[1] meeting with Walter Dornberger and Rudolph where Albin Sawatzki discussed the need to enslave 1,800 more skilled French workers.[4]

Dora conditions[edit]

Most of the inmates of the camp were men, but a few women were also held there, as well as in its sub camp Groß Werther. There was one known female guard Lagerführerin Erna Petermann.[7]

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.[7] 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.[1] 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.[4][8] On 3 April 1945, prisoners began leaving Dora to the Harzungen sub-camp about 10 miles (16 km) around the hill of Kohnstein.[4]

Liberation and post war[edit]

Private John M. Galione of the 104th Timberwolf Army Infantry Division 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.[9]

NOTE: See supporting Documents[10] regarding Galione's discovery of Mittelbau Dora. Survivors include Yves Béon[4] and André Sellier.[11] In January 1985, the World Jewish Congress placed articles in newspapers searching for Dora survivors.[12]

Andrae Trial[edit]

Following the June 1945 Fedden Mission investigation of the Dora conditions, The United States of America versus Arthur Kurt Andrae et al.[13] trial commenced on 7 August 1947 at the Dachau internment camp against the following defendants:[14]

The trial convicted 15 Dora SS guards and Kapos (one was executed). The trial also addressed the question of liability of Nordhausen scientists[15]Georg Rickhey was acquitted[2] 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.[4]

Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial[edit]

The Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial[16] 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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Neufeld, Michael J. (1995). The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemünde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era. New York: The Free Press. pp. 206, 209, 212, 226, 227, 261, 270. 
  2. ^ a b Hunt, Linda (1991). Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, 1945 to 1990. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 45, 53, 72–74, 279, 281. ISBN 0-312-05510-2. 
  3. ^ Collier, Basil (1976) [1964]. The Battle of the V-Weapons, 1944–1945. Yorkshire: The Emfield Press. p. 122. ISBN 0-7057-0070-4. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Béon, Yves (1997). La planète Dora [Planet Dora: A Memoir of the Holocaust and the Birth of the Space Age]. translated from the French La planète Dora by Béon & Richard L. Fague. Westview Press, div. of Harper Collins. pp. (SC) XII, XIV, XIX, XX, XXII, 90, 282. ISBN 0-8133-3272-9. 
  5. ^ Garliński, Józef (1978). Hitler's Last Weapons: The Underground War against the V1 and V2. New York: Times Books. pp. 107, 109. 
  6. ^ Grigorieff, Paul. "The Mittelwerk/Mittelbau/Camp Dora Mittelbau GmbH — Mittelbau KZ". The A-4/V-2 Resource Site. v2rocket.com. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  7. ^ a b Frasier, FJ; Webb, Chris; Lisciotto, Carmelo (2007). "Dora - Mittelbau/Nordhausen". Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Campaign Diary". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. Retrieved 2007-05-24.  1945:April
  9. ^ Farris, Ragene. "Nordhausen, Germany". 104infdiv.org. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  10. ^ "John Galione Verification Documents". Johngalione.com. 1945-04-10. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  11. ^ Sellier, André (2003 – translated from French). A History of the Dora Camp: The Untold Story of the Nazi Slave Labor Camp That Secretly Manufactured V-2 Rockets. ISBN 2-7071-3540-2. 
  12. ^ "Witnesses Sought Among Survivors Of Nazi Rocket Factory". Las Vegas Israelite. 11 January 1985. 
  13. ^ "United States of America v. Kurt Andrae et al. (and Related Cases)" (PDF). United States Army Investigation and Trial Records of War Criminals. National Archives and Records Service. 27 April 1945 – 11 June 1958. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  14. ^ "A Booklet with a Brief History of the "Dora" – Nordhausen Labor-Concentration Camps and Information on the Nordhausen War Crimes Case of the United States of America versus Arthur Kurt Andrae et al.". 
  15. ^ Franklin, Thomas (1987). An American in Exile: The Story of Arthur Rudolph. Huntsville: Christopher Kaylor Company. p. 150. 
  16. ^ Stiftung Gedenkstätte Buchenwald und Mittelbau-Dora. "The Site - Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial". Buchenwald.de. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 

External links[edit]

Map of KZ Dora-Mittelbau

List of KZ Mittelbau-Dora subcamps
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