Mittelbau-Dora
Overview
 
Mittelbau-Dora was a Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 labour camp that provided workers for the Mittelwerk
Mittelwerk
Central Works was a World War II factory that used Mittelbau-Dora forced labor in 2 main tunnels in the Kohnstein. The underground facility produced V-2 rockets, V-1 flying bombs, and other Nazi weapons.-Mittelwerk GmbH:...

 V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 factory in the Kohnstein
Kohnstein
The Kohnstein is a mountain, 2 kilometres southwest of the village of Niedersachswerfen and 3 kilometres northwest of the center of the city of Nordhausen...

, situated near Nordhausen
Nordhausen
Nordhausen is a town at the southern edge of the Harz Mountains, in the state of Thuringia, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Nordhausen...

, Germany.

Approximately 60,000 prisoners from 21 nations (mostly Russians, Poles, and French) 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.
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Encyclopedia
Mittelbau-Dora was a Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 labour camp that provided workers for the Mittelwerk
Mittelwerk
Central Works was a World War II factory that used Mittelbau-Dora forced labor in 2 main tunnels in the Kohnstein. The underground facility produced V-2 rockets, V-1 flying bombs, and other Nazi weapons.-Mittelwerk GmbH:...

 V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 factory in the Kohnstein
Kohnstein
The Kohnstein is a mountain, 2 kilometres southwest of the village of Niedersachswerfen and 3 kilometres northwest of the center of the city of Nordhausen...

, situated near Nordhausen
Nordhausen
Nordhausen is a town at the southern edge of the Harz Mountains, in the state of Thuringia, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Nordhausen...

, Germany.

Approximately 60,000 prisoners from 21 nations (mostly Russians, Poles, and French) 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.

Operation

Following Hitler's 22 August 1943 order for Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 to use concentration camp workers for A-4 production, 107 inmates arrived at Nordhausen from Buchenwald on 28 August 1943, followed by 1,223 on 2 September. Peenemünde
Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

 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
Kohnstein
The Kohnstein is a mountain, 2 kilometres southwest of the village of Niedersachswerfen and 3 kilometres northwest of the center of the city of Nordhausen...

 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
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

, and Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 visited the Nordhausen plant on 25 January 1944. Von Braun returned for a 6 May 1944, meeting with Walter Dornberger
Walter Dornberger
Major-General Dr Walter Robert Dornberger was a German Army artillery officer whose career spanned World Wars I and II. He was a leader of Germany's V-2 rocket program and other projects at the Peenemünde Army Research Center....

 and Rudolph where Albin Sawatzki discussed the need to enslave 1,800 more skilled French workers.

Dora conditions

Although most of the prisoners were men, a few women were held in the Dora Mittelbau camp and in the Groß Werther subcamp. Only one woman guard is now known to have served in Dora, Lagerführerin Erna Petermann
Erna Petermann
Erna Petermann was a high ranking female overseer at two Nazi concentration camps during the closing of World War II.Little is known about Erna Petermann, other than that she trained at the men's camp at Mittelbau-Dora sometime in 1944. The SS promoted Peterman to the rank of Lagerführerin under...

. Regardless of sex, all prisoners were treated with extreme cruelty, which caused illness, injuries and deaths. Examples of the cruelty routinely inflicted on prisoners include: severe beatings that could permanently disable and/or disfigure the victims, deliberate and life-threatening starvation
Starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

, physical and mental torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 as well as summary execution
Summary execution
A summary execution is a variety of execution in which a person is killed on the spot without trial or after a show trial. Summary executions have been practiced by the police, military, and paramilitary organizations and are associated with guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency, terrorism, and...

 under the smallest pretext.

The SS used the Boelcke Kaserne, a former barracks in Nordhausen city, as a dumping ground for hopeless prisoner cases. On the night of 2 April 1945, Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 bombers burned down much of Nordhausen city in two nighttime fire raids, killing 1,500 sick prisoners at Boelcke Kaserne. On 3 April 1945, prisoners began leaving Dora to the Harzungen
Harzungen
Harzungen is a municipality in the district of Nordhausen, in Thuringia, Germany....

 sub-camp about 10 miles (16.1 km) around Kohnstein
Kohnstein
The Kohnstein is a mountain, 2 kilometres southwest of the village of Niedersachswerfen and 3 kilometres northwest of the center of the city of Nordhausen...

 mountain.

Liberation and post war

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.
NOTE: See supporting Documents regarding Galione's discovery of Mittelbau Dora. Survivors include Yves Béon and André Sellier. In January 1985, the World Jewish Congress
World Jewish Congress
The World Jewish Congress was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in August 1936 as an international federation of Jewish communities and organizations...

 placed articles in newspapers searching for Dora survivors.

Andrae Trial

Following the June 1945 Fedden Mission
Mittelwerk
Central Works was a World War II factory that used Mittelbau-Dora forced labor in 2 main tunnels in the Kohnstein. The underground facility produced V-2 rockets, V-1 flying bombs, and other Nazi weapons.-Mittelwerk GmbH:...

 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:
  • Arthur Kurt Andrae
  • Erhard Brauny
  • Otto Brinkman
  • Emil Buehring
  • Heinz Detmers
  • Josef Fuchsloch
  • Kurt Richard Heinrich (23 May 1911– ): Executive Officer and Legal officer of C.C. Dora (Oct 44 – Feb 45)
  • Oskar Helbig
  • Rudolph Jacobi
  • Josef Kilian
  • Georg Koenig
  • Paul Maischein
  • Hans Moeser
  • Georg Rickhey
    Georg Rickhey
    Georg Johannes Rickhey was a German engineer and the general director of Mittelwerk GmbH in Dora-Mittelbau.Rickhey, a doctor of engineering, joined the Nazi Party in October 1931 as member number 664,050...

    : Mittelwerk
    Mittelwerk
    Central Works was a World War II factory that used Mittelbau-Dora forced labor in 2 main tunnels in the Kohnstein. The underground facility produced V-2 rockets, V-1 flying bombs, and other Nazi weapons.-Mittelwerk GmbH:...

     General Manager
  • Heinrich Schmidt
    Heinrich Schmidt
    -People:*Heinrich Julian Schmidt , German journalist*Heinrich Schmidt , member of the Nazi Party*Heinrich Schmidt , member of the Nazi Party...

  • Wilhelm Simon
  • Walter Ulbricht
  • Richard Walenta
  • Willi Zwiener

The trial convicted fifteen Dora SS guards and Kapo
Kapo (concentration camp)
A kapo was a prisoner who worked inside German Nazi concentration camps during World War II in any of certain lower administrative positions. The official Nazi word was Funktionshäftling, or "prisoner functionary", but the Nazis commonly referred to them as kapos.- Etymology :The origin of "kapo"...

s (one was executed). The trial also addressed the question of liability of Nordhausen scientists — Georg Rickhey
Georg Rickhey
Georg Johannes Rickhey was a German engineer and the general director of Mittelwerk GmbH in Dora-Mittelbau.Rickhey, a doctor of engineering, joined the Nazi Party in October 1931 as member number 664,050...

 was acquitted and Arthur Rudolph
Arthur Rudolph
Arthur Louis Hugo Rudolph was a German rocket engineer and member of the Nazi party who played a key role in the development of the V-2 rocket. After World War II he was brought to the United States, subsequently becoming a pioneer of the United States space program. He worked for the U.S...

 of the Mittelwerk
Mittelwerk
Central Works was a World War II factory that used Mittelbau-Dora forced labor in 2 main tunnels in the Kohnstein. The underground facility produced V-2 rockets, V-1 flying bombs, and other Nazi weapons.-Mittelwerk GmbH:...

 (recruited in 1945 under Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

 and then exiled from the US in 1984) was not even charged. A related trial was also held 1959–1961 in Essen
Essen
- Origin of the name :In German-speaking countries, the name of the city Essen often causes confusion as to its origins, because it is commonly known as the German infinitive of the verb for the act of eating, and/or the German noun for food. Although scholars still dispute the interpretation of...

.

Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial

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.

External links

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