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Dora- Mittelbau & Nordhausen Concentration Camps

Dora-Nordhausen

Dora - Mittelbau/Nordhausen

Concentration Camp

Dora – Mittelbau also known Dora-Nordhausen was a concentration camp in the Harz Mountains, three miles from Nordhausen, Saxony, in Germany.

The Lutherplatz in the town of Nordhausen

The Dora-Mittelbau camp was first mentioned on 27 August 1943 as an external unit of the Buchenwald concentration camp. On 28 October 1944 it became a major concentration camp in its own right, with twenty-three branches, most of them in the vicinity, inside a restricted military area.

Following Hitler's August 22 1943 order for SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler to use concentration camp workers for A-4 production, 107 inmates arrived at Nordhausen from Buchenwald on August 28, 1943, followed by 1,223 on September 2. Workers from Peenemünde departed on October 13, 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 (Concentration Camp Central Construction). In effect, the camp became operational on November 1, 1944 with 32,471 Mittelbau prisoners of many nationalities.

 

The SS used the Boelcke Kaserne, a former barracks in Nordhausen city, as a dumping ground for hopeless prisoner cases. Thousands of prisoners were transferred to Dora-Mittelbau, mostly from Buchenwald and they were put to work excavating underground tunnels that were to serve as the site of a huge plant for the manufacture of V-2 missiles and other arms.

The original plan of excavation and tunnelling provided for two long tunnels that would parallel through the mountain from north to south and be connected by forty-six smaller tunnels. By 1943 the government research firm WIFO had completed Tunnel B and had partially finished the Tunnel A opening on the northern side of the hill.

 

The project yielded an excellent site for underground rocket production in the two main tunnels – each 1,800 meters long and 12 and a half meters wide – and twenty-three connecting tunnels. The Germans used the main tunnels for rocket testing. Railroad tracks ran the length of the tunnel, with sufficient space remaining at the side for huge pieces of machinery. The Junkers company used the small northern section to manufacture airplane engines.

Until the plant was put into operation, in the late spring of 1944, the ten thousand prisoners working on the site had no living quarters and were housed inside the tunnels, under unbearable conditions, deprived of daylight and fresh air for weeks at a time. They had to work at a murderous pace, in twelve-hour shifts, in very unsanitary conditions and lack of security precautions led to a mortality rate much higher than that in any other concentration camp in Germany.

 

Tunnel - A One of the two parallel tunnels

Only after production began was a camp of wooden barracks constructed in Dora – Mittelbau, to which the prisoners were transferred in the summer of 1944. That autumn, when maximum production was attained in the camp, Dora-Mittelbau had a permanent prison population in the main camp of over twelve thousand, with another twenty thousand in the satellite camps.

When construction was completed and the plant went into operation, thousands of Jewish prisoners from various countries were brought to Dora-Mittelbau. They were treated with great brutality and were assigned the most physically exacting jobs, their mortality rate was higher than that of any other group of prisoners.

Jewish prisoners who were exhausted and could not keep pace with the work were sent to Auschwitz and Mauthausen, in special transports, to be killed there.

 

Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/othercamps/dora.html
The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

 

 

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009

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