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History of the concentration camp

The rocket assembly hall F 1 in Peenemünde, which is characterized by its size and height. In the foreground, people are moving into the hall. Behind it, people can be seen lining up for roll call. Near the side wall of the hall are several swastika banners.

Rocket Production is Moved from Peenemünde to Kohnstein Mountain August 1943

The establishment of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp was preceded by the development of the A4 rocket. Designed as a terror weapon, it became known under the propaganda designation "V2" (Vergeltungswaffe 2).

The woodcut shows the cramming of the prisoners on the cots, the narrowness and crowdedness in the tunnels. The people are drawn as silhouettes, without individual features; often only white dots mark their heads, the faces are not recognizable. From this quasi amorphous mass, individual situations are singled out by way of example: someone is defecating over a barrel, a dead man is lying in front of it, a man is scraping out a food bucket, another is eating on the floor.

"Buried alive" Dora in the Autumn of 1943

On August 28, 1943, the first concentration camp prisoners arrived at the Kohnstein near Nordhausen with their SS guards. By the end of September 1943, there were already more than 3,000, by the end of October 6,800 and by Christmas 1943 more than...

You can see stacks of wooden boards lying under trees. In the background you can see an elongated, half-built barrack.

The Gradual Move to the Barrack Camp Spring of 1944

By early January 1944, the expansion of the Mittelwerk had progressed to the point where assembly of the V2 rockets could begin. With the start of production at the Mittelwerk, a restructuring of the Dora camp began.

A wooden watchtower can be seen next to a half-open wooden camp gate. In front of it, a Spanish horseman with barbed wire can be seen standing next to the access road.

The Development of the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Complex Summer of 1944

Around Nordhausen, further underground relocation projects were built from the spring of 1944 onwards. Concentration camp prisoners were also used in these projects. The camps, which were initially subordinate to Buchenwald, became subcamps of the...

Watercolor drawing showing a pile of emaciated prisoner corpses which was set on fire. The flames and smoke are blown to the right.

The First Phase of Dissolution Winter of 1944/45

From the fall of 1944, the Mittelbau camps were increasingly overcrowded, especially after clearance transports from the Auschwitz and Groß-Rosen concentration camps arrived. Mortality increased.

A watercolor drawing showing some emaciated dead prisoners in a ditch by the side of the road. Some have bullet holes on their heads. The silhouettes of people in a column can be seen in the background. She is followed by three silhouettes that look armed.

Clearance and death marches Beginning of April 1945

When American troops approached the Harz Mountains from the west in April 1945, the SS had most of the Mittelbau concentration camps cleared. It repeated what the prisoners from Auschwitz and Groß-Rosen had already had to suffer in January and February...

Seven American soldiers on the road in front of the destroyed vehicle garages of the satellite camp Boelcke-Kaserne.

Liberation 11. April 1945

On April 11, 1945, American troops reached Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. However, most of the prisoners who survived the clearance were liberated in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Residents of Nordhausen, under the supervision of American soldiers, bury the dead of the Boelcke Barracks concentration camp in a row grave. On the right side of the trench, some men carry a stretcher with a dead body past. The trench is filled tightly with corpses.

The Final Tally After April 1945

About 60,000 prisoners were deported to the Mittelbau camps from August 1943 to March 1945. According to conservative estimates, at least 20,000 of them died.

In front of a wooden barrack, eight people stand leaning against a railing on which laundry has been hung out to dry. Almost all of them smile friendly into the camera.

After the Liberation: DP and Repatriation Camp April 1945 to August 1946

From May 1945, former concentration camp inmates and forced laborers waited in the Dora camp for their repatriation. In 1946, German resettlers from Czechoslovakia were accommodated there.

A large cloud of dust rises from the Kohnstein.

The disappearance of the camps From Fall 1946

From the fall of 1946, the barracks of the Mittelbau camps were dismantled and used for the reconstruction of the surrounding villages. The tunnel in the Kohnstein was blown up.

A photo of the defendants standing on their chairs. They all have a sign hanging around their necks with their name and charges listed.

Trials and Careers From 1946

After the war, military trials took place against perpetrators from the Mittelbau camps, but few were charged or convicted. Many experts were able to continue their careers.

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