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Tunnel Complex

Concentration camp inmates were forced to assemble missiles in underground tunnels. Initially the inmates were also housed in the tunnels.

Visitors looking at the remains of the V1 flying bombs that used to be assembled here in one of the transverse tunnels of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp
Visitors in the tunnel system, 2012. Photo: Claus Bach.
A partially assembled A4(V2) rocket on a trolley on rails in one of the Mittelwerk tunnels.
Partially assembled V2 rocket on trolley, tunnel system, 1945 (after liberation). Photo: Georges Phillips.
You can see a driving tunnel. Piles of glass wool lie on the left. On the right along the tunnel, V2 half-shells padded with glass wool are arranged at regular intervals.
Section of the assembly line in tunnel B, in which V2 half-shells padded with glass wool lie, 1945 (after the liberation). Photo: Gerard Raphaël Algoet.
View of the entrance to tunnel A of the Mittelwerk camouflaged with camouflage nets. A railroad car can be seen on the right. On the left, four US soldiers, each in groups of two, are moving away from the tunnel.
View of the camouflaged entrance to tunnel A of the Mittelwerk, 1945 (after liberation). Photo: George Phillips.

In the underground tunnel complex, concentration camp inmates had to perform forced labour for the German weapons industry. Inmates were kept in the tunnels for months and also slept there.

The tunnel complex had been a fuel storage facility for the Wehrmacht beginning in 1936. In the autumn of 1943, concentration camp inmates were forced to expand the tunnel system for the construction of V2 rockets. In the beginning four lateral chambers, of which three can be viewed today, served as "sleeping tunnels" for many thousands of inmates, who had to cram themselves into make-shift, four-level wooden bunkbeds. The hygienic conditions were catastrophic. Many thousands of inmates died in the first few months. 

During the first half of 1944 the inmates gradually were move to the above-ground complex of barracks that was being built. From August 1944 onward, the former "sleeping tunnels" were thus used as production sites for the V1 cruise missile, in which concentration camp inmates also had to perform forced labour.

After the entrances were blown up by the Soviet military administration in 1947/48, the underground complex remained closed off for many decades. In 1995 the tunnel system was made accessible for tours through a newly constructed tunnel. The state in which the underground complex was found at that time has been changed as little as possible. Destroyed machinery, production remnants, and fallen chunks of stone lie in the assembly rooms, as they were found.  

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