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The First Transport

The founding of the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp

In the early morning hours of 28 August 1943, the SS herded 107 inmates to the gates of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. They had been selected for the "Transport Süd" (southern transport), which in reality headed north. They were taken by truck to the Kohnstein, a 335 meter-high hill in the Harz foothills near Nordhausen, where they were forced to perform heavy labor, converting an underground fuel depot into a bomb-proof armaments factory.

The arrival of these first 107 inmates marked the establishment of the "Dora Labor Camp". In the following 15 months, it was expanded into the sprawling concentration camp complex Mittelbau, with a total of 60,000 inmates.

The arrival of the first inmates 80 years ago is commemorated here. Continuously published articles explain the background of the transport and link it to the biographies of individual inmates.

Map of Peenemünde and surroundings

The Bombing of Peenemünde Prologue

In the night of 17 August 1943, Royal Air Force formations flew the first bombing raids on the military facilities in Peenemünde on the northwest corner of the island of Usedom in the Baltic Sea, where the Wehrmacht had been developing and testing...

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Entrance to a tunnel inside a hill

The Kohnstein Destination

Since the mid-1930s the Wehrmacht had maintained a depot for fuel and lubricating oil in an underground gypsum mine in the Kohnstein near Nordhausen. The depot was strategically positioned in the middle of the Reich and was owned by the...

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Selection and Transport Transfer

On 26 August 1943 the Buchenwald camp physician made a list of inmates whom he deemed “able to be transported and to work.” The SS ordered 107 men to gather at the gate of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in the early morning of 28 August. As there was...

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Inmates working on driving the tunnels

Living and Working After Arrival

When the first 107 inmates arrived there were not yet any above-ground barracks. The SS’s priority was the construction of the V2 weapons facility, for which new inmates arrived almost daily. By the end of the year there were more than 10,000. They...

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Sick prisoners move from the infirmary into the tunnel

Illness and Death Suffering

The stuffy, damp, cold air in the tunnel system and the inadequate hygienic conditions in the sleeping quarters fostered the rampant spread of diseases, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, and typhus. The lack of protective clothing for the inmates led...

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Blasting of the entrances to the tunnel in the Kohnstein by the Soviet military authorities

After the first transport Outlook

Another 60,000 inmates were brought to Mittelbau-Dora for forced labour, until they were liberated in April 1945. They had to work in the tunnel excavation and later in production. With the establishment of further subcamps, the inmates were deployed...

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Texts: Sebastian Hammer, Anett Dremel

Translation: Amanda C. Lee

Procurement of rights and exhibits: Sebastian Hammer, Anett Dremel, Torsten Hess

Design: Sebastian Hammer

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