GERMANY. Nordhausen. April 1945. Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. A series of posts for all the Nazi apologists and Holocaust revisionists/negationists. [Part 1 of 5]
(1) (2) (3) Hundreds of bodies clad in grey and white striped prison uniforms are laid out in rows at Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. This is what US troops found after they took control of the camp.
(4) Dying prisoners.
(5) A Polish boy and his father bury the corpse of the boy’s grandmother who died at Nordhausen.
(6) National Archives description: “These two staring, emaciated men are liberated inmates of Lager Nordhausen, a Gestapo concentration camp. The camp had from 3,000 to 4,000 inmates. All were maltreated, beaten and starved”. April 12, 1945.
(7) (8) (9) Supervised by American soldiers, German civilians from the town of Nordhausen bury the corpses of prisoners found at the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp in mass graves. The Allies insisted that the male citizens of Nordhausen bury the dead. Although the German civilians denied knowledge of the conditions in the camps, the Allies suspected they were fully aware of the situation. The camps and tunnels were less than two miles from the town of Nordhausen.
Photographs: United States Army Signal Corps/Library of Congress/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Mittelbau-Dora (aka Dora-Mittelbau, Nordhausen and Nordhausen-Dora) was a German Nazi concentration camp located near Nordhausen in Germany. It was established in late summer 1943 as a subcamp of Buchenwald concentration camp, supplying labour for extending the nearby tunnels in the Kohnstein and for manufacturing the V-2 rocket and the V-1 flying bomb. In the summer of 1944, Mittelbau became an independent concentration camp with numerous subcamps of its own.
There were no sanitary facilities except for barrels that served as latrines. Inmates (the majority of them from the Soviet Union, Poland or France) died from hunger, thirst, cold and overwork. The prisoners were subject to extreme cruelty. As a result they often suffered injuries, including permanent disability and disfigurement, and death. Severe beatings were routine, as was deliberate starvation, torture and summary executions. Common causes of death also included tuberculosis, pneumonia, starvation, dysentery, and trauma.
In early April 1945, as US troops were advancing, the SS decided to evacuate most of the Mittelbau camps. In great haste and with considerable brutality, the inmates were forced to board box cars. Several trains, each with thousands of prisoners, left the area through 6 April for Bergen-Belsen, Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück (other concentration camps). Others were forced to walk through the Harz hills towards the northeast. Those unable to keep up with these death marches were summarily shot by the guards. The worst atrocity occurred at Gardelegen, known as the Gardelegen massacre. More than 1,000 prisoners from Mittelbau and Neuengamme subcamps were murdered in a barn that was set on fire. Those who were not burned alive were shot by SS, Wehrmacht and men of the Volkssturm.
Overall, although no reliable statistics on the number of deaths on these transports exist, estimates put the number of prisoners killed at up to 8,000.
As most of the camps of the Mittelbau system were completely evacuated, there were not many prisoners left alive to be liberated by the Allies. Only some small subcamps, mostly containing Italian POWs were not evacuated. The SS also left several hundred sick prisoners at Dora and in the Boelcke-Kaserne. They were freed when US troops reached Nordhausen on 11 April 1945. There were also around 1,300 dead prisoners at the barracks.
War correspondents took pictures and made films of the dead and dying prisoners at Dora. Like the documentation of Nazi atrocities at Bergen-Belsen, these were published around the globe and became some of the best-known testimonies of Nazi crimes.
The protective-custody camp leader, SS-Obersturmfuhrer Hans Karl Moeser, was sentenced to death by hanging. In his trial statement he said:
“The same way, with the same pleasure, as you shoot deer, I shoot a human being. When I came to the SS and had to shoot the first three persons, my food didn’t taste good for three days, but today it is a pleasure. It is a joy for me.”
In total, even conservative estimates put the number of people who did not survive being sent to Mittelbau-Dora at over 20,000. Thus, around one in three of those confined here did not survive.
Today, the site hosts a memorial and museum.