Nordhausen.

Discussion in 'The Holocaust' started by Peter Clare, Jun 30, 2007.

  1. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

  2. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Dora Mittelbau was the tunnel complex where V2 rocket engines were manufactured in the twin tunnels.There was no such place as "Dora" Mittelbau in so far as "Dora" was a code name for the installation and Mittelbau meaning central or main part of a building of the installation."Dora" was the installation that the Germans were forced to evacuate to from Peenemunde after the successful raid of 18 August 1943.It was also the site where after seizing control of the project from the Wehrmacht,the SS ruled a reign of terror over all who found themselves at "Dora". At the time "Dora" was not identified on any map and I am certain that the Allies did not hold the same level of intelligence as they did on Peenemunde.

    One of the problems and confusing to all caught up in its terror was that the imates did not know where Dora was.Deportees were sent here and their next of kin were not aware of its existance.It was as if people vanished into night and fog.

    Memorials in France to victims always refer to the individuals deported and death in "Dora". Visiting Nordhausen "Dora" shortly after the East German regime fell we were able to walk freely around the site whereas before as the GDR,visitors only could be shown round the site by guided tourand no doubt have to attend a polical presentation.However, one advantage of this interim period was that the East German ""Dora" infomation leaflets were still available and make good reading, implicating those SS engineering personnel who had fled into West Germany and had never been brought to justice. There was no official attendence at the site as I have said and visitors could walk around the site as if it was a park.

    One thing I noted from the memorials in France and those on the plaques in the crematorium which quickly appeared when the regime broke down was that a typical length of survival of people deported here, and there was a large number of young people, was three months.

    When US forces overran the place in mid April 1945, hundreds of inmates were found lying and dying out in the open,having freely left the tunnels as best they could when the SS quickly left. Around them lay completed and unfinished V2 engines.Other inmates had left and been driven on a forced march to nowhere and death.

    From an interesting point of view,on our visit, old steam trains were still running through the streets of Nordhausen,as they had done in the days of the GDR and had to until they could be replaced.The streets were mostly cobbled and to regulate these trains,there was quite a number of traffic lights.
     
  3. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Imagine being only one of three left. Lying amongst the dead bodies of the people you got to know during the last few weeks? Unimaginable.
     
  4. cobblejohn

    cobblejohn Junior Member

    My grandfather at the end of the war was at Nordhausen acting as a Russian Translator, I have about 10 pics he took from the camp. Very sad, but very powerful. These images definately give meaning to the expression "A Picture is worth a 1000 words"
     
  5. Pepee

    Pepee New Member

    My dad picked up victims of Nordhausen in April, May of 1945 and I have talked to several pilots who also picked up French, Russian, British and Polish inmates to return them to their homeland. Even today almost everyone of them have chocked up in telling about picking them up. I was at Nordhausen last year and it was just as Harry Ree said, you could freely walk the grounds. While we were there though they had, what I believed, were German 5th year high school students (this is the year they decide which direction they will go) being given an educational tour. They were given a 45 min presentation in an auditorium (not for tourists) and then were guided around the grounds. Across from the auditorium is the entrance to an exhibit. This is all in German but you can get a pretty worn out booklet (they only had a couple) that are in English describing each display. I got the impression they do not get very many American visitors but you really don't need the English to understand. The liberation portion of the exhibit never mentioned or showed how the repatriation occurred. I was hoping to find information about them getting transported by the Troop Carrier Groups, but nothing.

    Does anyone know if there were photos taken at Nordhausen with the C-47s on the ground picking up? Or if there is anything written about the work the Troop Carriers did? I know there are photos at Le Bourget. with the Troop Carriers on the ground.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    When we were there the two tunnels were still sealed,as they were by the Russians early post war.I think that since then the tunnels have been unsealed.

    Remember the place well being able to walk as we wished around the site.Memorial plaques had been erected at the crematorium,mostly I noticed,to French inmates,young people, who it would appear, did not survive the camp conditions more that 3 months...it must have been a real hell hole.

    After the successful raid of August 1943 on Peenemunde on the Baltic,the V2 manufacturing facilities were transferred to Nordhausen under new project management ... the SS who then by July 1944 had political control over the Wehrmacht.Conditions for forced labourers changed for much the worse.

    Nordhausen airfield was used by the USAAF from 14 April 1945 until 30 April 1945.There must be photographs in the USAAF archives of the evacuation of the inmates and frames of the camp from George Stevens.

    George Stevens in his D Day to Berlin documentary covers the discovery of Nordhausen, by US Forces,quite well.

    Incidentally,I am not aware of British inmates at Nordhausen.
     
  7. Pepee

    Pepee New Member

    The tunnel was open when we were there in 2012. I have been to the NA twice looking for photos but have not been through them all yet. It's an odd system how they have them indexed. I have found photos of C-47s at Le Bourget but nothing actually at the airfield at Nordhausen. I did find one of the airfield at Nordhausen as well as a picture of inmates waiting for the C-47s to arrive. If you are interested in these photos let me know. I scanned them at a very high resolution.

    My statement about the pilots telling me their experience of picking up displaced persons was from camps all over, which I realized I did not make that very clear. The ones that went to Nordhausen remembered that name well if that tells you anything. I have a daily log from the 438th histories listing all the airfields where the 438th TCG was picking up. I started charting out the camps what nationality they were picking up and where they were being delivered. I need to look again but I believe they were still landing at Nordhausen as late as the first week in June. I thought it said they were picking up displaced persons but I could be wrong on why they were there. I will check the records again, it has been awhile since I was doing that research.

    Thanks so much for the information on George Steven's documentary. I will definately check that out. Flint Whitlock just wrote a book "the Beast of Buchenwald" It sounds very interesting. I read that Dora was known as the worst of the Buchenwald Camps so I think it would be an interesting read.
     
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Pepee,

    Thanks for the additional information.

    It would be ideal if you load your photographs to the forum which some might find interesting as regards what happened at the these camps when they were wound up.

    I remember taking photographs when I was there...the miniature steam locomotive which worked in and out of the tunnels.Also was a very good example of a V2 transport trailer which even had a rubber sleeves to protect the nose end....the massive appell parade ground where the inmates had to stand for the meticulous and irrational SS roll calls.

    As expected there was no combat flying units at Nordhausen during its short USAAF tenure.It was a Supply and Evacuation operation.Some inmates may have been left to receive immediate medical treatment on site....from memory,saw a case of a SOE female operative who died at Belsen under an assumed name as late as June 1945....medically, she was in a bad way and I could never understand how she was missed by the authorities.
     

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