NAZI Concentration Camps: Nordhausen (Germany)

Figure 1.--Here a Polish boy weeps over his grandfather's body at Nordhausen after it was liberated by the Anericans. It was dated April 21, 1945. That may have been whn the photgraphed was released rather than taken. The press caption read, "Weep fir the dead: A Polish boy weeps bitterly after he and a man at left buried (the) youngster's grandmother whob had died while a political prisoner of the Nazis in concentration camp at Nordhausen. Germnans in the town were ordered to dig graves and bury the 2,500 dead, unburied prisoners found there by occupying American foirces. The Polish boy refused to let the Germans touch his grandmother and insisted he bury her himself. Yanks look on in quiet sympathy." We doubt if his grandmother was a political prisoner, but like the boy a slave laborer at Dora. He probably searched for her after the camps were liberated. Notice the German civiliabns at the right.

Nordhausen is a town in central Germany near the Harz Mountains. The nearby Nordhausen concentration camp was a sub-camp of Dora-Mittelbau labor camp which was opened in the Harz Mountains after the Allied air attack on the rocket complex at Peenbemunde (about August 1943). Dora mushroomed into a major camp complex. And as a result of the errible conditions in the camp, the SS was soon confronted with large numbers of weak abd sick prosoners unable to work. The SS created Nordhausen as a place for those prisoners too weak or ill to work in the Dora tunnels on the V1 and V2 weapons. The SS classified Nordhausen as a 'Vernichtungslager'. This meant an extermination camp for the sick prisoners. They used the Boelcke Kaserne, a forner barracks. The SS did not want to feed sick prosoners tht could not work or incur the expense of medical treatment. These were not extermination camps where Jews were gassed or shot like the death camps in Poland. The methods here were more crude. There was no question of recovery. Here the prisoners were starved or died from the denial of basic medical care. The few survivirs said, "If Dora was the hell of Buchenwald, Nordhausen was the hell of Dora." Nordhausen was a large complex of different installations and hangers. Unlike most camps, the buildings were very substantial, constructed of concrete. There were no sanitary installations. Inmates were assigned to the hangers and had to remain inside without food until they died. Even healthy men would have died within a few weeks. The week or ill died much faster in wreched conditions. The U.S, Airfiorce spotted the concrete buildings and concluded that it was a munitions dump. The camp was bombed (April 3, 1945). Many inmates were killed in the bombing or afterwards when the SS guards refused to let the inmates escape from the burning buildings. The U.S. 104th Infantry Division reached Nordhausen a few days lster (April 12). It was a horific scene. Some 3,000 decying corpses were scattered, all over the camp. Everyone was dead in some hangers. There were afew survivors in others laying among corpses. The medic unit request urgent medical reinforcments and supplies. The Army forced about 400 German civilians living in the areas to bury the corpses. Despite medical care, many survivors died soon after liberation.


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Created: 3:59 AM 11/10/2011
Last updated: 12:50 PM 12/26/2017