Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Document No. 2222-PS

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Nature of violation: Mistreatment, torture and Murder of Allied nationals.

Place and Date: 31 concentration camps all in vicinity of Nordhausen, Germany from 23 August 1943 to 10 April 1945.

Victims: Approximately 52,000 nationals of 18 Allied countries.

Perpetrators: German SS troops and civilians.


Information to Establish Prima Facie Case Required by SHAEF

Court of Inquiry

25 May 1945

SUBJECT: Murder and maltreatment of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War in Mittelbeau (Dora) Concentration Camps, near Nordhausen, Germany.

TO: Commanding General, ninth United States Army, APO 339, U. S. Army.

FROM: War Crimes Investigating Team 6822, U. S. Army.

Date and Time: 11 April 1945 to 14 May 1945. Own File Ref: 315.

1. Nature of violations. Murder and maltreatment of political prisoners and prisoners of war in Mittelbeau (Dora) concentration camps near Nordhausen, Germany. (Map Ref: GSGS 4346, M-52:D-12.)

2. Place, date, time. 23 August 1943 to 10 April 1945.

3. Brief resume of incident. Nordhausen, Germany, a city of approximately 39,000 peacetime population, is located eighteen miles east of the Harz Mountains. In August 1943 (Exhibit A), the construction of a V-bomb factory was undertaken in tunnels dug into the foothills of the Harz Mountains about two miles north of Nordhausen. The area was operated by a combination of commercial firms known as Mittelwark which was charged with the construction of V-bombs. The operating personnel was made up of forced laborers who were used in both the construction of the tunnels and manufacture of the V-bombs. These laborers were, with the exception of the German overseers, composed of a number of nationalities, the majority of which were Russians, Poles, French, Belgians, and Czechs, in that order. There were also Norwegians, Danes, Hollanders, Spanish, Italians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Latvians, Yugoslavians, Greeks, Albanians, Rumanians, Estonians, and the records also show (Exhibit 81) one American as having been in the camp (Exhibit A-1). There were thirty-one (31) camps which were utilized for housing the forced laborers and which were, in most cases, located in the vicinity of the area in which the laborers were utilized. These camps were known as:

Arfern Nordhausen (Bolke Kaserene)
Ballenstedt Osterhagen
Blankenburg Osterode
Bleicherode Quedlinburg
Dora Regenstein
Ellrich Rossla
Gross Werther Rottleberode
Harzungen Sollstedt
Hohlstedt Sonderhausen
Ilfeld Tettenborn
Ilsenburg Trautenstein
Kelbra Walkenried
Klein Bodungen Wickerode
Kleissingen Wieda
Mackenrode Wolffleben

The camps were guarded by SS troops (Exhibit A-1), and SS troop headquarters were located at Dora (exhibit 86). The SS personnel were assisted in their guard duties by block leaders who, for the most part, were Kapos (Capos), which was the name given to German Civilian Criminals who had been released from imprisonment for the specific assignment as block leaders in the aforementioned camps.

Between 75,000 and 80,000 forced laborers (Exhibit A-1) were shuttled into, and a few out of, these installations. A complete indifference to the welfare of the prisoners was exhibited by their guards and custodians. Drinking water and water for washing, in the first stages of the operation of Dora proper, was found only wherever the forced laborers could find a leak in the pipes (Exhibit EEE). At the time of the liberation hundreds of bodies to which death had come from starvation and bombings were strewn about Bloke Kaserene. These bodies were emaciated, and bony prominences of the skeletons were conspicuous under the skin. These bodies were laid in rows in various conditions of decomposition. A pile of naked bodies, the result of one day's deaths, was found under the stairway at the Bolke Kaserence camp Small piles of bodies were about the building (Exhibits 89, 90, 91, & 92). In their weakened condition the living were compelled to relieve themselves in their beds from which they were too weak to move. Deposits of human feces were frequent throughout. Both living and dead, in many cases, were in the same beds (Exhibits CC, DD, EE, & FF). The mental condition of the prisoners had degenerated with their physical condition, and due to a lack of water some were drinking their own urine (Exhibits A-1 & DD). Some effort had been made to burn some of the bodies, and the partially burned, blackened bodies of 100 children lay about the premises. No organized effort was made to bury the dead (Exhibits EE & FF).

The diet at the camps varied. At Dora the daily diet consisted of one litre of very thin soup, 400 grams of bread, 50 grams of margarine, and three times a week one slice of horse (hard) sausage or beef jelly, the equivalent of 70 grams of meat. One spoonful of marmalade and one spoonful of cream cheese once a week, and irregularly one canteen cup of black, ersatz coffee (Exhibits GG, HH, RR, SS, TT, UU, & EEE). This diet contained 1100 calories per day per man (Exhibit O). Deaths from starvation were numerous (Exhibits MM, UU, & JJJ).

During the period of construction of the camp at Dora no housing facilities were present. Prisoners for three months were required to sleep in the tunnels in which they worked. Many of them died from respiratory diseases contracted in the damp tunnels, and others died of heart ailments due to the under ground pressure (Exhibits A, A-1, TT, UU, CCC, & EEE). They were permitted to leave the tunnels during this period but once a week, and then only for roll call which lasted from one to three hours.

Transport was the name given to movements, whether they were made by vehicle or on foot, to the transfer of prisoners from one installation to another. When travel was by rail, groups numbering as high as 130 were placed in cattle and freight cars and during the inclement weather were given no extra clothing (Exhibits A, Q, GG, HH, and EEE). Of one group of 4,500 men and 500 women who were moved from Monowitz to Nordhausen in January 1945, a trip lasting approximately eight days, only twice were the passengers given food, at which times each was given one-half loaf of bread and 106 grams of meat. Upon arrival at Mittelbeau in the Nordhausen area, between 1,000 and 1,300 of the travelers were dead (Exhibits A-1, & Q). On the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th of March 1945, 2,000 prisoners were taken from Nordhausen to a so-called Red Cross Camp near Bolkenberg. They travelled by wagon and on foot, and were given three days food for the ten day trip. 1,000 of the 2,000 died within three days (Exhibit A). Of 1,600 prisoners who came to Bolke Kaserene from Ellrich 250 died within three days (Exhibit A). Approximately 100 prisoners a day, suffering from malnutrition, tuberculosis, etc., were shipped from Dora to Bolke Kaserene to be "hospitalized" (Exhibit A-1). As the Allied troops neared the vicinity of the camps, evacuation of the prisoners was attempted by the use of the so-called transports, and as transportation by rail became impossible due to tactical operations, prisoners were in some instances released and in other instances removed from their transports and taken to areas, there to be murdered by their overseers (Exhibits DDD, FFF, GGG, HHH, & III).

The SS guards shot laborers upon the slightest pretext. Six prisoners were shot one day because they had left their place of work to go to the water closet (Exhibits A, N, O, LL, QQ, & SS). Beatings were frequently administered upon the slightest provocation by SS guards and Kapos (Exhibits A, F, G, H, I, J, L, M, O, R, S, T, U, V, AA, PP, QQ, RR & TT). One instance of a prisoner's failure to tip his hat to an SS man was sufficient justification for his being beaten (Exhibit V).

Executions were often performed without apparent trial under the shallow guise of the condemned man having been a saboteur. 75 prisoners were hanged on 10 March 1945 at Dora (Exhibit K). On 13 March 1945 twelve others, including a Yugoslavian Doctor, who was accused of administering too carefully to the prisoner's ailments and as being a saboteur were hanged (Exhibit K). 35 were hanged in one day (Exhibit JJ). 80 were hanged in February 1945 for having built a radio transmitter (Exhibits OO & SS). An engineer who was accused of tampering with a voltmeter was hanged (Exhibit TT). On many occasions the entire personnel of the camp were forced to witness the hangings (Exhibits O, JJ, & VV). This area was visited by many high Nazi officials, including Goebbels and Himmler. Himmler spoke to the personnel at Dora on one of his visits there (Exhibits A-1 & TT).

10,000 (Exhibit A-1) forced laborers who died or were killed at Dora and auxiliary camps were cremated at Buchenwald and Dora. Medical attention was of the most meager type (Exhibit HH). Deaths at Dora and the Mittelbeau camps varied, and were caused by starvation and diseases contributed to thereby (Exhibit EEE). At Dora estimated deaths were as high as eighty (80) per day (Exhibit N).

/s/ Fulton C. Vowell
Signature P. 13 of Document Major, JAGD, Commanding Officer, WCIT 6822, U. S. Army
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality
Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946

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