Site Name: Mittelwerk V2 underground assembly plant and the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp
Sub Brit site visit 4th May 2001
Most small pictures within the text can be enlarged by clicking on the picture
The mine had opened in 1917 and having been abandoned it was commandeered
by the Wehrmacht
in 1936 for the storage of fuel and poison gas; by mid 1943, the complex
was the largest fuel and oil depot in Germany
The prisoners were forced to eat and sleep in the tunnels, crammed
into stinking, lice infested bunks stacked four-high in the cross tunnels.
There was no running water or sanitary facilities, disease was rife
and death was often a relief. Many of the inmates were working on top
of 30 foot scaffolding using picks to enlarge the tunnels. As they became
too weak to continue they would fall to their death from the scaffolding
only to be replaced by another prisoner. Trucks bearing piles of corpses
left every other day for the crematorium ovens at Buchenwald.
As the facility neared completion all the manufacturing plant was brought from Peenemünde and reassembled by hand by the prisoners at Mittelwerk.
In October 1943 about 7000 prisoners were housed at Dora to work in
the tunnels by January 1944 this has risen to 12,000 and by February
1945 the number had risen again to 19,000. Precise figures are vague
but it is believed that between 40,000 - 64,000 worked on the construction
of the facility at Nordhausen of which 26,500 died, many of them during
the evacuation during the American advance when there was a mass slaughter
of inmates by the SS.
Plan of the Mittelwerk Tunnels reproduced V2Rocket.com web site
The Mittelwerk facility consisted of the two main parallel tunnels, A and B, each approximately 6,200 ft. in length The tunnels ran in a shallow 'S' shaped curve and were connected by a series of 46 cross galleries, each about 500 feet long spaced at regular intervals. The two parallel tunnels were between 21 to 23 ft high and 29 to 36 ft wide. The cross tunnels were smaller in cross section with a total area for the complex of over 1 million square feet. A smaller service tunnel ran through much of the middle of the site between A & B tunnels.
The southern section of Tunnel A and the first three cross galleries were used for V1 production. The middle section of the complex (gallery 21 - 42) was used for V2 assembly while the northern end (gallery 20 - 1) was used for Junkers aircraft engine production. Each of the main tunnels had two standard gauge railway lines running through it.
Labour on the Mittelwerk assembly lines included both detainees, German
workers and supervisors, in the ratio of about two prisoners to one
worker. The Engineers who ran the various workshops and production crews
were Germans and Wehrmacht soldiers who were wounded or sick would also
be sent to Mittelwerk for duty as parts or process inspectors.
Photo:Gallery 46 in 2001
Photo by Nick Catford
The V2 production lines were running at their intended levels by June 1944; there were roughly 2,500 German workers and 5,000 prisoners employed in the tunnels with 4,575 V2 rockets completed between August, 1944 and March 1945.
For further information and pictures of the Mittelwerk facility at Nordhausen click here