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
On April 11, 1945, the spearhead of the advancing American troops of the 3rd Armored Division entered Nordhausen where they were to link up with the 104th Infantry Division before continuing its drive to the east.
100 V2's were eventually shipped back to New Mexico for further study
much to the annoyance of the British government who had been promised
half of the captured V2's by prior agreement. By offering immunity,
the Americans were able to entice some 1,000 German V2 personnel and
their families to come to America to work on the US rocket programme,
this included the head of operations Werner
von Braun who was later to head the US ICBM & Saturn V programmes,
eventually becoming Director of NASA.. The personnel were evacuated
from the area 24 hours before the Russians arrived to occupy the Nordhausen
region which had been scheduled for 21st June 1945. The first reassembled
V2 was successfully launched on June 28, 1946.
One of the rail entrance tunnels to the Mittelwerk complex
Photo:The same scene in 2001 - the entrance having been blown up by the Soviets in 1948
Photo by Dan McKenzie
After its liberation the site remained derelict and unused although
on the first anniversary of the liberation (1.4.1946) a commemorative
celebration took place at a monument erected by the Soviets at the crematorium.
Having plundered any remaining plant and V2 component parts the Russians
attempted to blow up the interior of the tunnels but finding this impossible
they sealed the complex by blowing up the four entrances in 1948. In
1954 the crematorium was designated a 'site of honour' at a ceremony
attended by thousands of people.
Surface plan of Dora Camp
Taken from The Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorial Foundation web site
After reunification in 1989 the essential elements of the East German memorial were preserved although the permanent exhibition in the crematorium was replaced in 1995 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of the Dora Concentration Camp by a new permanent exhibition in a reconstructed accommodation barrack. This event was accompanied by the opening of a section of the tunnel system up to the first crosscut gallery (No. 46) to visitors after a new entrance tunnel had been dug to former rail Tunnel A from a point near the original southern entrance to Tunnel B.
A safe raised walkway was constructed along Tunnel A to Gallery 45
with many of the minor rocket parts still clearly visible littering
the floor below including propellant tanks, nose cones, and gyroscopes
which are all still recognisable. A V2 engine assembly can also be seen
in Tunnel A.
The blocked entrance to Tunnel A, destroyed by the Soviets in 1948. A V2 rocket engine assembly can be seen on the bottom right.
Photo by Nick Catford
At present, there is a small Mittelwerk display in the southern part of Tunnel A that served first as the prisoner barracks and then for the manufacture of the V1. Much of the remainder of the tunnel complex is still intact but is now partially flooded and dangerous to enter due to ongoing surface gypsum extraction.
Guided tours of the tunnels take place each Tuesday - Friday at 11
am and 2 pm and on Saturday and Sunday at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm and last
approximately 90 minutes. Photography is not normally allowed in the
For further pictures of the Mittelwerk facility at Nordhausen click here
Other web sites: V2Rocket.com
- A very full and detailed history of the Mittelwerk facility and the
Dora concentration camp with archive and current pictures.
My thanks to Tracy Dungan from V2Rocket.com for permission to use material from her web site.