Under the supervision of American soldiers, residents of Nordhausen bury the dead of the Boelcke-Kaserne subcamp in a row grave, mid-April 1945. Photo: Joseph Mendelsohn (US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Commemoration at the Nordhausen Cemetery

Commemoration, Tuesday April 12th, 3 p.m. , Nordhausen Cemetery, Nordhausen

Welcome   Henry Pasenow, Mayor of the City of Ellrich Lars Deiters,

                   Mayor of the municipality of Walkenried

Speech       PD Dr. Karsten Uhl, Head of the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial

Historical background

On April 12, 1945, American soldiers took the town of Ellrich. At this point there were only a few concentration camp prisoners left in Ellrich because the SS had forced them on death marches a week earlier.

The Ellrich-Juliushütte satellite camp existed from May 2, 1944 to April 6, 1945 and had an average of 8,000 male prisoners. It was initially subordinate to the Buchenwald concentration camp and from November 1, 1944 to the newly founded Mittelbau concentration camp. The camp area stretched over Ellrich, which at that time belonged to Prussia, and over the district of Walkenried, which was formerly in Brunswick and is now in Lower Saxony.

The prisoners were housed in the derelict buildings of empty gypsum factories. They came from almost all European countries, mostly from the Soviet Union, Poland and France. The proportion of Jewish prisoners at 5 to 7 percent and that of Sinti and Roma at around 10 percent was above average compared to other middle-class camps. The prisoners were used to expand the tunnels in the Kohnstein and in the Himmelsberg.

From April 4th to 6th, 1945, the camp administration ordered the evacuation of the camp in view of the advancing US troops. The inmates were taken to other concentration camps by train or on death marches. Most evacuation transports ended up in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which was liberated by British soldiers on April 15.

Of the 12,000 prisoners who passed through the camp between May 1944 and April 1945, around 4,000 died, including many French, Belgians, Poles and prisoners from the Soviet Union. Ellrich-Juliushütte is therefore also an important memorial site for the culture of remembrance in these countries. For example, in the Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation in Paris, built in the 1960s, the name of the camp is in large letters next to Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and other major sites of Nazi crimes.