Blasting of the tunnel entrances, 1947. Photo: Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial

The disappearance of the camps

Following the dissolution of the repatriation camp in July 1946, the city of Nordhausen had the barracks of the former Camp Dora disassembled and re-erected in the destroyed town and district to serve as emergency housing. Only the former crematorium and, initially, the camp prison remained standing The latter was demolished in 1952 at the behest of the local authorities – and against the objections of surviving inmates. At this point in time, the former camp had all but vanished from sight.

Part of the tunnel system also disappeared. After continuing to operate as a rocket factory under Soviet management for a brief period, the occupation authorities had parts of the tunnels ‒ including the entrances ‒ blasted in 1947. They were thus adhering to the Allied agreement according to which military facilities in Germany were to be rendered useless.

In the other camp locations of Mittelbau Concentration Camp there was likewise virtually nothing left to see of the past. As in Camp Dora, in the majority of cases the barracks were dismantled after the war and used as construction wood or firewood. At the most, only concrete foundations still testify today to the histories of these sites. Other camps, for example those in Stempeda and Blankenburg-Oesig, served as accommodations for refugees. In Blankenburg, former barracks which have undergone multiple structural alterations over the decades are still inhabited today.