World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Nordhausen, Thuringia
US soldier and captured Mittelwerk V-2 rocket motor
Type Subterranean bunker
Site information
Open to
the public
Museum in the southern part of Tunnel A[1]
Site history
Built Completed 1943
Built by Mittelwerk GmbH
In use 1943-1945

Mittelwerk (German for "Central Works") was a German World War II factory built underground in the Kohnstein to avoid Allied bombing.

It used forced labor from the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp to produce V-2 ballistic missiles, V-1 flying bombs, and other weapons.


  • Mittelwerk GmbH 1
  • Other projects 2
  • Evacuation 3
  • Aftermath 4
    • Special Mission V-2 4.1
    • The Dora War Crimes Trial 4.2
    • Ruins 4.3
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Mittelwerk GmbH

On the night of 17/18 August 1943, RAF bombers carried out Operation Hydra against the Peenemünde Army Research Center where V-2 development and production was being carried out.

On 19 October 1943, the German limited company Mittelwerk GmbH was issued War Contract No. 0011-5565/43 by General Emil Leeb, head of the Army Weapons Office,[2] for 12,000 A-4 missiles at 40,000 Reichsmarks each.[3]

Mittelwerk GmbH also headed sites for V-2 rocket development and testing at

External images

Tunnel views


External links

  1. ^ Grigoreff, Paul. "The Mittelwerk/Mittelbau/Camp Dora Mittelbau GmbH - Mittelbau KZ". 
  2. ^ a b c d Neufeld, Michael J (1995). The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemünde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era. New York: The Free Press. pp. 209, 227, 267. 
  3. ^  
  4. ^ "Dahm, Werner Karl". Peenemünde Interviews.  
  5. ^ a b c d e f g  
  6. ^ a b c d e f Hunt, Linda (1991). Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, 1945 to 1990. New York:  
  7. ^ Petersen, Michael Brian. "Engineering Consent: Peenemuende, National Socialism, and the V-2 Missile, 1924-1945" (pdf).  
  8. ^ a b c d Béon, Yves (1997). Planet Dora: A Memoir of the Holocaust and the Birth of the Space Age. (translated from the French La planète Dora by Béon & Richard L. Fague). Westview Press. pp. XIX, XXI, XXII, XXIV.  
  9. ^ a b "Minutes of Meeting No. 45/6" (pdf). Enemy Oil Intelligence Committee. 6 February 1945. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  10. ^ Sellier, André; Stephen Wright and Susan Taponier (translation) (2003) [1998-Histoire du camp de Dora]. A History of the Dora Camp. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. pp. 147–8.  
  11. ^ Overy, Richard (2013). The Bombing War - Europe 1939-1945. Allen Lane.  
  12. ^ a b c  
  13. ^ Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee (1945). The Fedden Mission to Germany. p. 75. 
  14. ^ Kennedy, Gregory P. (1983). Vengeance Weapon 2: The V-2 Guided Missile. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 29. 
  15. ^ a b McGovern, James (1964). Crossbow and Overcast. New York: W. Morrow. pp. 117, 120, 185. 
  16. ^ Cooksley, Peter G (1979). Flying Bomb. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. p. 175. 
  17. ^ "Bilanz des Schreckens (German)". Stiftung Gedenkstätten Buchenwald und Mittelbau-Dora. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  18. ^ Christian, Sebastian (March 2006). "Überreste eines Mordregimes". Science (in German). Spiegel Online. google translate 


See also

Willi Kramer, a German archaeologist and scientist who dived in the tunnel system in 1992 and 1998, estimated that 70 tons of material was stolen. Access through these entrances was not secured until 2004, when the mine went into insolvency.[18]

After a new entrance tunnel had been dug to former rail Tunnel A in 1995, 710 meters of the tunnel system were opened for visitors. Large parts of the system are flooded by ground water, while other parts have collapsed. After the reunification of Germany the tunnels were frequently looted by treasure seekers who gained access via the private mine in the north of the Kohnstein.


The 1947 Wright Field in the U.S. and acquitted of war crimes at the Dora Trial. Arthur Rudolph, after immigrating to the U.S. and playing key roles in the Pershing missile and Apollo programs, was forced to renounce his U.S. citizenship and return to Germany; the West German government, citing the statute of limitations, never charged him and eventually granted him citizenship. Wernher von Braun, the Technical Director of a separate facility at Peenemünde, visited the Mittelwerk on 25 January 1944,[12] and a 1991 author alleged he witnessed Mittelwerk and Buchenwald war crimes.[6]

16 of the 19 Dora Defendants in 1947

The Dora War Crimes Trial

On 22 May 1945,[5] US Army JCS Directive 1067/14, with parts, machine tools, and documents (including blueprints for the projected A-9/A-10 intercontinental missile) left for the Soviets.[15] The Red Army occupied the Mittelwerk on 5 July 1945[2] and demolished both of the entrances of the tunnel system in the summer of 1948.[8]

A few of these Operation Paperclip scientists had been at the Mittelwerk.

Special Mission V-2

Casualties of the V-2 rocket are estimated at 2,541 killed and 5,923 injured.[16] By contrast, of the roughly 60,0000 people who passed through Mittelbau-Dora and its subcamps, an estimated 20,000 died either at the camp or at places they were subsequently transported to: 350 were hanged (including 200 for sabotage),[6]:72–74 many others died from exhaustion, cold, malnutrition or disease. Some were murdered by guards. The total also includes 1,300 to 1,500 prisoners killed by British bombs in early April.[17]

Having been warned to "expect something a little unusual in the Nordhausen area", and after previously entering the Nordhausen plant from the North through the Junkers Nordwerke, U.S. 3rd Armored Division and 104th Infantry Divisions reached the city of Nordhausen on 11 April 1945 and discovered the dead and sick of the Boelcke Kaserne[2]:264 barracks.[15]

Fedden Mission

The Mission had been told that Nordhausen was a large underground factory, and that they would see extraordinary production methods, but they had no idea that they would be brought face-to-face with such an undertaking. The reaction of the Mission to this visit ... was one of the utmost revulsion and disgust. This factory is the epitome of megalomaniac production and robot efficiency and layout. Everything was ruthlessly executed with utter disregard for humanitarian considerations. The record of Nordhausen is a most unenviable one, and we were told that 250 of the slave workers perished every day, due to overwork and malnutrition. Some of the Mission visited a slave workers' encampment, talked to a Dutch doctor who had been there throughout the war, and saw many of the wretched inmates, who were in an apalling state, although receiving every medical attention now. They also saw stretchers heavily saturated in blood, a room in which there was a slab on which the bodies were drained of blood, and the incinerators in which the bodies were burnt. These are all facts which require to be seen to be fully appreciated. This terrible and devilish place has now passed into Russian hands and it is sincerely hoped that our allies will deal with it in a proper and adequate manner.[13]

Report of 19 June 1945 site inspection.[14]


In late February 1945, the Allied Chiefs of Staff discussed a proposed attack on the Nordhausen plant with a highly flammable petroleum-soap mixture[12]:188 that had been used in the Pacific theatre to deeply penetrate buried strongpoints and scourge them with intense heat. The area was attacked with conventional bombs by RAF Bomber Command on the 3 & 4 April. What were believed to be barracks were attacked on 3 April but they actually contained forced labor workers. The attack of 4 April hit the barracks and the town of Nordhausen. The Mittelbau-Dora forced labor was evacuated on 4 April,[8] and scientists evacuated to the Alpenfestung (English: Alpine Fortress). Hitler had made an order, the "Demolitions on Reich Territory Decree", which ordered the destruction of any infrastructure that might be of use to the Allies[5] but it was deliberately ignored by Speer and the Nordhausen plant was evacuated without damage.[12]


Although there has long been speculation about other "exotic" weaponry being constructed or stored at Mittelwerk, evidence of this is scarce. For example, Richard Overy notes in The Bombing War - Europe 1939-1945 (2013): "There is some evidence that small spherical bombs containing radioactive waste were stored in the Mittelbau-Dora works [...], but it is not conclusive."[11]:123

V-1 flying bomb assembly began during October/November 1944 in the South end of tunnel A.[8] At the end of January 1945, 51 V-1s were shipped from a dispersed Fieseler factory in Upper Bavaria (code name Cham) to the Nordhausen plant for completion. After a second V-1 factory at Burg was closed, the Mittelwerk Werk II in February 1945 was the only factory producing V-1 flying bombs, and a total of 2,275 V-1s were built by Werk II from September 1944 until April 1945.[10]

Additional plans for V-2 rocket plants (the Southern Works near Friedrichshafen and the Eastern Works near Riga) were never fulfilled.:300

In July 1944, Hans Kammler ordered the North Works (Nordwerke) to use cross-tunnels 1-20 for a Junkers jet and piston engine factory, leaving cross-tunnels 21-46 for Mittelwerk GmbH. During February–April 1945, the Nordhausen plant built Taifun anti-aircraft missiles and Heinkel He 162 jet fighters and put into operation a liquid oxygen plant.[8] The plant was the Eber project and used equipment evacuated from the Watten bunker and elsewhere to build Heylandt liquid oxygen generators; the 15 generators were nearly complete when the site was captured. The Mittelwerk also contained equipment for producing jet fuel,[9] and in an emergency 1944 decentralization program (named Geilenbergprogramm after Edmund Geilenberg) started the "Cuckoo" project, an underground oil plant to be "carved out of the Himmelsburg" North of the Mittelwerk.[9]

V-1 cruise missile assembly line at the Mittelwerk II underground facility

Other projects

[6] Hannelore Bannasch was Sawatzki's secretary.[6]).Brozsat and a Prisoner Labor Supply office ([5] The facility had a communications staff under Captain Dr Kühle, an Administrative Division run by Börner under Mittelwerk board member Otto Karl Bersch,[6] Guenther Haukohl who supervised V-2 production after helping design the assembly line, Eric Ball (assembly line), Hans Fridrich, Hans Palaoro and Rudolph Schlidt.[5] in turbopump production,Magnus von Braun Other Mittelwerk/Ilfield engineers included [7].Ilfeld and Hans Lindenberg's 50 engineers of the quality control group located at [6] (with deputy Karl Seidenstuecker)[5]'s Technical DivisionArthur Rudolph Albin Sawatzki was the Mittelwerk technical director over both [5]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.