Cover image for A history of the Dora Camp
A history of the Dora Camp
Sellier, André.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Histoire du Camp de Dora. English
Publication Information:
Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, 2003.

Physical Description:
547 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
General Note:
"Published in association with the United States Holocaust Museum."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D805.5.D6 S4513 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In mid-1943 Nazi Germany entered a crisis from which it was to emerge vanquished. Faced with a shortage of manpower in armaments factories, the Third Reich sent concentration camp prisoners to work as slaves. While the genocide of the Jews and the Gypsies continued at extermination camps, numerous outside "Kommandos" were set up in the vicinity of the large concentration camps. The Dora Camp, located in the center of Germany, was one of the most notorious. Originally a mere Kommando attached to Buchenwald, it became one of the largest Nazi concentration camps. There prisoners were put to work in a huge underground factory, building V-2 rockets, the secret weapon developed by German scientists in an attempt to reverse the course of the war, under the direction of Wernher von Braun. In this dispassionate but powerful account, Andr Sellier, himself a former prisoner at Dora, tells the dramatic story of the camp, the tunnel factory, and the underground work sites. He has utilized all available documents as well as unpublished testimony from several dozen fellow prisoners. He recounts the horrors of everyday life at Dora--prisoners dying by the hundreds and indescribable suffering--and the murderous "evacuation" of the camp by railroad convoys and death marches, which took place in early 1945 and led to the death of thousands of prisoners. Illustrated with 20 pages of photographs and drawings, and 24 maps.

Author Notes

Andre Sellier, historian and former diplomat, is the co-author (with his son, Jean) of three atlases -- of the peoples of Central Europe, Western Europe, and the Orient -- published in France. He lives in Picardy

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Despite the plethora of books on the Holocaust, there remain little-known corners to be explored, and Sellier casts light on one of the darkest corners with this account of the Dora Camp, where V-2 rockets-Germany's supposed secret weapon-were produced. The story of this camp, with its underground factory, has been suppressed or ignored by the U.S. government, writes historian Michael Neufeld, because of "its inconvenient connection to an American hero: the rocket scientist Wernher von Braun," who was in charge of testing the rockets. Sellier, a French historian and a survivor of Camp Dora, relates how the factory was manned by slave laborers sent from Buchenwald; describes life in the underground tunnels, where the prisoners not only worked but lived without running water or proper sanitation; and tells of the camp's evacuation by death marches and other means with the approach of Allied forces in 1945. Sellier quotes directly from the chilling testimony of the camp's former inmates, who evoke Dante to convey the hellish nature of life there. This is an important addition to the history of the Holocaust, published in association with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Illus. Maps. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The linkage between the Nazi rocket program and the concentration camp system was embodied in the underground facility called Dora, where slave labor was used to build the V-1 and V-2 rockets. Although Sellier, a historian and former civil servant, is also a survivor of the Dora camp, this book is not a personal memoir. Sellier draws on oral histories and primary source documents to re-create the genesis, evolution, and conditions of the camp during the more than 18 months of its existence. Dora was formed when the administration of rocket production was centralized and provided with slave labor supplied from Buchenwald. The horrific conditions in the camp repeat a story heard from all over occupied Europe. What made Dora unique was not only the physical setting, a tunnel complex, but the utilization of slave labor to produce cutting-edge technological weapons of the war. That the Nazis would use slave labor, in addition to civil technicians, on such an important project reveals the extent to which Nazi ideology permeated even the weapons program. Of particular interest is the role of Werner von Braun, developer of the V-2 ballistic missile, whose postwar career at NASA was instrumental in the race to the moon. Recommended for larger public libraries and specialized collections.-Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Dora survivor and historian Sellier recounts the history of camp Mittelbau, or central construction, in this translation of Une Histoire du Camp de Dora (1998). Drawing mainly on French testimonies, he supplies a detailed, but sometimes redundant, treatment of Mittelbau's subcamps and the 1945 evacuations. After the Royal Air Force bombed the Peenemunde installation in August 1943, the regime transferred rocket production to an underground location in the Harz Mountains, code-named Mittelwerk (central work), under the direction of SS General Hans Kammler. The project's new Dora kommando consisted of Buchenwald prisoners. Confined like troglodytes inside the tunnels until May 1944, when the camp was finished, the detainees suffered staggering losses because of inhuman conditions. Following Joachim Neander, Sellier puts Dora's death toll at 26,500 lives. As the Reich attempted to cope with the effects of Allied bombing, the Mittelwerk's subterranean forced-labor projects continued to proliferate in 1944. This edition contains an excellent illustrative essay and maps. Supplementing works by Michael Neufeld, Yves Beon, and Michael Thad Allen, the study ignores local civilian reactions to the camp, a gap that Jens-Christian Wagner addresses in the afterword. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and up. J. R. White Towson University

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Introductionp. 3
Part 1 Before Dora
1 The State of Germany in August 1943p. 11
2 The Rocket Program Prior to Dorap. 19
3 Buchenwald and the Concentration Camp System in 1943p. 35
Part 2 The Hell of Dora
4 The New Organization of Autumn 1943p. 49
5 Nine Months of Ordealp. 58
6 Death in Dorap. 72
Part 3 A True Camp, a True Factory
7 Speer, Kammler, Dornberger, and von Braun in 1944 Germanyp. 95
8 The Peoples of Dorap. 107
9 The Tunnel Factory and Its Workersp. 122
10 The Camp at Dora in 1944p. 149
Part 4 Renewed Hell
11 Kammler's New Work Sitesp. 179
12 Harzungen, Ellrich, and Wofflebenp. 191
13 Rottleberode, Blankenburg, Langenstein, and Other Nearby Campsp. 222
Part 5 The Final Months
14 The End of Auschwitz and Peenemundep. 235
Illustrationsp. 243
15 The Final Months at Dora and the Boelcke Kaserne in Nordhausenp. 265
16 A Chronicle of the Last Daysp. 288
Part 6 Evacuation, Liberation, Return
17 The Great Dispersion of April 1945 and the "Liberation" of Dorap. 307
18 From Dora, Ellrich, and Harzungen to Bergen-Belsenp. 319
19 The Five Convoys in Altmark, and the Gardelegen Tragedyp. 336
20 Death Marches Toward the East, and the Odyssey of the Blankenburg Kommandop. 352
21 From Sachsenhausen and Ravensbruck to the Schwerin Regionp. 373
22 The Dora-Mittelbau Tollp. 395
Epilogue: Fifty Years After Dora
23 After the War: Between Missiles and Trialsp. 407
24 Solidarity and Memoryp. 434
25 Dora Todayp. 446
Afterword: Mittelbau-Dora in the System of Nazi Concentration Campsp. 455
Biographical Glossaryp. 469
Notesp. 473
Sourcesp. 498
Bibliographyp. 501
Mapsp. 505
Index of Prisonersp. 526
Index of Persons Other Than Prisonersp. 532
Subject Indexp. 535