On 1 February 1945, the 33-year-old Richard Baer became the new commander of the Mittelbau concentration camp. He had come to the Southern Harz Mountains at the end of January along with thousands of inmates, hundreds of other members of the SS and the entire general staff of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Baer was no stranger to concentration camp service. Before his appointment as commander of the main camp of Auschwitz, he had worked in various functions in the Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Neuengamme concentration camps from 1933 onwards. Other positions in the camp command were also filled by SS men from Auschwitz. Franz Hössler, for example, became the new officer in charge of the “protective custody” camp in Dora. He had likewise been pursuing a concentration camp career since 1933.
The terror at Mittelbau-Dora intensified under the new command. In February and March, the SS carried out one mass execution after the other. What is more, the living conditions – already disastrous before – worsened increasingly.
Reference: Jens-Christian Wagner (ed.), Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp 1943–1945: Companion Volume to the Permanent Exhibition at the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial, Göttingen 2011.