An Honorary Cemetery

When American soldiers reached the Boelcke-Kaserne subcamp in Nordhausen on 11 April 1945, they found hundreds of dead inmates there. Over the next few days, the American military administration compelled some 1,000 residents of Nordhausen to bury the corpses anonymously in an honorary cemetery newly created for that purpose.

By 16 April, some 1,300 dead had been laid to rest. A further 300 corpses were found over the following weeks and months during the operations to clean up the Boelcke-Kaserne and likewise interred in the honorary cemetery. While the majority of the dead had been inmates of the subcamp, there were also the mortal remains of male and female forced labourers who had been lodged in neighbouring buildings in the same casern complex.

In May, the town major ordered the local residents to visit the honorary cemetery. The sheer size of the cemetery was to give them a demonstration of the magnitude of the German crimes.

(Karsten Uhl)

Reference: Jens-Christian Wagner, Produktion des Todes: Das KZ Mittelbau-Dora, 3rd edition, Göttingen 2015.