Fatal Forced Labour in the Harz Mountains

On 26 March 1945, the Pole Waclaw Gawrysiak died in the subcamp of the Curt Heber company in the town of Osterode on the edge of the Harz Mountains. According to the SS, the cause of death was “myocardial insufficiency”. The 45-year-old had been sent from Auschwitz to the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp on a clearance transport just a few weeks earlier, and from there to Osterode.

The Heber company camp had been in existence since late September 1944. The inmates, averaging 400 in number, were lodged in fenced-in barracks on the factory grounds and forced to carry out labour in the production of armaments for the Luftwaffe. It is not known how many of them died in the camp. As the Dora parent camp was quite a distance away, the SS dispensed with transporting the dead there for incineration and buried them in the municipal cemetery in Scheerenberger Strasse instead.

(Jens-Christian Wagner)

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