Mass Execution as a Deterrent

On just one day – 21 March 1945 –, 30 inmates were hanged on the muster ground of the Dora camp. A similar incident had played out there just a day earlier. Most of the victims were from the Soviet Union, some from Poland. The SS had accused them of planning an uprising in the camp.

The SS had more than 200 inmates executed in the final months before the camp’s liberation. On at least two occasions, the mass executions were carried out in the Mittelwerk tunnel. There the victims were strangled by putting their heads in nooses which were then slowly lifted into the air by a crane.

The other inmates, and sometimes also the German civilian workers, were forced to watch the horrible scenes as a deterrent. The SS stuffed the condemned inmates’ mouths with wooden sticks attached to cables to keep them from calling out slogans against their tormentors before they died.

(Jens-Christian Wagner)


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