After the liberation of Dora – the main camp of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp –, the American military authorities set up a DP camp on the grounds. The abbreviation DP stood for Displaced Persons: that is, persons who had been deported to Germany during the war. In addition to several hundred liberated concentration camp inmates, Dora now provided accommodations and care primarily to former forced labourers from all over Europe.
Emile Senden was one of those waiting in Dora to leave for home. The Belgian had been forced to perform labour in the Junkers Works in Dessau until the arrival of the U.S. Army. After the liberation he had made his way as far as Sangerhausen on foot. From there a truck took him to Nordhausen.
Senden kept a diary during his time in the DP camp. The entry for 26 April 1945 recounts his visit to the former crematorium. Bones, ashes and corpses of dead concentration camps were still to be seen there: “Were in the crematorium and looked at the corpses there, regular carcasses, starved to death by Germans in this concentration camp.”
Source: Emile Senden, unpublished diary entries (Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial).
Reference: Jens-Christian Wagner (ed.), Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp 1943-1945: Companion Volume to the Permanent Exhibition at Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial, Göttingen 2011.