Sports Evening in the Concentration Camp

On Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945, inmate functionaries gathered for an entertainment evening they had organized for themselves in Harzungen, a subcamp of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. The programme featured 15 boxing matches between inmates as well as musical and variety performances. It was the last such “sports evening” before the camp’s clearance three days later.

The survivor Jean Mialet later reported that boxing had become the “trend sport” in the final months of the camp. This trend had helped him survive: an inmate functionary had ordered him to decorate the walls of his barrack with pictures of boxers. That meant Jean Mialet could spend three weeks indoors in the winter of 1945 while most of the other inmates were toiling in the construction of a planned but never completed underground factory for the Junkers company.

Those inmates probably never heard about the Easter Sunday sports evening. Even within the concentration camp, an invisible fence separated them from the small number of inmate functionaries.

(Karsten Uhl)

Source: Jean Mialet, La haine et le pardon: Le déporté, Paris 1997.

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