The Abtnaundorf Massacre

On 18 April 1945, there were still some 300 men in the barrack camp in Abtnaundorf to the northeast of Leipzig. They were inmates of the Buchenwald Leipzig-Thekla subcamp. Many of them were from Poland and the Soviet Union. Because they were ill and unable to march, the SS had left them behind when they cleared the camp.

Around noon – U.S. troops had already reached Leipzig – SS guards forced the inmates into a barrack, poured petrol over the building, and set it on fire. The inmates struggled desperately for their lives. Many managed to jump out through the windows and scale the camp fence. Others died in the hail of bullets shot by members of the SS and the Volkssturm.

When the American soldiers arrived, they were greeted by a horrific scene. The grounds were scattered with burnt or half-burnt bodies and the corpses of those shot to death. The number of victims has never been clarified. The mortal remains of 84 men were later buried. At least 67 inmates survived the massacre.

(Michael Löffelsender)

Reference: Karl-Heinz Rother and Jelena Rother, Die Erla-Werke GmbH und das Massaker von Abtnaundorf, Leipzig 2013.