The Last Train from Dora

By now it was obvious to even the stubbornest SS man that the concentration camps in the Southern Harz Mountains would have to be cleared. The British Royal Air Force had carried out severe air raids on the city of Nordhausen over the preceding two days, and nothing more could stop the advance of the American troops. The last rail transport left the Dora camp on the evening of 5 April carrying 4,000 inmates. Only a few hundred gravely ill and dying inmates remained behind.

This last transport proceeded like all the death marches. Again and again the train stopped, the inmates had to get off and walk, and then – if possible – board another train. The camp senior Roman Drung kept a meticulous record of the dead so as to be able to explain to the SS “where the missing people were”. At the first stop, after the train had gone just a short distance, he registered 29 dead, at the second 26. On 8 April he managed to flee near Goslar; by then, 72 more had been shot to death. But the ordeal was not over: the death march continued on to Ravensbrück.

(Karsten Uhl)

Reference: Regine Heubaum and Jens-Christian Wagner, From Harz to Heath: Death Marches and Evacuation Transports in April 1945, Urbach bei Nordhausen 2015.