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Ansicht des Lagertors.
After the liberation on 13th April 1945 (Photo: Archive District Administration)

Camp chronicle

1943

21st September

The first 100 detainees arrive at the subcamp Laura. The camp is controlled by SS-Obersturmführer (1st lieutenant of the SS) Wolfgang Plaul as commander and SS-Oberscharführer (seargent of the SS) Karl Schmidt as his right hand. Both are known from Buchenwald for their notorious brutality.

September and October

More than 750 detainees arrive in various transports. Initially they are placed into an old quarry shack.

13th October

The first confirmed death among the detainees is the 30 year old Albert Depalle from France. The corpses are transported to Buchenwald and burnt there.

Mid October

170 Italian militaries arrive. The guards are treating the former allies exceptionally badly treated. Many of them fall victim to the catastrophic work and life conditions and the mistreatment.

Early November

The camp is moved to the adjacent farm that has been converted into a concentration camp.

November/December

With the onset of winter and due to the continuous hard labour the number of casualties rises to 51 in November and more than 90 in December.

13th December

104 sick inmates are sent to Buchenwald.

14th / 15th December

There are 1227 inmates in Laura – the highest recorded number in camp history.

 

1944

 

26th January

The production of liquid oxygen commences.

30th January

The first ever test of a rocket engine in Laura (aka Vorwerk-Mitte).

January to March

With at least 126 deaths in January and approximately 110 in February and March mortality in the camp reaches its peak. One third of the inmates die until the end of March.

31st March

150 inmates that are unable to work are sent to Bergen-Belsen. Many of the remaining detainees are completely exhausted or seriously ill.

April/May

400 inmates are transferred to the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora in the Harz mountains. 154 sick are moved to Bergen-Belsen. The number of inmates drops to between 650 and 900. The end of the heavy construction work and the increasing use of detainees in the production of fuel and the testing of rocket engines lead to a gradual improvement of conditions.

27th June

The surviving Italian militaries are transferred to Buchenwald. According to the examination of the camp doctor 21 of the 77 men are not fit for transport for at least six weeks.

Summer

Camp commander Plaul is replaced by SS-Sturmscharführer (seargent major) Leible. According to the reports by eye witnesses he is less brutal. The guards are partly replaced by air force staff. This slightly improves the treatment of the inmates.

From June

App. 250 to 500 inmates remain in the camp. In this period Laura is considered as a camp with better chances to survive.

August

The war plant in the quarry commences delivering liquid oxygen to the front.

7th September

First military usage of an A4 rocket (V2) against Paris and London.

 

 

1945

 

30th January

195 Jewish prisoners from Czestochowa arrive via Buchenwald. The number of inmates rises to nearly 700.

7th April

The Frenchman Bernard Courier is the last dead person in the camp. On the same day six inmates escape through a tunnel.

13th April

The SS evacuates the camp. Between 600 and 650 of the remaining 672 inmates are sped to nearby Wurzbach. American troops arrive at Laura and liberate the few remaining invalid detainees, that had been left behind with camp commander Leible and his guards.

19th April

579 detainees from Laura arrive at Dachau-Allach (near Munich). Dozens of other prisoners have escaped during transport or have fallen victim to the exertions or the abuse by the guards. During the following days Jewish detainees are forced to evacuation transports from Dachau.

30th April

Concentration Camp Dachau is liberated by US troops. Among the survivors are many detainees from Laura. In Berlin Adolf Hitler commits suicide.

8th May

Unconditional surrender of the German Reich.