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Laura – Hell at the Slate Mountain

Between September 1943 and April 1945 existed the subcamp of the concentration camp Buchenwald under the code name “Laura” in Schmiedebach in the Thuringian Slate Mountains. After the Peenemünde army research centre for rockets had been severely hit by Allied air raids, army command relocated the arms production in remote areas and underground. Detainees from Buchenwald had to expand the tunnel system in the former slate quarry “Oertelsbruch” and build an underground production plant for oxygen for the testing of the A4 rocket – later known by the propaganda designation V2 (Vergeltungswaffe 2 – Vengeance weapon 2).

The buildings of the adjacent farm of the quarry were used as accommodation for over 2600 inmates. They came  from more than ten nations, most notably France, Poland, the former Soviet Union, Italy and Belgium. Under inhumane conditions they were forced to hard labour to their complete exhaustion. The rough pit work and mistreatment by the guards claimed many victims. At least 560 men lost their lives in Laura. On the morning of the 13th April 1945 the SS evacuated the camp. Almost all inmates were speeded away to the concentration camp Dachau near Munich. Only a few invalids remained at Laura and were liberated by the US Army that same day.  

Historical Overview

View of the camp gate

History of the satellite concentration camp Laura between September 1943 and the German unconditional surrender 1945


The Subcamp System

Map of the subcamps of the KZ Buchenwald

Slave work for the arms industry - Laura as part of the KZ Buchenwald subcamp system


War plant "Vorwerk Mitte"

Students examining a rocket engine in the memorial

History of the rocket production and establishment of the war plant in Lehesten


Oertelsbruch Quarry

The quarry today

History of slate mining in Lehesten and the establishment of a war plant in the quarry in World War II


History of the Memorial Site

View of the clock on the barn that used to be the main accommodation of inmates

Overview and chronicle of the KZ memorial site Laura from post WWII until the re-opening in 2012


The New Concept for the Memorial

The exposition in the barn - the former main accommodation of the inmates

About the process and ideas of the new concept and its realization since 2010



Cover of the book "Das Konzentrationslager - Außenkommando Laura" by Dorit Gropp

Publications about the history, background and daily life in the subcamp Laura