NORDHAUSEN April 13, 1945
Jim Bates 165th. Photo Co.
The V-2 Rocket was a horrible weapon that undiscriminating killed it's civilian targets in London. It was a terror weapon whose rocket engine was the first of it's kind to be used in war. As horrible as this weapon was, more people were killed making this early missile than were killed by it.
The German town of Nordhausen is where a concentration camp built to provide slave labor to manufactory the V2 Rocket.
After a year of photographing combat, it was my assignment photographing the manufacturing plant and the horrors of the concentration camp at Nordhausen. The inhumanity I photographed at Nordhausen had struck a profound effect on this veteran photographer that I chose not to keep and of the film, but later obtained them from the archives.
There were two hugh tunnels through the site. It looked like a Ford assembly
plant. Back in the tunnels they had offshoot roads. The kept prisoners back
there stripped to their waist, because they would commit suicide if they could
get their hands on a towel or rag and would also throw them in the machines. I
worked all morning and found some piles of soft stuff to sit on. Some of the
Germans came over and lifted me off the pile and told me it was poison
fiberglass used to pact the rockets. I was known as a death job as the prisoners
were stripped down to pack the rockets and soon died from infection.
It was a terrible sight when I first went in there. I saw an oven in the back and if anyone was caught trying to escape, they were burned up and also the prisoners who died.
They had a huge pit in the back where they kept the ashes and bones. When people inquired about what had happened to their relatives, they were sent a letter saying American bombs had killed them, and for about $50 they would be sent a small box containing their ashes. One of the prisoners told me that it was his job to fill the box with ashes and bones and take to the front office to send as a memento to the relative.
When they first started to burn the dead, they would put one at a time in the oven, and later they would burn three at once. Toward the end they did not have any fuel for the oven and had the prisoners did trenches for mass graves and bury them.
It was a horrible experience taking the photos.
Below are some of the photos taken by Jim Bates.
They may not be pleasant but they are the truth.
It did happen in 1945.
Sometimes we need to remember the cruel treatment
that Hitler handed out to the Jewish people.
Click to View The Photos of Nordhausen by Jim Bates