The concentration camp Langenstein-Zwieberge was a under-camp of Buchenwald, existing April 1944 until April 1945. More than 7000 prisoners of 23 country were imprisoned there for this period.
The first group of deportees coming from Buchenwald arrived on April 21st, 1944. They were 18, whose French and they formed the executives of the Kommando future. They were initially placed in an inn of the periphery of Langenstein, then, the convoys following one another, while waiting for the completion of the construction of the camp, in a barn, which still exists, located at the exit of the village.
It arrived, from 9/26/1944 to 2/18/1945, 6 convoys with French.
The construction of the camp was completed in August 1944 with the electrified enclosure; 7 blocks plus the appendices (Revier, kitchen, etc….) the inn and the barn replaced. When manpower reached 5100 prisoners, in February 1945, there were 18 blocks.
Manpower decreased then (4400 people at the beginning of April 1945), the number of deaths exceeded the number of the newcomers by far.
In the week from March 19th to 25th 1945, on 1308 dead deducted for Buchenwald and its Kommandos, Langenstein-Zwieberge had the unhappy privilege to arrive at the head, with 234 dead, in front of Ohrdruf (207) and Leau (69).
As of the first days of their arrival, the deportees started to dig galleries in the still virgin site of the hills of Thekenberge. In ten months, at the terrible prices of sufferings, nearly 10 km of galleries, of a surface of 60.000 m ² were built and partly completed. Some were enough vast to accommodate trains of a score of coaches. Some had cost a death per meter of projection.
The life expectancy, for those which had misfortune to work there, was only six weeks.
Work was done in two 12 hour old teams under atrocious conditions for lack of air, in dust, under the blows of the kapos and especially of Meister German.
Many comrades returned to the camp exhausted, asphyxiated, completely emptied and did not have even any more the force to eat their soup.
The principal goal of this company was to bury the productions of the Junkers factories which were to build new types of jets and weapons V. From this point of view the Junkers firm had arranged a small camp of three huts inside the large camp in edge of the place of call to place there deportees specialists, 869 people, arrivals of Kommandos of Halberstadt, Aschersleben, Langensalza and Niederorschel.
In this small camp, where there was neither reads nor straw mattress, the prisoners, like the others, were used with the digging of the tunnel.
Deaths were initially sent to crematory of Quedlinburg by horse-drawn car then by truck. We have a list of the 912 victims, among which 131 French, whose ashes rest in the cemetery of this city.
In March, this establishment which cannot continue its work for lack of fuel and the bodies accumulating in the hut which was used as mortuary and pourrissant there, they were buried, either in four large pits located outside the camp and containing more than 700 died, or close to Revier, inside the camp, in a pit where several hundreds of other bodies lie.
The corpses were transported, by two, in cases out of wooden carried by four deportees after work. The case was emptied in the pits and the downward file was going to seek a new loading until almost complete exhaustion of the mass grave. The last bodies, in full decomposition, untransportable, remained in the hut. The S.S. responsible for the loading closed again the hut with key because there had been flights of thighs of corpses…
April 9th, 1945 at the evening, in front of the advance of the American troops which reached Elba, 3.000 survivors of the camp, in six columns of 500, framed posten and S.S. were thrown on the road. The majority went during 15 days and, after 300 km, were found close to Wittenberg, on Elba.
One was completely destroyed and his trace was not found, another went until April 28th and arrived close to Berlin with only 18 survivors. There was not, in all, that 500 to 1500 survivors according to the estimates of one or others. We do not have any base, as for all the steps of death, allowing to give exact figures.
When on April 13rd, 1945, the Americans released the camp given up since April 9th, they found the reviers filled of dying who died at the rate of 20 per day.
Here what a journalist of " wrote; Stars and stripes" in the n° of April 20th: … " The odor of death was everywhere the same one in this calm room. In Revier were dying them…. The remainder of the patients of Revier was reached of dysentery. They lay there, in their excrements, too weak to move. A man stronger than the others was held with the door. He carried only one short shirt. He did not have any more muscles with the thighs, the calves, the basin. Its legs were nothing any more but bones and its knees two large protuberances. Its body was a covered skeleton of gray skin, tended. It is impossible to remain a long time in the room of dysentery. The odor follows you until in the tepid air of spring… "
April 18th, all these patients were taken along, by military ambulances in a barracks of Halberstadt transformed into hospital. It died there still 144 deportees whose majority of the bodies rest in a common grave of the cemetery of the city.
The assessment is heavy: in the best of the assumptions, the half, and in worst the 3/4 of the deportees of Zwieberge did not return.