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Researching Ohrdruf Forced Labour Camp

Hobby researcher Klaus-Peter Schambach spent three days at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen examining documents on the Ohrdruf prison camp. Schambach´s research looked into how the camp was built, if it can be considered an independent and third concentration camp in Thuringia and existing documentation.

The 38-year old has been interested in the National Socialist history of his area for many years. His research was inspired by the remains of a construction site in the Jonas Valley (Jonastal) and the as yet little-documented prison camp near Crawinkel. The Ohrdruf forced labour camp SIII was built near the end of 1944 as a sub-camp of the Buchenwald concentration camp.

“What was noteworthy about the sub-camp was that it was run as an independent concentration camp from 14 November 1944 until 15 January 1945,” reported Schambach. “I would like to be able to confirm that through my work.” Prisoners in the Jonas Valley were also said to have built an underground headquarters for Hitler beginning in November 1944. “I have found some references to confirm that speculation,” said Schambach.

Schambach viewed lists of prisoners who were transferred from Buchenwald to Ohrdruf at the ITS. He also saw extracts from “death books” and individual biographies. “I have already visited several archives and memorial sites and was able to find additional information at the ITS,” said Schambach. A book on the Ohrdruf, Crawinkel and Espenfeld camps is planned for publication in May 2010 after a number of talks and exhibitions.