One of the larger sub-camps of KL-Mittelbau-Dora, Boelcke-Kaserne, named after the German WWI fighter ace Oswald Boelcke, is best known for the tragic events towards the end of the camps existence. The site, located within the industrial sector south of the centre of Nordhausen, was bombed by allied bombers who targeted the industrial area in two night raids during the first week of April 1945, with devastating results. Reports stated approximately 1,250-1,500 prisoners were killed.
The SS initially used the former barracks buildings as a final destination for the main camp Mittelbau-Dora's sick and dying. The term "death camp", although generally applied to the extermination facilities at locales such as Auschwitz-II, Birkenau and Treblinka, applies also to this lesser known sub-camp. Indeed, Aussenlager Boelcke-Kaserne was solely used for those prisoners deemed utterly useless to the SS, with thousands of broken souls ending their days at this horror site.
Operational from early January 1945, until its liberation by US forces in the middle of April 1945, numbers increased from several hundred to over six thousand by April 1945. Due to the arrivals from Konzentrationslagers Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen, Mittelbau-Dora had become terribly overcrowded, so the sick and dying were all sent to the nearby sub-camp where they died at an alarming rate.
Several hundred emaciated and exhausted prisoners were found at liberation, many of whom died soon afterwards. In the camp's mere twelve weeks of existence, no fewer than 3,000 prisoners died. These figures also fail to include the more than 2,000 forced out on death marches towards KL-Bergen-Belsen during March 1945, many of whom also perished.
Notable staff members include Kommandant SS-Obersturmführer Heinrich Josten, formerly of KLs Flossenbürg, Sachsenhausen and Auschwitz. Josten was later tried at the Krakow Auschwitz trial, where he was sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out in January 1948. SS-Hauptscharführer Joseph Kestel served as Josten's deputy. Kestel had earlier served at Buchenwald and Dachau. Later, he was executed in Landsberg prison, towards the end of 1948. Lagerarzt (camp doctor) SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Schmidt, who served at a long list of camps including Buchenwald, Gross-Rosen and Dachau, before eventually acting as doctor at Aussenlager Boelcke-Kaserne, was never found guilty of any crime, despite several trials. He eventually died in Celle, during November 2000.
Today, very little remains of the original structures, save for a few overgrown ruins and small sections of fencing. A memorial stone was erected in the 1970s, with an information plaque added some years later.