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Slave Labor Built V-Weapons

Americans at the entrance to the captured Mittelwerk factory. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Americans at the entrance to the captured Mittelwerk factory. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Germany did not have enough skilled labor to produce as many V-weapons as quickly as it wanted. Therefore, the Nazis used skilled prisoners as forced labor to build V-1s and V-2s. Most of this work was done in a huge underground complex known as the Mittelwerk, which the Nazis set up after Allied bombing disrupted V-2 operations at Peenemunde. The Mittelwerk occupied large tunnels underneath a mountain near Nordhausen in the Harz Mountains in central Germany. When the Allies destroyed V-1 factories in bombing raids, Buzz Bomb production also moved to the Mittelwerk.

Some 60,000 prisoners -- Russians, Poles, French, Germans, Czechs, Hungarian Jews, Gypsies, Italians, Belgians, Yugoslavs, Dutch and others -- labored to build V-weapons. Twenty thousand of them died in the Mittelwerk's miserable conditions in about a year and a half, from the start of work in autumn 1943 to the end of the war in spring 1945.

Click here to return to the German V-Weapons Overview.


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