Dora was a concentration camp on the north-west edge of the city of Nordhausen in Thuringia, established in 1943 on a site used previously for a subterranean fuel depot. It was a sub-camp of Buchenwald and the centre of the Mittelbau network of nearly 40 camps in the Harz Mountains. Extensive underground chambers, excavated by forced labour, were used for the assembly of V2 rockets. Of the 60,000 people admitted to the camp in 1943-45, a third died. During the winter of 1944-45 16,000 people arrived from the Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen camps, and subsequently many prisoners were forced to leave the Mittelbau camps during April and the first week of May in 1945. The remaining prisoners were liberated by the United States army and the site was subsequently used to house displaced people.
A permanent exhibition dealing with the history of the camp has been open since 2006. The site is interpreted both as a museum and as an historical crime scene. The most prominent exhibit is a wagon used in taking away rock as tunnels were excavated. The displays show how, after Stalingrad, the Third Reich turned to total war moving armaments production underground and placing increasing reliance on forced labour. Evidence is also exhibited to show that small businesses as well as large companies exploited forced labour. Detailed biographical information is provided on nineteen inmates and thirteen staff. It is a place of mourning and a memorial as well as an historical museum.
The museum has an extensive documentation centre, and substantial collections of photographs and small artefacts. The camp barracks was demolished in 1947, but a trail enables visitors to trace its site, and those of other buildings that have been demolished.