26Memorial to the Victims of the Bombings


First memorial to the victims of the air raids
Memorial to the victims of the air raids, 1950 (Stadtarchiv Nordhausen)

On 3 and 4 April 1945, the town of Nordhausen was bombed by British aircraft. Several thousand people died, including numerous concentration camp inmates. Nordhausen was one of the German cities most heavily destroyed by Allied air raids. In 1969, a memorial stone to the victims of the bombing was erected on the square in front of the town hall.

Just one week after the bombing of the town, American troops advanced into Nordhausen and liberated several hundred surviving concentration camp inmates in the main camp of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp and in the Boelcke-Kaserne. The bodies of around 1,300 dead inmates were recovered from the barracks over the following days.

In 1950, the town of Nordhausen erected a memorial to the victims of the bombing in front of the town hall. This memorial stone was the plinth of the former Luther memorial, which had been erected in front of the town hall in 1888 and dismantled in 1943 when the bronze Luther statue was melted down for armaments. For its new use, the stone plinth was provided with a flame bowl and an inscription: "4 April 1945 - Destruction of Nordhausen by American bombers - 8800 victims accuse". During the GDR era, British air raids were reinterpreted as Anglo-American or purely American attacks with an anti-American message.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the GDR, the SED district leadership decided to replace the memorial erected in 1950 with a column designed by the artist Jürgen von Woyski. Inaugurated in 1969, the memorial stone still commemorates the victims of the air raids today.