FAQ FAQ about the Buchenwald-Project

What is planned?

Two calculated points in the quarry of the former Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp are being excavated. The aim is to answer the question of whether there are bunkers or tunnels driven into the rock, such as those that the SS had excavated by prisoners at the end of the Second World War.

A so called prospective mining will be dug for the investigation, which will be carried out by an excavator. During this process, the shovel will be used to carefully tunnel through the mountain piece by piece, until the calculated point is reached, where the entrances to the bunkers are possibly located. It is not certain whether these bunkers actually exist.

Why is this excavation being carried out now?

The basis of the excavation is a sketch, which was probably finished at the end of World War II. For years it was undetected in the National Archives in Washington, but reached Germany in the early 1990s.

The aim of the excavation is to gain further insights into the structures of the Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp and thus to complete the preexisting knowledge of the history of this place.

U.S. military documents and witness reports show that the U.S. Army opened two tunnels in the quarry after the liberation of the concentration camp, and also saved and transported items stored therein. The existing documents, like the above, suggest that in addition to the well-known tunnels there are more in the quarry.

Who approved the excavation?

The Central German Broadcasting (MDR) has combined two-year research evidence that was submitted for evaluation to the Scientific Board of Trustees of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation in autumn 2018, together with the aim of clarifying the possible existence of further tunnels. The international 15-member Board of Trustees, headed by historian Professor Frei, has approved this project. The Board of Trustees was informed. The Nature and Monument Preservation Offices have also approved the project.

Is the Buchenwald quarry a cemetery?

The quarry of the Buchenwald concentration camp was a place of great human suffering and brutal atrocities. Prisoners had to break stones here daily and also transport them. Many died here through mistreatment and emaciation. The SS also executed prisoners in the quarry. Nevertheless, the quarry itself is not considered as a cemetery as the dead were not buried or left lying here.

However, if human bones are found during the excavation, precautions will be taken. In co-operation with representatives of churches and religious communities, it is guaranteed that the peace of the dead is respected.

Who is excavating in Buchenwald?

The responsibility for the excavation lies with the Thuringian State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments and Archeology. Here, the threads converge for all substeps of the excavation. The office has extensive experience in such projects, provides expertise, and takes care of the necessary formalities and careful documentation of the procedure. The State Office has appointed an experienced excavation company with the project.

Will the project be reported?

MDR accompanies the work through the current reporting on all of its supplementary platforms – online, on the radio and television. In addition, a 52-minute Arte documentation about the entire project, its background and the research methodology will be produced. There will also be a 45-minute film and a 30-minute film produced for MDR.


Dieses Thema im Programm: MDR FERNSEHEN | MDR THÜRINGEN JOURNAL | 24. September 2019 | 19:00 Uhr

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