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Ohrdruf is a small town in the German federal state of Thuringiamarker. It lies some 30 km southwest of Erfurtmarker.

Medieval settling

Ohrdruf was founded in 724–726 by Saint Boniface, as the site of the first monastery in Thuringia, dedicated to Saint Michael. It was the first of several religious foundations in the town, the latest of which is the Carmelite monastery Karmel St. Elija (founded 1991).

Johann Sebastian Bach

In 1695 the orphaned Johann Sebastian Bach came to live and work at the Michaeliskirche (St Michael's church) here, under the care of his older brother Johann Christoph Bach . He lived in Ohrdruf from the ages of 10 to 15.

Ohrdruf toy manufacture

In the 1800s the town became a centre of toy manufacturing. The Kewpie doll was produced here from 1913. You can still find some of the old molds included in the facades of Ohrdruf buildings.

Nazi rule

The Ohrdruf death camp located here was the first Nazi concentration camp to be liberated by the American Army, on 4 April 1945. According to a book written by the German historian Rainer Karlsch and published in 2005, Ohrdruf may have been one of two locations where the Nazis tested their nuclear energy project, in the process killing prisoners of war under the supervision of the SSmarker. This claim is not universally accepted. However, a nuclear reactor was under construction at Haigerlochmarker, but never became functional.

Also near Ohrdruf the Nazis constructed at the end of World War II, with the help of slave labour, the S III Führer Headquarters, a massive underground complex of long tunnels. This was reputedly to have been a centre for a final stand against the Allies, after a retreat from Berlinmarker. This plan did not come to fruition.

With the reunification of Germany, DDR archives came to light of witness accounts about the launch of a winged A-4 rocket on 16 March 1945 from a rocket sled device near Jonsthal Concentration Camp in the Ohrdruf complex. These archives identified four witnesses to the winged A-4 and one of the missile in flight at launch. These archives were later classified under US pressure.


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