This article is about the German town. For the Nazi camp, see Ohrdruf concentration camp.

Railway station

Coat of arms

Coordinates: 50°49′41″N 10°43′58″E / 50.82806°N 10.73278°E / 50.82806; 10.73278Coordinates: 50°49′41″N 10°43′58″E / 50.82806°N 10.73278°E / 50.82806; 10.73278
Country Germany
State Thuringia
District Gotha
  Mayor Marion Hopf
  Total 39.75 km2 (15.35 sq mi)
Population (2015-12-31)[1]
  Total 6,218
  Density 160/km2 (410/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 99885
Dialling codes 03624
Vehicle registration GTH
Website www.ohrdruf.de

Ohrdruf is a small town in the district of Gotha in the German state of Thuringia. It lies some 30 km southwest of Erfurt at the foot of the northern slope of the Thuringian Forest.


Medieval and early modern

Ohrdruf was reportedly founded in 724726 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).

In 1550, under Georg II von Gleichen work began on Schloss Ehrenstein at the site of the former 8th century monastery.[2]

During the 17th century, the Schloss fell to the Grafen von Hohenlohe who after 1760 made alterations to it in Baroque style.[2]

In 1695, the orphaned Johann Sebastian Bach came to live and attend school at Ohrdruf, under the care of his older brother Johann Christoph Bach (1671–1721), who had come here in 1690 as organist at the St. Michaelis Kirche (St Michael's Church) and as a teacher at the Lyceum. Johann Sebastian lived in Ohrdruf from the ages of 10 to 15.[2][3]

19th century

In the 19th century, the town became a centre of toy manufacturing. The Kewpie doll was produced here from 1913. There are still some old molds embedded in the facades of Ohrdruf buildings.

In 1869, the Hohenlohe family sold the Grafschaft Gleichen including the castle and town of Ohrdruf to the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha.[2]

Ohrdruf Town Hall
Schloss Ehrenstein after the recent fire
Tower of the St. Michaelis Kirche

World wars

The nearby Truppenübungsplatz Ohrdruf (military training area) served as a POW camp during World War I, housing around 20,000 prisoners.[4] It was later used by the Wehrmacht and in the fall of 1944 a section of it became the Ohrdruf concentration camp.[5] The prisoners were used to construct roads, railways and subterranean tunnels. The latter were to include a temporary headquarters for the Nazi leadership following the evacuation of Berlin (Führerhauptquartier).[6][7]

According to German historian Rainer Karlsch, the facility built at nearby Jonastal was one of two locations where the Nazi Diebner's team has tested its nuclear energy project. During this process, according to Karlsch, prisoners of war were killed under the supervision of the SS.

Ohrdruf is believed to be the place that the historical Compiègne wagon was blown up in an air attack in 1944. Ohrdurf was the first Nazi concentration camp to be liberated by the US Army, on 4 April 1945. Shortly thereafter, Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley came here to look at the piles of dead bodies left behind by the SS.[5]

Post World War II

The military training area of Truppenübungsplatz Ohrdruf was taken over in July 1945 by the Red Army, since Thuringia became part of the Soviet occupation zone. The Nordlager -part of the concentration camp was razed. Two memorials to the dead were erected at around this time. In 1991, ownership was transferred to the German Defence Ministry. Since 1993, the Bundeswehr has been in charge of the area.[8]

The Soviet troops also used Schloss Ehrenstein from 1956 until 1971, leaving it in a desolate condition.[2]


See also


  1. "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden, Gemeinschaftsfreie Gemeinde, erfüllende/beauftragende Gemeinden, Verwaltungsgemeinschaft/Mitgliedsgemeinden in Thüringen". Thüringer Landesamt für Statistik (in German). July 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Alles auf Anfang (German)". Monumente-online.de. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Sehenswertes in Ohrdruf (German)". Ohrdruf.de. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  4. "Der Erste Weltkrieg in Thüringen (German)". Thüringer Allgemeine Zeitung. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  5. 1 2 "Ohrdruf". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Holocaust Encyclopedia. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  6. "Außenlager Ohrdruf". Buchenwald.de. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  7. "Spurensuche in der "Hölle von Ohrdruf" (German)". Ostthüringer Zeitung. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  8. "Außenlager Ohrdruf". Buchenwald.de. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  9. "Der Turm der St. Michaelis Kirche (German)". Ohrdruf evangelisch.de. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
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