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Oxyacetylene welding torch neck with cutting tip from the Dora Mittelbau V2 factory

Object | Accession Number: 2007.486.22

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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Welding torch neck with cutting tip, acquired by Chester C. Boone at the Dora Mittelbau V2 rocket factory and concentration camp in Nordhausen, Germany, in 1945. The Dora-Mittelbau camp was originally a subcamp of Buchenwald. Allied air raids on German industrial complexes pushed Nazi authorities to use concentration camp prisoners to construct underground tunnels to house factories and development facilities for the V-2 missile program and other experimental weapons. In October 1944, the SS made Dora-Mittelbau an independent concentration camp with more than 30 subcamps of its own. The secret, underground portion of the factory complex was operated by using a slave labor force of concentration camp prisoners. The prisoners were forced to construct the rockets along an improvised assembly line made of railroad tracks. The mortality rate was higher than at most other concentration camps. Many of the prisoners were massacred by the Germans as they camp was evacuated in the spring of 1945. The camp was liberated by American forces in April. Chester Boone was a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army detachment that took command of the factory after the liberation. Chester’s group oversaw the removal of the 120 remaining V-2 rockets and the preliminary dismantling of the factory for six months, until it came under Soviet control, with the postwar partition of Germany between allied forces.
    Date
    acquired:  1945 April-1945 July 05
    Geography
    acquired: Dora (concentration camp); Nordhausen (Thuringia, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Dave Johnson and the Boone Family
    Markings
    bottom, stamped : Gr. 2=2-4 mm / S= 45 AFm
    top, side of cutting tip, stamped : 2
    Contributor
    Previous owner: Chester C. Boone Jr.
    Subject: Chester C. Boone Jr.
    Biography
    Chester C. “Jack” Boone Jr. (1920-2008) was born in Las Animas, Colorado, to Chester C. Boone Sr. and Venus (Phillips) Boone. Chester had two brothers and four sisters. The family moved to Peru, Kansas when Chester was three, and then returned to Colorado a few years later, settling in Pueblo. Chester graduated from high school in 1940. After high school, he moved to San Diego, California, and worked at Consolidated Air Craft until 1943, when he joined the Merchant Marines. In 1944, Chester entered the United States Army and served in the Army Transport System (ATS), where skills he learned in his family’s machine shop were put to use. Chester was promoted to Second Lieutenant and received training as an amphibious engineer at an Air Force training center. He entered active duty on February 21, 1944, and served in the European Theater, under General Omar Bradley. He maintained the mechanics of a ship that transported troops, north of Omaha Beach, prior to the D-Day assault on June 6, 1944. In spring 1945, Boone was put in charge of the army detachment that took over the underground V-1 and V-2 rocket factory outside of Nordhausen, Germany.

    Upon his arrival at Nordhausen in April 1945, Chester saw piles of slave laborers’ bodies the Nazis had enclosed in barbed wire and massacred. A forced labor camp of 6,000 people was attached to the factory, and accessed by a blacktop path, lined with barbed wire. When the inmates were freed by the US troops, few people left, because they had nowhere to go. The underground factory was not discovered by US forces until the war was almost over. It was built under a mountain, and consisted of two mile-long, parallel tunnels that stretched from one end of the mountain to the other, with cross tunnels between them. The tunnels were equipped with lights and railroad tracks. Train cars were loaded with raw materials and slave laborers assembled the rockets, as the cars moved down the tracks. When Chester arrived, there were 120 V-2 rockets present in the factory.

    Chester’s detachment was charged with securing and dismantling the factory. However, after six months of work, little progress had been made. While stationed at Nordhausen, Chester often served as a tour guide for visiting G-2 Intelligence officials from Washington DC, including Werner von Braun, the father of German rocketry. When Germany was divided between the Allied Powers in 1945, the factory was in Soviet territory, so Boone’s detachment left. Before leaving, they were able to remove all of the rockets from the factory. However they were unable to completely dismantle the factory.

    In 1946, Chester withdrew from active service. He was honorably discharged in 1952, and awarded two Bronze Battle Stars for his service. Chester later moved to Chase, Kansas, where he operated a welding shop for a number of years. In 1953, he moved to Fort Morgan, Colorado, where he opened an oilfield welding shop. Chester married Gloryann Frasco on June 26, 1955, in Fort Morgan and they had two daughters, Kim and Diane. He worked in his shop until ill health forced his retirement in 1990.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Tools and Equipment
    Category
    Equipment
    Genre/Form
    Welding.
    Physical Description
    Long, thin, copper-colored, metal, oxyacetylene cutting torch neck with attached tip. A ferrule is threaded onto the bottom end of the neck. Extending upward from the ferrule is a short, cylindrical base supporting a thin tube. Near the top, the tube bends 45 degrees. Threaded to the end of the neck is a thicker, cylindrical tip that tapers down to a flat end with a small, centered hole. Parts of the surface have been worn down, and dirt has accumulated in some of the smaller crevices.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 6.000 inches (15.24 cm) | Width: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm) | Depth: 2.875 inches (7.303 cm)
    Materials
    overall : metal

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Corporate Name
    Dora (concentration camp)

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The welding torch neck was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2007 by the Boone family, and Dave Johnson.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:31:54
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn35734

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