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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).
According to a book written by the German historian Rainer Karlsch and published in 2005, Ohrdruf 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. This claim is not universally accepted, yet, some findings near the town support it: signs of large excavations and blocked tunnels in the nearby Jonas Valley. The remains are located right behind one of the hills next to Ohrdurf, at about the same elevation as the town, which can suggest more tunnels exits at the town side too.
It could be the same site, where 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 Berlin. This plan did not come to fruition.