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Old Durnholde - Orc Prisoners

Imprisoned orcs in Durnholde Keep.

“Despite the years they spent in the internment camps of Lordaeron, the Horde never truly lost their will to fight.”


The internment camps were prisons built to contain the orcs captured by the victorious Alliance of Lordaeron after the Second War. Thrall and Orgrim Doomhammer, with the aid of the Warsong and Frostwolf clans, liberated their captives and formed the New Horde before the onset of the Third War.


The Alliance Internment Act[]

With the capture of Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer and the destruction of the Dark Portal, the surviving orcs scattered at the hands of the Alliance. General Turalyon chose not to run them down, and after giving them an initial reprieve[1] the Alliance took aggressive steps to contain the demoralized clans. Only the Bleeding Hollow,[2] and parts of the Blackrock and Dragonmaw clans managed to elude capture. The triumphant humans, however, all but tore their Alliance apart on what to do with their defeated enemies. While Terenas Menethil II of Lordaeron believed the orcs would one day lose their lust for conquest, Thoras Trollbane of Stromgarde and Genn Greymane of Gilneas demanded their executions. They effectively settled on a sentence of life imprisonment, although disagreement and anger over the issue remained entrenched as nations left the Alliance in various frustrations.[2]

A number of large internment camps meant to house the captive orcs were constructed in southern Lordaeron. Guarded by both the paladins of the Order of the Silver Hand and the veteran soldiers of the Alliance, the camps proved to be a great success. Though the captive orcs were tense and anxious to do battle once more, the various camp wardens kept the peace and maintained a strong semblance of order.[3] The camps' authorities were based at first in New Stormwind under Danath Trollbane.[4] However, Azeroth had yet to see the end of orcish aggression - the rift to the orcish world of Draenor reopened, and Ner'zhul's Horde waged a new war against the Alliance before returning through a new Dark Portal. The Alliance Expedition to Draenor defeated Ner'zhul and the rift was closed, but not before some of his clans escaped the impending destruction of Draenor by fleeing to Azeroth. The Bleeding Hollow that were not trapped on Draenor were finally imprisoned by the Alliance, although Grommash Hellscream and his Warsong clan managed to evade capture. The camps' wardens soon re-established control over their brutish charges.

As time passed more and more orc prisoners were rounded up and placed within the internment camps. As the camps began to overflow, the Alliance was forced to construct new camps in the plains south of the Alterac Mountains.[5] The corrupt Aedelas Blackmoore succeeded Trollbane as chief warden, and Durnholde Keep became the new center for the camps. Orgrim Doomhammer, the former Horde Warchief, had by then escaped from Lordaeron and gone into hiding.[6]

Lethargy of the orcs[]

Lordamere Internment Camp

Remnants of the Lordamere Internment Camp.


Durnholde Keep.

Amidst the Alliance's turmoil, many of the camp wardens began to notice an unsettling change came over their orc captives. The orcs' efforts to escape from the camps or even fight amongst themselves had greatly decreased in frequency over time. The orcs were becoming increasingly aloof and lethargic. Though it was difficult to believe, the orcs - once held as the most aggressive race ever seen on Azeroth - had completely lost their will to fight. The strange lethargy confounded the Alliance leaders and continued to take its toll on the rapidly weakening orcs.[5]

Some speculated that some strange disease, contractible only by orcs, brought about the baffling lethargy. But Archmage Antonidas of Dalaran posed a different hypothesis. Researching what little he could find of orcish history, Antonidas learned that the orcs had been under the crippling influence of demonic power for generations. He speculated that the orcs had been corrupted by these powers even before their first invasion of Azeroth. Clearly, demons had spiked the orcs' blood, and in turn, the brutes had been granted unnaturally heightened strength, endurance, and aggression. Antonidas theorized that the orcs' communal lethargy was not actually a disease, but a consequence of racial withdrawal from the volatile warlock magics that had made them fearsome, bloodlusted warriors. Though the symptoms were clear, Antonidas was unable to find a cure for the orcs' present condition. Then too, many of his fellow mages, as well as a few notable Alliance leaders, argued that finding a cure for the orcs would be an imprudent venture. Left to ponder the orcs' mysterious condition, Antonidas' conclusion was that the orcs' cure would have to be a spiritual one.[5]

As their lethargy increased, the orcs became even more apathetic and resigned to their fates. Fights, whether between two prisoners or between prisoners and guards, decreased in frequency until they were virtually unheard of. The once fearsome race of warriors had become a pitiful people to whom even moving around didn't seem worth the effort, and many prisoners could be seen sitting in their own filth. Because the prisoners at the camps had gone so long without making trouble, security measures became extremely lax. Since nobody ever tried to escape, fewer and fewer guards were assigned to each camp and the walls were easy to scale if one were so inclined, which no-one ever was.[7]

Fall of the internment camps[]

Main article: Liberation of the internment camps

Thrall, a young orc found and raised by Blackmoore in isolation from his own kind, escaped from his master and set off to find others of his kind, buoyed by rumors of free orcs still evading capture. During his journeys, Thrall visited the internment camps and found his once-mighty race to be strangely cowed and lethargic. Having not found the proud warriors he hoped to discover, Thrall set out to find the last undefeated orc chieftain, Grommash Hellscream.[6]

Constantly hunted by the humans, Hellscream nevertheless held onto the Horde's unquenchable will to fight. Aided only by his own devoted Warsong clan, Hellscream continued to wage an underground war against the oppression of his beleaguered people. Unfortunately, he could never find a way to rouse the captured orcs from their stupor. The impressionable Thrall, inspired by Hellscream's idealism, developed a strong empathy for the Horde and its warrior traditions.[6]

Also un-imprisoned was the Frostwolf clan, which had never been part of either Doomhammer or Ner'zhul's Hordes, and whose former chieftain was Thrall's father. Under the tutelage of their venerable shaman Drek'Thar, Thrall studied his people's ancient shamanistic culture, which had been forgotten under Gul'dan's evil influence. Over time, Thrall became a powerful shaman and took his rightful place as chieftain of the exiled Frostwolves. Empowered by the elements themselves and driven to find his destiny, Thrall set off to free the captive clans and heal his race of demonic corruption.[6]

During his travels, Thrall found the aged Warchief, Orgrim Doomhammer, who had been living as a hermit for many years. Doomhammer, who had been a close friend of Thrall's father, decided to follow the young, visionary orc and help him free the captive clans. Supported by many of the veteran chieftains, Thrall ultimately succeeded in revitalizing the Horde and giving his people a new spiritual identity.[6] To symbolize his people's rebirth, Thrall, who Blackmoore had intended to use as a puppet to control the orcs for his personal gain, returned to Durnholde and put a decisive end to his former master's plans to by laying siege to the internment camps. This victory was not without its price: during the liberation of one camp, Doomhammer fell in battle.[6]

Thrall took up Doomhammer's legendary warhammer and donned his black plate-armor to become the new warchief of the Horde. During the following months, Thrall's small but volatile Horde laid waste to the internment camps and stymied the Alliance's best efforts to counter his clever strategies. Encouraged by his best friend and mentor, Grommash Hellscream, Thrall worked to ensure that his people would never be slaves again.[6]

Shortly before the Third War, Thrall and his New Horde gathered in an internment camp and from there they continued to Southshore from which they left Lordaeron.[8]

Known internment camps[]


Hammerfall, a former interment camp.

Known officers and staff[]

Known named prisoners[]

Stub Please add any available information to this section.

In Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans[]

Warcraft Adventures - Deserted town

A decaying orcish reservation in Warcraft Adventures.

WarcraftAdventures-Logo This section concerns content related to the canceled game Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans and is therefore non-canon.

In the canceled Warcraft Adventures, the orcs were forced to live in "reservations", rather than camps. Encircled and watched from afar by Alliance forces, the orcs had built their own homes and some semblance of infrastructure, but soon enough lapsed into lethargy and their villages became dilapidated. Their captors plied them with "black ale" to keep them pacified. It was mentioned by Blackmoore that the orcs from the reservation were used as slave labor by the Alliance.

Some allies of the orcs, ogres and forest trolls, were also kept in these reservations. The term of "guarded reserves" was also used in the Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal manual to describe these areas.[2]

One of these reservations could be visited in-game. Several clans resisted the reservation system, like the Warsong, Shattered Hand and Bleeding Hollow clans, while others collaborated with the humans in exchange for money and freedom, like the traitors of the Black Tooth Grin.


  • The term "the Second War" is often used in two different ways. In some sources it refers to events of Tides of Darkness, in other sources it refers to the events of both Tides of Darkness and Beyond the Dark Portal.[citation needed]  This leads to two issues, sometimes it's implied that the internment camps were first built between Tides of Darkness and Beyond the Dark Portal. Other times, it seems to imply that the internment camps were built after Beyond the Dark Portal.
  • In Beyond the Dark Portal, a Dalaran expedition was depicted as having reached the Broken Shore. They had built internment camps for the Old Horde survivors there. The orcs had the green color of either the Bleeding Hollow or Bonechewer clans when they should instead more likely have been of the Stormreaver, Twilight's Hammer, Blackrock or Black Tooth Grin clans.[17]
  • Anduin Wrynn's stance on the camps is that they don't work.[18]
  • Three Internment Camps near Durnholde Keep were seen on a Warcraft III map in the game's manual.


See also[]