The “KELLERBAU” Underground Plant at Gusen

Kellerbau General Layout

The Kellerbau tunnels directly north of the KZ Gusen I & II concentration camps were subdivided in sections I, II, III & IV. From left to right: Kellerbau IV (dotted lines), Kellerbau III (central tunnel grid), Kellerbau I & II (the two tunnels right of the road).

Construction of this plant started in late 1943 in the hills directly north of the KZ Gusen I concentration camp. Several tunnels show different construction characteristics – some were lined with concrete and others with granite or bricks.

It appears that the SS implemented this project quite early and experimented to build such tunnels with construction material that was easily available at KZ Gusen like granite blocks.

The Kellerbau tunnels were assigned primarily to the two DEST contractors at Gusen,  Messerschmitt GmbH and Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG. Messerschmitt started production of Me-262 parts there during 1944. When the Bergkristall tunnels became available in autumn 1944, Messerschmitt moved to St. Georgen/Gusen and left most of the Kellerbau tunnels for Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG. Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG produced parts for machine guns already in early summer 1944 at Kellerbau.

Kellerbau Tunnel with Granite Lining

One tunnel of Kellerbau III with granite roof on February 24, 2001 (Source: GMC publication “St. Georgen-Gusen-Mauthausen – Concentration Camp Mauthausen Reconsidered”)

One tunnel was also assigned to the “Waffentechnische Lehranstalt (WTL) Graz” (defense technology college) of the SS in the final phase of the war. It is likely that some of the institutes of the “Technische Hochschule Graz” (technical university) that were moved to Gusen in late 1944 were hided there.

The Kellerbau tunnels were also very close to the conventional (above ground) production facilities of Messerschmitt GmbH at Gusen that were officially called “Messerschmitt Zweigwerk (branch plant) St. Georgen/Gusen”.Towards the end of the war most of the tunnel entrances were closed with masonry and loaded with explosives to exterminate most of the KZ Gusen inmates by blasting them off with the tunnels shortly before the arrival of any liberators.

For this purpose, the inmates were trained several times to run into these tunnels at airraid alarms. Survivors told that the SS intended to fake one such alarm at the end of the war to finish all off. Fortunately this order not carried out.

Structure of Work Details in Late 1944

Kellerbau Tunnel

One damaged tunnel of Kellerbau I with concreted roof on February 24, 2001 (Source: GMC publication “St. Georgen-Gusen-Mauthausen – Concentration Camp Mauthausen Reconsidered”)

The following structure of work details including the names of inmates was made available for “Arbeitskommando Kellerbau [Command Cellar Construction] and late 1944 to the GMC by courtesy of Ing. Jerzy Kowalczyk of Klub Mauthausen-Gusen Poznan in 1997. This data give evidence that construction work was continuing in late 1944 while different production workshops were operated there since several months.

Leaders of this work command were the following Oberkapos (head Kapos):

  • Hasinski Ludwig, 45431, 22.8.04, Pole
  • Krutzen Oskar, 43470, 1.03.15, German
  • Moska Josef, 45823, Pole

The subsequent table shows for each of the three work shifts:

  • Name of the inmate
  • Date of birth
  • Inmate number
  • Nationality (P – Pole, D – German, S – Spaniard, J – Jugoslav, R – Russian, F – Frenchman, L – Latvian)

1. Schicht (Work Shift)


Stollen (Tunnel) I

%3

1.

Maly Szczepan

49883

12.12.17

P

VA

2.

Gaj Wenzel

36178

12.6.12

P

3.

Janicki St.

43677

9.4.23

P

4.

Nowak Stefan

44700

8.9.18

P

5.

Kwakiewicz Marian

45125

11.11.25

P

6.

Pilarski Bronisl.

45203

14.1.13

P

7.

Banasik Czeslaus

45352

7.3.21

P

8.

Hawrylow Iwan

45406

7.11.20

R

9.

Fojtuw Aloisy

47392

21.3.22

T

10.

Twardowski Tadeusz

49861

2.2.18

P

11.

Czerwiñski Fran.

51.665

5.4.05

P

12.

Grabowski Bronisl

54871

19.6.18

R

13.

Krumierz Edg.

55138

11.9.22

£.

14.

Isma Ilow

57768

—   15

R

15.

Peklonek Wasili

58455

22.1.22

R

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