Geoff Walden


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Ebensee, Austria

Underground Factory Projects "Dachs/Zement"
and Concentration Camp Site

   The hills near the Traunsee Lake in the Salzkammergut region of Austria (east of Salzburg) were chosen as the site for an underground tunnel system, begun in January 1944, under the codenames "Dachs" (Badger) and "Zement." The works were originally planned as an underground headquarters for the Luftwaffe, and then as a site for research and testing of the "Wasserfall" anti-aircraft rocket and the intercontinental "Amerika-Rakete," but these plans were never realized. The Ebensee works eventually were used for petroleum refining and the manufacture of motor parts for tanks and trucks, by the Steyr-Daimler-Puch works of Linz and the Nibelungenwerk factory of St. Valentin.

   Two separate works were located in the Ebensee hills -- Anlage A was a large system closer to the lake and town, and Anlage B was a smaller system adjacent to the concentration camp, just to the southwest. Neither system was completely finished before the end of the war, but the tunnels in Anlage A were more extensive, and larger. At the end of the war, Anlage A contained a working petroleum refinery (which later produced 60-octane gasoline for the U.S. Army). Only one or two of the tunnels of Anlage B, where tank and truck motor parts were made, reached any sort of completion; and none were as long as planned, nor were the side connecting passages finished.

   The work was performed by slave labor, with inmates brought from the Mauthausen camp. The Ebensee camp, adjacent to the Anlage B tunnels, has all but disappeared today, save for the main gate and a memorial on the site. Some 8200 inmates died at this camp before it was liberated on 6 May 1945 by the U.S. Army. Tunnel 5 of the Anlage B system is maintained today as a memorial.  (Google Maps link to Anlage B memorial site)

 

The photo on the left, dated 21 July 1945, shows the Ebensee refinery works in operation under the U.S. Army. This view shows the multi-story aspect of the refinery at Anlage A - the rails going up the slope beside the Tunnel 7 entrance lead to an upper level, where smoke from the refining process is issuing from a camouflaged chimney. Plans of Anlage A show four upper level tunnels, but there are two other mid-level tunnels that do not appear on the plans. The photo on the right shows the interior of Tunnel 2 of Anlage A- one of the two-story tunnels - in 1945.  (U.S. Army photos)

 

Entrance to a tunnel of the Anlage A complex in 1945. The tunnel entrances were comparatively small, to protect against bomb blasts, and the tunnels themselves were taller and wider a short distance inside. Steel blast doors were planned for the entrances, but none were installed.  (U.S. Army photo)

Similar view today (this may be the same tunnel entrance). These are the entrances to Tunnels 4 and 5. Tunnel 5 is used by the mining industry today, with dual railroad tracks entering through the vertical sliding doors.

  

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Interior of Tunnel 3 in Anlage A in 1945. This photo shows the partially finished nature of most of the tunnels.  (U.S. Army photo)

Interior of one of the Anlage A tunnels today. This is Tunnel 5, the mine tunnel shown in the photo above.  (from the Ebensee/Zement webpage)

 

State of several of the Anlage A tunnel entrances today. Upper left: Tunnel 0 - this entrance has been covered with rock and gravel; center: Tunnel 1; upper right - inside the Tunnel 1 entrance, showing the partially concreted state. Below - Tunnel 6 entrance. The brick columns along the walls on either side were designed to support precast concrete roof arches (not installed).

 

Above left - entrance to Tunnel 7, with the oil furnace exhaust chimney on the level above. Center -  Tunnel 7 entrance today. Right - Inside the Tunnel 7 entrance, showing the precast concrete roof arches resting on brick columns along the walls (as in Tunnel 6, above). Below - The entrance to Tunnel 8 was covered by a large concrete bunker, with doors at either side. The original large doorway has been concreted up, with a small modern door insert. Similar concrete bunkers were planned for all the tunnel entrances but the only one built was this one at Tunnel 8 (the structure to the right is a post-1945 addition). Only Tunnels 7 and 8 were operational as a refinery in 1945. Tunnel 7 contained furnaces for heating the crude oil before it was passed to the distillation towers in Tunnel 8.
(from "German Underground Installations," Part 1, Section II, CIOS,  September 1945 (Imperial War Museum, London)

 

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Plan of Anlage A. All published maps that I have seen of the Ebensee tunnel systems
contain inaccuracies - some show tunnels that were planned but never started, others
that were started but not finished, others that were finished but not to the configuration
shown in the plans, etc.  (redrawn from a plan in "German Underground Installations,"
Part 1, Section II, CIOS,  September 1945 (Imperial War Museum, London)

 

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Ruins of equipment and machinery mounts in the Anlage A tunnels today. The photo on the left shows concrete pillars in Tunnel 0. The entrance to this tunnel is closed on the outside, but it is accessible from Tunnel 1. The center and right photos show similar artifacts in Tunnels 1 and 8. These were apparently mounts for oil distillation equipment. The floor of Tunnel 6 has several large octagonal concrete pads - mounting bases for the petroleum tanks.

 

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Construction details in Tunnel 6. In a finished state, the walls would have been lined with brick and concrete.

Hanging iron light fixture in Tunnel 8.

Water leaching through the rock has formed stalactites and stalagmites, a common site in Third Reich tunnel systems today. These are at the entrance to Tunnel 8, inside the concrete bunker.

 

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Other views inside Tunnel 8 of Anlage A. On the left is a wall light fixture, heavily covered with "flowstone;" another stalagmite in the center; on the right is an entrance to an unfinished side tunnel, which had been bricked up at one time.

 

Two tunnel entrances that do not appear on the period tunnel plans can be seen today at an intermediate level, above Tunnels 7 and 8. The entrance above, which is covered by a concrete bunker and has a concrete building ruin below it, is closed today with wooden beams and iron I-beams. This tunnel is located above Tunnel 8. The tunnel below, on the same level, is above Tunnel 7. The iron staircase at the side leads to the upper level (see below). This tunnel above Tunnel 7 had a narrow gauge railway running into it.

 

The tunnel above Tunnel 7 is partially concreted and has several concrete and iron mounts along the walls, which may have been for refinery equipment or other machinery. This tunnel has two side chambers with bare rock shafts leading to Tunnel 7 below. These shafts were probably the exhausts for the oil furnaces in Tunnel 7, which issued out at the upper level (see below).

 

The upper level of the Anlage A refinery had a unique adaptation - a camouflaged chimney for the exhaust from the oil heating furnaces in Tunnel 7 below. Two exhaust shafts ran up through the rock into the base of a concrete bunker-like building that was designed to resemble a house, complete with roughened roof (to resemble shingles). The furnace exhaust exited the side of the concrete structure and went into a metal pipe and chimney. All of this was meant to look like a normal house with chimney, to aerial reconnaissance. The plan and photos above and below, from the 1945 CIOS report, show this arrangement. The metal chimney pipe is no longer there, but its exit out the side of the concrete structure is closed by a door today.

 

The original plans for Anlage A show four tunnel openings at the upper level, in the rear quarry rock face, and these can be seen today. On the left are Tunnels W2 and W3 (the W3 entrance is presumably covered by the postwar building). On the right is Tunnel W0, a bare opening into the rock face, above a postwar section of the quarry excavation works.

 


 

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Entrance to a tunnel in the Anlage B section (this may be Tunnel 9; see below).  (U.S. Army photo)

Entrance to Tunnel 5 in Anlage B today. This tunnel, the most complete of Anlage B, is maintained by the Verein Widerstandsmuseum in Ebensee, and is open to the public.

 

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Entrance to Tunnel 5, Anlage B, 1945 and today.  (U.S. Army photo)

 

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Tunnel 5, Anlage B, then and now. The 1945 U.S. Army photo shows the machinery in place for the manufacture of tank and truck engine parts. There was actually a second story above the concrete roof, for offices (see sketch below).  The completed part of Tunnel 5 was lined with pre-fab concrete sections, supporting lights and water and gas pipes.

 

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This 1945 sketch of a tunnel cross-section shows the main floor, with its pre-fab concrete walls and ceiling,
and the space for offices and shops above.  ("German Underground Installations," Part 1, Section II, CIOS,
September 1945 (Imperial War Museum, London)

 

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An incomplete side passage of Tunnel 5 has mounts for the heavy machinery used in the manufacturing process.

Pre-cast concrete supports at the junction of the main tunnel and an incomplete side passage.

 

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Tunnel 9 was an Anlage B work that was not finished.

Inside Tunnel 9 - the main branch runs parallel to the other tunnels for about 100 meters, then dead-ends.

 

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A short distance inside Tunnel 9, a side branch angles back toward the rest of the tunnels, but it was never completed. The work appears to have been hastily abandoned. This iron boring rod is still in place in one of the holes being drilled in the rock face for blasting explosives. I do not know the meaning of the "63A" paint marking, or even if it is actually a period marking.

 

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This preliminary plan of Anlage B shows the tunnels in their planned completed state. In actuality, none of the tunnels was finished beyond the major cross passage in the center, and the other cross passages (at top and bottom) were mostly unfinished. Only Tunnels 1, 2, 4, and 5 were in a condition for use. Tunnels 7 and 8 had no exterior entrances. This plan shows how the tunnel entrances were made smaller than the interior working spaces, to protect against bomb blasts.  ("German Underground Installations," Part 1, Section II, CIOS, September 1945 (Imperial War Museum, London)

 

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The main gate to the Ebensee concentration camp, seen in these photos taken just after liberation, has been preserved as a memorial.  (private collection)

 

The main reference is German Underground Installations, Part One of Three, "Unique Design and Construction Methods," Section II, CIOS (Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee), September 1945 (Imperial War Museum, London).

Detailed info on the Ebensee sites  --  http://www.ebensee.org/

Other concentration camp sites  --  Dachau, Buchenwald, Dora (Nordhausen), Sachsenhausen, Flossenbürg, S/III Jonastal, Mauthausen (includes Gusen)

 

 

Third Reich in Ruins, http://www.thirdreichruins.com/

All contents copyright © 2000-2017, Geoffrey R. Walden; all rights reserved.  All photos taken by or 
from the collection of Geoffrey R. Walden, except where specifically noted.  Please respect my property rights,
and the rights of others who have graciously allowed me to use their photos on this page,
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This page is intended for historical research only, and no political or philosophical aims should be assumed. 
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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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