An underground Nazi weapons factory which is believed to have been a secret development laboratory for nuclear weapons has been discovered in Austria.
The subterranean facility was uncovered last week by an Austrian documentary maker Andreas Sulzer and his team who said it was “likely the biggest secret weapons production facility of the Third Reich,” The Times of Israel reports.
Towards the end of World War II both the Allies and the Axis Powers were competing in a technology race to be the first to develop nuclear weapons, eventually won by the Allies who dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945.
The bunker, which has an area of 75 acres, is close to the other underground factory, the B8 Bergkristall factory where the Messerschmitt Me 262, the world’s first operational jet-powered flighted plane, was produced.
The huge facility, which was large enough to not only contain the development programme but produce the weapons of mass destruction, is located near the town of St Georgen an der Gusen close to the Danube and near the border of what was then Czechoslovakia.
The facility was mentioned in the diaries of an Austrian physicist who worked with the Nazis on development programmes and the team have been using ground-penetrating radar to identify the location. Higher than usual levels of radiation had previously been found around the St Georgen site giving credibility to previous accounts that the Nazis had been working on nuclear weapons in that area, which was under the exclusive command of the SS.
The weapons strategy was run by ruthless SS General Hans Kammler, including the V-2 rockets launched from the ‘Northwest Gravel Works’ in the Pas-de-Calais region of Northern France which were targeted on London.
Rainer Karlsch, a historian working with Sulzer, said that “The SS leadership . . . aspired to create a combination of missiles and weapons of mass destruction. They wanted to equip the A4 [a variant of the V-2] missile, or more advanced rockets, with poison gas, radioactive material or nuclear warheads.”
While a brilliant commander he was also cold and calculating, signing off the blue prints for the gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp which formed the main strategy of Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’.
“Prisoners from concentration camps across Europe were handpicked for their special skills — physicists, chemists or other experts — to work on this monstrous project,” said Sulzer, “and we owe it to the victims to finally open the site and reveal the truth.”
And like the Bergkristall factory, it would have relied on slave labour from the nearby Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp where a estimated 320,000 inmates died.
The discovery of the facility is not the only focus of the documentary team: “Rumours persist that he was captured by the Americans and given a new identity after the war,” added Sulzer, who is seeking to trace the movements of the SS General who reported directly to vicious SS chief Heinrich Himmler.
The Cold War weapons and Space Race provided a get-out clause for many of the top brains who had been working on weapons and rocket propulsion projects for years, funded by the Nazi regime. With the Americans not wanting to lose the battle to Communist Russia, it is believed that many of them were brought to the USA under ‘Operation Paperclip’.
Kammler is believed to have lived at the St. Georgen site, and was headquartered in an area captured by the US Army in May 1945. Official reports are that he committed suicide, but declassified documents from the Counter Intelligence Corps suggest he was secretly removed.