Geography and History
At the turn of the century the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s oil fields in Hungary, Rumania, and Galicia (presently Poland and the Ukraine) were among the few developed oil fields in the world. In 1905 a new petroleum refinery of the Vacuum Oil Company in Dzieditz was built in grand style. Its 72 reservoirs cost over 700,000 crowns. The Vacuum Oil Company also had a refinery in Hungary, in Alma-Fuzito. The refineries were along the route of the Austrian-Hungarian state railway.
At the same time, a Hungarian company called Apollo Mineralolfabrik launched a new factory in Fiume. In 1905 America was just switching over from shipping oil in barrels to using iron "cassettes." The Hungarians were following suit. The Apollo factory in Fiume, called the Iron Cassette Works, would manufacture the cassettes for the Vacuum Oil Company and any other Germanic concerns that wanted to switch over. The cassettes were easier to ship and had other benefits.
The other big concern at the turn of the century was electricity, which consumed those oils and coal products coming out of Galicia. In Berlin, electricity production jumped from 425,000 kWh in 1897-98 to two million kWh in 1903-04, a growth of almost 500 percent in only six years. A major advance was smaller and longer-lasting steam turbines, which were also easier to maintain than the piston-steam engines they replaced. Berlin relied upon imports for its fuel, but 20 percent of its fuel was domestic, and a great part of it came from Galicia. Thus a rail route running along the Carpathian mountain range from southeast Poland to Berlin was a key transport route, and it remained so into World War II.
Plans to provide Berlin’s electricity supply by means of long distance power lines from large centralized power generators were finally realized after the First World War. As early as 1913 AEG and BEW had acquired large bituminous coal fields around Bitterfeld, almost 100 miles away from the Prussian capital. The acquisition was made primarily to lower dependence on outside coal with highly volatile prices, but also with the idea of using it to generate energy for Berlin. Within only a year, Germany’s biggest power station, Golpa-Zschornewitz, was erected there, which at first supplied only the war industry. In the winter of 1917-18, however, an 80-mile-long high-voltage power line was laid and from June of 1918 on electricity was delivered from Golpa-Zschornewitz to Berlin. The Golpa power station had a capacity of 120 Megawatts.
Germany’s dependence on fuel became critical during the Second World War. Another key part of Germany’s economy was industry. From the very beginning industry was centered in Bitterfeld. In 1894 two companies decided to set up their new electrochemical operations in the Bitterfeld region. A decisive factor was the availability of the cheapest lignite in Germany. The coal attracted an additional chemical company to the region the following year. Together, the three businesses laid the foundation for the domination of the chemical industry in Bitterfeld for over 100 years. From 1925 onwards, this industry sector was under the stewardship of the IG Farben group, and electricity was provided by AEG. The mining industry and production of electricity as well as the construction of heavy machinery and aircraft grew in parallel to the chemical industry.
After Germany invaded the Sudentenland of Czechoslovakia in 1938, and then conquered Poland in 1939, Silesia in the Carpathian mountain range became a key German military location, probably because it was already linked to oil fields in Galicia by rail.
During World War Two, when labor became scarce because of war casualties, camps were built for Eastern workers around the Bitterfeld complex. The main camp was in Spergau. The same railroad that brought coal and fuel from the Ukraine also brought prisoners of war, some of them educated, most of them not.
A large percentage of war work was carried out by foreign scientists recruited by the SS for IG Farben. The entire war economy, especially the arms industry, relied on the proper handling and processing of all available workers, including prisoners of war from Russia. All workers in the Greater German Reich were exploited. In 1942 specialists from occupied Russia began to be processed at an IG Farben camp in Bierau Poland.
The Reich’s Economic Staff East, working closely with the army (i.e. the Military High Command or Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, OKW), knew exactly where to find scientists and where to send them. In 1938 Himmler’s Planning Office had drafted the Generalplan Ost. This plan involved the "evacuation" of tens of millions of Russian civilians as well as the Germanization of large parts of the occupied territories. By 1942 at least part of the plan had become a reality.
The Economic Staff East began the processing of Russian specialists in 1942. Minerologists and people in the chemical industry started arriving in March. This first "consignment" of specialists was accomodated by the ammonia plant in Merseburg, the aluminum plant in Bitterfeld, and the IG Wolfen plant. These were all factories and labs of the Leuna-Werke, a factory complex owned by IG Farben, with headquarters in Spergau/Zöschen (near Leuna), and sprawling all around Leipzig. These factories and laboratories were at the disposal of the Reich.
A surviving report of the Economic Staff East reveals that highly qualified specialists from Russia were arriving with the permission of the Reichsfuhrer SS (Himmler). The Group Chief (Chefgruppe) of the Special Chemistry Group of the Economic Staff East was particularly interested in these specialists.
Soon, however, because of the numbers arriving, a special processing office was required. A collecting center for Russian scientists and engineers was set up at Heydebreck-Bierau/OS, located between Gleiwitz and Kozle in Poland, close to Krakow in Upper Silesia. The Bierau camp began with barracks for 600 to 700 persons. IG Farben was the owner of the camp, since most Russian scientists would be sent to Leuna. In the Bierau camp these highly-qualified specialists were collected, registered by the secret police, checked in, and put to use. Relocation of scientists to their final destinations was orchestrated by the SS in Beirau. As well, the Reichsfuhrer SS granted special permission for these specialists to bring their families into the Reich.
The first Bierau consignment arrived on April 21, 1942 – a shipment of 165 researchers and engineers (with families), who were then sent directly to Leuna. They were followed by smaller groups. In February of 1943 167 scientists were processed at Bierau. By March of 1944, the police agency had registered 1,111 scientists and engineers, including 140 chemists and physicists, 116 engineers, 112 construction engineers, 187 technicians and draughtsmen, 77 interpreters, and 46 doctors.
Most of these men and women were treated as foreigners, and not as Eastern slave laborers (Ostarbeiter). However, they worked with slave laborers in the various plants and labs. Bierau was also a labor camp besides being an SS processing point. By 1944 the Bierau-Lager held about 2000 Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, and French prisoners. About 250 of them were below age and lived in a youth barracks.
An Ost worker in a laboratory of the Leuna-Werke, 1944?
Life at Leuna
The Leuna Works was a barren sort of wasteland of industry around Leipzig in Germany. IG Farben employed regular German "civilians" as well as putting slave laborers to work. The civilians, also called "active workers," worked apart from the Russians and the Ost workers. A "northern" plant in Merseburg was used mostly by civilians, while a "southern" plant was set aside for the foreigners. The Spergau Tor (Spergau Gate) was a kind of boundary marker beyond which the foreigners normally did not go.
One worker recalls her experience in Merseburg Lab 219 (Me 219). "In experimental laboratory Me 219 we had a Russian chemist, and the interaction was friendly. We had many different discussions; he showed us how to do things and was very human." Keep in mind that there were no Jews among either the workers or the scientists. The entire Leuna-Werke, even among the top German scientists, was "aryan."
Spergau was a labor camp as opposed to a concentration camp, so the living conditions were acceptable (for a camp). While some factories and labor camps deteriorated towards the end of the war, the Leuna-Werke stayed relatively intact. It was well protected. Leuna-Werke was the most heavily defended industrial complex in Europe. The Germans met all air threats with a large battery of gun emplacements and made life difficult for the Allies until the very end. A side effect of this heavy defense was that the infrastructure remained largely intact and the inmates remained at Leuna until the end of the war.
The Ammoniawerke Merseburg GmbH made aviation motor oils, lubricants, synthetic fuel, and ammonia, which was used to make fertilizer. The Merseburg labs also conducted research into synthetic rubber. As well, there was a hydrogenation plant.
The Bitterfeld plants were the oldest in the complex, and were mostly metal plants. In 1939 IG Farben published an article called "1909 to 1939 – 30 years of innovative electron and light metal alloys at IG Farben Industries." In the old literature the term "elektron" was often used for magnesium alloys; elektron was the historic and advertised name of magnesium alloys used by the German company "Chemische Fabrik Griesheim – Elektron" in the year 1908. The Bitterfeld location also had an aluminum plant (Bitterfeld Plant No. 2, Aluminiumwerk GmbH).
Representative sciences at Bitterfeld were Light Metals, Inorganic Chemistry of Rare Earths, Inorganic Chemistry of Metals, and Power Engineering. Power engineering referred to the use of electricity for separating metals (electrolysis). This technique was the key to making alloys, for example alloys of aluminum and magnesium. Reverse electrolysis was used in battery designs.
The third Leuna-Werke location was Wolfen, which overlapped somewhat with Bitterfeld in terms of power engineering. Wolfen was known for the production of aluminum; dyes and agfa films; and electrolysis machinery. In 1932 the nitrogen plants of Bitterfeld and Wolfen were united. Nitrogen could be used like aluminum in metal alloys, could be used for acids, and during the war, was used for explosives. Nitrogen production steadily increased during the 1930s: by 1940 one-third of the world’s production came from Germany; about 20 percent from Bitterfeld and Wolfen.
The Leuna-Werke was a top priority of the Allied strategic bombing survey. The complex was carpet-bombed from May 1944 to April 1945.
A ground view looking towards the Daspig labor camp, near Leuna.
Notice the high-voltage power lines.
Fuel, Fuel, Fuel
By 1942 Germany realized that it needed fuel to win the war. In 1942 and 1943 reconstruction and modernization of refineries in the old Austrian-Hungarian oil fields formed a focus of German activities, especially the activities of the Military Economics and Armaments Office of the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW). Already in 1941 a 50 MW hydro-electric power station had been finished near Roznow, and a second station was completed after the war in 1948 in Czchow that had a rating of 80 MW. Refined oil was shipped back to Berlin. Though Bierau in Poland started as a processing point for Eastern workers for the IG Farben industry, by 1944 it had also become a source of slave labor for the production of synthetic fuel, which was then transported via rail to industries supplied by AEG Berlin and AEG Wildau, outside of Berlin.
It’s hard to reconstruct the corporate climate in Poland in 1942. Manifests from a screw and bolt company in Warsaw, Bartelmuss & Suchy, give a vague hint. They provided stamped metal products, bolts and screws, and also railroad plugs and ties. Their clients in 1942 included: Apollo Dzieditz, still manufacturing crude oil containers and other refinery products; Bemmann KG, originally a manufacturer of small tools, but by 1944 working in association with Deutsch Gasolin; and Ammoniakwerk Merseburg GmbH Leuna-Werke, the chemical plant of IG Farben, which in 1942 was probably needing hardware for their new barracks for foreign workers. During the war Germany could only succeed with adequate fuel production and available foreign labor.
The oil and rail activity in Galicia and the activity of the OKW was complemented by SS activity in Stechowitz in Czechoslovakia. Stechowitz is a small village that can be found on no present-day map, but can be imagined to be near the upper reaches of the Vltava River in southwest Czechoslovakia, on the border of Germany and Austria, where the map shows a lake and says "Bohemian Forest." It’s at the center of the triangle formed by Prague, Munich, and Vienna. Stechowitz was a Waffen-SS Pioneer training camp, inaugurated sometime after the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938.
After the war Czech/Soviet troops found a cave complex at Stechowitz, and inside one of the caves they found several steel-encased batteries. Photographs of the batteries supposedly exist. Axis researchers have found that the battery may have been designed by W.O. Schumann at the University of Munich in 1943 – the same Schumann who led the failed Vril attempt to build a flying disk in 1920.
The battery research was carried out under the auspices of the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, or DFG), which was responsible for decisions regarding public research funds. The Council was made up of sub-agencies, such as the Research Service (Forschungsdienst), which conducted agrarian research. A member of the Council could be a university professor belonging to the Research Service, and at the same time be a high-ranking member of the SS. The President of the Council, Dr. Rudolf Mentzel, was a leading Nazi. The Council also provided funding and administrative support for the Reich Research Council, created in 1937 as part of the Four Year Plan. In 1942 Hitler removed the Reich Research Council from the Reich Ministry of Education, but grants were still approved and paid through the German Research Council. In 1943, with the war in full swing, Schumann, though funded by the German Research Council, was conducting work, in essence, for the Reich Research Council, which by that time was under the directorship of Albert Speer, the Armaments Minister.
The goal of Schumann’s research was to produce a high-current battery that would ignite the second stage of a ballistic rocket at high altitude. These batteries had to work at low temperatures and be small enough not to add too much mass to the rocket.
Though sure evidence is lacking, this "super battery" was probably produced by Accumulatorenfabrik AG (Afa). Afa produced highly specialized batteries for the Nazi war machine, used in U-boats and V2 rockets. It also produced munitions. Günther Quandt owned the battery company, and is grandfather to the generation now controlling BMW. A Bavarian television documentary, The Silence of the Quandt Family, highlighted how Günther Quandt built a blood-stained wartime fortune on the back of slave labor and how he sidestepped postwar recrimination.
Former slave laborers testified to the devastating conditions and atrocities which took place at Günther Quandt’s battery company. "We were treated terribly and had to drink water from the toilets. We were also whipped," said Takis Mylopoulos, a forced laborer who worked in Quandt’s Hannover plant. Based on documents unearthed by the filmmakers, Quandt estimated a "fluctuation of 80 prisoners per month" in his battery factory – a likely reference to expected deaths per month, the film claims. It also says that Quandt, who joined the Nazi Party in 1933, maintained close ties with the Nazi elite.
Afa had factories in Hannover, Berlin, and Vienna and was supplied with slave laborers from concentration camps who died by the hundreds, according to the documentary. One former Danish slave laborer testified in the film that he and other survivors, who were deported to a German concentration camp and sent to work at Afa, returned to Germany in 1972 to plead for financial support from the Quandts, since the harsh working conditions at Afa had resulted in lifelong ailments.
The Quandts turned them away, the film says. "It’s for me a step in the right direction that the Quandt family, after so many decades, finally is willing to face its history," says Carl-Adolf Sörensen, a former Danish resistance fighter who was sent to the Hannover-Stöcken concentration camp in 1943. Sörensen wants the Quandts to admit that Afa relied on slave labor from the camp.
Though the war crimes are now public knowledge, less clear is the origination of the battery designs. Afa may have worked from an Italian patent for a single-cell design that developed tremendous energies at low temperatures. Presumably they also incorporated Schumann’s research, but there may have been two independent efforts, German and Italian. Waffen-SS General Ing. Hans Kammler was possibly involved with the production of the German design, since a photograph of one of the batteries was found in the Kammler estate. The question remains as to why an SS bootcamp in Stechowitz would have spare high-energy batteries sitting around, unless the Bohemian Forest was a place to service V2 rockets. The closest Afa factory would have been Vienna.
Towards the end of the war Alpine fortresses were being set up in mountain areas in strategic positions, as islands of resistance. German ground and air power was to be concentrated into these fortresses for a last stand against the enemy. Since Stechowitz was a mountain outpost, and was, like other fortresses, located on a border, it was probably an Alpenfestung. In theory V2 rockets were to be assembled there and fired right off of the mountain. German soldiers were to defend the mountain passes into Stechowitz. Other fortresses were planned for Erfurt in Thuringia and Waldenburg in Silesia. As it turned out, the Germans lacked the resources for these plans to come off. Still, the SS got Stechowitz partially deployed, as evidenced by the cache of V2 batteries.
Farther north, Silesia hosted a covert arms industry during the war. The best example of this covert activity is Ludwigsdorf, near Waldenburg (Wałbrzych) in Poland. Ludwigsdorf was originally a copper mine. In 1940 the army signed a General Agreement Contract with Dynamit AG, for that company to build a Mining Works and military weapons factory. As well, Dynamit AG, which also made explosives, would not only produce new explosives, but build a chemical factory for recovering and recycling chemical products (presumably from old explosives). Documents indicate that there was a stamping press somewhere in the facility, and that the company was involved with the production of small munitions. All in all, it was a nasty little operation. Ludwigsdorf lasted until February of 1945.
Ludwigsdorf was a satellite of a central slave labor camp called Groß Rosen, near Schweidnitz, also close to Waldenburg. Current holocaust research provides a who’s-who of German industry in relation to the camps of Groß Rosen.
Aslau (aviation factory)
Kamenz (machine tools factory)
|Bad Warmbrunn.Cieplice (Firm Dorries-Fuellner)||Kittlitztreben Kotlicki Trebin (Kretschamberg airport)|
|Bernsdorf-Bernatice (jute mill)||Kratzau-Chrastava (armaments factories)|
|Bolkenhain (aviation factory)||Landeshut-Kamienogora (Firm Kramsta & Meshner)|
|Breslau Wroclaw (railroad)||Langenbielau (Telefunken, Krupp, Goldschmitt)|
|Brieg-Brzeg (airport)||Markstadt-Laskowitz (disciplinary camp, Firm Krupp, berta Gruen Goering)|
|Bunzlau-Boleslawiec (wood constructions)||Merzdorf (mill)|
|Bunzlau Rauscha (administrative office)||Mittelsteine (aviation factory)|
|Christianstadt (Ste´ Nobel)||Oberaltstadt (linen mill)|
|Dyhernfurth (Luranil Society)||Parschnitz-Porici (linen mill)|
|Faulbruk (Office of Arms Inspection)||Reichnau-Reichenbach (Sports Institute)|
|Gabersdorf (Firm Barthe)||Striegau (quarry)|
|Gellenau (aviation factory)||Waldenburg (machine building for I.G. Farben)|
|Gebhardsdorf (aviation factory)||Falkenberg (roads and tunnel boring)|
|Gorlitz (Wumag, construction of trucks and machinery)||Ludwigsdorf (Firm Dynamit AG)|
|Graben (linen mill)||Schotterwek (Organisation Todt, rock crushing)|
|Grafenort (machine building)||Tannhausen (timber yard of Lehmawasser)|
|Grunberg (wool goods)||Wolsberg (underground munitions factory)|
|Gruscwitz-Kruszwica (textiles)||Friedland (Firm VDM, airplane construction)|
|Halbstadt-Mezimesti (cotton)||Hohenelbe Vrchlabi (aviation factory)|
|Hartmannsdorf (Firm Walter, rocket parts)||Zittau (enterprise Zitt)|
|Hirschberg-Wirschkowitz (women’s work camp)|
In 1941 AEG became the sole owner of Telefunken when Siemens transferred its Telefunken shares to AEG as part of the "Telefunken settlement." Because of the air raids on Berlin in 1943, the Telefunken radar project moved to Lubiaz. Herbert Franz Mataré, a German physicist, is known to have worked on the receiver element, which worked at a super high frequency (SHF). The radar was given the codename "Naxos." It generated signals in the range of about 3 GHz. The idea was to be able to track enemy planes, though some researchers believe the radar was used as a Early Warning shield for Germany at the end of the war.
In 1944, as the Russian army closed in, the abbey site was abandoned and most of the research equipment was left behind. The Telefunken operation was transferred to the Langenbielau labor camp in Silesia. At the end of the war the abbey housed soldiers of the Red Army. Later it became a Russian military psychiatric hospital. With all of the war-related use the abbey sustained significant damage.
The formation of the IG Farben combine was a stage in the evolution of the German chemical industry. In 1904, to control competition, six of the largest chemical firms, including Badische Anilin & Soda Fabrik, combined to form the Interessengemeinschaft (Combine of Interests, or Trust) of the German Dyestuffs Industry. These companies agreed to pool technological and financial resources and markets.
The remaining chemical firms of note entered the combine in 1916. In 1925 Badische Anilin & Soda Fabrik, the largest of the firms and the majority shareholder in two of the other seven companies, led the reorganization of the industry to meet the changed climate of competition in the post-World War I markets. It changed its name to IG Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft, and moved its home office from Ludwigshafen to Frankfurt, merging with the remaining five firms.
Farben retained its influence over both the domestic and foreign markets for chemical products. In the domestic sphere the German explosives industry, dependent on Farben for synthetically produced nitrates, soon became subsidiaries of Farben. Farben was governed by an Aufsichtsrat (Supervisory Board of Directors) and a Vorstand (Managing Board of Directors). The Vorstand controlled the day-to-day business and operations of Farben.
Members of the Vorstand included directors of the Leuna-Werke. It also included two individuals involved with IG Farben’s Political-Economic Policy Department (WIPO), in Berlin. Heinreich Gattineau was Chief of the WIPO; member of the Southeast Europe Committee; and director of A.G. Dynamit Nobel, Pressburg (Brataslava), Czechoslovakia. Erich von der Heyde was a member of the WIPO; a member of the WI-RUE-AMT (Military Economics and Armaments Office) of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW); and an SS Hauptsturmfuehrer. In regard to this last, von der Heyde probably worked for the political intelligence division (SD) of Himmler’s SS as a middle-ranking official.
Both men were tried at Nuremberg. Neither of these men were found guilty of the war crimes they were being tried for. In the case of Gattineau this is remarkable in view of the activities of AG Dynamit at Ludwigsdorf. In the case of von der Hyde this is remarkable in view of his connection with the SS and the use of war-time intelligence for company profit.
During the war IG Farben was faced with a choice between "commerce and complicity." Sometime before January of 1940, to preserve its distance from purely military operations, the Farben concern founded Luranil GmbH to construct government-owned factories; and Anorgana GmbH, a companion managing firm for the manufacture of chemical weapons. LuRAnil was an abbreviation of Ludwigshafen Rhein Anilin. The company was also known as Luranil Baugesellschaft Gmbh, or Luranil Gesellschaft (Luranil Society) for short, and kept Swiss bank accounts under this name.
Dyhernfurth (Brzeg Dolny)
A supervisory board composed of four IG executives and three representatives of the High Command (OKW) chose Dyhernfurth, a small town surrounded by forests in the Wolów district of Silesia, as the location for the construction of chemical plants to serve the needs of the front. Anorgana broke ground for a factory at Dyhernfurth and also for a chemical factory at Gendorf. These plants were to produce mustard gas and the singularly toxic nerve agent called Tabun, which IG Farben’s insecticide division had happened upon four years earlier.
Construction of the plants began in 1940. By 1943 IG Farben had spent 12 million DM. Half of the cost went to companies under the general supervision of the Luranil construction company, and covered the cost of labor and materials for 130 factory buildings, otherwise known as "the expansion." The rest went to Anorgana GmbH to produce chemical warfare agents such as Tabun and Sarin. The plan may have been to use biological and chemical weapons in the V2 rocket program. By 1945 Germany had accumulated a large supply of Sarin, Tabun, and Soman, but had never used them.
When the facilities were operational they employed prisoners from Groß Rosen. Two sub-camps were built at Dyhernfurth: Dyhernfurth I and II. Dyhernfurth I prisoners were employed in the chemical factory in the production of chemicals and the filling of missiles and bombs with liquified petroleum gas. Prisoners from Dyhernfurth II worked at the factory "expansion." The living conditions of these labor camps were dreadful.
On January 24 1945, just before the arrival of the Soviet front, the Waffen SS began evacuation of the sub-camps. There were 3000 prisoners. Unlike the labor camps of the Leuna-Werke in Germany, which was all aryan, Dyhernfurth put many Jewish slave laborers to work. During the evacuation the SS killed approximately 2000 prisoners from the two sub-camps. Probably all of the 2000 were Jews.
On January 26 the Soviet Army arrived and sparsely occupied Dyhernfurth, which included an "old city" going back to the fifteenth century, as well as newer provincial housing. Apparently either the Soviets or, in the next few months the Poles, severely damaged Dyhernfurth Castle, a seventeenth century edifice which had belonged to the noble family that originally "owned" Dyhernfurth, the von Hoymów. Today the castle has been refurbished, but without its fabulous spires. It serves as a city administrative center.
An old postcard showing the original castle of Dyhernfurth.
In March of 1945 Brzeg Dolny became the municipal headquarters of the Soviet occupation army. In September of 1945 the city took over the Anorgana chemical plants, which were under Soviet protection. The main factory was ruined, and machinery and equipment had been dismantled and removed by the Soviets. As well, the factory was contaminated, which greatly hindered its reconstruction. Under a directive from the Polish National Chemical Factory, the factory was rebuilt and began producing sodium and sulfur products in 1946. In 1947 the plant was renamed from Anorgana to Rokita.
In 1951 Jakob Sporrenberg, an SS-Obergruppenfuehrer during the war, was charged by a Polish court with the murder of 43,000 Lublin Jews in 1943. Sporrenberg was sentenced to death for these atrocities. The court documents were declassified in the 1960s when Poland became democratized.
In July of 1941 Sporrenberg was SS and Police leader in Minsk (Russia) before being assigned three weeks later to Erich Koch, the Gauleiter for the Ukraine. From August 1943 to November 1944 he replaced Odilo Globocnik as SS and police leader in Lublin (occupied Poland, General Government). As SSPF (SS leader), he participated actively as overseer of the Erntefest Operation that started on November 3, 1943, and was responsible for the death of about 43,000 Jews. The operation was commanded by Himmler through Krüger.
While in Poland, he commanded an SS battalion which forced Polish civilians to build fortifications against the Red Army’s advance. The bureaucratic entity behind this work program was called the SS Special Staff Sporrenberg (in German, SS Sonderstab Sporrenberg). Even after Sporrenberg left Poland, the bureaucratic entity remained active, which has given a few historians some confusion. The battalion was headquartered at Jedrzejow. The Special Staff was headquartered at Zlota until November of 1944, when they moved to Pinczow, northeast of Krakow. Sporrenberg, however, was sent to southern Norway and stayed there until May of 1945.
Meanwhile, the special battalion remained active. In January of 1945, when the Soviets launched a new offensive and tore through the Nazi lines (and the fortifications the battalion built), the battalion retreated into Germany, and many of its members went to Medingen (near Gorlitz). Meanwhile, at the Supreme Headquarters in Berlin tensions were running high. Hitler arrived in Berlin on January 16 for an emergency meeeting of the High Command. He knew that the German army was literally out of gasoline. General Heinz Guderian was all set to propose the transfer of his Panzer divisions to, and across, the Oder, with the goal of attacking the flanks of the Russian spearhead and thus decreasing its offensive momentum.
General Jodl, the chief of the Armed Forces Command Staff, had already met with Hitler and told Guderian that Hitler had issued instructions for the transfer of the Sixth Panzer Army to Hungary. Guderian was speechless. The next day he learned that Hitler wanted to save the Hungarian oilfields and refineries, which had become essential to the German war effort. The Allied bombing of the Leuna-Werke had decimated supplies of synthetic fuel. Hitler was adamant: "German forces must attack the Soviets in Hungary and throw the Russians back across the Danube." The refineries had to be saved at all costs.
The Red Army continued its advance into Poland. Most of the Lubiaz scientists had already retreated to Waldenburg at the end of 1944. Poznań, the nearest northern city to Lubiaz, had been declared a Festung – a fortified locale in which German forces were expected to conduct a last-ditch defense – by order of Hitler. The battle for Poznań took place during January and February of 1945. According to a military dispatch from Soviet General Galadshev, the city turned out to be unexpectedly difficult to subdue. The Red Army was overconfident from previous victories and failed to realize that the enemy was still able to mount a serious resistance. The city was defended by nearly 50,000 German soldiers. The prolonged fighting resulted in serious damage to the city.
Meanwhile, Breslau had also been declared by Hitler as a Festung. In January of 1945 Breslau prepared for the Soviet advance. As Roger Moorhouse puts it, the defense of Breslau was "epic." News of the Soviet advance came on January 14; evacuations began on January 20 in sub-freezing weather. The initial evacuations claimed 18,000 lives. The fighting began in mid-February. Breslau’s defense was, according to Moorhouse, on par with that of Stalingrad. The city was defended for 77 days, block by block; it was finally taken on May 6 1945. During this time Berlin had fallen and Hitler had died. During the course of fighting the city’s government was moved to Waldenburg, and concentration and labor camps were moved to Groß Rosen.
The Waldenburg Myth
UFO researchers have proposed some additional historical events that purportedly happened during this time. Sporrenberg was in Norway, but the special battalion bearing his name, in Gorlitz, may have still been active. Researchers (real ones) believe that Ludwigsdorf was abandoned in February of 1945. Apparently Gorlitz prisoners of war participated in the evacuation of dangerous materials from Ludwigsdorf. When the convoy returned to Gorlitz, Sporrenberg’s battalion-in-name murdered them. 62 concentration camp inmates from Pattag (near Gorlitz) lost their lives.
A chemical plant near Ludwigsdorf that has been closed down and fenced off.
The central structure is a cooling tower for the nearby plant.
Apparently Ludwigsdorf was more than a small arms factory and chemical recovery site: the Pattag inmates were murdered because they "knew too much" about a secret project being conducted there by the SS.
According to several UFO researchers, the SS was conducting a plasma physics project called Tor, meaning Gate. The Army Weapons Office (not the SS) officially approved the project in July of 1942; the project was given the highest secrecy rating. It was administered by the SS Research Development and Patent Office (Forschungen Entwicklungen und Patente). One can imagine that if IG Farben filed patents for nerve agents like Tabun, they would have filed patents for other kinds of illegal weapons as well. War was a money-making concern for the Germans. After the war these patents were confiscated by the Allies.
The initial research took place at Lubiaz or at a location close to Lubiaz. Since secret radar research really did take place at the Lubiaz Abbey, and chemical production at Dyhernfurth, this is well possible. With the advance of the Red Army the scientists moved south to Waldenburg, and again this is proven out by the Telefunken history.
Supposedly, AEG was contracted to supply power to the operation. There is no evidence of any kind of AEG power plant in Poland, but Poland was a pioneer of hydro-electric power stations. A large power plant in Dychow, with a capacity of 79.5 Megawatts, had been constructed on the lower Bobr river in 1936, close to Lubiaz. That would have been enough to power Lubiaz, Dyhernfurth, and even, as some UFO researchers insist, an underground factory for the manufacture of V1 and V2 rocket parts. On the other hand, the Nazi factories may have been powered by local generators.
Apparently the secret project used fissionable materials, however there were no resources for refining uranium or thorium products in Poland. IG Farben developed their nerve agents at Leuna-Werke, so why not fissionable products? At Bitterfeld there was electricity, suitable machinery, and scientific know-how. Products refined at Bitterfeld would have been carefully packaged and delivered by truck to Ludwigsdorf in Poland. And here, perhaps, is where the Pattag link comes in, since trucks were manufactured in Gorlitz by the Wumac industrial concern. Pattag prisoners may have been used to load, unload, and then retrieve, those fissionable products.
Did Germany have the know-how for building a nuclear reactor? A nuclear reactor had been constructed in Chicago in 1938, so the technology was known, but after the war German scientists being held by the British, though admitting they had thought of building an "engine" to make uranium isotopes, hadn’t actually done so. However this doesn’t prove anything since these scientists (Werner Heisenberg was one of them) weren’t involved with IG Farben war projects. They were working at the Planck Institute.
From a historiographic perspective, all of the Tor science was supposedly contained in Sporrenberg’s trial testimony – but Sporrenberg was never in Lubiaz. Sporrenberg was never at Leuna-Werke either. He was in eastern Poland and then in Norway. Unfortunately for many earnest UFO researchers the proposed history, though finely constructed, merely reflects, perhaps unconsciously, an equally dreadful reality.
Pabst, Martin. Alien Labor, 2003, online
Reese, Roger. The Soviet Military Experience, online
Moorhouse, Roger. The End of German Breslau, online
Memoire Vivante, No. 46, June 2005, online
Mikulski, Zdzislaw. The Development of the Utilization of Water Power in Poland, Miscellanea Geographica, 2004, Vol. 11, online
National Archives, Pamphlet Describing M892, online
Guderian, Hart, Macksey. Panzer Leader, Da Capo Press, 1952, online