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Underground factories of the Second World War

 
photo: Rabštejn (podzemirabstejn.cz)
 

During the Second World War, the factories under the control of Nazis became targets for air raids of the Allies and the imperial authorities were forced to move the productions underground. Underground factories consisted of efficiently connected production halls with assembly lines operated mainly by prisoners from concentration camps.

 
 
The territory of the today’s Czech Republic was especially convenient for building underground factories. The allied bombers did not operate there, there was practically no armed resistance and the infrastructure was still intact. As a result of this, many German underground factories were established, especially in the mining areas of the Czech karst, in the caves of the Moravian karst or in railway tunnels. Some of them are accessible to general public today.

Let us introduce some of them:

The Rabštejn Underground Factory (mapa) is situated in the underground spaces dug out in sandstone rocks in the area of Česká Kamenice and Janská in northern Bohemia. Together with the surrounding ground buildings, these premises were used for war aeronautical production during the Second World War. The labyrinth of underground passages is 4,500 m long. The galleries were dug out by prisoners from concentration camps in 1944–1945. After the war, the object was taken over by the Czechoslovak army and served as an underground storage for engineering material. It was abandoned by the army in the 1990s. From 2003, a part of these underground systems was opened to the public. There is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of the mysterious Rabštejn.

The Underground Factory Richard (mapa) is the largest underground factory in the Czech Republic. It was built near the city of Litoměřice in the hill Radobýl and Bídnice in the Czech Uplands by expanding and strengthening of tens of kilometres (25–30 km) of galleries of the original limestone mines. Nearly 5 000 prisoners from the Terezín concentration camp died during its construction (1944–1945). It served for weapon production. Since 2009, steps have been made to make the underground factory accessible to the public.

You may take a virtual walk through the underground factory via an application on the website www.podzemi.eu

Lindava – Nautilus (mapa) – A factory of the WFG company with the cover name Nautilus was built in the underground spaces originally called the Lindava Chamber in November 1944. The quick-fire air cannons MK 108 were manufactured at this site. After the war, it was rebuilt into a vegetable storehouse. Since 1989, the abandoned object began to deteriorate and was filled with rubbish. In 2003, a few enthusiastic motorcyclists transformed it into the “underground motorcycle club Hell’s Mine”. It is opened to the public now.

The Underground Complex Výpustek (mapa) is a two-kilometre long cave in the Moravian Karst. After 1935, the Czechoslovak army was planning to build ammunition storage at this site. From 1944 until the end of the war, the cave served as a German underground factory of Auslasswerke company (cover name DINAR) producing aircraft components. After the war, the back-up headquarters of the Czechoslovak army was established there. Since 2008, the object has been accessible to general public.

The Underground Factory Flusspat, Brno-Stránská Rock (mapa) – the actual production was never really begun but the premises were to serve for Klöcknewerke company. In some of the passages, an atomic bomb shelter was built by the Czechoslovak Army in the 1960s. Later, it was handed over to ZETOR company that used it for training people in civil defence. About 800 m of the corridors are now opened to the public, making it a weekend destination for people from the area of Brno.


 
Author: Romana Kuncová
 
Added: 06.02.2012
 
 
 

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