and Local-International Platform ST. GEORGEN/GUSEN, Austria

KZ Mauthausen-GUSEN Info-Pages

KZ Gusen II Concentration Camp
at St.Georgen/Gusen


KZ Gusen II was founded on 9 March 1944 to provide prisoner labor for construction of the BERGKRISTALL-Underground Installations in nearby St.Georgen/Gusen. Some 16,000 prisoners were housed in just nineteen barracks near KZ Gusen I and were transferred by a special railway-line to the St.Georgen construction site for each working shift.

Background to BERGKRISTALL

When Allied strategic bombing reached central parts of the Third Reich in the summer of 1943, the Messerschmitt Central Plant at Regensburg, Germany, was also hit.

A new strategy to secure war-production for the Third Reich was implemented by dispersing production and safeguarding crucial production-processes in large underground plants.

Location of BERGKRISTALL-ESCHE 2 underground installations at St.Georgen/Gusen and KZ Gusen 2 camp (No.19)

Direct Deportations to KZ Gusen II

For this purpose, RFSS Heinrich Himmler and Reichsmarschall Herman Goering started to exploit the work-force of deportees from all the Nazi occupied territories.

Joint Venture

At Mauthausen-Gusen, DEST (the SS firm responsible for the exploitation of the prisoners in the stone-quarries since 1938), the German Air-Force (Luftwaffe), and Messerschmitt GmbH Regensburg started the joint venture of BERGKRISTALL (ESCHE 2) for the final assembly stage of the Me 262 jet-plane within the Mauthausen-Gusen complex.

One-third of Messerschmitt production done with DEST

Due to their strategic importance, the KZ Gusen II BERGKRISTALL underground installations dominated most of the Mauthausen and Gusen camps in the final phase of the war.

KZ Gusen victims as found by US liberators in May 1945 Even some baracks in the Wienergraben Stone-Quarry (just below the Mauthausen Central Camp) were adapted for the production of aircraft parts.

So, Messerschmitt GmbH Regensburg (together with DEST) produced nearly one third of its over-all aircraft production at KZ Mauthausen-Gusen and KZ Flossenbuerg.

Companies (and concentration camps like Flossenbuerg) all over the Third Reich produced parts for this jet plane that was completely assembled at KZ Gusen II (St.Georgen/Gusen) by this joint venture of Luftwaffe, Messerschmitt GmbH Regensburg and DEST.

Himmler and Goering started large deportation programs just to get the slave labor for such giant projects like BERGKRISTALL in early 1944.

KZ Gusen 2 inmates forced out of railway cars to work in the
huge underground plants at St.Georgen/Gusen

Deportations from Western Europe

This meant that thousands of young people were subsequently captured in those days (especially from France, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg) by GeStaPo forces simply to be exhausted at underground projects like KZ Gusen II Bergkristall.

Deportations from KZ Auschwitz

Also special selections were made at KZ Auschwitz (camp Mexico) to bring thousands of young Jewish men (without any registration) directly to KZ Gusen II for excavating tunnels. So, nearly one third of all registered victims of KZ Gusen II (Bergkristall) were Jewish.

The Jews belonged to the lowest group in the KZ Gusen hierarchy. They had to do the worst jobs and often survived just for a few working-days in that "Hell of Hells" at KZ Gusen II.

Huge concrete mixers at the entrance to BERGKRISTALL-ESCHE 2

Extermination by Labor

For other groups of prisoners, the average survival-period reached up to four months. Marcel Callo, who died at KZ Gusen II, is an example.

After this period thousands were transferred to the "Sanitaetslager" at nearby Mauthausen Central Camp were most of them died or simply were sent for gazation to Hartheim Castle some forty km west of Mauthausen and Gusen.

The short survival-period at KZ Gusen II was due to the hard work at the tunnels and to the fact that there was little infra-structure for the 16,000 inmates of KZ Gusen II.

No Infra-Structure

In many cases, the inmates lacked housing, food and clothing, as well as drinking water in the KZ Gusen II. The only water was pumped in from the nearby River Danube and it was suicidal to drink it.

Freezing to Death

In winter 1944/45 so many transports came to KZ Gusen II via its direct railway-connections, that the SS decided to exterminate the transportees, who were possibly from KZ Auschwitz, by keeping them inside the railway-cars at below zero temperatures. In a matter of a days all of them were frozen to death on the rails between St.Georgen and KZ Gusen II Station.

"Final-Solution" at KZ Gusen II

Dobosziewicz also writes in his book about Mauthausen-Gusen that in February 1945, Himmler and Pohl planned to blow-up the KZ Gusen Tunnels with all the inmates of the KZ Gusen I & II (some 25,000 peple at that time) along with the local population of St.Georgen and Gusen, to kill any potential witnesses at later trials.

One of four big ventilation towers of BERGKRISTALL as blasted in November 1947 Hearing this, Mr. Louis Haefliger (Delegate of the International Comitee of the Red Cross) risked his life on May 5, 1945 to bring in US troops to prevent this final catastrophe at KZ Gusen. It was the same Squadron (the 41st Recon Squad 11th Ard Div 3rd US Army) that also liberated KZ Gusen I, KZ Gusen III and KZ Mauthausen Central Camp on the same day

After the Liberation

Important machinery parts of Bergkristall were removed by the US Forces until the end of July 1945. Then the Soviets took over and dismantled all the other machinery of Bergkristall-Esche 2. Finally they blew up the tunnels in November 1947 because of their strategic importance.

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Most recent updates of this page were made on
000303 by Rudolf A. HAUNSCHMIED,
Martha Gammer, Siegi Witzany-Durda and
Jan-Ruth White with her students in US-Alabama