Feb 12 2014, 2:57am CST | by Forbes
The search for Hitler’s atomic-bomb laboratory has begun under a former concentration camp in Austria.
If the hunt succeeds, it would shed new light on how close the Nazis came to developing a nuclear weapon – and possibly winning the Second World War.
A network of secret tunnels and chambers beneath the Mauthausen-Gusen labor camp, near the town of Sankt Georgen an der Gusen, are being excavated after unusually high radiation levels were discovered, although geologists have said the concentrations could be natural.
Either way, local authorities want the mystery solved.
A government-owned company that has for the past decade pumped concrete into the tunnels – originally used as a secret, 45,000-square-metre (11-acre) aircraft manufacturing plant – to make them safe, is now drilling them out again.
Protected from Allied bombing, the Nazi’s underground factory made parts for the ME 262, the first operational jet fighter.
The tunnels were built by slave labor. Some 320,000 prisoners died at the camp or were murdered in its gas chambers.
The decision to re-open the sealed tunnels came after an Austrian documentary film-maker, Andreas Sulzer, unearthed evidence that points to Mauthausen-Gusen hiding a secret scientific facility.
“I have been working for two years on a film about the scientist Viktor Schauberger,” Sulzer told an Austrian newspaper. “He was involved from 1941, under the strictest secrecy, in St Georgen on SS research projects. He warned colleagues in letters that he was involved in ‘atom smashing’.”
Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, was a regular visitor to Mauthausen-Gusen, which became one of the biggest and most secretive labour camp complexes, fuelling theories that atomic research was conducted there.
Sulzer says he has blueprints showing a secret 20km (12 mile) section of tunnels built in 1944 by 272 inmates.
He also claims to have records showing that the camp’s prisoners included an unusually high number of physicists and chemists.
The removal of prominent scientists from Germany’s universities for ethnic and ideological reasons prior to the start of the war in 1939 is widely considered to have contributed to the failure of both the Nazi’s known nuclear programs, Uranverein and Uranprojekt.
The first effort was scrapped after the invasion of Poland in 1939 because many notable physicists had been drafted into the Wehrmacht. The army itself launched the second effort almost immediately. However, in 1942 it was decided that the program would not contribute to ending the war and was handed over to a civilian research council. Many of the scientists were put to work on more pressing military projects.
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.
blog comments powered by Disqus
The “geek mind” is concerned with more than just the latest iPhone rumors, or which company will win the gaming console wars. I4U is concerned with more than just the latest photo shoot or other celebrity gossip.
The “geek mind” is concerned with life, in all its different forms and facets. The geek mind wants to know about societal and financial issues, both abroad and at home. If a Fortune 500 decides to raise their minimum wage, or any high priority news, the geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants to know the top teams in the National Football League, or who’s likely to win the NBA Finals this coming year. The geek mind wants to know who the hottest new models are, or whether the newest blockbuster movie is worth seeing. The geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants—needs—knowledge.
Read more about The Geek Mind.
News | Technology | Entertainment | Person Career | Quotation | War | Also on the Geek Mind | Geography of Austria | Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp | Amstetten District | Amstetten, Lower Austria | Sankt Georgen an der Gusen | Districts of Austria | Rudolf A. Haunschmied | Gusen concentration camp | Nazi Germany | German nuclear energy project | Schutzstaffel | Andreas Sulzer