KZ GUSEN MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
within ARBEITSKREIS FUER HEIMAT-, DENKMAL- UND GESCHICHTSPFLEGE (AHDG)
and Local-International Platform ST. GEORGEN/GUSEN, Austria
KZ Mauthausen-GUSEN Info-Pages
Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH
(D. E. S. T.)
This company (German Earth and Stone Works Company) was owned by the SS
and was responsible for the exploitation of the inmates of KZ Mauthausen
and KZ Gusen in stone-quarries, the construction of the camps and the
armament-projects starting in 1942.
The company was founded in Berlin on 29 April 1938, and took over the original
stone-quarries in Mauthausen and Gusen just a few weeks after the annexation
of Austria to the Third Reich on March 17, 1938. For this reason, Himmler
and Pohl visited the stone-quarries of Mauthausen and Gusen in early 1938.
DEST also operated the brick manufacturing plants at Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald,
and the stone-quarries at Flossenbuerg, Natzweiler, as well as Gross-Rosen
where DEST also exploited concentration camp inmates to make some of the profits to finance
the SS in general.
In 1939 DEST-Berlin decided to establish a new administrational complex at
St. Georgen/Gusen - a tiny village just a few km west of the
KZ Mauthausen-Gusen complex.
Between 1940 and 1945 this administrational center was a key-organization
between the "Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt (WHVA)" of
the SS in Berlin and the concentration camps at Mauthausen and Gusen.
In fact, the DEST stone-production complex at Mauthausen and Gusen developed
into the most important one of DEST on Third Reich territory. Some 4,000 prisoners,
led by some 250 civilian employees, produced up to 25,000 cubic-meters
of cut granite stones a year. DEST was also very proud in those years to operate
the biggest stone-crusher on the European continent at KZ Gusen.
In the period between 1939 and 1942, DEST was specialized in producing
granite-stones - a good part of them for the construction of cities
like Linz (hometown of Adolf Hitler), Munich (capital of the Nazi-Party),
Nuremberg (capital of the NS-Movement), Weimar and Berlin.
When the strategic war-scenario changed in 1942, DEST became a sub-contractor of leading
German arms-production companies. At first, DEST built a few more barracks at KZ Gusen
to house maintenance work for the German Army (Wehrmacht) and built 18 barracks to
produce parts of machine-guns and aircraft-engines for Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG
with some extra 8,500 prisoners at KZ Gusen I.
The principle was simple:
In 1942 and 1943 DEST also begun manufacturing fuselages for the
Messerschmitt "Me-109" fighter-planes. During this period, some 20 fuselages
were produced by KZ Gusen inmates every week.
Then, in late 1943, when the U.S. strategic bombings devastated some key war-production
facilities of the Third Reich, DEST provided huge tunnel-systems in the vicinity
of the KZ Gusen for its commercial partners.
At first, they have begun to dig the "KELLERBAU" tunnels to shelter
the machine-gun production of Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG directly north of the
KZ Gusen "GEORGEN-MUEHLE" (Steyr) Barracks.
Later on, a second, much bigger underground system was built in neighboring
St.Georgen/Gusen (site of the Central Administration) to shelter
the production of "Me-262" Messerschmitt-Airplanes in the
"BERGKRISTALL-ESCHE 2" underground plant.
To manage this project, DEST established a new, second concentration camp at
Gusen - the KZ Gusen II. This camp was only established "to manage" the
thousands of new inmates sent to KZ Gusen to build the giant
underground system at nearby St.Georgen/Gusen.
With this latest KZ Gusen II (BERGKRISTALL) Project, DEST became one of the
leading sub-contractors of Messerschmitt GmbH.
So, at the end of WW2, nearly 1/3
of all the Messerschmitt aircraft-production was provided by DEST with the
concentration camps at Mauthausen-Gusen and Flossenbuerg. KZ Gusen II
(the Hell of Hells), was the key-installation within this plan, because
it was dedicated to the final-assembly of the first serially-produced jet-propelled
plane in history.
- DEST provided
- the locations, prisoners, buildings and other infra-structure.
- The other companies provided
- know-how, machinery and skilled workers.
- The SS-Batallions provided
- security and the operation of the concentration-camps.
The company was led by the following officials:
- SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Oswald Pohl was chief of the WVHA at Berlin
and the first executive manager of DEST. He was sentenced to death on 3 November 1947
at Nuremberg and executed in 1951.
- SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Karl Mummenthey was the executive manager of DEST
at WVHA-Berlin. He was originally sentenced to live-imprisonment on 3 November 1947
at Nuremberg, but the sentence was turned into 20 years imprisonment later on.
- SS-HStuf Otto Walther (Strassburg) was managing director
of DEST at St.Georgen/Gusen.
- SS-HStuf Alfred Grau (Dessau) was the business manager
at DEST-St.Georgen/Gusen. He was responsible for property,
insurance, taxes and personnel.
- SS-HStuf Paul Wolfram (Plauen) was the general manager and
representative of the operators of the KZ Mauthausen-Gusen
Stone-Quarries (BA II) between 4 December 1940 to 2 May 1945.
He was responsible for maintaining discipline in the stone-quarries
and the prisoners were dependent upon him for their clothes,
food and work-assignments. Every prisoner was afraid of him
and started to work as fast as they could, when he appeared.
He sent weak inmates back to the camp to be exterminated and
gave instructions to the Kapos and SS men and held daily meetings
with the Kapos. He exhorted the Kapos to get more work out of
the inmates and reported inmates for punishment as a result of which
they were beaten and hanged. He personally beat and killed inmates.
- SS-Stuf Johannes Bernhard Grimm (Chemnitz) was the work manager of the
KZ Mauthausen-Wienergraben (BA II) stone-quarry and responsible of work-asignments
to prisoners at KZ Gusen II (Bergkristall-Bau). He was prosecuted by the US War Crimes
Branch at Dachau in 1947.
- OStuf Brauner was head of special missions at BA III.
- OStuf Meyer was counter intelligence. His deputy was OScha Voelck.
- All of these DEST-officials were supported by some
2,000 to 3,000 SS-men
at the KZ Gusen I, II & III complex.
The leading managers of the war-production-companies
at KZ Gusen:
- Ing. Rudolf Ronge (Oderfurt/Maehrisch Ostrau) was work manager
of stone cutting.
- Ing. Sturmberger
- Mr. Ogrys (Vienna)
- Billig Joseph, Les camps de concentration dans l´economie du Reich hitlerien, Paris 1973
- Dobosiewicz Stanislaw, Mauthausen-Gusen oboz zaglady, Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, Warszawa 1979
- Georg Enno, Die wirtschaftlichen Unternehmungen der SS, Schriftenreihe der Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Nr.7, Jahrgang 1963, Deutsche Verlagsanstalt Stuttgart
- Haunschmied Rudolf A., Zum Gedenken 1938-1945, Geschichtebuch der
Marktgemeinde St.Georgen a.d. Gusen, 1989
- Marsalek Hans, Die Geschichte des Konzentrationslagers Mauthausen(-Gusen!)
- Rief Silvia, Wir schmieden das Schwert - Alltagserfahrungen eines Rüstungsarbeiters
im Zweiten Weltkrieg, Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG, Werk Letten und Konzentrationslager
Gusen, Wien 1996, Univ., Dipl.-Arbeit
- Schausberger Norbert, Ruestung in Oesterreich 1938-1945, Wien 1970
- United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Messerschmitt AG Augsburg, Me 262 Production Centers
- United States vs. Paul Wolfram, Deputy Judge Advocate´s Office 7708 War Crimes Group European Command APO 407, Case No. 000-50-5-49, 19 February 1948
Back to Index
For additional information, comments or suggestions, please contact:
ARBEITSKREIS FUER HEIMAT DENKMAL- UND GESCHICHTSPFLEGE
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