Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stop the Destruction of Nazi Tunnel System “Bergkristall”

This letter from Martha Gammer, a friend in Northern Austria, who is active in The Gusen Memorial Committee, has personal significance, because my father Yisrael ben Zvy z"l was an inmate at the horrific Bergkristall factory:

St. Georgen, June 23rd, 2009

The horrible slave work inside the giant tunnel system shall be forgotten soon: This will be the effect of the now ongoing destruction work at St. Georgen an der Gusen. The mainly jewish slaves of Gusen II Camp were forced to run the 3km distance between the primitive camp and the Bergkritsall underground system daily to do their forced labour work there producing the German famous “ME 262” Messerschmift jet fighter.

Estimated 10 000 died during their work inside the halls. They were shot, beaten do death or strangled when not able to pace with the hard working conditions. After 12 hours work in day or nightshifts they were not even able to rest in a bed, the bunks in Gusen II Camp were overcrowded with four prisoners each.

The Soviet occupation army tried to destroy the giant system by remaining war bombs, but the armed concrete walls resisted and remained for 63 years, except some destructed places. When the local municipality allowed private housebuilding on the hill surface above the Bergkristall system, the situation became dangerous. Ordered by the responsibleadministration of the “war relicts” the Federal Ministry of Interior Affairs and Security had the tunnels repaired near the remeining entrance and fullfilled under the 8 private houses in 2003-2004.

Former prisoners were not allowed toenter the tunnels to commemorate their fellow comrades, but the stabilizing work was presented to the Austrian press in October 2006.

Now there are filling works being done in the northern part of the system,where there are no houses standing on the hill top, there are only fields and meadows. There is no reason for the destruction work that is being done. Stabilizing some points would be okay, but local authoroties would like to use the hill as a future building site,when there is sujch a big demandfor house building near the City of Linz. According to the BIG, the Austrian Federal Building Company, there willremain just 1/7th of the former BergkristallSystem.

The local Gusen Commemoration Committee protested against these destruction measurements and sent letters to the St. Georgen Municipality, to the Federal Ministerium and the Austrian Federal Departement of Cultural Heritage (Bundesdenkmalamt). As it seems there is no chance to stop this destruction work.

Neo-Nazis in Austria may say in a ten years’ time: The underground factory with that slave work to kill the European jewery and the resistant people of many nations on now Austrian territory, that has never been. There are no traces.

We want an international action to save wide parts of this largest monument of Nazi terror in Austria. We want a place of commemoration inside and the possibility for visitors’ groups to enter some parts. Historians should present this slave work in an exposition inside.

If you want to join the protest movement, write letters to the Austrian Federal Ministry of Interior Affairs and Security, Herrengasse 7-11, A- 1010 Wien / Vienna, or inform the international press.
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