History of AL Riese

One of Hitler’s headquarters, “Riese” (Giant), was to be established on the territory of Eulengebierge (Góry Sowie), while the residence of Führer supposed to be in Fürstenstein castle (Książ). Works started probably in October 1943. Initially building was supervised by the Main Building Commission of the Ministry of Arms, however works were conducted by a joint- stock company created solely to this purpose, Silesia Industry Community (Industriegemeinschaft Schlesien Aktien- Gesellschaft). Head office was in Bad Charlottenbrun (Jedlina Zdrój)

Show map subcamps AL Riese

Works were implemented by forced laborers, and prisoners of war. At the beginning of November 1943, in the region of Eulengebierge were functioning four collective camps for forced laborers. Unfortunately, this number of men could not fulfill properly the tasks they were given, what contributed to slow pace of works. This was probably the reason, why in the 1st half of April 1944, the Silesia Industry Community was dismissed form building the headquarter for Hitler. With this task was charged superior building management of the Todt Organization- Oberbauleitung Riese (OBL Riese), established to this purpose, whose head office was also in Bad Charlottenbrunn. On 9th of April 1945 came a decision about engaging prisoners of KL Gross- Rosen to work. There was a hope to accelerate the pace of building. This is when the first concentration camps appeared. They were subordinated to the headquarter, which, to some extend, possessed autonomy. In this way arose Arbeitslager Riese that consisted of thirteen subcamps and a camp hospital. First two camps- Tannhausen (Jedlinka Zdrój), and Wüstewaltersdorf (Walim) were established already in April 1944. Next, at the end of April or at the beginning of May, were Falkenberg (Sokolec), and Schotterwerk (on the territory of Oberwüstegiersdorf- Głuszyca Górna). In May were also established Säuferwasser (near the stream Säufeerwasses- Kłobia), in June, Dörnhau (Kolce), at the end of August, Kaltwasser (Zimna near Głuszyca), in the 2nd half of December (when Kaltwasser was liquidated), Lärche, and in the 2nd half of November, Zentralrevier Tannhausen. It seems that localization of these camps was forced by the then needs, as well as the progress of works.

Administration, and the commander of AL Riese had their office in the camp Wüstegiersdorf. Commander was SS- Hauptsturmführer, Albert Lütkemeyer. The main camp supplied “Riese” with a large group of own guards. There are no data about the full time of AL Riese functioning, but it has been proved that between 26th of December 1944, and 25th January 1945, the commander had at his disposal a squat of 853 SS- men, what constituted 20,7 % of KL Gross-Rosen’s staff.
Through AL Riese went about 13 000 prisoners. They were all Jews, from many European countries- Hungary, Poland, Greece, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Belgium, and Holland. The most important for nazi authorities was that they were all able to hard physical work. That is why the most wanted were young, strong, and healthy men. First prisoners of AL Riese were registered in KL Gross- Rosen’s file on 26th of April. They were Greek Jews transported from KL Auschwitz, from where most of transports came.
In every of “Riese” camps (except for Dörnhau), prisoners lived in primitive and rough- and- ready barracks. There are no remains after most of them.
Prisoners were fulfilling different works, depending on requests of companies. They duties were: cutting trees, building roads, bridges, sewage system, ground objects, and- most of all- boring tunnels. It was the hardest and the most dangerous work, during which happened a lot of accidents, also mortal ones.

As it is known, this project failed. In the face of upcoming front, building of “Riese” was broken, probably in January, or at the beginning of 1945, however in a few places works might have been conducted even at the end of April 1945.
For some prisoners this was the beginning of another tragedy. Badly ill men from majority of camps were taken to hospital in the camps Dörnhau, Tannhausen. Those, who could walk, from camps Falkenberg, Fürstenstein, Lärche, Märzbachtal, Wolfsberg, Wüstegiersdorf, in February 1945 (16 II Wolfsberg), were evacuated to KL Bergen- Belsen, Flossenbürg, and Mauthausen. During the evacuation died at least 256 prisoners. In the camps of “Reiese” complex, died about 4775 men. When we add to this number those, who died in the first weeks after the end of the war (154), it will give us a terrifying number of 4929 victims.