Reimahg (Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering Werke)

One of the most remarkable advancements made by the German military in World War II was the production of turbine-jet aircraft. The most famous of these was the Messerschmitt Me 262, developed beginning in 1938 and fielded in 1944. A special production facility was started in 1944, for quicker assembly line manufacture. Due to the setup at the main Messerschmitt factories, fast assembly line production was not possible, and these sites were vulnerable to Allied bombing. Accordingly, a company called Flugzeugwerke Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring (REIMAHG for short) was formed as a subsidiary of the Gustloff Werke. Firstly the REIMAHG facility was to produce the Fw 190 D9, but before production of the aircraft started, the decision was undertaken to produce the Me 262 instead. The main production facility, codenamed "Lachs" (Salmon) was located in an old porcelain sand mine in the Walpersberg Hill near Kahla (south of Jena).

The construction work on the Großeutersdorf installation started on April 11, 1944. The plan for the installation, designed by architect Ernst Flemming, made use of the already existing tunnel system. The existing tunnel system of the Kahlaer Porcelain Company was made up of tunnels running in a 90 degree angle to each other. The tunnels were 3 meter wide and 4 meter high. Two entrances were leading into the facility.

The old sandpit in the South-Western part of the mountain was to be incorporated into the overall concept. The facility was to expand the old system to the West and to the North. The architect planned the construction of 40 tunnels with a length of 500 meters each.

The first step in the construction project was the enlarging of the old tunnel system used by the Kahla AG. The company of Dyckerhoff & Widmann started with the enlarging and securing of the old tunnel system.

  By then construction work at the Reimahg was in full swing. North of the existing tunnel system, in regular intervals 12 new tunnels 100 to 200 m in length were driven into the mountain. The new tunnels were connected by 5 tunnels running in a East-West direction. Tunnel No. 21, 460 meters in length, was the first tunnel leading through the mountain in a East-West direction. From this tunnel 53 parallel tunnels were to be constructed. Connected was the new system by 5 driving tunnels which run along the length axis of the mountain. The two outside driving tunnels followed the direction of the mountain escarpment. Twenty-seven entrances created easy access to the facility. The number of entrances was later increased. Tunnel No. 21 was leading from the plant to the Reinstädter Valley.

  At the end of July 1944 the architect Ernst Flemming delivered the design to the Reimahg construction company. The final design showed a facility with altogether 75 tunnels with a length of 32 kilometers. Seven main entrances were now leading to the Dehna- and Saale Valley. One entrance led to the North side of the mountain into the Reinstädter Valley.

  The geological assessment was made up by Prof. Deubel in the nearby city of Jena. The design showed tunnels No. 21 - 36 with a width of 6 and a height of 4 meters. Every tenth tunnel was enlarged to a width of 9 meters. The side tunnels were used to house the different workshops of the plant. Kitchen, eating facilities and storage rooms were incorporated into the design. The tunnel walls were covered with sprayed concrete to keep the dust in the facility down. All main tunnels were lined and strengthened with concrete. The tunnel walls of the tunnels designed to house the tool machinery were lined with bricks, so that the danger of flying dust was minimized.

  Again changes in the design had to be incorporated. Architect Ernst Flemming produced the second and final design which he delivered to the Reimahg construction company in December 1944. At this Point in time the construction of tunnels No. 33 - 36 was started. The four huge halls were broken out of the rock to be used as assembly halls for the Aircraft assembly. The dimensions of the halls were huge. The length was to be 180 meters and the width was to be 30 meters. Only two of the planned four assembly halls were finished. Hall (tunnel) 34 and 35 ended at the south side of the mountain and were closed by bunker "O". According to the design, the four halls had a size of 27,000 sqm.

 The old tunnel system up to tunnel 35 was finished, the tunnel system to the West, tunnels 36 to 74 were not finished by the end of the war. In 1945, 86,400 sqm were available for production. In the eastern part the production of the Me 262 was begun. The plants 27 entrances were increased to 45 entrances in the final design. All entrances were marked by roman numerals and they all ended on the planned road leading around the mountain. On the south side of the mountain the road was finished. All entrances were between 3.5 to 5 meters wide. Entrance No. I, often seen in American photos was equipped with a hoist which was used for unloading material.

  Soon seven main entrances were leading into the plant. Through air photographs, the allies had knowledge of these entrances. According to the American Air-Force Magazine "Impact" of June 1945, the Americans had known about the entrances since 1943. As already mentioned, the only entrances in 1943 were the two in the old tunnel system, which had nothing to do with the Reimahg facility. Construction work on the underground installation did not start before the middle of 1944. Because the Americans had spotted the old tunnels of the Kahla AG, they had no clear picture what happened on the ground, which may explain why the facility and bunkers were erected without any bombing attacks.  

  The first reconnaissance photos showed what looked like a roadway on the plateau of the mountain. Construction work at the so-called roadway was by now finished. What the Allied air photo interpreters classified as a roadway, was the runway of the plant, where the finished Me 262 fighters were to take off. The concrete runway was 1,100 meters long and 33 meters wide. On either side of the concrete landing strip a 45 m wide grass strip was located. The connecting taxing strip was 15 m wide. According to eyewitness accounts no buildings, except a wood barrack, were located on the top of the mountain. Some sources claim that bunkers were built beside the landing strip to fuel the aircraft and to supply them with ammunition. It was another of the many rumors regarding the facility. The aircraft were fueled by hand out of fuel drums. Ammunition was received when the destination was reached.

  The runway did not allow any of the planes to land again which made it impossible to test fly the aircraft. The start of the aircraft  was  no  easy undertaking  for the pilots. Rocket assisted starts were the only way to get the aircraft airborne. The great problem of transporting the aircraft to the top of the mountain, was solved in a very simple way. Roughly in the middle of the installation just to the west of bunker 2, was the steep escarpment of the mountain which was used as a ramp for an inclined elevator. With the help of the elevator the finished aircraft were transported to the top of the plateau and to the landing strip.

  Reconnaissance photos of the Reimahg, taken on March 19, 1945, showed two Me 262’s (see photo on top) on the platform of the elevator and one on the bottom of the elevator. Because of these photos taken, the Allies decided to attack the facility soon.

  Because the assembly (bunker 4) halls inside the mountain could not be finished before production was getting under way, an emergency solution had to be found. The Reimahg construction company came up with a fairly simple solution and wooden barracks were constructed. Three of the four (bunker 1) Reimahg bunkers (workshop 1) were so erected as wooden barracks, which were surrounded by a wooden casing. The casing was filled with concrete and in doing so bomb-proof assembly buildings (bunker 2) were constructed. The idea of creating (workshop 1) these bombproof buildings (bunker 2) came from Gauleiter Sauckel. Only bunker "O" was designed as such.

  After the Russians removed all the machinery and material from the factory, the Soviet commander gave the order to prepare the underground factory to be blown up. All bunkers (bunker 1) and buildings were blown up. The dynamiting of the bunkers and buildings took a couple of years to complete. In the underground plant itself holes were drilled which were to hold the explosives for blowing up the facility. Luckily the order of the Soviet commander was not completed.

  The Soviet commander decided not to go through with his plan of blowing up the underground facilities. He probably saw, that by blowing up the facility the whole mountain would be blown up, including the nearby village of Großeutersdorf.

  After the Soviet troops moved out of the facility nothing happened until 1980 when the  East German  Army showed an interest in the old underground facility. Soon after, parts of the facility were rebuilt by the East German Army and equipment and ammunition was stored in the rebuild facility. The new owner of the facility was the 4th mechanized Rifle Division. The faciliy was now called Teilelager 1 and was part of the Komplexlager 22 in nearby Rothenstein. In an emergency situation the depot was to supply the division with everything what was needed in case of war.

  After the reunification of Germany, the underground depot was taken over by the west German Army which developed the facility further. The Logistics Brigade East was now in charge of the depot. For a short time the facility was used to store old small-arms ammunition of the East German Army. Financial restrains forced the German Army soon after to close the facility. Now only souvenir hunters visit the facility illegally and take out what is still left.

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