Rothenstein (Construction Project  "Albit")

Driving from Jena toward Rudolstadt through the beautiful Saale Valley along Highway 88 the castle of Leuchtenburg near Seitenroda could be seen. The highway follows the direction of the River Saale toward Rudolstadt. Already 180 years ago this road played an important part in German history, as French troops under Napoleon marched on this road to the battlefield of Jena-Auerstedt. The battle was fought a short time later and the bitter defeat ended the old Prussian system. The defeat achieved that eventually the hated French occupation troops were with Russian help driven out of Germany. Eventually a new stronger Prussia emerged. 

Soon the village of Rothenstein is reached. Behind the village on the right hand side of the road steep sandstone cliffs rise up. A high concrete wall following the shape of the road covers the base of the cliff from any view. The high concrete wall topped by barbed wire was already in existence under the old GDR regime. Large warning signs prohibited the taking of photographs. Today the same concrete wall hides the German army depot of Rothenstein.

The history of the facility goes back further. Its existence had begun as a facility of the underground program of the Third Reich. Located here were so so-called Rothensteiner Caves. When the Ministry of Economy was searching for caves usable for production purposes the Rothenstein Caves were also examined.

According to documents from the Mining Office Weimar, outpost Saalfeld from July 27, 1944, 6,000 square meters of space would be available for the war-production after the construction work was completed. Further construction work would field another 20,000 square meter of production space. The project received the code name "Albit" and it was to house production facilities of the Carl Zeiss Factory in Jena.

The work started with 100 construction workers. Planned was to extent tunnels 7 and 8, which had a length of 80 meters, to use them for production purposes.  When the next step of the extension would be under way, the production of the Zeiss Factory was to start with 100 workers in the finished tunnels. Eventually after the completion of the project 2,000 workers were to work here.

For the expansion work 500 workers including 50 miners were employed to push the construction work quickly forward. It was the responsibility of the Zeiss Factory to request the mining equipment from the central office of special mining projects. Ventilation plans were drawn up by Dr. Ing. Vogel and Dr. Fleissner from the Siemens-Schuckert factory in Berlin-Siemensstadt.      

It was already very difficult in July 1944 to get the necessary workers and the construction material. As we could see on the following document from the Head Mining Office in Clausthal-Zellerfeld to the Reichs Ministry of Economy. All underground construction projects suffered under the same problem.

June 10, 1944, secret, Important

Head Mining Office Clausthal-Zellerfeld to the Reichs Ministry of Economy

Request for mining experts for construction project B11. (Similar messages appear quite often in the documents of the mining offices.)


The production of the Carl Zeiss factory started in the new facility in November of 1944. Construction work on the Project Albit was completed when the war ended.

Like many other facilities it fell into the hands of the Americans and then into the hands of the Soviets. They completely dismantled the facility and removed the machinery. For month the removed machinery was standing uncovered in the open near the train stations of the area.

For a long time it was quiet in the area, then under the GDR government the old facility was re-built and soon opened as a material-depot. Under the new name Komplexlager 22 the facility had a storage space of 8,000 square meters.  Already in 1972 the facility was opened up as ammunition depot 52 and was later re-named Komplexlager 22 Rothenstein. A newly finished road and railway track led into the Komplexlager 22. According to rumors circling around everything was stored in the depot including nuclear missiles. These were rumors only no nuclear missiles were ever stored here. The NVA seems to  have only stored material here to supply the 4. mot. Schützendivision in war time. At this point in time the military GDR leadership felt that the 8,000 square meter space was not large enough to supply all the material needed for a possible southern combat area.

The decision was taken to re-con-structed the old Reimagh facility out-side the nearby village of Gross-eutersdorf. There, after the construction work was finished another 11,000 square meter space was available. The facility received the name Teillager 1 Rothenstein. Another depot, Teillager 2 near Lengenfeld south-east of the village of Reichenbach in the Voigtland was to be re-built. Protests from the inhabitants let the GDR government cancel the project. After unification the German Bundeswehr took over the facility.

Besides the Komplexlager 22 the NVA (Nationale Volksarmee= National Peoples Army) operated a further 3 underground material-depots. The facilities were located at Langenstein, near Blankenburg and near Pirna in Saxony. .

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