Nazi tunnels inside inactive VOLCANO could hide long-lost archive of Kraków Gestapo, say explorers
A group of historical explorers is raising money to penetrate a network of Nazi tunnels inside an old volcano in Lower Silesia which it believes may contain the lost archive of the Kraków Gestapo.
The Association of Lovers of Upper Lusatia stumbled across the Bond-like underworld in Lubań in 2011 when a member of the group found a blueprint of the tunnels in a local archive.
Since then several attempts have been made to explore the tunnels with expeditions revealing several shafts going down into the inactive volcano.
The tunnels bored into basalt rock during World War II, have not been visited for 76 years. In 1945, the Germans blew up some of the corridors and buried the entrances.
However, they did it carefully so that they could be re-entered in the future.
This has raised hopes that this section of the complex was used to store valuable items and it is here that the group plans to penetrate in its latest exploration.
The possible existence of the Kraków Gestapo archive in Lower Silesia comes from the testimony of SS Obersturmführer Kurt Heinemeyer, who was a Gestapo officer in Krakow from January 1940 to 18 January 1945.
Thought to contain many Nazi secrets, including which people were traitors during the war, the archive has been described as ‘an invaluable source of information about the dark times of the WWII occupation.’
From 1943 until the end of the war, Heinemeyer was head of a section combating Polish left-wing organisations. In 1947, he was handed over to Poland by the Allies to stand trial for war crimes. Heinemeyer was keen to cooperate with the Polish authorities.
During interrogation by the Security Office in Kraków, Heinemayer testified that Gestapo documents were taken on the orders of Hans Frank, the governor of occupied Poland, to the Lower Silesian town of Rothwasser, today's Czerwona Woda, and partially destroyed at a brickworks there.
However, Sebastian Terenda from the exploration group believes that it is possible that some of the documents ended up in Lubań, located just 18 kilometres away from Czerwona Woda, and were hidden under the volcano at Kamienna Góra.
He told TFN: “Why would they drive all the way from Kraków to Czerwona Woda to burn the archive?”
“They left the metal rings of the files to be found. Maybe it was a diversion to make people believe that the whole archive had been burned.”
In 1945, the Germans were on the verge of collapse, but not all forces were deployed to defend Berlin.
Despite the fact that the surrounding towns quickly fell under the pressure of the Red Army, the Germans defended Lubań with great fervour.
Terenda believes this could have been to buy time to bury something nearby, and that the tunnel complex would have made an excellent storage site.
He said: “On the sketch it is marked as an air-raid shelter, but the tunnels are 3 by 3 metres, and air-raid shelters were normally 1.6 by 1.8 metres. It’s height and width make it excellent for storage.”
The Nazis built many tunnel complexes in mountains in Lower Silesia, most notably Project Reise in Wałbrzych. However, the complex at Kamienna Góra is the only known case of the Nazis building inside a volcano.
One section of the tunnels has no access to others around it and it is there that Terenda believes the Nazis may have hidden valuable items.
“You can only get to it from one of the four entrances, so it looks like they planned it as a storage area,” he said.
The original purpose of the tunnel network is also a mystery. “Basalt is one of the hardest stones. Why did they go to so much trouble to drill tunnels into such tough material?” Terenda said.
One theory is that the Germans wanted to house a radar equipment factory that existed in the town.
The group of history enthusiasts now intend to break through the 30-metre-deep cave-in. This is complicated because the basalt rock is hard, and it is possible that the Germans mined the underground before blowing up the entrances.
In order to reveal the secrets of the tunnel, the group needs PLN 200,000. Half of this has been donated by mining giant KGHM. From the remaining half, only PLN 20,000 remains to be raised.
The group are confident they will do this quickly and that they will be able to start penetrating the site in early July.
To find out more go here.