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“Filling Gaps in the Documentation”

Lieutenant Colonel Gerhard Roletscheck and Staff Sergeant Helmut Müller

Two members of the air force, Lieutenant Colonel Gerhard Roletscheck and Staff Sergeant Helmut Müller, have spent three days at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen viewing transport lists and death books as well as further documents of Kaufering, a subsidiary of the former Dachau concentration camp. Their ‘Welfen barracks’ are located on the former site of the sub camp in Landsberg on Lech. “‘Weingut II’ (wine-growing estate) was erected here in 1944 – ‘Weingut’ being the cover name for three partly subterranean aircraft production plants”, reports Müller. “Prisoners from concentration camps were exploited to build that factory. At the ITS we can fill the gaps in the documentation we keep on this construction project.”

Supervised by the superior construction management of the Reich and carried through under the cover name of ‘Ringeltaube’ (ringdove), the building project was tackled by the Todt organisation. “’Weingut II’ was the only bunker construction project almost completed by 21 April 1945”, relates Müller. Prisoners from concentration camp Dachau were moved to Kaufering and had to do the construction work under hardest conditions. “About 21,000 prisoners were assigned to the labour done here from June 1944 till April 1945”, explains the Staff Sergeant.

Up to the early 1980s, most people living in Landsberg and soldiers stationed in the barracks had remained unaware of the history of the bunker, knows Roletscheck. Only when Landsberg pupils and students started asking questions, the Landsberg inhabitants began compiling facts and figures on the bunker’s history. The 50th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps offered the town of Landsberg on Lech and the community of Kaufering the opportunity to invite former prisoners to a visit. “It was for the first time that survivors of the sub camp came to see the site of their incarceration again“, says the Lieutenant Colonel. “The ‘Welfen barracks’ have engaged in active remembrance and commemoration work ever since.”

At the ITS the two mainly looked at list material on the Kaufering subsidiary. “The results of our research will be presented in an exhibition”, reports Müller. “Our chief intention is, however, to create text material for our pedagogical projects considering that among those who visit us are not only the survivors and their families, but also some pupils and students as well as our own soldiers. We want to show that the military is committed to the commemoration work by preserving a collection. That is why we strive to enter into a close cooperation with the research department at the ITS.”