Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Karp - September 14, 1995

Underground Airplane Factory in Kochendorf

Tell me about it?

Um, in Kochendorf, that's where we put to use a report being, a report of being tool and die maker. Because about five, six kilometer away, there was an underground airplane factory. We got into the group, what was designated to work there. And, that one, again, we choose and luckily we were able to get into it because we didn't have to work on the outside. Because winter was treacherous. It was snowy, windy, cold and with the kind of energy and with the kind of clothes that we had, I'm sure we would have not survived. This particular plant, uh, was about 180-meter underground in a salt mine, but it was converted into an airplane factory. And they had two elevators. Each one of them held, to the best of my recollection, eight people. So, it took quite a long time until they transported the 200 or so persons in the work force going down and the other shift coming up. Because it was only one elevator was taking them down and it took a long time. And the other one was bringing up the one who was finishing their shift. But this, this really, what caused us to put in many hours. Because the shift was eight hours. But, in order to go down and to come up, that also took approximately two hours. Two and two is four and eight is already twelve. And to walk from the camp to this point and back so we had to put in daily anywhere from fourteen to fifteen hours. But, nevertheless, it was still better than some of the other work what it was available. And some incidence what came to mind, uh, the area where we were concentrating assembling for the lift to take us down, there was an, there was a furnace but it was heating certain buildings. And we always tried to be the last ones, everybody was trying to be the last one to go down to that shaft in order to be more above ground and we were lying down on this oven, what it was a brick oven. You know, the way a furnace is. And, it was nice and warm. And it, at least it was giving us a little bit of strength, relaxation. And, uh, we were guarded there by various different guards - of Ukrainian extraction, Rumanian and many guards who had been drafted or joined voluntarily the German army.

These were army not SS?


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