THE FORMER CONCENTRATION CAMP AUFKIRCH

A fact unknown to many Überlingen citizens is that there are ruins of a concentration camp under the buildings of the present Salem College Härlen. The concentration camp Aufkirch functioned under the commands of the leading Dachau concentration camp from September 1944 to April 1945. According to statistics 170 detainees found their death in the concentration camp either slaughtered by the unmerciful hands of the SS soldiers or due to the critical living and working conditions. By now, this is information mutual to all concentration camps. The violence and unfairness happening those days should not surprise us since it was a common sight during the period. What makes Aufkirch concentration camp outstand though is the fact that it was a “non-death” concentration camp. In other words no people were purposely killed, as in Dachau for example in the gas chambers.

This seems more humane, yet the conditions were as bad as in the other camps, and probably even worse; because the work that was assessed was so energy consuming and severe that one could hardly cope with it. What was very unusual, though, was the existence of the so-called Stollen. Underground tunnels to contain a factory for armaments industry. Before moving to underground Überlingen, the factory had been situated in Friendrichshafen, where testing of V2 rockets had been undergoing. On April, 28 1944 after a ruinous bombardment over Friedrichshafen, the war operations were not reconstructed but rather reestablished in Überlingen. 800 people for the period of less than 7 months managed to  “build” a system of 4 km tunnel ways by drilling, blasting and throwing away the left outs material in the waters of Lake Constance. This happening every day and night, in shifts in 12 hours each prisoner. The production of armor, however, never took place due to French intervention in April 1945.