MYTHS ABOUT “KOMPLEX RIESE”
The actual size of “Riese”. A 1944 message from Speer to Hitler gives reason to assume that the construction project in the Owl Mountains had progressed considerably further than the tunnels and facilities accessible today. Thus, legends and myths arose about other tunnel and shelter systems that are yet to be rediscovered. These myths do not only imply that the entire complex is actually much larger, but that unknown tunnels and shelters are located somewhere in the mountainside.
Myth 2. Possible purposes of “Riese”. The question of the actual purpose of “Komplex Riese” is of great interest to many researchers and a large number of sensation-seekers. It has been the main source of controversy about “Komplex Riese” and leaves room for many theories (some of which are absolutely absurd). Several of these motifs can also be found in Polish cinema.
a) Work on a “wonder weapon”: Many theories fall into this category. It is not known what kind of wonder weapon was worked on – provided there actually ever was one. There as many hypotheses as there are researchers on this subject. Chemical and biological weapons and even a nuclear bomb have all been mentioned. In terms of a possible nuclear bomb being developed at “Komplex Riese”, there are entirely unsubstantiated reports about the mining of uranium-bearing minerals near Wüstegiersdorf and the presence of 120 Danish and Norwegian scientists at the site.
Another theory speaks of a secret research centre near Waldenburg. According to this idea, a new fighter plane was being tested there. Allegedly, this project was known under the codename V-7.
Yet another theory claims that the production of V-1 and V-2 rockets was supposed to take place in the Owl Mountains.
Some researchers (with several sensation-seekers among them) assume that the idea of a planned Führer Headquarter was spread deliberately as a cover for the actual purpose of the complex. Adherents of this theory call the German historical sources on the subject matter too obvious and hence entirely unreliable.
b) Lost treasures from museums, banks or archives. Stories about “hidden treasures” are also immensely popular. Among these “treasures” are the still missing depots of several museums and banks, such as the gold from Breslau, the riches of the Silesian noble family von Schaffgotsch or the works of art stolen by the Nazis in all European nations they had occupied. There are also rumours about the legendary Amber Room being hidden somewhere in Castle Bolkow or Castle Fürstenstein.
A secret armoured train play an important role in these myths. This train supposedly disappeared under unexplained circumstances somewhere between Freiburg and Waldenburg during the last few weeks of the war. Another mystery is a tale repeated in several accounts: A number of lorries under heavy guard by the SS is said to have vanished into thin air somewhere in the mountains around Wüstewaltersdorf. Other reports claim that files from the archives of the Abwehr (a German intelligence organisation) were stored at Castle Czocha; these files allegedly contained documents from French counterintelligence agencies.
Myth 3. The Keepers of Riese’s secrets:
a) Werwolf “Odessa.” Closely related to the legends mentioned above is the myth about a society of persons guarding the answers to the many secrets about “Komplex Riese” and the project’s true purpose. These myths focus on groups of Germans who were either involved with an operation called Werwolf (the plans for a clandestine resistance force organised by the regime) or members of independent underground cells. These groups allegedly stayed in the area after the war in order to keep military secrets from falling into the enemy’s hands.
Other important elements of these myths are the disappearance and unsolved murders of persons who had information on “Riese” they wanted to deliver to the new authorities. Moreover, there are accounts of mysterious night-time explosions in the mountains; in the myths, these explosions were aimed at removing any traces of the subterranean vaults in the Owl Mountains.
Dispersed groups of Wehrmacht soldiers as well as members of the Waffen-SS, the Sicherheitsdienst (the Nazi secret service) and the NSDAP were active in the Sudetes during the first few months after the war. Most of them were discovered and arrested by agents of the Ministry of Public Security of Poland (Urzad Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego), the Citizens’ Militia (Milicja Obywatelska) or the Polish army during winter 1945/46.
In the area around Schweidnitz, there were about 10 people working for the German underground movement Freies Deutschland (“Free Germany”).
In connection to all these theories, there have also been rumours about mass executions of “AL Riese” inmates during the last few weeks of the war as well as about the dismantlement of machinery and facilities within “Komplex Riese”; both kinds of activities were allegedly hushed up by the Germans. According to one of these hypotheses, the SS murdered about 20,000 prisoners and buried them in a mass grave that has not been discovered until today. Such speculations focus on the camp in Wolfsberg and the facility at Dorfbach/Rzeczka near Wüstewaltersdorf/Walim. Historical sources do not confirm these assumptions, however.
b) Engineer Dalmus: Most of the obscurities and controversies about “Komplex Riese” are probably caused by the activities of a German engineer called Anthon Dalmus. An officer of the German army, he had been stationed at Charlottenbrunn with the local bureau of the Organisation Todt since 1940. He was heavily involved in the construction efforts of the project and particularly with its hasty cancellation.
According to some researchers, Dalmus tried to give a very distinct image to anyone interested in “Komplex Riese” by deliberately spreading manipulated information on the topic. There is some evidence that Dalmus was connected to Werwolf and presented the new authorities with falsities and half-truths about certain sites of particular importance to the Third Reich. Immediately after war, he had no problems entering the former construction site, thus potentially being able to get a very clear impression of local Polish activities. He met with journalists, taking them on tours through the underground facilities and explaining their purpose. There is even a rumour that the engineer wanted to sell the blueprints for the underground city to the Polish government for 1 million zloty.