The History of the Gerstfeldhohe
Bunker's hard to believe the
Westwall was so extensive in
the KMC area. Note the
primary line of fortifications,
then the secondary line
behind it.  Most of these
were exploded after the war
but remains are easy to find
in the forests of this area, as
evidenced by this website!
The construction of the Gerstfeldhohe bunker was begun in 1938 by the
Reichsarbeitsdienst, a paramilitary government program similiar to the US Civilian
Conservation Corps.  A photo in the museum shows RAD barracks adjacent to
the museum. Original plans called for Gerstfeldhohe to be the largest of eleven
"A-Werke" bunkers between Aachen and just west of Karlsruhe, with 14 km of
tunnels holding a vehicle storage area, field hospital, small railroad, munitions
depot, and quarters for 800 men. Construction of the Atlantic Wall in 1940
slowed the project, which eventually stopped altogether after 5 km of tunnels
were completed . By 1944 Russians POWS labored in the tunnels; graves of
these men remained until the 1950's near Erlenbrunn. Local residents, sometimes
up to 700 at a time, used the bunker as a bomb shelter during the air war between
Aug 1944 and 15 Mar 1945. Beginning with Operation Nordwind (Northwind),
SS troops occupied the bunker from Dec 1944 until the Allies came through in
mid-March 1945. The area then came under French administration until the US
took over the bunker in the late 1940's.  The US Army contacted the original
builders in a bid to reconstruct the bunker, but cost was prohibitive and
renovation stopped after a cement floor, electricity, ventilation, and a secure
entrance were completed. The bunker was then used intermittently by the
Americans to store tank and airplane parts and even field rations up through the
Gulf War.
This schematic shows the original plan
for the Gerstfeldhohe bunker. The
vertical tunnel in the middle and
darkened square to the right comprise
the museum today.  Note an
uncompleted elevator shaft at the end
of the central tunnel (top on the
schematic) - a steady flow of water
pours down the empty shaft in this
portion of the bunker. The area off to
the left of the entrance (bottom
left)was used as stalls and a
slaughterhouse by 6.SS.Div.Nord