A vast complex believed to have been used by Nazi scientists to develop nuclear weapons during the Second World War has been discovered in Austria.
The facility, a network of subterranean tunnels, was found near St. Georgen an der Gusen, Austria, last week, according to the Daily Mail. It covers an area as large as 75 acres, and is believed to connect to the B8 Bergkristall underground factory, where the world's first operational jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262, was built. Excavations began after researchers detected heightened levels of radiation in the area, a discovery that lends support to claims that the Nazis were using the complex for their research into the development of nuclear weapons.
Though the Bergkristall facility was explored after the war, the Nazis went to far greater lengths to hide the newly discovered bunkers, according to the Sunday Times. Heavy granite plates covered the entrance, while layers of soil and concrete were packed into the tunnels. Researchers utilized declassified intelligence documents, as well as witness testimony, to identify the entrance to the complex.
Though the research team was in the process of removing the obstacles, police halted the excavation last week, demanding that the group acquire a permit. Documentary filmmaker Andreas Sulzer, who is leading the expedition, is confident that work will resume soon.
On this date 75 years ago, physicists Leó Szilárd and Albert Einstein wrote of their fears of Nazi nuclear efforts. pic.twitter.com/y7qPh96Uff
— Charles Apple (@charlesapple) August 2, 2014
As part of a research documentary on Hitler's efforts to build a nuclear bomb, Sulzer explored evidence that a secret project was managed by SS General Hans Kammler, who oversaw Nazi missile programs. Sulzer searched through archives in Germany, Moscow, and America in his efforts to uncover the Nazi nuclear weapons program.
In the course of his work, Sulzer discovered that 272 inmates of Mauthausen concentration camp were taken to St. Georgen on January 2, 1944, to begin construction of the secret bunkers. By the end of that year, 20,000 of the slave laborers employed by the Nazis to dig the tunnels had been worked to death.
Though Austria filled many of the tunnels with concrete after the war, Sulzer believes that they missed the section where nuclear research was conducted. Russian forces controlled St. Georgen until 1955, and any Nazi records that remained at the site were taken to Moscow after the war.
Why didn't the Nazis ever develop a nuclear weapon? Here's why: http://t.co/3OT9HECIC0 #stem #wwii pic.twitter.com/L9U2oWHM6V
— National WWII Museum (@WWIImuseum) December 16, 2014
Earlier this week, a man in Kosovo made headlines for his resemblance to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. As the Inquisitr previously reported, 49-year-old Emin Djinovci bills himself as a reincarnation of the Nazi dictator.
Researchers are working to determine if there is a link between St. Georgen and sites in Germany, where Nazi scientists are known to have worked on the development of nuclear weapons.
[Image via the Daily Mail]