The Linz Site of Reichswerke AG "Hermann Göring" Berlin
On May 13, 1938, the groundbreaking ceremony took place in Linz-St. Peter for a subsidiary of Reichswerke Aktiengesellschaft für Erzbergbau und Eisenhütten “Hermann Göring” Berlin founded in 1937.
The approximately 4,500 inhabitants of St. Peter/Zizlau were relocated to other parts of the city.
Under strong political pressure Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG in Düsseldorf sold 56 percent of the capital stock of Österreichisch-Alpine Montangesellschaft to Reichswerke “Hermann Göring” in March 1939. In the same year Reichswerke Linz and Alpine Montangesellschaft merged to form Alpine Montan Aktiengesellschaft “Hermann Göring” Linz. In 1941 the company name was changed to Reichswerke Aktiengesellschaft Alpine Montanbetriebe “Hermann Göring” Linz.
Reichswerke Berlin owned five large companies at the Linz site: the Reichswerke Alpine Montan headquarters, which was the parent company of all the sites in Austria; the Linz steelworks; Stahlbau GmbH; Eisenwerke Oberdonau GmbH; and the utilities of the Linz steelworks.
In 1940/1941 Eisenwerke Oberdonau GmbH, which had been founded on April 25, 1939, began production of (replacement) tank parts. It determined the demand for steel production and later became the biggest German producer of tanks. From 1941 onward the complex of companies in Linz successively began production. The first two blast furnaces were blown in and the power plant of the Linz steelworks went into operation.
Due to war developments, the expansion of the originally planned integrated iron and steelworks was delayed. The highest priority was given to the construction of Eisenwerke Oberdonau, because it was an armaments factory. Among other things, a steel mill, a sheet rolling mill, a steel foundry, a drop forge and a heat treatment plant were built.
In the summer of 1944 allied bombing attacks on Linz and the site began.
It would not have been possible to build the plants in Linz and to produce armaments without the use of foreign labor, since the workers needed were not available on the domestic (Austria and Germany) labor market. The reasons for this lay, on the one hand, in the dimensions of the complex of companies, which went far beyond the number of workers available, and, on the other, in the acute shortage of labor caused by the war.
The first foreign civilian workers arrived in Linz to work on construction in the summer of 1938. Later, from 1940/1941, forced laborers, prisoners of war and, beginning in 1942, also male concentration camp prisoners were used. The concentration camp prisoners were housed in two external branches of the Mauthausen concentration camp that were constructed on the company grounds and they were forced to work in the Linz steelworks, Eisenwerke Oberdonau GmbH and Stahlbau GmbH.
Discriminatory special regulations governing the treatment of and food provided to workers of different nationalities, which corresponded to the racist orientation of Nazi ideology, underlined the forced labor character of the so-called “employment of labor” after 1940. And although the intense stage of the recruitment of forced laborers only started at that time, since 1939 there had already been clear signs of intentional repression at the plant level.
The number of laborers at the plants in Linz reached its highest point in 1944. At that time the percentage of foreign laborers (not counting prisoners of war and concentration camp prisoners) averaged two-thirds. In some particular sections of production (e. g., in the forge) this figure was more than 90 percent. Somewhat more than 10 percent of the foreign workers at the Linz site were women.