Emo Leichtmetallbau, Ernst Modl & Co

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Before World War II the Czech town of Kraslice (or Graslitz, by it's German name) was well known for it's production of musical instruments. In 1939 some 225 manufacturers of musical instruments, with 1700 employees were counted. After the German take over in 1938 the factories in Sudetenland became an important part of Hitler's war economy. The factory owners were ethnic Germans, as was the overwhelming majority of the population in this part of Czechoslovakia. They welcomed the German take over. Graslitz's two main branches of industry, the production of textiles (138 companies in 1939) and the manufacture of musical instruments, were throttled. New productions important to the war effort were introduced and accelerated. Among other things, steering instruments for V-weapons, missiles for night fighters, electronic and control measurement products as well as surgical instruments were produced.

Adolf Hitler visits Graslitz on October 4th, 1938, after the Munich Agreement, five days earlier

Companies like F.X.Hüller & Co, Julius Keilwerth and others shifted to war equipment. According to Gunther Dullat 'almost all of the musical instrument producers in Graslitz diverted to war production'.

On this page I collected some stories about this shift from musical instrument to war equipment, with a focus on the activities of the F.X.Hüller/Emo Leichtmetallbau company. The reason for that focus is that the archive of the Bank der Deutschen Luftfahrt 1933 - 1945 and the archive of the Deutsche Revisions- und Treuhand AG, 1925-1945 (in the Bundesarchiv) contain some documentation about the company's activities during the war that makes it possible to get a picture of their war time activities. A war time diary of Jules van Egdom, one of their forced laborers, provides valuable additional insight into that period.

War economy

After the annexation in October 1938 Sudetenland, the border region 'between' Czechoslovakia and Germany, was quickly incorporated in the German war economy. In mid-October 1938, only a few weeks after the Munich Agreement, Hermann Göring demanded at a meeting in the Reich Aviation Ministry with regard to the situation in the Sudetengau: "The economy must be completely converted. An investigation of all production sites should be initiated, to see whether they can be converted to armaments and export, or whether they should be shut down."

Between 1939 and 1945, at least 10,000 aircraft, mostly training and later fighter jets, were produced for the German army in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and in the Sudetenland. In the Czech Republic, Hitler produced from training biplanes to strategic bombers, from jet fighters to helicopters. In the other occupied European countries, only 3,881 German aircraft were produced between 1941 and 1944.

In the Sudetengau, there was neither war equipment nor ammunition production before the outbreak of war. Therefore new businesses had to be created. The most important new forges in the Sudeten area were state-owned companies built according to the 'Montan scheme'. The Montan scheme was based on trust agreements between the German Reich and the private sector. Private companies (parent companies) received an order from the Army Inspectorate (HWA) for the construction of an armaments company at government expense. A shell contract was concluded between a parent company and the HWA and a subsidiary was founded, which leased the plant from the army's own society for Montanindustrie GmbH (Montan GmbH). In this way, at least 119 companies were created by the end of the war, employing 190,000 people on November 1, 1944. According to this principle, six large arms factories were founded in the Sudetengau in 1939-1940, which were generally treated preferentially in the allocation of labor. Nevertheless, the newly founded ammunition factories in the Sudetengau suffered from labor shortages.

The territory of the Czech Republic was considered fairly safe from bombings during the Nazi regime. Especially in the final stages of World War II, this lead the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Flossenbürg (eastern Bavaria) and Groß-Rosen (Lower Silesia) to establish an extensive system of subcamps for armament production in the Sudetengau and in the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia. Forced labor was an essential pillar of the National Socialist economic system in both the Sudetengau and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The National Socialist war economy had an almost insatiable hunger for ever new workers. First the need for labor could be largely covered by the use of civilian foreign workers and prisoners of war, but the labor market collapsed in the summer of 1944 due to the lack of influx. The massive expansion of the network of KZ satellite camps in 1944 was a reaction to the drying up of the influx of previously used groups of forced laborers. Thus, in many cases, a barely comprehensible genealogy of various camps with different groups of forced laborers developed in the same place. The Arbeitslager Graslitz, that hosted female prisoners, was one of them. But companies like F.X. Hüller & Co/Emo Leichtmetallbau, A.K.Hüttl and Hans Rölz also had their own camps of (forced) laborers, from 1941 onwards. In 1944/45 the town hosted some 14.000 inhabitants and 2-3.000 forced laborers and prisoners of war, apart from some 1000 fugitives coming from the eastern parts of Germany.

The list of relocated production from 11.4.1945 lists the company E. Modl in Kraslice ("E.Modl, Graslitz") for companies producing the rear part of the Me 262 fuselage, from the end of the cockpit to the tail surfaces. Its capacity at that time was supposed to be 220 sets per month, but that was probably a theoretical capacity. The same plant is also mentioned in the post-war interrogation of an FWE employee , who described it as 'Leichtmetall Emo, Graslitz'. The company used to produce parts of kites for Junkers and Heinkel aircraft, but in January 1945 it was already operating in the Me 262. However, the employee did not state what its production content was and we are not able to confirm the information of the German April document. "We also did not manage to find out the approximate actual production of the company", says Čech Bořivoj on his aviation website.

Emo Leichtmetallbau, Ernst Modl & Co. KG

The production of F.X Hüller & Co shifted from saxophones and trumpets to war equipment, more specifically aircraft parts. Already from the start of the war in September 1939 most of the production was diverted to war production and that took off so much that because of that in 1940 extensions of the main building were necessary. By the end of 1940 the amount of war orders made additional factory space needed. On May 6th 1941 F.X.Hüller & Co bought an an old weaving mill in Grünberg that was disused since 11 years. This became the location of F.X. Hüller Werk II.

The buildings of F.X.Hüller Werk II in Zelena Hora/Grünberg

On December 1st 1941 this Werk II was transferred to a separated Limited company under the name Emo Leichtmetallbau, Ernst Modl & Co K.G. Grünberg bei Graslitz Sudetengau. Partners in Emo Leichtmetallbau were the same as in F.X.Hüller & Co: the two daughters of Hüller, Susanna and Philipinne and Ernst Modl, the husband of Philipinne. They brought together a RM120.000 share capital.

The annual turnover in 1938 was RM 287.139, in 1939 it went up to RM 307.605. Net income went down from RM 46727 in 1938 to RM 6497 in 1939. A dip because of the shift away from the lucrative civil manufacturing to the Wehrmacht manufacturing (hull parts). This was split between Modl (25%, his wife Philippine Modl-Hüller (25%) and Susanna Riedl-Hüller, the other daughter of F.X.Hüller (50%). In 1940 turnover was RM 590.353, (with a profit of RM 16.000) to RM 1.517.520 in 1941 of which RM 1.164.403 was attributed to Wehrmacht orders. In 1943 the turnover growed to some RM 5.000.000. Profit raised from 61.000 in 1941, through RM 250.000 (181.000) in 1942 to RM 272.000 (122.000) in 1943.

These are rough figures. In 1941 Hüller was active in aviation manufacturing (repair and manufacture of tail units, sliding windows for Argus and other 1st aircraft companies). For buying the new premisses RM 44.000 was reserved, for repair and renovation an additional RM 103.000 In 1941 some RM 174.000 was spend on vices, riveting hammers, lathes, pipe bending machines and other tools, machines and office equipment. As of May 1941 they are confirmed as Rüstungsbetrieb betreuung Luftwaffe (Armaments company support Luftwaffe). In a meeting on January 16th 1942 Modl and his commercial manager tell the bank that from the foreseen investment of RM 438.000 already RM 320.000 was invested. The F.X.Hüller company had made available far more than the foreseen RM 120.000 but now they are getting in trouble, so Modl asks for advance payment of the RM 100.000 public aid. The rest of the RM 438.000 investment is to be paid through a credit of RM 238.000 from the Bank der Deutschen Luftfahrt. By then they have some RM 7.000.000 orders and expect to have 331 people at work, needing another 150. The list of orders that Emo hands over in an annex of a letter shows Messerschmitt, Junker, Heinkel, Arado, Märkischer Metallbau, BEW, and the largest one, REWE, which stands for Reparaturwerke Erfurt and Argus, a airplane motor manufacturor.

On March 9th 1942 commercial manager Josef Wesp is replaced by Nordhaus in his authority to sign. On June 18th 1942 Modl takes out a mortgage of RM 253.000 with the bank the Bank der Deutschen Luftfahrt. On july 23rd Nordhaus states that the new facilities are in use since 4 weeks, employing mor than 600 people, 142 of them Russians. From October 1st, down payments for orders from the armed forces may no longer be granted, they have to be financed from own resources or credits.


In 1943 a conflict arose about the annual statements over 1941 and 1942. On January 26th Modl talks to the Bank der Deutschen Luftfahrt. His commercial director Nordhaus has left the company per Jan 1st (with a half year salary). Obviously due to different opinions. Also with his technical director Schneedorf there are disagreements, so the report of this visit. There's a complaint made against the company, presumably by Nordhaus or Schneedorf, which is checked by the Gestapo in Karlsbad. Mr. Modl is not aware of any guilt, 'at most one or the other article from the early days of production could be priced too high'. Modl wants a price check by the RLM. He has also asked the Deutschen Revisions- und Treuhandgeselschaft (German auditing and trust company) for a check of the accounts for 1941 and 1942. On February 2, 1943 an agreement was concluded between the Reich and the firm about expansion of the company in connection with investments of RM 440000. On February 15th Modl appoints Ober Ingenieur Friedrich König as his stand-in as technical director and operations manager to reorganise the company. The next day he is arrested by the Gestapo, as is Herr Schneewolf. Two employees of Reparaturwerk Erfurt G.m.b.H. (REWE), Küning and Voltz, are sent to Emo to keep the company running. The arrest of former commercial director Nordhaus is expected, they say in a phone call with the Bank. In September König has left the company. Ernst Modl already was arrested by the Gestapo and for several months kept in prison in Karlsbad. The Deutschen Revisions- und Treuhandgeselschaft is asked to check the accounts, they start the work but are too busy with other things. Mid 1943 business trustee Dr. Constantin Reiffert was appointed with the consent of Modl and the Reichs minister to straighten the 1941 and 1942 accounts, which had to be checked then by the Deutschen Revisions- und Treuhandgeselschaft.

The accusation is that Modl has charged too high fixed prices. Modl is arrested along with his directors Schneewolf and Nordhaus. In 1944 it is decided that Reiffert, who led the company in Modl's absence, takes a share of RM60.000 in the company and becomes sole representative as of January 1st. He gets a 50 percent share in the profits and an annual RM 34.200 fee. Modl is withdrawing completely. The Deutschen Revisions- und Treuhandgeselschaft AG Berlin overlooks the accounts of 1941 and 1942, they finish their research in October 1943 but it takes until May 1944 before the report is ready. On May 24th a report of is sent to the Bank der Deutschen Luftfahrt Berlin by Reiffert and he announces that he'll come to Berlin to discuss the financial consequences with the ministry and the bank. Over 1941 and 1942, the company had to pay back a total of RM 361.0000 to the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM). Of this, part is raised from own resources, RM 125.000 is paid from a credit and 100.000 is given in the form of a subsidy, which is not paid to the company but to the RLM. In 1944 the company builds aggregates for Messerschmitt and Arado. Reiffert writes in a July 24th 1944 a letter to the Reichsminister that the directors were not familiar with the consent and settlement requirements and that they had obtained no personal benefit, all the money went back into the business. At that time, Emo already had a workforce of 1000 people. In oktober 1944 Emo realises an extension of the facilities for a total of RM 837.000, costs for the building, machinery, tools. Almost half of it is financed from own resources. The shareholders by then are Modl, RM 78.128, Reiffert, RM 60.000, Susanna RM 50.672 and Philipinne, RM 21.728. The company has high stocks from Arado and Messerschmitt because of air defense reasons.

In 1943 the balance sheet already shows a Barackenlager, a barrack camp for RM 27.250, that's on the list of investments for 1942. Also RM 21.869 for the set up. In 1943 Rieffert gets RM 120 for his work as manager.

Emo Leichtmetallbau envelope, dated 1945

Emo work camp

The work at the Emo factory was done by laborers from different sources, not only Russians. EMO owned a work camp were workers of various nationalities - the Czechs (19%), the Russians (61%), the French (12%), the Belgians (5%), the Dutch (3%) who were totally employed at EMO were interned. During the camp's existence - from February 1942 to April 1945 - there lived 450 people, including 4 women, wives of total workers, and 2 children born in the camp. (Tábory utrpení a smrti, Růžena Bubeníčková et al).

On a period postcard sent from about 1943 from Zelená Hora - Tisová, Čech Pepa writes: “I am writing to you as soon as we have arranged a crumb here. We are in a camp. Living is good here, except that we have to get up at half past six. Otherwise it'll work. We met until 8 and they still handed them over to the police on Monday, so they send them here. We're doing quite a good job so I'm curious how it will be, we haven't done it well yet and we have to get to the factory. We have a lot of snow here, that when we go to work, we put on our shoes. Not to mention that I wasn’t wearing low shoes. ”As an address he states: EMO camp, Graslitz, Sudetengau, Wonhajm 2, Štube 3.

Jules van Egdom, from Belgium was such a forced laborer at EMO from 09.08.1944 tot 10.04.1945. According to Van Egdom the camp for Modl was in Schwaderbach (now Bublava), some 4 kilometers north. He knew that there were made musical instruments at that location before.

Jules van Egdom

The Emo/Hüller factory was at Grunberg (Zelená Hora), the workers camp at Schwaderbach (Bublava)

Van Egdom, who worked for the NMBS, the National Belgian Railway Company, was arrested on 28 January 1944 after being in hiding for months. He worked in Fischamend and Schwadorf near Vienna (WNF Wiener Neustäter Flugzeugwerke) before he came to Graslitz. He kept a diary throughout this period, that his son Rudolf van Egdom made available to me. On 7 August 1944 Jules van Egdom departs from Fischamend in Austria to Graslitz, 575 km away, where he arrives on 9 August. From the station it is a 6 km walk to the Lager in Bublava/Schwaderbach, a stone building, an old evacuated factory, on top of a steep mountain.

The place near the German border where the old factory stood that was used as Lager. Local Helga showed it in 2009 to Rudolf, the son of Jules van Egdom. And here's a short video showing the place.

"We sleep on the top floor. The building is 50 meters from the former Czech-German border. A 'Gasthof', a locality near our new workshop, is assigned to us as a canteen. From now on we have to come here for dinner every day, in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. We are here with 22 Belgians and 122 French. There are also Dutchmen and some Russians. Almost all foreigners present here and elsewhere in the factories are Zwangsverpflichteter, compulsory, deported workers.

Anna Weidlich's Gasthaus 'Zur Grenze'in Schwaderbach. As there was only one road from Schwaderbach to Germany, this might have been the Gasthof where Van Egdom had his dinner. Anna Weidlich was born in Schwaderbach on November 10th 1905. She passed away on October 10th 1988 in Schönebeck, Germany.

Our new workshop is a small factory, located against a steep mountain that is at least five times higher than the factory itself. The name is E.M.O. LEICHTMETALLBAU at 11A Graslitz, Sudetengau. The work I have to do is about the same as at Fischamend and Schwadorf. Here also aircraft parts are made: the impact boxes for the wheels in the wings and especially parts of the tailpiece for Messerschmitt fighter aircraft.

The Ausweis and Gestellungsbefehl, declaring that Jules van Egdom was working at EMO Leichtmetallbau.

Only in the center of the village, where we will often go to mass and to the cinema, the roads are paved with cobblestones, the rest are gravel roads. A fast-flowing, shallow river runs in the valley. It looks a bit like our Ardennes Meuse valley here. A lot of 'home industry' is done in Graslitz and the surrounding area. Just as before the Second War there was an extension to almost every house in the Antwerp Kempen where diamonds were cut, so it is here too. But not to work diamonds, but to make musical instruments and embroidery. Graslitz is therefore called the 'city of music'. Now all those small home businesses, under duress from the occupying forces, have switched to some form of war industry.

Our factory is located in a deep, winding valley with a fast-flowing mountain river (the Zwodau) between high rock walls. In some places, these walls are several hundred meters high. Our not so large factory stands against such a rock wall and thus protected from bombardments by planes coming from the west. Due to the narrow width of the valley there is only a small margin for a possible bombardment. Given the twisty course of the valley and the steep, high cliffs, the factory must be well hidden from the air and an air attack from the north or south must be equally difficult. But one can never know, nothing proves impossible in this war. The fear of a bombardment is and will remain for everyone who has already experienced it, like me. Because planes frequently pass or circle over the valley, we live in constant tension.

Friday, August 11: In the afternoon I started my work as a metal worker in the factory with measuring and marking the pieces to be manufactured. Saturday 12 August drilled the planned holes in the finished pieces. Wednesday: Dismantle and number semi-finished parts. Drill holes in the intended places. Air raid siren from 10.30am to 12 noon. (Meaning flights in the mountains) Tuesday, August 22: Helped the inspector. Holes, in which ball bearings are to be mounted, made to the appropriate size, always the same work, in the landing gears, making the recesses in which the ball bearings have to be mounted to the correct size."

Sundays they go to the neighborhood café where an orchestra plays, weekdays to the cinema in Schwaderbach.

Bublava was already a popular tourist center at the beginning of the 20th century. In the period between the wars, there were 26 pubs and two dance halls. There were cross-country and downhill skiing trails in the area, as well as several ski jumps. The end of these idyllic times for Bublava came with Hitler coming to power. After the war, most of the village was demolished, especially in the immediate vicinity of the border.

From 8 September – 3 November Van Egdom regularly reports air raid sirens. "To make up for lost time from work stoppages during the frequent air raid sirens, we sometimes also have to work on Sundays. It is no rarity that we have to evacuate the factory several times a day and run away. Sometimes an air raid siren is sounded early in the morning that remains valid for hours because enemy planes are always in the vicinity. Those days it has no effect that the work leaders try to push us to a higher work rate. The nerves, including those of the work leaders, are then so tense that normal work is impossible. Something always goes wrong. Everyone is on guard and ready to run like lightning out of the factory as soon as the siren sounds, the Germans as well as the foreigners. It even happened that without sounding the alarm, the whole factory was empty when some German planes flew low above the ground through the valley and over the factory. The strangers generally work quite listlessly and without much effort."

Postcard by Jules van Egdom from the EMO Lager, 30 -12-1944

Van Egdom worked at EMO until April 1945. After working in Graslitz, he went to Kratzau (Spreewerk) until the liberation by the Russians.

Theo Geijssen

Another forced laborer was Dutchman Theo Geijssen from Utrecht (1923-2013). He was in Graslitz before Van Egdom and his description makes me believe that he was at the EMO factory as well. "I was in Czechoslovakia too, it must have been in 1943. A group was selected and they went to Regensburg to work in the Messerschmidt factories, which were a little further away. But when we arrived in Regensburg, those factories were bombed and so we couldn't go to work there. So we split up again and went to Graslitz, a place in the mountains, where there was a village with a machine factory, and then we had to go to work there. We slept again in a Lager. We were there for about half a year, no longer. In Czechoslovakia we had no freedom at all, we didn't see much there either. You had to go all the way up the mountain, there you were sleeping. And then down, you were exhausted in the evening. I stood there all day behind a lathe, I had the day shift, you also had night shifts, which stood behind the same machine as where I was. Then I got comments that those from the night shift made 20 pieces of something and I only 10. So I had to work harder and when I said that I could not work harder, that machine had to be set faster. So I let that machine run faster and then it crashed, haha! It was not on purpose, of course not. If you didn't do what they said they threatened you to go to a concentration camp that was nearby, Theresiënstadt, a very tough camp. Of course you didn't feel like it at all."

In SOKOLOVSKO, Magazine of inhabitants and friends of Sokolovsko (nr 2, 2020) Pavel Palůch describes how at the end of the 1980s, during the demolition of the boiler room extension in the then AUTOBRZDY company, in the 07 Tisová plant near Kraslice, the company's employees, Mr. Zdeněk Minařík and Mr. Karel Uhlík, found about 50 hidden metal signs. The metal signs with a diameter of 35 mm bore the designation "EMO - GRÜNBERG" (EMO - GREEN MOUNTAIN) and a stamped up to three-digit number. The characters were found in 3 colors - yellow (with a capital letter "T" in the middle), green (with a capital letter "O" in the middle) and purple (with a capital letter "F" in the middle).

Metal signs used by Emo for their workers

The characters found were probably used to identify the deployed workers who worked for EMO and were attached to clothing using a safety pin on the back. The letters on the signs indicate T - Tschechen (Czechs), O - Ostarbeiter (Eastern workers - officially referred to as citizens introduced to work from Soviet territory, except Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, i.e. mainly Russians and Ukrainians) and F - Franzosen (French ).

Luftfahrtgerätewerke Hakenfelde

Even before the war, the German Reich Ministry of Aviation requested that all Siemens products intended for aircraft on-board equipment be included in one central plant. For this purpose, a new production complex was built in Berlin Spandau - Hakenfelde, and on October 1, 1940, a subsidiary Luftfahrtgerätewerk Hakenfelde GmbH (Aircraft Instrument Plant, abbreviated LGW) was established. LGW manufactured measuring, regulation and control technology (especially autopilots) for aircraft, missiles and submarines. In 1943, it began moving its production to places where they hoped to be more protected from air raids and bombing. These electrical and fine mechanical on-board instruments for the aerospace armament industry were then also manufactured by newly designated factories. They were the first private enterprise to establish an external production camp in Sudetengau in Graslitz/Kraslice. At the beginning of December 1943, LGW decided to relocate part of its production to Kraslice, and on the basis of this, a labor camp was established there. The factory was to employ approximately 200 civilian employees and 700 to 800 prisoners from a concentration camp. The headquarters for this branch became the textile company De Ball. LGW operated another site in the nearby Zwodau (Svatava). These formed together with other satellite camps in neighboring Saxony and Bavaria, a separate sub-camp network. The headquarter for this branch became the textile firm (velvet production) J.L. De Ball (Untere Bahnhofstrasse/ Richard Wagnerstrasse 830, then the street was called Hermann Göringstrasse, now Československé armády). The plants were located in two business units, I and II, in the factory buildings of Hupfer a syn, Julius Keilwerth, Steubing & Co., Hans Rölz, and of Leichtmetallwerke EMO, according to 'Theresienstädter studien und Dokumente: 1999'.

company badge of Luftfahrtgerätewerke Hakenfelde

Arbeitslager Graslitz

Milena Kalčíková, a prisoner in the camp of Svatý Kateřina, went to the new Graslitz camp to assemble the beds. She remembers: "The Kraslice camp was such a red building at the station. Burnt bricks." The camp was a women's camp. Classic wooden barracks were not housed in the camp, as was often the case in other camps, but the women were housed on the floor directly above the production halls in the factory of De Ball. They practically didn't get out of the factory at all.

At the beginning of August 1944, the first 150 women from KT Ravensbrück were relocated to Kraslice. The Kraslice district camp was originally governed by KT Ravensbrück, but since September 1, 1944, it was included under the Flossenbürg KT. In December there were already 483 prisoners. In March and April 1945 this number increased rapidly to the number of 900. The cause was evacuation transport of other camps, as it was in the case of Svatava. Kalčíková: "Most of the women in the camp belonged to the German 'asocials', the rest a few 'political' Russians, a French woman, a few 'asocial' Polish. There were also 15 Czech political prisoners and 29 Czech and Slovak gypsies."

Postcard sent from Arbeitslager Graslitz to family in Ostrava

Another source states that the womens camp was located in the former Durst & Krey dyeing plant at the riverside of the De Ball-complex. The concentration camp, which housed several hundred women of all nationalities, was located directly in the courtyard of the factory, so it did not have a fence loaded with electricity and with watchtowers. However, there was an SS commander with SS guards and a prison warden who were as rude and cruel as their male role models. At first the plant produced mosquito nets for the Afrikacorps in Africa, later quilted blankets for the Wehrmacht and even later the production of aircraft on-board instruments for the Luftwaffe was started here. More about the situation in the Arbeitslager in the thesis of Barbora Adamovicová

In Tábory utrpení a smrti by Bubenicková et.al it's also stated that the camp prisoners worked in the factory buildings of Hupfer & Sohn (until 1939 a woolen goods factory, at the Lehrerplatz/Dukelská, the former Hlawatsch & Isbary, since 1918 part of Vereinigten Schafwollwaren-Fabriken-A.G., now housing the Amati factory), Julius Keilwerth (saxophone factory), Steubing & Co., (Maschinenfabrik, in 1941 listed as munition production, from 1939 in the former factory of Anton Richard Breinl, 229, 231,232 S munition production SudetenCompass 1941,1942,1944) Hans Rölz (a musical toy company at Wolkerova 1269), and EMO Leichtmetallwerke in the Grunberg/Zelená Hora part of Graslitz. At least EMO and Rölz also had their 'own' camps, with forced laborers. These were operated already before 1944. There's discussion as to when the Arbeitslager Graslitz came into operation, in 1944 or before in 1941 already.

In an article in Ceske Narodnilisty Jiří John states that the prisoners called themselves "Cikorka" because of the color of the walls of the whole factory, where the quarters of the concentration camp stood. He quotes Václav Kotěšovec who writes in his Kraslická chronicle published in 2006 that the former textile factory, today's Sametex, was taken over by the Hakenfelde company, and (already) in 1941 it set up quarters for women who worked here as prisoners. According to Václav Kotěšovec, the quarters were right in the yard of the factory, there was no barbed wire fence, nor electrical insulators for electric current to the fences. Otherwise, however, there were such conditions as in all concentration camps, ie SS wardens. John mentions Václav Němec who also dealt with the history of the concentration camp in Graslitz. He puts a question mark in parentheses in 1941, when the camp was to be established. But he also claims that the camp building was not independent and closed. From the report for K.H. Frank, we learn that there are three SS officers, eight SS men, and 18 guards in the camp. And again to the report of K.H. Frank, As of July 7, 1944, there is no mention of in Graslitz, on the contrary, in August 1944, Hakenfelde is charged RM 19,990 for the work of the prisoners, and in September the bill increased to RM 37,852.

There now is a textile company (Sametex S.A.) in the former Arbeitslager Graslitz. There is a commemorative plaque on the wall of the building with the inscription: "Arbeitslager Graslitz, branch of KZ Flossenbürg was located in this building in the 2nd World War".

Graslitz map from 1924, indicating the various musical instrument factories

Hans Rölz

Hans Rölz letterhead 1933

At the Hans Rölz factory - a factory for the production of children's musical instruments and toys - hulls for Arado and Messerschmitt were made. The Messerschmidt 262 was build here in 1944. Hans Rölz had 2 camps called HARO. The "HARO I" labor camp was established in October 1942. It was located in an old factory building at 471 Klingenthalerstrasse. The company's building stood in today's B. Smetana ulici in the parking lot at the KMS boiler room. The camp was home to 80 workers totally employed by this company (mostly Czechs and also a group of French and Italians). They could go out freely during the day, but they were not allowed to stay outside the camp.

The "HARO II" labor camp was in 15 wooden houses of the H. Rölz factory at 1269 Eibenbergerstrasse. Today, the former premises of the Denak company, Amati in Wolkerova Street. Ukrainian (about 80%) and Italian (about 20%) workers were interned here, totally assigned to work for the named company. During the day, they could move unattended, but they were not allowed to stay outside the camp. The camp has existed since November 1941 and was home to about 180 people. Shortly before the arrival of the American army, in April 1945, everyone was released. From 1940, the Kraslice company Püchner also had to take over arms orders (aircraft construction), which were carried out through the Rölz company. Production of windinstruments was strongly at Püchner reduced because in the last years of the war almost half of the workers were in the military.

Vinzenz Kohlert Söhne

Vinzenz Kohlert made components for aircraft. After the war the Amati woodwinds production was concentrated here.

Vinzenz Kohlert & Söhne, Čs. armády 1360.

Franz Michl

Franz Michl was involved in war production after 1940, therefore the production of musical instruments moved more and more into the background.

Julius Keilwerth

Julius Keilwerth factory, Silberbacherstrasse, Graslitz

Other than that camp prisoners worked at the Keilwerth factory, little is known about the Keilwerth war efforts. Saxophone production at Keilwerth dropped according to the serial number list from 2500 year in 1938 and 1939 to 1500 in 1940, 1000 in 1942, 600 in 1943, 500 in 1940 and then stopped. After the war the Amati saxophone production was concentrated in the Keilwerth factory.

Johann Köstler

Johann Köstler, a manufacturer of flutes and wind accordions with production in Dlouhé ulici č. 354(Lange Gasse, today ulice Pohraniční stráže No. 357 - 359) also was forced to become a supplier for the war industry. They worked for Emo - Grünberg and made parts for the aerospace industry. But production of harmonicas and accordions was continued until the end of April 1945, when shipments stopped and the goods had to be put in stock.

Steubing & Co

The premises of A. R. Breinl - a factory for children's musical instruments and toys, Kraslice No. 229, 230 - 233 Hübelpeint Street (today 5. května) were taken over by the German company Maschinenfabrik Steubing & Co. KG from Berlin. The area is known as the long-standing seat of AUTOBRZDY n. P., Today Kornet, s. R. O. Like most Kraslice companies, it produced for the armaments industry during the war. The prisoner-of-war camp "Steubing A. K. 2005/3" was located in Mánesova ulici (then Schönbacherstrasse), about 100 m behind the railway line. It was built in 1944 and moved to Mánesova ulici from Anglické ulice (today Palackého), where it has existed since 1942. 242 Russian prisoners of war were interned here, totally assigned to work in the Steubing factory. Working hours lasted 8-12 hours a day, the diet was very poor and insufficient, so 4 prisoners died of malnutrition, exhaustion. Several of them suffered accidents at work.


W. Stowasser and Brüder Stowasser, manufacturers of musical instruments, were shut down and were replaced by a joint venture between the two companies in the Stowasser factory building on Kamenný potok with 50 employees under the name Metallwarenfabrik Stowasser, which as a military weapons company under Wilhelm Stowasser produced components for the aircraft factory in Cheb. Today, the company Šťastná - textile production is located in the buildings U Plynárny (formerly Gasweg) No. 253 and No. 1909.


A.K. Hüttl factory source: Von ChickSR

AK Hüttl - a factory for the production of brass wind instruments (Fabrik von Metallblasinstrumenten) - manufactured aircraft engine piping. At A. K. Hüttl a labor camp was established in 1942 in a long wooden building on the factory grounds (in the factory garden). There were 63 workers of French nationality living in it, who were totally assigned to work here. They were able to move freely around the day during the day, but in the evening they had to be in the camp at the appointed time and they were not allowed to stay outside the camp. This is the area of the former Amati company catering (no. 1149), today the seat of the company RZ Woodwind Manufacturing, s. R. O. and the school club (villa of the factory owner A. K. Hüttl no. 965/57) in Dukelská street. Gunther Dullat lists in his book about the Graslitz music industie an A.K. Hüttl inventory of instruments, parts, machinery in 1945 after the war ended, for a total of 1.1810.232,75 Krones. Demonstrating that there was still business going on.

Bohland & Fuchs

The Bohland & Fuchs factory

About Bohland & Fuchs, one of the other big companies, I haven't found much information so far. The company was also used for war production according to Uwe Schneider. A site about Silberbach states: 'The wars and changes in the form of government did not affect Bohland & Fuchs, until 1945 the number of employees remained steady at around 500'.

Vinzenz Püchner

Vinzenz Püchner workshop at Am Graben

Vincent Püchner was a woodwind instrument maker, with some 50 workers around 1938, located at Am Graben 543 in Graslitz. Many of them had to serve in the army but during the war in a limited way instruments were made, mainly for export to neutral countries, but also for propagandistic-cultural reasons (support/supply of the Wehrmacht). In the last years of the war Püchner also switched to armament orders for aircraft construction, according to the company history booklet 100 Jahre Püchner.

End of the war

After the end of World War II, almost all Germans were displaced from Czechoslovakia in 1946. The District Administrative Commission have designated the EMO Lager in Tisovská ulici and the Steubing Lager in Mánesova ulici as the the place for the assembly until the removal. Among these people, who had to leave all their property here and leave Kraslice, were Ernst Modl and his family as was Julius Keilwerth. The property of EMO - Leichtmetallbau Ernst Modl Co., KG, based in Zelená Hora near Kraslice, was incorporated into Perun, a laundry, dry cleaning and food processing plant, a national company, which was established on 7 March. 1946. On October 27, 1947, Perun announced that it had sold the wooden barracks of the EMO collection center. This led to the liquidation of this camp. The assets of most of the instrument manufacturers where confiscated and bundled in Amati Denak (DENAK: Dechové nástroje Kraslice = Windinstruments Kraslice).