LUFTSCHUTZTURME (AIR-RAID TOWER): Germany Third Reich. 1934-1945. Leo Winkel of Duisburg first patented an air raid shelter in the form of a tower in 1934. His designs were characterized by an above ground conical tower that met both military, civil defense, and industrial needs for a shelter that could be constructed with a limited ground footprint and yet house a significant number of people - a popular model housed 500 shelterees. The resulting design probably offered the best bomb deflecting capabilities, and were the most widely imitated of the various models. Winkel towers, commonly called ant hills, were adopted by the Wehrmacht (German Army) (a total of 34 towers) for use at the Potsdam command post (4 towers) and the Zossen command headquarters (19 towers); by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) starting in 1937; by the Deutsche Reichsbahn (German State Railway) (17 towers); by the aircraft and related industries (29 towers) (for example, the Focke-Wolfe Flugzeugbau GmbH at Bremen erected 7 towers); and by other industries, including aluminum and steel factories and Daimler-Benz.
A competing design was the Dietel Tower, designed by engineer Paul Zombek, with the first models completed in 1939. This tower design had four levels for shelterees, with an overhanging top floor that housed the tower machinery, including the ventilation system. A platform for a light anti-aircraft artillery piece and a searchlight was located on top of the conical roof of the upper floor. Two towers were constructed in Air Defense Zone West, and one was constructed for the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) in Wilhelmshaven.
Air raid towers were generally equipped with gas locks, and provided the most basic facilities for their occupants.
Most of the various designs of Luftschutzturme were produced after Reichs Chancellor Hitler authorized an expanded air raid protection program in 1940. The eventual number of towers produced was limited by their expense; however, they did hold more shelterees in less space than other designs.
Sources: Kaufmann, J. E. and H. W. Kaufmann, fortification expert, Fortress Third Reich: German Fortifications and Defense Systems in World War II, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America, Da Capo Press, 2003.
Entry 03101 - posted 8 September 2003