The Eugene Register-Guard newspaper ran the following story on the 18th of June 1951

Warsaw, Poland - (U.P.) - A 32 year-old German Soldier who said he had been buried alive for six years in a Nazi supply depot was given a good chance by hospital authorities Monday to regain his health and eyesight.

The six-foot German who was not identified by authorities at Gdynia's Akademia Hospital, said he and five companions were trapped in an underground German Army food and supply warehouse by retreating Nazi troops who dynamited the entrance early in 1945.

The soldier and one other survivor of the entombment stumbled bearded, blinded and blubbering from the bunker about a month ago when Polish workers cleared wreckage from the entrance to the depot at Babie Doly, near Gdania.

The second survivor dropped dead of shock on emerging into the daylight.

The other said two of his companions committed suicide a few months after they were entombed by German troops who did not know the soldiers were in the depot. The trapped men were believed to have been looting.

Two others of the trapped soldiers died of unknown causes the surviovor said.

Air entered the tomb through an air vent undamaged by the explosion. Water trickled through cracks and the men had plenty of food. But they lived in darkness after their supply of candles was exhausted two years ago.

The trapped men had no tools with which to dig their way out of the concrete bunker, the survivor said. He said they washed in Rhine wine and encased their dead in huge flour sacks. The bodies were almost perfectly mummified.

The story was also covered in Time magazine on the 25th of June 1951

I haven't been able to find out anything else about this story (apart from the fact that it inspired a 1973 film). Do we know the names of the soldiers and how the survivor fared after his escape from the blockhouse?

2 Answers 2


There is another (fictional!) movie about the affair: Nasser Asphalt (Wet asphalt, 1958). Emphasis mine:

... and Boyd, after listening to a tale from his chauffeur Jupp (Gert Fröbe), in the last minute makes up a story of five German soldiers who have lived in a supply bunker in Poland for six years where they had gotten trapped when it was exploded at the end of the war. There is one survivor, now blind, who was brought to a hospital. The story becomes an international sensation and people want to know more.

The story has also been turned into an epic poem which has been translated into English. In the introduction of that translation (from 1962) we can find the following footnote:

The authenticity of the AP story has been strongly questioned, and Hagelstange underlines the symbolic nature of his poem when he admits that he too doubted the veracity of the report. However, he continues, it was as "paradigm" and not as fact that the incident appealed to him.

And there is a 1958 article from a big German news magazine which also mentions the movie above and which sounds quite doubtful.

Da polnische Stellen sich nicht zu den Berichten äußerten - noch in der letzten Woche kommentierte die Pressestelle des Warschauer Innenministeriums: »Der Fall ist uns überhaupt nicht bekannt« -, wurde die publikumswirksame Story jahrelang von den Fabrikanten sogenannter Tatsachenberichte in mannigfacher Form kolportiert.

Because the Polish side did not comment on the reports - as late as last week the press office of the ministry of the interior in Warsaw said "we do not know this case at all" - the producers of so-called true stories have repeated the popular episode in many different forms for years.

Im Dezember des vergangenen Jahres ... erschien sogar eine ostzonale Variante der abgedroschenen Gruselgeschichte ... die ein Oberschullehrer namens Hans Pfeiffer aus Grimma in Sachsen ersonnen hatte. Die Pfeiffer-Story könnte ebensogut in einer westlichen Illustrierten gestanden haben, zumal der Autor die Dramatik noch dadurch zu steigern suchte, daß er seinen Höhlenbewohnern ein zwölfjähriges Flüchtlingsmädchen beigab.

Last december ... even a first East-German version of this old horror story appeared ... which was created by a secondary school teacher named Hans Pfeiffer from Grimma in Saxony. The Pfeiffer story could as well have been from a West-German tabloid, especially since the author tried to increase the drama by adding a twelve-year old refugee girl to his vault dwellers.

FWIW I could find no mention of that story on the Polish wp article about Babie Doły.

If this story had actually happened, I would expect corrobation from both German and Polish sources. I cannot meaningfully check Polish sources, but the treatment from German sources makes me believe this never happened.

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    Hans Pfeiffer in later years became a successfull East German author of detective stories, non-fictional forensic case collections and TV scripts. The Baby Doly story is listed in the WP article as "Die Höhle von Babie Doly, Erzählung, Miltzke HC (postum, Erstveröffentlichung in ndl 12/1957) (2005)"
    – ccprog
    Dec 19, 2022 at 11:49
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    @ccprog Link added.
    – Jan
    Dec 19, 2022 at 12:58
  • This sounds like the most plausible explanation for the story. Dec 19, 2022 at 17:48
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    @DaveGremlin I can only add to this that was born in Gdynia and grew up there, spent half of youth roaming around Obłuże/Oksywie/etc, playing at Babie Doły beach (Torpedownia!) and I've never heard this story, neither at school, nor war documentaries, nor grandpas, nor friends' spooky tales at campfires, nothing. This story is SO incredible that think I'd hear at least a rumor like that over the years. Yet, didn't. Dec 19, 2022 at 23:05
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    While I'm not a historian, but if you need to get something translated from PL to ENG, or maybe just doublecheck/fix something if google-translate produces garbage, ping me, I may be able to help from time to time :) ENG only, sorry, my DE is worse than laughable after 20+ years of not using it. Dec 19, 2022 at 23:09

Some quick search on a local newspaper(www.trojmiasto.pl) reveals one name: Willi Kurtz, but as the article says it's only supposedly. BTW the article starts with information that the bunker is in Brzeźno in Gdańsk, not Babie Doły in Gdynia and tells that it might be just a war legend.

Thanks for sharing the story, have been living close to both spots for many years and this is the first time I've heard about this.

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