Me-262 — The Dark Side Of A Legendary Aircraft


When a lovingly crafted Messerschmitt Me 262 replica built in the U.S. was shipped to Germany to fly in an air show last summer, the event stirred up memories — and they weren’t all positive ones. The airplane itself might be an engineering marvel and a joy to fly, but an Austrian journalist, writing for the Jerusalem Post, recalls its dark human history. “Almost all the Me 262s that actually went into service with the Luftwaffe were built in one of the most horrendous concentration camps of the Nazi regime,” writes Anshel Pfeffer. “The fact that an unknown number of slave laborers, estimated at between 35,000 and 50,000, were murdered or died of malnutrition, disease, freezing and work accidents while building the Me 262 … goes unmentioned,” he says. Pfeffer talks to survivors of the Gusen prison camp, who were forced to work on the airplanes, and were starved and mistreated. The camp was liberated by U.S. soldiers in May 1945.