Ein mörderischer Lärm (Murderous Noise) – Gusen mining tunnel

The Search for Noise

Today there is hardly a sound to be heard in the former Nazi-operated Gusen mining tunnel, but firsthand reports show that it was extremely noisy when it was in operation. In her film, Tatiana Lecomte sets out in search of noise to counteract the silence in the empty tunnel.

Sound artist Julien Baissat speaks to the contemporary witness Jean-Jacques Boijentin and creates individual sound layers from the “deafening noise” and reproduces them. Lecomte’s film shows how these two men try to translate memories into sounds and the process of remembering with all of the gaps, hesitation, fragments and distortion inherent to it.

During the Nazi era, forced labourers dug the mining tunnel into the mountain in Gusen, Upper Austria, under horrendous conditions. There was an extermination camp in St. Georgen an der Gusen until 1942, and towards the end of the war the tunnel was used as a factory for fighter airplanes. While the main concentration camp in nearby Mauthausen became an important memorial site, Gusen was largely overlooked until a few years ago.

After many years of renovation work and implementation of safety measures inside the tunnel, BIG, as the owner, wanted to address its harrowing past. Because the tunnel is not generally accessible, in 2013 the decision was made to organise a competition for a cinematic treatment of the place and its history. Tatiana Lecomte’s work, one of two winning projects, was realised.