Background: These two articles were published in the ninth of
a series of booklets on the war. The date is early 1941. They give a German
perspective on war production.
The source: “Kamerad an der Maschine” and “Soldatensieg:
Rüstrungstriumph,” Wir schmeiden die Waffen. Kleine Kriegshefte
Nr. 9 (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1941), pp. 1-3 and pp. 30-32.
Comrades at the Machine
by Wilhelm Lorch
During the period last winter between the Polish campaign and the German
counterattack in the west, English propaganda never tired of saying that
the weapons and equipment of the German army were inadequate and that
problems in the German armaments industry were increasing as the result
of a shortage of raw materials, bad material, or insufficient machinery.
Even after the 18-day Polish campaign, the illusion-filled British politicians
still had not learned. They held to their belief in a “comfortable
war” and placed all their hopes in a blockade that would weaken Germany and keep
weapons from the German front soldier for a second time. As the German
sword fell in the west and all of England’s hopes vanished, the whole
world recognized that a powerful armaments industry stands behind the
German army, an industry worthy of the best army in the world.
German armaments and their support base can in no way be compared
to the situation during the World War. Then well-planned offensives
that the enemy could not have resisted failed because of a shortage
of weapons and material. This time, the government has made the
necessary economic preparations. German factories have the necessary
raw materials at their disposal. There may be nearly inexhaustible
reserves, or a planned increase in production that will continue
during the war. Or there may be import routes that cannot be
blockaded. Nor may one forget the material we have captured,
for example, the grain and rubber that are an unexpected but welcome
addition to German reserves.
A few examples of the superior of German armaments production. Steel
is the most important material in the armaments industry. Even in 1938,
the 23.3 million tons that Germany produced were more than double England’s
10.6 million tons. In the meanwhile, the balance has shifted even more
in Germany’s favor. Besides planned increases in production, one need
only consider the iron and steel capability we have captured in the east
and west think of Upper Silesia and Luxembourg! The necessary raw
materials were guaranteed by the iron ore of Lorraine and Belgium. And
the secure route to Swedish sources was guaranteed by the occupation
of Norway. German coal production reached 186 million tons in 1938, the
level of 1913, despite the loss of important coal regions. It has risen
further since the war began as the result of our capture of Upper Silesia
and other former Polish coal mining areas. Coal production for the armaments
industry and other industries is fully secure for the foreseeable future.
Aluminum is an essential material for aircraft production. Germany has
been the world’s leading producer since 1938, when we produced 180,000
tons. Our sources cannot be blockaded. Our enemy hoped we would suffer
from a lack of non-ferrous metals, but here, too, we have enough reserves
or sufficient domestic production, as for example is the case with zinc.
And we have captured large reserves of these metals. For example, we captured
about 30,000 tons of copper in Bourges, a single place in France.
German armaments production thus has at its disposal sufficient and secure
raw materials. To that must be added the superior productive capacity
of German industry, with its modern technical equipment and its security
against foreign attack. This is particularly true of newer factories that
have been built in rural areas safe from air attack.
This concentrated industrial strength is led by the will to
which it owes its existence, the will of the Führer. It
is directed by a comprehensive military-economic organization
that is unique. It guarantees that all forces in the Greater
German Reich can be mobilized and used for the armaments industry
in the most effective way.
The important foundations of armaments production are raw materials,
industrial capacity, and a military-economic organization. Even more important
is the human factor, the German armaments worker. The hundreds of thousands
of German workers and skilled tradesmen, men and women, the engineers,
technicians, builders they all comprise the powerful force that
is the critical part of our enormous armaments production. They are the
dynamic force behind the wheels of industry that are working full speed
for the war. Together, they form a sworn community molded together in
pursuit of a single goal: to forge the best weapons for German soldiers.
The draftee stands next to the skilled worker, perhaps coming from an
entirely different occupation. Now he does his duty at the machine. And
next to him is a woman who, in many, many cases has volunteered to serve
where hands are needed for victory.
The daily life of an armaments worker is certainly not easy. The trip
from home is often long, the work is hard, demanding the concentrated
application of one’s full strength. The men and women working at the bench
or before a mechanical apparatus, before an oven or the test tube, know
that they are fighting where the Führer has set them. They know that
the Führer, the soldiers, and our people realize the importance of
their work. They know that when the day of victory comes, those who forged
the swords will stand next to those wielded them.
The Soldier’s Victory is a
Triumph of Armaments
by Lieutenant Dr. Freiherr von Imhoff
As the German infantry regiments rolled toward the Polish
capital, a Polish soldier stood upright in open country. With
a machine gun, he fired at the approaching colossus. He collapsed
under a hail of bullets. He was one of those Poles who had been
misled into believing that German tanks were made of paper maché,
German weapons of tin. We heard this again and again from the
unending columns of prisoners. It was an article of faith as
they faced their “materially weaker opponent.” One
saw how hard it was for the columns of prisoners to learn the
truth. A detachment of Polish field artillery was destroyed by
German weapons along a country road near Warsaw. The dead soldiers
and wounded horses, their big guns and machine guns, their bazookas
and rifles, were strewn about. The summer heat spread the odor
of the battlefield about, a mixture of fire and desolation. Countless
bullets and shells of every description were scattered about.
We saw individual artillery pieces that were somewhat intact,
with shattered wheels and battered barrels. One gun bore an English
mark, another French. Another was a German piece dated 1913.
It had been stolen by the Poles. There were Swedish guns and
Czech and English machine guns. They were divided according to
their manufacture. How that made matters difficult, not to mention
the rifles from every leading armaments producing nation.
They were the weapons of a nation that had to import its weapons
from other countries. The Polish soldier had to rely on foreign
workers and foreign quality.
The German soldier knows the men who make his weapons. They
speak his language. They mass produce the weapons with which
Polish weapons were defeated. There is no multitude of various
types. Someone keeps an eye on things.
Twenty-four 16.5 centimeter guns were built into an area behind Sedan.
They were intended to fire on advancing German columns.
Their fire surprised us as we crossed the Belgian-French border near
La Chapelle. They tore some holes in the German ranks, but they were not
able to stop our advance. As we took the Maas heights and reached the
second French defensive line, these guns were before us. The crews had
fled. Ammunition, supplies, food, and utensils had been left behind. As
we examined the positions, we could see how the enemy had used 22 years
to modernize his weaponry.
The enemy had 22 years to work daily on his weapons, until he reached
the point at which he thought he could begin a war with Germany. We had
only seven years. The enemy had a head start of 14 years, during which
time German reparations payments were at his disposal, the money that
about 60 million Germans had earned with the work of their hands. Nonetheless
the enemy was not better than we; we were at least his equal and were
able to defeat the enemy with our new weapons. We soldiers know that as
much work was done by us in the 2,555 days we had as was done by the French
in 8,030 days. German soldiers on the battlefield thanked the armaments
workers for their almost unbelievable efforts.
In the dunes of Flanders near Dunkirk, we found an English
cable and telephone system. A German radioman smiled at the English
field radio equipment.
The captured Tommies reported that as a result of the chaos
of battle and their shrinking territory, the communication system
had failed totally. We recalled the battle on the Bzura, where
the Polish command’s orders could not reach the encircled troops.
The English and the Poles agreed that in both battles of annihilation,
German fire had quickly destroyed their communications. That
explained much of the failure of the troops and the panicky flight
of our opponent.
The fact that these battles went as planned on our side is
due primarily to our flawlessly functioning communication equipment.
That made it possible to relay orders to the proper units. We
knew from the World War what happened when communications fails.
We learned from those experiences, and during our years of rearmament
worked to produce the best communications equipment in the world.
With unparalleled endurance and devotion, the workers in the
cable factories and in the radio industry worked to manufacture
high quality equipment.
We watched the triumph of the German munitions workers on
5 June as we stood in the tower of Amiens Cathedral. Several
hundred German guns were sending their death-bringing cargo over
our heads toward the French Weygand Line. They destroyed enemy
batteries and machine gun nests, opening the way for our tanks.
Later we saw French tanks destroyed on the battlefield. Our
bazookas had torn through their steel armor.
Can there be any greater reward for German armaments workers
than the consciousness of having created such effective weapons?!
It was recently revealed that the former Jewish Minister President
Léon Blum had given armaments orders to a Jewish metal
works. The Jewish firm did not always complete its work punctually.
But the Jewish firm did punctually receive one payment after
another from the French treasury. The Jewish armaments baron
got his money despite unreliable deliveries. The French soldier
paid with his life. As we were thankful to learn on the battlefields
of Poland and France, such things are not possible in Greater
Germany. Our government took care that no one made improper profit
from German blood. Here, too, we learned from experience. But how
depressing it must be for French soldiers to hear these reports,
since they had to pay.
But what a triumph battles like those of early June along
the Aisne and Somme rivers are.
Our armament workers’ greatest satisfaction is to forge such
weapons for our soldiers. The German soldier thanks them now
and always for the fact that he can rely on the quality of their
work in battle. He knows that he can depend on them. His blood
protects the work place, it protects the dangerous work in the
armaments factories of Greater Germany. In the end, it protects
the lives of the workers and their families.
It was not and is not dead material with which we go into
battle. No, the weapons and equipment are filled with the spirit
the workers bring to the material. They are filled with the spirit
the fighting soldier gives them. Spirit and innovative equipment
has helped us to the great German victory.
[Page copyright © 1999 by Randall Bytwerk.
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