i hope you can help me. i am working on a television documentary on the social history of the machine gun and we are very interested in the armaments industry (specifically machine guns manufacturing) in nazi germany and their use of jewish slave labor. i am wondering if you could direct me to information regarding what factories used slave labor from the camps and what they produced. also, there is speculation that krupp had an armaments plant within the confines of the Auschwitz camp. is there any truth to this ?
I am one of the people who answers questions sent to the Holocaust History Project. I hope to address your question concerning Auschwitz; I hope that some of my colleagues may be able to address the other part.
Yisrael Gutman writes in "Auschwitz: an Overview" in Gutman and Berenbaum, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp (1994 USHMM), p. 18:
Acting in concert with the huge Krupp conglomerate, camp authorities established a plant owned by Weichsel Union Metallwerke close to the main camp. It employed hundreds of prisoners, including men from Auschwitz I and women from Birkenau. In the last phase of the camp's existence, women workers from this plant were transferreed to separate living quarters near the main camp.
In an article in the same volume, "The System of Prisoner Exploitation," Franciszek Piper writes (p.35):
In the final phase, 1942-45, prisoner labor was used mainly in the armaments industry and its branches and subsidiaries.
In the same volume in the article "Women," Irena Strzelecka writes:
In October 1943, women prisoners started working for the armaments firm Weichsel Union Metallwerke, which manufactured fuses for artillery shells. For one year, they had to walk to their place of work from Birkenau, and on October 1, 1944 they were moved to the women's camp established on the grounds of the extension of the main camp. By December 31, 1943, the Union employed 506 women (in two shifts), and in the following year, 1,088.
So it seems that there was an armaments plant owned by a company associated with Krupp. As yet I do not see reference specifically to machine-gun manufacture, however.
I hope this provides some leads.
A Holocaust survivor who uses my library for research into that dreadful period was incarcerated in Auschwitz and Buchenwald where he was forced to work as a slave in a nearby Krupp factory. He assembled the trigger device for a single-shot bazooka-type anti-tank weapon that was used by the Germans in the final months of the year. I will ask ----- ----- if he saw any manufacture of machine guns in any Krupp factory and let you know what he has to say.
The following information may also be of some assistance:
The House of Krupp
c. 1966, Dorsett Press (New York)
Although the exact number of slave-workers used in the various Krupp armament establishments is not known, necause the relevant documents were destroyed by Alfried's men during the closing days of the war, estimates put the figure as high as 75,000 -- and on top of this, it was alleged, some 21,000 French, Russian and Yugoslav prisoners of war were put to work for Krupp. Following that well- established economic principle of 'locating units of production near to known pools of labour,' Krupp's in 1943 actually built a factory for making shell-fuses inside Auschwitz itself -- the extermination camp where perhaps the most villanous Nazi atrocities of all were perpetrated.
c. 1981, Macmillan (New York)
According to this agreement [between Speer as Minister for Armaments and Pohl - HWM], 50,000 Jews would soon be occupied in existing factories. [...] Three days later Saur [from Speer's office - HWM] wrote to Pohl indicating - as agreed - three factories that would employ Jews and be taken over as SS armaments factories by the SS, in the manner discussed:1. The 3.7 cm antiaircraft factory in Riga, which will be getting underway again with a final work force of 6,000 ment;
2. the already operating heavy antiaircraft factory ... near Katowice with a final work force of 5,000 men. [...]
So the promise was now made: the Buchenwald carbine factory with some 5,000 inmates; .08 pistol production iun Neuengamme with 2,000 inmates; 3.7 cm antiaircraft artillery in Auschwitz with 6,000 inmates; communications devices in Ravensbruck with 6,000 female inmates; truck production near Katowice with 12,000 inmates; a 3.7 cm antiaircraft factory in Riga with 6,000 inmates; an 8.8 cm antiaircraft plant near Katowice with a work force of 5,000 men; the gear transmission plant in Passau with 3,000 to 4,000 inmates. In September 1942, these 42,000 prisoners could be contrasted with 110,000 mostly sick or feeble prisoners, of whom 39,700 died of undernourishment that very same month.
Harry W. Mazal
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