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Corpse Factories in Germany

Corpse Factories in Germany


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During the First World War rumours began to spread that Germany was building corpse factories. For example, Cynthia Asquith wrote in her diary on 16th June, 1915: "Quite a pleasant dinner. We discussed the rumour that the Germans utilise even their corpses by converting them into glycerine with the by-product of soap. I suggested that Haldane should offer his vast body as raw material to Lloyd George."

These rumours died out until the story reappeared in the North China Herald in Shanghai. On the 10th April 1917, it appeared in the Independence Belge. A week later a report of corpse factories was published in The Times: "We have known for long that the Germans stripped their dead behind the firing line, fastened them into bundles of three or four bodies with iron wire, and then dispatched these grisly bundles to the rear... the chief factory of which has been constructed 1,000 yards from the railway connecting St Vith, near the Belgian frontier, with Gerolstein, in the lonely, little-frequented Eifel district, south-west of Coblenz. The factory deals specially with the dead from the West Front. If the results are as good as the company hopes, another will be established to deal with corpses on the East Front... The trains arrive full of bare bodies, which are unloaded by the workers who live at the works. The men wear oilskin overalls and masks with mica eyepieces. They are equipped with long hooked poles, and push the bundles of bodies to an endless chain, which picks them with big hooks, attached at intervals of two feet. The bodies are transported on this endless chain into a long, narrow compartment, where they pass through a bath which disinfects them. They then go through a drying chamber, and finally are automatically carried into a digester or great cauldron, in which they are dropped by an apparatus which detaches them from the chain. In the digester they remain for six to eight hours, and are treated by steam, which breaks them up while they are slowly stirred by machinery."

It was later discovered that the story was planted in the newspapers by Brigadier-General John Charteris, the Chief Intelligence Officer at GHQ. According to the New York Times he later admitted: "One day there came to the desk of General Charteris a mass of material taken from German prisoners and dead soldiers. In it were two pictures, one showing a train taking dead horses to the rear so that fat and other things needed for fertiliser and munitions might be obtained from them, and the other showing a train taking dead Germans to the rear for burial. On the picture showing the horses was the word cadaver ... General Charteris had the caption telling of cadaver being sent back to the fat factory transposed to the picture showing the German dead, and had the photograph sent to a Chinese newspaper in Shanghai."

On 20th April, 1917, The Times published an interview with a soldier who had talked to a German who had worked in one of the corpse factories. The soldier claimed: "One of them who spoke English told me - mind, I don't know that it's true, but he told me - that even when they're dead their work isn't done. They are wired together in batches then, and boiled down in factories as a business, to make fat for munition making and to feed pigs and poultry, and God knows what else besides. Then other folk eat the pigs and poultry, so you may say it's cannibalism, isn't it? This fellow told me Fritz calls his margarine corpse fat, because they suspect that's what it comes from."

Questions about the story were asked in Parliament on 30th April, 1917. John Dillon, the MP for County Tipperary, commented: "Has their attention (the government) to the fact that it is not only a gross scandal, but a very great evil to this country to allow the circulation of such statements, authorised by Ministers of the Crown, if they are, as I believe them to be, absolutely false?"

Lord Robert Cecil, the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, replied for the government: "In view of other actions by German military authorities there is nothing incredible in the present charge against them... I confess I am not able to attach very great importance to any statements made by the German government."

Robert Leonard Outhwaite, the Liberal Party MP for Hanley, raised another issue arising out of this story: "May I ask if the Noble Lord is aware that the circulation of these reports has caused anxiety and misery to British people who have lost their sons on the battlefield, and who think that their bodies may be put to this purpose, and does not that give a reason why he should try to find out the truth of what is happening in Germany?"

On 11th May, 1917, the German Foreign Secretary, Arthur Zimmerman, told the Reichstag: "No reasonable person among our enemies can have been in any uncertainty about the fact that this has to do with the bodies of animals and not of human beings. The fact that the word cadavre in French is used for human beings and animals has been exploited by our enemies. We have rectified this subtle misunderstanding, which, against its better knowledge, has been used by the enemy press to mislead public opinion. In neutral countries, in so far as there is a tangible slanderous intention, criminal proceedings will be taken."

The British public continued to believe the German corpse factory story. However, in 1924, Bertrand Russell argued in an essay on propaganda, Those Eventful Years, that the story was released in China when the nation's participation in the First World War was required: "Worldwide publicity was given to the statement that the Germans boiled down human corpses in order to extract from them gelatine and other useful substances... The story was set going cynically by one of the employees in the British propaganda department."

The following year Brigadier-General John Charteris admitted that he invented the story when he was visiting New York City. It was reported in the New York Times that he gave a speech at a private dinner function at the National Arts Club. He admitted that he had provided false information to government ministers when they were asked questions about it in the House of Commons. Charteris went onto say: "The matter might have gone even further, for an ingenious person in his office offered to write a diary of a German soldier, telling of his transfer from the front after two years of fighting to an easy berth in a factory, and of his horror at finding that he was to assist there in boiling down his brother soldiers. He obtained a transfer to the front and was killed. It was planned to place this forged diary in the clothing of a dead German soldier and have it discovered by a war correspondent who had a passion for German diaries. General Charteris decided that the deception had gone far enough and that there might be an error in the diary which would have led to the exposure of the falsity."

The speech was reported in London and Charteris was forced to issue a statement: "I feel it, therefore, necessary to give again a categorical denial to the statement attributed to me. Certain suggestions and speculations as regards the origin of the Kadaver story which have already been published in Those Eventful Years and elsewhere, which I repeated, are, doubtless unintentionally, but nevertheless unfortunately, turned into definite statements of fact and attributed to me. Lest there should still be any doubt, let me say that I neither invented the Kadaver story, nor did I alter the captions in any photograph, nor did I use any faked material for propaganda purposes. The allegations that I did so are not only incorrect, but absurd."

The Times responded on 4th November, 1925: "This paper makes the significant observation that in the course of his denial he offered no comment on his reported admission that he avoided telling the truth when questioned about the matter in the House of Commons, or on his own description of a scheme to support the Corpse Factory story by planting a forged diary in the clothing of a dead German prisoner - a proposal which he only abandoned lest the deception might be discovered."

Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on 6th December: "A few years ago the story of how the Kaiser was reducing human corpses to fat aroused the citizens of this and other enlightened nations to a fury of hatred. Normally sane men doubled their fists and rushed off to the nearest recruiting sergeant. Now they are being told, in effect, that they were dupes and fools; that their own officers deliberately goaded them to the desired boiling-point, using an infamous lie to arouse them... In the next war, the propaganda must be more subtle and clever than the best the World War produced. These frank admissions of wholesale lying on the part of trusted Governments in the last war will not soon be forgotten."

Quite a pleasant dinner. I suggested that Haldane should offer his vast body as raw material to Lloyd George. We played poker after dinner. I played in a syndicate with Papa (Herbert Asquith), which is always unsatisfactory. The syndicate lost about a pound.

The legend of the German corpse rendering factory remains the most notorious atrocity myth of the conflict, and fully deserves its appraisal by George Viereck as "the master hoax" of the First World War. Indeed the story proved so durable that it would not finally be exposed as a fiction until 1925. The central premise of this ghoulish tale, first circulated in its popular form in April 1917, was that close behind their front line the Germans had established a facility for boiling down the corpses of dead soldiers, the by-products being used in the production of munitions, soap, fertiliser and pig food. For the Allied propaganda machine, the story played as a near-perfect conjunction of German science and Hunnish barbarity. Today, credit for the deliberate creation of the myth is usually given to British intelligence agencies, and in particular the omnipresent General Charteris.

We have known for long that the Germans stripped their dead behind the firing line, fastened them into bundles of three or four bodies with iron wire, and then dispatched these grisly bundles to the rear. Until recently the trains laden with the dead were sent to Seraing, near Liege, and to a point north of Brussels, where there were refuse consumers. Much surprise was caused by the fact that of late this traffic has proceeded in the direction of Gerolstein, and it is noted that on each wagon was written DAVG.

German science is responsible for the ghoulish idea of the formation of the German Offal Utilization Company Limited (DAVG), a dividend-earning company with a capital of £250,000, the chief factory of which has been constructed 1,000 yards from the railway connecting St Vith, near the Belgian frontier, with Gerolstein, in the lonely, little-frequented Eifel district, south-west of Coblenz. If the results are as good as the company hopes, another will be established to deal with corpses on the East Front.

The factory is invisible from the railway. It is placed deep in forest country, with a specially thick growth of trees about it. Live wires surround it. A special double track leads up to it. The works are about 700 feet long and ll0 feet broad, and the railway runs completely round them. In the north-west corner of the works the discharge of the trains takes place.

The trains arrive full of bare bodies, which are unloaded by the workers who live at the works. In the digester they remain for six to eight hours, and are treated by steam, which breaks them up while they are slowly stirred by machinery.

From this treatment result several products. The fats are broken up into stearine, a form of tallow, and oils, which require to be re-distilled before they can be used. The process of distillation is carried out by boiling the oil with carbonate of soda, and some part of the by-products resulting from this is used by German soap makers. The oil distillery and refinery lie in the south-eastern corner of the works. The refined oil is sent out in small casks like those used for petroleum, and is of a yellowish brown colour.

The fumes are exhausted from the buildings by electric fans, and are sucked through a great pipe to the north-eastern corner, where they are condensed and the refuse resulting is discharged into a sewer. There is no high chimney, as the boiler furnaces are supplied with air by electric fans. There is a laboratory and in charge of the works is a chief chemist with two assistants and 78 men. All the employees are soldiers and are attached to the 8th Army Corps. There is a sanatorium by the works, and under no pretext is any man permitted to leave them. They are guarded as prisoners at their appalling work.

Among the stories told by men who have come from the front is the following, which affords unexpected confirmation of the account of the Corpse Utilization Company's enterprise. The soldier who tells the story is Sergeant B of the Kents. Describing the prisoners taken in the recent fighting, he said: "One of them who spoke English told me - mind, I don't know that it's true, but he told me - that even when they're dead their work isn't done. Then other folk eat the pigs and poultry, so you may say it's cannibalism, isn't it? This fellow told me Fritz calls his margarine `corpse fat', because they suspect that's what it comes from."

Among the prisoners captured in the recent fighting was a German army doctor, who seems to have talked very interestingly on the subject of the conversion of corpses... saying that it was an entirely natural thing to do to convert human bodies, but, of course, not horses, as these were too valuable for food purposes. Horses' bones only might be used. He was of the opinion that probably the censors did not permit the German people to know too much about it. The doctor was quite serious, and took a merely scientific and utilitarian view of it.

No reasonable person among our enemies can have been in any uncertainty about the fact that this has to do with the bodies of animals and not of human beings. The fact that the word "cadavre" in French is used for human beings and animals has been exploited by our enemies. In neutral countries, in so far as there is a tangible slanderous intention, criminal proceedings will be taken.

One day there came to the desk of General Charteris a mass of material taken from German prisoners and dead soldiers. On the picture showing the horses was the word "cadaver" ... General Charteris had the caption telling of `cadaver' being sent back to the fat factory transposed to the picture showing the German dead, and had the photograph sent to a Chinese newspaper in Shanghai...

The controversy raged until all England thought it must be true, and the German newspapers printed indignant denials. The matter came up in the House of Commons and an interrogation was made which was referred to General Charteris, who answered that from what he knew of the German mentality, he was prepared for anything. It was the only time, he said, during the war when he actually dodged the truth.

The matter might have gone even further, for an ingenious person in his office offered to write a diary of a German soldier, telling of his transfer from the front after two years of fighting to an easy berth in a factory, and of his horror at finding that he was to assist there in boiling down his brother soldiers. He obtained a transfer to the front and was killed.

It was planned to place this forged diary in the clothing of a dead German soldier and have it discovered by a war correspondent who had a passion for German diaries. General Charteris decided that the deception had gone far enough and that there might be an error in the diary which would have led to the exposure of the falsity. Such a result would have imperiled all the British propaganda, he said, and he did not think it worth while, but the diary is now in the war museum in London.

On arrival in Scotland I was surprised to find that, in spite of the repudiation issued by me at New York through Reuter's Agency, some public interest was still excited in the entirely incorrect report of my remarks at a private dinner in New York. I feel it, therefore, necessary to give again a categorical denial to the statement attributed to me. Certain suggestions and speculations as regards the origin of the Kadaver story which have already been published in Those Eventful Years and elsewhere, which I repeated, are, doubtless unintentionally, but nevertheless unfortunately, turned into definite statements of fact and attributed to me.Lest there should still be any doubt, let me say that I neither invented the Kadaver story, nor did I alter the captions in any photograph, nor did I use any faked material for propaganda purposes. The allegations that I did so are not only incorrect, but absurd; as propaganda was in no way under GHQ France, where I had charge of the intelligence services. I should be as interested as the general public to know what was the true origin of the Kadaver story. GHQ France only came in when the fictitious diary supporting the Kadaver story was submitted. When this diary was discovered to be fictitious it was at once rejected. I have seen the Secretary of State for War this morning, and have explained the whole circumstances to him, and have his authority to say that he is perfectly satisfied.

This paper makes the significant observation that in the course of his denial he offered no comment on his reported admission that he avoided telling the truth when questioned about the matter in the House of Commons, or on his own description of a scheme to support the Corpse Factory story by `planting' a forged diary in the clothing of a dead German prisoner - a proposal which he only abandoned lest the deception might be discovered.

A few years ago the story of how the Kaiser was reducing human corpses to fat aroused the citizens of this and other enlightened nations to a fury of hatred. Now they are being told, in effect, that they were dupes and fools; that their own officers deliberately goaded them to the desired boiling-point, using an infamous lie to arouse them, just as a grown bully whispers to one little boy that another little boy said he could lick him. The encouraging sign found in this revolting admission of how modern war is waged is the natural inference that the modern man is not over-eager to throw himself at his brother's throat at the simple word of command. His passions must be played upon, so the propaganda bureau has taken its place as one of the chief weapons. These frank admissions of wholesale lying on the part of trusted Governments in the last war will not soon be forgotten.

Of all this kind of swordsmanship the most dashing feat was the circulation of the `corpse factory' story. German troops, it was written in part of our Press, had got, in certain places near their front, a proper plant for boiling down the fat of their own dead. It was not said whether the product was to be used as a food, or as a lubricant or illuminant only. Chance brought me into one of the reputed seats of this refinement of frugality. It was on ground that our troops had just taken, in 1918.

At Bellicourt the St Quentin Canal goes into a long tunnel. Some little way in from its mouth you could find, with a flash-lamp, a small doorway cut in the tunnel's brick wall, on the tow-path side of the canal. The doorway led to the foot of a narrow staircase that wound up through the earth till it came to an end in a room about 20 feet long. It, too, was subterranean, but now its darkness was pierced by one sharp-edged shaft of sunlight let in through a neat round hole cut in the five or six feet of earth above.

Loaves, bits of meat, and articles of German equipment lay scattered about, and two big dixies or cauldrons, like those in which we stewed our tea, hung over two heaps of cold charcoal. Eight or ten bodies, lying pell-mell, nearly covered half the floor. They showed the usual effects of shell-fire. Another body, disembowelled and blown almost to rags, lay across one of the dixies and mixed with a puddle of coffee that it contained. A quite simple case. Shells had gone into cook-houses of ours, long before then, and had messed up the cooks with the stew.

An Australian sergeant, off duty and poking about, like a good Australian, for something to see, had come up the stairs too. He had heard the great fat-boiling yarn, and how this was the latest seat of the industry. Sadly he surveyed the disappointing scene. Ruefully he noted the hopelessly normal nature of all the proceedings that had produced it. Then he broke the silence in which we had made our several inspections.

"Can't believe a word you read, sir, can you?" he said with some bitterness. Life had failed to yield one of its advertised marvels. The press had lied again. The propagandist myth about Germans had cracked up once more. `Can't believe a word you read' had long been becoming a kind of catchphrase in the army. And now another good man had been duly confirmed in the faith, that whatever your pastors and masters tell you had best be assumed to be just a bellyfull of east wind.

According to Independance Belge it had long been known that the Germans stripped their dead behind the firing line, tied the bodies into bundles of three or four and then sent them in wagons to the rear. Latterly they had been consigned to a new factory near St Vith, close to the Belgian frontier. If the results were good, it was proposed to set up another factory for corpses from the Eastern Front. The company conducting the operation was the German Offal Utilisation Company (Deutsche Abfall Verwertungs Gesellschaft) with a capital of £250,000.

There was a circumstantial description of the factory, which measured 700 feet long, was invisible from the railway, surrounded by thick trees and enclosed by electrified wire. When the corpse trains arrived men in oilskins and wearing mica masks used hooked poles to lift the bodies on to an endless chain. The corpses passed through disinfecting and drying chambers into a "digester" where they were left for six or eight hours. Among the by-products were stearine and other fats used for soap. The men employed in this mechanised charnel-house were not allowed to leave and were closely guarded....

The Department of Information did not circulate the story. Its Director, C. F. G. Masterman, was attacked for not doing so, but he and his staff found much of the published information unsatisfactory; in later life he prided himself on having left the rumour alone. Doubts must have been gathering in Fleet Street, for the story was soon abandoned. In any event the lie by now had "time on its own wings to fly".

In Disenchantment C. E. Montague says that in 1918 chance took him to a chamber of horrors in a subterranean room near Bellicourt. Two big dixies, or cauldrons, lay amid a shambles of bodies and parts of bodies. The explanation was simple: a shell had landed on a cookhouse, not a rare happening. An Australian sergeant who had heard that this was the scene of corpse boiling said, with some bitterness, "Can't believe a word you read, can you?"

Little more might have been heard of the story had not Brigadier-General John Charteris delivered an unfortunate speech at a dinner of the National Arts Club in New York in October 1925. He was reported as saying that the story began as propaganda for use in China. Two photographs had been found on a German prisoner, one showing a trainload of wounded soldiers, another a trainload of dead horses labelled Kadaver. By switching the captions, a mischievously false impression was given, and the result was sent off to a newspaper in Shanghai. When the report of his speech raised a stir General Charteris hastened to deny what he called a wholly inaccurate report of a speech at a private dinner. He had not transposed any picture captions and would be as interested as the general public to know the true origin of the story. General Headquarters in France, where he served as head of Intelligence services, had come into the matter only when a diary faked to give substance to the story had been submitted for planting on a dead German, but the idea was rejected. The General maintained his innocence in an interview with the Secretary for War.


Germany from 1871 to 1918

The German Empire was founded on January 18, 1871, in the aftermath of three successful wars by the North German state of Prussia. Within a seven-year period Denmark, the Habsburg monarchy, and France were vanquished in short, decisive conflicts. The empire was forged not as the result of the outpouring of nationalist feeling from the masses but through traditional cabinet diplomacy and agreement by the leaders of the states in the North German Confederation, led by Prussia, with the hereditary rulers of Bavaria, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Württemberg. Prussia, occupying more than three-fifths of the area of Germany and having approximately three-fifths of the population, remained the dominant force in the nation until the empire’s demise at the end of another war in 1918.

At its birth Germany occupied an area of 208,825 square miles (540,854 square km) and had a population of more than 41 million, which was to grow to 67 million by 1914. The religious makeup was 63 percent Protestant, 36 percent Roman Catholic, and 1 percent Jewish. The nation was ethnically homogeneous apart from a modest-sized Polish minority and smaller Danish, French, and Sorbian populations. Approximately 67 percent lived in villages and the remainder in towns and cities. Literacy was close to universal because of compulsory education laws dating to the 1820s and ’30s.


Bombing of Dresden: Background

By February 1945, the jaws of the Allied vise were closing shut on Nazi Germany. In the west, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s (1889-1945) desperate counteroffensive against the Allies in Belgium’s Ardennes forest had ended in total failure. In the east, the Red army had captured East Prussia and reached the Oder River, less than 50 miles from Berlin. The once-proud Luftwaffe was a skeleton of an air fleet, and the Allies ruled the skies over Europe, dropping thousands of tons of bombs on Germany every day.

Did you know? Russian leader Vladimir Putin was a KGB spy stationed in Dresden during the late 1980s.

From February 4 to February 11, the 𠇋ig Three” Allied leaders–U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945), British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965) and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin (1878-1953)–met at Yalta in the USSR and compromised on their visions of the postwar world. Other than deciding on what German territory would be conquered by which power, little time was given to military considerations in the war against the Third Reich. However, Churchill and Roosevelt did promise Stalin to continue their bombing campaign against eastern Germany in preparation for the advancing Soviet forces.


Manufacturing of Germany

Industrial employment in western Germany declined steadily from a postwar peak. However, deindustrialization was not as precipitous in Germany as it was in some other European countries. Western German industry benefited from the willingness of banks to take a long-term view on investment and of the federal government to underwrite research and development. German industrial products are viewed with great prestige on world markets and are in strong demand overseas. By contrast, unification revealed that most of eastern German industry was incapable of competing in a free market.

Germany is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of steel, with production concentrated in the Ruhr region however, since the peak output of the early 1970s, a number of plants have closed. (The steel industry in eastern Germany was largely abandoned after unification, though some production was reestablished at a renovated plant at Eisenhuettenstadt.) Germany’s principal industries include machine building, automobiles, electrical engineering and electronics, chemicals, and food processing. Automobile manufacturing is concentrated in Baden-Württemberg, Lower Saxony, Hessen, North Rhine–Westphalia, Bavaria, the Saarland, and Thuringia. Leading automobile manufacturers in Germany include Audi, BMW, Daimler AG (formerly Daimler-Benz and DaimlerChrysler), Ford, Opel, and Volkswagen. Following unification, production of the environmentally unfriendly Trabant and Wartburg cars in eastern Germany ceased. Volkswagen, Opel, and Daimler-Benz were quick to establish assembly or parts production in the east. Shipbuilding, once a major industry, has declined significantly.

Since the late 19th century Germany has been a world leader in the manufacture of electrical equipment. As the home of internationally known firms such as Siemens, AEG, Telefunken, and Osram, Berlin was the industry’s principal centre until World War II, after which production was largely transferred to Nürnberg-Erlangen, Munich, Stuttgart, and other cities in southern Germany. The output of these centres made Germany one of the world’s leading exporters of electrical and electronic equipment.

In East Germany electrical and electronic production was concentrated in East Berlin, with Dresden forming a second important centre. The country was a major supplier of equipment (e.g., computer-controlled robots) to the communist world. Although eastern German plants were outdated in comparison with those in the west, both Dresden and Erfurt achieved some success in developing microelectronics production following unification.

With the discovery of synthetic dyestuffs in the late 19th century, Germany became a world leader in the chemical industry. Most of the western German chemical industry is concentrated along the Rhine or its tributaries, notably in Ludwigshafen, Hoechst (near Frankfurt), and Leverkusen (together with a row of other plants along the Rhine in North Rhine–Westphalia). Chemical plants also operate in the Ruhr region. The majority of East German chemical plants were on the two brown-coal fields of Lower Lusatia and Halle-Leipzig after unification some plants were closed because of environmental reasons, and others were upgraded.

Germany is also particularly strong in the field of optical and precision industries. The once-mighty textile industry has suffered from overseas competition but is still significant. Principal centres are in North Rhine–Westphalia (Mönchen-Gladbach, Wuppertal) and southern Germany. After unification many textile plants were closed in eastern Germany, where employment in the sector plunged by some nine-tenths.


The German conglomerate Siemens AG is Europe&rsquos biggest industrial manufacturing company, employing over 375,000 people, and generating more than € 83 billion in revenues in 2017. Its factories churn out a wide range of products in the fields of electronics, electrical engineering products, energy, medical goods, drives, fire safety, and industrial plant goods. In the Nazi era, it was Germany&rsquos biggest industrial conglomerate, and made use of slave laborers by the hundreds of thousands.

Siemens, which had been founded in 1847, hit a rough patch after WWI, and things did not get any better during the Great Depression. It was saved by the Nazis. When Hitler & Co. took control of Germany in 1933, Siemens profited as the new regime started rearming, and the company experienced massive growth from armaments contracts. As the leader of Germany&rsquos electrical industry, Siemens&rsquo revenue increased continuously from 1934 onwards, reaching a peak during WWII.

As the Nazis&rsquo demands for armaments increased, and as German workers were taken from the factories and drafted into the military, German manufacturers turned to slave workers to meet the ensuing labor shortfall. From 1940 onwards, Siemens relied increasingly on slave labor from countries occupied by Germany, prisoners of war, Jews, Gypsies, and concentration camp inmates. Indeed, Siemens was a leading participant in the Nazis &ldquodeath through work&rdquo program, and ran factories inside concentration camps such as Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Ravensbruck, Flossenburg, Sachsenhausen, and others.

Unsurprisingly, working conditions were terrible. For example, Siemens used female slave workers at Ravensbruck to make electrical components for V-1 and V-2 rockets. They were subjected to all types of exploitation, with the ever present threat of death if they balked. Siemens&rsquo construction operations also made use of female slave workers, yoking them in teams like draft animals to pull giant rollers to pave the streets.

Siemens&rsquo general director, Rudolf Bingel, was a personal friend of Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler, and made full use of his connections to ensure that Siemens did well under the Nazis. The company further profited from the Holocaust via the &ldquoAryanization Program&rdquo, which expropriated Jewish businesses and properties, then resold them at fire sale prices to approved companies such as Siemens.

Unsurprisingly, Siemens did its best to forget its role during the Nazi era, but reminders cropped up from time to time. In 2001, in a jaw dropping display of obliviousness, Bosch Siemen Hausgeraete, the company&rsquos consumer products arm, filed applications with the US Patents & Trademark Office for the name Zyklon. The same as in Zyklon B, the toxic chemical used in the Holocaust&rsquos gas chambers. The company sought to use the Zyklon name in a range of household products, including gas ovens. After a public outcry, Siemens did an about turn, and withdrew the trademark applications.


Schindler’s Life-Saving List

In early 1943, the Nazis implemented the liquidation of the Krakow Jewish population and opened up the Plaszow work camp, run by the notoriously sadistic commandant, Amon Göth. Schindler cultivated a relationship with Göth, and whenever any of his workers were threatened with deportation to a concentration camp or execution, Schindler managed to provide a black-market gift or bribe to save their lives.

In 1944, Plaszow transitioned from a labor camp to a concentration camp and all Jews were to be sent to the death camp at Auschwitz. Schindler requested Göth allow him to relocate his factory to Brnĕnec, in the Sudetenland, and produce war goods. He was told to draw up a list of workers he wanted to take with him. With Stern’s help, Schindler created a list of 1,100 Jewish names he deemed 𠇎ssential” for the new factory. Permission was granted and the factory was moved. Not wanting to contribute to the German war effort, Schindler ordered his workers to purposefully make defective products that would fail inspection. The employees spent the remaining months of the war in the factory.


The Allies Master Plan to Crush Nazi Germany: Take the Factories

A never-ending compulsion to stave off possible future crises had sucked the defenders into the abyss of piecemeal commitment of their forces.

Here’s What You Need to Remember: In their directive to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) in northwestern Europe, the Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff ordered Allied forces to land in France in June 1944, break out of Normandy, and mount an offensive “aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her armed forces.”

To this end, Allied planners designated the first major target inside the Reich to be the Ruhr industrial region, an area of vital economic importance. An offensive against the Ruhr would compel the Germans to commit their remaining forces so that the Allies might bring them to battle and destroy them.

There were four major approaches to the Ruhr from France: the Plain of Flanders, the Ardennes Forest, the Metz-Kaiserlauten Gap, and the Maubeuge-Leige-Aachen axis north of the Ardennes. On September 5, 1944, Eisenhower chose the route the American armies would follow through the German defensive line known as the Siegfried Line or West Wall directly to the north and south of the ancient city of Aachen. Once Aachen and its environs were captured, the Allied high command envisioned a rapid advance to the Rhine and then on to the Ruhr with the end of the war in Europe soon following.

Militarily, Aachen had little to recommend it. Lying in a saucer-like depression surrounded by hills, it was not a natural fortress. This was surprising since in October 1944 the town lay between the twin bands of the Siegfried Line that split north and south of the city. To the west was the relatively thin Scharnhorst Line, while to the east and behind Aachen stood the more heavily fortified Schill Line.

Aachen itself was defended by the 246th Volksgrenadier Infantry Division commanded by Colonel Gerhard Wilck. The 246th had taken responsibility for this sector in late September 1944 from the 116th Panzer Division. North of the city were the 183rd Volksgrenadier and 4th Infantry Divisions, while to the south lay the 12th Infantry Division, collectively designated the LXXI Corps under the command of Lt. Gen. Friedrich J. Kochling.

Although the 246th Division had not engaged in any major combat within its own zone, Wilck’s troops had nevertheless been decisively weakened. In the desperate efforts to stem the American First Army’s recent breakthrough of the West Wall, Kochling had stripped his front of troops, including four of Wilck’s seven infantry battalions. The entire 404th Infantry Regiment and a battalion each of the 352nd and 689th Infantry Regiments had been attached to neighboring divisions.

On October 7, 1944, the U.S. XIX Corps entered Alsdorf, six miles north of Aachen, in an initial move to encircle the city and attack it from the rear. From there the Americans pressed southward toward Wurselen.

The prospects for keeping Aachen in German hands looked bleak, yet Kochling’s Wehrmacht superiors had not let him down completely. Their most immediate step had been to assemble an effective force to retake Alsdorf in hopes of preventing the enemy encirclement of Aachen. The main component of this force was the Schnelle (Mobile) Regiment von Fritzschen comprising three bicycle-mounted infantry battalions and an engineer company. In support was the 108th Panzer Brigade with 22 self-propelled assault guns.

Any genuine hope of denying Aachen to the Americans for an extended time lay not with the small Schnelle combat group but with a promise from Commander-in-Chief West Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt to commit his most potent theater reserves. These were the 3rd Panzergrenadier and 116th Panzer Divisions. Attaching these to the headquarters of the I SS Panzer Corps headed by General Georg Keppler, von Rundstedt intended to stabilize the front in the Aachen region. Since leaving the city in September, the 116th Panzer Division had been built up to 11,500 men but it fielded only 41 tanks out of an authorized armor force of 151 PzKpfw. IV and PzKpfw. V Panther medium tanks. Although the 3rd Panzergrenadier Division was in reality little more than a motorized infantry division, numbering 12,000 soldiers, 31 75mm antitank guns, and 38 field artillery pieces.

From October 5 to 7, Kochling waited in vain for the arrival of the promised reinforcements. They had been dispatched earlier, but disruptions by Allied air attacks on the rail lines had resulted in serious delays. In the meantime, Kochling feared Aachen would be lost. At the time, the number of German troops defending Aachen and its surrounding area was 12,000, including the reduced 246th Volksgrenadier Division, a battalion of Luftwaffe ground troops, a machine-gun fortress battalion, and a Landesschutzen Battalion, all under the command of Lt. Col. Maximilian Leyherr.

From the American viewpoint, the timing of the operation to encircle and reduce Aachen depended on the progress of the penetration of the West Wall north of the city. As soon as XIX Corps took Wurselen, three miles to the north of Aachen and behind the Siegfried Line, Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins’ VII Corps in the south was to attack from a jump-off point near the town of Eilendorf east of Aachen, seize Verlautenheide, a strongpoint in the second band of the West Wall, and connect with XIX Corps at Wurselen. With Aachen isolated, part of the VII Corps would reduce the town while XIX Corps and the rest of VII Corps drove east and northeast to the Roer River. Once the Roer was crossed, a quick thrust through the Cologne Plain would bring the U.S. First Army to the Rhine within easy striking distance of the Ruhr.

On October 7, with Alsdorf in American hands, Maj. Gen. Leland Hobbs, commander of the U.S. 30th Infantry Division, urged his XIX Corps commander, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Corlett, to order an immediate advance on Wurselen. Hobbs was confident he could join his division with those of the VII Corps in two days. With approval from Lieutenant Courtney H. Hodges, commander of the First Army, Maj. Gen. Clarence R. Huebner’s 1st Infantry Division, VII Corps began its drive to Wurselen that afternoon.

The 1st Division’s 18th Infantry Regiment, under Colonel George H. Smith, was tasked with capturing Verlautenheide. For this job the regiment formed assault teams armed with flamethrowers, Bangalore torpedoes, and pole and satchel explosive charges to eliminate the German pillboxes guarding the objective. In support of the special attack teams, a self-propelled battery of 155mm field guns and a company of tank destroyers would direct fire on the enemy defenses. Air assets and 11 batteries of artillery would soften up Verlautenheide before the infantry went in. The division’s other two regiments were to aid the attack by making feints on their respective fronts. Once the town was captured, a company of tanks would join the infantry there.

Because the American attacks were confined to a combined front of only five miles, German shelling inflicted significant losses. However, simultaneous American assaults prevented the German defenders from mounting adequate counterattacks to meet the dual threat to their positions. As a result, by October 10 the 18th Regiment had reached its final objectives, including the Aachen suburb of Haaren a mile north of the city, and had cut the two main roads into Aachen. On the same day, 1st Division captured its initial objectives and 30th Division prepared to advance southward on the jungle of factory buildings lying just outside Aachen.

The same day the Americans were closing the ring around Aachen, lead elements of the 3rd Panzergrenadier and 116th Panzer Divisions reached the town and were committed to battle. However, Field Marshal Walter Model, commander of Army Group G, which included German forces in Holland and Belgium, did not feel he could launch any serious counterattack until October 12.

On October 11, the 26th Infantry Regiment initiated an attack on Aachen while the 18th held a line from Verlautenheide to Haaren. In response, a hasty but strong German counterattack by the 3rd Panzergrenadier led by 15 PzKpfw. VI Tiger and captured American-built M4 Sherman tanks was launched on the 15th. The appearance of Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter bombers and massive American artillery fire broke up the German attack the following day.

As the 1st Division battled outside Aachen, to the north Hobbs’ 30th Division started its run from Alsdorf to Wurselen, a distance of only three miles, on October 7. For the next nine days its advance was bathed in blood. Hobbs’ path south to Wurselen was impeded by numerous pillboxes even though his division had begun its advance beyond the West Wall. In addition, Hobbs had to navigate through highly urbanized coal mining country filled with slag piles, mine shafts, and villages all well suited for defense.

Further, on several occasions the Germans threatened the American advance. The first attempt was a move on Alsdorf by the 108th Panzer Brigade and the von Fritzschen Regiment against the division’s eastern flank on October 8. This effort was foiled by the American 743rd Tank Battalion, which drove the enemy out of Alsdorf after the Germans lost several tanks. On the 11th the “Old Hickory Division” clashed with the 108th Panzer Brigade again and stopped this second German counterattack, clearing the road to Wurselen with the aid of air strikes.


Demand Management to Control Inflation and Establish External Balance

In the mid-1960's the German parliament created an independent five-person panel called The Council of Economic Experts. Karl Schiller, who was Minister of Economics from 1966 to 1972, carried on an extensive debate with the Council.

The Recession 1967. (To be continued.)

Growth rates declined from miracle economy levels to normal levels for modern industrial economy. The Harrod-Domar growth model gives some insights into the dynamics of growth. See

The Harrod-Domar Growth Model.

Let Y be GDP and S be savings. The level of savings is a function of the level of GDP, say S = sY. The level of capital K needed to produce an output Y is given by the equation K = pY where p is called the capital-output ratio. Investment I represents an important component of the demand for the output of an economy as well as the increase in capital stock. Thus &DeltaK = p&DeltaY. For equilibrium there must be a balance between supply and demand for a nation's output. In simple case this equilibrium condition reduces to I = S. Thus,

I = &DeltaK = p&DeltaY and I = S = sY Therefore &DeltaY/Y = s/p

The equilibrium growth rate of output is equal to the marginal propensity to save to the ratio of the capital-output ratio.


A Concise History of Germany’s Autobahns

The autobahn. Germany. Take a poll, and you'll likely find that just about every gearhead dreams of driving on autobahns, Germany's speed-limit-free, no-holds-barred highways—though driving them isn't necessarily the experience you might expect. How did these famed road networks come to be, why are there no speed limits, and what's it really like to drive at any speed you like? Cinch up that seat belt and let's find out.

Early German Autobahn History

The world's first limited-access highways—ones on which vehicles could only enter or exit at designated points—were built in New York in the early 1900s. In Germany, construction on the first controlled-access highway began in 1913, though World War I delayed its opening until 1921. The Automobil Verkehrs und Übungsstraße (Automobile Traffic and Training Road), built just outside of Berlin, doubled as a race and test track. It was basically two straightaways bracketed by banked turns, but its divided roadways and limits on other types of traffic made it Germany's first modern highway. It remains part of the roadway network to this day, complete with the original wooden grandstand.

Hitler's Reichsautobahn

Germany's planning for an inter-city highway network began in the mid-1920s, with a Cologne-Bonn road opened in 1932, but it wasn't until the Nazis came to power in 1933 that construction began in earnest. The Nazi party initially opposed a highway network on the grounds that it would primarily benefit the rich aristocrats who could afford a car. It wasn't until Adolf Hitler realized the propaganda value of individual mobility—a nation-wide road network and an affordable "people's car" to populate it—that the Nazis embraced the idea. The project would become the world's first high-speed road network.

Construction on what became known as the Reichsautobahn proceeded rapidly, with an emphasis on east-west and north-south connections, and routes that showed off the German scenery. But working conditions and pay were poor, and by the late 1930s, with armament manufacturers offering better jobs, labor was becoming difficult to find. The onset of war detracted from construction efforts, and the Nazis didn't see the road network as much of a military asset, though some sections did have their center medians paved so they could be used as airstrips. Work on the Reichsautobahn was halted in 1943, by which time about 1,300 miles of roadway were completed.

Post-War and Post Unification Renewal and Expansion

Following Germany's defeat, the road network that would soon be known as the Bundesautobahn (Federal Highway) was in bad shape. Many sections were never completed, others were damaged by Allied bombs, and several bridges had been destroyed by the retreating German army. Ironically,

the autobahns in Germany proved more useful for Allied military forces than for their domestic forces.

Repair of the existing road network began in earnest, and by 1953 the West German government began to focus on expanding it. By 1964, the system had grown to 1,865 miles, and in 1984 it exceeded 4,970 miles. German reunification in 1990 expanded the system to 6,835 miles, though poor conditions of the highways in the former East Germany—many of which had narrow medians and no shoulders, just as they were in 1945—put the emphasis back on repair and modernization. By the turn of the century the German Autobahn System was growing again, and in 2004 it became the third-largest superhighway system in the world, behind the U.S. and China. Today, there are some 8,078 miles of autobahn in Germany.

Is There Really No Speed Limit on Germany's Autobahns?

The notion that there are no autobahn speed limits isn't entirely true: About 30-percent of the network has speed limits that range from 80-130 kph (50-81 mph). Some of these limits are static while others are dynamic, changing based on traffic and road conditions. Some roads have night-time or wet-weather speed limits, and some classes of vehicles, such as heavy trucks, have their own speed limits.

For cars and motorcycles traveling the bulk of the autobahn, there is an "advisory" speed limit of 130 kph (81 mph). It's not illegal to go faster, but in the event of a crash, a driver's liability may increase based on speed, even if the driver was not at fault. German automakers have a "gentlemen's agreement" to limit the speed of their cars to 250 kph (155 mph). Some lower-performance models have lower speed limiters in order to avoid exceeding their tires' limitations.

The autobahns also have a minimum speed requirement: Vehicles must be able to maintain 60 kph (37 mph) on flat terrain. Some stretches have minimum speeds of 90 kph (56 mph) or 110 kph (68 mph) in certain lanes.

Autobahn Germany: History of Speed Limits

The Nazi government passed the Road Traffic Act in 1934, limiting speeds to 60 kph (37 mph) in urban areas but setting no limit for rural roads or autobahns. In 1939, responding to fuel shortages, the government lowered the limit to 40 kph (25 mph) in town and 80 kph (50 mph) on all other roads. The West German government did away with all federal speed limits in 1952, ceding authority to the individual states. An appalling rise in traffic deaths led to a country-wide speed limit of 100 kph (62 mph) in 1972, though autobahns remained unrestricted.

In December 1973, the oil crisis prompted the West German government to set an autobahn speed limit of 100 kph (62 mph). The measure was instantly unpopular and was repealed the following March. The advisory speed limit was adopted in 1978. Legislation to set a hard speed limit (usually 130 kph/81 mph) comes up on a fairly regular basis and is always defeated.

Building (and Maintaining) For Speed

If you live in places where road construction and/or maintenance leaves something to be desired—Los Angeles and Detroit come to mind—German Autobahns are designed for high-speed driving. Freeze-resistant concrete or asphalt is laid over a heavy roadbed, with a combined depth in the neighborhood of 30 inches. Curves are gentle and slightly banked, and grades are limited to 4 percent. The roadways are split with a center median that features dual guardrails or concrete barriers. The routes generally avoid large cities, which are accessed by spur roads.

At high speeds, pavement irregularities can become fatal obstacles, so Germany's autobahn roadways receive frequent and detailed inspection. Repair generally involves replacing sections of the roadway rather than patching, which sounds like a dream here in the U.S.

Autobahn Germany: What's It Really Like to Drive?

Driving the high-speed sections of the autobahn in Germany is not a matter of simply flooring the accelerator and watching the speedo climb. Speed limits come and go, especially near cities, and high-speed sections are punctuated by speed-limited sections enforced by photo radar. Lane discipline is strict (though not as well observed as you might expect, especially nowadays), tailgating is frowned upon, and passing on the right is strictly forbidden.

When driving on an unrestricted section of autobahn in Germany, you must look far down the road—you may be bombing down the highway at 180 kph (112 mph) when a car doing 130 pulls into the left lane in front of you to pass a truck limited to 80 kph. You also have to keep one eye glued to the mirror for Porsches and big Mercedes coming up fast from behind—they really do seem to materialize out of thin air. While the Germans are fanatical about road inspection, there's no guarantee they will find a pothole before you do, so you also need to keep a careful eye on the road condition ahead

The end result is that driving fast on German autobahns can be an exhausting experience, a sharp contrast from the more relaxed driving style common on American highways. The concentration you must exert rises exponentially with speed it's an adrenaline rush for sure, but once you've tried it, you'll understand why so many autobahn drivers in Germany cruise at more sedate speeds—or just take the train.


The Coronavirus Is Spreading, but German Factories Keep Running

Tom Fairless

FRANKFURT—Coronavirus infections are rampant in Germany but most of the country’s factories are still humming, sketching a blueprint for countries seeking to support economic activity through the pandemic.

Nonessential businesses sit idle across swaths of Europe, and attempts by manufacturers in the U.S. to keep plants open have caused tensions with workers. Germany could show the way for badly hit countries like Italy, which are considering how to restart production when the worst of the crisis has passed.

German factories were quick to get workers on board, and to impose strict cleanliness measures and organizational rules, often imported from their operations in China. In some cases, they brought in their own medical staff.

Keeping plants running isn’t important only to protect jobs and soften the economic shock caused by the closures of entire sectors. Executives say it is also a matter of survival for individual businesses.

“[It] is important for various reasons: customer relations, supply chains, but also worker relations,” said Andreas Peichl, an economist with the Ifo think tank in Munich.

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