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Artillerie / Artillery Design and Construction

Bochumer Verein fuer Gusstahlfabrikation AG Bochum
Hermann Goering Werke Braunschweig, Hallendorf
Henschel & Sohn Kassel
Hannoverische Maschinenbau Hanover
Friedrich Krupp Grusonwerke AG Magdeburg
Gusstahlfabrik Friedrich Krupp Essen
Rheinmetall-Borsig (Ehrhardt) Dusseldorf

Beyond that the Treaty of Versailles and its German executive decrees, the publication in the Reichsanzeiger No. 136, of 14 June 1927, and the law covering war equipment, of 27 July 1927 - laid down restrictions for the manufacture of war equipment. Manufacture was permitted to Krupp, Essen, for guns of over 17 em.; to Rheinmetall, Duesseldorf-Derendorf Plant, for guns up to 17 em.; Rheinmetall, Soemmerda Plant, for fuses and firing mechanisms; Gebr. [Brothers] Thiel, Ruhla, for mechanical fuses; Gelsenkirchener Bergwerks A.G., Bochum, for shell cases; Polte, Magdeburg, for cartridge cases; Wasag, Reinsdorf Plant, for powder and explosives, exclusive of gun powder; and KoelnRottweil A.G., Hamm Plant, for gunpowder exclusively, etc. At a later date, Dynamit A.G., Cologne, was designated for gun powder, in the place of Koeln-Rottweil. Manufacture was permitted only on the basis of predetermined and extremely low maximum quantities pH year. These amounted, as an example, for the 21 em. howitzer-the only army gun permitted for Krupp--to 0.16 per year, in other words, one howitzer in about every 6 years. Manufacture could take place only in premises specifically authorized, for which construction alterations could not be carried out without authorization.

Gustav Krupp was not the only man who decided to undermine the Treaty of Versailles and prepare for a resurgence of German armed might. There was another man, not so well known to the world at large - Generaloberst [General] Hans von Seeckt, Chief of the German Army Command from 1921 to 1926.

Late in November 1925 "His Excellency" General von Seeckt paid a 5-day visit to the Ruhr primarily to confer with Gustav Krupp von Bohlen and to inspect the Krupp plants. The Krupp directors described to General von Seeckt the destruction caused by the Inter-Allied Military Control Commission and calculated the damages at 105,000,000 gold marks. General von Seeckt noted the "readiness of Krupp to oblige the military administration in order to gain experience in designing" armaments. The General learned about the close relations between Krupp and the Bofors firm in Sweden. The possibility of constructing a model of a "German tank" was also touched upon.

These ceremonious but secret discussions between Gustav Krupp von Bohlen and General von Seeckt were concerned with a sustained and deliberate program and conspiracy, to which the Krupp directors and the German Army High Command were the principal parties, to maintain Krupp artillery designs and gun production potential at the highest possible level, in spite of the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. The history of this conspiracy is set forth in a long document compiled in 1943 by the artillery department of Fried. Krupp A.G. which contains a detailed account of the development of army guns by Krupp from 1918 to 1933.

Krupp's first move was to secure foreign basis for experimentation. This time the country chosen was Sweden, and the firm Bofors. When, after the end of the war, it became a certainty that, for Krupp, gun production would come to a complete standstill, Krupp concluded an agreement with Aktiebolaget Bofors, a Swedish firm, which made available to Bofors information on Krupp's experiences relative to the production of steel in certain fields, and especially of steel for the manufacture of guns, also a license agreement on the basis of which Bofors was authorized to duplicate some types of Krupp's artillery designs insofar as they were not classed as secret by the Reich. Krupp combined with this the intention of benefiting by the experience gathered at that end. Bofors pledged itself at Krupp's request to permit Krupp employees admission to its works at all times and to supply them with all desired information.

Bofors took over several Krupp contracts for the delivery of guns to Holland and Denmark, the fulfillment of which in Germany was prohibited by the Versailles Treaty. The experience in the design and testing of these guns was made available in turn by Krupp to the Reich Ministry of Defense. The defendant Pfirsch visited Sweden in connection with these arrangements. In conclusion on the Bofors arrangement, on several occasions, Krupp also introduced German officers into the Bofors platrt to inspect guns and munitions and who were present during firing tests. Bofors also made experimental ammunition for armored vehicles which was fired in Sweden in the presence of German officers. Thus the Krupp-Bofors relationship proved beneficial for the further development of the German Army's artillery.

In 1935, the contract agreement between Krupp and Bofors was annulled because a new Swedish law prohibited the participation of foreign capital in Swedish armament firms. The Krupp officials returned to Essen and since then are again working in the artillery designing department.

Guns can be designed and tested more secretly than submarines, and in the field of artillery, violations of the Treaty took place within Germany as well as abroad. Krupp activities within Germany were based upon a secret agreement on 25 January 1922 with the Reich Defense Ministry. By way of Bofors, Krupp could utilize its previous designs and could derive benefit for itself, and thus for Germany from experiences gathered abroad. In like manner, the firm was also endeavoring to prove ineffective, in Germany itself, the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, and in some way or other to participate in the gleaning of experience. The same spirit prevailed with the German authorities. During the first years after the war, an exchange of opinion took place repeatedly on that point. The common wishes and aspirations were finally consolidated in the agreements of 25 January 1922 which, for political reasons, did not constitute an official contract but a gentlemen's agreement.

These agreements of 25 January 1922 stressed that as a matter of mutual interest it was imperative to draw on Krupp's experience for the continued development of guns of a caliber of 17 cm., and below of munitions and vehicles, as well as also to make available to Krupp the experiences derived by the RWM (Reich Defense Ministry) in this field. These most significant agreements of 25 January 1922 are the first step jointly taken by the RWM and Krupp to circumvent, and thereby to break down, the regulations of the Treaty of Versailles which strangle Germany's military freedom." (Wehrfreiheit in the German.)

On 1 July 1925 Krupp and the German Army's Inspection Office for Arms and Equipment (IWG) established an artillery designing office in Berlin under the camouflage of the name Koch and Kienzle. In the meantime, French occupation of the Ruhr was terminated and, in 1926, the Inter-Allied Control Commission was discontinued and its representatives left Essen. Accordingly, at the end of 1927, the Koch and Kienzle office was dissolved and the Krupp designers returned to Essen, where the artillery designing department had been promptly reconstituted.

A number of important tasks were undertaken by Krupp in the field of military design at the behest of the German Army and in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Many of these tasks related to the design of specific types of guns, such as light and medium selfpropelled guns and tank guns. Other tasks related to basic problems of artillery technology, such as the proper methods of gun barrel construction, research in breech blocks, and, as the importance of artillery mobility became more and more apparent, the development of gun carriages.

During the period after the First World War, Krupp had worked on producing a mount for the 88 mm., antiaircraft gun, developed during that war for naval use, which would make it suitable for the army. This work had been completed by 1933. In consequence, mass production of the gun which was to become famous in the Second World War was started in 1933 at the 9-rusonwerk.

There were only weak attempts in the field of gun design for the first years after the World War, which aimed to salvage from the collapse what could be salvaged. Beginning with the middle of the 1920s, however, the aspirations became more and more pronounced to rebuild, and also to embark on fresh projects. It is true that the guns then developed can only be classed as forerunners; they made an appreciable contribution, however, towards clarifying opinions and requirements, thereby making it possible to meet them, and thus they served their purpose.

They were followed very shortly afterwards by the weapons which were finally adopted. Of the guns which were being used in 1939-41, the most important ones were already fully developed in 1933; the mortar was almost completed, and the light field gun 18 also was ready for use. For the equipment which was tested in secrecy, the army ordnance office and the industry stood ready to take up mass production, upon order from the Fuehrer.

In World War II the Krupp works produced the "Big Gustav" gun that was used to shell Sevastopol. Krupp, at the personal suggestion and request of Hitler, embarked on the design and execution of a monster 80 cm. railway gun, eventually named the "Big Gustav," which was beyond doubt the largest gun ever constructed. Its specifications required that it penetrate the armor plate one and a half meters thick and cement ceilings three and a half meters in depth. Because of its huge size, it represented a radical departure from all conventional gun construction and would have been beyond the competence of almost any firm other than Krupp. Its first test firing in December 1941 was attended by all the top executives of the firm as well as by high army officials. A team of Krupp men personally supervised its use at the siege of Sevastopol in May and June 1942. According to a Krupp report, it was "fired 53 times in all, sometimes with the most successful results against forti:fied targets. After the fort was captured, opportunity was given to study the good aiming and also the exceptional effects of the semiarmor-piercing shells on fortifications."

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Page last modified: 25-10-2021 16:33:00 ZULU