BIOS 17, Item No. 28
Interrogation of Dr. Rolf Wagenführ Statistical Section of the Planungsamt, Speer Armaments Ministry
Transcript of queries raised at the end of the interrogation of Dr. Rolf Wagenführ (Wagenfuhr?), held on 4 and 5 August 1945, at Bad Nauheim, by Mr. John Selwyn
Q. Can the Armaments Index (Rüstungsindex) be discussed in greater detail?
A. I have covered all important points with Mr. MacNally of USSBS
Q. How were aircraft repairs represented in the Schnellbericht?
A. A distinction must be made between three gradations. First, repairs in workshops in the field (large and small repairs), were not covered by statistics. Secondly, repairs by industry where the repair time is less than 1000 hours, were only included in the statistics up to 1943. In regard to the third group - repairs over a 1000 hours - statistics were regularly kept. In 1944 repairs were often given priority. They preferred to repair 3 old weapons than to produce one new one, as the expenditure on material was smaller.
Q. Were obsolete stores returned to industry?
A. No. In 1939, production was still on a very small scale (the monthly production of tanks in the first month of the war was about 60). In 1940/41 it was thought that there would be too title steel (the effect of exaggerated quotas). In addition production was too bureaucratically organized. After the campaign in France, production was in part cut down and this was repeated in the second half of 1941, when Russia was thought to be already defeated. The possibility of a long war was entertained only from 1942. Industrial experts were called in. Speer first organized the production of tanks, followed in the second half of 1942 by a drive to increase Zulieferungs. The next stage was the conversion of all armaments to mass production methods which was achieved in 1943, and led to considerable increases during the first six months of 1944. In the middle of 1944 came the breakdown. At that time the reserves of raw material were very largely exhausted. By then no great savings were possible in consumption per item, and in addition few possibilities remained of economising in consumption outside the sphere of armaments.
Q. Why were the hours worked in Germany so few?
A. I believe the statistics are faulty. They do not include the most important armament concerns. Generally speaking work was done in several shifts only in cases of obvious bottlenecks, such as ball bearings, electro-steel, etc.
Q. Was there a shortage of factory space?
A. No. In Czecho-Slovakia alone there must have been an increase of at least 15%.
Q. Was the supply of machinery a bottleneck?
A. I do not think so. Naturally the machinery available became out of date.
Q. Were there general investigations into the utilisation of captivity?
A. Yes, in the census of 1936, but without applying any uniform standard. Each later census related only to individual industries.
Q. Were any attempts made to effect a major comb out of skilled labour for armament production, especially from machinery industry?
A. Yes, Saur tried this, but only in the latter half of 1944, when it was too late.
Q. Are the Planungsamt statistics* of armament production likely to be correct?
A. I think they are, where they are based on acceptance figures. If you think figures of aircraft production are too high, you must remember the high monthly losses. Dr. Passauer, of Berlin, can give more details of this.
Q. What was the decisive bottleneck in German war economy?
A. The bottleneck varied in the course of years. In 1939/40 it was thought that there was too little iron, in addition the control of the armaments industry by the military authories was an organisational bottleneck. In 1942/43 there were bottlenecks in shortage of skilled workers and in Zulieferungs. In 1944, transport, supplies of coal, energy and iron constituted the bottleneck. In addition, of course, there were always smaller bottlenecks.
On page 10
There was a complete statistical blackout regarding both the amounts of finished armaments produced in occupied territories and the raw material used in their production. All statistics of finished armaments show production for Germany, not production in Germany, i.e. no distinction is drawn between home and foreign production. Wagenführ did not know how the amounts of raw materials used in occupied territory for finished armaments were accounted for, he could only suggest that they came out of some (unspecified) reserve. The fact that the armament production of occupied territory could not be separated out from that of the Reich was of little consequence as it was calculated that, for the first half of 1944, the share only amount to 5 % of the total. Only in case of motor vehicles was it considerably higher. It should be noted that while General Government (Formally occupied western Poland territory, AOB) was considered as occupied territory, the Protectorate (occupied territory of what is now Czech Republic, AOB), Alsace Lorraine and Luxembourg were included in the Reich.
On page 8
...There is a large measure of difference between Wagenführ and Kehrl (meant is Hans Kehrl, who wrote in 1973 his interesting book: Krisenmanager im Dritten Reich, AOB) on these points. Kehrl’s evidence, as the man in charge, is probably more reliable . He agrees that Planungsamt was concerned with cutting down allocations seeing that there had been gross overallocations in the past - an investigation in 1944 showed that industry held a year’s output of steel in stocks or in the pipeline. But his main concern was to keep a margin of steel, over and above the satisfaction of normal service requirements, which was allocated to the best advantage e.g. for the Führerprogramme. From the Speer - Hitler conferences ... it would appear that iron reserves were kept strictly under control and used to increase output sharply to meet emergency requirements, of which post raid measures doubtless played an increasingly significant role.
* Statistics were mainly carried-out by means of Hollerith punch-card apparatus, which had a factory branch in Germany. Consider also BIOS 273, in which a partial transcription on the utilisation of Hollerith machines can be found.
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