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Case No. 01
German arms exports for genocide:
Mauser rifles and Krupp cannons used
in the genocide of Armenians
by Ottoman armed forces (1895-1916)
by Wolfgang Landgraeber
with contributions by
Otfried Nassauer, Bernhard Trauvetter, and Helmut Lohrer
Table of Contents
Introduction to the events
Chapter 1: The German-Turkish comrades-in-arms
Chapter 2: The countdown to the 1915-16 genocide
Chapter 3: Mauser and Krupp weapons in the genocide
Chapter 4: Who profited from the genocide?
Chapter 5: What became of those who directed the genocide, and their accomplices?
Chapter 6: Are there parallels to present-day wars and genocidal actions?
Models of weapons that were supplied and then employed in the genocide of Armenians
Company profile: The Mauser Works, Oberndorf (now Rheinmetall Defence/Rheinmetall AG)
Company profile: Rheinmetall AG, Düsseldorf - by Otfried Nassauer
Company profile: The Krupp Works and Thyssenkrupp AG, Essen
- by Wolfgang Landgraeber and Bernhard Trautvetter
Perpetrator profile: Goltz, Colmar Baron von der; field marshal
Perpetrator profile: Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, Gustav Georg Friedrich Maria;
diplomat and chairman of the Krupp supervisory board
Perpetrator profile: Loewe, Isidor; arms manager at Ludwig Loewe & Co and Mauser-Werke
Perpetrator profile: Mauser, Paul; weapons designer of the Mauser Works
Present-day use of German weapons of war against Kurds in Turkey and Syria - by Helmut Lohrer
Links to important Web sites
Introduction to the events
In the years 1895 to 1916, Turkey’s state security forces committed many-thousand-fold mass murders of Armenians in what was then the Ottoman Empire.
"Despite vigorous protests by the Turkish leadership and Turkish associations in Germany", the German Bundestag on 2 June 2016 voted by an overwhelming majority for a joint motion by the parties CDU/CSU, SPD, and Bündnis 90/DIE GRÜNEN. The motion ("Drucksache 18/8613") was adopted with only one dissenting vote and one abstention. In it "the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire is classified as genocide".(1)
The great majority of the members of the Bundestag were probably not aware that the genocide of the Armenians was perpetrated largely with German weapons of war.
What happened? During 1915 and 1916 alone, dozens of massacres of the Armenian population in eastern Anatolia were committed. An eyewitness account by the nurses Eva Elvers from Germany and Thora von Wendel from Norway gives a typical insight into the events of that time:
“From an Armenian physician, Kafafian, we learned the following: two young women teachers, who had been trained at the American College in Harput, were passing through the Kemah Canyon on June 10th, together with the other expellees. They came under crossfire from the Kurds in front and the gendarmery behind ... The two young women threw themselves onto the ground, and played dead, and they succeeded in fleeing and returning to Erzincan, where they asked for help in the Red Cross Hospital via the Armenian physician.
On June 11th regular troops were then sent out, supposedly to punish the Kurds. But instead they -- the troops -- slaughtered the entire defenseless group that remained. From the mouths of Turkish soldiers who were present themselves we heard how the women begged for mercy, and how some of them threw their children into the river themselves.
To our horrified ‘And you shoot at women and children?' came the reply, ‘What are we supposed to do? Orders are orders!'
The soldiers told us that it had been the 86th Cavalry Regiment (the regiment was under the command of the Third Army of Kiamil Paşa), that had committed the deed under the direction of all its officers. They had needed four hours to kill everybody. Then there were oxcarts on hand to carry the corpses into the river.” (2)
Thousands and thousands of civilians fell victim to such conflicts. In the end, about a million Armenians died in the systematic deportations by force of arms into the emptiness of the Syrian desert, where they perished of hunger and thirst, if they had not already died of exhaustion on the way there or been massacred by gangs of robbers.
This was government-ordered mass murder, committed by Turkish security forces with the knowledge and consent of the highest government circles in Germany. German officers served in Turkish general staffs and commanded Turkish regiments, divisions, and armies, that were equipped mainly with long rifles and carbines from the German arms-maker Mauser.
How did it come about that German weapons and soldiers were decisive participants in the genocide in the Armenian-populated areas of the Ottoman Empire?
Until 1917, Emperor Wilhelm II was linked by decades of close friendship and brotherhood in arms to the Turkish Sultan Abdülhamid II and his successor, Mehmet V. The Ottoman Empire was in a phase of weakness in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It was considered the “sick man on the Bosporus” at the courts of Berlin, Moscow, London and Vienna. Russia in particular tried to expand its sphere of influence by conquering areas in the Ottoman Empire, such as the Dardanelles, which would have given the Czar access to the Mediterranean.
Abdülhamid II, who came to power in 1876, sought allies among the Great Powers of western Europe, and found them in Prussian-led Germany and Austria-Hungary. “Wedged in between Russian
expansion in the Balkans, on the Black Sea, and in the Caucasus, and British and French neocolonialism in North Africa, the Turkish geostrategists recognize in the Germans a possible partner who
is apparently not pursuing any imperialistic objectives in the Orient.”(3)
The Russian-Turkish War of 1876-77, in which the Bulgarians won their independence, ended in a defeat for the Ottoman Empire and its enfeebled army.
Comrades-in-arms – “United in struggle!”
Emperor Wilhelm II, Sultan Mehmed V, and Emperor Franz Joseph I.
In order to regain its previous strength, the sultan needed military instructors and modern weapons from Europe. The German emperor, for his part, dreamed of a railway line through Anatolia and
of access to raw materials and markets for German goods in Asia Minor as far as Persia. Thus the Germans and Ottomans saw themselves as having common strategic interests.
The Prussian Major-General Colmar, Baron von der Goltz already became a military adviser to the Ottoman court in 1883, commissioned to modernize the military training schools in the empire. He was predestined for this task by his many years' work as a military trainer in the Prussian army. Due to his relevant writings on military theory (such as Das Volk in Waffen), he was considered an advocate of total war and a specialist in combating insurrections. Against much resistance, but under the protection of the highest authority, the sultan, he instituted many Prussian-oriented reforms in the Ottoman Army.
Baron von der Goltz, whom his biographer, Carl Alexander von Krethlow, called an “evident war-monger”, repeatedly tried to persuade the Sultan to wage war, whether in the Balkans against the Russians, or in Egypt against the British. "Goltz was a political general. His goal was an alliance of the German Empire with the Ottoman Empire, to whose army he attributed a great potential, given sufficient training...
"Goltz involved himself actively in the policies of the Ottoman army, he wrote memoranda for the Sultan, he wanted to actually change things -- and he succeeded... This prestige that he enjoyed both within the Ottoman officer corps and on the part of the ruler, Goltz soon used to broker large arms deals between German arms manufacturers and the Ottomans. Goltz became an unofficial sales representative, as it were, of the Krupp firm, for whom he arranged sales of artillery worth more than 70 million gold marks during his time in Constantinople. With the help of Goltz, the German rifle manufacturer Mauser succeeded in cracking the previous domestic monopoly on supply, and becoming the main outfitter of the Ottoman army themselves.
"In order to reach that point, Goltz had to confront the merchant firm of Azarian Effendi Père & Fils in particular. Until then, the Armenian Azarian, in combination with the Minister of Finance, Agop Paşa, also an Armenian, had held a quasi-monopoly on the purchasing of rifles, which had made him rich. In the dispute about the Mauser rifles, Goltz developed a pronounced aversion to the Armenians, whom he described as a people of mean and oily traders; for the rest of his life, Goltz did not give up this resentment against the Armenian minority in the Ottoman Empire, which was later to play a fateful role in the deportation and annihilation of the Armenians."(4)
Goltz himself regarded himself as an influential lobbyist for the German arms industry at the court of the Sultan. In his diary, he remarked “I can certainly claim that without me, there would never...have been a re-arming of the army with German models.”(5)
Supported by his good offices, and after firing trials in Turkey, the company from Oberndorf am Neckar prevailed over competitors from Austria (Mannlicher), France (Hotchkiss), and Britain (Martini-Henry).
Paul Mauser, later raised to the peerage by the King of Württemberg, was able to present his latest developments to the Sultan in person. In February 1887, the Ministry of War of the Ottoman Empire and a consortium of German companies, consisting of the firms of Mauser and Ludwig Loewe & Co KG, signed a contract for the supply of 500,000 model M/87 long rifles and 50,000 carbines of the same model.
In order to handle this huge order without hindering one another, the two German firms did a deal: Mauser was to be sold to Loewe, and in return, the entire production would be done in Oberndorf. The brothers Paul and Wilhelm Mauser, the proprietors of the firm since 1874, retained about 7% of the share capital. The order had to be completed within four years.
In the course of the production process, several modifications of the M/87 rifle were made: first the M/89 and finally the M/90, a repeating rifle with a mid-stock magazine for 7.65-mm
caliber nitro-powder cartridges. Of this model, short-barreled carbine versions were manufactured specially for the cavalry, that were particularly suitable for mounted pursuit of fleeing
The first mass murders had already taken place in 1893 in certain Armenian-inhabited areas. In the Sasun area, there was a punitive expedition by the security forces against Armenians who had resisted tax collectors. The second phase of the massacres began in October 1895 with Armenian riots in Constantinople, as a result of which the Sultan made promises of reforms to the Armenians. These triggered campaigns of murder in various regions of Anatolia. In November 1895, there was a siege by Ottoman troops in Zeitun (Turkish: Süleimaniye), which was only halted by the intervention of European diplomats.
Finally, there were the riots in Van in mid-June 1896. According to the reports of the foreign press, the massacres there were initiated and performed by the Ottoman authorities. However, a government-conducted execution of the massacres was only partial and unsystematic. Kurds and part of the other Moslem population were the main performers of the mass murders. The massacres, which cost the lives of about a hundred thousand people, aroused a wave of indignation in Europe. But the reactions of the European governments were limited to ineffective protests.
It is important to note that, although there were already tensions between Moslems and Armenians before 1893, with assaults and occasional murders, which were reported in the European press, in 1893, with the approval of the German government, the last of the 500,000 Mauser long rifles and carbines of the first order were delivered from Oberndorf to Turkey. There are no reliable sources to tell us whether Turkish security forces, equipped with just those rifles, already participated in massacres and shootings at that time.
The facts are also unclear as to what quantity of the Mauser rifles and the ammunition from German factories were employed at the beginning of the mass murder of the Armenians. But one conclusion is permissible:
Since the rifles for Turkey were delivered between 1890 and 1893, when the first massacres with the participation of Ottoman army units had already occurred, it may be assumed that the Turkish soldiers and gendarmes who took part in such murders were equipped at least in part with rifles from Oberndorf. However, the distribution of the Mauser rifles from the last shipment was not rapid enough for General von der Goltz. “Goltz blamed the Sultan for them still not having been issued to the troops in September 1895, whom he said lacked the real will to equip his soldiers properly for counter-insurgency,” according to the historian Carl Alexander Krethlow.
"So the Turkish military's actions against the Armenians also reflects the teachings about internecine warfare in the age of nationalism that Goltz had been advocating for years. The strengthening of Turkey on the basis of an ingathering of the Moslem population, which he had been propagating increasingly since the 1912-13 Balkan War, led in the last result to ethnic purges. (....) In this respect he played a leading role, long before the First World War, in creating the theoretical foundations for the genocide of the Armenians of 1915-16."(6)
While Goltz was already urging the use of the Mauser rifles against the Armenians in 1895, Wilhelm II was still engaging in soothing rhetoric. That he was informed in detail about the massacres which were approaching their first climax in 1895 is proven by a contemporary report. In 1898, Wilhelm II made a journey to the Orient, in the course of which he visited Constantinople, Damascus, and Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, he wanted to inaugurate the newly-built Church of the Redeemer. On this occasion, he met the Pietist J. Ludwig Schneller, the founder of an orphanage for Christian and Moslem children in Jerusalem, which was ruled by the Ottomans at that time. He was allowed to talk to Wilhelm II, and told him about the continuing campaign of murder in Anatolia. In his Königserinnerungen, Schneller recounts what Emperor Wilhelm replied to this remonstration:
"I know well that many of my countrymen cannot understand that after all this, I paid a friendly visit to the Sultan. But I have good reasons for this. Do you imagine that such atrocities leave me cold, that I have no feelings for these unfortunate Christians? What matters is taking the right course to help them. The Turks and their sultan have been enraged because the European powers always use such atrocities, some of which they have instigated themselves, as an excuse to tear another piece out of Turkey each time, to which they have no God-given or man-given right. That gave them the unfortunate idea of gradually getting rid of all the Christians, so that these powers will no longer have any reason to intervene, and cloak their robbing of those lands with their alleged concern for the Christians (....)
The Sultan is a very intelligent man. He saw through the double-dealing that hides entirely different intentions, and this intensifies his hostility towards the Christians. This is why I have taken a different course, and one I believe is more intelligent, and at any rate more Christian. I do not return evil for evil, but rather encounter the man, who is only becoming more and more gloomy from all of this, with Christian friendliness, and appeal to his conscience. And because he knows very well that we are the only ones who are not thinking of annexations of any kind, he believes in my selfless friendship, and listens to what I have to say. It will be seen, when everything is published one day, that I am the only one who has interceded for the Armenians, and has really been of service to them."(7)
Aiding and abetting genocide of Christians from Christian charity? This quotation, of matchless hypocrisy and hubris, proves that Wilhelm II had not the slightest intention of halting the Turkish butcher of the Armenians and his vassals, not even when, seventeen years later, the campaigns of murder intensified to a genocide the likes of which the world had not seen before.
The “Türkenbau” in Oberndorf:
Erected as a residence for the acceptance commissions of the Ottoman Empire in 1888.
The building was demolished in 1961 because it had been hit by a bomb in the Second World War.
In the meantime, the people in Oberndorf were basking in the favor of Abdülhamid II. The patriarch of the firm, Paul von Mauser, who had been raised to the peerage by the King of Württemberg, reported about an extremely friendly atmosphere at the Sultan’s court, upon returning from one of his last visits to Constantinople. He had signed contracts for further deliveries of rifles, amounting to hundreds of thousands, there. In return, the Turkish officers of the various commissions of acceptance were treated extremely obligingly in Oberndorf.
The “Türkenbau”, a house in an oriental style with a dome topped by a Turkish crescent moon, was erected specially for the head of the commission. Wilhelm Mauser and his development engineer Fidel Feederle were awarded the very highest orders from the hand of the Sultan. Mauser reciprocated with "twenty luxury rifles with magnificent engraving and gold and silver inlays, splendidly packaged in walnut cases lined with red velvet".(8)
Some members of the various Turkish commissions of acceptance in Oberndorf later rose to prominence in the military and government of the Ottoman Empire, making them accomplices or accessories after the fact in the genocide, such as Mahmud Sevket Paşa, who rose first to Marshal, then Grand Vizier, Foreign Minister, and Minister of War, and became the leading figure of the Young Turk movement. This movement sent Sultan Abdülhamid into exile in 1909, and intensified the pogroms against the Armenians. In 1913 Sevket, whose successor as Grand Vizier, Ahmed Izzet Paşa, had also belonged to the Oberndorf commission of acceptance, was shot dead by an assassin.
Mahmud Sevket Paşa
The world stood at the brink of the First World War. The Ottoman Empire was heavily armed for it: almost a million long rifles, carbines, machine guns and pistols from Oberndorf, as well as thousands of field-pieces from Krupp, formed the backbone of its armament. But the Turks were still hesitating to enter the war on Germany’s side.
Chapter 2: The countdown to the 1915-16 genocide
The First World War started in the eastern European theater in late October 1914, with an attack by the German-Turkish fleet on Russia in the Black Sea. The fleet was commanded by the German Admiral Wilhelm Souchon. Now there was no holding back for the Turks, either. The commander-in-chief of the Ottoman armed forces, Enver Paşa, had suggested three strategic directions for the war in the Near East to the German-Austrian entente: an attack on Odessa, on Egypt, and a drive against Russia in the Caucasus.
As a first step, they planned to drive the Russians back out of the Armenian regions in the Caucasus, and reconquer those regions that had formerly belonged to the Ottoman Empire. But the winter campaign turned into a disaster. The Third Army, in charge of the eastern front, was insufficiently equipped for this—there were neither suitable means of transportation, nor winter clothing, nor sufficient food for the Turks fighting in deep snow.
A large part of them froze or starved to death, or died of diseases. Of the roughly one hundred thousand men of the Third Army, only about ten thousand survived. Only a small portion had fallen in battle against the Russians, who sheltered behind their fortified positions on the Sarikamis plateau. When the news of the utter defeat spread in January 1915, the Turkish officers and their German commander, General Bronsart von Schellendorf, needed a scapegoat urgently.
A legend was cooked up: Enver Paşa said originally that all the troops, and thus also the Armenians in the ranks of the Ottoman army, had fought bravely; but soon it was being pointed out more and more often that many Armenians were active on the Russian side, including many Armenians who had switched from the Turkish to the Russian side, it was said.
This picture was completed by rumors making the rounds that Armenian soldiers had deserted, or even turned their guns on their comrades-in-arms. The fact that the Armenian member of parliament Armen Garo had gone from Constantinople to Tbilisi even before the war broke out, and—contrary to the declarations of loyalty to the Ottoman Empire of other prominent Armenians – was busy assembling units of Armenian volunteers there, who were intended to march into eastern Anatolia with the Russians. Armen Garo thus provided a perfect opening for the Turkish propaganda
But more important was the psychological effect in the general staff, and the stab-in-the-back tale that resulted. In order to exonerate themselves, Enver, Bronsart and company soon claimed that the reason for the defeat had been the hostile Armenian population behind the front.
This tale was presented again and again until the end of the First World War as justification for the expulsion of the Armenians from the areas in Anatolia where they lived, and their murder, and as the reason why the German officers in the general staffs of the Turkish army did not make every effort to halt the murderers when the genocide of the Armenians began.
Chapter 3: Mauser and Krupp weapons in the genocide
As in almost all genocidal mass-murders[TS1] of the twentieth century, the murders were not particularly interested in being photographed while killing people. There are almost no films documenting the massacres of the Armenians. And the photos that exist usually show piles of corpses after the shootings, or victims of hanging.
So it is difficult to classify the victims by the way in which they were killed. Many were driven into groups and shot, others beaten to death with clubs, beheaded with sabers, or taken out to sea and thrown overboard. It is important to note that regular Turkish soldiers and gendarmes—and sometimes their German comrades-in-arms—were involved in almost all the actions of the systematic genocide by expulsion, shooting, hanging, drowning, and starving that started in 1915. Most of them were armed with Mauser rifles, and the officers with Mauser pistols.
One of the few photographs of expulsions by military force dates from April 1915. It shows a column of Armenian deportees from Harput, on the way to a prison camp near Mezireh, covered by Mauser rifles by Turkish troops.
Observations by soldiers who took part in the atrocities are eloquent testimony to the use of German weapons in the genocide. Some come from the pen of the German major Count Wolffskehl
from Urfa, a town with a large proportion of Armenian inhabitants. Things had been quiet there for quite a long time. "But then in early August 1915, two established butchers of Armenians came
from Diyarbakir to Urfa, and took over the local command there.
“First, fifty Armenian men, including the bishop of the town, were taken outside the gates and shot…. Most of the Armenians took shelter in their houses, and tried not to go out on the streets… The Turkish infantry stationed in Urfa did not feel able to conquer the barricaded Armenian quarter, and turned to the high command in Aleppo for support. On October 4th, the second-in-command of the Fourth Army, Fahri Paşa, together with his chief-of-staff, Major Count Eberhard Wolffskehl, marched into Urfa at the head of large units of troops. The reinforcements that Fahri Paşa and Wolffskehl brought to Urfa included a unit of heavy artillery.”(9)
What happened then Wolffskehl described in a letter to his wife Sofie-Henriette:
“They had occupied the houses to the south of the church very strongly. When our artillery fire struck these houses and killed a lot of them, the others wanted to withdraw to the church itself. But the church door is on the northern side. So they had to go around the church, over the open churchyard. But our infantry had already reached the houses adjoining the churchyard to the left, and now gunned down heaps of the fleeing men in the churchyard. The infantry which I used for the main assault, the Second Battalion of the 132nd Infantry Regiment, did very well generally, and advanced very pluckily.”(10)
Count Wolffskehl had already taken part in the battle at the Musa Dagh, the "Mount Moses" not far from Antioch, about which the German author Franz Werfel wrote a moving documentary novel between 1929 and 1933.(11) Krupp cannons had been employed there, too. After the massacres in March 1915 in Zeitun, about 4,500 Armenians, fathers, mothers, and children, fled from the Armenian villages of the Musa Dagh in August up to the high plateau of the mountain, and took shelter there.
Count Wolffskehl reports in a letter to his father:
"Tomorrow we will be on our way again, this time to Antioch [now Antakya], and from there to the coast. Things are rather hot there. A lot of Armenians who have only insufficient understanding of the government's friendly offer to relocate them elsewhere, and have lodged themselves with kith and kin, and unfortunately also with numerous rifles and ammunition, in the mountains somewhere between Antioch and the sea, with the expressed intent of not allowing themselves to be driven out....Now the difficulty of catching them is simply that one has to attack them from the sea-facing side.
But for eight days now, six French cruisers have been lying there, that are in contact with the rebels by signaling, and take our troops, as soon as they show themselves on the slopes facing the sea, under extensive shellfire, against which our field-pieces can do little, of course… The French have already carried away two ship-fulls after the failure of the 131st Regiment. If it was up to me, they could have the whole lot of them. I think it would be a wonderful solution if as many Armenians as possible left the country, under the condition of never returning. Turkey has no benefit from them at all, but only difficulties." (12)
However, when Wolffskehl with his troops reached the Musa Dagh, the Armenians were no longer there. After 53 days of siege and attack by the Turks, they had been able to flee down the steep slope of the Musa Dagh to the shore. Lifeboats from the French and British warships took them on board, while the latter kept the Turkish troops on the slopes of the mountain in check with their naval guns. 4058 Armenians were able to escape in this way.
It should be added that German exported arms provided the material basis for the genocide, and German officers the ideological basis. Naval attaché Hans Humann, one of the hardliners in the German-Turkish officer corps, and a close friend of the Minister of War Enver Paşa, who had been trained in Germany, summed up the justification for the atrocities against the Armenians cynically as follows:
“The Armenians are now—the reason is their conspiracy with the Russians! – being more or less exterminated. This is harsh, but useful.”(13)
The attitude of the imperial government in Berlin was similar. The German press was made to keep silent by the following decree of the chief censor’s office of the War Press Bureau:
"The following can be said about the Armenian atrocities: our friendly relations with Turkey must not only not be endangered by this internal Turkish administrative matter, but not even questioned at the present difficult moment. For the time being it is therefore your duty to keep silent. Later, if direct attacks from abroad because of German complicity should occur, the question must be treated with the greatest caution and restraint, and it must always be emphasized that the Turks were severely provoked by the Armenians."(14)
The only criticism of the genocide came from German diplomats, such as the consul in Mosul, Walter Holstein, and his colleagues Max-Erwin von Scheubner-Richter in Erzurum and Walter Rößler in Aleppo. Holstein wired to the German embassy in Constantinople on 10 June 2015:
"614 Armenian men, women, and children deported from Diyarbakir to here were all slaughtered on the journey by raft here; the keleks arrived here empty yesterday. Corpses and human members have been drifting past in the river for a few days. Further transports of Armenian ‘evacuees’ underway to here face the same fate. I have expressed my deepest abhorrence for these crimes to the government here."(15)
Without any result, it should be added. Likewise for a note of protest which Count Hohenlohe-Langenburg, the deputy of the German ambassador, Baron von Wangenheim, sent to the Turkish government on 9 August 1915:
“In view of these events, the embassy of Germany, on the instruction of its government, feels once again obliged to warn against these acts of violence, and to reject any responsibility for the consequences. The embassy feels all the more obliged to draw the attention of the Ottoman government to this point since public opinion tends to believe that Germany, as a friendly and allied power of Turkey, had condoned or even instigated these acts of violence.”(16)
And how should the Turks take such notes of protest seriously when Imperial Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, in that same year, wrote to the German Foreign Office:
“The public rebuking of an ally during an ongoing war would be a reprimand such as history has never seen before. Our sole objective is to keep Turkey on our side until the end of the war, whether or not Armenians perish because of it. If the war lasts for some length of time, we will need Turkey very much.”(17)
So there can be no doubt about the complicity of the German government in the genocide. What is worthwhile is to try to find out who profited from the genocide, and how large their estimated profit was.
But this is a difficult endeavor, because reliable documents are lacking, and many of the firms that profited have changed their owners in the century since the genocide. Still, let us make the attempt.
Chapter 4: Who profited from the genocide?
Together with the deliveries of rifles, the other arms exports to the Ottoman Empire were already on a large scale between 1888 and 1897. A dissertation from 2006 gives precise details.(18)
According to this, the Ottoman Empire had imported rifles, ammunition, artillery, and gun-powder worth about 70 million reichsmarks by 1890: 46 million for Mauser rifles, 21.5 million for bullets, 2.3 million for artillery, and 0.7 million reichsmarks for powder. Converted to the value of the euro today, this would be, in a conservative estimate, orders amounting to more than 350 million euros. Further orders to the German arms industry followed after 1897, including large ones for warships.
Mauser also landed a contract to supply 100,000 boxes of ammunition (one hundred million bullets) for the Mauser M/87 rifle worth about 83 million marks. The contract was signed that same
year with the German ammunition factory Wilhelm Lorenz in Karlsruhe, which shortly afterwards was merged into the Vereinigte Köln-Rottweiler Pulverfabriken A.G. This, in turn, was interlocked
with Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken (DW & MF). Mauser and DW & MF formed a military-industrial complex for the production of small arms and ammunition whose killing potential was
comparable to major weapon systems from companies such as Thyssen and Krupp.
This armament-making group developed as follows: it began with the Berlin industrialist Ludwig Löwe, who started in 1869 by manufacturing sewing machines. For this purpose, he founded the firm of Ludwig Löwe & Co. Since the demand for his sewing machines was not as large as hoped, he switched to the side-arms and ammunition business, producing first artillery ammunition from 1874 on. Between 1877 and 1883 he expanded his business to arms and ammunition for the German and Russian governments. His firm flourished, and he bought up the ammunition maker Lorenz for six million marks, and then founded the firm Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabrik (DW & MF), based in Berlin.
There followed the acquisition of arms and ammunition factories in other parts of Germany and Europe: the manufacturing plant for Maxim machine guns, the Mauser company – as mentioned – and finally holdings in an arms factory in Budapest and in the Fabrique Nationale d´Armes de Guerre in Herstal, Belgium.
"The objective of DW & MF was to manufacture and market all kinds of weapons and ammunition. The production of the armament was later extended by agreement with the holder of the patents on the Maxim machine guns and machine cannons. As a result, the firm managed to obtain a monopoly position for small arms such as long rifles and carbines, and for ammunition production."(19)
The Mauser branch of DW & MF profited -- undisturbed by annoying competitors -- from this monopoly position in its business with Turkey. After his brother Ludwig's death in 1886, Isidor Löwe succeeded him as the managing director of the company. It has not been discovered yet how high the net profit of DW & MF from the deals with Turkey were, nor how much the Mauser family gained over the years from its seven-percent share in the company.
"In 1896, 48.5% of the rifles stored in the armories of the Turkish army were from the Mauser firm; by the end of the First World War, this share had probably reached two-thirds, if not more."(20)
The artillery manufacturer Krupp could at first only dream of such a monopoly position. It engaged in dogged struggles with its main competitor, the Ehrhardt-Werke in Düsseldorf, over lucrative orders from the Ottoman government. In the end, Krupp always won; it had better connections to the German Emperor and his Imperial government. The two competitors did not hesitate to bring their haggling over the most favorable bid all the way to parliament.
"This Krupp-Ehrhardt competition was even debated in a session of the Reichstag in which Member of Parliament Eickhoff accused the German ambassador in Constantinople, Marshal von Bieberstein, of using his influence in a biased way on behalf of the firm Krupp, although in the most recent orders, the bid by the Ehrhardt-Werke had been 17,000,000 francs lower than that of Krupp...
A steel core for a certain gun cost 35 marks from Krupp at the turn of the year 1897-98, while the Ehrhardt-Werke only asked 30.15 marks for the same steel core. The price of this steel core gradually sank so far that it could be bought for only 17.20 marks. The steel core for a 21-cm caliber gun, for example, cost 102 marks from Krupp, whereas the same material in the same year cost only 89 marks from the Ehrhardt-Werke. Despite the fact that the Ehrhardt-Werke had lowered their price to 67.50 marks, the Turkish Ministry of War awarded the order to the Krupp firm, due to pressure from the German embassy… MP Eickhoff mentioned that the Turkish leaders had been corrupted in awarding the order to Krupp." (21)
The Armenians who took cover from the cannon fire of the Turks on the Musa Dagh 15 years later presumably did not care whether the shrapnel that tore their comrades and family members apart had been purchased for 102 or 67 reichsmarks per shell. The Turkish Minister of War, on the other hand, was probably happy to be able to play off the competitors for his orders worth millions against one another, unless subordinates in the Ministry had already decided the competition beforehand for themselves, by accepting the biggest bribe offered.
What huge profits resulted for Krupp can be seen from the statistics on the turn-over that Krupp achieved from its sales to Turkey between 1861 and 1912: (22)
Period Sum in marks
1861 - 1875 135,999,680
1876 - 1908 87,329,000
1908 - 1912 2,721,280
Total: 226,050,629.00 marks
In current purchasing power, that amounts to 700 million to one billion euros. So the Krupp shareholders of that day will have pocketed large profits -- they were profiteers of genocide, as were the shareholders of DW & MF, which later renamed itself DWF (Deutsche Waffenfabriken AG). For the roughly 900,000 rifles delivered to Turkey by 1909, at unit prices of 70 to 80 marks, the total sales came to about 70 million reichsmarks. In addition, there was the revenue from many hundred of millions of cartridges, which presumably cost several times that amount.
On 28 August 1910, Isidor Loewe died. We have no information about his heirs.
Under the 1919 peace treaty concluded in Versailles, all German arms manufacturers were prohibited from producing weapons. In part, the companies switched to civilian products, for example Mauser switched to calculating machines, measuring instruments, sewing machines, and automobiles. The machines for arms production had been sent to Brno in Czechoslovakia, where the firm CZ continued the production of rifles in the period between the two world wars, and manufactured about 2.5 million Mauser rifles. CZ successfully supplied to the former Mauser customers in Latin America.
Civilian production at Mauser after the Peace of Versailles
single-track cars, calculating machines, and tools
Under the Hitler regime, which had broken the Treaty of Versailles in March 1935, and introduced general military conscription under the slogan "restoration of military sovereignty", the resurgence of arms production in Oberndorf began. The number of employees increased to 9,800.
In an anniversary publication for 120 years' existence of the Mauser rifle factory in July 1983, the new owners of the Mauser Works (the Loewe firm had already been "Aryanized" in 1935) expressed their thanks to Adolf Hitler:
"With the seizure of power by National Socialism, the resurgence of our works after a period of decline and oppression began. We shall never forget the years in which an extorted treaty left our factories helpless before the brutal interventions of an inter-Allied military control commission, whose goal was to annihilate the Mauser Works.
This memory should make us aware of the magnitude of our obligation towards the man who raised us all from shame and disgrace to honor and esteem again, liberated German industry from oppressive chains, and gave the German worker jobs and bread again, our Leader Adolf Hitler. -- The supervisory and managing boards of Mauser-Werke A.G."(23)
One of the signatories was the big industrialist Günther Quandt, who had taken command at Mauser, as at other arms manufacturers in Germany.
Their obeisance was to a man who said the following in a speech to the commanders-in-chief of the armed forces on 22 January #1939, quite in the tradition of Field Marshal von der Goltz: "I have given the order….that the objective of the war does not consist of reaching certain lines, but of the physical destruction of the opponent. So I have formed up my Death's Head units, only in the East for the time being, with the order to put to death men, women, and children of Polish descent and language mercilessly and ruthlessly. Only in this way will we win the lebensraum we need. Who still talks about the annihilation of the Armenians today?"(24)
So the genocide of Armenians was the blueprint for Hitler's war of conquest in the East. And Mauser was involved again. The company on the Neckar produced, besides long rifles and pistols, millions of model 98-k carbines, the standard-issue weapon of the German Wehrmacht, with which millions of people were killed or wounded on all fronts in Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor. Much the same applies to Krupp with its cannons and armor-plating.
Chapter 5: What became of those who directed the genocide, and their accomplices?
Among historians, three Turkish generals in particular are held to be responsible for the planning and performance of the genocide of 1915 to 1917, that cost about 1.2 million Armenians their lives: Enver Paşa, the Minister of War, Jemal Paşa, the commander-in-chief of the Fourth Army and governor-general of Syria, and Talât Paşa, the Minister of the Interior and commander-in-chief of the Turkish gendarmery, which accompanied and guarded the death marches of the Armenians into the emptiness of the Syrian desert, and participated in massacres on the way.
All three suffered in one way or another for being principal perpetrators of the genocide: Enver, who felt his dream of a greater Turkish empire including the Turkic peoples in [TS1] Central Asia to be closer than ever after the expulsion and extermination of the Armenians, was shot off his horse in a cavalry attack against Soviet troops near Dushanbe, the present capital of Tajikistan. Talât Paşa was assassinated on 15 March 1921 in the Hardenbergstraße in Berlin by the Armenian secret society Nemesis – as was Jemal Paşa, who had followed Enver from Berlin to Central Asia, where he wanted to continue the war against Britain. On 21 July 1921, two Nemesis assassins shot him dead in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi.
Nor did any of their German accessories in the Turkish general staff and the German arms factories in Oberndorf, Berlin and Essen ever face trial– neither Field Marshal von der Goltz, nor the chief of the general staff, Fritz Bronsart von Schellendorf, the naval attaché Hans Humann, or the chief-of-staff of the Third Army, Felix Guse, who had termed the annihilation of the Armenians "severe, but useful", and had themselves drawn up the fatal deportation plans in part. Field Marshal von der Goltz died on 19 April 1916 of a typhus infection in his headquarters in Baghdad. Many other generals from the German military mission in Constantinople or from the staffs of the various Turkish armies continued their military careers after the genocide.
Paul von Mauser had died shortly before the start of the First World War, with numerous honors and a member of parliament in the German Reichstagsat the end of his life. His superior at the head of Deutsche Waffenfabriken DWF, Isidor Loewe, died before him in 1910.
It was to take a hundred years before a German head of state, namely Federal President Joachim Gauck, reminded us of the share in responsibility for the genocide of the German generals and the Imperial chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, on the anniversary of the beginning of the genocide on 23 April 2015 in the Cathedral of Berlin. However, he did not mention the vast German arms shipments that made the genocide possible in the first place. (25)
There was never a word of regret from the two arms companies mainly involved, Mauser and Krupp – neither after the Second World War from the legal successor to the Mauser Works, the Nuremberg arms firm Diehl, nor from the firm Rheinmetall, which took over Mauser in the year 2004, and renamed it Rheinmetall Defence - Weapons and Ammunition. The Mauser company logo disappeared after 132 years. In the official company history of the Mauser Works, which can be read on the Rheinmetall Web site,(26) there is not a word about the genocide, and the possibility of reparations – even though merely symbolic – to hundreds of thousands of Armenian families is not considered, any more than to the thousands of forced laborers from abroad who had to slave in German arms production under inhumane conditions during the Second World War.
"We need to be able to forget those days for once," the managing director of the Mauser Works said in 1983 in an interview for the documentary film Fern vom Krieg(27) in reply to a question about compensation for the victims of the forced labor. A general amnesty granted to oneself by general amnesia, so to speak. The thousands murdered with Mauser weapons the Mauser managing director already did not find worth mentioning even then.
Chapter 6: Are there parallels to present-day wars and genocidal actions
Almost exactly a hundred years after the start of the genocide in Armenia, on 26 March 2015, a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia, consisting of, besides the Saudis, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, and later Senegal, began a military intervention in Yemen under the name Operation Decisive Storm.
There, Islamist rebel groups such as the Houthi militia supported by Iran had driven abroad the President, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and conquered the capital Sana'a. Southern Yemeni separatists, as well as fighters of the Islamic State (Daesh) and Al-Qaeda also became involved in the fighting. Since then, a civil war has raged, in which, according to the UN Human Rights Council, has cost the lives of more than 5,000 civilians, including 1200 children.
Even worse: seven million people are threatened by famine, and 14.5 million have no access to clean drinking water. A cholera epidemic has broken out. More than 600,000 cases were reported as of April 2017, and two to four thousand people have died of it.
Saudi Arabia has imposed a naval blockade on Yemen, including by means of recently-delivered German patrol boats. Since then, food and medicine cannot get into the country, or only indirectly. Yemen's infrastructure has been largely destroyed; Saudi-Arabian Tornado and Eurofighter jets attack positions of the Houthi rebels and Islamists almost daily, killing many civilians in the process. Yemen is being besieged and starved out, say international aid organizations.
The military coalition has bombed out the most important port, and has prevented aircraft landing at the Sana'a airport for the last year-and-a-half. "A medieval siege tactic is being implemented with the latest weaponry, and an entire people starved into submission. More than the combatants, who take what they need by force of arms, it is the populace that suffers from the blockade," commented the Süddeutsche Zeitung.(28) More than 80 percent of Yemenis depend on food and medicine aid, it reported. But because these cannot be supplied, seven million people on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula are going hungry.
A genocide by denial of aid by force threatens that might eclipse the Armenian genocide, if even more people starve to death or die of infectious diseases. But even apart from the provisional numbers of fatalities, there are strong parallels between the two events:
1. Once again, the world public is looking away. The Yemenis are nobody's ally, and have hardly any natural resources, such as oil, worth mentioning. The poorhouse of the Arab world is being ignored just as were the Armenians, who did not have any allies, either. The Saudis and the United Arab Emirates, on the other hand, are of the greatest strategic value to the West – as was the Ottoman Empire in 1913 for the Germans and Austrians in the run-up to the First World War.
2. As in the Ottomans' war on the Armenians, German weapons are in use at the front in the current conflict. Saudis and Qataris are fighting against the #Islamists. Besides German-manufactured patrol boats and joint German-European manufactured combat aircraft, Heckler & Koch model G3 and G36 assault rifles are being employed, and according to unconfirmed reports, even Qatari Leopard II tanks. Even before 2015, German firms supplied large quantities of spare parts and ammunition. According to the German government, the supply of armaments worth almost 484 million euros to Saudi Arabia was approved in the first half of 2016 alone, including helicopters and parts for combat aircraft.(29)
All German governments since Helmut Kohl's coalition of Christian Democrats and Gerhard Schröder's coalition of Social Democrats and Greens have played a major role in arming Saudi Arabia – after the USA and Britain, Germany was, and under Chancelloress Merkel continues to be, the third-largest arms supplier to the Saudi kingdom.
So instead of Mauser, now Heckler & Koch, instead of Krupp now Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann. It does not bear thinking of what would happen if an open war between the two hegemonic powers Saudi Arabia and Iran broke out. Then German weapons would be involved on both sides again, as in the first Gulf War, between Iraq and Iran, in 1980-88, in which more than a million soldiers and civilians lost their lives.
(1) see Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 18/8613 of 31 May 2016; Antrag der Fraktionen CDU/CSU, SPD und BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN. "Erinnerung und Gedenken an den Völkermord an den Armeniern und anderen christlichen Minderheiten in den Jahren 1915 und 1916". Source: https://www.bundestag.de/dokumente/textarchiv/2016/kw22-de armenier/423826
(2) quoted from Jürgen Gottschlich, Beihilfe zum Völkermord – Deutschlands Rolle bei der Vernichtung der Armenier, Berlin 2015, p. 179
(3) Andreas Kussmann-Hochhalter, Halbmond über Oberndorf, Oberndorf 2015, p. 12
(4) Gottschlich, op. cit. p. 50
(5) Kussmann op. cit. p. 7
(6) Carl Alexander Krethlow, Rüstungsgeschäfte, Verschwörungen und Massaker – Goltz Pascha und die Armenierproblematik im Osmanischen Reich(1868-1914), Stiftung für Sozialgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts, Bremen 2008
(7) J.Ludwig Schneller, Königserinnerungen, Leipzig 1926, quoted from Rosemarie Stresemann, Bündnis des Todes II, CKV Publishing, Lübeck 2014
(8) A. Kussmann, op. cit. p. 23-24
(9) J. Gottschlich, op. cit. p. 30-31
(10) J. Gottschlich op. cit. p. 32
(11) Franz Werfel, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, 1934
(12) quoted from Gottschlich, op. cit., p. 22-23
(13) quoted from Gottschlich, op. cit., p. 197
(14) Jörg Berlin and Adrian Klenner (eds.) Völkermord oder Umsiedlung? Das Schicksal der Armenier im Osmanischen Reich, Darstellung und Dokumente, Cologne 2006, p. 372
(15) J. Gottschlich, op. cit., p.197
(16) quoted from J. Gottschlich, op. cit., p. 205
(17) quoted from J. Gottschlich, op. cit., p. 219
(18) Fahri Türk, Die deutsche Rüstungsindustrie in ihren Türkeigeschäften zwischen
1871 und 1914, Frankfurt a.M. 2007
(19) idem., op. cit. S.108
(20) A. Kussmann, op. cit. p. 30)
(21) Fahri Türk, op. cit. p. 124
(22) Fahri Türk, op. cit. p. 169
(23) Geschichte der Mauser-Werke, VDI-Verlag Berlin 1938 p. 7
(24) quoted from Berlin and Klemmer, op. cit. p. 380
(25) www.bundespräsident.de: Der Bundespräsident/Reden/Worte des Gedenkens 23. April 2015
(26) Rheinmetall Defence: 200 Jahre industrielle Waffenfertigung
(27) Fern vom Krieg, documentary film by Wolfgang Landgraeber, 1984,
(28) Süddeutsche Zeitung Online of 20 Aug. 2017
(29) Süddeutsche Zeitung of 3-4 Dec. 2016 p. 6
- Andreas Kussmann-Hochhalter, Halbmond über Oberndorf, Museum im Schwedenbau,
Oberndorf am Necker 2015, with the friendly permission of the author, pp. 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 12,13
(photo of Paul von Mauser)
Types of weapons that were supplied and used in the genocide of the Armenians
At the time of the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was heavily armed: almost a million long rifles, carbines, machine guns, and pistols from Mauser of Oberndorf, as well as thousands of field-pieces from Krupp in Essen formed the backbone of their armament.
Most of the regular Turkish soldiers and gendarmes were armed with Mauser rifles, and the officers with Mauser pistols.
During the production run, several modifications were made to the model M/87 rifle: first the M/89 and finally the M/90, a repeating rifle with a mid-stock magazine for 7.65 mm caliber nitro-powder cartridges. Of this model, short-barreled carbine versions were produced specially for the cavalry.
Between 1885 and 1912, Krupp supplied hundreds of field-pieces of the models L 20, 24, 27, and L 30 and 50, with calibers of 7.5 and 8.7 cm; model L 35 and KL 35 coast-artillery guns with calibers of 25 and 35 cm, and model L 6.3 and L 6.4 mortars with calibers from 12 to 21 cm to the Ottoman Empire. In addition, they supplied armor plating for naval vessels.
Fahri Türk, Die deutsche Rüstungsindustrie in ihren Türkeigeschäften zwischen 1871 und 1914, Frankfurt am Main, 2004
Company profile: Mauser-Werke, Oberndorf
(now Rheinmetall Defence / Rheinmetall AG)
On 31 July 1811, King Friedrich I of Württemberg decided to establish a rifle factory in the Augustinian monastery in Oberndorf am Neckar that had been secularized five years before. The factory was under the supervision of the royal Ministry of War.
In 1834, Wilhelm Mauser was born in Oberndorf, and in 1838 his brother Paul. After completing elementary school, Wilhelm Mauser joined the royal rifle factory as an apprentice, and Paul followed in 1852. After their apprenticeship, the two brothers worked in weapons development, and together designed a new breech-loading rifle, which went into serial production in 1867. After working for a while in the rifle factory in Liège, the brothers returned to Oberndorf, and designed a new rifle, which was adopted in 1871 as the "M/71 German infantry rifle".
The brothers received 8,000 thalers from the Prussian government as initial payment for their weapon development. In 1872 Wilhelm and Paul Mauser bought a plot of land in Oberndorf and began building their own rifle factory. The brothers did good business with a rifle sight developed for the M/71, and thus accumulated capital to purchase machinery for the mass production of the M/71. They founded the firm of "Gebrüder W. & P. Mauser", and obtained an order to supply almost 100,000 rifles for the Württemberg troops. The revenue from this order enabled them to buy the royal rifle factory for 200,000 florins.
Further orders for the M/71 by the Prussian Ministry of War followed. Shortly afterwards, they also received orders from China (26,000 rifles) and Serbia (120,000). The plants in Oberndorf were enlarged. In 1882 Wilhelm Mauser died, and his brother Paul became the sole general partner.
In 1884, a modified Mauser rifle with a tubular magazine for eight cartridges was introduced by the Prussian military as the M/71.84 German Infantry Rifle. The limited partnership Gebrüder Mauser & Cie. was converted into a partnership limited by shares, and from then on did business as Waffenfabrik Mauser. The general partners were Paul Mauser and Alfred Kaulla of the Württem¬bergische Vereinsbank. Paul Mauser held 334 shares, and the Vereinsbank the remaining 1666. Another 19,000 infantry rifles were ordered in Oberndorf by the Royal Rifle Auditing Commission.
But the big breakthrough came in 1887: Mauser received an order from the Ottoman Ministry of War in Constantinople to manufacture 500,000 repeating rifles and 50,000 cavalry carbines for the Turkish Ottoman army. Actively involved in landing this order, against stiff European and US. competition was the Prussian General Colmar Baron von der Goltz, who was a consultant to the Turkish general staff, and taught strategy and tactics at Turkish war colleges. Since the Mauser rifle factory was not able to fulfill this order itself, the Württembergische Vereinsbank sold five-sixths of its shareholding to the arms manufacturer Ludwig Loewe & Co in Berlin for two million reichsmarks. Paul Mauser retained the remaining sixth, and remained in the firm as Technical Director, continuing to work on innovations.
The first result was the M/87 rifle, quickly followed by the model M/93; both models featured improved rapidity and accuracy of fire. The Turkish army leadership sent a commission of acceptance to Oberndorf -- a total of nineteen officers who were supposed to monitor the production process. General von der Goltz also appeared in Oberndorf, and reported continuously to the Sultan on the progress of the work. The last of the 550,000 long rifles and carbines were delivered to the Ottoman Empire before Christmas in 1893.
Another order, for 200,000 rifles of the improved model M/93 followed. At a unit price of 71 marks, the volume of the order came to more than 14 million marks. Paul Mauser was raised to the peerage by the King for his services to the Württemberg economy, allowing him to add the nobiliary particle "von" to his name. "In 1896, 48.5 percent of the rifles stored in the armories of the Turkish Ottoman army came from the Mauser company. By the beginning of the First World War, in which the Turks fought alongside their German comrades-in-arms in many theaters of the Near and Middle East, this share probably reached two-thirds." (1)
Those who suffered for this were not only the hundreds of thousands of war dead on both sides of the front, but also the Armenian people, whose almost total extermination was carried out with Mauser weapons, among others.
Isidor Loewe, who held a majority of the Mauser shares, with the Deutsche Waffen- und Munitions¬fabriken (DWM) created a giant group containing all the rifle and ammunition factories owned or controlled by him. "The profits from the arms and ammunition business were enormous, and could be increased still further by concentration and joint administration. The dividend rose from 4% (1879) to 10% (1882), and then in the year of the Turkish deal from 12% to the unusual height of 24% in the year of the transformation of the company (1896)." (2)
But DWM was also successful in other parts of the world. South America offered a favorable market, since a build-up of the armies there, and especially the introduction of general conscription meant that long rifles, carbines, and pistols were needed. Argentina in particular, which had a dispute with neighboring Chile over an unresolved border question, wanted to demonstrate military power by acquiring modern long rifles, carbines, and pistols. So 120,000 Mauser rifles were ordered from Loewe, to be delivered in several lots.
Since the Argentinian army comprised only about 6,500 men in 1892, the Chileans suspected that it would soon be enlarged drastically, in order to get the upper hand in an impending war with Chile. After lengthy negotiations with the Chilean general staff and pressure from the German Instructor of the Army, General Bernhard Emil Körner, who had a similarly strong position in Chile to that of General von der Goltz in Turkey, the Chileans ordered 50,000 long rifles and 10,000 carbines, with 300 rounds of ammunition each. "In the following years -- from 1895 to 1902 -- the German arms industrialists made successful efforts to play up the tensions between Argentina and Chile, and convert them into hard cash..." (3)
All these deals were eclipsed by the demand for arms and ammunition in the First World War. Paul von Mauser and Isidor Loewe did not live to experience this boom in orders. Loewe died in 1910, Mauser four years later. In 1928, the former Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken were taken over by the major industrialist Günther Quandt, who directed them into re-armament for the Second World War. 1945 was the year of total collapse in Oberndorf, as well. Only with the establishment of the Bundeswehr from 1949 on did arms production resume in the town on the Neckar.
The factory owned by the Quandt family changed owners again in 1979. Purchased by the Diehl arms-manufacturing group of Nuremberg, production at Mauser shifted to manufacturing aircraft and naval canons. Finally, in 2004, the firm was taken over by Rheinmetall--Weapons and Ammunition.
Since then, medium-caliber (diameter of the shells around 30 mm) canons and matching ammunition are made in Oberndorf. "Since the 1990s, it is the light naval gun MLG 27 with the corresponding 27-mm FAPDS ammunition that has attracted attention. Also, in 1997 the Bundeswehr, in cooperation with Britain, Italy and Spain, decided to introduce the Eurofighter 2000, that was to be equipped with an increased-performance BK 27 cannon with unbelted ammunition feed from Mauser. In 2004, the consistent splitting up of Rheinmetall's Defence division activities into product divisions, and the associated concentration on the name Rheinmetall led to the name Mauser as the company name disappearing after 132 years. But the word "Mauser" will remain in the factory's name."(4)
The Mauser heritage of rifle production was assumed in the 1950s by the firm Heckler & Koch, which was founded by three former engineers. Its G3 assault rifle has been sold throughout the world in similarly large numbers as the Mauser rifles before the First World War.
(1) Andreas Kussmann-Hochhalter, Halbmond über Oberndorf - Der Fabrikant vom Neckar, der Sultan vom Bosporus und ihre Geschichte, Museum im Schwedenbau, Oberndorf 2015
(2) Jürgen Schäfer, Deutsche Militärhilfe an Südamerika, Bertelsmann Universitätsverlag Düsseldorf, 1974
(3) idem, op. cit.
(4) Rheinmetall Defence, Zwei Jahrhunderte industrielle Waffenfertigung
Company profile: The Krupp works and Thyssenkrupp AG, Essen
by Wolfgang Landgraeber and Bernhard Trautvetter
In the decades before the First World War, the Krupp works grew into the dominant arms supplier in Germany, and helped the German Empire, founded in 1871, to become a European Great Power. "From the mid-nineteenth century on, the factory in Essen built steel artillery pieces that could shoot further and more accurately than the conventional iron and bronze mortars. The best-known of the numerous models of gun was the 42-centimetre mortar 'Big Bertha'".(1)
Krupp weapons were supplied not only to Germany's, but throughout the world, including to the Ottoman Empire and South America. Warships, such as the Goeben and Breslau, armor-clad with Krupp steel, in particular were of central importance for the Ottoman Empire. The Goeben catapulted Turkey at Germany's side into the First World War. It made the Black Sea practically into German inland waters, and blocked the Russians' access to the Mediterranean. It indirectly provoked the Allied landing at Gallipoli (Dardanelles), where 252,000 British and French troops and their allies were killed or wounded. And all this happened although the British and French dominated the Mediterranean at the start of the war. In the summer of 1914, the Goeben (1,013-man crew) and the protected cruiser Breslau (373-man crew) were the only two warships that embodied the Emperor's dream of German sea-power in the Mediterranean."(2) In 1910, Berlin sold the later Torgud Reis -- formerly the HMS Weißenburg -- an armored vessel of the Imperial Navy clad with Krupp steel, to the Ottoman Empire.
The steel 28-cm guns of the Navy ships of this class were also products of the Krupp firm, as were the guns of the fortresses of the Dardanelles at the strait of the Bosporus. The guns were almost all made in Germany, and until the middle of 1914, they could still be shipped by sea from Germany. The installation of the heavy cannons under the direction of German specialists required much effort. Some fortresses were actually built around the guns.
Colonel Colmar Baron von der Goltz was assigned by Emperor Wilhelm, among other things, to offer the Ottoman Empire Krupp cannons. "Alfred Krupp himself regarded German diplomats in Turkey as his salesmen." Von der Goltz had already previously arranged the supply of large quantities of Mauser rifles with the Sultan. Thus he succeeded in creating, besides the rifle monopoly, a second monopoly on artillery in the Ottoman Empire -- at the expense of the French and British arms makers who had previously dominated this market segment.
In the Krupps' Villa Hügel in Essen, in those days "the mighty of this world were pleased to call . Under Emperor Wilhelm II, the Krupp firm became the armory of the German Empire. The Emperor was a frequent visitor. In the Villa rooms reserved especially for him awaited him."(4)
During this period, Krupp grew into a worldwide business. The railway boom of the nineteenth century, huge blast furnaces, and in connection with this a leap in steel production, innovative products such as the seamless steel wheel and ship propellers, Krupp armor plating for naval vessels and the artillery business made Krupp the largest corporation in Europe and Germany's main supplier of armaments before the First World War. In Essen alone, the Krupps' headquarters, the firm already employed 40,000 people at that time."(5)
Gustav Georg Friedrich Maria Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, who first as a member of the supervisory board [Aufsichtsrat], and then as its chairman, of the industrial firm of Krupp played a decisive role in the orientation of many business deals, including with the Ottoman Empire, must be considered the main party responsible.
He had become acquainted with Bertha, the eldest daughter and sole heiress of the business, when serving as a secretary of the Prussian embassy to the Vatican. After their marriage, it was important to Emperor Wilhelm II that the name Krupp should not disappear from the succession of the firm. In a royal Prussian decree, he announced that she was to be called Bertha "Krupp von Bohlen", and he Gustav "Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach".
In accordance with Friedrich Alfred Krupp's last will, in 1903, the year after his death, the company was converted into a public limited company, of which 99.9% of the shares were to go to Bertha. Its opening capital was about 40 million dollars. By the beginning of the First World War, this amount had almost doubled.
After their marriage, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was made a member of the supervisory board of Friedrich Krupp AG in 1906, and chairman of the supervisory board in 1909. The Krupps' career showed the close links between the complex state apparatus of the Empire and industry, the Krupp family in particular. In 1910, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was made a member of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society [the predecessor of the Max Planck Society]. After the German Empire had initiated the First World War with its declarations of war on Russia and France, the company, under the direction of Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, concentrated its production largely on armaments.
That the Krupp firm must have known about the deportations and killings of the Armenian minority in the Ottoman Empire is suggested by contemporary sources: "The German military was also involved in the logistics of the deportations, as shown by a deportation order signed by Lieutenant-Colonel Böttrich, the head of transportation (Railway Department) in the Turkish Grand Headquarters in October 1915, which affected Armenian workers on the Baghdad Line. The Baghdad Line itself and the Anatolian Railway also served to transport captured Armenians before this."(6) The Krupp company participated directly in the building of the Baghdad Line.
That Krupp also played an important role in the arming of Latin American countries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was demonstrated by the historian Jürgen Schäfer.(7) In Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile, German army instructors had already begun to re-organize and modernize the armed forces before 1890. German weapons, mainly Mauser rifles and Krupp cannons, which had won comparison firing trials against European competitors, played an important role in this modernization, and helped to reinforce the Prussian-German influence among the military leaders of these countries, and establish a rifle and cannon monopoly there. Even after the merger with the steel-making group Thyssen to form Thyssenkrupp AG, Krupp remained one of the most important arms manufacturers and exporters of Germany and Europe.
Today, Thyssenkrupp presents itself on its company Web site as a diversified industrial group focused on steel working, with more than 158,000 employees at 500 locations in 79 countries throughout the world.
Its product range officially includes – besides naval shipbuilding – construction, buildings, infra¬structure, mining, metals, chemistry, energy, household appliances, food and drink, aviation, machinery making and plant construction, oil and gas, and special-purpose vehicles.
Official sales for activities continued in 2018: about 41.5 billion euros (8)
The shareholder structure is stated as follows:
20.93% Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation (AKBH)
15.08% Cevian Capital
2.98% Franklin Mutual Adviser
57.95% scattered holdings
Chairman of the managing board: Heinrich Hiesinger
Chairman of the supervisory board: Ulrich Lehner
Earnings before interest and taxes (forecast for 2017): 1.8 to 2.0 billion euros (9)
(3) William Manchester, Krupp. Chronik einer Familie, Munich 1982, p.166
(6) Jürgen Gottschlich: Beihilfe zum Völkermord. Deutschlands Rolle bei der Vernichtung der Armenier, Berlin 2015
(7) Jürgen Schäfer, Deutsche Militärhilfe an Südamerika - Militär- und Rüstungsinteressen in Argentinien, Bolivien und Chile vor 1914, Düsseldorf 1974
- Geschichte der Mauser-Werke, VDI-Verlag Berlin, 1938
- Gottschlich, Jürgen: Beihilfe zum Völkermord – Deutschlands Rolle bei der Vernichtung
der Armenier, Berlin 2015
- Krethlow, Carl Alexander: Rüstungsgeschäfte, Verschwörungen und Massaker –
Goltz Pascha und die Armenierproblematik im Osmanischen Reich (1868-1914),
Stiftung für Sozialgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts, Bremen 2008
- Kussmann-Hochhalter, Andreas: Halbmond über Oberndorf, Oberndorf 2015,
- Menne, Bernhard: Krupp-Deutschlands Kanonenkönige, Zürich 1937
- Schneller, J. Ludwig: Königserinnerungen, Leipzig 1926
- Stresemann, Rosemarie: Bündnis des Todes II, CKV Publishing, Lübeck 2014
- Türk, Fahri: Die deutsche Rüstungsindustrie in ihren Türkeigeschäften zwischen
1871 und 1914, Frankfurt a.M. 2007
- Werfel, Franz: The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, 1934
Erik Friedler, Aghet – ein Völkermord, Deutschland 2011, DVD available from Amazon
Terry George, The Promise, USA 2017, DVD available from Amazon
Link to the most important Web site
Link to Armenian organizations in Germany and Europe
Zentralrat der Armenier in Deutschland: www.zentralrat.org/en/zentralrat
he is a renowned German documentary filmmaker, commissioning editor and essayist. Between 1978 and 1993, he worked as a reporter and producer for political TV news programs of major public
channels such WDR and NDR. Apart from that, he produced more than 30 long documentaries on political, social and environmental issues and commissioned over a hundred more. For his films and his
editorial work he won 16 awards at national and international film and TV festivals. He has produced several films about the German armaments industry, such as Far from War (1984), Panteón
Militar (1991) and Living from Killing (2016) Before he retired in 2012, he was head of the department of cultural, historical and scientific documentaries at WDR. Since then he has been working
as a free-lance filmmaker and lecturer for film schools and universities.
For more details see: www.landgraeberfilm.de
Films by Wolfgang Landgraeber on war, armaments, human-rights violations (cinema and TV):
Nah beim Schah (1978);
Fern vom Krieg (1984);
Südfrüchte aus Oberndorf (1984);
Vergeben, aber nicht vergessen (1985);
Gesucht wird…der unsichtbare Tod (1991);
Panteón Militar (1993);
Kreuzzug gegen die Subversion (1994);
Vom Töten leben (2016)
Trailers at: www.landgraeberfilm.de
Author on Rheinmetall
(born 1956) is a free-lance journalist and head of the Berliner Informations¬zentrum für Transatlantische Sicherheit. Contributions to television news programs (Monitor, Panorama, Frontal 21 int. al.), radio (Streitkräfte und Strategien, SWR2, WDR5, int. al.) and print media (Spiegel, Tagesspiegel, TAZ, Frankfurter Rundschau, Loyal, Wissenschaft & Frieden, Friedensforum int. al.), electronic media (Spiegel online, The European, Blättchen int. al.). Most publications can be seen on line.
Author on Krupp
is a peace activist, one of the spokespersons of the Essener Friedensforum, in the Peace Education working group of the GEW NRW (State teacher's union), representative of the VVN-BdA NRW in the Bundesausschuss Friedensratschlag, and author of texts on peace policies and peace education. He also has a public artistic presence, such as with the exhibition "Wars Do Not End in Peace", and initiates and promotes peace actions on the occasion of conferences of NATO military and nuclear strategists in Essen. Trautvetter is a critic of the development of the arms industry in the Essen region, which once gained dubious fame as the "armory of the Reich" during the World Wars. He was awarded the Düsseldorf Peace Prize in 2018.
Author on the use of German weapons against Kurds:
Dr. Helmut Lohrer
(born 1963) is a physician specializing in general practice in Villingen-Schwenningen. After working as a teacher in Cameroon for two years, he studied medicine, and trained as a specialist in Manchester, England and in Villingen-Schwenningen. Since his university days, he has been active in the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). He is International Councilor of the German section and an elected member of the international executive committee of the IPPNW. In 2013, he organized the Zielscheibe Mensch congress on small arms in Villingen, in which 300 physicians, scientists, and activists from all over the world took part.
Für den Gesamttext GN-STAT Fall Nr. 01:
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Tel.: 0049-(0)89-17 87 78-02
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Leiter des Berliner Informationszentrums für transatlantische Sicherheit (BITS)
Rykestr. 13, 10405 Berlin
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Fax: 0049-(0)30 44 10-221
Sprecher des Essener Friedensforums
Mob.: 0049-(0)175-59 46 225
Für türkische Interventionen mit deutschen Waffen:
International Councillor IPPNW Deutschland
Koordination von Fall Nr. 01 des GN-STAT
ArmsInformationCentre / RüstungsInformationsBüro (RIB e.V.)
Tel.: 0049-(0)761-76 78 088,Fax: 0049-(0)761-76 78 090Web: www.rib-ev.de
Mob.: 0049-(0)170-611 37 59
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