The Seeds of Defeat as Illustrated by the German Armaments Industry from

1919 to 1945:

With Specific Illustration using Krupp, I. G. Farben, Messerschmitt’s

Bf-109, Panzerkamphwagen V Panther, and Panzerkamphwagen VI Tiger

Krupp Werke at Essen          I. G. Farben Buna Werke at Monowitz Poland

    Gustav Krupp                                                            Bf-109         

Panzerkamphwagen V Panther                 Panzerkamphwagen VI Tiger

            It has been stated that World War II had its roots in the Versailles Treaty ending in World War I.  Germany was forced to accept harsh terms and full responsibility for the war.  Since Germany did not suffer the ravages of war within her borders and respected figures such as Hindenburg claimed it was not the fault of Germany, most Germans believed the Treaty to be unjust and tried to blame the Second World War on the Treaty.  This is not so as German military, industrial, and political leaders had placed Germany on the course for war before the Serbs drug Austria into the First World War.  Like wise, the roots of the Second World War started before the Treaty of Versailles was even drafted.

            Prior to the Great War, at the unification of Germany, industry in the new German Empire created basically schlock  At the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia, the representation of German industrial capability was vilified in the German press.  The main complaint was how poorly Germany was made to look by the low standards shown to the world.  By 1890, German industry had become the standard of quality.  Anything having the label Made in Germany was seen as the best there was.  This incredibly high standard of workmanship typified everything made in Germany for years to come.[1]  Examples of how this quality became associated with German firms can be found in the blue-chip companies such as Bayer Siemens, and Zeiss.[2]

The German war effort in World War I had not made efficient use of Germany’s infrastructure.  Troops were left on the Eastern Front after Russia had quit the war.  The armaments industry built weapons that could not be delivered due to a lack of rolling stock.  Yet when the war ended, the new government spent more effort on compensating the industrialists for weapons built but not shipped than they did in reassimilating the returning soldiers into society and the labor force.  And this was a government formed from the workers political party, the SPD!

            Germany began preparations for the next war, yet was not prepared to fight that war once they brought it on.  This can be illustrated by looking at Germany’s armaments industry and at specific examples of products developed and produced by that industry.  The examples will be the Bf-109 and the Panzerkamphwagen V and VI.


German Armament Industry

The Bf 109 as the Archetype of the Luftwaffe

Panzer Development as Typified by the Panzerkamphwagen V & VI

[1] David Blackburn, The Long Nineteenth Century: A History of Germany, 1780-1918. (New York: Oxford University Press 1998) 313.

[2] Ibid, 320.


Hit Counter