Steyr and Radom

With the war many companies would benefit from the early conquests, while some of these were private companies, the ones that benefited most were the state owned conglomerates like the Reichswerke. The fall of Poland is probably the most extreme example of the early exploitation, both in its ruthlessness and with the lethargic pace that it developed. The initial stages of conquest occurred quickly and completely, as in 1939 Poland was a regime not far removed from that of national Socialist Germany. Both were extremely aggressive with its neighbors and had near complete control over their industry, – most of Poland’s most important assets were state owned. In a pattern that Germany would repeat over an over again during its conquest in Europe, all assets of the conquered state would be seized and outright confiscated as Reich property. These conquered assets would then be placed under trustee firms (Komissarische Verwaltung), sometimes private ones, but in most cases, especially if important assets, they were assigned to German companies that were owned by the Reich (the state). Without a doubt the largest conglomerate chosen in the most important cases were companies owned or controlled by the Reichswerke Hermann Göring.

In December 1939, the new owners of the former Polish Armaments Works at Radom and Warsaw, theOberkommando des Heeres (German Army), placed Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG (SDP) as trustee of the firms. This in no way implied ownership, firms such as SDP were chosen because the German Army did not have the expertise to operate the confiscated property and selected German firms that specialized in similar industrial endeavors to run them. They were operated under SDP’s operational oversight but were subject to the Armaments Inspectorate controls.

Initially, inspections and an inventory were conducted, but for months the facilities languished in inactivity, not being exploited to their fullest extent. This tendency to not fully exploit the conquered territories was not restricted to Poland, it occurred throughout all the early conquests. The primary reason for this infighting was due to the typical power struggles that go on between political factions in gangster dictatorships. The governors appointed over the occupied country sought to retain the important facilities, both for exploitation and employment it would provide, while the head of the German economy (Göring) wanted to plunder the raw materials, machinery and skilled labor for more efficient exploitation within Germany. Naturally the Army and SS had their own agenda, they both sought their own empires carved out from the newly conquered lands, especially in the east, where they had significant autonomy (outside of Germany they had less opposition and restrictions to their authority).


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