HASAG


hasag

HASAG - Pelcery Camp (USHMM)


HASAG was founded in Leipzig Germany in 1863 as a small lamp factory and became the Hugo Schneider Aktiengesellschaft in 1889, when it was converted into a metal products factory. In 1930 the company had about one thousand employees and an annual turnover of 5 million marks. In 1932 Paul Budin, a member of the Nazi Party and a Sturmbannfuhrer in the SS, was appointed General Manager of HASAG. His deputies were Dr. Georg Mumme, Hans Fuhrer and Gustav Hessen; Dr Ernst von Schon was Chairman of the Board, and the shareholders included Hugo Zinsser, Ernst von Wildeneg and Richard Koch.

 Beginning in 1933, the company developed contacts with the infantry ordnance branch of the Wehrmacht High Command, and it became a regular supplier of ammunition to the infantry and the Luftwaffe.  In 1934 HASAG was classified as a Wehrmachtsbetrieb (a company working for the armed forces). By 1939 its annual turnover was 22 million marks and it employed thirty-seven hundred workers. HASAG’s status was raised to that of Rustungsbetrieb (armament’s company) in 1939. When the German armaments industry was re-organised in 1940, Budin was appointed the Chairman of Special Committee II, which had the task of supervising the production in the Reich of light ammunition for the infantry and the air force.

In 1934 HASAG was classified as a Wehrmachtsbetrieb (a company working for the armed forces). By 1939 its annual turnover was 22 million marks and it employed thirty-seven hundred workers. HASAG’s status was raised to that of Rustungsbetrieb (armament’s company) in 1939. When the German armaments industry was re-organised in 1940, Budin was appointed the Chairman of Special Committee II, which had the task of supervising the production in the Reich of light ammunition for the infantry and the air force.

When Albert Speer was appointed Minister of Armaments in 1942, the committee’s range of responsibilities was broadened and Budin’s stature also grew as a result. In 1944 HASAG was charged with the mass production of infantry rocket launchers and received Hitler’s thanks for its achievements. HASAG – Leipzig was also singled out as an “Exemplary National Socialist Enterprise.”

In Germany during the war HASAG had eight plants in Germany, with two categories of workers. The first was that of civilian workers, men and women from all over Europe, especially the Slavic countries.  Some chose to work for HASAG but the majority were forced labourers, by 1941 HASAG was employing a large number of Polish and Croatian voluntary workers, and in subsequent years it also employed French and Russian workers. Special open camps were established in the vicinity of the plants for the Slavic workers, but they were kept under strict police surveillance, the pay for these workers was very low.

 The second category was that of concentration camp prisoners. Beginning in the summer of 1944, labour camps were established next to each HASAG plant, all of them as Aussenkommandos (satellite units) of the Buchenwald concentration camp.According to incomplete data based on the Buchenwald concentration camp card index, the composition and size of the work force in the HASAG labour camps on the 31 January 1945 was as follows:

Aussenkommando

Number
Location Number of Jewish Men Number of Women Total
3 Altenburg 52 2616 2668
24 Colditz 300   300
42 Flossberg 396   396
65 Leipzig 221 5067 5288
74 Meuselwitz 290 1376 1666
95 Schlieben 2,339 242 2581
107 Taucha 426 1256 1682
Total   4024 10557 14581

The employment by the HASAG industries of such a large number of female forced labourers was determined by a number of factors:

The mechanisation and automation of the production of small -and medium -size munitions enabled women to replace men in the assembly line. Women cost less than men. HASAG paid the SS less for women prisoners, both in the Reich and in the Generalgouvernement. HASAG's experience with Jewish forced labour showed that, all other things being equal, women's adaptability and resilience were much greater than men's. The average mortality rate was higher for men than for women.  Between twenty thousand and twenty-two thousand prisoners of different nationalities passed through the HASAG labour camps in Germany from their establishment until their final liquidation in April 1945.



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