German Village (Dugway proving ground)

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German village during tests of the M69 incendiary
German and Japanese village, aerial view, 1943
Interior of German village. To ensure that the fires spread as realistically as possible, typical German home-interiors were included, and the wood was periodically doused to simulate conditions in the more humid German climate.
German village, oblique angle. The roof construction was added in the 1960s.

German Village was the nickname for a range of mock residential houses constructed in 1943 by the U.S. Army in the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, roughly a hundred kilometers southwest of Salt Lake City, in order to conduct experiments used for the bombing of Nazi Germany.

History[edit]

Dugway was a high-security testing facility for chemical and biological weapons. The purpose of the replicas of German homes, which were repeatedly rebuilt after being intentionally burned down, was to perfect tactics in the fire bombing of German residential areas during World War II.

The US Army employed German émigré architects such as Erich Mendelsohn to create copies as accurate as possible of the dwellings of densely populated poorer quarters of Berlin. The main goal was to find a tactic to achieve a fire storm in the city center. The working-class areas on which the test buildings were based, such as Wedding and Pankow, had been communist strongholds before Nazi repression suppressed dissent.

The architects who worked on the German village and on the Japanese equivalent also included Konrad Wachsmann and Antonin Raymond.

The US Army hired Standard Oil Development Company to assist in the practical testing and construction. Erich Mendelsohn and Konrad Wachsmann advised on construction techniques and materials.[1] Paul Zucker, Hans Knoll and George Hartmueller advised on designing authentic interior furnishings.[1]

The village was authentic down to the smallest details, including authentic German heavy furnishings, clothes hanging in closets and children's toys.[2]

Wood and paint, both for interior and exterior, was selected so it would be authentic both in the German and Japanese village; in the Japanese village there were chopsticks on the tables.[3] The German village cost $575,000 to build.[2]

It was found that it was easier to set fire to Japanese housing, but that German houses were more likely to have uncontrollable fires.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Robin Schuldenfrei, Atomic Dwelling: Anxiety, Domesticity, and Postwar Architecture, pages 117, 118
  2. ^ a b c Lynn Eden, Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, And Nuclear Weapons Devastation, pages 88–90
  3. ^ Stewart Halsey Ros, Strategic Bombing by the United States in World War II: The Myths and the Facts, page 107

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°08′21″N 113°00′23″W / 40.139062°N 113.006425°W / 40.139062; -113.006425