Otto Eberhardt Patronenfabrik
|Industry||cartridge and metal fabrication|
|Headquarters||Hirtenberg and Ronsdorf, Austria|
|Parent||Gustloff-Werke - Waffenwerk Suhl|
|8mm Mauser ammo box|
Otto Eberhardt Patronenfabrik (English: "Otto Eberhardt Cartridge Factory") was a munitions company established in 1860. The company's Hirtenberger Patronen, Zündhütchen und Metallwarenfabrik (English: "cartridge, primer and metal fabrication in Hirtenberg") near Wiener Neustadt (proofmark "am") used forced labor during World War II from a sub-camp of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp and produced ammunition including 9×19mm Parabellum (pistol and submachine gun) and 8 mm Mauser (rifle) cartridges. The company also had a factory in Ronsdorf near Wuppertal (proofmark "ap") which produced rifles. Additional Gustloff facilities were in Meiningen and Weimar.
Otto Eberhardt Patronenfabrik also purchased the assets of the Hopfner aircraft company and had continued production of both de Havilland- and Siemens-powered aircraft under the Hirtenberg brand.
References and notes
- "WWII German Ordnance Codes". Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- "Looking for info on Gustloff Werke 5.6x35RWS". German Weapons. Gun Collector Forum. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
Gustloff-Werke was originally Simson & Co., an old established firm in Suhl, Germany, founded in 1856. Manufacture of firearms followed shortly thereafter, and they made Nagant military service revolvers for Argentina in the 1890s. They were the sole official manufacturer of Lugers (P.08) and military rifles (Gew.98) from 1923 to 1933. In 1934 the Nazis nationalised Simson & Co. because of its Jewish ownership. The Simson family escaped Germany and after a short stay in Switzerland, moved to the United States.
In 1934, Simson & Co. was renamed Berlin-Suhler-Waffen (a name of one of their factories), and in 1939, again renamed to Gustloff-Werke after an anti-semitic Nazi leader in Switzerland, Wilhelm Gustloff (Gauleiter of Switzerland) who was shot by a Jewish student (David Frankfurter) February 4, 1936. The Nazi regime promptly made Gustloff a martyr, and he was eulogized by Hitler, himself.
By 1938, Gustloff-Werke consisted of several factories:
1. Fritz Sauckel Works, Weimar.
2. Arms Works, Suhl.
3. Otto Eberhardt Cartridge Factory, Hirtenberg, Niederdonau, Austria. (formally Hirtenberger Patronen Züundhütchen & Metallwarenfabrik A.G.)
4. Muselwitz Engineering Factory.
5. Branch Office, Berlin - ‘Thüringia House', responsible for overseas and government [sic] sales.
In 1943 an additional Gustloff factory was built at Buchenwald, at the notorious concentration camp. Political prisoners were selected to work at both factories; Weimar and Buchenwald. Reports indicate that those selected to work in either factory received better treatment than other prisoners. In August, 1944, Allied bombers destroyed the Buchenwald factory, killing many workers. Whatever could be salvaged from the plant was reportedly moved to an underground salt mine in Billroda, where production was planned to resume - with little success. The Gustloff-Werke in Suhl was captured by the United States 11th Armored Division, 63rd Armored Infantry Battion [sic] on April 4, 1945. Since Suhl was in the Soviet Zone of Occupation, a couple of months later, the U.S. Troops pulled out and the Soviets moved in. Gustloff-Werke was then renamed Simson & Co. in August, 1945, and arms production resumed. In 1947, the company was renamed again, and in 1952 became VEB, Simson, Suhl.