With my recent trip to Germany and the Bundesarchiv in Freiburg, I learned a few important things. One, my original proposed study of the Jägerstab and all of the tunnel projects that organization created is too large. Dr. Herbert suggest that would make a nice life-time study, rather than a dissertation topic. Instead, I should focus on one tunnel project and the accompanying business and forced laborers. Two, it is good to have contacts. Dr. Herbert put me in contact with Dr. Wagner at the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial. Dr. Wagner gave me some excellent advice on how to better select a project. First and foremost, is to have a research question. So far, my research question has been, “What can I find out about the tunnel projects.” I have been content, to this point, to want to just tell a narrative of a tunnel project. One other question comes to mind: Was underground dispersal effective? More will surely come to me as I dig into the data (pun intended).
After crafting a decent research question, the next step is to ask myself if I would like to study the organizational structure of the tunnel project. If so, three types of organizations were involved in underground dispersal: the Jägerstab and their aircraft armaments programs, the Geilenbergstabes focused on the oil and fuel production, and private, individual businesses. Within this study of organization, there were government bodies that oversaw the tunnel construction, such as the SS, the OT (Operation Todt), and others.
All underground dispersal projects utilized forced labor. I will also need to consider several aspects regarding the use of such labor. First of all, which type of labor to focus on: political prisoners, prisoners of war, foreign civil prisoners. Second, is the research to cover the daily life and working conditions and experiences of the laborers?
Along with these great questions, Dr. Wagner suggested several books to see as examples.
To help formulate a new outline, I took several of the books and reconstructed an outline based on their table of index. There was a common thread that weaved through each of the works, so I replicated that structure for my new outline. As of this writing, I don’t even have an idea of the business or tunnel I will end up researching, but I can formulate a rough outline nonetheless. Here is what I have so far:
- Introduction: Historiography, Methodology, Argument
- Chapter 1: The Business Above Ground (193x – 1944)
- Chapter 2: Decision to Disperse
- Chapter 3: Organization of Project X
- Chapter 4: Technology of Tunnels
- Chapter 5: Collaboration with Killers: Use of slave labor
- Conclusion: Meanings, Memories, and Movements
I will refine and add to this as I get more information.
As a technical side note, the above list of books was automatically generated using a the Zotpress plugin. This connects my WordPress install with my online Zotero account. With that set up, I can easily select books to include in a list or bibliography, and have them input into the post.