Sources will come from three main archives. Documents in the Goudsmit Collection at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) contain architectural drawings of numerous underground factories, letters to or from individuals such as Albert Speer, Heinrich Himmler, Hans Kammler, and Oswald Pohl, and reports detailing tunnel progress and material and slave labor use. These documents will be at the heart of and form the basis of the dissertation research. Memoirs, journals, and secondary work available at the USHMM will augment and enhance the narrative.

Memoirs of Nazi leaders and German businessmen, although not without limitations, will provide this research with another level of depth to the understanding and interpretation of government records. Often, the memoirs from those who wrote or drafted the documents expound upon the reasoning or purpose for a document, reveal the hidden meanings, motives and intentions behind the document, and occasionally uncover the “behind the scenes” drama or consequences that otherwise remain concealed. Looking at the documents through the eyes of their creator brings the stuffy archival copies to life.

Allied interest in the German war economy did not end with the war. Throughout the US involvement in World War II and directly afterwards, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS), under direction of the United States Secretary of War, conducted intensive and thorough surveys of thousands of German political, military and civilian leaders, as well as engineers, scientists and anyone with important information. 1 One goal of the USSBS was to determine the effectiveness of the combined Allied bombing raids conducted against Germany throughout the war. Extensive and thorough in their gathering of data, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey has provided a rich repository for historians of Nazi Germany in many more ways than the effectiveness of Allied bombing. Many historical arguments are based upon the results of the Bombing Survey. Of particular interest to this study are three reports entitled The Effects of Strategic Bombing on the German War Economy, The German Anti-Friction Bearings Industry, and Underground and Dispersal Plants in Greater Germany.

The National Archives in College Park, Maryland hold the complete microfilmed collection of captured Nazi war documents. These will be invaluable in piecing together the Nazi personnel and organizations involved in the dispersal program. They also provide a German view of the Allied bombings with statistical data for many air raids carried out on civilian and industrial targets.

A final source for primary documents will be in the German National Archives in Koblenz, Germany. This archive holds the original and complete records for the various Nazi organizations involved in the underground tunnel projects.

Notes:

  1. United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Underground and Dispersal Plants in Greater Germany, 2nd ed. (Washington, 1947), Foreword. Members of the USSBS, some 1150 individuals, were often right behind the front lines of fighting in order to secure vital documents before they could be lost or destroyed. Documents were found in a variety of places, from secure vaults, to private homes, barns, hen houses, and even coffins. Several survey members were injured and four agents killed gathering this information. For further study on the USSBS, two books have been written (neither of them recently), James Beveridge, History of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific), 1945-1946 (Washington D.C.: Library of Congress. Microfilm Preservation Program, 1976), and David MacIsaac, Strategic bombing in World War Two : the story of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (New York: Garland Pub. Co., 1976).

2 comments

  1. terry says:

    I was station in Massweiler in 66 -68 with the 564th Military Police Co. and rand the entire security for the base my office used to be just outside the main gate and guard shack. We used the bunkers to store war heads. Ther was a bunker with a tunnel that ran well over a mile just outside Massweiler near the base of a long hill this tunnel ran from Massweiler to the bunkers that we used. We never found out what was in the parts that were sealed off but there were a lot of stories. Thought you might be interested in this. If you have anything you can share with me about this I would love to receive it.

    Thank you

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