7.62x39 DDR Plastic Dummies


Who made the black plastic dummies from the DDR? I think it was the Ernst Thälmann Factory but I’m not sure. If possible I would like the complete name and address of whoever the maker was.


The plastic dummy rounds made in the DDR are reported to have all be manufactured by one firm, VEB Dr. Erani, of Spremberg, Germany. I have no address other than that.

I am not in a position to argue with that information. I do find it hard to believe, though, with some very large manufacturing variations within any given type and with variations that indicate different ooling. that only one company made them. Still, that information comes from European collectors with far more knowledge on the subject than I have.

They certainly were NOT made by VEB Ernst Thälmann. That factorydid make Makarov pistols, however.

John Moss


John–Thanks. An internet search for that name turned up the following:

VEB Preßstoffwerk Spremberg “Dr. Erani”, Spremberg, DDR

It was one of the largest plastic factories in the DDR.


The large variation of these dummy cartridges could be explained by the length of the production run. Do we know when the first ones were made and when the last production was? Perhaps the actual mold manufacturing technique was one of low cost, like sand molds, that resulted in less uniformity…

Love to learn more.



AKMS - While I cannot say there are no mold differences, the dramatic differences are in the machining of the steel bases. As you know from Kalashnikov dummies, there are sever bases styles - lets call them different models of base, or improvements. Addition of the plastic snapping surface, eventual plating of the bases to reduce rusting, etc. However, there are variations that show different tooling and machining techniques.

It is really not for me to try to outguess or German friends though. They are far more expert in ammunition of the DDR than I, and they say the Dr. Orani factory made all of the dummies. since the factory was operating at least as early as 1954, before the DDR began making any ammunition again, I think, they probably made these dummies pretty much from the outset of the Makarov cartridge, 1959 for the DDR. I was not able to get an exact spread of dates in my research.

Ron - thank you for the additional elements of the factory name. It is more complete than what I had.

John Moss


There exists an East German manual for “Ammunition Training Aids”. All it states about all the plastic drill cartridges is “VEB Dr. Erani” as the sole manufacturer. It is very hard now to tell unless we find somebody from that factory (and actually knows something) or the documents of the GDR military purchase department.


they also made 9 Para, 7,9 kurz and long as well as 7,62x54. So VEB Erani may have started much earlier.


I have also wondered about the variation among these rounds, particularly the bases. I don’t doubt that they were all manufactured by VEB, but I would also not be surprised if VEB subcontracted out the manufacture of the bases to a number of machine shops. It would not be unusual to do this for a lot of reasons from cost (perhaps not important under a communist system), to making sure you have an assured source of supply, to making sure some public official’s cousin gets the work! This could be the explaination for the variation. Just a guess!




Lew - “VEB” is not a manufacturer. It stands for “Volkseigner Betrieb” (a good English translation would be “People’s Cooperative”) and these initials come before the company name of many businesses during the time of the DDR. It is pretty purely communist terminology.

I agree that Orani could have started earlier, as I have black plastic dummies in 7.9 x 57 Mauser and .32 Auto (7.65 mm Browning) as well as the other calibers mentioned on this thread. However, it is important to know that their were, at least in the case of the 9 mm Parabellum and 7.9 x 57 Mauser, earlier forms of dummies, some made from WW II cases and others crudely turned from solid brass and aluminum. Thus, the existence of plastic dummies in any claiber that continued to be used for a time after the adoption of the Soviet calibers, doesn’t help too much in defining when Erani began production. Still, it is likely that they did start fiarly early in the period of rearmament by the DDR. It would be nice if an approximate date for that beginning could be found. It is rather surprising how little we really know about the history of some of the DDR Arms and Ammunition Makers considering it is NOT ancient history, but rather quite recent in the overall scheme of even 20th Century events.

John Moss


JUohn–The VEB Preßstoffwerk Spremberg “Dr. Erani”, Spremberg, DDR company was in business before 1954. I found the following on a web page about the history of the Erwin-Strittmatter-Gymnasiums.

September 1954
Conclusion of a sponsorship contract with the VEB Press materials plant, “Dr. Erani”

Unfortunately it does not say when the sponsorship started.


Ron - I found that also. My real point was that the existence of other dummy types makes it hard to know exactly when Erani began manufacture of exerzierpatronen. They produced many plastic implements other than dummy cartridges, of course. It is very possible that they started production of them before 1954, but I am not sure it is logical. It appears that the earliest formation of any armed German-nationality groups in the DDR dates from about 1949, when some police units were formed. However, general, serial ammunition production did not start in the DDR, as far as I can find out, until 1957, when production started on such calibers as 9 mm Para and 7.62 x 25 mm Tokarev. Would they have commissioned for a sopisticated drill cartridge before then? I just don’t know. The early drill cartridges made from fired cases or solid materials like steel, aluminum and brass are found in the “old” calibers and were undoutedly for the myriad of WWII (and earlier) small arms in use initially by the NVA and VOPO. As usual in our hobby, much to find out yet. With all the destruction of offices and files by the people of the DDR after the Honecker Government fell, I wonder how much of the type of material our hobby could use is still in archives in Germany? Probably no where near what we would like, or all these answers would have been ferreted out by now.

John Moss


John–I agree with all that you said and about 1957 sounds about right for the earliest production of the black plastic blanks. The purpose of my post was to try to ascertain the earliest possible date by trying to establish when the Dr. Erani plant went into business. You are correct that they produced many different plastic items, including plastic kitchen wear, etc.