Rheinisch Metallwaarenfabrik, Soemmerda


#1

Can anyone tell me who, at the end of WWII, liberated and occupied the R.M.S. factory (Soemmerda),
and when it was occupied?

John Moss


#2

Wikipedia says Soemmerda was occupied by the U.S. Army on April 11, 1945; within days the province of Thuringia was occupied by the Russian army. So, in the last days of the war American, then Russian. The Russians had the Rheinmetall factory in production again by, it appears, May or June 1945. Jack


#3

Why was R.M.S. production restarted under the Soviet occupation? And so quickly?


#4

Jack, What was Soemmerda producing under Soviet occupation? Sounds like an interesting story here somewhere???

It is not clear to me what the Rheinmetall-Borsig plant in Soemmerda made. Heidler, in his great work on codes lists four codes used by this plant; bmv, myx, nhr and rhs. I don’t recognize any of these as codes used on small arms ammunition. What did this plant make before it was occupied?

Cheers,
Lew


#5

Sömmerda was not making small arms ammo by that time anymore. Rheinmetall had its fuze factory and engineering unit there. The Russians came in and selected some leading German key facilities to become their own design bureaus.
These for example also included the former HASAG works for portable AT launchers and I forgot all the details but there was also a design bureau for small arms (assault rifles). Rheinmetall Sömmerda kept on doing research on fuzes and the largest project was the OKB-1 (General Design Bureau 1, located in Dessau at former Junkers works) which was working on the so called V2 missile (A4). Means the Russian OKB-1 was established not in the USSR but in Germany. And the first V2 the Russians owned was built for them by Germans in Germany after WW2 had ended. Only after this had happened the whole design bureau was moved a few thousand km east (including the German staff).
Also many other fields of ordnance were covered just not in separate design bureaus in Germany but later in the USSR (having German staff “invited”, i.e. abducted).
I once studied a report (not published) from a German engineer who had returned to west Germany long after WW2 and who informed about lots of details and how the Germans were working there.
The Germans there had own projects they were working on and were strictly kept from Russians so they never could figure how far the Russians got with certain things. German developments in Russia were just worked on, finished as far as possible and then the material was handed over and they never got to know what came out of this.
So it is hard to tell what Russian post war designs are actually “real” Russian and which are not.


#6

Thanks! Very interesting. Part of this I have seen reference to but nothing in this detail. Good information.

Based on 9mm cartridges and data I have accumulated, I find no evidence RM S produced small arms ammunition after about 1920. I recognize that basing this conclusion on only 9mmP information is looking at the issue l down a soda straw.

Does anyone know when RM S stopped making small arms ammunition???

What calibers did they make after WWI???

Wikipedia says:

> In 1919 the Rheinmetall company took over the factory, later called Rheinmetall-Borsig, at first to produce automotive parts. After World War I, as a result of the limitations imposed upon Germany in the Treaty of Versailles, Rheinmetall produced non-military items including locomotives, steam ploughs and office equipment.[3][4]
Military produced recommenced in 1921, and in 1925, the Reich acquired a majority stake of the company. The railway locomotive manufacturer August Borsig GmbH was taken over in 1933.

Which fits with what I have seen in 9mmP. I knew about the relationship of the plant with the Buchenwald concentration camp since when I was a boy, a soldier and his family rented the other half of the duplex we lived in. He had been part of a tank destroyer unit that liberated the camp. he had books of photos, including from inside the commandants quarters and I remember lots of silver he had “Liberated” from the quarters. He had lots of stories.

Cheers,
Lew


#7

Lew, I don’t know how much help this is but below are two Rheinmetall ads dating from 1924 & 1923 showing at least they were marketing shotshells ?

I have the following note in my database:

1933 : Rheinmetall takes over the famous “Berliner Lokomotivfabrik A. Borsig AG”, in Tegel (August Borsig GmbH, Tegel). In 1936 it changes its name to “Rheinmetall - Borsig AG” and in 1938 moves its headquarters to Berlin. Since the mid-thirties the company has resumed production of heavy weapons and ammunition.


#8

I hadn’t thought about shotshells! In fact, I seldom think about shotshells…

This makes sense since shotshells were not limited by the Treaty of Vesailles. 9mmP and other calibers were limited but commercial rifle ammunition and “commercial calibers” like 7.65mmB and 6.35mmB and revolver calibers were not limited.If Rheinmetall was making shotshells, they were likely also loading other calibers.

Thanks,
Lew


#9

The Americans left Sömmerda on July 3rd, 1945.
The Soviets of course were very much interested in V2 related work and fuzes. A special compound called “Zentralwerke” was set up within the factory area where German personnel worked for them. In early 1946 they were deported to the Soviet Union (just like the rocket specialists headed by Helmut Gröttrup or the people from Suhl, among them Hugo Schmeißer).
The above is from a book by Annegret Schüle: BWS Sömmerda, published in 1995. There is no documentary evidence, only what people told her. Any military production -beyond assembling specimens- under Soviet control looks very doubtful to me.
For the post WW1 period, the book does not mention any small arms ammunition production. Compared to desktop calculators, typewriters and other products, ammunition must have played a very minor role, if any.


#10

WBD, the advertizement says: Rheinmetall Trading Societey
So here it is most likely that these shotshells were made by another plant and sure not in Sömmerda or Berlin.
When ammo is referred to Rheinmetall-Borsig then it is artillery and related material but no SAA.


#11

Just for completeness sake. Rheinmetall took over Mauser’s military production facilities in the 1990s. They are still operating as a Rheinmetall Defense branch in Oberndorf am Neckar at a section of the original Mauser site.

I think RM dropped small arms ammo production due to the restrictions imposed on Germany after WW1. It was just not worth the effort and they focused on production of materials that were needed more, before limping into survival mode following the economic crisis of the 1920s.

Government contracts after 1933 revived most of these hibernating companies.


#12

Vlim, Rhienemtall is a very huge company these days. They have bought numerous other factories and competitors.
These include:
Oerlikon
Nico
Pyrotechnick SilberhĂĽtte
Buck
and many other abroad.