As National Socialist Germany spreads a disastrous war all over the world, the years between 1939 and 1945 also leave their mark on civilian life in the affected countries. Although life may appear to proceed as normal outside the combat zones, nothing is as it once was; including at Deutsche Vergaser Gesellschaft (DVG) in Berlin and Karl Schmidt in Neckarsulm.
Initially, work continues as before: There are no changes to production, but the customer is now the German Armed Forces. Many vehicles at the front, on patrols or on supply trips are fitted with pistons or plain bearings from Karl Schmidt or carburettors and fuel pumps from DVG.
The employees at the production line and in the assembly hall don't notice much of this. Except that the faces of their colleagues are changing more and more frequently. Workers are being drafted for military service. Many of them will never return. Women carry out the work in their place and prisoners of war and forced labourers increasingly take the places at the production line.
The longer the war lasts, the harder everyone has to work to provide supplies for the front. Work is constantly interrupted by air strikes. 1 March 1945 is a sad day for the Karl-Schmidt plant in Neckarsulm: 80 percent of the plant is destroyed in air strikes. The DVG plant, which had been spared for so long, suffers massively in the final battle for Berlin. But work has long since stopped there. Back in 1943 and 1944, production had been gradually relocated to Forst in der Lausitz and Prague. After the end of the war, these sites are irretrievably lost.
On 8 May 1945, the company is left with destroyed plants and a large number of fallen colleagues. But once Kolbenschmidt has clarified the matter of reparations, the survivors soon begin the task of rebuilding their country and economy.
After suffering in the global economic crises, many companies initially benefit from the National Socialists' rise to power on 30 January 1933. The work creation measures implemented by the NS regime – as pointless as many of them may be from an economic point of view – and the rearmament of the German Reich, bring new orders for DVG and Karl Schmidt GmbH from the automotive and maritime industry. Armed forces vehicles are equipped with carburettors and fuel pumps, large-bore pistons for high-speed diesel engines play an important role in shipbuilding. Faced with increasing production figures, the fact that the economy is now dictated by the four-year plan rather than the free market becomes less important.
The outbreak of war in 1939 means that a further expansion of production is required at Karl Schmidt. Production at the DVG plant in Berlin remains the same. In contrast to many other German companies, however, there is initially no need to change the production range. Army vehicles need carburettors, fuel pumps, pistons and plain bearings just like civilian vehicles.
As the war drags on, the requirements for Karl Schmidt and DVG change. An expansion of the production range is now required. The production of aircraft engine pistons begins at the Hamburg-based piston plant "Noleiko" in 1941. But soon, the main task is to safeguard production with branch plants and temporary measures. The bombing raids on Berlin and many other German cities have begun.
1943 sees the start of production relocations: To safeguard piston production, parts of the company are relocated from Neckarsulm to Heilbronn, Böckingen and to the Kochendorf salt plant. In the same year, the fuel gas and pumps division at DVG is moved from Berlin to Forst in der Lausitz, followed by the carburettor production at the turn of the year 1943/1944. But the efforts are in vain. Both the main plant of Karl Schmidt and the relocated operating facilities are badly hit. Production collapses in spring 1945. Alfred Pierburg is forced to vacate the facility in Forst in March 1945 and to set up in Jáchymov in what is now the Czech Republic. But there too, production soon comes to a standstill. Following the occupation by the Soviets and Americans, a general production ban is issued for the DVG and Karl Schmidt plants. There is a real threat of the plants being completely disbanded.
1939Products are also used in German Armed Forces vehicles
1943Start of company relocations due to air strikes
1945The production facilities are destroyed. Temporary production ban