More than 25 Million
German combat helmets were manufactured during the Second World War.
This massive effort was accomplished by five independently owned metal
fabrication plants with experience in steel production. The
largest producer of steel helmets (Stahlhelme) was the firm of
located in the city of Thale. This firm was situated in the
Hartz mountain region of north central Germany. Eisenhüttenwerke-Thale
was also a manufacturer of steel helmets during the First World War
and thus had the most experience in mass production. The Thale
firm and its engineers played a major role in the initial design and
prototyping of the M1935 steel combat helmet. Production records
indicate that nearly 20 Million helmets were manufactured between
early 1939 and May 1944. Between June 1944 and February 1945
another 2.5 Million helmets were produced for the German Armed Forces
(Deutsche Wehrmacht). Pre-war statistics indicate that 1.3
Million helmets had been produced between 1935 and July 1937, with the
remaining 1.2 Million produced between July 1937 and January 1939.
Production efforts were accomplished by German laborers employed by
each of the factories. This included both men and women. A
thorough search of wartime records filed in 1996 by the U.S. Courts on
behalf of victims of the Holocaust indicated that none of the helmet
factories used slave labor in the production of steel helmets.
However in 1999 a report was found in Germany that provided
information linking factories and privately held companies to the use
of slave labor. Two factories shown below are known to have used
forced labor in the production of German helmets. This also
comes from the testimony of survivors who claim they worked on German
helmets as well as ammunition and military equipment production.
The firm in Schwerte employed French prisoners captured during the
invasion of France and well as Russian women captured in Eastern
territories. These prisoners were held in slave labor camps
close to the production facilities or within their confines. The
firm of Emaillierwerke A.G. Fulda also used slave labor most likely in
the form of Russian men and women. None of the other firms noted
below are known to have used slave labor.
The Thale Plant in the Hartz
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