Forestry of the Third Reich
The dark era 1933 - 1945
I found this interesting German article online, written by Karl-Friedrich Weber, on a website that discusses the problems in German forests. I've translated the article to share here on my website. It's an informative and well written article with quotes from high ranking foresters. Feel free to form your own opinion about this article. It's a good read!
Forestry in Contemporary History - An Introduction
The Lower Saxony State Forests have adopted the slogan " Wald in guten Händen (Forest in good hands)" for many years. We do not have to philosophically clarify here what “good hands” mean in the context of targeted forest management. We have already discussed the question of whether and how in the initial phase of forest PR was conceptually wrong. Good forestry is logically matched by bad forestry. Do we want to see it that way? Or would it not be more correct to limit good and bad to moral and ethical norms in relation to human activity and not to forest management that could be right or wrong and is therefore always subject to the interpretation and perception of facts in a discourse that takes place in Ideally aligned with social goals?
But if it should be understood in such a way that the good hands in which the Lower Saxony forest has found the security it deserves can logically also be assigned to good people, then at some point the forest was also in bad hands. These hands could then also be assigned to bad people. Then the critics would be bad people who do not like what the good hands are currently doing. It was certainly not meant that way.
But because everything that has effects is already in the past when we think about it, the question arises as to how much evil from this past has an effect in the present and future without being aware of it and without thinking about it.
This is a difficult endeavor because it is inextricably linked with emotions and strong affects. But, out of fear of these reactions, can we take the shallow path, indulging in myths that are not questioned because they seem to conflict with the current interests of a group, however defined? And which might lead us down the wrong path as a result?
From a sociological point of view, so-called strong groups are characterized by counteracting their “threatened” cohesion and their influence against external forces by tying together strong myths. The forest public relations work of the present is full of it. Even if it doesn't seem like that - there are strong feelings of insecurity in all outward self-confidence. Among other things, they are the result of repression and failure to deal with contemporary forest history.
In the coming year 2015, forest truth will take up contemporary historical episodes in loose succession and place them in the context of excerpts from people and situations, while avoiding an interpretation as far as possible of what was technically right or wrong. That is the job of the reader.
What is to be assessed as good and bad can only relate to human behavior and not be based on a thing. In this respect, the slogan "Forest in good hands" remains one of the most nonsensical statements that foresters could come up with.
Episode 1: The history of the Brunswick forest
It smelled of departure. Not only the forest scientist Alfred Möller shaped this departure in the 1920s with his permanent forest idea. The meetings of the German Forest Association during this time were full of high-profile discussions, in which the right way to set future silvicultural and forestry objectives was fought in a professional manner. It seemed as if the concept of permanent forests prevailed over the whole of the German Empire over the doctrine of pure soil yield.
And then everything changed. It was the year 1933. The National Socialist Dietrich Klagges, the youngest son of seven children of a forest warden, was appointed Prime Minister of the Free State of Braunschweig by Reich Governor Wilhelm Loeper on May 6, 1933, after he had proposed himself for the office. Klagges goal was to create a model Nazi country.
His career can be read on Wikipedia.
Back then, everyone could know who Klagges was. Since 1921 he confirmed himself as the author of ethnic, anti-democratic and anti-Semitic writings. His publications, some of which are theological, such as the Original Gospel of Jesus (KLAGGES 1926), are marked by radical religious racism.
Klagges relentlessly persecuted politically dissenters to their death and had the Jews of Braunschweig deported to concentration camps on January 21, 1941.
On April 12, 1945, Klagges was captured by the American troops advancing into Braunschweig, initially sentenced to six years in prison by a military court, from 1950 onwards subjected to normal criminal proceedings by the Attorney General Fritz Bauer and on April 4, 1950 to life imprisonment because of the conviction of crimes committed by him as Braunschweig Minister of State and Prime Minister - including the "Rieseberg murders".
The Federal Court of Justice overturned this judgment in 1952. The sentence was reduced to 15 years. Klagges defended himself that he did not know about any of this because he only acted from his desk.
In 1957, Klagges was released early from prison and moved with his wife to Harzburg, where, until his death in 1971, he mainly worked as an author of right-wing radicals and maintained contacts with neo-Nazi groups in Lower Saxony.
When I founded the first forest youth group of the Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald in Lower Saxony in my hometown of Goslar at the age of 15, Klagges, who lived in the neighboring town of Bad Harzburg, was referred to as a mentor of the Braunschweig forestry in the thirties in conversations between foresters. I hadn't understood that at my age.
Episode 2: The history of the Brunswick forest
Dietrich Klagges, Prime Minister of the Free State of Braunschweig, appointed the lawyer and Sturmbannführer Friedrich Alpers as Minister of Justice and Finance in 1933 and as Gaujägermeister for the Jagdgau Braunschweig in 1934.
The SS-Hilfspolizei were subordinate to him. He was one of the main people responsible for the brutal "Gleichschaltung" in the state of Braunschweig.
The State Forestry Office was integrated into its State Ministry. He appointed the chief forester and forest scientist Karl Abetz for the technical and economic management as well as the forest adviser Dr. Eißfeldt was appointed to the State Ministry for state sovereign tasks.
Abetz was the older brother of the Nazi diplomat Otto Abetz. After the transfer of power to the National Socialists, he joined the NSDAP on May 1, 1933. From 1942 until the end of the war, Abetz was general consultant in the Berlin Reich Forestry Office. In this function he was the most influential employee of the Generalforstmeister Friedrich Alpers.
After the end of the war, Abetz was dismissed from the university office, but from 1947 he worked again for the Baden forest administration and was able to resume his professorship at the university from 1949.
Karl Abetz was editor of the magazine "Allgemeine Forst und Jagdzeitung", from 1957 an honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki.
Since 1972, the Karl Abetz Prize, founded in 1971, has been awarded every two years by the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Freiburg for outstanding theses and dissertations.
See also SEEMANN, SILKE: The political cleansing of the teaching staff of the Freiburg University after the end of the Second World War (1945-1957). Freiburg 2002.
Episode 3: The history of Brunswick forest
From where the new wind blew after the National Socialists came to power, it soon became clear in the state forest administration of the Free State of Braunschweig.
On September 1st, 1933, the Braunschweig Finance Minister made it clear in a circular with the file number F IV 87/33 where “all civil servants and employees” of the state forest administration had to go. Alfred Möller's idea of permanent forest was put aside and the elitist orientation of the forestry profession was made as a prominent group, analogous to the Reichsnutrstand of the farmers.
We quote in extracts:
“As a state-owned business enterprise, the state forest administration has the duty, in addition to its public and financial tasks, to be a prime example of a business run in a genuinely National Socialist spirit for the rest of the economy. From the youngest forest worker to the company official and the head of the forestry office up to the administration in the ministry, the bond of the factory and creative community supported by the National Socialist idea must embrace everyone. "
… “If in the old party state the civil servant stayed away from politics in general, that is in a certain way understandable. In the National Socialist state, however, it is completely different; for the National Socialist state represents, in forest terms, an absolute final formation, after which only general despair and chaos would be conceivable.
The civil servant as the state sponsor can therefore not count on being able to manage the German forest in a communist state, for example. It stands and falls with the National Socialist state, and in the event of its downfall, not only the senior officials, but every official even in the last post as the bearer of the National Socialist state would ruthlessly fall victim to brutal extermination.
I must therefore demand of every civil servant that he becomes fully aware of his duty in this regard, that he takes a positive and active attitude towards the National Socialist state, and that instead of petty considerations and doubtful calculations he should have a firm faith in the mission of Adolf Hitler's sets. "
… “This attitude leads the officials to closely associate themselves with the organization of the NSDAP, especially its combat formation SA. and SS., who, like him, are the bearers of the state and with whom a community of fate for death and life connects him, joins them and also actively works and collaborates in them. "
“The time in which we live has the only task in history to remove centuries-old obsolete ties and inhibitions and to replace them with a simple, natural, organically grown order and administration of all things.
A hand is offered to everyone who is willing to cooperate in this regard.
On the other hand, I will also act ruthlessly against anyone who turns out to be indifferent or even harmful.
All who are called to work on this great work bear the responsibility before history and the generations that will come after us that nothing half is created, but that a basis is created on which centuries can really build.
signed Alpers Certified: F. Chancellery inspector "
Even if we could understand the pompous diction, at least in part, as a product of the spirit of the time - the inhuman, terrible content of this message was at least known to anyone who recognized themselves in the spirit of academic education or who saw themselves connected to Western Christian values.
The new leadership elites in the Free State of Braunschweig and in the Reich, including the forestry, were perpetrators, not victims. They were aware of their intended role.
Episode 4: The history of Brunswick forest - The Reichsjägerhof
The Brunswick Prime Minister Dietrich Klagges and the Justice and Finance Minister Friedrich Alpers tried to win the favor of the Reich leadership with various buildings. Klagges sought in particular the friendship of Göring, whose passion for hunting was well known. He appointed Alpers Gaujägermeister and, as a present for Göring, had a "Reichsjägerhof Hermann Göring" built by the architect Herzig in Buchhorst in 1934 , to which a pheasant farm and a "Reichsfalkenhof" were later added.
The Braunschweiger Jägerhof, so the hopes of the Braunschweig National Socialists, should serve as a model 5 for all Jägerhof to be built in other districts.
On May 5, 1935, Göring personally inaugurated the building. The “Reichsjägerhof Foundation”, which included the Riddagshausen monastery with its pond, the Buchhorst with the “Green Hunter” and the wildlife park with peasantry, should primarily be available for meetings of the Gaujäger masters and state hunts.
The press reported enthusiastically about this event, which was accompanied by "stormy applause and joyful cheers" (Braunschweiger Tageszeitung, May 6, 1935).
In order to make it easier for the expected state guests to travel from the main train station to the Reichsjägerhof, the roads leading to it were expanded into a prestigious boulevard in 1937/38 at great expense. Friedrich-Wilhelm-Platz was redesigned and renamed Adolf-Hitler-Platz. The Prinzenpark was only cut by a road, Hermann-Göring-Allee, today Ebertallee.
Göring never used the Reichsjägerhof as night quarters, not even in 1938 when he had a large state hunt with foreign ambassadors in the Buchhorst. He preferred to spend the night in his Reichsbahn saloon car. For this purpose, a track was laid from the Braunschweig train station to the Reichsjägerhof.
Bein, R .: Zeitzeichen, pp. 123 and 132-136;
ders .: Zeitzeugen, Vol. 1, pp. 28ff .;
ders .: narrative time.
Reminder Karl-Friedrich Weber: In November 1960, I went to the Jägerhof for an interview, which at the time was the seat of the forestry department in the Braunschweig administrative district and the forest management office. Since the tram only went to Riddagshausen, I walked the last kilometer on the former Hermann-Göring-Allee. The buildings in the supposedly Germanic wooden style and the atmosphere of the interiors with their hunting paintings impressed me deeply. My greatest wish was to be accepted into this world.
View of the monastery ponds Riddagshausen and the Buchhorst top left. The Jägerhof is covered by trees and can only be recognized by a building (red roof)
Photo: Karl-Friedrich Weber
Episode 5: The history of the Brunswick forest - The Hubertus celebration in 1936
On the Hainberg in today's Liebenburg Forestry Office, at that time a kind of cult site of the National Socialists, as head of the forestry department in the Brunswick Ministry of Finance, the chief forester, forest scientist and SS man (member no. 88.140) Dr. Kurd Eissfeldt the Hubertus celebration in 1936. In a 6-page order F IV 10 317 of October 28, 1936, it was precisely regulated how the involvement of the forest administration should proceed.
The following were determined as participants: “All forest officials and applicants, including the forest warden ... furthermore, two forest workers from each forest office take part who have not yet been sent to a Hubertus celebration or to the celebration of May 1st in Braunschweig.
The correct suit was a key element.
For this purpose, the following was stipulated:
"... The forest officials wear a skirt A with shorts and a green shirt, long boots, leather or wrap-around gaiters (by no means calf socks!), Hat, belt, deer catcher, gray gloves, and a large medal buckle. The forest workers wear work clothes, shorts (Lanchester if possible) with long boots, leather or Harz gaiters, a soft black hat (never a cap!) And a red scarf. The blue coat to wear on is handed out on the Hainberge. Every forest worker carries a piece of equipment and a holster or backpack, as well as a broken spruce tree on his hat.
... The office officials and employees of the forest administration can take part in the Hubertus celebration as a spectator. However, they do not receive any daily allowances for this, but they can be transported in the forest office buses. On arrival at car park I, you will also receive a meal voucher, but will not receive a participant card for grandstand A.
… The relatives of all persons working in the forest administration can obtain participant cards for the free grandstand E from the local KdF offices and through the Obtain local groups of the NSDAP against payment of a contribution towards expenses of -.20 RM. However, the transport and food for these people must be left to them. A ride of relatives in the buses of the forestry offices is not permitted under any circumstances.
"... The relatives of all persons working in the forest administration can obtain participant cards for the free grandstand E from the local KdF offices and from the local groups of the NSDAP against payment of a fee of -.20 RM. However, the transport and food for these people must be left to them. A ride of relatives in the buses of the forestry offices is not permitted under any circumstances.
"... The relatives of all persons working in the forest administration can obtain participant cards for the free grandstand E from the local KdF offices and from the local groups of the NSDAP against payment of a fee of -.20 RM. However, the transport and food for these people must be left to them. A ride of relatives in the buses of the forestry offices is not permitted under any circumstances. "
So everything was perfectly organized, including the up and down within a forestry office. This spirit continued to have an effect in the decades after the war and did not begin to fade until the 1970s. Today it is the past.
Greetings from the civil servants
(Official Gazette of the Braunschweigischen Frotverwaltung No. 436 of December 3, 1934)
436b . - Greetings from the officials, etc.
No. F IV 7356/33 Br., November 2nd, 1933
"The previous provision, according to which the forest officials in uniform had to greet by putting their right hand on the headgear, has been repealed.
In the future, all forest officials - regardless of whether they wear uniform or civilian clothes and whether they wear headgear or not - as well as all other officials, employees and workers employed in the forest administration will have the German greeting by raising their outstretched right arm while holding their hand stands at eye level, to prove.
Here are the words: "Heil Hitler" to shout.
Because of a greeting relationship between the forest officials on the one hand and the Reichswehr, Schutzpolizei, Landjägerei, SS. And SA. on the other hand, negotiations are ongoing. A special order will be issued on this in the foreseeable future.
The subordinate officials, employees and workers are to be informed of this order in a suitable manner. ”
The rules of procedure for the forestry department of the Finance Minister were signed by Dietrich Klagges, Minister-President of the Free State of Braunschweig and Friedrich Alpers, Finance and Justice Minister of the Free State.
Both are responsible for at least 25 murders by the SA. responsible, including the murder of 11 people on July 4, 1933, who went down in contemporary analysts as the Rieseberg murders.
Episode 6: The history of the Brunswick forest - Wood supply coverage
In the Reichsministerialblatt der Forstverwaltung No. 31 of November 9, 1942, the award of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross by the Führer to the General Forester State Secretary Friedrich Alpers was announced.
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross is a higher class of the Iron Cross, which was newly donated by Adolf Hitler on September 1, 1939, on the occasion of the Polish campaign.
Friedrich Ludwig Herbert Alpers was a German NSDAP politician, minister of the Free State of Braunschweig, SA and SS member, general forest master, state secretary and officer. Alpers was jointly responsible for numerous crimes committed by the National Socialists in Braunschweig.
On October 1, 1942, the autumn decree on the provision of wood for the 1943 forestry year by the Reich Commissioner for Wood Parchmann was published in Reichsministerialblatt No. 27.
The opening credits read: “Even in the 1942 forestry year, meeting the needs of the Wehrmacht and the war economy placed increased demands on wood as a raw material. ... Apart from a few cases in which it was necessary to proceed with coercive measures and penalties, the forestry and timber industry and the departments involved have recognized the importance of their tasks for the war economy and performed them together despite all difficulties. ... I express the expectation that even in the fourth year of the war all those involved will master the tasks with the full commitment of their person and bear the sacrifices that must be demanded for the freedom struggle of our Greater German Fatherland. "
It goes on to say: “In spite of the long-term over exploitation of the German forest, covering war needs will probably require a moderate increase in felling. ...
To achieve this increase, it is necessary to make more intensive use of some forest and timber management offices, since various districts cannot be used to the same extent as a result of inevitably excessive use in recent years ... "
In numerous other directives of these years it becomes clear: The forests of the empire were over exploited, with full knowledge of their consequences.
In the 1960s it was said on the subject that the blows of the post-war period only caused a slight kink in the supply curve.
Today pronouncements justify that low mass stocks, especially of spruce stocks, are a result of the so-called English blows after the Second World War.
Someone makes a claim, others copy it unchecked and a myth is revived that was already refuted.
Episode 7: The history of the Brunswick forest - Wood requirement coverage - utilization of wood
How strong the pressure on resource management in the Third Reich was soon after the seizure of power is shown by a decree of the Braunschweig Forest Administration No. F IV 8111 of September 17, 1937:
“The great need for wood for the implementation of the four-year plan gives me the reason to make all civil servants and forest workers extremely diligent in the use and processing of the wood. In particular, I have reason to draw your attention to the following points:
... Height of the rhizomes: With the exception of a few districts, the usual height of the rhizomes must still be described as much too high and incompatible with the need for economical use of wood.
... The workers are therefore to be pointed out at every opportunity in an urgent way that the wood saving that can easily be achieved in this way is a national duty and non-compliance with the given instructions is equivalent to a deliberate damage to the four-year plan.
... Under no circumstances should it be tolerated that a few ineffective admonitions in this regard should remain. I must be told where the goal cannot be achieved in this way. ... "
Photo: Karl-Friedrich Weber
Episode 8: On German forest history - Appeal to the German rural population to increase their use in timber removal
In the circular of the German Reichsforstmeister dated November 13, 1943 - H 578.01-147 - an appeal by the Reichsbauernführer Backe and the Reichsforstmeister Alpers of November 4th, 1943 was published.
It read: “German country people! This year's harvest has been brought in on time thanks to your work and the special favorable weather conditions. In addition, the favorable autumn has allowed us to order winter grain on time. This fact alone makes it easier for us this year to meet the other obligations that we have had to fulfill for years.
One of our greatest obligations here, in addition to securing the food of the German people, is the removal of the felled wood from the German forest! Especially during the war, wood became more important than ever as a source of raw materials!
No coal production without pit wood!
Without lumber and timber there would be no barracks and bunkers!
Pulpwood is required for the manufacture of explosives!
Generator wood releases liquid fuels for tanks and planes!
And last but not least, wood is also required for the construction of makeshift buildings and new furnishings for the people who have lost everything in the terrorist bombing.
We know and expect that the German rural population will fully understand the need for increased timber removal from forests and will mobilize all suitable means and forces - as in the food industry - to carry out the additional task of increased use for timber removal.
German rural people consider: wood is an important raw material for the war economy!
However, wood can only be used for various war purposes if it is driven out of the forests by your increased performance! "
Below: From the Reichsministerialblatt der Forstverwaltung - the German people have long been bleeding ...
Episode 9: On German forest history
In 1944 the problems with the removal and provision of the wood increased. The provision of horses and draft oxen and their feed rations, horseshoes, saddlery leather became more and more difficult. Car capacities were in competition with other urgent services from municipalities and companies. The protests against the demand to make the impossible possible increased.
The circular of the Reichsforstmeister dated June 30, 1944 - H 582.10-147 made it clear that one had to give in to the growing pressure here and there:
"Feed for the draft oxen used in timber removal - I agree that the keepers of draft oxen that are used in the timber removal are given feed certificates for horses on request in accordance with my decree of March 10, 1942 ... if the keepers do not have any have sufficient farm-own feed stock. It is left to the local authorities to classify the draft oxen used in the timber removal into the group of light, normal or hard-working draft animals.
Below: prints for the food authorities.
Episode 10: On German forest history - Organization of timber removal in the last year of the war
The removal of such large quantities of wood required detailed organization. The state representative for wood transport for the area of the Forest and Wood Management Office South-Hanover-Braunschweig had representatives for forest and wood management at the lower administrative authorities under him, mostly selected forest office managers who had to regulate the increased demand for wood in the form of wood removal levies.
The municipalities had to organize the available teams for the transport levies allocated to them. The district administrators were in charge of the collection rings. It was more and more about the removal of the residues from the previous forestry year and the priorities of the wood assortments to be removed. Material was hardly available in October 1944.
The carter Karl Linke wrote to the Königslutter forestry office on October 16, 1944: “I urgently need a new axle for my log wagon weighing approx. 100 kg, converted into iron tokens the weight is 115 kg. Heil Hitler"
In August 1944, the master blacksmiths in the Helmstedt district who shod the logging horses were given a special quota of horseshoes totaling 640 kg.
While the officials of the municipalities expressed their concerns about the pressure from the forestry offices in a more or less claused manner, the owner of the company W. Sieburg - processing facility for generator wood in Braunschweig-Gliesmarode spoke plainly.
He wrote to the Königslutter forestry office on October 9, 1944:
“As we hear from the haulier Schulze, the forestry office has given him the task of removing a large amount of beech trunks, leaving behind our orders for hauling and loading long spruce timber.
We still have around 700 cubic meters of long spruce in the Forstamt district there. Since the wood allocation for our plant was extremely low in the past year, we are dependent on the delivery of this amount if the plant is not to come to a standstill.
As you are probably aware, as a result of the various air raids, quantities of sawn timber are urgently needed in Braunschweig to repair the bomb damage.
For the also existing orders for sawn timber for the company Büssing NAG, Luther-Werke and others, special levels of urgency are given.
We cannot therefore agree that carters who have been driving the wood for us for years are used for other purposes regardless of our operational needs.
In this way, a difficulty in removing wood is eliminated by creating a new difficulty elsewhere. However, this cannot be the purpose of the efforts of the regional representative for wood removal, all the more so as our two wood gas tractors now have to come to a standstill due to the other work of our truckers.
We therefore ask you to work to ensure that the logging of our logs there can be resumed immediately.
W. Sieburg "
Huge amounts of wood were required not only in the war economy, but also to deal with the poor consequences of the bombing attacks ...
This concludes the article. Feel free to comment below.
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