History and responsibility – The Wieland-Werke 1933–45

The war years of the Second World War were also a difficult time for Wieland-Werke AG, and the company has historically been aware of its responsibility during this time. As a manufacturer of non-ferrous semi-finished products Wieland was given preferential treatment by the authorities, but still had to work tirelessly for the continued existence and protection of the company and its employees.

3 min reading time
Story 083 – 1944 – People

Bureaucratic processing of the horror

123 employees become victims of a bomb raid in 1944

In December 1944, the plant in Ulm was severely damaged in a major attack by Allied bombers. Worse still – 123 employees lost their lives or were seriously wounded. Wieland had to request substitutes through bureaucratic channels.

On December 17, 1944, American bomber units launched an attack on Ulm. The city had long been an important industrial location, with numerous companies working for the arms industry. The Wieland-Werke, prominent and located close to the city centre, were an easy target. In the course of the attack, 123 company employees were killed or seriously injured.

In February 1945 the plant management tried to source substitutes for these workers. The preserved correspondence with the NSDAP District Office for Technology in Ulm is still moving and irritating today. Not only because all 123 victims are listed by name and by department and each of these names conceals a fate, but also because of the bureaucratic language interspersed with trivializing euphemisms and propaganda terms, which Wieland had to make use of in official correspondence.

They would be grateful, "if the military district commissioner Va could assist in granting us a special allotment for the employees who ‘suffered total damage’ in the terrorist attack on December 17". Although the letter lists the names, departments and functions of the victims in detail, there is no explicit mention of dead, injured or permanently damaged persons.

According to the information, 86 persons concerned were employed in production and 37 in administration, meaning that "12.3% of our domestic employees were lost in total" – the proportion of foreign workers affected was not mentioned.

Instead, it was calculated that out of a total of 281 administration members, their percentage share of 37 lost persons (13.5%) roughly corresponded to the share of the affected workers.

The letter is a disturbing document of the times, especially because of the bureaucratic and sober language in view of the event, and it ends with the wish: "We look forward to your notification, whether at all and to what extent you are able to make an allocation for these employees and thank you for your efforts in advance". It is no longer possible today to determine whether this wish was granted.