Gerhard Degenkolb

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Gerhard Degenkolb (born June 26, 1892 in Zeitz ; † February 1, 1954 in Duisburg ) was a German mechanical engineer and manager at the time of National Socialism . He was one of the most important key figures in the armaments industry of the Greater German Reich .


After completing his school career, Degenkolb completed an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer. His professional career began in 1920 at DEMAG as an operations assistant. From 1921 he successively took over management of the DEMAG works in Wetter (Ruhr) , Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg. In 1935 he became operations director of the Duisburg plant, and in 1937 an authorized signatory. Degenkolb became a member of the NSDAP in 1930 . In 1940 Fritz Todt commissioned him to restart Belgian and French industries after the campaign in the West .

Albert Speer , the new Reich Minister for Armaments and Ammunition , brought the industrial manager, who was considered ambitious and assertive, in March 1942 to promote locomotive production as head of the so-called "Main Committee for Rail Vehicles" at the Reich Ministry for Armaments and Munitions . Degenkolb was there to report to the Technical Office under its head Karl Otto Saur . The procurement of locomotives was thus largely withdrawn from the Reichsbahn and its previously responsible Reichsbahn Zentralamt, as well as from Richard Paul Wagner, Head of Design, and placed under the responsibility of the main committee sent by the locomotive industry. The main task of Degenkolb was to have the new war locomotives of the 42 and 52 series produced in as large numbers as possible. In addition, other types of war locomotives and simplified passenger and freight cars were planned and produced under Degenkolb's direction.

Degenkolb managed to speed up locomotive production by dispensing with unnecessary components and simplifications. While 163 locomotives were built in February 1942, 250 could already be delivered in September of the same year. Peak values ​​with well over 500 locomotives were achieved from June to August 1943; after that, production fell again. However, Degenkolb also made a name for himself with his extremely tough and dictatorial leadership style; he also knew how to sell his successes well to Speer and the public.

After the priority for the war locomotives had been lowered when the war fronts got stuck, Munitions Minister Speer appointed Degenkolb on January 15, 1943 as head of the “A4 Special Committee” in the Reich Ministry for Armaments and Ammunition. The so-called Vergeltungswaffe planned ballistic missile " Aggregate 4 " (A4) - also known as " V2 known" - should be prepared Degenkolb line in large numbers. In the planning that became known as the “Degenkolb program”, Degenkolb originally envisaged the focus of series production for around 900 rockets per month in Nordhausen , Friedrichshafen and Wiener Neustadt . Walter Dornberger and Hans Kammler as well as Wernher von Braun were among the central people in the V2 program. Degenkolb founded Mittelwerk GmbH in September 1943 for the serial production of the V2 and introduced a "management staff" to eliminate the start-up difficulties in the production programs.

Degenkolb was dismissed from this position in March 1944 and entrusted with the management of the Reichsbahn repair works. Degenkolb finally fell out of favor in the autumn of 1944 because of critical statements against exponents of the Nazi regime and disappeared for some time in a mental hospital.

Albert Speer called him on the initiative of Hans Kammler again shortly before the end of the war in a key position in the Greater German Reich and appointed him "General Commissioner for Program 262" (the large-scale production of jet fighters of the Messerschmitt Me 262 type ). In this role, Degenkolb coordinated the large, underground serial works such as B8 Bergkristall from the "Upper Bavarian Research Institute" in Oberammergau . In this function, Degenkolb also inspected the clock production in B8 Bergkristall at the end of February 1945 and also acted as a liaison between Wilhelm Emil Messerschmitt and these series production centers.

After the war

Towards the end of the war, Degenkolb was taken prisoner, from which he was released in 1947. From 1950 he took over the construction of a plant in Brazil for his old employer DEMAG . From there he returned to Germany sick; In 1954 he died in Duisburg.


  • Manfred Bornemann: Secret project Mittelbau - From the central oil depot of the German Reich to the largest rocket factory in World War II. Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Bonn 1994. ISBN 3-7637-5927-1 .
  • Friend Florian: The concentration camp in the “Serbenhalle”: To the war industry in Wiener Neustadt. Publishing house for social criticism , Vienna 1988. ISBN 3-900351-87-2 .
  • Alfred B. Gottwaldt : German War Locomotives 1939–1945. Locomotives, wagons, armored trains and railway guns. 3rd edition, Franckh, Stuttgart 1983. ISBN 3-440-05160-9 .
  • Jens-Christian Wagner : Production of Death: The Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp. Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2001. ISBN 3-89244-439-0 .
  • Jens-Christian Wagner (ed.): Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp 1943–1945. Accompanying volume for the permanent exhibition at the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial. Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2007. ISBN 978-3-8353-0118-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Jens-Christian Wagner (ed.): Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp 1943–1945 , Göttingen 2007, p. 112.
  2. Gottwaldt, 1983, p. 92
  3. ^ Rudolf A. Haunschmied , Jan-Ruth Mills, Siegi Witzany-Durda: St. Georgen-Gusen-Mauthausen - Concentration Camp Mauthausen Reconsidered . BoD, Norderstedt 2008, ISBN 978-3-8334-7440-8 . P. 175