Mount Pleasant News

Mount Pleasant, IA

11 May 1945




Sees Damage To German Plants by American Bombers

By Frank Miles

Air Power Press Camp in German (IDPA) -- "If the nazis had under ground war production plants, V1s and V2s and jet planes at the outbreak of the war, victory for the allies might not be so near," said a high ranking army air force officer.

He had conducted war correspondents to a bomb-blasted nazi petrol base at Bad Berka, the demolished Carl Zeiss optical works at Jena and to Mt. Walpers, where the jerries had been forced to abandon a factory beyond tunnels to turn out V2 components and jets. American airmen did a great job of destroying machinery with which oil was refined and the loaded into box cars on an adjoining railway track and had torn up along stretch of rails.

The Carl Zeiss works had two factories - one a collection of buildings around a 16-story skyscraper in Jena - the other smaller, on the outskirts, which produced spectacles, binoculars, range finders, periscopes, bomb sights, gun sights, telescopes and other instruments to expand vision.

Waldemar Hirth, an admiral in the German navy from 1903 to 1934, was the military director. He showed us through ruins and with his chief chemist explained in detail damage done.

"It's up to you Americans," he said when asked for his opinion of Germany's future. His father taught Chinese at Columbia university 12 years.

Hirth said 11,000 of whom 50 percent were Germans, worked for him. The others were Russians, Dutch, Flemish and Italians. He parried an inquiry as to how he acquired the foreign help but they were forced laborers.

It was a real experience to go by flash light through the tunnels to where the nazis had a huge airplane and rocket plans so deep under the surface it could not have been affected by explosives dropped from the sky. Outer buildings had concrete walls 18 feet thick. When a plane was finished it was brought to a platform, then was hauled by rail 1,500 yards long. Original nazi plans called for a minimum of a plane a day but only 25 were manufactured there.

A 22-year-old Pole, who had been a forced laborer, said 25,000 forced laborers lived in the neighborhood. A dismal looking camp, where he and others were housed, was in a woods a half mile distant. The youth asserted he worked 11 hours a day seven days a week and was too tired to eat or sleep well when he finished. His physical appearance confirmed this.

Thousands of slaves died there. Bodies of more than 400 were jammed into one tunnel, the Pole said.

Warning to American soldiers to be on guard against nazified civilians during the last days of the war and in the period immediately thereafter have been sounded in the Stars and Stripes.

"The Wolverines had been instructed to stop at nothing to gain their objectives," an article said. "Falsified accusations of rape against allied soldiers, the smile of a pretty girl and the dagger thrust in the dark or the stray soldier ambushed on a lonely road, they are all part of the nazi plan. And the goals set for the Werewolf in that plan are: Rule Germany through terrorism during the allied occupation; discourage the allies from long term occupation, spread sets of nazism throughout Europe; accomplish a psychological victory over the occupying forces through propaganda."

"The five most important tricks German civilians will try to kill Americans inside the Reich are: To poison food -- candy, preserved fruit, etc.; place explosives in coal; booby trap vehicles; weaken step supports so they collapse under the weight of a man; stretch wires across roads to choke jeep drivers."

Four air force officers - friends of mine - in a jeep about dusk saw a stretched wire just in time to possibly avert dire consequences of contact.

Source: Mount Pleasant News, May 11, 1945

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