Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, Volume II
The Representative on the Allied
Commission on Reparations (Pauley) to the President1
My Dear Mr. President: The other day I gave you very briefly a verbal statement concerning several observations by my staff of machine tool shipments from the Berlin area.
I am sending herewith a copy of the report turned in to me by Dr. Luther Gulick, and J. Howard Marshall, the General Counsel of our Delegation.
Russian Machinery Removals From Berlin
On July 22 and 23, Howard Marshall and Luther Gulick went by Command Car over the following area:
July 22[:] Babelsberg — Schöneberg — Tempelhof — Kreuzberg — Horst Wessel — Prenzlauer Berg — Berlin Center — Charlottenburg — Spandau — Potsdam — Babelsberg.
July 23[:] Same route, except that we went NE as far as Hönow and omitted Potsdam returning.
Chief Points of Interest
The purpose of the first trip was to observe rail and canal marshalling yards. Those observed included the Steglitz-Schoneberg yards, Gorlitzer Station, the Spree Docks, the Slaughter Houses and yards of the Schlesischer Station. The second trip included industrial plants in Siemensstadt such as the “AEG” (General Electric), various smaller paint, petroleum, printing, machine tool, and accumulator and two large power plants.
The railroad yards communicating south and SE are virtually bare. They have one or two lines in operation. The warehouses are not restored. In contrast the railroads communicating toward the East are extensively restored, and 4 to 8 lines are in operation, except where [Page 874]there are but 4 lines, in which case all are in use. Warehouses on these lines have been patched up, and loading platforms are well filled with boxes, crates, sacks, bales, drums, boilers, partially covered machine tools and large pieces of machinery most of which have been partially protected against the elements. Swarms of workmen, mostly men in Russian Army uniforms are at work moving, stacking and loading this material on flat cars, though the supply seems pretty well back [backed?] up. A few short trainloads were moving out of the City.
The great warehouses and loading docks on the North side of the Spree, in Horst Wessel, are teeming with activity. The available space, which is 1.4 mile long by 400 to 800 feet in width, including the buildings which may occupy ¼ of the area, is completely filled with machine tools, electrical equipment, stamping mills, wood-working machinery, printing presses, pressure vessels, and other industrial and chemical equipment.
A notable feature of the machinery accumulation here was the section devoted to wood-working equipment. This included band and circular saws, lathes and other turning equipment equipped with sawdust blowers, molding machines, etc.
Much of the machinery is the unit electrical drive type. The motors and bright parts are wrapped in oil paper and tarpaulins. There are some large piles of rough lumber which is being used for crating. There was notable progress in crating in the 24 hours which elapsed between our first and second visits. The larger pieces of machinery are being housed on the freight cars.
The Spree docks are equipped with about six cranes of 25 ton capacity (25,000 kilos) and two of 100 ton capacity. We were not certain that all were in operation, though they did not seem to be damaged.
The Spree dock warehouses were perhaps 50% destroyed. They seem to be in use for the storage of small boxes and bales. Trucks of merchandise were coming and going.
Wherever the surrounding wall permitted a view of what was going on, wistful and quiet Germans were peering into the busy, guarded, dock area. Some German civilians were at work inside, but most of the labor was being performed by Russian soldiers.
At the slaughterhouse area, covering some 300 acres, about half the buildings, which are mostly one and two story structures, have been given patched emergency roofs. Wherever one can see in, these buildings are filled with boxes, bales, rolls of paper, crates, etc. We found a former overhead enclosed foot-way of cement, steel and [Page 875]glass which apparently cut over the slaughterhouse and marshalling yards for the convenience of pedestrians. It ran for some 500 to 600 feet over the roofs of the warehouses at which point it was bombed out, giving us an excellent view of what was going on. Trucks were bring[ing] in boxes and bales for storage. In one area-way there were about 500 identical individual drive vertical drills, each carefully wrapped as to motor and [d]rill head with oil paper. These were specially guarded, though the entire enclosure was also under guard. Near by two 6 ton trucks were being loaded with bales of clothing or rags from one of the warehouses. These appeared to be old uniforms, though it was difficult to be certain at the distance. The Russian guards ordered us to keep moving. At the first sign from the guard, a rather lethargic middle aged German who we found on the foot-way, ducked spryly behind the concrete ballustrade!
We found great activity also at the freight loading platforms of the Schlesischer Railroad Station. On one platform we saw 200 to 300 machine tools, new-looking as to paint, and partly wrapped, awaiting loading. There were but four flat cars standing by. Loading was being done laboriously by hand.
The trip toward Hönow took us past many big and little plants. The first was the great city power plant, which was in operation and seemed very little damaged. Coal for the plant was coming in by barge. A second, and smaller power plant further out was not in operation.
The great AEG electrical plant at Siemensstadt, which is less than 10% damaged, has been stripped of all machinery on the first and second floor, except for a few very large, semi-built-in pieces. We could not see what the situation is on the three upper floors. The street along which the siding comes into the plant is blocked off for some two blocks and guarded. It is full of small lathes, winding equipment and other machinery all of which is being wrapped in oil paper or crated.
A loaded train of flat cars was standing in the street. This was filled with very large pieces of electrical and forging or pressing equipment. We recognized the core of a dynamo, a 12´ fly wheel in two parts, a dis-assembled turbine, and other similar equipment. Across the street at the “Accumulator Fabrik”, newly crated machinery was being loaded into trucks with a medium sized industrial crane and a swarm of workers. While we passed “AEG” a wagon load of good-looking office furniture was driven out of the main gateway from the administration building.[Page 876]
We looked over the fence into the plant of a manufacturer advertised as “printing machinery”. The first floor was bare, though the building was in fair condition. Half way down the block was a large automatic roller press lying where it had apparently fallen from some truck. Paint and shiny parts were in good condition.
A “machine tool plant” which had lost most of its windows which we passed on the road back to the City was similarly bare, though we could see overhead pulleys and shafting still in place. There were no tools on the first floor. The neighboring varnish and paint works was 80% burned out. Nothing had been removed as far as we could see, though the property was fenced off.
We made no systematic effort to talk to Germans about the streets. Those whom we did address replied very respectfully. They said “everything is being taken”, “we don’t know where it is going.”
- All types of plants are being regarded as “war booty” and the moveable equipment in them, including built-in boilers and pressure and other vessels are being dis-assembled and taken out.
- Wood-working, printing, and other non-war-potential machinery is being taken.
- Some care is being taken to protect the machinery from the elements, though there was no evidence that the running parts were being greased or oiled. The wrapping and crating is not adequate to protect the equipment for any period of time outdoors. It is very temporary protection.
- When machinery is removed, everything in the plant is taken with it. The process is wholesale, not retail.
- Very great progress has been made in the removal of machinery in the Berlin area. The work is highly organized and is proceeding with despatch.
- Shipment out of Berlin is going forward both by rail and by barge. However, large amounts of wrapped or crated machinery is backed up at points of shipment awaiting loading.
- The Russians at work taking, crating, moving, and guarding the equipment seem to enjoy their work.
- Lucien [Luther] Gulick3
- J. Howard Marshall