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Why Did Germany Not Fully Exploit the Norwegian Nickel Industry, 1940–45?

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Abstract

Nickel was one of the key strategic metals in both World Wars. It was a crucial steel alloy. Nickel made steel harder and more heat resistant and was used in armoured steel, gun barrels, torpedoes, aircraft engines and so on. During World War I, Germany experienced acute shortages of nickel. Nickel was therefore on the top of the list of materials that Germany needed to procure. All the major deposits were then under Entente control, mainly in New Caledonia in the South Pacific and in Canada. However, Germany was able to secure some wartime imports from Norway.

Keywords

  • Nickel Metal
  • Imperial Chemical Industry
  • German Authority
  • Nickel Matte
  • Alien Property

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See, for example, Peter Liberman, Does Conquest Pay? The Exploitation of Occupied Industrial Societies, Prienceton University Press, 1998, p. 39; A. S. Milward, The New Order and the French Economy, New York 1970, p. 41–2. See also: Alan Milward, Die deutsche Kriegswirtschaft 1939–1945, Stuttgart 1966, pp. 79, 109; H. Winkel, Die Ausbeutung des besetzten Frankreichs, in: F. Forstmeier/H.-E. Volkmann (eds.), Kriegswirtschaft und Rüstung 1939–1945, Düsseldorf 1977, p. 373; W. Röhr, Forschungsprobleme zur deutschen Okkupationspolitik im Spiegel der Reihe „Europa unterm Hakenkreuz“, in: W. Schumann (ed.), Europa unterm Hakenkreuz, vol. 8: Analysen, Quellen, Register, Heidelberg 1996, pp. 25–343, here: p. 242; Richard J. Overy, The Economy of the German „New Order“, in: Richard J. Overy (ed.), DieNeuordnungEuropas. NS-Wirtschaftspolitik in den besetzten Gebieten, Berlin 1997, pp. 11–28.

  2. 2.

    Alex Skelton, ‘Nickel’, in International Control in the Non Ferrous Metals Industry, ed. W. Y. Elliot, New York 1964, 144 ff. O. W. Main, The Canadian Nickel Industry, Toronto 1955, p. 111. The following paragraphs are based on Pål Thonstad Sandvik, “Facing Oligopoly and Protectionism, The fate of small producers in the inter-war nickel industry”, Scandinavian Journal of History, no. 4, 2009, p. 377–78 and 385.

  3. 3.

    Skelton, ‘Nickel’, 123–127.

  4. 4.

    John Stuckey, Vertical Integration and Joint Ventures in the Aluminum Industry, Cambridge Mass. 1983. G. W. Stocking and M. W. Watkins, Cartels in Action, New York 1947.

  5. 5.

    Main, The Canadian Nickel Industry.

  6. 6.

    Matt Bray, ‘Eliminating the Competition: Price-fixing and Market-sharing in the Nickel Industry 1895–1929’, in Business and European Integration since 1800, ed. Ulf Olsson, Göteborg: Meddelanden från Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen vid Göteborgs universitet, 1997, p. 131–40.

  7. 7.

    Pål Thonstad Sandvik, Multinationals, Subsidiaries and National Business Systems: The Nickel Industry and Falconbridge Nikkelverk, Pickering & Chatto 2012, p. 19–29.

  8. 8.

    Pål Thonstad Sandvik, ‘Facing Oligopoly and Protectionism: the fate of small producers in the inter-war nickel industry’, Scandinavian Journal of History, no. 4 2009, p. 376–388.

  9. 9.

    Gottfried. Plumpe, Die I.G. Farbenindustrie AG, Wirtschaft, Technik und Politik 1904–1945, Berlin 1990, p. 425–426.

  10. 10.

    Riksarkivet Oslo, Privatarkiv 134, Eystein Berg, Box F-0008, Folder Nickel Production in Canada, ‘Bericht über meine Reise nach Kanada und U.S.A in Oktober-November 1933, New York November 1933.

  11. 11.

    Riksarkivet Oslo, Privatarkiv 134, Eystein Berg, Box F-0008, Folder Die Nickelproduktion der Welt, Oslo Februar-März, Mannheim April 1932.

  12. 12.

    Plumpe, p. 426.

  13. 13.

    Riksarkivet Oslo, Privatarkiv 134, Eystein Berg, Box F-0008, Folder Die Nickelproduktion der Welt, Oslo Februar-Märts, Mannheim April 1932.

  14. 14.

    BASF Archiv Rechtsabteilung 2183, Eystein Berg to IG, 17.11.1933.

  15. 15.

    BASF Archiv, Rechtsabteilung 825, Eystein Berg to IG, 13.8.1933. See also Riksarkivet Oslo, Privatarkiv 134, Eystein Berg, Box F-0008, Folder Nickel production in Canada, ‘Bericht über meine Reise nach Kanada und U.S.A in Oktober-November 1933, New York November 1933.

  16. 16.

    Plumpe, p. 198 and 233–243. W. J. Reader, Imperial Chemical Industries, A History, Vol. II, p. 145ff and 183 ff.

  17. 17.

    Main, The Canadian Nickel Industry, p. 109.

  18. 18.

    Plumpe, p. 488–491. Werner Abelshauser et al., German Industry and Global Enterprise, The History of BASF, Cambridge University Press 2003, p. 235–245.

  19. 19.

    Plumpe, p. 426–427.

  20. 20.

    BASF Archiv Rechtsabteilung 2183, Bericht über eine Besprechung in Ludwigshafen mit den Herren der Nickel Mond Co, 22.3.1933; BASF Archiv Rechtsabteilung 2183, Protokoll über die Sitzung in Frankfurt am 6. und 7. November 1933, Inco und IG; BASF Archiv Rechtsabteilung 1693, Bericht von Haeflinger für US Military Government über Verhältnis IG-Inco, Juni 1946.

  21. 21.

    Matt Bray, ‘INCO’s Petsamo Venture, 1933–1945, An Incident in Canadian, British, Finnish and Soviet Relations’, International Journal of Canadian Studies, (1994), p. 9. Jari Eloranta and Illka Nummela, ‘Finnish Nickel as a strategic mineral’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 32 (2007): 336.

  22. 22.

    BASF Archiv Rechtsabteilung 2194, IG to Pleiger, Vierjahresplan, 12.4.1937.

  23. 23.

    BASF Archiv Rechtsabteilung 2194, note on supplemental agreement, 12.11.1937.

  24. 24.

    BASF Archiv Rechtsabteilung 2194, IG to Göring, 1937; IG to Pleiger, Vierjahresplan, 12.4.1937.

  25. 25.

    BASF Archiv Rechtsabteilung 2194, IG to Göring, 1937; IG to Pleiger, Vierjahresplan, 12.4.1937.

  26. 26.

    Jörg-Johannes Jäger, Die wirtschaftliche Abhängigkeit des Dritten Reiches vom Ausland dargestellt am Beispiel der Stahlindustrie, Berlin 1969, p. 149.

  27. 27.

    Plumpe, p. 430.

  28. 28.

    In 1939, IG Farben produced about 4200 tons, whereas several other companies, such as Norddeutsche Hütte AG, an affiliate of Krupp, and Staatliche Hütten Freiberg, had a combined production of 5000 tons of nickel in 1939. Source: HWA 119/848. The German Nickel-Industry, Metallgesellschaft, Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung 1945. Most of the raw materials processed were imported; ores of the Silesisan mine in Frankenstein, which was owned by Krupp, contributed only a small share. The German ores had very low nickel content, making an exploitation of these mines very expensive. In addition, such an expansion took time, at least one year. This was probably the reason why it was not before early 1944 that plans were made to exploit the German ores to a larger extent. On the plans to exploit the Frankenstein mines, see BArch R 3101/30,865, note on a meeting at Krupp-Gruson, 3.4.1944, fol. 10; Fachgruppe Metallerzbergbau to Reichsminister für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion, 23.3.1944, fol. 18; Rohstoffamt des Reichsministeriums für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion, 23.6.1944, fol. 19; Verarbeitung nickelarmer Garnierite, 22.8.1944, fol. 27–8. See also Jäger, pp. 85–6, 237, 243.

  29. 29.

    Jäger, p. 225.

  30. 30.

    BASF Archiv Rechtsabteilung 2192, IG to Ing. Eystein Berg, Solborg, 15.9.1939.

  31. 31.

    BASF Archiv Rechtsabteilung 2192, Niederschrift über Besprechung bei der Reichsstelle für Metalle, 5.9.1939.

  32. 32.

    07.01.1941. Transcript of Sverre Steen’s diary 1940–45, Falconbridge Archive Kristiansand. Hans Clausen Korff, Norwegens Wirtschaft im Mahlstrom der Okkupation, Teil II, 126.

  33. 33.

    BA-MA RW 19/344, Wochenbericht der Rohstoffabteilung, 29.6.-4.7.1942, fol. 29. See also Alan Milward, The Fascist Economy of Norway, 1972, p. 265 and 267.

  34. 34.

    Riksarkivet, Oslo, Reichskommissariatets arkiv, Hauptabteilung Volkwirtschaft (HAVO), Arbeit und Sozialwesen, Arbeitseinsatz (A/Aso/71), RA/RAFA-2174/E/Ec/Eci/L0066/0001. Andreas Dugstad made us aware of this source.

  35. 35.

    Bray, „INCO’s Petsamo Venture 1933–1945″, p. 178–80.

  36. 36.

    Bray, „INCO’s Petsamo Venture 1933–1945″, p. 181.

  37. 37.

    Krosby, p. 9–10.

  38. 38.

    Krosby, p. 15–20.

  39. 39.

    Matt Bray, „INCO’s Petsamo Venture 1933–1945″, p. 183–188.

  40. 40.

    HWA 119/509, Protokoll der Vorstandssitzung vom 16.8.1940; G. Plumpe, p. 430.

  41. 41.

    Historisches Archiv Krupp, WA 142/1683, Petsamo-Gemeinschaftsvertrag,8.12.1941.

  42. 42.

    Jäger, p. 230.

  43. 43.

    Hans Clausen Korff, Norwegens Wirtschaft im Mahlstrom der Okkupation, Teil II, 127.

  44. 44.

    Jan. Didriksen, Industrien under hakekorset, Oslo 1987, p. 73ff and 177–78.

  45. 45.

    BASF Archiv, Rechtsabteilung 719, IG Berlin to Nickelfabrik Oppau, 29.9.1942.

  46. 46.

    21–26.09, 22.11, 02.12. and 13.12.1940. Transcript of Sverre Steen’s diary 1940–45, Falconbridge Archive Kristiansand. As far as we know, only a transcript of this diary has survived. The transcript may have been edited in postwar times, but we judge its contents as trustworthy. The transcript yields valuable but not very detailed information on German orders, inspections, arrests and other important developments at the Kristiansand plant during the occupation.

  47. 47.

    BASF Archiv, Rechtsabteilung 826, note about a meeting with Dr. Jansen, Krupp, 7.11.1940.

  48. 48.

    BASF Archiv, Rechtsabteilung 814, Nickelfabrik, Über die Verarbeitung von finnischer Nickel-Kupfermatte zu Nickelmetall, 2.7.1941.

  49. 49.

    BASF Archiv, Rechtsabteilung 814, Nickelfabrik, Über die Verarbeitung von finnischer Nickel-Kupfermatte zu Nickelmetall, 2.7.1941.

  50. 50.

    BASF Archiv, Rechtsabteilung 826, note about a meeting with Dr. Jansen, 7.11.1940.

  51. 51.

    07.01.1941. Transcript of Sverre Steen’s diary 1940–45, Falconbridge Archive Kristiansand. Hans Clausen Korff, Norwegens Wirtschaft im Mahlstrom der Okkupation, Teil II, 124. Generally on the Alien Property Administration in Norway during the occupation, see Robert Bohn, Reichskommissariat Norwegen.Nationalsozialistische Neuordnungund Kriegswirtschaft, München 2000, pp. 297–300.

  52. 52.

    Historisches Archiv Krupp, WA 142/1683, Petsamo-Gemeinschaftsvertrag, 8.12.1941.

  53. 53.

    Gottfried Plumpe claims that shipments started in December 1941, while British Foreign Office sources state that they had not yet started in late January 1942. G. Plumpe, Die IG-Farbenindustrie-AG, Wirtschaft, Technik und Politik 1904–1945, Berlin 1990, p. 430. National Archives, London, FO 371/29,351 Northern 11,941, Finland, File 172, Memorandum 25.01.1941.

  54. 54.

    Krosby, p. 192.

  55. 55.

    BA-MA RW 19/341, Wochenbericht der Rohstoffabteilung, 25.8.-30.8.1941, fol. 214.

  56. 56.

    Krosby, p. 192–193.

  57. 57.

    Krosby, p. 186–198.

  58. 58.

    This data deviates slightly from the data given by Jäger, pp. 225, 240. Yet, Jäger combined several sources stemming from different points in time to calculate his values. Thus, the data in the table above relying on one source from the German armament ministry, compiled in early 1945, is preferred, especially because normally older data was re-adjusted in German statistics if it was wrong.

  59. 59.

    BASF Archiv, Rechtsabteilung 817, Notiz, Betrifft: Besprechung bei General Thomas, OKW, am 24. August 1942.

  60. 60.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, IG, Vermittlungsstelle W to IG, Rechtsabteilung, 25.8.1942.

  61. 61.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, Büro, Sparte I to Vermittlungsstelle W, Nickelherstellung Falconbridge, Norwegen—Oppau.

  62. 62.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, Schlecht to Reichskommissariat Oslo, Wehrwirtschaftsstab Oslo, 20.10.1942, Verarbeitung von Petsamo-Nickel-Kupfer-Erzen in Evje und Kristiansand.

  63. 63.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, Schlecht to Vermittlungsstelle W, 11.11.1942.

  64. 64.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, Schlecht to Kühne, IG, 2.2.1943.

  65. 65.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, Warlimont, NA, to Schlecht, IG, 5.11.1942.

  66. 66.

    On the role of IG Farben representatives in the Four-Year Plan, see for example D. Petzina, Autarkiepolitik im Dritten Reich. Der nationalsozialistische Vierjahresplan, Suttgart 1968, p. 62.

  67. 67.

    Generally on the exploitation of information asymmetries by German companies in the war economy of the Third Reich, see Jonas Scherner, Die Grenzen der Informationsbeschaffung, −transfer und -verarbeitung in der deutschen Wehr- und Kriegswirtschaftsverwaltung im Dritten Reich, Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte 56 (2015), 1, pp. 99–136.

  68. 68.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, IG, internal letter, 21.12.1942.

  69. 69.

    Riksarkivet, Oslo. RA/RAFA-2174/E/Ec/EcB/L0019. Hauptabteilung Volkswirtschaft, Mappe, „Abt. Ausfuhrwirtschaft und Bergbau, Statistikk, Nikkel, Sink m.m.“Evje—månedsrapporter 1942–1945.

  70. 70.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, IG to Raffineringsverket, 11.9.1943.

  71. 71.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, Raffineringsverket to Schlecht, 16.1.1943. The technical problems are also mentioned in Sverre Steen’s diary 11.01.1943. Transcript of Sverre Steen’s diary 1940–45, Falconbridge Archive Kristiansand.

  72. 72.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, note, 1.9.1942, Betrifft: Nickelerz-Lieferungen nach Norwegen. The original quote is: „so wird dies für Kristiansand nur lehrreich sein“. Evje’s head office was in Kristiansand.

  73. 73.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, IG to Reichskommissariat, 2.2.1943.

  74. 74.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, Schlecht to Breisch, 7.1.1944.

  75. 75.

    General Report from Steen to Hardy, 11.05.1945, in folder ‘Driftsrapporter 1940–47’. Falconbridge’s Archive in Kristiansand.

  76. 76.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, Schlecht to Breisch, 7.1.1944; Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion to IG, 23.5.1944.

  77. 77.

    General Report from Steen to Hardy, 11.05.1945, in folder ‘Driftsrapporter 1940–47’. Falconbridge’s Archive in Kristiansand. Hans Clausen Korff, Norwegens Wirtschaft im Mahlstrom der Okkupation, Teil II.

  78. 78.

    Sverre Steen’s diary 27.01–13.02.1944. Transcript of Sverre Steen’s diary 1940–45, Falconbridge Archive Kristiansand. See also: Kristian Ottosen, Nordmenn i fangenskap 1940–45, alfabetisk register, Universitetsforlaget 2004.

  79. 79.

    Sverre Steen’s diary 27.01–13.02.1944. Transcript of Sverre Steen’s diary 1940–45, Falconbridge Archive Kristiansand.

  80. 80.

    Riksarkivet, Oslo. RA/RAFA-2174/E/Ec/EcB/L0019 H.abt. Volkswirtschaft, „Abt. Ausfuhrwirtschaft und Bergbau, Statistikk, Nikkel, Sink m.m.“Copy of letter from Falconbridge to Dr. Breisch, Frankenstein, Schlesien 19.07.1944.

  81. 81.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion to IG, 23.5.1944.

  82. 82.

    BASF Rechtsabteilung 791, Auszug aus dem Bericht über die Nickel-Besprechung im Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion, 10.5.1944.

  83. 83.

    General Report from Steen to Hardy, 11.05.1945, in folder ‘Driftsrapporter 1940–47’. Falconbridge’s Archive in Kristiansand.

  84. 84.

    National Archives London, FO 371/4824. Letter 08.05.1940 from Alex Cardogan to Sir Frederick W. Leith Ross (MEW). ADM 1/16,347, ‘Bombing Targets in Norway, Mutual agreement between HM Govt & Norwegian Govt re bombing of shore establishments’. (1944).

  85. 85.

    With regards the inefficiency hypothesis, see R.-D. Müller, Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg 5/1: Organisation und Mobilisierung des deutschen Machtbereichs, Kriegsverwaltung, Wirtschaft und personelle Ressourcen: 1939–1941, Stuttgart 1988, pp. 347–689; R. Overy, War and Economy in the Third Reich, Oxford 1994. For recent criticism of the inefficiency hypothesis, see J. A. Tooze, No Room for Miracles. German Industrial Output in World War II Reassessed. Geschichte und Gesellschaft (2005), 31,3, pp. 439–64; Jonas Scherner/Jochen Streb, Das Ende eines Mythos? Albert Speer und das so genannte Rüstungswunder, Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 93, 2006, pp. 172–196, J. A. Tooze, The Wages of Destruction. The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, London 2006; Lutz Budraß/Jonas Scherner/Jochen Streb, Fixed-price Contracts, Learning and Outsourcing: Explaining the Continuous Growth of Output and Labour Productivity in the German Aircraft Industry during World War II, Economic History Review, 63, 1 (2010), pp. 107–136.

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Sandvik, P.T., Scherner, J. (2016). Why Did Germany Not Fully Exploit the Norwegian Nickel Industry, 1940–45?. In: Frøland, H., Ingulstad, M., Scherner, J. (eds) Industrial Collaboration in Nazi-Occupied Europe. Palgrave Studies in Economic History. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-53423-1_11

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