Topf and Sons-Business of Death

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The Nazis would never have been able to commit the crimes they committed if they hadn’t received the cooperation from businesses that supplied to them.

Technically some companies may not have been directly involved in the killing of Jews.Roma’s,Homosexuals and others, but by facilitating the third reich the played an equal part to the Holocaust.

J.A. Topf and Sons (German: J.A. Topf & Söhne) was an engineering company which was founded in Erfurt in 1878. It had a variety of products including chimneys  and incinerators.

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In 1939 the company decided to go into business with Hitler and his cronies.Not only did they design and built the ovens for the crematoria in several death camps, they also made improvements to make the ovens work more efficiently.

Kurt Prüfer, was the head of Topf & Söhne’s small crematoria department, he was the main oven designer. Kurt designed and developed a two-muffle transportable oven in September 1939, which was delivered to Dachau concentration camp in November 1939.To facilitate multiple bodies to be burned simultaneously even though  that this was still illegal under German law.

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The company’s partnership with the Nazis, in the Holocaust reached its peak with the production of ovens for Auschwitz

Between August 1940 and  May 1942, the companybuilt 3 double-muffle ovens at Auschwitz Camp I.  Read the last few words again’built 3 double-muffle ovens at Auschwitz Camp I’ This means they built them on site.

In October 1941, the SS ordered five three-muffle ovens for the new Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp , where it was initially was thought that an estimated 1000+ people per day would be killed. At the time  125,000 Soviet prisoners of war.were imprisoned in Auschwitz II, and it was estimated  that with the use of the new ovens, these prisoners of war  could all be killed and disposed of in about four months.

In an internal memo by Kurt Prüfer he explains that he has told Krone, who has just returned from Auschwitz, that the camp can be provided with enough cremation muffles to bring the cremation capacity up to 2650 per day, or 80,000 per month. However, Prüfer notes: “Mr. K said that this number of muffles is not yet sufficient; we should deliver more ovens as quickly as possible.”

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Topf & Söhne’ also designed and provided ventilation systems to remove Zyklon B from the underground gas chambers.

At least 4 fitters from Topf & Söhne’ traveled to Auschwitz to supervise the installation of the systems and to ensure they worked properly. For this it meant they had  to observe the murder of Jews.

Kurt Prüfer also visited the camps to inspect the operation of Topf products. He himself, with the blessing  of the company’s owners, continued to facilitate to the needs of the SS On October 26, 1942 he applied ,via the company, for a patent for a four-storey crematorium complete with conveyor belts intended to drastically enhance the speed at which bodies could be burned.

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Although employees of the company witnessed the actual murder of Jews and others they did nothing about it, in fact they ensured that the disposal of the bodies would happen quicker and more efficient. There was a clear lack of humanity in these people.

There is a principle in supply chain management about ‘bottlenecks’ ,bottlenecks determine the throughput of a supply chain. Basically your supply chain is just as fast as your  bottleneck, ie constraint.

The disposal of the bodies was the bottleneck in all death camps. Even if the engineers of Topf and Sons, could not stop the supply of ovens to the Nazi regime, they could have designed them less efficient thus creating a bigger bottleneck, therefor saving lives, but they didn’t .

After Prüfer was first arrested in 1945, one of the co-owners of the company Ludwig Topf committed suicide in  his suicide note he said  that “I was always decent.” His brother, Ernst-Wolfgang, fled to West Germany where he attempted to reestablish the company. The company went bankrupt in May 1963. Prüfer died in prison.

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The Supply Chain Management Principles during Market Garden

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This may seem a strange title for a WWII related subject but in fact it is probably more appropriate then you’d expect.

One of the definitions of Supply Chain Management  is “the management of the flow of goods and services,involves the movement and storage of raw materials, of work-in-process inventory, and of finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption”

Replace the word “consumption” with “action” or “combat” and you can apply the principle of Supply Chain management to Operation Market Garden or a great number of other operations during WWII.

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The reason why I chose Market Garden is twofold. Firstly because it had a great effect on the country I was born in.Secondly It was the largest airborne operation up to that point and is one of the best recorded mistakes by the allied forces.

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Planning is key to successful supply chain demand and the forecast demand needs to be as accurate as possible. Given the situation and the time this was always going to be a problem.

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Among the controversial aspects of the plan was the necessity that all the main bridges be taken. The terrain was also ill-suited for the mission of XXX Corps.Brereton had ordered that the bridges along XXX Corps’ route should be captured with “thunderclap surprise“.It is therefore surprising in retrospect that the plans placed so little emphasis on capturing the important bridges immediately with forces dropped directly on them. In the case of Veghel and Grave where this was done, the bridges were captured with only a few shots being fired.

 

The decision to drop the 82nd Airborne Division on the Groesbeek Heights, several kilometres from the Nijmegen Bridge, has been questioned because it resulted in a long delay in its capture.

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In Supply Chain management terms this is deemed to be a “bottleneck”The Bottleneck is the drum (schedule) that controls the throughput of the entire system.In this case the Nijmegen Bridge had become the bottleneck and the speed of the operation was going to be determined by the situation around the Nijmegen Bridge.

Browning and Gavin considered holding a defensive blocking position on the ridge a prerequisite for holding the highway corridor. Gavin generally favoured accepting the higher initial casualties involved in dropping as close to objectives as possible in the belief that distant drop zones would result in lower chances of success. With the 82nd responsible for holding the centre of the salient, he and Browning decided the ridge must take priority. Combined with the 1st Airborne Division’s delays within Arnhem, which left the Arnhem bridge open to traffic until 20:00, the Germans were given vital hours to reinforce their hold on the bridge.

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As part of the planning you have to look at all options and pick the best option available to you,based on statistics and parameters available to ensure the best possible throughput.

Arnhem bridge was not the only Rhine crossing. Had the Market Garden planners realized that a ferry was available at Driel, the British might have secured that instead of the Arnhem bridge. Being a shorter distance away from their western drop and landing zones, the 1st Parachute Brigade could have concentrated to hold the Oosterbeek heights, instead of one battalion farther away at the road bridge; in this case, Arnhem was “one bridge too far”.

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Allied Airborne Units
  Killed in action
or died of wounds
Captured or
missing
Safely
withdrawn
  Total
1st Airborne 1,174 5,903 1,892 8,969
Glider Pilot Regiment 219 511 532 1,262
Polish Brigade 92 111 1,486 1,689
Total 1,485 6,525 3,910  
 
Other Allied losses
  Killed in action
or died of wounds
Captured or missing
RAF 368 79
Royal Army Service Corps 79 44
IX Troop Carrier Command 27 6
XXX Corps 25 200
Total 499 329
 
 

It is amazing to think that a simple excersize in Supply Chain management could have turned Operation Market Garden into a success, of course the term Supply Chain management was only invented in the 1980’s but not withstanding that, proper planning and forecasting could have avoided the many losses and the famine that ensued afterwards.

I did not think I could link my field of studies ‘Supply Chain Management and Production Control’ with my interest for WWII.

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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