The aggressive foreign policy of the National Socialists has been clear for years and threatens world peace, but the outbreak of the Second World War nevertheless comes as a surprise. Industry on the other hand has already been converted to war production in the preceding years, with Fichtel & Sachs setting up a “secret division” to produce munitions as early as 1935. Alongside its popular Sachs engines – primarily used as heating devices and pump units – Fichtel & Sachs supplies other essential war products, namely ball bearings and anti-friction bearings. Production of anti-friction bearings is classed as crucial to the war effort, with the biggest customers coming from the aircraft construction sector, where it is especially important to minimize loss of friction. A Ju 388 bomber thus contains 1,056 anti-friction bearings.
FICHTEL & SACHS – A WARTIME PRODUCERSachs engines and their important role in the war effort
RESOURCING THE WAR
NO MORE GUNS OR TANKS DUE TO BALL BEARINGS SHORTAGE!
National Socialist Germany quickly recognizes that modern wars cannot be won with human resources alone. The Berlin leadership begins to focus on the supply of ball bearings – it is common knowledge, after all, that rearmament in the 1930s gave Germany a decisive advantage in the early years of the war. The so-called rapid ball bearings campaign initiated by the regime in 1943 is intended to ensure that supplies are not severely impacted by air attacks. So, starting from the epicenter of Schweinfurt, the company sets about identifying locations to which to relocate the production in question. And the city of Wels, which is believed to be safe from air attacks, is selected.
- The Fichtel & Sachs administration building in Schweinfurt, which was opened in 1933. This is where the fate of Rotax in the Second World War was decided. (ZF Friedrichshafen AG Sachs Archive)
- Aerial photo of the Fichtel & Sachs AG site in Schweinfurt, late 1930s (ZF Friedrichshafen AG Sachs Archive)
- Ball bearings being produced in the F&S Schweinfurt plant around 1939 (ZF Friedrichshafen AG Sachs Archive)
- During the war, Fichtel & Sachs’ engine production, seen here still in Schweinfurt, was relocated, amongst other places to Wels (Sachs-Archiv der ZF Friedrichshafen AG)
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