The Rifle Syndicate at Østerbro, Copenhagen
The company was surrounded by numerous scandals. An article series in Berlingske Tidende on the company’s comings and goings during the occupation led to Denmark’s oldest newspaper was sold abroad. The editor-in-Chief was fired. He had tried to prevent publication. A ship rescues was angry, a conviction was kept secret. Many businesses were not convicted in legal settlement. But it did the regular man. And really started it all with the brilliant Madsen – machine gun.
Who was the Rifle the syndicate?
A number of addresses in the Østerbro district around århusgade formed complex Rifle syndicate. It was actually created in 1900 as Comapgnie Madsen a/s. Main product was the famous Madsen machine gun.
Since the beginning, the company produced metal goods. But after that the gun had been a main product hot Danish rifle syndicate company a/s. In 1936 the name was Danish Industri Syndikat a/s. In the vernacular was this Rifle the syndicate. Machine guns and cannons from the factory has given its owners large profits.
The verdict made secret
Around 1920 was Rifle syndicate part of transatlantic trading company. During the second world war, the company sold weapons to the German Wehrmacht. Three times during the occupation, the company was hit by sabotage. The largest of them and probably the biggest doing the occupation took place on 22. June 1944.
After the war, the company was convicted of værnemageri (collaboration). But for some reason the sentence was kept a secret to the public. Had we known about the documents, as we know it today, was probably also ended up with a prison sentence.
The company still exists. Today called the DISA and produces particularly Disamatic moulding machines and foundry equipment.
But it was the V.H.O. Madsen, who in 1879 together with arms champion Bjarnov designed the air-cooled recoil repeterende machine gun, who came to get the Madsen name.
Many addresses in the Østerbro district
Århusgade 130 and Billedgade 8 heard also to Riffelsymdikatet, but in fact were the buildings built in 1918 as a warehouse and office building of a/s Russian trading company.
Redhavnsvej 13A and 13B was built in 1896 in two floors for Copenhagen Sand Cement Factory, which was a branch of Aalborg Portland Cement fabrik a/s. In 1938 takes over the whole complex syndicate Rifle. They use it for warehouse and Office.
Lots of scandals
Today, the entire complex a unique cultural environment that encompassed everything from hærderi, spice, smithy, food sales, warehouse and Office. But still carries the complex trail from the previous features. Thus, there is on Jernvej 11 a hoist. One can still imagine the scandals here evolved. It was a great site. When the factory was at its highest were here 1,600 employees.
The story of the Rifle the syndicate also had dramatic consequences for the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende. The A.P. Møller-owned company, which later changed its name to Danish industry syndicate earned plenty of money on the Germans. Throughout the period of the occupation was weapons exports to the German Wehrmacht
increased significantly. The Danish government had approved the sale. They even used the company for the sale of weapons from the State arms factory.
Other large Danish companies also exported products to Germany – at that time. It was, among other things, about B&W, F.L. Scmith, Scandia, Atlas, Thomas b. Thrige, Killion, Frichs, Danfoss, etc.
The seal of approval
The Government’s course was clear. We work together, and did it because we estimated that it was necessary, responsible and sensible. Thus built the Danish construction company Wright, T and Kier airfields for the Luftwaffe.
The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Danish Army went with in cooperation under the premise that cooperation was kept secret. All ministries gave this cooperation the imprimatur.
But the syndicate also went without the Government Rifle and conducted independent initiatives. Often put the Government under pressure. The factory’s actions could easily have influenced the allies ‘ views on Denmark.
How far can we go?
The companies joint not politics and business. We had no moral scruples. And if it finally was someone who asked, Yes so we just followed the society’s and the Government’s interests. Therefore avoided it all the time, to answer the question:
How far can we go?
A.p. Møller was not Nazi
A.p. Møller was like so many other traders long naïve in their views on Nazism. Be settled under the framework within which the Government and the Folketing created. The Government had chosen to cooperate.
One can hardly call A.P. Møller for being a Nazi. But he supported in 1939 the strong anti-Semitic and anti-democratic Victor Pürschel, who in 1939 created the Party National Association. In today’s coin constituted aid 350,000 USD And later received a further amount to Pürschel. The politician flirted with fascism clearly.
In a lecture in the tone specified forums Student Association in 1942 quoted A.P. Møller, Mein Kampf. He revealed here a certain admiration for Hitler. He added at the time:
Therein, he has the right as in so much else
In the 1930s wrote A.P. Møller a feature article, in which he praised contemporary Germany, without commenting on all the atrocities that had taken place.
Berlingske Tidende was sold
Since the revelations about the Rifle the syndicate appeared in Berlingske Tidende in 1999 provoked the violent reactions. First tried the magazine’s editor in Chief to stop the articles. Subsequently resulted in the fact that A.P. Møller put the newspaper up for sale. Mærsk MC–Kinney Møller became so outraged over the article series, that he sold his shareholding in protest in Berlingske Tidende.
Also internally in the editors created the story a vehemently stir. We had gotten a hold of a good story, which many wanted to suppress. But the then Chief Editor Peter Wivel would not press the stories. It led to the academic turmoil. The journalists saw it as, that they should stop work on the story.
And editor-in-Chief Peter Wivel was also fired. Tomorrow’s true stories of occupation is still dangerous.
Suddenly was the oldest newspaper in foreign hands. The truth was frowned. And suddenly there came yet another good story.
You get 5,000 submachine guns!
A.p. Møller had during a visit to Sweden in 1942, prompted the resistance movement representative Erik Seidenfaden to recommend to the British to stop the bombings and sabotage. In 1944, he would guarantee payment of 5,000 Husqvarna – submachine guns to the resistance movement.
The whole fuss led to a study about the role of the business community during the occupation. A conference entitled clean hands, necessary cooperation or opportunism?
Dagbladet Politiken would not be outdone by their competitor. They started a series of articles about agriculture and fishery’s role in the occupation. But however, there were no new revelations in this material.
No moral considerations
The Rifle Syndicate had no moral considerations, as they supplied weapons to the Germans. They said they took into account the employees ‘ existence and employment. But it was not ultimately turnover spoke.
But in fact what they did was – treason. But the company was never convicted under this article. In the much-publicized transitional justice was small, there were convicted. The big slap under the motto – we were forced into it.
A DUI destroyed the legal settlement
In legal settlement, there were numerous cases against directors, joiners, fishermen, hauliers, canteen girls, fortress workers and many others with demands for repayment of part of the profit realized on the German work. The small protective makers had to bleed after legal settlement.
Sized enterprises left off. They did, after all, just as the Government had said. Those who had been following the Government’s orders to sign up as a volunteer at the eastern front, got hit hard. They were given harsh sentences. Not a wonder that many felt that there was no justice in the legal settlement.
Communist and resistance fighter Carl Madsen got after the occupation title of extraordinary city attorney. He had to deal with all matters relating to værnemageri (collaboration). He was a supporter of tough justice towards them. But alas, a DUI put an end to this.
Also other of A.P. Møller‘s businesses was sentenced to having to pay large fines to the Danish State. They had also earned large sums of money during the war.
It is not in the history books
All these things are not something we have read in history books. And it’s probably very few historians who will write about it. It makes scratches in the paintwork, when one must describe Denmark’s role during the war.
Denmark was an important support for the Third Reich. The Danish business sector goods supplied for 200 billion kroner measured in today’s prices. City lawyer has filed 50,000 cases from that time. Denmark clearly lay in the top of the occupied countries in fulfilling the Germans want.
Denmark was Germany’s pantry
Denmark was Germany’s pantry. Agricultural products accounted for 75 per cent of Denmark’s exports during the war. Also fishing had Golden times. Revenues for fish exporters increased by 3 – 400 per cent The Danish fishermen had North Sea for themselves. Fishermen’s organizations did not take a political position.
From the spring of 1944, there were major shareholder A.P. Møller in Rifle syndicate to take an interest in the resistance movement. He gave generous contributions, while the company continued to produce weapons for the Germans. But a strange double play followed. Employees at the company in the Østerbro district helped to sabotage the company.
400 kg. TNT
Three of the workers were active in the resistance group, Holger Danske. They smuggled parts for machine guns in addition to the resistance movement from the summer of 1944.
It was on 22. June 1944 the occupying the greatest bang sounded, since we had used 400 kg of explosives to the destruction of the factory. Passing train passengers cheered and waved their handkerchiefs when they saw the destroyed buildings.
Lots of sore points
When you talk about the occupying time you are talking about an amount of manipulation and attempts at rationalization. Incriminating papers are suddenly disappeared. Many of the cases from that time is still controversial. It will be exciting when the archives will be fully accessible. But there are plenty of sore points back.
The rifle history starts in 1864
Back to the rifle the syndicate. It all began in the war in 1864. V.O.A. Madsen didn’t mean that the Danes had the same good weapons as the Germans. He promised himself to do something about. He interested himself much for science, and was a rare Nugget, it would later turn out. He taught gradually at the army’s school officers in mathematics, gunpowder manufacture, and my learning.
A small room at Dampfærgevej
He was married to a vicar’s daughter and was commissioned as a captain in the artillery. For many years he developed it later very famous gun. And it was tested after all art rules. On the army’s Gun factory worked work champion Hergett to improve the gun. And it took more than 10 years to develop it.
We rented a small room in 1900 in the top floor of a factory building at Dampfærgevej in free port. 40 Machinists at the army’s Gun factory was instructed to collect geværene. But it went a long time before really getting started in it. In 1904 had only 11 guns left the country.
The Russian army receded 300 guns
But Russia and Japan fought a bloody battle. This meant that staff – in Russia slowed down 300 guns. They evoked so much enthusiasm that we further demanded 1,300 guns. The rumor had reached the various militaryleaders around. Now, the sale went swimmingly.
It was no more room at the army’s Gun factory on the island of Amager. We moved production to a rented workshop in Århusgade, Copenhagen.
Madsen was Secretary of war
Madsen had now gained the rank of major general. It was natural to award him the post of Secretary of war in the left – the Government in 1901.
Madsen made sure that the Copenhagen Fortifications were extended. In the vernacular, it was called Madsen Casemates.
But he was not created as a politician. However, he reached to introduce brushing and abolition of DRAM in the Danish armed forces. In 1904 he departed as Secretary of war.
Britons trying to cheat
A British arms company tried to cheat the company in Århusgade. The bristiske company was sentenced to pay 90,000 GBP. But so much money had the English Rexler factories not. So instead took over the Rifle a large machine park syndicate and lots of tools.
An expensive adventure
In a downturn came suddenly a order at 15,000 guns. We just had a little problem. It was export–ban. But then you could just build a factory in Russia. We went ahead and got a hold of an investor. But then toppled accidents over the factory. A ship with machines sank. The revolution in 1917 did it nor easier.
We did the losses up. Total debt was at 11 million dollars. In today’s coin answered it for 300 million dollars.
On top of this was supposed to be a half a million dollars in compensation to the 130 workers, who was stationed in Russia.
A new Director
V.H.O. Madsen died in 1917. To the last, he taught at the Army Officers ‘ school. The investor, Harald Plum had a lot of money for good. He tried to pick up the pieces. The new Director came to be called Werner Haubroe. He raised around the whole world in order to sell the famous gun. He had been a student at the Army Officers ‘ school. He drives his staff with tough discipline. When he moved out of the red message fast forward went to administration building all employees.
There came also to Werner Haubroe was nearly deaf. He spoke very loudly to the nearest, and at the same time, with his military background.
Spare parts for bicycles
In a period of failed sale of weapons. We tried it with spare parts for bicycles. But if it was not a success. Set so that all forces in order to improve the gun.
In 1919 joined Aage Henckel as commercial Director. The employees are not so much to him. He remained in the administration building. They called him the man from Illum (Illum is an exclusive shopping center).
Gun in serial production
But eventually we got a problem. It turned out that the lifespan of the machine gun was not good enough. For the development of new ideas was Captain Viggo Balslev employed as Vice President.
He got the idea to develop gun in serial production. Gradually succeeded. But despite good sales figures, it was not easy to get away from the red numbers.
A new support leg
There was constructed a new pod to the gun and the aroused enthusiasm. Rifle syndicate had to buy new factory halls in the free port (Copenhagen).
But money man Harald Plum had gradually built up a debt of 150 million USD and in 1922 said the Farmers Bank (Landmandsbanken) stop.
Machine gun in combat aircraft
The situation was at the factory halls were excited, but then got Werner Haubroe an ide. The gun was to be mounted in fighter aircraft. And the first customers for this was the Turkish army.
There was still economic problems despite a good sale. In 1927, a bitter dispute broke out between the two directors
Money man Harald Plum was accused of fraud. And even though he had received the Knight’s Cross and much more, it was too much for him. He took a gun and shot himself.
Major extensions were necessary, but we still had a debt left after the defunct Russian fairy tales.
A.p. Møller enters the company
Werner Haubroe turned to ship owner A.P. Møller and convinced him that he should invest in The Rifle Syndicate. In the first place were it to 15 per cent.
The new machine gun was a success.
A music Corps
But the new Government with the Stauning and The Social Democrats in the lead had introduced ban on exports of weapons to the warring countries. And it was a big problem for the syndicate.
A new proposal from foreign minister Munch did Werner Haubroe furious. He contended that all of the country’s voluntary music Corps. As a protest created a military band at The Rifle Syndicate. The factory paid all instruments.
The factory went in 1934 in the process of producing air defense sirens. In 1935, it was so good time in it, that you could pay profits to investors. Wages were high and working conditions were the best in the capital.
In Finland the Finns fought bravely against the Russians with arms from The Rifle Syndicate. It did Hitler nervous. At the same time, he was certain that the British would go to Western Jutland (Denmark). Operation Weserübung was planned.
Samples smuggled with the diplomatic bag
Danish Industry Syndicate had in 1939 1,353 employees and we paid a dividend of 28 per cent to their investors. A.p. Møller had expanded investment, and now sat on one-third of the shares.
There were acquired a new factory estate in three floors.
They had been given permission to export a few weapons to the Germans. But the company also negotiated without the Government with the Germans. In 1939, the company managed to smuggle some samples up cartridges via diplomatic bag to Berlin.
Denmark – a large trading partner
When the Germans occupied the country and approached the free port in Copenhagen, was initially ready to defend the Rifle Syndicate. Guns and rifles were pulled forward from the store. But the longer they reached No. The factory’s Chief Executive, ordered to keep inside. Directors total employees and announced that it was nothing to do.
The Germans were happy. After all Denmark was their second largest trading partner only surpassed by the Fascist Italy.
Denmark had exceeded the quantities of food, which the German authorities before occupation had figured out. And the industry had done the “German war industry important services“
Raw material return
The Danish National Bank had to put out for the Germans ‘ purchases on a so-called clearings konto. It was then intended that the Germans had to pay it all back, when peace was regained in Europe. Only counter claim was to follow raw materials with each order.
They earn a lot of money
Erling Foss completed his report on the situation in Denmark to English:
Danish industry syndicate in the free port earlier Danish Rifle Syndicate is working day and night for the Germans and earns a lot of money.
As so often, there are different views of events, when it comes to the description of the occupation. Thus, had the owners considered shutting the factory, before the Germans came, but they felt pressured by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about to begin negotiations with the Germans.
Other documents, however, on the contrary, says that the Foreign Ministry had advised against the leadership to negotiate with the Germans.
Professional associations was shown around
The factory process a large profits during the occupation. We paid it that today corresponds to 77 million dollars. At the same time invited to professional associations to the tour of the factory and them serving them with beer and sandwiches.
By the factory’s 40th anniversary in 1940 got all employees an additional monthly salary. In order to comply with the Germans ‘ order, worked on three shifts.
Behind the backs of officials
We expanded the factory with rooms on the other side of the Aarhus Street (Copenhagen). One of the buildings had been in Illum’s ownership. We had now been given permission to produce Finnish and Swedish weapons. In 1943, the company experienced a record – profits.
Also weapons for use in Denmark and other occupied countries was produced. Time and time again went the syndicate behind the backs of the officials.
The resistance movement regarded as the largest Criminal Syndicate at home. Already the 10. May 1943 reverberated the free port of a big bang. Saboteurs had brought a TNT bomb to blasting on weapons factory. No employee was hurt.
Lynch – atmosphere
The leadership feared that employees were included in the planning. Weapons production continued. And the 20. December 1943 reverberated again by a bang free port. A total of 80 kg. The doughnut was brought to cracking. Saboteurs had telephoned to the leadership, and asked them to bring the workers to safety. But the failed management. The workers worked on. But the rumors began, and a part of the workers reached out before the explosions. 20 employees, however, were injured.
At the factory there was a lynch mobs against foreman. An employee at the syndicate and an active resistance fighter in BOPA wrote in his action report:
This pig dog would prefer risking workers ‘ lives than let the machines stand still. He must, of course, be interested in, to the production of the murder weapon to the Germans will not be slowed down for a moment.
Management further tightened their security measures. They hired 70 soldiers, mostly former Royal Guards. Outside the area had the Germans reinforced their patrols.
A huge explosion
But the resistance did not give up an operation was scheduled for the 22. July 1944. Two trucks with 400 kilos of TNT was run into the factory area.
Saboteurs ordered that workers had to run everything they could down the Århusgade.
The violent explosion that now ensued, could be heard over most of Copenhagen. From the entire Østerbro you could see a huge cloud of thick smoke rise over the syndicate.
No one was killed, nor the German guards. The entire end wall was gone and concrete were blown out. Several locations were three floors gone. The known damage was valued at 10 million us $.
The resistance gets 72 machine guns
Management had built up the company during the fall. It was feared new sabotage actions. The company offered the resistance weapons. But it kept hard. Further threats from the resistance movement led to then finally reclaiming 72 submachine guns.
But despite sabotagerne was Denmark in the Germans ‘ eyes a pattern community. The Syndicate was the second largest supplier to the Germans, only surpassed by B&W.
They got off lightly
Criminal complement included article 13. Herein it was announced that this was treason, if a person or a company had turned to the occupying forces to put pressure on the Danish authorities and thus tried to obtain some benefits. In addition article 15 and 16 who were facing particularly harsh economic cooperation.
But the rifle was never convicted in accordance with the strictest syndicate article.
As written was Rifle syndicate fined 91.5 million kroner.
It must be said, to be inexpensive escaped.
Business – businesses got off lightly
Even those who involuntarily had worked for the Germans was condemned to pay back. One of the companies that had had a close working relationship with the Germans was Nordwerk in Rovsingsgade at Nørrebro (Copenhagen). They had repaired German aircraft engines. But the firm was just convicted of improperly collaborating with the Germans.
Many business–cases were not investigated properly. Many cases were taken on an incorrect and inadequate. City lawyers took into account the companies ‘ size and jobs when he took the decisions.
Lots of cases
Since the cases were completed in september 1947 left off the two biggest culprits through the system without major scratches. The two firms were B&W and The Rifle Syndicate. And what would later turn out, as were documents regarding. the last company on the mysterious way detained. Also the fact that the company had to pay a heavy fine, got the public nothing to know about.
15,000 cases of execution proceedings against the hauliers came for treatment. And that was the entire 62 tons annex adj. German airfields in Jutland (West-Denmark) who would be seen after.
The vast majority of orders in legal settlement hit the regular man.
The Audit Committee had reviewed 50,000 cases. In total the Committee seized German payments for 318 million dollars. This is the equivalent in today’s currency to four billion kroner.
New studies in the year 2000
In the year 2000, which examined whether there had been errors in connection with the case of The Rifle Syndicate. But after two months of investigation rejected Attorney General Henning Fode and then-justice minister Frank Jensen, to do more in this case.
The gun in the Danish army to 1962
The first year after the liberation it was difficult year for The Danish Industry Syndicate. First in 1948 when several smiths and gun makers had been retrained to, for example, to manufacture buggies, the Government resumed its order at the weapons factory.
The Danish army discarded first Madsen – rifle in 1962. Some years later, it was still used in the home guard.
Read: Denmark’s collaboration with Germany, during World War II
Read: Read: Denmark, Die Sahnefront
Read: A Legacy of Dead German Children