Aviation of World War II

Home Russian

German Specialists in the USSR

D.A. Sobolev, D.B. Khazanov

22 October 1946 became a crucial moment in post-war Soviet-German scientific and technical cooperation in the military sphere. On that day, the mass deportation of German scientists, engineers, and workers to the USSR began.

The decision to transfer all the main efforts on aviation and other military technology from Germany to the USSR was planned already in spring that year. In addition to the tasks assigned to the Soviet-German aircraft development design bureaus, the aforementioned 17 April 1946 Council of Ministers enactment included instructions to bring more than 1000 German specialists on aircraft, engines, and instruments to specially prepared aviation enterprises near Moscow and Kuybyshev in October. At the same time, an order was issued to expand the airfield at the Flight Research Institute so that the aircraft built by Germans could be tested there.

This was along the line of the aviation ministry. The total number of scientists, engineers, and workers identified for deportation amounted to about 2200 persons. Among them were specialists in jet technology, nuclear technology, electronics, optics, radio engineering, and chemistry. About 500 were to be sent to Ministry of Armaments enterprises, 350 to enterprises of the Ministry of Communications Means, 30 to the Ministry of Agricultural Machine-Building (work on solid-propellant rocket projectiles, the Henschel Hs 293 cruise missile in particular, were carried out from 1946 under this innocent mask), 25 to shipbuilding enterprises. The number of Germans being deported totaled 6000-7000 persons, including family members.

The decision to transfer all work on military themes, including jet aviation, to the USSR was based on political grounds. Back in February 1945, during the Stalin-Roosevelt-Churchill summit in the Crimea, the decision was made "...to confiscate or destroy all German military equipment, liquidate or take under control all the German industry which could be used for military production". Reconstruction of a number of aircraft plants and design offices in the Soviet zone was. of course, a violation of this agreement.

Signing of the 1946 agreement on joint supervision of scientific research on German territory complicated the existence of the aviation centers in Germany. I. A. Serov reported to Stalin from Germany:

On 29 April at a meeting of the Allied Control Council in Berlin in response to a proposal from the Commander-in-Chief of American forces in Germany General McNerney, Council Law No. 25 called "Concerning Supervision of Scientific Research" was adopted and signed by the four commanders-in-chief: British Field Marshal Montgomery, American General McNerney, Army General Sokolovskiy and French General Kelz. According to the law, all military research organizations should be dissolved and installations of a military character destroyed or removed.

Enumerated in Supplement A to this law was the "forbidden applied scientific research work,' Paragraph 3 of which included 'rocket engines, pulsejets, and gas turbines".

This law can cause us additional difficulties due to measures underway in Germany in response to the Council of Ministers enactment...

Despite all security measures, the West knew of the existence of the aviation OKBs. As Serov reported, in a June 1946 conversation with Marshal Sokolovskiy, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of American Forces in Germany General Clay "raised the question of the necessity for the Control Council to make a decision to send a special commission to all occupation zones of Germany to monitor military production. Here, he stated he had facts that, for example, the French had restored a German aircraft plant and are manufacturing engines there and then added 'production of jet technology is taking place in the Russian zone of occupation of Germany'..."

It was much easier to maintain the secrecy of the research in the depth of the Russian expanses than near formations of Anglo-American troops-former allies and now, with the onset of the "Cold War," potential enemies.

So, external circumstances prompted implementation of the decision to transfer the German OKBs to the USSR This was accomplished on 22 October 1946.

I. A. Serov, Beriya's deputy, supervised this operation. A few weeks prior to its onset, he instructed the heads of the design organizations in Germany to prepare lists of the most useful specialists, mainly designers and scientists. Persons selected were to be deported irrespective of their wishes. The managers were ordered to remain silent about the forthcoming action so that no German would try to flee to the West. Serov was assisted in this operation by 2500 officers from the Counterintelligence Directorate of the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces as well as by soldiers who were to load the property belonging to the Germans being deported to the USSR

The move to the USSR was a complete surprise to the Germans. Everything happened very quickly. Early in the morning of 22 October 1946, army trucks pulled up to the houses where the German specialists lived. A counterintelligence officer accompanied by a female translator and a group of soldiers read to the awakened Germans the order for their immediate transfer to continue their work in the USSR. At that time, trains ready to take them were waiting at railroad stations. The German engineers and workers were allowed to take their family members as well as personal belongings and even furniture. Some Germans agreed to go voluntarily, while others had to be taken by force. Each one was given a food ration and a cash allowance ranging from 3000 to 10,000 rubles, depending on the position held.

The movement of 7000 German specialists from various disciplines from Germany to the USSR was accomplished precisely and quickly. Stalin and his clique had experience in deporting entire nations. Two weeks after the operation began, all the Germans already were distributed among 31 enterprises of 9 ministries in different areas of the Soviet Union.

Distribution of the Deported German Specialists in the USSR
Ministres Plants and Scientific Organizations
Moscow Region Plants 79, 88, 233, 355, 393, NII-88
Leningrad Region Plant No. 349
Kiev Region Plant No. 784
Khar'kov Region Plant No. 353
Udmurt Republic: Plant No. 71
Moscow Region Plants Nos. 1, 51, 456, 500
Kuybyshev Region Plant No. 2
Moscow Region NII in Pushkino
Moscow Region Karpov Institute, Plant Karbolit
Gor'ky Region Plant No. 96
Voroshilovgrad Region Chemical plant in Rubezhnoye
Moscow Region Plant Kompressor
Moscow Region NII-160, NII-885.
Moscow Region Plants Nos 596, 686.
Sverdlovsk Region Plant No. 659
Rostov Region Novocherkassk Electrical Plant
Leningrad Region Sestroretsk Reasearch Institute
Leningrad Region NII-49
Dagestan Republic Plant No. 182

During the summer and autumn of 1946, intensive preparations continued at Ministry of the Aviation Industry- plants where German specialists and their families were headed. Workshops were restored and expanded, living quarters repaired, and Finnish cottages for one or two families each built (more than 150 such houses were constructed at Plant No. 1 alone). Some 2000 people took part in this work, including 1100 German POWs. But. there still was a shortage of floor space and it was decided to move 1700 people not employed in production from the plant settlements (500 from the Plant No. 1 settlement and 1200 from the Plant No. 2 settlement). In addition, a building at Krasnaya Glinka sanatorium that could accommodate 400 persons was freed for the Germans who came to Plant No. 2.

Some home appliances for the plants (furniture, refrigerators, utensils, and so on) were supplied from Germany. Industrial equipment had to be brought from Germany after dismantling of the OKBs in Dessau. Halle. Stassfurt, and Berlin.

The first group of German specialists arrived in the USSR in late October. Not all came with families. Then it was suggested that the Germans invite their relatives. But many being unaware of what to expect, were against moving their families to the Soviet Union. Here is a letter from 47 employees of the former Dessau OKB sent to the Minister of the Aviation Industry on 24 October 1946. It said, in particular, the following:

We cannot bear the responsibility before our wives and children for their moving to the USSR without extraordinarily well-founded reasons for this under the conditions of the harsh Russian winter to which they are not accustomed physically and to which they are not prepared due to the lack of warm clothes. In addition, it must be taken into consideration that, in the USSR, they will be placed in absolutely unusual living conditions, much different from those in their homeland. Besides these difficulties, there obviously will be considerable hardship en route considering the rather long distance, winter conditions, and presence of sick and elderly people as well as little children.

...At present, we do not have any opportunity to influence the fulfillment of the promises made to us regarding living conditions provided here for us and our families. This results from the fact that all our attempts to see in detail the living conditions promised to us or attempts to legalize these promises via contracts were turned down without any clear reasons. In addition, Major General Stalin [Vasiliy Stalin, son of Joseph Stalin—Author] and General Lukin assured us that very soon we would have the opportunity to return to our homeland. Caring about the welfare of our families as well as about our own ability to work, now we do not at the present time see the slightest possibility of our families moving to the USSR

Therefore, at present we request that you to leave our families in their homeland under all conditions and also provide them the promised protection and support.

I do not know whether this appeal was taken into account. However, it is known that 2308 out of the 2756 closest relatives of the German aviation specialists, i.e. almost all, were moved to the USSR Apparently, no consideration was given to such requests from the deported people.

Thus, the number of Germans who came to Ministry of the Aviation Industry enterprises in 1946 amounted to 3558.

Railroad cars with furniture and other personal belongings arrived on the heels of the German OKB personnel and their families.

Then prototype aircraft and engines came from Germany—two EF-131 (the second flight model and static test bird), an EF-126 (third flight model), Siebel 346, Jumo 004C, Jumo 012 (five examples), BMW 003 (seven examples), and BMW 018, and Walter 109-509 (four examples). The Siebel 346 along with a EF-126 brought earlier were handed over to TsAGI for wind tunnel testing, three BMW 003 engines were shipped to the Mikoyan Experimental Design Bureau, and all the other equipment was delivered to Plant Nos. 1 and 2.

Machine tools and other equipment (vehicles, drafting boards, tables, chairs, and even bathroom appliances) from the former German OKBs, about 3000 items in all, arrived at these plants several wreeks later. The dismantling of these enterprises and removal of their equipment was finished in February 1947.

By 7 November all aviation specialists who came from Germany were distributed among Ministry of the Aviation Industry enterprises. Aviation engineers were gathered at Experimental Plant No. 1 in the village of Podberez'ye, Kimrskiy Rayon, some 100 kilometers north of Moscow. Turbojet engine specialists were sent to Experimental Plant No. 2 located near Kuybyshev on the Volga River. A group of instrument engineers headed by Lehrtes was also situated at Plant No. 2 since Plant No. 1 had limited capabilities to organize a third OKB there. Small groups of engine specialists were sent to Plant No. 500 in Tushino and Plant No. 456 in Khimki.

Number of Aviation Specialists and Family Members at MAP Plants
Plant, OKB Specialists Dr.Tech. Designers Engineers Workers Others Family members
OKB-1 (Chief designer Baade) 332 5 116 83 123 5 698
OKB-2 (Chief design.Rossing) 187 7 80 34 643 2 346
Total: 519 12 196 117 187 7 1044
OKB-1 (Chief design. Scheibe) 350 10 80 85 172 3 628
OKB-2 (Chief design. Prestel) 251 2 55 50 142 2 401
OKB-3 (Chief design. Lehrtes) 61 4 9 11 36 1 82
Total: 662 16 144 146 350 6 1111
PLANT No. 500.
Gerlach Group 45 1 13 2 29 - 85
PLANT No. 456
Baum Group 24 2 - 20 1 1 68

Soon after the arrival of the Germans, the Ministry of Internal Affairs sent a directive to its regional directorates:

Attaching great significance to the question of observing the specialists and their accommodations. You must:

1. Get in touch with plant directors where the German specialists work and familiarize yourself with the organization of their production activities, consumer sendees, and so on.

2. Familiarize the directors of enterprises where the German specialists will work with the attached instructions and render them the necessary assistance in organizing the procedures for housing the German specialists in the USSR.

According to these MVD instructions, the specialists and their family members were to be considered German citizens living in the USSR with residence permits for foreigners with the "until further notice" stamp. However, in contrast to normal foreigners, they were prohibited from leaving the territory of the plant settlements. To monitor this regime, special commandant's offices and checkpoints were established at plants.

State Experimental Plant No. 1 where the German aviation engineers where gathered, was set up in 1946 based on the former Plant No. 458, which, during the war, built and repaired seaplanes and developed Yak-3 and Spitfire fighters for catapult launching under the guidance of designer I. V. Chetverikov. In 1946, Chetverikov and his assistants were transferred to Leningrad and General V. I. Abramov was appointed Plant No. 1 director.

The Germans were divided into two OKBs. OKB-l was based on the aircraft section of the Soviet-German Dessau enterprise. Engineer P. N. Obrubov and Goettingen University graduate German engineer F. Freitag were the deputies of chief designer B. Baade. The group of leading OKB-1 employees also included Ju 287 bomber designer H. Wocke and Dessau plant chief engineer J. Haselhoff. Former Junkers aerodynamics department head Dr. G. Bockhaus and K. Strauss, who had a doctorate from Hannover University, supervised the aerodynamics research.

Interestingly, among the OKB specialists there was one Russian, Boris Fedorovich Shlippe. He was born in Moscow in 1903, immigrated to Germany where he graduated from the Polytechnic Institute in the city of Schermitz, and worked as an aviation engineer in Dessau. Apparently, he was a good specialist because, despite his "emigre" past, he headed an OKB section and was highly paid, receiving 5000 rubles a month.

OKB-2 consisted of former employees of several firms. H. Rossing headed the design work. His deputies were former Siebel construction section head H. Heinsson and Soviet engineer A. Ya. Bereznyak—one of the creators of the BI rocket aircraft, the first one in the USSR (1942). The most qualified OKB-2 German specialists included Heinkel design section head, certified engineer S. Guenter, leading engineers from the same company F. Schehrer and W. Benz. Siebel strength section head Dr. W. Thielemann, aerodynamics scientist H. Metzfeld (who formerly worked with Prandtl). Heinkel aerodynamics section head D. Fuchs, Arado materials section head Dr. A. Ruppelt, rocket motor specialists K. Schell (BMW), H. Michaelis, and W. Kuenzel (Walter), and specialist on jet fuels chemist H. Emmrich.

The Germans also worked in production sectors. Engineer O. Dreuse, who during the war was deputy technical director of the Dessau plant, was appointed deputy production manager and 8 Germans were among 15 heads of manufacturing workshops.

The Soviet contingent in the design offices and pilot production comprised former employees of Plant No. 458 and young graduates assigned there. There were about 1500 Russians at the plant by early 1947. They mainly were involved in production while the Germans headed the developmental design work.

Design team in the USSR. (OKB-1). Development of the EF-140.

Creation of the "150" front bomber with sweptback wing became the last OKB-1 task.

In the late 1940s, the OKB-2 team that H. Ryossing headed was engaged in preparations for testing the Siebel-346 experimental rocket airplane (after 1948 this machine is called "346" in documentation).

Design team in the USSR. (OKB-2). Creation of the TV-2 (NK-12) turboprop engine..

Along with the engine specialists, a group of 61 German instrument engineers (143, family members included) headed by Dr. Lehrtes was in Upravlencheskiy. They were housed in the plant instrument block. Experimental equipment brought from Germany also was installed there. Soviet engineer Mityakhin was appointed chief designer of OKB-3, as the Lehrtes group came to be known.

The Ministry of the Aviation Industry tasked OKB-3 to continue the efforts on an autopilot that had begun in Germany. The plan was to hand the autopilot over for testing by late 1948.

German engineer B. Moeller was actively involved in developing the autopilot along with Lehrtes. At his suggestion, a special control lever was introduced into the command equipment. Now the pilot could not only maintain the set parameters with the help of the autopilot, but could also change the aircraft flight trajectory.

In 1949, an American B-25 bomber was allocated to test the instrument in flight. "The first flights demonstrated excellent autopilot qualities. The autopilot concept, design, and manufacture proved the correctness of the direction of the OKB-3 efforts," as the report by the director of Plant No. 2 noted.

Along with the work on aircraft autopilots (in addition to the three-axis inductive autopilot, in 1948 the German engineers initiated the design of a cruise autopilot for fighters), in 1947 OKB-3 was assigned the urgent task to produce a control system for cruise missile 16X that V. N. Chelomey had designed. The first batch of electronic equipment and servomotors for the rockets was manufactured already in autumn 1947.

The group of German instrument specialists existed in the settlement of Upravlencheskiy until 1950. It was mainly involved in fulfilling the tasks of the rocket industry. Then some of the German employees from OKB-3 were allowed to return to Germany, while others (43 persons) in September 1950 were transferred to another plant belonging to the Ministry of Armaments and united with the German rocket engineers who were working in the USSR.

Besides Experimental Plant No. 2, there were two more enterprises where German aviation engine specialists worked: Plant No. 500 in Tushino and Plant No. 16 in Kazan`.

Plant No. 500 specialized in diesel engines for aircraft. A group headed by Manfred Gerlach was brought there from Dessau on 28 October 1946 with the aim to continue working on the 24-cylinder 4800hp Jumo 224 (M-224) aircraft diesel engine.


  • "The German Imprint on the History of Russian Aviation " /D.A. Sobolev, D.B. Khazanov/