CHAPTER XVII
STATUS QUO



When I rest, I rust.—Motto of Thyssen’s shops.


DOZENS of volumes have already appeared describing “ the next war.”  The Inferno depicted by these prophets makes Dante’s Hell a rather pleasant place.  From the point of view of this study the most significant thing about all of these prognostications is the increasing importance of various kinds of arms and the decreasing need of man-power.  “ Rationalisation ” has overtaken Mars and there will probably never again be the enormous aggregation of armed men as in the World War.  Machines are steadily displacing men, also in warfare.

The change which has already taken place in this direction may be seen by a comparison of an average regiment of 1914 and one of 1932.  In 1914 the average regiment was made up of 3,300 men and 6 machine guns.  In 1932 the same regiment consists of 2,500 men with 108 sub-machine guns, 16 machine guns, 4 bomb throwers, and 2 small cannon.  In other words, man-power has decreased 25 per cent., while automatic arms have increased 210 per cent.1

Industrial invention has made huge strides ahead in armaments since 1918.  Already the death machines of the World War seem curiously out-dated and old fashioned.  The new German “ pocket-battleship ” of 10,000 tons is as swift as a cruiser and as strong as a dreadnought ;  the Vickers amphibian tank swims like a water tortoise ;  the British fighting planes fly more than 230 miles an hour.2  The new French submarine Surcouf is like a small cruiser ;  it has 18 torpedo tubes, is equipped with wireless and many periscopes, and contains a hangar for a folding aeroplane.3  Chemical warfare is still in its infancy and 33 nations have ratified a treaty outlawing it.  Still all the great, powers have a chemical warfare division with large budgets for experimentation and the German chemical trust has already evolved more than a thousand different poison gases for use in war.4  Modern scientific warfare is thus wholly dependent on the armament industry.

Perhaps the most important and largest arms manufacturing country to-day is France.  Owing to the territorial changes due to the war and other causes, the French steel industry now occupies the second place in the world, surpassed only by that of the United States.  The powerful Comite des Forges, the French steel trust, is closely allied with the arms industry ;  likewise with the French government.5

Every kind of armament is made in France, from aeroplanes and artillery to submarines and complete battleships.  The Schneider group of industrialists dominates the industry, while Hotchkiss is also powerful.  Schneider’s factories are at Creusot, Chalons-sur-Saône, Londe-les-Maures, and at Havre.  This latter factory, which is the most important, was acquired in 1897 and has since been enormously developed.  Submarines are made at Creux-Saint-Georges, near Toulon, and artillery parts at Bordeaux.6

The export of armaments makes up about 15 to 20 per cent. of the total business of the French arms makers.  Various measures have been adopted in order to facilitate this foreign business.  Poland and other good customers maintain permanent missions for the purchase of war materials in France.  The principal ports have been organised as military and naval bases for French friends and allies.  Cherbourg takes care of Polish trade, Lorient of Rumanian, Marseilles of Yugoslav.  Similar arrangements are made for other steady buyers.7

But foreign trade is less than one-fifth of the French arms business.  The best customer of the French arms industry is its own government.  Since the close of the war France has been re-arming frantically.  All arms have been modernised and kept strictly up-to-date.  Huge aeroplane fleets have been assembled, tanks multiplied, and chemical warfare highly developed.  Still somehow France did not achieve a sense of security.  More must be done, it was felt.  There was that long frontier line and every inch of it was a danger point.  Belgium was a friend, but in 1914 it had served as the back door into France ;  Germany could never be trusted ;  Switzerland was being spoken of as another back door ;  and Mussolini’s Italy was too ambitious and jealous to be a safe neighbour.

France could think of but one thing to do in this situation :  fortify the entire frontier.  A huge programme of frontier defence was evolved, existing forts were strengthened, others were added, many of them underground.  Over a billion francs were spent in drawing a steel and cement chain along the eastern boundaries.

Even that has not brought the feeling of safety.  There are 2,700 kilometres of undefended seaboard, not to mention Corsica and the North African colonies.  All of these are danger spots and a few hundred million spent in fortifying them would merely be an “ insurance premium ” on which the country could collect later.  So the campaign is on to “ defend ” the coasts of France—which incidentally remained unscathed in the World War—and to fortify the colonies.

The work already completed and in prospect is highly gratifying to the French arms industry and its ally, the Comite des Forges.  This powerful group of industrialists averages 75 million francs a year in “ advertising,” which is used chiefly for influencing the press, subsidising journalists, etc.  It is said to have a secret fund of 20 to 30 million a year by which it keeps its political fences in repair.  Its connection with the government is very close.  Tardieu, former premier and powerful politician, and André Francois Poncet, ambassador to Berlin, are former directors of the Comité.8  A British journalist who wished to visit the factories at Creusot had to get the permission of the French government to do so.9

Finally it may be noted that the League of Nations figures on the French armament industry are curiously unreliable, as they are in most other cases.  For 1932, for instance, no exports to Japan are listed, while reports persist that large orders were filled in France for that country.


Schneider’s greatest foreign subsidiary is Skoda in Czechoslovakia.  This company was formerly the leading armament firm of Austria-Hungary.  With the break-up of the Austrian empire, business headquarters were moved from Vienna to Prague, while its chief factories are in Pilsen.  The various succession states which supplanted the Dual Monarchy were lately under French tutelage.  What more fitting, then, that, with Skoda in bad financial difficulties in 1920, Schneider should step in and take control.  Skoda is the chief source of supply for the Little Entente, notably Yugoslavia and Rumania, which again is an extension of French influence.  In the years 1926-31, inclusive, Skoda sold to Yugoslavia 330,000 rifles, 20,000 machine guns, 400,000 hand grenades, 1,040 pieces of artillery, and 20 tanks.  In this same period Rumania bought from Skoda 125,000 rifles, 7,000 machine guns, 2,000 cannons, 161 aeroplanes, and 1,000,000 gas masks.10

Skoda’s home market in Czechoslovakia is comparatively small.  More than any other arms-producing country, except Sweden, Czechoslovakia depends on exports.  At least 40 per cent. of Skoda’s manufactures go to foreign countries, which include, next to the Little Entente and Poland, China and Japan, Spain and Switzerland, the South American republics, and even France, England and Italy.  The export of arms constitutes 10 per cent. of the total exports of Czechoslovakia.


Great Britain’s armament industry is a close second to that of France.  It is centred in the great Vickers-Armstrong firm and in other powerful combines.  Vickers-Armstrong is probably the largest single armament company in the world.  It produces all manner of arms, but it appears to be taking the lead in the manufacture of certain types of military and naval aircraft, tanks, and machine guns.

One reason for the dominant position of the British arms industry is its virtual monopoly of the colonial and dominion trade.  Canada buys largely from the United States, but the other British dominions and colonies secure from 6o to 95 per cent. of their war materials from Great Britain.  British arms exports go to about forty other countries, especially Japan and China, the South American republics, and Spain.  Yet British exports are but 10 per cent. of total production.11

The British arms industry continues to follow its tried and tested policy of maintaining close relations with the government through its directors and its stockholders.  High army and navy officials find a cosy chair waiting for them in directors’ rooms of armament companies when they are ready to retire from service, and the shareholders, of which Vickers has 80,000, include Cabinet members, leading members of Parliament, clergymen, publicists, and people in every walk of life.12

The question of the German armament industry since the close of the World War has been the subject of much acrimonious debate.  The Treaty of Versailles compelled the Germans to deliver to the Allies their entire fleet, and most of their arms and arms-production machinery.  At Essen alone the Krupp factories destroyed 9,300 machines and 800 utensils for the manufacture of armaments, valued at 104 million marks.13  Some of the German arms makers shipped their machinery to Holland where it was stored in warehouses until times had changed.  In 1933 this machinery was returned to Germany.14  The treaty further forbade to Germany the import and export of war materials of any kind, and the production of armaments was strictly limited to the requirements of German armed forces.  But was Germany really disarmed ?  Had she ceased being one of the great arms producing and exporting countries ?

The French have insisted for years that Germany is arming secretly, and a confidential report on this subject has long been held over Germany’s head.  Moreover, the League of Nations statistics on the import and export of arms show that Germany is a regular exporter of arms.  In 1929 no fewer than thirteen countries—including China, Japan, France, Spain, and Belgium—reported Germany as their chief source of foreign supply for arms and munitions.  In 1930, 22 countries cited Germany as their first and second largest source of supply.  The explanation sometimes offered for these surprising figures is that German exports in fire-arms are for sporting purposes and that the explosives sold abroad are for ordinary commercial uses.  Furthermore, much of this material is said to be in transit and, because it is shipped from a German port, credited to Germany, although its source of origin is really a different country.  This seems plausible until one discovers that the League of Nations statistics for 1930 list purchases from Germany amount to over £1,500,000, which is more than double the amount of exports listed in German export figures.  Such discrepancies are hardly accidental.  It would seem then that, despite the Versailles treaty, Germany is again a manufacturer and exporter of arms.15

This inference is confirmed by various incidents from the last ten years.  There was the Bullerjahn case of 1925.  On December 11, 1925, Walter Bullerjahn was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “ treason.”  The trial was held in secret and the public was excluded.  Both the crime with which the condemned was charged and the name of the accuser were kept deep and dark secrets.  After years of agitation by Dr. Paul Levi and the League for Human Rights, the facts were finally disclosed.  The accuser was Paul von Gontard, general director of the Berlin-Karlsruhe Industriewerke, the same man who had used the French press in 1907 in order to increase his machine-gun business.  Gontard had been establishing secret arsenals, contrary to treaty provisions, and this fact was discovered by the Allies.  Gontard disliked Bullerjahn and had had serious disagreements with him.  In order to get rid of him he charged him with revealing to the Allies the fact that Gontard was secretly arming Germany.  This was termed “ treason ” by the court and Bullerjahn was condemned, although not a shred of evidence was ever produced to show his connection with the Allies.  The exposure of the facts in the case finally brought the release of Bullerjahn.16

Germany’s secret arming was also brought to light by the poison-gas accident near Hamburg on May 20, 1928.  The facts in the case were clear.  A disastrous explosion of poison gas in a factory killed eleven persons, injured many others, and disabled still others who inhaled the gas.  Fortunately, the wind was blowing away from the city of Hamburg or else a gruesome tragedy might have overtaken its inhabitants.  The contention was at once advanced that the factory was manufacturing chemicals for ordinary commercial purposes.  There is good reason, however, to believe that poison gas was being manufactured for the military preparedness programme of the Soviet government.  The Allied commission of investigation accepted the German version of the calamity.  But it is a curious coincidence that the French commissioner, Moureau, was closely allied with the French and the German chemical industry.  The inference again is that Germany was manufacturing poison gas for export.17

A little later Carl von Ossietzky, the courageous editor of the Weltbuehne, was convicted by a German court of “ treason,” because he had revealed military secrets in his journal.  The secrets he had published were closely related to the secret rearming of Germany contrary to treaty provisions.18

There is also some evidence that Germany is importing arms and munitions from other countries.  In a confidential report of the exports of Skoda for 1930 and 1931, classified by countries, Germany appears as importer of comparatively large amounts of rifles, portable firearms, aero engines, nitrocellulose, dynamite, and other explosives.19

All of this occurred in pre-Hitler Germany.  Nazi control of Germany was bound to bring the demand for more armaments.  Every device was tried at Geneva in order to modify the prohibitions of the Versailles treaty.  Failing in this, the Nazis announced Germany’s withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference and its resignation from the League of Nations.  Meanwhile the international press was filled with dispatches on German armaments.  Here are the facts as outlined in the Manchester Guardian, the London Times, Le Journal, Le Temps, L’Intransigeant, and a host of other journals.20

The man behind Hitler is Thyssen, the steel magnate of the Ruhr.  Thyssen supplied more than 3,000,000 marks in campaign funds to the Nazis in the critical years 1930 to 1933 ;  he brought about the short-lived Hitler-Von Papen-Hugenberg alliance and the fall of von Schleicher, and thus paved the way for Hitler’s rise to power.  For this aid Thyssen demanded and received the control of the German Steel Trust, which is the heart of the arms industry.

Hitler at once set to work to rearm Germany.  His first budget contains about 800,000,000 marks, which are not allotted.  It is assumed that this sum is to be used chiefly for armaments.  As if confirming this assumption, iron imports into Germany are mounting with every month ;  similarly those of copper and scrap-iron.  Spanish and Swedish ore used for military purposes are arriving in increasing quantities at Emden and Luebeck.  And what is happening to these imports ?

“ Tanks are being made at the Linke-Hofmann railroad car factory in Breslau and at the Daimler-Benz automobile factory at Offenbach ;  small arms at the Mauser sporting-rifle factory in Oberndorf, at the Polte iron foundry in Magdeburg, at the Deutsche Waffenund-Munitionsfabrik in Berlin and Karlsruhe, and at the Bavarian Motor Works engine plant in Eisenach ;  cannon at Simson’s rifle factory in Suhl ;  mine-throwers at the vehicle factory in Eisenach and at the steel mills of the Dortmunder Union and of the Deutsche Werke in Spandau and at the Polte iron foundry in Magdeburg.”21

Krupp is again producing cannon.  The artillery range at Meppen is once more alive with the testing of huge new guns.  Armour plate of a new and special kind is also being made.  The German chemical industry, always a world leader, is ready at a moment’s notice to produce deadly poisonous gases.  Indications are that they are already being manufactured and stored for immediate use.  Commercial, aeroplanes, readily converted into military weapons, are at hand in great numbers.  Subsidiary or friendly factories in Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, and Turkey are also ready to furnish arms without the least delay.

The rise of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany was also the signal for the arms makers in other countries to offer their services and wares to a worthy cause.  The British, as noted, received an order for sixty of their superior aircraft and only the intervention of the British government prevented that order from being filled.  M. Senfiac charged at the Radical Socialist Congress on October 14, 1933, that Schneider had recently furnished 400 of the latest model tanks to Germany, sending them through Holland in order to avoid suspicion.22  France is also supplying raw materials for explosives to the Germans.  The Dura factory at Couze-St. Front, near Bordeaux, is shipping thousands of truck-loads of cellulose to Germany every year.  This factory is mainly under British ownership.  Its contract with Germany stipulates that the cellulose must be used for the manufacture of peaceful products, but it is hardly a secret that it is utilised for making explosives.  The I.G. Farben Industrie in Germany which manufactures explosives from this cellulose is owned, to at least 75 per cent., by French capital.  These facts are known in France, but nothing is done about them because the Dura factory is one of France’s chief explosive factories in case of war, and because American manufacturers would immediately fill the German orders if the French did not.  As for the French control of the German chemical industry, the government does not insist on the withdrawal of French capital for the simple reason that the British would immediately replace the French.23

Other countries are also taking advantage of their opportunities.  The World Wax demonstrated the great importance of nickel in German armaments.  Germany has no nickel resources.  Hence the importance of the reports from Canada that Holland has bought about six times as much Canadian nickel in oxide and three times as much fine nickel in the first six months of 1933 as in the corresponding period of 1932.  The only explanation offered for this phenomenon is that the nickel is in transit to Germany.24

Germany, then, must again be counted among the great arms producing and exporting countries.25  To a lesser degree this is also true of Italy.  Before 1914 Italy was dependent on imports for her arms.  The international arms industry considered Italy a “ happy hunting ground.”  Owing to Mussolini, this situation has changed.  The arms industry has made notable advances in the Land of the Black Shirts and considerable exports are reported.  Italy’s customers are chiefly Turkey, Rumania, the South American states, and Finland.  Contrary to treaty provisions Italy has also been rearming Hungary.26  Finally, the Italian arms industry learned to appreciate a real friend when Mussolini accepted the French challenge in frontier defences and increased the military budget by a further £5,400,000 for defending the Italian boundaries.27

Italy’s arming of Hungary led to the international incident known as the Hirtenberg affair, which occurred at the end of 1932 as Italy could not send arms directly into Hungary by rail, because they would have been discovered, as they were in the St. Gothard incident.  It was arranged, therefore, that the arms should be unloaded in Hirtenberg, an Austrian town, and thence taken over the frontier into Hungary by means of motor vans.  On December 31, 1932, and January 2 and 3, 1933 forty vans of guns and machine-guns from Italy were received at Hirtenberg ready for shipment into Hungary.  But the arms were discovered by the Allies and the French and British governments addressed a note to Austria (not Italy !) on February 11, 1933, demanding the return or destruction of the arms because they were shipped in violation of the Treaty of Trianon.

The note caused a sensation, but Austria finally decided to send back the arms to Italy.  Attempts are said to have been made to bribe the Austrian Socialist Railway Union to unload the freight cars secretly in Hungary and to send the empty cars to Italy.  The Railway Union was to receive 150,000 schillings for its party funds.  A great fuss was made in the Austrian National Assembly over this attempted bribery.  Other attempts of Italy to arm Hungary were apparently more successful.  The French Chamber of Deputies listened to a story on March 9, 1933, telling how the Italians had sent 6o aeroplanes and 195,000 kilos of gas by railway direct into Hungary.  The shipment crossed Austria without attracting attention.  Mussolini’s reply to these various charges in regard to Hungary was a counter-charge, supplied with detailed statistics, concerning the war materials which France and Czechoslovakia had sent into Yugoslavia and Rumania, partly by way of Austria.

Belgium has not relinquished her centuries-old arms industry.  It continues to specialise in small arms and in machine-guns.  The uses to which the Belgian products are sometimes put are illustrated by a curious story from the American “ Wild West.”  During the Urschel kidnapping case, the American Express Company entered the home of one of the kidnappers under a court order to satisfy a claim they had against him.  Among his effects they found a machine-gun, which they confiscated.  When the trial of the kidnappers was over, the machine-gun, which had been loaned to the government for the prosecution, was put up for auction in Denver, Colorado.  This action of the American Express Company centred attention on the gun and incidentally on the whole question as to the source of supply of the gangsters.  The domestic American manufacture of machine-guns is under strict supervision, so that the gangsters can no longer get their “ choppers ” or “ typewriters ” from American firearms manufacturers.  The Department of justice agents believe that most gangster machine-guns now come from Belgium, and there are no legal means by which this traffic can be stopped.29

Poland imports most of her arms, but she has several factories for the manufacture of arms and munitions.  One machine-gun factory was erected with the aid of the Germans.30  Curiously enough, the rise of the Hitler government in Germany obscured the fear of the Soviets so much in Poland that Polish factories began to manufacture war materials for the Russians.31

The arms industry in other European countries is of minor importance.  Japan has been considered.  There remains the United States.  There is no single armament company in the United States comparable to the Schneider group in France or Vickers-Armstrong in England.  Instead there are many companies, hundreds of them, capable of producing war materials.  Some of them produce armaments in peace time together with many other commercial products ;  others can be quickly remodelled for arms production.  During the World War, the War Department signed more than 100,000 contracts with private companies for war supplies, and to-day 15,000 factories have been enlisted in the programme of “ industrial mobilisation.”32

The United States government buys from 95 to 97 per cent. of its war materials from private firms.  Outstanding among these are the Du Pont Company and the Bethlehem Steel Corporation with its subsidiaries.  The supremacy of Du Pont is unchallenged in the United States.  It has always been the mainstay of the government for gunpowder and explosives.  Its industries are diversified to such an extent that in the last two years less than 2 per cent. of its total business was in military products.33

Du Pont also owns large explosive companies in Mexico and Chile and holds a large interest in a Canadian chemical factory.34  In the near future it contemplates establishing a branch factory in Czechoslovakia.35  In 1933 it acquired a majority interest in Remington Arms, at which occasion it declared its approval of “the current public discussion of national armaments and the healthy growth of popular opinion against war.”36

Bethlehem Steel with its subsidiaries generally receives government contracts for armour plate and for battleships.  Its subsidiaries to-day number 50, which manufacture nearly a hundred peace-time products besides arms.

The exports of the American arms industry amount to about $15,000,000 a year, that is, about half those of Czechoslovakia, one-third those of Great Britain, and one-fourth those of France.  They are made up chiefly of aeroplanes and aircraft engines, machine-guns, and ammunition.  Thomas A. Morgan, president of the American Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce, and his lieutenant, Luther K. Bell, recently told a Congressional committee that American aircraft firms exported about $8,000,000 worth of goods a year.  This trade is carried on with 46 countries.  Guy Vaughan, before the same committee, estimated that 80 per cent. of all aeroplanes can be diverted with ease for military purposes.37

American aeroplanes are making history in various parts of the world, particularly in China.  The Chinese were interested in speedy fighting aeroplanes, and in order to translate that interest into orders, Major James H. Doolittle, former army speed flier, demonstrated the Curtiss-Hawk pursuit plane to the Chinese.  After this, the Curtiss-Wright factory at Buffalo sold 36 planes in the Far East.  At the same time it was arranged that Colonel John B. Jouett, the originator of the so-called attack aviation, should go to China with a dozen crack American pilots and four skilled mechanics.  This group is under a three-year contract to train Chinese pilots.  Every eight months they are to graduate fifty Chinese pilots with at least 180 hours flying time for each.38  These American ventures were so successful that Curtiss-Wright decided to build an aircraft factory at Hangchow at a cost of $5,000,000.  The Nanking government has agreed to buy at least sixty planes a year.39

In training these Chinese fliers, a new invention of the Fairchild Aviation Corporation is being used—aerial camera guns.  Camera guns “ shoot down ” a make-believe enemy photographically and bring back the record to prove it.  Incidentally, the Italians have also sold to the Chinese 20 bombing planes and are sending Lieutenant-Colonel Mario de Bernardi, one of Italy’s most famous fliers, to supervise the instruction of China’s fliers.  Naturally, the Japanese are disturbed about these activities.

American ammunition is also generously exported.  Mr. F.J. Monahan of the Remington Arms Company told a Congressional committee that the exports of his company amounted to about $1,000,000 a year and constituted 10 to 20 per cent. of the firm’s business.  He insisted that export trade was necessary to keep the industry in training.40

Finally it may be added that since the accession to power of the Hitler government in Germany, the business of the armament industry has increased tremendously.  Beginning about April, 1933, every great European company shows a sharp rise in sales, due no doubt to the increased expenditures of governments for arms and for frontier defences.41

Summing up the world situation according to the League of Nations statistics, the following results :42

Total Value of Arms Exports from All Countries 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 Total STATUS QUO 253 £8,796,837 8,723,098 8,099,883 9,390,803 9,884,013 10,501,109 9,875,424 12,172,397 13,169,382 11,342,773 £101,955,779 Per cent. of Total Exports by Country (1930) Great Britain France United States Czechoslovakia Sweden Italy . The Netherlands Belgium Denmark Japan 30-8 12-9 11-7 9-6 7.8 6-8 5’4 4’4 1-9 1-9

In 1930, then, 55 per cent. of the world exports in arms came from three countries, Great Britain, France, and the United States, while these same three countries account for about 75 per cent. of world exports—more than £94,315.753—from 1920 to 1932.

As has been pointed out frequently, the League of Nations statistics on arms are not reliable.  Even officially there are huge discrepancies between export and import figures.  The difference in the ten-year period, 1920-30, amounts to £28,219,177.  More important than that is the fact that the really expensive armaments—battleships, aeroplanes, etc.—are not included at all in the League statistics, nor is any account taken of the huge smuggling of contraband arms.

Aware of these shortcomings, an independent attempt was made to obtain a more accurate picture of arms exports for the year 1931.  The inadequacy of the League figures proved very disconcerting.  The League statistics for 1931 show imports of £7,555,555, while the exporting countries reported foreign sales amounting to £7,188,041.  Thus there is a discrepancy in the official figures of about £410,958.  But when an attempt is made to include the items not listed by the League, total exports approach the sum of £41,095,890.43  Of this, £12,329,450 is credited to France, £8,630,137 to Great Britain, £6,164,383 to Czechoslovakia, £3,082,191 to the United States, £2,465,890 to Italy, leaving some £8,219,632 to be divided among Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Japan.  The League of Nations statistics are thus shown to be about 17.5 per cent. correct ;  that is, a more accurate figure will be arrived at by multiplying the League total by 5.5.  This survey also moves the United States into fourth place as arms-exporting country, while Czechoslovakia takes third place.

Interesting as this is, another conclusion to be drawn from these figures is still more significant.  In 1931, the world total for maintaining armies and navies amounted to about £924,657,534.  About 15 per cent, of army budgets and 40 to 50 per cent. of naval and air budgets are spent on material, that is, find their way into the coffers of the arms industry—which amounts to about £308,219,178 annually.44  If we accept the League figure of £7,603,081 for arms exports for 1931, or the revised estimate of £41,095,890, the percentage of exports in the total business of the arms industry is ridiculously small, in one case about 2.5 per cent., in the other about 13.3 per cent.  Branch factories are a further factor in keeping exports low.  It is obvious then that the export trade in arms is a very minor item in the total sales of the industry and that the chief customers of the arms merchants are their own governments.  The importance of this foreign trade in international politics is another matter.

To complete the picture of the status quo, a word must be added here on chemical warfare.  The Hague Convention of 1908 forbade the use of poison gas in war.  This prohibition was reaffirmed in the so-called Poison Gas Protocol of 1925, which 33 nations have now ratified.45  Curiously enough, the various war departments throughout the world seem never to have heard of this international agreement.  Certainly none of them believe that poison gas will be absent in the next war.  Chemical warfare divisions are to be found in most countries and huge appropriations annually serve for further experimentation and for creating gas-bomb stores and reserves.

Even with the co-operation of all governments, the control or elimination of poison gas preparedness is indeed a knotty problem.  A simple gas like chlorine, which has a dozen peace-time industrial uses, was the first poison gas used in the World War.  To prohibit the manufacture of chlorine would be absurd.  The famous “ mustard gas ” was merely a combination of three very common and very useful gases.  Wherever there is a chemical or dye-stuff industry, the possibilities are given for rapid production of poison gases for war.

It is not surprising, then, that the great chemical factories of the world are to be found within the borders of the great powers.  The largest companies or combines are I.G. Farben Industrie in Germany, the Imperial Chemical Industries in England, Kuhlmann in France, Du Pont de Nemours, the Allied Chemical and Dye Corporation, and the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation in the United States.

The Germans have always been leaders in the chemical industry.  In the industrial reorganisation which followed the war, the great chemical trust, I.G. Farben Industrie, was formed in 1925, with headquarters at Frankfurt and factories in a dozen places.  The board of directors is made up of various nationalities, all leaders, of the chemical industry in their several countries.  The capital of the trust, as noted, is owned, to at least 75 per cent., by the French.  The German chemical trust has close connections with other chemical companies in Spain, Italy, France, England, and even in the United States.46  I.G. Farben Industrie has evolved more than a thousand poison gases for use in the next war.

The French Etablissements Kuhlmann owes its origin to the Germans.  Immediately after the war the German industrialists agreed to establish a chemical industry in France.  In 1923, during the Ruhr invasion, negotiations were completed and in the next year German experts came to France to train French chemists in the use of German chemical patents.  Naturally they were well paid.  Kuhlmann maintains close industrial relations with the German chemical trust and with the Spanish dynamite companies.  Financially it is tied to Dillon, Read of New York, the Credit Suisse of Zurich, and Mendelsohn of Berlin.

In England the Imperial Chemical Industries (I.C.I.) monopolises the chemical industry.  It, too, owes its real importance to German patents which it secured after the war.  It is very closely tied to the government and frankly acknowledges its readiness for war.  It was this company in which Sir John Simon held 1,512 shares which he sold during the Far Eastern disturbances.  Sir Austen Chamberlain was at the same time shown in possession of 666 shares and Neville Chamberlain the holder of 11,747 shares.  In order to guarantee its national character, it is provided that non-Britons may never hold more than 25 per cent. of the total shares.

The United States boasts of a flourishing chemical industry which also owes its present status to German patents.  A number of giants with many international ramifications are dominant, above all Du Pont de Nemours and the Allied Chemical and Dye Corporation.

Already the peace-time dangers of this new weapon are apparent.  The Hamburg poison gas explosion in 1928 has been noted.  A similar incident occurred in the Meuse Valley in Belgium on December 6, 1930.  Sixty-four deaths among the inhabitants of this valley were attributed by investigators to the escape of poison gas.  While there were a number of factories producing ordinarily harmless chemical products in this locality, the investigations indicated that escape of gases from these customary processes could not have resulted in the calamity.  Radical papers asserted that the manner of death resembled that from poison gas during the war and they charged that factories in this section were secretly manufacturing war gas.  Circulation of a report that the deaths were caused by a fog lent colour to accusations that the origin of the disaster was being obscured by official pressure.47

Poison gas promises to produce a flourishing new industry, gas-masks.  Since it is evident that the gas will be released on the helpless civilian population behind the lines, various governments are already taking precautions against this menace.  The civilian populations are being fitted out with gas-masks and drills are held at frequent intervals in using them.  An organisation known as the Violet Cross is carrying on a systematic campaign for the universal introduction of gas-masks.  It is not surprising to learn that it also contains a clause in its constitution which permits it to be interested in the manufacture of them.48

Fifteen years have elapsed since the “ war to end all wars.”  Yet the arms industry has moved forward with growing momentum as if the pacific resolutions of the various, peoples and governments had never existed.  All these technical improvements, all the international mergers, the co-operation between governments and the industry bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the situation during the epoch preceding 1914.  Is this present situation necessarily a preparation for another world struggle and what, if any, are the solutions to these problems ?




1 Anonymous, I Mercanti di Cannoni, p. 103.

2 Freda White, Traffic in Arms, p. 4.

3 Anonymous, I Mercanti di Cannoni, p. 148.

4 Freda White, op. cit., p. 22;  Living Age, Oct. 1933, p. 127.

5 E. Zettem, Les Maitres de la France.  Le Comité des Forges et la Classe Ouvrière.

6 Beverley Nichols, Cry Havoc !

7 C. Lepériscope, "Le Commerce des Armes Echappe à, la Crise," Front Mondial, March, 1933, pp. 8-9.

8 Anonymous, I Mercanti di Cannoni.

9 Beverley Nichols, op. cit.

10 John Gunther in Chicago Daily News, August 3, 4, 5. 1933;  C. Lepériscope, op. cit.

11 William T. Stone, op. cit., p. 131;  C. Lepériscope, op. cit.

12 George A. Drew, Enemies of Peace, p. 13.

13 Anonymous, I Mercanti di Cannoni, p. 40.

14 New York Times, October 28, 1933.

15 William T. Stone, op. cit., p. 132.

16 Josef Bernstein, "Bullerjahn Historie," Tagebuch, Vol. 13, No. 50, 1932, pp. 1942-1949.

17 Lehmann-Russbüldt, Die Blutige Internationale, p. 44.

18 Tagebuch, 1931, pp. 1804, 1841, 1843.

19 John Gunther, Chicago Daily News, August 4, 1933.

20 Living Age, October 1933, pp. 117-131.

21 Living Age, October 1933, p. 126.

22 New York Herald Tribune, Oct. 15, 1933.

23 New York Sun, October 13, 1933.

24 New York Times, October 19, 1933.

25 Further details on the German situation may be found in Patriotism Ltd. An Exposure of the War Machine, pp. 6-19.

26 C. Lepériscope, op. cit.

27 Drew, Salesmen of Death, p. 18.

28 Patriotism Ltd., pp. 20-23.

29 Christian Science Monitor, October 4, 1933.

30 Lehmann-Russbüldt, Die Revolution des Friedens, p. 26.

31 New York Times, October 9, 1933.

32 William T. Stone, op. cit., p. 134s.

33 Stockholders’ Bulletin, June 15, 1933.

34 William T. Stone, op. cit., p. 135s.

35 New York Times, August 31, 1933.

36 Stockholders’ Bulletin, June 15, 1933.

37 U.S. (House) Foreign Affairs Committee, 72d Congress, 2d Session, Exportation of Arms or Munitions of War (1933), pp. 25ss. 32s, 50ss.

38 New York World-Telegram, August 21, 1933.

39 New York Times, December 8, 1933.

40 U.S. (House) Foreign Affairs Committee, 72d Congress, 2d Session, Exportation of Arms or Munitions of War (1933), p. 69ss.

41 Patriotism Ltd., pp. 30, 51, 55.

42 William T. Stone, op. cit., p. 130.

43 C. Lepériscope, op. cit.

44 The Japanese spend 40 per cent. of their military budgets for arms.  If this proportion applies everywhere, this figure must be raised considerably.

45 Freda White, op. cit., p. 21s.

46 A.H. "L’internationale des Gaz," Monde, July 8, 1933, p. 5;  Lehmann-Russbüldt, Die Blutige Internationale, pp. 42-45.

47 L’Humanité, December 7-10, 1930.

48 Allard, Annales, April 28, 1933.