You are on page 1of 11

(c) crown copyright

Catalogue Reference:CAB/24/78

Image Reference:0059

This document is the property of His Britannic Majesty's Government;

0154 4594



MEMORANDUM BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR. I circulate for consideration by my colleagues the subjoined memorandum by the General Staff. WINSTON S. CHURCHILL.
29th April, 1 9 1 9 .

1. The British Mission appointed to visit the enemy chemical factories in the occupied zone which were engaged in the production of munitions of war has made its report, and it is desirable that the attention of the Peace Conference should be drawn to the military implications of this report at the earliest possible moment. It may not be generally realized that, even at the end of the war, Germany still possesses a very powerful chemical industry, which owes its power chiefly to good organization and combination. This chemical industry is a very definite military asset, as the report of the British Mission shows, and if it is left to flourish untouched, it will succeed again in crushing the competition of other countries by under-selling, and Germany will thus be left with a chemical industry, which means large potential arsenals for the manufacture of gas and explosives, whereas the other countries, left with small chemical industries, will have correspondingly small potential arsenals. Moreover, the German processes for making ammonia and nitric acid from the air are of very great military importance. The Germans relied on them altogether for explosives, and also for fertilizers, which are indirectly of military importance. In this respect Germany has a great advantage over countries who depended on the import of raw materials from abroad for similar purposes. 2. The following is a precis of the Committee^ report: (a.) Germans should be made to surrender various chemical processes, including in particular the two processes for making ammonia and nitric acid from the air. This to be considered as part of the indemnity. (6.) For some years Germany should only be allowed to sell at controlled prices. (c.) An Allied Commission should be appointed to watch the whole German chemical industry. (d.) The large stocks of explosives and gases in Germany should be destroyed. (e.) Measures should be taken to destroy chemical factories in the event of a renewal of hostilities. ( / ) In addition, there are four recommendations calculated to foster our own chemical trade. 3. The following are the military considerations which affect this report: (a.) It is very important that the Germans should be made to surrender various chemical'processes, particularly those concerned with the making, of ammonia and nitric acid from the air. (6.) Since it is obviously important that this country should have a large and independent chemical industry, the control of Germany's prices would appear to be essential, (c.) The appointment of an Allied Commission to watch the German chemical industry is no doubt a desirable measure from an industrial and therefore from a military point of view. (d.) It is most desirable that the large stocks of explosives and gases in Germany should be destroyed, and that the Germans should only be allowed to hold very small stocks of these for their future army.
(B19/205) 70 4/19 H&S 7072wo , .

(e.) Measures should certainly be taken to destroy the chemical factories in the event of the renewal of hostilities. (f.) All measures which will promote the development of the British chemical industry are strongly to be supported from a military point of view, since it is the best means of ensuring a large and rapid output of certain indis pensable munitions of war in the event of hostilities. 4. In conclusion, it is pointed out that it is essential that the report of the British Commission on the German Chemical Industries should at once be carefully considered, and that measures should be taken to nullify the undoubtedly enormous superiority in producing munitions now possessed by that large and well-developed industry. It is clear that all discussion regarding the limitation of national armaments is rendered nugatory if Germany is left with this powerful weaponin which she is still superior to any of the Allies. It is also pointed out that, until the limitation of Germanys chemical industry has not only been decided but until carried into practice, it is absolutely necessary for all the present military precautions and preparations in regard to the use of gas to remain in existence in this and other countries, and that instruc tion in gas warfare must continue to form a part of the training of the British Army.














Members of the British


Brig.-General H . HARTLEY, C . C . W . D . Mr. F. H . CARR. Captain A. C. G . EGERTON. Lieut. H . G . GREENWOOD. Dr. H . LEVINSTEIN. Mr. W . MAONAB. Mr. A. W . TANGYE. Mr. S. I. LEVY, Secretary.

Delegates of the Allied Governments w h o accompanied the Mission in the British Zone :American. Lieut.-Col. G. W. STEESE, Ord., U.S.A. Lieut.-Col. J . F . NORRIS, C.W.S., U.S.A. Major T. W. SILL, C.W.S., U.S.A. Gapt, R. D. MCGRATH, C.W.S., U.S.A. Capt. J . W. MARTIN, Ord., U.S.A. Liout. H . J . HIMMELEIN, Ord., U.S.A. Italian.
Capt. C. MAZETTI. Lieut. I. CARDOSO. Lieut. M . MALVANO. S i g . M . BONELLI. S i g . M . PEIRSEL.

French. Col. M. MARQUEYROL (Direction des Poudres).

Comm. M. CHAUD. Mons. T . SORDES. Mons. N. SIMON. -

Capt. M. JANLET.


INTRODUCTION. The Mission was appointed to visit German chemical factories in the zone occupied by the Allies which had been engaged in the production of munitions of war. It was instructed t o obtain information as to the methods of manufacture, capacity and output of plant, and present stocks of explosives, poison gas and the initial products used in their production. T h e Mission left London on 29th January and spent from 1st February until 14th February inclusive in visiting the important chemical and explosives works in the British zone, and the chief chemical works in the French and Belgian zones, as follows :

British Zone.
1.Farben-fabriken vorm. Friedrich BayerLeverkusen and Dormagen. 2.RheinisoheYYestfaelische Sprengstoff Aktien Gesellsckaft, Coin-Troisdorf. 3.Chemische Fabriken Griesheim ElektronWiesdorf. 4.Oarbonite Aktien G e s e l l s c h a f t - S c h l e b u s c h . 5.Rheinische DynamitfabrikOpladen. (5.Rheinische Sprengkapsel und Zundhiitchen Fabrik, G.m.b.H.Riipforsteg.

Belgian Zone.
7 . - C h e m i s c h e Fabriken vorm. Weiler ter M e e r - U e r d i n g e n .

French Zone.
8.Farbwerke vorm. Meister Lucius und Bruning, Hochst am Main. 9.Kalle and Co., Biebrich. 10.Verein, Chem. Fabriken, M a i n z - M o m b a c h . 11.Badische Anilin und Sodafabrik, Ludwigshafen and Oppau. The usual procedure was first to have a general view of a factory in order to get an idea of its lay-out and pre-war capacity, and of the w a y in which this had been utilized and extended for war purposes. Afterwards the Mission divided into three sections in order to g e t details of the war production as follows : .. Initial products (e.q., sulphuric acid, nitric acid, ammonia, I ^5" J ^ & J n . r -i t i Lieut. Greenwood, chlorine, caustic soda . ( , - T? L ' ' ( Captain Lgerton. / M r . Macnab. Explosives . . .. .. .. .. .. .. " m \ Mr. L e v y . r. f D r . Levinstein. Poison gas j ;
6 , 1 r ( M r C a r r

The information obtained by eacli section has been embodied in the present report. In some cases considerable difficulty was experienced in obtaining accurate details of manufacture, especially as regards substances which have a peace value, and the information must be accepted with some reserve on this account, although it was checked by cross-examination ol the officials concerned, and by a careful examination of the plant admittedly employed for war purposes. As a result of its visit, the Mission has obtained valuable information as to the methods of manufacture of explosives and poison gases employed by the enemy, and of the initial products necessary for their production. It was also able to form a clear impression of the military value ot the German chemical industry. Some years before the war a combination was formed by the Bayer, Badische and A.G.F.A. Companies, and somewhat later a second group was formed which included Meister Lucius and Bruning, Casella and Kalle. During the war these two groups amalgamated, and the Griesheim Elektron, Weiler ter Meer, Leonhardt and other smaller companies entered the combination, which is k n o w n as the I.G. It was largely o w i n g to the efforts of this combination that Germany w a s enabled to continue the war in spite of the blockade. The I.G. works produced the bulk of the synthetic ammonia and nitric acid needed for the production of fertilizers and explosives, all the poison g a s (with the exception of some chlorine and phosgene), and a large proportion of the high.explosives. The following are the more important works of the I.G. which were not visited, as they are outside the occupied zone : Factories of the Aktien Gesellschaft fur Anilinfabrikation; Factories of the Griesheim Elektron Gesellschaft; Factory of the Bayer Company at Elberfeld ; Factory of the Badische Company at Merseburg; Factory of Casella and Co., Mainkur, near Frankfurt; Factory of Leonhardt and Co., Muhlheim, near Frankfurt. A summary of the information obtained as to the war production of the factories visited i s given under the headings of Initial Products, Explosives and Poison Gases.


The principal materials concerned are ammonia, nitric acid and chlorine, and it was on the output of these that the war production of chemical munitions depended. The expansion of output by the factories of the I.G. combination during the war is shown by the following tables:

Ammonia (metric tons NH per day).


1914. Oppau . . Merseburg Total

a a * *

1918. 250 400 650

25 Nil 25

1914. Leverkiisen Hochst . Oppau Ludwigshafen.. Weiler ter Meer Total Oppau has the power to produce now 500 tons H N 0 t o supply the output at Hochst. 56 150 1918. 180 375 100 40 24 719

40? 12 - 258

daily, still retaining sufficient ammonia

Sulphuric Acid (metric tons 100 per cent, acid per day).
1914. Leverkiisen Hochst Ludwigshafen Weiler ter Meer
* * a ' D

1918. 470 280 410 60 1,220

a * a a a a a a


a t * a

* * * a a


a a

a a

.. 340 ..224 ..275 .. 48 -.. 887



Meister Lucins and Briining have also erected a large n e w plant at Hochst which has not y e t started and was not examined. The Bayer Company has erected at Dormagen a large vitriol plant equal to 250 tons per day.

Chlonne (metric tons per day).

1914. Leverktisen Hochst .. Ludwigshafen .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Total .. .. .. ,. .. .. 20 4 13 37 1918. 20 8 35 63

.. ..



N o arrangements appear to have been made prior to tno outbreak of war to utilize the resources of any of the dye factories for war purposes, and on mobilization their chemists were called up for military service. After the battle of the Marne the Government realized the need for expanding the output of explosives and most of the chemical works were producing small quantites b y the end of 1914. The demands made on them increased during 191.5, but it was not until 1916 that plant was laid down to assist in the enormous production of explosives required by the Hindenburg programme. Most of the b i g extensions of. the synthetic ammonia and of the nitric and sulphuric acid plants date from this time, many chemists being released from the army and the scientific staff of some of the works being augmented. Standardized plant used for the manufacture of dyes w a s converted for the production of explosives with remarkable s p e e d ; for instance, at Leverkiisen a T.N.T. plant producing 250 tons per month was put into operation in six weeks.


The following table shows the amounts produced in the factories v i s i t e d :


Quantities of intermediates are shown only where these were not converted to finished explosives in the producing works. (Metric tons per week,)
1) -p c S .p

o N



I O u -P

a m a o


o a


o a
Q -P



"3 a 3

a Q


o 3 a H 600 3* 30

a) a a

Q 150



Leverkttsen Dormagen... Urdingen ... Hochst Ludwigshafen Oppau Merseburg Wiesdorf ... Schlebusch

250 500 60 140 25


"75 Small 200


15 120 150





* For three months only.

t For one year.

I For three months only.

Other intermediatesLudwigshafenSodium benzene s u l p h o n a t e - 1 0 0 tons per week. Other explosivesSchlebuschHexanitrodiphenylsulphide15 tons per week.



(Metric tons per w e e k . ) Factory. Cordite Nitrocellu- Diethyl di- Diphenyl- NitroDynamite. Tetryl. Fulminate. Lead lose powder. phenylurea. amine. glycerine. paste. azide. 35 250
* **

Urdingen Kuppersteg Troisdorf Schlebusch Opladen Wiesdorf






21 35 50 (?)

40 75 40

6 ...

07 7

* *"



A t first, chlorine and p h o s g e n e were the main requirements, but afterwards a variety of organic substances A v e r e employed, all of which were made b y the factories of the I.G. combination. Many of these substances were new and difficult to prepare, and rapid production was only possible o w i n g to the speed with which the peace organization of the dye factories could be utilized for this purpose. When the Government wished to introduce a n e w gas, a conference of the various f i r m s was held at Berlin to determine how the manufacture should be sub-divided in order to use existing plant to the best advantage. For instance, the initial stages of the manufacture of mustard gas were carried out at Ludwigshafen and the final stage at Leverkiisen. T h e following table shows the production of g a s and intermediate products in the various factories v i s i t e d :


Month output. Factory. Factory. Average. Maximum.

Total Total production production (if known). (if known).

Date of commencement.

1. Chlorine 8. Phosgene Phosgene 3. Diphosgene 4. Ohlorpicrin

5. Xylyl bromide 6. Brom acetone 7. Brom acetone Brom ethyl methyl ketone 8. Phenyl carbylamine chloride ... Hochst 9. Mustard gas ... Leverkiisen 10. Diphenylehlorarsine ... j-Hochst... j-Hochst.. . Diphenyleyanoarsine 11. Ethyldichlorarsine Hochst 12. Diciilormethylether Hochst 13. Dibrom methylether Hochst

Leverkiisen Hochst Ludwigshafen LeVerkusen Ludwigshafen Leverkiisen Hochst Leverkiisen Hochst Leverklisen Leverkiisen j - Hochst

Metric tons. Metric tons. 600 ... . 240 860 1,261 .. 30 288 621 300 139 266 200 ... 45 101 , 60 20 45 19
, , ,

... 38,600 10,682 3,616 1,127

' ',

Prior to war. ,j j;


June , 1915. June, 1915. September, 1916. September, 1916. July, 1916. August, 1916. March, 1915. Early 1916. April, 1915.

685 721 4,500*

65 150 150 78 26 7

124 300 300 300 150 51 29

March, 1917. Before July, 1917. 3,000 j May, 1917. 3,000 February, 1918. February, 1918. 1,092 August, 1917. August, 1917. 233 September, 1917. 69 April, 1917.

* Estimated from capacity of plant. Probably the same quantity was produced at some other factory as the output of thiodiglycol from Ludwigshafen would auffice for this.


Finished gas.

Intermediate -products.

Total output (metric tons).

Place of production.

Destination of intermediate products. Hochst. Leverkrisen and other factory. one

Pheuyl carbylamine dichloride. Mustard gas Diphenylchlorarsine

Phenyl mustard oil ... Not obtained ... Kalle Phenyl mustard oil ...

Thiodiglycol ... Phenyl arsenic acid ... Pheny l arsenic acid ... Diphenyl arsenic acid,.. Diphenyl arsenic acid,..

7,026 1,600 1,200 4,800

Ludwigshafen Ludwigshafen... Kalle Leverkiisen

Unknown. Unknown. Probably A. G. F. A., Berlin.

NOTE.In addition Hochst produced 3,000 tons of Diphenyl chlor- and cyan- arsines from own intermediates. Ethyldichlorarsine Ethyl arsenious oxide ' 840 Ludwigshafen Hochst.


The above figures for the output of explosives and gas show the great military value of the factories of the I.G. combination. Although no arrangements had been made to mobilize them at the outbreak of hostilities, they were rapidly converted to war purposes, thanks to their highly trained personnel and the great technical resources of their peace organization. In the future it is clear that every chemical factory must be regarded as a potential arsenal, and other nations cannot, therefore, submit to the domination of certain sections of chemical industry, which Germany exercised before the war. For military security it is essential that each country should have its chemical industry firmly established, and this must be secured as one of the conditions of peace, as otherwise w e are leaving Germany in possession of a weapon which will be a permanent menace to the peace of the world. The key to Germany's war production of explosives w a s the Haber process for the production of ammonia from atmospheric, nitrogen. It is significant that large scale production by this process only began at the end of 1912, and that in the early part of 1914 great pressure was put on the Badische Company to increase its output. During the war, o w i n g to the extensions of the Haber plants at Oppau and Merseburg, Germany has become independent of foreign countries for her supplies of ammonia and nitric acid, substances indispensable for the manufacture not only of high explosives but also of fertilisers for food production. Without such a process Germany could not have made the nitric acid required for her explosives programme, nor obtained fertilisers


for food production after the supply of Chile saltpetre had been stopped by our blockade, and it is probable that she could not have continued the war after 191.(5. In the event of another war we might be cut off from supplies of saltpetre, while Germany would be independent of them. The resources of the German dye industry are of no less military importance. Most of the gases em jloyed towards the end of the war were complex organic substances, none of which had been made previously except in small quantities, and some of which were prepared for the first time during the A v a r . Gas warfare will undoubtedly continue to develop in this direction, and in the future organic substances will be employed which w e do not know to-day. T h e use of gas will always offer great opportunities for surprise in military operations, and the experience of the present war has shown that rapid production of a ne.w gas is essential if the surprise is to be effective. Any country without a well developed organic chemical industry will be severely handicapped in this respect.


As it is clear that the military strength of a country depends to a large extent on the development of its chemical industries, it is necessary to review the present condition of these industries in Great Britain and Germany and to consider what steps should be taken to prevent Germany obtaining a predominant position. At the outbreak of war this country was competing successfully with Germany in the heavy chemical trade (acids, alkalis and bleach), but the organic chemical industry (dyes, pharmaceutical products, &g.) was almost entirely in German hands. British organic chemical works were much smaller than their German competitors, and all British chemical works were much more specialized, dealing separately with heavy chemicals, dye substances and pharmaceutical products. T h e y were not linked up in a combination such as that now existing in Germany. The big German firms referred to produced heavy chemicals, dyes and pharmaceutical products in the same works. This method of production has many advantages, as much transport is avoided and by-products can be utilized direct, o w i n g to the large variety of chemicals made in one factory. The range of production on a large scale also enabled the German works to crush competition in any one branch by selling below cost price without any material reduction of their annual profits. It was stated by the Badische Company that the financial arrangements between the companies in the combination prevented losses falling on any individual member of the combine. Thus, for instance, if a large profit were made by the production of synthetic ammonia at Oppau and Merseberg, the combination could afford to sell dyes below cost price. During the war considerable progress was made in this country in producing dyes and pharmaceutical products for which we had previously been dependent on Germany, but this expansion w a s made at a time when the energies of most firms were directed to producing munitions, and when it was difficult to obtain suitable plant, and considerable assistance will be necessary in order to protect our organic chemical industry' before it is sufficiently strong t o withstand German competition. After the war even the heavy chemical industry may be seriously threatened b y the Haber process for producing ammonia, which gives Germany a cheap independent source of nitrogen compounds. As the deposits of saltpetre in Chile on which the world is at present mainly dependent are of limited extent, and will before long be insufficient to meet the demands, the economic and military value of the Haber process, which offers the cheapest method for the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen is obvious. In spite of the shortage of materials and labour in Germany, the buildings erected during the A v a r in all the works visited were of permanent character, and the contrast between the peace time value of the extensions of chemical plant made in Germany and Great Britain since July, 1914, is very striking. In this country all the nitrate needed during the war was obtained from Chile, and the bulk of the plant erected A v a s for the production of sulphuric acid or for explosives ; consequently it Avill be of little use for peace purposes, as the capacity for sulphuric acid production will be much greater than the consumption. Germany, on the other hand, had to rely on synthetic nitrate, and therefore a large part of her capital expenditure was on ammonia and nitric acid plant which will be a valuable asset in the future. Her sulphuric acid plant was not increased to the same extent as ours, o w i n g to the existence of large oleum plants in dye factories, and as it was possible for her to use existing plant for the manufacture of explosives, she avoided to a large extent unproductive expenditure for this purpose. Thus, at the time of the Armistice, Germany is left with a chemical industry Avhich has a greater productive capacity than it had before the war. But in spite of this, there is no reason w h y she should regain her former position in the Avorld's chemical market, provided that measures are taken to assist the chemical industry in Allied countries during the period of re-construction. The general impression gained by the Mission was that the technical practice in the factories visited was not markedly superior to that obtaining in England at the end of the war, and in some respects it was inferior. The main source of the strength of the German chemical industry appeared to lie in its organization and in the large scale of its production, Avhich had been made possible by the ample financial support it had received. B y means of these advantages, Germany had been able to cheapen production and establish a strong economic position, and to secure the development of the industry by the large sums devoted to technical research. However, the rapid growth of British chemical industry during the A v a r proves that it can compete successfully with Germany provided that reconstruction is undertaken on a sufficiently large scale.


In view of the military and economic importance of the German chemical industry, the Mission is of opinion that this subject should receive special consideration both from the Armistice Commission and at the Peace Conference, and the following action is recommended : (1.) It should b e one of the conditions of peace that Germany should put the Allies in ' effective possession of such processes as are considered necessary for establishing chemical industries on a firm basis in other countries, one of these being the Haber process. A n y private rights in respect of such processes (if any could be established) can, if necessary, be considered as part payment of the war indemnity. (2.) For a limited period of years Germany should be compelled to furnish, at reasonable prices under Allied control, such chemical products as are required by the Allies, in order to prevent her from exploiting her chemical production so as to exert economic pressure in Allied countries. (3.) All chemical works in the occupied zone should be controlled as regards the supply of raw materials, the purposes for which these are used, and the ultimate destination of the products. (4.) The provisions of clauses (2) and (3) should be carried out by means of a Controller who should have at his disposal the services of experts in each branch of the industry concerned. The control by the several Allies should be closely co-ordinated. (5.) Enemy chemical factories of a character capable of being used for the manufacture of explosives and poison gas must be considered in any scheme for the delimitation of armaments, and arrangements should be made for their periodical inspection by an Allied Commission to determine the extent to which they are producing war material. (Note.Such inspection would not guarantee that the plant installed was not capable of being used for the production of toxic gases at short notice or even w a s not designed for that purpose. After seeing the facilities afforded b y the German chemical plant in this respect, the Mission is of opinion that whatever be the decision with regard to the use of g a s in warfare, the temptation to use it is such that it is essential to the military security of this country that adequate provision should be made to continue research in chemical warfare, and to provide the troops with means of gas defence.) ti.) Control should be established in chemical works not in the occupied zone to ensure that they are n o t used tor war purposes. (7.) T h e large stocks of explosives and poison gases now existing in Germany should be destroyed. (8.) In view of the possibility of a renewal of hostilities, measures should be taken so that all explosive factories and all works of primary importance for the production of explosives, such as Oppau, could be destroyed if they were likely to fall into the hands of the enemy. Further, the members of the -Mission are of opinion that the attention of the Government should be drawn to the military importance of developing and consolidating the chemical industry of Great Britain. T h e points requiring immediate consideration are : (1.) T h e speedy erection of factories on an adequate scale for the production of ammonia and nitric acid from the nitrogen of the air by means of the Haber process, in order to render this country independent of imported nitrate. (2.) The provision of factories on an adequate scale for the production of dye-stuffs and pharmaceutical products. (3.) Action to obtain the requisite security for the chemical industry during the period of its development. (4.) The provision of facilities for obtaining raw materials such as potash, alcohol and benzene under conditions favourable to the industry. (Signed) JL H. H A R T L E Y , Brigadier-General,

(On behalf of the Members of the Mission).


26th February, 1919.