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I have come to believe that, for too long, the Spreewerk (cyq) made P38’s have been treated unfairly by collectors, often without any strong evidence to support these opinions. It has been said that these pistols were made by “slave-labor, at Spreewerk’s factory in Grottau and that these prisoners often sabotaged the manufacture of P38’s. First, it is not at all clear that Grottau was manned by slave labor. More than likely, this was “forced” or “pressed” labor of local, and in many cases, unskilled Czechs. But most (if not all) of these workers were paid for their work and, at the end of their shifts, returned to their homes. I’m sure some of them have told tales of sabotaging P38 manufacture but the evidence would indicate that these are, overwhelmingly, just that; Tales. An act of sabotage at the Grottau plant would, certainly, result in swift, summary executions of the saboteur(s) and, again, there is little to no evidence to support this. In the end, these are heroic tales, told by old men, based on little to no truth. And any act of sabotage would, certainly, have been discovered! We know this from the many rejection stamps found on Spreewerk P38’s, which were returned to the line and repaired before, finally, receiving the Waffenampt acceptance stamps. In short, the evidence shows that the inspectors of the Waffenampt took their jobs seriously. As an instructor and range safety officer at our local range, I have seen a number of Spreewerk P38’s and have, usually, found them to be perfectly reliable defensive pistols. True, every Spreewerk shows A rough finish but I have noticed that this is usually found, primarily, on the slide flats. The interior and the frame will, usually, show the same, good to very good fit and finish of mid to late-war war Mauser pistols. My personal Spreewerk was made in May of 1944, the last year of the war. While the slide flats show modest (Not deep) machine marks, the interior and the frame of this pistol are very good. Much better than what I would expect to see made during the last year of the war by “Bohemian” forced labor. This pistol has an excellent DA/SA trigger (Better than many Beretta M9’s I have experienced), it is very accurate and I have yet to have it malfunction or jam on me (Of course, all I’ve ever put through it is 115 and 124 grain FMJ’s). So, perhaps we need to reconsider the often maligned, step-child of the P38 family and accept it for what it truly represented. A good, reliable handgun of the WWII era!
 

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Pretty sure WW2 went on for another year, until May 1945. Also, it's "Waffenamt".
And yes, the work force at Spreewerk - Grottau, on the premises of the former textile plant Leitenberger was mainly forced labor and prisoners, like Ukrainians, Russians, Poles, French, Belgian, Albanians and others. And yes, they did live on or near the premises in work camps. The first camp was right across from the factory gate, and others, numbered 2, 3 and 8, were in the vicinity. You can still see the ruins of the barracks in the woods in the area.




But you get points for spelling it Spreewerk (singular).
 

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Waffenampt... Thank you for the correction. As far as my pistol being made during the last year of the war.... Well, yeah. Mine was made in May of 1944. The war in Europe ended one year later (May of 45). So, again, my pistol was made during the last year of the war (Can’t believe I have to explain that). I am very interested in the information you shared on prisoners working at Grottau (Sincerely, this is information that can help a lot of us) and much less interested in your trolling (Spelling, etc). In short, let’s share knowledge in our common interests and try not to be an ass.
 

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Hahaha!!! Okay, you’re an angry elf. Sorry to hear that. Anyway, I’ll stand by my points on the Spreewerk P38. Would love to hear any thoughts on the Spreewerk P38. That’s the only reason I’m here.
 

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Although initially a quarter to a third of all Spreewerk pistols were rejected, they produced the most pistols the last last year of the war with estimates in excess of 280,000 P.38's.

Spreewerk was initially a heavy armament factory producing gun barrels, breeches and other parts for field artillery in Berlin-Spandau. P.38 production was started at Grottau and initial production produced pistols as refined as the AC41 first variation and earlier. Wartime demands quickly degraded that nice machining and finish and ended up with what is in your photograph.

This is not a political or a WWII forum. We don't normally mention how, or who produced what, was used by Germany in WWII. Let alone how workers were treated, housed, cared for, or paid, if at all, were treated.

We talk about the weapons. You might find an audience at The Axis Forums where they will tolerate your anti-German rhetoric.

Tschüß and Auf Wiedersehen.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Although initially a quarter to a third of all Spreewerk pistols were rejected, they produced the most pistols the last last year of the war with estimates in excess of 280,000 P.38's.

Spreewerk was initially a heavy armament factory producing gun barrels, breeches and other parts for field artillery in Berlin-Spandau. P.38 production was started at Grottau and initial production produced pistols as refined as the AC41 first variation and earlier. Wartime demands quickly degraded that nice machining and finish and ended up with what is in your photograph.

This is not a political or a WWII forum. We don't normally mention how, or who produced what, was used by Germany in WWII. Let alone how workers were treated, housed, cared for, or paid, if at all, were treated.

We talk about the weapons. You might find an audience at The Axis Forums where they will tolerate your anti-German rhetoric.

Tschüß and Auf Wiedersehen.
I don’t know that I made any anti-German comments and, if you were a German (And you’re not), I might consider apologizing. There is a difference between anti-German and anti-Nazi. Though I made no “anti”comments of any kind, I’m comfortable with being placed in the “anti-nazi” category (Hope that doesn’t offend you). My interest is the history of the P38. Specifically, my post concerned the much (And possibly unfairly) maligned Spreewerk P38 and the Grottau facilities where it was made. Again, the examples of the Spreewerk P38’s I’ve seen have always struck me as functional, reliable service pistols, many with very good triggers and accuracy. Were they as finely finished as early war Walther? No, of course not. But then, neither were late war Walthers. I would like to hear opinions of others, regarding the serviceability of the Spreewerk P38’s.
 

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In Ron Clarin and Jan Baclar book on the Spreewerk P.38 there are also interviews with several of the internees that worked at the Grottow plant
 

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Checkpointcharlies.com still has copies of the Clarin / Balcar book available for $99.00. That's where I got mine from. It's an excellent book and we'll worth the price.
 

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Waffenampt... Thank you for the correction. As far as my pistol being made during the last year of the war.... Well, yeah. Mine was made in May of 1944. The war in Europe ended one year later (May of 45). So, again, my pistol was made during the last year of the war (Can’t believe I have to explain that). I am very interested in the information you shared on prisoners working at Grottau (Sincerely, this is information that can help a lot of us) and much less interested in your trolling (Spelling, etc). In short, let’s share knowledge in our common interests and try not to be an ass.
The spelling mistake of Waffenampt was introduced by early post WWII American literature and repeating a mistake will not be as educative, as I think, you wanted to make your post. Unfortunately long distance name calling on the internet has become all too common.

I served in the West German military and have shot well over one hundred different P1's and in civilian life owned about half a dozen P.38s of various manufacturers, in addition shooting many more as a range officer and shooting instructor. I have found that most WWII P.38s are less accurate and have (even) worse triggers than post-WWII P1's/P38s - not that it matters, since most soldiers cannot shoot a handgun well anyway.

As for forced labor, after the Russians occupied Germany, my mother spent over one and a half years without pay working in a factory for the Russians, packing and labeling machine parts. She mislabeled and sabotaged as many shipments as she could and I am sure that any forced laborer who had the guts, did the same.
 

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I wanted to add something about the quality of the Bohemian firearms. Czechoslovakia received the DWM K98 production line after WWI and that started their firearms industry to take off and opened up a sizeable export market for them. After WWII they continued production on German machinery and they also supplied the replacement barrels for East German VOPO P.08 Lugers. Those were made in the same factory that had made the P.38 barrels for Spreewerke pistols.

I have a VOPO with such a very high quality barrel and the gun is very accurate, actually I can shoot it pretty much as well as my SIG P210-6, getting in the low 90% on the ISSC 25 meter precision target and that is all my eyes are good for these days.
 

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I have come to believe that, for too long, the Spreewerk (cyq) made P38’s have been treated unfairly by collectors ...
...
... So, perhaps we need to reconsider the often maligned, step-child of the P38 family and accept it for what it truly represented. A good, reliable handgun of the WWII era!
I don't know about their treatment by "collectors", whose predilections are sometimes impossible to fathom. But I don't under-rate cyq P.38s: as a group of firearms they are what they are, and no amount of sympathetic "reconsideration" is going to change that.

More often than not, the typical cyq example is roughly-machined from inferior materials with indifferent if not crude workmanship --a perfect illustration of hurried, hard-pressed Nazi production augmented with slave labor (even Walther had its contingent). Sure the cyqs worked, at least long enough to give the service for which they were intended. Nobody expected high quality, or for them to last longer in combat than the soldiers who carried them, by that time in the war their lives being sacrificed wholesale in division lots.

A "good, reliable handgun of the WWII era"? Any Remington-Rand M1911Al made in 1944 or 1945 puts them, and late-war Walther and Mauser pistols, to shame.

Just my opinion, mind you.

M
 

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I don't know about their treatment by "collectors", whose predilections are sometimes impossible to fathom. But I don't under-rate cyq P.38s: as a group of firearms they are what they are, and no amount of sympathetic "reconsideration" is going to change that.

More often than not, the typical cyq example is roughly-machined from inferior materials with indifferent if not crude workmanship --a perfect illustration of hurried, hard-pressed Nazi production augmented with slave labor (even Walther had its contingent). Sure the cyqs worked, at least long enough to give the service for which they were intended. Nobody expected high quality, or for them to last longer in combat than the soldiers who carried them, by that time in the war their lives being sacrificed wholesale in division lots.

A "good, reliable handgun of the WWII era"? Any Remington-Rand M1911Al made in 1944 or 1945 puts them, and late-war Walther and Mauser pistols, to shame.

Just my opinion, mind you.

M
I’ve never read anything that indicated the CYQ P38s were made from inferior materials. I do have a 1945 production example and the finish is poor by any standards. In fact the front sight blade is slightly canted. I’ve seen similar rough finishing on Berlin Lübecker/Walther G43s.

I’m not sure about your comparison to late war 1911A1s. Maybe the 1911A1 is inherently more robust as those pistols continued in service for another 40 years. One fact is the 1911a1 had far more development, refinement, and service prior to WW2. Another fact is the P38 was a good enough and reliable enough design for West Germany to adopt it as the P1 where it continued service long after the US Army retired their 1911A1s.

-Rob
 

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During the war the Germans were so chronically short of nickel, chrome and other alloying elements that they had been forced to use plain carbon steels for parts that should have been made of alloyed steel for durability and wear-resistance. Metallurgical analyses performed by the Battelle Institute on German small arms showed that by 1942 the steels were "dirty", laden with impurities as a consequence of a large percentage of scrap. The workmanship got progressively worse as the war wore on. The infusion of slave labor did not help matters. Late war German guns were less "good" than "good enough".

U.S. production of M1911A1s, in contrast, was precisely opposite. Several of the companies engaged in manufacturing the M1911A1 had never made a gun before; all of them achieved a level of workmanship that was as good as many commercial guns made today. For a combat-effective pistol the M1911A1 was powerful, simple (could be completely dismantled without tools), strong, reliable and trouble-free, a tribute to its elegantly robust design.

The P38 is relatively fragile and prone to disorder; the design made more sense as a police gun than as a military weapon, but the Germans are well-known for preferring their own designs to anyone else's.

M
 

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I have come to believe that, for too long, the Spreewerk (cyq) made P38’s have been treated unfairly by collectors, often without any strong evidence to support these opinions. It has been said that these pistols were made by “slave-labor, at Spreewerk’s factory in Grottau and that these prisoners often sabotaged the manufacture of P38’s. First, it is not at all clear that Grottau was manned by slave labor. More than likely, this was “forced” or “pressed” labor of local, and in many cases, unskilled Czechs. But most (if not all) of these workers were paid for their work and, at the end of their shifts, returned to their homes. I’m sure some of them have told tales of sabotaging P38 manufacture but the evidence would indicate that these are, overwhelmingly, just that; Tales. An act of sabotage at the Grottau plant would, certainly, result in swift, summary executions of the saboteur(s) and, again, there is little to no evidence to support this. In the end, these are heroic tales, told by old men, based on little to no truth. And any act of sabotage would, certainly, have been discovered! We know this from the many rejection stamps found on Spreewerk P38’s, which were returned to the line and repaired before, finally, receiving the Waffenampt acceptance stamps. In short, the evidence shows that the inspectors of the Waffenampt took their jobs seriously. As an instructor and range safety officer at our local range, I have seen a number of Spreewerk P38’s and have, usually, found them to be perfectly reliable defensive pistols. True, every Spreewerk shows A rough finish but I have noticed that this is usually found, primarily, on the slide flats. The interior and the frame will, usually, show the same, good to very good fit and finish of mid to late-war war Mauser pistols. My personal Spreewerk was made in May of 1944, the last year of the war. While the slide flats show modest (Not deep) machine marks, the interior and the frame of this pistol are very good. Much better than what I would expect to see made during the last year of the war by “Bohemian” forced labor. This pistol has an excellent DA/SA trigger (Better than many Beretta M9’s I have experienced), it is very accurate and I have yet to have it malfunction or jam on me (Of course, all I’ve ever put through it is 115 and 124 grain FMJ’s). So, perhaps we need to reconsider the often maligned, step-child of the P38 family and accept it for what it truly represented. A good, reliable handgun of the WWII era!
I am entrusted with preserving a Spreewert P-38 that belonged to my wife's father. He fought in the WW-I for Italy and then immigrate to the US. We don't know where he got the P-38. As for me the Spreewert P-38 represents the ultimate evil. Built by forced labor for the Third Reich but, (imho) it has tremendous historical value while it may or may not be as appealing to collectors.

 

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Welome to the forum LostTriggerSpring. Those red grips are gorgeous.

Checkpointcharlies.com still has copies of the Clarin / Balcar Spreewerk book available but the price has now gone up to $119.00
 
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