Well then, like Mattijs said: little news… so let me just give you all a long recap of last days’ events.
The Bundesarchiv isn’t what you’d expect from an archive. It’s not a large classical building in the city, but a former military compound in one of the suburbs. Haven’t figured out if it used to be East- or West-Berlin. There are several military-style buildings scattered amongst the threes. It’s dead quiet here, you only hear the birds singing when walking from the gate to the visitor’s area. Yet this tranquil area houses a major part of Nazi-Germany’s paper legacy. Somehow, it takes no effort to imagine batallions of soldiers marching across the tarmac roads.
My notebook is surrounded by stacks and stacks of files. I really must say a big thank you to Mr. Ulrich Roeske. He has been my e-mail contact in the Bundesarchiv and immediately came down from his office when he heard I was here to help me out. Roeske has been working at the Bundesarchiv for a whopping 41 years now and has been both incredibly helpful and competent. He’s a historian working on the Verkehrswesen-part of the archives, which stands for ‘transport’ in the broadest sense. Not only did he help me select the best sources from the index, he also pointed me into directions I’d never think of myself. Private archives from the Deutsche Bank, for example. Turns out that major banks, like many other large corporations, have been keeping their own archives for decades. Not just core-business financial stuff, mind you, but information on almost all aspects of trade, culture and society, including motoring. Too bad it didn’t come up with anything of interest in this particular case.
The NSKK paper legacy is weird, to say the least. The files aren’t all that big, you could read through all available files in a couple of days. I selected 17 of them, the rest being ruled out by Roeske and myself (mostly because they were from other periods, like 1936). There are gaps big enough to drive a freight train through. Of course these gaps cover almost everything related to autoracing and there is little left after 1940. Strangely enough, there are heaps and stacks and loads of documents on motorcycle racing and trivialities like autoclub member lists and the situation in fuel supply and mechanic service in Swampville, Bavaria.
To illustrate this: I’ve seen a number of letters from the NSKK in the Auto Union archives, like the ones from Korpsführer Hühnlein. There are NO copies of these anywhere in the Bundesarchiv. Which means there are NO copies left anywhere in Germany.
Roeske already warned me about these gaps, but he has no idea where the missing files went. What we do know: a large part of these archives were taken to Washington by the US after the war. They copied everything and sent the files back to Germany. So either the Russians beat the Americans to it and took away everything related to pre-war racing, which isn’t very likely – it would have taken them weeks to sift through all the material and take away exactly that stuff. Or all this was kept in a separate archive, which is a little less unlikely since what’s left of the ONS files also make a separate subpart of the (old) index. It may have been destroyed in bombing raids on Berlin. Or the US and UK military experts kept all this interesting stuff to themselves, sending only the leftovers back to Germany. Not impossible too – there was growing interest in the technical achievements of Mercedes and Auto Union.
Bottom line – can something be found to corroborate Hühnleins decision on the 1939 EC? Perhaps. Like I said: there may be stuff left in the Washington National Archives, leaving a nice task for those on TNF who both can spare the time to search through it and speak German well enough to read the files. Either that or something comes out of the new digitized search engine of the Bundesarchiv which they’ll install soon. But I doubt it, since I had Mr. Roeske’s expertise on standby, enabling a fast, sleek, clean and thorough search through all files that might contain something.
Oh dear, I hear you say, haven’t you found anything, Brun? I have! Tucked away in two files, I found test reports on the racing engines used by (amongst others) Auto Union. Turns out the NSKK officials visited BMW, Mercedes and Auto Union to measure their engines and certify them for the applicable formulas. That means I now have a complete overview of the Auto Union 3-litre V12 power plants that were allowed to be used in their racing cars during the 1938 and 1939 season. Specifications, numbers built/used, engine codes (1939 only) and even the placing of NSKK-markings. I’ll post this stuff in a separate thread soon.
And just to reward myself, I took a large detour straight through rush-hour Berlin, with a city map on my lap and another map on the steering wheel, frantically trying to find my way to the nearby Avus. Finally I made it to the A100 city highway. Coming from there, the exit ramp to the A115 (the Avus) leads straight over/through a leftover part of the northern embankment. The old Audi felt right at home here, roaring past the tower and grandstands, then braking hard to keep to the 80 km/h speedlimit (blasphemy, I say, sheer blasphemy to allow traffic jams and speedlimits on the Avus!) and then rode it all the way past the former southern U-turn. Ha, that did feel good!