Sunday, 13 June 2021

Adolf Hitler: Heineken's part in his downfall

I keep learning new stuff about WW II. Like this about the role of the CBK (Centraal Brouwerij Kantoor), the Dutch brewers' trade organisation.

They seem to have quite successfully stood up for the industry with the Germans.

"After that, the C.B.K. also led the Germans to classify the personnel of the breweries and of the beer wholesalers as indispensable. Furthermore, the C.B.K. came into action when the occupiers took the position that some breweries would be allowed to continue working and the others would have to close: it managed to achieve that all breweries were allowed to continue working. In order to arrive at this result, reference was made to the obligatory deliveries to the "Wehrmacht", which, however, never amounted to more than 8 percent of the total turnover and ensured that sales to Dutch buyers, for whom there had always been serious fears, could be continued. It was also possible to avert the threat of the requisitioning of copper by relying on those compulsory deliveries, as well as by pointing to the success of Hitler's "Bier soll sein". This has been of great significance. In the previous war, the requisitioning of copper in Belgium had fatal consequences for the brewing industry of our southern neighbors and the consequences for our breweries would certainly have been even more serious in connection with the serious shortage of materials that existed after the second war."
"Korte Geshiedenis der Heineken's Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij N.V. 1873 - 1948", by H.A. Korthals, Uitgeverij C.V. Allert de Lange, Amsterdam, 1948, pages 390 - 391. 

Belgian brewers were devastated by having all their copper vessels confiscated and melted down to make munitions. Some resorted to using cast iron instead, but this wasn't very satisfactory. It took the industry many tears to get back on its feet. Many breweries never reopened. The same happened in the parts of Northern France occupied by the Germans.

The compulsory deliveries to German forces had a downside:

"The aforementioned regulation of the supplies to the 'Wehrmacht' enabled the bureau to determine almost exactly the strength of the troop concentrations in the various parts of the country. This information was also passed on to the English Espionage Service. The leadership of the C.B.K. however, had foreseen the possibility of 'passing on' the figures when setting up the scheme and, when submitting the proposals in the accompanying letter, it had pointed out the dangers — otherwise unspecified — associated with the scheme. When Mr. Stikker was called to account, he was able to point out to the Germans that he had alerted them to possible dangers and furthermore he argued that it was difficult to be held responsible for the "leak" in the CBK where no fewer than 70 people worked!"
"Korte Geshiedenis der Heineken's Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij N.V. 1873 - 1948", by H.A. Korthals, Uitgeverij C.V. Allert de Lange, Amsterdam, 1948, page 391. 

Silly Germans, letting the breweries distribute beer to them. They should have handled it themselves. I assume that the troops had a certain ration of beer, which would have made it a piece of piss to work out how many there were at each location. Mr. Stikker was the chairman of the CBK, in case you're wondering.




Russell Gibbon said...

That is an interesting one, Ron. Well done.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking . . . do we know whether those nasty occupying Germans actually paid the Dutch brewers for that bier? Or was it a case of "schnell! schnell! . . . or we'll send some of our nice SS chaps around to sort you out!"

Ron Pattinson said...


as the Heineken book doesn't complain about not getting paid, I assume they were.