We took a look at this rifle with a few photos a while back, but I do now have some video of it as well – a VG-1 last ditch rifle with an inlaid plaque presented to the Volkssturm leader of the Wartheland district of Poland, one Arthur Grieser (convicted of war crimes and hanged July 21, 1946). The VG-1 is a pretty interesting study in rifle simplicity, and just how much you can leave out while still producing a functional weapon. Unlike the Japanese progressive simplification of the Type 99 Arisaka, the Germans designed new, simplified rifle designs to reduce manufacturing costs (well, in addition to some progressive steps). The VG-1 was just one of several competing designs for this type of last-ditch rifle.
I took a look at the life story of Arthur Grieser. He had a pretty colorful and varied career, particularly during World War One. He enlisted in the Imperial German Navy in August 1914, and went on to serve in a wide variety of roles ranging from fortress duty at Kiel naval base and at Laboe, through land-based duty as an artillery observer in Flanders as well as minesweeping operations in Friedrichsort, to flying as a naval aviator on assignment to assorted Naval Flying Corps units in the North Sea. Whatever his political views might have been ( he later became a fanatical member of the SS and virulent anti-Christian ), he apparently did not lack in courage as a young man, being awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Class, the Honour Cross Of The World War 1914-1918, and a Wound Badge in black.
Interestingly, even though he was discharged from naval service in 1919 as 50% disabled, he went on to fight in the post-war Baltic States as a member of the Freikorps Grenschutz Ost until mid-1921.
Grieser’s deep involvement in the complex and tangled politics of the Free City Of Danzig ( Gdansk, Poland ) and eventually East Prussia and the Wartheland would continue until the end of World War Two. A large and vainglorious man with an enormous superiority attitude, he was a complete racist who enthusiastically participated in the ethnic cleansing not only of Jews but also the persecution, deculturalization and disenfranchisement of the Polish people and other groups deemed insufficiently “pure”. To many, he is remembered as the Gauleiter who tried to deconstruct and destroy Poland as a nation and strip her of her identity.
Grieser was put on trial after the war and found guilty on numerous charges, and was publicly hanged on July 21st, 1946 at Fort Winiary.
While there are several excellent sources with detailed information on Arther Grieser, Wikipedia still offers a reasonably accurate summary about him if one does not have a lot of time to delve into the subject.
Earl – killer story. Grieser was hanged on 21 July 1946 on numberous charges… finfrocking perfect. Did I ever mention that my Uncle Bill (we had three of them, this was the one we called Uncle Colonel Bill)once went walking into a train station in Germany, think this was around ’62, and a Herm who worked for the railway asked if he needed any help. Uncle Bill smiled and said, no, I’m just admiring what a job you guys did of rebuilding this railway station after the war”. The German said “Oh, were you here after the war?” Uncle Bill grinned and said, No, I was flying one of the planes that bombed the shit out of this place in 1944!
Hi, Jim :
Interesting, wasn’t it? God forbid that the world should be subject to the whims of any more men like these, but unfortunately this sort of abuse, and the circumstances and behaviours that engender them, will probably continue to exist for as long as human beings are around.
That was a great story about your Uncle Colonel Bill — it must have left that poor fellow completely non-plussed!
@ Earl Liew :
Given the murderous excesses and crimes against humanity he committed, and the eventual fall from the glory he so coveted, perhaps it was only fitting — in a most ironic and symbolic way — that Grieser should be acknowledged by his own kind towards the end with a presentation model of the VG-1.
I think I commented this when Ian posted the photos of the gun; anyone who belittles the German sense of gallows humor, makes a big mistake.
Hi, Keith :
Nice to hear from you! I had almost forgotten about the earlier VG-1 article, so thanks for the reminder — I enjoyed reading it once again :). David Carlson also made a telling remark in the same vein concerning the height of Nazi delusion during that time period.
Loved the comment regarding the relationship Keith made about the German sense of German gallows humor… priceless. The VG just stikes me as a painful rifle.. I spent a little time outside of a Spanish FR-8 in a carbine barrel and metal buttstock full-power Mauser and the 8×57 in a light carbine with a metal buttplate is painfull to think about….
“the Japanese progressive simplification of the Type 99 Arisaka”
In Japan they make more more last-ditch firearm, much more desperate than simplified Arisaka. See: http://www.peashooter85.com/post/42968059915/japans-national-emergency-guns
I’ve seen pictures of these guns in a book I have on improvised guns. I’d never seen anything on the Inet about them. Thanks for the link.
Your link and Ian’s video makes me think of how many times in the history of the world governments don’t want the people to have arms. But as soon as the existence of the government is in doubt, they want all the people armed.
And see also Korovin SMG produced in Tula in 1941.
Despite the desperate situation this weapon was produced by stamping. Additionally it resembles PPS-43 SMG in some aspects (box curve magazine, lower rate-of-fire than PPSh-41, folding stock).
I just happened to look at that in the past week.
I ran across a picture of SMG that is currently being used by a militiaman in Mexico that I couldn’t ID. I went the guns.ru site to see if it was pictured there. It wasn’t, but while there I looked at the a few SMGs not from Mexico and the Korovin was one of them.
FWIW I emailed Ian the picture of the SMG and he thought it is a non-production gun.
Looks like the lower is milled from one chunk of steel. It also looks like the magazine is a pistol magazine, and therefore of lower capacity than one would normally expect to have with a submachine gun. The magazine heel catch would preclude a longer magazine.
Best guess would be that it was homemade by someone who had access to, and was skilled at using, basic machine tools (lathe and mill) to make things out of bar stock, but did not have access to stamping presses / ability to make dies for either small scale mass production of receivers or for the production of magazines. It would be easy to imagine this being the work of a machinist who kept the parts hidden and worked on them when no one was looking, maybe built it over the course of a few months.
It is good to see the Mexican people standing up the drug gangs. They have a very corrupt government that is likely on the take half the time in the drug war. In the end the people have to stand up for themselves.
Thank you very much! I’ve long been interested in the “any side up” stock blank on the 8mm nambu, erm, well, to use Ian’s snazzy phrase: “crudity!”
Very interesting. Not much about the last-ditch “Volunteer” corps.
In The Book Of Rifles(1963 ed) W.H.B. Smith and Joseph E. Smith have quite a bit to say about the VG-1.
Its basic stats (p.209) are;
Cal.; 7.9 x 57mm
OAL (w/o bayonet); 43 in. (It had a bayonet?)
Wt. (assumed loaded, again w/o that bayonet); 8.3 lbs
Barrel length; 23.2in
Bore dia.; .312in (of course)
Rifling; 4 grooves, right-hand, one turn in 9.25 in (standard 7.9 MG spec, IOW)
Bolt; 1-piece, rotating head.
The caption under the photo reads;
They also note that the twin locking lugs are not cam cut to provide stronger primary extraction. The locking recesses are of course cut into the front receiver ring in standard Mauser practice, rather than into the (already finished) MG barrel.
They further state that some, if not most, of the (few) VG-1 and VK 98 rifles actually produced were single shot. The VK 98 illustrated on p. 413 of the 9th edition of Small Arms of the World (right below a VG-1 with 10-shot K43 magazine in place) is such a single-shot, with no provision for a magazine whatsoever.
Am I correct in assuming that the Walther VG-1 action was broadly based on that of the Model 1888 Commission Rifle? (Split bridge, bolt handle acting as safety lug, etc.) Or was it closer to the Mosin-Nagant?
The latter would be the final irony, if true.
Thanks for posting the video. It’s always interesting to see how a design is done to meet the needs.
Well, that’s ghastly if you appreciate fine rifles, but it has everything it actually needs to work. Get the crude sights regulated to some sort of battlesight zero and the rifle would doubtless be effective. With ten shots to the Mauser 98’s five, it was even an advance on the status quo, in that one area.
I guess your assessment is pretty much accurate. I imagine that this simple rifle and a few magazines (clip loading impossible due to lack of clip guides) would be useful in the hands of a good hunter. I say hunter because most people would not be able to handle full-powered rifles without at least a week of training. This rifle would be one for nailing Soviets in the woods. If Ivan gets too close, Hans will get out his knife and relieve him of his PPSh-41…
would be useful in the hands of a good hunter
And you lost potential sniper by giving him not accurate rifle. Note that the Simo Häyhä – the most famous Finnish sniper was a hunter in pre-war period and also Vasily Zaytsev – the most famous Soviet sniper was a hunter in pre-war period.
The main problem with this gun would be the rear sight, given that almost all of the users of it were expected to be older men. It should have been some type of peep sight. Then at least the 45-55 year old group would be able to see the sights and the foeman.
I’m 56, I’ve been nearsighted all my life, and a peep sight is nearly useless to me due to the close-focus problem. I do my best iron sight shooting with a rear sight in the “traditional” position, out ahead of the receiver. It’s much like shooting a pistol, in terms of sight picture and focus.
In fact, I’ve repeatedly shot tighter groups off a rest with an AK than an AR-15 for this exact reason. And done the same with an SMLE No1 MK III vs. a Rifle No. 4.
If you’re designing a rifle for use by reservists over 40, the rear-mounted peep sight isn’t an optimum setup. A ghost ring over the chamber, however, would be a different story.
BTW, most of my rifle shooting today is done with optical sights. A 3-9X variable is probably optimum for anything except ultra-long range work (over 400 meters*).
I didn’t put it in my other post about the sight, but I did mean having the peep sight about were the Japanese put the one on a Type 99. My 1st real use of peep sight was when I was older and with a Type 99. I like like that the best, but the rear mounted work for me out to about 150 yards.
I never shoot from a rest and just do snap shooting.
I’m also mid 50s.
And don’t forget that VG-1 is still a lot better than Werndl or Gras or other antique single shot rifle. See Fremden Gerät list to see which guns were used by German during WW2 (for example Gras rifle was renamed Gewehr 361(f)).
It does show a couple of interesting points:
For last ditch defense, the Germans were more interested in rifles than in sub-machineguns. Would a Stein gun have been any more difficult to build, and would one have been better in last ditch defense by relatively untrained fighters?
The Germans were short of arms, but not so short of ammunition. These weren’t single shots, but magazine fed. And these were rifle cartridges, with several times the steel and powder per cartridge than a 9mm. But, in many ways the production of ammunition requires more specialized equipment and a good mix of components compared to rifles. Recall news reel footage (or maybe it was in Why We Fight) of British soldiers getting in their marksmanship training post-Dunkirk. They each got one or two rounds to practice with, that was it. They each had a gun, but ammunition was scarce. But at this later point of the war the Germans seemed not be short of ammunition.
The Germans did OK manufacture of a Sten 9mm copy: The MP3008 and/or “Neumünster Gerät” although it used MP40 magazines and the magazine protruded straight down from the submachine gun receiver instead of out to the left side like the British version.
As opposed to the MP3008, which certainly was built, The “Gerat Potsdam”, the identical duplicate of the Sten Mk II, probably never existed.
The story goes that it was built to arm guerrilla units after the Allied occupation began, with an SMG that was impossible to trace to German sources.
The thing of it is, they didn’t need to build Sten MK IIs. Thanks to the Abwehr Operation NORDPOL in the Netherlands
The Wehrmacht was “gifted” with tons of Allied war materiel airdropped to what the SOE thought was the Dutch resistance. 95 “drops” delivered 15 tons of explosives, 2,000 grenades, 5,000 handguns, 75 radio transmitters, half a million cartridges- and 3,000 Sten guns. Not to mention 54 Allied agents, all of whom were captured and 47 of whom were executed.
With that many “genuine” Sten guns “in inventory”, production of a “duplicate” for deception operations would be a waste of badly needed limited resources.
(Of course, this is “Twelveland” we’re talking about- so who knows?)
See; The Codebreakers by David Kahn, Macmillan 1967. Chapter 16, “Censors, Scramblers, and Spies”, pp.531-538.
I suspect that the ‘Gerat Potsdam’ was Allied propaganda as was the Werewolf war for after the occupation.
I think both were done to create a cover for the US ‘Stay Behind Army’ that we to be used against a possible Russian advance into western Europe.
I’ve wonder a few time if there aren’t a large number of M1 carbine still hidden in Europe. Just seem to me that there really aren’t that many around for there having been 6 million made.
The numbers that the Europeans got, those released to US civilians don’t come close. The number that S. Korea has isn’t get there. Maybe I’m missing some official place(s) they went in large numbers.
Erma Werke (producer of MP40) made their last-ditch SMG from scratch:
The EMP 44 looks more like weapons made from Resistance member than factory made military SMG. It was ultimately rejected.
“Werewolf” certainly existed, but most of its actual operations occurred during the closing days of the war itself, and mainly against the Russians.
The book Kommando; German Special Forces of World War Two by James Lucas
Devotes its last four chapters to the Volksturm, Werewolf, and similar “last-ditch” formations.
The VG-1 and similar weapons were intended mainly for the Volksturm and the “revived” Freikorps units. “Mainline” Werewolf units were to be armed with standard issue weapons as much as possible, drawn from secret caches of arms, ammunition, and etc. established before everything collapsed.
It’s worthy of note that in the west (U.S./British/French areas), more than a few Werewolf operators used the contents of the “stay-behind” caches not to attack the occupation forces, but to make themselves rich by selling off the goods on the black market.
According to W. Darrin Weaver’s _Desperate Measures_, the Erma EMP44 as borne from the ’42-’43 “Primitiv-Waffen-Programm” after Stens were first encountered. The EMP44 was rejected as “too primitive” (!).
The rifle presented by Ian is the only known surviving DWM-manufactured VG1!
Mauser’s prototype Sten 9mm MkII clone was the Gerät Potsdam, of which an order for 10k was received, but very, very few have ever been found.
The Gerät Neumünster was the origin of the MP3008, perhaps analogous to the Sten MkIII in some regards (bent pressed sheet metal receiver instead of tubing, etc.) These were built in small numbers: hundreds and a few thousands. The 9mm MP3008 was to be issued with three 32rd. MP40 magazines.
They were shortages of ammo by than. Germany really never did have ample supplies of it, at least as far as getting it to the front lines.
The use of the 8×57 round instead of 8×33 was based on shortages of that latter. There was agreement by the powers in place there that the 8×33 round was better for the intended user of the VG rifles.
Also in Dec 1944, one Oberstleutnant Haymann was concern about being able to produce the require 150 rounds per month that the MP3008 would need. He was basing that on delivery of the total number of MP3008s ordered. That order was for 1,000,000 MP3008s by March 1945.
A 27 year Navy Small Boat Vet buddy of mine had a war story about how the totally cool thing about Admiral Mahan was that he waded into wars that convinced the Russians and Germans to adopt a blue-water Naval myth. The Russians and Germans had no business with a Navy. We did WW1 and WW2 – total global dominance – and the Krauts and Sovs just blew all their money on their Navy.
Thank you very, very much for another very interesting and informative video, Ian! Awesome to see it clearly and up close.
I am very keenly interested in the VG-1 and VG-2 as well as your Gun Lab info on the copies of the Gustloffwerk 7.92x33mm Volkssturmgewehr.
I have to ask: Is it a “cock on closing” design like the 1871 Mauser, or is it a “cock on opening” design like the K98?
The DWM stamp, must be a later adition. I have seen around a dozen of this litle well desined rifle. they all had no´s below 300. they had code on thr left side of the reciver, most qve, nothing at the top and no waA code. one of the ones I saw , had an presentation placket for Fritz Saukel. the barrels, were all from MG 15, drilled from the mussle to 8,5 mm, to get rid of were. I belive they had difficulties getting th gun produced, so they made up presents for importent peaple
If you take the Winchester-Hotchkiss for example, that locks via the “receiver” sitting behind the bolts handle, in the down position as is my understanding. Now presumably that is ok when using rounds which generate less pressure, but not with other ones hence why they came up with the forward locking lugs. Possibly because the lock up taking place further towards the round helps strengthen it somehow, and/or there’s more metal in say two lugs than in the bolt handle “if the lugs were cut off and put side by side, together with the bolts handle” I assume, they would be thicker. So what I am wondering is, in relation to this rifle. If you put the bolt handle at the front of the bolt, would that give the required strength. Or would you need to increase the thickness of the handle if you wished to use the Winchester-Hotchkiss layout in a Vg1 or would moving the handle forward help, given in theory its easier to produce than two machined lugs. Conversely, who thinks the 7.92x33mm would work with the Winchester-Hotchkiss method as it stands? I am just thinking given this was a last ditch rifle design, perhaps if they had of had access to this website for example they might have gone down a different route for the purposes of simplicity.
The VG 1 cocks on opening using the double cams on the rear end of the bolt.
There is primary extraction using a 4mm? pin set in the receiver that cams the left locking lug during its final rotation
Also the Great Potsdam looks like a Sten from a distance but it is constructed in a different manner.