Wieger 942: East Germany Makes a 5.56mm AK

East Germany purchased a license for production of the AK-74 in 1981, but that license was for domestic use only. There was an apparent market for export production AKs in the western 5.56mm cartridge, and so the East Germans developed their own new rifle to fill that demand and bring in some much-desired hard currency. That new project would be designated the 940 series of rifles, with fixed-stock 941, folding stock 942 (the subject of this video), compact carbine 943, squad automatic 944, and designated marksman’s 945. Development began in 1985 and the first prototypes were ready in 1988. The plan was to make 100,000 rifles the first year and 200,000 per year thereafter, but the fall of the Berlin Wall ended those (very optimistic) plans.

In total, it appears that about 10,000 of the Wieger (named after the town of Weiss, where they were manufactured) rifles were made. These consisted of about 7500 model 941 rifles for India and about 2000 folding-stocked 942 rifles for Peru. The last ones were sold in 1992, and they are quite scarce to find today.

Interestingly, there is a batch of clones in the United States. The InterOrdnance company produced reproduction Wieger furniture, and installed it on a version of the Cugir SAR-3 5.56mm AK rifles made specifically for this purpose. Those are a bit scarce, but can still be found in the US.

Many thanks to the Royal Armouries for allowing me to film and disassemble this rifle! The NFC collection there – perhaps the best military small arms collection in Western Europe – is available by appointment to researchers:
https://royalarmouries.org/research/national-firearms-centre/

19 Comments

  1. The correct pronunciation in German of Wieger is “Veegehr,” though Mr. M pronounces Weiss with the right vowel sound. Might a German speaker tell us how the adjectival form of the town changes its root? Fascinating story though.

      • “(…)Wieger (named after the town of Weiss, where they were manufactured)(…)”
        According to https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wieger for export purposes WIEGER stands for WIESA GERMANY where former part denotes VEB Geräte- und Werkzeugbau Wiesa which was entity located in Wiesa, which is location in Sachsen.

        • Ja! WIEsa GERmany = WIEGER. Just like BREN is from BRno+ENfield or STEN= Shepherd+Turpin+ENgland (or ENfield, if you believe that version of events).

          The plant at Wiesa should have produced these 5.56x45mm rifles to be the service rifle of India and Perú. Instead, the factory was closed down, and the reunified BRD ate the penalties for breaking the contract. Heck, had I been a German, I’d have advocated this here Wieger being the post-G3 service rifle of reunified Germany, albeit with the modification of STANAG Nato magazines. Of course, certain quarters along the Neckar Fluß wouldn’t have been happy what with the G-36 waiting in the wings…

  2. The rumor I got told by someone involved in the West German small arms programs at the time was that the cancellation of the Wieger sales had a whole lot to do with the German government of the time making concessions to HK over the G11 program being shut down.

    Supposedly, the Westies sacrificed the Ossies small arms industry to keep HK happy and to reduce potential competition for HK products overseas. The Wieger was seen as cannibalizing HK foreign sales, and since it wasn’t all that big a deal in terms of money that might be brought in…

    The level of shenanigans that went on in and around the whole “Let’s make East and West Germany all one big happy family…” was monumental. North Korea probably exists to this day primarily because the South Korean government sent observers who came back and outlined what the actual expenses were for the amalgamation, and… Yeah. The South Koreans used to have what they called the “Reunification Ministry” that had significant presence in Seoul, a solid budget right up there with any other major ministry in the South Korean government, and… It vanished in pretty short order, after the Wall came down and the South Koreans developed sticker shock at what they’d likely wind up paying to duplicate the effort the Germans put in, up north.

    There’s probably a bunch of smoking guns in German archives that someone’s going to be making bank off of in a few decades, once they get declassified. Sooooo much hinky decision-making, so little transparency.

    I think the lesson is, once you’ve gone down the rabbit-hole of a “planned economy” with all the implications thereof, the reintegration of that economy into the traditional economic framework and structure is going to be incredibly disruptive and massively expensive. So much “bad information” in terms of economic decisions made for political reasons builds up over time that it becomes desperately hard to work out what the hell was actually working… The idiocy that the East Germans were getting up to, in terms of “Bad Idea”? Sheesh… Look up the whole “Superfest” glass debacle, for example: Great idea, “unbreakable” glass that’s completely uneconomical to produce because it’s exponentially more expensive to make, so instead of having a bunch of cheap, easy to produce glassware, you replace it with this “superior” product that is actually less viable, economically. But, because it was researched, created, and manufactured on a totally political basis, essentially “Wow, wouldn’t it be cool, if…”, you had this wonderful product that nobody with a lick of sense would buy. By the time you got done amortizing the increased cost of production for the “Superfest” glass, you could have bought ten times more standard glassware for about the same money…

    Lots of idjits out there want to make believe that the chaos of a traditional modern market-based economy is less efficient than something “planned”, but you’re seeing all sorts of evidence that the Wile E. Coyote “Soooper-genious” planners can’t account for every single variable in the decision-tree. You’re way better off with the usual unplanned chaos of “sink-or-swim” brutality of competition.

    What’s hysterically funny, though, about the Wieger? Like as not, the managers and workers at Wieger would have failed during the transition, but we’ll never really know because HK (almost certainly…) put their thumb on the balance against them, which led to HK having to be sold to Royal Ordnance not all that long after all of this…

    Basically, the “planned economics” of the West Germans replaced the “planned economics” of the East Germans, and then market forces took both plans and ass-raped them… Reality has a way of doing that.

    That said, I think that with some realistic work and good sales skills by the people running Wieger’s operation (which was highly unlikely because all of the folks working in the East German military-industrial system were almost all “good Communists”), the Wieger could have been at least something of a success, filling in for all those low-end sales HK wasn’t gonna make in the first place.

    At least a part of the problem also stemmed from the ideological capture of the reunification administration by the grass-eaters of the “Peace at Any Cost” factions in West Germany. With better management and a bit less “help”, the plant at Wieger might still be in operation…

    Hell, the US market alone for “cool AK-like things” might have served to bridge the gap.

    • “(…)archives(…)”
      https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wieger#Weiterer_Verbleib claims that blueprints of Wieger were packed in 50 boxes and given to Fregattenkapitän der Bundeswehr which was supposed to store to certain archive. Later research indicated that this archive does not exist. In 2016 Wissenschaftlichen Dienste des Deutschen Bundestages was ordered to detect what was going on. It is believed that said blueprints were archived, but were destroyed in 2003.

    • Regarding Koreas, there is one huge setback needed to be overcome for their unification, and that are the neighbouring countries. They all would not benefit of unified, too strong Korea, especially NKs main northern ally. Now it is a good question are NKs establishment useful idiots installed as slave drivers by China, or they are really such extreme nationalists, because if they are, they should strive for unification. One thing is certain, they are on both side of the border extreme, as all asiatics like to be extreme in their obedience and communist/capitalist rat race.
      Also to have in mind, being so orthodox in so called communism (quasi), they represent an ideological danger to Chinas establishment, who apparently forgot their communist roots and ideas.

      Some years ago I witnessed in my studies a guest lecturer (one of top professors from important Chinas law college from Beijing) who said that one time regarding some other lecture and presentation she gave (iirc something connected to international air travel), she was afterwards approached and scalded by NKs representatives in the hall, who did not like her presentation of one airplane incident in which NK was involved, and denied historically they were involved, which puzzled her as “it was a common knowledge in community that NK was responsible”.
      I was puzzled, on the other hand, that NK goons were brash enough to “lecture” a (fairly important) academic figure from their big superpower neighbour.
      So, who knows what goes there between them…

  3. I am afraid that thinking comparatively tiny HK would have the slightest influence on the decision of the German political do-gooders in charge at the time is not realistic.

    Regarding AK-type weapons the Bundeswehr position was clear. The AK selector working in an inverted way (first click full auto) compared to what was used since 1956 (first click semi auto) meant asking for accidents. This killed any chance of adopting an AK type weapon by Bundeswehr.

    The political do-gooders were sure that, because eternal peace had just broken out, destroying as many weapons as possible was the only thinkable approach. So selling to other countries was out of the question. Be it existing AK/AKM/AK74 or Wieger products or the Bundeswehr strategic reserve of small arms. Everything was destroyed, keeping only a tiny number of Bundeswehr reserves.

    Understandably, frustrated former East-Germans tend to tell very negative stories, like a naval officer deciding infantry weapon questions. But in the prevailing atmopshere of intensified political do-gooding in the post chancellor Kohl era, a wanton destruction of the Wieger drawings was not an action against East Germany but against a heap of paper thought to contain evil itself.

    P.S. By the way, in East German archives one finds results of the same attitude. With very few exceptions, all materials regarding military in 1933-45 have been thoroughly destroyed by the do-gooders of the communist era.

    P.P.S Being German, the GER in WIEGER in my opinion stands for GERÄTEBAU not Germany.

    • Addendum re AK selector:
      The first time I could fire an AKM was alongside a number of US soldiers. Nearly everyone in the line shot his first rounds inadvertently full auto instead of semi auto.
      I think the Bundeswehr view in this matter is right. You should not have two inverted selector systems in one army.

      • Waaaaaaay too many “smart people” just didn’t “get” the logic behind the AK selector switch. I was taught the whole “Yeah, full-auto is first position, ‘cos you’re always meant to fire on full auto…” thing early on, and repeated it myself in training classes I gave for familiarization. The real deal wasn’t really known until the late 1990s, and we started getting the correctives from actual AK users whose manual of arms was what was taught.

        The idea that the AK selector was a gross motor skill meant to be “swept” from safe all the way down to semi, and then taken back to fully automatic only as an act of deliberate will…? That wasn’t something that people were able to wrap their heads around.

        • From East-German army manual A 250/1/501 “Rules for small arms fire” from 1975. It is a translation from a 1972 Soviet manual. Here I use “small arms” for the German term “Schützenwaffen”. Quote p. 41:
          “Firing bursts is the main mode of firing with small arms. It requires more ammunition than single shots but allows to complete a firing task in the shortest time even if observation conditions are difficult”
          “With the AK/AKM an light machine gun, single shots are only fired on near or less important, static targets if
          – there is sufficient time to complete the task,
          – target visibility is excellent and
          – saving of ammunition is important.”
          End of Quote
          The infantry handbook “Handbuch für mot.Schützen 1” from 1984 contains examples of firing orders by a squad leader to his men. The firing mode part is either the word “kurz” or “lang”, meaning short bursts (3-5 shots) or long bursts (10-15 shots).
          I do not know what units outside infantry did.
          Soldiers with a “western” background tend to inadvertently select full auto when handling an AK-type weapon. Therefore I think it unwise for a western army to add an AK type to its arsenal, which is what would have happened in Bundeswehr.

          • The Mig-29s went to Poland. The MPiKM-72s, or very many of them at any rate, went to Finland. Enough turned up in El Salvador and later in Colombia, that I think rather a lots left pre-1989/1990.

            I was in Hamburg when the port inspector officials decided to look under a tarp aboard a merchant ship bound for Israel. Well, it was just one of the new old stock DDR NVA ZSU-23×4 “Shilka” self-propelled AA gun batteries. I don’t think it was going to a museum. Lots of materiel was transferred and not destroyed. Some of the destruction at the end of the Cold War was certainly amusing. One enterprising contractor in one or another ex-Warsaw Pact nation, I want to say Czechia…? Developed a large metal ball that he’d use a crane-operated electromagnet to pick up and then drop atop old MBTs until the turrets cracked and broke apart so they could be further scrapped. Pretty interesting job, and clever, if you ask me.

          • The after-action reports from the demil job in East Germany are, to say the least, fascinating.

            Especially if you were a GI in Europe during the late 1970s and 1980s.

            I was part of a general briefing to junior leaders with security clearances, and the general derisive attitude presented by us towards the oh-so-smart MI briefer only served to piss him off. Our general contention was that we’d probably only find out about WWIII having kicked off about the time the Soviets were knocking on our barracks doors to wake us up for the buses to the POW camp… We did not have a positive viewpoint of the whole “intelligence” operation, given what we’d seen of their overall competence.

            So, said pissed-off little intel weenie went a little out of his lane and started enumerating all the “tells” we’d have, that they’d see, in order to know that the “Russians are (were) coming…”.

            Among those were that the rail lines across Eastern Europe were all European gauge, and that they’d have to do the conversion work to put them over to Russian gauge. Another “tell” would be that they’d have to increase their artillery ammo stocks, because they didn’t have enough on hand in Eastern Germany. Other ones he mentioned were about numbers of tanks in East Germany not being “enough” for the Soviet doctrinal standards, so he “knew” that they’d have plenty of warning once the Soviets started correcting those issues…

            We remained derisive of him and his assurance that we’d have warning when the “balloon went up”, and kept right on planning to unass the area and just do what we could before it all came down on us. We had precisely zero faith in the idea that we’d get any warning, or that any of the GDP OPLANS would actually, y’know… Eventuate.

            Funny thing about that briefing: About a week later, we all got called in in front of another MI type, a Lieutenant Colonel, who informed us that our earlier briefer had gotten a little, shall we say, off the reservation? We had to sign documents basically saying we’d been exposed to “Need-to-know” information, and that we were not to disclose it.

            I was later assured that this anecdote I’m relating here isn’t revelatory of anything not already open-source, so… That’s why I’m telling it, now.

            The other interesting thing about all that was that when the Wall came down in 1989, and the West Germans got into the East German facilities and records… They found that the East Germans had so thoroughly penetrated the NATO command structure that they had both the current and the draft GDP, which even a lot of NATO staff members hadn’t seen. Bit of an embarrassment, that. The other things were that the Soviets had had not “half their doctrinal requirements of artillery ammunition…” on hand, but something like three-four times as much. They didn’t need to spend weeks building up their ammo stocks; they were there, and we’d missed that. There were also additional rail tracks laid that gave them two entirely separate Russian-gauge tracks into Eastern Germany, so they could have funneled all their “stuff” up almost to the Inner German Border area. We’d missed that, as well, along with the fact that the tank sheds we’d assumed contained X number of tanks actually contained a higher, Z number, and that they had everything they needed on hand for a “doctrinal attack” on NATO.

            There was also a bunch of indicators that things we thought were so, just… Weren’t.

            In the event, the insane amount of ammo the Soviets had on hand required the Germans to do a ton of demilitarization on site. Particularly since their inspectors got into the storage sites, expecting to do surveys for sale and so forth, and decided that the vast majority of all that ammo had to be destroyed in-situ, because i was so inherently unsafe that they refused to allow it to be transported across Germany. It took them until sometime in the early 2000s before they were done, and it cost billions. One of the key reasons that they didn’t go to the AK, by the way, was that the determination was that the propellants and so forth used in the East German small arms ammo did not meet West German safety standards for toxicity and so forth, so… They de-militarized the vast majority of it.

            TL; DR: Basically, the bone-chilling thing for us old-timers was that the information coming after the Wall came down essentially said that our intel was shiite, and that they’d been a lot closer to “ready to go” than our analysts had ever thought possible…

            One does wonder what would have happened, had the Germans held on to all those stocks, and then had them available for Ukraine to use in the last few years… The Soviets abandoned somewhere between a sixty- and a ninety-day stockage level of munitions there in East Germany, which was meant to supply the Armageddon fought between NATO and the Soviet Union. That’s a lot of bullets and artillery rounds…

          • I wonder if war broke up in Germany, would it have (or could), that DDR soldiers en masse turn their weapons on russkies, and join the Western armies. Maybe russkies had a plan for having their officers installed in all units, or such? Or were they so brainwashed by communism paradise, that it was out of the question.

            In Yugoslavia there was a doctrine, that in case of a war, conscripted units (the ones that were on a training) receive completely new officers cadre to command them, goal being that you wouldnt want to try and use the opportunity to solve your past grievances (by “fragging”) on your local gunny Hartman who hazed you for the duration of the training.

          • @Storm,

            We are, thanks be to God, never going to know how the WWIII of my teenage years and early military service might have turned out. I suspect that it would have been full of really nasty surprises for all concerned, because the war we were all preparing for wasn’t what would have happened, looking back on it with today’s knowledge.

            I suspect that the DDR would have proven to be the most reliable Warsaw Pact ally. Based on talking to some former members of the DDR military, I think they were probably the most reliable and ideologically committed of all the Warsaw Pact, to include the Soviet Union. The one guy I met and talked to about the Soviet forces just laughed his ass off at my suggestion that they’d have done anything remotely akin to the fantasies spun out by all the Soviet commentators. He’d been a part of the mobilization effort for intervening in the Polish Solidarity Movement crisis, and it was his informed opinion that a.) the troops in the GFSG weren’t going to perform anywhere near the level they would have had to in order to achieve victory, and that b.) mobilizing the rest of the reserves (as they’d done there for the Polish thing) just wasn’t “on”. He’d been a junior officer for that, and tasked with trying to get the reserve units filled, manned and out the gate. The equipment didn’t work, the men didn’t know how it worked, and they were assigned seemingly at random by a drunken idiot back in the headquarters. He told me that they’d had a Motorized Rifle Regiment battalion show up where the majority of the men in it had been trained as artillery men in the 1970s, the officers were all superannuated incompetents scraped out of the various semi-civilian staff organizations, and it was a nightmare just trying to keep the men fed, watered, and not freezing to death. The rate of alcohol use and abuse was incredible; seemed as if a vast proportion of the mobilized treated the entire affair as a massive opportunity to get drunk and take a vacation.

            There was stuff on our side that was similar; the failure to think through the implications of the fact that the “precision weapons” weren’t ever procured in sufficient quantities was probably the biggest one… They had a bad habit, all across NATO, of saying “Well, if we buy this “hi-tech whotsit”, we won’t need to have as many soldiers, and we can economize on conventional units and troops…”

            Then, they’d fail to buy enough “whotsits” to actually, y’know… Last beyond the first engagement, or so. They also cheaped out on the production lines, something we’re seeing come clear over the last few years.

            I think that the Soviet effort during WWIII would have been shambolic, and the exchange rates might have been just as astronomical as the NATO analysts predicted, but the problem was that once the initial exchanges had happened, there’d still be a metric shit-ton of Soviets stacked up behind all the dead bodies littering Central Europe. Also, someone would have almost certainly gone nuclear by that point…

            In my opinion, the whole thing would have wound up making WWI look positively well-organized. I don’t doubt but that a lot of the Warsaw Pact armies would have tried to at least slow things down, but I honestly don’t think you’d have seen anyone turning on the Soviets. They’d have been terrified of the Soviets unleashing their rather large stocks of tactical nukes on their civilians, which was what I was informed they were planning to do if the Poles had done anything at all to impede transportation. There was this Polish officer I spoke to about that, and he was very blunt about the Soviets having essentially told them just that… If the Polish Army had tried “turning” on the Soviets, then it would have been buh-bye to as many Polish cities as it took to convince them of the error of their ways.

            Looking back on it, with what I now know about the general incompetence of the Soviet military? And, what I know of our own deficiencies? I really can’t make up my mind which would have proven to be the “war-losing issue”, the general incompetence and demonstrated sloth of the Soviet system or the varied and sundry fantastically optimistic assumptions made by NATO.

            I fear that NATO, in all too many ways, is not a serious alliance or, really, much of anything. There’s still the same unwillingness to “do the necessary”, and the general laziness of mind and mentality that infest the entire population of the West, who refuse to believe that “history” could happen to them.

            Example: The West Germans could have turned the IGB into an impregnable death-zone for Soviet forces, but they lacked the will to actually do it, preferring to maintain the status-quo. What should have happened, didn’t. It wouldn’t have required building a Maginot Line, either–Simply setting up pre-planned forest belts on appropriate terrain features to allow for concealment, cutting down others to open up the terrain for NATO AT missiles, moving towns and clearing out populations that would have turned into instant refugees… None of which they were willing to even entertain, let alone do. In the end, the whole “there was no war” thing proved they’d made the right choices, but… What if war had come? How many would have died, because they refused to face reality and deal with it?

    • PPS: Good catch! „VEB Geräte- und Werkzeugbaus Wiesa“
      I stand corrected and better informed!
      Danke sehr!

  4. Kirk, was there ever any plan of attacking only the soviet launching capabilities in first wave and crippling their “atomics”, instead of targeting cities ? (One huge flaw they had imo is having only a few of the really big cities (Moscow, Leningrad) compared to freaking 50 US states ! Usa is so spread you couldnt nuke everything.)

    Is there any existing such plan now ?
    (Ok, I know about submarines, they are a b..ch, but theoretically you could destroy all of their surface installations if you know where they are)

    • I never worked at that level, Storm. None of the exercises I participated in showed any signs of there having been the slightest plan to use nukes, or even attempt to decapitate the Soviet weapons systems, but that was stuff way above the reality I lived in.

      Later in life, doing exercises after the Wall came down, and talking to the guys who’d participated in such things during the period where they’d have made sense? I never got the impression that nukes were even remotely trained on, or that the strategic use of them was ever really taken seriously. Same with the rest of the nuclear arsenal; there was a serious dearth of serious thought or preparation to use them.

      The biggest problem was that if WWIII was going to be fought on the North German Plain, then that was essentially “War in a Phone Booth”, intertwined with civilians and all that implies. They might have thought they were going to use tactical nukes, but I’d be willing to lay you long odds that if NATO had said to the West Germans that “Hey, the Soviets used them first…”, and then tried nuking the leading edge of the Soviet forces, then the West German government would have done everything it could to prevent NATO from getting nuclear release to retaliate on German soil. Nuking the shit out of Eastern Europe? Yeah; fine, go ahead… German soil? German civilians? Nope; you’d have had the German military doing everything it could to prevent that, and I’ll lay you a bet: There were likely East German infiltrators and Soviet Spetsnatz tasked with “encouraging” West German formations to turn on NATO in order to prevent nukes from ever being used against the Soviets on German territory… People yammer on about how unreliable the Poles were, but I’m not all that certain that the Germans were ever really on-board for the reality of becoming a nuclear wasteland to protect NATO.

      And, on top of that? Germany was then the industrial powerhouse of the European Community. You irradiate that, kill most of the civilian population? You’ve basically done precisely what one of the major Soviet strategic goals would have been, which was eliminate West Germany as a functional part of the alliance.

      Just like with the refugee problem, I never saw the slightest hint of rational acceptance on anyone’s part that such things were going to happen, or that they’d have strategic effect. Every exercise where I saw nukes brought into the play, the whole “Would the West Germans allow this…?” was just hand-waved away.

      I think there’d have been some ugly times in the various NATO headquarters, as the issue was “discussed”. What that would have meant, in terms of what the Bundeswehr would have done? No idea, and nobody else had an idea, either.

      I will say that the West German attitude towards all that sort of thing was extremely delusional. At the lower levels, the mentality on display was full of dark humor, in that the West German authorities actually believed that “cultural features” like ancient decrepit churches should have automatic deference and protection. I remember one epic defense of a small town up around Friedburg where we looked at the terrain, realized that the church tower we were looking at would provide a perfect artillery observation post, and decided that and a couple of other features would have to go if we were to be able to defend the area… So, we did the necessary, marked the building and a few others as “rubbled”, and got to witness the German exercise umpires go utterly and totally ballistic over the fact that we’d so blithely destroyed these “cultural” features. Our reaction was “Yeah, well, has to be done; you guys haven’t made the first step towards getting the civilians out of the area, and if we try to defend by NOT doing that rubbling, the fighting is going to have to take place where they’re all at, and ohbytheway, a bunch of us are going to be dead trying to keep them out of it… “Which is it gonna be? Your civilians or your old buildings…?”

      The West German reply to our bosses was basically “Both”. We weren’t to try and defend effectively, and we weren’t to do anything to risk the civilians. There was a generally delusional attitude towards the civilians on the battlefield “problem”, which as we’ve seen in Ukraine, is a bit of a concern with regards to the Soviet/Russian “way of war”. Exposure to the Soviets of civilian populations would have likely led to things like Bucha happening all across the areas occupied by Soviet forces; that crap was and is doctrinal.

      Which was something that I never saw anyone take seriously and/or account for in the planning. The actual GDP fantasy-plan had the civilian populations up along the border remaining in place, as though the post-WWII history had never happened, and that the Soviets wouldn’t try to turn them into a weapon against NATO. My guess is that if WWIII would have happened, it would have begun with some form of a coup-de-main, and that if they couldn’t attain total surprise, then it wouldn’t have happened at all. Given that, I don’t think we’d have ever gotten to our GDP positions, and that most of us would have been stuck in traffic trying to get to our positions, because the first thing the Soviets would have done was to induce panic in the civilians to get them out on the road and blocking traffic. Which the NATO forces would have inevitably tried to rescue and which would cause them to abandon most planned defensive actions… The whole thing would have been a total cluster-f*ck, and I never saw refugees “played” at all accurately during any exercise at any level. Just like the nukes, really…

      Most exercises ended with nuclear release, in recognition that past that point, there wasn’t any way of knowing what would happen, or how to deal with all the ramifications. Realistically, I think that if they were to model it accurately, they’d have needed to have the various command posts play “The West Germans attack and take out the CP from within…”, because you start talking about blithely nuking Koblenz, then you’d best make sure that anyone with family in Koblenz is out of the room. I rather doubt that the West German contingent in any CP would have deferred to “necessity”, and let those launches happen. Hell, I’ll go further: I would be entirely unsurprised if there hadn’t been plans for the West Germans to work hand-in-hand with the Soviets and their infiltrators to facilitate strikes on the NATO command posts where those nuclear release decisions were being made. It wouldn’t have taken much; most of the guards were West German troops or contract security types who’d have been open to subornment. Start talking about nukes on German cities and towns, watch what happens: I don’t think it would have gone down anything like the way they played and trained it in exercises. Huge cluster-f*ck? Absolutely. But, anything like they assumed? Oh, hell, no: Those plans were more likely a list of things that would never, ever happen than they were actual military plans.

      Again, we’ll never know: Nobody has any clue how all of it would have played out, but I can about guarantee one damn thing: Nobody’s plans would have worked out anything like the way they thought they would have, from blithe Soviet assumptions about their combat logistics and skills, to the NATO assurance of their qualitative superiority. In the end, it would have come down to a huge mess wherein the troops on the ground would have had to improvise and just do their best, which would have been in service of an essentially futile effort created by the fantasies of the upper echelons.

      My best guess is that if WWIII had happened, I’d have died somewhere on the way to our GDP positions, stuck in traffic with all the civilians trying to get out of the way of it all, and the last thing I’d have seen would have been either a chemical strike or the flash of a nuclear sunrise. I mean, we’d have tried, but… Odds were, stuck in traffic, dead to WMD strike, along with a metric butt-load of civilians. It would have been monumentally ugly and extremely stupid, from the standpoint of capital-H “History”.

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