Čs. zbrojní export do Japonska
Datum: Thursday, 02. August 2001 @ 08:00:00 CEST
Tento text původně vznikl jako shrnující informace pro významného světového badatele v oboru dějin zbrojní techniky, jehož jméno pro jistotu nebudu skloňovat - je totiž Japonec a jmenuje se Masami Tokoi. Z toho důvodu je příspěvek v angličtině, což snad vážené publikum přijme s pochopením. Výzkum v této oblasti pokračuje, takže předkládané informace je nutno pojímat s rezervou.
Export to Japan in the late 30s.
1) There is an older, but a quite passable Czech book (it has got 3 parts) about history of Zbrojovka Brno in 1918-1945 (the 4th part which concentrates on the years after the WWII is very poor). You may know it – here is the bibliographical description:
Otakar FRANĚK: Dějiny koncernu brněnské Zbrojovky. 1918/1939. Brno, Blok 1969. (Blok means the name of the publishing house.) - Subject of this part is general history of the ZB in 1918-1939.
Otakar FRANĚK: Zbraně pro celý svět. Brno, Blok 1970. – Subject is the export of guns in 1918-1939.
Otakar FRANĚK: Koncern brněnské Zbrojovky v letech 1939/1945. Brno, Blok 1973. - Subject is the history of the ZB in Protektorát Čechy a Morava and also in emigration.
For your topic especially the 2nd part is most interesting.
2) There is a book in German – maybe I should say catalogue - about ZB´s gun production and export till 1942 (according to the number on the last page): „Waffenerzeugnisse der Waffenwerke Brünn, A.-G.“ I am sending you the copy of it. Not all numbers are correct, but the differences are very small and it is enough at least for orientation.
3) Archival materials. From my today research only the list of exported machine guns ZB 26 from the ZB´s archive can be useful for this topic. In two weeks I will begin a new research in this archive. I am also now researching in the Foreign Office´s archive and other Czech archives stand in the queue. But I will also ask other people, who of course have made their own archives research.
So what has happened?
According to the book by Otakar FRANĚK: Zbraně pro celý svět. Brno, Blok 1970, p. 88 and 174, connection between Japan and Československá zbrojovka, a. s., Brno (in the next text I will use the abbreviation ZB) started in 1930, when Japanese military attaché from Berlin visited Brno. ZB´s people bargained with him about export of guns into Japan and about Japanese intervence – in the form of sublicence - by selling machine gun to Southeast Asian countries. There were doubts about the possibility of export of guns into Japan, so ZB planned to sell there its peace products (bikes, scales etc.). You should see these tendences in the context with large ZB´s guns export to China.
In 1932 ZB decided to incerase its endeavour to sell guns to Japan, because it explored, that Japan had asked some European countries about gun purchase. Two ZB´s employees were sent to Tokio – ing. Havlíček and a very well experienced clerk Mojžíšek. But there is no information about their activity, and also about any business before September 1938 (before Munich negotiation that resulted in taking of the Czech frontier regions by Germany). All of a sudden – in October 1938 - Japan asked to buy 40 000 rifles Mod. 24 (= puška vz. 24) and 2000 light machine guns. The contract was signed in January 1939 and it contained: 40 000 rifles Mod. 24 for 25 200 000 K (= korun, this is name of Czech money), 2150 machine guns for 17 148 450 K and 150 000 pieces of ammunition for 93 825 K.
There was next bargain after the occupation of Čechy a Morava on 15th March 1939 (Slovaks separated the day before). On 31th March Japanese navy attaché from Berlin visited ZB, later in the year ing. Dobal from ZB travelled to Japan due to reconaissance of market. ZB offered Japan 3000 machine guns, but there were financial problems on the Japanese side. Japanese firm Mitsui Bussan offered ZB to built a machine guns factory in Japan, but there was no success because of difficult connection between Europe and Far East.
In the book Otakar FRANĚK: Koncern brněnské Zbrojovky v letech 1939/1945. Brno, Blok 1973, p. 99 you will not find any other information.
So there are no other gossips about business between ZB and Japan after 1939.
According to the catalogue „Waffenerzeugnisse der Waffenwerke Brünn, A.-G.“ to Japan were sent:
40 000 rifles Mod. 24
2200 machine guns Mod. 26 (= ZB vz. 26).
According to the material from the ZB´s archive „List of consigned light machine guns“ which covers 1928-1941 („Seznam odeslaných lehkých kulometů“) we know the following:
Directly to Japan – it means ZB´s code „Cn“ – there was sent only part of 50 machine guns ZB 26 on 24. 2. 1939 (order No. 12-25.091).
Next machine guns ZB 26 were sent to China – ZB´s code „Cu“. It concerns the following batches (according to number of order):
100 ZB 26 - sent on 29. 7. 1939 (order No. 12-25.088)
2000 ZB 26 - sent on 10. 1. 1939 (order No. 12-25.087)
10 ZB 26 - sent on 27. 7. 1939 (order No. 12-25.101)
150 ZB - sent on 26 17. 10. 1939 (order No. 12-25.104)
50 ZB 26 sent to Japan and 2260 sent to China.
This means 2310 machine guns ZB 26.
I am not sure, if every part of ZB 26 sent to China was assignated for Japan. However, this is a very credible source.
In the archive of the Czech Foreign Office I found only secondary information:
There are reports from 1932 about Japanese huge gun orders in different European countries, especially in Great Britain (for example 400 000 rifles from Birmingham) and Germany (aeroplanes and ammunition). It was also quoted as saying that Japan ordered some weapons from Steyr, which was strictly observed by the Czechoslovak government (because of adhering to the peace treaty), but this suspicion was not confirmed.
In March 1933 ZB´s agent in Shanghai asked the Czechoslovak Foreign Office if he could come in Tokio to bargain about gun export into Japan. The Foreign Office had no objections, but in official way it could not intervene in this business.
In January 1939 Prague firm Srb and Štys (factory which made optical apparatuses) asked The Czechoslovak Ministry of National Defense (= Ministerstvo národní obrany – MNO) for permission to offer 360 000 Mannlicher rifles to Japan. The rifles were to be bought from the Czechoslovak military stores. The firm Srb and Štys bargained about this purchase with the firm Christian Poggensce. There was also information that Japanese military attaché of Japanese legation in Berlin would come to see these rifles. Firm Srb and Štys asked for exclusivity for this business (there were many attempts to sell Czechoslovak Mannlicher rifles in 30s – as I know, none of them was successful). MNO had no objections and asked – as it was usual – the Czechoslovak Foreign Office for statement and informed that at that moment there was Japanese receive commission in ZB which was receiving 40 000 Mauser rifles and 2000 machine guns. The Foreign Office had also no objections.