Propaganda, Hypocrisy, and the Heavy Press

by Ed Sawicki - June 2021

I watched a 1947 U.S. Department of Defense film that describes how both the U.S. and the Soviet Union removed heavy metal presses from German factories after WWII. The film describes the U.S. removing the presses with this rhetoric:

“...the four [presses] that we acquired from Germany after the war as reparations...”

The film's rhetoric used to describe the Russian removal of German heavy presses sounds like theft:

“...the Russians had walked off with several large German presses...”

Here's the audio for that part of the film:

Given that the Soviet Union was an ally at the time, and had lost over 20 million citizens while the U.S. had lost under 0.7 million, why didn't the Soviets deserve "reparations" as well—even more so?

Given the fear instilled in our Cold War citizenry, it's not surprising that such hypocrisy was not called out.

Heavy Press

So, what's a heavy press and why did the U.S. and the Soviets remove them from Germany?

A heavy press is used to forge or extrude large metal components. In the late 1940s, it was an important capability for reducing the manufacturing time of, say, aircraft and ships.

They can be very large. Here's an illustration of a 50,000 ton heavy press. Note the size of the humans standing next to it. Since they are so large in the vertical dimension, they are installed in factories in “basements” that are a few stories below ground level, and a few stories above.

Heavy press
50,000 ton die-forging press

The press illustrated above was installed at the Aluminum Company of America factory in Cleveland, Ohio.


Air Force Film

Wikipedia: Heavy Press Program

Wikipedia: Alcoa 50,000 ton forging press

Wikipedia: Wyman-Gordon Grafton Plant