In December 1939 the Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess performed the ground-breaking
ceremony for the Oder-Danube Canal, with Austria, Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia
and Moravia already under German control,. Besides connecting the Oder and the
Danube, resulting in a nonstop waterway from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, spatial
planning authorities, he saw the canal as a fundamental addition for the ‘second Ruhr valley
in the East’ (Upper Silesia). The outcome of this connection would have been a widely
expanded trade between northern and southern Europe.
The trade might become then faster and cheaper, a wide array of strategic materials
like coal, ore, petroleum and petrol would have been accessible for industry and armed
forces. Due to the war progress the work on the canal had to be discontinued in 1940.
One of the profiteers of the canal should have been the seaport in Szczecin, located at
the intersection of the Oder and the Baltic Sea. Therefore a think tank called the ‘Oder-
Donau-Institut’ has been found to deliver scientific arguments reinstating the work on
the canal under the lead management of the economic chamber of Pomerania (Szczecin)
in close contact with the University of Greifswald. The director of the institute was Peter-
Heinz Seraphim, professor for political economy at the University of Greifswald. Under
his leadership, the well-financed institute started to work not only for the economic interests
of the economic chamber but also for the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt.
Translated by Piotr Sulikowski