About E. Reitz Uniformwerke
SITE STILL UNDER RECONSTRUCTION, SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE
The E.Reitz uniformwerke was one of the biggest uniform factories outside Germany.
It was located in Merksem, a suburb of Antwerp, Belgium.
In a former tobacco factory, the Germans installed a huge production unit for military uniforms used by the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe , Waffen-SS and Kriegsmarine.
We have been able to find some interesting pictures and original items originating from this plant. Some of these are shown below.
We would like to appeal to all visitors to help us in finding more information, documents, pictures or uniform items related to the E.Reitz uniform factories.
An in depth study is in the making and we would appreciate all kinds of help !
Please note that all pictures have copyright to them and can not be used without prior concent of the webmaster !!!
A brief history of the building.
The factory as it was in 1925 when operating for the British American Tobacco Association. Note that the top levels weren’t added yet and Canal on the left was the Kempische Vaart, before it was widened and renamed in the Albert Canal !The E.Reitz factory in 1941.Clearly visible is the “E.Reitz” logo on the watertower on the left. The huge roof of the Antwerp sports palast is visible in the center background. Courtesy : Mark Stevens MerksemThe factory as it appeared shortly after the war in 1947. The red arrow indicates the location of the main entrance gate.
In Juli 2005 Belga ceased all activities and the factory was sold.
In 2007 the buildings were to be destroyed for a further widening of the Albert Canal.The main building on april 2 2007, just before the breakdown ! All signs of the tobacco company have been removed, the trees have been cut down. The newly added structure on the far right has already been demolished.The main entrance gate of the E.Reitz uniformwerke, the Albert Canal lies behind the building.The same gate in 2004 with the logo “Vanderelst” right above the entrance and the “Belga” cigarette logo on top of the main building.The gate on April 2 2007. The “Vanderelst” logo has been cut in half, heaps of rubble are just behind the gate doors. The buildings on the left are all gone. The rest of the factory is soon to follow !The back of the gate on April 2 2007.
The back of the gate in March 2007, before the demolition began. Note the bell on the left side of the gate. Next is a close up of the bell.March 2013 the bell found a new home among all the other E.Reitz uniformwerke items !
Some documents related to the E.Reitz Uniformwerke
Legitimation card ( Arbeitsausweiss or Werkpas )
All employees working in one of the many factories of the E.Reitz Uniformwerke had to be in the possesion of their legitimation card or “Arbeitsausweis” in German “Werkpas” in Dutch.
On the left is the legitimation card of Eulalie Huys who worked at the E.Reitz factory in Gent. She had the employee number 138 and probably wore an armband with the same number. On the right is the legitimation card of Josée Jacobs, emloyee number 16 of werk II, which is the factory in Merksem. On the back of the card are stamps with the date until when the card is valid. And they are signed by the “Personalleiter”. Nowadays we would call him the Human Resource Manager. For july and august 1944, this was Herr Ritter and for september 1944 it was Herr Richter. Of interest is to know that Antwerp was liberated on september 4th 1944. But the front line was the Albert Canal ! So merksem wasn’t liberated untill a month later. Of course all work in the factory ceased as of that date. Although Josée’s card remained valid for work untill the end of september…
Each factory that want’s to do a lot of business, has to put itself on the market. The Reitz brothers already paid for advertisements in the “Uniformen Market” magazine in the early years of the war. At that time their uniform factory was still located in Wuppertal and the logo was still E. & W. Reitz – Uniformwerk.
Erich Reitz was very concerned of his image and the propaganda value of his factory. One of the things he intended to do was to make the working conditions for his employees better of that of similar employees working for other factories in the Antwerp area. So it happened that during the night shift music was played for the workers, plants were put on the work floor and hot soup was available during lunch break. When an employee came to work on his anniversary, he or she received a propaganda booklet from the famous Hoffmann series. These booklets portrayed various aspects of Hitler, all of course in a very optimistic and propaganda like way. On the first page of such a booklet a dedication was attached, bearing the signature of Erich Reitz.
When someone married, the newly wed couple received a Dutch version of Mein Kamp, bearing a hand written dedication and an original signature of Erich Reitz himself.
The belt buckle of the E.Reitz Werkschutz who were guarding the factory and its stocks.
A female stitcher working in the Reitz factory wearing her armband.
A Fliegerbluse of a Luftwaffe Lieutenant, made by E.Reitz
Another Fliegerbluse made by E.Reitz and issued to a member of the Hermann Göring division. Courtesy www.spree-militaria.de
A camouflaged hood in marsh 43 pattern produced by Reitz
The factory stamp in the hood mentioned above. It says :
“Uniformwerke E.Reitz Antwerpen-Merksem” Size stamp nr. 1
Same stamp splinter pattern hood, size stamp 3
Notice the rectangular stamp on he left side of the hood of this panzercommander. The rectangle is flanked by two additional stamps, probably indicating the size.This is how Reitz-made hoods must have looked like when worn white side out.
Different stamp in a pair of camo trousers
Used pair of camopants in sumpfmuster 44 pattern, well marked with the rectangular stamp from Merksem and the typical size stamp
This following series of jackets came from the same veteran, who probably “liberated” these jackets that were still in stock at the factory during the liberation of Merksem. All three bodywarmers have their original factory tags still sewn onto them. So they are “factory fresh” unissued examples.
Below are some known fake Reitz stamps
Fake stamp in a sidecap.
Except for the winter hoods, no headgear was produced at the E.Reitz factories.
Fake purple stamp in a winter ski jacket
Very poor fake stamp on a fake winter hood.
One of the newer fakes : a tie with a known fake Reitz stamp