The Wilhelm-Gustloff-Foundation, named after Wilhelm Gustloff, who was martyred by the National Socialists, was founded by the Thuringia Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel on the 27th May 1936 in Weimar.
The industrial assets of the foundation were linked to the Simson Werk in Suhl, which had been taken over in 1935. From then, major weapons and armaments concerns were absorbed into the foundation, such as the Hirtenberger Patronenfabrik in Austria in 1938 and the Ventimotor GmbH in Weimar.
In 1939 the name changed into "Wilhelm Gustloff Werke, National Socialist Industrial Foundation" and became one of the major armament concerns in central Germany. The factories of the foundation produced, mainly in Suhl, around one quarter of the total production of machineguns for the German army.
In 1942 a weapons factory was also created in Buchenwald concentration camp. The Gustloff Werke succeeded in 1944 taking over the AGO Aircraft company in Oschersleben and created the aircraft factory "REIMAHG" ("Reichsmarschall Hermann GÃ¶ring") near Kahla as a subsidiary company.