'Small Firearms' are a good example of the confusion about data, which consists of two parts:
1. The Definition Problem
NVA and GDR figures calculating small firearms probably include AK-47s, AK-74s, 9mm pistols, the sniper and automatic rifles plus the machine guns, and thus roughly total 1.2 million weapons at the beginning of 1990-i.e., at a time when the process of bringing stocks from outside the NVA into NVA custody was ongoing.
FRG and Bundeswehr figures include in addition the AGS-17 grenade launcher and the 40mm LAW RPG-7, but for unknown reasons list the sniper rifle only until January 1992. Because the holdings of these weapons were not very large, Bundeswehr totals also were around 1.2 million.
West German Heckler & Koch submachine guns, machine guns and sniper rifles illegally exported to the GDR do not appear in either definition. This also appears to be true for a small number of submachine guns, 'Skorpion,' which were mentioned when taken into Bundeswehr stocks.
2. The Accounting Problem
Neither the NVA nor the Bundeswehr figures used publicly may be viewed as reliable. The problem with the NVA figures is related to their obtainment during the ongoing process of bringing in stocks from other armed groupings in the GDR-totaling some 518,220 weapons according to GDR definitions-which did not allow a complete figure for small firearms to exist within the NVA before the Bundeswehr takeover started. It may have been as low as about 700,000 weapons, but it may have been much higher, between 1 and 1.2 million weapons.
The Bundeswehr/FRG figures may also be completely artificial, since the accounting was accomplished during the process of scrapping and exporting these weapons-this gives the Bundeswehr complete freedom to list or not list weapons without supervising control. To make the problem worse, even the Bundeswehr figures given after the process of scrapping and exporting weapons was completed are inconclusive, and contradict other Bundeswehr reports about exports. Thus, the Bundeswehr figures are likely not trustworthy as well. According to the final figures published by the Bundeswehr in 1994, the unified Germany had scrapped 891,217 small firearms, retained 4,784 and exported another 408,215 weapons of this category (according to the FRG definitions). But after cross-checking with the individual exports reported officially beforehand, this figure proves to be too low:
This already adds up to more than 411,000 small fire arms exported, excluding lower numbers that were exported to many other countries as well as additional substantial exports-for example, another 7,000 RPG-7 and 2,500 heavy machine guns for Turkey were under consideration and were at least partially delivered by the end of March 1994.
The minimum number of small firearms in NVA stockpiles was therefore about 1.3 million; the highest possible figure may have been around 1.7 million.
Sources: Goldbach, 1990, p.124f.; Ministerium für Nationale Verteidigung (DDR)/MAV, 1990; Deutscher Bundestag, Document 12/2026, 1992; Bundesministerium der Verteidigung, RüZ II,2, 1994; Deutscher Bundestag, Verteidigungsausschuß, 6 April 1994; Scheuer, 1992.