KDF33 wrote:It seems to me there is significant evidence that Germany still had economic "slack" in 1941.
Thanks for putting up some data. If you're interested, I'm doing an intermittent series on the historiography of the early-war German economy with a particular focus on where Tooze and modern revisionists go wrong. viewtopic.php?f=66&t=252374
TL;DR: Tooze is ideologically driven to rebut theories of radical German under-mobiilization ("Blitzkrieg Economy"). Shooting down the radical version, however, causes Tooze to miss the smaller extent of German under-mobilization (~10% lower than Britain in 1940) and to make easily
identifiable factual errors.
Of course it was absurd for Germany to be less
mobilized than Britain; the opposite should have been true and was later on.
The 10% mobilization delta between Britain and Germany in 1940 (44% vs. 40%) would easily have decided the war in the East if deployed as I suggest: 4% of German GDP is ~4bn RM or the equivalent of ~35,000 Pz3's. That's not to say Germany could have or should have built so many tanks, only to give some scope to the shortfall. Because most German military expenditure was on soldier's pay and provisions, even a relatively small GDP delta to ordnance production could have fundamentally changed the war in '40-'41.
So why didn't Germany do it? The mainstream explanation (e.g. GSWW vol.5/1) is that Hitler et. al. recalled November 1918 and feared pushing the Germans too hard. The obvious problem with that explanation is that those fears disappeared virtually overnight when the Moscow Offensive failed. Did Hitler suddenly believe Germans were less inclined to rebel now that the war wasn't going as well? Of course not, that's absurd.
The real explanation for German under-mobilization is confidence in victory - i.e. Germany wasn't taking the SU seriously, the U.S. wasn't in the war, Britain alone was not a sufficiently powerful enemy.
KDF33 wrote:Finally, a note regarding foreign workers. The period 1939-41 was characterized by three main sources of external labor: Poles, prisoners of war and free workers from neutral and allied countries. The systematic, Europe-wide impounding of foreign civilian workers only got organized in 1942, again after the Moscow setback.
Indeed. Herbert's Hitler's Foreign Workers
is the closest to a comprehensive treatment of this topic. Elsewhere I've discussed that book's evidence that Nazi failure to encourage foreign labor was the lowest-hanging fruit and perhaps the greatest missed opportunity of '40-'41. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=243557&start=45#p2216965
Critical to understanding German under-mobilization is that (in)efficiency and (under-)mobilization were directly connected. Latter-war output growth was mostly about efficiency. The Germans knew there was waste in the economy in 1940 but refused to take the hard measures that everyone knew would enhance efficiency. For example, from GSWW v.5/1, p.1089:
In February 1942 the Reich labour ministry was forced to concede
that, if measures of rationalization were applied rigorously, at least one million
workers could be released by industry.2
...this same ministry had resisted calls for "combing out" operations until then, largely because industrialists wanted to retain workforce for anticipated peacetime reconversion (see GSWW v.5/1 chapter: "The Crippling of Armaments Production").
A million workers! At a time when the entire tank industry employed on the order of 10,000...
BTW- I suspect that the intimidating length of GSWW v.5, combined with its dreadfully boring focus on intra-state administrative wrangling and execrable writing style, have dissuaded many analysts from internalizing its revealing contents. Tooze mischaracterizes it, for example, and probably only skimmed it.
Richard Anderson wrote:There is also considerable evidence that the British Commonwealth, the U.S.A., and the Soviet Union still had economic "slack" in 1941. Taking up the "slack" took time...the Germans started somewhat earlier in taking up that "slack" than did some of the others
It is precisely this hand-waving of differences that must be avoided. Yes, all economies encountered difficulties mobilizing for war. No, that doesn't mean that particular German circumstances (i.e. over-confidence in victory) were not decisive.
Tooze and his ilk are ideologically aimed at the Blitzkrieg Economy theory; Richard and his ilk are aimed at online Wehraboos. A more intellectually serious and productive discourse remains outside these tawdry and/or outdated disputes.