Not really, Thomas simply wanted to know what the policy is going to be; economic integration or economic cannibalization. He knew that the integration of the Czech economy profited the Germans a big time, while the lackluster integration of the French economy was, in fact, a major mistake. It also wasn't Hitler's idea only to get rid of the Soviet population that did not produce something useful for the Germans.historygeek2021 wrote: ↑22 Feb 2021 19:05Thomas took into consideration the need to feed the local population in the Soviet Union. Hitler's solution was not to feed them.
The Germans extracted considerable resources from the East, in particular manganese and iron. The German army in the east also fed itself off the land, alleviating the German food situation.
The Eastern Front did not consume all the material Germany had. Germany spent considerably on U-Boat production and anti-aircraft artillery, as well as the Atlantic Wall and significant troop deployments in France, Norway, Africa and later Italy.
The OKH generals were the ones who insisted that the Russian campaign be won in a single summer. Hitler was more open minded and foresaw the possibility of a long war in the east. Stalin was using his leverage against Germany in late 1940 to carve up the Balkans and Finland for himself. Hitler correctly saw that 1941 was the best time for war with the Soviet Union. It is true that he hoped to knock out the Soviet Union in a single campaign and thereby convince England to drop out of the war, but he also saw that regardless of whether the Soviet Union collapsed or not, 1941 was the right time to attack.
Had the Germans stopped their advance in early November 1941, they would have been in a better position than the OTL. Without the winter retreat from Moscow, the senior German generals in the East may have kept their positions, and Hitler would not have micromanaged the 1942 campaign to the same extent. Nevertheless, it is hard to see any invasion of the Caucasus that does not end similarly to the catastrophe of the OTL, so a halt order in November 1941 would make little difference on the course of the war post-1942.
The Germans indeed extracted some raw materials from the SU, but the price they've paid for it was extraorbitant. They could come by those materials via trade for far, far less. The same goes for the Caucasus oil; Thomas wrote that it would take half a year to restore partially damaged wells and one year to restore destroyed facilities. Taking into account the whole transport, extraction, restoration and military expenses, it would make more sense to either import that oil or expand the synthfuel program.
The Eastern front consumed a considerable amount of fuel, effectively bringing a halt to KM surface operations, destroyed a huge amount of aircraft, which the Germans couldn't replace with either the same quality crews or growing number of planes, and destroyed Germany's trade system, and consumed manpower and matériel beyond belief. No other direction of attack would mean that much losses. If the Germans would try to cross the Channel in 1942 with all their transport planes and ferries, and got annihilated in the process, it would still not be comprable to the losses of a single year on the eastern front.
The generals were right in this case. If the campaign in the SU would last years (ie. the RKKA offers strong resistance), the sensibility of the invasion would come into question. By October-November, a halt order could have been a prudent choice, but as you wrote, it would change little.