Economic Impact of ATL Barbarossa
The biggest economic impact is loss of labor force, addressed in my last post. This post will show why economic damage would exceed even the diminution of labor force.
1. Labor Productivity
A. Agricultural land factor
Economic output would decline in proportion to labor force and productivity. We just looked at labor force loss; would ATL Barbarossa impact productivity? There is enormous ground to believe it would: agricultural land losses would render the biggest labor sector less productive.
In another thread
I analyzed Soviet agricultural geography in terms of total output and geography. I inferred a total sown acreage distribution from published statistics and used productivity differentials that aligned well
with Soviet figures.
TL;DR: Because Soviet lands lost in the ATL (Central Black Earth region, North Caucasus, Lower Don/Volga) were >30% more productive than available substitutes farther east (Siberia, Kazakhstan), total Soviet agricultural productivity would decline by at least 10% relative to OTL.
Because Soviet agriculture occupied 47% of labor in 1942 (Harrison, Accounting for War
, App.I), a 10% decline in productivity would require 11% more workers to maintain (already abysmal) nutritional standards. I.e. ~10% of the non-agricultural workforce would have to shift to agriculture.
As I've discussed elsewhere
, [i[Hunger and War[/i] and other books demonstrate that the SU could not afford to cut calories any more. Addressing the shortfall caused by the ATL conquests would be absolutely necessary to avoid collapse.
Combined with at least -35% delta to labor force overall, shifting ~10% of the non-ag workforce towards agriculture (or starving) would push the SU towards being 40% weaker in '42.
B. "Chaos" factor.
In The Soviet Homefront, 1941-45
, Barber and Harrison observe significant productivity declines in all non-armaments sectors and explain:
There were several identifiable causes of depressed productivity. In
industry and transport important factors were the loss of economic
That book and others describe extreme dislocation of transportation, power, and raw materials - as one would expect with 50% of rail capacity devoted to evacuations and with millions being called into the army and new jobs.
ATL conditions would amplify this chaos. In addition, Barber and Harrison (p.163-7) describe problems with work discipline, including absenteeism and unpermitted job-leaving. They discuss morale as a causal factor. Morale will be worse in this ATL, especially after Moscow/Leningrad fall.
While it's impossible to quantify likely effects, it's another factor pushing us towards my estimate of 40% lower Soviet warmaking capacity.
2. Loss of Lend Lease Aid
A. Murmansk railway in 1941
My winter line includes the Axis cutting the Murmansk railway at Belomorsk. As I've discussed with cites elsewhere
, the Finns halted their attack short of Belomorsk due to political pressure from America, not due to moral scruples about conquering further territory (this should be obvious to anyone who can read a map of Finland in 1939 vs. 1942). Finland's halt was sub silentio
; they didn't inform Hitler of their decision and pretended they tried to take Belomorsk.
In this ATL the political calculation is entirely different: Germany is far stronger and SU far weaker. After AGN destroys Volkhov Front and seals off Leningrad, the Finnish Army will have little to do except to take Belomorsk. It therefore cannot pretend to attack it and must choose between openly defying the US and Germany.
Given that the U.S. is far, is still non-belligerent when the Finnish Army is freed by German success on the Svir, and that Germany is much stronger, Finland in all likelihood takes Belomorsk during October-December. Alternatively, Germany could attack Belomorsk from Finnish territory. Either precludes most LL aid during winter '41-'42, as most American aid went via Murmansk:
...and nearly all British aid did as well.
...combined with lower labor force, lower productivity, and lower LL aid, SU's warmaking potential for '42 is now easily 40% lower.
B.Vladivostok in early '42
The SU's ATL weakness will not go un-noticed in Tokyo. Rather than proposing an attack on Vladivostok, I'll propose a more minimal ATL alteration that flows directly from ATL conditions: Hitler will, through a combination of carrot and stick, cause Japan to shut down Allied-originating and/or Allied-financed imports to Vladivostok.
Carrot: Hitler will offer to supply Japan with excess army goods once the SU is defeated (via Trans-Siberian railroad). Say thousands of MG34's and hundreds of obsolete tanks (PzI/II/III-37/38t), which could all be decisive in China. They're surplus to Germany after SU's fall.
Stick: Hitler will not declare war on the U.S. unless Japan agrees. In this ATL, unlike OTL, Hitler is not desperate and strategically deranged in December '41. His war is going to plan; he has no reason to trade the "no separate peace" agreement with Japan for his DoW
. He can wait.
Japan is in the process of its Kantokuen
buildup for a possible '42 attack on the SU. While it can't invade the SU during winter '42 it also has no reason to fear a large Soviet offensive into Manchuria. It therefore agrees to Hitler's terms, announcing a functional - though not legal - blockade of Vladivostok in February/March '42. It is highly unlikely that SU responds with war but obviously that only makes things worse for SU. The loss of food and raw materials via Vladivostok during winter '42 further degrades the Soviet economy and food situation.
In early '42 the Persian Corridor is too low-capacity, and its shipping burden too great, to substitute for much - if any - of the OTL flows through Murmansk and Vladivostok.
Again, we're now easily at 40% lower Soviet warmaking capacity.
3. Loss of OTL-evacuated capital
In all likelihood, labor would be the bottleneck to Soviet output in ATL '42. However, the more rapid ATL Barbarossa would also prevent some capital evacuations that might become localized bottlenecks. Losing the Kharkov or Leningrad tank plants, for example.
My last post showed a -35% ATL delta to labor force size being a likely lower bound. This post shows that additional economic factors - agricultural land loss, other productivity factors, LL losses, and additional capital losses - are all but certain to push that figure up to 40% in terms of economics and warmaking potential.
Total RKKA size at OTL armaments density could not exceed 60% of OTL. If more men went under arms, massive sacrifices to already-low armament standards would have been required.
Applying that rate to the Ostheer-facing RKKA gives us only ~3.3mil men in May '42 (versus 5.5mil OTL): RKKA would be outnumbered by the Axis. Other force dispositions were possible but would invite disaster against Japan/Turkey. To be discussed further in my '42 narrative, which might inaugurate a new thread.
TMP bookmark: ATL Barbarossa's economic impact