Was the German war effort badly run?

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
steevh
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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby steevh » 27 Dec 2016 18:27

With the benefit of hindsight, the German war effort was badly run. They didn't switch to a total war basis until 1943, by which time they were already losing.

However, Hitler hadn't intended to fight a war of attrition that lasted until the late 1940s or whenever. He was reckoning on a victory over Russia by the end of 1941. From that perspective they did an excellent job.

The Western Allies, on the other hand, could see that their best option to defeat Hitler was to totally out-produce him, rather than rely on military genius. (With the Wunderwaffe as a back-up plan.) So they moved to a total war economy immediately.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby pugsville » 27 Dec 2016 22:33

steevh wrote:With the benefit of hindsight, the German war effort was badly run. They didn't switch to a total war basis until 1943, by which time they were already losing.

However, Hitler hadn't intended to fight a war of attrition that lasted until the late 1940s or whenever. He was reckoning on a victory over Russia by the end of 1941. From that perspective they did an excellent job.

The Western Allies, on the other hand, could see that their best option to defeat Hitler was to totally out-produce him, rather than rely on military genius. (With the Wunderwaffe as a back-up plan.) So they moved to a total war economy immediately.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.


One of the great myths of the war and complete false. Germany was already of a 'war economy' when the war began and always had more % GDP devoted to the war economy than Britain.

of course there Industrial plans were far from perfect.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby steevh » 29 Dec 2016 19:49

pugsville wrote:
steevh wrote:With the benefit of hindsight, the German war effort was badly run. They didn't switch to a total war basis until 1943, by which time they were already losing.

However, Hitler hadn't intended to fight a war of attrition that lasted until the late 1940s or whenever. He was reckoning on a victory over Russia by the end of 1941. From that perspective they did an excellent job.

The Western Allies, on the other hand, could see that their best option to defeat Hitler was to totally out-produce him, rather than rely on military genius. (With the Wunderwaffe as a back-up plan.) So they moved to a total war economy immediately.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.


One of the great myths of the war and complete false. Germany was already of a 'war economy' when the war began and always had more % GDP devoted to the war economy than Britain.

of course there Industrial plans were far from perfect.


That doesn't accord with what I've read. German military spending as % of GDP slowly crept up during the war years, but there was a massive increase in UK from 1939 onwards, and in US from 1941 on. In USSR it was already very high, and went even higher, but their overall economy was badly dented by the loss of the Ukraine and other areas.

Not having too much luck googling this right now, but here is one source:
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/na ... penditure/

if you have sources that show the contrary, I'd be keen to know about them.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby BDV » 02 Jan 2017 13:39

From the POV of the economy's ability to provide the folk at the frontline with the appropriate tools for the job/equipment I think that it is hard to dispute that; given the shortage of key equipment at the frontline, and that of delivery capacity.

The naysayers would point out that it is maybe unclear what was at all possible
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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby Sgt. Saunders » 11 Apr 2017 17:52

The German pre-war production effort was very poorly run. The Z-Plan, the Luftwaffe's 1938 plan to quadruple its size by 1942, and the Army's panzer production plans all failed to take into account not only the manpower and resource requirements of the other services' plans, but even of their own. As if this were not enough, the Germans suffered from a chronic resource shortage, and lacked the foreign currency necessary to pay for those resources which they lacked. Shortage of resources and foreign currency to pay other nations for them was one of the reasons for the annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia. Even before the outbreak of war, unemployment in Germany had dropped to something on the order of 50,000 men of all age groups. Germany was short of every strategic resource except coal- and they only had enough of that IF they managed both the production and distribution of it all but perfectly. Here are two examples of their resource shortages: 1) In 1940, they were experiencing a monthly shortfall of 600,000 tons of steel even though the Navy's Z-Plan and the Luftwaffe's 1942 expansion plans had been cancelled, and: 2) They were producing 105mm shells without their copper bands and storing them for later use when the copper became available. This was hardly indicative of a "step by step" plan.
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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby Guaporense » 16 Apr 2017 00:26

BDV wrote:From the POV of the economy's ability to provide the folk at the frontline with the appropriate tools for the job/equipment I think that it is hard to dispute that; given the shortage of key equipment at the frontline, and that of delivery capacity.


The data I posted and Emile Despres' impression I posted clearly suggests otherwise: the stocks of the number of machine guns, tanks, guns, etc, available were proportional to the size of the field army during the war, for example, tank stocks were around 5,000-6,000 which is proportional to the number of tank divisions which was around 30. Temporary shortages are natural and caused by the dynamic nature of war.

It's my impression that the only field that they could improve was perhaps ammunition supply in 1941-1943. Although I am not sure because there are no reports of a shell crisis in the front (vis Entente's experience in WW1).

Overall, it appears to me that the German war effort was extremely well run in WW2. It was extremely efficient: in maximizing Germany's military effectiveness while wasting minimal resources. As a result a medium sized country of 69 million people could field 280 divisions while the US with 130 million people had only 88, and the soldiers in those 280 German frontline divisions were 156% as effective as the US/UK soldiers (Van Creveld, Fighting Power), countries who focused enormously greater resources on supplying and equipping soldiers of each single division. While these armed forces were supplied by an industrial park whose physical capital stock was so abundant that even in 1943-1944 it ran on a single shift basis, hence, maximizing efficiency.

Overall, during the whole war, the Allies lost 4 to 5 soldiers for each German soldier: by 31st January 1945, German losses totaled 8.4 million while Allied losses were over 30 million just for two countries: USSR and France. While the Anglo-phone countries accumulated huge stocks of equipment they never used and spend enormous resources on futile strategic bombing campaigns. I conjecture that had the Nazi war effort been as well run as the Allies they would have been removed from power already in the first 12 months of the war.

The reason why WW2 was the costliest war ever was because the world had enormous trouble in dealing with a medium sized industrial country whose regime rebelled against the world's system of international relations. Logic implies that the war effort of such medium sized country was extremely efficient considering the fact it was fighting against the entire rest of the world for so long and the world suffered enormous costs to control it: The combined GDP of all countries Germany declared war on WW2, in 1937 was 42.3 billion 1927 British pounds, compared to Germany's GDP in 1937 of 6.8 billion British pounds.
Last edited by Guaporense on 16 Apr 2017 06:20, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby Michael Kenny » 16 Apr 2017 01:38

Guaporense wrote: the stocks of the number of machine guns, tanks, guns, etc, available were proportional to the size of the field army during the war, for example, tank stocks were around 5,000-6,000 which is proportional to the number of tank divisions which was around 30. Temporary shortages are natural and caused by the dynamic nature of war.


My mind is still boggling. Clearly living up to his nick-name the ill-informed poster appears to have not the slightest understanding of the composition of a late-war Panzer Division v an earlier one.



Guaporense wrote:
. As a result a medium sized country of 69 million people could field 280 divisions while the US with 130 million people had only 88, and the soldiers in those 280 German frontline divisions were 156% as effective as the US/UK soldiers (Van Creveld, Fighting Power), countries who focused enormously greater resources on supplying and equipping soldiers of each single division. While these armed forces were supplied by an industrial park whose physical capital stock was so abundant that even in 1943-1944 it ran on a single shift basis, hence, maximizing efficiency.


That is why The German Army was horse-drawn right up to 1945.


Guaporense wrote:
Overall, during the whole war, the Allies lost 4 to 5 soldiers for each German soldier: by 31st January 1945, German losses totaled 8.1 million while Allied losses were over 30 million just for two countries: USSR and France. While the Anglo-phone countries accumulated huge stocks of equipment they never used and spend enormous resources on futile strategic bombing campaigns. I conjecture that had the Nazi war effort been as well run as the Allies they would have been removed from power already in the first 12 months of the war.


Note the careful use of language.
The one thing the ill-informed poster will never do is give a like-for-like USA/UK/Germany body count. He has to include Russian losses to make it look like it was his 4:1 ration in the West. Also whilst he flat out refuses to count the millions of German POWs in The West he has no hesitation of throwing in the French POWs in order to bolster his fiction.
Complete and utter rubbish.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby Guaporense » 16 Apr 2017 04:17

Michael Kenny wrote:Note the careful use of language.
The one thing the ill-informed poster will never do is give a like-for-like USA/UK/Germany body count.[/qutoe]

Hum, of course, the ratio was much smaller (mainly because they fought under extremely favorable circumstances, since they were just mopping up the remains of an enemy already defeated by the Red Army) but they were still slightly inferior, with a CEV 4/5 of the Germans.

He has to include Russian losses to make it look like it was his 4:1 ration in the West. Also whilst he flat out refuses to count the millions of German POWs in The West he has no hesitation of throwing in the French POWs in order to bolster his fiction.
Complete and utter rubbish.


Doesn't change the facts: The German army did indeed inflict well over >30 million casualties on the Allies, while suffering 8 million from 1939 to 1945. And yes, the millions French POWs were Allied losses as equal as any. The German army was per soldier on the front 156% as effective as US and UK, despite the claimed "poor equipment" and "horse drawn" and whopping 300% as effective as the Soviets. So you don't like including the losses of all countries besides the Anglophone ones even though WW2 wasn't actually about these Anglophone countries?

WW2 was essentially a massive clash between Nazi and Soviet armies, Hitler and Stalin were already warming up for that since the early 1930's with some peripheral engagements involved as well.

By the way, the ratio of vehicles to manpower in the Allies was similar on the aggregate to the German army considering 75% of the Allied armies were Soviet horse drawn divisions, which were less motorized on average than German infantry divisions. Anyway, the lack of full motorization didn't prevent the Germans from being way more effective than the Allies on a per soldier basis.

Now, of course, you would disagree with any interpretation of the historical facts that puts any positive light in the German war effort in because you are not interested in history. You are interested in a provincial nationalistic narrative.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby Michael Kenny » 16 Apr 2017 05:12

Guaporense wrote:Doesn't change the facts: The German army did indeed inflict well over >30 million casualties on the Allies,

But that is overwhelmingly Soviet casualties. The ones you say 'won' the war. The Western Allies accomplished it with machines. The Soviets with blood. Makes no difference to the end result. The second comprehensive defeat for the German army in 30 Years. You would think they would have learned from their first surrender.
I am sure the German people were patting themselves on the back in 1946 as they thought of the 3 million POWs they starved to death or the 10 million Russian civilians shot by Death Squads not forgetting the millions of Jews. It must have been a great comfort to them that they ';won' the body count as the sorted out the rubble of their devastated country (in the half they were allowed to keep) for 3 cigarettes a day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3ObF9saXpM



Guaporense wrote:By the way, the ratio of vehicles to manpower in the Allies was similar on the aggregate to the German army considering 75% of the Allied armies were Soviet horse drawn divisions, which were less motorized on average than German infantry divisions. Anyway, the lack of full motorization didn't prevent the Germans from being way more effective than the Allies on a per soldier basis.


Their you go 'agin. Conflating the Western Allies with the Soviets. You claim is laughable for the West. Perhaps you should study German Unit equipment returns for The West and you would see how insane it is to claim the German's had (for example) enough tanks and trucks . You are the only poster I know anywhere making such a laughable case. That is why so many German POWs were rounded up in France . You can not outrun a tank on foot.

Guaporense wrote:Now, of course, you would disagree with any interpretation of the historical facts that puts any positive light in the German war effort in because you are not interested in history. You are interested in a provincial nationalistic narrative.


i know a lot more than you. Hey even my 10 year old grand daughter knows more than you.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby histan » 22 Apr 2017 00:12

If you want an example look at 11 Panzer Division.

With the German strategic objective for 1944 being to defeat the forthcoming allied invasion, you might have thought that this division refitting in Southern France might have some priority in receiving tanks.

In May 1944, however Panzer Regiment 15 was undergoing re-training as infantry because it had no tanks.

Since it had no tanks it couldn't be committed to the battle in Normandy but instead sent observers to bring back the lessons being identified there.
As an aside this is what they told the rest of the division. Allied air power played a decisive role, already demonstrated in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Movement by day was almost completely prevented. In planning vehicle road marches, the time factor should be doubled. Camouflage and cover were essential. Allied artillery had plenty of ammunition, and their effectiveness was enhanced by artillery observation planes, unhindered by the Luftwaffe. Enemy ground advances, however, were methodical and cautious, halting at any resistance and taking no risks, and as a rule ended at nightfall.

On 11 July 1944 they finally began receiving their tanks.

On 1 August 1944 they reported that they had 139 panzers einsatzbereit (including 74 Pz IV) and 25 under repair, available in under three weeks. A few days later, they were ordered to send 50 Pz IV to Normandy where they were eventually handed over to 12 SS.

Tank experts will be able to advise but to me this doesn't sound like an army with all the tanks that it needs.

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John

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby histan » 22 Apr 2017 11:37

On a different topic.

From a commercial viewpoint the German aircraft industry seems to have been managed in a way that is similar to current "best practice".

Aircraft development was funded by means of Cost Plus contracts. Series production by means of Fixed Price contracts, encouraging the manufacturer to continue to seek improvements in production methods. Cost and profits seem to have been monitored and profits seem to have been held at under 10%.

So from this point of view the German aircraft industry was not badly run.

Regards

John

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby Guaporense » 13 Aug 2017 00:42

histan wrote:If you want an example look at 11 Panzer Division.

With the German strategic objective for 1944 being to defeat the forthcoming allied invasion, you might have thought that this division refitting in Southern France might have some priority in receiving tanks.

In May 1944, however Panzer Regiment 15 was undergoing re-training as infantry because it had no tanks.

Since it had no tanks it couldn't be committed to the battle in Normandy but instead sent observers to bring back the lessons being identified there.
As an aside this is what they told the rest of the division. Allied air power played a decisive role, already demonstrated in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Movement by day was almost completely prevented. In planning vehicle road marches, the time factor should be doubled. Camouflage and cover were essential. Allied artillery had plenty of ammunition, and their effectiveness was enhanced by artillery observation planes, unhindered by the Luftwaffe. Enemy ground advances, however, were methodical and cautious, halting at any resistance and taking no risks, and as a rule ended at nightfall.

On 11 July 1944 they finally began receiving their tanks.

On 1 August 1944 they reported that they had 139 panzers einsatzbereit (including 74 Pz IV) and 25 under repair, available in under three weeks. A few days later, they were ordered to send 50 Pz IV to Normandy where they were eventually handed over to 12 SS.

Tank experts will be able to advise but to me this doesn't sound like an army with all the tanks that it needs.


So magically having all armored divisions with all the tanks in their TO is a well run war effort?

An army in constant warfare at such enormous magnitude will be such that not all it's divisions will be perfectly equipped at every single point in time.

Or do you think that at every single armored formation in the Red Army had the exact number of tanks it was supposed to have on paper at any point in time during the war? Of course not.

To argue that the war effort was badly run one must show that the use of domestic resources was badly used for the functioning of the army. A badly run war effort was the British for instance which wasted 40% of the country's military budget on strategic bombing which proved ineffective. The US war effort was also badly run since they also wasted massive resources on strategic bombing as well as building way more naval vessels than they used. But, since the Soviet Union won the war for them the US and UK could dump all most of their resources into the ocean and still be on the side that won the war.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby Stiltzkin » 13 Aug 2017 01:19

Or do you think that at every single armored formation in the Red Army had the exact number of tanks it was supposed to have on paper at any point in time during the war? Of course not.

People have a hard time comparing the number of AFVs (per capita) to the actual available tank crew personnel. This would be illuminating. Instead they compare the total number of produced vehicles and think that producing tanks ad infinitum wins you wars, this however says something about a force's numerical strength (the survivability of a vehicle and its loss rates), an invisible fact to most I guess. It also says something about an immediate attack (force concentration), units in defense do not require many tanks.
The Wehrmacht had for the most part of the war a higher accumulation of armoured fighting vehicles in the spearheads than their counterparts and a similar amount of tanks was available for all factions in most major operations per 1,000 troops.
The multiple front war worsened the ratio, after multiple heavy offensives such as Bagration or Wintergewitter it was impossible for them to immediately replace their losses, this would have been impossible for any faction without a given "build up phase". The Germans had a significant shortage during two moments: After the sever losses of the 4th quarter 1942 to 1st quarter of 1943 and the double defeats following in the Summer of 1944. The Soviets struggled at more than 3-4 points during the war to fully replace their losses.
SovietAFVStock41-45.jpg

The WAllies miscalculated their production up to the end of 1944 but that was due to the fact of facing the unkown. Judging that they did not see as much action as the Soviets, this was also a reason why their logistics were not that strained.
From Attrition: Forecasting Battle Casualties and Equipment Losses in Modern War Fig 58.
http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/blog/2016 ... n-and-now/
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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby Michael Kenny » 13 Aug 2017 03:51

Stiltzkin wrote:

People have a hard time comparing the number of AFVs (per capita) to the actual available tank crew personnel. This would be illuminating. Instead they compare the total number of produced vehicles and think that producing tanks ad infinitum wins you wars, this however says something about a force's numerical strength (the survivability of a vehicle and its loss rates), an invisible fact to most I guess.


The best indicator is how many tanks Unit X had on any given day during periods of intense engagement. Looking at German formations mid-late war shows that during the first few days of action numbers drop off a cliff and reach a level (say <50%) where returning repaired tanks match those newly damaged. It is the ability to replace those losses whilst the unit is in action that is critical and that is where Germany failed badly. Producing tanks 'ad infinitum' would help keep front line units up to strength and the replacement tanks only need a driver rather than a 5 man crew!

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Postby Stiltzkin » 13 Aug 2017 04:18

The best indicator is how many tanks Unit X had on any given day during periods of intense engagement. Looking at German formations mid-late war shows that during the first few days of action numbers drop off a cliff and reach a level (say <50%) where returning repaired tanks match those newly damaged. It is the ability to replace those losses whilst the unit is in action that is critical and that is where Germany failed badly. Producing tanks 'ad infinitum' would help keep front line units up to strength and the replacement tanks only need a driver rather than a 5 man crew!

This is absolute bollocks and you are obviously missing the point here, read again, the threads title is "was the German war effort badly run" - Economy. The point that is disuputed here is that the industry was incapable to provide. During high intensive periods no faction can restore everything in time, everyone is going to "lick his wounds". If the industry was incapable of doing so then German units would have a significant shortage of AFVs before large operations like Zitadelle (or even thereafter, they replaced their losses faster than the Soviets even with LL). Which is obviously not the case. As the table demonstrates, during all armour heavy engagements the number of AFVs between Soviets, WAllies and Germans was quite similar, a stark contrast to the claims of many AHF members and as mentioned before operational readiness is not a good indicator of finding out how many tanks are and will be prepared for an upcoming engagement, this value fluctuates daily, sometimes even by the hour. Its like a F1 pitstop.


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