Was Germany's 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.
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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by Qvist » 15 Apr 2010 14:49

Hehe, thanks. :)

cheers

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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by mescal » 15 Apr 2010 15:33

Hello,

Very interesting discussion, Gentlemen.

Jon G. wrote:Try as I might, I couldn't open the article which you link to
The paper can be found on Yale University website at
http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp905.pdf
Olivier

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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by Jon G. » 16 Apr 2010 14:20

Thanks for the Mierzejewski scans, Olivier. Also, thanks Oliver ( :) ) for providing the direct link to the article which Cueball originally linked to. I am familiar with Mierzejewski as a solid, if somewhat dull author on WW2 subjects.
takata_1940 wrote:It seems that export of Locomotives, due to problems above mentioned, was cut to zero after war broke out...
No doubt exports fell, but not to zero. Some war locomotives were delivered to Romania in 1943. They were converted for oil-firing, which must have seemed decadent to the Germans.


Regarding your scans, there is no question that the Reichsbahn faced a multitude of crisis during (and even before) the outbreak of war. That was not a Reichsbahn-specific phenomenon - f.e. British railroads encountered serious problems after the outbreak of war chiefly related to roughly one-half of the British seaboard being cut off from imports and the railroads consquently having to re-align their traffic patterns. Likewise, the Soviets encountered serious problems related to the loss of lots of rolling stock and the difficulties of mobilization in such a large country, and even American railroads were put to the test during the war. I know little about the situation in Japan, Italy and France, but I suspect that railroads there had their problems too.

For example, coal piling up at mines was not a war- or Germany- specific phenomenon, either. Peacetime demand for coal was seasonal - everybody was screaming for it in autumn and winter, while nobody wanted it in spring and summer. OK, that is an exaggeration, but you get the picture.

What made the Reichsbahn fall behind schedule, as it were, was not just increased strain on the system* due to the ravages of war (mobilization, troop movements and so on), but also increased overall demand for, and supply of, f.e. coal. Yes, by the most common parameter used (daily car placings), coal traffic declined in the Ruhr in the last few months of 1939, but that doesn't just reflect DR coal placings falling short of target, but rather increased demand for coal car placings from coal shippers. Remember, 1939 was the Ruhr's best coal year ever.

From Mierzejewski p. 145, here is the average daily coal car placings, broken down by calendar year - remember, the coal year went from April to March, so there might be additional fluctuations hidden in the figures.

1937 62,378
1938 61,876
1939 64,619
1940 77,253
1941 73,440
1942 77,012
1943 78,801
1944 70,055

(10 ton units)

EDITED the starred sentence* in order to get my point across, rather than the redundancy expressed in the original sentence :|

EDITED again to insert a far better table from Eugen Kreidler's Die Eisenbahnen im zweiten Weltkrieg p 340

Image

...plenty of info to be had from Kreidler's table. For example:

1) We can see the effects of mobilization and, more generally, war from the reduced number of car placings from Sept. 1939 and on.
2) January and February 1940 were two of the lowest performing months of the entire war up to the end of 1944 - only November and December 1944 are worse, and by that time Allied bombings were most definitely having an effect.
3) However, we can also see the Reichsbahn catching up - not only does the annual number of car placings for 1940 surpass car placings for 1939; from August 1940 monthly car placings in fact surpass peacetime car placings. No doubt due to the integration of captured French and Belgian rolling stock.

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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by Attrition » 16 Apr 2010 14:34

Is that the Mierzejewski who seems to want to ignore Bomber Command (The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945: Allied Air Power and the German National Railway)?

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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by Jon G. » 16 Apr 2010 14:44

1) Mierzejewski doesn't ignore the effects of Allied (incl. Bomber Command) bombings. He just discusses their effect on the German transport system.
2) As I recall it, Mierzejewski's main charge against the percieved effects of Allied bombings seems to revolve around frequently changing Allied bombing strategies, not against the effect of transportation bombing in itself.
3) Here is the appropriate thread for discussing that: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 4&t=164883

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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by Attrition » 16 Apr 2010 15:00

'Bomber Command', not bombings.

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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by Jon G. » 16 Apr 2010 21:49


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Re: Labor productivity in aircraft industry

Post by Guaporense » 17 Apr 2010 02:14

The aircraft industry was the largest armmament industry in the German war effort, and much of the growth in munitions production between 1940 and 1944 was due to the increase in aircraft output. By using data from the USSBS, report on the aircraft industry, I have computed indexes of labor productivity by month between 1941 and 1944:

Image

The increase in labor productivity was one of the major causes of the increase in aircraft output between 1941 and 1944. Doubling in these 36 months.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Labor productivity in aircraft industry

Post by takata_1940 » 17 Apr 2010 07:55

Hi Guaporense,
Guaporense wrote:The aircraft industry was the largest armmament industry in the German war effort, and much of the growth in munitions production between 1940 and 1944 was due to the increase in aircraft output. By using data from the USSBS, report on the aircraft industry, I have computed indexes of labor productivity by month between 1941 and 1944:
the table seems incomplete.
Guaporense wrote: The increase in labor productivity was one of the major causes of the increase in aircraft output between 1941 and 1944. Doubling in these 36 months.
The major increase of production is simply due to:
airframes:
1. increased aero engines output.
2. reduction of aluminium sheets use (Bf 109 tails made of wood, etc.), this was a serious bottleneck by lack of process machine.
3. focus on production: constant change of production stopped: this was the main cause of manpower hours wastage.
aero-engine:
1. reorganization of the production lines (focus on production rather than development)
2. new machine tools added that caused bottlenecks (cranckshafts making)
Which means that the output per manpower could increase seriously by fiding solutions to production failures. The fact that all aero industry under used manpower was kept by aircraft factories instead of being allocated elsewhere is due to the fear of loosing it if it was.

S~
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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by takata_1940 » 17 Apr 2010 08:35

Hello Jon,
Jon G. wrote:Thanks for the Mierzejewski scans, Olivier.
easy scans: thanks Google-book!
Jon G. wrote:
takata_1940 wrote:It seems that export of Locomotives, due to problems above mentioned, was cut to zero after war broke out...
No doubt exports fell, but not to zero. Some war locomotives were delivered to Romania in 1943. They were converted for oil-firing, which must have seemed decadent to the Germans.
I meant until rolling stock situation was better later with the new production added.
Jon G. wrote: What made the Reichsbahn fall behind schedule, as it were, was not just increased strain on the system* due to the ravages of war (mobilization, troop movements and so on), but also increased overall demand for, and supply of, f.e. coal. Yes, by the most common parameter used (daily car placings), coal traffic declined in the Ruhr in the last few months of 1939, but that doesn't just reflect DR coal placings falling short of target, but rather increased demand for coal car placings from coal shippers. Remember, 1939 was the Ruhr's best coal year ever.
Of course, overall increased demand of transport, including car coal placings, was the problem. When I'm saying "mobilization", you should understand "war and all its side effects", like overburning the system which could have worked without being at war.
Jon G. wrote: From Mierzejewski p. 145, here is the average daily coal car placings, broken down by calendar year - remember, the coal year went from April to March, so there might be additional fluctuations hidden in the figures.
1937 62,378
1938 61,876
1939 64,619
1940 77,253
1941 73,440
1942 77,012
1943 78,801
1944 70,055
(10 ton units)
Yes. I've seen it but the problem was not that overall coal deliveries increased but WHERE they could not cope with the demand. In fact, it was something related to the Ruhr as Upper Silesia seems the beneficiary of the whole increase but it also produced much less steel than the Ruhr and it covered now industries that were added to the Reich taken from Poland.

If you look at the last page I posted (p.93), this is specifically stated by Mierzejewski:
Overall, in spite of difficulties, the DRB moved more coal than it ever had before. Compared to results in 1937, it place 3.6 more cars for coal in 1939 and 23.8 percent more in 1940, largely due to the expansion of shipments from Upper Silesia. Coal car placings in the Ruhr declined steadily, reaching only 81 percent of their 1937 total in 1940.
Now, look at that. Ruhr steel ouput:
1938: 16,008....100
1939: 16,224....101
1940: 13,728....086
1941: 13,614....085
1942: 13,058....082
1943: 13,444....084

The loss is 3 milion tons of steel yearly between 1938-1942 and it was never recovered from 2nd quarterly of 1939. What we need is the monthly regional coal car placing in order to compare it with monthly regional pig iron/steel output.

Image
Jon G. wrote: ...plenty of info to be had from Kreidler's table. For example:
1) We can see the effects of mobilization and, more generally, war from the reduced number of car placings from Sept. 1939 and on.
2) January and February 1940 were two of the lowest performing months of the entire war up to the end of 1944 - only November and December 1944 are worse, and by that time Allied bombings were most definitely having an effect.
3) However, we can also see the Reichsbahn catching up - not only does the annual number of car placings for 1940 surpass car placings for 1939; from August 1940 monthly car placings in fact surpass peacetime car placings. No doubt due to the integration of captured French and Belgian rolling stock.
Thank you also for the scan (a real digital picture this time :P ).
This is very interesting and I'll post another table later.

S~
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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by bf109 emil » 17 Apr 2010 09:05

The major increase of production is simply due to:
airframes:
1. increased aero engines output.
2. reduction of aluminium sheets use (Bf 109 tails made of wood, etc.), this was a serious bottleneck by lack of process machine.
3. focus on production: constant change of production stopped: this was the main cause of manpower hours wastage.
aero-engine:
1. reorganization of the production lines (focus on production rather than development)
2. new machine tools added that caused bottlenecks (cranckshafts making)
Which means that the output per manpower could increase seriously by fiding solutions to production failures. The fact that all aero industry under used manpower was kept by aircraft factories instead of being allocated elsewhere is due to the fear of loosing it if it was.
.would production have increased as the war went on, simply by Germany focusing more so on simpler and less costly and time consuming production of fighters as opposed to the priority earlier in the war being focused upon bombers. i.e. as pointed out earlier a reduction in aluminum sheets, 1 aero-engine as opposed to 2, etc.?

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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by takata_1940 » 17 Apr 2010 15:57

Hi again Jon,
Jon G. wrote:... to insert a far better table from Eugen Kreidler's Die Eisenbahnen im zweiten Weltkrieg p 340
1) We can see the effects of mobilization and, more generally, war from the reduced number of car placings from Sept. 1939 and on.
2) January and February 1940 were two of the lowest performing months of the entire war up to the end of 1944 - only November and December 1944 are worse, and by that time Allied bombings were most definitely having an effect.
3) However, we can also see the Reichsbahn catching up - not only does the annual number of car placings for 1940 surpass car placings for 1939; from August 1940 monthly car placings in fact surpass peacetime car placings. No doubt due to the integration of captured French and Belgian rolling stock.
I've got a small problem with this table...
At first look, I thought it was the same data I had from another source: The strategic air war against Germany, 1939-1945: report of the British Bombing Survey Unit, page 126:
DRG_brit.jpg
While here, the Wagenstellung is daily and Kreidler's is monthly. But looking at Kreidler's totals, something looked wrong.
I put everything on a datasheet, changed to daily unit and here is the result and errors:
1. Kreidler's table (totals):
DRG_error.jpg
2. Comparison between Kleidler's and British data:
DRG_tab1.jpg
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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by Jon G. » 17 Apr 2010 19:15

takata_1940 wrote:...
Of course, overall increased demand of transport, including car coal placings, was the problem. When I'm saying "mobilization", you should understand "war and all its side effects", like overburning the system which could have worked without being at war.
Yes. War increased the strain on the RB, no question about that. The pertinent question is rather if and how the RB responded to the overall increase in demand across the board - that is, not just increased demand for coal. Unlike other nations' railroads, the RB had experienced some of the problems arising from increased demand (specifically, the Sudeten crisis identified key shortcomings in the RB's capabilities) even before the outbreak of war, but conversely there was also compensation to be had in the shape of looted railroad rolling stock and raw materials from occupied Europe.

As we can see from Kreidler's figures, the RB did manage to increase daily car placings, with some delay, after the outbreak of war. Car placings, measured yearly, did increase - accepting a dip in 1939-1940 due to the severe winter, and another dip in 1942 due to the far worse winter crisis on the Eastern Front.
Jon G. wrote: From Mierzejewski p. 145, here is the average daily coal car placings, broken down by calendar year - remember, the coal year went from April to March, so there might be additional fluctuations hidden in the figures.
1937 62,378
1938 61,876
1939 64,619
1940 77,253
1941 73,440
1942 77,012
1943 78,801
1944 70,055
(10 ton units)
Yes. I've seen it but the problem was not that overall coal deliveries increased but WHERE they could not cope with the demand. In fact, it was something related to the Ruhr as Upper Silesia seems the beneficiary of the whole increase but it also produced much less steel than the Ruhr and it covered now industries that were added to the Reich taken from Poland.
The increase in coal car placings in 1940 could have been due to captured Polish fields, but overall, coal production in Upper Silesia and the Ruhr declined from 1939 to 1940. Not by a whole lot (from 26,552 to 26,230 and from 130,184 to 129,188 k tons respectively), but a decline regardless. That should be held against the rather large overall increase in coal car placings from 1939 to 1940 if Mierzejewski's figures can be trusted.
If you look at the last page I posted (p.93), this is specifically stated by Mierzejewski:
Overall, in spite of difficulties, the DRB moved more coal than it ever had before. Compared to results in 1937, it place 3.6 more cars for coal in 1939 and 23.8 percent more in 1940, largely due to the expansion of shipments from Upper Silesia. Coal car placings in the Ruhr declined steadily, reaching only 81 percent of their 1937 total in 1940.
Now, look at that. Ruhr steel ouput...
Yes. So what we basically have are three seperate things, all to varying degrees affected by the outbreak of war:

1) Gently dropping coal production. No doubt part of the cause of that was the outbreak of war and the moblization of skilled (in the German case, very skilled) coal miners. There might be partial or full compensation from Polish coal fields, but probably not right away.
2) Dropping steel production, particularly in the Ruhr. Were decreased coal deliveries [which can also be observed in the Ruhr] the cause? I will not rule it out, but I personally doubt it, because
3) The Reichsbahn did manage to increase overall coal car placings. Not in the Ruhr, where placings apparently fell, counter to the overall tendency, but overall the number rose.

I would think that the increase in coal car placings (sans the late 1939-early 1940 drop) happened because the RB took over new customers - for example, Italy was cut off from British coal supplies from early 1940, and from March 1940 all German coal for Italy was delivered by rail, to the tune of 1 million tons a month.

Likewise, Norway and Denmark, and probably Sweden too, were cut off from British coal imports from mid-1940, and with Poland no longer existing as a coal-producing entity, some car placings which used to be Polish would now have counted as German.

Also, the Wehrmacht's requisitionings of civilian motor transport and, later, river barges for Seelöwe may have sent whatever coal was transported by those means over to the railroads.

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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by takata_1940 » 17 Apr 2010 21:19

Jon G. wrote: Yes. War increased the strain on the RB, no question about that. The pertinent question is rather if and how the RB responded to the overall increase in demand across the board - that is, not just increased demand for coal. Unlike other nations' railroads, the RB had experienced some of the problems arising from increased demand (specifically, the Sudeten crisis identified key shortcomings in the RB's capabilities) even before the outbreak of war, but conversely there was also compensation to be had in the shape of looted railroad rolling stock and raw materials from occupied Europe.

As we can see from Kreidler's figures, the RB did manage to increase daily car placings, with some delay, after the outbreak of war. Car placings, measured yearly, did increase - accepting a dip in 1939-1940 due to the severe winter, and another dip in 1942 due to the far worse winter crisis on the Eastern Front.
I'm of course in agreement with rising annual figures of car placings... but I can't tell you at the moment why they are climbing without having more detailed data and particularly the details per traffic-area.

It was the same about steel production until I studied the production by area. Yearly output figures were climbing on the whole but, in fact, they were declining for Altreich without this additional output from newly occupied zones. I'm now suspecting something similar for the DRG. It's possible that traffic rising was simply due to added territories and additional production/supply from/to these places instead of economical development inside Germany. As rolling stock and manpower is also added and km of network is going the same way, aggregated figures can't tell much.
Jon G. wrote: The increase in coal car placings in 1940 could have been due to captured Polish fields, but overall, coal production in Upper Silesia and the Ruhr declined from 1939 to 1940. Not by a whole lot (from 26,552 to 26,230 and from 130,184 to 129,188 k tons respectively), but a decline regardless. That should be held against the rather large overall increase in coal car placings from 1939 to 1940 if Mierzejewski's figures can be trusted.
I believe they can be trusted as I verified some of them against the Statistisches Handbuch von Deutschland 1928-1944: rolling stock number is identical to Mierzejewski's. But coal output from Polish fields was added to Upper Silesia from October 1939 and it's several million tons:
coal1.jpg
coal2.jpg
Jon G. wrote: Yes. So what we basically have are three seperate things, all to varying degrees affected by the outbreak of war:
1) Gently dropping coal production. No doubt part of the cause of that was the outbreak of war and the moblization of skilled (in the German case, very skilled) coal miners. There might be partial or full compensation from Polish coal fields, but probably not right away.
2) Dropping steel production, particularly in the Ruhr. Were decreased coal deliveries [which can also be observed in the Ruhr] the cause? I will not rule it out, but I personally doubt it, because
3) The Reichsbahn did manage to increase overall coal car placings. Not in the Ruhr, where placings apparently fell, counter to the overall tendency, but overall the number rose.
I would think that the increase in coal car placings (sans the late 1939-early 1940 drop) happened because the RB took over new customers - for example, Italy was cut off from British coal supplies from early 1940, and from March 1940 all German coal for Italy was delivered by rail, to the tune of 1 million tons a month.
Likewise, Norway and Denmark, and probably Sweden too, were cut off from British coal imports from mid-1940, and with Poland no longer existing as a coal-producing entity, some car placings which used to be Polish would now have counted as German.
Also, the Wehrmacht's requisitionings of civilian motor transport and, later, river barges for Seelöwe may have sent whatever coal was transported by those means over to the railroads.
You should look at the chapter about coal from the USSBS: http://wwiiarchives.net/servlet/document/149/102/0
Coal car placing rised by 16,500 units between 1937 and 1943; 1 million ton coal/year is 275 unit per day and this increased traffic equal 60 million tons per year placed. As an average of 2/3rd of the coal transited by railway, this mean an output of 90 million tons. If you look at output figures from 1938 to 1943, such a number was certainly possible:
- Bitum. coal: + 81.4 million tons (43/44)
- Brown coal: + 52.9 million tons (43/44)
- Pitch coal: + 17.4 million tons (43/44)
total.........+ 151.7 million tons.
There is still some room for overloading all the wagons by 1-2 tons!

About Kreidler's table, I've found were the problem was. I could verify 1938 monthly Wagenstellung with the Statistisches.. and his table is correct. Only the total is weird. Now, the "daily" placings of cars is a real working day and it is variable (at least in peacetime) depending of the number of Sundays and Hollidays! To get the daily car placed, you need to use 25 days for January 1938, 24 in February, 27 in March... This was really helpful:
statis1.jpg
S~
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Re: Was Germany's War Effort Badly Run?

Post by Jon G. » 18 Apr 2010 00:19

takata_1940 wrote: I'm of course in agreement with rising annual figures of car placings... but I can't tell you at the moment why they are climbing without having more detailed data and particularly the details per traffic-area.
Surely we can deduce that car placings rose because overall demand for car placings of all kinds was rising due to war? But otherwise I agree, without more geographically specific figures, it is difficult to get any closer.
It was the same about steel production until I studied the production by area. Yearly output figures were climbing on the whole but, in fact, they were declining for Altreich without this additional output from newly occupied zones. I'm now suspecting something similar for the DRG. It's possible that traffic rising was simply due to added territories and additional production/supply from/to these places instead of economical development inside Germany. As rolling stock and manpower is also added and km of network is going the same way, aggregated figures can't tell much.
Well, it is tempting to conclude that the overall rise in car placings rose early war simply because the Germans, and the Reichsbahn with them, conquered more and more territory, and therefore added more and more railroad track and rolling stock to their inventory. That pattern fits for the 1939 to 1940 rise in car placings.

What we should keep in mind, though, is that the Reichsbahn had already identified weaknesses in its organisation in connection to the Sudeten crisis, and had taken steps to increase its fleet of rolling stock already prior to the war. Also, later fluctuations in car placings do not exactly mirror German conquests - 1943 was the Reichsbahn's peak year, by every parameter, but it certainly wasn't the Germans' best year on the battlefields of Europe.
I believe they can be trusted as I verified some of them against the Statistisches Handbuch von Deutschland 1928-1944: rolling stock number is identical to Mierzejewski's.
Thanks for those scans. They leave me slightly embarrassed. I've so far relied mostly on coal figures from John Gillingham's book Industry and Politics in the Third Reich. Ruhr coal, Hitler and Europe, and, while his figures seem solid enough (unlike his skill with the German language), he too uses the calendar year when calculating coal production. But by using the coal year, as the USSBS figures correctly do, German coal production in fact seems far stabler from year to year than I thought it did.
But coal output from Polish fields was added to Upper Silesia from October 1939 and it's several million tons:
Indeed it was. And, referring to Gillingham's figures, coal output from German Upper Silesia in fact dropped from the 1939 calendar year to the 1940 calendar year. Admittedly not by much, but a drop regardless.

You should look at the chapter about coal from the USSBS: http://wwiiarchives.net/servlet/document/149/102/0
Coal car placing rised by 16,500 units between 1937 and 1943; 1 million ton coal/year is 275 unit per day and this increased traffic equal 60 million tons per year placed. As an average of 2/3rd of the coal transited by railway, this mean an output of 90 million tons. If you look at output figures from 1938 to 1943, such a number was certainly possible:
- Bitum. coal: + 81.4 million tons (43/44)
- Brown coal: + 52.9 million tons (43/44)
- Pitch coal: + 17.4 million tons (43/44)
total.........+ 151.7 million tons.
There is still some room for overloading all the wagons by 1-2 tons!
I will admit I am a little lost here. What I was trying to say was that coal car placings could well have risen more proportionally than they 'should' have (i.e. more than the addition of captured coal fields in Poland and elsewhere would have justified) because more coal traffic was diverted from river barges and road traffic and over to the railroads - the 1 mill. ton/month deliveries to Italy, all by rail, being the best example I can come up with.

FWIW, overloading of domestic rail cars by two tons (as opposed to the routine one ton allowed already prior to the outbreak of war) was authorized in 1942 inside Altreich borders.
About Kreidler's table, I've found were the problem was. I could verify 1938 monthly Wagenstellung with the Statistisches.. and his table is correct. Only the total is weird. Now, the "daily" placings of cars is a real working day and it is variable (at least in peacetime) depending of the number of Sundays and Hollidays! To get the daily car placed, you need to use 25 days for January 1938, 24 in February, 27 in March... This was really helpful:
I am not too bothered about the discrepancy between the findings of Kreidler and the British bombing survey re car placings since the overall tendencies are broadly the same, and without regionalized firgures for coal car placings we're not getting much closer anyway. However, Kreidler does mention, on p. 228, that loading and unloading of railroad cars was increased in 1942. As a consequence, daily [Altreich, implied] car placings rose from 40,000 on May Sundays in 1942 to 75,000 on September Sundays in 1942, and by spring 1943 Sunday car placings frequently surpassed 100,000.

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