German vs. Allied war-making potential

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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bf109 emil
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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by bf109 emil » 03 Dec 2009 23:38

Yes, Europe was one of the industrial hubs of the world (the US was the other), but the continent imported raw materials and exported finished goods.
yes but the importation of raw materials help strengthen the economies of those with natural resources...the depression help stymie the exporting of goods made due to the depression forcing numerous factories and massive unemployment...one cannot export goods if another nation and it's citizens are not purchasing them, no matter how much or the quantity manufactured happens to be
With the war the importation of raw materials collapsed and the European economy was permanently crippled.
Numerous countries still imported goods from neutral countries or supplies of raw material from allies etc., but economically the production of goods was not made for bolstering a countries wealth, but for making war, which puts a strain on a nations finances
I think that this collapse was one of the major reasons for the outcome of WW2.
How so, Germany production of war goods increased during the war, a direct result of increasing of raw materials imported...Germany lost the war because of simple logistics, they could not win the battle of logistics against the foe they attempted to fight or battle, as for relating this to economics, Germany's wealth increased during the war and their assets in terms of currency did so likewise

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by The_Enigma » 04 Dec 2009 16:41

What about the inability to outproduce their foes? After all this was an industrial total war - production does play a key role.
but the continent imported raw materials and exported finished goods. With the war the importation of raw materials collapsed and the European economy was permanently crippled.
Cant have been that permanent, we are pretty well off now :P
I think that this collapse was one of the major reasons for the outcome of WW2.
I think going to war on mulptiple fronts, fighting nations who can bring more industrial muscle to bare, having a dingbat who is in charge that keeps butting his nose in are probably a few more important factors than the loss of an outside market in time of war.

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by Guaporense » 06 Dec 2009 18:37

The_Enigma wrote:What about the inability to outproduce their foes? After all this was an industrial total war - production does play a key role.
ohh, The munition fallacy. I.e.: allies won because they had more munitions.

Production of materiel was not a major problem to the german war effort. In fact, they needed more men and fuel to use the equipment that they produced historically than they had.

In fact, they produced less materiel because they needed less. To take France and destroy the combined armies of France, Britain, Belgium and Netherlands (totaling 3.4 million men and 150 divisions), the Germans lost only 300 tanks. While, to destroy 60-70 understrength German divisions (totaling around 1 million men), in the western front from 1944-1945, the allies lost 12.500 tanks. Do you see why the allies produced more materiel (equipment)? Because they needed more.

Why produce 55,000 tanks per year (allied production in 1944) if you can destroy 150 allied divisions losing 300? Germany, out of the major powers of WW2, the one that allocated the smallest proportion of their war resources to the production of munitions (specially equipment), and the power that allocated the largest proportion of resources to the army's payroll.

For example, in 1941 Ger spent 10.85 billion RM in munitions, while war expenditures were 71 billion RM. For comparison, in 1943, the US spent 38 billion dollars in munitions, while war expenditures were 79,7 billion dollars. In other words: Munitions accounted for 15% of Ger military outlays in 1941, while for the US in 1943, munitions consisted in 48% of military outlays. Sources: Klein (1959), Wagenfürh (1954), Bureau of the Census (1975), Harrison (1988).

Germans had a different view of war than the Americans. The Americans though in terms of technological power: to win is to make more and better warmaking machines than their opponents, so they allocated more resources to that end. The Germans though in terms of tactical proficiency and elan, so they allocated more resources there, Germany had a larger army (with is made of men), while the US had a larger airforce (with is made of machines).

Also, Germany outproduced all other powers in the production of ammunition. While in equipment, both the USSR and the US outproduced Germany. That difference can be explained by the fact that the Germans fired their guns a loot more while the allied tanks and aircraft were blow up a loot more.

The problem was not lack of munitions, it was lack of manpower and oil.

The only munition that Germany needed to produce more was fighters, to counter the bombing offensive. In 1943, Germany produced in average only one thousand fighters per month. However, they needed to produce about 2-3 thousand per month to maintain air superiority over Europe, in fact, Ger turned out 3,000 fighters per month in the third quarter of 1944 (roughly the same output of the US). The problem was that they didn't have the pilots and fuel to use them (i.e.: lack of manpower and oil).
but the continent imported raw materials and exported finished goods. With the war the importation of raw materials collapsed and the European economy was permanently crippled.
Cant have been that permanent, we are pretty well off now :P
Well, I can argue that WW2 truly finished Europe off as the center of the world. In 1938 Europe's GDP was a larger proportion of the global economy than ever after.
I think that this collapse was one of the major reasons for the outcome of WW2.
I think going to war on mulptiple fronts, fighting nations who can bring more industrial muscle to bare, having a dingbat who is in charge that keeps butting his nose in are probably a few more important factors than the loss of an outside market in time of war.
1- One of the major reasons.

2- More industrial muscle? Well, that is my point: With full access to the global market, then, mainland Europe would have a good deal more of industrial power than historically, because they could import what they needed. I would say that they would have even more than the US (yes, I did some research to say that).

3- But, of course, the main cause of the outcome was the fighting power of the USSR. No country was ever so resilient to attack. Any other country in history would have collapsed under the blow inflicted by Barbarossa, they lost 220 divisions, 20,000 tanks and 20,000 aircraft in 5 months, and won 8O ! If a can sum up the reason for the outcome of WW2 in one sentence I would say: "The resilience of the Red Army".
Last edited by Guaporense on 06 Dec 2009 19:55, edited 4 times in total.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by ljadw » 06 Dec 2009 19:26

The resilience of the Red Army,the Resilience of the UK and the entrey of the US,to complete wat yoy forgot to mention 8-) :wink: :idea:

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by Guaporense » 06 Dec 2009 19:38

ljadw wrote:The resilience of the Red Army,the Resilience of the UK and the entrey of the US,to complete wat yoy forgot to mention 8-) :wink: :idea:
I said "one reason". Them I needed to say only one, the most important of course.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by ljadw » 06 Dec 2009 20:33

You said :If I can sum up the reason for the outcome of WW II in one sentence 8-) :idea:

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by The_Enigma » 06 Dec 2009 21:21

Guaporense wrote:Production of materiel was not a major problem to the german war effort. In fact, they needed more men and fuel to use the equipment that they produced historically than they had.

In fact, they produced less materiel because they needed less. To take France and destroy the combined armies of France, Britain, Belgium and Netherlands (totaling 3.4 million men and 150 divisions), the Germans lost only 300 tanks. While, to destroy 60-70 understrength German divisions (totaling around 1 million men), in the western front from 1944-1945, the allies lost 12.500 tanks. Do you see why the allies produced more materiel (equipment)? Because they needed more.
That shows spectacular levels of ignorance of the French campaign in 1940 8O (BTW the BEF was not destroyed :wink: ) and in the NW Europe campaign the Germans lost 1.5 million men within eight months of fighting the Western Allies and Milton Shulman places at least another 1.5. Million men lost in the east.

Arguing about the loss of a few hundred tanks for the loss of the French army shows no thought put into the strategic decissions contemplated and executed by both sides, the weakness of the French politically and soccially, not to mention the issues of morale.
Why produce 55,000 tanks per year (allied production in 1944) if you can destroy 150 allied divisions losing 300?
That question founders when you look at the rest of the war...The Germans lost practically everyone of the 2,500 AFV they could muster and send to Normandy, they lost another 600 in the Ardennes battle alone; at least 3,000 AFV in six months? Just how many divisions did the Germans destroy in the west in those six months to compensate for such huge losses?
Germans had a different view of war than the Americans. The Americans though in terms of technological power: to win is to make more and better warmaking machines than their opponents, so they allocated more resources to that end. The Germans though in terms of tactical proficiency and elan, so they allocated more resources there, Germany had a larger army (with is made of men), while the US had a larger airforce (with is made of machines).
Your ignorance just contuines to shine through; an airforce is made of machines - machines that drop bombs, interdict supply and logistic lines, machines that disrupt whats going on etc. Their not part of skynet you know ... humans are inside them, humans maintain them; likewise in an army you have huge numbers of machines and other gadgets - tanks, trucks, other motorised transport, wireless sets, artillery, small arms etc etc huge resources in the Western Allies and the German armies were devoted to the logistics and support of the combat units. Huge numbers of troops in the army does not equal huge numbers of troops manning the frontline with rifles and a bayonet; a massive ammount are instructors, mechanics, medics, admin etc etc

The Western Allies and the Soviet Army conducted large scale mechanized war; if looking at peak strengths or the numbers who passed through the ranks the main three allied nations outnumbered the Heer and Waffen-SS considerably. Of course sprouting numbers does not look at the real picture and ignores the tail-tooth ratios and those actually thrown on the frontline. At the end of the day all the tactical proficiency isnt going to do you any good when your nation is at war on multpiple fronts, hopelessly outnumbered, out produced in every way, has lost the initative and is being led around like a dog as your opponents strike at you with straetgic attacks that throw your entire forces off balance.

Rambling about how the Americans won via technological power ignores how all sides strived to build better and greater things to give them the edge.
Also, Germany outproduced all other powers in the production of ammunition. While in equipment, both the USSR and the US outproduced Germany. That difference can be explained by the fact that the Germans fired their guns a loot more while the allied tanks and aircraft were blow up a loot more.
:roll:
Well, I can argue that WW2 truly finished Europe off as the center of the world. In 1938 Europe's GDP was a larger proportion of the global economy than ever after.
A completly different argument than you started with. You said the war crippled the economy of Europe forever - not that it displaced the European market as the "centre of the world"; something i believe you will find the US took over from Germany - who in turn had took the lead from the UK - a couple of decades before iirc.

But alas:

Just a quick google search:
http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.c ... kdown.html

2006 GDP-PPP (billions USD)
US - 13,149.0
EU - 13,349.1

http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.c ... match.html

2007 GDP-PPP (billions USD)
US - 13,743.02
EU - 14,430.00

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... _(nominal)

2008 List by the International Monetary Fund (GDP (millions of USD))
US - 14,441,425
EU - 18,387,785

2008 List by the CIA World Factbook (GDP (millions of USD) )
US - 14,260,000
EU - 18,140,000

Bearing in mind thats a complete set of data stretching back from the war to present; it would seem that a quick google search shows that the European econcomy is not or was permently scredamaged because of the war as you claimed.
2- More industrial muscle? Well, that is my point: With full access to the global market, then, mainland Europe would have a good deal more of industrial power than historically, because they could import what they needed. I would say that they would have even more than the US (yes, I did some research to say that).
A moment ago your argument was the Germans didnt need more industrial muscle they just needed more men who were trained to fight tactically better than their oppoents; now you agree they need industrial might to back them?

But was exactly is your point? The Western Allies had access to the global market; the likes of the UK could call upon the rest of the CW and Empire - not to mention neutral countries and the US - for general supplies, strategic supplies and war materials. Likewise the USSR was able to access sources outside of her own borders. Considering Germany, was by the end of the war, at war with pracitcally the entire world - what market could they draw on? They used their European allies, European neutral countries, and captured territories to take what they needed; the Allied commanders in Italy envisioned an attack to cut off the Danube from German and hence halt the transport of practically every major strategic item the Germans needed from metals to oil.
3- But, of course, the main cause of the outcome was the fighting power of the USSR. No country was ever so resilient to attack. Any other country in history would have collapsed under the blow inflicted by Barbarossa, they lost 220 divisions, 20,000 tanks and 20,000 aircraft in 5 months, and won 8O ! If a can sum up the reason for the outcome of WW2 in one sentence I would say: "The resilience of the Red Army".
How about the resilience of the Soviet Union not just their army; their ability to call on more manpower, their ability to call upon more industrial power, their ability to adapt to the situation and inflict crushing defeats upon the German army that caused overall more damage that the German attacks did. The key point - with more manpower and industrial might the other nations were able to absorb the blows the Germans dealt and hit back; something on the whole the Germans could not do.

What about the overall strategic decission of fighting a war on more than one front - i think the top brass of Germany have to take some flak for the outcome of the war - the destruction of their nation...

Considering you said that the loss of an outside market was one of the major reasons for defeat for the Germans; how would having that access - to who do you envision them having access to - combat this resilient army that came back from the brink and defeated the Germans after they had gave it their all and had not destroyed them?

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by ljadw » 06 Dec 2009 22:50

One point:that the Red army conducted large scale mechanised war :in fact the Red army had one truck for three horses and in july 1942 and 1944 the Germans had a better ratio manpower-tanks than the Soviets :1942 :1 to 1O40 for the German s ,1 to 1410 for the Soviets;in 1944:1 to 62O and 1 to 96O

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by takata_1940 » 07 Dec 2009 02:10

Guaporense wrote: ohh, The munition fallacy. I.e.: allies won because they had more munitions.
Production of materiel was not a major problem to the german war effort. In fact, they needed more men and fuel to use the equipment that they produced historically than they had.
ohh!... and what happened to this mighty German army when it reached the Channel coast in 1940?
Here, the nazi just realized that they were short of every means necessary to finish off the British because they had neither the amphibious equipment, neither the fleet or U-Boote, neither an adequate airforce in order to wage a war accross 20 km of hostile sea. At this time, they had all the manpower they needed, about 2.000.000 useless troops, and a great abundance of fuel as they nearly doubled all their fuel stock from the captured French oil reserves. So, they could have paid a full year hollidays to most of their armed force (at French/Belgium/Holland/Poland expenses), sat on top of their milion tons of raw materials and armament captured from the defeated power, in order to watch their aiforce being wasted in the British sky.
In fact, they produced less materiel because they needed less. To take France and destroy the combined armies of France, Britain, Belgium and Netherlands (totaling 3.4 million men and 150 divisions), the Germans lost only 300 tanks. While, to destroy 60-70 understrength German divisions (totaling around 1 million men), in the western front from 1944-1945, the allies lost 12.500 tanks. Do you see why the allies produced more materiel (equipment)? Because they needed more.
In fact, they produced less materiel than they needed when it was critical for them to have more (in 1940-1942) and they still had the ressource to use it at this time, in manpower and fuel. It was just impossible to develop quickly enough what was lacking (amphibious means, strategical aircraft, long range fighters) or to produce much more than what was planned at the time (naval ships, U-boote, tanks, trucks, etc.).
Why produce 55,000 tanks per year (allied production in 1944) if you can destroy 150 allied divisions losing 300? Germany, out of the major powers of WW2, the one that allocated the smallest proportion of their war resources to the production of munitions (specially equipment), and the power that allocated the largest proportion of resources to the army's payroll.
The reason why Germany had so few tanks in 1940 wasn't because she didn't need more of them, but because she couldn't produce everything she needed at the same time at this stage of the war. Armament factories were not growing like mushrooms. Germany was short of steel but spent a lot in the Westwall - was it really needed in 1939-1940?
The flak guns (with their ammo) were in very great abundance but she feared almost nothing from the air - did she knew it in 1940?
While, at the same time, she had almost an useless anti-tank gun and very few tanks - was it forecasted that she will need much more heavier guns, trucks and tanks later for the Eastern war in order to win a decisive victory?

By the end of 1944, Germany had a very powerfull (and fully trained) anti-tank defence. Almost every troops had some means to destroy any tanks, even the most powerfull. This was not the case in 1940 and such a comparison is meaningless.

By the way, in ten days in May 1940, the Panzerdivisionnen had lost about 50% of their tanks and it took 15 days of refitting before they could be launched again during Fall Rot. At this time, the antitank means were not as deadly as they were later and many tanks could be easily recovered if the battleground was not permanently lost.

Another point about the Western campaign is that this attack was certainly the easiest in many way for the German of the whole war, even if the battleground was fully manned:
- They faced four nations with un-coordinated defences, weak continental airforces added to poor anti-air defences.
- Italy was a threatening factor holding many French and British means (air, sea and ground).
- Germany feared nothing from URSS; nothing along the French border from Luxemburg to Switzerland, as she feared nothing from France during the Polish campaign.
- None of the enemy Armies were battle hardened and a very large part of it was barely trained and poorly armed.
- All the German main attack force was veteran from a victorious campaign, fully trained from real war actions.
- The communication network, from Germany to the objectives, was amongst the best in the world.
- Germany had the initiative to concentrate and attack where, how and when she decided.
- Because of the civilian population density, milions of people would be thrown accross the roads to escape the invasion and bombardements and would desorganize any movements and reinforcements.
Moreover,
- the distance from the German border to Amsterdam was 80 miles, to Bruxelles 70 miles, and to Paris 190 miles.

Nevertheless, destroying France, Belgium and Netherlands would not win the war in the West because Germany had to defeat Britain and was proved powerless to do so... because she wasn't equiped to do it!

The major difference in the East was that Moscow was 600 miles far away, with very poor communications including a limited timespan allowed for military operations by the harsh weather. If German military power could be very strong when concentrated and not too far from the German industries, it wasn't able to keep its strengh once projected to a relative long distance, as it was also the case in North Africa or for any attempt to invade Britain. And the reason was all about war equipment which wasn't up to the task assigned: winning the war.
For example, in 1941 Ger spent 10.85 billion RM in munitions, while war expenditures were 71 billion RM. For comparison, in 1943, the US spent 38 billion dollars in munitions, while war expenditures were 79,7 billion dollars. In other words: Munitions accounted for 15% of Ger military outlays in 1941, while for the US in 1943, munitions consisted in 48% of military outlays. Sources: Klein (1959), Wagenfürh (1954), Bureau of the Census (1975), Harrison (1988).
This is kind silly again to compare what it is not comparable. What you are saying is that the German soldiers were better paid than US troops (I'd like to see how it is computed) because Germany spent less in equipment, then German soldiers were much more motivated and more effective! One would wonder if the troops which were left without winter gears in the Russian winter liked better their high payroll than any warm clothes...

The reason why global comparisons on expenditures between US and Germany are meaningless is because the prime factor behind each country war strategy was the Geography!
The USA had to wage war in Europe at 3,500 miles from its East coast and in the Pacific at 6,000 miles from its West coast! It is not difficult to understand that sea powers cannot wage war overseas like a continental power which is like a spider in the middle of its web. Keeping all the world's oceans safe for tens of thousands of vital merchant ships, protected by thousands of naval vessels relying on hundreds of sea bases accross the globe, to be feed and fully manned, will certainly need some extra money in comparison to the infantry/armor strength deployed on the battlefield. Even the airforce cannot fight without all the shipping behind, and the millions of men mobilized to keep it running.

British 6th Army in Egypt barely reached 6 full combat divisions but its LOC extended accross 13,000 miles around Africa to Britain (3 months run) and kept certainly more than 1,5 milion men busy to supply it. A supply ship in the Pacific could make no more than 3 trips a year as an average. So what? this was costly but USA-Britain could do it until they had a sufficient power able to be projected in Europe, which they did, accross the same chanel that the Germans were unable to cross in 1940... because Germany did not have the means to produce the necessary equipment, whatever good pay and elan the German troops had.

S~
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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by The_Enigma » 07 Dec 2009 03:21

I have seen snippets of information here, there and everywhere over the past fews suggesting that the Reichsmark was basically worthless during the run up to and during the war; i have nothing at hand to base that information on so i would be kindly glad of anyones help on the subject.

However if it was extremely weak, would that become a factor when discussing who spent the most money on whatever?

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by LWD » 07 Dec 2009 14:46

The_Enigma wrote:I have seen snippets of information here, there and everywhere over the past fews suggesting that the Reichsmark was basically worthless during the run up to and during the war; i have nothing at hand to base that information on so i would be kindly glad of anyones help on the subject.

However if it was extremely weak, would that become a factor when discussing who spent the most money on whatever?
If you want a detailed answer look in Wages of Destruction

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by The_Enigma » 07 Dec 2009 15:17

That would be a book that has sat on my shelf since it has came out and i have yet to read - one day! :lol: Although good to know that the book does deal with the question i rose - cheers :)

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by Qvist » 07 Dec 2009 15:35

I'd strongly recommend pulling it off the shelf. It's going to be one of the most impact-rich books you'll ever read about WWII.

cheers

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by takata_1940 » 07 Dec 2009 15:52

The_Enigma wrote:I have seen snippets of information here, there and everywhere over the past fews suggesting that the Reichsmark was basically worthless during the run up to and during the war; i have nothing at hand to base that information on so i would be kindly glad of anyones help on the subject.

However if it was extremely weak, would that become a factor when discussing who spent the most money on whatever?
Hi Enigma,

What Guaporense meant was unrelated to the value of the Reichsmark vs dollar (or whatever), but an analysis of the war spending ratio between "munition" and "non munition" war goods inside German (1941) and US (1943) war economy.
He takes this ratio, 16% (Germany) vs 48% (USA) as a measure of military efficiency proved by the results achieved in the 1940 & 1941 campaigns.

Without discussing the detailed figure computed for both countries, because one may find that the German total war spending for 1941 was much higher than 71 billion RM, making the 16% ratio even smaller, the real question is to ask if such a figure is relevant with any relative "efficiency" as presented by Guaporense?

. 1941: Germany spent 100 points in her war machine and achieved 16 (or less) in munition output.
. 1943: USA spent 100 points in her war machine and achieved 48 in munition output.
Question: who was the more efficient of both?

Now, Guaporense introduced a new criterium of "war efficiency", stating that, with such a low munition output, Germany destroyed a lot of enemy divisions: 150 in the 1940 Western front and 240 in the 1941 Eastern front; consequently Germany needed no more munitions because she emphasized the élan of her troops rather than high munition output. As the USA put the emphasize on munition output but was unable to achieve such a scale of victories, Germany was much more "war efficient" than the USA.

Nontheless, he didn't noticed that both 1940 & 1941 campaigns ended with a complete strategical failure as neither UK nor USSR were defeated, which implied that Germany was finaly doomed. As for a comparison of the scale of victories, once it is taken into account the geography factors opposed to the USA for waging a victorious war in Europe and the reality of the 1944 battlefields vs the 1940-1941 period, one will not underate the real scale of the total Allied victory against Germany.

S~
Olivier
Last edited by takata_1940 on 07 Dec 2009 17:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: German vs. Allied technology

Post by Kelvin » 07 Dec 2009 17:18

Hitler's victory in 1940 is lucky. No one expect the conquest of France and the low countries so quickly. They only the 1940 war was repeat of 1914 and German was exhausted and US or Russia joined the war. Of course, the conquest of France and disappearance of 2 million French army in Hitler's western front provided favourable condition for Hitler to win the war. But Hitler missed the chance in 1940-41 to win this war.

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