Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

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Graeme Sydney
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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by Graeme Sydney » 16 Apr 2010 14:56

takata_1940 wrote: No. It's clearly vital as there is NO substitute for it in German controled territories.
To quote Andy H from above;

"From these figures around 50%+ at times of German ore imports were from Sweden"

So the denying of Narvik might result in a 50% cut in supply of Swedish iron ore that would lead to approximately a 25% reduction of Germany's overall supply. I would hardly think this would lead to "Without this ore, the German industrial production will crash in a very short term."

Short falls might be made up by rationing, cessation of domestic production or other measures.
takata_1940 wrote:
Graeme Sydney wrote:
takata_1940 wrote:4. Operations in Norway (both Allied and German) took place two months before France felt;
I'm acutely aware of this but I don't think it is an issue when considering the strategic decision of the Invasion of Norway to secure the Swedish iron ore.
That's the part of your reasoning I don't understand.
Because I'm talking/thinking at the strategic level. The securing or lossing a percentage of the Swedish iron ore, or even a total lost of supply, will not effect the outcome of the next and more important strategic battle, the defeat of France and Britain. Conversely, operations in the Invasion of Norway would negatively impact on the outcome with France and Britain.

The time frame of 2 months makes these Operational considerations not Strategic considerations. If Germany was really desperate for protection of it's iron ore supply it should have acted earlier, or after the defeat of F & B.

takata_1940 wrote:I posted the graphs from the report I've got, and actually, they intended to cut this supply in March 1940.
I'm not in a position to critique the report but "Swedish importations stopped 1 Apr. 1940 [note the date] -> crisis Summer 1940." seems to be contradicted by Andy H's info.

IIRC the Allies plans for April '40 were to close Narvik by laying mine fields. At least this would leave Luleå operating for for the summer months. I don't know what % reduction in supply would be caused by the closure of Narvik but I think it would be quite sometime later that the predicted crisis struck.

takata_1940
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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by takata_1940 » 16 Apr 2010 16:58

Graeme Sydney wrote:
takata_1940 wrote: No. It's clearly vital as there is NO substitute for it in German controled territories.
To quote Andy H from above;
"From these figures around 50%+ at times of German ore imports were from Sweden"
Well, I'll come back later on this point as you are relying on figures which do not depict the real situation of German iron ore supply from 9.39 to 6.40. Raw iron ore is one thing, ore iron content is another one. I'll put that on a graph especially for you.
Graeme Sydney wrote: So the denying of Narvik might result in a 50% cut in supply of Swedish iron ore that would lead to approximately a 25% reduction of Germany's overall supply. I would hardly think this would lead to "Without this ore, the German industrial production will crash in a very short term."
Short falls might be made up by rationing, cessation of domestic production or other measures.
Cessation of domestic production of what? German iron ore or steel? I'm not following you here.
As for the 25%, or 50% and even 100% cut, all will depend of the political situation resulting from belligerant intervention. Sweden was put under pressure to deliver it's ore to Germany, but if the allied were the first in Norway, this pressure could be reversed. That was certainly the point of the whole Weserübung operation to deny this possibilty. This matter was presented to Hitler by Reader which triggered this German intervention planning. But before that, both French and British staff already worked this possibility.
Graeme Sydney wrote:
takata_1940 wrote:4. Operations in Norway (both Allied and German) took place two months before France felt;
I'm acutely aware of this but I don't think it is an issue when considering the strategic decision of the Invasion of Norway to secure the Swedish iron ore.
Because you don't realize the share of French iron ore production, which was unavailable to the Germans after war broke out. Lorraine iron ore could replace Swedish one, at least in quantity, if not in quality which was nonetheless better than the domestic German output. The location of those fields was very close to the Saar and not far away from the Ruhr with the possibility to move it by river barges along the Moselle and the Rhine. Then, once those fields were controled by the Germans, Swedish ore could be replaced, but in any case, they could not without Lorraine deposits. And of course, this issue impacted the strategical planning as nobody from OKW forecasted that they would get them following a 6 week campaign plus few months for restarting production.
Graeme Sydney wrote:
takata_1940 wrote: That's the part of your reasoning I don't understand.
Because I'm talking/thinking at the strategic level. The securing or lossing a percentage of the Swedish iron ore, or even a total lost of supply, will not effect the outcome of the next and more important strategic battle, the defeat of France and Britain. Conversely, operations in the Invasion of Norway would negatively impact on the outcome with France and Britain.
I'm also talking about strategical level and what the leaders were supposed to take into account for addressing their operational plans. The French campaign started in May 1940. By this time, the German iron ore stock would have been exhausted if the Swedish iron supply have been cut in Sept. 1939. Domestic production could barely cover 40% of the steel-makers needs. Moreover, German steel situation was already quite bad in regard to services requirements during the first five quarterly of the war:
Steel_req.jpg
(figures x 1,000 tons; edit: I changed the table as I used the wrong column for production)
For comparison, during the first quarterly 1939, the production reached (edit: 6,270,000 tons) of steel, but other sources of iron ore were available at this time, which were not anymore during the first period of the war.
Do you really believe that losing 60% of the remaining steel production, while being already that short, would have no impact on the strategical situation of Germany? You certainly know that ammunition stock for waging war was dependant on steel supply? No power had enough ammunition stock that could last several weeks of intense combat without producing new ammunitions and war gears.
Graeme Sydney wrote: The time frame of 2 months makes these Operational considerations not Strategic considerations. If Germany was really desperate for protection of it's iron ore supply it should have acted earlier, or after the defeat of F & B.
I don't follow you either. You need to clarify this point.
Graeme Sydney wrote:
takata_1940 wrote: I posted the graphs from the report I've got, and actually, they intended to cut this supply in March 1940.
I'm not in a position to critique the report but "Swedish importations stopped 1 Apr. 1940 [note the date] -> crisis Summer 1940." seems to be contradicted by Andy H's info.
IIRC the Allies plans for April '40 were to close Narvik by laying mine fields. At least this would leave Luleå operating for for the summer months. I don't know what % reduction in supply would be caused by the closure of Narvik but I think it would be quite sometime later that the predicted crisis struck.
I don't know what you mean by "contradicted by Andy H's info".
This report is dated 15 January 1940 and may have been drafted well before this date. This is contingency planning and political issues were considered by both Foreign Office and Affaires étrangères. Nothing new about that and it is well know also that Churchill urged to do something about it early in the war:
church1.jpg
church2.jpg
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Last edited by takata_1940 on 17 Apr 2010 07:35, edited 3 times in total.

takata_1940
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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by takata_1940 » 16 Apr 2010 17:05

church3.jpg
church4.jpg
I'll post a table later about the Iron ore supply.
S~
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takata_1940
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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by takata_1940 » 17 Apr 2010 06:59

Hello,

Here is the table in two parts. The first is the European Iron Ore Production from 1934 to 1938. Iron Ore is measured by its Iron content, then it's real production values as Crude Iron Ore is somewhat misleading. The dataset is collected from USSBS and League of Nations statistics. The USSBS details German production and iron ore imports for the same period and after.
German Domestic production Iron content vary per year (extractions of low grade ore expanded prewar):
To get the figure of crude ore, here is the ratio of iron content:
1934: 0.32
1935: 0.31
1936: 0.30
1937-39: 0.28
1940: 0.29
1941: 0.30

Other countries ore is rated (from USSBS German imports):
Norway: 0.53
Sweden: 0.52
Algeria-Tunisia, Greece: 0.51
Spain: 0.48
Luxemburg and Misc.: 0.45
Newfoundlands: 0.43
France: 0.36

The second table is about importations dispatched by origin and Germany total ore avail.
Iron.jpg
PS: Saarland is also added to German domestic pool from 1935 (data is missing in 1934)
S~
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Graeme Sydney
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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by Graeme Sydney » 19 Apr 2010 02:36

Thank you for your detailed replies which are interesting in their own right. However I think we are at cross purposes when it comes to what we intend when using the word 'strategic' in the context of this discussion.

If in April '40 you assumed the broad concept of the war is going to be 1914 revisited and therefore would become a primarily static positional war of economic and manpower attrition then seeing the Swedish ore as strategically vital to Germany would be true. If on the other hand you assumed that the war was going to be a short, sharp and snappy war of maneuver then the Swedish ore is not strategically vital.

I'm not certain of what Britain's strategically assumptions or broad concepts of the conduct of the war were in '40 but I certain the evidence is that France had assumed the war was going to be 1914 revisited (except it was going to be fought on the boarders and not on French territory). This would account for why contemporary French and British reports and strategic planning would refer to Swedish ore as vital.

Equally I certain Germany was committed absolutely to a short, sharp and snappy war of maneuver. Strategically, for Germany the Norway Campaign was a wasteful and unnecessary distraction form the 'main game'.

takata_1940
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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by takata_1940 » 19 Apr 2010 12:27

Hello Graeme,
Graeme Sydney wrote:However I think we are at cross purposes when it comes to what we intend when using the word 'strategic' in the context of this discussion.
You claimed that I could not understand your point...
Because I'm talking/thinking at the strategic level
Which was intrinsically devaluating, as not worth your high level of thought, my previous comments about Germany strategical situation after war breakeout considering iron ore supply and Scandinavia. Mine being "tactical" at best. But sorry, there is only one definition of strategy and it is certainly not correlated with any one point of view or analysis of a given situation. Thereof, proper use of this term isn't about how valuable any option is but what is specifically taken into consideration for decision making. So our problem doesn't rely on the use of the word 'strategic' but that basically you don't really understand it. If you did, you would have noticed that my point differed only from yours about the importance of Swedish ore supply in regards to Germany conduct of the war, which is clearly relevant with strategical level.
Graeme Sydney wrote: If in April '40 you assumed the broad concept of the war is going to be 1914 revisited and therefore would become a primarily static positional war of economic and manpower attrition
I'm not assuming any personal opinion here. I'm relying on what is documented about each power political situation, intelligence gathering and intentions behind strategical planning. Hindsight, a posteriori or retrospective analysis concerning geopolitical and military situation is certainly valueless as an analytical method for studying history. Each situation is to be considered into its own limits of actual context.

But no, there is plenty of evidence that nobody considered that this war would be 1914-like. Before winter 1914, war was planned on both side as massives operations into open fields, outflanking manoeuvers, seeking for fast decision. Germany came one battle short of achieving some sort of "1940 success" in about the same time. On the other hand, 1939 sides believed that firepower would anihilate such kind of warfare if no level of tactical/strategical surprise could be achieved first. As for attrition war, Allies and Germany were both very reluctant to engage into such war because of inadequate reserves of manpower and all kind of munitions. Nonetheless, as it is proved by the abundant documentation on the subject, economical embargo was considered to be the main weapon in Allies' arsenal. Henceforth, its use was also their primary strategy against Germany's principal weakness. All this was fully recognized by the German high command military planners.
Graeme Sydney wrote: then seeing the Swedish ore as strategically vital to Germany would be true.
Not "would be" but was true in every sense you can possibly consider this problem in 1939-1940 with iron ore supply but also with other critical raw materials. "Strategically vital for war" has only one meaning: if you don't have it or you can not replace it, you are doomed to defeat.
Graeme Sydney wrote: If on the other hand you assumed that the war was going to be a short, sharp and snappy war of maneuver then the Swedish ore is not strategically vital.
This proposition doesn't contradict the fact that this supply is "strategically vital". It just imply that you can do without it only for a limited ammount of time. Like the fact that scuba divers may dive the time allowed by air reserves doesn't contradict the fact that air is vital. On the other hand, considering the value of such proposition for strategical planning is also basically flawed as, if war may be started at will, nobody never know in advance how long it will take to achieve objectives and settle peace. More important are the time constraints, more important are also the chances of failure.
Graeme Sydney wrote: I'm not certain of what Britain's strategically assumptions or broad concepts of the conduct of the war were in '40 but I certain the evidence is that France had assumed the war was going to be 1914 revisited (except it was going to be fought on the boarders and not on French territory). This would account for why contemporary French and British reports and strategic planning would refer to Swedish ore as vital.
See above, you already said it. Saying it twice or more won't add more weight to your point but is enlightning your argument shortness: Swedish iron ore was not vital because 1914 strategy but because Germany - unlike in 1914 - lacked it for steelmaking. Then, it was noticed by everybody.
Graeme Sydney wrote: Equally I certain Germany was committed absolutely to a short, sharp and snappy war of maneuver.
Say Graeme Sydney or this is something "certain" highly documented by contemporary sources? - forget about what was written later. If You Certain, prove it, else You Wrong.
Graeme Sydney wrote: Strategically, for Germany the Norway Campaign was a wasteful and unnecessary distraction form the 'main game'.
Say Graeme Sydney: very little objection ever occured into German military circles about Weserübung. Moreover, it came as quite a shock for their Allied conterparts. If all your argument is based on "with all those ship sunk during Norway campaign, Germany could have done such and such", all what you need to do is to open a thread in What-if forum parts. But if this is something you would mind to support with contextual documented evidences, feel free to enlight me.

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Graeme Sydney
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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by Graeme Sydney » 19 Apr 2010 13:21

To put it simply, for Germany to win the Battle of France between Feb '40 and Aug '40 Germany didn't need to invade Norway to secure supply of Swedish iron ore.

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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by Jon G. » 19 Apr 2010 13:31

Graeme Sydney wrote:...
Equally I certain Germany was committed absolutely to a short, sharp and snappy war of maneuver. Strategically, for Germany the Norway Campaign was a wasteful and unnecessary distraction form the 'main game'.
The Germans weren't planning for a short war in 1939-1940. They were devoting lots of production to ammunition, in the expectation of a renewed drawn-out slug on the western front, plus devoting a lot of effort to building the Westwall.

It turned out to be a short war in the west anyway, but that wasn't in the cards in April 1940, nor did anybody (not even the the Germans) know that France would be out of the picture a few months later.

In long war terms securing Narvik and adding Norway to Germany's conquests offered the chance to execute a blockade strategy against Britain on more favourable terms than in 1914-1918.

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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by John T » 19 Apr 2010 17:00

Graeme Sydney wrote:Thank you for your responses I have a more confident understanding of the importance of Swedish iron ore (and German steel production generally - and your fondness of the subject Jon :wink: ). However, I can't attribute the same flow on importance to Narvik (and therefore strategic importance of the invasion of Norway to secure Narvik).
First part acceptable, Narvik wasn't the main thing for Germany.
but the second part regarding strategic importance of Norway I cant agree with
Graeme Sydney wrote:
Narvik was more convenient, being 80 miles by rail rather than 120 miles to Luleå. This may have been significant to volumes exported if the Luleå rail link couldn't cope with the traffic volumes. Narvik was also more convenient because it had year round exporting due to being ice free.

But these issues could have been addressed by Germany (and Sweden) by stock piling and/or careful stock management/industrial planning. And after the fall of France become even less of an issue. These issues weren't strategic justification in themselves for the invasion of Norway. In fact I think they are fairly weak justifications.
Germany did not trust the Norwegians and Swedes to stand up against a British invasion.
And that is the point I think you miss. Germany believed she had to pre empt an Allied attack.
Graeme Sydney wrote: Denying British access to Swedish iron ore also could have been achieved by other means such as commercial contracts rather than the invasion of Norway.
Not if British army stood firmly on the Ore fields.
Graeme Sydney wrote: So I think the the capture of Narvik was a convenience rather than a strategic imperative for Germany. Right/wrong; agree/disagree?
I think Narvik in particular can be seen as the Germans denying Brittish [invasion of/support to] Sweden through the railline, more than Narvik it self as a harbour for German export.
Yes.

Best Regards
/John

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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by Aurora » 03 Jun 2010 12:26

I would just like to point out that there were three harbours shipping out Swedish iron ore. Oxelösund was ice free and the amount of iron ore shipped out would most likely have been increased there had Narvik fallen into Allied hands.

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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by Graeme Sydney » 04 Jun 2010 06:40

Aurora wrote:I would just like to point out that there were three harbours shipping out Swedish iron ore. Oxelösund was ice free and the amount of iron ore shipped out would most likely have been increased there had Narvik fallen into Allied hands.
Thanks. I had made the appreciation that southern Swedish 'ice free' ports were available although I couldn't have given a name of a port.

But there would still be a major logistic choke point by using a southern Swedish port rather than Narvik and that would have been the Swedish railway network. Was the Swedish railway network capable of handling the increased volume of traffic this would have required?

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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by phylo_roadking » 04 Jun 2010 14:10

But there would still be a major logistic choke point by using a southern Swedish port rather than Narvik and that would have been the Swedish railway network. Was the Swedish railway network capable of handling the increased volume of traffic this would have required?
Doubtful in the extreme. The shift of the Swedish Army's four divisions to the border with Finland on the outbreak of the Winter War was enough to create chaos in the Swedish railway network that lasted for months - so much so that British aid to Finland that should have transhipped through Sweden was sitting piled up at Swedish North Sea ports. At one point while discussing aid to Finland under the Chamberlain government, Chuchill suggested that British railway experts should be sent to Sweden to help them try to sort out the chaos to get the aid to Finland moving again. It seems a lot of the rail network was single line, so a constant stream of ore trains running North-South would have played merry hell with the normal running of the network...or vice versa!
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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by John T » 05 Jun 2010 12:34

Graeme Sydney wrote:
Aurora wrote:I would just like to point out that there were three harbours shipping out Swedish iron ore. Oxelösund was ice free and the amount of iron ore shipped out would most likely have been increased there had Narvik fallen into Allied hands.
Thanks. I had made the appreciation that southern Swedish 'ice free' ports were available although I couldn't have given a name of a port.

But there would still be a major logistic choke point by using a southern Swedish port rather than Narvik and that would have been the Swedish railway network. Was the Swedish railway network capable of handling the increased volume of traffic this would have required?


Swedish Iron ore export of 1937 an 1941:
Narvik .....55% - 8%
Luleå ......22% - 49%
Oxelösund 15% - 22%
Other ......8% - 21%
(Most important Gävle, Hargshamn,Stockholm, Västerås och Otterbäcken)

from "German Steel and Swedish Iron Ore" by Martin Fritz

Narvik where marginal after 1940, as Luleå handled most of the exports from Gällivare fields.

But it wasn't economically to rail large volumes of ore from Gällivare directly to south Sweden,
the Luleå-Narvik railline where built to much higher loads than any other rail line in Scandinavia.

So the solution where to utilise the more southern iron mines( situated north of the Lakes Vänern and Vättern)
exported trough Oxelösund and "the others"


Cheers
/John T.

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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by John T » 06 Jun 2010 21:11

phylo_roadking wrote:
But there would still be a major logistic choke point by using a southern Swedish port rather than Narvik and that would have been the Swedish railway network. Was the Swedish railway network capable of handling the increased volume of traffic this would have required?
Doubtful in the extreme. The shift of the Swedish Army's four divisions to the border with Finland on the outbreak of the Winter War was enough to create chaos in the Swedish railway network that lasted for months - so much so that British aid to Finland that should have transhipped through Sweden was sitting piled up at Swedish North Sea ports. At one point while discussing aid to Finland under the Chamberlain government, Chuchill suggested that British railway experts should be sent to Sweden to help them try to sort out the chaos to get the aid to Finland moving again. It seems a lot of the rail network was single line, so a constant stream of ore trains running North-South would have played merry hell with the normal running of the network...or vice versa!
Hi Phylo could you please be a bit more specific about your source than "Cabinet minutes at the Kew National Archive.",
a lot of those are on line I love to read it.

Best regards
/John

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Re: Swedish Iron Ore and Narvik

Post by phylo_roadking » 06 Jun 2010 21:20

John, I'll try to find it again - it was a three-page record of the meeting where this was discussed along with the sending of Bristol Blenheims to Finland. I found it as part of the searching on the issue of the putative "English" landmines in Finland thread elsewhere, but as it wasn't directly relevant I didn't keep the URL at the time.
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