German vs. Soviet production in 1942

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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LWD
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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by LWD » 05 Mar 2013 19:30

One of the problems may be in just what is included in the "great power" numbers. In particular does the UK just include the British Isles or are British colonies also included? The GDP of India from at least one source I've seen was over 200 for at least part of this period and it was a colony at that point in time (as oppose to say Canada which was a seperate country). Then there's the question about whether one should just be looking at the UK or the entire British Commonwealth. Similar considerations would exits for other powers as well.

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by steverodgers801 » 06 Mar 2013 23:57

Even if the Germans had "better tanks" what good is it if like the Tiger, which had major problems in moving and is likely to breakdown and therefore is not available. If the Soviets were so backwards, how were they able to vastly out produce the Germans. German in many ways, especially in agriculture was as backwards as the Soviets.

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by adam7 » 07 Mar 2013 00:52

steverodgers801 wrote:Even if the Germans had "better tanks" what good is it if like the Tiger, which had major problems in moving and is likely to breakdown and therefore is not available. If the Soviets were so backwards, how were they able to vastly out produce the Germans. German in many ways, especially in agriculture was as backwards as the Soviets.
Do you have the impression that Soviet tanks were not prone to breakdowns? They were, but they were so crude that they could be repaired in very crude worksops in the field.

How can North Korea produce a nuclear bomb? Russian outproduced Germans in tanks since all their production went to military purposes. The living standards of common peolple were terrible. This went on as long as the Soviet Union existed. I guess you never were there. I was there in the late seventies and late eighties. You can't imagine how bad it was.

And on what do you base your claim on the agriculture?

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by steverodgers801 » 07 Mar 2013 06:42

Tooze, wages of destruction and the fact that Germany had to import food before the war.

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by adam7 » 08 Mar 2013 17:17

steverodgers801 wrote:Tooze, wages of destruction and the fact that Germany had to import food before the war.
Most of the Western European nations had to import food before and during the war. This is not due to backwardness but to limited agricultural area. The Soviets destroyed much of their agricultural output by tehe collectivization of farmland and central orders for production as well as party hacks without agricultural knowledge as managers of the collective farms combined with non-existent benefits to farmworkers for performing well. Before the revolution Russia exported grain. After the revolution Stalin exported grain and starved 20 million Ukrainians to death by taking their grain. The Soviet Union never got its agriculture working.

Hitler wanted "lebensraum" (living space), which meant the agricultural areas of Eastern Europe, Western Russia and Ukraine.

PS. You seem to confuse me for a professional historian by the surname you mention.

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by LWD » 11 Mar 2013 14:40

adam7 wrote: ... Most of the Western European nations had to import food before and during the war. This is not due to backwardness but to limited agricultural area. ...
Tooze points out a number of areas where German agriculture was inefficient compared to say US or Canadian agriculture. Furthermore there were areas where for political purposes the Nazi regime increased these ineffieincies. I'm not sure I'd describe all of them as "backward" but some certainly were.

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by steverodgers801 » 11 Mar 2013 20:23

Britain did have to import, but they had the merchant marine. The western countries under German control were forcibly exporting food to Germany. One of Germanys key problems is that their agriculture was still mostly manual in the average farm. Its also not just the production, but the transporting of the food that also could be considered backwards.

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by Urmel » 18 Mar 2013 10:53

LWD wrote:
adam7 wrote: ... Most of the Western European nations had to import food before and during the war. This is not due to backwardness but to limited agricultural area. ...
Tooze points out a number of areas where German agriculture was inefficient compared to say US or Canadian agriculture. Furthermore there were areas where for political purposes the Nazi regime increased these ineffieincies. I'm not sure I'd describe all of them as "backward" but some certainly were.
After the war Germany started a massive drive to deal with the inefficiency, which lasted until the 1980s in Bavaria. It was called Flurbereinigung, and essentially re-allocated farmland based on formulas about its productivity to give farmers bigger single fields to till, rather than a number of smaller ones. I believe this was the first clean-up of land ownership since medieval times. In environmental terms it was a desaster, removing a lot of Lebensraum for species that have now become endangered (by removing hedges etc.). But it increased productivity, and massively increased average farm size.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flurbereinigung

As you can see from the entry above, the situation had been recognised as a problem since the 19th century. But instead of addressing it, the Nazi government focused (I believe) on bringing more marginal land into production, with predictable results.

My late grandfather, once he was done with invading and occupying other European countries, was responsible for this process for a while in his village.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by Urmel » 18 Mar 2013 11:31

Found a picture to explain the outcome.

The colour coding shows quite well the changes and how this improved productivity.

From this (by the looks of it very well researched) source: http://www.historisches-lexikon-bayerns ... ikel_46041

Of particular note the view of the authors of the article:
Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg wurde die Flurbereinigung angesichts von Hungersnöten in der Bevölkerung und des Rückstands der deutschen Landwirtschaft deutschlandweit zur dringenden nationalen Aufgabe erklärt.
My translation: Following WW2 the Flurbereinigung was, in the face of hunger in the population and the backwardness of the German agriculture declared to be an urgent national task across Germany.
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The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by John Bannerman » 05 Jul 2015 00:48

Just a few minor comments (awaiting the usual firestorm):
1. GDP is a measure of total productive output based on money. That is a critical item if you are funding a war. Germany as the 8th Largest Economy in the world in 1939 had, of the developed nations the smallest Foreign Exchange reserve and was in effect subject to trade restrictions.. That basically meant they had to barter not buy product and resources. Tough when you have little to sell.
2. Scientific progress under Nazi German leadership was limited to very small, and often militarily pointless projects - by small I mean in terms of military significance - such as the useless V1, V2, V3 programmes, which although a nuisance were not lethal weapons in the terms that Hitler wished for.
3. German literacy rates were about 66% - the lowest of the top 10 economies in the war. This led to repeated issues with training of technical specialists, albeit not on the scale suffered by the Soviets who had a literacy rate around 55%. UK literacy was significantly higher than German literacy, and unlike a bunch of theoretical Scientists, at least British ones came up with some reasonably useful ideas.
4. Car ownership was 1/20th that of the USA, and about 1/10th that of the UK. This is critical as it helps indicate the "machine mindedness" of the populace, and gives an indication of the accessibility of the German people to material possessions. In short they had little access to wealth and were not particularly technically minded.
5. Industrial out put was significantly lower, due to lack of money to pay for key resources than the total potential of their economy. Why? They had a material lack of natural resources, ranging from POL to coal. Furthermore, as a result of the manpower losses of WW1, the Germans, like France had a drop off in available manpower, allied to a policy that suggested to the people that women should not work in industry. In actual fact German use of female labour was consistently higher as a percentage of the economy, but lower in terms of releasing manpower for other tasks than that of the USA and the UK.
6. Canada alone more or less outstripped German automotive production. Interesting factoid that - and one I only get hold of recently.
7. The British war machine consisted of: The United Kingdom, its colonies, empire and dominions. In short political agreements between the UK (and its Crown and non-Crown Colonies, ruled, taxed and exploited directly) and the Dominions (South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) meant that the over all commonwealth (the global term for that amalgam) productive capacity needs examination. When it is considered that the Indian Army only deployed a small fraction of its "illiterate" peasants, that the Colonies in Africa could have deployed 8 further divisions of peasants etc it becomes clear that the mass of manpower available to the British, never mind the Allies was never really tapped. It did not have to be.
8. The Commonwealth as a whole matched German and Italian Production of most key war making items in combination. It could not match the additional threat of Japanese intervention. The Commonwealth as a whole out produced the Axis powers by at least 2:1 as a minimum in several key areas, particularly motor vehicles and naval production. The Japanese decision to waste 210,000 tonnes of supposedly high grade steel on 3 super battleships was a moronic production decision that crippled their ability to provide escort vessels. Well done.
9. US production more or less matched the combination of the entire Axis in terms of out put - and then made up multiples of it in various key sectors, including aircraft, shipping and vehicular production.
10. Soviet factories developed and designed during the 1920s and 30s were world class facilities, largely designed and built on the flow process, not the "star" process liked by the Germans. The Flow Process, also called production line process was developed by the USA and the UK to mass produce various items. The most famous of course is the Model T car. The excellence of this over the German system (where bits are moved about and finally assembled in one location rather than bits being put on in succession) was simple - cheap, repeatable and fast - thus making Soviet factories significantly more productive per "groat" spent.
11. Germany suffered extensive labour and resource dislocation during the war, provided by the RAF, the USAAF, and various other factors, such as the insane Final Solution. This generally meant that per head productivity generally decline in key sectors, this crippling German economic development. Even more alarmingly, is the misinterpretation of the Speer "Miracle" - which was in effect the last ditch move to 24 hour working using slave and forced labour, plus a rapid re-allocation of resources away from a variety of other programmes to the perceived "wonder programmes" like tank production (not much use without the trucks and fuel and spares etc.0, Aircraft (again not much use without trained crew and fuel), and to a lesser extent ammunition (which was crucial, but never what you might call copious on the Axis side). This move of resources did not arrest a plateau in overall productivity, or GDP decline, resulting from an overheat in the fiscal economy caused by a decision to more or less use scrip not viable money to pay for the war. No one (understandably) would lend to Germany...
12. The use of capital to describe the economics of WW2 is very interesting. The British loss of Malaya would potentially have been critical to the war, had it not been for the US ability to lend lease (ie provide now, charge later) resources. Malaya (and Borneo and Burma) accounted for £750,000,000 in hard currency "profit" - which is really more useful in USD (4 USD to 1 GBP): $3,000,000,000 per annum - and most of that was in trade with... the USA. So, lets look at that. It meant that the Commonwealth did not really need Lend Lease until 1942-3. What it did need was a massive move of production from threatened zones to non-threatened zones as it was (and is) more cost effective to buy a finished item and ship that than to ship the resources and then the finished item. The Allies by hook or crook actually did this very well.
13. The capture of net resource importing nations - the Benelux, France, Poland, and so forth - meant that Germany basically doubled down on the bet that more capacity and insufficient material resources would win. It could not, and the economic numbers for Western Europe under German Control clearly showed the pathetic levels of production achieved, due to the lack of resource inputs from overseas. Even worse, it tied up German manpower, and did not other than short term windfalls provide additional financial resources with which items could be produced.
14. The Hunger Plan. Hitler and Nazi's had a utopian view of agriculture. They wanted German peasant farmers to be fed and watered in effect by the nation in a racially pure system while the periphery - the Eastern Lands were to be literally depopulated by starvation, thus ensureing a sufficiency of food in the Reich. It more or less worked as long as transport systems worked. Germans did not undergo the level of privation that they had during WW1. However it did not answer questions in relation to production, occupation unrest etc. and can be thought of as counter productive. Note that Europe as a whole was a net food importer, whilst the British Commonwealth as a whole was a net exporter. As long as the ships kept redistributing resources, we here in the UK were not going to starve, or run out of ores, oil, or even manpower. Germany was and did eventually as the Allied Force deprived it of transport or its conquests over time.

Quick thought. I have heard that Jason Long is a researcher involved in the HMS/GRD Europa (TM) game series, a game series in which the owners have apparently stated in passing on a number of occasions that if the game does not permit a German Victory, it will not sell. Far be it from me to say Mr Long's numbers are incorrect, but by association with that type of product, it may be that his numbers are not quite as perfect as he might like them to be due to the need to make them work within the precept of the product.

I help research another game series - TSWW (TM) - which has a different precept:

"If players take decisions that are historical in nature the game shall provide a historical result"

No axe to grind - its merely a comment that might show a slight difference of emphasis. I have sources ranging from WSC to Tooze, and from the various US histories to those of the Commonwealth powers, as well as many books that look at the economics of WW2. I would be delighted to comment on them if need be. I and my team try and confirm numbers 3 times - and if as is usual the numbers are somewhat different, we average them.

To that end I am very comfortable with our numbers, and know that they do make certain aspects of WW2 rather clear. The Axis were over matched from the get go - if only because the Allies could trade overseas, and they could not.

Regards

John Bannerman

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by South » 05 Jul 2015 05:58

Good morning John, ... and welcome to the forum; had missed your first 3 posts.

Not a firestorm; just some comments;

In re "1." and "8.", would it not be more accurate.....actualy "correct" ..... to say Gross NATIONAL Product" is a critical item if you are funding a war" ? The bigger GNP is where the hidden FOREX is frequently found. I'm writing this because you refer to the UK plus its various affiliates eg the Dominions, colonies. The US had similiar arrangements. Everything just didn't show up in the GDP. To abbreviate: GDP presents the more accurate measure of the economy in discussion but the GNP provides the more realistic view of what's available. I do, however, agree with your theme.

In re "12."; Malaya - and British Borneo - were already "written off" via the Rainbow Plans. Some planners recognized this area's loss when the Naval ship ratio agreements were accepted. The Japanese vessels were going to get fuel for the boats and it wasn't coming from the US Gulf of Mexico.

Warm regards,

Bob

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 05 Jul 2015 08:38

Morning John
The Economy people are relatively friendly....
Can I refer you to "Germany and the Second World War" Volume V Part 1 with regard to the Speer Programme. You will see that the under performance of the German military economy in the early part of the war was largely due to administrative problems between the HWA, WiRu and GBK which left German factory capacity under used and an under utilisation of the raw materials that they already had. This problem was gradually solved by Fritz Todt, so that on his death the economy could be turned around by Speer. German military production was held at pre-war levels for 1939-1941 while her enemies increased their level of industrial mobilisation and production. Had this been addressed in Sept 1939, Germany would have had a properly equipped 180 Division for the invasion of Russia and a larger Luftwaffe.

To my mind using the USA as a benchmark for motorisation distorts the picture as every European nation looks bad against the American numbers. Similarly comparing the USSR against Germany shows a five fold difference in the level of motorisation per head of population which looks equally bad.
The simple fact is that outside North America, most developed nations relied upon coal fired ships, railways and horses as their prinicipal modes of transport, industry and agriculture with motor vehicles providing a minimum of personal transport for the few and principally short distance haulage for commerce. It was perfectly possible to run a war using railways and horses yet rarely in these discussions do you see comparisons of the number of locomotives held by each nation nor their national stock of horses.

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by Dann Falk » 05 Jul 2015 17:35

Great to see you back on the forums Der Alte Fritz

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by steverodgers801 » 07 Jul 2015 20:53

Fully equipped is relative, there still would have been a shortage of vehicles to motorize units.

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Re: German vs. Soviet production in 1942

Post by Paul_Atreides » 07 Jul 2015 22:13

Der Alte Fritz wrote:Similarly comparing the USSR against Germany shows a five fold difference in the level of motorisation per head of population which looks equally bad.
There is a nuance - the number of trucks. In 1939: Germany - ~450 000, USSR - ~850 000.
There is no waste, there are reserves (Slogan of the German Army in World Wars)

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