Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
Cannae
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Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by Cannae » 23 Feb 2012 07:49

Hello to all,

As of lately my historical research has been confined to the World War 2 period in a quest of knowledge relative to military history. Most of you know that the decisive factor in the conflict pertained to the economic resources brought to bear in the multiple theaters. If I may, most scholarship on the topic was jejune in concluding insight up until Tooze's Magnus Opus known as The Wages of Destruction. Tooze speculated on many theories, such as the ineffectiveness of the allied bombings, the Holocaust events, and procurement in German industries. The historians' excellence amid the use of German archives and other literature backed up his sentiments to a great extent. To date, arguably, there has been no tolerable challenge of his work.

However, I would like to spark a few questions for those who are economists on the forum. As I recall, Tooze focused a lot on the personalities of the Reich and statistical analysis of the economy to back up his conclusions. Do you think economic theory can be applied to Tooze's works to rightly prove that Germany really could not have produced enough to overpower the international movement? (E.g. tariffs, wages, unemployment and the likes) Also, how can we use World War 2 as a model to predict the results of future clashes from an economic standpoint?

Look forward to any input.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Mar 2012 01:58

You might take a look at John Ellis 'Brute Force' if you have not already. In a way Ellis picks up where Tooze leaves off, tho that is not the primary thrust of this book. Ellis compiles a lot of numbers in over fifty tables and charts, and he carefully connects each to the sources he drew from. So, this serves as a link to a broad variety of secondary and primary sources to pursue.

Much of the information in 'Brute Force' supports Tooze as it consists of direct comparisons of the fundamentals of German & Allied industrial base & output. There are a few contradictions of inconsistencies as well tho none earthshaking that I can recall.

Ellis s work predates Tooze by nearly two decades. In that context Tooze is not springing his ideas from whole cloth, tho his focus is a lot tighter on this that Ellis or any others I could recall.

paspartoo
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by paspartoo » 04 Mar 2012 11:10

Hi Cannae . Tooze's contribution was in challenging the widely held belief that the German economy was in some way mismanaged prior to Speer. He was not the first to do so. Werner Abelshauser in 'The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison ' also destroyed some of these myths.
Now regarding your question can you be more specific? What do you mean by :

'Do you think economic theory can be applied to Tooze's works to rightly prove that Germany really could not have produced enough to overpower the international movement? '
A simple economist with an unhealthy interest in military and intelligence history.....
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steverodgers801
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by steverodgers801 » 04 Mar 2012 15:19

The economy was never run as well as the west or Soviets, even after Speer came. I dont know if you need economic theory, its more of a simple case of math.

Cannae
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by Cannae » 04 Mar 2012 16:55

paspartoo wrote:Hi Cannae . Tooze's contribution was in challenging the widely held belief that the German economy was in some way mismanaged prior to Speer. He was not the first to do so. Werner Abelshauser in 'The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison ' also destroyed some of these myths.
Now regarding your question can you be more specific? What do you mean by :

'Do you think economic theory can be applied to Tooze's works to rightly prove that Germany really could not have produced enough to overpower the international movement? '
Hello,

To be more concise, what I meant by economic theory is i.e. applying macroeconomics to see the effects of x decision on weapons procurement, using microeconomics to see how much output Germany could make in comparison to allied countries with the data provided, the reliability of defense expenditure data from government archives, the organization of the defense industries of the major combatants, the multiple means of financing the war, how the economies evolved from the war, and so on and so forth.

Yes I have heard of the economics of world war 2 (do you mean Mark Harrison?)

Re previous post,

Do you happen to have data to support this?

Thank you.

paspartoo
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by paspartoo » 04 Mar 2012 17:40

Cannae wrote:
Hello,

To be more concise, what I meant by economic theory is i.e. applying macroeconomics to see the effects of x decision on weapons procurement, using microeconomics to see how much output Germany could make in comparison to allied countries with the data provided, the reliability of defense expenditure data from government archives, the organization of the defense industries of the major combatants, the multiple means of financing the war, how the economies evolved from the war, and so on and so forth.

Yes I have heard of the economics of world war 2 (do you mean Mark Harrison?)


I'm not sure on how you would do that. Do you mean some kind of input-output table? My opinion is to leave theory in the books where it belongs,it never works in real life.
Regarding the book yes the one edited by Harrison(each chapter has a different contributor). Abelshauser looked into the standard gospel of a 'peactime economy in war' and rightly considers it bullshit.Of course he didnt use that kind of language :D
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stg 44
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by stg 44 » 05 Mar 2012 02:01

paspartoo wrote:Hi Cannae . Tooze's contribution was in challenging the widely held belief that the German economy was in some way mismanaged prior to Speer.'
Tooze fails in that regard. The German economy was heavily mismanaged prior to Speer and wasn't particularly efficient after Speer's arrival either.
Tooze does prove that there wasn't slack to the German economy in the civilian sector, i.e. total war in 1943 as announced by Goebbels was propaganda, as in prewar 1939 the Germans had less slack than the British had in 1943.
But this was already proved by Overy years earlier in his works on the German war economy. Tooze 'created' a belief to refute to sell books, not actually address a problem in economic history of WW2.

steverodgers801
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by steverodgers801 » 05 Mar 2012 03:06

His intent was to show how badly the economy was run and part of that was Speer was not really responsible for the growth in production.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Mar 2012 03:23

stg 44 wrote:
paspartoo wrote:Hi Cannae . Tooze's contribution was in challenging the widely held belief that the German economy was in some way mismanaged prior to Speer.'
Tooze fails in that regard. The German economy was heavily mismanaged prior to Speer and wasn't particularly efficient after Speer's arrival either.
I can agree there. Legendary Germanic efficiency seems to be missing from the nazi administration.
stg 44 wrote:.... Tooze 'created' a belief to refute to sell books, not actually address a problem in economic history of WW2.
I think it would be more accurate that Tooze sets up a already existing belief to shoot at. In the English language literature at least that sort of thinking seems to start with Speer & the publication of his autobiography. Earlier in the 1960s I remebmer the popular, perhaps universal view, was Hitler had from the start created a ruthlessly efficient military/industrial machine. The 'Speer school' created a alternate view of German industry puttering along at half speed until the brilliant Albert changed everything in a year. The efforts of historians like Overy or Ellis have not eradicated the Speer school or the equally erroneous and simple minded idea of a hyper efficient industrial machine. Tooze takes another needed shot at both those pop history cannards.
Cannae wrote: 'Do you think economic theory can be applied to Tooze's works to rightly prove that Germany really could not have produced enough to overpower the international movement?

.........

To be more concise, what I meant by economic theory is i.e. applying macroeconomics to see the effects of x decision on weapons procurement, using microeconomics to see how much output Germany could make in comparison to allied countries with the data provided, the reliability of defense expenditure data from government archives, the organization of the defense industries of the major combatants, the multiple means of financing the war, how the economies evolved from the war, and so on and so forth.

Yes I have heard of the economics of world war 2 (do you mean Mark Harrison?)

Re previous post,

Do you happen to have data to support this?

Thank you.
No. For one macro economic theories are too simple and crude to apply to such complex groups of events. A part of this is there will be too much data missing, or better said- too difficult to collect and sort. It might be a admirable effort to try this, but the result will be learning much about macro economic theory and very little usefull about alternate outcomes in the nazi economy. So in that sense I'd encourage someone to try anyway as the result might be useful to theorists, or to board games for our entertainment :wink:

One of my mentors since childhood is a retired professor of economics. He specialized in designing the protocols and mathmatical structures for his peers to conduct their economic research with. hHe summed up that effort with the remark "The trouble with accountants is they think their numbers have something to do with reality." One of his points in that remark was he frequently saw his collegues fail because a important part of the data they were using was either faked, fraudulent, misapplied/interpreted, poorly collected/recorded, ect... Another point that he belabored was how theories or formula built up from a few sets of data fail to predict correct or valid results when applied to a different set/s of similar data. To illustrate that point he has a couple stories of his peers who emptied their back accounts trying to apply 'proven' economic models to the market place in the real world (soybean price speculation). I am sure he would have something similar to say about the idea of macro economic application proposed here because he has discussed very similar ideas with me in the past.

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stg 44
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by stg 44 » 05 Mar 2012 04:25

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
stg 44 wrote:.... Tooze 'created' a belief to refute to sell books, not actually address a problem in economic history of WW2.
I think it would be more accurate that Tooze sets up a already existing belief to shoot at. In the English language literature at least that sort of thinking seems to start with Speer & the publication of his autobiography. Earlier in the 1960s I remebmer the popular, perhaps universal view, was Hitler had from the start created a ruthlessly efficient military/industrial machine. The 'Speer school' created a alternate view of German industry puttering along at half speed until the brilliant Albert changed everything in a year. The efforts of historians like Overy or Ellis have not eradicated the Speer school or the equally erroneous and simple minded idea of a hyper efficient industrial machine. Tooze takes another needed shot at both those pop history cannards.
http://www.amazon.com/War-Economy-Third ... t_ep_dpt_3
The 'Speer School' was not really built up by Overy. Instead he tempers Speer's achievements by presenting a framework of Nazi failures, Speer's improvements, and the failures of the system even at the end of the war. Tooze makes it seem like Speer was touted as an economic genius, which some have presented him as, but Tooze devotes a chapter to tackling the 'myth', whereas Overy contextualizes the whole war economy. Several other scholars have written papers about the Speer myth around the time that Tooze's book was released, but none were as publicized as Tooze.

paspartoo
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by paspartoo » 05 Mar 2012 08:35

Sorry but if someone thinks that the German economy was badly run you need to read Tooze and Economics of WWII.
steverodgers801 wrote:His intent was to show how badly the economy was run and part of that was Speer was not really responsible for the growth in production.
8O .. ehm best read the book. Tooze says nothing of the sort.
A simple economist with an unhealthy interest in military and intelligence history.....
http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.com/

ljadw
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by ljadw » 05 Mar 2012 12:24

The Speer myth (before Speer :chaos,afterwards:big increase) has been created by the USSBS in 1945 (a PR project of the US AF) and still is very popular in Germany .
Others have followed Tooze :see :demystifying the German armaments miracle .

paspartoo
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by paspartoo » 05 Mar 2012 14:04

ljadw wrote:The Speer myth (before Speer :chaos,afterwards:big increase) has been created by the USSBS in 1945 (a PR project of the US AF) and still is very popular in Germany .
Others have followed Tooze :see :demystifying the German armaments miracle .
The person who probably was responsible for this mess was Rolf Wagenführ, the chief statistician under Speer who became the USSBS's interpreter.
Also a good link: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%BCstungswunder
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http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.com/

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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by Jon G. » 05 Mar 2012 14:17

A brief excerpt of an interview with Wagenführ here:
http://www.cdvandt.org/bios17_wagenfuhr.htm

Abelshauser offers a few reservations to Wagenführ/Eichholtz, but AFAIK Tooze was the first English language historian to fundamentally challenge Wagenführ's statistics - according to which Speer was indeed a genius, not least in the productivity field - whereas most other economic historians have eaten Wagenführ's figures wholesale. Unfortunately Tooze somewhat down-played his beef with Overy and relegated much of it to the end-notes of his seminal book.

Ellis is in my opinion nothing but a poor rehash of USSBS figures, rife with errors and faulty analysis.

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stg 44
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by stg 44 » 05 Mar 2012 14:57

Jon G. wrote:A brief excerpt of an interview with Wagenführ here:
http://www.cdvandt.org/bios17_wagenfuhr.htm

Abelshauser offers a few reservations to Wagenführ/Eichholtz, but AFAIK Tooze was the first English language historian to fundamentally challenge Wagenführ's statistics - according to which Speer was indeed a genius, not least in the productivity field - whereas most other economic historians have eaten Wagenführ's figures wholesale. Unfortunately Tooze somewhat down-played his beef with Overy and relegated much of it to the end-notes of his seminal book.

Ellis is in my opinion nothing but a poor rehash of USSBS figures, rife with errors and faulty analysis.
Overy challenges his statistics too in War Economy in the Third Reich. Tooze later wrote an article that Overy was 'taken in' by Wagenführ, but having read Overy I saw nothing of the sort.

paspartoo wrote:Sorry but if someone thinks that the German economy was badly run you need to read Tooze and Economics of WWII.
steverodgers801 wrote:His intent was to show how badly the economy was run and part of that was Speer was not really responsible for the growth in production.
8O .. ehm best read the book. Tooze says nothing of the sort.
Ehm. Read Overy's books like "Göring: Hitler's Iron Knight" and "War and Economy in the Third Reich" and his various scholarly articles available via Jstor.org Also "Demystifying the Armaments Miracle" is extremely helpful. Tooze's book is a flawed analysis of the situation in the Third Reich. Before Speer the economy WAS badly run, but was fully converted to the war effort. Speer improved efficiency somewhat, took credit for improvements made by Milch, and screwed up other things. Some of what was going on was also just improved economic efficiency from making the same products for years, some was propaganda, and some was genuine improvement due to Speer's influence. Tooze does question Speer supposed genius more in depth than any author to date though, so I will at least give him that.

If you want a serious analysis I suggest checking out the "Germany and the Second World War" series by the Bundeswehr; its pretty much the official German history of the war. Volume 5 parts 1 and 2 deal with the war economy in Germany. I suggest you read about the 'war of all vs. all' that prevailed in 1939-1941. It took until mid-1940 to actually convert to war priorities because of multiple competing bureaucracies sending out different orders to factories and other projects to appropriate labor and resources.

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