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.
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Guaporense
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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by Guaporense » 25 Jan 2015 22:29

No. It's impossible to say whether spending major resources on strategic bombing would improve Germany's odds or not. I think it wouldn't considering strategic bombing of Germany itself only started to damage aggregate industrial production after mid 1944, after Germany had already lost the war on the ground.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Tooze's Wages of Destruction : An Inquiry

Post by Guaporense » 29 Jan 2015 03:29

Qvist wrote:
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.
However, I don't agree with you that DRZW offers a better analysis than Tooze. On the contrary, I think that exactly it's focus on the endless internal squabbles detracts from its ability offer clear analysis. Nothing is easier to source than the existence of bureaucratic infighting, particularly with something as large and complex and involving so many instances as a total war effort carried out by a major power - and if one sticks with these narratives, then you are left with the image of a disorganized jumble. But what does that really explain? The result was not in fact anarchy and randomness. As Tooze clearly shows, there were distinct priorities made which in fact changed and shaped German output very markedly. He deserves credit for doing what Müller and co fails to do, which is to rise above the miasma of bickering by memorandum, and focus on the visible effects. Because that is the relevant basis on which to assess the German war economy - not the extent to which Göring, Thomas and Todt expressed similar views in conferences.

Putting it pointedly, of course. I'm not arguing that one should ignore the bureaucratic documentation, nor that interdepartemental wrangling and overlapping authorities had no negative consequences. but I am convinced Tooze's focus is the appropriate one, and also that DRZW simply fails to provide an adequate analysis of its subject through an exaggerated focus on the decision making process rather than on its results.
Though I find Tooze's narrative to be a bit unconvincing. He doesn't provide strong evidence to prove his points, instead his narrative is more a work of rhetoric.

For example, he argues that Germany planned to invade and quickly subjulgate the USSR and at the same time planned to invest heavily in increasing it's industrial capacity, specially it's air force, to fight a long air war with the western powers. That the USSR was just part of the plan for Germany to acquire the natural resources required to defeat the western powers.

This contradicts the facts in several ways:

1 - The USSR was exporting large quantities of natural resources to Germany before Barbarossa. If Germany planned to focus on the Western powers remaining allies of the USSR would be obviously much more sensible than entering in a war with a great power of 200 million people and 22 million square kilometers.

2 - While Germany invested significantly in increasing it's industrial capital in the period 1940-44, an estimated total of 30 billion RM, very few of these investments were made in the aircraft industry, by may 1944, the aero-engine industry only had 3% of Germany's machine tool stock and the whole aircraft industry represented about 15% of metal working industry output and employment and 7.5% of the military outlays for 1943, overall from 1940-44 Germany spend ca. 34 billion RM on aircraft out of total military outlays of 460 billion RM (ca. 7.5%), in the US's case the proportion was much higher, 45 billion dollars out of 300 billion dollars in military outlays, or 15%, the US's aircraft industry employed 2.15 million workers in 1943, the armed forces, 9.5 million, the German employed 0.75 million but the armed forces employed 11 million. Total German investment in expanding it's industrial capacity was small in comparison to total military outlays at 6% of total military outlays, and small in comparison to GDP, Germany did not embark in a massive industrial investment program from a comparative perspective (even if the level of industrial investment was higher than in the 30's, it was lower in proportion to GNP as nominal GNP in Germany doubled from 1936-7 to 1943-44), small relative to US's investment, which increased the country's manufacturing capital stock by 60% and it's machine tool stock by 80% while Germany's machine tool stock increased by only 40%.

You cannot say that Germany's low level of munitions production was due to focus on investment, also, during the whole war German industry worked on a single shift basis which means installed capacity was already enough to increase total industrial production several times. There wasn't any very pressing need for investment, compared to the case of the Allies, in the US metal working industries worked on double shifts, in the UK, double or triple shifts, in the USSR, everything was on triple shifts, given the USSR's metal working capital stock was about 1/5 of Germany's.

3 - Germany's invasion of the USSR was the main reason Germany started WW2. One can easily perceive that from the perception reflected on Nazi propaganda that actually reflected the twisted way the Nazi's viewed the war: as a fight between the German race and the Bolchevick Jewish conspirancy and that the main reason for starting the war was for Germany to gain more lebensraum, Russia provided the obvious physical space the Nazis wanted. If you go through the course of the war it is also obvious: in 1939, Germany goes east, invades Poland, in 1940, Germany is forced to attack the allies because they declared war on Germany, after securing continental Europe, attention is again given to the Eastern front. Besides a couple of terror bombings of the UK (which did not have the desired effect of making the British government want to make peace), Germany did not even increase aircraft output to fight the battle of Britain as Germany was producing 150 single engine figthers a month in 1940 (while in a period of 10 months from late 1943 to mid 1944, fighter output increased from ca. 800 a month to ca. 3,000 a month), Germany certainly could have increased fighter output greatly in 1940-41 if they really wanted to conquer the UK and defeat it's airforce (well, that point was proven by KDF33 here as well). Hitler did not care much about defeating the Western allies and he wanted to conquer land, hence, invading the UK did not make sense. Manstein said that invading the UK was his choice of strategy, after the war though when the colossal strength of the USSR was well known.

4 - The book is written from an American perspective, it overemphasizes the US's effect on the war and underestimates the USSR's, which follows from his perspective "GDP = military power". He is also inconsistent with his claims, at one point he says Germany's sphere of power, the "Grossraum" which had a GDP 130% of the US's, then at another point he says Germany's GDP was 25% of the US's, and dis-considers the unquestionable enormous economic potential Germany was sitting on after defeating France since it doesn't fit with his narrative. Also, he claims it would be hard to maintain coal output in the Grossraum at pre-war levels, however, he "forgets" the fact that coal output in continental Europe increased 8% between 1937 and 1943, just citing some local facts (productivity in mines in a certain region of a certain country declined) as if they were global. He repeats the same fallacy when he "proves" Germany invested heavily in the aircraft industry by mentioning a couple of factories build here and there without using aggregate statistics to prove his claim (which would require showing that relative investment in the aircraft industry was higher relative to other powers investment's in proportion to total industrial investment and size of industrial investment to GNP (including occupied territories)).

Overall, I would say that the book's value is due to it's set of curious facts and data. However, the author's narrative is just rhetoric anti-German propaganda (i.e. german fighters were cr*p, german technology was cr*p, etc) that's politically correct because the Nazis were evil (though Stalin's regime wasn't?, he praises Soviet achievements in the book). Nothing of serious academic value is found there for those with analytical minds, just another narrative conceived in light of pos-cold war political reality of inevitable American dominance, even though in fact American hegemonic dominance which only happened after 1991 by the way :D . And it is ending right now as China clearly has become the world's largest economy by almost any metric with a lead of a substantial and increasing margin over any other country and being already endowed with by far the largest manpower pool. US's position as the world's only major power lasted about 20 years: 1991-2011.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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