A Comparison of American and German economies in WW2

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
Stiltzkin
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Re: A Comparison of American and German economies in WW2

Post by Stiltzkin » 30 Jan 2019 23:19

Yes, the war was inevitable unless Hitler isn't Hitler. The march east for Lebensraum is at the core of his Weltanschauung.
That is not what I meant, it is well known what Hitler's intentions were (especially when scrolling through "Mein Kampf"), but this was not the only path which Germany could have chosen to contain Bolshevism.
Hitler said repeatedly that maintaining the status quo of 1941 while Germany fought the UK and US would enable Russia to blackmail him economically and diplomatically.
That sounds like propaganda, a "casus belli". Not to mention that is a popular justification for Neo-Nazis. They would not do such a thing, they would be gladly trading resources for technology (just like they did post war with East Germany). In fact, trade commenced till the very outbreak of the war (this had more of an appeasement character, comparable to Russian gas transfers to China, today). Countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland are the key for Russia in Europe, Putin knows that even today.
And don't let hindsight trick you into believing that a delayed Russian attack would have been similar to the IRL Red Army effort (i.e. taking years to make progress). Hitler's early successes depended on numerical superiority and/or parity that would not have existed for a Russian steamroller that starts fresh in, say, 1943.
Why? The constants for the performance of the armed forces of all belligerents were almost identical in both World Wars.
The Wehrmacht did not enjoy numerical superiority (not to mention that the Soviets were in defensive posture), the last time they had a considerable advantage was in 1939 or during the Weserübung, other than that I see no different way of conducting war for the Red Army (WW2 armies were evolved Great War Armies).
Their strength remained low in the 3rd quarter because the attrition rate exceeded their replacement rate, they died faster than they could build up their forces, this changed gradually in October and December respectively. Their initial performance would have been quite similar, since we have both World Wars (as well as the Winter War and the Polish-Bolshevik War) as an example.
As long as Germany does not reach out deep into their territory, the Soviets have a hard time getting into Europe. Should they have attacked first, more nations would have been inclined to join Germany's cause, since the Soviets would have been seen as the aggressor.
By the way, the RKKA of 1941 was tactically superior to that of 1944 (they inflicted higher daily casualties in respect to their frontline capabilities), as quality personnel will always diminish, it were their odds that improved, I see a lot of people making this mistake. The disparity was a result of the different development levels of both systems and the tactical discrepancy remained rather constant throughout the entire war. Only some Russian nationalists and the "official" Russian history perpetuate this concept, "we were unprepared and got better at the end". It reinforces this status of the "clean" Soviet Union, the victim and underdog, acting in self defence, as the heroic liberator and not the totally armed up, genocidal dictatorship, preying for the resources, manpower and technology of other nations.
You're also incorrect in implying Stalin wanted no more from Hitler - either directly or indirectly.
I did not say such a thing, on the contrary he would have continued cooperation if they were of any benefit, he was simply not interested in armed conflict. Stalin was not the hasardeur Hitler was.
You claimed that that the Anglo-Americans had something in store, to which I replied that they had nothing to offer. Hitler on the other hand handed over the territory the Soviets desired to obtain and enabled them to get into a position to go for even more. It was his intervention that enabled the Communists to establish a world presence. The defeat of the Axis powers created a power vacuum that was filled by the Communists, with the territories the Soviets obtained in the 40s, they could become a global player, to challenge American supremacy. Their manufacturing output made up like 9% of the world total before the war and went up to over 30% post 49, because they now controlled several European industrial hubs.
If Germany does not start a war in the east, and does not pursue isolationist policies, the Soviets do not succeed. Afterall, that is how the US won the Cold War. Proxy wars would still occur.
No, Hitler made the only rational move by trying to preempt Russian power accumulation.
See above (and compare with the collapse of the Soviet system), Germany disrupted the natural order in Europe and threw itself into a world war against the USSR that formed an alliance with the US - either he should have chosen a different strategy (e.g. Caesar in Gaul), brought more Allies for the fight, or should not have gone at all.
A good analogy would be Israel. The IDF has a substantial tactical advantage over their Arabian neighbours, throughout the last decades, they were able to fend off many attacks, but possess overall less warmaking potential, due to insufficient raw materials, manpower and territory. What would happen if Israel decided to siege Damascus and hold Egyptian territory simultanously, while being cut off from US aid? I think everyone knows the answer to that question.
A plausible alternate history is one in which Hitler has decent intelligence about Soviet military strength and acts accordingly. I.e. he launches Barbarossa with a slightly stronger force that actually achieves the primary goal of Red Army destruction west of Don-Dniepr line. As a result, Germany stays a couple million men ahead of the Russian mobilization curve and conquers all the way to Volga by the end of 42. That effectively ends serious Russian resistance.
Yes, in 42 they did rethink their strategy, but by that time they already suffered 1,047,302 casualties. They did possess intelligence on Soviet military strength and many estimates were not completely inaccurate either. Perhaps they speculated on a collapse, perhaps they still had WW1 and the Winter War in mind.
More fundamentally, you're giving only two historically viable options: take the capital or take the Donbass.
I am not speaking about the details of a new plan per se (this would require a dedicated thread), but rather the mechanisms. Either they should have opted for a long war, gradually strangling the USSR into submission, or if we take the historical example (since they already committed to the cause and failed to conclude Barbarossa), they should have kept pressure on the capital and not overextended at all. If the Soviets would have been unable to push AGC away from the capital, they would have lost the war as well. It is the failure of AGS, which forced AGC to abandon their main objective. If the Soviets could not recapture Ukraine and Belorussia, they would have been unable to adequately replace their losses.
This would be an interesting topic. Is there a thread on USSR vs. Germany one-on-one?
There have been plenty of such (heated) debates in the AHF.
Why have you any faith that Stalin - having amassed ~4-1 numerical superiority over a Germany that is being pounded by US/UK bombers and bled at the margins of its overextended Empire - that this Stalin would withhold acting?
That was a product of 5 years of world war and not the constellation in 1941. The Slavic populations (with the exception of Poland) were not confronted with the threat and danger of extermination yet. These odds did not exist before 1944, the Wehrmacht was not in full retreat in 1941 and no effective strategic bomber force existed yet either. The Soviets had an average actual strength of about 6,000,000 during the later stages of the conflict and could raise it above 7 million (which would be 90% of committed forces to the WF), with about half of those in the frontlines. This was the number they could support (fully mobilized) with additional outside assistance. The German strength at peak (ignoring Allies) was about 3,000,000 and slightly above 4 million without the impact of other fronts (we are not even factoring in logistics here). Ratio S was 1.9-2.8 and the range of attacks 1.02-1.43. Average efficiency parameters 0.23 and 0.032 respectively. In 1941, the strength of the Heer amounted to 3,050,000, of which 500,000 were in resereve, 1,5 million equally distributed in Luftwaffe services (3/4 of this available for Barbarossa) while in mid 1943 (taking your example), the Soviets had 6,626,735 men (this is closer to actual strength, with 1,135,991 in STAVKA reserve), with 1,500,000 accumulated for defensive operations. In the summer of 1944 (and the destruction of AGC) the Soviets committed 2,400,000 men to the operations with a strength of 6,750,240 (630,769 in reserve). In your hypothetical example for 1941, we would have 2,5 million soldiers from the Heer or a Kampfstärke of 1,100,000 men, facing the RKKA of 6,100,000 men with a front strength of about 2,200,000 men. I fail to observe an initial ratio of 4:1 here. In 1944 this number shrunk below 700,000 men without adequate replacements, opposed by 2,400,000 men. Historically speaking, (in late June 1941), the RKKA in the Western and South Western Fronts faced 1,381,316 men of Army Group Center and South, with a strength of 1,578,211.

This is exactly why hindsight can be a problem. What many people do is, that they only adjust one aspect of the "what if" scenario and ignore elements which would have affected the conflict much sooner. Conclusion: The Soviets needed to grind down the Wehrmacht over years, while relying on replacements from reconquered territories and the diversion of manpower to other fronts to guarantee victory. Other than that I will redirect you to the Winter War or Afghanistan. The Soviets suffered 391,783 casualties (and gained 11% of Finnish soil), Finland survived and was not absorbed. Those were 40% of their initial strength. In 1941 the Soviets suffered 4,394,094 casualties in under 6 months.
There are those who underestimate certain factions, but also those who completely overestimate the Soviet strength. This was usually propagated by Americans during the "we will bury you", Cold War era. If AGC was destroyed in 1941, I would certainly believe so, but it was not before mid 45.
Anyway, this would require a seperate thread, since we are moving too far off-topic.
In geopolitics, it's exactly on target. A new shatterbelt was formed in the Central Pacific. Japan sought to become a Pacific power and the US interfered with their plans.
Obviously.

TheMarcksPlan
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Re: A Comparison of American and German economies in WW2

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 31 Jan 2019 05:28

Stiltzkin wrote:That sounds like propaganda, a "casus belli". Not to mention that is a popular justification for Neo-Nazis.
The point is that the dynamic was there and that Hitler cited it himself - historical possibility as well as plausibility. Hitler didn't say this publicly, only to inner circle, no propaganda. As a gay Eurasian racial mongrel I'm not one for Nazi propaganda - just military analysis. I'm aware that Neo-Nazis and ex-Nazis love the "self-defense" line but that's irrelevant to whether it's true. I'd tell them just don't try to blow up the world and there's no window for Stalin's opportunism.
The constants for the performance of the armed forces of all belligerents were almost identical in both World Wars.
The constants, yes. Assuming you're referring to Dupuy's modeling, then I'll assume you know as well that casualty ratios vary with the square of force ratios. If Stalin mobilizes something like an 8-digit field army then the whole Eastern front looks like Operation Bagration: roughly equal attrition rates for both sides. Even if attrition starts and ends at post-Blau rates (i.e. no wholesale capture of Soviet armies but lopsided losses), then Hitler is still backpedaling over critical territory (e.g. Silesia and Romania) while Stalin has digestible casualties.
Should they have attacked first, more nations would have been inclined to join Germany's cause, since the Soviets would have been seen as the aggressor.
Assuming we're talking about a Soviet attack in 42-44 (more likely later in that frame), then the only countries who matter (US/UK) would welcome it. I guess you're piss off Romania and Hungary?
RKKA of 1941 was tactically superior to that of 1944
Again we agree, but what about the effect of force ratios on attrition ratios?
A stronger Red Army, weaker Heer (production and manpower focused more on West - remember that Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine had huge manpower requirements), mean quicker German defeat in the war of attrition.
Their manufacturing output made up like 9% of the world total before the war and went up to over 30% post 49, because they now controlled several European industrial hubs.
This would be a HUGE diversion but can't agree. Absent WW2, technological/developmental convergence and a better demographic picture would have made USSR the world's second power.
If the Soviets would have been unable to push AGC away from the capital, they would have lost the war as well.
How? What is your alternate story? I don't see Hitler winning if he takes Moscow, let alone if he holds the December 5, 1941 line for a couple more years. How does holding Kalinin change the brute facts regarding the armies?
If you're going to say, "of course it doesn't change the brute facts, but holding Kalinin means the brute facts have changed," then you're just begging the question.
either he should have chosen a different strategy (e.g. Caesar in Gaul), brought more Allies for the fight, or should not have gone at all.
Maybe we disagree less than has been apparent. Hitler needed a different plan, yes. IMO Barbarossa was lost by July 1940 at the latest.
More allies would certainly have helped (ultimatum to Japan re membership in Tripartite Pact and closing Vladivostok, more carrots and sticks for Turkey). At base, IMO, Hitler invaded with a poor man's army - largely because he didn't foresee a great challenge. Give him a slightly stronger army (+20 mobile divisions) and humanity loses.
That was a product of 5 years of world war and not the constellation in 1941. The Slavic populations (with the exception of Poland) were not confronted with the threat and danger of extermination yet. These odds did not exist before 1944, the Wehrmacht was not in full retreat in 1941 and no effective strategic bomber force existed yet either.
Again I'm not sure how to interpret this. Do you think I'm saying Stalin would have invaded in 1941? I'm not.
I'm saying Hitler could have seen - did foresee - the accumulation of Soviet strength and leverage as he fought the West, a war which could easily stretch for years. He therefore foresaw that Stalin would be poised to strike him in the back while he was tied up in the West (building air and sea power instead of land power). Just want to make sure we're clear on that.
In your hypothetical example for 1941, we would have 2,5 million soldiers from the Heer or a Kampfstärke of 1,100,000 men, facing the RKKA of 6,100,000 men with a front strength of about 2,200,000 men. I fail to observe an initial ratio of 4:1 here.
I appreciate the difficulties involved in gauging another's argument amidst the fog of internet war but again that's nothing like my example.
Stalin could feasibly have had an 8-digit field army by, say, 1943. You doubt this based on analogy to IRL peak Soviet strength, saying ~7mil is the most they could support. To use your term, that's hindsight. Without hindsight, the USSR has ~40% greater industrial strength (industrial areas recovered were not productive again until after the war) and could have built much more guns and ammo.

You allude to a possible lack of Lend Lease support for a later, unprovoked Soviet attack. I doubt it but even if I grant that assumption recall that SU produced nearly all of its own artillery, small arms, armor, and ammunition. The allies were good for fuel and trucks primarily, plus machine tools. Absent Lend Lease help the RKKA is a little less mobile, has a little less air support, and probably has cruder equipment later in the war vs. IRL. On killing power those factors pale in comparison to the increased ability to field, arm, and supply a significantly larger army due to no early-war disasters.
This is exactly why hindsight can be a problem. What many people do is, that they only adjust one aspect of the "what if" scenario and ignore elements which would have affected the conflict much sooner. Conclusion: The Soviets needed to grind down the Wehrmacht over years
My conclusion: you're bound by hindsight to ignore the critical element of an uninterrupted buildup of Soviet power between 1941 and whenever Stalin decided to make his move against Hitler (late '43 or '44 IMO - let the Allies really draw some blood and divert some steel). Because you ignore this factor, you repeatedly use the hindsight-hobbled view of a massively wounded Soviet Union in evaluating Stalin's warmaking powers circa 1944 had Barbarossa not occurred.

TheMarcksPlan
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Re: A Comparison of American and German economies in WW2

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 31 Jan 2019 06:01

Just to put a finer point on Stalin's strategic position circa 1944 absent Barbarossa...

Stalin need not have directly attacked Hitler to start a war. He could have instead, for instance, caved to constant Allied demands to stop supplying Hitler's war effort. Revoking the pact and its trade in 1942-44 - by which time Stalin would have obtained more of Germany's tech btw - would have kneecapped the German war economy. Stalin likewise could have prodded Romania into curtailing its oil shipments, or Turkey into withholding chromium. These moves make war against the west impossible for Hitler, provoking either a doomed Barbarossa '44 with a weaker Heer against a much stronger RKKA, or weakening Germany so much that Stalin could virtually walk into Berlin by '45.

Stiltzkin
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Re: A Comparison of American and German economies in WW2

Post by Stiltzkin » 31 Jan 2019 16:58

Stalin need not have directly attacked Hitler to start a war. He could have instead, for instance, caved to constant Allied demands to stop supplying Hitler's war effort. Revoking the pact and its trade in 1942-44 - by which time Stalin would have obtained more of Germany's tech btw - would have kneecapped the German war economy. Stalin likewise could have prodded Romania into curtailing its oil shipments, or Turkey into withholding chromium. These moves make war against the west impossible for Hitler, provoking either a doomed Barbarossa '44 with a weaker Heer against a much stronger RKKA, or weakening Germany so much that Stalin could virtually walk into Berlin by '45.
Stalin could have attacked in the East in 1940, while the German Army was in the West, then you would have a similar constellation to WW1 again. The last time the Soviets tried to link up with the Communists in Berlin (Germany had one of the strongest pro Marxist groups in all of Europe, which were purged by Hitler in the 30s) to initiate a coup, was in 1920. To decisively cripple the German economy you need to capture the Rhineland.
This is rather a question of what kind of price Stalin can, is going to and is willing to pay.
The Soviets are not going to be more productive, they ran like a war economy permanently, until they collapsed (because their weak civil economy was their greatest weakspot, since deficiencies translate into the war economy), so what you saw historically during WW2 is a max cut on consumption for the war effort, with additional outside stabilization. They had backup facilities which they utilized, if forward territories would have been lost. WW2 was the maximum they could do and struggled hard to survive, so I think you are a bit too over enthusiastic about their hidden potential. WW2 was the maximum of soldiers out of the German and Soviet sphere of power (of the 30s) you could get.

TheMarcksPlan
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Re: A Comparison of American and German economies in WW2

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 01 Feb 2019 00:48

Stiltzkin wrote:Stalin could have attacked in the East in 1940, while the German Army was in the West,
Your implicit contention is that because Stalin didn't attack in 1940, it's clear - and would have been clear to Hitler - that he wouldn't attack in '42-'44.
The biggest reason that's wrong is because Stalin didn't anticipate such a quick war in the West - nobody did, not even Hitler. The Pact set Stalin up to watch while Germany and Britain/France bled each other out, he could evaluate later. As with everyone else, he was shocked by France's defeat in a 6-week campaign.
Another reason that's wrong is because Stalin knew his military needed some work before the big game. That was true before the Winter War but was especially true afterwards. Red Army was implementing a mobilizing modernization and was integrating a new class of politically-acceptable officers to replace the purge victims.
To decisively cripple the German economy you need to capture the Rhineland.
Nooooooo. How does Germany fight without Romanian oil? Without manganese? Without the agricultural surplus provided first by Russian trade and, later, a captive Ukraine? Once the Red Army has pushed through Romania, how does the Ruhr function without chromium from Turkey? And then, after a few more months, without the bauxite mines of Yugoslavia? With Red Army controlling the entire Baltic coast up to at least Koenigsberg, how does Germany ship the Swedish ore that was absolutely fundamental to steel production?

The factories of the Ruhr are a great asset but they're just the last act of an industrial story that requires a larger imperial narrative. Unfortunately for Germany the Ruhr valley didn't contain all the various elements of a modern military-industrial complex.
This is rather a question of what kind of price Stalin can, is going to and is willing to pay.
Absolutely right. If I'm right that Stalin would have correctly perceived military superiority over a distracted Germany by circa 1944, then I aver that he's willing to pay a big price to dominate Eastern/Central Europe. You can respond that (1) Stalin wouldn't have had military superiority, (2) that he wouldn't have perceived such military superiority even had it existed because of WW1 memories, or (3) that he wouldn't have been willing to spend the lives necessary to leverage his military superiority.

Re (1) that's the whole discussion - see above and below.
Re (2) Stalin knew better than literally anyone else the extent to which his grip on the USSR was stronger than the Czar's grip on the Empire, and therefore would have perceived an ability to apply Russian numbers and force in a manner free of the societal constraints that doomed Nicholas II.
Re (3) there's just no evidence that Stalin was unwilling to spend millions of Soviet lives to achieve his ends.
The Soviets are not going to be more productive
I just don't see how this assertion can be made in the context of a USSR that retains all of its territory and population because there's no Barbarossa.
so what you saw historically during WW2 is a max cut on consumption for the war effort, with additional outside stabilization.
WW2 was the maximum they could do and struggled hard to survive, so I think you are a bit too over enthusiastic about their hidden potential.
I could dig into the numbers more deeply were this not a somewhat casual internet discussion, but just at first blush I bristle at the suggestion that the cuts from poor USSR peace-time standards (we agree on this I assume) to the slightly-below-subsistence war time standards freed up sufficient resources to compensate for the loss of Donbass, Kiev, Belorussia, etc.
So I don't disagree that Stalin did all he could to maximize production from the deeply-wounded realm he ruled during IRL WW2, but again hindsight is constraining your view of the depth and breadth of that realm's capabilities.
WW2 was the maximum of soldiers out of the German and Soviet sphere of power (of the 30s) you could get.
Here again you're ignoring the primacy of path dependence in the course of the Eastern Front.
Even granting the truth of "neither side could have raised more TOTAL soldiers," the TIMING of the totals is paramount.
As you correctly state, the RKKA didn't materially improve its per-unit combat effectiveness over the course of the war. Yet we have it getting roundly beaten in '41 and being insuperable in '43-'45.
That discrepancy in performance is explained almost entirely by the discrepancy of force ratios between Barbarossa/Blau and the later stages of the war.
In my posited and plausible world, where Soviet mobilization proceeds uninterrupted by Barbarossa until such time as Stalin makes his move, the war begins with Soviet numerical preponderance. Just as IRL, numerical preponderance implies general Soviet operational dominance. It also implies Soviet strategic success, such as capturing critical objectives (East Prussia, Silesia, Ploesti) and it ends with a dead Hitler.
The main difference is ~20mil more living Slavs and Jews. Probably a few more Germans as well.

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