German Railways in the East

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Der Alte Fritz
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 01 Jan 2014 20:46

The Otto I Programme was planned to last three years and was to link the 7 trunk lines from the Reich with a capacity of 504 trains a day to 9 routes across the Gedob with a capacity of 438 trains a day.

This was replaced in the Autumn of 1940 by the Otto II Programme which delivered a capacity of 468 trains along the Vistula and 396 trains a day in Eastern Poland by April 1941 as detailed in this map.

Germany to Russia Railway Routes.jpg
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steverodgers801
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by steverodgers801 » 01 Jan 2014 22:24

The German response to the bottle neck was to decide they would simply capture enough of the Soviet railway to be able to supply the troops. When they failed to do so it helped lead to the supply breakdown

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 02 Jan 2014 00:12

No I am afraid not. It is quite clear from a variety of sources that the decision to change gauge and run standard gauge rolling stock was taken before the operation and any captured broad gauge equipment was to be used only by the FEDko as a temporary field expedient close to the front line. HBD would take over main trunk lines already converted to standard gauge to run a normal German service and would use whatever broad gauge lines and stock were on hand to run services on branch lines for local tasks.

This was not a failure of German planning (they had tens of thousands of men and hundred of thousands of tonnes of equipment invested in this programme) it was rather a failure in German understanding - failure to understand how the Soviet railway worked - which meant that they did not get the full use out of the existing system - and likewise were surprised in 1943/4 when the Soviets performed so well over tracks that they believed destroyed.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 02 Jan 2014 01:11

Great maps and more numbers to crunch!
I am trying to get my head around those two statements:

One source says: "However this total capacity of the Polish railways of 180 trains daily in forwarding or transit traffic on the whole only extended only as far as the Vistula: in the area east of this river the network became considerably lower and its total capacity dropped to 120 trains daily in the its most eastward extensions."

The other: "Western Poland can handle 180 trains a day. By the time you reach the Vistula it has fallen to 120 trains a day and in the Eastern Provinces of Poland under 50 trains a day."

Clearly they are not talking about the same thing or are they?

First, I would like to have numbers right, for the network before September 1939, so later I can understand what improvements Otto plans really brought.

Let's start with Appendix 1 map.

East of Vistula we have:

Mlawa - Warschau - 18 trains
Warschau - Bialystok - 24 trains
Warschau - Siedlce - 18 trains
Deblin bridge - Biala Podlaska - 12 trains
Warschau - Lemberg - 18 trains
Krakau - Lemberg - 24 trains

That give us 114 trains. So I guess that's how number 120 came about?

Now, during Polish campaign with Deblin and Warsaw bridges temporary out of service, it seems that you could only use:

Krakau - Lemberg - 24 trains
Mlawa - Warschau - 18 trains

That give us 42 trains. Close to 50.
Is there another explanation for those 50 trains?

That was the easy part. I am having problems sorting out numbers for the rest of Poland and Germany because some seem to be missing from the map. Not sure what was happening on Schneidemuhl-Bromberg, Stettin-Danzig, Schneidemuhl-Konitz, Frankfurt/Oder-Posen. These numbers are critical to understand where bottlenecks really were...

BTW Appendix 3 map seems to have trunks numbers all mixed up?
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 02 Jan 2014 06:09

Further to my earlier post.
I had a closer look at the numbers from Appendix 1 map since they show "Polish Traffic Area 1939 before the Invasion" and compared them with Timetable of Polish Railways from 1938. It seems that those numbers show only passenger one-way traffic?
I found 44 passenger trains a day on the line from Posen to Warschau. Map shows 24.
Similar story on Mlawa - Warschau line. Map shows 18. I found at least 30 trains a day.
What happened to the freight???
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 02 Jan 2014 08:42

Hi GregSingh
There are another two maps to annotate and mark up since they are difficult to read.

To answer your questions:
One source says: "However this total capacity of the Polish railways of 180 trains daily in forwarding or transit traffic on the whole only extended only as far as the Vistula: in the area east of this river the network became considerably lower and its total capacity dropped to 120 trains daily in the its most eastward extensions."

The other: "Western Poland can handle 180 trains a day. By the time you reach the Vistula it has fallen to 120 trains a day and in the Eastern Provinces of Poland under 50 trains a day."

Clearly they are not talking about the same thing or are they?

It is the same thing, the first one is the more accurate statement as it is a quote from FMS P-048.

Secondly you have to remember that the Foreign Military Studies were a project undertaken interviewing German Officers in captivity from 1947 to 1955 but that they had no access to written records. So this is an opinion from memory. So they are referring to what interested them - the capacity of TRANSIT or THROUGH traffic during the Polish Campaign. Probably your timetable refers to local trains making short runs which will not be affected by the capacity of the main junctions which are the main constraint on long distance traffic, which is what the Germans are interested in.
There are lots of comments about the bottleneck of the Bridges over the Vistula, I will post the map later.
I imagine that if they did not refer to a particular line it was because it was not used in the Campaign or later used for a different purpose such as trade with the Balkans. They repeatedly refer to 7 or 8 or 9 trunk routes from Germany to Russia throughout the documents.

The colours & coloured reference numbers refer to the first map I posted on the German trunk network so that I can try and keep track of individual lines across the various maps which are all different sizes and cover different areas
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 02 Jan 2014 10:09

Bridges over the Vistula
P-048 Appendix 4 Bridges over the Vistula.jpg
"German Through Railway Lines early 1942 before the Oastbau Programmes.
P-048 Appendix 5 Railway situation 1942 hi-contrast.jpg
A couple of things to note about this map.
1) Two of the previously seen trunk lines on the other maps are now missing. I assume that the Purple line XII is still in use but serving East Prussia and so was missed off the edge of the map. The Cerise line IX is missing and I presume no longer regarded as a viable route.
2) The capacity gained in Appendix 3 Otto Programme is not shown in its entirety on this map. The Dark Blue line VI shows an end capacity of 18 not the 24 in the Otto map and the Green line VII shows 30-36 for most of its length rather than the 60 up to Deblin and then 36. Also Line VI now has two other entry points, one from the Green line VII at Brest and another from the Orange line IV at Lemburg (Lvov). This latter line would now be under Roumanian control and although able to be used by the Germans, they had less influence than before. The assumption is that capacity totals 366 trains a day in each direction.

German Through Railway Lines 1944
P-048 Appendix 8 Capacities in 1944 hi-contrast.jpg
Some of these capacities seem too high, for instance around Lemburg I have seen other maps giving figures of around 60 trains a day not the 72 mentioned.
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Der Alte Fritz
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 02 Jan 2014 11:12

There are 4 maps from FMS D-139 Transportation System in Souther Russia
The point to note is that they show a lower capacity than the previous maps especially in the Lemberg (Lvov) area and Kowel area.
D-139 Annexe 1 Network 42-43.jpg
D-139 Annexe 5 Network 43-44.jpg
D-139 Annexe 2 (see 3 & 4) Train Allocator .jpg
D-139 Annexe 2 Unloading.jpg
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steverodgers801
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by steverodgers801 » 02 Jan 2014 14:06

I mean captured equipment was a temporary fix due to the lack of German transport.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 02 Jan 2014 19:20

Apologies Steve, I misunderstood you.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 02 Jan 2014 19:21

Transport in the Development of Soviet Policy
By Paul Wohl FROM OUR APRIL 1946 ISSUE
Foreign Affairs (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ ... iet-policy )
The German archives and the testimony of imprisoned Nazis have given evidence that Hitler's initial war plan against Russia was based less on strategic considerations than on the expectation that the Soviet administration would be technically unable to prevent the country's disintegration under the impact of German military might and propaganda. The poor condition of the Soviet railroads, Berlin then thought, would make it impossible for the Red Army to manœuvre and to receive reinforcements and supplies.[ii] There is no other explanation for the German action in attacking in equal strength along a front extending from Finland to the Black Sea -- an operation unprecedented in the annals of military strategy.[iii]
No wonder that the Germans who kept a rather close record of Soviet transport developments were convinced that the Russian rail system would not be able to stand the additional strain of a major war. Their experts pointed to the fact that the Second Five Year Plan had not been fulfilled, that 6,835 miles of new track had been planned and only 1,871 miles actually built, that the plan had called for double-tracking of 5,903 miles and that only 3,106 miles had received a second track, that the automatic block system was to be introduced for 5,157 miles and that it had been installed only for 2,982 miles, that only 71.5 percent of the locomotives planned had been built, that only 17.4 percent of all cars were equipped with automatic coupling instead of 50 percent, and so forth.[vi]
[ii] Regarding the importance which the German General Staff attached to its railroad superiority, cf. Ernst Marquart, "Eisenbahnen im Dienst der Strategie," Archiv fuer Eisenbahnwesen, 1939, p. 915. On the weakness of Russian transportation, cf. Colonel Oskar von Niedermayer, "Wehrgeographische Betrachtung der Sowjet Union," Berlin, 1933, and Colonel Oskar von Niedermayer and Yu, "Sowjet Russland," Berlin, 1934; also Semenoff, "Wehrgeographische Studien," with a preface by Karl Haushofer.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 02 Jan 2014 19:52

Colonel Oskar von Niedermayer, is an interesting character known as the German Lawrence of Arabia, an explorer and soldier in the Great War, a lecturer at the University of Berlin and Munich, had the personal recommendation of Adolf Hitler, trained the Ostlegion during the Second World War and was finally court martialled in 1944 for defeatism and had as a defence witness Heinrich Himmler but even so he was imprisoned and then in 1945 caught by the Soviets and died in prison in 1947.
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 02 Jan 2014 19:59

Table showing the relative sizes of the railways:
comparation.jpg
A map of the railways in the Soviet part of Poland:
Notice the twin track railways Kiev-Kowel, Odessa-Tarnopol, Minsk-Brest, Bialyostk- Veiki Luki
Scheme of the railways of the western regions of the Ukrainian SSR and Byelorussian SSR, 1940.jpg
what I do not know is how much of this was converted to broad gauge nor what capacity it had under Soviet use.

To gauge the relative activity and performance we can use the size of the work force for the various railway companies of the NKPS:
This table shows Kiev Railways being quite a high performance one.
workforce.jpg
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by steverodgers801 » 02 Jan 2014 20:10

ITs funny that the Germans never considered that the Soviets would be adjusted to local conditions. The biggest shock for the Germans was that the roads were worse the expected, gas and oil consumption skyrocketed, as did breakdowns. With out the Soviet train system the Germans simply could not maintain a good supply system.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 03 Jan 2014 00:21

It seems that all double tracks railways in the Soviet part of Poland were already there before 1939. As a matter of fact there were there before 1914!
I wonder what Soviets exactly did to improve performance in that area? It does not look like they build anything new, perhaps just threw more gear and manpower to service already existing tracks.

When you have a track and run 3 trains/day, it does not mean you can't run 6 or 10. You run 3 at the time because of economic reasons, not limitation of the track itself. I think most of the lines in so called Polish Gap were heavily under-utilized in pre-WWII Poland, as economy is this part of Poland was the worst. So less passengers willing to travel and less freight to move.

Double track line from Warsaw to Petersburg was build in mid 19th century for both political and economic reasons and it was heavily used for both passengers and freight. Fast forward to 1919 and traffic was gone. During 1919-1939 Poles run some trains to Vilno on that line, but nothing like before 1914. That suddenly comes mid 1941 and there is a need to run trains up to Leningrad again. But infrastructure has been already in place. It's easier to replace some rails and sleepers than to build a whole new line!
According to a 1938 timetable it took 5.5 hours to get from Warsaw to Vilno (77km/h) and many trains per day run not only from Vilno to Warsaw, but further to Lvov, Krakow and Poznan. And some trains run past Vilno to Riga.
It seems that line was in good condition before September 1939!
I wonder what was the travelling time when Soviets took over in Autumn '39 and later Germans in Summer '41?

So I am not surprised that on some lines you can see 3x improvement in number of trains run later in 1941 and 1942.
It seems to me that numbers were too low to start with, and in the war economy you just throw everything you got on those tracks, so numbers suddenly skyrocket. But higher capacity and infrastructure was there already in place.

Do you have any information on what was actually done by Otto plans? Any new railroads build, bridges, doubling tracks or similar? Or changes were more of administrative/organisational kind? Was the repairing of the 1939 damage part of the plan or that was something totally different? It seems there was significant war damage to network infrastructure in 1939 and a lot of work had to be done just to restore it to pre-war condition!
I used to have several official Ostbahn bulletins, unfortunately so far couldn't not find them. :(
Please continue with this topic. It is of a great interest to me.

BTW.
I counted only long-distance trains, did not bother with short-distance ones in my previous post.
I checked and it seems that near all Vistula bridges were destroyed in September 1939, so throughput was low for several months to come. Only Warsaw and Krakow bridges were OK, but as mentioned before Germans couldn't use Warsaw bridges before the end of September.
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

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