German Railways in the East

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
PZ38t
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by PZ38t » 29 Dec 2018 22:37

great railroad info - thanks

GregSingh
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Re: Ooops...Wrong turn!

Post by GregSingh » 26 May 2019 02:18

First unit of BR50 is out of the factory....into the streets!

BR 50.jpg
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Der Alte Fritz
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 26 May 2019 07:06

Any idea which town?

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 26 May 2019 08:44

First 12 were built in 1939 by Henschel & Sohn in Kassel.

Photo was most likely taken in the area marked with the black circle on the map.
Lederhandlung shop had an address Wolfhagener (or Wolfhager) Str.2

Kassel.jpg
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Der Alte Fritz
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Re: German Railways in the East

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Dann Falk
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Dann Falk » 21 Jul 2019 16:32

Looks good. Thanks for the link.

Dann

TheMarcksPlan
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Jan 2020 07:55

I can't thank you enough for all this excellent information; I'm still working through the thread. Before I get to the end, rather than launching a million questions, I have some high-level questions:
Der Alte Fritz wrote: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.
I have no trouble accepting your thesis that the Soviet railway system ran very efficiently with little capital but lots of labor.

But I have trouble following your next step: That the Germans made a mistake in not running the Soviet railway according to Soviet practices (if that's what you're saying, not sure). Doesn't this assume that (1) it was feasible to grok the Soviet operating philosophy during the invasion - something that you say wasn't understood until well after the war - and (2) that the Germans could have employed labor on the same scale as did the SU? Surely the Germans, even had they understood the merits of Soviet railway practices, would have had trouble deploying so much labor. That would have required either recruiting from the native population (and much/most of the experienced railway staff was evacuated, much wasn't friendly) or redeploying from Europe hundreds of thousands of workers (hundreds of thousands more than they redeployed historically).
Der Alte Fritz wrote:
25 Jan 2014 00:42
Image1.jpg
This is a great table, thanks. Did you make it yourself or is it from a book?
It shows how little work on the railways the Germans did prior to Ostbau 42 - almost nothing besides re-gauging (most of which was done already by January 1942).
Regarding this table and the investment figures provided in immediately-following posts, my question is:

Do you have the ability to dis-aggregate expenditures by individual items such as the cost of signalling, watertowers, warming sheds, etc.?
I guess I'm trying to wrap my head around what the cost of a better 1941 Ostbau program would have been, had Germany actually planned for an extended Barbarossa campaign.
Take Otto II, for instance, which cost 307 million RM. By very rough approximation of contemporary prices, steel would have constituted about half of the price tag for Otto II (300,000t @ 500RM per ton). Does that seem right?
It would imply that the non-steel costs of Otto II - signals, sheds, buildings, etc. - cost ~150mil RM.

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Der Alte Fritz
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 25 Jan 2020 14:57

I will try and answer your questions in order:
1) Initial use of railways was by military and then after Jan 1942 by Reich Ministry of Transport through Reichsbahndirektions. The military never consulted the RVM nor the DRB over railway conditions in Russia before the invasion. When they did the DRB answered that they did not have any information on the NKPS as it was never given to them as a potential enemy target. However as you will see in this thread, there were in reality a number of German experts who had been in the USSR and knew how the railways operated. My point is the fractured nature of military planning in the Wehrmacht stopped them utilising this information.
2) The size of the German railways in Russia as shown by Pottgeisser is small compared to the NKPS in peacetime. The RBD all ran on local labour with German overseers, most of whom were former NKPS staff. 1 Jan 1943 104,899 German staff out of a total of 615,455 staff or 17%
3) Table is from Pottgeisser
4) No figures in published work but I am sure that there is some paperwork in Kreidler archiv in Bundesarchiv. This may be my MA dissertation in which case I will have the time to wade through this uncatalogued archive.
5) You actually have to build two programmes in 1941:
a) Otto II to ungrade lines across the Kresy (pre-1939 eastern Poland)
b) Ostbau 1942 to make the USSR portion of the network weatherproof

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 27 Jan 2020 09:15

Earlier in this topic we discussed dismissal and subsequent arrest of Karl Eugen Hahn (1904-1957) and Erwin Landenberger in early 1942 following 1941/42 supply problems in the East.
Here is the original document sent from Führer's HQ to SS-Obergruppenführer Wolff ordering arrest of both railroad officials. (They were en route back to Stuttgart).

"The Führer has ordered that Reichsbahnoberrat Landenberger and Reichsbahnrat Hahn, both as yet with Reichsbahndirektion Stuttgart, are to be taken immediately into protective custody. Both officials grossly neglected their duties while holding positions of service in the East (responsible managers of HBD Mitte and HBD Süd). Due to their improper actions and failures, serious difficulties emerged in the supply situation of the Eastern Front. For this reason, the Führer currently has ordered immediate arrest."

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Der Alte Fritz
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 27 Jan 2020 10:53

What a great find! Source?
What this confirms is that it was a direct order from Hitler to the Reichsfuhrer SS as head of the German Police to arrest these two men. Dated 8 March we can image that the fateful meeting where Army chiefs demanded action against the railways must have taken place in the previous week. A quick look through Hitlers daily schedule may reveal something.

I only have Halders diary and this has:

6.3.1942 General Gercke berichtet über Bauplanung zur Verbesserung der gesamten Eisen-bahnleistung im Osten. Veränderung der Verwendung [Oberst] Will. Es soll ein General der Eisenbahnpioniere beim HQu. geschaffen werden.

8.3.1942 General Wagner (Gen.Qu.): Groß-Transporträume (50000 t, davon für Südoperation2 20000 t). - Beutewaffen. Stiefelausstattung. - Flugpost.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 27 Jan 2020 11:10

And this is how the whole affair apparently "officially" started.
Here is what seems to be the first official complain from General des Transportwesens Mitte to Dr Müller from RVM Osten in Warsaw.

Generalmajor Goeritz complained that expansion requests according to the Sofortprogramm Ostbau agreed in the presence of Reichsminister of Transport in Smolensk were soon cut to cover only routes but not node points. He basically accused railroads officials from HBD Mitte of falsifying, cooperation with them an "exceedingly complicated" and requested to hold responsible parties accountable.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 28 Jan 2020 00:50

On the next day (3rd of Feb 1942), Dr Müller received another communication, this time from Der Chef des Transportwesens der Wehrmacht, General Rudolf Gercke.

Gercke complained that according to General Wuthmann, a service/official's train was allowed to run on Molodeczno-Polock line in spite of earlier request and agreement for this not to happen because of overall difficult transport situation. Also he pointed out that this action is a violation of Führerbefehl and the case will be answered before the special court.
In meantime OKW is demanding answers.

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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Jan 2020 02:40

Der Alte Fritz wrote:I will try and answer your questions in order:
Thank you.

One more intermediate-reading question: I'm up to the pages discussing rail bridge reconstruction. Tons of new (to me) info there as well.

Did the Germans employ rail ferries in lieu of bridges at any point? If so, did they do so in large scale? In 1941 AGS appears to have lacked rail support east of the Dniepr, relying entirely on trucks for the advance to Donbas and Rostov. There's even mention of AGS conducting its own "experiment" with running its own broad-gauge lines in the area. Were the railway troops inactive in eastern Ukraine until the Dniepr had been bridged?

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 Feb 2020 04:48

Der Alte Fritz wrote:
11 Feb 2014 22:46
Destroyed lifting and temporary bridge over the Don at Rostov, August 1942

Image
Do you have the picture of this bridge? Very interested to learn more about German temporary bridges...

OK it seems from your following posts that this was a Russian temporary bridge, established after German retreat in '41?

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 02 Apr 2020 23:38

Here is a photo of Rostov-on-Don railroad bridges (taken towards NW) from late July 1942 after Soviets abandoned town for the second time.
Main bridge on the left had southern part blown out in late November 1941 when Soviets withdrew for the first time and was out of the action for the duration of the war.

Rostov 1942 01.jpg

German concentrated their efforts on fixing up smaller bridge on the right.
Another photo taken in the opposite direction, after work on the smaller bridge already started.

Rostov 1942 02.jpg

And the smaller bridge is ready! (photo taken from remnants of the main bridge).

Rostov 1942 03.jpg

Nice photo (late 1942) from the above of nearby freight station...

Rostov 1942 04.jpg

(Click on photos to load them up in full resolution!)
Source: smolbattle.ru
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