Manpower flow to the armaments industries

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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Manpower flow to the armaments industries

Post by KDF33 » 18 Jan 2016 03:01


Looking at the USSBS, I've noted something interesting about German manpower allocation to the armaments industries. The theory that Germany was "under-mobilized" during the early years of WWII has been widely debunked, yet it appears that during the second half of 1940 and all of 1941 the Germans were adding very few workers to their armaments industries, save for the aircraft sector. Here's the data:

Arms and ammunition / Vehicles and ships / Aircraft*:

12.39-05.40: + 37,000 / + 151,000
06.40-11.40: + 19,000 / + 92,000
12.40-05.41: - 1,000 /+ 68,000
06.41-11.41: + 6,000 / - 6,000 / + 80,000
12.41-05.42: + 39,000 / + 122,000 / + 55,000
06.42-11.42: + 74,000 / + 197,000 / + 30,000
12.42-05.43: + 132,000 / - 24,000 / + 25,000
06.43-11.43: + 63,000 / + 103,000 / + 48,000
12.43-05.44: + 14,000 / - 15,000 / + 80,000

Source can be accessed here. For arms and ammunition, I used items 12, 13 and 14, whereas I used item 9 for vehicles and ships, as well as 9(e) for aircraft. These categories include more than just armaments, save for 9(e).

Has anyone ever noticed that? And is there any reason why the Germans slowed the flow of men into the armaments industry between mid-1940 and the end of 1941?



*For 12.39-11.41, vehicles, ships and aircraft are lumped together.

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Re: Manpower flow to the armaments industries

Post by steverodgers801 » 18 Jan 2016 03:52

There were two reasons, losses in the eastern campaign and the use of foreign labor

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Re: Manpower flow to the armaments industries

Post by GregSingh » 18 Jan 2016 05:21

Wouldn't be foreign labor already included in those numbers?
Also didn't foreign labor numbers really kick in after Speer took over and total war was announced? So we are talking from 1943 onward rather than 1940/41.

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Re: Manpower flow to the armaments industries

Post by Guaporense » 17 Feb 2016 04:21

There was no need, after defeating France in June 1940, German leadership though that the war was won already and there was no point in accumulating huge stocks of aircraft and ammunition without using them. After June 1940 they though that they would need only to win a quick campaign against a large but feeble third world country (the USSR). It is also true that consumption of ammunition and losses of equipment and aircraft were not larger than output, up to the end of 1941.

It was only after the failure of Barbarossa in December 1941 that given the fast consumption of ammunition and increasing losses of equipment that war related production had to increase exponentially to feed the continuous consumption of materiel.

It's not like that increasing equipment and ammunition production before 1942 would have made any strategic difference. What Germany did from June 1940 to the beginning of 1942 was to increase the actual size of the Wehrmacht, from 5.5 million to 8 million. Unless these soldiers were under equipped we cannot say that war production was "too low".

Also, I noticed that there was an important difference in doctrine between Germany and the US/USSR: in the first case production of ammunition and equipment responded to demand, in the second case, production of equipment was based on maximum utilization of industrial capacity and the accumulation of huge stocks of equipment (in the US's case, tens of thousands of tanks, aircraft and other equipment were not even used during the war). One can argue that Germany was more efficient than the Allies in not wasting their precious raw material and manpower resources in producing equipment to not be used.

Finally, the argument that Germany was fully mobilized for WW2 does not agree with the data on the total military expenditures: in 1944 military expenditures were much higher than in 1941, even though in 1941 the economic resources under Germany's control were in fact greater than in 1944, implying in greater potential for military outlays. In 1941 military outlays were only ca. 75 billion RM while in 1944 it increased to ca. 125 billion RM, deflated in constant 1939 consumer price index.

The idea that Germany was always UBER mobilized and using all their resources to the max is essentially derived from ideological perceptions and not on the analysis of hard data regarding the war. The idea comes from the politically correct idea that the Nazis were always destined to be defeated, hence, to support that idea a historical narrative consistent with the impossibility of Nazi victory was manufactured. It's, of course, based on selective use of evidence to provide that perception.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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