Was the German war effort badly run?

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Guaporense
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Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Guaporense » 30 Aug 2016 01:34

My answer: Yes.

Long answer:

It's a complicated proposition.

In fact after reflecting on the subject at first I though it wasn't badly run, production of equipment was low in 1939-1941 because requirements were low: the German mindset is to produce only what you will need, not what you can. So if you can use captured French equipment you don't need German equipment. Output of equipment in 1939-1941 was low because there was no need to produce more: the army had enough guns, the guns had ammunition and ammunition consumption was very low.

This is an review of the USSBS report that explains the viewpoint that their war effort was not inefficient:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/1925424?seq

I quote here page 255:

Image

Better than Tooze's analysis by a mile. And that's just a review but it captures really well my general impression of the German war effort as well. Well, back in the 1940's scholar analysis of WW2 was superior than now, the reason is that back them it was a present event that many more people were interested in so the brightest minds of society were thinking about it, such as Emile Despres.

The argument is as follows: German output was low in 1939-1941, but during this period the Wehrmacht was the best equipped armed forces in the world and conquered territories with about 200 million inhabitants. Their officers also don't appear to complain about lack of weapons. Kesselring even said that his munitions supply in Italy in 43-44 was good in quantity and quality. Overall, the German war related industries did their job which was to allow the armed forces to be effective (and they were tremendously effective in 39-41). Increasing the output of tanks, for instance, wouldn't help them: more tanks in the army would be a hassle to do maintenance and would require more manpower to operate, weakening the manpower strength of combat formations. Also, the huge stocks of machine tools Germany had by the end of the war was because their military doctrine was to accumulate enough industrial capacity to allow the production of any munitions that could have been required by the armed forces, indeed, the output of munitions could be easily increased if required: fighter production went from less than 300 per month in early 1942 to 3,000 per month in the 3rd quarter of 1944, as result of the requirement of the Luftwaffe in maintaining air superiority, they failed to do so because they lacked the means to utilize these aircraft by that point (mid to late 1944).

But, however, I still would think that in some respect it's true their war effort might have been badly run: not in terms of equipment but in terms of ammunition supply.

If we look at the data we have:

German ammunition consumption Eastern front 1941-1944:

1941 ---- 571,663
1942 ---- 1,160,182
1943 ---- 1,838,750
1944 ---- 2,132,463

total: 5,703,058 tons

While in 1944 the total manpower in the Eastern front was ca. 2.2-2.5 million men, compared to ca. 3-2.8 million in 1941. That means that per capita monthly ammunition consumption was about 80 kg in 1944 but only 35 kg in 1941 and 1942. American ammo consumption in 44-45, is perhaps the "optimal" level to be compared with: more than what was consumed in the ETO in 44-45 by the Americans was simply waste of ammo, their consumption was ca. 1.47 million tons, or about 110 kg per soldier in the field army per month.

In WW1 the British army had a better supply of ammunition per capita than the German army in WW2: 5,269,302 tons of ammunition were delivered to the Western front in WW1, and were consumed over 50 months of operations (versus 42 months for the 5.7 million tons in the German army in the Eastern front in WW2) and the British army there was considerably smaller than the German army in the Eastern front in WW2. At about 90 divisions in the Western front (their army was ca. 100 divisions in WW1, the vast majority in the Western front), the British army would have a supply of ca. 150,000 tons per month during the peak of the war in 1917-1918 or about 100 kg per soldier per month in the front, assuming division field army slice of 16,000 - 17,000. Similar figure to American ammo consumption in WW2. While in WW1, French ammunition production was similar to the British Empire's at 280 million shells.

Therefore, we can conclude from the comparative evidence that German supply of ammunition was below optimal in 1941-44. So, could they produce more? Well, German ammunition production was quite elastic increasing 10 fold in the 30 months from late 41 to mid 44, from a low level of ca. 35,000 tons a month to peak level of 350,000 tons a month. And according to Speer, in mid 1944 the installed capacity of munitions industry was to produce 460,000 tons of ammunition per month (source: Germany and the Second World War volume 5b).

Ideally, with monthly supply of ca. 100 kg of ammunition per head, the German army should have consumed 1.8 million tons in 1941 and 3 million tons in 1944. While increasing the supply of ammunition has decreasing returns (Dupuy uses a quadratic function to measure the logistic impact of decreasing supply of ammunition), still tripling their availability of ammunition in 1941-42 would have helped the Wehrmacht significantly. Also, to produce 4.8 million tons of ammunition over 41-42 would require an output of 200,000 tons a month, far below their historical peak capacity of 460,000 in mid 1944. With adequate planning for the required ammo supply they could have continued to expand ammunition production from it's early peak in mid 1940:

Image

Army ammunition production could have reached 600 index by late 1941 instead of 1943 if they continued with the trajectory of the first 12 months of the war. However, after the Battle of France, it appeared to be obvious that the war was won (to Hitler's brain).

Therefore, I conclude that their war effort was not "optimal": in at least one aspect, ammunition supply, they could have done better. Although it's true that if one looks hard enough it's possible to find inefficiencies in all countries in all wars. For instance, the USSR probably produced more tanks than optimal, they could have focused their steel better in producing more ammunition instead. Although their lack of powder and explosives was a constraining factor. While in WW1, the most obvious case of inefficiency was the shell crisis of 1915 that most combatants faced: the UK, for example, produced ca. 2.2 million tons of ammunition in 1917 but in 1915 their output was so low their armed forces couldn't operate properly. That was a natural consequence of WW1 being the first total war when they mobilized millions of soldiers but lacked the preparations to supply them.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

Stiltzkin
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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Stiltzkin » 30 Aug 2016 03:00

Tooze certainly argues that it was, not being able to meet the requirements and fullfill the long term goals at least. Why do you consider his analysis to be flawed?

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by pugsville » 30 Aug 2016 06:36

Tooze would probably agree that the german war efforts badly run. he disputes that it was not a war economy, that there was NOT readily available manpower and resources to significantly produce overall production by large amounts. Overall Capacity is different from Overall effectivness and competence.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by ljadw » 30 Aug 2016 12:12

The answer is no,whatever may say the biased USSBS report : there are no proofs that Germany could produce in 1940 what it produced in 1943, in 1941 what it produced in 1944,etc ...

Not being able to meet the "requirements" does not mean that the war effort was badly run .

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by ljadw » 30 Aug 2016 12:16

May I also observe that the index who has been reproduced is very suspect, as he is probably the work of Wagenführ, Speer's spin doctor, who had as mission to produce indexes that would indicate the successes of his master .

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Boby » 30 Aug 2016 18:00

How many plants were producing ammo in the pre-Speer era? How many workers? How many raw material allocated? How many...?

Without hard data it is useless.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Boby » 30 Aug 2016 18:21

Tooze cites Eichholtz data as of October/november 1943: 450.000 workers in the ammo industry (4.000 firms).

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by steverodgers801 » 31 Aug 2016 00:34

the key difference is there was no over all control organization as there was with the allies. Hitler allowed factions to compete with teach other

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Sheldrake » 31 Aug 2016 01:20

Short and long answer - yes.

Where do we start?

With...

...taking on the world with an economy barely surviving the depression?

...waging war on the promise of guns and butter?

...appointing numpties like Udet to lead key technological developments

...a divide and rule approach to every aspect of government.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Guaporense » 31 Aug 2016 02:32

Stiltzkin wrote:Tooze certainly argues that it was, not being able to meet the requirements and fullfill the long term goals at least. Why do you consider his analysis to be flawed?
Because there are many contradictions between what he says and the data he uses himself. Want an example? First he claims "Germany's sphere of power, their Grossraum, had 130% of the US's GDP", later he claims "the 1944-45" Allied superiority in GDP was 4-1 (i.e. add GDP of US+UK+USSR versus Germany) which explains why the Allies produced 125,000 combat aircraft in 1944 compared to German output of 35,000. However, if you are serious about using GDP's then you should include everything the Axis and Allies had under their respective spheres of power:

Image

And notice that controlling for per capita income the Axis' sphere of power's controlled about the same potential GDP excluding minimum subsistence agricultural economies (China, India, African colonies, etc, who lacked the institutional and logistical capacity to fight a total war), which means about 1,500 billions for the Allies and 1,400 billions for the Axis of above subsistence GDP, using Harrison's data. So it's not actually true that the Allies had a substantial advantage in economic resources over the Axis in WW2. Also, in WW1, the Central Powers controlled only 400 billion in GDP compared with 1,000 billion for the Entente.

And in terms of raw materials I should point out that output of stuff like bauxite and coal was similar in aggregate between the two blocks. The fact was that the Axis' sphere of power had tremendous human and material resources, being the territories that produced most of the world's scientific research in the decades before the war. The Axis had some bottlenecks like oil and rubber, however, but the industrialized warfare of that time was based on railroads and artillery rather than motor vehicles and aircraft, which were mostly complementary and not strictly required. In WW2, both in terms of raw materials and economic resources, the Axis Powers were relatively stronger than the Central Powers in WW1.

He also claims that because of German occupation the Allied blockade destroyed the economies of occupied Europe. He supports this thesis just using anecdotal evidence. However, I was actually reading a book about the occupation and in several occupied countries, economic output in 1941-1942 was higher than in 1938.

Image

And if you measure things like total coal production in continental Europe, it actually increased between 1937 and 1943, from 420 million tons to 449 million tons (including coal to make coke). In fact, continental Europe's economy was doing much better in the early 1940's than during the First World War, when output of everything collapsed: From 1913 to 1917 continental Europe's coal output decreased from 433 million tons to 350 million tons.

Then he uses Overmans' figures of German war death to add fuel to his rhetoric as these figures are much higher than any others (if you compare official KIA German losses, for instance, are several smaller than the Allies in 1944), as the natural outcome of the vast disparity of material strength. However, this is just rhetoric essentially because if you look closely WW2's outcome was not remotely determined by economic potential: the poor USSR inflicted 90% of Germany's KIA and essentially defeated all Axis' countries almost single handedly with the exception of Japan. And the European Axis controlled territories 4 times the USSR's GDP in 1942-43 and with much higher levels of industrialization. Yet, despite this massive economic superiority, they failed to defeat the USSR.

The reason is that WW2 was not quite a war of production but it was more of an war of manpower, in Europe. In fact, the vast majority of production done by the Allies countries did not have significant strategic effects in Europe, since the US and UK's output was not all shipped to the USSR's (only 4% of the Western Allies military expenditures consisted of lend-lease support for the Soviet Union) and most of it consisted of either stuff like aircraft which only inflicted ca. 1% of all casualties or stuff that was not even used in the war. WW1 was more of a war of production than WW2: shell production was the focus of all countries and it was the single most important thing it was responsible for inflicting the bulk of casualties, and the bulk of German losses were against the countries who actually did the bulk of material production: France and UK.

The USSR won not because of economic superiority, which they had none, but because they used their vast manpower resources to devastating effect. Industrial resources are important to equip the available manpower but they quickly have decreasing returns: the WAllies for instance, despite their massive output of equipment only inflicted about 6% of German KIA up to November 30 1944. While the Soviet Union inflicted over 10 times that figure and while it was not as poor as China, which was a minimum subsistence economy without the institutional and logistical capacity to fight a total war, the USSR was perhaps the poorest a country could be to still be able to mobilize for total war. Which means that increases in per capita income above the SU's level would have quickly decreasing returns on warmaking potential.

So I think that Tooze fundamentally misunderstands the nature of WW2. And also, he tries to recast history from a 2007 point of view: back in 2007 the US was the leading power and so he claims that Hitler intuitively predicted that the rise of the US's up to it's position of sole superpower (which only happened in the 1990's) would "crush Europe" so he tried to create an European superstate in order to prevent that rise. However, if you pay attention to the stuff being said and done in the 1940's its clear that Hitler's main concern were the "Bolsheviks" and not the US. His invasion of the USSR was not made in order for Germany to obtain raw material resources in order to fight the WAllies (Tooze's main thesis is essentially that) but it was not a means to an end but the military end of WW2 itself: Hitler's desire, following fascist philosophy, was to isolate Germany from the world economy and to do that without a collapse of the country's living standards he needed to conquer more arable land and territory with raw materials, hence, their expansion into Eastern Europe.

Finally, what are these failures of meeting requirements and fulfilling long term goals you talk about? I am not aware of any failures before 2nd quarter of 1944, when the continental European economy began to collapse mostly due to the territorial contraction due to approaching Allied armies and general collapse of organization. Before that point, planned outputs of stuff closely matched realized output.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by pugsville » 31 Aug 2016 03:04

[. And the European Axis controlled territories 4 times the USSR's GDP in 1942-43 and with much higher levels of industrialization. Yet, despite this massive economic superiority, they failed to defeat the USSR..[/quote]

The Problem with GDP is it kinda assumes that all economic/recources are interchangeable and they are not. Germany was critical short of some resources and expanding and taking over nearby countries who were in the main critically short of the same resources did little to expand the overall effective resources the Germans controlled. The germans got very little from their empire. The French economy just nose dived once occupied it was cut off from it;s resources sources and the germans didnt have the resources to provide them.And they the Germans took away almost all the French transport (fuel, trucks, railway trucks) which effective reduced the French economy to next to nothing in war making potential.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Stiltzkin » 31 Aug 2016 05:56

f it consisted of either stuff like aircraft
Um, you might want to look that up again, the assets for warfare are less important than keeping the army alive...TsAMO, Sokolov, Journal of Slavic military studies (I argue that the number of AFVs and planes is insignificant, just one is enough, other than that, feeding the army and making it more mobile was the main issue, the defensive war could be led due to the vast manpower but reaching an army of 6million perhaps not, certainly not pushing into the offense and a prolonged war favoured the Axis not the USSR). You might also want to rethink your view on the Red Army, arms production was high even before the war, they were not a horde of infantrymen.
There is one interesting thing though, why did the USSR import so much goods (grain) after the war? Were the results of collective farming that unsatisfactory?
Finally, what are these failures of meeting requirements and fulfilling long term goals you talk about?
Tooze argued that the industry could never fullfill the "unrealistic" goals that were set. For example the Luftwaffes demand for aircarft (he calls the programme "unsustainable").
http://ww2history.com/experts/Adam_Tooz ... rearmament

Furthermore, stacking nominal figures and all these values is still misleading and absolutely unprecise. I am still argueing that the USSR hever had a reason to publish realistic figures, making Harrisons calculations meaningless. The issue is too complex to sum it up that easily, it would be naive to not make such an assumption.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by EvanHarper » 31 Aug 2016 19:56

Guaporense wrote:Better than Tooze's analysis by a mile
Have you actually even read Adam Tooze's book? Because I am severely confused by your belief that the quoted text contradicts Tooze in any way. Both of them rubbish Galbraith's Speer-influenced "peacetime economy at war" thesis, and both of them argue that contra the USSBS and its "blitzkrieg strategic synthesis" view whereby the Nazis intentionally prepared for short, sharp, relatively cheap wars, they in fact sunk large investments into long-term capital projects intended to sustain them for a war much later and longer than the one they actually fought ending in 1945. Both of them see manpower shortages as an insuperable problem for the Germans. It is not just that there is no obvious contradiction between Tooze and any of the stuff you quoted, but that they substantively agree to the point where you could have told me (ignoring dates of birth and all) that Tooze personally wrote that review.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Guaporense » 31 Aug 2016 22:31

Well, for one example, Tooze claims in No Room for Miracles that it's false that low armament output in 1940-1942 was by choice. In fact he claims there it was the maximum amount they could produce. Which is inconsistent with the facts because German industry was all working on a single shift at the time and a lot of industry in occupied countries was idle as well.

Although Despres and I agree with Tooze that in 1939-1942 they did a lot of industrial investment. I disagree on the incompatibility between the two: investment and output of finished munitions.

Finally, I should point out that Tooze's main problem is that he thinks too much in terms of equipment. Producing more equipment is not always an advantage. For example, the USSR produced more rifles, guns and tanks than Germany, however, that was because their losses of rifles, guns and tanks were much higher than Germany's losses because they were losing hundreds of divisions every year and he to replace with new divisions with new equipment: German expenditures on army equipment (i.e. rifles, guns, tanks, etc) were only 2.5% of total military outlays in the 3rd quarter of 1943, while expenditures on motor vehicles (trucks, cars, bikes) were only 1.1% of military outlays at the same time.

Equipment was produced in smaller quantities because demand for new equipment was smaller because losses were smaller. The Allies did not win because they produced more equipment, they won because they mobilized more men which they had to equip and hence lead to the production of more equipment. In other words demographics explain WW2, not economics: The Nazis could tax occupied countries and use the industry installed in occupied countries but they couldn't make Frenchmen and Dutchmen fight in the Wehrmacht as if they were Germans. That was their real bottleneck.
Last edited by Guaporense on 01 Sep 2016 03:56, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Boby » 31 Aug 2016 22:59

So when the aircraft industries introduced the double shift? In 1942? 1943? 1944?

Sources, please.

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