Was the German war effort badly run?

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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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Richard Anderson » 04 Sep 2016 02:14

Stiltzkin wrote:Guaporense is an economist, so I am interested in his
No. He claims to be an economist. The evidence is he's an economics student with an aversion to accuracy and a penchant for unnecessary estimations. Thus my jaundiced view of his endless repetition of inaccurate data that apparently has the sole virtue of fitting his preconceived notions.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Shermaninterest » 04 Sep 2016 02:19

Is it known what percentage of the ammunition was used where? How much did the flak guns in Germany consume?

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Cult Icon » 04 Sep 2016 02:32

Tanks were vital for offensive operations on a narrow front (either german maneuver war or soviet deep operations) at the operational level for big wins. When the tanks become non-operational, usually the offensive closed.

But as an infantry support weapon/casualty inducer for broad front advances, they were not very impressive compared to artillery, mortars, and small arms fire unless the attacking force could achieve some sort of tactical win over some otherwise unobtainable objective. The Soviets called them 'corset stays'.

Soviet rifle forces were different from American or the German. I see them as having a lot of weapons but not a lot of ammo. The forces also had rapid turnover and the soviets designed an impressive system to quickly replace losses. I also see them as fundamentally chained to the operational level and in the interest of strong defense by 1943. The soviet artillery corps in a breakthrough operation were like their own version of massed 4-engine bomber strikes. The great soviet successes were largely due to strength at the operational level with deep penetrations achieved by tank armies, tank corps, and mech. corps.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Cult Icon » 04 Sep 2016 02:43

The german mentality after summer 1943 was 'bleeding' their enemy to death via tactics and kill ratios (due to the end of their operational capabilities) was fundamentally hopeless.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Stiltzkin » 04 Sep 2016 03:04

The german mentality after summer 1943 was 'bleeding' their enemy to death via tactics and kill ratios (due to the end of their operational capabilities) was fundamentally hopeless.
Actually Zetterling argued that a favourable K/D ratio which could have been increased via a mobile defence could have knocked the Soviet Union out of the war. Historically it was not possible anymore because of a multiple front conflict and a mobile defence was only applicable in the center and south.
It is not only about replacements but also about casualty infliction, there they had a substantial advantage. Kursk was basically a squander of high operational readiness. A prolonged war did not favour the USSR.
They tried to knock out their opponents quickly out of the war (Napoleonic tactics). A War of attrition does not arise by choice but rather from a stalemate.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Cult Icon » 04 Sep 2016 03:30

I think zettering is wrong. I made a 'what if' thread similar in concept.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Rob Stuart » 05 Sep 2016 06:24

Guaporense wrote:German aviation fuel supply and consumption:

Image

Clearly, the Luftwaffe consumed all the fuel they had in supply. Hence, increasing aircraft production would be also a waste of resources. In fact, they didn't even had the fuel to effectively use their historical aircraft stock since they had to cut the fuel supply for pilot training. As the number of hours of training for pilots gradually decreased over time.
You are completely overlooking the "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" situation here. For example, if the Germans had begun 1944 with more and better fighters with which to defend their oil refineries, the drops in output experienced that year might not have occurred. Furthermore, if they had begun 1942 with substantially more aircraft, tanks and motor vehicles, then maybe they would have made it to Baku and gained access to that source of oil.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Guaporense » 06 Sep 2016 01:21

But in 1941 and 1942 they were already consuming more fuel than they produced! Hence if they had more trucks and aircraft they wouldn't be fully used anyways. And their failure to defeat the Soviet Union was not remotely due to lack of trucks or aircraft, it was simple due to the fact that the Soviet Union mobilized 18 million men in the 18 months between June 41 and December 42.

That's because:
1) Air strikes only inflicted about 1% of all casualties in the Eastern front if not less.
2) Logistics was mainly handled by locomotives, not trucks. Trucks and horse drawn wagons were only to connect the depots near the front to the divisions.

So not even if they had attacked the Soviet Union with as many aircraft as the Western Allies had in the Western front in 44-45 (like 12,000 aircraft) and even if they had fully motorized forces, they would still lose the battle of Stalingrad and be defeated. Maybe, fully motorized forces could have retreated from encirclement in Stalingrad though. Though I doubt it was lack of mobility that caused the encirclement of the 6th army, which happened in a matter of days and when they noticed they were encircled. Same with Bagration.

The obsession people in the internet have with vehicles, aircraft and tanks, even though none of that was fundamental in WW2, is revealing of their lack of knowledge regarding warfare. In WW1 and WW2 warfare was dominated by infantry and artillery while logistics were dominated by railroads.

Tanks, trucks and aircraft were essentially support equipment, tanks served as armored spearheads to penetrate the enemy's front, while trucks served to supply fast advancing motorized divisions into the holes caused by tanks, while aircraft served as highly mobile terror weapon to scare defending enemy troops (the sound Stukas made was more important than the damage inflicted) and also to sabotage enemy's railroads, cutting their supplies. They were not the workhorses that actually did the damage and occupied territory. That was the role of infantry divisions: to do 90% of the fighting and inflict the bulk of casualties.

Mobility was not required for all divisions involved in a Blitzkrieg hence only a small fraction of the divisions needed to be motorized, the bulk worked just as well with horses. And for all the fuzz made about the Western Allies being fully motorized I don't see how they actually used their supposed superior mobility in the battlefield as they never actually encircled German armies in WW2, instead opting for the good old attrition warfare reminiscent of WW1 (yes, with far fewer casualties but that was not thanks to them but thanks to the Germans having 60 divisions in the Western front in 1944 compared to 205 divisions in 1918, the Allies suffered similar rates of casualties per German division per month in 1918 compared to 1944, about 1,000-1,200 casualties monthly).
"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 Guaporense » 06 Sep 2016 01:38

Cult Icon wrote:The german mentality after summer 1943 was 'bleeding' their enemy to death via tactics and kill ratios (due to the end of their operational capabilities) was fundamentally hopeless.
Well, they had already lost the war so their hope was for the Allies to tire out. They were like in late 1918 again but with a crazy and stubborn leader (Hitler).
"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 Guaporense » 06 Sep 2016 01:44

Shermaninterest wrote:Is it known what percentage of the ammunition was used where? How much did the flak guns in Germany consume?
Well I have this data point:

Output in Setember 1944, valued at 800 million RM, of which:

560 million in artillery and small arms
142 million in flak
69 million in bombs and aircraft guns
29 million on naval ammunition
[USSBS, Effects of Strategic Bombing on the German War Economy, page 183]

I also know that consumption of artillery and small arms ammunition was 5.7 million tons in the Eastern front and output of all types of ammunition was 7.7 million tons from 1941 to 1944, which probably include bombs. I would guess that 90% of ground related ammunition was consumed in the Eastern front from the fraction of time times the number of divisions were allocated there from 1941 to 1944 while about 60% of flak was consumed in the west and 90% of naval ammunition (which was mostly used in coastal batteries).
"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 Michael Kenny » 06 Sep 2016 02:06

Guaporense wrote: The obsession people in the internet have with vehicles, aircraft and tanks, even though none of that was fundamental in WW2, is revealing of their lack of knowledge regarding warfare. In WW1 and WW2 warfare was dominated by infantry and artillery while logistics were dominated by railroads.
Indeed this ' lack of knowledge regarding warfare' is terminal in your case.
For instance 'artillery'-care to have a guess at how many 'artillery' tubes there are in an infantry Division compared to a (say 1944) Panzer Division?

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Stiltzkin » 06 Sep 2016 06:47

For instance 'artillery'-care to have a guess at how many 'artillery' tubes there are in an infantry Division compared to a (say 1944) Panzer Division?
Or how many are non-divisional :D

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Michael Kenny » 06 Sep 2016 07:27

Stiltzkin wrote: Or how many are non-divisional
They are not part of an infantry Division (the clue is in the 'non' in front of divisional) and thus are not part of a comparison between Infantry and Panzer Divisions. The offensive power of a Panzer Division dwarfs that of an Infantry Division.
The lack of German infantry divisions in Normandy was a real problem but mainly because it prevented the withdrawal and grouping of Panzer Divisions for the attacks needed to repel the Allies. Infantry Divisions attacking without armour would have been blown to pieces in very short order.

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Stiltzkin » 06 Sep 2016 08:01

That was a joke.
Infantry Divisions attacking without armour would have been blown to pieces in very short order.
Obvious things are obvious, but the landings were mostly an Infantry battle (at least until they reached inland).

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Re: Was the German war effort badly run?

Post by Guaporense » 08 Sep 2016 04:17

It's true, however that one could claim the German war effort was badly run because their production of munitions was very much below the levels attained in WW1 vis. their enemies, even though in WW1 Germany was in a much more difficult position with vastly reduced resources. However, in proportion with manpower mobilized output of munitions (guns and artillery over 75 mm) was similar in both cases:

German manpower mobilized

WW1 - 13,315,000 (19.9% of Germany's 1913 population of 67 million)
WW2 - 17,893,000 (19.9% of Greater Germany's population of 90 million after annexations)

So in proportion to population, the level of mobilization for both world wars was the same. For France in WW1, it was 19.8% as well. So the three cases had the same levels of overall mobilization although in WW1 you could say it was more intense because the war lasted 50 months instead of 68 months in WW2.

And Germany in WW1 had only imported 1.8 million workers into it's economy by 1917, compared to over 7.5 million in 1944. Even with a significantly smaller population and lacking the massive European empire Hitler possessed, Germany in WW1 managed to produce 340 million rounds of ammo over 75 mm from 1914-1918 compared to 312 million rounds in 1940-44 periods. Given that manpower mobilized was smaller the per capita supply of ammunition per soldier was higher in WW1 as well.

I should point out that the aggregate French+Germany+Austria Hungary output of ammo over 75 mm in 1914-1918 was 694 million rounds over 75 mm, and all these territories were inside Hitler's empire. While the total manpower mobilized by France+Germany+Austria Hungary was 30.8 million soldiers in WW1 out of a population of 157 million (or about 165 million adding Belgium which was under German control). So they produced well over twice the ammunition and mobilized 1.7 times the manpower that Germany did in WW2 while Hitler in WW2 directly controlled territories about 190 million people by June 1940 and 270 million people by 1942-1943.

So one can say the war effort was badly run based on the fact that in WW1 the same territories produced much more and mobilized much more manpower. However, Germany's war effort in WW2 was fundamentally constrained by the fact they could only integrate effectively ethnic Germans in the armed forces (unlike other great powers whose armed forces were all multi-ethnic) however if these 18 million men mobilized were not well equipped and supplied them that's certainly a failure of organization and supply and not a product of underlying economic weakness in view of the massive economic resources under German control. In fact, in WW1, the territories that Germany eventually controlled in WW2, outproduced Russia, UK and US combined and by a wide margin as well.
Rob Stuart wrote:You are completely overlooking the "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" situation here. For example, if the Germans had begun 1944 with more and better fighters with which to defend their oil refineries, the drops in output experienced that year might not have occurred.
I agree with you on that. However they should have first taken into account the fact that the WAllies would be using strategic airforces very intensively and allocated resources against that in 1942-1943, specially in terms of pilot training. Since they spent all their aircraft fuel on the Eastern front, there was little left to train pilots and to protect the Reich. And an aircraft like the Me-109 or FW-190 required only 400-500 kg of fuel for a sortie, compared to 1.5-2.5 tons for a bomber like the Ju-88. For example, responding to the 400,000 sorties by American heavy bombers in 1944 with let's say 400,000 fighter sorties, would cost only about 200,000 tons of fuel or less than 10% of the planned output of 1944.

But the simple fact that the WAllies were able to obtain air superiority over Germany itself in 1944 was just a symptom that the war was already completely lost by that time. Everybody knew the war was lost at that point so their lack of preparation for it was perhaps just a symptom of knowing it was futile: everybody knew the war was lost by early 1944, several months before Bagration and Normady and even before the WAllies gained air superiority over Europe. In other words, it was not a strategic failure to not focus on maintaining air superiority over Europe in 1942-1943 because even focusing almost all their resources against the USSR at the period they failed to defeat it and the Eastern front collapsed following Stalingrad. In other words, the war was obviously lost so there was no real point in defending the homeland (and Hitler didn't care at all about the suffering of Germany's population, otherwise he wouldn't invade the USSR in the first place).
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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