German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

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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TheMarcksPlan
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German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 Apr 2021 09:56

That the occupied SU did not provide Germany the bounty expected by some/most in the Nazi leadership is clear. This shortfall versus delusional expectations (of easy victory, of a supine populace), however, causes most of the literature to ignore what Germany did get (and what it was on the verge of getting, had Ostheer held out a few more months east of the Dniepr).

First topic will be foodstuffs. From Eichholtz's Deutsche Kriegswirtschaft:

Image

In the '42-'43 financial year, SU provided over half of Germany's looted grain and about half of all food loot. We should also note that the formerly Soviet "Distrikt Galizien" comprised ~1/3 of the General Government's territory and likely of its agricultural production.

From this table we can calculate an approximate caloric value:

Image

So about 14 trillion calories or ~480 per day, per 80mil Germans - ~20% of Germany's domestic food supply.

Lend-Lease provided ~22.9 trillion calories to SU over three years, so Germany got more food from SU in '42-'43 than SU got from LL in any one year. See Hunger and War, Table 5.3.

This was, unsurprisingly given the course of events, the best year for German exploitation of Soviet agriculture.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Kriegswirtschaft
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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by Kriegswirtschaft » 20 Jul 2021 15:31

Hi TheMarksPlan,

Well, even if 1942-43 was by far the best year in terms of productivity and highest amounts of foodstuff confiscated, the agricultural exploitation of the USSR was quite disappointing for the German leadership. And not only by the low amount of pillaged foodstuff but also measured by the investment they had to carry out in the occupied regions.

Not only all the railways had to be rebuilt, but the Germans had to bring in a lot of rolling stock and devote a great deal of resources to produce locomotives, rolling stock, bring in personnel to manage them. In the agricultural areas they even had to deliver thousands of tractors, agricultural equipment & tools and even import several million of tons of coal to keep railways running.

So main problems were twofold: first of all the wholesale destruction in agricultural infrastructure (tractors, machinery, etc) and second the communications network that made extremely difficult to transport whatever was pillaged or to keep some feeble production without inputs & supplies. Unsurprisingly agricultural returns of the main crops were quite low (1)

I read that around 14.000 tractors were imported from the Reich to make up the huge gap left by the destruction or evacuation of the Soviet tractors.(2)

I would add that a third factor aside of the disruption of the economic system was the lack of incentives of a population tied up to the hated kolkhoz system and subject to German ruthless exploitation.

Sources:
(1) Karl Brandt & Otto Schiller & Franz Ahlgrimm: Management of Agriculture and Food in the German-Occupied and Other Areas of Fortress Europe: A Study in Military Government. Stanford University Press 1981.
(2) Rolf-Dieter Müller: Die Deutsche Wirtschaftspolitik in den besetzten sowjetischen Gebieten 1941-1943. Harald Boldt Verlag 1991.

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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by Boby » 20 Jul 2021 18:14

More data here:

https://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p-91_Sanning.html

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=62936

Of course, WiStabOst files if available

Boby,

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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by Boby » 21 Jul 2021 10:01

And this data includes all that was consumed in the east by the Wehrmacht. The amount of food deliveries to Germany from 1941 to 1944 was very low. Aly, in Hitler's Beneficiaries have a table with data up to mid-1943, but in grain units (GUs) (divide it by 10)

To the Wehrmacht = 33,850,210
To Germany = 9,883,180 (29%) = 1 million ton grain.

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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by Peter89 » 21 Jul 2021 11:34

Boby wrote:
20 Jul 2021 18:14
More data here:

https://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p-91_Sanning.html

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=62936

Of course, WiStabOst files if available

Boby,
Yes, the Germans had exactly zero chance to integrate the SU into their ecosystem in the given timeframe. It would require investments on an unimagineable level, not to mention the Red Army, which would cause losses for the Germans. Instead of calculating with the gains, one should take a look at the costs. This lack of balance reminds me of a Hitlerian monologue from 1942.

The equipment and the manpower the German lost against the winter, the dust and the Soviets were well beyond their capabilities to replace properly. In order to utilize the SU's resources, the Germans needed to accomplish the occupation on impossible terms (a quick and total victory with very light casualties). Essentially they had to repeat the Westfeldzug. If the Soviets decide to stand and fight, the German plan would collapse on the cost side.

Moreover, the resources the Germans truly lacked were very far from the German-Soviet border. NF metals were around the Urals, oil was in the Caucasus. Rubber was in Asia. Manganese, although it could be found in Ukraine, it could also be found in many parts of Europe, and the increase of the production was only a question of investment. By 1944, a single Hungarian mine produced a third of the output of the occupied Soviet territory, and that production increased even further after the war. As for grain and agriculture, had the Germans allocated that machinery, tools, etc. into the production of Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc., the net result would be the same or better, because no German soldier needs to die for that and no aircraft or muntion would be lost.

If your sources are correct, the Germans invested a net 3bn RM into the infrastructure of the occupied SU, and this number excludes transportation and the military losses. Just saying that this number is well above the total German investment in the whole ore, oil and agricultural production from Finland to Greece pre-Barbarossa.

Even though reluctantly and for a hefty price, the SU was ready to serve as an intermediary for the rubber shipments. Everything else had a continental alternative.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 21 Jul 2021 12:23

Kriegswirtschaft wrote:the agricultural exploitation of the USSR was quite disappointing for the German leadership
:welcome:

Toll Name.

We have to be careful about "German leadership." Opinions varied on agricultural expectations; many recalled the disappointing yield from Ukraine in WW1. But I don't disagree in general. As I said in OP:
TheMarcksPlan wrote:That the occupied SU did not provide Germany the bounty expected by some/most in the Nazi leadership is clear.
Anyways, the numbers are the numbers. Germany got ~20% of its food supply from occupied SU in '42-'43.
Kriegswirtschaft wrote:So main problems were twofold: first of all the wholesale destruction in agricultural infrastructure (tractors, machinery, etc) and second the communications network that made extremely difficult to transport whatever was pillaged or to keep some feeble production without inputs & supplies.
Per another poster's source***, Germany invested RM 500mil in Soviet agriculture. That's 0.33% of Germany's ~150mil GDP in '42. Very cheap for 20% of Germany's food. Indeed, as agriculture was 15-20% of German GDP, they stole from the SU more efficiently than they grew food at home.

***The source is published by the Institute for Historical Review, a Holocaust-denying organization. It contains some useful citations to archival material; even Holocaust deniers can't lie about everything. Nonetheless, user beware. Among other things, the article exaggerates Soviet success at "scorched earth" to suggest - I'm just guessing here - that maybe it was the Soviets who killed Europe's missing Jewish people?

Investments in the communications network were necessary to military operations anyway.
Kriegswirtschaft wrote:(1) Karl Brandt & Otto Schiller & Franz Ahlgrimm: Management of Agriculture and Food in the German-Occupied and Other Areas of Fortress Europe: A Study in Military Government. Stanford University Press 1981.
Thank you for the source. I saw a cheap used copy on Amazon and ordered it. Originally published in 1954 and written with former Nazi/German officials, btw - again something to watch out for. What does your source say on the value of German agricultural investment in occupied SU?
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by Kriegswirtschaft » 22 Jul 2021 09:02

Peter89 wrote:
21 Jul 2021 11:34
Yes, the Germans had exactly zero chance to integrate the SU into their ecosystem in the given timeframe. It would require investments on an unimagineable level, not to mention the Red Army, which would cause losses for the Germans. Instead of calculating with the gains, one should take a look at the costs. This lack of balance reminds me of a Hitlerian monologue from 1942.

The equipment and the manpower the German lost against the winter, the dust and the Soviets were well beyond their capabilities to replace properly. In order to utilize the SU's resources, the Germans needed to accomplish the occupation on impossible terms (a quick and total victory with very light casualties). Essentially they had to repeat the Westfeldzug. If the Soviets decide to stand and fight, the German plan would collapse on the cost side.
I think Peter89 strikes the main point. The plunder & economic resources either pillaged or exploited in the Soviet Union did not offset the economic cost -not to talk about the war proper- As it turned out economic policy in the East became a wholesale plunder with much of the foodstuffs consumed by the Wehrmacht at the spot but with no chance of any economic integration of the occupied USSR in the Grossraum unless there was a herculean investment in infrastructure, communications, machinery, personnel, etc. Oil is a quite good example, even if the Germans had taken the oil wells not wrecked there was no logistics to carry out an industrial exploitation useful for the German & occupied Europe needs.

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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Jul 2021 09:28

Kriegswirtschaft wrote:
22 Jul 2021 09:02
Peter89 wrote:
21 Jul 2021 11:34
Yes, the Germans had exactly zero chance to integrate the SU into their ecosystem in the given timeframe. It would require investments on an unimagineable level, not to mention the Red Army, which would cause losses for the Germans. Instead of calculating with the gains, one should take a look at the costs. This lack of balance reminds me of a Hitlerian monologue from 1942.

The equipment and the manpower the German lost against the winter, the dust and the Soviets were well beyond their capabilities to replace properly. In order to utilize the SU's resources, the Germans needed to accomplish the occupation on impossible terms (a quick and total victory with very light casualties). Essentially they had to repeat the Westfeldzug. If the Soviets decide to stand and fight, the German plan would collapse on the cost side.
I think Peter89 strikes the main point. The plunder & economic resources either pillaged or exploited in the Soviet Union did not offset the economic cost -not to talk about the war proper- As it turned out economic policy in the East became a wholesale plunder with much of the foodstuffs consumed by the Wehrmacht at the spot but with no chance of any economic integration of the occupied USSR in the Grossraum unless there was a herculean investment in infrastructure, communications, machinery, personnel, etc. Oil is a quite good example, even if the Germans had taken the oil wells not wrecked there was no logistics to carry out an industrial exploitation useful for the German & occupied Europe needs.
I prefer to address those broader questions quantitatively.

Re food consumed by Wehrmacht "on the spot," the reply is painfully obvious: Had German soldiers not eaten Russian food, Germany would have had to give them German food - wherever they stood and regardless of whether they were soldiers. Likewise, it's equally obvious that Germany would not simply have given this food back to Soviets had no soldiers been present to eat it. It would have been sent to Germany or wherever it was wanted - across a rail system built to move soldiers east and with plenty of relatively empty wagons moving west.

The barest analytical effort undercuts much WW2 common knowledge.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by Peter89 » 22 Jul 2021 11:35

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jul 2021 09:28
Kriegswirtschaft wrote:
22 Jul 2021 09:02
Peter89 wrote:
21 Jul 2021 11:34
Yes, the Germans had exactly zero chance to integrate the SU into their ecosystem in the given timeframe. It would require investments on an unimagineable level, not to mention the Red Army, which would cause losses for the Germans. Instead of calculating with the gains, one should take a look at the costs. This lack of balance reminds me of a Hitlerian monologue from 1942.

The equipment and the manpower the German lost against the winter, the dust and the Soviets were well beyond their capabilities to replace properly. In order to utilize the SU's resources, the Germans needed to accomplish the occupation on impossible terms (a quick and total victory with very light casualties). Essentially they had to repeat the Westfeldzug. If the Soviets decide to stand and fight, the German plan would collapse on the cost side.
I think Peter89 strikes the main point. The plunder & economic resources either pillaged or exploited in the Soviet Union did not offset the economic cost -not to talk about the war proper- As it turned out economic policy in the East became a wholesale plunder with much of the foodstuffs consumed by the Wehrmacht at the spot but with no chance of any economic integration of the occupied USSR in the Grossraum unless there was a herculean investment in infrastructure, communications, machinery, personnel, etc. Oil is a quite good example, even if the Germans had taken the oil wells not wrecked there was no logistics to carry out an industrial exploitation useful for the German & occupied Europe needs.
I prefer to address the questions quantitatively.
Me too, this is why I asked how much the attack on the SU costed?

How much raw material, manpower, labour, capital, etc. was spent from the German side?
How many guns, rifles, grenades, shells, bombs and other munitions were fired, damaged or destroyed?
How many airplanes, tanks, trucks, motorcycles, ships and locomotives were damaged or destroyed, and how much did it cost to repair or salvage them? What did it mean in terms of industrial production, labour hours, raw materials?
How much did it cost to keep them running during the campaign; in terms of fuel, lubricants, spare parts, and what additional costs did the manpower shortage cause in the German economy, because of the manpower needs of the Ostfront?
How much German investment went into the training of the units lost? Aircraft pilots, mechanics, AFV crews, truck drivers, experienced NCOs and soldiers in all services? And how much would it cost to replace them with approximately the same quality personnel?

Do you actually know what did this invasion cost to the Germans?

And if not, then why do you even start to count the yields?
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by Boby » 22 Jul 2021 12:55

From the second link i posted

Total value extracted (incomplete estimate) = 5,56 billion RM
German deliveries = 1 billion
Net result = 4,56 billion

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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Jul 2021 15:47

Peter89 wrote:how much the attack on the SU costed?
I'm not discussing the cost of the war, only the proceeds of occupation.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: German exploitation of occupied Soviet Union

Post by Peter89 » 22 Jul 2021 16:25

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jul 2021 15:47
Peter89 wrote:how much the attack on the SU costed?
I'm not discussing the cost of the war, only the proceeds of occupation.
Cool. :wink:
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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