What was Germany's win condition for WW2?

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Stiltzkin
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Re: What was Germany's win condition for WW2?

Post by Stiltzkin » 19 Oct 2019 16:45

That Germany still retained 5.7mil foreign civilian workers at that time is powerful evidence
Note that Germany had initially no intention of relying on foreign labour, at least not to the extent they were ultimately forced to, the high mortality amongst POWs is testimony to that, only when the situation worsened, they were freeing and substituting more workers.

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Re: What was Germany's win condition for WW2?

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 03 Nov 2019 04:04

Regarding Germany's capacity for industrial output, David Stahel notes the following in Chapter Two of his book on the Battle of Kiev:
Before World War II began, the peacetime industrial output of Germany measured only some 10.7 per cent of world production, with Japan's share accounting for just 3.5 per cent and Italy's even less at 2.7 per cent. At the same time the countries that ultimately formed the alliance against Germany produced some 70 per cent of the world's industrial goods, suggesting the Axis was in an all but impossible situation once all the major powers were involved in the war by the end of 1941.
So any notion of Germany coming close to rivaling the Allies in industrial output is far-fetched.

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Re: What was Germany's win condition for WW2?

Post by Stiltzkin » 03 Nov 2019 11:30

Before World War II began, the peacetime industrial output of Germany measured only some 10.7 per cent of world production, with Japan's share accounting for just 3.5 per cent and Italy's even less at 2.7 per cent. At the same time the countries that ultimately formed the alliance against Germany produced some 70 per cent of the world's industrial goods, suggesting the Axis was in an all but impossible situation once all the major powers were involved in the war by the end of 1941.
And how many Divisions did these Nations have on continental Europe in 1941? You see, this would apply to the case of WW1 in their natural borders, but during WW2, with continental Europe under Nazi control, this effectively meant that they now exceeded the combined UK+USSR levels and matched US levels by 1941. There were however technically no US Divisions on European soil before 1943 and Germany's crisis began in the very same year they launched Barbarossa, while it struggled for dominance on the continent, it still possessed greater industrial power than the slavic populations could draw upon.
Also, I think Stahel quotes League of Nations data, but it takes ages to compile or compute reliable figures based on primary source material.

Usually the available literature on WW1 will provide a decent summary (such as this account in the CIA library https://www.cia.gov/library/abbottabad- ... ennedy.pdf), but disappoint in the assessment of the 2nd World War, severly lacking (not least for the political implications). During WW1 Imperial Germany was individually one of the strongest contenders (expressed as a product of economic and military power), but could not match the combined effort of the Entente. Germany failed in France, which was subsequently stabilized by British and American intervention during the conflict (France could have potentitally run out of men or may have simply collapsed).
The support of the USSR during the 2nd World War may have signified the difference between disintegration and continuation, but cannot be regarded as a guarantor of victory either.

The Wehrmacht managed to push the Western Allies off the continent in 1940, but failed in the East, bottlenecked by the size of their labour force. This facilitated the return of Allied forces, ultimately shifting the balance against Axis favour, resulting in a contraction of the territory, whilst rendering any possibility of fighting the front to a standstill impossible. In both cases the constellation provoked a war of attrition, a situation which was not in the interest of any military apparatus, independent of the quantity of material and manpower available for the effort.
Two major components can thus be derived: Alliances and demography (to a certain extent geostrategy, for Japan in particular, having experienced a natural upswing past the great divergence it was nevertheless significant, since their island status created adverse conditions, while at that time they were still a developing nation.

This leads to the conclusion that WW1 was terminated by exhaustion, WW2 on the other hand via occupation and destruction, thus:
a) An absence of the Eastern Front would imply a low chance of an Allied comeback.
b) If the Nazis succeeded, Anglo-Saxon rule could be challenged. Anything beyond that requires a further projection, but is rather incidental for the case (their system wouldn't have thrived anyway). Of course by reflecting on this, in various instances we default to speculations, as there is no example of the US ever facing the bulk of the German Army - and in all honesty, only a fraction of their resource base was allocated to both the Atlantic and channel.

As for the issue of war production: Military assets are not produced ad infinitum (unless a supply driven order is issued), which also represents a general misunderstanding of the nature of war and last but not least, the war economy. Production is driven by demand, more men require more weapons, a saturation in density is sought, followed by a shift in net investment into each individual soldier. Naturally there can be further leeway or bottlenecks, e.g. rooted on the resource base or the labour force, but there does not seem to appear anything that would have deceisively influenced the outcome in this field.
Scholars like Tooze and Harrison fall under the "more is better" category, not realizing that the figures can either represent the focus or feature the size of the armed forces, which can only be regarded as a layman's view (to my understanding they are not military personnel).
The IDF is a good candidate. Provided with western equipment and based off evolved concepts, an supplement of additional 10,000 tanks would have resulted in nothing but wastage.
The US is another example, with a main emphasize on air dominace, it possesses a smaller quantity of AFVs than Russia. In a multidimensional conflict that would induce the expansion of the forces, the number of tanks would proportionally increase, albeit not by a signifcant amount, as a greater investment into the quality of each asset would be desired.
Lastly, we have to remember that the Soviets managed to challenge American dominance with just a fraction of their sinews. IMHO there is too much literature focusing on the constraints and limitations of the German war effort, instead of explaining why the war was actually so costly and dragged on for years.
Thus I propose a different approach of estimating the war making potential of the participants of the 2nd World War: The ratios of both belligerents attrition per advance rate (the distance covered over given territory). The territory gained in relation to total territory under the control of a belligerent, with the suitable dependent and independent variables (economic factors affecting the attrition, manpower generation as a dampener with the total and temporary territory under the control of the respective force), with their derivatives as the measures of momentum and celerity, under the condition of attritional warfare.
So any notion of Germany coming close to rivaling the Allies in industrial output is far-fetched.
This would indicate that after it was culled, a nation which was over 20 times smaller than the US had 1/3 of its manufacturing output (or 95-120% by exports of machines, if looking on relevant assets). Besides (taking the example of the USSR in the LoN data), such as in the Soviet case, the value is just bloated by the dead metal, which correlates with population size. Russian values post 91 are far more realistic in assessing the difference. What matters is capacity and resource allocation, which are flexible. The German capital stock far surpassed Soviet levels, adding 1,000,000 additional soldiers to the Reich would result in net increase of assets. The figures you see in the tables are referring to material that each individual faction chose (at least for the most part, driven by the factors that influence production) to produce, often incomprehensible for most enthusiasts and even scholars.

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Re: What was Germany's win condition for WW2?

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 05 Nov 2019 01:34

Regarding Germany's prospects for winning the war by capturing and holding Baku, Alan Levine writes as follows:
Before the invasion of Russia, a report by General von Hannecken, an Assistant State Secretary in the Armament and War Economy Office, warned that only 100,000 tons of oil a month could be brought overland from the Caucasus to Germany, only enough to make up about one-third of Germany’s deficiencies. The river tankers on the Danube were already working to capacity carrying Romanian oil, so further shipments from the Caucasus would require the use of a sea route through the Black Sea and the Turkish Straits, so that Caucasian oil could be brought to Mediterranean ports. To secure this route, the Germans would have had to eliminate British air and seapower from the eastern Mediterranean. As it was, the Axis merchant fleet in that sea was hard put to supply the German-Italian forces in North Africa, and was rapidly being wiped out by British submarines and planes in 1942-43.

Lee, Lily Xiao Hong. World War Two: Crucible of the Contemporary World - Commentary and Readings . Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

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Re: What was Germany's win condition for WW2?

Post by Stiltzkin » 05 Nov 2019 02:03

Regarding Germany's prospects for winning the war by capturing and holding Baku, Alan Levine writes as follows:
Oil was never the deceisive resource during WW2, with the exception on the impact of motorization and the Air War, but the war was decided in the East anyway. On this front, the Soviets did not possess a motorization advantage over the Wehrmacht. Coal/Lignite values were more relevant, since most items were transported via rail. Capturing Baku had nothing to do with Germany's prospects of winning the war, but rather shifting towards a preparation for a longer conflict, which simultanously resulted in the overextension of their forces, so it accelerated their defeat.

As for going to the sea: I do not think they would undertake such an endeavour before an indepth preparation. There were on average 3 Divisions in Africa in 1942 and not more than 9 in the first half of 1943.

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Re: What was Germany's win condition for WW2?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 05 Nov 2019 03:58

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
05 Nov 2019 01:34
Regarding Germany's prospects for winning the war by capturing and holding Baku, Alan Levine writes as follows:
Before the invasion of Russia, a report by General von Hannecken, an Assistant State Secretary in the Armament and War Economy Office, warned that only 100,000 tons of oil a month could be brought overland from the Caucasus to Germany, only enough to make up about one-third of Germany’s deficiencies. The river tankers on the Danube were already working to capacity carrying Romanian oil, so further shipments from the Caucasus would require the use of a sea route through the Black Sea and the Turkish Straits, so that Caucasian oil could be brought to Mediterranean ports. To secure this route, the Germans would have had to eliminate British air and seapower from the eastern Mediterranean. As it was, the Axis merchant fleet in that sea was hard put to supply the German-Italian forces in North Africa, and was rapidly being wiped out by British submarines and planes in 1942-43.

Lee, Lily Xiao Hong. World War Two: Crucible of the Contemporary World - Commentary and Readings . Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
So build more tankers or, as I've said elsewhere, build a brand-new double-track railway from the Caucasus for ~twice what Germany spent on Polish railroads prior to Barbarossa. I haven't read Hannecken's report but presumably its purview was the existing infrastructure. Additional infrastructure would be covered by a new corporate structure, just as Germany established an entirely new and massive corporation ahead of Blau to administer Caucasian oil extraction (10,000 employees IIRC).

Too many histories of Germany act as if its infrastructure resources were fixed. Germany put 17mil m3 of concrete into the Atlantic Wall (~7 Hoover Dams!), plus 1.2mil tons of steel. It stretched ~2,500km. It was a waste but by any standard it's one of the largest engineering projects of the first half of the 20th century.

Compared to the Atlantic Wall, a ~1,500mi 2-track railway to Baku with ~600k tons of steel is peanuts. Building more river tankers is peanut dust.

Germany also completely rebuilt the Zaporizhe Dam and power station - then the world's 3rd-largest - in the.midst of active warfare in Ukraine. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dnieper ... ic_Station

If Germany can take and hold the Caucasus, it would have ample resources with which to move its oil.
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: What was Germany's win condition for WW2?

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 05 Nov 2019 04:19

I don't think any of us are experts in civil engineering. Can you cite any expert who analyzes the prospects for Germany to build an infrastructure network that could have handled the oil from Baku? Did the Germans issue any planning reports in this regard?

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Re: What was Germany's win condition for WW2?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 05 Nov 2019 08:06

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
05 Nov 2019 04:19
I don't think any of us are experts in civil engineering. Can you cite any expert who analyzes the prospects for Germany to build an infrastructure network that could have handled the oil from Baku?
What do you mean expert? As in historian or as in contemporaneous German analysis of the engineering problem?

Re the latter, that's a great topic for archival research. But we don't need an expert engineering opinion.

Could the Germans build railways? Yes, obviously. Especially over the flat steppes of Southern Russia.
Could the Germans build a railway on this scale? Yes, they put 300,000 tons of steel into Poland's railways in a matter of months ahead of Barbarossa. https://www.hgwdavie.com/blog/2017/5/9/ ... r-19411945. The brand-new Baku railway would require ~twice the steel of Operation Otto.
By calling this an "infrastructure network that could have handled oil from Baku" you're making the problem far too complex. It's just a railway or something cheaper (more tankers).
Just as I don't need to know how to design a tank to say that the U.S. could have produced more tanks in WW2, I don't need to know how to design a railway to say that the Germans could have built more railways.

Re whether expert historians agree with my contention, it doesn't matter. Historians are just folks who make better or worse arguments from what they know. We're allowed to make novel judgments.
Did the Germans issue any planning reports in this regard?
Another great topic for research. The Hannecke study you reference above is at least indicative that the Germans were willing to invest staff resources to analyze the problem.

Another point is that investments in Caucasian infrastructure could have, at the very least, substituted some of Germany's synthetic oil. Producing that synthoil was ~10x more costly than normal oil refining per pre-war German prices. The giant chemical plants, coal miners, and supporting infrastructure could all have been freed for better uses (e.g. fertilizer for the continent's moribund wartime agriculture).
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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