German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

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HistoryGeek2019
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German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 16 Oct 2019 04:55

I came across this chart that gives a percentage of German military spending for each sector during WW2:

German military spending.png
Source: http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.com/ ... y-was.html

Unfortunately I couldn't find the exact percentages, but Adam Tooze gives the following percentages for 1943:

Tooze military spending.png
Source: https://adamtooze.com/app/uploads/2016/ ... h-2016.pdf


A few things I found striking:

(1) How little was actually spent on weapons for the Heer. Using Tooze's 1943 figures, tanks, vehicles and Heer weapons accounted for just 25% of total armaments spending in 1943, and that was after it increased from a much lower level in 1941. Apparently it just doesn't cost that much to make artillery and rifles (compared to a Uboat or a Ju-88 anyway).

(2) How expensive ammunition is. No one really talks about it in the popular press, but apparently it was the most critical sector of production needed in order to keep the Wehrmacht fighting. Presumably this includes ammunition for all three branches (e.g., torpedoes, bombs, 30mm LW ammo, etc).

(3) Germany in 1941 spent well over half its armaments budget on the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine - and this was the year when it was embarking on the largest ground invasion in human history. They really were betting everything on capitulating the Soviet in a matter of weeks. Perhaps more than any other, this chart shows why Operation Barbarossa failed.

(4) It's a bit surprising how much Germany spent on the Luftwaffe in each year, in return for rapidly diminishing results. Per Tooze, it wasn't until Spring 1944 that Germany made defensive fighters the top priority, but by then it didn't matter how many fighters Germany made because its pilots were so inadequately trained they couldn't compete with Allied fighter pilots, and were suffering 90% losses, as Williamson Murray notes in the conclusion to his book on the Luftwaffe here: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/AAF ... ffe-8.html. Also, according to the US Strategic Bombing Survey, the United States and Great Britain spent a comparable amount on their air forces (35% for the US, 40-50% for the UK). https://archive.org/details/unitedstate ... ent/page/4. But the Allied air forces were a lot more successful than the Luftwaffe!

(5) It's also interesting what is NOT presented here: the cost to feed, clothe and house the soldiers of the Wehrmacht, and their horses, and other non-armaments expenditures. Whether or not this actually constituted a drain on the German war effort depends on how much food a German soldier was allocated compared to the rations for a civilian. Moreover, Wehrmacht soldiers deployed outside of Germany may have alleviated some of the strain on the German economy, because they would have lived off the land and/or been paid for through occupation taxes imposed on the occupied countries.
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Peter89
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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by Peter89 » 16 Oct 2019 07:51

I think I read this in the online book you quoted: General Georg Thomas presented two ways of waging war: war in depth and war in width. The former aimed an economy, a society, an industry, an infrastructure, etc. capable of waging war for a prolonged time. In other words, capable of waging a war of attrition. The latter proposed a very sharp "strike force" (so to say), which puts a limited burden on the economy, etc., and it is only capable to fight short, decisive wars.

As Robert Citino always argues: the history of the German (Prussian) military doctrine supported the latter. Georg Thomas advocated for the former.

When we see that the Germans had approximately the same amount of operational mechanized troops during the whole war, it has happened so because the economical background of the army couldn't sustain way more units. The slight increase in the mechanized troops after 1943 contributed a lot to their operational disability.

The late war German concept of mechanized troops were actually making sense, and they were in compliance with the Reich's economical and organizational background.

The shift towards more durable tanks like the Königstiger could provide better crew survival (and thus experience + less strain on the training schools), etc.

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 16 Oct 2019 16:40

Peter89 wrote:
16 Oct 2019 07:51
the economical background of the army couldn't sustain way more units.
Can you explain what you mean by this? Do you simply man that there was a fuel shortage that would have made more tanks and vehicles useless?

If that's true, how do you account for the massive spending on the Luftewaffe and Kriegsmarine throughout the war, every dollar of which went toward a unit that consumed large quantities of fuel?

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by Peter89 » 16 Oct 2019 19:53

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
16 Oct 2019 16:40
Peter89 wrote:
16 Oct 2019 07:51
the economical background of the army couldn't sustain way more units.
Can you explain what you mean by this? Do you simply man that there was a fuel shortage that would have made more tanks and vehicles useless?

If that's true, how do you account for the massive spending on the Luftewaffe and Kriegsmarine throughout the war, every dollar of which went toward a unit that consumed large quantities of fuel?
Like it is stated in your quote ( http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/AAF ... ffe-2.html ), the actual worth of mechanized troops depended on a highly developed infrastructure. If it was there, the mechanized troops could do miracles. If it wasn't, most of the machines were abandoned without fuel, field repair or spare parts, or they simply broke down.

In order to fight a war of attrition based on mechanized troops, the economy / infrastructure must be geared towards more and more output. The economy of the Reich was not capable of that.

Advanced technology required a disproportionately lesser amount of upkeep than obsolate technology. The upkeep of a Panther or a Me-262 wasn't considerably more than a Pz IV or a Me-109, yet, they were more useful.

What I meant was that Germany fought with less reliable mechanized formations, because their infrastructure could not keep up the pace with the production or with the operational reality.

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 16 Oct 2019 22:49

Peter89 wrote:
16 Oct 2019 19:53

Like it is stated in your quote ( http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/AAF ... ffe-2.html ), the actual worth of mechanized troops depended on a highly developed infrastructure. If it was there, the mechanized troops could do miracles. If it wasn't, most of the machines were abandoned without fuel, field repair or spare parts, or they simply broke down.

I don't see that anywhere in the link you posted or in any other links in this thread.

In order to fight a war of attrition based on mechanized troops, the economy / infrastructure must be geared towards more and more output. The economy of the Reich was not capable of that.
How do you figure? Look at the gargantuan amount spent on the Luftwaffe. Even more was spent on the Kriegsmarine than vehicles as late as 1943. It seems the Reich had resources to spare if it was willing to give up on Uboats and medium bombers that were dying almost as soon as they left the dockyard/factory.
What I meant was that Germany fought with less reliable mechanized formations, because their infrastructure could not keep up the pace with the production or with the operational reality.
Seems like a diversion from the topic of this thread, but German mechanized units fought quite well on the same ground in 1940 and 1941 as on which they subsequently fought quite poorly in 1944 and 1945. I don't think the state of the ground infrastructure changed a whole lot different between these time periods ...

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by Peter89 » 17 Oct 2019 08:13

While the Rechlin demonstration did not aim at supporting Hitler's inclination for a military solution to the Polish question but rather at convincing him that the Luftwaffe should receive more of the defense budget for the coming years, it undoubtedly helped to push Hitler towards the precipice.
The increased allocation of the budget was marred by wrong strategic conceptions and personal impressions.
Moreover, such shortsightedness, which characterized so much of the Luftwaffe's approach, resulted in the enlistment of maintenance and service troops for duty as frontline riflemen. Thus, at the same time that Milch and his staff prepared for a rapid expansion in aircraft strength, Göring was squandering the expertise of trained technicians who already were having difficulty in keeping sufficient numbers of Luftwaffe aircraft flying.

(...)

Thus, the only way to build up airlift capability for emergency situations like Demyansk and Stalingrad was to strip training establishments of instructors, pupils, and aircraft; in other words, to shut schools down. But the losses in training resources, particularly in instructor pilots, were not only irreplaceable but were enormous in their cumulative impact.
The source argues that the infrastructure behind the LW limited its expansion. If you damage the infrastructure behind the mechanized troops, the machines become useless as a gun becomes useless without ammo.

Spare parts as a percentage of tank production dropped from 25–30 percent in 1943, to 8 percent in the fall of 1944. This only compounded the problems with reliability and numbers of operational Panthers, as tanks in the field had to be cannibalized for parts.
https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Panther_tank

The infrastructure means everything behind the thing itself, which is needed to operate it. Crew training, fuel, ammo, spare parts, repair, etc.

Regarding KM spendings: yes. It was folly. But the KM was the only mean to fight against Britain, what should they do instead?

From a certain point of view, every German decision was stupid, because they lost.

And btw the KM did a fairly good job at its asymmetrical warfare role. The U-Boats forced a huge amount of investment from the Allies even without sinking a ship.

I would rather check upon the Allied expenditures on convoy defense and naval air support first.

Regarding the limits of the Reich to maintain mechanized troops, let me give you a source:
"Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942" by Robert Citino
https://youtu.be/UNDhswF1GKk

It argues that the infrastructural problems in 1942 were so dire that a certain level of demotorization was deemed necessary. They equipped their rec. batallions with bicycles.

Long story short: Germany couldn't upkeep way more mechanized units.

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 17 Oct 2019 10:36

The increased allocation of the budget was marred by wrong strategic conceptions and personal impressions.
I agree 100%. That is the main thesis of this thread, that Germany's spending priorities made no sense in light of their strategic needs. Germany was a continental power surrounded by powerful enemy armies, so the Heer needed to be the top priority in the war. When you're spending more on your navy and air force in the same year that you're undertaking the largest ground invasion in human history, your priorities are completely out of whack.
The source argues that the infrastructure behind the LW limited its expansion. If you damage the infrastructure behind the mechanized troops, the machines become useless as a gun becomes useless without ammo.
We seem to be referring to different things by "infrastructure". The term generally refers to the state of ground transportation and support facilities, but you are using it to refer to trained technicians, mechanics and instructors. While I agree that all these things are necessary in order to support the LW and mechanized units, you haven't presented any evidence that the German economy was incapable of providing more technicians, mechanics and instructors for its mechanized units. You've simply noted that these personnel were pressed into service as frontline infantry after Germany's causalties started to mount. That is poor personnel management, but it has nothing to do with Germany's ability to produce more tanks, vehicles and weapons for the Heer. Moreover, Heer equipment is much less complex than LW aircraft, so if anything the lack of support personnel in later years argues for more spending on the Heer and less on the LW, although the issues don't really have much to do with each other. Germany making a poor personnel decision has nothing to do with what the German economy was inherently capable of during WW2.
Regarding KM spendings: yes. It was folly. But the KM was the only mean to fight against Britain, what should they do instead?

You don't fight your enemy where he is strongest and you are weakest. The Royal Navy was vastly superior to the Kriegsmarine and dispatched both Uboats and surface ships alike with ease from the earliest days of the war. On the other hand, the British army was pitiful compared to the Heer, so the correct strategic choice was to spend as much as possible on ensuring the success of ground operations to make it impossible for Germany to be conquered by land. The question is then one for the British: How can they fight the Germans? The only two ways were through blockade and strategic bombing. Germany was never going to come close to breaking the blockade, so the only thing Germany could do was to conquer as many resources by land as possible. And strategic bombing, especially the night bombing that the British practiced exclusively, was woefully inaccurate and was only ever a threat to German cities, not plants and factories. Spending on air defense was necessary, and the Germans spent plenty, but they also spent most of their air budget on medium bombers, which offered nothing against British bombing except when converted to night fighters. Better to just build a dedicated night fighter.

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by Peter89 » 17 Oct 2019 15:18

If Germany didn't produce any U-Boots at all, if they did not make some sporadic attacks on Allied convoys, the Allies didn't have to spend on the defense. This is a naval strategy called fleet-in-being. Moreover, the KM produced a lot of results with very modest means. They sank:
- 4 Aircraft Carriers
- 5 Escort Carriers
- 3 Battleships
- 10 Light Cruisers

In naval action.
This is only the part of the 175 total warships sunk.

An additional 3500 merchant / transport ships were sunk as well, totalling more than 20M GRT.

Also, more than 700 allied aircraft were lost related to naval operations against Germany.
They also claimed more lives than they lost.

Germany basically didn't produce any new warships during the war, and the U-Boots paid nice dividends for their cost.

In general, I agree with you. But Germany had to fight against the odds at every arms. And as it turned out, they should have focused on the nuclear bomb and the V2 project. But military spending is the subordinate of grand strategy, and the strategy itself was flawed.
Last edited by Peter89 on 18 Oct 2019 06:45, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Oct 2019 20:06

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:I came across this chart
Note also that AAA was ~1/3 of the weapons and Ammo/Powder spending.
If Germany had built more fighters and fewer medium bombers, it would have needed less AAA expenditure (most of which was on ammo and for replacement of worn-out barrels).
Peter89 wrote:But military spending is the subordinate of grand strategy, and the strategy itself was flawed.
You're stating HistoryGeek's implicit, but obvious, premise: Germany spent on the wrong things because it had the wrong strategy.
Peter89 wrote:the U-Boots paid nice dividends for their cost.
You're absolutely right here, IMO. As Geek and I have discussed in the past, the U-Boat arm was an incredibly successful example of asymmetric warfare, forcing the Allies to spend ~10 times beating the Uboats as Germany had to spend building them. Absent U-boats, the Allies would have had ~twice the shipping in 1942-43 and could have launched D-day in 1943 in addition to more peripheral operations that could have caused earlier collapse on the Eastern Front.

The Allies did, in fact, very decisively win the U-boat *battle* but fighting and losing that battle increased Germany's chances in the *war*.

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 17 Oct 2019 21:32

Peter89 wrote:
17 Oct 2019 15:18
If Germany didn't produce any U-Boots at all, if they did not make some sporadic attacks on Allied convoys, the Allies didn't have to spend on the defense.
And what exactly were the British going to spend their money on that could defeat the Germans? The British army was pitiful. Germany would have welcomed more raids like Dieppe where they could mop the floor with the British, and the British were too scared to try day-time raids over Germany, so the most that would have happened is there would have been more night raids, which, while horrific for Germany's civilian population, never seriously affected Germany's ability to wage war.
This is a naval strategy called fleet-in-being.
Except there wasn't very much fleet in being for the Germans after the Norway invasion. Germany had something like 1 cruiser and 6 destroyers left at that point. And the rest of their fleet ceased to be in the coming years as the British bombed it out of the water.
Moreover, the KM produced a lot of results with very modest means. They sank:
- 4 Aircraft Carriers
- 5 Escort Carriers
- 3 Battleships
- 10 Light Cruisers

In naval action.
This is only the part of the 175 total warships sunk.
Can you give a cite for this please? In any event, sinking these ships, at the cost of the the entire KM, didn't help Germany's military situation. The Allies still held control of the seas in every year of the war and could easily replace their loses. Germany was still blockaded and incapable of moving its forces by sea. Germany never had any hope of winning the war at sea. It needed to spend everything it could on winning the war on land.

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 17 Oct 2019 21:44

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Oct 2019 20:06

You're absolutely right here, IMO. As Geek and I have discussed in the past, the U-Boat arm was an incredibly successful example of asymmetric warfare, forcing the Allies to spend ~10 times beating the Uboats as Germany had to spend building them. Absent U-boats, the Allies would have had ~twice the shipping in 1942-43 and could have launched D-day in 1943 in addition to more peripheral operations that could have caused earlier collapse on the Eastern Front.

The Allies did, in fact, very decisively win the U-boat *battle* but fighting and losing that battle increased Germany's chances in the *war*.
I have never read any account of the Uboat war that suggests the Allies' war industry was in any way affected by the Uboats (other than perhaps the "diversion" of resources to naval production). The Uboats never sunk a single Allied troop transport during the war. Mobilizing an army from scratch and transporting it across the Atlantic takes time, but of course the Allies were happy to use the Uboats as an excuse to delay their invasion of Europe until Stalin had already done 80% of the work (and until the new long-range P-51 gave the Allies complete air supremacy in Western Europe). Don't forget, if the Germans had spent the resources on their army instead of the navy and medium bombers, the Heer might have been in a better position to withstand a 1943 invasion.

In any event, Germany lost the war on the ground (and secondarily thorough its lack of trained fighter pilots), and this chart helps explain why.

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 18 Oct 2019 02:35

I also found this chart from Richard Overy in War and Economy on the Third Reich on allocations of military spending by sector prior to the outbreak of the war:

Overy Spending Allocations.png

This tells basically the same story - Germany spent more on the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine than on the Heer in every year except 1938/9. Imagine what the Heer could have accomplished in Russia if it had consistently received 60-80% of annual spending allocations.
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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by Peter89 » 18 Oct 2019 07:25

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
17 Oct 2019 21:32
Peter89 wrote:
17 Oct 2019 15:18
If Germany didn't produce any U-Boots at all, if they did not make some sporadic attacks on Allied convoys, the Allies didn't have to spend on the defense.
And what exactly were the British going to spend their money on that could defeat the Germans? The British army was pitiful.
To make the British army great again? To the RAF? To the nuclear bomb project? To help the SU? Options are unlimited.


Except there wasn't very much fleet in being for the Germans after the Norway invasion. Germany had something like 1 cruiser and 6 destroyers left at that point. And the rest of their fleet ceased to be in the coming years as the British bombed it out of the water.
It's not exactly the truth. AFAIK only the Blücher sank that could influence the power of the KM as a fleet-in-being. Other ships just underwent repairs, Bismarck was commissioned in August 1940 and the Tirpitz was in the pipeline, launched on the previous year.

So to say, after the Weserübung the KM reached the operational availability of an average Panzer Division after the Battle of Moscow.

Moreover, the KM produced a lot of results with very modest means. They sank:
- 4 Aircraft Carriers
- 5 Escort Carriers
- 3 Battleships
- 10 Light Cruisers

In naval action.
This is only the part of the 175 total warships sunk.

Can you give a cite for this please? In any event, sinking these ships, at the cost of the the entire KM, didn't help Germany's military situation. The Allies still held control of the seas in every year of the war and could easily replace their loses.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriegsmarine

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Atlantic
Germany was still blockaded and incapable of moving its forces by sea. Germany never had any hope of winning the war at sea.
This is exactly what Fleet-in-being is.

"A Fleet in Being is a fleet that avoids decisive action, but, because of its strength and location, causes or necessitates counter-concentrations and so reduces the number of opposing units available for operations elsewhere. Naval forces can achieve effect and influence in various ways. Mahan's concept of a "fleet in being," is a force or capability that cannot be ignored by observers and whose very existence shapes what the observers do."
https://www.globalsecurity.org/military ... -being.htm

Der britische Premierminister Winston Churchill sagte: „Das einzige, wovor ich im Krieg wirklich Angst hatte, war die U-Boot-Gefahr.“
https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/U-Boot-Krieg

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 19 Oct 2019 03:17

Norway was a disaster for the Kriegsmarine. James Holland writes:
One of 2 heavy cruisers, 2 of 6 light cruisers, 10 of 20 destroyers, one torpedo boat and 6 U-boats had been sunk. A number had also been damaged and were undergoing costly and time-consuming repairs, which meant that by 20 June the Kriegsmarine had just one heavy cruiser, two light cruisers and a mere four destroyers ready for action.
Holland, James. The Rise of Germany, 1939-1941 (The War in the West) (pp. 365-366).

This was on top of the damage done to Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which were so badly damaged they spent the rest of the year in drydock. The Germans never had a fleet in being after Norway. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau spent most of their lives in drydock undergoing constant repairs after getting put out of commission again and again by British bombs, destroyers and mines. Bismarck sank on its maiden voyage. Tirpitz was a "ship in being" for part of its existence, when it wasn't undergoing constant repairs from being bombed.

In addition, the British had fixed infrastructure in place before the war from centuries of giving strategic priority to their navy that made it cost efficient for Britain to churn out new ships. The Germans were playing into Britain's strength and their own weakness. James Holland writes:
In all, 1 battleship, 2 aircraft carriers, 7 cruisers, 27 destroyers, 15 submarines, and over 50 corvettes were completed in 1940, as well as 810 merchant vessels, along with nearly 2,000 vessels converted for war service. In contrast, the Kriegsmarine added just 22 new U-boats to the BdU in 1940. At no time in the 1920s and 1930s had the British armaments industry ever gone to sleep, but now, with the war a year old, it was positively humming.
Holland, James. The Rise of Germany, 1939-1941 (The War in the West) (p. 498).

British output for its army, in contrast, was pathetic. Robert Forczyk writes:
While Britain’s production of aircraft was ramping up quickly in the summer of 1940, domestic production of weapons for the army was still so anaemic that it would take more than a year to re-equip the regular army and outfit the Territorials. The manufacture of tanks had not been a priority before Dunkirk and only 392 tanks were built in July–September 1942, of which 147 were Cruisers, 227 infantry tanks and 18 light tanks.18 Regular units like the 5th Royal Tank Regiment were re-equipped with A-9 and A-13 Cruiser tanks in July–August, but the Territorial armoured units had to make do with light tanks or armoured cars until 1941.19 Manufacture of the Mk VI light tank ceased and the new Mark III Valentine entered serial production in September 1940. Artillery and anti-tank production was a particular shortfall, with not enough of the new 25-pounder Mk II guns to go around until mid-1941. Even rifles were a problem, with an average of just 8,600 completed at the Birmingham plant each month. However, production of small arms ammunition (over 40 million rounds per month) was adequate and 442 million rounds of .303 ammunition were available by September. Likewise, the stockpile of artillery ammunition was adequate. The supply of uniforms was adequate even to outfit much of the Home Guard within a few months, but the quantity and quality of some items was sub-standard. Amazingly, the same nation that was able to mass-produce Spitfires was unable to provide its soldiers with more than one pair of socks and they were of such poor quality that infantrymen found it difficult to march in them.
Forczyk, Robert. We March Against England (pp. 22-23).

Britain had the infrastructure in place before the war to sink any ship the Germans built. It was not in any condition to equip an army that could contend with the Heer. Germany should have focused on exploiting its own strengths and Britain's weaknesses. Instead it did the opposite.

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Re: German armaments spending in WW2 by sector

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 19 Oct 2019 06:14

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:Norway was a disaster for the Kriegsmarine.
A disaster for the Kriegsmarine and a victory for the Wehrmacht/Germany.
IMO you're mistaking the outcome of the battle for the outcome of the war. Germany had the worst of the battle in terms of naval units but in terms of strategic positioning the Norway campaign was an unambiguous German victory. It allowed Germany to interdict Western supplies to SU; it compelled UK to reserve forces that might have impeded Japan's advance into Southeast Asia.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:This was on top of the damage done to Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which were so badly damaged they spent the rest of the year in drydock.
Once again IMO you're evaluating the battle narrowly instead of the effect on the war. Say S and G have no damage in Norway and are ready for Atlantic sorties a year earlier. Any effect strategically? No, of course not. There's no way they shut down or materially interfere with Atlantic shipping. In fact maybe they're sunk like Graf Spee and thereby negate their later, and and far more important, strategic value in interdicting lend-lease shipments to SU over the Arctic (i.e. the cessation of Arctic aid after PQ17).
HistoryGeek2019 wrote: Germany should have focused on exploiting its own strengths and Britain's weaknesses. Instead it did the opposite.
I don't understand this criticism from someone who thinks the Uboat campaign totally ineffective. I agree that Germany should have exploited UK's weaknesses. But what does that mean other than taking all Germany could with its army, including the SU? You're recommending the exact course that Germany pursued: conquer on land and force Britain to do something about it besides sail around Germany's domain with its navy.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:Britain had the infrastructure in place before the war to sink any ship the Germans built. It was not in any condition to equip an army that could contend with the Heer.
This and Forczyk's quote are entirely dependent on historical decisions by the UK. There's absolutely nothing about investment decisions in 1800 that influenced production decisions in 1941. One could say the exact same thing about the UK in 1914 as you've said here, yet by 1918 it was the British/Imperial forces that led the 100 Days Offensive. The UK/Empire had more than enough resources (population and economy/industry) to build massive land armies; they just preferred not to do so. The British Empire was a massive land force at the end of WW1; any casual observer would have known it could have been the same in 1942. After the horror of WW1, however, no British politician could rouse the nation/Empire to sacrifice a million dead for a European war. The only European population insane enough to want another great land war after 1918 was Germany's.

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