extent of German rearmament before the war

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rob
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extent of German rearmament before the war

Post by rob » 01 Apr 2002 05:39

One of the conventional wisdoms of the third reich was that the Nazis massively rearmed as they were preparing for wars of aggression and conquest. Asssuiming this to be the case, shouldn't the German military have been stronger than it was in Sept. 1939? After all, the navy was still puny, and concerning tanks, I believe the French had just as many, and noone has accused them of preparing for aggresive wars. The Luftwaffe wasn't all that much stronger than the western allies, so what did all this masssive rearmament get for Germany, or was AJP Taylor correct in saying that Germany hadn't in fact made massive war preperations. If Taylor was correct, it hardly exonerates the nazis for their later acts, but does call into question whether they were serious about total European domination in the years leading up to the war.

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Takao
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Post by Takao » 01 Apr 2002 06:22

It would be hard to say what Nazi Germany's intentions were in the early 1930's.

The Allies usually are not blamed because they were the ones maintaining a military force, whereas Germany litterally rebuilt hers. Germany had no military power per se when Hitler came to power in 1933. The Versaille Treaty stripped her of all but a small army and even smaller navy. Between the years of 1933-1939, Nazi Germany had completely rebuilt it's army and air force, rebuilding the navy would take a great deal more time. It's army was equal in size to other major European powers and it's air force was larger then most.

So, was this rebuilding undertaken to maintain the status quo or was it linked to aggressive tendencies of Nazi Germany. Personally, I think it was an effort to put Germany on par, militarily, with other major european powers. This would allow the nation to act in it's own best interests without being fearful of other nations just marching in when ever they pleased.

rkoy
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Post by rkoy » 01 Apr 2002 15:10

i remember seeing some production figures in tanks and such and it showed that germany produced 3 or 4 times more tanks in late43 and 44 than in 39,40,41,42 when the bombing were few and not as big. to me speer should started sooner with his ideas and could you imagine the numbers they coyuld have made if the production was geared up in 40 like it was in 44!!! damn we may be speaking german now who knows!!!11

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GoLiAtH
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Post by GoLiAtH » 01 Apr 2002 15:21

Here's a table about what Germany spent on armament

Country 1935-1939 1939

USA 1,5 0,6
GB 2,5 1,0
SU 8,0 3,3
-------------------------
12,0 4,9

Germany 12,0 3,4

the currency is 10^9 US $

edit : argh the table is a little bit screwed but I hope you can recognize the structure :evil:

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Matt Gibbs
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Production

Post by Matt Gibbs » 01 Apr 2002 16:48

It is written in several places that initial designs for plans of military conquest and the rearmament programme they spawned was to start military operations in about 1943/44 which is what the high command planned for. Thus, it is somewhat of a miracle of planning that the Blitzkreig went so well. Perhaps given the pact with Russia if they had waited and quetly rearmed and improved their production uotas we would indeed be speaking German. I am sure I read somewhere that it was considered very risky to build up for the military operations in 1939. Just think of the effect it would have had on what became the Battle of Britain if the Luftwaffe had had another eyar to produce more and more aircraft..?
The production figures ona variety of machinery went up bizarrely but the introuction of more shifts and factories to produce components etc must account for some of that, coupled with the so called 'expendable' labour force they had available. Interesting thought though...
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StandartenfuehrerSS
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Re: Production

Post by StandartenfuehrerSS » 01 Apr 2002 18:34

'Asssuiming [Assuming] this to be the case, shouldn't the German military have been stronger than it was in Sept. 1939?'

Obviously not. Between 1933 and 1939 lie only a mere 5 years, those are not, not in a longshot, enough to transform a Reichsheer into a Heer with three different arms.

f.ex.:

In 1934, there were only 84 Infantrie-Batallione and 24 Artillerie-Batallione. In 1933, there were only 4.000 active officers, and of this number, 450 (over 1 in 10) were medical and veterinary personnel. Of the remaining 3.350 officers, 500 were re-attached to the Luftwaffe, that is 1 in 7. Some 3.000 thus remained, a number which would reach over 100.000 at the outbreak of war. It was a gigantic transformation, a succesful one as well, and it was the utmost the Germany could do.

The Reichsheer, numbering 100.000, had been transformed in, among Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe, the Wehrmacht, numbering 1.830.000 men. While this number revealed quite an achievement, it only accounted for 38% of the total available manpower. So this all had little to do with building a warmachine that could trample over nations, unless in the mind of the Führer, but it dealt with building a German Army. Even this was a force less strong than it seemed, considering the little time it had been given to transform into such a large army.

When Germany took the field in 9.39, a mere 14 out of the 103 German divisions were motorized, and even those had to deal with shortages in material. Of the total, 103 divisions, only 5 to 6 per cent were suited for modern warfare. The divisions who were not motorised were dependant on wagons, horses and the railroad network.

The Panzewaffe never reached completion; by 1942, so it was envisaged, it was to number 36 divisions, wielding 7.992 Pz.III and 2.600 Pz.IV. This was never realized.

'After all, the navy was still puny, and concerning tanks, I believe the French had just as many, and noone has accused them of preparing for aggresive wars.'

France had about 3.000 tanks by May of 1940, supported by 600 British models, I sadly don't have the exact number. This versus a German 2.574, of which about one third consisted of almost worthless types like the Pz.I and II, against the French Somua and R5, tanks which possed far greater armour and firepower. The only arm that was superior to the Allied forces was the Luftwaffe, wielding 1.200 fighters and 1.300 bombers, this versus some 12.00 French fighters, supported by some hundred British fighters.

' [...] or was AJP Taylor correct in saying that Germany hadn't in fact made massive war preperations.'

'war preparations', as you call it, is something entirely different than constucting an Army. What Germany did during the latter half of the thirties was the same as any other country did; building an army equivalent to the size and needs of Germany. Wether his army was to be used as an instrument to plan expansion wars is obvious, but that was only secondary to making something again out of the German Army, which had dissolved as a result of the Versaillesdiktat.

Conclusion: Only Hitler and perhaps a few others were indeed thinking they were massively arming for a great wordconflict, but to the German General Staff, Germany was only building an army like any other nation had. The German Army's transformation was bluntly halted during after the winter of 1941, there would be never a German Army turning at 100% capacity, the various situations througout the war made this impossible. When war broke out, the German Army was unready and would never become ready during the course of the war.

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 02 Apr 2002 14:28

GErmany was not prepared for war in 1939, but she was in many ways less unprepared than her adversaries. Rearmamant had been going on for a longer period of time than in the West, which generally translated into a greater readiness for war. Of course, Germany had started from a much lower level than the allies, but this was redressed by the fact that rearmament had been recent which made for more modern equipment.

On the positive side, a much larger percentage of the economy was already mobilised for military purposes at the outbreak of war. In aircraft, the Luftwaffe possessed both a qualitative and a quantitative superiority. A major strength lay also in doctrine, training and tactics - the Germans, unlike their rivals, had evolved and fully implemented modern doctrines capable of effectively utilising the potential of tanks, motor vehicles and aircraft, while the opponents were still groping around with the fundamentals.

On the negative side there was a serious manpower problem. There was never time after 33 to train more than a fraction of the so called "white" year-groups - those who would normally have gone through conscription between 1918 and 1934, and who should have constituted the backbone of the officer- and NCO corps. This imposed strong constraints on replacement abilities, and lay at the core of a chronic officer shortage that was never overcome. Another important weakness was productive capabilities. Even though the German economy was much more fully mobilised for military purposes than her opponents at the outbreak of war, very large resources were committed to a large scale program of industrial construction that was only completed in 1942. Aggravating this, there were severe shortcomings in the basic leadership and organisation of industry, which resulted in poor overall productivity. These problems were only partially overcome through Todt's and then Speer's forceful reorganisations from 42 onwards, but was never wholly overcome, as illustrated by the fact that the SU heavily outproduced Germany in key systems from a significantly smaller industrial base. Another aggravating factor was the unwillingness of the political leadership to lower living standards in Germany beyond the pre-war level (though this must be seen against a background of Germany already having committed a very great share of her economy to military purposes).

Would the Germans have been better off waiting for a few years? It is an endlessly fascinating question, which, on balance, I am inclined to answer in the negative. Germany would certainly have been better prepared. But it would have been difficult to even maintain the 1939 rate of preparation, the country was approaching serious financial crisis. In any case, it seems completely likely that her future opponents would, relative to the 1939 level, have progressed further in their preparations than Germany. Thus Germany would likely have been stronger in absolute terms, but weaker in relative terms. Germany entered the war with a generally modern military machine that proved capable of large scale continental victories. What was lacking were specialised strategic capabilities neccessary to subjugate Britain, which they would not have had in 1942 either, and the industrial output and trained manpower reserves to stand up to the rigors of a war of attrition, which Germany in any case were more or less doomed to lose because of her relative inferiority of resources. No - 1939 was probably the best bet they had I think.

cheers

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GoLiAtH
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Post by GoLiAtH » 02 Apr 2002 15:12

Very good point.
I agree that the Germans could not wait any longer.

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Re: Production

Post by AndyW » 07 Apr 2002 22:54

Conclusion: Only Hitler and perhaps a few others were indeed thinking they were massively arming for a great wordconflict, but to the German General Staff, Germany was only building an army like any other nation had. The German Army's transformation was bluntly halted during after the winter of 1941, there would be never a German Army turning at 100% capacity, the various situations througout the war made this impossible. When war broke out, the German Army was unready and would never become ready during the course of the war.


I respectfully disagree. The August 1936 armament programm did cause the German General Staff to question the consequences of her doing.

Technically, this 1936-programm of over-armament led the German planning staff (Allgemeines Heeresamt) to the conclusion that the Wehrmacht either needs to be "used" by 1940/41 or the August 1936 program needed to be revised to avoid absurd overproduction and negative impact to the overall industry.

As we know, the program wasn't revised, but modified to ensure a "somehow" usable Wehrmacht by Oct. 1, 1939.

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German re-armorment

Post by pdhinkle36ID » 08 Apr 2002 02:15

Krupp and their peers had the plans in the files waiting for some one like Hitler to come along, so the history books tell us. After 1933 the numbers don,t really matter. The build up had started.

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