Germany's industry would have collapsed?

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Annelie
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Germany's industry would have collapsed?

Post by Annelie » 30 Aug 2002 17:49

Came across this statement which I must admit took me aback.

"Germany's power grid was much more vulnerable than realized.
One estimate is that if just 1% of the bombs dropped on Germany
industry had instead been dropped on power plants, German industry
would have collapsed."

Wondering if this statement could be true?

Annelie

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Scott Smith
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Re: Germany's industry would have collapsed?

Post by Scott Smith » 30 Aug 2002 18:34

Annelie wrote:Came across this statement which I must admit took me aback.

"Germany's power grid was much more vulnerable than realized.
One estimate is that if just 1% of the bombs dropped on Germany
industry had instead been dropped on power plants, German industry
would have collapsed."

Wondering if this statement could be true?

Hi Annelie,

Germany was very short of electrical power, which was vital to the war-effort, but it would have been tough to knockout the electric-grid permanently. And Germany would have marshalled defenses accordingly, as happened after the dam attacks. Part of this defense consisted of Speer's labor crews mobilized for hasty repair and cleanup. It was no less difficult trying to knockout the German rail infrastructure; as soon as track was destroyed new track was laid. Finally, a successful twin Schwerpunkt was made against synthetic oil refineries and railroad rollingstock. It was a continental version of the U-boat strategy against merchant shipping by targeting the ships themselves (rather than the cargo). Like merchant ships, there was only so many locomotive engines and cars that Germany could replace. The man responsible for a "Liberty ship" version of the wartime German locomotive was an industrial technocrat named Gerhard Degenkolb. Speer assigned Degenkolb to boost output of the A4/V-2 rocket from 600 units/month to 900 without success. The A4 was too complex a machine to benefit from Degenkolb's methods of industrial expediency. Anyway, the powergrid was not complex and it wouldn't have been any easier to destroy it than oil and attrition of locomotives and rollingstock, so by going after this bottleneck alone the war would not have been shortened, IMHO. The powergrid was a "panacea target," as Bomber Harris would have called it. Of course, all targets not entirely conducive to instilling popular terror (and thus a fanciful overthrowing of the legitimate German government by a mythical resistance) were panacea-targets according to him. I don't think the Germans would have revolted just because their electricity was rationed by their government in response to Allied bombs. The evidence suggests that a siege-mentality only made them work harder, even if victory was increasingly unlikely.
:)
Last edited by Scott Smith on 30 Aug 2002 19:09, edited 1 time in total.

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Starinov
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Post by Starinov » 30 Aug 2002 19:02

In highschool my history teacher said the same thing. That would explain why Germany was back on feet only few years after the war.

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Post by Mark V » 30 Aug 2002 21:27

There were many factors that favoured electrical production as promising target for strategic bombing:

- Like Scott said there was shortage of electrical power - no excess capacity available
- It was impossible to build new production capacity (large powerplants had way too long lead time) during wartime
- Germany was very depended (especially Ruhr area) of few very large lignite fired powerplants - fewer and well known targets
- No possibility to conceal or re-locate production facilities out of range of bombers
- Those lignite fired powerplants were very easy to reach - near western border of Germany - well within range of Oboe
- Very difficult and resources draining plants to repair and reconstruct after bomb damage (huge furnaces, delicate and expensive steam turbines and generators, pressure piping which needs quality steel)

IMO It was a huge blunder on Allied side to left German electric production intact. I just read Belton Coopers "Death Traps" and he did wonder why an earth RWEs huge Foruna plants were still online and producing electricity when Americans arrived on location!

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Post by Logan Hartke » 30 Aug 2002 21:31

I think that it was to make the rebuilding of Germany easier after WWII.

Logan Hartke

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Post by Mark V » 30 Aug 2002 21:36

Logan Hartke wrote:I think that it was to make the rebuilding of Germany easier after WWII.

Logan Hartke


I have wondered the same. Regardless about all the talk of turning Germany to acricultural country there apparently were some consideration on impact of bombing after the war.

Destroying German electric production would have effectively done just that...

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Post by Scott Smith » 30 Aug 2002 21:43

Mark V wrote:
Logan Hartke wrote:I think that it was to make the rebuilding of Germany easier after WWII.

I have wondered the same. Regardless about all the talk of turning Germany to acricultural country there apparently were some consideration on impact of bombing after the war.

Destroying German electric production would have effectively done just that...

I don't think so because it is not like they didn't try to flatten Germany and her industry. If the Allies had concentrated on one list of targets the German defenses would have countermoved until they not longer could, which was the case after the summer of 1944 with the attacks on oil and transportation. If you know exactly where the enemy will hit then defense is easy, and the defender usually has the advantage.
:)

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Post by Phaethon » 30 Aug 2002 22:06

Albert Speer, in his autobiography Inside the Third Reich, says:

Actually, as I had early recognised, the war could have been dedcided in 1943 if instead of vast but pointless area bombing the planes had concentrated on the centers of armaments.

He goes on to describe his admiration for the Dam Busters Raid which took out not so much the factories of the Ruhr but the electrical generator stations which could not be dried out easily or quickly. However the attack was not followed up and...

While we were engaged in rebuilding, the British air force missed its second chance. A few bombs would have produced cave-ins at the exposed building sites...

The fact is that Speer knew he could repair amd rebuild armament factories faster than the Allies were bombing them, but not the more crucial pre-cursor facitlities like electrical power plants, refineries and mines.

In explaining to Hitler why it was not a good idea to put end-production facilities underground...

Moreover, we were lucky in that the enemy's attacks on armaments production resembled strikes at the wide delta of a river which flowed into many subsidiary channels. If we started protecting this delta we could only force him to attack where the industrial stream was concentrated in a deep narrow stream bed, I argued. In saying this I was thinking of the chemical industry, coal mines, power plants, and others of my nightmares. There is no doubt that at this time, in the spring of 1944, England and America could have completely shut off one of these production streams and thus made a mockery of all of our efforts to protect industry.

Cheers,

K.
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Post by Annelie » 30 Aug 2002 22:11

Scott thankyou for your informative post.

I think I must argue both sides of the coin so to speak.

While I agree with you Scott that they were actively trying to destroy
industry and flatten Germany something crosses my mind.
They had no problem targeting effectively their object in Dresden mainly the population....then how is it they did not take out the electrical systems first?
I would think in war the first thing to target would be support systems like energy, transportation, shipping and industry and not necessarily in that order.

Nothing ever is what it seems.....I wonder what the plotting was behind all this?

And I agree that the Germans were to their credit (which I am one of) raise to the occasion

The evidence suggests that a siege-mentality only made them work harder, even if victory was increasingly unlikely.

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Post by Mark V » 30 Aug 2002 22:16

Still, it is interesting to read history of RWE (Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk Aktiengesellschaft):

-------------

http://www.rwe.com/en/one_group/chronicle/chronicle.jsp

- 1947
... three-quarters of power-producing capacity has already been restored, which means that electricity rationing can be lifted in 1948.

- 1950
... both the installed capacity and power supply break the previous records for the first time.

----------------------


Interesting stuff from a country that just 5 years a go had lost a world war! Capacity was fully restored and new production records were made.

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Post by Annelie » 30 Aug 2002 22:31

Hello Phaethon:

I remember now that Speer did recollect in his book those thoughts which again make me wonder why this bombing of the plants did not take part?

I wonder if it had anything to do with a compact with Stalin and Churchill on what they had in mind for Germany or maybe how they would conquer and divide?

Annelie

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Post by Scott Smith » 30 Aug 2002 22:35

Phaethon wrote:Albert Speer goes on to describe his admiration for the Dam Busters Raid which took out not so much the factories of the Ruhr but the electrical generator stations which could not be dried out easily or quickly. However the attack was not followed up and...

The attack was not followed-up in part because its success would have been difficult to replicate.

Phaethon wrote:
Speer wrote:While we were engaged in rebuilding, the British air force missed its second chance. A few bombs would have produced cave-ins at the exposed building sites...

The fact is that Speer knew he could repair amd rebuild armament factories faster than the Allies were bombing them, but not the more crucial pre-cursor facitlities like electrical power plants, refineries and mines.

The whole history of strategic-bombing doctrine is the search for a panacea target that will end the war all-by-itself, a bottleneck in production or something that will decapitate the enemy's will to resist. For example, in the Gulf War the Air Force was targetting motorhomes hoping to kill Saddam Hussein in his "command bus."

Anyway, Speer was justifiably concerned about protecting a vital part of his economic infrastructure; however, he is not to be believed on this point and was likely telling his captors exactly what they wanted to hear.

If Allied attacks concentrated on the electrical infrastructure then German defenses would have concentrated on protecting it, maintaining it, and dispersing it likewise, until the Germans were no longer able to do this. And there is no reason to assume that this would have been much before it actually was when oil was wiped out in the autumn. At the worst, Germany would have had to prioritize electrical power for the military-industrial complex and curtail it even more elsewhere.
:)

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Post by Annelie » 30 Aug 2002 22:50

Scott wrote:

<<

If Allied attacks concentrated on the electrical infrastructure then German defenses would have concentrated on protecting it, maintaining it, and dispersing it likewise, until the Germans were no longer able to do this. And there is no reason to assume that this would have been much before it actually was when oil was wiped out in the autumn. At the worst, Germany would have had to prioritize electrical power for the military-industrial complex and curtail it even more elsewhere. >>


Your point makes sense....I am not knowledgeable enough to debate this :-)
The strategists....I wish I could understand them somehow?

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