Deutsche Reichsbahn [DRB]

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
Ron Klages
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Deutsche Reichsbahn [DRB]

Post by Ron Klages » 23 Jul 2005 20:38

I am in the process of reading an interesting book about the German railway in WW II. The book is entitled:

THE MOST VALUABLE ASSET OF THE REICH by Alfred C. Mierzejewski published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2000:ISBN 0-8078-2574-3

It is in two volumes but the one of interest is Vol 2 since that covers the period of 1933-1945 or the Nazi era. Vol 1 covers the period 1920-1932.

I have not finished the volume but I have come across many interesting facts that I though members might find of interest.

Here are some:

1. The DRB was initially not included in the planning aspects of campaigns in Poland and France but were included in Russia and on.

2. To position the men and equipment for Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 nearly 33,000 trains were required.
Of this number 11,784 trains were used to move the combat formations into position. The rest were used for movement forward of supplies and support personnel. An Infantry Division required 70 trains and a Panzer or Motorized Division required from 90 to 100 trains. The movement was done in phases:
• Phase 1 was from 25 February to March 14 1941. Twelve trains were run daily. Thirteen divisions left the area and eight came in. Also 890 supply trains, 200 trains for the Luftwaffe, 60 trains for Pioniere Bataillons and 25 trains for line of supply troops which meant that during this phase about 2500 trains operated. This works out to an average of nearly 139 trains per day.
• Phase 2 began 20 March 1941 with combat troop movement accounting for around 18 to 24 trains per day. All vacation traffic in the region was halted entirely on 10 April 1941.
• Phase 3 began moving on 8 April and ending on 20 May 1941. In this phase 1400 troop trains carrying 17 Divisions were sent east.
• Phase 4 Part 1 began on 25 May 1941 with high-intensity schedule was in effect. Nine Divisions plus support troops moved in this phase.
• Phase 4 Part 2 began on 3 June and ending on 23 June 1941. Twelve Panzer and twelve Mortorized Division came forward in this period. Also on 21 June another 24 divisions were transported eastward to backup the assault units.
During the entire period the average number of trains daily was close to 2500.

The daily target of supply trains for AGC was 24 trains but this was not achieved until 18 July 1941. Much of this was accomplished by using captured Soviet equipment which meant that the supplies had to be transferred from the German cars to Russian cars because the the rail gauge differences.

By early September 1941 trains began to arrive in Germany with booty. During the first two weeks of September, AGS sent 601 rail cars with 7950 tons of freight, including soy beans, gasoline, pigs and paraffin west to Germany.

By 1 November 1941 the Germans were operating 6871 kilometers of track in Soviet terriority. Over half of this was the broad-gauge [Soviet standard]. A program was begun to revise this broad-gauge to the standard-gauge and by the end of December 1941, 15,000 kilometers had been converted.

With the expansion of German territory the quantities of locomotives and rail cars increased substantially.

Here are the figures:
Steam Locomotives acquired/total:
1939=660/25889
1940=982/28586
1941=1391/30011
1942=2127/32243
1943=4533/36329
1944=3063/37810

Freight cars acquired/total:
1939=13087/660546
1940=24544/779641
1941=42924/824185
1942=43032/885906
1943=51969/973045
1944=34725/987864

Passenger cars acquired/total:
1939=544/68462
1940=713/70443
1941=104/70257
1942=124/72448
1943=327/71018
1944=256/70400

Personnel in total:
1939=958000
1940=1145600
1941=1253100
1942=1386000
1943=1529000
1944=1581000

Length of lines in kilometers:
1939=72656
1940=75553
1941=78257
1942=78730
1943=78879
1944=75763

Pasengers carried in billions:
1939=2.212
1940=2.253
1941=2.655
1942=3.094
1943=3.539
1944=3.706

Also in the east the impact of partisan activity was noted as follows:
In 1943 5000 locomotives and 19000 fright cars were damaged by partisans.
On the night of 19-20 January 1944 the partisans cut the rail lines in 10500 places alsmost completely stopping the rail service for a day.

This book also covers the movement of prisoners from the east to Germany and the transport of the jews to the camps.

Logistics is the key to winning strategically and so little can be found regarding logistics within the Wenrmacht. This book presents some of the logistical information but it would be great to see more.

I recommend this book for those interested in logistics.

The Deutsche Reichsbahn was a very valuable assest to the German war effort and Nazi racial policies.

best regards,

Ron Klages

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stcamp
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Post by stcamp » 23 Jul 2005 22:24

Excellent. Thank you. I am going to read this book.

Regards,
Steve

Ron Klages
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Expensive

Post by Ron Klages » 24 Jul 2005 01:02

Steve,

It is an expensive book at around $45 US but I got mine at Half-Price books for $12 US. If you can not find a used oner then check the library and if not there they should have an exchange with other libraries.


A very interesting subject.

best regards,

Ron Klages

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Post by uhu » 24 Jul 2005 03:36

Ron,

We thank you for that. I have the Author's first book on the DR, published in 1988,
and didn't know he had written two more. His first book concerns how the DR operated right through to the end of the war despite constant Allied Air Power projection, from destruction of marshalling yard hubs, to track interdiction. The Silesian coal route to the Ruhr industries had to remain open for production to continue, and this 'battle of the coal trains' is well documented.

The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945: Allied Air Power and the German National Railway
by Alfred C. Mierzejewski

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 24 Jul 2005 09:34

Looks very interesting, I'll buy that book.

/Marcus

Jon G.
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Re: Deutsche Reichsbahn [DRB]

Post by Jon G. » 24 Jul 2005 11:45

This sounds like an interesting book. It is however at odds with another written work on at least one point:

Ron Klages wrote:...1. The DRB was initially not included in the planning aspects of campaigns in Poland and France but were included in Russia and on...


The Germans seem to have had a certain obsession with the military use of railroads - an obsession that nicely mirrors British military planning's obsession with ports. I take it that the DRB just wasn't integral to the operational parts of planning; pretty much everything the Heer wanted to do depended on available railroad capacity. For example, the east-west rail network of occupied Poland was increased vastly after the German conquest. Railroads were also crucial in deploying for the 1941 Balkans campaign.

An Infantry Division required 70 trains and a Panzer or Motorized Division required from 90 to 100 trains...


Handbook on German Military Forces p 306 states that it takes about 35 to 40 trains to transport an infantry division, twice that number to transport an armored division. Granted the Handbook is sometimes in error, and it deals with 1944 vintage divisions, but it's still a remarkable discrepancy.

The daily target of supply trains for AGC was 24 trains but this was not achieved until 18 July 1941. Much of this was accomplished by using captured Soviet equipment which meant that the supplies had to be transferred from the German cars to Russian cars because the the rail gauge differences...


At least according to van Creveld, pandemonium reigned supreme at the railheads behind the advancing army groups, particularly HGM and HGS, which both had more distant objectives, larger forces to supply and a lesser rail network to operate than HGN.

Even so, things were far from rosy at HGN; the German railroad troops had managed to convert track as far as Dünaburg by July 10th, but by that date Dünaburg was already 'hundreds of miles' (Supplying War p 160 ff) behind the front, and only one train per day reached the frontline troops instead of the ten planned.

By 1 November 1941 the Germans were operating 6871 kilometers of track in Soviet terriority. Over half of this was the broad-gauge [Soviet standard]. A program was begun to revise this broad-gauge to the standard-gauge and by the end of December 1941, 15,000 kilometers had been converted...


The program of rail conversion was an integral part of Barbarossa. In fact, the main axis of the German advance followed the Soviet rail network fairly closely for the same reason. The only way to support millions of men away from their bases for extended periods of time was by rail.

On the night of 19-20 January 1944 the partisans cut the rail lines in 10500 places alsmost completely stopping the rail service for a day.


For a day! I would call that a poor return for cutting rail lines in so many places. Rail lines are remarkably resilient to aerial attack, partisan activity and so on. IIRC the Stavka was somewhat unimpressed with the rail sabotage plan 'Kontsert' that was carried out to up to the autumn offensives of 1943. Despite an impressive number of rail cuts, derailed trains etc. the partisans did not hinder German operational movements significantly.

The Allied 'Transport Plan' to cut off Normandy from the rest of France took a great many boming sorties and intense partisan activity to succeed.

This book also covers the movement of prisoners from the east to Germany and the transport of the jews to the camps...


I think the DRB Enigma code was one of the first that was broken by Bletchley Park. The British had strong circumstantial evidence on just what was going on in southern Poland at least from 1942 on.

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 24 Jul 2005 11:49

Shreck,

Christoph posted some info on this earlier in this thread: viewtopic.php?t=31782

/Marcus

Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 24 Jul 2005 12:00

Interesting thread, thanks Marcus.

Here is another train thread:

viewtopic.php?t=51767&start=0

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Re: Deutsche Reichsbahn [DRB]

Post by Jon G. » 05 Feb 2012 14:09

Newer posts pertaining specifically to German logistics in the east have been split off to this topic
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 5&t=186134

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Re: Deutsche Reichsbahn [DRB]

Post by waldzee » 13 Feb 2012 23:08

uhu wrote:Ron,

We thank you for that. I have the Author's first book on the DR, published in 1988,
and didn't know he had written two more. His first book concerns how the DR operated right through to the end of the war despite constant Allied Air Power projection, from destruction of marshalling yard hubs, to track interdiction. The Silesian coal route to the Ruhr industries had to remain open for production to continue, and this 'battle of the coal trains' is well documented.

The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945: Allied Air Power and the German National Railway
by Alfred C. Mierzejewski
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
In my late teens, while working for the railroad, I’d volunteer to stoke coal for ‘steamer demonstration days.’
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_locomotive
Steam engines have great road tractive power, but low ‘initial pull’, compared to rail diesel. You have to:
1. Force draft your firebox, which releases a big cloud of steam & smoke .(esp. when you are firing on coal or wood)
2. Back your train to compress your buffers, then pull forward, starting your freight by motive traction & rebound force, as the buffers in the spider castings bounce your couplings to the limit.
Ted Mckeand flew Typhoons in 44-45. He says they could spot the blow down from miles away when the steamers had to make an emergency stop, then spot your force drafting steamers when the engineers were ‘bunting ‘the trains to get rolling. First planes in rocket the Cabs & boilers, then the next planes work over the stalled trains at their leisure.
There were no atheists in foxholes, - but even less, I guess, when the Il-2’s & Typhoons start gathering while you are ‘bunting’ your heavy freight….

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