WWII Tactical vs. Strategic Bombing - Page 3


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April 3rd, 2006   #21
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Another quick response to two points:

(1) According to Abelshauser, bombing only decreased an expanding German industrial base by a few percentages. If you look at another post of mine (I forget where it was...I think in Germany's WWII mistakes), I point out that German machine-tool stocks (like their American counterparts) doubled over this period. In terms of the industrial base, strategic bombing was a complete failure. That is, the intended goal of destroying productive capacities was never met. On the contrary, German capacities grew as remarkably as in other countries.

I could send a few documents including Galbraith's industry report (1945). I will try to compile some stuff by next Friday. Until then, think about the comments made by General Lucius D. Clay: Clay, who during the war worked in American procurement as Military Director and later took control of the American occupation forces in Germany, wrote the following comments:

Clay's Conclusion: "This is one thing we learned about Germany. With all our bombing and whatnot, we didn't make very serious inroads on their military production. And when the damned war ended and they surrendered, their military production -- inspite of the bombing and everything else -- had been very little reduced". (p. 151)

Why?: "But on the production front, the Germans didn't make anywhere near the all-out effort we made until the last year of the war. And then it was too late". (p. 151)

(2) The slave remark is a good one. But...see where this argument is going. Instead of addressing the goal of strategic bombing (ie. cutting German armaments production), we are moving into a whole area of secondary issues: (1) slaves, (2) civilian industrial dislocation, etc.

I have stressed this point enough. One more time. [And remember, we are not just talking about output, we are talking about PRODUCTIVE CAPACITIES] If Galbraith and Clay argue that strategic bombing failed to destroy the sinews of German armaments production, and they supply the documents to prove it, how can anyone argue otherwise? What evidence do you use?

The USSBS (United States Strategic Bombing Survey) was composed of a group of specialists who toured Germany in 1945. They looked at the thousands of factories involved and examined the equipment. They then judged the destruction caused by the bombing. These guys wrote all of the reports historians today use to determine the outcome of the bombing. Did you know that they were the first people who collected German GNP statistics. The Germans had no centralized office doing such work. I just do not see how anyone can argue against their work. (The British boys came to the same conclusions).

Yet, it happened immediately. The Air Force generals gasped when they saw Galbraith's results. They knew that bombing faced a tough future if it was proven that strategic bombing had failed. The introductory summaries of the USSBS therefore played down Galbraith's results and looked at secondary factors like communications breakdown, etc. The air pundits wanted to save their jobs and forestall any cuts to the military budget. Galbraith among others felt cheated. He pointed out that the military was trying to hide behind serious lies. For this reason, the USSBS and the manipulated document record, causes a lot of problems for historians. Politics is a part of life.

That is why it is still necessary to consult the work of men like Abelshauser. That boy sifted through the German records. He counted prewar stocks, collected information concerning equipment built during the war, and judged all of this against bombing damage reports. This is a hell of a lot of work. It is NOT enough to look at Berlin (or whatever city you want), see a destroyed civilian housing area, and then argue that the German military-industrial SYSTEM fell to pieces. It is tempting, sure, but not good work. That is "History Channel" stuff. Not serious research.
 
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April 4th, 2006   #22
LeEnfield
 
 
Why did Germany still have so many factories working so well, well as I have said before a lot of this was down to slave labour drawn from all the occupied countries. All Where did Germany get all the tools to keep up production to the end, well they were looted by the from occupied countries. As the Germans retreated they took any thing they could use with them so that nothing would be left for the new occupying powers that took over these countries, and to make sure that they could not be used against Germany


LeEnfield Rides again

 
April 11th, 2006   #23
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeEnfield
Why did Germany still have so many factories working so well, well as I have said before a lot of this was down to slave labour drawn from all the occupied countries. All Where did Germany get all the tools to keep up production to the end, well they were looted by the from occupied countries. As the Germans retreated they took any thing they could use with them so that nothing would be left for the new occupying powers that took over these countries, and to make sure that they could not be used against Germany
Hi LeEnfield!

The problem with these hypotheses relates to evidence. What evidence can be used to support the arguments involved? What did the slaves actually do in Germany? What equipment was seized by the Germans? Did this equipment actually help the German industrial system? Did the slaves actually assist German industry? To what degree?

These are tough questions to answer. The work of Abelshauser is however critical. His analyses demonstrate that seized equipment was only responsible for a rise of about 3% in industrial capacities between 1939-1945. In other words...no impact. For the German war effort, the sad fact is that the occupied territories were primarily agricultural in nature and did not offer Germany much more than food or raw materials...which was exploited to the fullest.

Most German machine-tools were built in Germany or imported from Switzerland. Germany was the world's largest producer and Switzerland was third. The Poles, Danes, Serbs, etc. did not produce large quantities if any at all. [Even Britain depended on Germany for machine-tools during the 1930s] The Soviets in fact moved most of their equipment during their own scorched earth activities. The Germans, most importantly, learned quickly that it was better to leave the equipment in place and produce on the spot. This policy characterized activities in France, Czech and Holland.

The number of slaves actually producing German armaments or civilian goods was small in number. Most slaves, according to the MGFA studies, worked on farms, in mines, or cleared rubble and debris. They were treated horribly and many died under terrible conditions. The slaves did not however assemble tanks at Alkett-Berlin or u-boats at Blöhm & Voss or fighters at BMW. They were not welders or fitters; did not work the lathes or drilling presses.

The idea that Europe provided Germany with industrial equipment or skilled labourers is a weird myth. It pushes realities to the side. It ignores the history of industrialization on the European continent and the impressive growth of firms like Daimler, Krupp, Siemens, BMW, IG Farben, etc. It was the other way around. Europe depended on Germany. The Americans (not only them) referred to Germany as the "workshop of Europe". The European economy collapsed after 1945 owing to occupation policy in Germany. Not much has changed in this regard.
 
April 11th, 2006   #24
LeEnfield
 
 
Hi Ollie......Slaves, now a huge number of of men from occupied countries all over Europe were force ably called upon to help work for the German War machine. A vast number of Russian POW died while building German underground factories for Hitlers V weapons. Also there was a lot of heavy machine tools in Factories like Skoda that at the time made tanks. These were converted to make German tanks, than as they became threatened by the Russians the tools were removed to Germany for use there.
 
April 12th, 2006   #25
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeEnfield
Hi Ollie......Slaves, now a huge number of of men from occupied countries all over Europe were force ably called upon to help work for the German War machine. A vast number of Russian POW died while building German underground factories for Hitlers V weapons. Also there was a lot of heavy machine tools in Factories like Skoda that at the time made tanks. These were converted to make German tanks, than as they became threatened by the Russians the tools were removed to Germany for use there.
Just a quick response (ie. no chance to look up any numbers):

(1) The Czech population in 1939: "The Czech lands were far more industrialized than Slovakia. Most light and heavy industry were located in the Sudetenland and were owned by Germans and controlled by German-owned banks". (Wikipedia) While I understand the dangers of Wikipedia, this fact generally accords with what I have read. The Sudetenland was populated primarily by Germans...being the industrial heartland of the Austrian Empire prior to 1918. It is possible to argue that Czech equipment was moved to the Reich in late 1944/1945. But where is the evidence? What sources? How much equipment? If any?

In any case, Allied Control Council (ACC) laws demanded the restitution of all equipment seized by Germany during WWII. This policy was translated into reality. French, Dutch, Czech, Polish, Yugoslav and Soviet governments all handed in lists that covered what the Germans had taken (some fabrications, of course). These lists are used to determine what was seized by Germany during the war. The amount of equipment, even according to the victims themselves, was minimal. (Actually, only western countries handed in the lists...the Sovs just wanted industrial equipment on the basis that much was destroyed by the Wehrmacht).

(2) If you look at Soviet actions in eastern Europe between 1944-1947, you will see that the Red Army took everything including toilets from every country that was unlucky enough to fall under their control. (Naimark).

(3) The Germans (and others) provided millions of slaves for the Soviet Union and Poland after 1945 as compensation. Most of the Germans, including many civilians, died in Soviet Gulags.

(4) The V-weapons had no impact on the war, and they were only a small percentage of the overall war effort.

Sorry for the brevity. This topic needs to be looked at in more detail. I will try to put something more substantial together. (Ie. no wikipedia quotes)

Last edited by Ollie Garchy; April 18th, 2006 at 18:30..
 
April 15th, 2006   #26
LeEnfield
 
 
Like you Ollie I have no facts or figures for this event, most of what I have quoted came from newspaper reports of that period. The V1 did cause a fair amount of disruption in the South East of England there was quite a few of fast fighters that had been posted to intercept the V1 also there were a vast number of AA Batteries all along the coast line to a depth of about ten miles, then it was the fighters turn. After a while as kids we paid very little attention to the V1 until the engines began to splutter then we would just lie down. I must admit we made extra pocket money of them by sitting some where were we could watch them closely and we would bang a gong if we thought the would be crashing less than a mile away. This way every one could carry on with there day to day work and not bother with them.
 
April 19th, 2006   #27
perseus
 
 
Hi Ollie

Hope you don’t mind me contributing to this fascinating discussion

Although there is little evidence that strategic bombing significantly affected overall German war output, it certainly did affect their ability to transport certain key military components for assembly and fuel much of the military hardware which was produced.

Figures for the production of Aviation fuel in 1944 vividly illustrates this

1000s tonnes (Wolfgang Birkenfeld 1964)

Month 1944, Planned, Produced, Used
Jan, 165, 159, 122
Feb, 165, 164, 135
March, 169, 181, 156
April, 172, 175, 164
May, 184, 156, 195
June, 198, 52, 182
July, 207, 35, 136
August, 213, 17, 115
September, 221, 10, 60
October, 228, 20, 53
November, 230, 49, 53
December, 223, 26, 44

It could be argued that even the city bombing strategy of Bomber Command had an indirect military effect since it forced Germany to disperse factories and this made it subsequently easier to slow production by targeting specific transport links. For example, moving the large pre-fabricated sections of the type 23 and type 21 U-boats was particularly difficult since key sections of the canal network had been destroyed. As a result these potentially dangerous submarines (the forerunners of many later types) were only just beginning to be commissioned during the last 2-4 months of the war, far too late to have any significant influence on its outcome.

I think the main reason for focussing on strategic bombing prior to 1944 was the West’s inability to gain a foothold in North Europe. The technical complications of landing a large amphibious landing against an experienced army with air support were immense as proven from the Dieppe fiasco. Bombing and supplying the Soviets was the only way the West could strike Germany, (the Mediterranean was a side-show) and politically they had to do something.

Interestingly without a ground offensive from the west it would have been the Soviets who benefited most from the bombing of fuel plants and this may have ultimately led to the Communist occupation of Western Europe. It always looks highly suspicious to me that most of the effective bombing of the fuel plants only occurs after the Normandy landings (see figures above).

However, perhaps this was a coincidence. There were raids on the petroleum plants just before D-day on May 12 and the long-range fighter escort, necessary to protect many daylight bombing formations only became available in large numbers from around spring 1944. This change in targeting priorities was itself dependent upon the general advance of the Allied Armies since many of the plants were out of range until southern Italy was occupied early in 1944 and ground based navigation aids, necessary for accurate bombing could be moved up. Bombing priorities were also given to the French railways on the run up to D-Day.

I am sure that all the allies must have realised the implications of a successful strategic bombing campaign on Germany and the Russian advance in the event of a failed landing, quite a dilemma for the West.
 
April 20th, 2006   #28
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by perseus
"Although there is little evidence that strategic bombing significantly affected overall German war output, it certainly did affect their ability to transport certain key military components for assembly and fuel much of the military hardware which was produced."
Perseus, your concentration on the dislocative effects of strategic bombing (oil and transportation) hits the nail on the head. The evidence even demonstrates that the collapse of the German communications network played a major role in the speed of German collapse in early 1945. Remember, my criticism of strategic bombing is related to the original goal of destroying actual industrial capacites. More importantly, I want to understand whether the Allied expenditures on the bombing campaign were "worth it". That is, did the building and employment of bombers cost more than German countermeasures? Did bombing dislocation and countermeasures amount to a real drain on German industrial production or warmaking ability? Did bombing in fact waste western resources without achieving a real contribution until early 1945? Remember, every strategy or tactic looks effective by the end of the war...simply because the Allies won.
 
April 20th, 2006   #29
perseus
 
 
Ollie

I think it is necessary to distinguish between general city bombing and the targeting of specific key industries. Certainly targeting fuel production & U boat pens were worth the effort, possibly railways and docks, although there are qualifications on the eventual political impact as described above. Speer himself thought that the chemical industry was most vunerable.

Conventional city wide bombing in the early stages was a net drain of military resources for the attacker, even when the cities were hit there was a diminishing return due to bombing more rubble. Bombing also diverted aircaft from maritime roles which could be used to reduce their own losses at sea. However, there were many spin offs, some already mentioned such as diverting troops and materiel back from the front. It is thought that the Luftwaffe was finally defeated in the air during the Allied bombing offensive, this would have made the situation at the front much easier for the allies.

I don't think quoting increased production figures prooves anything. Surely production could have been increased even more without being bombed. Interestingly, it is claimed that German production rates in WW2 never equalled those in WW1 (Hecks K. Bombing 1939-45) although I am not sure how he defines production or whether it can be easily compared.

Whatever the conclusion, I think that the allies could have won morally as well as militarily by bombing specific targets, in the event it casts a dark shadow over their own performance.
 
April 20th, 2006   #30
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by perseus
Ollie

I think it is necessary to distinguish between general city bombing and the targeting of specific key industries. Certainly targeting fuel production & U boat pens were worth the effort, possibly railways and docks, although there are qualifications on the eventual political impact as described above. Speer himself thought that the chemical industry was most vunerable.

Conventional city wide bombing in the early stages was a net drain of military resources for the attacker, even when the cities were hit there was a diminishing return due to bombing more rubble. Bombing also diverted aircaft from maritime roles which could be used to reduce their own losses at sea. However, there were many spin offs, some already mentioned such as diverting troops and materiel back from the front. It is thought that the Luftwaffe was finally defeated in the air during the Allied bombing offensive, this would have made the situation at the front much easier for the allies.

I don't think quoting increased production figures prooves anything. Surely production could have been increased even more without being bombed. Interestingly, it is claimed that German production rates in WW2 never equalled those in WW1 (Hecks K. Bombing 1939-45) although I am not sure how he defines production or whether it can be easily compared.

Whatever the conclusion, I think that the allies could have won morally as well as militarily by bombing specific targets, in the event it casts a dark shadow over their own performance.
I suffer from the tendency to try to explain matters in quantitative terms. That is why I want to find the "dollar value" of strategic bombing and measure it against the "dollar value" of German countermeasures. It is rather obvious that such an undertaking verges on the impossible...sort of like any measurement of WWI-WWII German production rates. Is Hecks referring to percentages of GDP, by the way? That is a possibility considering the insanely low levels reached by Nazi industrial policy (low in relation to Britain or the USSR). I just cannot see how anyone can compare WWII aircraft, armour or even mgs with WWI weapons systems. I would have serious problems with aircraft comparisons owing to the differences between wood and aluminum manufacturing. In fact, without having read the monograph, I have severe reservations concerning the entire enterprise.

I would, however, like to return to an issue brought up in earlier posts. I realize that historians generally point out how strategic bombing resulted in the destruction of the Luftwaffe by mid-1944. This was one of the aims of bombing doctrine. I also realize that bombing resulted in many other "spin-offs" or that, as Overy points out, German production would have been higher in the absence of bombing. But:

(1) If the strategic bombers drained Allied industrial capacities to a far greater extent than the total value of German countermeasures and destruction, strategic bombing must be considered a failure. Even if German countermeasures hindered or interrupted the supply of POL or replacements for the ground forces, this redirection of resources was undertaken to counteract western Allied military actions that in turn put heavy pressure on Allied industry. Confusing, sort of. Terraine makes an interesting point. Had the Germans stuck to typical Prussian traditions, they might have permitted the Allies to bomb Germany at will without any real countermeasures. Why? Because strategic bombing hurt civilians and not the military. (Such a policy would have been politically impossible and not even I am willing to go that far in condemning strategic bombing's accuracy).

(2) The Allies did try to bomb specific targets at the start of the war. Other than failing miserably, the Germans learned that an industrial system with tens of thousands of production centres was basically immune. While a case can be made that the bombing of the fixed-nitrogen facilities would have terminated German explosives manufacturing and oil synthesis (Speer's argument), the Allies learned after the war that the explosive force of the bombs themselves could not destroy the equipment...only the factory walls, typewriters, telephones and that sort of thing. The Allies would have required much larger bombs more like the 10,000 kg "Grand Slam" to obliterate steel drums, presses, lathes, etc. And here you have the problem of bomb dispersion and...well...just hitting the target. And, even if the equipment could be destroyed, the Germans had enough replacement parts. These replacement parts were produced as a normal element of any industrial system. Factories need parts owing to wear and tear.

I guess I am just trying to point out that, in the case of German industry, strategic bombing was a really tough undertaking.

A final hypothesis: If strategic bombing was really as ineffective as I think that it was, Harris' decision to kill civilians might have been the most effective way of bringing the Luftwaffe to battle. (As stated in earlier posts, I am unsure of how to measure the bombing of oil targets. What hurt most, the bombing of synthetic oil or the German loss of Rumania.)

But, what about tactical air power?
 



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