Iosef Cross wrote:It was a very significant advantage, however since the decisive front, the Eastern Front, took place between Germany and the USSR and the USSR had much fewer material resources than Germany (in terms of iron, steel, metal in general, the Germans had a 4-6 to one advantage), one can claim that since the USSR managed to defeat the bulk of the German armed force, the Allies won the war despite their material disadvantage in the most critical front.
What materiel disadvantage?
Total German tank production during the war, all types: 50 439 vehicles (including tank destroyers and assault guns)
Total Soviet tank production during the war, T-34 variants alone: 50 609 vehicles (not including tank destroyers and assault guns based on the chassis)
The Soviet war effort focused much more on tank production than the German war effort. The Germans allocated 3-4% of their warmaking effort to the production of tanks during the course of the war. For comparison, the Germans allocated much more resources for the production of U-boats, here they allocated around 7-8%.
If the Germans indeed had a 6-1 advantage in amount of steel produced,
They had a 3-4 to 1 advantage in steel produced. They had a greater advantage in iron, coal and other resources.
Steel ingot production, millions of metric tons
------ Germany --- USSR
1942 -- 31.9 ------ 8.1
1943 -- 34.6 ------ 8.5
1944 -- 28.4 ------ 10.9
Pig iron production, millions of tons
------ Germany --- USSR
1942 -- 24.9 ------ 4.8
1943 -- 27.8 ------ 5.6
1944 -- 20.9 ------ 7.3
Black coal production, millions of tons
------ Germany --- USSR
1942 - 338.2 ----- 48.9
1943 - 353.6 ----- 54.8
1944 - 352.7 ----- 76.3
Coke production, millions of tons
------ Germany - USSR
1942 - 64.8 ----- 6.9
1943 - 66.7 ----- 8.2
1944 - 67.1 ----- 11.5
All data includes occupied countries under German control.
Wanna more statistics? How about these data, for Germany they refer to supply (production + imports) over the whole 5 years of the 1940 to 1944 period, for the USSR they refer to the 6 years from 1940 to 1945. They always show a large German superiority, even including American aid.
Machine tools, units:
Germany: 813.880 (4)
USSR: 160.104 (domestic production: 115.400, imports: 44.704 ) (2)
Explosives, metric tons
Germany: 1,595,000 (7)
USSR: 600,000 (domestic production: 505,000, imports: 95,000) (6)
Copper, metric tons:
Germany: 1.531.000 (1)
USSR: 857.600, (domestic production: 470.000, imports: 387.600) (2)
Aluminum, metric tons:
Germany: 1.888.200 (1)
USSR: 591.100, (domestic production: 263.000, imports: 328.100) (2)
Lead, metric tons:
Germany: 1.215.000 (1)
USSR: 406.000 (only includes domestic production) (3)
Zinc, metric tons:
Germany: 2.054.000 (1)
USSR: 384.000 (only includes domestic production) (3)
Nickel, metric tons:
Germany: 46.500 (1)
USSR: 69.000 (3) (they beat the Germans there, hurra!, and it only includes domestic production!)
Tin, metric tons:
Germany: 57.200 (1)
USSR: 17.302 (3) (only includes domestic production)
(6) http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 0#p1210875
(7) USSBS:Strategic Air Attack on the Powder and Explosives Industries
they sure as hell didn't use it very well, now did they? That's discounting the fact important industrial items were flowing into Russia from the US, freeing up their indigineous industrial capacity to produce more weapons: so the Germans were not, in fact fighting the USSR ; They were fighitng the USSR with access to US industry.
True. The US lend-lease supplies were significant. But they didn't represent that much in the aggregate, about 10% of the Soviet material resources. In some cases more (trucks, machine tools, etc).
Overall, the US lend-lease supplies were certainly not enough to level the difference: if the US supplied the USSR with enough industrial resources to level the difference, the US would have to send a large fraction of their own resources to the USSR (in case of pig iron, for instance, the US would have to send about 80 million tons to the USSR over the course of the war, equivalent to nearly 2 years of American pig iron production during WW2).
So despite lend-lease supplies, Germany still had material superiority over the Soviet Union. And yet, they still produced far less weapons in several categories, how is that? Well, one thing to notice is that weapons such as tanks, rifles, etc, were only 10-15% of the German munitions effort. The Germans spend more resources building the Atlantic Wall, for instance, than making tanks or artillery pieces.
Also, Germany was engaged in a multi front war, while the USSR only had to worry about the Eastern front. While the vast majority of German resources were allocated to the Eastern front the proportion of resources allocated to the other fronts was significant: from 1940 to 1944, Germany produced 8.5 million tons of ammunition, of these 5.3 million were spend in the Eastern front, but 3.2 million were spend or stored to be used on other fronts.
In 1944, while the Germans had about 150-160 divisions in the Eastern front they also had 60-65 divisions in the western front, 25-30 in Italy, 15 divisions in Norway and plus a dozen divisions in the occupied countries killing civilians and running the concentration camps.
Germany fought a 5 front war:
1 - Eastern front (150-180 divisions required a total of around 5,000,000 - 6,000,000 personnel directly and indirectly engaged both in the Heer and the Luftwaffe)
2 - Battle of the Atlantic (cost 1,200 submarines, 2 battleships and a personnel of 600,000 - 700,000 in the Kriegsmarine)
3 - Strategic air offensive (cost tens of thousands of aircraft and a personnel of 500,000 to 600,000 manning the anti air batteries)
4 - Western front (60 divisions, the Germans always had over half a million men in the western front, and about 1.5 million personnel engaged when the Allies arrived in Normandy)
5 - Italian front (25-30 divisions, about 350,000 to 450,000 men, plus the personnel behind the front lines, brings it up to 700,000 to 800,000 personnel)
The German armed forced had peaked at 9.5 - 9 million personnel in the critical 1943-1944 years of the war. Not much smaller than the peak sizes of the Soviet and American armed forces (respectively 12.5 million and 11.5 million).
Basically, the problem of Germany was that they planned to defeat the USSR over a short period of time, releasing their resources to fight the Western Allies on a more or less equal footing.
Without the Soviet Union, the German strategic position would been quite comfortable, they only would have to ramp up fighter production to 3,000 fighters per month to maintain air superiority over Europe (which would be much easier without the 5-6 million personnel directly and indirectly engaged in the eastern front, now these human resources could be allocated to industry, which was much less intensively used than the US industry) and keep about 100 divisions (now, fully staffed and well equipped, without the drain of the eastern front) to destroy any attempt of amphibious invasion.
A comparison of the machine tool stocks of Germany and the USA, according to the Strategic Bombing Survey:
Machine tool stock:
1940 - 1,177,600 ---- 942,000
1941 - 1,305,800 ---- 1,053,500
1942 - 1,427,800 ---- 1,246,500
1943 - 1,554,900 ---- 1,529,400
1944 - 1,656,800 ---- 1,770,900
So why US munitions output was significantly greater? Germany's factories mostly functioned on a single shift basis while American factories functioned on a 2-3 shifts basis. Germany's installed factory capacity was underutilized if compared to the Allies. Why? Lack of industrial manpower and this lack of industrial manpower came from the manpower drain in the Eastern front.
For example, in 1943 the US Aircraft industry employed 2,100,000 workers while the German aircraft industry employed 740,000 workers. Overall, in 1943 the US employed nearly 13 million industrial workers directly or indirectly in munitions while Germany employed 6.5 million. Not significant more than the actual manpower employed directly and indirectly in the Eastern front.
Also, the USSR lost 25-30 million people IN TOTAL, only about 7 million of those were military casualties, but that's a minor point.
The USSR lost 29 million soldiers in KIA, WIA, MIA. On average, 600,000 a month. Of these about a quarter were actually killed.
The Germans lost on average, 120,000 soldiers a month, KIA, MIA, WIA.
Here are the annual casualties of the Germans and Soviets from 1941 to 1944:
---- German losses --- Soviet losses -- ratio
1941 - 831,050 ------ 4,473,820 ----- 5.38
1942 - 1,080,950 ---- 7,369,278 ----- 6.82
1943 - 1,601,445 ---- 7,857,503 ----- 4.91
1944 - 1,947,106 ---- 6,878,600 ----- 3.53
source: Nicklas Zetterling, Normandy 1944, page 91 (it's a book about Normandy, though the author presents statistics of the eastern front as well, for comparative study)
On average the USSR lost 5 times more men than the Germans, that considering that the Germans were outnumbered.
Zetterling has estimated that the Germans were about 8 times
more effective than the Soviets in inflicting casualties. I think that this difference can be understood as being fundamentally caused by the greater material resources available per soldier
in the German army as compared to the Soviet.
Analogously to the Vietnam war, the side with greater material resources available per soldier lost.
Also, the improvement in the Soviet casualty infliction ratio was fundamentally caused by the great number of German pows captured in late 1943, 1944, while the Germans captured many Soviet pows in 1941 and 1942.