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A poor book. Tabloid WW2 writing
on 16 December 2016
"By 1942 almost the entire resources of continental Europe were in German hands"
If Overy had read Wages of Destruction - The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy by Prof Adam Tooze, he would not have written such drivel. What Overy failed to realise is.....
Germany had lost the war before it invaded the Soviet union. Its success up to 1941 had been wild gambles that paid off. Britain alone had the capability over time of developing a huge military force from its empire. It was thought that Britain and France failed to rearm in time to fight Hitler effectively. By 1940 France had an army that was superior in both numbers and equipment. The British had a vast navy and substantial air force however the army was small. The French and British navies were vastly superior to Germany's and their air forces at least equal. When France fell, although Britain lost the BEF, its small land force in France, the RAF was equivalent to the Germans in numbers and quality. The Royal Navy was vastly superior to anything the Germans and Italians could put to sea, even combined. The British out-produced the Germans in aircraft even prior to the German invasion of the USSR.
The success of the German armies in 1940 was because of the Allied command failing to respond quickly enough to the German strategy. If the Allies had been a little more aggressive they would have won. Germany did not have the resources to fight anything more than a short war. The French never even fully committed all their air force to the struggle with a large proportion captured on the ground.
The Germans had access to the industry of Northern Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, but were not able to use it to match either the Soviets or the British in war production. The success of the Royal Navy blockade was instrumental. French production of planes which went to Germany was minuscule. France was not able to produce because that pre-war it imported coal from Britain for its power generation. With the Royal Navy blockade the main source of coal was from Germany. Germany cold not increase its production to overcome the shortfall. Germany had also confiscated many French rail trucks hampering transport of coals into France.
The amount of food produced in Europe fell. The production of meat and dairy products in countries such as Denmark was dependant on imported grain and animal feed from the Americas. This was now not available. The level of food available for the dairy industry collapsed as did food production in general. In the rest of Europe food production had been based on chemical fertilizer. Huge levels of the chemicals used for fertilizer production was diverted to the making of explosives. French workers were on subsistence rations and no power available and the country had been dependant on motorized transportation. Most of French oil imports came from abroad. Once France fell oil products came from Romania or from expensive synthetic oil made in Germany, and so little it made little difference to the dire situation. The oil was not enough for the needs of the German forces and to keep the Italian navy operational. France reverted to a horse and cart economy, from being motorised pre-war.
The USSR had the natural resources that would enable Germany to out-produce Britain and America. Hitler knew that he could never develop a navy to conquer Britain. The conquest of the USSR was a key step in Hitler's broader strategy, it was brought forward. The urgency of Hitler's aggression was down to his awareness of the threat posed to Germany by the emergence of the USA as the global superpower. The USA has access to vast resources in the USA, a land stolen by moving west, from indigenous people and the Mexicans. Hitler took this precedence and looked east to emulate the USA, and match them economically. None of the German generals thought that the USSR could initially stand up to an invasion of over 3 million men in June 1941, however they knew they had to defeat the USSR by Christmas or they would fail as Germany had few resources and committed all reserves. Another gamble. The USSR did stand up to the Germans and were able to marshal their industrial and military resources to last.
The British secured Syria from the Vichy French and secured Iraq from German inspired revolt keeping the Germans away from the oil fields of the Middle East and ensuring the war was conducted in Europe and the strip on the southern Med coast. British and Soviet forces invaded Iran to secure the British oil refinery at Aberdan and the railway to the Soviet border. The Germans were stopped dead at Moscow in December 1941, with 40% of the tanks used supplied by the British and the Soviets launching their new T-34 tank of which Germany had no answer.
With German industry being bombed by the RAF, British and Soviet industry totally outproducing Germany, Germany desperately short of all resources, Germany now winning the war was a remote proposition. This was the same month the USA came into the war when Japan attacked the British Empire & the USA and Germany declared war on the USA. In the first year the USA entered WW2, 1942, the USSR outproduced the USA.