One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 04 May 2021 23:39

historygeek2021 wrote:
04 May 2021 19:03

In Tanks of Barbarossa by Boris Kavalerchik, page 56, the author states that on August 20, 1940, Hitler issued a special order switching production of Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks to a special priority level of importance. This is consistent with Müller's account in DRZW Volume 4. Nevertheless, Germany failed to produce close to enough Panzer III's and IV's to fully equip the 19 panzer divisions in the OTL OstHeer.
First, we have consider the "priority" issue in proper context. It was an attempted means of distributing a pool of resources within armaments production; my argument is that armaments production pool was too small so the OTL distributions within that smaller pool are not binding on my ATL.

Second, the priority system was bankrupt by mid-'40 and everybody knew it. "Special" priority had no meaning; one needed something like ultra-super-stupendous priority even to get quota allocation (see GSWW v.5/1). I don't recall what specific level tanks had in mid-'40 but I don't think they ever reach "0" priority (a category higher than 1) - ironically exports to Russia did have 0 priority. As GSWW v.4 notes, Jodl/OKW wanted a focus on anti-Britain programs and:
The consequences of that decision, needless to say, also affected the army’s
main programmes, even though they were included in the top priority class.
Thus, tank production alone was short of over 6,000 skilled workers in January
1941
...in hardware-focused literature ("tanks of Barbarossa") it's common to see reference to priority by authors who plainly don't understand the bureaucratic ins/outs of such labels.

Third, there was never a plan to produce enough pz3/4's to equip all 20 of the PzDiv's with only medium tanks. IIRC the program shortfalls were on the order of 10% (spent a minute looking, it's somewhere on alternatewars.com). See again my quote from GSWW v.4 on Heer armaments chief checking what could be produced under current programs and then back-filling with booty, in the panzer case including 38(t).
HistoryGeek2021 wrote: So what exactly do you think needed to happen in the summer of 1940 for Germany to be able to equip 5 new panzer divisions by June 1941? What would the composition of these divisions and the OTL divisions be in terms of Panzer III's, IV's and the older/Czech tanks?
Higher overall armaments resourcing or shrinking LW/KM programs and shifting to Heer (again I don't see the latter being necessary but if so, would be sufficient). Germany should have had ~1mil more foreign workers by Barbarossa; the tank program was missing 6,000. I could get into other aspects but that's more than enough.

As to the exact division composition, all I'm necessarily arguing for is that 5 more divisions with the usual 70 pz3's, 20 PzIV's plus ~50 light tanks could have been equipped. That's the ATL minimum; the reality probably would have seen many more medium tanks available so probably you scrap the 38(t) TOE divisions and trade those tanks to Romania for more oil.

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

My way of addressing these questions causes controversy on AHF from people who want something like a detailed production program for ATL outputs. That's not the proper way to do counterfactual analysis, IMO. Rather, we should focus on what's necessary to an argument and not get tied up in more detail than is necessary. As the 38 pages of this ATL attest, there's already too much to discuss without specifying whether MAN or MIAG or Alkett or Krupp-Gruson produce additional tanks. They all had excess plant capacity but lacked labor so whoever does the production, a million more workers should suffice.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by historygeek2021 » 05 May 2021 01:11

Based on a quick back of the envelope of USSBS Table 86, with average Panzer III production of about 100 per month in the France/Barbarossa interlude and Panzer IV production of about 30, your ATL would require over a 9 month period leading up to Barbarrossa a 39% increase in monthly Panzer III production (139 tanks per month instead of 100) and a 28% increase in monthly Panzer IV production (41 tanks per month instead of 30).
USSBS Table 86.png
That certainly seems to be within Germany's physical capabilities in terms of physical output, so the real counterfactual analysis would be what prompts Hitler to cut through the German bureaucracy and force this extra production through in time for the extra tanks to reach the front line. Marcks submitted his plan on August 5, 1940, and it took months of discussions for the final plan to come together in December 1940, so December 1940 seems to be the earliest possible date for Hitler to realize he would absolutely need those 5 extra panzer divisions and issue an emergency decree to increase Panzer production. Given this leaves only about 5 months to produce the panzers and get them into the field, we're looking at a roughly 70% increase in Panzer III production and a 50% increase in Panzer IV production. The only way to do that would probably have been to order triple shift work in the panzer factories, taking workers from the aviation sector, but then you're talking about workers who aren't familiar with this type of engineering so it will take them time to learn.

So it seems like this would require a major epiphany on Hitler's part, and the only times that happened in the OTL were in periods of crisis (the ammunition crisis of 39/40 and then the winter crisis of 41/42), so this ATL does seem to be stretching the boundaries of plausibility.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by KDF33 » 05 May 2021 02:23

historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 01:11
The only way to do that would probably have been to order triple shift work in the panzer factories, taking workers from the aviation sector, but then you're talking about workers who aren't familiar with this type of engineering so it will take them time to learn.
In all likelihood, simply starting conscription of French and Benelux workers in 1940 would have been amply sufficient.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by historygeek2021 » 05 May 2021 03:48

KDF33 wrote:
05 May 2021 02:23

In all likelihood, simply starting conscription of French and Benelux workers in 1940 would have been amply sufficient.
And how many months will it take to find the necessary workers, bring them to Germany, acquaint them with German manufacturing, inspect their work for sabotage, etc.?

Not to mention, what will the international political ramifications be of enslaving French and Belgian workers at a time when Germany is still trying to make itself look respectable?

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by KDF33 » 05 May 2021 04:44

historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 03:48
And how many months will it take to find the necessary workers, bring them to Germany, acquaint them with German manufacturing, inspect their work for sabotage, etc.?
The most likely answer would be that the process would be similar to what actually occurred from 1942 on, i.e. a noticeable increase in production would make itself felt in the first months.
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 03:48
Not to mention, what will the international political ramifications be of enslaving French and Belgian workers at a time when Germany is still trying to make itself look respectable?
Given that by the summer of 1940, the Germans were either at war with or occupying all major democracies save for the U.S., had ghettoized the Jews of Poland as well as massacred that country's intelligentsia, I'd say that ship had sailed.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by historygeek2021 » 05 May 2021 04:50

KDF33 wrote:
05 May 2021 04:44
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 03:48
And how many months will it take to find the necessary workers, bring them to Germany, acquaint them with German manufacturing, inspect their work for sabotage, etc.?
The most likely answer would be that the process would be similar to what actually occurred from 1942 on, i.e. a noticeable increase in production would make itself felt in the first months.
Ok, but we're talking about a decision made in December 1940 that needs to yield 350 additional Panzer IIIs and 100 extra Panzer IV's and have them delivered to the front line by June 22, 1941. If it takes "months" to get the workers in place, then there won't be 5 extra Panzer divisions on June 22, 1941.
Given that by the summer of 1940, the Germans were either at war with or occupying all major democracies save for the U.S., had ghettoized the Jews of Poland as well as massacred that country's intelligentsia, I'd say that ship had sailed.
Hitler was still trying to come to an arrangement with Petain in 1940. Enslaving his country's workers wouldn't exactly have earned his cooperation, or encouraged French North Africa to stay loyal to Vichy, nor would it have sent a favorable message to the remaining neutral countries in Europe, or Spain. And the treatment of French and Belgians would have gotten a lot more international attention than Germany's treatment of Poland.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by KDF33 » 05 May 2021 06:37

historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 04:50
Ok, but we're talking about a decision made in December 1940
Are we? The decision to conscript foreign labor could also have been taken in July 1940, once it became clear that Britain wouldn't enter peace talks. Or really at any time. The decision hinges on Hitler determining to resolve the labor shortage with more than demobilizing part of the Army after defeating the USSR.
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 04:50
that needs to yield 350 additional Panzer IIIs and 100 extra Panzer IV's and have them delivered to the front line by June 22, 1941. If it takes "months" to get the workers in place, then there won't be 5 extra Panzer divisions on June 22, 1941.
Well, it depends on what is meant by 'months'. To give but one example, just in January and February 1943, the Germans brought from France 125,000 specialist workers.
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 04:50
Hitler was still trying to come to an arrangement with Petain in 1940. Enslaving his country's workers wouldn't exactly have earned his cooperation, or encouraged French North Africa to stay loyal to Vichy
The decision to move forward with just such a program in the spring and summer of 1942 had no discernible effect on Vichy's policy of accommodation, nor on French North Africa's loyalty to the regime.
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 04:50
nor would it have sent a favorable message to the remaining neutral countries in Europe, or Spain. And the treatment of French and Belgians would have gotten a lot more international attention than Germany's treatment of Poland.
None of which would have had any significant effect on the war. The idea that the neutrals' position depended on whether Germany conscripted West European civilians is also beyond questionable.

By the time France fell, no one of significance had any illusions left about the nature of Nazi Germany. German influence was by then entirely a function of its military fortunes. In the summer of 1940, they were at their zenith.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 05 May 2021 07:10

historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 01:11
so this ATL does seem to be stretching the boundaries of plausibility.
To get where you wanted to go you had to rely - probably unconsciously - on two deep premises.

Premise 1 is that a specific armaments program must be tied to a specific future operational employment. The error of this premise is obvious and the most relevant comparison is the OTL post-France Heer program: did Hitler in mid-'40 order 20 panzer division for mid-'41 so that AGN could have 3, AGC 9, AGS 5, Rommel 1, and 2 in reserve? Obviously not, whether those particular Army Groups would exist remained debatable in mid-'40 (Marcks Plan had 2 AG's; Afrika Korps didn't exist). Hitler ordered 20 panzer divisions because it was a round number in line with existing levels of mobilization and armaments capacity. That leads us to your second deep premise...

Before indicting your second premise, let me say that you're in good company as IMJ all the best military-focused commentators make the errors I'll lay on you and many of the political commentators as well.

Your Premise 2 is that any general increase in mobilization level must be tied to a specific series of military judgments. This evades or, to be more generous, completely misunderstands my point about the real vs. perceived Soviet threat. The under-estimation of the SU was a political phenomenon, not primarily a military one. You locate German errors in the specifics of this or that operational approach or logistical preparation, I place them at the level of assuming Soviet political collapse after a few hard knocks. Absent the political error, there are innumerable paths to German victory; my +5divs ATL is merely one of them. But because you're operating only on the military/operational/logistical level instead of the political, you're only considering the planning for a specific operational scheme rather than a general political mobilization scheme whose output could have had multiple operational/military implementations.

That the German error was political rather than military - and that German generals shared it at least as much as Hitler - is shown by Halder's/OKH's incompetence re Barbarossa: Nowhere in the (basically Halder-authored) Marcks Plan is the possibility of Soviet institutional/political resilience considered. Halder/Marcks assume that if the prewar RKKA were destroyed (as basically happened) Soviet force generation would cease. Why? It's unstated but the pure idiocy of the assumption from otherwise intelligent men implies they believed that Communism didn't have sufficient allegiance to preserve a coherent state. The alternative is to believe that Halder and Marcks were just stupid men and, at least in a general/psychometric sense, there's overriding contrary evidence. Analogous to "only religion makes good men do evil things", primarily politics makes intelligent men stupid. Halder substituted political punditry for military expertise in planning Barbarossa but arguably that political outlook was so pervasive to Germany that it couldn't have been otherwise.

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

I suspect that one of the reasons for the disjuncture between political and military factors in explaining Barbarossa's planning and outcome is the disjunction between military history and the broader fields of political history, political philosophy, and those intellectuals who query why groups of people align with or resist various power dynamics. Right-leaning factions are more common in military history; they're less less likely to explain WW2 via capitalist underestimation of the Communism's solidarity-engendering effects. Plus military history is usually done by men who have neither the interest nor theoretical background to investigate political motivation (try to imagine interesting cocktail conversation with Stahel or Glantz on anything but Eastern Front). So "Why Hitler Lost" - the true answer I'd argue - is in a scholarly no-man's land between the trenches of Right and Left. Subject for another thread...

TMP bookmark: political vs. military analysis of Barbarossa
------------

On a few more specific points:
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:70% increase in Panzer III production and a 50% increase in Panzer IV production. The only way to do that would probably have been to order triple shift work in the panzer factories
Your basic arithmetic makes no sense. The first shift lacked 6,000 workers, no less than 1/3 of the first-shift total. Even ignoring that point, 1.7<2 and 1.7 <3.

Plus a percentage rise owing to June '40 would be greater in May '41 than June '40 and, as the absolute number in May '41 were greater than June '40, would require a lower overall production % delta than the simple arithmetic - based on mean of June40-may41 - would suggest.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:9 month period leading up to Barbarrossa
Absolutely nothing limits me or anyone else to a 9-month period (I propose a post-France PoD for other German political reasons - we can discuss). Hitler and Halder could have - would have (but for political factors?) - evaluated the threat constantly, had they taken it seriously. Indeed Halder had already worked up a scenario for anti-Soviet war before Hitler asked and before the fall of France. When NARA reopens I'm going to read it. $50 says it was stupid.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 05 May 2021 07:56

TheMarcksPlan wrote:Halder substituted political punditry for military expertise in planning Barbarossa but arguably that political outlook was so pervasive to Germany that it couldn't have been otherwise.
This sets up two alternative takeaways from my counterfactual analysis:

1. Germany lost WW2 because a fallacy endemic to anti-communism (shared by US and UK) undercut its war effort.

2. Basically (1) with the proviso that (1)'s fallacy is not endemic to fascist anti-communism and Hitler was on the cusp of negating that fallacy. As quoted upthread, in the days prior to Barbarossa he told Goering:
for the first time we shall be fighting
an ideological enemy, and an ideological enemy of fanatical persistence
at that.’
...nobody took communism more seriously than fascists, who properly saw in it a conception of the Good Life directly opposed to their own (radical hierarchy vs. radical equality), while both were orthogonal to liberal anomie and individualism. [note to mods others - I'm not favoring one or the other, have no ideological dog in the WW2 fight besides leftists whom fascism/communism had already killed by 1939]

That simple insight, properly applied by Hitler using his force as German dictator, would have cut through the fatuous Barbarossa plan.

But of course Hitler was a weak and lazy dictator, not a great historical figure in the sense of Napoleon or Genghis Khan (both great only in non-moral terms, both having obvious morally evil dimensions). So the takeaway from #2 is that we got lucky that Hitler was a fairly mediocre man, but that the liberal democracies should have lost after their pre-'39 mistakes. Either takeaway I'm fine with.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 05 May 2021 08:11

TheMarcksPlan wrote:did Hitler in mid-'40 order 20 panzer division for mid-'41 so that AGN could have 3, AGC...
To make my positive point more explicit, I could see Hitler ordering 30 panzer divisions for mid-'41 instead of the OP's 25. It really doesn't matter whether Ostheer has more tanks and less mechanized infantry, or vice versa. So long as it has an additional panzer group, the Galicia Kessel happens and RKKA can't recover from that defeat.

I'll go further and say that maybe Hitler orders 10 more infantry divisions and, pursuant to a longer-war strategy more focused on Ukraine, moves PzGr4 to Romania and compensates AGN with more ID's for its push on Leningrad. That basically fulfills the ATL narrative as well.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 05 May 2021 08:55

KDF33 wrote:simply starting conscription of French and Benelux workers in 1940 would have been amply sufficient.
At this point there's even lower-hanging fruit: Germany decreed unemployment benefits for in occupied Europe far greater than domestic regimes (Nazism's political trick was a feint left to deliver the masses to their right-wing goals). Had they simply refused such benefits and recruited more aggressively, German firms would have found more takers. French/Belgian/Dutch Fremdarbeiter increased significantly in '42/'43 after more stringent regulations on unemployment benefits and greater recruitment efforts, but before the "Service du Travaile" compulsory program.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:Hitler was still trying to come to an arrangement with Petain in 1940.
I know it's my ATL but I shouldn't have to spell out literally everything.

Ok fine... Properly perceiving the SU as the only imminent existential threat, Hitler foregoes his half-hearted attempt at alliance with Vichy in latter '40 and puts the screws to occupied France.

He probably also foregoes the Battle of Britain but that's another discussion.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:If it takes "months" to get the workers in place, then there won't be 5 extra Panzer divisions on June 22, 1941.
The context of continental skilled-worker production is missing here: In Germany (moreso) but also in France/Belgium/NL, US mass production techniques were less dominant. This had the drawback of lower total efficiency but the benefit of greater flexibility. A skilled worker could operate his machine across a range of tasks. See USSBS Machine Tool Industry Report.

I also have to second KDF33's broader and valid point that, just as in '42, we'd see immediate benefits to institution of something like the Sauckel labor recruitment program. See USSBS general index for armaments vs. Sauckel's early '42 appointment.
KDF33 wrote:just in January and February 1943, the Germans brought from France 125,000 specialist workers.
Thanks. I use the Cornell law library all the time for my day job but its search functionality isn't great.
KDF33 wrote:German influence was by then entirely a function of its military fortunes. In the summer of 1940, they were at their zenith.
Can't be overstated how non-moral the dimensions of Western Europe's resistance movements were. Recently read the book The Politics of Industrial Collaboration during World War II, which focuses on Ford's French subsidiary and concludes:
Given this
situation, it is reasonable to conclude that the company did sabotage the
German war effort by deliberately under-producing. That said, this
under-production should not be viewed as resistance. Ford SAF was
never opposed in principle to producing for the Germans. All indications
are that the company worked full-out for the occupiers during 1940–2,
producing as many trucks as it could. Afterwards, it was not so much that
Ford SAF’s politics altered as it was that the larger political-economic
context of the war had evolved, altering the company’s understanding of
its interests and possibilities
So when Germany looked like a winner, the French capitalist class (at least) aligned with it. When Germany looked like a loser, it didn't. [the only consistent opponents of Nazism were the anti-Stalinist Left]
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by historygeek2021 » 05 May 2021 14:37

KDF33 wrote:
05 May 2021 06:37
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 04:50
Ok, but we're talking about a decision made in December 1940
Are we? The decision to conscript foreign labor could also have been taken in July 1940, once it became clear that Britain wouldn't enter peace talks. Or really at any time. The decision hinges on Hitler determining to resolve the labor shortage with more than demobilizing part of the Army after defeating the USSR.
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 04:50
that needs to yield 350 additional Panzer IIIs and 100 extra Panzer IV's and have them delivered to the front line by June 22, 1941. If it takes "months" to get the workers in place, then there won't be 5 extra Panzer divisions on June 22, 1941.
Well, it depends on what is meant by 'months'. To give but one example, just in January and February 1943, the Germans brought from France 125,000 specialist workers.
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 04:50
Hitler was still trying to come to an arrangement with Petain in 1940. Enslaving his country's workers wouldn't exactly have earned his cooperation, or encouraged French North Africa to stay loyal to Vichy
The decision to move forward with just such a program in the spring and summer of 1942 had no discernible effect on Vichy's policy of accommodation, nor on French North Africa's loyalty to the regime.
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 04:50
nor would it have sent a favorable message to the remaining neutral countries in Europe, or Spain. And the treatment of French and Belgians would have gotten a lot more international attention than Germany's treatment of Poland.
None of which would have had any significant effect on the war. The idea that the neutrals' position depended on whether Germany conscripted West European civilians is also beyond questionable.

By the time France fell, no one of significance had any illusions left about the nature of Nazi Germany. German influence was by then entirely a function of its military fortunes. In the summer of 1940, they were at their zenith.
It wasn't even a German promulgation/decree to institute labor conscription in France. It was a French law pushed through by Pierre Laval on September 4, 1942, by which time Hitler had long abandoned his efforts to win over Vichy France as a partner. In 1940 Petain was still firmly in charge and got rid of Laval for cozying up to the Germans, and Hitler was still vacillating on what foreign policy course to take.

Counterfactual analysis is supposed to show a plausible reason for leaders making different decisions at particular times than the ones they did (or more accurately, to understand why they made the decisions they did). It isn't a fishing expedition to find ways to attain different historical outcomes by imputing our hindsight to leaders at the time.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by KDF33 » 05 May 2021 15:15

historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 14:37
It wasn't even a German promulgation/decree to institute labor conscription in France. It was a French law pushed through by Pierre Laval on September 4, 1942
You make it sound like this was a French initiative. Vichy passed the labor conscription law on September 4 because Sauckel decreed the use of forced labor on August 22. Laval promoted the law so as to keep some control over the process, because until then the Germans were preparing to adopt measures for the zone occupée similar to those used in the East.
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 May 2021 14:37
by which time Hitler had long abandoned his efforts to win over Vichy France as a partner. In 1940 Petain was still firmly in charge and got rid of Laval for cozying up to the Germans, and Hitler was still vacillating on what foreign policy course to take.

Counterfactual analysis is supposed to show a plausible reason for leaders making different decisions at particular times than the ones they did (or more accurately, to understand why they made the decisions they did). It isn't a fishing expedition to find ways to attain different historical outcomes by imputing our hindsight to leaders at the time.
Well yes, in 1940 Hitler's assumption was that war with the USSR would be short and that France could conceivably join Germany in a more active capacity once he was 'master of the continent'. Which is TMP's argument: the military-industrial preparations for Barbarossa were not a maximum effort, and the acknowledgment that war in the East would be a prolonged, multi-campaign affair would have led to an earlier decision to fully mobilize the resources available in the German sphere of power.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by historygeek2021 » 05 May 2021 16:09

KDF33 wrote:
05 May 2021 15:15

You make it sound like this was a French initiative. Vichy passed the labor conscription law on September 4 because Sauckel decreed the use of forced labor on August 22. Laval promoted the law so as to keep some control over the process, because until then the Germans were preparing to adopt measures for the zone occupée similar to those used in the East.
We all know Laval was doing what Berlin wanted him to do. But even as late as 1942, Germany still relied on the Vichy government to institute the policies that Germany desired. Petain in 1940 would not have gone along with it, he fired Laval for being too pro-German, and Hitler was (1) trying to get the Vichy government to allow German military bases in North Africa and (2) terrified of French North Africa defecting to the Allies. Hitler's main goal at this time was trying to knock Britain out of the war. All of his policies, even the decision to invade the Soviet Union, were geared toward the ultimate goal of knocking out Britain.

Well yes, in 1940 Hitler's assumption was that war with the USSR would be short and that France could conceivably join Germany in a more active capacity once he was 'master of the continent'. Which is TMP's argument: the military-industrial preparations for Barbarossa were not a maximum effort, and the acknowledgement that war in the East would be a prolonged, multi-campaign affair would have led to an earlier decision to fully mobilize the resources available in the German sphere.
And I am trying to pin down exactly when and how this POD would occur. An earlier POD as originally proposed in this ATL actually makes more sense - that Hitler in the 1930s realizes he needs to focus on building up the army before the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine. The question is, what would make him suddenly change his priorities in 1940? And what would make him realize that the German armaments bureaucracy is hopelessly inefficient, and that it isn't enough to designate panzers as a high priority? And we need to know when he comes to this realization in order to see if there is enough time to institute a crash panzer production program.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by History Learner » 05 May 2021 22:12

If I may suggest a PoD, and I kind of hinted at it last page, why not France fighting on in 1940? No Vichy to worry about then and no incentive to hold back from looting the French. To cite from Chapter 3 of Peter Lieberman's Does Conquest Pay:
Germany immediately began recruiting West European labor, especially skilled workers. By the end of 1940, 220,000 civilians from the western occupied nations were working in Germany; a year later, the number had grown to almost 300,000. The flow of volunteers dwindled in 1942, after the unemployment that had been caused by the invasion dried up, despite policies intended to free up additional labor, such as withholding unemployment benefits, lengthening the work week, and closing down “unessential” enterprises.40 Germany then began deporting workers for forced labor in German factories. The German foreign labor czar, Fritz Sauckel, began combing through Dutch and Belgian factories, without indigenous cooperation, although the Dutch secretary-general for social affairs authorized the release of labor records.41 In France, Pétain’s prime minister Pierre Laval managed to put off Sauckel until February 1943, when he instructed French labor agencies to provide employment data and personnel to the German recruiters and imposed sanctions against conscription evaders.42 The total foreign labor force in Germany increased from 1.2 million in 1940 to 7.1 million—or a fifth of the total labor force—in 1944.43 Only a third of these were West Europeans in 1943, but they represented a sizable proportion of their domestic labor forces (see table 3-4).​
Further:
The indigenous administrations of every occupied country collaborated fully with German financial depredations. French negotiators fretted that the demanded “occupation costs” payments would enable the Germans “to buy the whole of France,” but after a few protests they caved in.20 Vichy unilaterally lowered its payments from 400 to 300 million francs per day in May 1941. But German authorities countered by making greater use of the clearing mechanism and, in November 1942, they forced Vichy to increase its daily payments to 500 million francs.21 Belgium and the Netherlands failed to offer even this degree of resistance, although their obligations too were unilaterally increased to cover higher German expenditures. By agreeing to German demands for occupation costs and clearing arrangements, collaborating administrations effectively put their finance ministries, central banks, and taxation systems at Germany’s service. Thus France and the other occupied economies were compelled to become Germany’s economic allies.​
Finally, this likely explains the trucks issue:
The Germans also preyed on West European industrial infrastructure, carting home industrial, transport, and agricultural equipment of all kinds.35 France, for example, was stripped of over half of its railway wagons, a fifth of its locomotives, and over a third of its buses and trucks.36 French wagons and locomotives increased the German supply by 45 percent and 15 percent, respectively, helping the German Railway to overcome a severe transportation crisis in the winter of 1941–42 as supply lines stretched deep into Russia.37 But while pillaging gained Germany badly needed goods, it hampered production in the occupied territories, much of which was going to Germany anyway. Whether from vindictiveness, overconfidence, internal German rivalries, or sheer greed, excessive pillaging stripped occupied Europe of equipment that would have been more useful there than in Germany.38​

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