Sources of iron ore during the war

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HistoryGeek2019
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Sources of iron ore during the war

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 14 Aug 2019 03:35

My understanding is that Germany had two primary sources of iron ore during World War II: Sweden and Alsace-Lorraine.

Does anyone know the extent to which Germany continued to rely on Sweden for iron ore after the Fall of France in June 1940? Could Germany have sustained its war effort based solely on the iron ore in France?

Also, to what extent was Narvik utilized for shipping ore to Germany after the British evacuated in June 1940? Presumably, the British would have destroyed the port before leaving. How long did it take the Germans to rebuild it? The Norwegian merchant fleet also largely defected to Britain after the German invasion. To what extent were the remaining ships sufficient to supply German iron ore needs?

HistoryGeek2019
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Re: Sources of iron ore during the war

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 12 Oct 2019 01:38

This article addresses this question and concludes that Germany could have maintained its military production throughout the war without Swedish iron ore imports.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. ... src=recsys

John T
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Re: Sources of iron ore during the war

Post by John T » 12 Oct 2019 09:18

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 01:38
This article addresses this question and concludes that Germany could have maintained its military production throughout the war without Swedish iron ore imports.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. ... src=recsys
How do you reach that conclusion?

May I quote from your own source:
We are not going to claim that the ore deliveries from Sweden were not
necessary to German armament production in the long run; but it is obvious
that Germany-especially after the annexation of Lorraine and Luxemburg (an
event entirely overlooked by Karlbom)-was not nearly as dependent on Sweden
as she was thought to be by Karlbom and others

and if you read Martin Fritz reply in the discussion:
https://doi.org/10.1080/03585522.1973.10407767

Page 142:
Had Swedish exports been cut off at this time,
therefore, this would hardly have shut down the blast furnaces of the Ruhr.
It would, however, have caused a far greater drop in the production of steel
than the 20 per cent or so resulting from deficiencies other than lack of ore.
This argument accords well with the view expressed in 1959 by Burton H.
Klein, which he had based upon information from one of the men most
closely responsible for the German steel industry at the time: 'Had the allies
been able to cut off Swedish are supplies, as was feared in Germany, the
German steel industry could not have operated at more than 50 per cent
of capacity during 1940 withfout depleting ore and scrap stocks.

The argument was that Karlbom wrote that "German steel prodction would stop without Swedish iron ore".
While the others claims that it was only "every other stell mill in German that would stop without Swedish iron ore".


And remenber that this was a discussion held during the sixities.

kind regards
/John

HistoryGeek2019
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Re: Sources of iron ore during the war

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 12 Oct 2019 14:21

The conclusion in my link is:
We are not going to claim that the ore deliveries from Sweden were not necessary to German armament production in the long run; but it is obvious that Germany-especially after the annexation of Lorraine and Luxemburg (an event entirely overlooked by Karlbom)-was not nearly as dependent on Sweden as she was thought to be by Karlbom and others. In a report for Hitler on the importance of Scandinavian ore production for the German iron and steel industry of November 1943, Minister Speer concluded that the conversion to different processes of iron and steel production as well as the increase of the ore movement in Greater Germany and in the occupied territories would make it possible to replace, after a transitional stage, all Scandinavian supplies to such an extent that it would only be necessary to reduce steel production by 10 per cent. A report from the Reich Iron Association (Reichsvereinigung Eisen) of February 1943 confirms that Speer's report was not merely written in order to please Hitler. It pointed out that nearly 60 per cent of the Scandinavian ore deliveries to Germany consisted of ore with a high phosphorus content; this part could be totally replaced by increasing the production in the German sphere of influrnce. For the other 40 per cent which consisted of low phosphorus ore this compensation would not be possible. It was concluded that the cessation of Scandinavian ore deliveries would reduce the anticipated steel production by about 7 per cent.

The conclusion in your link is:
To sum up, there was no question of a shortage of ore in Germany in 1939/40 and the blocking of Swedish deliveries would not have caused the blast furnaces to shut down. Nor in the long run was Swedish ore indis-
pensable to keep the German steel industry going. But Sweden could deliver ore which, in a total economic context, was cheap for Germany, and Swedish
deliveries of high-grade non-phosphoric ore filled a basic need of the German armaments industry.
The question for German strategy is, was the invasion and occupation of Norway worth it, in order to avoid a 7-10% reduction in steel output? Given that the invasion cost Germany a majority of its surface fleet and all the troops sent to Narvik, and required a large garrison to be maintained throughout the war, the answer clearly seems to be no.

In addition, the loss of Narvik would have only shut down Swedish imports during the winter. Unless the Allies invaded Sweden, Germany still would have gotten Swedish iron ore from June-November. And after the Fall of France, it is doubtful that Britain would have been in a position to invade and occupy Sweden. Britain didn't even think it could hold Narvik, even though it had successfully captured it from the Germans and held complete naval dominance in the North Sea.

The other relevant factor is Norway's effect on the sea war. On the one hand, Norway gave Germany a forward base for naval operations. On the other hand, these naval operations were arguably more of a drain on Germany then they were on Britain. Germany lost 80% of its Uboats and most of its surface fleet, in exchange for sinking a few random merchant convoys in the Atlantic. I've never read anything to suggest that the Allied war effort was materially hampered in any way by the Battle of the Atlantic. The biggest effect seems to be that Churchill was scared, or at least in hindsight he said he was more scared than of anything else, so not really scared at all.

In addition, the invasion of Norway sent the entire Norwegian merchant fleet, one of the largest in the world, into British hands, more than compensating them for any ships lost to the Germans. And the corresponding invasion of Denmark removed neutrality for Iceland and Greenland, allowing the Allies to set up naval and air bases there that decimated the Uboats.

The invasion of Norway was definitely not worth it in my opinion.

John T
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Re: Sources of iron ore during the war

Post by John T » 18 Oct 2019 17:04

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 14:21
The conclusion in my link is:
We are not going to claim that the ore deliveries from Sweden were not necessary to German armament production in the long run; but it is obvious that Germany-especially after the annexation of Lorraine and Luxemburg (an event entirely overlooked by Karlbom)-was not nearly as dependent on Sweden as she was thought to be by Karlbom and others. In a report for Hitler on the importance of Scandinavian ore production for the German iron and steel industry of November 1943, Minister Speer concluded that the conversion to different processes of iron and steel production as well as the increase of the ore movement in Greater Germany and in the occupied territories would make it possible to replace, after a transitional stage, all Scandinavian supplies to such an extent that it would only be necessary to reduce steel production by 10 per cent. A report from the Reich Iron Association (Reichsvereinigung Eisen) of February 1943 confirms that Speer's report was not merely written in order to please Hitler. It pointed out that nearly 60 per cent of the Scandinavian ore deliveries to Germany consisted of ore with a high phosphorus content; this part could be totally replaced by increasing the production in the German sphere of influrnce. For the other 40 per cent which consisted of low phosphorus ore this compensation would not be possible. It was concluded that the cessation of Scandinavian ore deliveries would reduce the anticipated steel production by about 7 per cent.

The conclusion in your link is:
To sum up, there was no question of a shortage of ore in Germany in 1939/40 and the blocking of Swedish deliveries would not have caused the blast furnaces to shut down. Nor in the long run was Swedish ore indis-
pensable to keep the German steel industry going. But Sweden could deliver ore which, in a total economic context, was cheap for Germany, and Swedish
deliveries of high-grade non-phosphoric ore filled a basic need of the German armaments industry.
The question for German strategy is, was the invasion and occupation of Norway worth it, in order to avoid a 7-10% reduction in steel output? Given that the invasion cost Germany a majority of its surface fleet and all the troops sent to Narvik, and required a large garrison to be maintained throughout the war, the answer clearly seems to be no.
All data available in the links above and if you read Fritz book " German Steel and Swedish Iron ore" published 1974 says the same thing.
You will find that Germany got half its Iron from Sweden in the period September 1939 to June 1940. and there after aprox 25%.

I am afraid that you first have your opinion made up and then searches for data to support your hypothetis,
not the other way round.

That in 1943 just 40% of the iron ore quality used to among other things produced arms, came from Sweden.
And after a "after a transitional stage" of unknown length the total steel out put would only diminish by 10%
Did Germany implement any of this transition?

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 14:21
In addition, the loss of Narvik would have only shut down Swedish imports during the winter. Unless the Allies invaded Sweden, Germany still would have gotten Swedish iron ore from June-November. And after the Fall of France, it is doubtful that Britain would have been in a position to invade and occupy Sweden. Britain didn't even think it could hold Narvik, even though it had successfully captured it from the Germans and held complete naval dominance in the North Sea.
None of this was known in April 1940.
And Why should Germany trust the Scandinavians if they got a chance to remain neutral for now?
When would they join the Allies, or just demand fair prices and no credits?
Dealing with the Swedes and Finns would be simpler for Germany if Norway was invaded.

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 14:21

The other relevant factor is Norway's effect on the sea war. On the one hand, Norway gave Germany a forward base for naval operations. On the other hand, these naval operations were arguably more of a drain on Germany then they were on Britain. Germany lost 80% of its Uboats and most of its surface fleet, in exchange for sinking a few random merchant convoys in the Atlantic. I've never read anything to suggest that the Allied war effort was materially hampered in any way by the Battle of the Atlantic. The biggest effect seems to be that Churchill was scared, or at least in hindsight he said he was more scared than of anything else, so not really scared at all.

"I've never read anything to suggest that the Allied war effort was materially hampered in any way by the Battle of the Atlantic. "
" sinking a few random merchant convoys in the Atlantic."

you say so.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 14:21
In addition, the invasion of Norway sent the entire Norwegian merchant fleet, one of the largest in the world, into British hands, more than compensating them for any ships lost to the Germans.
Norwegian merchant marine was by and large already chartered to British Ministry of Transport and dependant on Royal Navy and Navicerts.

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 14:21
The invasion of Norway was definitely not worth it in my opinion.
Well, The second world war wasn't worth it,
I'll agree

Cheers
/John

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Sources of iron ore during the war

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Dec 2019 02:22

The decision to occupy Norway, by both sides was a seeming complex string of events feeding the next. Had Hitler not been led to this & prepared would Chamberlain still make his decision to occupy the place? Is the converse correct as well? In this case is a neutral Scandinavia likely to remain a support for nazi Germany into 1941? 1942? 1943? How long before Allied pressure causes the iron ore shipments, ball bearings from SKS, timber, & fish to drop off?

Alternately the Germans fail to occupy a significant portion of Norway, or any of it. We can see they lose any fish harvest they gained OTL & timber. They also stand to lose any imports from Sweden sooner as the Allies can bring greater pressure.

Last there is the problem of a northern front just across the Baltic is Sweden is drawn entirely into the Allied camp.

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