New Jonas Scherner just dropped

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New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 01 May 2022 02:59

...and it almost certainly destroys a lot of what you think about WW2.

The new article demonstrates that in non-ferrous metals, Germany's resilience to blockade stemmed from deep (and secretive) institutional experience of WW1 blockade, from long-term investment in science and industrial/organizational infrastructure, and from a highly-disciplined wartime execution on these prewar capabilities.

Although Scherner states that more topic-specific research is needed in other areas, the clear implication of this long-term planning and successful/sophisticated execution is that Germany's war was not the gamble on Fall Gelb that folks like Tooze (and a million online meme-ers) claim. A military-industrial-scientific state capable of this feat was a formidable apparatus. As Scherner says:
The extent of
Hitler’s gamble in 1939, at least regarding these vitally important raw
materials, was thus significantly smaller than scholars have believed.
----------------------------------------------

I won't excerpt more because anyone interested should read the article. A meta-commentary:

I see parallels between Scherner's work and Edgerton's Britain's War Machine. Both are revisionist takes that rebut analytically weak and ideologically-motivated narratives: of pervasive decline in Britain's case and of economic/strategic/political bankruptcy in Germany's case.

Re Germany it's a second-generation of revision, correcting a justified but over-done and morally-inflected "post-Wehraboo" reaction to the postwar narrative of a generally clean and militarily-superb Wehrmacht.

It took Scherner to dig up the details but the basic facts have been blatantly obvious for decades: blockade didn't collapse Germany, not even 6 years later. That the narratives of unpreparedness, incompetent planning, and short-war strategy have persisted so long despite these facts do not reflect well on the level of analytical rigor endemic to military history.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 01 May 2022 05:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 01 May 2022 05:04

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
01 May 2022 02:59
I see parallels between Scherner's work and Edgerton's Britain's War Machine.
To be clear, I have criticisms of both authors' work at the more general levels. Edgerton tips too far from correcting Declinism to cheerleading Empire. Scherner is obsessed with debunking Speer (who cares? Indisputably a Nazi who should have been hanged like the rest of them) and, perhaps apropos of a good scholar with his head to the grindstone, doesn't situate his analysis within a broader strategic context.

The metapoint is that both scholars are doing valuable work revising analytically weak and morally-inflected historiography.

The meta-metapoint is that Germany and Britain were each vast, advanced nations with millions of people - many of them highly educated and enormously eminent in their fields. To "discover" that each nation competently addressed the technical problems it faced as war obviously approached is to recover what should always have been obvious.

At the strategic level, I lean towards criticism of Edgerton slightly more than of Scherner because only Edgerton tilts from technical analysis into flag-waiving, while the norms of WW2 historiography forbid Scherner from so doing (and rightly so). Britain had no prospect of defeating Germany alone, a fact even Churchill would have conceded but on which Edgerton prevaricates. Flag-waiving is always dumb history (see 99.9% of internet posts) but in the German case its negative mirror - flag shaming - has prevented a realistic appraisal of the feasibility of Hitler's project and, perhaps intentionally, of appraisal of the Allied errors that got that project off the ground.
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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 02 May 2022 00:21

On Twitter I said this article "undermines" Tooze's work, to which he responded:
“Undermines” is overstated. I was part of group that instigated the basic shift that this article continues & expands in new directions. I agree that it leads one to reevaluate preparedness for a long war in metals sector & dangers of long war in general i.e. alliances are key.
"Reevaluate" is fine... Glad to see an indication that Tooze is working on WW2 again.
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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by Stiltzkin » 02 May 2022 11:01

Not much of a revelation to me. I recall the conflicting evidence of FIAT and the USSBS.
I will refrain from addressing Tooze this time though :). Here is to hope that historians and economists will finally figure out how warfare works, alongside the basic concept of Inputs and Outputs.

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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 02 May 2022 15:38

Stiltzkin wrote:
02 May 2022 11:01
Not much of a revelation to me. I recall the conflicting evidence of FIAT and the USSBS.
I will refrain from addressing Tooze this time though :). Here is to hope that historians and economists will finally figure out how warfare works, alongside the basic concept of Inputs and Outputs.
Ha well the "probably" acknowledges that it isn't news to all of us.
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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by Peter89 » 08 May 2022 11:59

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
01 May 2022 02:59
It took Scherner to dig up the details but the basic facts have been blatantly obvious for decades: blockade didn't collapse Germany, not even 6 years later.
Indeed. This is a point I make a lot of times for those who argue that Germany had to invade the Soviet Union in order to gain raw materials. In reality, Germany didn't get much of the raw materials from there, expended much-much more, and still was able to increase its war production until mid-1944. In some items, even after that. The most often quoted materials (food, oil, chrome, tungsten, iron, aluminium) could be obtained by increased investments on the German-controlled continent. (Natural rubber was, of course, an exception.) Most of the food came from Southeastern and Western Europe anyway, and not from the East.

I think it is a Western approach that saw Germany and Axis Europe a resource-poor region, and an abundant, cost-efficient access to raw materials as a must to wage war. In reality, the region from Finland to Greece and Iberia were not lacking raw materials as much as lacking capital and organization. Even oil, the material usually associated with German defeat, was used in such quantities on the Eastern front's first year, that equalled the acceptable training requirements of another whole Luftwaffe.

Of course the problem was that Britain, USA and the Soviets were generating power faster than the Germans.
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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by Vasilyev » 09 May 2022 18:26

In the same vein, have you read the 2017 article “ Did Raw Material Shortages Decide World War Two? New Data for the Example of Nazi Rubber Supplies” by Paul Ferdinand Schmelzing? Goes along with emphasizing that Germany had better security in (at least some) raw materials than is commonly realized.

https://www.ebhsoc.org/journal/index.ph ... e/view/353
Despite a well-established literature on the economics of World War Two, to this day reliable statistics on overall raw material supplies for Nazi Germany are lacking. The operations of shell companies, the special de jure status of occupied areas, and the Wehrmacht practice to “live off the land” have led to a significant underestimation of de facto resource endowments of the Third Reich. For the example of rubber—one of the prime “scarce war commodities”—this article demonstrates the extent and sources of deficiencies, and offers new data. On this basis, and in contrast to recent arguments that view raw materials as a “basic constraint” of the German economy, it is shown that surprisingly comfortable supplies existed between December 1941 and May 1944, during which Nazi-controlled Europe seemed ready to allow a realization of Hitler’s ‘Lebensraum’ designs. The failure to realize those designs originated in military setbacks—which subsequently impacted economic performance as a secondary effect.
Re: German raw materials from the East, it shows that while the East wasn’t the main source of rubber it did contribute 18-20% of supplies in 1941-42. So not a minor contribution.

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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 10 May 2022 14:15

Vasilyev wrote:
09 May 2022 18:26
In the same vein, have you read the 2017 article “ Did Raw Material Shortages Decide World War Two? New Data for the Example of Nazi Rubber Supplies” by Paul Ferdinand Schmelzing?
I hadn't read it; thanks very much for sharing.

At the most general level (i.e. not specific to rubber) the author argues evaluating German occupation requires much deeper archival work than has hitherto gone in works like Tooze's Wages of Destruction and Germany and the Second World War. I couldn't agree more; it's important the author has shown the way re rubber. I've noted, for example, that historiography virtually never discusses that OKH had a massive workforce under its control in the East, making things like boots and carts for the Wehrmacht. As German army spending on "general army equipment" (non-armament) was at least equal to spending on armament, this is a massive factor in Germany's resource endowment. Because these goods were used by Ostheer rather than shipped to the Reich, they don't appear in import stats and are completely forgotten.

I was completely ignorant of the fact that ex-Soviet factories were producing rubber for Germany in Latvia and Belarus and that rubber factories were captured in Voronezh and Maikop (I can't follow the author in assuming the latter reached production during their brief occupation, however).

One critique is that Schmelzing overstates his case somewhat by saying the German rubber situation was better than Allied because of a higher "coverage ratio" (new supply / annual consumption). Germany certainly reduced the denominator in that calculus due to overall lower rubber supplies, and took a fairly conservative approach - relative to Allies - in running down its rubber stocks. Overall a great article though.
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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by Vasilyev » 10 May 2022 18:52

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
10 May 2022 14:15
One critique is that Schmelzing overstates his case somewhat by saying the German rubber situation was better than Allied because of a higher "coverage ratio" (new supply / annual consumption). Germany certainly reduced the denominator in that calculus due to overall lower rubber supplies, and took a fairly conservative approach - relative to Allies - in running down its rubber stocks. Overall a great article though.
On the other hand (Not a contradiction to your point but a useful addition), the “rubber balance” was certainly of major contemporary importance. Klaus Schmider argues in his recent book on Germany’s declaration of war on the US Hitler's Fatal Miscalculation that Hitler was most likely aware of how the loss of the DEI would effect Allied raw materials. While the impact was overestimated, it was undeniably real and did harm American production plans throughout the war - by 1945, plans to retake the DEI were guided by the need to secure sources of rubber in order for increased production plans to be realized.

Have you read Anand Toprani’s book Oil and the Great Powers: Britain and Germany, 1914 to 1945 and the associated dissertation: https://repository.library.georgetown.e ... ?show=full ? Gives lots of useful details on Germany’s fuel security policies.

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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 10 May 2022 19:29

Vasilyev wrote:Klaus Schmider argues in his recent book on Germany’s declaration of war on the US Hitler's Fatal Miscalculation that Hitler was most likely aware of how the loss of the DEI would effect Allied raw materials.
I'm right now reading Hitler's American Gamble on the same theme; Miscalculation is next on my list. Gamble also mentions Hitler's expectations re DEI and rubber supplies.
Vasilyev wrote:Anand Toprani’s book Oil and the Great Powers: Britain and Germany, 1914 to 1945 and the associated dissertation: https://repository.library.georgetown.e ... ?show=full ?
I've read the book but not the dissertation, thanks. Is there anything in the dissertation not covered in the book?
Vasilyev wrote:On the other hand (Not a contradiction to your point but a useful addition), the “rubber balance” was certainly of major contemporary importance.
Yes, it's clearly important. I'd like actually to quantify somehow the cost of US investment in substituting for the lost rubber supplies. I imagine it was substantial even if not decisive (obviously).
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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by Vasilyev » 10 May 2022 20:38

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
10 May 2022 19:29
Vasilyev wrote:Anand Toprani’s book Oil and the Great Powers: Britain and Germany, 1914 to 1945 and the associated dissertation: https://repository.library.georgetown.e ... ?show=full ?
I've read the book but not the dissertation, thanks. Is there anything in the dissertation not covered in the book?
Vasilyev wrote:On the other hand (Not a contradiction to your point but a useful addition), the “rubber balance” was certainly of major contemporary importance.
Yes, it's clearly important. I'd like actually to quantify somehow the cost of US investment in substituting for the lost rubber supplies. I imagine it was substantial even if not decisive (obviously).
I read them both a year ago and they’re broadly similar, the dissertation is just denser vs the published book as they tend to be. Probably more factoids.

I read some info on the rubber economy a while ago in the various official US WW2 publications as well as some articles on JSTOR. I’m in the middle of a book project so no time to look into it, sorry!

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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 10 May 2022 20:46

Vasilyev wrote:
10 May 2022 20:38
I’m in the middle of a book project so no time to look into it, sorry!
Good luck with the project. Noting your listed interest in the RKKA and your apparent economic literacy, it would be great to see a book combining these traits.
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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by Vasilyev » 10 May 2022 21:47

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
10 May 2022 20:46
Vasilyev wrote:
10 May 2022 20:38
I’m in the middle of a book project so no time to look into it, sorry!
Good luck with the project. Noting your listed interest in the RKKA and your apparent economic literacy, it would be great to see a book combining these traits.
Thank you! It’s focused on the 1st Belorussian Front’s July-September fighting in the Lublin-Brest operation and the Warsaw region, along with the Narew/Vistula bridgehead battles. The period has drawn a ton of historical interest because of the Warsaw Uprising, but the military side of things hasn’t gotten a good overview. There’s plenty of NARA and Pamyat Naroda material to draw on, so the only problem so far has been organizing and translating everything!

The General Government was so economically marginal and mismanaged that its loss won’t feature prominently, but T71 R94 (Sadly not online) has material assessing the value of its loss and the relative Soviet gains so once I get that scanned from Adelphi I’ll try to include that information if it fits.

At least one section on logistics will focus on the loss of the four “Otto” railway lines running through the area and the logistics of 2nd Army, which was shoved into the much more austere Narew region. 9th Army’s logistics East of the Vistula will also be discussed, especially in light of the Warsaw Uprising. The politics of procurement for the German armies forced onto Reich and General Government territory, where they had to compete directly with NSDAP officials, will also appear if there’s enough material.

There’s also plenty of Soviet (And Polish) material on the organization of the rear administration in Poland, procurement, and logistics for 1st Belorussian Front. A while ago I wanted to turn the issue of railway logistics in Poland in 1944 into a separate article, so I have more than enough to add a good amount of logistical flavor to the book. Like with the German material, I’ll include it in 2-3 sections spread across a couple chapters.

Sorry for hijacking the topic, back to Schernerposting!

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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 11 May 2022 14:14

Vasilyev wrote:
10 May 2022 21:47
It’s focused on the 1st Belorussian Front’s July-September fighting in the Lublin-Brest operation and the Warsaw region, along with the Narew/Vistula bridgehead battles. The period has drawn a ton of historical interest because of the Warsaw Uprising, but the military side of things hasn’t gotten a good overview. There’s plenty of NARA and Pamyat Naroda material to draw on, so the only problem so far has been organizing and translating everything!

The General Government was so economically marginal and mismanaged that its loss won’t feature prominently, but T71 R94 (Sadly not online) has material assessing the value of its loss and the relative Soviet gains so once I get that scanned from Adelphi I’ll try to include that information if it fits.

At least one section on logistics will focus on the loss of the four “Otto” railway lines running through the area and the logistics of 2nd Army, which was shoved into the much more austere Narew region. 9th Army’s logistics East of the Vistula will also be discussed, especially in light of the Warsaw Uprising. The politics of procurement for the German armies forced onto Reich and General Government territory, where they had to compete directly with NSDAP officials, will also appear if there’s enough material.

There’s also plenty of Soviet (And Polish) material on the organization of the rear administration in Poland, procurement, and logistics for 1st Belorussian Front. A while ago I wanted to turn the issue of railway logistics in Poland in 1944 into a separate article, so I have more than enough to add a good amount of logistical flavor to the book. Like with the German material, I’ll include it in 2-3 sections spread across a couple chapters.

Sorry for hijacking the topic, back to Schernerposting!
Sounds great, looking forward to it. Make sure to let the forum know when it's out.
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Re: New Jonas Scherner just dropped

Post by stg 44 » 21 Jun 2022 18:53

Peter89 wrote:
08 May 2022 11:59
Indeed. This is a point I make a lot of times for those who argue that Germany had to invade the Soviet Union in order to gain raw materials. In reality, Germany didn't get much of the raw materials from there, expended much-much more, and still was able to increase its war production until mid-1944. In some items, even after that. The most often quoted materials (food, oil, chrome, tungsten, iron, aluminium) could be obtained by increased investments on the German-controlled continent. (Natural rubber was, of course, an exception.) Most of the food came from Southeastern and Western Europe anyway, and not from the East.
The food situation was what was critical, as noted repeatedly by Goebbels in his diaries and elsewhere. The only reason more food didn't come from the East was the Soviets either evacuated or destroyed it and all the necessary farming implements as they retreated. There is a FMS about the occupation of Ukraine and the food problems resulting from the invasion were discussed; the Soviets basically left their people to starve on purpose. I also question how much food could have been increased in occupied Europe given the dearth of manpower and competing needs. Then there is the whole fertilizer problem and competition for explosives production among other things.

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