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What if German Armaments Minister Fritz Todt dies in 1940?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by John Dudek, Oct 7, 2005.

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  1. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Okay. What happens if Todt dies in late 1940, instead of 1942 and is succeeded by Albert Speer, as actually happened?

    Speer takes a look at all of the German War Production data, all the Abwehr intelligence information regarding Britain's "Total War" policy, plus the plans for "Operation Barbarossa" and concludes that the only way that Germany can prevail in this war is to go to a full wartime production footing.

    Somehow, Speer manages to convince Hitler of this and Germany pursues a "Total War" strategy three years ealier than they actually did.

    How would this have altered the course of World War II?
     
  2. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Off hand, I would say. Imports of strategic materials and minerals go off the chart. Work on the jet fighter program goes into high gear as the idea of a "short war" goes into the waste basket.

    All of the revolutionary weapons programs (V-1, V-2, Fritz-X missiles, Stg 44 Assault Rifle, Shaped charge explosives, Panzerfaust and panzerschrek recoiless rifles, tapered bore AT guns and etc. get bumped onto the mainline for quicker consideration and into production much quicker.

    LOTS more Panthers and Tigers I and II get built after 1942. Sturmgeschutzes too!

    In short. Lots of trouble for the Allies.








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  3. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

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    The lack of full wartime industry production certainly spelled failure for the German war machine. This is especially true against the Russians. Bringing production up to full scale would have made all arms of the military stronger and more formidable. The 'what if' that makes the biggest difference would be Speers convincing Hitler.

    There is one part of the what-if that is not addressed. How they pay for all of the extra wartime materials. This would have been a serious problem. Plundering the treasuries of Poland, Austria and any other areas that they occupied would only get them so far.

    This increase in production would have meant a much higher casualty toll for the Russians especially, and the allies in general. The Russians and Americans still out produced them by a large margin even at the height of German production in 1944. The war ends the same way, with Germany overrun from the East by Russia and the rest of the Allies from the West.
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    This is of course a very big IF but having more reserves for the Barbarossa offensive might have changed the situation, after all Hitler could give only 200 new engines to Guderian in Sept-Oct 1941 for the panzers which I would call "rather low" in any case. The only problem is that Hitler considerd the whole operation a short-period thing so having to think about it for a longer time might have changed it all (?). Also Hitler told Guderian " If I had believed the Russians had 20,000 tanks I would never had attacked the whole country in the first place..."
     
  5. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

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    That is a very interesting quote Kai. I had never heard this before. I would love to know how many other quotes like this are out there.
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    From the Guderian memoirs bigiceman!

    I put all the interesting quotes ( that I consider interesting that is... ;) ) in the Quotes section. I think it´s part III now.
     
  7. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

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    Thanks Kai. I will have to see if I can get a copy of those memoirs in English here in the US.
     
  8. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    I doubt it would have made a big difference in the long run. Speer managed his 'miracle' in production only by draining all of Germany's strategic reserves of materials in 1943 - 44. It was a reasonable gamble when he did it. Germany was already losing the war so forcing industry to produce itself out of existance so to speak to gain maximum material output immediately was not a bad idea.
    Speer's early take over of industry would not particularly help in a number of other bottlenecks like research and training. Things like jet engines and aircraft are not going to fly any sooner as the bugs would still have to be worked out. The same could be said for other development programs. The E series of tank development started in 1944 is a perfect example. Much effort was put into this program and Speer was in control of production. The E series tanks were simply a waste of resources just as Porsche's Maus was.
    Speer also did little or nothing to improve efficency of German industry. Aircraft manufacture was still primarily a hand work industry with little mechanization. Assembly lines like the Allies used barely existed for example.
    Then there is the problem of transporting these materials where they are needed. This too was a never rectified bottleneck. Things like the Luftwaffe not training enough pilots early in the war would have made the extra aircraft produced superfluous just as happened in 1944. There was no shortage of aircraft just fuel and pilots to fly them. Speaking of fuel, this too was a problem. Germany simply lacked the industrial base to produce what they needed for a mechanized war.
    You see, the problem for Germany is one of poor industrial and material planning across the entire spectrum. It isn't isolated to one or two industries being inefficent. While the Germans were very good at making war they were down right terrible at making the tools of war. This was something no one man was going to fix.
     
  9. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Actually, the V-1 and 2 programs were just wastes of material. Had they come on line sooner it would have just given impetus to the Allies to develop a counter sooner to them (as would happen with all weapon systems). In the V-1 case, originally the US had a working copy produced 60 days after the first one was launched against Britian. Ford Motor Corporation was ordered to set up a production line and mass produce 5000 a month for a planned mass saturation bombing of Germany. Note that at 5000 a month the US would have been dropping in a month what Germany launched during the entire war.
    The Fritz X, Hs 293, X-4 and other guided missiles and bombs proved very suceptable to jamming and other electronic countermeasures. Seeing as how Germany's electronics industry was seriously over taxed just producing products in service they had little capacity for research in this field. By 1944 the Germans were about 10 years behind the Western Allies in technology in electronics.
    Taper bore anti-tank guns still face the dual bottlenecks of lack of tungsten to make rounds and Krupp's total control of the tungsten carbide market through their subsidary Hartzmetallzentrale. So long as this is the case, only Krupp can manufacture taper bore anti-tank weapons.
    If the Germans suddenly started making far more Panthers and Tigers the story would be the same. The US and Soviets would have rushed to produce tanks that could counter these vehicles placing them in service far sooner as well.
    And worse, the US was just getting into its stride in 1944 - 45 with war production. If the war drug on into 1946 or 47 the US would have been producing far more than they were in 1944. Ford's Willow Run plant is a perfect example. This plant in Illinois started production in 1944. It produced a complete ready to fly B-24 in just under an hour or, 24 - 25 bombers a day.
    By comparison, Junkers Dessau was the largest bomber plant in Germany. It could produce one (1) Ju 290 (a rough equivalent of the B-24) a month on average. Even given over totally to Ju 290 production this plant would have made in a month what Ford's plant did in a day.
    How many M 26 Pershings would have been in service in 1946? Likely it would have become the standard tank in service completely replacing the Sherman if the war had gone that long. Tiger killers like the US T- 29 to 34 heavy tanks would also have gone into service. With as much as ll or 12" of frontal armor they were literally immune to German anti-tank guns. Their 105 to 155mm guns were intended to smash Tigers...the reason for their existance.
    Well, enough blather. Germany was hit in the industrial game. It was one they could not win.
     
  10. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Good post T.A. Gardner! Very well thought out and very well researched! Good stuff! [​IMG]
     
  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Yes, excellent posting T.A.!

    Definitely the German system was "suicidal" as it prepared the country to warfare in the 1930´s and after the big victories suddenly started to lower the production numbers as the "war was won". And then again "Total war" in 1943.

    But if we concentrate on the time period autumn 1941 getting more than the 200 new engines for tanks might have changed some things in the ostfront. Maybe the Germans´ losses would have been just bigger in numbers and the front line in spring 1942 at the same place but definitely a better fighting chance for the German troops than what they did get.
     
  12. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Excellent post, T. A.!

    I just feel there's another aspect of Speer's 'miracle' we're leaving behind:

    In 1940-1941 the 11 million slave workers that manned Speer's factories in 1944 were not around: Soviet POWs nor Jews from Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece or the Soviet Union were there, yet.

    In fact, it is tended to forget that the industry behind the 'cool' Tigers, the Me-262 and the V-2s were millions of thousands of enslaved innocent people, of whom thousands and thousands died or were killed.

    Let's just remember the camp Mittelbau-Dora and its subcamps, where 60.000 inmates worked in the underground complex to build the V-2 rockets. At least 12.000 (more likely to be 20.000) of them died. [​IMG]
     
  13. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    It may have made an impact on current production but may not have made much in the new weapons area. I have been reading a book by Speer called Infiltration. It is about how Himmler's SS was attempting to gain control of armaments production. Interesting how those production lines gained by the SS were so inefficient and cost Germany valuable resources and possibly the war. Interesting reading
     
  14. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Yes. Just giving those slave laborers enough to eat and the hope of living to see another month or year could have made a major difference in the amount and quality of weapons production that was actually produced.

    Instead, the Nazis gauged the lowest possible caloric intake per slave laborer guarenteed to starve them to death, or render their immune systems incapable of fighting off infection, in a specific period of time.

    Ultimate brutality.
     
  15. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Not only in that area but on how inexperienced the SS Officers assigned to managing the armaments program were and how clumsy progress was made. Something that Speer took a couple of months to start, The SS at 10 months still were not up and running
     
  16. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Slave labor and using industry in captured countries both had their drawbacks. As examples of the later, the a French firm manufactured the Naxos radar detector. This firm used inferior valves (vacuum tubes) resulting in excessive rf leakage. This in turn led U-boat commanders to not want to use the equipment for fear the leaked rf noise could be detected by Allied aircraft ESM systems. It also resulted in the use of wood for the antenna base leading to an inferior antenna with far less gain than a properly designed one. But, for the French it was all se la guerre....
    In Poland two factories manufactured 105mm artillery shells and the Wespe respectively. The Poles found ways to sabotage both products. They regularly filled the 105 shells with 'stuff' other than explosives making far more dud and poorly performing shells. The Wespe production was sabotaged by the workers illicitly substituting mild steel for the armor along with poor assembly techniques that led to more breakdowns.
    And, the SS had no lock on poor management of arms production. The Luftwaffe and Heer were often just as or more incompetent.
    A great example of poor management by the Luftwaffe is Henschel's Schönefeld plant. This plant started the war manufacturing Do 17 bombers, phasing this plane out in mid 1939 to retool to build Ju 88s. They started production of this aircraft late in 1939 and eventually produced about 2500 by the end of the war.
    In 1940 Henschel was told to start phasing out Ju 88 production in favor of the Hs 129, with just sufficent Ju 88 production remaining to keep the plant occupied at a minimal level. When tooling up for the Hs 129 was about 50% complete the project was scrapped due to the Luftwaffe finding the 129 unacceptable for large scale production.
    They were directed instead to retool for producing the Ju 188. Just as they finished tooling up the Luftwaffe cancelled production and ordered the Schönefeld plant to retool to manufacture the Me 410. When 80% retooled for this aircraft the Luftwaffe once again cancelled the program and ordered the plant to retool for production of the Ju 388K nightfighter. In October 1944 all bomber production was ordered halted and the Schönefeld plant only continued to produce spares and wings for the Ju 88. All of the retooling is estimated to have required 400,000 manhours of work. Literally thousands of aircraft were not produced due to this constant retooling, not to mention huge expense.
    It is very typical of many German manufacturing programs rife with fraud, waste and, abuse.
     
  17. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    I've just remembered another important aspect:

    Thanks to nationalsocialist views on culture and education, from 1933 until 1939, the Universities number of students had dropped by 1/3. In the engineering, scientific and technical careers, the percentage was 49%. There was only half new qualified people for industry than in 1933.

    Not to mention the gigantic exodus of intellectuals and scientists since 1933. Automatically, that year, Germany lost her 10 Jewish Nobel Prize laureates in Science.

    The Nazi assassination of German culture is felt towards this day, when German intellectuals are numbered, and nowhere near the proportions of the 1920s.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  18. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

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    Fried, I am not familiar with the cultural and educational views of the socialists in Germany. What were they and why would they have discouraged the university bound students? The loss of so many people just because of the ethnic background was a huge blow. In the what if forum there was a discussion about what it would have meant to have left the Jewish community alone and kept them as loyal German citizens. This slant didn't come up though, good point.
     
  19. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The central thesis of Hitler's socialist policy was the concept of Volksgemeinschaft. This is usually translated, poorly, into english as "the folkish state." But, it was far more than that. What it embodied was a national culture so closely shared that everyone in Germany under this concept would form a close, tight-knit and, largely closed society where non-Germans were seen with almost xenophobic paranoia. The closest idea in english is that of the veteran's "band of brothers" concept where war veterans will only discuss their combat with other veterans and clam up when non-veterans are present. In America it can be seen to a limited extent in such orgainzations as the VFW or American Legion. Obtaining volksgemeinschaft through indoctrination was one of the primary purposes of Hitler Youth. On this subject Hitler said "By the time German youth reach their 13th year they will never again be free." His meaning was they would have completely succumb to the effects of volksgemeinschaft.
    As to academics and academica, Hitler saw little use for education beyond high school. His concept of volksgemeinschaft embraced a rather idyllic view of a country of rural farmers and simple artisans reminsciensent of the late 17th or early 18th century.
    Of course, in this version of social reality outside groups that varied from the 'norm' had to be expunged. One more reason for Hitler to rid Germany of Jews, non-Aryans, and other "undesirables." (Great shades of Lord Farqqhar!).
    Hitler himself remarked on one occasion about the loss of scientists and other academics in the pre-war period by saying if Germany lost a generation or two of scientists to obtain the Socialist goals he had set so be it.
    Particularly hard hit were the more theoretical and philisophical aspects of higher education. Theoretical physics was set back immeasurably by the adoption of a politically correct version that was pure fiction (sorry, it's been awhile since I read on this subject so I don't have the details right off). Essentially, the Nazi view of reality was that such topics had no value or use in their ideal world and were "Jewish" in nature. Thus, they could be safely discounted and ignored. This is why Germany went from being the world leader in physics in the early 1930's to dead last by 1939. Italy produced more academic papers in this field than Germany did.
     
  20. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

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    Thanks for the enlightenment T.A.. I had no idea about that aspect of the Nazi socialization. I now have another thing to add to the long list of why Hitler was crazy and the best thing that happened to the allies.

    With German military innovation and technological advacement so much a reason for their success on the battle field to eliminate whole generations of citizens who would provide you with that makes no sense. This adds to my list of why I don't want anything to do with socialism/communism too.
     
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