The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945: Allied Air Power and the German National Railway

The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945: Allied Air Power and the German National Railway

The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945: Allied Air Power and the German National Railway

The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945: Allied Air Power and the German National Railway


In this book, Alfred Mierzejewski describes how the German economy collapsed under Allied bombing in the last year of World War II. He presents a broad-based, original study of German wartime industry and transportation, and of Allied air force planning and intelligence, including the first complete analysis in English of the German National Railway.

The German industrial economy was extraordinarily dependent on the timely, adequate distribution of coal by railroad and inland waterway. The German National Railway in particular was the pivot of the finely balanced armaments production and distribution system created by Albert Speer. But Allied strategists did not immediately recognize this. Only in late 1944, when Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Sir Arthur Tedder built a new strategic consensus, was this vital coal/transport nexus severed. The result was the rapid paralysis of the Nazi war economy.

Mierzejewski measures the economic consequences of the bombing by considering broad indices such as armaments and coal production, railway performance, and weapons deliveries to the armed forces. In addition, he shows how individual companies in each of Germany's major economic regions fared. By drawing on previously unexamined filed of private German manufacturing companies, the Reich Transportation Ministry, and Allied air intelligence agencies, Mierzejewski creates a rare combination of economic analysis and military history that provides new perspectives on the German war economy and Allied air intelligence.


The following work is an account of the collapse of the German economy in 1944-1945. It examines how the intricate economic system created by the Germans after the mid-nineteenth century and refined for war purposes by Albert Speer crumbled due to the paralysis of its transportation system. the German transportation net and especially the German National Railway, the Deutsche Reichsbahn, was subjected to a violent bombing campaign by the American and British strategic air forces beginning in September 1944. Within four months the exchange of vital commodities in the Reich economy, especially coal, had broken down and every form of industrial production was in decline or had ground to a halt. How this happened, and how the Allies came to conduct this devastating campaign is portrayed in detail.

Until recently the economic history of the Third Reich has been comparatively neglected. Among the works that have appeared during the last few years none has focused on the operation of the German economy during World War ii. Moreover, only one study deals with the Deutsche Reichsbahn. At the same time, there is a dearth of serious works that examine the impact of strategic bombing on the Nazi economy. Most focus on the struggle for air supremacy which was only a preliminary to the actual offensive. No attempt will be made to list the superfluity of works on the subject. the ultimate purpose of the strategic bombing offensive was to weaken or destroy Germany's war machine: its administrative apparatus, its industry, and its military forces. Only a few studies have examined this aspect of the air war though none recently and none using the full range of German, American, and British archival sources. Most notable are the British and American official histories and the reports of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. a few other works have examined the fate of certain industries under the bombing. To help fill this gap, new documentary sources obtained in German, American, and British archives are used in this book, combined with a fresh perspective from one who has no institutional ties past or present to any of the actors. Considerable detail relating to developments throughout the Reich economy and to policy decisions on both sides has been included . . .

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