Special London correspondent
Studying war ever since I was little, I have grown up believing all these stories of “Germany could have won if they had streamlined production” or “If Hitler never focused on Stalingrad, the Germans might have won” or even the ridiculous claim that “If they had taken Moscow, the Russians would have surrendered.” Spoiler alert: They would not have surrendered. The only way Germany could ever win World War 2 was by defeating the Soviet Union or by securing peace with Britain.
Now I’m sure everyone has heard the common myths of World War 2. I will tackle some of the biggest. But to do that, I need numbers on my side. The basic fact is: Germany needed more Oil than it produced. The conquering of more territories would increase that demand without furthering supply.
“Germany should have focused on the British”
No. The Royal Navy would have absolutely demolished any attempt at an invasion.
“B-but Germany could have taken down the British ships with their air force if they had taken out the British airfields?”
No. Without Oil, you can’t do that. Britain does not produce Oil and it is likely that Germany would still lose World War 2 if it captured Britain as all important government officials would likely have evacuated to one of its colonies. Not to mention it could have never invaded in the first place.
“But what if it had taken the middle east? It would have solved its Oil problems right?”
Nope. The middle east at the time produced maybe a quarter of what Romania produced, Approximately 8,700,000, tons of oil in 1936. Germany needed MORE. The middle east would have wasted oil for no long term return.
(inc British Caribbean)
Iraq & Persia (Iran)…………… 5.4%
Dutch East Indies………………2.7%
Other British Empire…………….2.0%
& British Borneo)
Some numbers for reference.
“If Germany hadn’t attacked Russia-”
Germany would have run out of Oil.
“But if they had attacked earlier, they would have won!”
Once again, wrong. Rainy seasons and slight delays hurt the effort, but war against the USSR depended on one thing only. The Caucasus.
Now I watched an excellent video explaining it and I will link it at the bottom but in summary: The only way Germany could win World War 2 was by securing a supply of oil sufficient to meet its demand.
Furthermore, The only way Germany could have defeated the Soviet Union was by taking the Oil fields in the Caucasus.
People will often argue that Germany should have taken Moscow or ignored Stalingrad altogether and those points are mostly wrong
Do you see that massive river? The Volga? Well right by the bottom you see a city called Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad. The city was a vital connection to the rest of the USSR and was the route for shipping Oil to the rest of the country. Oil vital for the war effort. In effect, if Germany could cut off the USSR from this supply of Oil, the Russians would have their Oil supply severed almost entirely. And this is what should have happened. A concentrated push through Ukraine to secure vital food supplies and starve the Soviets, and a push to the Caucasus.
“Even though Germany’s 1938 oil consumption of little more than 44 million barrels was considerably less than Great Britain’s 76 million barrels, Russia’s 183 million barrels, and the one billion barrels used by the United States, in wartime Germany’s needs for an adequate supply of liquid fuel would be absolutely essential for successful military operations on the ground and, even more so, in the air.”
German oil supplies came from three different sources: imports of crude and finished petroleum products from abroad, production by domestic oil fields, and syntheses of petroleum products from coal.
In 1938 Germany , of the total consumption of 44 million barrels, imports from overseas accounted for 28 million barrels or roughly 60 percent of the total supply. An additional 3.8 million barrels were imported overland from European sources (2.8 million barrels came from Romania alone), and another 3.8 million barrels were derived from domestic oil production. The remainder of the total, 9 million barrels, were produced synthetically.
At the outbreak of the war, Germany’s stockpiles of fuel consisted of a total of 15 million barrels. The campaigns in Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France added another 5 million barrels in booty, and imports from the Soviet Union accounted for 4 million barrels in 1940 and 1.6 million barrels in the first half of 1941. Yet a High Command study in May of 1941 noted that with monthly military requirements for 7.25 million barrels and imports and home production of only 5.35 million barrels, German stocks would be exhausted by August 1941. The 26 percent shortfall could only be made up with petroleum from Russia.”
Some people also believe that it makes no sense for the Soviet Union to supply Oil prior to the war in this case. That this argument is flawed. In fact, this was a strategic move to further the German need for oil by forcing them to use more of it.
“…that is obviously a grave disappointment for us, but it by no means disrupts our grand strategy. Germany would gain accommodation [that is, shelter from the cruel Russian winter], but that alone will not win the war. The only thing that matters is oil. As we remember, Germany kept harping on her own urgent oil problems in her economic bargaining with us from 1939 to 1941. So we have to do all we can (a) to make Germany increase her oil consumption, and (b) to keep the German armies out of the Caucasus.”
Marshal Timoshenko in a secret speech to the Supreme Defence Council in Moscow, November 1941, regarding the fall of Moscow.
Moscow is not important, the Oil is. I hypothesize that the Soviets wanted to expand Germany’s industrial capabilities and their expense of oil. Even if it meant they would face a stronger Wehrmacht, so long as the Germans lacked oil they would win. Their exporting of Oil was to make the Germans be at ease with the Soviet Union and they never gave them enough to fully supply them, only enough to make them still lack it while likely still making a good profit.
As you can see, the Germans had until August 1941 to secure a supply of oil which could only be made up with petroleum from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union knew this and took advantage of it.
The war on the USSR was NEVER about lebensraum or the extermination of the Jews and slavs. That was a side goal. Something to keep the people entertained and make those pushing for that goal remain happy. The ONLY reason the German army invaded was for the Oil supply. Had they waited any longer they would not have had the fuel supply to advance with their war of movement which relied heavily on Tanks, Aircraft and Motorized divisions.
In effect, the only way Germany could have won World War 2 was by securing peace with Britain, which would NEVER have happened as they would never have been able to invade Britain or continue the U-Boat campaign without Oil, or invade the USSR. And they almost succeeded, capturing a few Oil Fields but the Russians had sabotaged their own Oil fields to avoid capture, so not that much luck there.
Germany needed to attack the USSR to win World War 2. The problem? The generals of the German army. Not the only one, but a big problem since they diverted resources. They argued that if the main cities of the USSR, Leningrad and Moscow, were taken then the Russians would sue for peace. But the USSR had no intention of doing so. Their production was by the Urals, far from Moscow. They had intentions of evacuating Moscow if necessary. It was a good political and morale boost, but not necessary for the war machine. All the Russians had to do was keep their Oil fields in Russian hands which explains why Hitler was not crazy. People keep hampering on that he should have listened to his Generals but he was not stupid. The Generals were flat out wrong this time. Germany should have advanced north and through the center, but only slight. The main thrust of the invasion should have been into Ukraine and into the Caucasus. Instead, the german army, under command of most Generals, advanced deep into Russia, ran out of oil, then complained when Hitler attempted to capture the oil fields after the Panzer divisions were literally unable to keep driving due to a lack of Oil. Furthermore, the only way to win against the USSR was to cut off their Oil supply which was being shipped through the Volga, which ran through Stalingrad. Make the connection. Stalingrad = Volga = No Oil for USSR War Machine. Caucasus = Oil for German War Machine = Blitzkrieg.
Long story short, Germany needed to attack the USSR in order to win World War 2. The capture of Moscow or Leningrad were never going to win the war. Stalingrad and the Caucasus did.
Extremely awesome references: