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assault guns were being shipped to the battle front every thirty days. During the first ten months of 1944 the Army Ordnance Directorate accepted 45,917 trucks, but truck losses during the same period numbered 117,719. The German automotive industry had pushed the production of trucks up to an average of 9,000 per month, but in September production began to drop off, a not too important recession in view of the looming motor fuel crisis.


The German railway system had been under sporadic air attacks for years but was still viable. Troops could be shuttled from one fighting front to another with only very moderate and occasional delays; raw materials and finished military goods had little waste time in rail transport. In mid-August the weekly car loadings by the Reichsbahn hit a top figure of 899,091 cars.


In September Hitler had no reason to doubt, if he bothered to contemplate the transport needed for a great counteroffensive, that the rich and flexible German railroad and canal complex would prove sufficient to the task ahead and could successfully resist even a coordinated and systematic air attack-as yet, of course, untried.


In German war production the third quarter of 1944 witnessed an interesting conjuncture, one readily susceptible to misinterpretation by Hitler and Speer or by Allied airmen and intelligence. On the one hand German production was, with the major exceptions of the oil and aircraft industries, at the peak output of the war; on the other hand the Allied air effort against the German means of war making was approaching a peak in terms of tons of bombs and the number of planes which could be launched against the Third Reich. But without the means of predicting what damage the Allied air effort could and would inflict if extrapolated three or six months into the future, and certainly without any advisers willing so to predict, Hitler might reason that German production and transport, if wisely husbanded and rigidly controlled, could support a major attack before the close of 1944. Indeed, only a fortnight prior to the briefing of 16 September Minister Speer had assured Hitler that German war stocks could be expected to last through 1945. Similarly, in the headquarters of the Western Allies it was easy and natural to assume the thousands of tons of bombs dropped on Germany must inevitably have weakened the vital sections of the German war economy to a point where collapse was imminent and likely to come before the end of 1944.


Hitler's optimism and miscalculation, then, resulted in the belief that Germany had the material means to launch and maintain a great counteroffensive, a belief nurtured by many of his trusted aides. Conversely, the miscalculation of the Western Allies as to the destruction


[2] The results of the numerous joint intelligence studies undertaken immediately after World War II on the relation between German production and the Allied air offensive are well summarized in the third volume of the official Air Forces series, Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate eds., "The Army Air Forces in World War II," vol., III, Europe: ARGUMENT to V-E Day, January 1944 to May 1945 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 195). See also MS # P-059, Tank Losses (Generalmajor Burkhart Mueller-Hillebrand); K. O. Sauer, Effects of Aerial Warfare on German Armament Production (T.I. 341, M.I.F. 3); United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS), Military Analysis Division, The Impact Of the Allied Air Effort On German Logistics (Washington, 1947).