The British naval blockade "failed"?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Jenisch, May 11, 2012.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    Hello,

    I know Wik is not the most reliable source, but I just read this:

    After the German invasion, to administer the economic blockade of Germany, the British Ministry of Economic Warfare was established on September 3, 1939. By April 1940, Britain realized that blockade appeared not to be working because of "leaks" in blockade with two major "holes" at the Black Sea and Mediterranean provided by several neutral countries, including Italy. Reaction of neutral states to new Anglo-French blockade measures imposed against Germany tinder in late November 1939 - that all German goods of German origin or German ownership found on neutral ships would be seized in retaliation for illegal German use of mines - were harsh. All neutrals affected by the measures had protested and Germany was urging them to take joint countermeasures. Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Japan, and Iran have lodged protests with England. Furthermore, a spokesman of the Japanese Foreign Ministry threatened countermeasures in case the British action should damage important Japanese interests. The Brazilian Foreign Minister has stated that in all probability the Inter-American Neutrality Commission, which is meeting shortly in Rio, will decide to protest against the tightening of British blockade regulations.

    German

    I'm wondering what exactly happened, since I already read in many sources the contrary regarding the blockade. :shock:
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Economic blockade of Napoleon didn't work in 1800. Economic blockade of Germany didn't work in 1914. Why would anyone expect economic blockade of Germany to work during 1939?
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The British "blockade" of Napoleonic France was effective,certainly more so than the French counter measures,attempting to prevent her allies (or conquests) trading with the world's pre-eminent naval power.

    Germany wasn't starving in 1914?

    Steve
     
  4. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    maybe not in 1914 but by 1917-18 anybody who thinks the Germans weren't being affected (severely) by the blockade is wearing funny colored glasses.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Not during 1917 either. The economic blockade of Germany didn't become effective until 1919 when Entente ground forces prevented Germany from trading with neighboring nations such as Romania, Ukraine and Poland.
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Sorry,my typo. I did of course mean 1917.
    Steve
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Still wearing those glasses!

    Steve
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The WW2 blockade wasn't as effective as the WW1 blockade because in WW2 Germany had under it's control a great deal more territory, where crops could be havested, and millions of slave workers to work these fields.
    Where in WW1, they had a shortage of men to havest their own domestic crops, and had to import the shortfall.

    It's not so much a failure of the WW2 blockade measures, but that Germanys WW2 supply situation was a great deal different from WW1.
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    ive seen these claims about how the blockade of WWI were inneffective. revionist pro-german histories do try to claim no real effect of the blockade. I dont buy it. these are the basic facts

    By 1916, German imports were down to 55% of their prewar levels. Food imports were down by nearly 70%. Exports were downm to 30% of prewar levels. Calorific inteke for average germans were down to less than half what they had been in 1914.

    Germany suffered by far the worst from the outbreak of Spanish Influenza between Germany, Britain and France.

    However, whilst the blockade had enormous impacts on the war making potential during WWI, few Germans actually starved. It is this fact that the revisionists seize upon as proof that the blockade never worked.
     
  11. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Unquestionably, the naval blockade of WWII was not as effective as that of WWI. If nothing else the germans conquered most of Europe, and for a time were bale to loot and pillage these countries to get what they needed. There was nbever any danger of the germans starving, whilst they continued to win battles, though the non germans who had surrendered to them, thinking the Germans would honour their international committments to care for people of surredered countries were rudely shocked. Many in the occupied nations starvved because of the blockade, and the the fact that the germans deliberately left occupied nations short of food.

    The Royal Navy repeated its World War I strategy of instituting a blockade in the North Sea to cut off German shipping from international commerce. It was the need to blockade German shipping as well as to bottle up the German fleet that caused the Royal Navy to locate its main base at Scapp Flow. The British blockade of the North Sea involved mine fields and patroling the seas around Europe. this blockade served mostly a defensive measure, but it also was needed to stifle German trade and imports. From 1941, through to 1945 there was a steadily mounting toll on axis shipping, as even local coastal convoys were hunted down and destroyed eventually. For a time coastal traffic was not really affected, but overseas trade for germany was mpletely wrecked. From 1941 German shipping was steadily interdicted. About 1.5 million tons out of 4 million tons was sunk, much of it by marauding aircraft in the Baltic and North Seas. Normandy was denied over 40$% of its schedled supplies 1943-4 because nothing by then was getting through the channel by sea, and the french rail net was so badly gutted.

    After the fall of France, the German Navy rushed into the French Atlantic ports to build massive U-boat facilities. The British also had a smaller navy than in World War I. This made it impossible for the Royal Navy to bottle up the Germans as they had done in World War I. The U-boats thus for a time could run rampant. This was not the case for the German merchant marine, which from the very begining wa denied access to overseas markets.

    The British maritime blockade was effective because of technological advances. Radar and aerial patrol vessels made it impossible for the Germans to carry out maritime trade. This overall trade deficit was a major factor in downgrading the efficiency of german industry, such that their outputs in many areas were far less than they should have been

    Hitler was haunted by the memory of the collapse of the home front as a result of food shortages during World War I. He was determined to prevent this. The NAZI occupation autorities were ordered to loot the occupied coutries, especially the the East. NAZI occupation policies were brutal. One of their tasks was to seize food and ship it back to Germany. NAZI occupation policies involved looting the conquered countries by shipping food and other products back to Germany. Poland, Denmark, the Low Countries, and France all had important agricultural sectors which meant that food was not an immediate problem. In the East the looting was done ruthlessly. In the West is was more bureaucratic. The heavy reparations placed on France by the Franco German Armistice (June 1940) meant that the NAZIs could pillage France legally. The looting included both food and raw materials, but it was the the food shortages that the occupied peope felt most directly. The looting was dne with little concern for the subgegated peoples. In fact as the NAZIs planned to colonize large areas of the East and reduce the Slavic population, food shortages and starvation was a matter of state policy. The result was terrible food shortages and actual starvation. The NAZI looting led to a disaterous famine in Greece.

    Evidence that the world considered the blockade to be effective can be found in where shipping of occupied territories ran to after their countries were overrun....over 80% of neutral shipping escaped to Britain and was promptly used by them in their own war of survival
     
  12. psteel

    psteel Member

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    From what I recall of my history; the failure of the RN naval blockade in WW-I has more to do with the expectation that with AH/Germany cut off from its critical imports by Triple Entente; its war effort would grind to a halt in a matter of months [not years] bringing an end to hostilities. It was seen as the main reason the British invested so much in the Royal navy to complete the blockade against the central powers. Remember Germany was seen as up and coming power but in no way able to face down the combind powers of the Triple Entente powers. So when their war effort seemed to be uneffected by this blockade , that was termed a failure.

    Same thing happened in WW-II up to a point. Western Allied strategy was based on assumptions that the Maginote line would hold back the Germans for years while the allied powers spent two years mobilizing and bringing their armies up to offensive action. It was fully expected that the combined allied bomber offensive would "bomb Germany back to the stonage" allowing the renewed allied powers to mount a grand offensive and put an end to the war. When this had not happened by 1941 it was termed a failure.
     
  13. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    Reading better my source, the blockade was apparentely very effective. The Soviet Union supplying Hitler was the major "leak". The article contradicts itself, but in issence I think it's correct, because the Anglo-French were planning offensive actions against the Soviet Union, just because it was supplying Hitler. After the fall of France of course, all was abandoned.
     
  14. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #14 Jenisch, May 15, 2012
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
    Wages of Destruction, Adam Tooze, page 450:

    But, though the continental bloc could certainly satisfy both 'ideologi-cal' and 'pragmatic' criteria, the advocates of a long-term alliance withthe Soviet Union were never in a majority in Berlin and this too was asmuch for pragmatic as for ideological reasons. In the long term a genuinealliance would have involved an unacceptable degree of German depen-dence on the Soviets. As General Haider noted in his diary in December1940: 'Every weakness in the position of the Axis brings a push by theRussians. They cannot prescribe the rules for transactions, but theyutilize every opportunity to weaken the Axis position.' In a Eurasiancontinental bloc, it would be the central power, the Soviet Union, notJapan or Germany, that would ultimately occupy the dominant position.The Third Reich had no intention of slipping into the kind of humblingdependence that Britain now occupied in relation to the United States,mortgaging its assets and selling its secrets, simply to sustain the wareffort. That this was the direction in which Germany might be headedwas evident already in the spring of 1940. Just prior to the Germanoffensive in the West, Moscow demanded as part payment for its rawmaterial deliveries the construction of two chemicals plants in the SovietUnion, one for coal hydrogenation (synthetic fuel), the other to embodyIG Farben's revolutionary Buna process (synthetic rubber).

    The SovietUnion was to have full access to both the blueprints and the complexinstrumentation necessary to monitor the high-pressure reactions. Notsurprisingly, IG Farben balked and with the support of the German mili-tary the deal was blocked. But the fact that the Soviets could even makesuch demands indicates the seriousness of the German dilemma. Thehugely increased volume of trade needed to sustain Germany's block-aded Grossraum was bound to give the Soviet Union ever-increasingleverage.By the autumn of 1940, Germany's dependence on deliveries of rawmaterials, fuel and food from the Soviet Union was creating a positivelyschizophrenic situation. In trade negotiations, German machine tools 42.2

    were one of the means of settlement prized most highly by the Soviets.Such exports, however, were in direct conflict with the preparations of Germany's own armed forces for the invasion of the Soviet Union.Astonishingly, rather than interrupting the Soviet deliveries to prioritizethe Luftwaffe, Goering in early October 1940 ordered that, at least until11 May 1941, deliveries to the Soviet Union, and thus to the Red Army,should have equal priority with the demands of the Wehrmacht.

    Evenin the immediate prelude to operation Barbarossa, Germany could notafford to do without Soviet deliveries of oil, grain and alloy metals.The willingness to engage in such bizarre compromises reflected theincreasing concern in Berlin over the precarious situation of Germany'sraw material supplies.

    As the military-economic office of the Wehr-macht concluded at the end of October 1940: 'Current favourable rawmaterial situation (improved by stocks captured in enemy territory) will,in case of prolonged war and after consumption of existing stocks,re-emerge as bottleneck. From summer 1941 this is to be expected incase of fuel oil as well as industrial fats and oils.


    Given such statements, the naval blockade appears to have been much more effective than in WWI. The difference being the USSR, which at first was supplying Hitler, and later with it's invasion meant the Nazis could pillage much of the things they needed. But this don't take away the effectiveness of the blockade by itself.
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The blockade wasnt purely offensive either, it also served defensive purposes
     
  16. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    Yeah Parsifal.

    Other interesting excerpt of the same book, page 396:

    In July 1940, in a desperate bid to unhitch the Soviet Union from its pact with Germany, Churchill sent Stafford Cripps, his new ambassador in Moscow, to a meeting with the Soviet dictator. To Cripps, Stalin explained with chilling clarity the logic that had motivated his agreement with Hitler eleven months earlier. The Soviet aim had been to upset the balance of power in Europe and in this the Hitler-Stalin pact had succeeded brilliantly. When Cripps replied that the Soviet alliance withHitler had in fact destroyed any kind of balance in Europe and that the entire Continent was now threatened by German hegemony, Stalin snapped back: 'I am not so naive as to believe the German assurances that they have no desire for hegemony, but what I am convinced of is the physical impossibility of such hegemony, since Germany lacks the necessary seapower.'
     
  17. psteel

    psteel Member

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    Tooze prewar material is much better than his wartime material, other than the racial warfare that he examines very well and sheds valuable light on. His interpretation of German war time economics is dependent on a western military perspective of ‘economic based strategic warfare’ which ran counter to basic German strategic thinking based on operational maneuver.

    Nothing in the pre ‘Barbarossa’ time period was so ‘desperate’ that it could not have been resolved given a few more months of preparations by Hitler. Most of the effort seems to have been directed to deceiving Stalin about Hitler’s immediate intentions….which appear s to have succeeded. Everything else is pretty much ‘drama queen’ rhetoric since all this is based on Hitler’s cobbled-together ‘Blitzkrieg strategy’ in the first place. RN blockade had little to do with any of that and certainly not much impact on it either.
     
  18. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Hi peter

    Dont quite follow the preamble to this comment, but I would challenge that the RN blockade was not having an effect even at that early stage. There were certain imports that were simply unavailable in Europe, and for which there was a desperate need within Germany. Germany achieved a partial, if small compensation by the use of blockade runners at the beginning of the war. as the war preogressed the success of these blockade runner became less and less successful, though they were not entirely eliminated until the liberation of Paris.

    However blockade runners were really an expedient, and a drop in the ocean that could not offset the loss of income from overseas trade. This did have an effect on the ability and efficiency of the german economy, or more correectly the economies of German and occupied territories. The economy of Germany was indeed different to those of the western democracies, because it was able to preserve itself by artificail;ly altering the terms of trade with the territories it had occupied, so as to heavily favour that of germany. But there was a long term adverse effect arising from that....german survival as achieved at the cost of wrecking all the other economies of Europe under its control At least some of that economic demolition was due to the RN blockade.

    The other thing the blockade did was to inhibit coastal traffic. In western Europe this was particulalry true, with over 500000 tons of German shipping lost in 1941 alone. this kept supply and fortification construction in western europe on a constant drip feed, and inhibted the cvonstruction of the Atlantic wall. Not earth shattering, but an effect nevertheless.
     
  19. Tante Ju

    Tante Ju Banned

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    Allied naval blockade in WW2 had only marginal . There were a number of changes compared to WW2.

    Germans were prepeared for a blockade, they had experience for it from WW1. Advancements in chemical industry allowed for independence from overseas imports of exotic/important raw materials like rubber or oil. Agriculture was prepeared to make the country self sufficient before the war, and in addition plenty of supply could be obtained from occupied, agricultural rich countries (Poland, France). Large investments were made into synthetic chemical products. This was a correct and concious decision made before the war, even if it went against traditional economic considerations for maximum profit/complementing advantages in production. Also, unlike WW1, for a large part of WW2 most of Europe was either friendly to Germany or neutral. Their own economic capacity was unhindered by own war effort needs, and the only real trade partner due to the Axis blockade of England was effectively Germany, which had the purchasing power. Rumanian oil, Turkish chromium, Hungarian bauxite and foodstuff, Finnish nickel, Swedish iron ore was available for the Germans regardless of maritime trade. The USSR was a major supplier of strategic items, and after the conquest of much of the USSR its rich lands remained so regardless. Trading could be also persued through neutral countries as proxies, like ie. Spain, though this was limited during the war.

    For the above reason, a naval blockade was doomed to fail - Germany was simply not isolated from the rest of the European economy as it was in WW1. Shortages in critical supplies were only felt after the Germans effectively lost the war on the battlefields in 1944, and it prompted Finland, Turkey, Rumania to cease supplies for one reason or another.
     
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