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Could the USSR won WWII without the western allies


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#1 WHM

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 1254 PM

Recently, the current issue of Armchair General carried an article saying Marshall Zhukov was the man who won WWII. The article pointed out the bulk of the German forces were fighting in the east and the Soviets inflicted much higher casualties then did the wetern allies.

There have been debates as to whether the Germans could have defeated the Soviets, but none that I recall as to if the Soviets would have won if the Germans hadn't had to fight a two front war.

Lend lease has been pooh-poohed by the Soviets as having been of little use, but I remeber seeing (this forum?) that some 10% of the total Soviet tank park during the war was lend lease. Plus the bulk of their wheeled transport was provided by the west freeing up their factories to produce AFVs. Can't recall from where but I remember reading where a Soviet General, after viewing bombed cities in Germany as saying the second front was opened before 1944. Add to this the Luftwaffe being withdrawn to defend the Reich, 88s aiming at bombers instaed of plinking tanks, the diversion of manufacturing of U-boats instead of panthers and Tigers, and were the Soviets reaching the bottom of their manpower pool? If this is true wouldn't it have been possible the 25% of the German Army facing the west been a brake on the Soviets?

Question is, if the resources used to fight the west had been instead deployed in the east allowed the Germans to acheive at the very least a stalemate?
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#2 KingSargent

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 1740 PM

The Soviets could not have done what they did in 1944-5 without Lend-Lease. Period.

Tanks are the least of the Lend-Lease story. As you mentioned so many US trucks equipped the Red Army that the Russian word for 'tough' is 'Studebaker.' The Soviets could not have developed battlefield command ability without US radios. What radar they had was US and British. They may have made most of their tanks, but critical components could not have been made without certain rare materials sent by Lend-Lease. They build good airplanes and refined their own avgas, but the additives that made the avgas high-octane and gave the LaGGs and Yaks their performance came from the US - under Lend-Lease.

US food kept a lot of Russians from starving. Millions starved anyway, but the US food helped. We were feeding a bunch of other allies too, and after the war we fed our late enemies.

Given what Western aid did for the Soviets and assuming the Germans could fight one-front war, I think Germany would have won in Russia. Not taken over the whole USSR of course, but taken and occupied western Russia.

BTW - Zhukov was good, but he was by no means the greatest factor in the Soviet High Command - Stalin saw to that. A Zhukov with too much credit could be a political threat to Stalin - sort of like Eisenhower became a political threat to the Democratic machine after WW2... :D
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#3 Rick

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 1927 PM

No. The Soviet Union could not have won.
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#4 hammerlock

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 2203 PM

Depends on what you mean by help. If the germans only had the Soviets to fight, but the soviets still had lend-lease and were able to buy western goods. then yes but the war would lasted longer. But if by no help you no lend lease, no food or goods from the west then no. I also think the opposite is true, without the USSR the Allies would not of defeated Germany. It was the war in the east that used up german resourses, and pushed Hitler over edge. If Hitler had not of attacked Russia, we could still be some kind of cold war or post-cold war.
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#5 DougRichards

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 0056 AM

Recently, the current issue of Armchair General carried an article saying Marshall Zhukov was the man who won WWII. The article pointed out the bulk of the German forces were fighting in the east and the Soviets inflicted much higher casualties then did the wetern allies.

There have been debates as to whether the Germans could have defeated the Soviets, but none that I recall as to if the Soviets would have won if the Germans hadn't had to fight a two front war.

Lend lease has been pooh-poohed by the Soviets as having been of little use, but I remeber seeing (this forum?) that some 10% of the total Soviet tank park during the war was lend lease. Plus the bulk of their wheeled transport was provided by the west freeing up their factories to produce AFVs. Can't recall from where but I remember reading where a Soviet General, after viewing bombed cities in Germany as saying the second front was opened before 1944. Add to this the Luftwaffe being withdrawn to defend the Reich, 88s aiming at bombers instaed of plinking tanks, the diversion of manufacturing of U-boats instead of panthers and Tigers, and were the Soviets reaching the bottom of their manpower pool? If this is true wouldn't it have been possible the 25% of the German Army facing the west been a brake on the Soviets?

Question is, if the resources used to fight the west had been instead deployed in the east allowed the Germans  to acheive at the very least a stalemate?

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I think that we are forgetting Japan here as well. If Japan had moved west, into Mongolia and Siberia, instead of south and east against the USA and the colonial powers, the Soviet Union would have been much more hard pressed.

This scenario requires the western allies to stay out of the war, and a slightly higher level of co-operation between Axis partners.
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#6 Gabe

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 0127 AM

I suppose USSR could lose if we embargoed them. The point is, if we remained isolationist and simply sold them the war goods that would probably be enough for the Soviets to push the Germans out of their territory. You don't have to be a friend or ally to sell material to one side. Business is business. Sweden sold Britain much weapons without being a member of the Allies. And before the embargo went up on Japan, US supplied their empire with critical war material.
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#7 Lev

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 0600 AM

[..]As you mentioned so many US trucks equipped the Red Army that the Russian word for 'tough' is 'Studebaker.'


Probably because it was so tough for them to pronounce ;)

Given what Western aid did for the Soviets and assuming the Germans could fight  one-front war, I think Germany would have won in Russia. Not taken over the whole USSR of course, but taken and occupied western Russia.


Given that the germans were halted before lend-lease kicked in, russia -even pre-Ural russia- would still have been one tough nut to crack. They historically also failed on the three main strategic axis Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad, so what now? Do they ahistorically resume the advance on any of those three (assuming an awareness of the impact a lack of lend-lease is having on the soviet warmachine) or do they push for Kursk?

Certainly from a this perspective it seems that a lack of lend-lease will not directly aid the germans in winning.
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#8 arctic fox

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 1437 PM

There is no way Germany could have beaten USSR. 1941 was the best possible time to invade USSR and even then Germany had no chances of winning.

The only difference Western Allies or lend lease made, was that they made the war a bit shorter.
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#9 Nick Sumner

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 1538 PM

There is no way Germany could have beaten USSR. 1941 was the best possible time to invade USSR and even then Germany had no chances of winning.

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Can't agree entirely, your assume the Russians would keep fighting and maintain cohesion in all circumstances, that just isn't a completely safe assumption, the Germans beat the Russians in WW1 because the Russians threw in the towel, they came close in WW2 also. This is a really interesting article.

http://www2.warwick....rs/totalwar.pdf

Don't forget too that by 1945 Russian manpower reserves were running out, the funnel shape of eastern Europe allowed them to maintain frontage. The Germans were going down even harder but they were fighting a THREE front ground war in the west, east and Italy
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#10 KingSargent

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 1927 PM

Given that the germans were halted before lend-lease kicked in, russia -even pre-Ural russia- would still have been one tough nut to crack. They historically also failed on the three main strategic axis Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad, so what now? Do they ahistorically resume the advance on any of those three (assuming an awareness of the impact a lack of lend-lease is having on the soviet warmachine) or do they push for Kursk?

Certainly from a this perspective it seems that a lack of lend-lease will not directly aid the germans in winning.

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The topic is not just Lend-Lease, it is the Western Allies. The Germans did fail in 1941, but they were fighting in Africa and maintaining forces, especially U-boats and planes, against the UK. Africa was a sideshow, but some of the 1941 campaigns came close enough to German victories that those two Panzer division might have been the nudge that got the Germans to Leningrad, or to Kiev faster.

Half of the German Luftflotten were facing the West.

The U-boats would not have been much help against the USSR, but their fuel could. The German army couldn't use diesel vehicles because all the diesel fuel went to U-boats.

A state of peace in the West could (probably would) have allowed Germany to buy Western oil; result, no fuel shortages.

It is even possible that some Western powers might have joined Hitler in an anti-Communist crusade..... :P
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#11 Mk 1

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 1931 PM

Are we assuming that the Soviet Union looses ITS allies, but the Germans keep THEIRS?

Is the question a case of just the Soviets, facing just the Germans?

Remember, the Soviets weren't just fighting the bulk of the German army. They were also facing the the bulk of the armies of Hungary, Romania, and Italy (less the armored units), as well as the co-beligerent (not exactly allied) Finns and a division of Spaniards.

The Soviets managed to stop the Germans, and route the Romanians and Italians, prior to the major impacts of Lend-Lease or the distractions of the second front.

But without the mobility that U.S. mechanised logistics provided (trucks and locomotives), I expect the deep penetrating offensives which so characterized the Red Army in 1943-1945 would have been fewer and shallower in their reach. I also expect that losses would have been higher, as U.S. food, clothing, medicines, and commo all contributed to the effectiveness of factory workers and soldiers alike.

If the war continued on longer than it did historically, with even higher Soviet losses in the 1943 and 1944 operations, just how much trouble would the Soviets have had? I have the impression that the pool of available manpower they were drawing from was actually growing in 1943 and 44, and growing faster than their losses, due to their re-capturing of vast tracts of populated territory. But others may debate this point.

I think the Soviets would have turned the war around, as they historically did, even without Western aid. The valid question is at what cost, and whether the Soviet style of warfare, as historically practiced, would have been sustainable without western aid for long enough to achieve victory.

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#12 gewing

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 1943 PM

I'll vote for the USSR probably would have beat the Germans, but it would have been even bloodier. This would have introduced lots of other variables.


As a corollary, what would have happened if Hitler HADN'T invaded France? Make some kind of leveraged deal?

If he had gone after USSR without a western distraction, I also wonder if any of the Allies would have been on HIS side.
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#13 ShotMagnet

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 2136 PM

I think it depends on what 'without the Western Allies' means.

If by that it's meant 'no Allied involvement' then that would beg the question of what the Allied reaction would have been to the invasion of Poland, the Low Countries and France.

If from this presumption we assume that Germany invades Russia as the opening blow of what will become an alternate history of WWII then it should be mentioned that by blooding themselves first in Poland, France, et al, they also managed to weed out a lot of the deadweight in the Wehrmacht. I recall dimly reading that they cashiered something like 37 generals by the end of the French campaign. If this culling has not occurred beforehand (if we're assuming that Barbarossa starts WWII) then the impact of this deadwood should be taken into consideration.

If 'no Allied involvement' means only that the Allies didn't contribute combat units, but bent their will toward supplying the Russians then I think that the Russians will still win. I agree with the assertion that it was the infrastructure assets which seemed to help out the Russians the most (American telephone wire was apparently highly prized), but then I don't think that the Germans could do a lot to strangle the Russians without so pissing off the Allies that they find a need to join the fight. I'm envisioning here something roughly similar to the situation between the US and Germany in WWI, where the predations of U-boats (plus some 'help' from the British, eventually got the US into the fighting.

If the Allies don't involve themselves at all, Germany might be able to do it, but I have a hard time imagining the Germans getting very far before one or more of the Western Allies serves Germany notice.


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#14 arctic fox

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 0943 AM

Can't agree entirely, your  assume the Russians would keep fighting and maintain cohesion in all circumstances, that just isn't a completely safe assumption, the Germans beat the Russians in WW1 because the Russians threw in the towel, they came close in WW2 also.


I base my opinion on German capacity in 1941 and 1942.

1941 was, by coincidence, the best possible year for Germany to invade USSR. If Germany had invaded before or after 1941, the war would have been a lot harder for them.

The 1941 invasion got the best possible start, further emphasizing the good luck of invading in summer 1941, but it didn't matter, because Germany lacked strategical capacity to project into USSR. German invasion was doomed to stall in 1941, even with their huge victories, because of logistical realities: there was no way for Germans to either push more divisions or push fewer divisions further into USSR. They didn't just reach their limits, they went past them. It simply wasn't possible to have just one (for example towards Moscow) or two directions for the invasion: even spreading the invasion to three directions was asking too much - they still got swamped. The logistical situation was a total catastrophe and already in 1941 German forces were close to collapsing. Only Stalin's overly ambititious counter-attacks saved the Germans to get "another chance" in 1942.

1942 was the last chance the Germans got, and in my opinion in 1942 they got once again the best results they could have gotten, even if their loss was sealed in 1942. Had they not chosen South, they would have faced the unrecoverable defeat of 1943 just a year earlier. They got lucky for the last time.

It may actually have helped the Germans that they had some divisions at other fronts, because it took some weight off from their logistical system. But the number of divisions that were "diverted" to other fronts was so low that it didn't really make any difference. Soviets had huge free reserves left to send where they wished (and they did not wish to send them to South in 1942, thus making summer 1942 success possible for Germany, but instead chose to build up northern parts of the front so that they could finish German invasion for once and all when Germany would try to take Moscow - which she did not).

In my opinion the best the Germans could hope for, is less successfull 1941, so that they wouldn't advance so far past their capacity. With less frontage and less stress on logistical system, they might have put up a good defence for much longer. It might also caused them to mobilize their economy earlier. But of course they wanted to do their best to avoid both full mobilization and a defensive strategical situation, and both for good reasons, so it's not a very realistic scenario. Most likely they would have launched another overly ambitious invasion sooner or later, and would have stalled and lost just the same.

So in my opinion Soviets pretty much got the worst "in all circumstances" situation possible for 1941 and 1942, and they still finished the German invasion.

Germans got the best results they could hope for and they were still defeated dramatically.

Western Allies could have helped by having sound strategical doctrine in 1939. They had the tools to stop Germans by 1941, but lacked the brains. What Western Allieds did later in the war wasn't as helpful as it's often painted to be. I think rather than Western Allies helping out Soviets, it was more Soviets making compromises to help out snail-paced Western Allied invasion. I am putting it a bit extreme there, but just so to deliver a point.


This is a really interesting article.

http://www2.warwick....rs/totalwar.pdf

Don't forget too that by 1945 Russian manpower reserves were running out, the funnel shape of eastern Europe allowed them to maintain frontage. The Germans were going down even harder but they were fighting a THREE front ground war in the west, east and Italy

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Thanks for the link. I didn't read it yet, but I will read it later.

I am well aware of Soviet manpower difficulties later in war, but, frankly, I don't think it matters. In practice Germans lost the war already in 1941 and they were more or less doomed to lose it in 1941. What followed was just a logical conclusion and there was no way for Germans to prevent it. All they could do was to delay it.

Could they delay it so much that USSR would run out of steam? I don't think they could, but I would like to read some scenarios that show how they could.


If German invasion of USSR was given another run, I find it very likely that Germany would do much worse than they did.

What comes to Western Allies and Soviet late war manpower difficulties, I think that Western Allies actually made the situation worse for Soviets, because Soviets had to rush operations after Normady to help out Western Allies, which caused higher attrition than would have otherwise been necessary.

Edited by arctic fox, 29 August 2005 - 0947 AM.

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#15 LeoTanker

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 0945 AM

As a corollary, what would have happened if Hitler HADN'T invaded France? Make some kind of leveraged deal?

If he had gone after USSR without a western distraction, I also wonder if any of the Allies would have been on HIS side.

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Hopefully France and GB would have used the "pece" in western europe to build upp their strenght and finally have launched a surpriseattack on Germany when the Wermacht had advanced deep enoghth in to the USSR to be unable relocate their units quick enoughth too meet the new treth.

That is, if Nevile Chamberlain wasn´t still in charge in the GB. Im sure he even might have been tempted to join the nazis to fight the Soviets.
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#16 Daniel Papp

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 1356 PM

My favorite lend-lease item is the propellants and explosives. Was mentioned here before, that the German offensive run over about 80% of soviet explosive&propellant production. How could they fight after they run out of ammo, and cannot shoot back?

Lend-lease also amounted about 15-20% of Soviet warplane inventory.
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#17 Unreal John

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 1535 PM

As you mentioned so many US trucks equipped the Red Army that the Russian word for 'tough' is 'Studebaker.'

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My father, who speaks the language, disputes this. It means "well built." He has heard a girl in sunbathing attire referred to as "a real Studebaker", and not because she showed signs of having gone through the Soviet Olympic hormone augmentation program, either.

On the subject of Lend Lease, over 60% of all the telephone wire used in the USSR in the war from the USA. Several memoirs have noted that given a choice, combat engineers would use American wire exclusively, because the insulation was so bad on the local product.
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#18 Detonable

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 1316 PM

I think people do not entirely understand how the German Army fought in 41 and 42. The Germans had Luftwaffe observers overhead in Fiesler Storchs, and the army did as well. In addition, there were reconnaisance elements, forward of the main army, on the ground. And, there were numerous liason personnel on the ground to call in airstrikes. With overwhelming air superiority, they could intervene decisively with the Stuka, twin engined bombers, and Me-110s at selected points.

Here are some production figures from David Glantz (G), "When Titans Clashed", and from the Oxford Companion to the Second World War. Note that the Soviet production figures occurred with the US feeding much of their workforce, as well as providing telephones, locomotives, railroad cars, machine tools, raw materials, and specialty steels. German production reflects considerable losses due to bombing in 1944, and, also reflects the lack of chrome and tungsten from countries such as Turkey and Portugal. These countries were persuaded not to supply Germany by the presence of the British and American navies.

1942
Tanks
USSR (24,500 (G), 24,446) USA (23,884) Germany (9,300)
Aircraft
USSR (21,700 (G), 25,436) USA (48,000) Germany (15,409)

1943
Tanks
USSR (24,100 (G), 24,089) USA (29,497) Germany (19,800)
Aircraft
USSR (29,900 (G), 34,845) USA (86,000) Germany (24,807)

1944
Tanks
USSR (29,000 (G), 28,963) USA (17,565) Germany (27,300)
Aircraft
USSR (33,200 (G), 40,246) USA (96,000) Germany (39,807)

If we assume that about half of US production is dedicated to fighting the Germans, we see that they are swamped during 1942 and 1943 in tanks and particularly in aircraft. The German aircraft - Stukas, Heinkels, Me-110s, Storchs - were easy pickings for fighters. As soon as the Germans no longer had air superiority, such as in the Caucasus and North Africa in 1942, they started going backwards. And, clearly, the British and American air forces were the decisive factor in the demise of the Luftwaffe. Soviet aircraft losses to the Germans in 1942 were enormous, and Soviet production was only slightly greater than German production. According to Glantz, during the battle of Kursk, the Germans lost fewer aircraft on the eastern front than on the Western front.

Without the drain of forces to North Africa and Western Europe the Germans would likely have interrupted Soviet oil production in late 1942. How long they could have remained in the Caucasus is another story, but they would have cut off 90% or so of Soviet oil production for a while. If the Soviets decide to sabotage the Grozny oil fields they same way they did in Maikop, quite a bit of production would have been lost for years. The Germans produced as much coal and steel (and much more aluminum) than the Soviet Union, the major production advantage of the Soviet Union was oil.

The USSR had a huge production superiority in artillery over the Germans, maybe by more than a factor of five. And, they produced more infantry weapons. So they could always blow a hole through German defenses. However, without the huge numbers of American 4-wheel-drive trucks and jeeps they received, its unlikely that they could have pulled off many significant encirclements, particularly if the Germans have air superiority. By 1944, the Germans had pretty much reached production parity in tanks and aircraft with the Soviet Union. Its doubtful that they would have been pushed very far back.

I don't understand why 1941 was the "best" year for the Germans to invade Russia. If they had waited until 1942 who's to say that Stalin wouldn't have killed the other half of his officers.

Edited by Detonable, 30 August 2005 - 1322 PM.

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#19 KingSargent

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 1345 PM

  If we assume that about half of US production is dedicated to fighting the Germans, we see that they are swamped during 1942 and 1943 in tanks and particularly in aircraft. 

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Percentage of US war output before 1945 was about 85% sent against Germany whether in US hands or Lend-Lease. The most expensive projects in history to that time were the B-29 and the A-bomb, in that order. Both were originally intended to be used on Germany.
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#20 larrikin

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 2137 PM

Looking at the increaased German production figures in that way also ingnores the effect of the bombing campaign against German industry and infrastructure. Many people criticise the strategic bombing campaign by pointing out that German production increased, but neglect the fact that every body else's production also increased, and by a much greater margin.

The question should be "how much further would Gremany's production have increased without the strategic bombing campaign?".
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