Why Were They Beaten?

Dr Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht, former German finance minister: "Germany lost the war the day it started. Your bombers destroyed German production, and Allied production made the defeat of Germany certain."

Generalleutnant Adolf Galland, Chief of Fighters, GAF: "In my opinion, it was the Allied bombing of our oil industries that had the greatest effect on the German war potential. Even our supplies for training new airmen were severely curtailed — we had plenty of planes from the autumn of 1944 on, and there were enough pilots up to the end of that year, but lack of petrol didn't permit the expansion of proper training to the air force as a whole.

"In the African campaign and in Sicily and Italy, Allied successes were largely due to Allied air superiority. In my opinion, strategic bombing never forced any great change in German strategy and planning until after the opening of the invasion. Then, disorganization of German communications in the west by strategic bombing caused withdrawal to the German frontier. In the last two months of the war, the crippling of the German transport system brought about the final collapse."

General Jahn, Commander in Lombardy: "The attacks on the German transport system, coordinated with the serious losses in the fuel industry, had a paralyzing effect not only on the industries attacked but on all other industries as well."

Generaloberst Heinz Guderian, former Chief of Staff, German ground forces, and Inspector General of armored units: "Lack of German air superiority in Normandy led to complete breakdown of German net of communications. The German Air Force was unable to cope with Allied air superiority in the West."

General der Infanterie Georg Thomas, military chief of the German office of Production: "Bombing alone could not have beaten Germany, but without bombing the war would have lasted for years longer."

General der Flieger Hans-Georg von Seidel, Commander-in-Chief, Luftflotte 10: "I had no first-hand experience in the matter, but it is my opinion that without disruption of German communications, the invasion would have been a failure.
"The decisive factor in the German defeat was the disruption of German transport communications by Allied air power."

General Feldmarschall Albert Kesselring, Commander-in-Chief in the West, succeeding von Rundstedt, and formerly Commander-in-Chief in Italy: "Dive-bombing and terror attacks on civilians, combined with the heavy bombing, proved our undoing.
"Allied air power was the greatest single reason for the German defeat."

Generaloberst von Vietinghoff, Supreme Commander in Southwest (Italy): "Insofar as it is possible to judge from Italy, it is generally recognized that Allied air attacks (on the aircraft and fuel industries) were extremely successful. This is especially true with reference to attacks on the fuel industry, which by the end of the war proved to be the decisive factor."

Oscar Henschel, leading German industrialist, sole builder of Tiger Tanks: "Bombing caused our production figures to drop considerably. The Henschel factories produced only 42 Tiger Tanks (Tiger Royal) in February 1945 instead of the 120 they had been ordered to build.
"Allied attacks of September, 1944, were the most effective, I believe. If the bombers had kept up their attacks on my plants for two or three successive days, they would have been put out of commission for months."

The director of Germany's steel combine: "If you had started bombing a year later, the Westwall would never have been pierced.
"The virtual flattening of the great steel city of Dusseldorf, Germany's Pittsburgh, contributed at least 50 percent of the collapse of the German war effort."

The general manager of Junkers in Italy: "The attacks on the ball-bearing industry were an unqualified success and disorganized Germany's entire war production. I am surprised, however, that such attacks did not come earlier, when Germany's whole output was centered in two centers, Schweinfurt and Friedrichshaven.
"The Allied attacks on German lines of communication were even more effective than the bombing of factories. Railway traffic was worst hit as due to the increasing shortage of petrol, the roads were being less used."

Christian Schneider, manager of Leuna Works, one of Germany's largest synthetic gasoline and oil plants: "Up until a week ago (middle of April 1945), the Leuna plant was still operating, turning out a pitifully thin trickle of fuel. The output was so small compared with its capacity potential that production officials had difficulty plotting it on a chart. The 8th Air Force twice knocked out the plant so that the production was nil for a period of 15 days, and once the RAF did the same. Once after the attacks started, the plant got back to 70 per cent capacity production for a period of 10 days. Another attack, and the plant got back to 50 per cent. But from then on. it never got more than a mere drop in comparison to its capacity."

Alfred Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, leading German armament maker: "Allied air attacks left only 40 per cent of the Krupp works able to operate now. These plants of mine, and German industry as a whole, were more hampered by lack of speedy and adequate transportation facilities since the beginning of 1943, than by anything else.
"The Allies, from their point of view, made a great mistake in failing to bomb rail lines and canals much earlier. Transport was the greatest bottleneck in production. Plants can and were dispersed, but the Reichsbahn couldn't put its lines underground."

This article was originally published in the December. 1945, issue of Flying magazine, vol 37, no 6, pp 57-58.
Photos credited to AAF.
A PDF of this article includes photos of bomb damage to a U-boat pen and a bombed-out city.