Strategic Air Attack on the German oil Industry

Germans used less than one fifteenth as much oil per person in 1936 as was being consumed in the United States. Efforts to make Germany self-sufficient were already under way in 1936, but more than six tenths of the nation's oil was still imported, mostly from the western hemisphere; the Reich's own fields supplied only 7 percent of the country's requirements, and the infant synthetic oil industry then supplied only about 30 percent.

Hitler harnessed industry to the government this deficiency. Existing governmental machinery was expanded, new agencies were created, and various industry and trade associations were turned into semigovernmental bodies. The brown coal producers, for example, forced to combine to form the Braunkohle Benzin A. G. (BRABAG), which built several synthetic oil plants. Expansion of production facilities also was encouraged by import duties - the tariff on gasoline rose to 30 cents per in 1937 - and the government contracted to buy aviation gasoline and aviation gasoline blending agents at guaranteed prices. Thus, at first private capital was induced to finance Hitler's grandiose plans, and government credit was made available later.

Self-Sufficiency Program

The government encouraged both exploration and exploitation of German fields to obtain more crude. At the same time, a tremendous synthetic oil industry, based partly on bituminous coal but mainly on brown coal, was developed. For a while the use of such substitute fuels as alcohol, benzol and other coal tar products was also encouraged, but this did not help greatly in the drive for self-sufficiency. Alcohol and benzol, moreover, were war materials. Before the war there was apparently no attempt to curtail civilian consumption, but restrictions were imposed when the war began, and tightened as Germany's plight became more desperate.

Crude Production. The stimulus of subsidies in addition to substantial import duties more than tripled exploratory drilling between 1933 and 1937. No important new fields were found, but crude production in Germany rose from 230,000 tons in 1932 to a peak of about 1,000,000 tons in 1940. This production came mainly from well-established areas in northwestern Germany. Anschluss with Austria gave the Nazis access to additional producing areas, and discovery of the Prinzendorf field in the Vienna Basin enabled Austria to produce crude at a rate of 1,100,000 tons a year - 400,000 more than the Germans had anticipated-by the end of 1942. German and Austrian production together, however, never exceeded 2,000,000 tons in one year, and Germany needed four times that much.

Synthetic Production. None of the crude oils available yielded aviation grade gasoline, so the Germans counted on their synthetic oil industry not only to make up for the inadequate quantity of their crude oil, but also to meet their requirements for aviation fuel. The Nazi program called for greater production by both the Bergius hydrogenation and the Fischer-Tropsch processes. The former was emphasized, however, because it was the only process by which large quantities of aviation gasoline could be produced. Moreover, it was better suited to the production of synthetic liquid fuels from brown coal (the only raw material available in some parts of Germany), and it was owned by the influential I.G. Farbenindustrie.

The expansion of indigenous liquid fuel production projected in the four-year plan is summarized in Table 2. This plan, for which Herman Goering was made responsible, was conceived in 1936, formally approved on 27 May 1937, and revised many times later.

The High Cost of Synthetics

Gasoline produced from coal by either the Bergius hydrogenation or the Fischer-Tropsch process costs from four to five times as much as gasoline obtained from natural petroleum. From 8 to 10 tons of brown coal, or 4 to 5 tons of bituminous coal, are needed to make a single ton of gasoline. Fifteen times as much steel is required for synthetic oil plants as for crude oil refineries, and the comparative amount of labor necessary is almost equally staggering.

The Germans continued, nevertheless, to extend their plans for synthetic production. The four-year plan gave way in July, 1938, to the Karin Hall plan, which placed more emphasis on preparations for war. Existing plants and refineries produced about 3,700,000 tons of oil products in 1938; the new plan called for production of 11,000,000 tons annually by the beginning of 1944, and estimated that this would take 4,500,000 tons of steel, or 0.62 to per additional ton of annual capacity. This estimate, moreover, probably did not cover the steel needed to mine the coal from which the oil was to be produced.

Diversion of steel and labor to the production of tanks, submarines, and other materiel curtailed and delayed the oil program, but deliveries of steel for the oil projects, between 1 July 1937 and 1 April 1944, were about 4,380,000 tons. This amount of steel would have sufficed build a battle fleet four times as big as the U. S. Navy was in January, 1940.

Table 2
Planned Production of Liquid Fuels (Gasoline, Diesel Oil, and Fuel Oil) Under German Four-Year Plan of 1936-37

(Thousands of Metric Tons)


19361937193819391940
Hydrogenation6228579531,8982,732
Fisher-Tropsch8117545686693
Total synthetic6309741,4982,5843,425
Refining indigenous crude*160160160160160
Alcohol, benzol, tar distillation, etc.1,0601,0611,0971,1321,162
Total1,8502,1952,7553,8764,747

* The crude was worked up to produce maximum lubricating oils rather than liquid fuels. The four-year plan shows that about 150,000 tons per year of lubricanting oils and 175,000 tons of special napthas were also to be refined from indigenous crude. As subsequent tables show, Germany was able to push her crude production far above the figures set in these early plans

The Manpower Requirements

The Karin Hall plan estimated that 57,600 construction workers would be needed for oil program by 1 July 1939 and 1 October 1939 onward. Requirements by end of 1941 were estimated by the office of the Commissioner General for the Chemical Industry at 135,000. But such numbers were never obtained. When the war began, only 35,000 construction workers were being used to build oil facilities. This number was more than doubled by mid-1941, however, and employment of construction workers on oil projects reached a of 85,000 in the spring of 1943.

The number of workers engaged in operating and maintaining the oil plants was 34,000 in June, 1938. The Karin Hall plan called for 6,600 additional operating personnel in mid-1939, increased to 66,000 by the second half of 1942.

In September, 1944, according to a by the Economic Group of the Fuel 20,000 persons were employed in crude production 14,500 in crude refining, 89,200 in the synthetic industry, and 13,100 in coal tar distillation -a total of 136,800. This estimate did include miners, and probably omitted workers. Hence, some 200,000 workers probably engaged in the production of oil in many. In the United States, about 270,000 sons were employed in drilling, producing, refining oil in 1939, but this country's production then was more than twenty times the peak 8,600,000 tons per year which the attained shortly before the strategic bombers began to smash up their plants.

The Lag in Construction

Germany's economy was strained increasingly for labor and. steel to supply the war machine with liquid fuels. Men and material were needed simultaneously for many other projects. The oil industry's requirements, moreover, were especially burdensome on the steel industry because alloy steels and special forgings constituted a substantial part of the tonnage needed. Making the large high-pressure vessels for the hydrogenation plants was a job comparable to manufacturing naval guns. Steel deliveries began to lag as early as 1938 and were 130,000 tons short of allocations when the war from then on had to be cut and frequently.

The oil industry, moreover, could not obtain construction workers to put in the steel delivered. It was allocated 275,000 tons of steel in the third quarter of 1941 and got 180,000 tons; its allocation for the next quarter 290,000 tons and it received 170,000 tons. To make effective use of the steel that was actually delivered, the industry needed at least 90,000 of the 135,000 construction workers it had been promised for each quarter, but it actually had only 71,000 workers in the third quarter of 1941 and only 65,000 in the last quarter.

Even before Germany went to war, the expansion program was far behind schedule. Several plants (Wanne Eickel, Schwarzheide, Welheim, and the Scholven extension) were completed as planned in 1938, but others (including Luetzkendorf Fischer, Hoesch, and Essener Verein) missed the deadline by from three to six months. The next year, every project except the Gelplant and the iso-octane plant at Oppau had been delayed from one to nine months. The Luetzkendorf hydrogenation plant was thirteen months behind. Boehlen III and Zeitz I and II, scheduled for completion in December, 1939, and May, 1940, respectively, lagged from 11 to 16 months.

The Effort to Store Up Fuel

Along with these efforts to increase production, the Germans planned in 1938 to build up a stockpile of nearly 6,000,000 tons of liquid by 1 April 1943. Table 3 gives details of this plan. In addition, each large synthetic plant was to have about 100,000 tons of buffer storage capacity so that transportation difficulties would not halt its operation.

TABLE 3

GERMANY'S 1938 PLAN FOR STORAGE OF LIQUID FUELS AND LUBRICANTS

(Thousands of Metric Tons)

Type of StorageAviation GasolineMotor GasolineDiesel OilFuel OilLubricating OilTotal
Government -owned1,500500750-1502,900
Industry-owned-1000250--1,250
Naval Storage---1,800-1,800
Total1,5001,5001,0001,8001505,950

Air Force Plans. The Luftwaffe masked its war preparations behind a company formed in the early 1930's and deceptively named the Wirtschafts Forschungsgesellschaft, or Economic Research Association. This firm, better known as WIFO, was created partly to buy and store secret reserves of fuel and lubricants for the Luftwaffe, and was in charge of testing, blending, storing, and distributing gasoline and oil to the air forces after Germany went to war. WIFO built a great many storage depots, mostly underground and well scattered throughout the Reich. A new war production plan made late in 1938 refers to a "further increase" in government storage to 4,000,000 tons.

Army Plans. The German army chose to rely largely on the industry's facilities, and built only, about 50,000 tons of storage of its own.

Industry Storage. It was planned that industry should increase its stocks to 1,000,000 tons of gasoline and 250,000 tons of diesel oil.

Navy Plans. Naval storage space, according to 1938 construction plans, was to have been sufficient for 1,650,000 tons by April, 1941, and for as much as 2,000,000 tons later since "stocks of fuel and diesel oils can be regarded as available raw material reserves for hydrogenation." A statement prepared for the British Admiralty by Admiral Adam gives the German navy's storage capacity on I July 1944 as 2,114,000 tons, mostly underground, and distributed as shown in Table 4.

TABLE 4

GERMAN NAVY STORAGE CAPACITY FOR OIL AS OF 1 JULY 1944

(Thousands of Metric Tons)


Underground Storage TanksSurface TanksTotal
North Sea area1,4192941,713
Baltic area33737374
Interior27-27
Total1,7833312,114

The total amount of storage space actually available when the war started is not known, but a German document shows that by 12 December 1943 WIFO could store only 850,000 tons of gasoline and the army's facilities would hold only slightly more than 50,000 tons. Hence, although naval storage space increased according to plan, Germany's total storage capacity was never as great as contemplated.

The Failure to Fill the Tanks

The Nazis, however, were not able to fill the tanks that they had built. The importers and marketers of oil products, controlled mainly by American and Allied interests, resisted the demands from Berlin that they increase their stocks in Germany beyond their reasonable requirements. Increasing international tension, foreign exchange difficulties, and the complexity of "clearing" and barter agreements made the importers cautious. They kept their German customers on a hand-to-mouth basis in the period immediately preceding the war, and trade stocks were not large when Hitler thrust into Poland.

WIFO's efforts to accumulate aviation gasoline were hampered by the limited world supply of such gasoline. The Nazis, moreover, did not dare go about this stockpiling too openly. Nevertheless, by undercover purchases over a period of years, WIFO built up a 480,000-ton reserve of aviation gasoline. This was six times as much as was needed for civilian flying in German in 1938, and equaled nearly one third of America's total production of aviation gasoline in 1940, but it was far from being enough.

In July, 1939, an official German review of the fuel situation showed that Hitler hand only:

480,000 tons of aviation gasoline, enough for 3.1 months of war;

350,000 tons of motor gasoline, enough for 1.9 months of war;

760,000 tons of marine diesel and enough for 4.8 months of war;

308,000 tons of auto diesel oil, enough for 2.2 months of war.

The whole stockpile was only 1,898,000 tons, and Germany had consumed more than that amount in a single peacetime year. With such low stocks, Hitler obviously was poorly prepared for a long, global war.

Even as late as October, 1938, the Germans apparently had not expected to need reserves of oil until much later. A captured plan dated 30 January 1939 shows that the Luftwaffe then foresaw a relatively small increase (between 270,000 and 420,000 tons per year) in its consumption of aviation gasoline in the autumn, presumably to cover the Polish campaign. A tremendous increase, to 2,600,000 or even 5,200,000 tons per year, was not scheduled to occur until 1 October 1940, when the real war presumably was to have begun.

Embroilment in a global war a full year before the Nazi war lords were ready for it prevented them from carrying out attacks with their aerial attacks with the savagery they envisioned. Hitler gambled, obviously, on Britain's reluctance to fight. But he may have banked, too, on the surprisingly low fuel cost of blitz attacks.

Productive Capacity in 1939-1940

Germany's crude and synthetic oil plants were producing about 4,050,000 tons of oil products per year when war broke out. Figure 13 shows the location of Germany's principal producing areas and each area's production during the war. Figure 14 (If you'd like a larger version of this figure contact me) shows the location of refining and synthetic oil facilities, including some of which were not completed until the war was nearly over.

Refineries. The total capacity of Germany's refineries, about 5,000,000 tons annually (a good part of which was merely topping capacity), was much more than sufficient for crude produced in Germany and imports from the Balkans. This surplus served later, however, as a cushion against the effects of aerial attacks on oil refineries. About 29 percent of this capacity was deep in Germany, mainly in the vicinity of Vienna and the Protectorate, but 71 percent (2,268,000 tons per year in the Hamburg area, 40,000 tons at Hanover, and 780,000 tons scattered through northern and western Germany) was within the reach of French and British bombers.

Synthetic Plants. Nearly 1,280,000 tons of sync oil products were produced in Germany in 1939. When Poland was invaded, seven large hydrogenation plants and seven Fischer-Tropsch plants were operating. At least four more hydrogenation plants, including a large one at Poelitz, and two more Fischer plants were under construction. The Poelitz plant was scheduled to reach full production in the course of the next year. During the "phoney" stage of the war, between September, 1939, and May, 1940, Germany's synthetic plant capacity was increased from roughly 1,500,000 tons to about 1,900,000 annually.

Table 5 shows the capacity of the synthetic plants in September, 1939, and May, 1940, the ultimate capacity of plants designed by the end of 1939, and the ultimate capacity of all projected plants.

Table 5 indicates that about a fourth of Germany's synthetic production when the war began took place in western Germany, within easy bombing reach of British and French Air Forces. Enlargement of these facilities continued, nevertheless, and their ultimate capacity was 37 percent of the total. This disdain for the enemy's proximity probably resulted from the Germans' confidence in the Luftwaffe's ability to protect them. They did not decide to build the large synthetic plants in the East until long after they to war.

Imports of finished products, mainly from Romania, brought the total annual production available to the Germans at the start of the war to about 5,100,000 tons. The next spring, when they brought the "phoney" period to an end, the completion of more synthetic plants had raised this figure to 5,500,000.

TABLE 5

GERMAN SYNTHETIC OIL CAPACITY IN OPERATION OR UNDER CONSTRUCTION AT OUTBREAK OF WAR

(Thousands of Metric Tons per Year)


Ultimate Capacity

Capacity as of Sep 39Capacity as of May 40Plants designed prior to warAll Plants
Western GermanyHydrogenation2463861,0141,065
Fischer-Tropsch144270365365
Total
3906561,3791,430
Central GermanyHydrogenation9811,0181,4881,491
Fischer-Tropsch96138182182
Total
1,0771,1561,6701,673
Eastern GermanyHydrogenation
366401,495
Fischer-Tropsch
64040
Total

426801,535
TotalHydrogenation1,2271,4403,1424,051
Fischer-Tropsch240414587587
Grand Totals
1,4671,8543,7294,638

Further Gains During the War

The German oil industry was increasingly productive until the spring of 1944, when the strategic bombing began. The increase was fairly steady-about 900,000 tons per year-and production in the first quarter of 1944 was at a rate of 8,000,000 tons per year.

Starting in 1940, Allied airmen bombed Germany's oil production facilities occasionally, but less than 6,000 tons of bombs were dropped on them prior to 1944, and the effects on over-all production were scarcely discernible.

Table 6 shows the production of each major product and the principal sources each year from 1940 until the war ended. Figure 15 shows total production according to sources.

Table 6

German Production of Petroleum Products

(Thousands of Metric Tons per Year)


Aviation GasolineMotor GasolineDiesel OilFuel OilLubricating OilsKeroseneLiquefied GasesMisc. Products #Total
1940
Crude Refining*1813520220745112443131,454
Hydrogenation612299365514
16941,504
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
223131
6
5237449
Coal tar distillation
24834701

34612
Alcohol
80





80
Benzol14364




175553
Total6441,1257817284621242255634,652
1941
Crude Refining*1115728719256510842881,612
Hydrogenation847319620786
226112,107
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
228119
11
6848474
Coal tar distillation
26885412

35692
Alcohol
60





60
Benzol31360




206597
Total8891,1501,1148115841082985885,542
1942
Crude Refining*71743775665715253011,729
Hydrogenation1,34029272212217
262172,772
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
22897
8
5261446
Coal tar distillation
35896691

36830
Alcohol
6





6
Benzol40302




243585
Total1,3871,0371,2858476831523196586,368
1943
Crude Refining*41504295376718253431,933
Hydrogenation1,74538678713535
323203,431
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
25499
15
6056484
Coal tar distillation
3494820


37985
Alcohol
18





18
Benzol35320




302657
Total1,7841,1621,4091,0088171823887587,508
1944
Crude Refining*3145466666141242351,653
Hydrogenation9962933186824
1761,875
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
16062
10
74306
Coal tar distillation
36365753
3521,533
Alcohol
Benzol45
45
Total9991,0069118876481248375,412
1940 First Quarter@
Crude Refining*810818018439613242241,236
Hydrogenation424324324484
12041,248
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
176124
8
4432384
Coal tar distillation
2476480


40620
Alcohol
36





36
Benzol48344




136528
Total4801,0127047124081321684364,052
1944 First Quarter@
Crude Refining*41724443684416883722,048
Hydrogenation2,01255260415644
396163,780
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
264104
12
4880508
Coal tar distillation
3292732


44900
Alcohol
36





36
Benzol
376




328704
Total2,0161,4321,2449249001684528407,976
1945 First Quarter@
Crude Refining*
172504




676
Hydrogenation4490100


6
240
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
4620


6
72
Coal tar distillation
4896




144
Alcohol
72





72
Benzol4128





132
Total485567200001201,336
* Includes products from imported crude and unfinished oils
# Includes solvent naphthas, asphalt, and paraffin
@ Yearly rate

Production from Crude. Crude oil production in Germany declined, but, as shown in Table 7, this was offset by Austria's production, which rose sharply as a result of the discovery of new fields.

TABLE 7

GERMAN CRUDE OIL PRODUCTION 1940-1944

(Metric Tons per Year)


Old GermanyAustriaTotal
19401,052,000413,0001,465,000
1941927,000*635,0001,562,000
1942817,000*869,0001,686,000
1943776,000*1,107,0001,883,000
1944, 1st quarter (annual rate)768,000*1,195,0001,963,000

* Includes Pechelgronn from 1 July 1941 at the rate of about 60,000 metric tons per year.

The refining capacity in Austria was increased, partly with equipment from France, and some of the surplus refining capacity in northern Germany was utilized by transporting Austrian crude to the Reich. The German's also refined about 800,000 tons per year of imported crude, and partly finished products, principally from Hungary and Roumania. The output of all refineries rose from 1,450,000 tons in 1940 to 2,050,000 tons in the first quarter of 1944.

Although scarcely any aviation gasoline was obtained directly from crude fed to German refineries, large quantities of all types of lubricants were produced. Lubricants are difficult to produce by synthetic processes, so this supply of petroleum was very important to the Germans. They apparently did not suffer from a shortage of lubricants until some time after the Allies began to bomb refineries. Data on the lubricating oil position are given in Appendix B.

Synthetic Production. The increase in synthetic oil production was far more striking than the rise in production from crude. There was no further expansion of Fischer-Tropsch facilities after 1940, but the hydrogenation plants grew in importance. These plants produced 1,500,000 tons, or 32 percent, of Germany's total oil supplies in 1940, and in 1944, when the bombing began, they were producing at a rate of some 3,800,000 tons a year and providing the Germans with 47 percent of their supplies. The hydrogenation plants, moreover, were even more important than these figures suggest - for they were the source of 99.7 percent of the Nazi's aviation gasoline.

Other Sources. Changes in the amounts of oil obtained from other sources were relatively small. Slightly more use was made of coal-tar, mainly to produce fuel oil. The use of alcohol in motor fuel, which was compulsory before the war, diminished because the alcohol was needed for various chemical processes. The use of benzol as motor fuel and for solvent purposes did not vary greatly from about 600,000 tons per year.

The Flexibility of the Plants

Germany's oil industry was extremely flexible. Its hydrogenation plants especially could quickly change the proportions of various items which they produced. Table 8 shows, for example, how greatly the output of two hydrogenation plants varied in different months.

TABLE 8

EXAMPLES OF FLEXIBILITY IN YIELDS OF HYDROGENATION PLANTS

(Production in Metric Tons)


BoehlenMagdeburg

Feb 43Apr 43July 43July 43Sep 43
Aviation gasoline-17,521-12,842-
Motor gasoline19,538-15,085-7,811
Diesel oil--10,932-8,295
Other1,6492,6108211,608281
Total21,18720,13126,83814,45016,387

The Germans generally tried to prod much aviation gasoline as possible in the hydrogenation plants which used bituminous coal or bituminous coal tar (Scholven, Gelsenberg, Welheim, and Poelitz). The other plants (principally Leuna, Boehlen, Magdeburg, Zeitz, and Wesseling), which produced oil both from ovon and brown coal tar (tar derived from brown coal by low-temperature carbonization), were operated so as to obtain various products as needed.

Figure 16 shows the total production of all supplies detailed by products.

The greatest increase was in the production of aviation gasoline, which rose from 644,000 tons in 1940 to an annual rate of slightly more than 2,000,000 tons early in 1944. Motor gasoline production increased but slightly, Diesel oil production ruse from 780,000 tons in 1940 to a peak rate of 1,700,000 tons annually in the spring of 1943, but had declined considerably by the time the strategic bombing started. This decline resulted almost wholly from greater use of hydrogenation plant facilities to produce aviation and motor gasoline.

Fuel oil production, based largely on distillation of coal tar, increased from 728,000 tons in 1940 to about 1,000,000 tons in 1943. Lubricating oil production rose steadily throughout the war, and was about twice as great by the spring of 1944 as it had been in 1940.

The oil industry's flexibility permitted it to turn out these various kinds of supplies in proportions which could be used effectively by the armed forces. Aviation gasoline was always badly needed, but minimum amounts of motor gasoline and diesel oil were always needed, too. Hence, the plants never were called on to deliver a greater percentage of their output in the form of aviation gasoline than was feasible.

Actual vs. Planned Production

The industry's over-all production did not rise to the heights envisioned before the war. Figure 17 shows actual production and the production anticipated in the most important plans. The Karin Hall plan, which may be regarded as a continuation of the original four-year plan, allowed for construction delays experienced and expected before war was declared. Nevertheless, production in mid-1940 was to have been even higher under the Karin Hall plan than under the four-year plan, and was to have continued to rise to a maximum in March, 1943.

When war broke out, it was clear that the fighting forces' demands for steel and men would interfere increasingly with the oil program. Hence' with one exception, the plans drafted thenceforth were more conservative than the prewar program. The exception was a variant of the Goering plan, dated the day after the Nazis invaded Russia, and based on the hope of obtaining Russian oil. Even these scaled-down plans were not met by the German industry. Most serious was the failure to meet aviation gasoline production.

Figure 18 shows the planned and actual production of this important item. The production goals set for this product were even higher in the plans made during the war than they had been in prewar plans.

TABLE 9

GERMAN OIL PRODUCTION AS A PERCENTAGE OF THAT CALLED FOR IN VARIOUS PLANS*


Production, percent
PlanDate of Plan19401941194219431944
Four-year PlanMay, 193776----
Karin Hall Plan12 July 3885625556-
Revised Karin Hall Plan15 Sep 399385---
Office for economic expansion plan17 July 409893859367
Goering Plan A23 June 41--8268-
Goering Plan B23 June 41--9484-
New Goering Plan29 October 41---10461
Mineraloel plan5 January 44----66

* Products covered vary from plan to plan.
A-With Russian oil.
B-Without Russian oil.

It is more difficult to compare actual and planned production of all oil products because different sources and different products were covered in the various plans. Actual production of the items covered by each plan can be compared with the planners' expectations, however, and this has been done in Table 9, which again shows the failure to meet even the revised plans.

The Results of the Air Attacks

Between 1 May 1944 and V-E Day, American and British airmen dropped 185,841 tons of HE bombs on oil production facilities in Greater Germany. Production dropped precipitously, as is shown in Figure 15. From an average of 662,000 tons per month in the first four months of 1944, it dropped to 422,000 tons in June, 260,000 tons in December, and 80,000 tons in March, 1945. Figure 19 shows the production loss based, first, on the average rate in the first four months of 1944, and second, on production planned by the Germans in January, 1944. Compared with the rate early in the year, a total production of 4,766,000 tons, or 60 percent of that which would have been produced, was lost. Based on the production the Germans had planned, the production loss resulting from the bombing was 5,679,000 tons. Since the actual production equaled or slightly exceeded the planned production until the time of the bombing, it is reasonable to conclude that this latter figure represents the extent to which the Germans were deprived of oil by the strategic bombing.

Synthetic Production. Most of this downward plunge in total production resulted from the damage done to the hydrogenation plants, as shown in Figure 20. These plants were producing an average of 316,000 tons per month when the attacks began. Their production fell to 107,000 tons in June, and to 17,000 tons in September, but rose to 72,000 tons in November, only to be reduced to 7,000 tons in March, 1945. The Fischer-Tropsch plants, too, were almost completely knocked out of production. Their output, which had been averaging 43,000 tons per month, fell to 27,000 tons in June, 7,000 tons in December, and 4,000 tons in March, 1945. Thus, in ten months, the synthetic oil industry, on which Germany had lavished 17 years of hard work and vast amounts of material, was rendered virtually useless.

Crude Oil Refining. Production from the crude oil refineries, as indicated in Figure 15, was not affected so seriously as synthetic production. From an average of 167,000 tons per month before the bombing campaign, it fell to 102,000 tons in December and 40,000 tons in March, 1945. Crude oil refineries were able to continue substantial production longer than the synthetic plants, because (a) they had some spare capacity, and (b) the air forces did not give them such high priority, since the plants were smaller, more widely dispersed, and turned out less important products. Many partially damaged were able to continue crude oil topping operations The products, however, were less important to Hitler. Plants which had previously operated such complex facilities as solvent extraction units and lubricating oil units were able to produce only motor gasoline of poor quality, diesel oil, and residual fuel oil. Thus, the quality so as the quantity of production from the crude refineries was affected by the bombing.

TABLE 10

PRODUCTION LOSS FROM MAY, 1944 TO 1945 BY TYPE OF PROCESS

(Metric Tons)


Difference between production and
ProcessJan to Apr 44 CapacityGerman Plan of Jan 44
Hydrogenation3,113,0003,901,000
Fisher-Tropsch synthesis358,000418,000
Crude Oil Refining800,000800,000
Other processes495,000560,000
Total Production Loss4,766,0005,679,000

Bomb Tonnages vs. Production Losses

The tonnages of bombs dropped on each class of oil-producing facilities to inflict the losses cited in Table 10 are given in Table 11 and Figure 21.

Other Sources. Still lower bombing priority was given to the other German sources of oil products such as the coal distillation and benzol plants. The production of these plants, consequently, did not decline much until October, 1944. By then, the synthetic and crude oil plants production was so reduced that benzol was the largest remaining source of German motor gasoline. The benzol plants then were bombed more intensively, and benzol production fell from an average of 50,000 tons per month in the third quarter of 1944 to 21,000 tons - of which only 9,500 tons could be used as motor fuel - in January, 1945.

The bombing of the hydrogenation plants clearly more profitable than the bombing of other facilities. These plants represented 48 percent of the prebombing productive capacity of German -oil industry. Forty-seven percent of bomb tonnage was directed at them, and the damage done to them accounted for 65 percent of the German losses of production. One ton of dropped at these plants caused an average loss of 36 tons of oil products. From data in Tables 40 and 41 it is estimated that, of the bombs aimed at hydrogenation plants, 13,000 tons or about 15 percent fell within the plant fences. Of the bombs aimed at Fischer-Tropsch plants, 5,800 tons or about 16 percent fell within the plant. Based on these figures, the tons of production loss per ton of bombs dropped in the plant was 236 for the hydrogenation, and 62 for Fischer-Tropsch plants.

So many bombs were aimed at the Fischer-Tropsch facilities, however, that the average loss from these bombs was only ten tons of production. Some of these attacks obviously could have been directed elsewhere more advantageously.

The production loss per ton of bombs dropped crude refineries was greater than the loss ton dropped at the Fischer-Tropsch plants, but only half as high as the loss inflicted per ton of bombs aimed at hydrogenation plants. Miscellaneous facilities were bombed only in the last few months of the war, so the tonnage of bombs dropped per ton of production capacity was low; but the ratio of bomb tonnage to production losses was high - and would have been even higher if the losses had been measured over a longer period of time.

Table 11

Weight Of HE Bombs Dropped On German Oil Production Facilities And The Effect On Capacity And Production

(Oil in Metric Tons; Bombs in Short Tons)


HydrogenationFischerCrudeMisc.Total
Capacity in tons per month316,00043,000167,000136,000*662,000
percent of total47.76.525.220.6100
Production loss, in tons3,113,000358,000800,000495,000*4,766,000
percent of total65.37.516.810.4100
HE bombs dropped, in tons87,00037,00045,00017,000#186,000
percent of total46.819.924.29.1100
Tons of bombs per ton-per-month0.280.860.270.130.28
Tons of production loss per ton of bombs dropped361017.72926
Line 1-Average monthly output in the first four months of 1944 before bombing of oil targets began.
Line 2-Based on capacity in line 1 from 1 May 1944 to 1 May 1945. These figures include plants knocked out and then captured, which would otherwise possibly have required more bombing to keep them inactive.
Line 3-From 1 May 1944 to 1 May 1945. Includes all types of bombs used.
Line 4-Equals line 3 divided by line 1.
Line 5-Equals line 2 divided by line 3.
* Includes coal tar, benzol, alcohol.
# Bombs dropped on benzol plants only.

Effects of Losses on Germany

The most serious loss to the Germans was the loss in production of aviation gasoline, resulting almost wholly from the bombing of the Bergius hydrogenation plants. Figure 16 shows the effects of bombing on the production of individual products, and Figures 22, 23 and 24 show the loss separately for aviation gasoline, motor gasoline, and diesel oil.

Aviation gasoline production declined from 170,000 tons per month to 52,000 tons the month after the bombing offensive began, was reduced to 26,000 tons by December, and was virtually eliminated by March, 1945. The drop in the production of other items, however, was not so precipitous, since these were produced largely in crude oil refineries which were not knocked out so quickly. Table 12 shows production losses at four stages during the bombing campaign, and Table 13 shows total losses by products.

Table 12

Monthly German Production Of Liquid Fuels And Lubricants January, 1944 To March, 1945

(Thousands of Tons per Month)

ProductAviation GasolineMotor GasolineDiesel OilsLubricating OilsFuel Oil
Jan to Apr 44 average1701211007376
June 19445275695595
December 19442650662959
March 19450393900

Table 13

German Oil Production Loss May, 1944 To May, 1945

(Metric Tons)


Difference between Production and
ProductJan to Apr 44, CapacityGerman Plan of January 1944
Aviation gasoline1,663,0002,294,000
Motor gasoline805,000738,000
Diesel oil463,000472,000
Fuel oil340,000590,000
Lubricating oils520,000555,000
Other products975,0001,030,000
Total4,766,0005,679,000

Having gone to war without plants or stockpiles to win a global struggle, the Germans always needed more liquid fuels. The fluctuations in their stocks of aviation gasoline, motor gasoline, and diesel oil are shown separately in Figures22, 23 and 24, and compositely in Figure 25. Records of their reserves of other products are not complete, but the trend is indicated by Figure 25. Important events which affected or resulted partly from Germany's oil position are also noted on these charts.

Measures to Maintain Reserves

The Germans' strength throughout depended on their ability to (a) increasing synthetic production, (b) obtain imports and capture stocks, (c) restrict civilian consumption, (d) use substitute fuels, and (e) hold down military consumption. Their success in increasing synthetic production until the strategic bombing campaign reduced it sharply has already described, but the other factors remain to be considered.

Imports and Loot. The Germans imported or captured about 31 percent of their total supplies of aviation and motor gasoline and diesel fuel during the war, as shown in Table 14.

The blockade deprived them of imports from most sources, except Hungary and Rumania. Both of those countries derived their oil products from natural petroleum. The total of their refineries is not shown in available records. The Germans apparently were unable, however, to reduce domestic consumption in Hungary and Rumania as greatly as it reduced in the Reich. There is some evidence, too, that they failed in their efforts to obtain 4 extravagant and detrimental withdrawals of from Hungary's fields.

When the Germans invaded the Low Countries and France, they captured 245,000 tons of aviation gasoline, 309,000 tons of motor gasoline, and 200,000 tons of diesel oil, a total of 754,000 tons, but they captured very little in their other campaigns (the quantities small that they have been included as imports in Table 14).

Table 14

German Production, Imports, and Total Supply of Aviation Gasoline, Motor Gasoline, and Diesel Oil, 1940 to 1944

(Metric Tons)


Aviation GasolineMotor GasolineAutomotive Diesel OilTotal
1940Production*643,0001,138,000781,0002,562,000
Import, etc.#78,000683,000501,0001,262,000
Captured stocks245,000309,000200,000@754,000
Total Supply966,0002,130,0001,482,0004,578,000
1941Production889,0001,160,0001,114,0003,163,000
Imports, etc.21,0001,124,000612,0001,757,000
Total Supply910,0002,284,0001,726,0004,920,000
1942Production1,370,0001,002,0001,285,0003,657,000
Imports, etc.102,0001,021,000208,0001,331,000
Total Supply1,472,0002,023,0001,493,0004,988,000
1943Production1,788,0001,133,0001,358,0004,279,000
Imports, etc.129,000804,000435,0001,368,000
Total Supply1,917,0001,937,0001,793,0005,647,000
1944Production998,000935,000889,0002,822,000
Imports, etc.107,000542,000371,0001,020,000
Total Supply1,105,0001,477,0001,260,0003,842,000
Total five yearsProduction5,688,0005,368,0005,427,00016,483,000
Imports, etc.682,0004,483,0002,327,0007,492,000
Total Supply6,370,0009,851,0007,754,00023,975,000
* Products from imported crude and unfinished products in Germany are included under "Production."
# In years other than 1940 "Imports, etc." includes captured stocks. Imports include shipments from sources outside Germany direct to German armed forces outside Germany.
@ Estimated.

Civilian Sacrifices. When Hitler started the war, German civilians were using about 200,000 tons of motor gasoline a month. Drastic limitations, imposed immediately, cut civilian consumption to an average of only 71,000 tons a month in 1940. Even more stringent restrictions later - especially after the failure of the Caucasus drive, from which the Nazis expected to get additional supplies of oil - forced civilians to get along with still less as the war continued. Allocations of motor gasoline to civilians had to be increased in 1943 and 1944, however, because of the relief measures necessitated by the bombing of German cities. Since diesel oil was used largely in agriculture, transportation, and other essential work, civilian use of it could not be reduced so drastically Nevertheless, civilian consumption of diesel oil declined from a prewar average of 130,000 tons per month to an average of 80,000 tons per month in 1941, and continued to decline as the war went on. The drop in civilian consumption of motor gasoline and diesel oil, and the extent to which substitutes were used are shown in Table 15. Civilians got about the same amount of substitutes as of regular fuels in 1943 and 1944. Even so, they had to get along with less than a third as much fuel as they had used before the war.

Table 15

German Civilian Consumption Of Automotive Fuels From 1940 To 1944

(Thousands of Metric Tons per Year)


Prewar19401941194219431944
Motor gasoline2,400851640345298285
Diesel oil1,5001,028946649570405
Total liquid fuel3,9001,879 1,586994868690
Bottled gas108225298319388210
Generators fueled with wood, anthracite, etc.*

20125245370
Methane and gas*
1121242
Total nonliquid fuels*108226319446645622
GRAND TOTAL4,0082,1051,9051,4401,5131,312
Percentage of prewar consumption1005348363833
Additional wood-generator fuel used by army*


#75130
* Nonliquid fuel tonnages given in terms of equivalent gasoline.
# Small amount included in the 125 civilian consumption above.

Substitute Fuels. Bottled gas, a mixture of liquefied butane and propane, which the Germans called Treibgas, was used to some extent before the war and was the first substitute for motor gasoline that appeared in appreciable amounts. This gas, however, was a by-product from the manufacture of aviation and motor gasolines and was produced mainly in the hydrogenation plants. The attack on these plants, consequently, reduced the Germans' supply of Treibgas as well as their supply of regular gasoline. When the Caucasus offensive failed, the government required most classes of civilians to use gas generators, many of which burned wood, although some burned anthracite coal and other fuels. By August, 1944, gas generators had been placed on about 100,000 vehicles and were consuming about 155,000,000 cu ft of of other fuel equivalent to 78,000,000 cu ft of wood, per year. About 500,000 tons of gasoline were saved this way in 1944.

Military Consumption. The peaks in military consumption, of course, coincided with the big operations. Intervals of defensive warfare permitted the oil industry to replenish supplies.

As shown in Figure 22, the Polish campaign did not require much aviation gasoline, but consumption rose to about 100,000 tons per month during the invasion of the Low Countries and France and during the bombing of Britain later in 1940. After a considerable decline, aviation gasoline consumption rose even even higher in mid-1941, when Russia was attacked. The next peaks, in the summers of 1942 and 1943, were related to the activities in the East. The Allies' air offensive from the West forced the Germans to fight an air war on two fronts, and the latter's consumption of aviation gasoline soared to 195,000 tons in May, 1944. This was nearly twice as much as had been used in their aerial Britain. The Luftwaffe's tanks, however could not be refilled. The strategic bombing of oil targets, starting in May, 1944, reduced production so much that the Luftwaffe had to cut its consumption to 44,000 tons in December. Since 112,000 tons had been consumed the previous December, this was far more than a seasonal decline.

Military consumption of motor gasoline went up and down similarly, as shown in Figure 23, but the greatest consumption of such fuel - 268,000 tons in one month - occurred when Germany first invaded Russia. Consumption of diesel fuel soared at the same time, but rose to a higher peak - 100,000 tons in one month - after the Allied landing in France in 1944. This difference in the curves of motor, gasoline and diesel oil resulted partly from substitution of diesel-powered tractors for gasoline-propelled Army vehicles. Consumption of both motor gasoline and diesel oil declined during the strategic period, but less rapidly than consumption of aviation gasoline. One reason for this was that much of Germany's motor gasoline and diesel oil came from crude oil refineries, which hit as hard or as quickly as the synthetic plants produced aviation gasoline.

Rise and Fall of the Gauges

Germany's oil industry was so flexible that it le to increase greatly the output of at the expense of another. Therefore, the fluctuations in Germany's strength during the course of the war can be measured more by the combined stocks of aviation gasoline, motor gasoline, and diesel oil than by only one product. Figure 25 shows total of all three products throughout the war. The German lubricating oil position is discussed in detail in Appendix B.

The Germans went to war, as noted previously, with only 1,100,000 tons of these products on hand. This stockpile fell to 941,000 tons during the last few months of 1939.1 The oil industry was being expanded rapidly; production increases and captured stocks boosted reserves of these items to 1,500,000 tons by the end of 1940. The stockpile remained at this level until Hitler attacked Russia. Instead of defeating Russia quickly as expected, however, the Nazis used nearly half their reserves in 1941.

The 800,000 tons on hand 1 January 1942 were enough for only two months' consumption at the 1941 rate, and barely sufficed, no doubt, to keep oil products flowing through the long supply lines to the various fronts. The stockpile remained at this dangerously low level throughout 1942, the year in which the Germans were hurled back in North Africa, at Stalingrad, and in the Caucasus. The switch to defensive tactics, and further sacrifices by civilians, helped the industry rebuild the stock pile to 1,372,000 tons by April, 1944.

The Germans must have felt then that they were over the hump in their long struggle for self-sufficiency in oil, but the strategic bombing of their plants, and the heavy consumption necessitated by fierce fighting both in the East and in the West reduced their stock pile to 436,00 tons by the end of 1944.

Underground Plants and Plant Dispersal

The heavy attacks on strategic oil targets in May, 1944, showed the Germans that they could not repair their big plants as fast as Allied bombers could wreck them. So they drew up plans in June to spread small plants throughout Germany and to put many of them underground.

Several German technical men say now that they had proposed that production be moved underground in 1940. But, they add, they were told that the war would be won before it could be done, and they were threatened with confinement in concentration camps for questioning the Reich's impregnability. The suggestion, nevertheless, was feasible. Properly designed and ventilated oil plants could be operated underground with reasonable safety. The water-gas generators and some other equipment would have to be redesigned to reduce leakage, but this could be done. Five to ten changes of air per hour would take care of minor leaks, and the Germans planned from 10 to 40 changes per hour. Inspecting and maintaining properly built underground plants would have been much less difficult and dangerous than repairing and running surface plants subjected to periodical bombing - but the Germans formulated their plans and began to dig too late.

On 31 May 1944, Albert Speer, the German Minister for Armament and War Production, chose Edmund Geilenberg as General Commissioner for Immediate Measures, and the underground and dispersal program that was adopted few weeks later was entrusted to him. Geilenberg was a former miner who had become manager of the Brunswick Steel Works. He was given unlimited authority to take labor and materials from other industries, and at one time he commmanded a labor force of 350,000 persons. "He is responsible," Hitler decreed, "for tackling, with a generous supply of manpower and material and reckless energy, the work turned over to him. The speed of the work is not to be impaired by governmental or regional obstacles." The underground and dispersal program, as originally formulated, was expected to supply Germany with 82 percent as much aviation gasoline as had been produced in January, 1944, 25 percent as much motor gasoline, half as much lubricating oil of all types, two-thirds as much aviation lubricating oil, and 88 percent as much diesel oil. But, despite Geilenberg's prodigious efforts only about a million barrels of straight-run gasoline and diesel oil and a small amount of a blending agent were obtained, up to the end of the war.

Avaition Fuel. The program called for production of 130,000 tons of aviation fuel per month (37,000 bbl per day), starting in the summer of 1945, but none of the aviation-fuel plants could started have until late that fall (Figure 26).

Seven high-pressure catalytic hydrogenation plants were to have been built underground and one above ground, to produce 92,000 tons of standard aviation gasoline and jet-propelled airplane fuel per month. Six were to be fed tar from coal-carbonization plants, and two were to be fed oil and residuum from crude. But three of the plants never got beyond the planning stage, two were dropped before excavating was started, another was switched to synthetic nitrogen production and the war ended before excavationsfr the remaining two were finished.

A more complicated underground plant, to produce 19,400 tons of aviation fuel per month, was planned at Niedersachswerfen. This was to have been built in a gypsum cliff alongside an underground V-1 and V-2 factory, a Junkers' aircraft plant, and a liquid-oxygen plant. The installation was to have included two vapor-phase hydrogenation units operating in series, and a catalytic cracking unit to convert coal tar and crude oil distillate into aviation gasoline; a hydroforming unit to increase the octane number and aromaticity of straight-run and hydrogenated gasoline, and an alkylation and butane dehydrogenation unit to produce iso-octane. When Germany surrendered, however, the tunnels for this plant were only three-fifths completed, and only a small amount of the equipment had arrived at the site.

The aviation fuel program also included several small plants and five units to produce blending agents. One of the latter units, capable of producing 1,400 tons of diethyl benzene per month, began operating during January, 1945, in a chemical plant at Gendorf. Other aviation-fuel plants were under construction, but not finished, when Germany collapsed.

Motor Gasoline. The motor gasoline program was expected to produce 41,000 tons per month (12,000 bbl per day), of which about one-fourth was to be fed to the aviation gasoline plants (Figure 27). Forty-one dispersed plants, which could have handled all of the crude oil produced in Germany, were completed, but less than 40 percent of their capacity was used, mainly because of transportation troubles.

Left - Figure 33. Close-up of the cracking furnace at the plant at Leggendorf. It was under construction when the war ended. This one project required six month's labor by 4,000 men. This was the second time the equipment had been moved.

To produce motor gasoline from crude oil, the Germans emulated Kentucky moonshiners by building 36 small distillation units in the hills, in the woods, in quarries, and sometimes underground. Four more were planned, of which two were started. These dispersed plants were camouflaged and too small and widely scattered to be attractive targets for bombers. They were completed in four months and each one had a crude capacity conservatively estimated at 3,000 tons per month. Steam for each one was provided by three or four locomotives captured in Russia. In addition, five primitive distillation units were built in bombed-out industrial plants, where the actual wreckage camouflaged them. These were continuous shell stills built from steam boilers and salvaged equipment.

Tar from the dispersed crude distillation units was to have been used as feed for the lubricating oil plants, but destruction of the latter forced the Germans-to store the tar in open pits. Two thermal cracking units were built to use this tar to produce gasoline, diesel, and fuel oils. These were relatively modern units removed from damaged refineries to sites protected by cliffs or woods. One of these plants had been stolen previously from France and the other was moved from Luetzkendorf. Destruction of hydrogenation plants also left the Germans with an excess of tar from coal-carbonization, so they planned 33 small, primitive cracking units to make use of it. This program, however, did not get far.

The Germans also started to build ten small Fischer-Tropsch plants aboveground, to make motor gasoline out of carbon monoxide and hydrogen from city gasworks (Figure 34). One good-sized American service station could sell gasoline as fast as these ten plants could produce it.

Lubricating Oil. There are several operating steps in the production of lubricating oil, and considerable storage of intermediate products is necessary. Hence, dispersal of these plants was not considered feasible, but plans were made to go underground. Six plants were to be built underground, and two were to be concealed in woods and valleys. These plants were to have been quite complete, with vacuum, distillation, Furfural extraction, propane de-asphalting, de-waxing, sulfuric-acid-treating and clay-treating equipment; in two plants, moreover, synthetic lubricating oil was to have been produced. If completed, the concealed lubricating oil plants would have produced 38,000 tons per month, of which 6,000 tons would have been aviation lubricating oil. All grades, from light machine oils through heavy cylinder oils and waxes, were to have been produced (Figure 28).

More progress was made on these plants than on other parts of the underground program. One plant, at Porta, with a productive capacity of 5,500 tons per month (1,500 bbl per average day), was nearly finished nine months after it was planned. It is shown in Figure 29 (see also Figures 35 to 40). If the war had continued, and transportation had been available, the Germans probably would have been fairly well supplied with lubricants in the fall of 1945.

Diesel Oil. For diesel oil, the Germans looked first to their crude refineries and dispersed distillation units, but late in 1944 they decided to make use of excess middle oil from low-temperature coal-carbonization plants. This oil previously had been fed to hydrogenation units, but those plants were being destroyed, so new plants to extract phenols from this oil were built. These would have produced a diesel oil which could be made marketable by simple distillation. Five extraction plants were nearly finished, and one was finished, in the spring of 1945 (Figure 41).

Ten primitive units to extract oil from shale were also projected, and makeshift operations were started in some of them. The shale was piled about 10 ft high, covered with a layer of peat, and ignited. Air was then drawn through this mass and the combustion which occured produced enough heat to crack oil vapors out of the shale. These vapors then were condensed to produce a very low grade of diesel fuel, usuable only in hot bulb (semidiesel) engines (Figure 30). All told, the Germans expected 38,000 tons of diesel oil per month from phenol-extraction and shale-oil plants. This and 121,000 tons per month which were expected as a by-product from other operations, would have given them 159,000 tons per month, but the use of some of the diesel oil to feed cracking units and a hydrogenation plant would have reduced the output to 103,000 tons per month (Figure 32).



In addition to these integrated projects for maintaining production of gasoline, lubricating oil, and diesel oil in underground and dispersed units, several small plants were planned to take advantage of local situations. Three were to be built, for instance, with equipment salvaged from the Scholven hydrogenation plant after it was bombed (Figures 42 to 45). Equipment for the first of these plants was scattered over a large area in a wooded section near Huels. In the desparate effort to conceal this plant, the reactors (normally vertical) were mounted almost horizontally in spite of doubt as to their operability in that position. Another was to be a small Fischer-Tropsch plant of 20 reactors in the face of a cliff, and another was to be a de-waxing unit for lubricating oil in the basement of a brewery.

Two fractionators and a flash drum of a cracking plant at Leggendorf. The installation was protected by a cliff along the Danube. This was one of two relatively modern units built to produce gasoline, diesel oil, and fuel oils from tar.

The whole program called for about 140 separate plants, varying greatly in size and type, and was to cost 1,400,000,000 RM. Building, equipping, and supplying these plants would have taken 200,000 men's labor for a full year. This is more than were engaged in the whole oil refining industry of the United States in 1944.

The scarcity of labor and materials, the loss of construction sites to the advancing Allies, and changing conditions compelled the Germans to revise their plans repeatedly. The program, in fact, was cut in half in the last few months of the war. Professor Krauch, Commissioner General for the Problems of the Chemical Industry, estimated that it was three times as costly to put plants underground as to build them on the surface. Dr. Fritz Ringer, head of the Mineral Oil Bureau, under Dr. Buetefisch, said the program could not have been completed in time for World War II, and Geilenberg himself - who was found repairing bicycles exactly one year after taking over this program - said that the oil industry could not be saved unless enough fighters were put in the air to protect the refineries aboveground.

Weakness of Program. The most serious weakness in the underground and dispersal program was the reliance on railroad transportation. Most of the plants depended on the railroads for both their materials and the distribution of their products. This contributed to the overloading of the railroads, which were already severely damaged from aerial attacks. The vulnerability of the transportation facilities was so great that many Germans admitted theat strategic bombing could have paralyzed the industry even if the underground and dispersal program had been completed.

Lack of storage space was another defect. These plants were expected to run with a maximum of only four days' feed stock and one or two days' output on hand. This increased their dependence on railroad transportation.

The sources of feed for aviation-fuel plants, furthermore, would still have been vulnerable if these plants had been put into operation, because no steps had been taken to protect the carbonization or coal hydrogenation plants on which the underground plants depended.

A further weakness in the program was the reliance on outside power. To avoid this, more excavating would have been necessary and the railroads would have had to haul more coal to the oil plants. Cables and transformers were put underground, but the destruction of power stations or high-voltage transmission lines would have shut the plants down. Stand-by units big enough to meet about 40 percent of the maximum requirements were planned in some instances, but could not be installed because of the shortage of electrical machinery.

Steam plants were being put underground, and some plants were set up to burn their own residuum, estracts and fuel gas; but some outside fuel had to be brought to all these plants.

Carefully planned, centralized underground plants would have been much less vulnerable than the dispersed plants built by the Germans. A few large undergound refineries might have been built near the oil fields, and several large underground hydrogenation and carbonization plants might have been placed near the coal deposits. These could have been placed in separate tunnels, so that accidents would not have crippled other parts. With no more steel than was used to repair bombing damage to surface plants, pipelines might have been run to the refineries from the oil fields, and a network of distribution pipes might have extended throughout Germany. The Germans then might have been able to supply their forces with a respectable quantity of oil products despite the strategic bombing.

Germany's industrial strength might have ennable her to move her relatively small oil industry underground, if the planning had been done more carefully and the work started sooner. Moving America's big oil industry underground would be a much more staggering task.

For a map of Germany showing the location of all underground and dispersal plants, see Appendix, Figure 27. Reproductions of German charts showing the plans for the use of these plants in the oil industry appear as Appendix Figures 28 to 31, inclusive.

These long coffin-like structure are dewaxing unit filters, crowded into a tunnel of the Porta underground lubricating oil plant. They are a new type filter, never before used in a commercial plant.

Oil Determined Military Strategy

Germany's strategy throughout World War II was undoubtedly determined partly by the nature of the nation's oil supplies. Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel said, when interviewed on 27 June 1945, that they had not expected the invasion of Poland to involve them in global war. This is confirmed by the positions of the gauges on their oil storage tanks at that time.

The Nazis did not plunge westward into France until nearly all the hydrogenation plants under construction were operating. Their continued need for oil was undoubtedly a factor in their decision to invade the Balkans. Their inadequate oil supply also accounted in part for their failures in the Near East and North Africa. The Italian fleet was kept in port in 1942 because it did not have enough fuel for a major action.

"In the case of Russia," Albert Speet, German Minister for Armament and War Production, said when questioned on 30 May 1945, "the need for oil certainly was a prime motive" for the attack in 1941. That need also contributed to the Russians' victories later. According to Speer, the Germans had 1,200 tanks concentrated against the Baranow bridgehead in 1945, but there was only enough fuel to refill the tanks two or three times, so the tanks were virtually immobilized. Had it not been for the lack of fuel, Speer said, Upper Silesia might not have been lost and the Russians might have been held for a long time.

The shortage of aviation fuel hampered the Luftwaffe both directly and indirectly. It was needed so badly that it could not be spared to train pilots properly. Hence, more planes than necessary were lost, both in combat and accidentally. Colonel Walter Schwartz indicated when questioned on 21 May 1945 that the air training program was discontinued in September, 1944 because of the aviation fuel shortage. Training fields were closed and men sent back to infantry units. Goering added, when interrogated on 29 June 1945, that the Heinkel 177 which was used on the Russian front after being tried against England had to be grounded because it used too much gasoline. Goering also called attention to losses in ferrying aircraft which resulted from the use of inexperienced pilots, and said that the lack of gasoline was one reason for not making more use of fighter planes.

Close-up of the distillation furnace and fractionators of the plant shown in Figure 45. This view reveals how well camouflaged; the height of the furnace can be judged by noting the ladder on the right.

The bombing of oil targets also lessened the mobility and efficiency of the ground forces. Von Rundstedt said, when interrogated on 10 and 12 May 1945, that motor gasoline allocations were sufficient at first on the western front, but were reduced by the High Command between July and September, 1944. The next month they were reduced almost daily. Von Rundstedt, consequently, called for still more economies and more extensive use of gas generators on Army vehicles. All trucks were required to pull trailers, men and horses moved artillery and ammunition, even at the front, without the help of engines, and by V-E day gas generators had even put on 50 tanks.

This picture shows the distillation unit used with the hydrogenation unit of the little Scholven plant shown in Figure 43. Units were a quarter mile apart. The bunker on the left was the control house for this part of the plant.

The Collapse of Germany

Hitler started World War II without enough liquid fuel. He had to fight much of the time for liquid fuel. He was deprived of the bulk of his sources of such fuel by the strategic bombing of oil targets in the last year of the war, and, when the Nazis could neither manufacture nor capture any more appreciable quantities of liquid fuel, Germany's defeat became inevitable.


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