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  • To understand the strategic decisions of the Second World War,

  • you have to understand the struggle for resources that underpinned it.

  • All wars to some extent are about resources, but this war was like no other conflict in history.

  • To power the vast engine of war,

  • to feed the complex machine that turned out tanks and bombs, trucks and ships,

  • that kept millions of men fed, armed, and clothed in the field,

  • the combatants of World War II needed a diversity and a quantity of natural resources

  • heretofore unconsidered in the annals of military planning.

  • And everybody knew that if they didn't get those resources,

  • it would just be a matter of time before the all-consuming engine of battle ground to a halt.

  • It was this fear that drove the Axis planning throughout much of the war.

  • If we look at the Allies, we see an unimaginable wealth of resources.

  • There were the oil and coal fields of Russia,

  • the vast farmland, minerals, and refineries of the United States,

  • and the far-flung empires of France and Britain,

  • which could draw in exotic resources from across the globe.

  • Now compare that to the Axis,

  • with the small island nation of Japan,

  • and the largely landlocked and noncolonial powers of Germany and Italy.

  • The Allies could fuel the war on resources they already had.

  • If the Axis was going to last at all, they needed to make up for what they lacked in war gains.

  • And this dictated early policy.

  • The Nazis knew that they were gonna lose their supplies of

  • cobalt, copper and, most importantly, oil, as soon as the war began in earnest,

  • for they had imported most of those materials from their soon-to-be enemies.

  • So they needed to find an alternative.

  • The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact with the Soviet Union not only assured that the Germans

  • wouldn't have to fight a two-front war,

  • but also laid out, in great detail,

  • a trade agreement that would have the USSR

  • provide Germany with the supplies of those

  • resources it would need to prosecute the war.

  • Next, the German planners had to tackle their lack of aluminum and iron.

  • And this served as part of the impetus for the invasion of Norway.

  • Not only would Norway serve as an excellent location for aluminum

  • production, but it secured German access to Sweden, which is where the vast

  • bulk of their iron imports came from. But the Germans would also need food if they

  • were going to feed and field an army of millions, and France served as one of the

  • most fertile regions in Europe. With a rapid conquest of France, Germany could

  • also hope to secure strategic reserves that would

  • buy them some time to pin down the other resources they were lacking. And so,

  • there's the first two years of the war. Other concerns certainly factored into

  • the strategic decision-making, but step by step, throughout the early war you can

  • follow the need to shore up the resources the German economy lacked, but

  • even after the massive German expansion of 1940, this left German planners with

  • one great concern: oil. Even after Nazi efforts to support

  • fascists in Romania brought the Romanian oil fields under their control, the

  • German war machine was consuming about 25 percent more oil than even the

  • expanded Reich could produce. Month after month, this shortfall was being made up

  • for by shipments from the USSR, but Nazi planners and the Nazi leadership lived

  • in a state of continual paranoia where the looming and perhaps quite real

  • possibility of Stalin simply cutting off oil shipments would spell an end to the

  • Reich. And this is where the resource war and the terrible ideology of the Third

  • Reich merge. While there were a number of military men who suggested that the

  • fascist war machine should break through North Africa and come to possess the oil

  • fields of the Middle East, Hitler with his need for Lebensraum, his hatred of

  • the Slavs and the Jews, and his foundational fear of communism instead

  • decided that the Nazi armies would move east into the heart of the Soviet Union

  • and to take possession of the Soviet oil fields. When this enormous effort stalled

  • out, there were some desperate attempts to turn south and pick up oil fields

  • closer to the Middle East, but by then it was too late.

  • Germany had used most of its reserves pushing into Russia, and as a result

  • would suffer shortages for the rest of the war. Japan faced a similar dilemma

  • but was perhaps in yet more dire straits because the overwhelming

  • majority of its trade before now had been with one single partner, the United

  • States. Most Japanese planners recognized this deficiency but also believed that

  • any expansion in the Pacific would almost certainly draw them into conflict

  • with the U.S. This led directly to a strategy that involved knocking the U.S.

  • out of the war as quickly as possible, but it also led to two other strategies

  • for the coming conflict, a set of strategies that would divide the

  • Japanese forces. The Army favored what is known as Hokushin-Ron, or the Northern

  • Expansion Doctrine, which called for a push through China into the

  • resource-rich country of Siberia. The central idea was that the army could

  • simultaneously bring the majority of raw materials that their economy needed

  • under Japanese control and cripple the Soviet Union's ability to prosecute a

  • war against Japan. The Navy, on the other hand, advocated

  • Nanshin-Ron or Southern Expansion Doctrine, which proposed sweeping up the

  • islands in the South Pacific to solve Japan's economic shortfalls, and both of

  • these doctrines would play a huge part in how the Japanese prosecuted the war.

  • in the outset of the war, with the invasion of China, we see the beginning

  • of the implementation of the Northern Expansion Doctrine, but though little

  • talked about in the history of World War II,

  • this approach ground to a halt when the Japanese tried to push up through

  • Mongolia and were turned back by the Soviets at the battles of Khalkhyn Gol.

  • Over 100,000 men fought an undeclared war there, and at its end, the

  • Japanese army was forced to abandon its dreams of Siberian conquest, which left

  • their Navy ascendant and free to push the doctrine that would win it the most

  • prestige. And thus began Japan's rapid expansion into the Pacific. The idea was

  • to strip the European nations already beleaguered by the war in the West of

  • all of their colonial possessions in Asia. And this became an utter necessity

  • because, by this point, the United States, Britain, China, and the Dutch government

  • in exile who controlled the all-important Dutch East Indies, had put

  • an embargo on Japan, denying it nearly 80% of its oil. And though this empire

  • was rolled back and finally shattered over the course of the coming years, it

  • does lead me to one last thing I wanted to talk about. You see, as the Japanese

  • expanded in the Pacific, they denied the Allies one key war material: rubber. 90%

  • of the world's rubber production came from the territory overrun by the

  • Japanese. So what did the Allies do? Left with no alternative, they synthesized

  • rubber. At the beginning of the Second World War,

  • only 0.4 percent of America's rubber was synthetic. But by the end, refineries

  • dotted America, and techniques for synthesizing rubber had been established

  • that underpin how we do it to this day and even now, with no war or great

  • international crisis, more of the world's rubber is synthesized than harvested. And

  • this may seem like a small thing, but it tells us something very important about

  • the Second World War. if World War I was the first truly

  • industrial war, the first war where mass production and industrial capacity truly

  • tipped the balance, World War II was the first scientific war, where things like

  • radar, computing, and the atomic bomb would help to decide the world's fate.

  • And not least among these scientific advances were synthetics. Without

  • synthetics, the resource war may have been lost.

  • And while the creation of synthetic forms of many

  • natural resources may not get heralded the way that the radar or the jet engine

  • do, it changed the war and changed the world economy forever. So if you want to

  • understand policy decisions in World War II, whether they be strategic or

  • scientific, one good place to start is to follow the resources. I hope some of

  • these episodes got you thinking in a new way about the Second World War. I know

  • they're not our usual epic story fair, but we wanted to take this opportunity

  • to talk about tactics, ideas, and policies that had a huge impact but sometimes get

  • glossed over in the grand scheme of things. This more or less concludes our

  • discussion of resources in World War II, but as long as we're talking World War II,

  • we wanted to take a closer look at the battle of Britain.

  • So we'll see you soon for that.

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WW2: The Resource War - The Engines of War - Extra History - #3(WW2: The Resource War - The Engines of War - Extra History - #3)

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    香蕉先生 發佈於 2022 年 06 月 25 日
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