*** war and social upheaval: World War II -- economics energy

World War II Economics: Food and Raw Materials--Energy

World War II energy
Figure 1.--Many authors have accurately stressed the importance oil in World War II. Some times lost in this discussion is the vital importance of coal. The railroads ran on coal and it was the primary industrial fuel. European economies could not function without coal. While American companies controlled much of the world's supply of oil. Britain was a major supplier of coal to European countries. Germany's huge coal industry produced coal for its own peace-timr domestic needs, but could not begin to supply the coal needed by the countries it occupied ehich had been obtauining coal in Britin. Economic production plummeted in the occupied countriess. One reason was NAZI brutality. Aanother major reason was serious coal and to a lesser extent, oil shortages. As a result the NAZI NAZI Großraum failed to adequately support their war effort. Here after the War, British coal finally begins to reach Europe again. The press caption read, "First British Coal Arrives in Rouen: The British collier 'Dashwood', arrived in Rouen, France, January 11, [1948] with the first British coal cargo since before the War. As the 2,500 ton cargo is required uegently, Rouen dockers set to work unloading ten minutes after the vessel had docked, and the work was continued throughout the night by flood light. Photo shows French women and children giving a helping hand at unloading in the 'Dashwood' hold today January 12." We are guessing they got to keep some of the coal which was used for home heating.

War since the dawn if times were fought with manpower administered in various ways, club, spear, bow and arrow and other implements. Next came animal power, mostly horse power (about 1500 BC), first chariots tha calvalry. Next came wind power. The sail dates to the ancient Egyptians, but because if its unreliability was not extensiveky used in naval warfare until nuch later begunning with the European naval outreach (16th centurty). With the Inustrial Revolution. hydrocarbons came into play. First with the invention ofthe steam invention was coal. Steam engines provided the first efficent way to move men and material rapidly by both rail and sea (19th century). Next came oil which was first introduced in World War I for naval warfare and to a lesser degree for land and air warfare. Oil became the essential fuel in World War II, not only for the navies, but land warfare and aerial warfare in vast quantities. The Axis's lack of access to oil proved to be a major factor in the War. some times forgotton is the importance of coal. Coal poweed the viatal as well was findamental for the proper functioning of the war ecomonies of the beligetant powers. The War was finally ended with the atomic bombs dropped on Jaoan, ushring in the nuclear age.


All types of enrergy were important in World War II, but yhe two most important were oil and coal. Mpst World War II historials focus on oil because oil was vital for the successdul mobile forces that fought World War II. This included land, naval, and air forces. Oil was vital in all the great campaigns and battles of the War. These battles and campaigns simply could not be fiought wihjout oil. To a large degree, the Axis powersclunched the war to obrain resources and oil was at the gop of the list. The NAZIs plunged into the Soviet Union to obtain oil and other resdources ignmiting the most massive military campaign in all of history. Ultimtly, thturning point of the War would be the attempt of the Germns to capture the the SDoviet oil fielkds in the Caucuses. The Jpanese attacked Pearl Harbor primrily to obtin the oil nd otgher resources of Southeasty Asioa, the Jsapasnese even called it the Southern Resource Zone. While oil was for the most part the headline energy type, indudtry for the most part required coal. Gctories reuired coal to run. Mist electricvity was generated with coal. And most trains transporting raw material nand finisdhed arms used col. The War was, however, ended by a new form of enery--atomic or nuclear energy. e


Oil was a waste product until John D. Rockefeller helped make it indespenable to light American homes with keosene, replacing whale oil. Americans found huge reserves to satisfy the demand, first in Pennylvania and then Texas. Henry Ford created a car that was afordable to the average working man which used gasoline and the internal combustion engine. This created a huge demand for oil and America was the major profucer of both crude and refined products during both world wars, an enorous strategic assett. Oil was important in World War I, especilly for the Navy as it did not leave such as smoke trail as coal. American trucks played an important part in the War. This was all minor compared to World War II. The key resource in World War II was oil. It was infinitely more important during World War II. It is simply impossible to wage modern war without oil. It was need for land war, naval war, and the air war. The Allies, especially the United Sates, had huge petroleum rescource. Oil was a major weakness of the German war effort. Germany's need for oil is an important aspect of World War II. The Germans gained control of the Romanian Ploesti oil fields. They also had a synthetic fuel industry. At the beginning of the War, the Soviets supplied large quantities of oil and other critical resources to Germany. After the German invasion, oil became an increasingly severe problem for the Germans. Japan as in an even worse situation. Not only did they have to import almost all of their oil, but they were dependent on shipments from the United States of all countries.


Coal was not used directly for weaponry, but it was necesary for the production of steel which of course was. Thus coal was vital for the World War II effort. It was not as imprtant as in World War I, but was still vital. And coal was imprtant in many nothr ways. The importance of coal is sometimes loss in the discussion of oil. It was the primary industrial fuel. It powered industry that built the weapons and was the primary fuel for land transport which was primarily conducted by rail. Trucks were important for short-range transport, but rail transport was by far the major transport system. As with oil, the Axis was not as well endowed as the Allies, but the defecit was not as severe as for oil and had significantly changed since World War I. Germany was the largest producer (2.4 million tos including lignite). The Germans had significntly increaded coal production since World War I. German coal production is a little complicated to calculate because of German expansion (1938-42). The NAZIs allowed the Reichsbaun (German rail system) to deterioirate whoch was resulting in coal shortages even before the War. America was a close second (2.1 billion ton) and with Britain (1.4 billion t) exceeded German production. The only other major producer was the Soviet Union (0.5 billion t). The Soviet had significantly increased production since World War, but was still a small portoin of German production. Ironically the energy problem increased for Germany as their military aggressions expanded the Reich and occupied territory. Germany had domestic coal resources in the Ruhr to meet peace-time domestic demand. The War, however, increased demand for coal. In addition, much of Europe was importing coal, primarily from Wales in Britain. America was the oil giant during the War. British coal was crucial for the proper functioning of European economiess, maning the German occupied countries the NAZI used to create their NAZI Großraum. Germany agression cut off British shipments. The Germans had, however, no way of replacing the British coal. They provided some coal to keep priority industriels operating. Otherwise the occupied economies could not function and be exploted. The coal shortages, however, meant economic productivity declined sinificantly during the German occupation. All of this significantly limited the NAZI war economy.


The first use of electrity in war was the telegraph. And the first war we notuce it being used was the Crimean War (1854-56). There was no connction back to Britain and France, but there was communication between units in the Crimea. Beginning with the Crimea, the telegraph became a staple in warfare playing an important role in the wars Prussia fought with Denmarrk, Austria, and France amd the American Civil War. Just before World War I wireless telgraphy was developed. Except for naval communications, it was primarily wired telegraohy used during the War. It was World War II when electrical devices came into their own, included wireless communication, telephones, radar, electrical engines, and a wide-range of range of electrical devices. Elecrtricity was also needed to power industry and to light cities. And there were a wide range of industrial processes that would oprocesses that were dependent on electricity. In World War II terms, the most important convdengtional pfrocess related to metals--especially the production of aluminum and magnesium. The Germans substantilly increased their aluminum production, but electrical generating capacity put a limit on how much they could expand. No country, howevr, had the electrical generaring capacity remotely close to that of the United States with Canada adding to the wartime generating capacity of the American Arsenl of Democracy. It was why America had the capacity not only to rapidly expand beyond Germany in aluminum production, but to not only build atomic bombs, but to pursue two different bomb technologies. The Manhattan Project involved both an uranium and plutonium option. The scientists were not sure which was the best option, so America just pursed both. And both of which required massuve anounts of electrical power. .


Hydro-poewer had only one use--the priduction of electricity. It was important in several countries during World War II, including Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, the Soviet Union, and the United States. Canada was an imprtant producer of aluminum even thiugh it did not have a bauxite resource. It did have polentiful hydro power need to process aluminum, vital to the all imprtant Allied air war. Hydro power was an imprtant part of German electricity production. It made the Ruhr dams a prinority target for British bombers, leading to the famed dam busters raid. Resource poor Japan made ample use of mounaneous teraine and rivers to produce hydro power which were not targeted in the stratgic bombing campaign. Hydro was a major power source in Norway. This became a major concern for the Allies because it was a potential source of heavy water for the German atomic program. This led to Allied resistance attacs and bombing raids. The Soviet Union as part of Stalin's Five Year Plans built massive hydro projects. They proved vital when as a result oif the Barbarossa invasion, the German seized a substatial number of Soviet coal mines, afecting Soviet industry and electricak genertion. Major hydro projects were completed in America during the inter-War era, n part bcyuse of New Deal Deoression fuifgtuing efforts. They substnatially added to America's electrical generating capacity. It maent that during Workd War II America had ample power even for the huge industrial expansion conducted during the War. It meant that the huge increase in aluminum needed for air craft priduction was possible as well as the great amounts of power needed for a brand new Manahattan nuclear project.


Nuclear psysicists in several countries began working on atomic energy before the War. Quite a number were Jews to the extent that German Führer Adolf Hiltler called nuclear physics "Jewish phsycics". The Germans were the leaders in this work and among their most important researchers was a female Jewish pysicist whose colleages helped her escape the Reich. After the outbreak of World War II, the focus shifted to weapons research. While Germany led the world in neuclear physics, only the United States had the industrial capacity to actually launch a nuclear weapons project. The German lead caused many of the Jewish scientists to support the Anglo-American effort. The effiort became known as the Manhattan Project which was the largest weapons development program in history. It was initiated by President Roosevelt when work done by German physicists led to concern that the NAZIs might build an atomic bomb. The Germans were limited by the massive industrial requirements of the industry. And Hitler viewed nuclear physics as Jewish science. The United States did not have the same industrial constraints the Germans faced. The project required about 10 percent if the electrical generating capscity of the United States. That came close to the entire electrical generating capcity of the Reich. The Japanese were also interested in nuclear weapons. The Japanese began mining uranium at Konan, North Korea, which now is the source of the uranium for North Korea's atomic bombs. The Japanese before the NAZI surrender had the Germans attempt to ship uranium to them by U-boats.

Fodder and oats

Fodder may seam like a strange entry, but is in fact a much neglected aspect of World War II. Most World War II armies relied heavily on horses for transporting supplies and to move artillery. Calvary charges were rare even by the time of World War I, but pulling supply wagons were another matter. While the American and British Armies were fully mechanized, other armies were not, including two of the most important armies the German Heer and the Soviet Red Army. We do not get a good feel for this in World War II documentaries. NAZI Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels was not impressed with horses, he was with tanks. Thus we do not see that many images of German soldiers trudging east on foot with horse-drawn carts. We see countless images of the German Panzers smashing all resistance before them. But this is misleading because some 80 percent of the Deutche Heer was unmotorized infantry. They had some truck's, but horses were vital for their mobility. A German infantry division had about 18,000 men as was aasigned for transport some 615 trucks and about 920 horse-drawn vehicle. Each of the he three infantry regiments got bout 200 horses. The the divisional artillery got 240 horses. This meant nearly 5,000 horses. [Robertson] These numbers varied over time, but the general trend was for infantry divisions to become more, not less dependent on horses. This was because as the Heer expanded, German industry failed to build the trucks needed by the new divisions. The Germans adjusted by seizing civilians vehicles from the occupied countries, vehicles that would not hold up well to the rigors of the Soviet's primitive road infrastructure and climate. Fuel shortages were another problem. The Germans would use more horses in World War II than Worlds War I. For Barbarossa alone the Germans had some 600,000-750,000 horses, about the same number as the 600.000 vehicles. The attrition of vehicles mean that as the Ostheer moved east, it became steadily demobilized. This at first was more breakdowns than by enemy action, this changed with the Red Army Winter Offensive (December 1941), huge numbers of men along with quantities of equipment and vehicles were lost or destroyed. (And the losses would never be fully replaced.) What all this means is that the Germans needed huge quantities of fodder and oats. This affected food production for humans--a major problem for the Germans. It also was a huge military problem. The major problems the Germans faced in Barbarossa was logistics. The Germans did not have adequate logistical carrying capacity to support the huge Ostheer. This was predicted by Wehrmacht logicians headed by Gen. Eduard Wagner--and ignored. It was ignored by the German general like Gen. Friedrich Paulus planning Barbarossa. We are not sure it was even brought to Hitler's attention. A substantial part of the precious logistical capacity was being used to feed horses. A horse needed bout 6 kg/day of feed, meaning the Ostheer require 4,500 tons of feed per day just for their horses.


Energy played a central role in World War II and was essentily the case of haves and have nots. There were essentially two vital fues-- coal and oil. The Axis powers had coal, but not ebough tpm power theur war industries and mosdt decidely not enough to power the ondustries of the countries they conqwuered. And wihout the coal the indudtries of these countries was of only minimal use to the German war economy. Even worse, Germany had provide some of its coal to keep the cionwquered ecinomies functiong, creaung coal shortages in Germany. In vontrast, the United States was the king of coal production and Brirain another major producer which had been supplying continental countries. Without British coals, these coiuntries could not maintain the production levels which would have allowed countries like France make a huge contribution to the German war effort. The suituation with oil was much worse. Neither Germny or Japan hadsignificn oil fields. And while it was coal that powered indudstry, it was oil the Germans needed for their Blitzkrieg conquests and the Japanese needed for a naval war. Again it was the Allies thazt had oil. America dominted world oil production. Britin had access to oil because of their Empire, but when war canme did not have a way to get it to Nritain itself. Transporting around the Cape of Good Hope would have rquired far more tankers than Britain had. America would supply all the oil Britain needed for the military and industry over the reltively short North tlnic sea lanes. The Battle of the Atlantic would be one of the decisive campaigns of the War. The German need for oil and other resources would be what drew Germany into invading the Soviet Union which would prove to be a disaster. The Soviet Union would join with the Germans and than the Allies. It had huge resources which if the Germans had suceeded woukld put the Germans in virtulaly unconqerable position. Lack of oil, however, made it virtually impossible for the NAZIs to succeed. It was why 80 percent of the Germany Army was unmotorized moving east on foot with horse-drawn carts. And that was not an army that could quickly suceed in the vastr streches of the Soviet Union. Just as oil had drawn Germany into the Soviet Union. Oil caused the Japanese to launch the Pacific War. Notonly did Japan lack any oil resource, but most of their oil came from America. Japan had been preparing for war for some time, but the Smericn oil embargo comvinced the Japanese that war was required. The result was Pearl Harbor and the Pacific War. The Jpanese gained the oil and other needed resources they needed in Southeast Asia. But a tear after they gained the resources, American submarines began cutting the sea lsanes. American submsriuners suceeded where the Germsn U-n=borts filed. Very little oil bd other resiources were feoibered toi the wat ijndustruies of the Home Islands. Ultimately it was the United States that woukd end the War with a new form of energy -- atomic energy. Ironically this was an area in which Gerrmny led until Hiller seized power. His campign against the Jews led notblke Jewisg scibtusts to thevUnited States abd played key roles in building the atomic bomb.


The United States not only had a vast industrial establishment, but copious natural resources to support that industry. The two central components of an industrial neconomy was coal and iron and the United States had abundant domestic sources of both. Many natural resources were needed in huge quanties to wage war, especially the global war which World War II became. No country had as many critical resources a the Soviet Union, but many of their resources were not developed. The United States while it did not have a large army when Hitler and Stalin launched the War, had most of the vital resources need to wage the War already developed. And America had an efficent rail system, unhindered by Axis bombing, to fully supply industry as the country shifted its immense industrial to a war footing. There were two basic types of resources, 1) metals and other non-fuel materials and 2) fuel resoueces. The energy resources included: coal, natural gas, and oil. The energy resources are best known as transportation fuels, needed to move the machiney of war--airplanes, trucks, tanks, and ships. Here oil was especially imprtant. The German shortage of oil would prove to be the jugular of the NAZI war machine. American oil fields were especially important to both fuel the American and British war effort. Mexico abd Venezuela also delivered imprtant quantities. America was also Japan's principal source of oil. The American embargo was an important step toward war. The Japanese seized the oil fields of the Dutch East Indies and British Borneo (1942), but soon found that even after repairing damage to the fields that the U.S. Navy, espcially the American submarines would make it virtually impossible for the Japnese maru fleet to get the oil back home to fuel the industries of the Home Islands. And subsequent shortages crimped the Japanese war effort from an early point. Coal was very important, primarily to fuel trains which were the world's primary terrestrial transport system. Domestic economies including war industries could not function wihout coal. Coal also fuel electrity produvtion, another vital indistrial component needed by the domestic economy and war industries. One reason the United States was able to build an atomic bomb was the country's huge electrical generating capacity. Electrity was also important in the production of both fertilzer for farms and munitions for the military. The principal important resource America did not possesshave was rubber. The United States relied on nsturl rubber produced on rubber tree plantations which could only be sited in tropical environments. Proiduction was concentrated in British Malaya. And the Japanese cut off the primary source of rubber when at the onset of the Pacific War they seized Malaya from the British (January 1942). The Unites States set out to expand production in other tropical areas (Brazil and Africa), but the primary sollution was a crash program to create an entire new industry--synthetic rubber production.


Britin was mply provided with coal fields. This was where the Indudtrisl Revolution was launched. In fact, Britain was shipping coal to many Europen nations before the War. Coal was fine for induatry, but fighting forces needed oil. Here oil was the most vital of all the raw materials for waging a mobile mechanized war. It was important in World I, but vital in World War II. It was needed for land, sea and air forces. But a fuel Britain like Germany almost totally lacked. Before the War, Britain was imoprting oil from the Middle East, Caribbean, and the United States. (The Cariiben oil as in large part pt of the Allied effort because of American oil companies and the fact rthe British Royl Navt and the Amnerican Navy controlled the North Atlantic. If Mexico nd Venezuela wnted to sell tgheir oil, i hd to be to Anmerica or Britin. When Italy entered the War (June 1940), the Middle Eastern deliveries through the Mediterranean were cut, although Middle Eastern oil supplied the Meditterranean Fleet and British Desert Army. For the rest of the War Carribean sources (Venezuela and Mexico) and the United States supplied Britain's oil with the United States becoming increasinglky important as the War progressed--all delovered by the perilous North Atlantic convoys and paid for by Lend Lease. Britain had few of the natural resources needed by an industyrial economy. The one resource Britain had in quantity was coal. This was what jump started the industrial revolution (19th century). Britain produced the coal needed by indudstry and to heat homes. Britain also supplied the coal needed by many continental countries. The proved to be a major problem for the Germans. To utilize the economies of occupied countrues, the Germans needed to replace the coal no longer available from Britain. Unlike Germany which lost its empire in World War I, Britain had access to oil in is Empire and assiociated states, although they were only beginning to develop oil fields. Here oil was the most vital of all the raw materials for waging a mobile mechanized war. It was important in World I, but vital in World War II. It was needed for land, sea and air forces. And as fuel which Britain almost totally lacked. Before the War, Britain was imoprting oil from the Middle East, Caribbean, and the United States. Britsin had developed oil fields in Bornneo and had an interest in the Royal Dutch Shell oilfields in the Dutch East Infies. There was some limited production in India as well as Middle Eastern fields. Anglo-Iranian oil company had begun to produce and had a refiery at Abadan. This was a major reason why British troops moved in to occupy and Iran (1942). The company (modern BP) attemopted to keep the oil flowing from Abadan, and this played a major role in powering the Allied war effort in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Far Eastern theatres after Britain’s Borneo oil fields were lost to the Japanese (early-1942). Bitain also had access to significant oil output from Iraq, shipped via a pipeline to Jaffa. The Middle Eastern oil field, however, were just beginning to produce. American oil production dwarfed Iran/Iraq and the Axis oil productioin from the Romanian Ploesti fields. The numbers are illuminating. Romania: 6.6 million tons (1938). Iran: 10.4 million t (1938) rising to 19.2 million t (1945). Iraq: 4.3 million t (1938) increasing to only 4.5 million t (1945). United States: 172.9 million t (1938). The British were getting twice as much oil from the Middle Eastern fields as the Germans were from the Romanian ones, but the Americans were producing nine times as much as the British and Germans combined! When Italy entered the War (June 1940), the British Middle Eastern deliveries through the Mediterranean were cut, although Middle Eastern oil continued to supply the Meditterranean Fleet and British Desert Army. For the rest of the War Carribean sources (Venezuela and Mexico) and the United States supplied Britain's oil needs with the United States becoming increasingly important as the War progressed (figure 1). And all all this oil had to be delivered over the perilous North Atlantic convoy routes preyed upon by the German the U-boats (21939-43). In addition, it was paid for by American Lend Lease.


Frsnce had important coal fields, but had lost some as a result of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) because of the German annexation of Alsace-Loraine. Still it was an important producer. The country did not, however, have any important oil fields. There was a small field in Alsace which was recovered along wih coal fields as part of the World War I victory and the Versailles Peace Treaty (1919). Unlike Britain, neither did the French colonial possessions. Most of France's oil was imported from the United States, Venezuela, and the Middle East, namely Iraq. [Beaujeu-Garnier] The Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP) owned over 20 percebt of the Iraq Petroleum Company which was developed in the 1920s. CFP is the forrunner of today's oil giant Total. A pipeline conncted the oilfields around Kirkuk in northern Iraq to refineries in Haifa in British controlled Palestine and Tripoli in French controlled Lebanon. AFAIK operated the pipelines year round. There were important refineries in Balaruc and La Pallice. After the German invasion and occupation (June 1940), the british cut off oil imports to Vichy France. There was no way Vichy could replaced American oil because of the British naval blockade and American export controls. The Royal Navy also prevented Iraqi deliveries to France after the country fell to the NAZIs and Vichy began collaborating. Then after the Iraqi Revolt (April 1941), Britain invaded Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. Lebanon and Syria were turned over to the Free French, meaninng that Vichy was permanently cut off. French annual oil consumtion collapsed from 8.3 million t (1938) to aa mere (estimated) 0.3 million t during the German occupation (1940-44). Little actual data exits concerning the Vichy era, but there is no doubt that virtually no oil was avialablle to Frenvh civilians and industry. The CFP during the war was primarily concerned with survival and protecting its refieries and other vital interest. [Phuillier] The Germans were not about to share their limited oil supply, desperately needed by the military, with Vichy . The Germans were primarily concerned with getting as much French coal as possible. The lack of oil would be a major factor in military operations, but coal was vital for industry. The German victory in the West (1940) was an enormous success in many ways. The Germns gained the very substantil French strategic reserve of critical raw materials. But they failed to intelgently exploit even more valuable prize--the French economy. France was one of the major indutrial powers in the world with a large, modern arms industry, including aviation and motor vehicles. French production woiuld had played a major roler in arming the Americn Expeditionary Force in World War I. French indusdtrial production could have significantly added to German arms production. And unlike the Germans, the French were mastering mass production. The Germans, however, did not make much use of French industry. This failure was important and too often ignored. There were several reasons for this, including the German penchant for exploitation and brutality. Another major factor was energy shortages. Energy is needed to power industry. Oil for the most part was virtusally unavailable, but France had coal. Undrt German occupation, French coal fell precipitouly crerating coal shortages as well. No German policies could hve obtained oil for France, but coal was a different matter. There was no reason that col nproduction could not hve been mintained. The precpitous fall was all a result of German occupation policies. During the War there were importnt oil storage depots in France that were tageted by Allied bombers.


Germany was a resource poor country--except for coal. Coal became the fuel that powered industry during the 19th century as well as heating homes. This continued to be the case after thg turn of the 20th century and in fact was still the case until well after World War II. Oil began to become important in the Unites States thanks in no small part thanks to Henry Ford and the Model-T Ford which put cars within the purchasing power of the average induvidual worker. This was not the case in Europe where automobile companies were less interested in producing low-cost cars--especially German manufascturers. Some in th middle-class could afford cars, but not workers who were hard pressed to affird bicycles. Oil was, however, important for industry and vital for military purposes. This began before World War I with navies, although not all countries made the transition. During World War I oil was also needed for aircraft as well as tanks and trucks. Il was much more important in World War II. Germany needed it for the Blitzkrieg operations it was perfecting amd in large quantities--quantitiies that it did mot have. This would be a major factor in the War. The Allies were slower to adopt Blitzkrieg tactics, but from the start of the War both Britain and America were more fully motorized than Germnan, but not France and the Soviet Union. The Americans, British, and Soviets also has access to oil that the Germans and Japanese did not have. The War was in part sbout access to oil and other raw mateials.


Italy was also a resource poor country. They did have some coal fields, but oil had to be imported, primarily from the United States. When Italy entered the War, these shipments were cut off (June 1940). .


Energy was vital for any industrial nation. From the beginning of modern Japan, energy was a the center of interaction between the United States and Japan. It was the U.S.Navy's need for a coaling station that led Commodore William Perry sailing his four Black Ships into Tokyo Bay and firing a volley of blank shells (1853). The American Pacific Fleet would return about a century later--this time a vast array of moderrn ships and aircraft. It was the most powerful naval force in world history. The energy connection which America began with coal and would only heighten as oil entered the picture. The Meiji Government's primary goal was industrialization (1870s). Meiji officials recognized that only an industrial nation could escape China's fate and fend off Western incursions. So obtaining coal was the country's first energy challenge. [Yoshida, p. 1] Coal as in the rest of the world was Japan's primary energy source for its industry. Japan lacked almost all important natural resources needed for an industrial economy. In the West, industrialization occurred around areas where raw material existed. This is one reason Industrial Revolution began in Britain. This was not the case with Japan. The country is virtually devoid of raw materials, especially mineral resources. The one major exception was coal. Japan did have coal resources, albeit not located where industry was developed. Curiously, Japanese coal was is found in the extreme ends of the country, in the north (Hokkaidō and Sakhalin) and the south (Kyūshū). These two areas has some 85 percent of the country's coal deposits, meaning at some distance from Japan's industrial heartland. There was also coal in Formosa (Taiwan), southern Sakhalin, and Korea which Japan had seized (1894, 1906, and 1909). Japan steadily increased its coal production: 1912 (20 million tons), 1932 (30 million t), and 1941) 56 million tons). There were also imports from China and Indochina. At the time Jon launched the Pacific War, imposts were increasing and becoming more important. The great bulk of Japan's coal, however came from domestic sources. Kyūshū's coal was ranked as poor quality and difficult to extract, but the Kyūshū mines were located close to ports, facilitating transport. The Hokkaido mines had wider seams are wider, meaning that they could be worked mechanically. And the coal was a higher grade. The Hokkaido mines, however, were located some distance inland, increasing transport costs and requiring infrastructure projects. Japanese mining generally used inclined galleries. Some mines were up to 10 km underground. There was little open pit strip mining. This meant relatively costly mining operation and lower productivity compared to Western Europe and the United States. The col was used to generate electricity and fuel the country rail lines, with a few exceptions of electrical lines in and around the major cities. While Japan had coal, they could import coal at a lower cost than domestic mining. Of course after launching the Pacific War, most import sources were cut off. Oil meaning hydrocarbons were a different matter. Japan was confronted with its second energy challenge, the expanding need for oil. [Yoshida, p. 2] Japanese domestic oil deposits were minimal. Almost all of Japan's oil was imported. And this was a serious problem because as Japan's industry grew, the need for oil increased. The government tried to discourage oil usage even before the War. This was done primarily by keeping prices for petroleum products high in the private sector. Many urban buses ran on charcoal rather than expensive gasoline for thus reason. This is part of the reason that so few Japanese families had cars. As the military expanded and launched foreign adventures, the demand for oil only increased. The Imperial Army was not heavily mechanized, but still needed oil. The Imperial Navy and air forces could not operate without oil and large quantities of it, especially after the War began. At the time, the United States was the primary producer of oil and alternative sources (the Dutch East Indies, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, and Venezuela) were heavily influenced by American and British interests. This of course was fined as long as Japan maintained good relations with America and Britain. The Japanese military, however, beginning in the 1920s set Japan on a collision course with both countries. Hydro power was Japan's other major source of energy. Hydro helped generate electricity. Japan has a number of short rivers, but as they run off from mountenous area, they have considerable hydro potential. At the time of World War II, Japan had developed about a third of its hydro potential, but was not further developing it at the time of World War II. There was a shortage of materials and they decided to give priority to projects in Korea and Manchuria. Japan is a heavily forested country. Timber among other uses could be used as a fuel. This included making charcoal which was used in Japanese households. We notice buses running on charcoal. This of course helped reduce consumption of oil-based fuels like gasoline and diesel, but we are not sure how common this was.

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union had enormous energy resporces like Russia today. Much of it at the time of Workd War IIwasnoy yet developed. But with Barbarossa (June 1941), major coal fields were over run by the NAZIs. There were, however, oil fields in the Caucauses that had been developed during Tsarist times. The fields were much less prodfuctive than those in America, but more than met the much smaller demands of Soviet industry and the military. Like the Germans, the Red Army still relied heavily on horses. Unlike the Germans, the Soviets were able to reduce this because of the huge delivery of American Lend-Lease trucks and reltively efficient motor vehicle industry. (American automobile companies had a major impasct on the Soviet motor vehicle industry before the War. (German autmobile companies were more resistent to Americn mass peoduction techniques.) While the Soviets oil fields were small by American standards, they would have basically solved the oil shortages plaguing the German military. Which is why the German 1942 summer offensive was aimed at the Caucuses.


Beaujeu-Garnier, Jacqueline. "La France et le pétrole," L'Information Géographique Année 1952, pp. 65-71.

Phuillier, M. "La stratégie de la Compagnie Française des Pétroles durant la Seconde Guerre Mondiale : sauvegarder l'essentiel," Histoire, économie & société Année 1992, pp. 463-78.

Robertsin, Tom. "Horse power: Horses and the German Army of Wolkd War II," Flames of War website (2011).

Yoshida, Phyllis Genther. "Japan’s energy conundrum," (Sasakawa Peace Foundationm USA: 2017)


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