I am a big lover of history, especially the Second World War. Initially this expressed itself in popular military histories (Stalingrad as one example). Impressed by Tooze’s account of the GFC in Crashed, and already looking to branch out, I decided to read his account of the interwar period, ‘The Deluge,’ and the Nazi Germany economy, The Wages of Destruction. The latter wins on title. Both incredible, especially Deluge which has changed my frame for thinking about geopolitics today (the subject of a forthcoming essay).
Anyway, i jotted down some factoids that were especially interesting:
Of those aged between 20 and 30, who were physically fit for military service, 85% were already in the German Wehrmacht (armed forces) in 1941
Petrol shortage was so severe in German territories in 1941 that the Wehrmacht gave licenses to the drivers of its heavy trucks after only 15km of on-road experience
In 1918 the US army fought with French weapons, not the other way around. Three quarters of aircraft flown by the US Air Service were of French origin
I was struck especially by his account of the evolution of the German aircraft industry and its explosive growth. When Hitler came to power Germany in 1933 did not really have a proper aircraft industry, employed only 3500 people nationally and could produce 100 planes a year. By 1940 they employed 250,000 and could produce 10,000 of the most advanced war planes in the world.
Finally, for to put our age of unprecedented innovation in context. in 1934/5, the first generation of planes rolling off assembly lines were still mostly made of wood. In 1941/2 the Germans tested the world’s first jet fighter.