¡Hola a todos!
Los argumentos que se han aportado sobre el aumento de producción de munición como obstáculo insalvable para abastecer a un número sustancialmente mayor de cañones antitanque (caso de que Hitler decidiera aumentar la producción de cañones antitanque en la línea sugerida por Rommel) son un poco débiles, en mi opinión. Es del todo cierto, como ya se ha comentado aquí, que Alemania sufrió varias crisis en el apartado de producción de munición (en 1937 y durante varias fases de la guerra), pero todas estas crisis se resolvieron finalmente, en más o menos tiempo, en línea con lo exigido por Hitler. Naturalmente, para alcanzar los niveles de producción de munición demandados por Hitler hubo que cambiar de prioridades y hacer cambios drásticos en otros capítulos de la producción y distribución de materias primas, así como recortes en otros capítulos de la producción de armamentos, especialmente que afectaron a la Luftwaffe y la Kriegsmarine, todo ello para beneficiar la situación de municiones en el ejército de campaña. Todo esto, y para cada crisis en concreto, está muy bien explicado en el libro de Tooze, The Wages of Destruction. Aunque es necesario tocar más ejemplos (y para ello remito al libro), pondré uno que toca al acero, íntimamente ligado a la munición. Es un poco largo y está en inglés (pp. 569-576, aunque he abreviado bastante), pero creo que este libro ha sido publicado en español. Así, para quienes sea tedioso o incomprensible el siguiente texto, remito al libro en español:
As in 1939-40, meeting Hitler's huge new ammunition demands required an immediate and wrenching reallocation of raw materials the impact of which could only be softened in the medium term by a substantial increase in the output of steel.
The scale of the shift was dramatic. In the last quarter of 1941, in line with the priorities of armaments planning set before Barbarossa, the German army out of its measly ration of 185,000 tons of steel had proposed to allocate only 25,000 tons to ammunition. Now Hitler demanded that the ammunition programme should be established with a regular monthly quota of no less than 350,000 tons of steel, an increase by a factor of 14. Even before Speer took office, the army's overall steel ration had been doubled to more than 350,000 tons per month in the first quarter of 1942. This was 'paid for' in part by cuts to the Luftwaffe's expansion plans and sharp reductions in the production of bombs and anti-aircraft shells. The navy's ration was also cut. But this was not enough to make room for the army's new needs. In 1942 large quantities of steel were still being allocated to the investment programmes begun in 1940 and 1941, and significant quantities of steel were still going to export orders. The immediate effect of the crisis on the Eastern Front and the sudden need to give top priority to the army was therefore to exacerbate the 'steel inflation' that had already been causing increasing concern in the autumn of 1941. Significantly more steel entitlements were issued than there were quantities of actual steel. So large was the discrepancy that it threatened to disorganize the entire war effort. Steel producers overloaded with orders, all of which were backed by official steel entitlements, were free to pick and choose the grades of steel they produced. High-priority programmes were forced to wait for months before their requirements were met. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of tons of steel went to waste because they were delivered after the armaments programmes for which they were intended had been cancelled.
[...] The enormous backlog of steel orders was to be cancelled. To ensure that there was no further inflation, rations would in the future be issued only up to 90 per cent of total steel production, leaving a reserve of 10 per cent for top priority contracts. Rolling mills, for their part, would be required to take on no more orders than they were able to supply within a reasonable time period. Then in the third quarter of 1942. the overall quantity of steel rations was slashed to bring it into line with actual production. The total militaryallocation was cut by 7 per cent, with the navy being the main casualty. The army's allocation continued to increase. By contrast, the total allocation for non-armaments purposes was cut by almost a quarter, the brunt being borne by the export sector. This provoked protests, not only from the civilian economic administration but also from Wehrmacht high command, which was seriously concerned about the impact on Germany's allies, most notably Italy. However, as the battle for Stalingrad reached its dreadful climax, Speer had little difficulty in insisting on the absolute priority of the army.
This took care of steel allocation. But the more fundamental problem, clearly, was the inadequate production of steel. As we have seen, in the late summer and autumn of 1941 the German war effort was haunted by the fear of a severe setback to steel output as a result of the difficulties in coal supply. By juggling steel types and supplementing with highquality foreign iron ore and scrap, the steel firms in fact managed to maintain production at a relatively high level, at least until the last quarter of 1941. But after that output began to fall sharply, bottoming out in early 1942, when the supply of coal was severely disrupted by a renewed crisis of the German railway system, this time precipitated by the strain of covering thousands of extra kilometres of track in the Soviet Union. Having rearranged the system for allocating steel and adjusted allocations to bring them into line with actual output, Roechling's overriding priority was to raise steel production. As early as the end of June 1942, Speer and Hitler had agreed that Germany would need to raise monthly production by at least 600,000 tons by the end of the year. As Roechling presented it to the steel industry in the summer of 1942, the immediate goal was to match Hitler and Speer's demands by raising output from its current level of roughly 31 million tons per annum to at least 36 million tons. (...) The problem, however, was coal. To meet Hitler and Speer's target, the steel industrialists claimed to need at least 400,000 extra tons of coking coal per month, as well as more skilled labour and a large quantity of scrap metal for smelting. On this point, however, there seemed no possibility of reconciling the demands of Roechling and his colleagues with the production forecasts provided by Paul Pleiger and the Reich coal association.
[...] The necessary coal was 'squeezed out' by imposing a 10 per cent cut on domestic consumers, which meant that the German per capita allocation was now 15 per cent lower than that in Britain. (...) Rather than collapsing, as the RVE had feared, steel output rose in the first quarter of 1943 to a wartime record of 2.1 million tons per month in the pre-war territory of Germany. For the German Grossraum as a whole, the monthly average in early 1943 was 2.7 million tons. On the crest of this heavy industrial boom, Speer delivered the 'armaments miracle'. By February 1943 the combined armaments index exceeded twice the level it had reached when Speer took over. The driving force of this spectacular increase, however, was anything but miraculous. To reiterate, in so far as Speer was responsible, the most important factor was ammunition. And the increased production of ammunition was not primarily an effect of rationalization or reorganization. It was a direct result of a hugely increased allocation of steel. From September 1939 to the end of 1943, there is a near-perfect correlation between the allocation of steel to ammunition production and the quantity of ammunition produced. When plenty of steel was allocated, ammunition production was buoyant. When the steel supply was restricted, so was the production of ammunition, and this relationship holds both before and after February 1942. To the extent that therewas a major surge in labour productivity within the remit of the Speer Ministry, the indicator usually used to measure rationalization success, this in fact confirms the rate-limiting role of steel. Without enough raw material, neither labour nor the available industrial plant could be used efficiently.
A mi juicio, la propuesta de Rommel (como tantas otras propuestas e historias alternativas en este sentido) sólo sería, en el mejor de los casos, una respuesta -más o menos práctica, más o menos viable- a un problema coyuntural. Sin embargo, el Gran Problema alemán era estructural: a diferencia de USA, y quizá URSS, Alemania no tenía los recursos materiales y humanos necesarios para llevar a cabo el incremento en el esfuerzo de guerra demandado por las exigencias de la guerra. Todo lo más que podía hacer era "desnudar un santo para vestir a otro", más allá de las limitaciones inherentes a la perversa estructura política y económica del Tercer Reich (donde sí hubo, hasta cierto punto, cambios y mejoras). Simplemente, a partir del otoño de 1941 con el fracaso de Barbarroja y la entrada de USA en la guerra, el Gran Problema alemán ya no tenía solución práctica; esto es, militarmente no podía ganar la guerra ni podía alargarla mucho más de lo que lo hizo en la realidad. Propuestas como la de Rommel, aunque pudieran llevarse a la práctica (a costa de trasladar el problema a otros servicios, armas y lugares de los teatros de la guerra, en el frente y la retaguardia) nunca podrían cambiar este paisaje.
"Dioses, no me juzguéis como un dios
sino como un hombre
a quien ha destrozado el mar" (Plegaria fenicia)