- Historic Sites
After The Air Raids
An insider’s account of a startling— and still controversial—investigation of the Allied bombing of Germany
April/may 1981 | Volume 32, Issue 3
The time was the spring of 1945, as the war in Europe was ending. And the mission was war-related: to assess how effective America’s bombing had been in defeating Germany. Now, John Kenneth Galbraith recalls for the first time the whole experience—how he and his most unmilitary staff of economists operated, how they reacted to the defeated Nazis and to their destroyed country, how they ferreted and schemed and improvised to dig out the facts of Germany’s wartime economy, and how, in the end, our government reacted to their findings.
Galbraith—economist, teacher, critic, novelist, diplomat, adviser to Presidents—has written his memoirs, A Life in Our Times, which will be published by Houghton Mifflin Company in May. The following article is excerpted from this forthcoming book.
I think of the European part of World War II as ending in a resort hotel in Luxembourg. The hotel, once modestly fashionable, was long, low, white, with a veranda running full length along the front. Before it was a waterless fountain and pool with a sun-baked water nymph in the middle. All around was a high barbed-wire fence covered top to bottom with a greenish yellow camouflage cloth. There were guards and machine guns. A sergeant at the gate told an applicant for admission one day that he had to have “a pass from God, and someone to verify the signature.” It was that rarity among jails, one far easier to leave than to enter.
It had been the principal hotel of Mondorf-les-Bains in Luxembourg, a few miles southeast of Luxembourg City on the French border. One evening in the early summer of 1945 we had finished interrogating the inmates for the day and were waiting inside on the central stairway for our transport. On one side below was the main lounge of the hotel, on the other, to the left, the dining room. A heavy thunderstorm was lighting the rooms from outside—great vivid flashes that were followed almost instantly by the crashing thunder. The faces of the men now waiting for dinner, some reading, some chatting, some standing alone, some sitting quietly on the lounge chairs, were all familiar. Angry, expostulative, barbaric, fearsome, they had dominated the newspapers for fifteen years. Julius Streicher, after Himmler the most appalling of the Hitler acolytes, was there. Also Dr. Robert Ley, the head of the Arbeitsfront [National Socialist Labor Front]; Joachim von Ribbentrop, the foreign minister; and Walther Funk, the head of the Reichsbank. Present in slightly dismantled uniforms were Hitler’s immediate military staff—Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and Colonel General Alfred Jodl, men whom Albert Speer a little earlier had called the “nodding donkeys.” Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz was also there and Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, the last commander on the Western front. As we waited for our car and they waited for their dinner, the lightning and thunder continued, and a colonel standing with me had a sudden, astonishing, and valid thought: “Imagine anyone back in 1940 risking a play—A Hotel in Luxembourg in 1945—with this cast and setting. It would have been laughed out of town.”
The hotel at Mondorf was the place of detention for the highest Nazis. Code names in those days had acquired a certain archness, and the spa was called Ashcan. It was under U.S. Army direction; a British counterpart near Frankfurt for more technical prisoners, including Speer and the alleged financial genius Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht, was called Dustbin. (Our interrogations of Schacht showed him to be a man by then impervious, except to financial cliché, and with almost no knowledge of what had been going on.)
Hermann Goering was not with the men awaiting dinner but in a bedroom upstairs. A large mattress had been spread on a narrow army cot to make him more comfortable, and it hung out over the sides. Goering, his vast, loose bulk collapsed on the bed, gave the impression of sagging farther over the mattress edges. He was suffering from drug withdrawal, my only encounter with this torture or, indeed, in a sheltered life, with drug addiction. His commitment, like that of the late Howard Hughes, had been to codeine, and he had an ample stock when taken prisoner. The U.S. Army cure had involved only abrupt confiscation.
Others also were undergoing rehabilitation. Ribbentrop, Funk, and Ley had been continuously drunk for months, a natural enough recourse for shallow, even primitive men who still, when sober, were able to see the inevitable. Drink was escape. Albert Speer in earlier interrogations had said, “In the last months one had always to deal with drunken men.” He went on to guess that when the history of the Third Reich was written, it would be said that it drowned in a sea of alcohol. (It wasn’t, in fact, ever said; even Speer’s memoirs omitted mention of the drunkenness.) Ribbentrop had on his person when taken prisoner two last-minute appeals to the British for peace which were of his own composition and reflected the general Nazi hope for common action against the Russians. They were addressed to the Honorable Vincent Churchill. One thought of a letter to Albert Hitler.
The guests at Mondorf were not a terribly useful source of information. Goering, heaped pathetically on his mattress, knew little of Luftwaffe operations for which, nominally, he had been responsible and even less of economic and military matters in general. He gave whatever answers he thought would most likely please his four interrogators or would foreclose the subject and get us away. The air attacks, he said, had devastated German war production, which was not so, but it was what he thought Americans would wish to hear. Others were uneasily sensitive to the darker corners of their past, a matter which came up because we had been asked to get them on the record, to the extent possible, on war crimes. Field Marshal Keitel had been head of the army honor court that had hung those officers with complicity, real or suspected, in the July 20,1944, attempt on Hitler’s life. When first questioned, he couldn’t remember that anyone at all had been sent to the meat hooks. The penalties for lying to his captors, possibly exaggerated for the occasion, were then made known to him, and his memory improved. He sought us out not once but twice with upward revisions. Ribbentrop had no knowledge at all of the concentration camps until his memory was similarly assisted. Then he told of hearing of them while ambassador to London and warning Berlin of their adverse diplomatic effect.
As a matter of much interest, Ribbentrop was pressed on why Hitler had declared war on the United States after Pearl Harbor, an act with such an electric and unifying effect. He told of Hitler’s belief that for all practical purposes the United States was already at war with Germany, an incredible thought for anyone who had been in Washington in those days. And he cited Germany’s treaty obligations to Japan. A Lieutenant Stein who was handling translations then asked a further question on his own: “Why was that particular treaty the first one you decided to keep?”
In those sunny early summer days, the inmates, not a bookish group, spent most of their time walking on the long veranda. Julius Streicher always walked alone. Once we saw him turn to the dry hole in front of the hotel and come to attention, his arm raised in the Nazi salute. We judged that he was back at Nuremberg, and a battalion of brown shirts was marching by. After a few minutes he relaxed, lowered his arm, and resumed his solitary walk.
The generals at Mondorf had remnants of bearing and dignity. General Jodl had gone so far as to rebuke one of his early interrogators, our military adviser Major General Orvil Anderson, and my notes have his exact words: “You are trying to kill Germany; we want to fight wars in the old way and give up a province or two when we lose.” Why now an unsporting animosity? In contrast to the soldiers, the civilian Nazis looked shabby, depressed, and wholly repellent. Stripped of neckties and belts to deter suicide and extensively unshaven, they would have fitted in easily at Leavenworth.
When we were finished at Ashcan, I flew back down the Moselle to Frankfurt and on to my headquarters at Bad Nauheim. Our work was important enough for airplanes but not in my case for a safe one. So I had a Canadian C-64, underpowered by its one engine for the six passengers it was meant to carry. That day I was alone with the pilot, an Americanized Belgian who had wanted to fly fighters and who did the best with what he had. (A few days later he survived a crash, and so did I from not being with him. ) On the morning of our flight he had, with my help, persuaded Colonel Burton C. Andrus, the jailer at Mondorf as later at Nuremberg, to take him on early rounds through the hotel. The effect had been deeply depressing. He had always supposed from the vast scale of the conflict that our opponents were heroes. A few weeks later I was to write of his disillusion:” Who’d have thought that we were fighting this war against a bunch of jerks?”
My passage to Mondorf and Bad Nauheim had begun in the winter of 1945. The yet earlier and deeper origins were in the nature of aerial warfare, now forever to me a hideous thing. All the wartime bombing, accidents apart, being on the far side of enemy lines, knowledge of the destruction depended on the reports of those in the bombers or later aerial reconnaissance. Neither source was given to understatement; neither air crew nor photographs minimized the admittedly ghastly consequences. Accordingly, in the autumn of 1944, George Ball, counsel to the Foreign Economic Administration, was asked to assess, ex post facto, the support given by the Air Force to the Normandy landings and the success of the airmen in denying the Germans access to the front. He went on to propose a much more ambitious assessment of the results of the strategic bombing of Germany. Similar suggestions came from the Air Force itself, and President Roosevelt, reflecting on the claims of the air generals, also urged such a study on Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Out of the several proposals in November, 1944, came the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. It was to be independent of the Air Force, although advised and supported by it, and independent and accurate in its findings. Accuracy to many of the Air Force generals had a somewhat specialized connotation; it meant establishing with some clarity that the bombers won the war.
George Ball, who had become a director of the USSBS, brought me into the survey in the late winter of 1944 to have charge of the overall economic assessment of the German mobilization effort and the effect thereon of the air attacks. Our first planning sessions were in the partners’ room at 23 Wall Street, in Henry Alexander’s private office, and in the Morgan private dining room. Alexander was the general director of the USSBS. I thereafter took leave from Fortune and went down to Washington to recruit a staff. Then and later in London, with the assistance of Burton H. Klein, an Air Force captain and later a professor at the California Institute of Technology, I assembled one of the more diversely talented groups of scholars ever brought together for a single research task. It was not difficult. As the war came to an end, many highly qualified people were becoming available in civilian Washington. More could be combed out of the armed services and were full of joy at their rescue from the now besetting idleness. The British, more cautious or xenophobic than we, had not used fully the scholarly talent that had taken refuge on their shores from Germany, Austria, and elsewhere in central Europe. These men we also hired; they knew German and Germany well and had a highly motivated desire to serve.
My subordinates, in a manner of speaking, for in the long history of human conflict few in any military formation were so little given to any form of obedience, were a roster of the famous of the next economic generation. Nicholas Kaldor, later Lord Kaldor; E. F. Schumacher of Small Is Beautiful; my old OPA [Office of Price Administration] partner Griffith Johnson; Paul A. Baran, with Paul Sweezy to become the most distinguished and by far the most entertaining of American Marxists; Tibor Scitovsky, another noted economist; Edward Denison, later to become one of the leaders in modern statistical analysis; and many more. Everyone—American, British, erstwhile German or Hungarian—was given a rank theoretically reflecting his previous civilian station in life and told to provide himself with an officer’s uniform, which he then wore without insignia of rank. Some tried to sustain a slightly military bearing.
On April 12, 1945, I was ready to leave for London, where we were to be based, and went back to New York for a small farewell celebration. Toward evening one of the guests, Letty Hamm, wife of my OPA colleague John Hamm, called to tell us that the radio had just reported that President Roosevelt was dead. We assembled that night less in gloom than in shock. We had come to suppose that FDR was forever. He had been so for twelve years, nearly all our adult lives. The following morning I went to Washington on the train with another committed Roosevelt man, Nelson Rockefeller. We speculated on the effect on our future, politically and otherwise. Nelson guessed—as it turned out, rightly—that he would survive.
The next day before dawn George Ball and I left for London from Patuxent, in Maryland, by NATS [Naval Air Transport Service]. Those who have flown only in the modern jet cannot know how unpleasant was an ocean crossing in those primitive bucket-seat planes. It was not the discomfort but the tedium. The better part of three days was required; it was too dark to read, too noisy and too cold to sleep. Endless hours up to Stephenville in Newfoundland; endless hours down to the Azores; a long, long day to Prestwick near Glasgow; a final flight to London. Never did life so nearly stand still as on those journeys. Before departure one had a movie that depicted the procedures to be followed when the plane ditched and filled up with water. If all other recourse failed, one could always turn one’s mind back to that film.
Our London headquarters was in Grosvenor Square, in the offices lately abandoned by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Many who now visit London must wonder how so much of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century city survived the Blitz. The explanation is partly that tourists tend to go to the West End, and it was the City and the dreary proletarian wastelands to the east that got the bombs. But also the destruction was selective, a building or part of a street here and there. Not until one got to Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt, or Berlin did one see cities in which every building was an empty, roofless shell. For me they remained an utterly sickening sight. When I first went to India, to Calcutta, I was similarly appalled by the poverty, but after living there a few weeks, I found that my eyes had developed an impermeable glaze; I no longer reacted to the deprivation. The devastation of the German, and later and especially of the Japanese, cities is with me still.
In Germany as in London the bombing had a nasty class aspect. The densely populated working-class districts got the full force of the bombs; often the affluent outer suburbs escaped.
In London I assembled my economics faculty and divided them into industrial sections corresponding roughly with those of the Gross National Product. (In coming months our statisticians would calculate the first GNP figures ever for Germany.) The wartime production or performance of each sector—capital equipment, construction, basic materials, weapons, labor supply—was to be established, as also that of the important industries therein. Special attention was to be given to the production of weaponry. The effect of the air attacks both on aggregate output and on the individual industries was then to be assessed. All this arranged, my economic warriors were dispatched to Germany to look for the figures and the people who could interpret them.
In the original plan other teams would inspect the burned and battered factories. And specialists were deployed to do so. They learned only that the factories were very burned and battered. Such inspection did not show when or by how much production had been curtailed. For this the production records were needed, and even these told little of the effect on the output of the industry as a whole or of the ultimate effect on weapons production or, beyond that, on military operations. Did oil shortages ground the airplanes or only civilian transport? Did the destruction of the factories eliminate the German air force or was it lost in combat? For the full answer only the overall statistics and the interpretation of the statisticians, officials, and generals would suffice. That interesting task was ours. So, accordingly, was the resulting influence on findings. As ever, it was not to my regret.
With the end of the war with Hitler only weeks away, Washington was planning the final attack on Japan. Information was wanted on what the bombers had accomplished over Germany, and this we were being pressed urgently to supply. I now followed my teams to the scene both to see what useful information they were procuring and to satisfy my nearly uncontrollable curiosity as to the effects of the war.
On that first trip to Germany we billeted ourselves at a temporary headquarters outside Cologne. Immediately adjacent were acres upon acres of tulip fields in full bloom. They were a wonderful relief from the devastation. I clambered across the ruins of one of the great bridges over the Rhine to examine the remains of an engine plant on the east bank; it was in very poor condition, and it was there that I realized how little could be learned from inspection alone.
I was back in London on V-E night, a curiously passive scene. Everyone was in the streets and looking for the behavior of someone else that would make the evening memorable. There was none of the wild emotion that, one knew, had marked the ends, false and real, of World War I. At Buckingham Palace the King and Queen did appear on the balcony along with Winston Churchill. He, a small, distant, indistinct figure, gave a “V for victory” sign; it wasn’t very impressive. Next morning early I went to Biggin Hill Airfield and back to Germany.
George Ball and I made our headquarters that spring and summer in Bad Nauheim, the pleasant spa town on the autobahn twenty miles north of Frankfurt. We occupied a small private hotel, Villa Grunewald, on the outskirts; our economists and the supporting military staff were in the much larger Park Hotel in the town center. The Germans, accustomed to Prussian standards of military attire and decorum, viewed us with wonder. Franklin d’Olier, head of the USSBS; the secretariat; and various others of the higher command remained in London while George Ball developed deeply unflattering theories as to their occupation there. George concentrated his attention on the effect of the bombing of the cities and with Paul Nitze, another director, on the meaning of our findings for the Pacific war. I remained with the economics.
That allowed me to visit the various teams and guide or participate in the interrogation of senior German military and civilian figures who were now becoming available in volume. One traveled along highways and autobahns through two nearly continuous lines of foot travelers, one line going in one direction, the other in the opposite. It was hard to suppose that the end of the war had found any European at home. As word passed that there were Americans in the neighborhood, soldiers came out of the woods to surrender. Military prison meant regular meals. On May 11, three days after V-E Day, I stopped at Army headquarters in Augsburg while my driver found out the way to a high-level prison camp where we were to interrogate Wehrmacht generals. An American sergeant asked me to take along a German SS general who had just arrived in a reconnaissance vehicle and was trying to surrender. I told him to follow me to the jail. On our arrival I found that I was turning in Hitler’s greatest military favorite, Sepp Dietrich.
A section of the autobahn between Munich and Augsburg had been converted to an airstrip, the center concrete being painted green to disguise the change. In cul-de-sacs along the road were curious-looking aircraft, sleek and without propellers. One wondered if they had been delivered without them. They were, in fact, the Me-262s, the first jet fighters, and a full technological generation more fearsome than anything we or the British possessed. Only a monumental error—Hitler’s demand that they be redesigned as a light attack bomber—had kept them from being used with disastrous effect.
In Munich one of our teams came upon an impressive breakthrough in the art of economic warfare—a printing plant and some 130 millions in five-pound notes. They were to be dropped in Britain. Polish engravers had been brought out of the concentration camps for the work and shot when it was finished; the Germans did not wish such accomplished counterfeiters to survive. At Garmisch we interrogated the crew of a radio-directed repair train which moved out on call to replace rails and ties destroyed by bombs. The repairs, they said, could be quickly accomplished. But eventually they were prevented from reaching the breaks that most needed repair by the need to repair the numerous breaks in the track that allowed them to get there. A difficult problem.
On another afternoon I stopped to visit the fathers at Kloster Ettal and to join them over glasses of their liqueur, which I had first consumed in an adjacent bistro seven years before. For the moment there was a lack of comity within the Church. The fathers spoke with the utmost bitterness of the Franciscans and their cautious relations with the Nazis. In Munich that same evening the Stars and Stripes were flying over Adolf Hitler Platz. An American Army band, with great gusto and marvelous sound effects, was rolling out “Right in der Führer’s Face.” The crowd thronging the square looked relieved and appreciative. It was much better than London a week earlier. A few hours later I got orders to go to Flensburg on the Danish border for the most important interrogations of that year.
There already were indications that we might have to change our view of German economic management during the war. People have believed for four hundred years that the Armada was defeated by God and a tiny British force when, in fact, it was outgunned by ships of greatly superior range, greater size, and only slightly inferior aggregate tonnage. The myth of ruthless Nazi competence established during the war years still endures. In reality German war management was for a long time halfhearted and incompetent.
In both the American and British views at the time the German war economy was effectively and powerfully mobilized. In the American metaphor it was the “tightly stretched drum”; in British intelligence it was a “taut string.” It followed that any production of almost any kind that was denied by air attack was serious. It could not be replaced by reduced civilian consumption, for that was at a minimum. It could not be compensated for by increased overall production, for that was at the maximum. There was no slack.
Between British and American air-power strategists there was a historic disagreement as to how the taut German economy should be attacked, necessity being as ever the parent of belief. The Lancasters and Halifaxes of the Royal Air Force (and also the unarmed all-wood Mosquitoes) could fly only at night; by day they were hopelessly vulnerable. In the dark they could find only the cities, and from this technological imperative came the conclusion. The cities were the ideal target; by destroying them, one would inflict irreparable damage on German war production and also, perhaps, on the German will to fight. The heavily armed American planes could go by day and find specific industrial targets, although it was early discovered and at heavy cost that they needed fighter escorts. (It was learned more gradually that to find a target was not necessarily to hit it. Nothing in World War II air operations was subject to such assault as open agricultural land.) But however bitter the disagreement between the USAAF and the RAF and their supporting staffs, and also among the Americans on which industrial targets to hit, there was total agreement that much damage was being done to the German war economy. This we in the survey also assumed.
Our first indication that something was wrong came in London before the fighting stopped. It was a superb statistical find, the Statistische Schnellberichte zur Kriegsproduktion or the German Statistical Overview of War Production. The factories producing tanks, self-propelled guns, and assault guns—Panzer in the German military designation—were not a primary target. But they drew on labor, coal, steel, ferroalloys, machine tools, transportation, and all the lesser resources and fabrics of industrial life. A general disruption of the German economy could not be meaningful if it did not affect the production of these items. In 1940, the first full year of war, the average monthly production of Panzer vehicles was 136; in 1941 it was 316; in 1942 it had risen to 516. In 1943, after the bombing began in earnest, average monthly production was 1,005, and in 1944 it was 1,583. Peak monthly production was not reached until December, 1944, and it was only slightly down in early 1945. For aircraft (as I shall later tell) and other weaponry the figures were similar.
Very soon George Ball’s investigations of the attacks on the cities would produce some equally disturbing conclusions. Thus, for example, on three summer nights at the end of July and the beginning of August 1943, the RAF came in from the North Sea and destroyed the center of Hamburg and adjacent Harburg. A terrible firestorm sweeping air and people into the maelstrom caused thousands of casualties. Destroyed also were restaurants, cabarets, specialty shops, department stores, banks, and other civilian enterprises. The factories and shipyards away from the center escaped. Before the holocaust these had been short of labor. Now waiters, bank clerks, shopkeepers, and entertainers forcibly unemployed by the bombers flocked to the war plants to find work and also to get the ration cards that the Nazis thoughtfully distributed to workers there. The bombers had eased the labor shortage.
In all respects, including the touch of humor, Speer was strikingly in contrast with the other Nazis, as he himself was fully aware.
We were beginning to see that we were encountering one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest, miscalculation of the war.
Albert Speer, forty years old in 1945, was tall, slender, with dark, slightly sparse hair and a mobile, sometimes amused face. In all respects, including the touch of humor, he was strikingly in contrast with the other Nazis, as he himself was fully aware. And it was evident by his behavior that he had every intention of putting the greatest additional distance between himself and the primitives, as he regarded them. Guessing rightly that, when faced with the Nazi abominations, they would plead ignorance, the guilt of others, their own inability to exercise corrective influence, or even their personal righteousness, he had decided that he would accept his share of the responsibility. That would accentuate the difference.
In earlier years, in contrast with that of Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, or even Julius Streicher, Speer’s name had attracted little public notice in the United States or Britain. However, in the intelligence agencies, notably in the OSS in the United States, he had become a major figure, the German miracle man. He had worked wonders with German war production. On the effect of the air attacks in particular, no one else would be his equal in authority so, as an intelligence target, a phrase then coming into use, he was at the top of the list.
In Germany in 1945 there was no civilian government, no newspaper apart from The Stars & Stripes , no trains, no post, no radio. Information came irregularly through Army communications or unreliably by word of mouth. On even the most important matters one stumbled in ignorance, and this included the movements of the high Nazis. In consequence of the talk of an Alpine redoubt, the first search for them was in Bavaria, and it was there that Goering was found. But the more important movement had been from Berlin to Flensburg on the Danish border, and this, initially, we did not know. However, shortly after the surrender two of our junior staff members, Wolfgang Sklarz, a second lieutenant, and Harold E. Fassberg, a technical sergeant, were poking through some office buildings in Flensburg, and they came upon Speer’s name on an office door. In his testament of April 29, specifying the succession and signed the day before his suicide, Hitler had excluded Albert Speer from office, but the F’fchrer’s authority, not surprisingly, had dwindled. Speer was now head of the theoretical Ministry of Economics and Production in the equally theoretical government of Admiral Doenitz.
It remains a mystery as to why this government was allowed to function, so to speak, through most of May, 1945. It had an army, one that was so packed into the city of Flensburg that there was, quite literally, almost no pedestrian space on the streets. German soldiers moved in one direction or the other all day in two dense field-gray waves. But the city and the army apart, the government had neither territory nor function. It was said at the time that SHAEF [Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces] had a conceptual problem: how did one take the surrender of a government that had ceased to exist in consequence of its unconditional surrender? Some Germans believed that the Americans and British were seeking to preserve a Nazi nucleus to keep the Soviets in line. Against this explanation, which was nonsense in any case, was the presence of a sizable Russian mission in Flensburg.
On May 19 I flew there in our survey C-47 to join the interrogation of Speer. We circled the airfield until we had assured ourselves that other Allied planes were on the ground and thus had survived the mines. Colonel D. E. Smith, who was with me and who was what the British in India once called a very pukka soldier, gave an arm-breaking salute to two uniformed officers who marched forward to greet us. They turned out to be of the Luftwaffe. We learned that we had billets on the Patria , a Hamburg-America Line vessel that had waited out the war in the harbor of the mostly undamaged city. The waiters, who also had been overlooked, served us breakfast and lunch in the sparkling spring sun on the veranda deck.
Speer had taken living quarters in Schloss Glücksburg, the castle of the Dukes of Holstein a few miles from town, a handsome structure with a moat of lake-like proportions. We reached it in jeeps and requisitioned transport; a Jewish lieutenant of German origin, telling George Ball and me that he was settling old scores, persisted in driving through the pedestrian masses at breakneck speed. At the castle the captain of the SS guard, a small, unfearsome-looking, rat-faced man greeted us each day and bowed us into the great hall, a vast rectangular room with a low, vaulted ceiling. For the interrogations we used a small room at the far end.
These were conducted brilliantly by George Ball, who, with almost no help, could ask searching questions on topics on which he was manifestly uninformed. American clerical talent in the Army of that time being as usual unavailable, Speer's secretary was recruited to take down and transcribe the proceedings. These lasted for three days. We met at noon, for, as a superb example of the power of organized inertia, the German cabinet continued to meet each morning at eleven to consider the nonexistent tasks of its nonexistent state. Speer himself was far from enchanted. At our first session he proposed that we arrest him and so spare him this opéra bouffe, which with some pride in his mastery of the American idiom he called “Grade B Warner Brothers.”
On the second day when we arrived at the castle for the afternoon’s business, Speer had disappeared. His secretary was in tears; the little SS officer was wringing his hands in deeply unmilitary distress. We learned that a party of men had come to the castle at five that morning, arrested Speer, and taken him away. The secretary and the SS man both thought that it had been the Gestapo. Speer had been talking very freely, and Himmler was known to have been in the vicinity. While we considered these improbabilities, Speer came in, smiling agreeably. An OSS team had arrived in Flensburg the night before, heard of his presence, and moved to arrest him first thing in the morning. They took him to a headquarters they had requisitioned in the town, where toward noon Speer told them he had an appointment. They replied that he would not be keeping appointments for some years, but when he explained that it was with some Americans whose names by now he knew—a Mr. Ball and a Dr. Galbraith—it was decided that his capture had been ill-considered. He was driven back to the castle and deposited outside the moat. There had been a mixup between two unduly eager intelligence teams. Speer assured us that this kind of thing “was always happening under Hitler.”
No defeated government looks good. Had the Germans or the Japanese come to Washington, they would have been appalled by the inept non-talent that had been unloaded on the wartime administration or that had found shelter there. But after all allowance, the story of defective planning, bad judgment, and incoherent administration that Speer added to our earlier assessment was impressive. It was supported by an armful of documents from his ministry which, thoughtfully, he had brought out of Berlin to a bank vault in Hamburg and which we promptly sent people to retrieve.
The first and most sweeping defect was inherent in the German conception of mobilization planning. Earlier at a meeting in Bavaria, Nicholas Kaldor, in a mood of tense excitement, had outlined a preliminary and, as it developed, accurate hypothesis. All knew of the acceptance by Germany of the Blitzkrieg as military doctrine—the commitment to the all-powerful, quickly completed military thrust that had destroyed Poland in 1939, the Low Countries and France the following spring, and which, in the summer and autumn of 1941, had carried the German armies to within sight of Moscow with the intention of ending the Russian campaign in that year. What had not been recognized was the counterpart application of the Blitzkrieg doctrine to war production. This held that from a modest weapons-producing capacity, stocks, of tanks, other vehicles, aircraft, ordnance, and ammunition could be accumulated. These stocks would then be expended in a great, rapid, ruthless, victorious push. In the next pause before the next push, stocks would be built up again. The thrust being fast and successful and the pauses between adequate, the continuing output of weapons and the requisite factory capacity did not need to be very great, and there did not, accordingly, need to be much sacrifice of civilian consumption. So it was in the early years of the war.
The American and British belief, as noted, was of a highly organized Germany—the taut string. And equally in the early years of a dilatory, uncommitted Britain. In 1940, from an economy with a total output some 30 per cent smaller than that of Germany, the British produced more military aircraft than Germany, nearly as many tanks, and many more of other kinds of armored vehicles. In 1941, a year for which more complete comparisons can be made, British war production far surpassed that of Germany in almost all categories. “The general picture of the German war economy...is not that of a nation geared to total war,” according to the economist Burton H. Klein. “It is rather of an economy initially mobilized for fighting relatively small and localized wars, and subsequently responding to the pressure of military events only after they became harsh facts....For the war against Russia, fuller preparations were made, but preparations which hardly strained the capacity of the economy....Soon after the attack began some important types of munitions output were allowed to decline on the premise that the war would soon be over....[T]he Germans did a far from distinguished job in managing their wartime economy. Both Britain and the United States moved much faster.…”
As the production objectives in Germany were low, so were the standards of performance. This was Speer’s first point of emphasis. The Nazi cabinet members and the Gauleiters were men thrust suddenly into high position and great power. Few were technically or intellectually up to wartime tasks. Nearly all responded to their new income and authority with unabashed hedonism. They did not generally see the need for sacrifice in civilian consumption, and in any case, they were stoutly unwilling to set an example. “If a Gauleiter won’t give up his servants, he cannot tell others to do so,” Speer told us. In September, 1944, Germany had 1,300,000 domestic servants as compared with 1,600,000 in May, 1939. As late as 1943 fully 50,000 Ukrainian women were imported for household service. Meanwhile, German women were not mobilized for factory work in any appreciable numbers. Speer, an ardent reader of Life magazine, told of his discontent at seeing pictures of American war plants full of seemingly eager women workers. Nazi doctrine held that the proper concern of women was with Küche, Kirche, Kinder.
More incredibly, few industries, continuous-process operations apart, had a night shift in Germany during the war. Nor was the work week much lengthened. Foreign workers, voluntary and compelled, seemed in limitless supply, but the slave workers, needless to say, were not highly motivated. Expansion was by adding more plant capacity and more day shifts.
Speer observed, as had Goebbels, that the German wartime slogan was wrong. It was, repetitiously, “Victory is certain”; “Blood, sweat and tears” would have been better.
Speer was eloquent on his efforts to have French workers produce weaponry in French factories for the Germans, this instead of bringing them to Germany. But as the war progressed, Frenchmen, not retarded in such matters, learned that being at work in one place made them vulnerable to the agents of Fritz Sauckel, the German plenipotentiary for labor. They could be seized en masse or in the needed skills. Accordingly, absenteeism became a matter of elementary caution. Speer then had especially important French factories placed under the protection of his ministry with the promise that their workers would not be carried off. Sauckel responded with plans for raiding these establishments, although this roundup did not, it appears, come off. Nonetheless, the vigor with which Sauckel pursued Frenchmen earned him the title in Berlin of “Father of the Maquis.”
Surrender did not end the animosity between Speer and Sauckel. In Flensburg Speer left us with the impression, without ever quite saying so, that Sauckel should rank high on any war-criminal list. Sauckel, under interrogation in the same days in southern Germany, was more forthright. Of Speer he said, “There is a man you should hang.” Sauckel was hanged.
Speer gave other less persuasive reasons for Germany’s casual performance. Britain by Dunkirk, the United States by Pearl Harbor, had, he thought, been shocked into great effort; no similar disasters had shaken Germany out of her accustomed bureaucratic and administrative habits. Not even Stalingrad had wholly served.”...The soft men and the weak were never sorted out and discarded as they were in Britain and the U.S. The weak remained in positions of responsibility to the last,” Speer said. In his journals, published thirty-three years later, he observed, as had Goebbels, that the German wartime slogan was wrong. It was, repetitiously, “Victory is certain”; “Blood, sweat, and tears” would have been better. George Ball, Paul Nitze, and I, veterans of wartime Washington and the frequently easygoing or delaying tendencies there, were not so greatly impressed.
More impressive was the effect of Hitler’s persistent intrusion on technical decisions, especially those involving ordnance and aircraft. Of such matters the Führer knew a good deal and in all cases enough to be damaging. Nor was he the only source of trouble. The Luftwaffe under Goering was a special administrative disaster. Until the winter of 1944 it controlled its own plane production, and air generals back from the front could order modifications that they deemed desirable without knowledge of the effect on production, and they often did.
Hitler also dismissed unwelcome information as irrelevant. Such was the case with data on American war production. From late 1942 on, American war-production figures were sufficiently satisfactory that they ceased to be kept secret. It also was thought that they would have an adverse effect on German and Japanese morale. Instead, Hitler made light of them, calling them propaganda. Nor were others perturbed, for he forbade circulation of the figures.
Other intelligence, Speer noted, presented a different problem. The German intelligence agencies, as later investigation established, had information of the utmost accuracy concerning the exact day and the particular beaches on which the Normandy landings would take place. There had been, however, no good way of choosing between the report that was right and some twenty or thirty others on the same subject that were wrong. It’s a difficulty that often recurs in the intelligence business.
From the relatively superficial mobilization of the German economy in the early years came the paradox of the German war performance. As sources of raw materials were lost, territory diminished, and most of all, as bombing intensified, war production increased. And it increased enormously. Not until the autumn of 1944, when the Western Allies were on the frontiers of the Reich, did German war production reach its peak. It was then three times greater than it had been in early 1942 when Speer had taken charge after Fritz Todt, his predecessor, was killed in an airplane crash. It remained high into 1945. Speer’s success was the result not of getting more out of a tightly organized economy but of improving belatedly and substantially on a nearly trivial early performance.
There were, as well, some singular accomplishments. The Germans showed great energy and resource in dispersing, reorganizing, and repairing plants and facilities after the air raids. The most damaging of the strategic air attacks were on rail transport and the synthetic oil plants. These did not immobilize the German army or air force, but they did increase the time required for troop movements, and the availability of gasoline became a consideration in planning military operations. (In the planning of the winter attack in the Ardennes in 1944–45, for example, some of the fuel was to come from captured stocks.) At the peak, 350,000 men were engaged in the repair of the huge synthetic oil plants, in their dispersal, and in building new underground facilities, which, however, were still unfinished when the war ended. A spectacularly successful effort was made to retrieve aircraft production after attacks on the air frame plants, those producing all of the airplane except the engine.
It could be argued that the effect of the air attacks was to increase, German airplane output.
This last achievement, a matter of much controversy, first came to our attention in Flensburg. In the last week in February 1944, every known air frame plant in Germany was attacked; 3,636 tons of bombs were dropped. Losses of the attacking American bombers, though they were under escort, were heavy. In January, before the attacks, 2,077 combat aircraft—fighters and bombers—were produced by the Germans. In March, the month after the attacks, production was up to 2,243. By September, 1944, when the peak was reached, production was nearly twice what it was before the raids. There was some shift after the attacks from making bombers to making fighters, but in the immediate aftermath there was an increase in both. The Germans managed to retrieve by proceeding with great energy to get the machinery, mostly undamaged, out from under the rubble, and they then got it going again in neighboring schools, halls, churches, or wherever space was available. Meanwhile management of the industry was shifted from the incompetent Goering and the Luftwaffe to the more effective Speer ministry. It could be argued that the effect of the air attacks was to increase German airplane output.
On the evening when we first discussed these figures on the deck of the Patria, Orvil Anderson’s voice broke, and he asked, “Did I send those boys to do that?” However, he soon recovered his poise and gave his attention initially to faulting the German statistics and, when that proved impossible, to seeking to have them overlooked.
The Luftwaffe was, indeed, ineffective by the time of the Normandy landings. This was because it had been defeated as a combat force; it was not that it was short of planes.
In the mornings in Flensburg, we brought lesser Nazis to the Patria for questioning—I made special note of the interrogation of Franz Seldte, a minister of labor under Hitler. Using our license to inquire into war crimes, we asked him for his views on the concentration camps. He told us with some passion that he had advised Himmler that they were an “unauthorized cruelty.” Offered a chance to visit them by Himmler, he had declined. He then asked us to consider the figures on the population of the camps and the deaths there in relation to the total population of the Reich. Statistically they weren’t so bad.
On another day, after the interrogation of Speer had ended, we drove across the border to Denmark and on to Fredericia, the old fortress city that was besieged and occupied by Bismarck. For miles above the frontier the German army was in an unbroken line as it made its way down from Norway and northern Denmark. Some pulled their gear on children’s wagons; some pushed it in baby carriages. Some officers were on bicycles. Since quite possibly we were the first Americans seen on that road, we were heroes and liberators to the Danes. Housewives reached into their baskets for flowers, and one, despairing, threw a cabbage. Orvil Anderson, against orders, had flown over Germany with his airmen; none of the rest of us had heard any shots fired in anger and only the odd ones in drunken glee. Yet our fraud was strangely pleasant.
As we strolled through the town that night, a large crowd assembled behind us, and the neighborhood barber identified himself as the head of the local resistance. Almost forcibly he turned us into his shop for a celebratory drink of Danish whisky. Paul Nitze questioned him on German atrocities and his own resistance role, but on neither was he completely satisfactory. As to atrocities, the Germans had cut off his supply of condoms, a major item of barbershop revenue, and he suspected them of feeding their troops saltpeter as a substitute. As to resistance he told us firmly that he had not shaved a single German officer since the surrender. That was now nearly two weeks before. No one should generalize from so small a sample.
In Flensburg, Galbraith and his colleagues spent several days questioning Speer about not only the German wartime economy, but also about the last days of Hitler and the Third Reich. They finished their interrogation just before the final German surrender aboard the Patria on May 23.
My notes tell with quite exceptional precision that on the morning of May 23, I got back to the Patria at 7:15 A.M. and slept until 8:15 A.M. Then, with Drew Middleton of The New York Times, I watched from an upper deck while Admirals Doenitz and von Friedeburg came smartly along the quay, saluted the ship and flag, and marched up the gangplank. The Third Reich at that moment came finally to an end. Admiral von Friedeburg, who had participated in the earlier surrenders in Rheims and Berlin and was perhaps becoming distressed by the repetition, asked to be excused to go to the washroom. There he shot himself. As we went to the airfield to fly back to Bad Nauheim, thousands of German officers were being marched away.
In Bad Nauheim my life had all the excitement enjoyed by any administrator of a large-scale statistical enterprise. In a small office off the terrace of the Park Hotel I read preliminary reports of the effect of the attacks on diverse German industries, conferred tediously on the meaning and reliability of our masses of figures, and considered where more information might be unearthed and who might be found among the German officials to interpret it. I struggled also to keep our people on the job; with the European part of the war over, travel over Germany in pursuit of fugitive information seemed much preferable to work at a desk. And not all such enjoyment could be denied. I issued an order: “Junkets are herewith prohibited except on Sundays. A junket is any business trip which if taken by anyone but yourself would be considered unnecessary.”
Not quite all was routine. There was the problem of the care and management of Paul Baran. A technical sergeant in rank, Baran was one of the most brilliant and, by a wide margin, the most interesting economist I have ever known. He was currently celebrating the end of the war with the Germans by intensifying his ongoing war with the United States Army. Then thirty-five, Baran had a background that brought all security officers who looked into it to the edge of nervous collapse. Born of Polish-Jewish parents of some means at Nikolayev on the Black Sea, his father was a distinguished specialist on tuberculosis and had been an active Menshevik in his younger days. According to Paul, he was on good terms, political differences notwithstanding, with Lenin and the other old Bolsheviks. After first welcoming the October Revolution, the elder Baran moved away from it to Poland and then to Germany but returned to Russia in 1925, where he remained until his death. Paul stayed behind in Germany to complete his education, returned to Russia in 1926 to enroll in the Plekhanov Institute of Economics at Moscow, and then, after a couple of years, went back to study again at the University of Berlin. In the mid-thirties, again in Russia, he got word that he would have to be over the border by January 19, 1935. That was because, though a Communist, his acceptance of Communist discipline was very like his response to the discipline of the United States Army. In the presence of any pressure to conform, Baran’s mind turned compulsively to the most annoying possible expression of dissent.
In his Berlin years Baran, along with his own studies, wrote Ph.D. theses for solvent, ambitious but otherwise inadequate colleagues and worked for an advertising agency, where he gained distinction for a memorable advertisement for a male contraceptive. It showed a tombstone on which was engraved: “Here lies no one. His father used NIMS.”
In the late thirties, Baran arrived at Harvard, impressed all with his amused intelligence, and went on to serve brilliantly during the war in the OSS. This latter service was to the despair of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which, more or less simultaneously with his appearance on our rolls in 1945, exposed him as a certain subversive. How could anyone with such a background be otherwise?
Baran’s war with the Army was tactically diverse. His uniform attracted immediate attention, for his stomach bulged over his belt, his pants were always being hitched up, and his shirt was only episodically inside. His hair, like his uniform, was in a constant state of disorder, and once, he said absent-mindedly, he appeared on parade in carpet slippers. He couldn’t or wouldn’t remember to call an officer “Sir” or to salute except as he might encounter one before a urinal. Least supportable of all, the average officer could not ordinarily understand what Baran was saying but could guess that the extravagantly convoluted sentences reflected adversely on his intelligence.
After the war Baran became an immensely popular professor at Stanford. Following his death in 1964, a politically motivated employee in the university administrative offices collected and released a whole packet of letters from alumni protesting Baran’s existence, along with the replies of Stanford officials expressing their honest regret that tenure and the principles of academic freedom made it impractical to fire him. In Germany that summer I followed a more discreet procedure. As recommendations from the military flowed in for punitive action on Baran—reprimand, condign punishment, release to combat duty in the Pacific, reduction to private no-class—I put them under my office blotter. At the end of the summer the blotter was raised appreciably from the desk. I then tore them all up.
That autumn Baran and I were on the same plane from Prestwick in Scotland back to the United States. In accordance with accepted practice, the ranking officer, a major, was entrusted with the personnel files of the enlisted men moving with him. A man of courage and compassion and a great admirer of Baran, he called him to his side, and using a safety razor blade on the binding that held the papers together, he removed all the condemnatory material from Baran’s file and squeezed it out a crack in the door into the Atlantic. (Planes were not then pressurized.) Baran arrived in New York with a perfect military record.
However, managing Baran had its anxious moments. One German we much needed for work that summer was Dr. Rolf Wagenfuehr, the senior economist and statistician of the Speer ministry. Exceptionally among the high staff of such departments, he had remained behind in Berlin. Other German officials brought to Bad Nauheim claimed to have known him as a roast beef Nazi, brown outside, red inside. He was finally located in West Berlin, where he was engaged in rehabilitating the German statistical services for the Soviets in East Berlin. A diligent man, he had spent the days immediately following the surrender completing the manuscript of a book on the history of German war production. Although we had the right of summary arrest, I was uneasy as to its use and had specified that for professors, scientists, officials, and the like, notice should be given. On being told of our desire that he go to Bad Nauheim, Wagenfuehr removed himself to a house in Neukoeln in the Russian sector. Baran led a posse there and, quite literally, lifted Wagenfuehr out of bed from beside his wife. He was flown to Bad Nauheim, and the Soviets, very properly, were outraged. A strong protest went up to Marshal Zhukov and across to General Eisenhower; I, of course, was the person responsible and in line for Ike’s anger. The matter was resolved when Jürgen Kuczynski, a German Communist on our staff, advised me that he much wanted to go to Berlin to see if his house and library had survived the war. Were he allowed to go, he could, as a practicing comrade, square things with his fellow Communists. So, a fortnight or so after the kidnaping, as the Soviets called it, and after Wagenfuehr had given us much useful guidance on the German war production statistics, Kuczynski took him back to Berlin. I asked Colonel James Barr Ames to go along and keep an eye on the operation. And sure enough Kuczynski was warmly welcomed by the Soviet officials, our well-rehearsed explanation of our aberration was accepted, Wagenfuehr was reinserted in the Soviet statistical operations, and Ike’s anger was averted.
Baran was equally resourceful in other matters. In Flensburg he interrogated a senior steel magnate who, taking note of Baran’s rank, barely supportable military bearing, and possibly also his recognizably Jewish aspect, said, “I am accustomed to talking only with vice-presidents and leaders of industry. Who are you?” Baran replied that such was his official position that he could keep the tycoon in jail for one day for each question he failed to answer, and that was his intention. The answers were thereafter fluent and detailed. Later in the summer in Wiesbaden, Baran uncovered General Franz Halder, the commander in the early campaigns on the Eastern front who was fired by Hitler in disagreements over strategy at the time of Stalingrad and arrested after the July 20 attempt on Hitler’s life. He had expected on the day of the surrender to be taken . promptly to see General Eisenhower and maybe then to General Marshall. Instead, not uncharacteristically, he had been left in total neglect for several weeks by American soldiers who had never heard his name. Baran, who had specialized in these matters for the OSS, interrogated him for many hours on the details of German operations on the Russian front. When finally Baran showed signs of being satisfied, Halder begged with great respect to have a turn: “Could I now ask my interrogator a question?”
Halder: “Has the American Army many intelligence officers like you?”
Baran, in an unprecedented sacrifice of truth to modesty: “I wouldn’t know, General.”
German General Franz Halder to Paul Baran: “I may tell you that your knowledge of the problems facing the Wehrmacht on the Eastern front is markedly greater than was that of the Führer.”
Halder: “If it has, it explains much about this war. I may tell you that your knowledge of the problems facing the Wehrmacht on the Eastern front is markedly greater than was that of the Führer.”
The stories could continue. One night in a normal breach of military regulations, Paul Baran was dining with George Ball, some others, and me at the Villa Grunewald, the officers’ billet where we lived. The military commander at Bad Nauheim, a lieutenant colonel of deeply offensive personality—in civilian life a car dealer from Ohio—arrived and loudly demanded that Baran, as an enlisted man, be sent back to his quarters. George and I protested; the colonel became violent and obscene. We surrendered Baran but intimated to the colonel that he would somehow be made to suffer for his intrusion and insolence. Then we considered how this might be accomplished. A few days later a military police detachment arrived in Bad Nauheim, arrested the colonel, and took him away. Thereafter high-ranking officers stepped into the street and saluted on our approach.
In truth, a little earlier we had brought a high official of the Auto Union automobile company to Bad Nauheim for interrogation. As the Russians were about to occupy the part of Germany where he lived, he had asked our colonel for an Army vehicle to move his more valuable possessions into the American zone on the promise of a division of the salvaged goods. The colonel had then shown his loot to a visiting officer who, in civilian life, had worked for Fiorello La Guardia in New York City and was thus a ferocious enemy of graft. It was he who had sent in the military police. We never saw our man again.
As the Big Three meeting approached in Potsdam, couriers came to Bad Nauheim looking for information and guidance on the German economy. We obliged, and George Ball decided that we should attend. When I pointed out that we had not been invited, George said that if we allowed hurt feelings to govern our actions, we would only compound the error. With Paul Nitze we went to Berlin, out to Babelsberg, the site of the conference, were admitted to the compound without question when we explained that we had come to attend the meeting, and began operations with an excellent lunch at the senior officials’ mess. I joined Isador Lubin, who was developing the position on reparations and whose people we had previously provided with information on the surviving plant. History was not altered by our brief presence. But it was something to attend a summit on one’s own invitation.
George Ball had told me in earlier weeks of the existence of the atomic bomb. Surveying the old-fashioned destruction in Germany, I had deeply hoped it would not work. Now it came and also the end of the Japanese war. The effect on the morale of the men I had sought out from the Army for the survey was immediate. Until then hard, diligent work meant avoiding combat in the Pacific. Now the same hard work could mean going with us to Japan.
But by now our overall economic report, a large, competent, and literate document, was nearing completion. When it was finished, we closed the headquarters in Bad Nauheim and went to London and, after reviewing it further there, returned home. George Ball slept all the way from Prestwick to Iceland to Newfoundland to New York. This he did by combining a large amount of whisky with a substantial dose of sleeping pills. Contrary to all medical expectation, he arrived greatly refreshed.
Back in Washington in Army Air Forces Annex No. 1 at Gravelly Point, Virginia, not far from National Airport, we found that the secretariat of the survey had written a short summary report which was as the Air Force would have wished it. Our patiently gathered data on the disastrous failures of strategic bombing were extensively ignored. There were no serious failures mentioned. Even the successes were lost in a story of general success. The question had political importance, for part of the claim of the Air Force to independence from the Army was thought to depend on the wartime achievement of the bombers. Ball and I prepared to contest the report and somehow to get it rewritten. It would be dreary work—piecemeal change, word by word.
Then Henry Alexander intervened. He was distressed less by the content of the summary than by its abysmal level of literacy. He asked me to prepare a new and readable draft. I took a typewriter to the Cosmos Club in Washington and wrote exactly what we wanted said with something more for bargaining thrown in.
My manuscript, in turn, led to a war of attrition, one that lasted for days in the dreary buildings by the airport. But now the basic draft was mine; it fell to the opposition to struggle, sentence by sentence, for modification and retraction. General Anderson led the attack. I defended it with, as I only later came to reflect, a maximum of arrogance and a minimum of tact. George Ball, who had resumed his law practice as counsel for Jean Monnet, nonetheless came over to help. Henry Alexander, not concealing his distress at the conflict, presided and sought to mediate. At some point I said to Orvil Andersen, “General, this is just a matter of intellectual honesty.”
He replied, “Goddamn it, Ken, you carry intellectual honesty to extremes.”
By giving way on nonessentials, we kept the basic case. German war production had, indeed, expanded under the bombing. The greatly heralded efforts, those on the ball-bearing and aircraft plants for example, emerged as costly failures. We had a minor struggle over the B-17, the Flying Fortress itself. A rugged vehicle that brought its occupants home if anything could, it was much respected by all concerned. But it had been designed to fly without escort and to protect itself and its neighbors in the same flight with its own weapons. This meant a heavy load of gunners, guns, and ammunition, and in consequence, it could carry no great weight of bombs. After the Schweinfurt debacle it became clear that the Fortress could not, in fact, defend itself, that escort aircraft would be required. It was still arranged for its great load of men and weaponry; thus it was now a bad design. General Anderson met my efforts to make this point with massive indignation. His exact words are still with me: “You are insulting a great airplane.” On this he won.
Other operations, those against oil and the railroads, did have military effect. But strategic bombing had not won the war. At most it had eased somewhat the task of the ground troops who did. The aircraft, manpower, and bombs used in the campaign had cost the American economy far more in output than they had cost Germany. However, our economy being much larger, we could afford it. A final paragraph or two written by Henry Alexander somewhat overstated the contribution of air power to the outcome without altering the basic facts. The purposes of both history and future policy would have been served by a more dramatic finding of failure, for this would have better prepared us for the costly ineffectiveness of the bombers in Korea and Vietnam, and we might have been spared the reproach of civilized opinion. Still, no essential information was concealed or seriously compromised. Our large economic report The Effects of Strategic Bombing on the German War Economy, which made all the basic points, was published without censorship of any kind.
My conduct of the argument made lasting and influential enemies, not, however, including Orvil Anderson. Once my text had been accepted, he urged that I not consider the war over and come to Japan. There the Navy and Naval Air arm had been playing the leading role. He wanted their claims to accomplishment now made subject to a similar excess of intellectual honesty.