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VIII. The Importance of Energy in the First and Second World Wars

  • W. G. Jensen (a1)

Modern technical and scientific development has altered war from a contest between men into a combat between machines. Even the development of firearms did not bring about a change of this magnitude, since firearms went into combat propelled by animal energy (of man and beast). This change-over occurred first at sea when steam engines started to propel ships of war. In days of sail at sea a great deal depended on the purely human factor of seamanship. With the introduction of ships moved by machinery all came depend on the quality and power of this machinery. Drake, De Ruyter Nelson, with all their skill or experience, could have done nothing against steam man-of-war. On land this development took longer. Throughout nineteenth century railways carried men and beasts to the scene of combat and brought them their supplies, but on the battlefield men and horses carried the weapons of war into battle. The invention of the petroleum-driven internal combustion engine changed all that. For the first time man commanded the power necessary to propel engines freely over land and in the air, an invention which had already occupied the imagination of Leonardo da Vinci and appeared in the prophetic writings of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.

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1 Fontaine, A., L'Industrie française pendant la guerre (Oxford, 1925), pp. 40–2 and 46.

2 Einaudi, L., La Condotta Economica e gli Effeti Sociali della Guerra Italiana (Bari; New Haven, 1933), p. 133.

3 Zegorsky, S. O., State Control of Industry in Russia during the War (New Haven, 1928), P. 37.

4 Golovin, N. N, The Russian Army in the World War (Oxford, 1931), pp. 144 and 150.

5 Zegorsky, , op. cit. p. 38.

6 Ibid. p. 116.

7 Homann–Herimberg, E., Die Kohlenversorgung in Osterreich während des Krieges (New Haven, 1925), table xxn.

8 Jaureguy, R. C. P., L'Industrie allemande et la guerre (Paris, 1918), p. 31.

9 Peschaud, M., Les Chemins de Fer allemands et la guerre (Paris, 1927), p. 97.

10 Kellog, V., Germany in the War and After (New York, 1919), p. 50.

11 Goebbel, O., Deutsche Rohstoffwirtschaft im Weltkriege (Stuttgart, 1930), p. 32.

12 Joureguy, , op. cit. p. 7.

13 Jost, W., Was wir von Weltkriege nicht wissen (Leipzig, 1938), p. 183.

14 Tramerye, L'Espagnol de la. La Lutte mondiale pour le pétrole (Paris, 1921), pp. 176–8.

15 Ibid. p. 23.

16 Grebber, L. and Winkler, W., The cost of the World War to Germany and Austria-Hungary (Oxford, 1940), p. 45.

17 Klein, B. H., Germany's Economic Preparations for War (Harvard, 1959), p. 32.

18 The Origins of the Second World War (London, 1961).

19 Shirer, W. L., The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (London, 1960), p. 681.

20 The size of the Afrika Korps was limited by the fuel and transport factor.

21 Birkenfeld, W., Der Synthetische Treibstoff 1933–1945 (Gottingen, 1964), p. 157.

22 Bauer, E., La Guerre des blindés (Lausanne, 1947), p. 40.

23 Goerlitz, W., Der Zweite Weltkrieg (Stuttgart, 1951–1952), 1, 418.

24 Asher, Lee, The German Air Force (London, 1946), p. 41.

25 Ibid. pp. 53 64, and 99.

26 Klein, , op. cit. p. 39.

27 Ibid.; cf. Queille, P., Les Carburants de remplacement (Paris, 1939), p. 97.

28 Klein, , op. cit. pp. 40–1.

29 Piater, A., L'Économie de la guerre (Paris, 1939), p. 158.

30 Cf. Shirer, , op. cit. p. 568.

31 Klein, , op. cit. p. 121.

32 Birkenfeld, , op. cit. p. 122.

33 Klein, , op. cit. p. 58, Table 16.

34 Birkenfeld, , op. cit. p. 219 (Übersicht 5 and Übersicht 6).

35 Birkenfeld, , op. cit. p. 125.

36 Ibid. pp. 140 and 172.

37 Birkenfeld, , op. cit. p. 153.

38 Ibid. p. 154.

39 Ibid. p. 156.

40 Birkenfeld, op. cit. p. 224.

41 Ibid. p. 209.

42 For Dr Wallis' tactics concerning energy in the second World War (and the official reaction to it) see The Sunday Times of 19 January 1964.

43 Klein, , op. cit. p. 233.

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