Why Japan (and Germany) really lost World War II.

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Why Japan (and Germany) really lost World War II.

The article also illustrates with facts why Russia would have lost to the U.S. as well if we had fought them then, before they got the bomb.

Read it. The facts are quite astonishing. Moreover, I have read a number of histories of World War II from the perspective of the Japanese and the Germans, and in both cases their experience matches the facts laid out by this article: The depth of the U.S. manufacturing capability — created by freedom and property rights and small government — was beyond anything the Axis powers could match. As the war continued it overwhelmed them.



  • joe

    It would be interesting what those statistics would look like if they were talking about the year 2014, what kind of a manufacturing base does the United States have compared to Russia or China? I tend to think that the prosperity in the U.S. post ww2 was because there wasn’t much left of European and Asian manufacturing (they were bombed into the stone ages), furthermore the United States went to the aid of Japan, Germany, and Europe to rebuild their manufacturing and economy’s in a round about way.

  • Tom Billings

    Actually, both current and inflation adjusted figures for US manufacturing sales continued to climb till 2008. Automation has made that increase possible, because it cannot be controlled by a union shop steward. Production that could not yet be automated was sent overseas, temporarily. Now that is beginning to come back to the US, just as soon as manufacturers can automate each industry’s production. What has tanked is traditional jobs in manufacturing that were successfully unionized between 1930 and 1980.

    We don’t make a number of things we used to export, quite true. But then, we lost a major export in the late 19th century as well. New England used to do gangbuster sales of ice, to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, but ice machines, refrigerators, and the end of the little ice age took those jobs away, just like automation and cheap labor did manufacturing. Those losses did not even slow our growth, but then, at that time the government wasn’t trying to “help” industries with lowered sales, while crushing new entrepreneurs with regulatory paperwork.

  • Cotour

    The United States is still a power house, maybe still THE power house and you will hopefully again see it after this current sick experiment in politics exits the White House the Congress and the Senate. There is no replacement for the pure power of freedom, properly regulated capitalism and the American Constitution.

    Saying that there is plenty of evidence that the people of America have been sold out by the multinational company’s in concert with the politicians that they own, all in the pursuit of the dollar and profits that they believe are theirs as of right. In other words, American fascism.

    Lets hope that a majority of the American people will be able to shake off the socialist drug like induced political coma they have allowed themselves to be put in.

    The nature of power is to be abused, and that is exactly what we are seeing in our government right now, today and the people, if they are still able must right this perversion!

  • Rod

    You look at the numbers and ask yourself “what were the Japanese thinking?” Obviously, they were involved in a kind of groupthink fantasy. The result was millions of dead and Japanese cities incinerated. Now, in 2014, people say “An Iranian bomb is no big deal because the Mullahs aren’t stupid.” Groupthink fantasies have not been outlawed.

  • Cotour

    As to my comment related to America “may still be the power house”, let me say that it IS the power house and the main problem that causes slow to no real growth is this administration and this particular president. Every time you think he is screwing up he sees his efforts as being morally just and “the right thing to do”, a bunch of intellectualize socialist / Marxist BS. Here is someone who agrees with my general point of view.


  • joe

    Good observation, the Japanese culture in those times was very xenophobic, all other people were the devil and did not have the intelligence required to put up a good fight, in hindsight, they were living in the past and totally underestimated the will of the Americans, Russia and China both folded and Japan thought we would too.

  • Pzatchok

    I think that somewhere around 1950 the US government wanted to get a complete list of Lend leased goods sent to its allis for a formal accounting.
    There was no real list of lend leased goods sent.

    So they ordered Major Jordan to do as good a job as possible in accounting for everything possible.

    This is what he found was sent to Russia.

    The Soviets NEVER sent back a single Liberty Ship we sent them. After the war those very same ships made up the vast majority of its merchant fleet and a few were refitted to be ice breakers for a while.

    GB sent back all of its liberty ships to be refilled and sent back to GB.

    The Soviets claim that US and allied Lend Lease amounted to little. But I personally do not trust their accounting methods. For one during the battle of Kursk The Soviets claimed they fielded about 3500 tanks but by the end of the battle made the claim they fielded almost 10000. They forgot to say that each time they repaired and refielded a tank they counted it as a new tank.
    If they made the same type of claim about small arms then what could ever be believed about their war time production? I know for a fact that US companies were making Soviet Mason-Negant rifles by the thousands but the Soviets never acknowledge this.
    They also do not account for the US printing plates we sent them for printing US cash to pay their own solders. We NEVER got them back and its estimated they used them until the plates were useless, printing out billions in cash long after the war.

    Plus the fact FDR’s man in charge of Lend Lease was a Soviet spy and sent LL goods to the Soviets that were not allowed by law and far in excess of the limits imposed by the law. Including Nuclear bomb materials, parts and equipment.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Yes, the Japanese beat the Russians decisively in the Russo-Japanese War at the turn of the 20th Century. That made them overconfident in taking on the Soviet Union in the late 1930’s. They figured the Red Army would be the same pushovers the Czarist Russian navy had been back in the day. Unlike the Japanese Imperial Navy at Tsushima Strait, though, the Japanese Army on the borders of Manchuria got its head handed to it by the Red Army. Things went so disastrously, the Japanese meekly returned to their side of the border and stayed there until the Soviet Union declared war on them again two days after the first atom bomb. The Red Army had no real trouble brushing the Japanese aside once again. That doesn’t mitigate the error the Japanese made in reading the Americans, but it isn’t like they could be absolutely certain there would be no surprises when attacking major-power interests. They had an opportunity to contemplate the possible fruits of hubris after their Manchurian misadventure and chose not to profit by it to their ultimate monstrous cost.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Not familiar with the stories about the Mosin-Nagant rifles, the U.S. currency printing plates or atom bomb parts(!) being part of Lend-Lease. Story about the rifles could be true, but wouldn’t have been significant. The Mosin-Nagant was a bolt-action, short internal magazine-fed predecessor to the very late-19th Century German Mauser and the very early-20th Century American Springfield. Like those other rifles, it was, except for long-range sniping, totally outclassed by the M-1 Garand semi-auto rifle which was the standard American rifle of WW2. If the Reds insisted we supply them with their own obsolete standard rifle, we might well have done so, but, if so, the Reds did themselves no favors. One reason I’m dubious about this story in its entirety is that most WW2 wartime Mosin-Nagants were made to a simplified design and with much poorer component finishes than the pre-WW2 versions. Neither thing would have been true if they had been made in American factories.

    I’m dubious about the printing plate story too. I don’t think the Red Army ever paid its troops in American currency. They barely paid them in Soviet rubles. Also, I believe the useful production life of currency printing plates is less than a year. The Soviets doubtless counterfeited a lot of American currency before, during and after WW2, but they were perfectly capable of making their own plates to do so. They had no real need for ours.

    Also dubious about Lend-Lease sending atom bomb components to the Soviets. The Roosevelt administration was certainly lousy with Soviet spies, but – sorry – none of them ever ran Lend-Lease. It had only two chief administrators during WW2, Edward Stettinius and Leo Crowley. Stettinius served from 1941 to Sept. 1943 when he moved to the State Department. He replaced Cordell Hull as Secretary of State shortly thereafter. At State, his assistant was Alger Hiss, the notorious Soviet agent, so maybe what you’ve heard is a corruption of these actual circumstances. But Stettinius was not part of Hiss’s cabal and Hiss, of course, was never in charge of Lend-Lease. Leo Crowley, who succeeded Stettinius at Lend-Lease, was a vigorous anti-communist who drew the ire of Harry Truman by summarily cutting off all Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union on V-E Day. He had frequent clashes throughout his tenure with prominent Soviet apologists in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, notably Henry Wallace.

    The Manhattan Project was a closely-held secret within the U.S. government during WW2. True, the extensive Soviet spy network in the American government of those days got wind of it fairly early on and made concerted efforts to both infiltrate its ranks and appropriate its secrets. Some of these efforts were successful to one degree or another. But shipping actual bomb components to Moscow via Lend-Lease seems a bit out there given the pervasive internal security operations being run by the FBI. Not all the Soviet spies were known to the FBI during the war, but some of them were. It seems unlikely that anything as bald as theft of actual bomb hardware for secreting inside Lend-Lease shipments would have succeeded. Far easier, in the event, to smuggle out data and drawings. A lot of that sort of thing went out the gates of Los Alamos inside people’s heads. Lots easier than smuggling out some bit of electronics or ironmongery.

    As for the actual impact of Lend-Lease on the Soviet war effort, it mainly allowed the Soviet industrial base, which had been laboriously moved east of the Urals to escape Nazi bombing, to concentrate on heavy weapons production, mainly artillery pieces and the T-34 tank. Practically everything else needed to keep the Red Army in the field was shipped in via Lend-Lease. That’s especially true of trucks and railroad locomotives. The logistics that won Kursk would have been impossible without the tens of thousands of U.S.-made trucks that carried the Red Amy’s motor-rifle divisions into combat. As for the locomotives, Lend-Lease rolling stock had an even longer lifetime in Soviet service. The transporter-erector for the R-7 rocket that launched Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961, for example, was pushed out from its assembly building to its launch pad by a Lend-Lease locomotive. For all I know, that locomotive is still running at Baikonur.

  • JWing

    You need to read “American Betrayal” by Diana West 2013. In it she cogently explains how Harry Hopkins was a one-man cabinet of FDR and how a U.S Army Major named George Racey Jordan discovered an under cover Lend-lease operation using the airbase in Great Falls, Monanta to fly atomic bomb design documents and U235 to Vladivostok, USSR.

  • joe

    The parallels between Russia then and china now are fascinating, Russia copied our aircraft almost to the rivet as China tries to match our aircraft now, I am sure it extends to everything that our military does and I am sure we don’t have a lot of secrets from Russia now.

  • Only marginally related to the post: I watched ‘The Longest Day’ on 6 June, as I do every anniversary. I own the book on which it’s based. An amazing movie on many levels.

  • Pzatchok

    Actually the Japanese were not xenophobic as a culture. Maybe the leadership but not the people in general.

    They in fact were very accepting of outside cultural influences.
    In pre war Japan the modern European dress was the chosen dress of the elite. They only chose to were traditional dress for special occasions. The common people just could not afford suits and dresses from Europe or America so pretty much stayed with traditional dress throughout the war years.

    The Japanese were actually one of the first nations to accept American baseball as a great sport and it was widely accepted. They even had an annual Japanese play off series and championship game before the war. What other nations are we now recruiting players from other than the central Americas and North America? Japan. They loved American movies and were some of the first to start making their own outside America.

    Even after the war they were very accepting of American culture. So much so that today we are now accepting theirs back in kind.

    The people were sorry for the war against America. Not so much about their war against China. If they had never attacked us, the China we have today could very well be a part of Japan and the Communist movement could very well have been stamped out by them.

  • Pzatchok

    We also made them ammunition for those very same rifles.

    At the same time we were also making British Enfields and ammo for those also.


    One of the best air to ground fighters the Soviets ever had was the P-53 King Cobra.
    It had a 20 mm cannon in the body that had its barrel pass between the legs of the pilot and through the nose cone of the craft.
    Because the prop was counter rotating to the engine the stability of the plane in flight was unmatched. If the stick was let go of it would center itself and not drift off in the direction opposite of the engines spin like other aircraft.
    The Russians liked it for anti tank work. Air to ground attacks. They are the fighters in the links pictures.

    The Americans didn’t want it because it had a side door like the German fighters and the Americans didn’t like the idea of trying open that door while bailing out. They just wanted to exit out the top like we do now.

    As for Russians being paid for in American cash. It happened. My grandfather was a bomber pilot and he was on the round trip for quite a while. Africa/Italy over German held areas to land in Russia for refuel and refit, then back over Germany to land in GB, then back over Germany to land in Italy.
    He made a little fun money trading wine and Chocolate for Russian Vodka and Russian vodka for hard liquor and American Chocolate. Almost every Bomber carried a little extra.
    And yes he ate more Spam in Russia and GB than he ever ate in America before or after the war.

  • Pzatchok

    We actually eventually copied a few ideas back from the Soviets.

    But soviets worst case of copy itis was when they tried to copy the shuttle. They just didn’t have the materials to do it right and it never flew.

  • Pzatchok

    Sorry you are correct about the rifle.
    I was wrong. I was thinking of the first world war when the Russians ordered over a million of them and never paid for them. Only about 500000 were delivered before shipping and production was stopped for lack of payment. The last ones made, almost 280 thousand, were issued to American troops for training.
    Before and after WWI the US military was cut back by huge amounts. So much so we almost had no training rifles or even ammo.

    The US government paid for them to keep the manufacturing companies out of bankruptcy.

    So yes American rifles started the Soviet war in WWII and more than likely were still in service till the end.
    Could many of those rifles have been turned into the Soviet sniper rifles of legend? Was Soviet barrel manufacture as good as or better than US technology and ability?
    Its said that Soviet mosan sniper rifles were not directly manufactured as sniper rifles but existing rifles were tested and the good accurate ones were converted.

  • Actually you are incorrect. The Russian shuttle did fly, once, unmanned, quite successfully. It was dubbed Buran, and was launched on November 15, 1988, completed two orbits, then returned to Earth safely, gliding to a runway landing.

    They then canceled the program, which was as expensive as the shuttle and something the bankrupt Soviet Union could not afford.

  • Kelly Starks

    Certainly explains why the Japanese admiralty figured at best Pearl Harbor would give Japan about 18 months to sue for a negotiated peace with the US. Longer then that we were expected to roll over them like a wave.

    Another detail I didn’t notice mentioned. The Japanese never sent submarines out to focus on transport ships. The US focused theirs on taking out merchant supply ships. So the Japanese not only weren’t building new ones at the rates we were – they weren’t attacking our in anything like the rates. So we starved them of supplies. (Logistics dudes, that’s what real warriors worry about.)

    Also their bushido code focused on win or die. So where we armored up aircraft and spent a lot of effort recovering downed fliers and defeated forces in general – they didn’t.
    Good news- that’s why Zero’s etc were such light fast fighters.
    Bad news – they couldn’t take a hit, and you lost a pilot whenever you lost a plane. So even when they could replace the planes – after a while they had no one to fly them. They were getting to the point of sending up teenagers who could barely take off and land, against battle hardened US pilots in battle upgraded designed planes that had so much armor they often kept fighting after significant hits.

  • Norm Donovan

    The article is flawed in may ways. You have to ask what the Japanese should have understood in 1941.

    The Japanese intended to create a defense perimeter of islands. Any battle would be between American carrier-based aircraft against Japanese carrier-based aircraft PLUS land-based aircraft flying from unsinkable island bases.

    Also, was it clear to any naval staff in 1941 that the CV was going to be THE weapon of the future? You cannot fault the Japanese for not seeing what no one saw.

    I doubt that the Japanese should have foreseen that Americans would develop better fighters than the Zero, especially when the Zero was flown by the best-of-the-best pilots. Just as the Germans never anticipated the T34.

    As to serious mistakes the Japanese made, that they should have anticipated.

    They maintained a much too-rigorous pilot training program that washed out too many pilots and resulted in poorly trained pilots by 1943. The number of planes and carriers don’t matter much if you don’t have qualified pilots. They should have rotated their best pilots back to the homeland to train new pilots.

    They never took anti-submarine warfare seriously. American subs sank vast quantities of Japanese shipping.

    They never turned their own huge submarine force loose on Allied shipping, instead sending it after warships. What was obvious to the Germans and Americans was lost on the Japanese.

    The never ending war between the Japanese Navy and Army was just stupid, stupid, stupid.

    The Japanese seemed wildly overconfident and never seemed to ask what happens when the plan goes wrong. For example at Midway, if the main strike force had included a few more cruisers, their scout planes could probably have given early warning of the American carriers. The cruisers were available but were assigned to other groups. Also, they could have brought along the Zuikaku using the planes from the Shōkaku but Japanese doctrine assigned air groups to specific carriers, so the Shōkaku’s planes sat in Japan.

  • Pzatchok

    The Japanese had a few real problems that it could never overcome in a modern war.

    First off it didn’t have the needed resources. They did not have safe and defensible oil sources, iron mines, aluminum mines, copper mines and rubber plantations. They just did not have the needed core resources.
    So they invaded China for everything they needed. Which they pretty much found there and had the available slave labor to boot.

    The problem with that was that now they had to defend a land area 5 times larger than their homeland. An impossible task at that time.

    Second like with all things in battle its starts with location, location, location. They pretty much had the worst place to be on the globe. An Island that was not isolated. There were hundreds of islands that their enemies could occupy and launch attacks from all around them. Now they needed to man all those islands and hope they could supply and support them all to keep their enemies from taking and using them.
    An impossible task at any time.

    And third their biggest possible enemy was the US. An industrial monster just waiting to be woken up.By the end of the war the city of Pittsburgh alone produced in one year more steel than all of Germany and its occupied territories did during the whole war. We out produced everybody combined and still had enough left over so that we never really went on a ration system that hurt our civilians. We still had tires and batteries for our cars, we just had to run what we already had as long as possible and maybe wait a month or so for new ones. We had food a plenty including meat of all kinds. No one went hungry. We had enough to supply everyone else everything they needed and still kept ourselves fat and happy at home.

    And to top this all off we had enough guns and ammo in civilian hands that if our enemies ever did find it possible to invade our nation we didn’t have to rely on our military to make the first defensive move. It might not have been much but psychologically it would have hurt the enemy and it could have given us some extra time to get the military into place to make a decisive strike back.

    If Japan could have kept the US from declaring war on them for just10 more years their army would have tripled in size and their holdings in China would have been almost impossible to take back. They would have been producing everything they needed in China instead of shipping raw materials back to Japan and then back to China.

    Their allegiance with Germany sealed their fate even if they had never attacked Pear Harbor. We would have eventually attacked them.

  • JWing

    I don’t think that the USSR would allow Japan to engulf that much more of China and Mongolia before it pushed back. It still remembered what Japan did to its navy in 1905 and guarded the Amur River.

  • Pzatchok

    The USSR was a little tied up with Germany at the moment. And even though it still had a few men and materials to send to the far east they could never have sent enough to make a difference as long as Germany kept knocking at their door.

    They lost millions just defending their three largest cities. And that was with all the help the Americans and British could send them. Add in the starvation’s and they were out classed and out gunned.

    If the Americans had just sent supplies until the American people were tired of doing that. Which would not have been long. The British could never have moved back onto the mainland of Europe and Germany could have concentrated all its efforts on the Soviets.

    In one more year the USSR would have been just a memory.

    But we invaded Italy and then D-Day happened and the Germans had a multi front war on its hands and the end was inevitable.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Your timeline is defective. The Soviets and Japanese did indeed fight in the late 30’s and the Japanese got the worst of it. Stalin, stupidly, was unworried about Germany until they actually attacked, but that was in June 1941, well after the Japanese had taken their lumps and gone back to their piece of China.

  • Pzatchok

    But they still had China and the Russians were not moving in to kick them out yet.

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