Tag Archives: Total War

The Defence Economics of Total War 1870-1918: A Literature Review Article (Published)

In the history of warfare, the period from 1860-1945, is regarded as the period of total war. The concept of “total war” is debatable among historians, political scientists and economists, however the American Civil War (1861-1865) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) are the first two conflicts which are regarded as total wars by social scientists or at least as the prelude to this type of warfare. It is surprising, that other conflicts, such as, the Russian-Ottoman War (1877), the Russian-Japanese War (1904) the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), the Greek-Turkish War (1919-1922), are not regarded as total wars, or they have not attracted the attention of various scholars. However, there is general agreement that the First World War (1914-1918), as well as the Second (1939-1945), are the epitomy of total warfare. In this article we focus our attention to the 1870-1918 period. This intellectual dichotomy is necessary since there is an immense amount of work on the two world wars. A second article will focus in the 1919-1945 period.

The structure of this article is as follows: In the first introductory section we will simply refer to the various current intellectual aspects of defence economics. In the second section we will present the various kinds of the literature of total war for the 1870-1918 period. In this section we present the main work which is published (mainly) in English, as well as other languages. This is taking place due to the huge amount of available literature on the issue, and to the limitations of space in a journal article. A third and final section will tight the literature of total war with the current intellectual aspects of defence

economics, refer to the limitations of the current research, and identify some gaps which exist in the current literature about the early period of warfare. Recommendations for further research will also be presented


Keywords: Economic History, Total War

Τhe Defence Industry as an Explanatory Factor of the German Defeat During World War I: Lessons for Future Conflicts (Published)

The failure of the German war machine during WWI is attributed mainly to the wrong decisions which the German High Command made throughout the war. According to the mainstream literature the defeat of the Marne in the autumn of 1914 has been the first error in a chain of errors, which the Germans made during the four year conflict. However, although the above criticism is correct it is incomplete. Throughout the war years there was an immense shift of economic resources from the civil sector of the economy to the military sector of the economy. The problem is that there was not an optimum use of these resources.

The paper has to address three main issues: The first is associated with the quantity of the defence production, which although it was the biggest across all belligerents, it was a hidden story of failure rather than success, since a waste of resources in the production process occurred.The German defence industry was an immense oligopoly, which practically throughout the war, acted either as a monopoly or a cartel. Thus a small number of firms were able to set prices, production levels and qualitative characteristics. In order to maximise their own profit the above companies ignored the military bureaucracy and even the politicians. Thus defence production could have been higher, if there was some competition in the economy.The second point of the paper is associated with the quality of the defence equipment, which was not superior, when compared to that of the allied defence industries. Thus with limited exemptions the German weapons were not superior to the Allied ones. The third point demonstrates that the Allies and especially the UK and the USA (which after all had immense resources compared to the Central Powers) had used them slightly better compared to the Germans.We realise that even nowadays the defence industry across the globe is a monopoly or an oligopoly. Obviously not many firms produce defence articles across states. However the more they are the better it is because in case of wars (as the experience of WWI has demonstrated) a handful of companies can make

Keywords: Economic History, Total War