Total war requires mobilization of the economy. The degree of a nation's mobilization can be quantified in two major ways:

  1. Negatively: as, e.g., the reduction of "non-essential consumer production" --- describing the privations of the population.
  2. Positively: as, e.g., the increase in "war production" (food and military heavy industrial equipment?) --- describing the increased fighting capability.

What was the degree of mobilization of major World War (1&2) combatants by year?


  • I have seen claims that the degree of "negative mobilization" of Germany was higher in WW1 than in WW2 because Hitler wanted to avoid the collapse of the home front that lead to the defeat in the WW1 (this claim seems to suggest that Hitler did not quite believe himself in the Stab-in-the-back myth).
  • The common theme in the Soviet propaganda is that USSR won the war because the Socialist Economy is best suitable to mobilization. Indeed, the "negative mobilization" was probably the highest in the USSR (of course, "positive mobilization" is more important to war fighting).


  • It is probably impossible to find any reliable numbers about USSR.
  • Soviet economy has been always geared towards war production, so the changes due to war were not as dramatic as in other countries.
  • Similarly, German "positive mobilization" started way before 1939.

PS. I asked this on History, got nothing.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This sounds like the sort of thing that would fill a book. And you got a very good answer on History. $\endgroup$
    – 410 gone
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ @EnergyNumbers: yes, and I hope someone has already written one! The answer on history tells me how to write the book. I would love to, but I need to feed a family ;-) $\endgroup$
    – sds
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


It is my impression that the subject has seen its fair share of scholarly research already. Check the references in the wikipedia article for WWW-II (the article itself is not very good), and maybe the book The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison.


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