From a resources perspective did the Axis powers get more resources when they were at peace or at war?

I was curious if anyone knows how much resources Germany and Japan got from the land they conquered? Obviously it didn’t meet their war needs but a lot of Japan’s reasoning to attack the US was so they could get Indonesia’s resources. How much did they actually get?

In the case of Germany’s war with Russia I’m curious how much they got when Germany was at peace with Russia and Russia was supplying the Germans. Compared to how much they got out of Russia when they were at war with Russia.


Germany for sure got more resources from their allies like Romania and Hungary. However when it comes to gaining from conquered territory, I’m not 100% sure. I think Japan might have got stuff from Indochina and whatever Germany could get from Russia that wasn’t destroyed. But Germany for sure gained heavy water for research and development from Norway. Italy was pretty exhausted by the time ww2 started, and I don’t think they really gained resources from Ethiopia and anything they occupied. Italy already had Libya, so I don’t think the war benefitted Italy resource wise at all. Maybe there were agreements between Italy and other Axis powers for trade.

1 Like

In December, 1941, the Japanese had a substantial reserve (42 million barrels) of oil built up from imports (Japanese ‘home’ production, about half of it synthetic, was less than 10 percent of needs for full-blast production and basing). But when the embargo began in the summer of 1941, the Japanese figured they had about a year before their economy ground to a halt.

The Japanese went to war to get the oil from Indonesia to keep their economy running. When the US and Western Allies cut off oil exports, the Japanese had to get the oil from somewhere (or change what they were doing in China, and that was - for them - out of the question.). From Indonesia, once the oil fields were seized, they were able to import 25.9 million barrels in 1942; for 1943 49.6 million. But after that, the allied submarine interdiction campaign cut imports drastically (for the Japanese, catastrophically) , as tankers became more and more scarce. Much of the IJN began being based at Singapore, not because of a better combat position, but just to be closer to oil production (which, for the big diesels in the ships, didn’t have to be refined.). The big bases at Rabaul and Truk turned out to be way-stations, instead of strategic centers, because the Japanese couldn’t get enough oil to them to keep the IJN mobile.

Before the Pacific war, the Japanese had hoped to outright buy oil from Indonesia, but the amount the Dutch were willing to sell was never more than a couple of million barrels.

So from the Japanese perspective, the entire war - except the endless murder of that against China, was about oil. The US embargo ‘required’ seizure of the Indonesian oil fields, and ‘required’ seizure of Singapore and the Philippines to secure the tanker route (war with the Britain and US.)

Once the Japanese convinced themselves that conquering China was imperative, the rest was almost automatic.


Japan was prior to 1939 dependent on ships from Europe and America for trade. In 1941 the Japanese military had no idea how to get the oil or anything else to Japan. The IJN was impressive, the Japanese merchant marine was not.


For the Germans, raw materials were actually in pretty good shape before the war. They certainly didn’t attack Poland, France, Denmark, or Norway for resources - these were for ‘revenge’ (France), ‘lebensraum’ (Poland), and to deny access to the British (Norway), and Denmark (pathway to Norway.)

Most of their necessary imports were from allies (Romania and Hungary for oil) and neutrals (Sweden, and others - brokered by the Swiss)

Once the Wehrmacht went super-size, food production suddenly became a problem. Although Hitler claimed he invaded Russia for raw materials (food from Ukraine, oil from the Caucuses), they were really just excuses. Hitler had come to power determined to destroy the Soviet Union.

The Germans were able to survive food-wise with rationing (far better than they had in WWI.)

The North African campaign, and the Yugoslavian/Greek campaigns were (strategically) to protect oil fields in Romania from air attack. But for the first couple of years bombing Ploesti, production capacity was such that actual production wasn’t affected. In 1941/1942 the Germans had plenty of petroleum products to send to the Army, but couldn’t get it far to the east in 1942 (especially).

It wasn’t until very late (starting in 1945) that raw materials became scarce. By then it was too late, because they could not be made up, and the (what turned out to be vastly inefficient) German production system couldn’t react to it anyway.


You’re right. The Japanese were short of tankers, but they did build up their capacity up through mid-July 1943 (from 575,500 in January 1942 tons to 809,800 tons in July 1943).

Imports directly to Japan were at most about 17 million barrels a year, the rest of production went to other places – but most of the refineries were in the Home Islands.

… is a pretty good summary.


Does anyone know of actual numbers? Pre-war and during the war. So we can compare and contrast the resources.


When the American subs had working torpedos. The US navy was the navy of successfull U Boots, not the nazi German navy. American subs had been ahead in success and most tecnologilal details.


Check out the pacific war online article. It may give you what you’re looking for…

1 Like

what article? You didn’t link anything.

…thats the link - sorry if it wasn’t clear (let me know if it still isn’t :slight_smile:

1 Like