Coal in the port of Hamburg-Süd. 1938 year
Archival documents sometimes present such amazing finds that they force us to seriously think about some points. stories war. They are usually plain in appearance, but their content is amazing.
One of such documents, which is now kept in the RGVA, was drawn up on July 5, 1944 by the German ambassador to Finland, Vipert von Blucher. This was a certificate for the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the volumes of German supplies to Finland in 1942 and 1943 (RGVA, f. 1458, op. 8, d. 36, l. 4).
German Ambassador to Finland Wiepert von Blucher (right) greets Finnish General Axel Heinrichs (left)
The table listed the main positions of German merchandise exports to Finland in weight and value:
Only for those commodity items for which the weight of the cargo was indicated, in 1942, 1493 thousand tons were delivered to Finland, and in 1943 - 1925,6 thousand tons. In fact, somewhat more, as the weight of chemicals, iron and steel, machinery, vehicles and electrical equipment is not indicated. The consumption of iron and steel alone in 1937 was 350 thousand tons. But even in this form it is more than impressive.
We will not even remember about the intensive freight traffic between Sweden and Germany. Freight traffic from Germany to Finland, which required about a thousand flights, went almost under the nose of the Red Banner Baltic fleet and personally his commander, Admiral V.F. Tributsa.
There are two conclusions from this table. First, Finland fought almost exclusively thanks to trade with Germany, receiving from there all the resources necessary for the functioning of the economy and paying for them with their own supplies. At the end of the war, Germany had unpaid deliveries from Finland in the amount of 130 million Reichsmarks, there was no debt on clearing agreements to Finland. Trade, on the other hand, was provided almost exclusively by sea transport.
Secondly, the Baltic Fleet did not fulfill one of its main tasks, disrupting the enemy's sea traffic, at all. Merchant ships of various tonnages literally scurried in the western part of the Gulf of Finland. On average, three ships a day entered the bay and went to Finnish ports, and three ships left it and went to German ports. The Baltic Fleet could not oppose anything to this. There were reasons for this: a developed anti-submarine defense system, minefields and the famous network set between Nargen Island and Cape Porkkala-Udd. In their structure and defense, the enemy turned out to be stronger and achieved his goal. In 1943, the Baltic submariners were unable to sink a single vessel.
It mattered. The struggle for Leningrad was fought not only on land but also at sea. A good blow to communications could have led to Finland's withdrawal from the war at the beginning of 1942, since, as was evident from the previous article, its economy was already on the verge of exhaustion and starvation in 1941. Then the blockade of Leningrad from the north would have collapsed. Yes, the Germans had 1942 thousand troops in Finland in 150 and they could have arranged the occupation of a former ally, as they did with Hungary and Italy. However, a blocked supply would in any case put this group on the brink of defeat, and the German occupation of Finland would make a significant part of the Finns allies of the USSR. So the actions of the KBF were of strategic importance and could seriously change the situation. But they didn't.
All this is to the fact that in the literature on the history of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet as a whole, formations and individual ships during the war, the emphasis is on heroism. However, more than once I have come across examples when in books heroism, heroism, heroism, but in fact there was a failure, defeat and defeat. Here it is the same. Heroism covered the important circumstance that the Red Banner Baltic Fleet was cornered, gave up in front of the obstacles, in my opinion, without showing the proper determination, pressure and ingenuity in breaking them, and went into the Baltic only when Finland, which had left the war, opened the fairways for him. Thus, the fleet did not contribute to the victory what it had to contribute.
Why this happened is a subject of special analysis. In the meantime, you can see the transportation of coal from Germany to Finland during the war in some detail. On coal transportation, due to their special importance, a whole puffy folder of correspondence between various departments and firms has been preserved.
Finland consumption and first deliveries
Before the war, that is, under relatively normal conditions, Finland consumed 1400-1600 thousand tons of coal and about 200-300 thousand tons of coke (RGVA, f. 1458, op. 8, d. 33, l. 39). Almost all of the coal was imported. In 1937, Finland imported 1892,7 thousand tons of coal, the maximum level for the entire pre-war period, of which 1443,8 thousand tons - British coal, 275,5 thousand tons - Polish coal and 173,3 thousand tons - German coal.
Since 1933, a Finnish-British agreement was in force that Finland buys 75% of coal imports and 60% of coke imports from Great Britain. In accordance with it, import quotas were established for importing firms.
Coal consumption in Finland was split across many industries. The leading industry was the production of pulp and paper - 600 thousand tons of coal per year (36,8%). Pulp and various papers, along with sawnwood and roundwood, were Finland's main exports. They were followed by: railways - 162 thousand tons, shipping - 110 thousand tons, gas plants - 110 thousand tons, heating - 100 thousand tons, cement production - 160 thousand tons and other industries.
Transport consumed 272 thousand tons of coal per year, or 16,7%. Thus, fuel imports were driving the Finnish economy. In Finland, the forest was very well protected and it was not customary to heat steam locomotives with wood. The German embassy in Finland reported on June 8, 1944 to Berlin that the deforestation from May 1, 1943 to April 30, 1944 amounted to 168,7 million cubic meters. feet, of which firewood - 16,3 million cubic meters. ft (RGVA, f. 1458, op. 8, d. 7, l. 8).
Therefore, the import of coal was everything for Finland: if there is no coal, the economy does not work. As soon as in September 1939, with the outbreak of war, the prospect of stopping the supply of coal from Great Britain became clear, Finnish businessmen and influential persons ran to the German embassy. On September 10, 1939, Ambassador von Blucher wrote to Berlin that different people came and asked for coal. Among them was the head of a gas plant in Helsinki, who asked for an urgent supply of 40 thousand tons of fat coal, since the reserves at his enterprise are only for two months (that is, until early December 1939) and it will not survive the winter. The Finns responded succinctly to the indications of the Finnish-British agreement: "Need does not know the commandments."
The ambassador wrote to Berlin, in Berlin they entered the position of the Finns, the Reichsvereinigung Kohle (Imperial Coal Association, the Reich's main department for coal distribution) wrote to the Rhine-Westphalian Coal Syndicate. From there they telegraphed on September 30, 1939 that they had two vessels with a capacity of 6000 tons together under loading, one of them in Lubeck, and they were ready to deploy them to Helsinki (RGVA, f. 1458, op. 8, d. 33, l. 8 ). Subsequently, there were some delays, but in mid-October 1939, the coal carriers went to sea and on October 21-22, 1939 arrived in Helsinki. Here began an epic, described in a letter, unsigned, but apparently drawn up by the German trade attaché in Finland, Otto von Zwel. The ships were not allowed to unload because of the agreement with Britain. For several days, different people tried to persuade Finnish Foreign Minister Elyas Erkko, but in vain. This minister was not so easy to break; he was just the main opponent of any concessions to the USSR at the Moscow negotiations in October-November 1939. Finally, since downtime at the port costs money, on the morning of October 24, the attaché ordered the ships to go to Stockholm. When the Finns learned that the coveted coal was floating out from under their noses in the most literal sense of the word, they threw the most influential person at the minister - Dr. Bernhard Wuolle, a member of the Helsinki City Council and a professor at the Helsinki University of Technology. The professor shone with Finnish eloquence as never before, and what Molotov did not succeed, Dr. Vuolle did in an hour. He pushed through the uncompromising Erkko and got him permission to import coal, and without fulfilling the terms of the agreement with Britain and without acquiring a license (RGVA, f. 1458, op. 8, d. 33, l. 20).
War is the time to trade
The available documents do not clearly indicate whether there were coal supplies to Finland during the Soviet-Finnish war. Most likely, they were not there, since the KBF established a blockade zone in the Baltic Sea and Soviet submarines patrolled there. In any case, Finland received a quota for the shipment of coal only in the spring of 1940. From June 1, 1940 to March 31, 1941, 750 thousand tons of coal (including 100 thousand tons of coal dust) and 125 thousand tons of coke should be supplied (RGVA, f. 1458, op. 8, d. 33, p. 67).
The coal suppliers were the Rhine-Westphalian Coal Syndicate (250 thousand tons of coal and 115 thousand tons of coke) and the Upper Silesian Coal Syndicate (500 thousand tons of coal and 10 thousand tons of coke). The Finnish company Kol och Koks Aktienbolag, back in November 1939, requested Silesian coal, which suited them better.
Now economics is a question. A coal supplier, for example, the Upper Silesian Coal Syndicate, sold fob Danzig coal at prices ranging from 20,4 to 21,4 Reichsmarks per ton, depending on the grade. Fob is a contract where the seller loads the goods onto the ship.
Freight rates were high. From Stettin and Danzig to Helsinki from 230 Reichsmarks per tonne for loading up to 1000 tons, up to 180 Reichsmarks for loading over 3000 tons. When transporting coke, a surcharge of 40 Reichsmarks per ton was added. At the same time, Frachtkontor GmbH in Hamburg, which executed freight contracts for Finnish deliveries, took its commission of 1,6%. When transporting coal by large coal carriers, for example, the Ingna vessel, which could hold 3500 tons of coal, the consignment cost was 73,5 thousand Reichsmarks, and the cost of transportation was 640,08 thousand Reichsmarks with a commission.
In the physical sense, coal from the mines was transported by rail to German ports either to the warehouses of coal syndicates or to the warehouses of logistics firms, for example, M. Stromeyer Lagerhausgesellschaft in Mannheim. From Danzig to Helsinki it took a coal carrier for two days, and at the same time the vessel was consuming coal - large, 30 tons per day. Transportation of 1 million tons of coal required the consumption of 18 thousand tons of coal. More loading and unloading. At that time, coal was loaded and unloaded by a crane with a grab, each vessel had its own indicators of loading and unloading operations, for medium coal carriers - 300-400 tons per day, for large ones - 1000-1200 tons per day.
Loading coal by grab at the Hamburg port of Altona. 1938 year
To bring in over a million tons of coal, an average of 7 ships stood unloading in Finnish ports every day. The vessel consumed 9 tons of coal in the port for loading and unloading operations: 2-3 days in the German port and the same in the Finnish one, up to 54 tons in total. For 1 million tons of coal, another 15,9 thousand tons of coal is consumed; In total, transportation and port operations required the consumption of 33,9 thousand tons of coal for the delivery of 1 million tons. Coal was delivered from Finnish ports either directly to consumers, if they bought large quantities, for example, Wasa Elektriska Aktienbolag, or to the warehouses of importing companies, from where the coal was sold and delivered to consumers.
Nothing illustrates the fairness of the saying: a heifer is a half over the sea, and a ruble is transported, like deliveries of German coal to Finland. At the freight rate for a large ship mentioned above, the total cost of Finns per ton of Silesian coal in the port of Helsinki was 203,8 Reichsmarks. Coal was ten times more expensive for them than in Danzig. But this is still the sparing conditions for a large carbohydrate and a large batch. There were few large transports, and coal was transported with every little thing, whoever agreed. Therefore, if we count according to Ambassador von Blucher, a ton of coal cost the Finns in 1942 698,2 Reichsmarks, and in 1943 - 717,1 Reichsmarks.
In general, the owners of the ships and the shipping company have “risen” well in transporting to Finland at such freight rates. But even under such conditions there were not enough ships for coal transportation and there was an undersupply of coal. For example, in March 1943 it was planned to deliver 120 thousand tons of coal and 20 thousand tons of coke, but actually 100,9 thousand tons of coal and 14,2 thousand tons of coke were delivered (RGVA, f. 1458, op. 8, d . 33, l. 187, 198). Another reason for the undersupply is the obvious lack of mining capacities of the Upper Silesian Coal Syndicate, which was responsible for supplying coal to the entire east of Germany, the Governor General for the occupied territories of Poland, the commissariats of Ostland and Ukraine, as well as the entire Eastern Front and the railways leading to it. The Imperial Coal Association was forced to divide coal between different consumers, although it tried to fulfill Finnish supplies as a priority.
KBF could only bite enemy shipping
Returning to the Red Banner Baltic Fleet, it is worth noting one interesting circumstance, in addition to the fact that it was driven behind a net that the fleet could not break through.
The KBF, of course, sank something. In 1942, 47 ships with a total displacement of 124,5 thousand tons were sunk and 4 ships with a total displacement of 19,8 thousand tons were damaged. However, this had little impact on the enemy freight traffic.
Submarines of the KBF chased large ships. The average tonnage of the sunk ships was 2,6 thousand tons, that is, approximately 1,3 thousand tons of capacity. This is understandable, since it is easier to hit a large ship with torpedoes. The sinking of such a ship was considered a more significant victory. But the point is that the bulk of cargo was transported by small ships. It was easier and faster to load and unload them, both by cranes and by hand, they easily entered sea and river ports.
What kind of ships they were can be judged from the statistics of the transport of ore and coal between Germany and Sweden. The German-Swedish transport was enormous. Deliveries to Sweden: 1942 - 2,7 million tons of coal and 1 million tons of coke, 1943 - 3,7 million tons of coal and 1 million tons of coke. Ore supplies to Germany: 1942 - 8,6 million tons, 1943 - 10,2 million tons. 2569 ships operated on these shipments in 1942 and 3848 ships in 1943. Moreover, the Swedish fleet transported 99% of coal and 40% of ore in 1943.
So, in 1943, 3848 ships transported 14,9 million tons of coal and ore. Each ship carried 3872 tons of cargo per year. If the ship turned around in 8 days (two days there, two days back, and two days for loading and unloading) and made 45 voyages a year, then the average vessel capacity was 86 tons, or about 170 brt. Roughly the same was the case for shipments to Finland, although so far no more accurate data has been found. 170 brt is a very small steamer, which cannot be hit by a torpedo, and the cannon did not work very well either. "Shch-323" on December 11, 1939 sank the Estonian ship "Kassari" with a displacement of 379 brt, firing 160 shells at it. This is almost in range conditions, in the absence of enemy anti-submarine forces, which in 1941-1944 in the Gulf of Finland were very strong and active.
Here is an example of a small vessel: "Icon", built in Germany in 1937 (already renamed in the post-war photo), 344 brt, length 44,8 meters, width 7,6 meters, draft up to 2,3 meters
So, in addition to the fact that the Red Banner Baltic Fleet was giving up in front of the German and Finnish anti-submarine defense and obstacles, it was still practically not ready to fight against shipping carried out by small vessels. As far as I know, the command of the fleet not only did not solve such a problem, but did not pose it. From this it follows that the Red Banner Baltic Fleet was completely unable to destroy the sea communications in the Baltic Sea and to sink at least part of the about five thousand ships that worked on shipments to Sweden and Finland. Even if the fleet had a free fairway, all the same, its strength and capabilities would be enough only to slightly bite enemy shipping. He was not able to solve the strategic tasks of destroying the enemy's sea communications.