Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 February 2011
From the moment that the overwhelming industrial capacity of the United States could make itself felt in any theatre of war, there was no longer any chance of ultimate victory in that theatre … Tactical skill could only postpone the collapse, it could not avert the ultimate fate of … [that] theatre.(Field Marshal Erwin Rommel)
Literature on the Second World War is replete with references to the economic and quantitative disadvantages suffered by Germany in comparison to her enemies. The unbending logic of numbers and economics, as many historians argue, precluded Germany from winning a war against the future superpowers of the USA and USSR. John Keegan, in The Second World War, argued that ‘in the final enumeration of Hitler's mistakes in waging the war, his decision to contest the issue with the power of the American economy may well come to stand first’. John Ellis in Brute Force claimed that the decisive differentiator between the Allied and Axis armies was the technological advantage enjoyed by the Allies in the years following 1942. The German war diaries from the North African campaign leave no doubt that the Afrika Korps' own commanders saw Allied technological and numerical superiority as the cause of their defeat.
Such commentary clearly advocates a deterministic view of history that suggests that technology, weapons and numbers by themselves are the decisive factors in deciding military outcomes.