Multiple Fronts for Germany
Compounding the manufacturing weakness of the Germans is that they were fighting the Allies on multiple fronts. The multiple fronts prevented the Germans from concentrating their naval power in the Atlantic. If the Germans had been able to concentrate their naval forces in the Atlantic they would have inflicted greater damage on the Allies merchant fleet. Instead, the Germans had to ensure a powerful naval presence was maintained in the Mediterranean Sea to combat the Allied naval powers massing in the Mediterranean and to protect their supply lines and lines of communication to Africa. The Allied land presence in Africa and the naval power in the Mediterranean Sea kept a portion of the German fleet occupied allowing a greater chance of the merchant ships successfully crossing the Atlantic to the important European theater. Even if the Germans had been able to win the Battle in the Mediterranean and been able to mass their naval fleet in the Atlantic they would not have been able to defeat the Allies in the Atlantic. The Allies were exploiting the improvements in technology and intelligence to avoid the U-boats. The Allies were locating the U-boats and avoiding them. The Germans were searching blindly for the Allied merchant ships. The Germans were not interested in employing technological advances on their U-boats and felt their U-boat wolfpack strategy would pay enough dividends. Compounding the Germans’ lack of a comprehensive strategy in the Atlantic is the sheer size of the ocean. For the Germans to be successful in the Atlantic they had to patrol from the Caribbean up to Norway. The Atlantic Ocean was a geographic dimension too large for the size of the German fleet in the Atlantic. The Germans’ lack of resources and capacity to build a large enough fleet, the size of the Atlantic, and lack of their ability to concentrate their forces in the Atlantic is both a strategic failure of the Germans and a key strategic success for the Allies.
Even with the strategic successes highlighted above, the Allies needed operational success to ensure them victory in the Atlantic. To offer the Allies a greater chance of success they understood Sun Tzu’s philosophy to “know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.” (Griffith 84) The British aggressively pursued any intelligence they could gain on Germany’s operations in the Atlantic. In July 1939, Poland presented the British and the French with replicas of the Germans’ encryption device, Enigma. (Kahn 6) The British intelligence agencies tirelessly pursued to break the German code with little success. However, tactical mistakes by the German leaders and U-boats assisted the British in breaking Germany’s secret code. Admiral Dönitz, was a micromanager and required total control over his fleet. This obsessive control over the fleet resulted in excessive messages being sent through the Enigma machine....