I understand some came from Romania, but that could have provided only a small portion of the oil needed.

  • 6
    What research have you done?
    – MCW
    Nov 11, 2015 at 0:07
  • 2
    Seems like a legit question to me. Natural resources like oil and iron were a prime strategic concern of the German leadership in deciding their priorities during the war. I don't know of a any magic website that distills this information.
    – T.E.D.
    Nov 11, 2015 at 14:40

3 Answers 3


About one third to one half of the oil was refined synthetically from coal. The German term for this kind of refinery plant is "Hydrierwerk". There's a fairly exhaustive article in the German Wikipedia about it, but unfortunately it hasn't been translated to other languages:


The article says:

  • At the beginning of the war 7 refineries were active (the biggest in Leuna), 3 more were nearly finished.
  • In 1943 twelve refineries existed, in 1944 fifteen.
  • The production had a maximum in 1943. Due to heavy bombing most of the capacity was destroyed until March 1945.

The Wikipedia article contains a table with production numbers. For example, in 1942 Germany consumed 9,500,000 t (estimated), and produced 4,920,000 t from coal.


There is a theory that only after dividing Romania, with its oil fields, and ceding a portion of it to Stalin did Hitler realize that he would soon run out of oil. The Battle of Stalingrad was Hitler's desperate attempt to get to the oil-rich Baku. Stalin and the Allies knew that once Hitler had access to those fields, there would be no stopping him, which was why the battle turned out to be so gory. After the failure at Stalingrad, it was all downhill for him. Converting coal is an extremely expensive, labor-intensive process. Severe shortages followed; Hitler was doomed.

It's only a theory, though.

  • 1
    The Germans also attempted to take the Suez Canal and open up access to the Middle East, but they got turned round at a little place called El Alamein.The holding of strategic points of the Mediterranean - Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Port Suez & Alexandria, throughout the duration of the war, restricted any Axis expansion into Arabia. And unlike in the first world war the Germans did not have the Turks fighting with them.
    – WS2
    Nov 11, 2015 at 5:13
  • Had Britain lost Egypt it would have been a big blow to the Allies.
    – WS2
    Nov 11, 2015 at 5:22
  • and they also had plans to link up with the Persian Gulf through Persia (now Iran). Didn't quite work out either when Turkey (who'd been their ally in WW1) turned out to be less than friendly towards them.
    – jwenting
    Nov 11, 2015 at 12:55
  • @jwentingThe Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran took place in Sept 1941. And the Persian corridor was important to getting British aid and American lend-lease through to the Red Army fighting at Stalingrad. It was also essential as Archangel was closed by ice for part of the year. Churchill and the Defence Chiefs did a pretty good job in the first two years of the war in determining which critically strategic points to reinforce - like the Persian Gulf, as well as Gibraltar etc in the Med. Unfortunately the Far East was neglected and all hell let loose in Dec 41.
    – WS2
    Nov 11, 2015 at 17:47
  • I always run into this -- Stalingrad. Yes, it's been the turning point in strategic initiative. But by that time, Germany's best chances to come out on top had long since been blown. By late 1942, the war had already turned into one of attrition, which Germany had literally no chance of winning. Stalingrad was a symptom, not a cause. The war had been lost a year earlier, when the Red Army (and the winter) put a stop to the German advances before Russia's backbone was broken.
    – DevSolar
    Jul 1, 2016 at 11:02

Ploesti in Romania

Maikop and Grozny in the Caucasus starting in 1942

by conversion of coal to synthetic fuels

  • That Caucasus thingie ended some way or another, I reckon. Nov 11, 2015 at 9:49
  • The Germans got little from Maikop, and none from Grozny.
    – Tom Au
    Nov 11, 2015 at 15:11

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