How many mistakes he (supposedly) made… From halting the tanks at Dunkirk, to antagonizing the Russian population that would like nothing more than to fight against the communists, refusing to allow retreats, refusing to listen to his generals etc etc
Add your own
Hitler should have armed the Romanians better in the Barbarossa campaign, but he was afraid the Romanians would use the German weapons to sell them or the take revenge against the Hungarians after the war (see Stalin's secret dossier on Hitler).ReplyDelete
Despite the repeated requests from the Romanians for more anti-tank guns, who saw that the Soviets were amassing large troups (in preparation for the Uranus operation) on the flanks of Stalingrad, the Germans ignored them.
The reason that the Germans did not give more modern weapons to their Allies is that they themselves were short of them (Pak 40 A/T gun, tanks and Stug vehicles, combat aircraft) so it made sense to give them to German units that would make full use of them.Delete
I'll pass...I have a feeling that we both would agree that most of these alternative theories are suffering from a severe case of tunnel vision.ReplyDelete
Would the details of history change had he not parked the Panzers outside Dunkirk? Undoubtedly. Would the ultimate outcome have changed? That's a far riskier bet to make.
The problem is that the vast majority of these alternative strategies can be quickly debunked. Yet most authors still fall for them.Delete
I have found the passage in 'Hitler's Dossier':ReplyDelete
"The same month, Hitler invited Antonescu to his headquarters (the meeting took place at Wolfschanze on February 11th 1942). He was lodged in the special bunker for guests. Hitler talked to him there. Schmidt was the interpreter.
Antonescu was speaking in French. Schmundt and Linge were waiting for Hitler by the door of the room where the meeting was supposed to take place. The discussion between Hitler and Antonescu has been very lively.
It was about the participation of the Romanian troops at the assault on Stalingrad. Antonescu promissed Hitler that he would provide a significant number of troops, but he warned that the Romanian units were badly armed. Hitler asked Antonescu to give him a more precise information regarding the total number of weapons necessary to the Romanians. Antonescu answered that he wasn't in possession of the complete facts, but that he would send them to Berlin immediately after his return[...] A short while after Antonescu's departure, Romania's requests for weapons arrived in Berlin. At the lunch in the casino, Hitler told Keitel and Jodl that the Romanians have made some unheard-of demands. He wasn't intending to fulfill them. "It's me who needs weapons", said Hitler. "I'm paying for their oil with cars, motorcycles, bicycles and, for my part, even with baby-carriages, but not with weapons. Anyhow, they are not able to use the German weapons."
Keitel was encouraging him. The Romanians have asked for more weapons than they really needed. Hitler's opinion was that their intentions were either to sell them, or make provisions to attack Hungary after the war. Hitler mocked the Second Vienna Award which forced the Romanians to give up, at Hitler's request, the Northern Transylvania to Hungary. Hitler was not hiding the the quarell between Hungary and Romania was favourable to him. It gave him the possibility to push, as arbitrator, Romania and Hungary in the war against the USSR: the Hungarians for the Northern Transylvania and the Romanians for a possible reappraisal of the Second Vienna Award."
Exactly! You can see that it made military sense to give the limited number of ‘superior’ weapons to the German units that had the training to use them efficiently. Moreover all the German Allies asked for more weapons and supplies than they really needed, so the Germans distrusted them.Delete
Well, Hitler probably messed up a lot of things, but he was the ideal fall guy for the German generals : he had his fingerprints on all, he was mad, and he wasn't there anymore to defend his actions.ReplyDelete
The errors that may have change things are those of strategy IMO :
- he wanted a truce with UK, but the Blitz sunk all hopes that British population could reject Churchill and beg for peace.
- he didn't want to do war on two fronts... but he did precisely that (okay, had he not, Stalin would likely have openned the front later anyway)
- he declared war against the US... I think he was short-sighted about the indirect US involvement (lend-lease) and didn't see what industrial monster he provoked.
All these choices make sense.Delete
‘- he wanted a truce with UK, but the Blitz sunk all hopes that British population could reject Churchill and beg for peace.‘
What was the alternative? Do nothing?
‘- he didn't want to do war on two fronts... but he did precisely that (okay, had he not, Stalin would likely have opened the front later anyway)’
By summer ’41 Germany had to decide on how Soviet exports (grain, oil, raw materials) would be paid. The commies wanted German industrial equipment and weapons which meant that the war effort would take a hit. At the same time Germany’s need for Soviet exports meant that this country had the upper hand in political negotiations. If Hitler did nothing Germany would be subservient to the SU.
‘- he declared war against the US... I think he was short-sighted about the indirect US involvement (lend-lease) and didn't see what industrial monster he provoked.’
The US had been supporting the Allies by selling military equipment to France and UK, giving destroyers to the RN, passing the Lend Lease legislation and attacking German subs in the Atlantic (plus US pilots flew in the Battle of Britain, they shared crypto secrets etc). US neutrality was a sham and it was time to allow the U-boats to attack.
I'll add that Hitler should have allowed Paulus to pull out from the start.ReplyDelete
Nevermind at the time it would have doomed Army Group A in the Caucasus and freed up 10 Soviet Armies to swing into Army Group Center.
Bingo! Keep in mind that in all the arguments of the type ‘Hitler should have pulled back the troops to defensible positions’ it is never explained:Delete
1). What were ‘defensible’ positions? Areas with fixed fortifications? If so who would build them? With what materials?
2). How would infantry units (that made up the majority of the German army) retreat in good order while fighting mobile units? They simply lacked the trucks and cars to keep up against an opponent that had not exhausted his resources.
3). Assuming that all the above were not correct and the troops somehow found themselves in a ‘defensible’ position what would happen next? The enemy will continue to attack, he will continue to have numerical superiority. Then you’d go back to step 1 ‘let’s retreat to a defensible position’…..
Is it not better to retreat than lose the army altogether? Also presumably the 'defensible position' they were heading for would be the main german frontlines.ReplyDelete
If you retreat you move away from positions that your troops have held and fortified for a long time. German infantry units had limited mobility (cars, trucks). How would such a unit retreat in good order against enemy forces supplied with Lend Lease trucks and ample amounts of fuel? Wouldn’t they risk being overrun?Delete
As for the defensible position, in most cases there was nothing prepared in the new position since there were neither the materials nor the manpower to build fixed structures. There’s an interesting article on this matter: from ‘The Journal of Slavic Military Studies’: ‘Explaining Defeat: A Reappraisal of “Operation Bagration,” 1944’
Hitler should have given full command at the generals who were serving at the normandy front . instead he woke up late and the tanks could not engage the enemy in time ( some say it would not have made any difference but anyway ) . Hitler should have halted the production of bombers earlier , listening to Speer and Galland instead of Goering . Hitler should not have attacked at Kursk neither should he have attacked at Belgium in 1945 ...ReplyDelete
‘Hitler should have given full command at the generals who were serving at the Normandy front. instead he woke up late and the tanks could not engage the enemy in time ( some say it would not have made any difference but anyway )’
Some things are so wrong they could be mistaken for jokes…
My advice is to read more:
‘Hitler should have halted the production of bombers earlier’
Like when? Production in ’43 was only slightly higher than in ’44, while fighter production was doubled.
‘Hitler should not have attacked at Kursk neither should he have attacked at Belgium in 1945’
So the best strategy would be to do nothing? Not a very good idea to allow your enemy to take the initiative.
correction: it should be '42 instead of '44.Delete
This is cyrcular logic , the offensive was based on many factors hitler could not control , weather , the us soldier's training and moral , and in many others that he knnew he was lacking , like men , fuel , planes , moral. The front was quiet , and no attack was planed since the supply lines were overstretched . Like in kursk hitler had a chance to regroup his forces , gather more planes and tanks and use the fact that the battle was now in germany itself . Instead he choose to use his best ss divisions , and kids born in 1928 and 1929 to reach a goal that was impossible to achieve ... The only thing that he actually achieved was waking the americans up from believing that germany was wasted ...Delete
The Germans had a certain number of troops. Everyday those troops took a certain number of losses. Under those circumstances there are two choices.Delete
1). Do nothing, in which case after a period of time the units will be destroyed and the front will collapse.
2). Use the units you have in order to inflict a serious defeat on the enemy, remove several of his units from the battle and thus gain time and even the odds.
One leads to certain defeat, the other may have some possibility of success. Why do you think the first one is correct?
because the 2nd option is based on desperation and factors you cannot control . that is why . The troops on the western front were having a pretty good time with little fighting at period . There were no major offensives except maybe the Battle of Hürtgen Forest . on the other hand the eastern front was under much pressure , budapest was under siege and incyrcled the 2nd Ukrainian Front and the 3nd Ukrainian Front were launching attacks constantly . Using the last available unit on a offensive with minimal chances of success was a huge mistake .Delete
It is easy to understand the logic behind the attack , hitting the allies hard and using the forces serving in the western front to smash the SU .
After examining the odds though , the offensive made no sense to anyone
The forces used in the Battle of the Bulge were too small in numbers to affect the fighting in the East. That’s why it made sense to use the last few ‘quality’ units in one gamble.Delete
I don’t think that you understand wwii attrition. Every day the German army suffered casualties. Within a specific amount of time a unit would lose so much of its strength that it would have to be pulled back for regrouping. This was true for units both in the offense and in defense.
Like I said before doing nothing means that within a few months the front would collapse. Doing something would mean using these units while they still had some offensive power.
You actually said it your self ''They simply lacked the trucks and cars to keep up against an opponent that had not exhausted his resources. '' -> the logistic support of the german army was REALLY bad . Plus there was no attack planed by the western allies for months to come . after the failure of operation market garden and other tactical offensives the germans had time to regroup . launching an attack without even having the fuel required is not a gamble , it is a suicide .Delete
The objectives of the operation were hugely ambitious for the limited resources available to the Germans in late 1944.For the German army to succeed its goals would have required a combination of extremely favourable circumstances , like foggy weather and low allied moral
As I said the original thought is NOT wrong .
However , after viewing the available resources the plan should have been dropped
The original goal for the ardennes offensive was to neutralize the allies in west , and moving all available forces to the east . This would have change the tied of the war , you actually say this in one of the stat boards you have posted at THIS blog .
With all respect to the awesome content you have uploaded at the blog , your logic at this specific issue is flawed .
My anonymous friend here is how things looked to the German high command in late ’44. In the East they are fighting an opponent that has superiority in men of roughly 3-1. In the West the Allies had stopped their advance due to logistical difficulties and a hardening of the German defenses in areas that were not ‘tank country’ (Metz fortress, Hurtgen forest etc)Delete
If they concentrated their remaining forces they would have about 400.000 men and ~1.400 armored vehicles. These resources would disappear if used in the East. However in the West there was a chance that the Allied front would be broken, Allied formations encircled and destroyed and the port of Antwerp captured. Then maybe some kind of peace initiative would be undertaken.
It was a long shot but it was the only logical thing to do with such limited forces.
As for fuel there was enough for the operation but distributing it to units was probably the bigger problem.
By the way you said: ‘The original goal for the Ardennes offensive was to neutralize the allies in west , and moving all available forces to the east . This would have change the tied of the war , you actually say this in one of the stat boards you have posted at THIS blog’
Where exactly did I say that?
Regarding the fuel situation: from ‘Hitler's Last Gamble: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945’, p19:Delete
‘Using the rail lines available it was simply impossible to move combat units forward and at the same time to assemble the stocks of fuel, ammunition and other supplies required for the offensive. For instance although the Germans had , through considerable effort, stockpiled the 500 million gallons of gasoline that their planners estimated was required for the initial phase of the operation, half of it remained east of the Rhine because the transport system could not move it forward.’
So the Germans had the fuel, as I said above it was the distribution that was the problem.
My point exactly . you do not lauch a gamble offensive if your troops do not have fuel and are oll equipted...Delete
This is why the attack should never have taken place .
This is the reason that made the attack a suicide mission with NO chance of success
PS Απο την ιδια χωρα ειμαστε Χρηστο !!! Εχουμε και το ιδιο ονομα !!!
Αυτα τα ολιγα για τις αρδεννες , και αν ψαξεις λιγο στα ποστ που εχεις κανει με τα στατιστικα θα δεις αυτο που σου ειπα
Hitler should have made sure the Ukraine would become allies not enemy?ReplyDelete
When did they become enemies? Was there in the Ukraine an anti German partisan movement as dangerous as that in Belorussia?Delete
Congratulations on this great Blog,ReplyDelete
Please comment on the myth of Hitler’s chances if he didn’t antagonize the local population.
AFAIK there was significant collaboration between Russians, Ukrainians, and other nationalities with the German occupying forces. In spite of the harsh occupying policy that Hitler undertook a lot of people participated in the German forces as Hilfwillinger, or paid volunteers. I guess this was the army’s way of going around Hitler’s unwillingness to use Russian soldiers. However this doesn’t change that if Germany had continued the soft occupation policy from the beginning of the campaign and not waged total war on the occupied population, it could have much more support and therefore much weaker partisan movement. That means better logistics, which is very important. And more soldiers – both freed up from occupying duties and more volunteers.
Using whole units of Russian soldiers would have been inefficient, having in mind the logistical difficulties the Germans had with supplying their own forces, but they could have been used in costly street fighting in the streets of Kiev, or for an assault on Leningrad. In addition, combined with soft occupation policy and announcement that the purpose of the invasion was just to get rid of the communists and restore free Russia (which I believe Hitler did, but his occupation policy made this declaration irrelevant) backed with normal behavior of restraint as shown by the Imperial Army in 1918 I guess would have weakened the Russian resolve. Having in mind that even with the harsh policies in place, Vlassov could organize an army of Russian volunteers later in the war, I would imagine much more would have joined the Germans, if they knew that they would be treated well. And they could know such a thing if they saw fellow Russian units soldiers fighting on the German side and being well. Which the Germans could have done if not on divisional scale, perhaps as whole regiments, or battalions, etc. (Less partisans, more logistics for support of additional units)
I don’t understand why Hitler didn’t use this policy to first win the war and then wage his total war policy on the population, but chose to wage the total war from the very beginning, thus strengthening the Russian resolve. (As violence breeds more violence). I don’t know if this would have won the war for the Germans, but would have improved their chances. What are your thoughts on this.
As you said there were always hundreds of thousands of foreign troops supporting the Germans and sometimes fighting for/with them. From a discussion at Axis history forum the number of Soviet citizens (Hiwis) that directly supported German troops at any given time was 200.000-300.000 during the war plus many anti-partisan units were wholly made up of Russians/Ukrainians etc. Also in the occupied areas of the Soviet Union hundreds of thousands worked in factories and fields producing goods for the occupation authorities.Delete
You said: ‘I don’t understand why Hitler didn’t use this policy to first win the war and then wage his total war policy on the population, but chose to wage the total war from the very beginning, thus strengthening the Russian resolve. ‘
Why would a Russian fight and die for the Germans? From 1942 it was obvious that the war would drag on and that Germany would probably lose. Who would fight for the Germans under these conditions? Human beings are not automatons to be commanded like robots. When it was clear that the SU would win whole units of Hiwis killed their German officers and defected to the Soviet side. That’s the people you want to arm with the limited production of German weapons?
Even reliable units from Baltic countries melted away when they had to fight regular Soviet army units…
People don’t just fight to the death because you’d want them to.
I’m speaking more for the period between June 1941 and November 1942 as I believe that beyond that point the war was strategically lost as you said and people did exactly as you said because they are not robots. So, the chances for German victory lied in 1941 and 1942 and this was the period that the Russian army was the weakest. I think that they could have made it even weaker by creating a strong incentive for the Russians to fight among themselves.Delete
Why would a Russian fight and die for the Germans? In this period the German army was still strong and somewhat winning. If the Germans announced that: 1.They are not fighting against the Russian people but the communist party and 2. Their goal is not to conquer Russia but to replace the communist party in a free Russian state and 3. Back up this claims with honorable treatment of the population, and 4. Allow some Russian units to fight with them, the point is that for some Russians it may look like they are fighting together with the Germans for free Russia (free of communists) and not for Germany, which is the point of this policy - to divide the opposition. AFAIK the communists treated their own population pretty inhumanely. (Hunger in Ukraine, nationalization of property, sending millions to Gulag, rushed industrialization often paid with human lives, bad treatment of the traditionally very powerful Orthodox Church and so on). If a foreign nation treated them more humanely then their own rulers, and didn’t threatened their existence, I think they would have a lot to gain from participating in the war. They should be armed from the stockpiles of captured Russian and not German arms.
Human beings are not automatons to be commanded like robots.
Exactly, for this initial period when the soviets were really weak, I think that the discipline in their army was enforced mainly by the threat of death penalty for cowardice, desertion, disobeying orders and so on. So a soldier had three options - refuse to fight the Germans and surely die, fight them and probably die (lack of training, poor logistics, untrained officers, outgunned in 1941 and 1942, etc), and surrendering to the Germans and probably dying (inhumane treatment). The Germans could have offered them another option - to join them. And back it up by already having Russian units fighting for them and being ok. (Something like a battalion per division, just to show that the option existed). We are speaking about 1941 and 1942 at the most. I think that the individual soldier didn't care this much about the strategic situation, especially in 1941 and 1942 when it still looked like the Germans are winning, even less so if he faced death in tree of his options and a chance to probably live in the fourth and if this foreign army treated the Russian population better than their own ruling party. (Restoration of property and so on). Possibly whole units would have switched sides.
I’m not saying that the Germans would have won the war, I don’t understand why Hitler didn’t see this option to divide, confuse and weaken the Russians in this crucial period. Once the Red army is completely destroyed he could just disarm his assisting Russian units and do whatever he wants.
‘I’m speaking more for the period between June 1941 and November 1942’Delete
Well during that period Soviet citizens worked for the Germans, supported the German army plus the partisan movement had minimal effect. I don’t see why ethnic Russians would throw down their arms and fight for Hitler. If everyone hated the Soviet regime as much as you think they did how did the communists win the Civil war? How did the win WWII? How did they survive till 1991?
‘Why would a Russian fight and die for the Germans? In this period the German army was still strong and somewhat winning’
In late 1941 the German army was defeated in front of Moscow. This showed the population that the Soviet regime was still in the fight. Even in 1941-42 I don’t see why a significant number Russians would be willing to fight for Germany.
‘Exactly, for this initial period when the soviets were really weak, I think that the discipline in their army was enforced mainly by the threat of death etc’
While the Red army always had low performing units and soldiers defected to the German side every day I can’t see how they could have won the war if the majority of their troops were unwilling to fight. Surely there were executions and punishments but again if every soldier had to be driven to the front under the barrel of a gun how could they have won the war?
‘Im not saying that the Germans would have won the war, I don’t understand why Hitler didn’t see this option ‘
I think this option only existed in the minds of some of his generals/advisors.
Thank you for your answer.Delete
I think I’m not making my point clear enough.
Imagine that the US army invaded Iraq in 2003 and announced that they were „Conquering Iraq, they planed to turn in into a state of the US, they aimed nothing less than extermination of the Iraqi people as a race, because they were inferior human beings, and that any POW would be shot at the spot”. I guess that in such circumstances the Iraqi army would have fought very hard.
Well, this is the message that the Germans delivered by their actions to the Russian army for the crucial months of October, November and December 1941. And what they faced was stiffening resistance instead of disintegration. I am suggesting that they should have done something like the Americans – announce that Russian people were friends, the Russian soldiers could if not join at least not fight, their nation would remain free and all that they aimed for was to remove this dictator and his regime. And only after its fall disarm the remaining soldiers and do whatever they want to the state.
I think that if this was the message purposefully sent and shown every time possible from the very beginning, the Germans might have faced weakening or disintegrating soviet defense from October 1941 on, instead they delivered the first massage and gave the Russians no choice, but to win or die.
‘Well, this is the message that the Germans delivered by their actions to the Russian army for the crucial months of October, November and December 1941’Delete
I don’t agree. Just because Hitler and Himmler were discussing how to divide the Soviet Union that doesn’t mean that German trucks with loudspeakers were going around shouting: ‘Russians we will kill most of you and turn the rest into slaves’ etc etc. Whatever plans the Germans had for the SU they had to wait until the end of hostilities. That’s why the ‘pure’ ‘Aryan’ German army had hundreds of thousands of ‘inferior’ Hiwis supporting it and even fighting for it.
‘what they faced was stiffening resistance instead of disintegration’
Did they? It seems to me that in 1942 the SU was a punching bag. If the Germans could concentrate all their forces in the East then they would have won.
‘announce that Russian people were friends, the Russian soldiers could if not join at least not fight, their nation would remain free and all that they aimed for was to remove this dictator and his regime’
Yeah, ok. So how do you get this message to people serving in the Soviet military? Do they buy the ‘Berlin daily’ at the newsstand or turn the TV channel to ‘News from the Reich’? The Soviet regime strictly controlled all information especially in the armed forces.
Even if you get the message across why would the majority of Russians join arms with the Germans against their own people? I don’t get it.
Thank you for your answer,Delete
„I don’t agree. Just because Hitler and Himmler were discussing how to divide the Soviet Union that doesn’t mean that German trucks with loudspeakers were going around shouting: ‘Russians we will kill most of you and turn the rest into slaves’ etc etc.”
Of course there weren’t trucks with loudspeakers. I meant “the message” figuratively. The people noticed that this wasn’t the Imperial Army of 1918 by the attitude shown, by the presence of SS death squads and by the ruthless attitude. I’m saying after October 1941 because some time was needed to notice the difference. Hitler made it implicitly clear to his troops that they were not liberating anyone, but were conquering. “The message” was delivered by the day by day conduct of his troops, not loudspeakers.
„That’s why the ‘pure’ ‘Aryan’ German army had hundreds of thousands of ‘inferior’ Hiwis supporting it and even fighting for it.”
These are the people who hated the communists more than the Germans in spite of their policy of hard occupation. If there was soft occupation, I would suggest that this numbers would be much higher, improving German chances.
„It seems to me that in 1942 the SU was a punching bag.”
Exactly. They were punching bag, but refused to give up, exactly because giving up would mean death of them, their families and their state as made clear by the German conduct.
„So how do you get this message to people serving in the Soviet military? The Soviet regime strictly controlled all information especially in the armed forces.„
By coming in regular contact with fellow Russian units fighting for the Germans. They would have noticed that these Russians must be fighting for something.
„Even if you get the message across why would the majority of Russians join arms with the Germans against their own people?”
The majority was not necessary; 20-30 percent in late 1941 and 1942 would have probably done the job. The soviets barely survived as they did. Weakening them by some percentage would have improved the German chances. Especially combined with more hiwis.
And joining because according to „ the right message” they would not be fighting for the Germans (they were not conquering, but liberating) but rather „Against the communist party and Stalin” with German help. Or at least stand aside with their lives guaranteed.
Some percentage might find „this message” plausible.
Sorry for the long post,
I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. Most of the people who supported the Germans were probably not doing it in order to combat communism but instead it was their only way to survive (get a bed to sleep in and a plate of food).Delete
There were never large groups of Russians that were going to fight against regular Red army units nor were there excess weapons, ammunition and vehicles for the Germans to quip them with. Even if they did these units would have performed just as the other ‘volunteer’ units of ex-Soviet citizens. They would either run away or kill their German officers and join the Soviet side.
People don’t join foreigners who are invading their country in order to fight against their relatives and friends. Whether you call it liberation or occupation it’s the same thing.
Thank you for your answer, good points.Delete
I agree with you, military value of collaborators was probably not worth the effort. My focus is on weakening the morale of the regular Red Army units, it is more a propaganda thing, to make it possible for Red Army man who valued their life more that their country to have a way out, to have a plausible excuse not to fight and not to feel that their families and their state’s or their own very existence was threatened if they chose not to fight. I’m not saying that this would have worked, won the war or anything, I just wonder why the Germans didn’t try it. Any way I think about it only good things could have come out of such a policy, even if it just means a bit less partisans, or a bit more hiwis, or a bit more Soviet deserters, why not try it? All that was required was to keep your own troops under control and spread a few words. (I guess Soviet troops would have noticed humane treatment, even if Russian units were not widely used, just here and there as logistics permitted.)
„I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.” I agree.
Personally, I've always found that 5:1 odds can easily be overcome if you have the power of "load game". That is essentially the game we're playing here.ReplyDelete
But since you say that there is no amount of "loading" that could have given Hitler the victory, I'd like a crack at it: "Hitler should have stuck to the Munich accords - for a period of about three years."
This (painfully for this exercise) abandons the almost unreal victory vs Britain and France in 1940, but I believe it still puts him in an overall better position:
I believe you have argued that German production increases in 42, 43 and 44 are largely the result of return on investments begun in the mid 30's (more than changes in organization). The aim of postponing by three years is to start the war when this return kicks in and is at its most valuable. Further, while France and Britain where surely paying lip service to rearmament, they did not match Germany, and would not have matched Germany, had they kept arming while keeping up appearances of being bound by treaty (This situation is much mirrored by today - anti-war sentiment is strong and support for large-scale rebuilding of military forces not present). Further, Germany had a higher GDP than the SU in 1938 and 39, and with no loss of trade from war, this would likely have continued; allowing their relative military strengths could have been more in Germany's favor in 1942 than it was in 1939 when war kicked in and placed restrictions on the German economy that didn't exist in the SU. Bonus points if a Soviet invasion of Finland, the Baltics or Poland (through Molotov-Ribbentrop) causes Western sanctions on the SU.
So does this change the military outcome? It changes everything, to such a degree that keeping to the original scenario almost seems like railroading: Hitler wanted to conquer, he wanted a fight, sure, but to win, not fight everyone at once if he could avoid it. The SU was threatening action vs Finland already in 1938; if the SU attacks the minor powers sandwiched between them and Germany first, Hitler might get away with having his war on them with no western support for the SU. I believe that could prove decisive, especially as the force levels vs the SU would have been better than they were historically. He might even be able to present himself as something of the lesser evil (as indeed Stalin was) and secure such aid for himself. Trade certainly stays open until he's ready to kill off France and UK.
If Hitler still ends up with a war westwards first, he's in a better position, but paradoxically that might have him end up with a worse result - a real superiority might entice German generals to choose "safer", less radical strategies, rather than the gamble they ended up winning big time. Still, as I would argue, an even greater superiority in the air would be likely in 1942/43 than in 1939 and decisive in giving Germany a victory.
As you can see, the times were so unstable that it becomes almost impossible to predict what would have happened. I do believe that as the war was, raw numbers would have prevailed in the end, even if Hitler made plenty of stupid mistakes. But I also believe that there exists a chain of events where he could have won, had he played his cards more cool in 1939.
By 1939 Germany’s rearmament was causing huge economic problems (budget and trade deficits) that could no longer be ‘masked’ with stealth credit. This meant that either Germany would have to scale back armaments and instead produce commercial products that could be exported or that the objectives of the NS regime would have to be followed even at the expense of a war.Delete
France and Britain were rearming and they also received munitions from the United States. This negated the German advantage in armaments. This means that there was nothing to be gained by waiting. Check ‘The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy’, chapter 9 – ‘Nothing to gain by waiting’ for a more complete analysis.
(1) ... assigned a more competent and impartial coordinator of Luftwaffe aircraft development and procurement than Udet or Milch. This might have delivered the He 100 as German fighter in the BoB, with 1,000 km range.ReplyDelete
(2) ... understood and applied the Schwerpunkt concept better and with more self-restraint. This applies especially to no intervention in Africa.
(3) ... forced the Luftwaffe to stop taking in more than a few thousand young recruits per year since 1940. The Luftwaffe ended up with hundreds of thousands of prime-age soldiers in their air observer services while the Heer was lacking young, aggressive recruits.
(4) ... not have begun war at all.
(5) ... assuming WW2 still happens, he should have let the Soviets attack Poland first, so the guarantees by UK and France which were meant against Germany only would not have led to such a poor strategic position by late 1939.
(6) ... not have raised so many waves of Heeresdivisionen, much less Waffen-SS or Luftwaffe Felddivisionen. Instead, proper manning and equipment for a sustainable quantity of divisions would have been advisable.
(7) ... wasted so much artillery production on heavy AAA, since it did little till 1944 and then it failed to stop bomber offensives anyway. Instead, more 8.8 cm decoys in Germany and an additional Abteilung with 18 x 7.5 cm field cannon/ATG hybrids in infantry divisions (3-ton halftrack tractors and few motorcycles as partial motorization).
There are a lot more, of course.
1)What about when he gave the order to cancel Germany´s weapons programs? When he started them again, many researchers had died in the war. He basically threw 2 years to a toilet and flushed.ReplyDelete
2)Another thing was that during the war, in the factories of Britain and the United States worked millions of women. Hitler believed that factory work was not suitable for German women, they were supposed to focus primarily on the household and looking after the children. This conservative view of gender led to a massive shortage of labour in German factories, because a large part of the male factory workers had been called to the army.
3) If Dolfy would not have declared war on the US, he would have gained 2-3 years of time to finish his business. Even if US neutrality was just a sham, at least he did not have the US army knocking on his door.
4) Hitler could have won the War against the USSR in 1941 if he had pushed straight for Moscow, the key objective. Instead of listening to Guderian who actually knew how to lead troops, he demanded that that the 2nd Panzer Group would be sent south to encircle Kiev. That diversion wasted valuable time and resources. But Dolfy just kept babbling: "My Generals know nothing about the economic aspects of war." he declared in the meeting between him and Guderian. The encirclement of Kiev was a great tactical success, but what was it´s strategical significance? None.
5) Hitler definitely should have ordered a retreat at several occasions. Many of his most experienced generals had repeatedly told him that a tactical retreat could pave the way for victory over the enemy force. Controlled retreat usually changed to a counterattack after the enemy followed, and his supply-lines stretched a long way. Manstein did this on a few occasions.
3). 3). Germany and US were on a collision course due to US support of France, UK and Soviet Union. (Lend Lease plus diplomatic)
4). Not possible.
5). Was done throughout the war.
Yes, Hitler gave an order to cancel *most* (<--not all) of Germany´s weapons programs. For example the MP43, he scrapped it twice. When he finally came to his senses it was mid-1943.Delete
Explain to me why 4) is not possible.
3) But still, 2-3 years before actual US troops join the war against him? If it was time for war, why did Ribbentropp oppose it?
5) Oh, and i´d like to add his decision to hold the line at the Oder, and not to pull his troops behind the eastern bank of the Rhine, blow the bridges and fortify the line.
Cool topic. I don't think Hitler made too many mistakes but how is Dunkirk not Hitler's fault? Were the German armor really that worn out? With full sky control the Dunkirk pocket should have been netted.ReplyDelete
For 1942, I hate to criticize since I'm in the position of hindsight, but what if the summer 1942 offensive changed objectives into striking for Soviet densely populated regions and focus on destroying as much of their standing armies as possible. Given of all what happened I would have the 1942 offensive start as it did but continue on the Voronezh axis and bulge eastward than shift northward probably halting at Tula, though I wouldn't give Moscow a pass if the momentum is not lost. Would such densely populated regions and additional loss of industry crippled the Soviets?