Discussion:
WW2: France agrees with Andr? Ch?radame
(too old to reply)
Stan Engel
2007-04-21 06:14:18 UTC
Permalink
TIME Magazine for Monday, Jun. 30, 1941 promoted the views of French scholar
Andr? Ch?radame. 70 years old in 1941, Ch?radame had written a book titled
"Defense of the Americas" where he had explained how France should have
dealt with Germany in 1939.

TIME summarized Ch?radame's alternate history ideas:

"Ever since World War I ended Germany has systematically plotted France's
downfall, through treason in high places, through the venality of the Paris
press, through espionage facilitated by France's leaders. M. Ch?radame says
the French leaders would not listen to him when he urged a knockout blow at
Italy when World War II began. With Italy out, he thinks, the Allies could
have established a Balkan front and kept Germany fighting on two fronts.
Instead Weygand's Army sat in Syria, threatening not Germany but Russia.
Thus the Fifth Column destroyed France and the Franco-British Alliance, lost
the Balkans to Germany, which thereby extended its pincers around Russia for
the next move. "
Let us suppose that M. Ch?radame's thoughts had become official French
policy after the Munich acccord. The French Army decides that it must do
something should Hitler attack Poland. The western allies still bungle an
alliance with Russia, Mussolini declares neutrality and Hitler attacks
Russia as OTL. What's different is a worrisome French build-up in the
southern Alps.

France declares war on Germany on September 3 and issues an ultimatum to
Italy on September 5: Italy must cease all trade and diplomatic relations
with the Reich no later than September 7. The time limit expires
simultaneous with the French Army crossing the border and the French and
British navies blasting some port areas.

How goes the war? It seems to me that Ch?radame's plan really might work if
the Allies' efforts are well organized. More likely would be some fiasco.
--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
Michele Armellini
2007-04-21 10:28:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stan Engel
TIME Magazine for Monday, Jun. 30, 1941 promoted the views of French scholar
Andr? Ch?radame. 70 years old in 1941, Ch?radame had written a book titled
"Defense of the Americas" where he had explained how France should have
dealt with Germany in 1939.
"Ever since World War I ended Germany has systematically plotted France's
downfall, through treason in high places, through the venality of the Paris
press, through espionage facilitated by France's leaders. M. Ch?radame says
the French leaders would not listen to him when he urged a knockout blow at
Italy when World War II began. With Italy out, he thinks, the Allies could
have established a Balkan front and kept Germany fighting on two fronts.
Instead Weygand's Army sat in Syria, threatening not Germany but Russia.
Thus the Fifth Column destroyed France and the Franco-British Alliance, lost
the Balkans to Germany, which thereby extended its pincers around Russia for
the next move. "
Let us suppose that M. Ch?radame's thoughts had become official French
policy after the Munich acccord. The French Army decides that it must do
something should Hitler attack Poland. The western allies still bungle an
alliance with Russia, Mussolini declares neutrality and Hitler attacks
Russia as OTL. What's different is a worrisome French build-up in the
southern Alps.
France declares war on Germany on September 3 and issues an ultimatum to
Italy on September 5: Italy must cease all trade and diplomatic relations
with the Reich no later than September 7. The time limit expires
simultaneous with the French Army crossing the border and the French and
British navies blasting some port areas.
How goes the war? It seems to me that Ch?radame's plan really might work if
the Allies' efforts are well organized. More likely would be some fiasco.
If it was well organized, it would work, yes, against the Allies' interests.

Let's look at the land offensive first. It comes across the Western Alps,
probably one of the worst place in Europe to attack into, as the Italians
showed in OTL in June 1940. Even the coast is mostly steep over the sea. The
French Army is not ready for war and anyway, it is intrinsically unable to
launch an offensive on September 7 after an ultimatum issued on September 5;
its mobilization system makes this as possible as a French attack against
the moon. So, the realistic deadline is September 20, or 25. On that date,
the French do attack. The second sunday of september is when the alpine huts
in that area close for winter. By the first week of october, it rains a lot
and at higher altitudes that's snow. So, let's assume the French land
offensive is a success. Keeping in mind the French army is not built for a
Blitzkrieg, the terrain it's advancing into, and the season, a smashing
success places the frontline some place West of Savona and West of Turin by
the end of october, when the exhausted French call it a day and the front
shuts down for winter.
This is not a knock-out blow.

The naval offensive, now. Yes, the French and British can bombard some
ports, and keep doing so. They might even sink a few ships. Can they achieve
much faster, much better results than the British did over the years of the
Med war in OTL? No. To make a difference, they must obtain those results by
May 1940. It's not possible. So let's be generous and assume that in those
few months they achieve the same results the British accumulated up to 1942
against the Regia Marina, including the Taranto coup. Since in OTL, those
successes did not knock Italy out of the war, it's not a knock-out blow.

Now let's look at the Italian initiatives in OTL in 1940. Will the Italians,
having the French at the doorstep of Turin, engage in offensives in North
Africa? No. The troops there will take defensive positions in front of the
French in Tunisia and not move an inch. The drain of the convoys will be
much reduced (thereby sparing lots of destroyers, BTW).
Will the Italians embark on a Greek adventure? No.

So what happens in the spring of 1940? All of the Italian effort will be
focused in Piedmont, with a defensive stance everywhere else. Meanwhile, can
the French keep trying to obtain that KO blow? No. They have to start
focusing on Germany. And they will be worse off than in OTL; the Italian
front has attrited some of their troops, and substantial numbers are there
to man it. On the whole, much more men are there than those that faced a
neutral Italy until the first days of June 1940. Which means that much less
men are available to stop the Germans.

A final note is that in OTL, all kind of troops fought more determinedly
when defending their home country. The Italians in this ATL are likely to
have a much better morale than they had in OTL in Western Egypt or the
Epirus mountains.

Not a good idea at all.
Stan Engel
2007-04-21 13:35:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stan Engel
Post by Stan Engel
TIME Magazine for Monday, Jun. 30, 1941 promoted the views of French
scholar
Post by Stan Engel
France declares war on Germany on September 3 and issues
an ultimatum to Italy on September 5: Italy must cease all
trade and diplomatic relations with the Reich no later than
September 7. The time limit expires simultaneous with the
French Army crossing the border and the French and
British navies blasting some port areas.
How goes the war? It seems to me that Ch?radame's plan
really might work if the Allies' efforts are well organized. More
likely would be some fiasco.
If it was well organized, it would work, yes, against the Allies' interests.
Let's look at the land offensive first. It comes across the Western Alps,
probably one of the worst place in Europe to attack into, as the Italians
showed in OTL in June 1940. Even the coast is mostly steep over the sea. The
French Army is not ready for war and anyway, it is intrinsically unable to
launch an offensive on September 7 after an ultimatum issued on September 5;
its mobilization system makes this as possible as a French attack against
the moon. So, the realistic deadline is September 20, or 25.
As part of being "well organized", I was thinking that the French would
have their act together before they issued ultimatums. Properly organized,
the French have their army in place no later than August 15, 1939. A general
European was very much a possibility by that date. No one could foresee the
future but if the Germans attacked Poland it was likely to be before
mid-September. I figure the French ultimatum as similar to that issued by
Italy to Greece or Russia to Lithuania OTL. That is, they would have very
little time to accept the demands before the shooting started.

The British could also do their part by having formations in place in France
*before* the declaration of war.

Given the lack of any real Allied operational plan for 1939, it would take a
considerable alteration in history for the Western Allies to be prepared to
do anything. The basic plan was to sit behind the Maginot Line and await a
miracle.
Post by Stan Engel
On that date,
the French do attack. The second sunday of september is when the alpine huts
in that area close for winter. By the first week of october, it rains a lot
and at higher altitudes that's snow. So, let's assume the French land
offensive is a success. Keeping in mind the French army is not built for a
Blitzkrieg, the terrain it's advancing into, and the season, a smashing
success places the frontline some place West of Savona and West of Turin by
the end of october, when the exhausted French call it a day and the front
shuts down for winter.
This is not a knock-out blow.
The naval offensive, now. Yes, the French and British can bombard some
ports, and keep doing so. They might even sink a few ships. Can they achieve
much faster, much better results than the British did over the years of the
Med war in OTL? No. To make a difference, they must obtain those results by
May 1940. It's not possible. So let's be generous and assume that in those
few months they achieve the same results the British accumulated up to 1942
against the Regia Marina, including the Taranto coup. Since in OTL, those
successes did not knock Italy out of the war, it's not a knock-out blow.
Now let's look at the Italian initiatives in OTL in 1940. Will the Italians,
having the French at the doorstep of Turin, engage in offensives in North
Africa? No. The troops there will take defensive positions in front of the
French in Tunisia and not move an inch. The drain of the convoys will be
much reduced (thereby sparing lots of destroyers, BTW).
Will the Italians embark on a Greek adventure? No.
So what happens in the spring of 1940? All of the Italian effort will be
focused in Piedmont, with a defensive stance everywhere else. Meanwhile, can
the French keep trying to obtain that KO blow? No. They have to start
focusing on Germany. And they will be worse off than in OTL; the Italian
front has attrited some of their troops, and substantial numbers are there
to man it. On the whole, much more men are there than those that faced a
neutral Italy until the first days of June 1940. Which means that much less
men are available to stop the Germans.
A final note is that in OTL, all kind of troops fought more determinedly
when defending their home country. The Italians in this ATL are likely to
have a much better morale than they had in OTL in Western Egypt or the
Epirus mountains.
Not a good idea at all.
--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
Michele Armellini
2007-04-23 07:18:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stan Engel
As part of being "well organized", I was thinking that the French would
have their act together before they issued ultimatums. Properly organized,
the French have their army in place no later than August 15, 1939. A general
European was very much a possibility by that date. No one could foresee the
future but if the Germans attacked Poland it was likely to be before
mid-September.
(re-ordering sentences for ease of reply)
Post by Stan Engel
The British could also do their part by having formations in place in France
*before* the declaration of war.
By that, you are
a) indeed assuming they could foresee the future. The Germans had made
threatening noises before, and nothing had come of them. Having the army "in
place" by August 15 means starting the mobilization on August 1 at the
latest - that is even before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, something that
would have been considered an ASB event by alternate-history fans of the
time. In other words, you are demanding that the French keep mobilizing
whenever the Germans stir a little bit. Mobilizing is _costly_, it's not
done lightly. As to the British deploying meaningful amounts of troops
abroad, well, another ASB. And
b) also forgetting the war momentum created by mobilization in itself,
regardless of whoever is doing it. In 1939, people remembered what had
happened in another summer not that many years before. It seldom happens
that a mobilized army then stands down. Nobody wanted to mobilize unless it
was for the real McCoy, and nobody wanted their own mobilization pushing the
opponent to mobilize in turn.
So, no.



I figure the French ultimatum as similar to that issued by
Post by Stan Engel
Italy to Greece or Russia to Lithuania OTL. That is, they would have very
little time to accept the demands before the shooting started.
Go all the way and admit it would be a fake ultimatum, like those two. It is
inaccurate to say that Greece had very little time to accept the demands. It
had no time at all, and had it chosen to cave in, the demands were too vague
to be implemented in the time given, and anyway the Italian troops were
already on the move at the time when the ultimatum was delivered.
In other words, the ultimatum was an excuse and the Italians wanted war, not
their demands being peacefully accepted.
So what you, or André, are proposing here is a naked aggression against a
neutral. A neutral that is friendly with an enemy, yes, but still a neutral.
Let's be honest about that. And while we are at it, let's admit that such a
behavior wouldn't improve the sympathy of the USA and other neutrals towards
the British and French.
Post by Stan Engel
Given the lack of any real Allied operational plan for 1939, it would take a
considerable alteration in history for the Western Allies to be prepared to
do anything. The basic plan was to sit behind the Maginot Line and await a
miracle.
I wouldn't say so. Until September 16, 1939, the plan was to attack once the
Germans had had their hands really full with the bravely resisting Poles.
After that date, the plan was to sit behind the Maginot, yes, but not
waiting for a miracle. It was waiting for
a) the German attack to come and fail,
b) the British and French industrial mobilization to catch up with the
German one,
c) the British blockade to affect the German economy, and
d) the right moment to bring the three points above to fruition by
counterattacking.

None of these points was in the sphere of the miraculous; a) was actually
rather unlikely to succeed, b) and c) in OTL were working fine.
Unfortunately, the unlikely happened as to a), pre-empting d). That is not
the same as waiting for a miracle.
Stan Engel
2007-04-23 16:31:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michele Armellini
Post by Stan Engel
As part of being "well organized", I was thinking that the
French would have their act together before they issued
ultimatums. Properly organized, the French have their army
in place no later than August 15, 1939. A general
European was very much a possibility by that date. No one
could foresee the future but if the Germans attacked Poland
it was likely to be before mid-September.
(re-ordering sentences for ease of reply)
Post by Stan Engel
The British could also do their part by having formations in
place in France *before* the declaration of war.
By that, you are
a) indeed assuming they could foresee the future.
Not at all. As I said, "A general European was very much a possibility by
that date. No one could foresee the future but if the Germans attacked
Poland
it was likely to be before mid-September." Hitler couldn't be sure if the
British and French would keep their word and go to war over Poland. He
wasn't even certain that the Poles would forcibly resist German demands. It
was for those reasons that he delayed the attack from August 25 until
September 1.

However, he had a fairly clear understanding that a solution by force would
be necessary and he had his military prepared to do it effectively.
Post by Michele Armellini
The Germans had made threatening noises before, and nothing
had come of them.
I don't believe that's the case. Hitler wasn't bluffing over using force
against Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 or against the Czechs,
Lithuanians (Memel) and Poles in 1939.
Post by Michele Armellini
Having the army "in place" by August 15
means starting the mobilization on August 1 at the latest -
that is even before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, something
that would have been considered an ASB event by alternate-history fans of
the
time.
It was an astonishing event at the time but not totally absurd. I think WL
Shirer mentioned some 1939 article by a Soviet official (written as a
private citizen, he said) where he complained that the western allies did
not want a meaningful alliance with Moscow. Shirer did mention that Hitler
omitted his customary verbal attacks on the USSR in a speech he gave. Then
there was Litvinov's (a Jew) replacement as Foreign Minister by Molotov (not
Jewish) that gave certain ideas to the German leadership. There were
indications.
Post by Michele Armellini
In other words, you are demanding that the French keep mobilizing
whenever the Germans stir a little bit. Mobilizing is _costly_, it's not
done lightly. As to the British deploying meaningful amounts of troops
abroad, well, another ASB. And
The Germans weren't stirring a little; they made it clear that they were
planning a war over Poland. The Allies, as you know, sent a military
delegation to Moscow in August. The Soviets were surprised that the British
army was so unprepared. The British would be able to send two divisions
immediately to France and two more later. Stalin said in a German war he
would have to mobilize 300 divisions. (From memory of what Shirer wrote)

This all indicated to Stalin that the Allies were not prepared to wage
anything more than a sham war with Germany. In the long run it would have
been less costly to the French and British to prove that they meant to
fight.
Post by Michele Armellini
b) also forgetting the war momentum created by mobilization in itself,
regardless of whoever is doing it. In 1939, people remembered what had
happened in another summer not that many years before. It seldom happens
that a mobilized army then stands down. Nobody wanted to mobilize unless it
was for the real McCoy, and nobody wanted their own mobilization pushing the
opponent to mobilize in turn.
So, no.
Mussolini sent troops near Austria in summer 1934 (or at least he announced
that). Hitler was certainly mobilized in summer 1939. The various diplomatic
representatives in Berlin would surely have noticed that lots of young men
were suddenly in the army.
Post by Michele Armellini
I figure the French ultimatum as similar to that issued by
Post by Stan Engel
Italy to Greece or Russia to Lithuania OTL. That is, they would have very
little time to accept the demands before the shooting started.
Go all the way and admit it would be a fake ultimatum, like those two.
Okay, I'll go all the way and admit it would be a fake ultimatum, like those
other two.
Post by Michele Armellini
It is inaccurate to say that Greece had very little time to
accept the demands. It had no time at all, and had it chosen
to cave in, the demands were too vague to be implemented
in the time given, and anyway the Italian troops were
already on the move at the time when the ultimatum was
delivered. In other words, the ultimatum was an excuse and
the Italians wanted war, not their demands being peacefully
accepted. So what you, or André, are proposing here is a
naked aggression against a neutral. A neutral that is friendly
with an enemy, yes, but still a neutral. Let's be honest about
that.
I totally agree, to be honest about that.
Post by Michele Armellini
And while we are at it, let's admit that such a
behavior wouldn't improve the sympathy of the USA and other neutrals towards
the British and French.
That I do not admit. The British occupied Iceland without asking permission.
They and the Soviets invaded Iran without any protest from Washington. Those
actions didn't increase American sympathy but they didn't harm it
noticeably. Roosevelt and Mussolini hated each other anyway.
Post by Michele Armellini
Post by Stan Engel
Given the lack of any real Allied operational plan for 1939, it would
take
a
Post by Stan Engel
considerable alteration in history for the Western Allies to be prepared
to
Post by Stan Engel
do anything. The basic plan was to sit behind the Maginot Line and await a
miracle.
I wouldn't say so. Until September 16, 1939, the plan was to attack once the
Germans had had their hands really full with the bravely resisting Poles.
After that date, the plan was to sit behind the Maginot, yes, but not
waiting for a miracle. It was waiting for
a) the German attack to come and fail,
b) the British and French industrial mobilization to catch up with the
German one,
IIRC, in the May 1940 attack the Germans had 136 divisions and were opposed
by 135 Allied divisions. Seems like they had caught up.
Post by Michele Armellini
c) the British blockade to affect the German economy, and
d) the right moment to bring the three points above to fruition by
counterattacking.
I think some document called for some major offensive in 1942. Never-never
land stuff for people in 1939.
Post by Michele Armellini
None of these points was in the sphere of the miraculous; a) was actually
rather unlikely to succeed, b) and c) in OTL were working fine.
b) arguably but not c). The Soviets were willing to supply German needs.
Rather, they were willing to sell stuff to the Reich for a very high price.
That didn't make the blockade meaningless but it was a massive hole in the
efforts to strangle Germany.
Post by Michele Armellini
Unfortunately, the unlikely happened as to a), pre-empting d). That is not
the same as waiting for a miracle.
--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
The Horny Goat
2007-04-24 03:14:37 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 23 Apr 2007 23:31:28 +0700, "Stan Engel"
Post by Stan Engel
it was likely to be before mid-September." Hitler couldn't be sure if the
British and French would keep their word and go to war over Poland. He
wasn't even certain that the Poles would forcibly resist German demands. It
was for those reasons that he delayed the attack from August 25 until
September 1.
However, he had a fairly clear understanding that a solution by force would
be necessary and he had his military prepared to do it effectively.
Actually Hitler positively welcomed war in September 1939 and spoke of
anyone who would make peace at the last moment as a "schweinhund".

(This happens to be the single case I know of of someone other than an
actor playing a German actually USING that term so one tends to
remember it!)
Post by Stan Engel
I don't believe that's the case. Hitler wasn't bluffing over using force
against Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 or against the Czechs,
Lithuanians (Memel) and Poles in 1939.
Having said that, it was the occupation of Prague in 1939 that
galvanized opinion in Britain and France that war was not to be
avoided no matter what concessions were made.

[I'm currently reading the latest Andrew Greeley novel which features
Claus von Stauffenberg as a key character. It will be interesting to
see what "spin" Greeley puts on him...]
j***@faf.mil.fi
2007-04-24 08:36:08 UTC
Permalink
On 23 huhti, 19:31, "Stan Engel" <***@yahoo.com> wrote:

[quotes from Bill Shirer, the paramount primary source on the Second
World War, snipped]
Post by Stan Engel
And while we are at it, let's admit that such a behavior wouldn't improve the sympathy of the USA and other neutrals
towards the British and French.
That I do not admit. The British occupied Iceland without asking permission.
... _after_ the Germans had already invaded and occupied Denmark, and
rendered the practical neutrality of the two Scandinavian union
kingdoms somewhat, shall we say, questionable.

It's a tad different from the idea of the Western Allies attacking a
fully sovereign and independent European country which has, in spite
of its association with the Third Reich, declared itself neutral, has
no German troops on its territory, and has undertaken no hostilities
whatsoever against France or the United Kingdom.

The British and the French reputation would take a blow from such an
action. There's no comparison from our timeline; even Mers-el-Kebir
falls in a different category, and the planned pre-emptive invasion of
Norway in March 1940 came to nothing, mostly due to the above-
mentioned considerations.
Post by Stan Engel
They and the Soviets invaded Iran without any protest from Washington.
... in 1941, by which time the stakes were higher. And from a western
perspective, the Mid-Eastern states belonged in a different category
of humanity and were up for grabs and colonial takeover whenever
necessary, just like today.

Again, it's a tad different from attacking Italy, never mind how
obnoxious government there was in Rome.
Post by Stan Engel
I recall seeing on the internet some Allied scheme to bomb the Baku oilfields.
Yes, a splandid recollection. You can also procure this information
from books. Ever tried reading a book, Stan? I mean, a real history
book, not the kind of texts which claim that the Finnish-Soviet
negotiations in Moscow on the autumn of 1939 were conducted in French.

(The language was Russian. HTH.)
Post by Stan Engel
I recall the British officer's name as a John Kennedy.
General major Sir John Noble Kennedy was the designated commander of
the invasion of Norway - the one which was drafted with the idea of
advancing to the Swedish iron ore fields under the pretext of
providing assistance to Finland in the war against the USSR in the
early March 1940. He wasn't involved in the planned Caucasus-action.

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lhcma/cats/kennedyjn/ke40-01-.shtml

KENNEDY, JN: 4/4 1939 Sep-1940 Oct : "Instructions to be issued down
to platoon commanders and instructions to Commander, relating to Force
Avonmouth, the abortive Franco-British expedition to Narvik, Norway,
planned for 16 Mar 1940, Mar 1940."


Cheers,
Jalonen
The Horny Goat
2007-04-25 03:39:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by j***@faf.mil.fi
[quotes from Bill Shirer, the paramount primary source on the Second
World War, snipped]
No need to be sarcastic - Shirer's work was important in its time.
There have of course been far better works written later but in the
early 60s (which is when I read it) Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
was one of the best besides John Hershey's Hiroshima. At the time it
was probably the best single volume work covering the war (or at least
the European theatre).

I don't think even Shirer would claim he was more than a better than
average journalist but mediocre historian.
Post by j***@faf.mil.fi
Post by Stan Engel
And while we are at it, let's admit that such a behavior wouldn't improve the sympathy of the USA and other neutrals
towards the British and French.
That I do not admit. The British occupied Iceland without asking permission.
... _after_ the Germans had already invaded and occupied Denmark, and
rendered the practical neutrality of the two Scandinavian union
kingdoms somewhat, shall we say, questionable.
It's a tad different from the idea of the Western Allies attacking a
fully sovereign and independent European country which has, in spite
of its association with the Third Reich, declared itself neutral, has
no German troops on its territory, and has undertaken no hostilities
whatsoever against France or the United Kingdom.
Who would that be? Sweden (whose main exports to Germany were iron ore
and Mrs. Goering)? Ireland (chiefly in the form of contacts with the
Irish Republican Army)? I assume you're talking about Norway which had
little actual connection with the Third Reich.
Post by j***@faf.mil.fi
The British and the French reputation would take a blow from such an
action. There's no comparison from our timeline; even Mers-el-Kebir
falls in a different category, and the planned pre-emptive invasion of
Norway in March 1940 came to nothing, mostly due to the above-
mentioned considerations.
Major powers plan invasions on paper all the time. The USA had a plan
to invade Canada, Britain had a plan to invade Ireland. Germany
certainly had a plan to invade Spain either with Franco's blessing or
without it. I admit the British plan to invade Norway was a bit more
concrete than these.
Post by j***@faf.mil.fi
Post by Stan Engel
They and the Soviets invaded Iran without any protest from Washington.
... in 1941, by which time the stakes were higher. And from a western
perspective, the Mid-Eastern states belonged in a different category
of humanity and were up for grabs and colonial takeover whenever
necessary, just like today.
Again, it's a tad different from attacking Italy, never mind how
obnoxious government there was in Rome.
Post by Stan Engel
I recall seeing on the internet some Allied scheme to bomb the Baku oilfields.
Yes, a splandid recollection. You can also procure this information
from books. Ever tried reading a book, Stan? I mean, a real history
book, not the kind of texts which claim that the Finnish-Soviet
negotiations in Moscow on the autumn of 1939 were conducted in French.
Even if the Baku air raid was real it was never more than a staff plan
no better or worse than the German plan to occupy all or part of
Switzerland. Why this obsession with staff studies that were never
executed?
Post by j***@faf.mil.fi
KENNEDY, JN: 4/4 1939 Sep-1940 Oct : "Instructions to be issued down
to platoon commanders and instructions to Commander, relating to Force
Avonmouth, the abortive Franco-British expedition to Narvik, Norway,
planned for 16 Mar 1940, Mar 1940."
As I say - this one was more real than most staff plans. Churchill's
history records that his initial reaction to reports of German
landings in Narvik were to question whether the German landings were
not in fact at LARVIK which is on the southern coast of Norway SSW of
Oslo and which a quick look at the map will reveal is considerably
closer to Germany than Narvik.

http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=LARVIK+NORWAY&layer=&ie=UTF8&z=7&ll=59.195626,9.992065&spn=2.549045,10.283203&om=1

Given the geography it was a reasonable guess but wrong.
Michele Armellini
2007-04-26 08:11:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by j***@faf.mil.fi
It's a tad different from the idea of the Western Allies attacking a
fully sovereign and independent European country which has, in spite
of its association with the Third Reich, declared itself neutral, has
no German troops on its territory, and has undertaken no hostilities
whatsoever against France or the United Kingdom.
Who would that be? Sweden (whose main exports to Germany were iron ore
and Mrs. Goering)? Ireland (chiefly in the form of contacts with the
Irish Republican Army)? I assume you're talking about Norway which had
little actual connection with the Third Reich.
Italy. To be precise, it had not declared itself neutral but
"non-belligerent". Officially. Unofficially, it had let France and Britain
know, in September 1939, that it wasn't going to war.
Of course Italy had a treaty with Germany. As long as it was not honoring
it, it remained, for all practical purposes, a neutral country.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by j***@faf.mil.fi
The British and the French reputation would take a blow from such an
action. There's no comparison from our timeline; even Mers-el-Kebir
falls in a different category, and the planned pre-emptive invasion of
Norway in March 1940 came to nothing, mostly due to the above-
mentioned considerations.
Major powers plan invasions on paper all the time. The USA had a plan
to invade Canada, Britain had a plan to invade Ireland. Germany
certainly had a plan to invade Spain either with Franco's blessing or
without it. I admit the British plan to invade Norway was a bit more
concrete than these.
And in this ATL, the French operation against Italy is totally concrete. No
comparison in our timeline, as the other poster pointed out.
.

David Tenner
2007-04-25 04:52:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by j***@faf.mil.fi
[quotes from Bill Shirer, the paramount primary source on the Second
World War, snipped]
Post by Stan Engel
And while we are at it, let's admit that such a behavior wouldn't
improve the sympathy of the USA and other neutrals towards the
British and French.
That I do not admit. The British occupied Iceland without asking permission.
... _after_ the Germans had already invaded and occupied Denmark, and
rendered the practical neutrality of the two Scandinavian union
kingdoms somewhat, shall we say, questionable.
It's a tad different from the idea of the Western Allies attacking a
fully sovereign and independent European country which has, in spite
of its association with the Third Reich, declared itself neutral, has
no German troops on its territory, and has undertaken no hostilities
whatsoever against France or the United Kingdom.
Even if the situations *were* comparable, it might be relevant that there
were more Italian-American than Icelandic-American voters...

Not that Italian-Americans were by any means unanimous in their support of
Mussolini, even before he entered the war. (When FDR later condemned
Mussolini for entering the war in his famous "the hand that held the
dagger" speech, http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/7-2-188/188-17.html the
negative reaction from Italian-Americans was not necessarily pro-
Mussolini; in many cases, it was simply resentment of the perceived
revival of the stereotype of the Italian as *bandito.*) But what is
proposed here would outrage even anti-Fascist Italian-Americans.

One immediate consequence: Repeal of the arms embargo provision of the
Neutrality Act becomes a lot harder. The vote in the House was not all
that overwhelming even in OTL: "A week later the House voted after
slight revisions to accept the bill 243-172."
http://encarta.msn.com/sidebar_461501634/1939_United_States.html
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
Michele Armellini
2007-04-24 09:03:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michele Armellini
Post by Stan Engel
As part of being "well organized", I was thinking that the
French would have their act together before they issued
ultimatums. Properly organized, the French have their army
in place no later than August 15, 1939. A general
European was very much a possibility by that date. No one
could foresee the future but if the Germans attacked Poland
it was likely to be before mid-September.
(re-ordering sentences for ease of reply)
Post by Stan Engel
The British could also do their part by having formations in
place in France *before* the declaration of war.
By that, you are
a) indeed assuming they could foresee the future.
Not at all. As I said, "A general European was very much a possibility by
that date. No one could foresee the future but if the Germans attacked
Poland
it was likely to be before mid-September." Hitler couldn't be sure if the
British and French would keep their word and go to war over Poland. He
wasn't even certain that the Poles would forcibly resist German demands. It
was for those reasons that he delayed the attack from August 25 until
September 1.

- The main reason why the attack was postponed was that Hitler came to know
that afternoon that the unilateral British guarantee of March had become a
formal treaty.



However, he had a fairly clear understanding that a solution by force would
be necessary and he had his military prepared to do it effectively.

- Yes, he had that clear understanding that is the advantage of the
aggressor. It's the robber who knows when the bank is going to be robbed. So
he's better prepared than the guard. You are demanding that the guard have
the same level of alertness of the robber when he finally comes.
Post by Michele Armellini
The Germans had made threatening noises before, and nothing
had come of them.
I don't believe that's the case. Hitler wasn't bluffing over using force
against Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 or against the Czechs,
Lithuanians (Memel) and Poles in 1939.

- Isn't it a bit weird to cite the aggression against Poland in 1939 as a
precedent that should warn of the aggression about Poland in 1939?
Besides, yes, Hitler had shown he was willing to use force in the Austrian,
Czech etc. cases. As to Poland, however, there had been other signals, too.
From October 1938 all through March 1939 the Germans had tried to woo the
Poles in their camp, with all sort of offers (such as, over the counter, the
anti-Comintern pact, and under the counter, expansion in Ukraine as
compensation for Danzig), and all sort of contacts at the top levels.
When I say that there had been threatening noises that had come to nothing,
it's exactly a reference to the dealings with Poland. Tensions had erupted,
then simmered down again more than once. In March, after the final failure
of the German-Polish negotiations, there had been the British unilateral
guarantee, the partial mobilization of Polish troops, and the Memel
annexation. The British intelligence expected an immediate seizure of Danzig
at that time - nothing happened. Etc.
Post by Michele Armellini
Having the army "in place" by August 15
means starting the mobilization on August 1 at the latest -
that is even before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, something
that would have been considered an ASB event by alternate-history fans of
the
time.
It was an astonishing event at the time but not totally absurd. I think WL
Shirer mentioned some 1939 article by a Soviet official (written as a
private citizen, he said) where he complained that the western allies did
not want a meaningful alliance with Moscow. Shirer did mention that Hitler
omitted his customary verbal attacks on the USSR in a speech he gave. Then
there was Litvinov's (a Jew) replacement as Foreign Minister by Molotov (not
Jewish) that gave certain ideas to the German leadership. There were
indications.

- As well as other indications in the other direction. Today, from
hindsight, it's easy to see the indications going in the right direction and
forgetting those pointing the other way, as mentioned above.
Additionally, a fairly sustainable case could be made after Memel that the
Germans had obtained a lot and almost for free, that it would be folly of
them to make further aggressions, and that the Soviet bear had been stirred
and would keep them in check.
Post by Michele Armellini
In other words, you are demanding that the French keep mobilizing
whenever the Germans stir a little bit. Mobilizing is _costly_, it's not
done lightly. As to the British deploying meaningful amounts of troops
abroad, well, another ASB. And
The Germans weren't stirring a little; they made it clear that they were
planning a war over Poland.

- Not between October 1938 and March 1939, they weren't. So any far-flung
plan such as a major British deployment of troops abroad should have been
planned in April 1939, not before. It doesn't sound very plausible.
Likewise, the French should have mobilized in April. And kept their men in
the ranks through the summer (the harvest), while the Germans sneered at
them and accused them of wanting the war.

The Allies, as you know, sent a military
delegation to Moscow in August.

- Sure. At _that_ time the German intentions were way clearer. A bit too
late, though.


The Soviets were surprised that the British
army was so unprepared. The British would be able to send two divisions
immediately to France and two more later. Stalin said in a German war he
would have to mobilize 300 divisions. (From memory of what Shirer wrote)

This all indicated to Stalin that the Allies were not prepared to wage
anything more than a sham war with Germany. In the long run it would have
been less costly to the French and British to prove that they meant to
fight.

- This is all pointless. Firstly, it's not a good idea to take Shirer as a
source for this sort of things. Secondly, note the wording. The Soviets are
surprised that the British can send only two divisions "immediately"; why,
they have 300... that they "would have to mobilize". A bit unfair, isn't it.
Thirdly, if Stalin had actually said something like that to a British
negotiator (highly unlikely), he might well have replied: "Now, we have
immediately available a dozen battleships and half a dozen aircraft
carriers, what about you? Good heavens, how unprepared the Soviet fleet
is!".
Post by Michele Armellini
b) also forgetting the war momentum created by mobilization in itself,
regardless of whoever is doing it. In 1939, people remembered what had
happened in another summer not that many years before. It seldom happens
that a mobilized army then stands down. Nobody wanted to mobilize unless it
was for the real McCoy, and nobody wanted their own mobilization pushing the
opponent to mobilize in turn.
So, no.
Mussolini sent troops near Austria in summer 1934 (or at least he announced
that).

- So which is which? Announced or real?


Hitler was certainly mobilized in summer 1939. The various diplomatic
representatives in Berlin would surely have noticed that lots of young men
were suddenly in the army.

- Definitely. Now, the first question is, is this a partial mobilization,
which may also be a bluff, a diplomatic leverage tool? Or is it the real
thing? Partial mobilizations happened - I just mentioned the Polish one, the
Greeks also partially mobilized in 1939. Reacting with a full mobilization
to a partial mobilization might be a huge mistake.
But even if you immediately react with a full mobilization to a real full
mobilization of the enemy, that "immediately" still means after your
intelligence has ascertained what's happening. You'll be a week late in the
best case.
Then, another issue is, assuming this is a full German mobilization, not a
partial and/or a bluff, what will hte Poles do if the German _objective_ is
partial, namely, Danzig only? Many of the indications you mention actually
referred to Danzig only. Now, with hindsight, we know that Danzig was an
excuse. But what if the Germans only annexed that, like they had initially
taken the Sudeten only, like they had taken Memel only? What if the Poles
chose to let it go? Should France and Britain risk to "die for Danzig" _if
the Poles themselves let it go_? If you read Article 2 of the British-Polish
treaty, you'll see the British were worried about such a possibility.
Post by Michele Armellini
I figure the French ultimatum as similar to that issued by
Post by Stan Engel
Italy to Greece or Russia to Lithuania OTL. That is, they would have very
little time to accept the demands before the shooting started.
Go all the way and admit it would be a fake ultimatum, like those two.
Okay, I'll go all the way and admit it would be a fake ultimatum, like those
other two.
Post by Michele Armellini
It is inaccurate to say that Greece had very little time to
accept the demands. It had no time at all, and had it chosen
to cave in, the demands were too vague to be implemented
in the time given, and anyway the Italian troops were
already on the move at the time when the ultimatum was
delivered. In other words, the ultimatum was an excuse and
the Italians wanted war, not their demands being peacefully
accepted. So what you, or André, are proposing here is a
naked aggression against a neutral. A neutral that is friendly
with an enemy, yes, but still a neutral. Let's be honest about
that.
I totally agree, to be honest about that.
Post by Michele Armellini
And while we are at it, let's admit that such a
behavior wouldn't improve the sympathy of the USA and other neutrals towards
the British and French.
That I do not admit. The British occupied Iceland without asking permission.

- Sure, and Denmark was occupied by Germany. The case against Italy in this
ATL is incredibly weaker. Note Iceland is in the American hemisphere.
Another good reason, though still something of an excuse, to deploy US
troops there. Italy is in Europe.

They and the Soviets invaded Iran without any protest from Washington.

- Sure, and Iran had an agreement with Britain that it was violating. The
case against Italy in this ATL is incredibly weaker.
Post by Michele Armellini
Post by Stan Engel
Given the lack of any real Allied operational plan for 1939, it would
take
a
Post by Stan Engel
considerable alteration in history for the Western Allies to be prepared
to
Post by Stan Engel
do anything. The basic plan was to sit behind the Maginot Line and await a
miracle.
I wouldn't say so. Until September 16, 1939, the plan was to attack once the
Germans had had their hands really full with the bravely resisting Poles.
After that date, the plan was to sit behind the Maginot, yes, but not
waiting for a miracle. It was waiting for
a) the German attack to come and fail,
b) the British and French industrial mobilization to catch up with the
German one,
IIRC, in the May 1940 attack the Germans had 136 divisions and were opposed
by 135 Allied divisions. Seems like they had caught up.


- So? Does this disprove that this was the plan? Besides, when I mention
industrial mobilization I'm not just thinking of infantry divisions.
Post by Michele Armellini
c) the British blockade to affect the German economy, and
d) the right moment to bring the three points above to fruition by
counterattacking.
I think some document called for some major offensive in 1942. Never-never
land stuff for people in 1939.

- And others mentioned 1941. BTW, do you happen to remember for how many
years the Western Allies debated and planned Overlord? What's wrong,
exactly, with playing for time when time is on your side? You know, the
German attack of May 1940 is the stainless proof that the Allies were right
in thinking that time was on their side. Had it not been, the Germans would
not have attacked.
Stan Engel
2007-04-24 17:36:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stan Engel
Not at all. As I said, "A general European was very much a possibility by
that date. No one could foresee the future but if the Germans attacked
Poland
it was likely to be before mid-September." Hitler couldn't be sure if the
British and French would keep their word and go to war over Poland. He
wasn't even certain that the Poles would forcibly resist German demands. It
was for those reasons that he delayed the attack from August 25 until
September 1.
- The main reason why the attack was postponed was that Hitler came to know
that afternoon that the unilateral British guarantee of March had become a
formal treaty.
Which was after the Soviet-German pact. It would have been more impressive
to Stalin had the Anglo-Polish agreement been secured earlier.
Post by Stan Engel
However, he had a fairly clear understanding that a solution by force would
be necessary and he had his military prepared to do it effectively.
- Yes, he had that clear understanding that is the advantage of the
aggressor. It's the robber who knows when the bank is going to be robbed. So
he's better prepared than the guard. You are demanding that the guard have
the same level of alertness of the robber when he finally comes.
(snip)
Post by Stan Engel
In March, after the final failure
of the German-Polish negotiations, there had been the British unilateral
guarantee, the partial mobilization of Polish troops, and the Memel
annexation. The British intelligence expected an immediate seizure of Danzig
at that time - nothing happened. Etc.
Never heard that before.

(snip)
Post by Stan Engel
Mussolini sent troops near Austria in summer 1934 (or at least he announced
that).
- So which is which? Announced or real?
Real.
Post by Stan Engel
Should France and Britain risk to "die for Danzig" _if
the Poles themselves let it go_? If you read Article 2 of the
British-Polish
treaty, you'll see the British were worried about such a possibility.
ARTICLE I.
Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a
European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that
Contracting Party, the other Contracting Party will at once give the
Contracting Party engaged in hostilities all the support and assistance in
its power.
ARTICLE 2.
(1) The provisions of Article I will also apply in the event of any action
by a European Power which clearly threatened, directly or indirectly, the
independence of one of the Contracting Parties, and was of such a nature
that the Party in question considered it vital to resist it with its armed
forces.
(2) Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with
a European Power in consequence of action by that Power which threatened the
independence or neutrality of another European State in such a way as to
constitute a clear menace to the security of that Contracting Party, the
provisions of Article I will apply, without prejudice, however, to the
rights of the other European State concerned.

(snip)
Post by Stan Engel
That I do not admit. The British occupied Iceland without asking permission.
- Sure, and Denmark was occupied by Germany. The case against Italy in this
ATL is incredibly weaker. Note Iceland is in the American hemisphere.
Another good reason, though still something of an excuse, to deploy US
troops there. Italy is in Europe.
They and the Soviets invaded Iran without any protest from Washington.
- Sure, and Iran had an agreement with Britain that it was violating. The
case against Italy in this ATL is incredibly weaker.
The case against Iran was far weaker. The Shah hadn't threatened war with
anybody. Mussolini had done that and had boasted of his military strength. I
don't know what treaty Iran is supposed to have violated in summer 1941.
Prior to Iran, the British had invaded French occupied Syria and prior to
that was Rashid Ali's Iraq. The general excuse was a claimed subversive
German presence.

The British perceived that there might be a threat to their Mideast position
and acted preemptively. By Autumn 1942 the British had occupied Iraq, Syria,
Iceland, and southern Iran. Mers el Khber was in July 1940 and the Vichy
French were angry that the British were holding on to 720,000 tons of French
ships.

Rashid Ali claimed he would respect all treaties with Britain. Was he lying?
Probably so, but he was far less antagonistic than Mussolini.

My point is that the sacred principle of respecting the rights of neutrals
had been completely disregarded whenever necessary - or expedient. It didn't
bother the US a bit.
--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
Rich Rostrom
2007-04-21 16:16:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stan Engel
TIME Magazine for Monday, Jun. 30, 1941 promoted the views of French scholar
Andr? Ch?radame. 70 years old in 1941, Ch?radame had written a book titled
"Defense of the Americas" where he had explained how France should have
dealt with Germany in 1939.
"Ever since World War I ended Germany has systematically plotted France's
downfall, through treason in high places, through the venality of the Paris
press, through espionage facilitated by France's leaders. M. Ch?radame says
the French leaders would not listen to him when he urged a knockout blow at
Italy when World War II began. With Italy out, he thinks, the Allies could
have established a Balkan front and kept Germany fighting on two fronts.
Instead Weygand's Army sat in Syria, threatening not Germany but Russia.
Thus the Fifth Column destroyed France and the Franco-British Alliance, lost
the Balkans to Germany, which thereby extended its pincers around Russia for
the next move. "
Chedrame, like most people at the time,
was a sucker for conspiracy theories.
There is no evidence that treason (as
opposed to incompetence, complacency,
internal jealousy, and bad luck) had
any effect on the defeat of France.
Post by Stan Engel
Let us suppose that M. Ch?radame's thoughts had become official French
policy after the Munich acccord...
The policy of holding a third party
responsible for another country's
actions, and threatening that country
with attack, is wholly incompatible
with a just foreign policy.

Furthermore, neither France nor Britain
was in position to attack Italy in 1939.
There would have to be an extensive
colonial campaign in East Africa and Libya.
The Italian army was poor, but no one
knew how poor in 1939 - and even Italian
troops showed effective defensive ability
in favorable terrain, at Keren fort instance.
The French-Italian border is a tangle of
mountains.

The French army had neither belief in nor
organization for rapid offensives. The
trauma of WW I left the French high command
with a bone-deep belief that attacking was
extremely difficult unless the enemy was
collapsing, and that advance beyond the
starting position was limited to a few
kilometers a day.

Finally, it would have been ridiculous for
the Allies to attack Italy, a neutral,
merely for being allied to Germany, when
they were doing nothing about the USSR, which
had actually invaded Poland.
--
| He had a shorter, more scraggly, and even less |
| flattering beard than Yassir Arafat, and Escalante |
| never conceived that such a thing was possible. |
| -- William Goldman, _Heat_ |
Stan Engel
2007-04-22 11:16:05 UTC
Permalink
(snip)
Post by Rich Rostrom
Chedrame, like most people at the time,
was a sucker for conspiracy theories.
There is no evidence that treason (as
opposed to incompetence, complacency,
internal jealousy, and bad luck) had
any effect on the defeat of France.
I agree. He was, however, stating a widely held view that hidden enemy
agents were everywhere. If you can get microfilms of TIME and Newsweek for
the WW2 era you'll see advertisements for fences and other apparatus to
prevent attacks from saboteurs and thieves. I'm confident that factory
owners had lots more to fear from local apolitical thieves than they did
from Axis-loyal fifth columnists.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Stan Engel
Let us suppose that M. Ch?radame's thoughts had become
official French policy after the Munich acccord...
The policy of holding a third party
responsible for another country's
actions, and threatening that country
with attack, is wholly incompatible
with a just foreign policy.
Maybe so, but Italy was theoretically an ally of Germany prior to September
1939. It was only at the last moment that Italy begged off from complying
with the treaty and going to war in 1939.

It should be pointed out that Soviet and British forces invaded Iran in
August 1941. That was probably incompatible with a just foreign policy but
it was operationally necessary to keep the supply line open. In an ATL where
Iran is not occupied I'd guess that the Soviets manage to defeat the
Wehrmacht. However, to somebody in 1941 it would be madness to not occupy
Iran. Similarly, Britain occupied the Faeroe Islans and Iceland without
asking permission.

I don't know if anybody has worked it out but I doubt that Germany's Spring
1940 offensive would have succeeded if Belgian and Dutch neutrality had been
respected.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Furthermore, neither France nor Britain
was in position to attack Italy in 1939.
There would have to be an extensive
colonial campaign in East Africa and Libya.
The Italian army was poor, but no one
knew how poor in 1939 - and even Italian
troops showed effective defensive ability
in favorable terrain, at Keren fort instance.
The French-Italian border is a tangle of
mountains.
The French army had neither belief in nor
organization for rapid offensives. The
trauma of WW I left the French high command
with a bone-deep belief that attacking was
extremely difficult unless the enemy was
collapsing, and that advance beyond the
starting position was limited to a few
kilometers a day.
How then did the Allies intend to fight the war against Germany? It seems
that their "strategy" was to sit tight and wait for a miracle like US or
Soviet intervention.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Finally, it would have been ridiculous for
the Allies to attack Italy, a neutral,
merely for being allied to Germany, when
they were doing nothing about the USSR, which
had actually invaded Poland.
It would have been an interesting war if France and Britain in 1939 had
declared war on the USSR as well as Germany. I don't see the Allies winning.
I could see the Red Army soldiers taking swims in the Persian Gulf.
--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
Mike Stone
2007-04-22 21:15:31 UTC
Permalink
"Stan Engel" <***@yahoo.com> wrote in
message news:462b3792$0$16388$***@free.teranews
.com...
"Rich Rostrom"
<***@rcn.com> wrote in
message
news:rrostrom.21stcentury-1C7C27.11161321042
Post by Rich Rostrom
The French army had neither belief in
nor
Post by Rich Rostrom
organization for rapid offensives. The
trauma of WW I left the French high
command
Post by Rich Rostrom
with a bone-deep belief that attacking
was
Post by Rich Rostrom
extremely difficult unless the enemy was
collapsing, and that advance beyond the
starting position was limited to a few
kilometers a day.
How then did the Allies intend to fight
the war against Germany? It seems
that their "strategy" was to sit tight and
wait for a miracle like US or
Soviet intervention.
Well, if you buy the theory (very popular on
shwi) that Nazi Germany was headed for
economic collapse unless it kept acquiring
more and more loot by conquering one place
after another, then there was little reason
to take the offensive. It was just a matter
of keeping Germany contained and blockaded,
and it would get inexorably weaker with
time. All the Allies needed to do was be on
guard against the _German_ offensive which
on this theory Hitler would be forced to
undertake whether it was likely to succeed
or not. Unfortunately, the French at any
rate were not on guard enough.

--
Mike Stone - Peterborough, England

I can never understand how people fail to
grasp the need for ethnic diversity.

After all, how could we English ever truly
appreciate our own superiority, if there
were no foreigners around for us to be
superior to?
Rich Rostrom
2007-04-23 03:55:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stan Engel
Post by Rich Rostrom
The French army had neither belief in nor
organization for rapid offensives. The
trauma of WW I left the French high command
with a bone-deep belief that attacking was
extremely difficult unless the enemy was
collapsing, and that advance beyond the
starting position was limited to a few
kilometers a day.
How then did the Allies intend to fight the war against Germany? It seems
that their "strategy" was to sit tight and wait for a miracle like US or
Soviet intervention.
Not really.

They did not believe that _anyone could
actually do rapid, decisive offensives.

The two lessons they learned from WW I were:

Don't let the enemy march around your flank.

Don't even try to break the enemy with frontal
attack.

In 1914, the French high command deliberately
chose to ignore the German right wheel through
Belgium. "The further they go, the better for
us." That was because they believed their own
all-out attack in Lorraine would break through
the German center and leave the right wing in
Belgium cut off.

Instead the attack in Lorraine failed completely,
while the German flank march drove largely
unopposed into northern France and south toward
Paris, nearly winning the war.

Once that initial drive was contained, for the
next three years every attack on the Western
Front by either side failed, with enormous losses.
The Allies could not regain any of the territory
which French blunders had allowed Germany to seize
in 1914, nor could the Germans push any further.

In 1918, the Germans enjoyed a limited success
with their new infiltration tactics (and the Allies
nearly exhausted from their own offensive efforts).
But they didn't strike a decisive blow, and they
exhausted themselves trying. That and the effects of
four years of strategic blockade so weakened Germany
that the Allies could, finally, attack successfully.

The French in 1940 were very much prepared to fight
the last war, as were the British - at least as far
ground war in Europe went.

Thus they intended to avoid the mistakes of 1918.

1) No serious offensive against Germany in Lorraine.

This does not mean they were consciously lying
to Poland when they promised to attack Germany
in 1939. The French planners assumed that most
of the German army would be fighting in Poland
for several months. This would give them plenty
of time to mobilize France's full strength and
prepare a grand stroke against the weak fraction
of the German army defending in the west. When
Poland collapsed in two weeks, and Germany
redeployed enough strength to the west to for,
a solid defense, the French abandoned their still-
tentative plans for attack. They were absolutely
certain that if the Germans had a solid line in
place, no Allied offensive, however large, could
succeed.

2) Don't let the Germans get anything for free.

Unlike 1914, the Allies made elaborate plans to
go into Belgium, with the object of meeting the
Germans as far forward as possible. They believed
that as in WW I, where the armies met, they would
fight to a draw at that spot and dig in, and
thereafter the front line would be all but immovable.
This time the Allies would protect and hold most of
Belgium.

Thus the war would repeat the course of WW I, except
that the Allies would have all of France and most of
Belgium. Germany would again be blockaded, forced to
try to fight its way out of the trap - which the
Germans couldn't do in 1918 in more favorable
circumstances. Once Germany had exhausted itself
in futile attacks, and was starting to strangle
under the Allied blockade, the Allies would go
over to the offensive, and Germany would capitulate
as in 1918.

Thus no miracle was required or expected.

What happened was that the Germans attacked with
greater tactical skill than the Allies expected,
were able to break the Allied line in a sector
where terrain difficulties were expected to make
it defensible by second line troops, and then were
able to exploit the breakthrough deep and fast,
cutting off and destroying the Allied left wing.
Post by Stan Engel
Post by Rich Rostrom
Finally, it would have been ridiculous for
the Allies to attack Italy, a neutral,
merely for being allied to Germany, when
they were doing nothing about the USSR, which
had actually invaded Poland.
It would have been an interesting war if France and Britain in 1939 had
declared war on the USSR as well as Germany. I don't see the Allies winning.
I could see the Red Army soldiers taking swims in the Persian Gulf.
The Soviet army of 1940 was not especially
skilled, vide its difficulties against Finland.
Of course it was very numerous. Also Iran was
neutral, and unless the Allies intruded their
own forces into Iran I think the Soviets would
stay out.

Stalin was very paranoid about being drawn into
someone else's fight. He would not want to end
up fighting the Allies while Germany sat and
watched.
--
| He had a shorter, more scraggly, and even less |
| flattering beard than Yassir Arafat, and Escalante |
| never conceived that such a thing was possible. |
| -- William Goldman, _Heat_ |
Stan Engel
2007-04-23 16:54:53 UTC
Permalink
(snip)
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Stan Engel
It would have been an interesting war if France and Britain in 1939 had
declared war on the USSR as well as Germany. I don't see the Allies winning.
I could see the Red Army soldiers taking swims in the Persian Gulf.
The Soviet army of 1940 was not especially
skilled, vide its difficulties against Finland.
Yeah, that got a lot of publicity but Zhukov had done fairly well against
the Japanese in 1939. Still, compared to the Germans, the Soviets weren't
all that skilled until, say, late 1943. After that, I think they were about
equal.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Of course it was very numerous. Also Iran was
neutral, and unless the Allies intruded their
own forces into Iran I think the Soviets would
stay out.
I recall seeing on the internet some Allied scheme to bomb the Baku
oilfields. I recall the British officer's name as a John Kennedy. In the
event the Allies ever did something crazy like declare war on Russia the
Russians would try to hurt them back. The Persian Gulf oilfields would mean
a lot of hurt for the Allies.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Stalin was very paranoid about being drawn into
someone else's fight. He would not want to end
up fighting the Allies while Germany sat and
watched.
--
| He had a shorter, more scraggly, and even less |
| flattering beard than Yassir Arafat, and Escalante |
| never conceived that such a thing was possible. |
| -- William Goldman, _Heat_ |
--
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