Discussion:
"Absent hindsight, the conclusion that Germany was not to be feared was a reasonable one at the time."
(too old to reply)
David Tenner
2015-05-20 16:33:01 UTC
Permalink
Not a what-if but an article relevant to many what-ifs about the late
1930's, appeasement, etc.: Bear F. Braumoeller, argues in "The Myth of
American Isolationism" that the US failure to do more to stop Hitler in the
1930's was less a symptom of isolationism than of a belief that Germany was
economically too weak to be really dangerous; it just did not have the
capacity to fight a major war for very long. This belief was neither
unique to the US nor unreasonable:

"Absent hindsight, the conclusion that Germany was not to be feared was a
reasonable one at the time. Germany’s economy was operating very nearly at
full steam even during peacetime, and the failure of the bond market and
near depletion of foreign reserves in late 1938 indicated that the
overtaxed German economy would not sustain the strains of mobilization for
long (Harrison 1988; Tooze 2006: chapter 9). Germany was deficient in
nearly every category of strategic raw materials except coal: its shortages
in such obviously crucial materials as iron ore and petroleum, as well as
in nickel, manganese, and molybdenum (all important for the production of
steel), were critical. A shortage of hard currency ruled out the option of
trading for sufficient quantities of these commodities to make up the
shortfall. In the period between September of 1937 and February of 1939, no
more than 58.6% of German armament orders could be met by industry due to
shortages of material and capacity (Murray 1984:16; Ellis 1993:273-274). A
recent summary of Roosevelt’s assessment of German strength in the late
1930s is illustrative: ‘‘While he recognized that the Nazis were clearly
acquiring the power to do some damage beyond their borders, he detected
numerous signs below the surface that Hitler’s rearmament program was
engendering political and economic difficulties’’ and felt that it
‘‘brought with it the high probability of bankruptcy.’’ (Casey 2001:7-8)

"German land and air forces reflected this disarray. The Luftwaffe was the
most impressive branch of the service numerically, but its numbers mask the
fact that the majority of the aircraft produced through mid-1937 were
trainers, and most of the bombers and fighters were obsolete. At the time
of the invasion of France, Germany could only muster 2,439 tanks against
the 4,200 fielded by the French, British, Belgians and Dutch--nothing near
the usual 3:1 ratio recommended for success in offensive operations. Nor
were German tanks qualitatively superior; in fact, quite the opposite
(Tooze 2006:371). The fact that Germany’s unorthodox gambit through the
Ardennes worked to devastating effect and most likely saved them from
collapse should not obscure the fact that no sober observer at the
time on either side thought it could succeed.

"Of more direct relevance to the US, perhaps, Germany’s surface navy was in
abysmal shape. As Figure 2 demonstrates, the ability of Germany to project
power over water as late as 1939 was virtually nil. The entire fleet
consisted of a total of 102 vessels, 57 of which were U-boats. Only two
battleships were in service (although the massive Bismarck would soon be
launched--and sunk). The Navy possessed no aircraft carriers. The German
experiment with superheated steam engines for larger vessels had produced
little success and mechanical difficulties were commonplace. These factors
limited the range of the larger ships to about 1,000 nautical miles; even
if Germany had had aircraft carriers, therefore, it would not have been
able to bring air power to within striking distance of the American
mainland. Although Nazi U-boats were capable of disrupting a considerable
amount of sea traffic, they were useless for transporting equipment or
troops in any significant number. Admiral Raeder remarked of his country’s
surface fleet that ‘‘even at full strength, they can do no more than show
that they know how to die gallantly.’’24 [in a footnote, Bruamoeller
writes, "The remark referred to an Anglo-German conflict, but the numbers
suggest that German prospects in a naval war with the United States were
little better."] Given that the United States had, in the previous year,
decided to increase its fleet by 20% to include a total of 21 battleships,
seven aircraft carriers, 40 cruisers, and 252 destroyers, Germany simply
had no hope of being able to wage any sort of war in the Atlantic in the
foreseeable future. Even if the United States stood still, Germany would
need 12-15 years to catch up (Stegemann 1991).


"...The Anschluss had done little to ease Germany’s chronic shortages; nor
did the Munich agreement, though it left Czechoslovakia defenseless. The
seizure of Prague on March 15, 1939, was a different matter. Czech
industries had stockpiled raw materials, Czech armament factories were
well-supplied and were not dif?cult to utilize, existing Czech munitions
were quite substantial, and plunder from the Czech national bank combined
with pro?ts from the sale of some Czech arms alleviated Germany’s hard-
currency problems. Germany’s capabilities had also been ampli?ed by
doctrinal innovation in the use of air power and, as Poland soon
discovered, mechanized land power.26 Nevertheless, in early 1940 it still
seemed likely that Germany’s bid for hegemony had run its course. The
Allied blockade, though imperfect, nevertheless cut Germany off from vital
strategic supplies. Germany immediately lost access to 43% of its imported
iron ore, and in the 9-month sitzkreig following the invasion of Poland,
Germany’s petroleum reserve fell by a third. Combat operations for any
substantial period were inconceivable. A review of American diplomatic
communications during this time mostly reveals discussions of a European
settlement, the form that such a settlement should take, and the problems
to be dealt with in the postwar period (FRUS 1940:I, 1-135; Murray
(1984:328-330)."

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10561317/webPDFs/Braumoeller2010.pdf

The most obvious what-if: Suppose somehow the Danzig crisis had been
resolved pracefully in 1939. Just how long could the German economy endure
a continuing preparation for war? Even if Hitler wanted to wait, did he
realy have that option or was it necessary for him--if he wanted to go to
war at all--to do it now and ganble on a quick victory giving him the
chance of making up for Germany's economic weakness by having the French
economy to loot?
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
Alfred Montestruc
2015-05-20 19:13:14 UTC
Permalink
"Well except for that unfortunate incident, how did you like the play Mrs Lincoln?"

Fact of the matter is the Germans ran over the Western Allies like a steam roller going over a pile of rubbish.

Basically if you are holding that all the good indicators were predicting a German loss, your opinion of what is, and is not, a good indicator is deficient.

Clearly the German higher level people understood better than the allies what was, and was not critical in winning a ground battle. One of which was command of the air is a whole lot more critical than having more infantry or tanks.
David Tenner
2015-05-20 21:26:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alfred Montestruc
"Well except for that unfortunate incident, how did you like the play Mrs Lincoln?"
Fact of the matter is the Germans ran over the Western Allies like a
steam roller going over a pile of rubbish.
Basically if you are holding that all the good indicators were
predicting a German loss, your opinion of what is, and is not, a good
indicator is deficient.
Clearly the German higher level people understood better than the allies
what was, and was not critical in winning a ground battle. One of which
was command of the air is a whole lot more critical than having more
infantry or tanks.
But it should be remembered that the Allies were not the only ones who did
not anticipate the success of Germany's Ardennes thrust of May 1940. "Even
with the final plan as launched on May 10, no German military leader expected
success. Halder put the odds of victory at ten to one against and wrote to
his wife that he and his colleagues thought that what they were doing was
'crazy and reckless.'"
https://books.google.com/books?id=5zcuNZGrOCQC&pg=PA120
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
Alfred Montestruc
2015-05-21 03:34:30 UTC
Permalink
Well, all due respect they were dead wrong weren't they.

Did Rommel, and the other panzer enthusasts think that? I don't think so.

Sometimes, especially shortly after multiple major changes in technology, you get a massive divergence in how things play out on the ground in any field, especially combat.

I know of examples in other fields as well.

After WWI, aircraft technology ramped up a whole lot. Combat aircraft were a lot faster, much longer ranged, and could carry much heavier loads in 1940 than 1918. Armored vehicles were a lot better, but both of these issues miss the really important change.

Portable radio transmitter/receivers were available in huge quantities set next to WWI, such that all German aircraft had them and most German armored vehicles had them and all artillery batteries had them, and any commanding officer of a unit as or more important than an infantry company had one.

That changed things a lot. The rate at which commanders in the field can now adapt to changing situations is enormously faster. In WWI, plans to attack were made on precise timetables that no one could change for fear of delaying, bringing to a standstill the movement of tens to hundreds of thousands of troops.

Now, a forward unit can relay observations in real time to commanding generals tens to hundreds of kilometers away. A pinned infantry company can call in artillery and air support in real time, even without a field telephone, even if they were air dropped.

These are not minor changes.

The French Army made little use of radio.

http://www.2worldwar2.com/blitzkrieg.htm

----quote
Radio - while the French High Command in 1940 was not even equipped with radio, it was radio communications in each tank each aircraft and each unit which allowed the German commanders to control their forces so effectively, and to utilize their air support so destructively and efficiently. Radio allowed German Blitzkrieg commanders to rapidly advance with their forces, see the battlefield with their eyes, not just on the map, ----end quote


http://www.1jma.dk/articles/1jmaarticlesfrance.htm

---quote
At the pinnacle of this huge Army was General Maurice Gamelin. He evolved and issued all orders to the entire army. Gamelin's headquarters lacked radio. His method of issuing orders was through despatch riders and the often-unreliable telephone network. Thus it usually took 48 hours for his orders to get through to his men.

-----end quote

The reason that the Germans won in 1940 has primarily to do with the technical incompetence, and technical conservatism of the French Army commanders, both during the battle and in the years before in refusal to face facts about technological change.

Had the French senior army commanders been somewhat more competent and willing to keep up with advancing technology, then the battle would have probably started out much as it did, but ended as a war of attrition. The Germans would lose that.

BEF was ~ 10% or less of total ground forces, so the competence or lack of it on the ground was less of an issue.

My point is that in a straight up fight between a German infantry Regiment of 1940 with ~ 9 two way radios, and two or three French infantry regiments with no radios, and in a moving fluid tactical situation [not trench warfare] and the German regiment commander will have enormously better command control and intelligence and may well be able to out fight the French who are dependent on runners or field telephones (mobile situation, means that don't work so good).
Alex Milman
2015-05-21 17:24:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Tenner
Post by Alfred Montestruc
"Well except for that unfortunate incident, how did you like the play Mrs Lincoln?"
Fact of the matter is the Germans ran over the Western Allies like a
steam roller going over a pile of rubbish.
Basically if you are holding that all the good indicators were
predicting a German loss, your opinion of what is, and is not, a good
indicator is deficient.
Clearly the German higher level people understood better than the allies
what was, and was not critical in winning a ground battle. One of which
was command of the air is a whole lot more critical than having more
infantry or tanks.
But it should be remembered that the Allies were not the only ones who did
not anticipate the success of Germany's Ardennes thrust of May 1940. "Even
with the final plan as launched on May 10, no German military leader expected
success. Halder put the odds of victory at ten to one against and wrote to
his wife that he and his colleagues thought that what they were doing was
'crazy and reckless.'"
https://books.google.com/books?id=5zcuNZGrOCQC&pg=PA120
Well, specific German plans aside, it seems, based on "On Borrowed Time: How World War II Began", by Mosley that if anything the German air power had been
grossly over-emphasized, to a big degree thanks to the phony "reviews" by
Lindbergh which nobody bothered to check even in their most bizarre points
like his self-proclaimed knowledge of the Soviet aviation (what is the
probability of Stalin's regime allowing any foreigner, and not just a notorious
Nazi sympathizer, to get a detailed information on this or any other subject?).
It seems that the French had been seriously scared with what was presented
even if it was mostly bogus.

The next flaw in the "analysis" you quoted is quite interesting: it reflects
people's typical obsession with the numbers and neglect of a quality. The German
military force was on overall smaller than French but they had been better
trained on all levels and they paid a LOT of attention to the coordination of
the various branches (infantry, armor, artillery and air), something that the
French, Brits and the Soviets practically did not have by 1939. German aviation
was not numerous but, thanks to the effective radio coordination, it was there
at the critical moment and in the critical place. Their tanks were neither
good nor numerous but they had been effectively backed up by the field
artillery, aviation and infantry while the French tank units had been acting
on their own and the same was happening to the Brits pretty much all the way
to the 1st Alamein (when Montgomery turned tables on Rommel by forbidding
the British armor to attack) and to the Soviets at least until the end of 1942.

In this sense, the analysis you quoted was extremely flawed. An obvious excuse
for the contemporaries was that they simply did not know many of the critical
facts.
Bradipus
2015-05-22 14:49:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Tenner
Post by Alfred Montestruc
"Well except for that unfortunate incident, how did you like
the play Mrs Lincoln?"
Fact of the matter is the Germans ran over the Western
Allies like a steam roller going over a pile of rubbish.
Basically if you are holding that all the good indicators
were predicting a German loss, your opinion of what is, and
is not, a good indicator is deficient.
Clearly the German higher level people understood better
than the allies
what was, and was not critical in winning a ground battle.
One of which was command of the air is a whole lot more
critical than having more infantry or tanks.
But it should be remembered that the Allies were not the only
ones who did not anticipate the success of Germany's Ardennes
thrust of May 1940. "Even with the final plan as launched on
May 10, no German military leader expected success.
Halder put the odds of victory at ten to one against and
wrote to his wife that he and his colleagues thought that
what they were doing was 'crazy and reckless.'"
Halder was right, the Ardennes offensive has been a *lucky*
move.

No perforation there, what next?

Either Germans try another lucky move or the front stabilizes
and Germany is kaputt.
--
Bradipus
Rob
2015-05-23 01:07:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Tenner
Not a what-if but an article relevant to many what-ifs about the late
1930's, appeasement, etc.: Bear F. Braumoeller, argues in "The Myth of
American Isolationism" that the US failure to do more to stop Hitler in the
1930's was less a symptom of isolationism than of a belief that Germany was
economically too weak to be really dangerous; it just did not have the
capacity to fight a major war for very long. This belief was neither
"Absent hindsight, the conclusion that Germany was not to be feared was a
reasonable one at the time. Germany's economy was operating very nearly at
full steam even during peacetime, and the failure of the bond market and
near depletion of foreign reserves in late 1938 indicated that the
overtaxed German economy would not sustain the strains of mobilization for
long (Harrison 1988; Tooze 2006: chapter 9). Germany was deficient in
nearly every category of strategic raw materials except coal: its shortages
in such obviously crucial materials as iron ore and petroleum, as well as
in nickel, manganese, and molybdenum (all important for the production of
steel), were critical. A shortage of hard currency ruled out the option of
trading for sufficient quantities of these commodities to make up the
shortfall. In the period between September of 1937 and February of 1939, no
more than 58.6% of German armament orders could be met by industry due to
shortages of material and capacity (Murray 1984:16; Ellis 1993:273-274). A
recent summary of Roosevelt's assessment of German strength in the late
1930s is illustrative: ''While he recognized that the Nazis were clearly
acquiring the power to do some damage beyond their borders, he detected
numerous signs below the surface that Hitler's rearmament program was
engendering political and economic difficulties'' and felt that it
''brought with it the high probability of bankruptcy.'' (Casey 2001:7-8)
"German land and air forces reflected this disarray. The Luftwaffe was the
most impressive branch of the service numerically, but its numbers mask the
fact that the majority of the aircraft produced through mid-1937 were
trainers, and most of the bombers and fighters were obsolete. At the time
of the invasion of France, Germany could only muster 2,439 tanks against
the 4,200 fielded by the French, British, Belgians and Dutch--nothing near
the usual 3:1 ratio recommended for success in offensive operations. Nor
were German tanks qualitatively superior; in fact, quite the opposite
(Tooze 2006:371). The fact that Germany's unorthodox gambit through the
Ardennes worked to devastating effect and most likely saved them from
collapse should not obscure the fact that no sober observer at the
time on either side thought it could succeed.
"Of more direct relevance to the US, perhaps, Germany's surface navy was in
abysmal shape. As Figure 2 demonstrates, the ability of Germany to project
power over water as late as 1939 was virtually nil. The entire fleet
consisted of a total of 102 vessels, 57 of which were U-boats. Only two
battleships were in service (although the massive Bismarck would soon be
launched--and sunk). The Navy possessed no aircraft carriers. The German
experiment with superheated steam engines for larger vessels had produced
little success and mechanical difficulties were commonplace. These factors
limited the range of the larger ships to about 1,000 nautical miles; even
if Germany had had aircraft carriers, therefore, it would not have been
able to bring air power to within striking distance of the American
mainland. Although Nazi U-boats were capable of disrupting a considerable
amount of sea traffic, they were useless for transporting equipment or
troops in any significant number. Admiral Raeder remarked of his country's
surface fleet that ''even at full strength, they can do no more than show
that they know how to die gallantly.''24 [in a footnote, Bruamoeller
writes, "The remark referred to an Anglo-German conflict, but the numbers
suggest that German prospects in a naval war with the United States were
little better."] Given that the United States had, in the previous year,
decided to increase its fleet by 20% to include a total of 21 battleships,
seven aircraft carriers, 40 cruisers, and 252 destroyers, Germany simply
had no hope of being able to wage any sort of war in the Atlantic in the
foreseeable future. Even if the United States stood still, Germany would
need 12-15 years to catch up (Stegemann 1991).
"...The Anschluss had done little to ease Germany's chronic shortages; nor
did the Munich agreement, though it left Czechoslovakia defenseless. The
seizure of Prague on March 15, 1939, was a different matter. Czech
industries had stockpiled raw materials, Czech armament factories were
well-supplied and were not dif?cult to utilize, existing Czech munitions
were quite substantial, and plunder from the Czech national bank combined
with pro?ts from the sale of some Czech arms alleviated Germany's hard-
currency problems. Germany's capabilities had also been ampli?ed by
doctrinal innovation in the use of air power and, as Poland soon
discovered, mechanized land power.26 Nevertheless, in early 1940 it still
seemed likely that Germany's bid for hegemony had run its course. The
Allied blockade, though imperfect, nevertheless cut Germany off from vital
strategic supplies. Germany immediately lost access to 43% of its imported
iron ore, and in the 9-month sitzkreig following the invasion of Poland,
Germany's petroleum reserve fell by a third. Combat operations for any
substantial period were inconceivable. A review of American diplomatic
communications during this time mostly reveals discussions of a European
settlement, the form that such a settlement should take, and the problems
to be dealt with in the postwar period (FRUS 1940:I, 1-135; Murray
(1984:328-330)."
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10561317/webPDFs/Braumoeller2010.pdf
The most obvious what-if: Suppose somehow the Danzig crisis had been
resolved pracefully in 1939. Just how long could the German economy endure
a continuing preparation for war? Even if Hitler wanted to wait, did he
realy have that option or was it necessary for him--if he wanted to go to
war at all--to do it now and ganble on a quick victory giving him the
chance of making up for Germany's economic weakness by having the French
economy to loot?
Well, if the Danzig crisis had been resolved peacefully in 1939, or better yet, had not become a crisis in that year, it seems to me that Germany could have endured continued preparation for war through the summer of 1940. Beyond, it gets hazier. But, Germany survived in OTL's September 1939 - May 1940 with an allied blockade in effect.

If Hitler is just skipping the Polish campaign and just doing an attack on the west by spring 1940, it seems to me his chances of winning should be even with OTL. I hear all the time about the value of bloodlessly conquered Czech loot and speedily conquered French loot for the Nazi war machine in WWII. While occupying western Poland yielded some agricultural land and supplies and slave labor, I'm not aware of it being an essential building block like Bohemia and western Europe.

A Germany that skips Poland in 39 and fights France in 1940, will lack the experience and applicable lessons of the Polish campaign. On the other hand, it will have more months without blockade, get to attack the west as soon as war is declared (on Germany's timetable, not Britain's) and, may start the 1940 western offensive with a somewhat better motor pool. Apparently many units with truck-borne transport in the Polish campaign, "de-motorized" and relied more on horse-drawn transport for the 1940 campaign and every campaign after.

If Germany skips a fight with Poland in 1939, it will likely still be surviving if it picks a fight with Poland in 1940. Despite a degree of additional Polish rearmament, I would not expect Poland to really last any longer in a fall 1940 campaign versus a fall 1939 campaign. Then Hitler can try to move against the west in 1941. I would not rule out him winning at that time. But, he has also run the risk of the the French and British getting more rearmed and smarter at using their tools. So much depends on the altered politics, and military culture, of a France, UK and US at peace through 1939 and most of 1940.
Alfred Montestruc
2015-05-23 03:40:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rob
Post by David Tenner
Not a what-if but an article relevant to many what-ifs about the late
1930's, appeasement, etc.: Bear F. Braumoeller, argues in "The Myth of
American Isolationism" that the US failure to do more to stop Hitler in the
1930's was less a symptom of isolationism than of a belief that Germany was
economically too weak to be really dangerous; it just did not have the
capacity to fight a major war for very long. This belief was neither
"Absent hindsight, the conclusion that Germany was not to be feared was a
reasonable one at the time. Germany's economy was operating very nearly at
full steam even during peacetime, and the failure of the bond market and
near depletion of foreign reserves in late 1938 indicated that the
overtaxed German economy would not sustain the strains of mobilization for
long (Harrison 1988; Tooze 2006: chapter 9). Germany was deficient in
nearly every category of strategic raw materials except coal: its shortages
in such obviously crucial materials as iron ore and petroleum, as well as
in nickel, manganese, and molybdenum (all important for the production of
steel), were critical. A shortage of hard currency ruled out the option of
trading for sufficient quantities of these commodities to make up the
shortfall. In the period between September of 1937 and February of 1939, no
more than 58.6% of German armament orders could be met by industry due to
shortages of material and capacity (Murray 1984:16; Ellis 1993:273-274). A
recent summary of Roosevelt's assessment of German strength in the late
1930s is illustrative: ''While he recognized that the Nazis were clearly
acquiring the power to do some damage beyond their borders, he detected
numerous signs below the surface that Hitler's rearmament program was
engendering political and economic difficulties'' and felt that it
''brought with it the high probability of bankruptcy.'' (Casey 2001:7-8)
"German land and air forces reflected this disarray. The Luftwaffe was the
most impressive branch of the service numerically, but its numbers mask the
fact that the majority of the aircraft produced through mid-1937 were
trainers, and most of the bombers and fighters were obsolete. At the time
of the invasion of France, Germany could only muster 2,439 tanks against
the 4,200 fielded by the French, British, Belgians and Dutch--nothing near
the usual 3:1 ratio recommended for success in offensive operations. Nor
were German tanks qualitatively superior; in fact, quite the opposite
(Tooze 2006:371). The fact that Germany's unorthodox gambit through the
Ardennes worked to devastating effect and most likely saved them from
collapse should not obscure the fact that no sober observer at the
time on either side thought it could succeed.
"Of more direct relevance to the US, perhaps, Germany's surface navy was in
abysmal shape. As Figure 2 demonstrates, the ability of Germany to project
power over water as late as 1939 was virtually nil. The entire fleet
consisted of a total of 102 vessels, 57 of which were U-boats. Only two
battleships were in service (although the massive Bismarck would soon be
launched--and sunk). The Navy possessed no aircraft carriers. The German
experiment with superheated steam engines for larger vessels had produced
little success and mechanical difficulties were commonplace. These factors
limited the range of the larger ships to about 1,000 nautical miles; even
if Germany had had aircraft carriers, therefore, it would not have been
able to bring air power to within striking distance of the American
mainland. Although Nazi U-boats were capable of disrupting a considerable
amount of sea traffic, they were useless for transporting equipment or
troops in any significant number. Admiral Raeder remarked of his country's
surface fleet that ''even at full strength, they can do no more than show
that they know how to die gallantly.''24 [in a footnote, Bruamoeller
writes, "The remark referred to an Anglo-German conflict, but the numbers
suggest that German prospects in a naval war with the United States were
little better."] Given that the United States had, in the previous year,
decided to increase its fleet by 20% to include a total of 21 battleships,
seven aircraft carriers, 40 cruisers, and 252 destroyers, Germany simply
had no hope of being able to wage any sort of war in the Atlantic in the
foreseeable future. Even if the United States stood still, Germany would
need 12-15 years to catch up (Stegemann 1991).
"...The Anschluss had done little to ease Germany's chronic shortages; nor
did the Munich agreement, though it left Czechoslovakia defenseless. The
seizure of Prague on March 15, 1939, was a different matter. Czech
industries had stockpiled raw materials, Czech armament factories were
well-supplied and were not dif?cult to utilize, existing Czech munitions
were quite substantial, and plunder from the Czech national bank combined
with pro?ts from the sale of some Czech arms alleviated Germany's hard-
currency problems. Germany's capabilities had also been ampli?ed by
doctrinal innovation in the use of air power and, as Poland soon
discovered, mechanized land power.26 Nevertheless, in early 1940 it still
seemed likely that Germany's bid for hegemony had run its course. The
Allied blockade, though imperfect, nevertheless cut Germany off from vital
strategic supplies. Germany immediately lost access to 43% of its imported
iron ore, and in the 9-month sitzkreig following the invasion of Poland,
Germany's petroleum reserve fell by a third. Combat operations for any
substantial period were inconceivable. A review of American diplomatic
communications during this time mostly reveals discussions of a European
settlement, the form that such a settlement should take, and the problems
to be dealt with in the postwar period (FRUS 1940:I, 1-135; Murray
(1984:328-330)."
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10561317/webPDFs/Braumoeller2010.pdf
The most obvious what-if: Suppose somehow the Danzig crisis had been
resolved pracefully in 1939. Just how long could the German economy endure
a continuing preparation for war? Even if Hitler wanted to wait, did he
realy have that option or was it necessary for him--if he wanted to go to
war at all--to do it now and ganble on a quick victory giving him the
chance of making up for Germany's economic weakness by having the French
economy to loot?
Well, if the Danzig crisis had been resolved peacefully in 1939, or better yet, had not become a crisis in that year, it seems to me that Germany could have endured continued preparation for war through the summer of 1940. Beyond, it gets hazier. But, Germany survived in OTL's September 1939 - May 1940 with an allied blockade in effect.
If Hitler is just skipping the Polish campaign and just doing an attack on the west by spring 1940,
If the Danzig crisis is resolved peacefully why would he attack the west? That makes no sense, and don't give me the "Hitler is nuts" argument. Hitler was a sociopath, but was indeed very predicable.

Hitler wanted a war with the USSR, preferably with the west on his side, failing that with the west neutral, he does not want a 2 front war, and he wants to avoid a British blockade if at all possible. He will not attack the west unless his hand is forced, as it was by the British blockade.
Post by Rob
it seems to me his chances of winning should be even with OTL. I hear all the time about the value of bloodlessly conquered Czech loot and speedily conquered French loot for the Nazi war machine in WWII. While occupying western Poland yielded some agricultural land and supplies and slave labor, I'm not aware of it being an essential building block like Bohemia and western Europe.
A Germany that skips Poland in 39 and fights France in 1940, will lack the experience and applicable lessons of the Polish campaign. On the other hand, it will have more months without blockade, get to attack the west as soon as war is declared (on Germany's timetable, not Britain's) and, may start the 1940 western offensive with a somewhat better motor pool. Apparently many units with truck-borne transport in the Polish campaign, "de-motorized" and relied more on horse-drawn transport for the 1940 campaign and every campaign after.
If Germany skips a fight with Poland in 1939, it will likely still be surviving if it picks a fight with Poland in 1940. Despite a degree of additional Polish rearmament, I would not expect Poland to really last any longer in a fall 1940 campaign versus a fall 1939 campaign. Then Hitler can try to move against the west in 1941. I would not rule out him winning at that time. But, he has also run the risk of the the French and British getting more rearmed and smarter at using their tools. So much depends on the altered politics, and military culture, of a France, UK and US at peace through 1939 and most of 1940.
Rob
2015-05-23 14:30:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alfred Montestruc
If the Danzig crisis is resolved peacefully why would he attack the west? That makes no sense, and don't give me the "Hitler is nuts" argument. Hitler was a sociopath, but was indeed very predicable.
Hitler wanted a war with the USSR, preferably with the west on his side, failing that with the west neutral, he does not want a 2 front war, and he wants to avoid a British blockade if at all possible. He will not attack the west unless his hand is forced, as it was by the British blockade.
I am certain that your perception of Hitler's intentions is what pretty much everybody who opposed confronting Hitler at the time wanted to believe and to some extent actually believed, what those who in retrospect considered the Second World War an unacceptable boon to communism continue to believe, and what Hitler hoped the western powers in the late 1930s to believe, at the very least for tactical reasons.

What I would dispute is that Hitler believed it was in German's interests, or an acceptable risks, for Germany to attack in the east only, while allowing France and western Europe to be independent and neutral powers capable to threatening vital western industrial regions of Germany.

There's one argument in favor of your interpretation Al. A quote from Hitler in 1939 saying "I only want to go to the east but if the west is too stupid to see that, we will deal with them first". I do not recall who his audience was at the time. But, I believe this was right before he was gearing up for a war against Poland, which he hoped would be local, at least until Germany chose to expand it. (ie, he wanted to keep the initiative, and never wanted to have a war begin by another power declaring war on him).

Arguments against your interpretation are Hitler's vehement anti-French focus in Mein Kampf, his continued anti-French focus in his unpublished second book, and his discussion of the inevitability of a showdown in western Europe in the Hossbach memorandum of 1937.

Mein Kampf and the second book do reveal a desire to avoid war with, and even ally with, Britain. However, he never expressed the same desire with France.

He did not believe "the west" existed as a unit including Britain, France and the Low Countries, he had differing assessments or, and intentions for, Britain and France. Your argument presupposes he viewed Britain and France identically.

From Mein Kampf or something in the intervening years, he asserted that while Britain does not want Germany to be a world power, France cannot tolerate a Germany that is a power even in Europe alone. Indicating he saw a showdown with France as unavoidable.
Alfred Montestruc
2015-05-24 04:00:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
If the Danzig crisis is resolved peacefully why would he attack the west? That makes no sense, and don't give me the "Hitler is nuts" argument. Hitler was a sociopath, but was indeed very predicable.
Hitler wanted a war with the USSR, preferably with the west on his side, failing that with the west neutral, he does not want a 2 front war, and he wants to avoid a British blockade if at all possible. He will not attack the west unless his hand is forced, as it was by the British blockade.
I am certain that your perception of Hitler's intentions is what pretty much everybody who opposed confronting Hitler at the time wanted to believe and to some extent actually believed, what those who in retrospect considered the Second World War an unacceptable boon to communism continue to believe, and what Hitler hoped the western powers in the late 1930s to believe, at the very least for tactical reasons.
Mighty condescending of you. No doubt you seriously believe that twaddle.
Post by Rob
What I would dispute is that Hitler believed it was in German's interests, or an acceptable risks, for Germany to attack in the east only, while allowing France and western Europe to be independent and neutral powers capable to threatening vital western industrial regions of Germany.
Do you not see the internal contradictions of your statement?

If Hitler gives France and the UK no reason to attack or blockade him, and they do not attack him, he has vastly less to gain by attacking them than by staying at peace with them. He can buy things on the world market and that is a huge issue if he is in a fight with the USSR. He simply cannot get the needed resources from continental Europe and the UK thrown in.

Nor is their any practical way for Germany to take the UK quickly. I have discussed on this newsgroup the possibility of building a mol across the English channel as probably the only practical way for Germany to force the UK to surrender. That would take many years. In the mean time the USSR will eventually attack him.

So attacking the west when the west has not attacked him, is not in his interest at all.
Post by Rob
There's one argument in favor of your interpretation Al. A quote from Hitler in 1939 saying "I only want to go to the east but if the west is too stupid to see that, we will deal with them first". I do not recall who his audience was at the time. But, I believe this was right before he was gearing up for a war against Poland, which he hoped would be local, at least until Germany chose to expand it. (ie, he wanted to keep the initiative, and never wanted to have a war begin by another power declaring war on him).
Which is strongly in favor of my interpretation.
Post by Rob
Arguments against your interpretation are Hitler's vehement anti-French focus in Mein Kampf, his continued anti-French focus in his unpublished second book, and his discussion of the inevitability of a showdown in western Europe in the Hossbach memorandum of 1937.
Inevitable does not mean within a few years. The French and other western European nations were not enthusiastic about the USSR as being good guys. If Hitler had not attacked Poland, and was fighting the USSR, with a coalition of Eastern European Allies including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and the Baltic nations, where arguably the USSR picked the fight, it is inconceivable that France or the UK would attack Germany from the rear.
Post by Rob
Mein Kampf and the second book do reveal a desire to avoid war with, and even ally with, Britain. However, he never expressed the same desire with France.
Which book was written for a German WWI veteran audience, who hated the French.
Post by Rob
He did not believe "the west" existed as a unit including Britain, France and the Low Countries, he had differing assessments or, and intentions for, Britain and France. Your argument presupposes he viewed Britain and France identically.
Nope, just that they were allies that he was not likely to split. Nor was that going to happen.
Post by Rob
From Mein Kampf or something in the intervening years, he asserted that while Britain does not want Germany to be a world power, France cannot tolerate a Germany that is a power even in Europe alone. Indicating he saw a showdown with France as unavoidable.
But not necessarily before one with the USSR. A two front war is suicidal for the Germans, and the French of WWII were not treaty obligated to the USSR, while the French of WWI were obligated to the Russians.
Rob
2015-05-24 15:11:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
If the Danzig crisis is resolved peacefully why would he attack the west? That makes no sense, and don't give me the "Hitler is nuts" argument. Hitler was a sociopath, but was indeed very predicable.
Hitler wanted a war with the USSR, preferably with the west on his side, failing that with the west neutral, he does not want a 2 front war, and he wants to avoid a British blockade if at all possible. He will not attack the west unless his hand is forced, as it was by the British blockade.
I am certain that your perception of Hitler's intentions is what pretty much everybody who opposed confronting Hitler at the time wanted to believe and to some extent actually believed, what those who in retrospect considered the Second World War an unacceptable boon to communism continue to believe, and what Hitler hoped the western powers in the late 1930s to believe, at the very least for tactical reasons.
Mighty condescending of you. No doubt you seriously believe that twaddle.
Post by Rob
What I would dispute is that Hitler believed it was in German's interests, or an acceptable risks, for Germany to attack in the east only, while allowing France and western Europe to be independent and neutral powers capable to threatening vital western industrial regions of Germany.
Do you not see the internal contradictions of your statement?
If Hitler gives France and the UK no reason to attack or blockade him, and they do not attack him, he has vastly less to gain by attacking them than by staying at peace with them. He can buy things on the world market and that is a huge issue if he is in a fight with the USSR. He simply cannot get the needed resources from continental Europe and the UK thrown in.
That could have been objectively true, I just have strong doubts that Hitler would have seen his opportunities that way.


On the economics of things, that's a bit dicey. On the one hand, no blockade offers the possibility of deliveries on the world market. On the other hand, how will Germany manage to pay. There are German exports but those divert from war production. Can sufficient loot be gathered quickly enough from conquered portions of the western USSR, to pay for imports to keep sustaining advances in the east? Do the western countries desire such produce, goods and hard currency (if any) that can be captured in the western USSR to trade for them?
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Nor is their any practical way for Germany to take the UK quickly. I have discussed on this newsgroup the possibility of building a mol across the English channel as probably the only practical way for Germany to force the UK to surrender. That would take many years. In the mean time the USSR will eventually attack him.
Agreed entirely- and Hitler seemed to wish away the problem of Britain.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
So attacking the west when the west has not attacked him, is not in his interest at all.
I would say that it was course of action which had major risks and costs, and that the opposite policy, avoiding provocation of the west and war in west Europe would have had its own unique risks, that could actually have been smaller than the risks he took in OTL.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
There's one argument in favor of your interpretation Al. A quote from Hitler in 1939 saying "I only want to go to the east but if the west is too stupid to see that, we will deal with them first". I do not recall who his audience was at the time. But, I believe this was right before he was gearing up for a war against Poland, which he hoped would be local, at least until Germany chose to expand it. (ie, he wanted to keep the initiative, and never wanted to have a war begin by another power declaring war on him).
Which is strongly in favor of my interpretation.
Post by Rob
Arguments against your interpretation are Hitler's vehement anti-French focus in Mein Kampf, his continued anti-French focus in his unpublished second book, and his discussion of the inevitability of a showdown in western Europe in the Hossbach memorandum of 1937.
Inevitable does not mean within a few years. The French and other western European nations were not enthusiastic about the USSR as being good guys. If Hitler had not attacked Poland, and was fighting the USSR, with a coalition of Eastern European Allies including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and the Baltic nations, where arguably the USSR picked the fight, it is inconceivable that France or the UK would attack Germany from the rear.
It is possible and plausible that in the type of scenario you describe, France and the UK would stay benevolently neutral toward Germany the whole time.

But I would not call an attack on the German rear "inconceivable". That is a mighty degree of certitude to express for a hypothetical.

Also, even getting to this scenario- where Hitler is at peace with Poland, war with the USSR, and the USSR is in the possession of aggressor, is easier said than done. "Hitler had not attacked Poland, and was fighting the USSR, with a coalition of Eastern European Allies including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and the Baltic nations, where arguably the USSR picked the fight"

For this scenario to come about, a few improbable things need to happen:

a) Poland yields territory to Germany without a fight and accepts an alliance with Germany.

(or, Hitler foreswears territorial gains at Poland's expense in order to secure an alliance with Poland).

b) Poland not only allies with Nazi Germany, but permits the entry of German forces larger and more modern than Poland's own throughout Polish territory, in order to collaborate in an offensive against the USSR, or a joint defensive cordon against the USSR.

c) The Soviet Union, finding itself confronted in Europe by a German alliance with Poland and all of the USSR's other western neighbors, nevertheless takes the risk of attacking a member of such an alliance. (In OTL, the USSR, when faced with with of the countries west of its zone of control after WWII, never attacked an alliance member.)

How plausible is the combination of a, b and c all happening?
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
Mein Kampf and the second book do reveal a desire to avoid war with, and even ally with, Britain. However, he never expressed the same desire with France.
Which book was written for a German WWI veteran audience, who hated the French.
And didn't hate the British, who not only killed them face-to-face in large numbers, but starved their families with blockade?

On the other hand, at the time he wrote, France was occupying the Ruhr while Britain looked on with disapproval of France.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
He did not believe "the west" existed as a unit including Britain, France and the Low Countries, he had differing assessments or, and intentions for, Britain and France. Your argument presupposes he viewed Britain and France identically.
Nope, just that they were allies that he was not likely to split. Nor was that going to happen.
Hitler premised arguments in Mein Kampf on Britain and France being splittable from each other. And he never entirely gave up hope of splitting the two.

But, yes, in reality, no matter what disagreements Britain and France had on the details of policy for Central Europe, pretty much all 20th century British governments would have found German defeat of France unacceptable.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
From Mein Kampf or something in the intervening years, he asserted that while Britain does not want Germany to be a world power, France cannot tolerate a Germany that is a power even in Europe alone. Indicating he saw a showdown with France as unavoidable.
But not necessarily before one with the USSR.
Well in Mein Kampf he was pretty strict about the order. He writes as if its an axiom, France first, then eastern Lebensbraum.

"A two front war is suicidal for the Germans, and the French of WWII were not treaty obligated to the USSR, while the French of WWI were obligated to the Russians."

Hitler didn't know what secret clauses might have been attached to the open Franco-Soviet understandings dating since 1935.

It would have been "interesting" had he taken a chance on leaving the French out of things, but some of his thinking would have been needed to change from OTL, and avoidance of the Polish war alone may not have been enough.

If somebody else were in charge of Germany, like Max Hoffman or Gustav Stresseman, maybe Germany could have found itself at least wanting to be in a position of nonaggression versus France while going on the offensive against the USSR.
The Horny Goat
2015-05-24 16:05:46 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 24 May 2015 08:11:16 -0700 (PDT), Rob
Post by Rob
Well in Mein Kampf he was pretty strict about the order. He writes as if its an axiom, France first, then eastern Lebensbraum.
"A two front war is suicidal for the Germans, and the French of WWII were not treaty obligated to the USSR, while the French of WWI were obligated to the Russians."
Here's one for the newsgroup - Mein Kampf was written roughly 1923-25.
Is there a documented case of any major action that Hitler later took
that went diametrically opposed to Mein Kampf? In other words
concretely demonstrating he had changed his mind on something
important in the decade between?
Post by Rob
Hitler didn't know what secret clauses might have been attached to the open Franco-Soviet understandings dating since 1935.
It would have been "interesting" had he taken a chance on leaving the French out of things, but some of his thinking would have been needed to change from OTL, and avoidance of the Polish war alone may not have been enough.
Well from Hitler's point of view the importance of Poland was that it
was between Germany and Russia. A Poland with the boundaries of (for
instance) the Napoleonic era Grand Duchy of Warsaw with Germany
retaining the territory north of there which it lost to Poland at
Versailles would have been far less of a target for Hitler. On the
other hand he might well have gone for it anyhow since a Poland with
those boundaries would have been far weaker militarily than OTL's
Poland.
Post by Rob
If somebody else were in charge of Germany, like Max Hoffman or Gustav Stresseman, maybe Germany could have found itself at least wanting to be in a position of nonaggression versus France while going on the offensive against the USSR.
I still thing WI Stresseman lives would be an interesting WI since he
was after all younger than Adenauer. I don't think that automatically
means he'd still have been a political force by 1958 (Treaty of Rome)
but simply being a force 1933-45 would have changed a great deal in
Germany.
Rob
2015-05-24 16:34:20 UTC
Permalink
I still think WI Stresseman lives would be an interesting WI since he
was after all younger than Adenauer. I don't think that automatically
means he'd still have been a political force by 1958 (Treaty of Rome)
but simply being a force 1933-45 would have changed a great deal in
Germany.
See this:

http://wiki.alternatehistory.com/doku.php/timelines/holding_out_for_a_hero_-_gustav_stresemann_survives
Alfred Montestruc
2015-05-26 03:49:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
If the Danzig crisis is resolved peacefully why would he attack the west? That makes no sense, and don't give me the "Hitler is nuts" argument. Hitler was a sociopath, but was indeed very predicable.
Hitler wanted a war with the USSR, preferably with the west on his side, failing that with the west neutral, he does not want a 2 front war, and he wants to avoid a British blockade if at all possible. He will not attack the west unless his hand is forced, as it was by the British blockade.
I am certain that your perception of Hitler's intentions is what pretty much everybody who opposed confronting Hitler at the time wanted to believe and to some extent actually believed, what those who in retrospect considered the Second World War an unacceptable boon to communism continue to believe, and what Hitler hoped the western powers in the late 1930s to believe, at the very least for tactical reasons.
Mighty condescending of you. No doubt you seriously believe that twaddle.
Post by Rob
What I would dispute is that Hitler believed it was in German's interests, or an acceptable risks, for Germany to attack in the east only, while allowing France and western Europe to be independent and neutral powers capable to threatening vital western industrial regions of Germany.
Do you not see the internal contradictions of your statement?
If Hitler gives France and the UK no reason to attack or blockade him, and they do not attack him, he has vastly less to gain by attacking them than by staying at peace with them. He can buy things on the world market and that is a huge issue if he is in a fight with the USSR. He simply cannot get the needed resources from continental Europe and the UK thrown in.
That could have been objectively true, I just have strong doubts that Hitler would have seen his opportunities that way.
Hitler was evil, he was not insane. Sorry, just too much evidence exists especially in the 1920s through early forties that he was brilliant and quite sane.

You are in essence arguing that he was irrational in 1938-1939, and that is a crock.

A reasonable argument can be made that he slipped into situational psychosis under pressure later in the war, especially due to his habitual use of amphetamines. Not early in the war.

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/situational+psychosis
Post by Rob
On the economics of things, that's a bit dicey. On the one hand, no blockade offers the possibility of deliveries on the world market. On the other hand, how will Germany manage to pay.
Germany was then and is now very good at making machinery, all sorts of machinery from machine cutting tools to electrical transformers, to farm machinery to weapons.

The fact is the blockade had them desperate, they could not import ANY feedstock to make fertilizers or high explosives, they could not import ANY form of energy, they were hard pressed to get significant quantities of metals needed to make good quality steel alloys.

Without a blockade they can export what they are best at and trade it for energy and feedstock metals and chemicals. That can keep them in cheap fertilizers, explosives, fuel, and weapons far better.
Post by Rob
There are German exports but those divert from war production.
Exactly wrong. The trade is voluntary, and so does not take place unless both sides net benefit in their own opinion.

Can the Germans make more NET effective use of what they have by trading some of what they have for something that someone else values less than the Germans do? Almost surely they can.


The whole point of trade is that both trading partners win. The Germans want the quantity of oil & nitrates traded more than the quantity of machine tools or farm implements the Americans and Chileans want, or the deal does not go through.
Post by Rob
Can sufficient loot be gathered quickly enough from conquered portions of the western USSR, to pay for imports to keep sustaining advances in the east?
Trade gets you more value faster than loot can. Nobody is shooting at you in trades, if you are looting you can count on someone who objects to your looting shooting at you.
Post by Rob
Do the western countries desire such produce, goods and hard currency (if any) that can be captured in the western USSR to trade for them?
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Nor is their any practical way for Germany to take the UK quickly. I have discussed on this newsgroup the possibility of building a mol across the English channel as probably the only practical way for Germany to force the UK to surrender. That would take many years. In the mean time the USSR will eventually attack him.
Agreed entirely- and Hitler seemed to wish away the problem of Britain.
Wrong, he did not. He wanted the UK to be on his side or to stay neutral in a dispute they had no earthly business being in. His mistake was in thinking the British would be rational about Danzig, and the fact that his constituents included the German people living in Danzig which was a Nazi party stronghold.

His hold on the Nazi party could slip if he did not back the people of Danzig's desire for unification with Germany.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_City_of_Danzig


"The Free City of Danzig (German: Freie Stadt Danzig; Polish: Wolne Miasto Gdańsk) was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) and nearly 200 towns in the surrounding areas. It was created on 15 November 1920[1][2] in accordance with the terms of Article 100 (Section XI of Part III) of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles after the end of World War I."

"German-Polish tensions
The rights of the Second Polish Republic within the territory of the Free City were stipulated in the Treaty of Paris of 9 November 1920 and the Treaty of Warsaw of 24 October 1921.[47] The details of the Polish privileges soon became a permanent matter of disputes between the local populace and the Polish State. While the representatives of the Free City tried to uphold the City's autonomy and sovereignty, Poland sought to extend its privileges."


British intervention in this matter was foolhardy and very provocative, and it really had not a darn thing to do with British interests. The Germany people and probably Hitler would have been content to live in peace with Poland so long as Poland let the German people in traditional German areas remain German. With the UK backing them the Poles got far more aggressive about Danzig, than they would have been if they knew that in fact, the British would abandon them as in fact for practical purposes they did.
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
So attacking the west when the west has not attacked him, is not in his interest at all.
I would say that it was course of action which had major risks and costs, and that the opposite policy, avoiding provocation of the west and war in west Europe would have had its own unique risks, that could actually have been smaller than the risks he took in OTL.
Much smaller. Absurdly smaller. However, the French and British were doing their own provocation -- see Polish guarantees. These were throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire.
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
There's one argument in favor of your interpretation Al. A quote from Hitler in 1939 saying "I only want to go to the east but if the west is too stupid to see that, we will deal with them first". I do not recall who his audience was at the time. But, I believe this was right before he was gearing up for a war against Poland, which he hoped would be local, at least until Germany chose to expand it. (ie, he wanted to keep the initiative, and never wanted to have a war begin by another power declaring war on him).
Which is strongly in favor of my interpretation.
Post by Rob
Arguments against your interpretation are Hitler's vehement anti-French focus in Mein Kampf, his continued anti-French focus in his unpublished second book, and his discussion of the inevitability of a showdown in western Europe in the Hossbach memorandum of 1937.
Inevitable does not mean within a few years. The French and other western European nations were not enthusiastic about the USSR as being good guys. If Hitler had not attacked Poland, and was fighting the USSR, with a coalition of Eastern European Allies including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and the Baltic nations, where arguably the USSR picked the fight, it is inconceivable that France or the UK would attack Germany from the rear.
It is possible and plausible that in the type of scenario you describe, France and the UK would stay benevolently neutral toward Germany the whole time.
But I would not call an attack on the German rear "inconceivable". That is a mighty degree of certitude to express for a hypothetical.
Please explain how attacking a group of nations in the back, some of whom are democratic with democratically elected governments (including Germany) engaged in a death struggle with arguably the worst tyranny in history is something you can sell to the British and French electorate.

Only way this flew OTL was by waving the red matador's cape and provoking Hitler into doing something stupid attacking by Poland, that the British government managed to spin an alliance with the USSR against Germany as something the British public would accept, barely.

Hitler should not have attacked Poland, rather he should have used the British guarantee to Poland as a bully propaganda stick to hit the British government with as a war monger who would try to provoke a war with Germany against the interests of the British and German people, and use it to undermine the current British government and hope (loudly for the ears of the British public) for a sane British government that does not want a blood bath.

In the mean time form an Anti-Soviet alliance with the Baltic states, Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania and move German troops into all of them, and ease off on direct pressure on the Poles, but ratchet up the propaganda pressure and imply they are tools of the Soviet menace. Start insinuating a British - Soviet - French axis.

As in be real loud, but no direct violence other than defensive of any of the treaty parties.


The British and French will not attack them, the government that tried to would fall.
Post by Rob
Also, even getting to this scenario- where Hitler is at peace with Poland, war with the USSR, and the USSR is in the possession of aggressor, is easier said than done. "Hitler had not attacked Poland, and was fighting the USSR, with a coalition of Eastern European Allies including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and the Baltic nations, where arguably the USSR picked the fight"
a) Poland yields territory to Germany without a fight and accepts an alliance with Germany.
(or, Hitler foreswears territorial gains at Poland's expense in order to secure an alliance with Poland).
Or Hitler swaps a larger amount of Czech land for the city of Danzig and allows the Poles to use all German ports duty free, and have sealed trains run from all German ports to and from Poland.

The Poles net gain more land and get a whole lot more ports in effect, for getting rid of a bunch of POed Germans (who live in Danzig) who hate them. Very much a win-win.

--------snip
Phil McGregor
2015-05-26 05:35:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
That could have been objectively true, I just have strong doubts that Hitler would have seen his opportunities that way.
Hitler was evil, he was not insane. Sorry, just too much evidence exists especially in the 1920s through early forties that he was brilliant and quite sane.
Agreed. Evil. Not Insane.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
You are in essence arguing that he was irrational in 1938-1939, and that is a crock.
Irrational does NOT equal insane.

Racism is irrational. Anti-Semitism is irrational. Mysogyny (or Mysandy) is irrational. Hating the Pittsburgh Penguins is irrational.

One can be an anti-semitic hater of the Pittsburgh Penguins and still be quite 'sane'.

Hitler was, however, demonstrably irrational on a whole slew of things - his anti-Slav and anti-Semitic beliefs being two examples.

Phil

Author, Space Opera (FGU); RBB #1 (FASA); Road to Armageddon;
Farm, Forge and Steam; Orbis Mundi; Displaced (PGD)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Email: ***@tpg.com.au
The Horny Goat
2015-05-26 08:50:53 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 26 May 2015 15:35:28 +1000, Phil McGregor
Post by Phil McGregor
Hitler was, however, demonstrably irrational on a whole slew of things - his anti-Slav and anti-Semitic beliefs being two examples.
All of us are irrational about certain (different) things. For
instance there is no way in hell I will ever write a cheque in my
business in red ink. Black, blue, green no problem but not red. I
commonly use red ink at work - both to get my own attention and that
of my employees - but never ever on my cheques (and it's a rare day I
don't write 4 or 5 of them)

Admittedly that's a far cry from anti-ethnic prejudices (which if I
had them I certainly wouldn't discuss in an open newsgroup!)
Rich Rostrom
2015-05-26 17:41:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Phil McGregor
Hating the Pittsburgh Penguins is irrational.
What about hating the Collingwood Magpies?

(I'm a bit surprised that an Aussie would
even have heard of any NHL team. But then,
I was surprised a few years ago, when one
night on an El train in Chicago, I met a
black kid in a Brisbane Lions jersey. He
was not only a fan, he played AR footie
in a three-team "league" in the Midwest.)
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.

http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
Phil McGregor
2015-05-27 01:27:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Phil McGregor
Hating the Pittsburgh Penguins is irrational.
What about hating the Collingwood Magpies?
Aerial ping-pong? Beneath one's notice ...
Post by Rich Rostrom
(I'm a bit surprised that an Aussie would
even have heard of any NHL team. But then,
I was surprised a few years ago, when one
night on an El train in Chicago, I met a
black kid in a Brisbane Lions jersey. He
was not only a fan, he played AR footie
in a three-team "league" in the Midwest.)
See, I went to Pittsburgh when I was in the US last year and one of the things I bought as a souvenier in most places was a Baseball Cap ...
in Pittsburgh it was a Penguins NHL cap! In NY, a Yankees cap.

Phil

Author, Space Opera (FGU); RBB #1 (FASA); Road to Armageddon;
Farm, Forge and Steam; Orbis Mundi; Displaced (PGD)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Email: ***@tpg.com.au
The Horny Goat
2015-05-26 06:01:54 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 25 May 2015 20:49:35 -0700 (PDT), Alfred Montestruc
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
If Hitler gives France and the UK no reason to attack or blockade him, and they do not attack him, he has vastly less to gain by attacking them than by staying at peace with them. He can buy things on the world market and that is a huge issue if he is in a fight with the USSR. He simply cannot get the needed resources from continental Europe and the UK thrown in.
That could have been objectively true, I just have strong doubts that Hitler would have seen his opportunities that way.
Hitler was evil, he was not insane. Sorry, just too much evidence exists especially in the 1920s through early forties that he was brilliant and quite sane.
I don't think there's any doubt he had lost his marbles at the time of
his death. And there's a world of difference between legally
incompetent and actually incompetent as my late father demonstrated in
the last 10 years of his life to his family's sorrow.

I would argue that Hitler was entirely sane up to Stalingrad (though
his blind trust in Goering at the time of Stalingrad was misplaced
loyalty not insanity), and largely insane after 20 July 1944. In
between who can tell for sure?

You will note that that means I feel he was entirely sane at the time
of the Wannsee Conference and thus profoundly evil. For what it's
worth the view I expressed above was the view of Albert Speer who I
also consider an evil man

(I've read Gitta Sereny's book and agree wholeheartedly with her claim
that Speer either knew and approved of the use of slave labour in
German factories or was a delusional idiot - which there is no
credible evidence of. I would further argue that the manner of Speer's
passing proves his evil since if ever a husband should have been loyal
to his wife it's him)
Post by Alfred Montestruc
You are in essence arguing that he was irrational in 1938-1939, and that is a crock.
I agree with that.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
A reasonable argument can be made that he slipped into situational psychosis under pressure later in the war, especially due to his habitual use of amphetamines. Not early in the war.
http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/situational+psychosis
I agree with that as well and it's a very good question how much of
that was based on his drug use and how much his own personality.

70 years later it's impossible to know for sure - we can only judge by
what he said and did.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
On the economics of things, that's a bit dicey. On the one hand, no blockade offers the possibility of deliveries on the world market. On the other hand, how will Germany manage to pay.
Germany was then and is now very good at making machinery, all sorts of machinery from machine cutting tools to electrical transformers, to farm machinery to weapons.
Further, Germans are very good at improvising - I offer how well they
held out after the loss of Ploesti as a prime example.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Can the Germans make more NET effective use of what they have by trading some of what they have for something that someone else values less than the Germans do? Almost surely they can.
This is called 'competitive advantage' and in industrial matters they
certainly had it.

As a prime example Churchill and FDR at Yalta figured out that there
were really only 4 options for Germany postwar: (1) Germany feeds
itself by retaining territories in the eastern portion of pre-1939
Germany, (2) Germany undergoes either mass immigration or starvation,
(3) Britain and the United States provide roughly 25% of Germany's
food supply permanently or (4) Britain and the United States help
rebuild German industry to allow German to earn the foreign exchange
required to feed itself.

Stalin wouldn't allow option 1 and option 2 and 3 were rejected by
Churchill and FDR so that pretty much left #4. The Marshall plan in
it's final form wasn't pre-ordained but without it one of options 2 or
3 largely were.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The whole point of trade is that both trading partners win. The Germans want the quantity of oil & nitrates traded more than the quantity of machine tools or farm implements the Americans and Chileans want, or the deal does not go through.
Ironically Volkswagen pretty much destroyed the British auto industry
in the 50s and 60s so successive British governments can argue whether
the decision to rebuild Volkswagen (as opposed to other German
industries) was a good idea!
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Wrong, he did not. He wanted the UK to be on his side or to stay neutral in a dispute they had no earthly business being in. His mistake was in thinking the British would be rational about Danzig, and the fact that his constituents included the German people living in Danzig which was a Nazi party stronghold.
If you are right in this show me concrete examples of what he did to
appeal to British interests. Demonstrate some way in which Hitler
sought a British alliance - you can't blame his failure to do so on
Churchill alone!
Post by Alfred Montestruc
His hold on the Nazi party could slip if he did not back the people of Danzig's desire for unification with Germany.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_City_of_Danzig
Perhaps later on - certainly not in 1939.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
"German-Polish tensions
The rights of the Second Polish Republic within the territory of the Free City were stipulated in the Treaty of Paris of 9 November 1920 and the Treaty of Warsaw of 24 October 1921.[47] The details of the Polish privileges soon became a permanent matter of disputes between the local populace and the Polish State. While the representatives of the Free City tried to uphold the City's autonomy and sovereignty, Poland sought to extend its privileges."
With the utmost of respect do you seriously think Hitler would have
settled for peace solely based on the cession of Danzig? That doesn't
pass the giggle test.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
British intervention in this matter was foolhardy and very provocative, and it really had not a darn thing to do with British interests. The Germany people and probably Hitler would have been content to live in peace with Poland so long as Poland let the German people in traditional German areas remain German. With the UK backing them the Poles got far more aggressive about Danzig, than they would have been if they knew that in fact, the British would abandon them as in fact for practical purposes they did.
More to the point, without active Danish alliance (ha!) I completely
fail to see how Britain in 1939 could give any reasonable succor to
the Poles. This is so obvious it is difficult to see how the Poles
themselves could have failed to see that.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
I would say that it was course of action which had major risks and costs, and that the opposite policy, avoiding provocation of the west and war in west Europe would have had its own unique risks, that could actually have been smaller than the risks he took in OTL.
But Hitler WANTED war with Poland - it is emphatically not the case
that the Nazi - Soviet pact was a failure on 3 September 1939 as some
have argued.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
There's one argument in favor of your interpretation Al. A quote from Hitler in 1939 saying "I only want to go to the east but if the west is too stupid to see that, we will deal with them first". I do not recall who his audience was at the time. But, I believe this was right before he was gearing up for a war against Poland, which he hoped would be local, at least until Germany chose to expand it. (ie, he wanted to keep the initiative, and never wanted to have a war begin by another power declaring war on him).
Arguments against your interpretation are Hitler's vehement anti-French focus in Mein Kampf, his continued anti-French focus in his unpublished second book, and his discussion of the inevitability of a showdown in western Europe in the Hossbach memorandum of 1937.
Inevitable does not mean within a few years. The French and other western European nations were not enthusiastic about the USSR as being good guys. If Hitler had not attacked Poland, and was fighting the USSR, with a coalition of Eastern European Allies including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and the Baltic nations, where arguably the USSR picked the fight, it is inconceivable that France or the UK would attack Germany from the rear.
Sure it does - Hitler repeatedly talked about not expecting to live to
old age and wanted to achieve his dreams for Germany in his lifetime.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
It is possible and plausible that in the type of scenario you describe, France and the UK would stay benevolently neutral toward Germany the whole time.
Not even Turtledove would claim that.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
But I would not call an attack on the German rear "inconceivable". That is a mighty degree of certitude to express for a hypothetical.
Agreed - I would argue that Stalin would have had a considerably
better chance of hurting Germany in 1940-41 than Japan did the United
States in 1941-42. I would still rank Germany a heavy favorite to win
a war of attrition with Soviet industry being in the condition it was
in in 1940-41 but certainly less so than the United States was vs
Japan.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Please explain how attacking a group of nations in the back, some of whom are democratic with democratically elected governments (including Germany) engaged in a death struggle with arguably the worst tyranny in history is something you can sell to the British and French electorate.
Please explain how in the spring of OTL's 1940 any credible Brit or
Frenchman considered Hitler's promises worth the paper they were
printed on.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Hitler should not have attacked Poland, rather he should have used the British guarantee to Poland as a bully propaganda stick to hit the British government with as a war monger who would try to provoke a war with Germany against the interests of the British and German people, and use it to undermine the current British government and hope (loudly for the ears of the British public) for a sane British government that does not want a blood bath.
Given British opinion in August / September 1939 I think this policy
would have been completely futile without an earlier POD.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
In the mean time form an Anti-Soviet alliance with the Baltic states, Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania and move German troops into all of them, and ease off on direct pressure on the Poles, but ratchet up the propaganda pressure and imply they are tools of the Soviet menace. Start insinuating a British - Soviet - French axis.
That at least is rational from the viewpoint of Germany and might have
had some chance for success. One assumes you're talking a closer
relationship than Finland's "co-belligerancy 1941-44" in OTL.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
Also, even getting to this scenario- where Hitler is at peace with Poland, war with the USSR, and the USSR is in the possession of aggressor, is easier said than done. "Hitler had not attacked Poland, and was fighting the USSR, with a coalition of Eastern European Allies including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and the Baltic nations, where arguably the USSR picked the fight"
The elephant in the room is that to have a Russo-German war you have
to have a frontier. For obvious reasons (i.e. fear that inviting
either onto their territory would be a permanent arrangement) the
Poles were unwilling to have either country sending troops onto Polish
soil.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
a) Poland yields territory to Germany without a fight and accepts an alliance with Germany.
see above
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
(or, Hitler foreswears territorial gains at Poland's expense in order to secure an alliance with Poland).
aha! Hitler has had a brain transplant.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Or Hitler swaps a larger amount of Czech land for the city of Danzig and allows the Poles to use all German ports duty free, and have sealed trains run from all German ports to and from Poland.
That could work short term; long term much less likely and for a
situation that would involve economic ruin for the Poles if abrogated
doesn't sound like a long term winner for Poland. Just the opposite in
fact.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The Poles net gain more land and get a whole lot more ports in effect, for getting rid of a bunch of POed Germans (who live in Danzig) who hate them. Very much a win-win.
I would bet against such a deal lasting even to June 22, 1941.
Brett Dunbar
2015-05-26 06:28:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
More to the point, without active Danish alliance (ha!) I completely
fail to see how Britain in 1939 could give any reasonable succor to
the Poles. This is so obvious it is difficult to see how the Poles
themselves could have failed to see that.
While not much in the way of direct help was possible, it was at least
conceivable that the Anglo-French guarantee would have a deterrent
effect. They had significantly greater resources than Germany
(especially when you assume, as the Wehrmacht did, that the USA would
ultimately back them to the hilt). So in a war of attrition Britain and
France would be fairly confident that they would eventually win. After
the occupation of Bohemia-Moravia Britain and France had concluded that
whatever Hitler's next act of aggression was it had to be opposed with
force. The dishonourable deal at Munich had lasted six months, Hitler
was clearly incapable of keeping his word or restraining himself.
--
Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search http://www.mersenne.org/prime.htm
Livejournal http://brett-dunbar.livejournal.com/
Brett Dunbar
WolfBear
2015-05-26 23:24:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
As a prime example Churchill and FDR at Yalta figured out that there
were really only 4 options for Germany postwar: (1) Germany feeds
itself by retaining territories in the eastern portion of pre-1939
Germany, (2) Germany undergoes either mass immigration or starvation,
(3) Britain and the United States provide roughly 25% of Germany's
food supply permanently or (4) Britain and the United States help
rebuild German industry to allow German to earn the foreign exchange
required to feed itself.
Stalin wouldn't allow option 1
Out of curiosity, though--would FDR and/or Churchill have allowed Option 1 here is Stalin would have purely hypothetically allowed it?
Alfred Montestruc
2015-05-28 04:46:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
On Mon, 25 May 2015 20:49:35 -0700 (PDT), Alfred Montestruc
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
If Hitler gives France and the UK no reason to attack or blockade him, and they do not attack him, he has vastly less to gain by attacking them than by staying at peace with them. He can buy things on the world market and that is a huge issue if he is in a fight with the USSR. He simply cannot get the needed resources from continental Europe and the UK thrown in.
That could have been objectively true, I just have strong doubts that Hitler would have seen his opportunities that way.
Hitler was evil, he was not insane. Sorry, just too much evidence exists especially in the 1920s through early forties that he was brilliant and quite sane.
I don't think there's any doubt he had lost his marbles at the time of
his death. And there's a world of difference between legally
incompetent and actually incompetent as my late father demonstrated in
the last 10 years of his life to his family's sorrow.
I would argue that Hitler was entirely sane up to Stalingrad (though
his blind trust in Goering at the time of Stalingrad was misplaced
loyalty not insanity), and largely insane after 20 July 1944. In
between who can tell for sure?
Strongly disagree. His orders in the spring and summer of 1942 leading up to Stalingrad were very questionable.

A frontal assault on Stalingrad, rather than envelop & bypass seems insane.

The armored units sent in to Stalingrad should have been probing for a plausible river crossing point north or south of Stalingrad on the Volga.

http://www.stalingrad.net/maps/stalingrad_map_5.htm

They should also have gone north flanking the Russian troops defending on the Don river. Doing that would either result in large numbers of captured or killed Red Army troops, or forcing the Red Army to pour enormous resources between the Don & Volga which is near ideal tank country to try and win an open country tank fight with the Germans, I don't think they could, and if they could the cost to the Red Army would be horrific.

Or the Red Army could just retire behind the Volga, and the Germans move up near cost-free.

Also some of that German Armor squandered in attacking Stalingrad could have gone southeast and found a point they could cross the Volga. The Germans get a significant sized armored force across the Volga they can cut the rail lines leading from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan toward central Russia, and by doing so cut off supplies of oil and supplies from Iran.

My point being was he was squandering huge amounts of very precious resources on BS. Arguably Hitler could have done enormously greater damage to the USSR that summer and fall than he did OTL, and at vastly less cost. Arguably this would have caused the collapse of the USSR in winter 42/43.
Post by The Horny Goat
You will note that that means I feel he was entirely sane at the time
of the Wannsee Conference and thus profoundly evil. For what it's
worth the view I expressed above was the view of Albert Speer who I
also consider an evil man
(I've read Gitta Sereny's book and agree wholeheartedly with her claim
that Speer either knew and approved of the use of slave labour in
German factories or was a delusional idiot - which there is no
credible evidence of. I would further argue that the manner of Speer's
passing proves his evil since if ever a husband should have been loyal
to his wife it's him)
Well, that is his personal life and one can also argue that his wife got the treatment she should have expected given his obvious moral failings. He did not murder her, he only cheated on her, given his history any woman who expected otherwise was living in a dreamworld.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
You are in essence arguing that he was irrational in 1938-1939, and that is a crock.
I agree with that.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
A reasonable argument can be made that he slipped into situational psychosis under pressure later in the war, especially due to his habitual use of amphetamines. Not early in the war.
http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/situational+psychosis
I agree with that as well and it's a very good question how much of
that was based on his drug use and how much his own personality.
70 years later it's impossible to know for sure - we can only judge by
what he said and did.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
On the economics of things, that's a bit dicey. On the one hand, no blockade offers the possibility of deliveries on the world market. On the other hand, how will Germany manage to pay.
Germany was then and is now very good at making machinery, all sorts of machinery from machine cutting tools to electrical transformers, to farm machinery to weapons.
Further, Germans are very good at improvising - I offer how well they
held out after the loss of Ploesti as a prime example.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Can the Germans make more NET effective use of what they have by trading some of what they have for something that someone else values less than the Germans do? Almost surely they can.
This is called 'competitive advantage' and in industrial matters they
certainly had it.
As a prime example Churchill and FDR at Yalta figured out that there
were really only 4 options for Germany postwar: (1) Germany feeds
itself by retaining territories in the eastern portion of pre-1939
Germany, (2) Germany undergoes either mass immigration or starvation,
(3) Britain and the United States provide roughly 25% of Germany's
food supply permanently or (4) Britain and the United States help
rebuild German industry to allow German to earn the foreign exchange
required to feed itself.
Stalin wouldn't allow option 1 and option 2 and 3 were rejected by
Churchill and FDR so that pretty much left #4. The Marshall plan in
it's final form wasn't pre-ordained but without it one of options 2 or
3 largely were.
Major point.

You imply that the UK was providing part of the Marshall plan - not so at all.

Fact of the matter is the UK & France each sucked up more of the Marshall plan money than Germany, and grew slower.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan

The UK sucked up more than twice what Germany did, France got substantial more than Germany.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The whole point of trade is that both trading partners win. The Germans want the quantity of oil & nitrates traded more than the quantity of machine tools or farm implements the Americans and Chileans want, or the deal does not go through.
Ironically Volkswagen pretty much destroyed the British auto industry
in the 50s and 60s so successive British governments can argue whether
the decision to rebuild Volkswagen (as opposed to other German
industries) was a good idea!
Nonsense. No one has the right to stay in business making an inferior product at higher prices. The British auto industry was unwilling or unable to compete head to head with Volkswagen, or in fact the serious competition of that era.

In any case you are wrong on the facts, from the mid-50s till late 60s US brands were the serious competition.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_industry_in_the_United_Kingdom

And aside from that the British were not net providing aid to Germany, so this is silly.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Wrong, he did not. He wanted the UK to be on his side or to stay neutral in a dispute they had no earthly business being in. His mistake was in thinking the British would be rational about Danzig, and the fact that his constituents included the German people living in Danzig which was a Nazi party stronghold.
If you are right in this show me concrete examples of what he did to
appeal to British interests. Demonstrate some way in which Hitler
sought a British alliance - you can't blame his failure to do so on
Churchill alone!
Post by Alfred Montestruc
His hold on the Nazi party could slip if he did not back the people of Danzig's desire for unification with Germany.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_City_of_Danzig
Perhaps later on - certainly not in 1939.
Hitler was a real politician who was dependent on keeping his word to his constituents. I do not see that he has much maneuvering room on that issue.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
"German-Polish tensions
The rights of the Second Polish Republic within the territory of the Free City were stipulated in the Treaty of Paris of 9 November 1920 and the Treaty of Warsaw of 24 October 1921.[47] The details of the Polish privileges soon became a permanent matter of disputes between the local populace and the Polish State. While the representatives of the Free City tried to uphold the City's autonomy and sovereignty, Poland sought to extend its privileges."
With the utmost of respect do you seriously think Hitler would have
settled for peace solely based on the cession of Danzig? That doesn't
pass the giggle test.
Why? Facts please, not loud assertions.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
British intervention in this matter was foolhardy and very provocative, and it really had not a darn thing to do with British interests. The Germany people and probably Hitler would have been content to live in peace with Poland so long as Poland let the German people in traditional German areas remain German. With the UK backing them the Poles got far more aggressive about Danzig, than they would have been if they knew that in fact, the British would abandon them as in fact for practical purposes they did.
More to the point, without active Danish alliance (ha!) I completely
fail to see how Britain in 1939 could give any reasonable succor to
the Poles. This is so obvious it is difficult to see how the Poles
themselves could have failed to see that.
Well British politicians sold this to the British public, when this policy was monumentally against the British public interest. The UK could not be invaded by Germany. This policy of intervention in eastern Europe was "boys with toys" gamesmanship for the fun of British politicians.

No? Show me the interest of the British man on the street was risked at all by refusal to intervene.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
I would say that it was course of action which had major risks and costs, and that the opposite policy, avoiding provocation of the west and war in west Europe would have had its own unique risks, that could actually have been smaller than the risks he took in OTL.
But Hitler WANTED war with Poland
Evidence??? Show me some. You loudly assert Hitler would attack Poland, whom he had wanted in his alliance against the USSR.

He wanted Danzig which was not technically Polish legally (Danzig free state remember?) He may have wanted the German speaking parts of Silesia taken at the end of WWI. All of this was chump change in the grand scheme of things, and was consistent with the supposed liberal ideal of self-determination. Both the Poles and Czech governments at the end of WWI got pretty heavy handed with German minorities.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Silesia#Interwar_period_and_World_War_II

Perhaps you mean that given the choice of allowing Poland to continue to forcibly inflict the ugly injustices of Versailles Treaty on German minorities inside the nominal Polish border (but majorities in the districts they lived in), or war with Poland, Hitler would choose war with Poland. So would any national leader with a backbone.

You should put aside the partisanship of the war and look at things objectively. The Germans were not cardboard villeins, they had very real grievances against their neighbors and especially the allies.
Post by The Horny Goat
- it is emphatically not the case
that the Nazi - Soviet pact was a failure on 3 September 1939 as some
have argued.
The French & British drove Germany into the Nazi-Soviet pact by refusal to recognize their unjust treatment of Germany at the end of WWI, and in the years after, and at the same time their block-headed refusal to enforce the Versailles Treaty. The allies treated the Versailles Treaty as a joke (by refusal to enforce it), and expected the Germans to deal honestly with them.

Why should the Germans be honest with them? The allies had not dealt honestly with them, as regards the Versailles Treaty. Both by making the terms absurdly harsh, but not being willing to do the work of trying to enforce it. That is a recipe for disrespect.

The allied politicians made fools of themselves and were far more dishonest with the Germans in this than Hitler ever was with the Allies.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
There's one argument in favor of your interpretation Al. A quote from Hitler in 1939 saying "I only want to go to the east but if the west is too stupid to see that, we will deal with them first". I do not recall who his audience was at the time. But, I believe this was right before he was gearing up for a war against Poland, which he hoped would be local, at least until Germany chose to expand it. (ie, he wanted to keep the initiative, and never wanted to have a war begin by another power declaring war on him).
Arguments against your interpretation are Hitler's vehement anti-French focus in Mein Kampf, his continued anti-French focus in his unpublished second book, and his discussion of the inevitability of a showdown in western Europe in the Hossbach memorandum of 1937.
Inevitable does not mean within a few years. The French and other western European nations were not enthusiastic about the USSR as being good guys. If Hitler had not attacked Poland, and was fighting the USSR, with a coalition of Eastern European Allies including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and the Baltic nations, where arguably the USSR picked the fight, it is inconceivable that France or the UK would attack Germany from the rear.
Sure it does - Hitler repeatedly talked about not expecting to live to
old age and wanted to achieve his dreams for Germany in his lifetime.
This has what to do with the UK and France attacking a war of democracies against the USSR?
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
It is possible and plausible that in the type of scenario you describe, France and the UK would stay benevolently neutral toward Germany the whole time.
Not even Turtledove would claim that.
Why? Stop with the propaganda dogma and give reasons based on facts.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
But I would not call an attack on the German rear "inconceivable". That is a mighty degree of certitude to express for a hypothetical.
Agreed - I would argue that Stalin would have had a considerably
better chance of hurting Germany in 1940-41 than Japan did the United
States in 1941-42. I would still rank Germany a heavy favorite to win
a war of attrition with Soviet industry being in the condition it was
in in 1940-41 but certainly less so than the United States was vs
Japan.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Please explain how attacking a group of nations in the back, some of whom are democratic with democratically elected governments (including Germany) engaged in a death struggle with arguably the worst tyranny in history is something you can sell to the British and French electorate.
Please explain how in the spring of OTL's 1940 any credible Brit or
Frenchman considered Hitler's promises worth the paper they were
printed on.
See above. The allied politicians both French & British had their own credibility issues. So they lied to the Germans that they really meant it about the Versailles Treat, and German politicians who did not want to have French and British armies of occupation coercing the German people at gunpoint, tried to pay the debt the allies wanted, and German children starved, and the German people endured enormous hardship in the 1920s. Hitler was elected because of this, and showed that the allies were frauds.

He lied to Chamberlain's face, , , and? So what? Why on earth given how the British had treated the Germans at the end of WWI should Chamberlain expect different?

Hitler was the allied WWI politician's monster. They created him and gave him power, and as much as anyone they taught him to lie.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Hitler should not have attacked Poland, rather he should have used the British guarantee to Poland as a bully propaganda stick to hit the British government with as a war monger who would try to provoke a war with Germany against the interests of the British and German people, and use it to undermine the current British government and hope (loudly for the ears of the British public) for a sane British government that does not want a blood bath.
Given British opinion in August / September 1939 I think this policy
would have been completely futile without an earlier POD.
Maybe with the right propaganda. Hitler taking out ads addressing his maker, that he is the creature they made, that they created him by their actions, and failures to act. Also that he is not taking orders from them. Play it that way with the German people too, that the conditions that made it possible for Hitler to come to power were created by the Allies, and that his mission in life is to right these wrongs.

That their endless meddling in Eastern European politics only makes him stronger. They don't like him lying to their face, they should learn to deal honestly with other nations. Give explicit examples of their lies. Show that they ignore the interest of the common people.

Do not attack Poland, do engage in a really nasty propaganda offensive against the French and British political elite, do stoop to hiring private detectives and throw as much mud as can be thrown.

Recruit political fellow travelers in both nations. They want him to stop? They need to stop meddling, they need to stop being pro-Soviet. Accuse them of being communists.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
In the mean time form an Anti-Soviet alliance with the Baltic states, Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania and move German troops into all of them, and ease off on direct pressure on the Poles, but ratchet up the propaganda pressure and imply they are tools of the Soviet menace. Start insinuating a British - Soviet - French axis.
That at least is rational from the viewpoint of Germany and might have
had some chance for success. One assumes you're talking a closer
relationship than Finland's "co-belligerancy 1941-44" in OTL.
Yes a real EETO Eastern Europe Treaty Organization, German led, against the USSR, an attack on one is an attack on all.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
Also, even getting to this scenario- where Hitler is at peace with Poland, war with the USSR, and the USSR is in the possession of aggressor, is easier said than done. "Hitler had not attacked Poland, and was fighting the USSR, with a coalition of Eastern European Allies including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and the Baltic nations, where arguably the USSR picked the fight"
The elephant in the room is that to have a Russo-German war you have
to have a frontier.
Nope. You need to have a frontier between a nation Germany is allied with and has good logistical communications with. Say Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, , and so on. In fact it is better and safer for Germany to hide behind Poland that is neutral in this fight, and put real distance, and neutral air space between Soviet Air Forces and German factories and so on.

Possibly the USSR is stupid enough to wind up attacking Poland to get at Germany, and Poland winds up co-belligerent with Germany.

Imagine the Political Cartoons, Hitler as Germany hiding behind the big Polish woman's skirts, taking pot shots at Joe Stalin as the USSR. Big Polish woman with rolling pin eyeing Joe who just hit Lithuania, and saying leave me alone! Lithuania standing by the sidelines laying down with stars going around the big knot in his head, Fins and other eastern European states looking on pulling weapons.
Post by The Horny Goat
For obvious reasons (i.e. fear that inviting
either onto their territory would be a permanent arrangement) the
Poles were unwilling to have either country sending troops onto Polish
soil.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
a) Poland yields territory to Germany without a fight and accepts an alliance with Germany.
see above
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
(or, Hitler foreswears territorial gains at Poland's expense in order to secure an alliance with Poland).
aha! Hitler has had a brain transplant.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Or Hitler swaps a larger amount of Czech land for the city of Danzig and allows the Poles to use all German ports duty free, and have sealed trains run from all German ports to and from Poland.
That could work short term; long term much less likely and for a
situation that would involve economic ruin for the Poles if abrogated
doesn't sound like a long term winner for Poland. Just the opposite in
fact.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The Poles net gain more land and get a whole lot more ports in effect, for getting rid of a bunch of POed Germans (who live in Danzig) who hate them. Very much a win-win.
I would bet against such a deal lasting even to June 22, 1941.
Why? Seems like you fall hook line and sinker for the old partisanship.

Yes Hitler was very evil, Stalin was a lot worse, and the western European politicians were very far from being saints.

Starving little kids of a beaten enemy for more than a year over nit picking peace term trivia that were impossible to actually achieve, and everyone knew it?

Come on, Nevil Chamberlain and Winney, and the French leaders were not plaster saints, they were evil men too. Not as evil, but evil.
The Horny Goat
2015-05-28 13:45:58 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 27 May 2015 21:46:31 -0700 (PDT), Alfred Montestruc
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Strongly disagree. His orders in the spring and summer of 1942 leading up to Stalingrad were very questionable.
A frontal assault on Stalingrad, rather than envelop & bypass seems insane.
Insane seems an exaggeration - in any case Hitler didn't micromanage
EVERYTHING.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The armored units sent in to Stalingrad should have been probing for a plausible river crossing point north or south of Stalingrad on the Volga.
http://www.stalingrad.net/maps/stalingrad_map_5.htm
Good maps - I've bookmarked that site.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
They should also have gone north flanking the Russian troops defending on the Don river. Doing that would either result in large numbers of captured or killed Red Army troops, or forcing the Red Army to pour enormous resources between the Don & Volga which is near ideal tank country to try and win an open country tank fight with the Germans, I don't think they could, and if they could the cost to the Red Army would be horrific.
There were three main possible strategies in 1942. First the one we
know, second a penetration near Voronezh followed by a drive north
(I've read that that's what the Soviets were initially most scared
about) and third a drive against in the north cutting the Moscow /
Leningrad line with the hope of taking Leningrad. Unlike 1941 they did
NOT have the strength necessary to attack in more than one direction
at once since their opposition was much better organized in 1942
particularly with much improved defensive lines over 1941.

Hitler was hoping to end the war in 1942 (just like he had hoped to
win Russia in a single campaign the previous year). I think #3 might
have been insane but either of the first two could have produced large
Red Army casualties particularly as prisoners.

1942 was all about trying to break the Red Army and that meant
choosing an attack location where they would stand and fight.

Whether their strategy was the best possible is open to debate - but
dumb generalship is not a sign of insanity as the British demonstrated
in 1941 in North Africa.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Or the Red Army could just retire behind the Volga, and the Germans move up near cost-free.
Also some of that German Armor squandered in attacking Stalingrad could have gone southeast and found a point they could cross the Volga. The Germans get a significant sized armored force across the Volga they can cut the rail lines leading from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan toward central Russia, and by doing so cut off supplies of oil and supplies from Iran.
My point being was he was squandering huge amounts of very precious resources on BS. Arguably Hitler could have done enormously greater damage to the USSR that summer and fall than he did OTL, and at vastly less cost. Arguably this would have caused the collapse of the USSR in winter 42/43.
He wasn't forcibly imposing his views on the generals until after the
Soviet counter-attack when he believed Goering's claim that he could
supply Stalingrad by air rather than attempting a breakout when it had
a good chance of success (i.e. in the first 2-3 weeks rather than
later)
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
You will note that that means I feel he was entirely sane at the time
of the Wannsee Conference and thus profoundly evil. For what it's
worth the view I expressed above was the view of Albert Speer who I
also consider an evil man
I'm assuming you do know what the Wannsee Conference was about.
Whatever else was driving Hitler at that point in the war it wasn't
insanity.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
(I've read Gitta Sereny's book and agree wholeheartedly with her claim
that Speer either knew and approved of the use of slave labour in
German factories or was a delusional idiot - which there is no
credible evidence of. I would further argue that the manner of Speer's
passing proves his evil since if ever a husband should have been loyal
to his wife it's him)
Well, that is his personal life and one can also argue that his wife got the treatment she should have expected given his obvious moral failings. He did not murder her, he only cheated on her, given his history any woman who expected otherwise was living in a dreamworld.
I'm saying Speer was evil and that his conduct post-release
demonstrated that. Sereny's conclusion in her book was that Speer
misled the Allied investigators and thereby dodged a well-deserved
noose at Nuremburg.

I share her view.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Major point.
You imply that the UK was providing part of the Marshall plan - not so at all.
No - I didn't say that. I'm well aware that Britain benefitted from
the Marshall plan as did France.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Fact of the matter is the UK & France each sucked up more of the Marshall plan money than Germany, and grew slower.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan
The UK sucked up more than twice what Germany did, France got substantial more than Germany.
It has been argued that both German and Japanese industry was far more
destroyed by the war than Britain and that when they rebuilt they
built new as opposed to in Britain where they had the choice of repair
or rebuild and in the 50s and 60s gained an advantage as their
industrial stock was newer.

I'm not saying Britain messed up - I'm quite prepared to believe they
did the best they could with what they got but were starting from a
higher industrial level in 1945-48 than did West Germany.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
Ironically Volkswagen pretty much destroyed the British auto industry
in the 50s and 60s so successive British governments can argue whether
the decision to rebuild Volkswagen (as opposed to other German
industries) was a good idea!
Nonsense. No one has the right to stay in business making an inferior product at higher prices. The British auto industry was unwilling or unable to compete head to head with Volkswagen, or in fact the serious competition of that era.
More to the point, the British auto industry had older equipment and
was much slower to modernize and paid the price. I'm well aware
American automakers particularly Ford were major competition in the
UK.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
In any case you are wrong on the facts, from the mid-50s till late 60s US brands were the serious competition.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_industry_in_the_United_Kingdom
And aside from that the British were not net providing aid to Germany, so this is silly.
Never said they were. You're drawing on my option 3 previously which
was long-term food aid to Germany - which would have been primarily US
and to a lesser extent Canadian. That discussion was about food, not
about industrial aid.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Wrong, he did not. He wanted the UK to be on his side or to stay neutral in a dispute they had no earthly business being in. His mistake was in thinking the British would be rational about Danzig, and the fact that his constituents included the German people living in Danzig which was a Nazi party stronghold.
If you are right in this show me concrete examples of what he did to
appeal to British interests. Demonstrate some way in which Hitler
sought a British alliance - you can't blame his failure to do so on
Churchill alone!
You're making my point - Hitler WANTED British support but never made
any serious effort - and certainly no concessions - to get it. By
Munich both British opinion and that of the British government was
deeply suspicious of Hitler. His occupation of Prague in early 1939
"proved" to the powers that be in London that German long-term keeping
of treaty commitments was problematic at best and that further demands
had to be resisted.

Certainly there was not a whole lot to be done for Poland but by early
1939 the view that something had to be done about Germany was
prevalent in the UK though the Germans certainly gave them more than
they bargained for.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
His hold on the Nazi party could slip if he did not back the people of Danzig's desire for unification with Germany.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_City_of_Danzig
Perhaps later on - certainly not in 1939.
Hitler was a real politician who was dependent on keeping his word to his constituents. I do not see that he has much maneuvering room on that issue.
At the same time "Danzig's desire" could be manipulated and it's not
credible to say that Berlin had its hand in doing so.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
"German-Polish tensions
The rights of the Second Polish Republic within the territory of the Free City were stipulated in the Treaty of Paris of 9 November 1920 and the Treaty of Warsaw of 24 October 1921.[47] The details of the Polish privileges soon became a permanent matter of disputes between the local populace and the Polish State. While the representatives of the Free City tried to uphold the City's autonomy and sovereignty, Poland sought to extend its privileges."
With the utmost of respect do you seriously think Hitler would have
settled for peace solely based on the cession of Danzig? That doesn't
pass the giggle test.
Why? Facts please, not loud assertions.
All right - what sort of German - Polish settlement in 4th quarter
1939 would Hitler have agreed to make? I would be surprised if the
answer was anything less than the 1914 eastern boundary.

If there is documentation on what might have been an acceptable peace
in 1939 in Hitler's eyes I'm not aware of it.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Silesia#Interwar_period_and_World_War_II
Perhaps you mean that given the choice of allowing Poland to continue to forcibly inflict the ugly injustices of Versailles Treaty on German minorities inside the nominal Polish border (but majorities in the districts they lived in), or war with Poland, Hitler would choose war with Poland. So would any national leader with a backbone.
Well that's certainly how it was seen in Germany. I've argued numerous
times in this newsgroup that Versailles was not particularly harsh
relative to the treaties of the 19th century and most particularly not
harsh compared to Brest-Litovsk which the Germans themselves imposed
not long before Versailles.

Pre-Wilson it was fairly common to have national minorities in a state
with little difficulty. So perhaps it's all Woodrow Wilson's fault!
Post by Alfred Montestruc
You should put aside the partisanship of the war and look at things objectively. The Germans were not cardboard villeins, they had very real grievances against their neighbors and especially the allies.
They may or may not have in 1919 - in 1914 any grievances were much
less. This tends to be the norm for major powers who lose wars,
particularly those they start - and make no mistake about it I do
consider that the widening of the Austro-Serbian conflict was
primarily due to German moves in August 1914 particularly with respect
to France.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The French & British drove Germany into the Nazi-Soviet pact by refusal to recognize their unjust treatment of Germany at the end of WWI, and in the years after, and at the same time their block-headed refusal to enforce the Versailles Treaty. The allies treated the Versailles Treaty as a joke (by refusal to enforce it), and expected the Germans to deal honestly with them.
Why should the Germans be honest with them? The allies had not dealt honestly with them, as regards the Versailles Treaty. Both by making the terms absurdly harsh, but not being willing to do the work of trying to enforce it. That is a recipe for disrespect.
Bollocks on your comments about Versailles. As for non-action in
1935-36 yes that would have saved a lot of grief. We disagree on
'absurdly harsh'
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The allied politicians made fools of themselves and were far more dishonest with the Germans in this than Hitler ever was with the Allies.
Really? I would have argued that Chamberlain definitely expected
'peace in our time' for more than 4 months after Munich
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Arguments against your interpretation are Hitler's vehement anti-French focus in Mein Kampf, his continued anti-French focus in his unpublished second book, and his discussion of the inevitability of a showdown in western Europe in the Hossbach memorandum of 1937.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
But I would not call an attack on the German rear "inconceivable". That is a mighty degree of certitude to express for a hypothetical.
Agreed - I would argue that Stalin would have had a considerably
better chance of hurting Germany in 1940-41 than Japan did the United
States in 1941-42. I would still rank Germany a heavy favorite to win
a war of attrition with Soviet industry being in the condition it was
in in 1940-41 but certainly less so than the United States was vs
Japan.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Please explain how attacking a group of nations in the back, some of whom are democratic with democratically elected governments (including Germany) engaged in a death struggle with arguably the worst tyranny in history is something you can sell to the British and French electorate.
No sensible person could argue that Hitler came to power in January
1933 by legal means quite within the bounds of what was the norm of
the day. By 1936-37 it was clear that by his outlawing any opposition
that he had no intention of staying within the bounds of anything
considered democratic in the west. By that time it was clear that
Germany had been transformed into a totalitarian state.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
See above. The allied politicians both French & British had their own credibility issues. So they lied to the Germans that they really meant it about the Versailles Treat, and German politicians who did not want to have French and British armies of occupation coercing the German people at gunpoint, tried to pay the debt the allies wanted, and German children starved, and the German people endured enormous hardship in the 1920s. Hitler was elected because of this, and showed that the allies were frauds.
He lied to Chamberlain's face, , , and? So what? Why on earth given how the British had treated the Germans at the end of WWI should Chamberlain expect different?
Hitler was the allied WWI politician's monster. They created him and gave him power, and as much as anyone they taught him to lie.
Oh bull. Was he a creature of German defeat in WW1? Undoubtedly - but
Hitler's evil was not taught by London or Paris.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
That their endless meddling in Eastern European politics only makes him stronger. They don't like him lying to their face, they should learn to deal honestly with other nations. Give explicit examples of their lies. Show that they ignore the interest of the common people.
France was definitely trying to ensure European peace by building
networks of alliances. One of those was with Czechoslovakia which is
why Chamberlain and Daladier went to Munich.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Do not attack Poland, do engage in a really nasty propaganda offensive against the French and British political elite, do stoop to hiring private detectives and throw as much mud as can be thrown.
You're almost suggesting you think the Gleiwitz incident was genuine.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
They need to stop meddling, they need to stop being pro-Soviet. Accuse them of being communists.
In what meaningful way were the western powers "pro-Soviet" in 1939?
Had they been remotely as pro-Soviet as you claim Stalin would have
been invited to Munich.

Sorry - but in the old days you were never such a Nazi fanboi - are
you sure Giwer hasn't hacked your account?
Alfred Montestruc
2015-06-02 04:18:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
On Wed, 27 May 2015 21:46:31 -0700 (PDT), Alfred Montestruc
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Strongly disagree. His orders in the spring and summer of 1942 leading up to Stalingrad were very questionable.
A frontal assault on Stalingrad, rather than envelop & bypass seems insane.
Insane seems an exaggeration - in any case Hitler didn't micromanage
EVERYTHING.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Stalingrad

Suggested reading:

" Hitler proclaimed that after Stalingrad had been captured, all male civilians were to be killed and all women and children were to be deported because Stalingrad was dangerous with its communist inhabitants.[19]

On 23 July 1942, Hitler personally rewrote the operational objectives for the 1942 campaign, greatly expanding them to include the occupation of the city of Stalingrad. Both sides began to attach propaganda value to the city based on it bearing the name of the leader of the Soviet Union."

"Hitler intervened, however, ordering the Army Group to split in two. Army Group South (A), under the command of Wilhelm List, was to continue advancing south towards the Caucasus as planned with the 17th Army and First Panzer Army. Army Group South (B), including Friedrich Paulus's 6th Army and Hermann Hoth's 4th Panzer Army, was to move east towards the Volga and Stalingrad. Army Group B was commanded initially by Field Marshal Fedor von Bock and later by General Maximilian von Weichs."

Hitler was micromanaging something he was profoundly ignorant of.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The armored units sent in to Stalingrad should have been probing for a plausible river crossing point north or south of Stalingrad on the Volga.
http://www.stalingrad.net/maps/stalingrad_map_5.htm
Good maps - I've bookmarked that site.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
They should also have gone north flanking the Russian troops defending on the Don river. Doing that would either result in large numbers of captured or killed Red Army troops, or forcing the Red Army to pour enormous resources between the Don & Volga which is near ideal tank country to try and win an open country tank fight with the Germans, I don't think they could, and if they could the cost to the Red Army would be horrific.
There were three main possible strategies in 1942. First the one we
know, second a penetration near Voronezh followed by a drive north
(I've read that that's what the Soviets were initially most scared
about) and third a drive against in the north cutting the Moscow /
Leningrad line with the hope of taking Leningrad. Unlike 1941 they did
NOT have the strength necessary to attack in more than one direction
at once since their opposition was much better organized in 1942
particularly with much improved defensive lines over 1941.
Hitler was hoping to end the war in 1942 (just like he had hoped to
win Russia in a single campaign the previous year). I think #3 might
have been insane but either of the first two could have produced large
Red Army casualties particularly as prisoners.
1942 was all about trying to break the Red Army and that meant
choosing an attack location where they would stand and fight.
Whether their strategy was the best possible is open to debate - but
dumb generalship is not a sign of insanity as the British demonstrated
in 1941 in North Africa.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Or the Red Army could just retire behind the Volga, and the Germans move up near cost-free.
Also some of that German Armor squandered in attacking Stalingrad could have gone southeast and found a point they could cross the Volga. The Germans get a significant sized armored force across the Volga they can cut the rail lines leading from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan toward central Russia, and by doing so cut off supplies of oil and supplies from Iran.
My point being was he was squandering huge amounts of very precious resources on BS. Arguably Hitler could have done enormously greater damage to the USSR that summer and fall than he did OTL, and at vastly less cost. Arguably this would have caused the collapse of the USSR in winter 42/43.
He wasn't forcibly imposing his views on the generals until after the
Soviet counter-attack when he believed Goering's claim that he could
supply Stalingrad by air rather than attempting a breakout when it had
a good chance of success (i.e. in the first 2-3 weeks rather than
later)
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
You will note that that means I feel he was entirely sane at the time
of the Wannsee Conference and thus profoundly evil. For what it's
worth the view I expressed above was the view of Albert Speer who I
also consider an evil man
I'm assuming you do know what the Wannsee Conference was about.
Whatever else was driving Hitler at that point in the war it wasn't
insanity.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
(I've read Gitta Sereny's book and agree wholeheartedly with her claim
that Speer either knew and approved of the use of slave labour in
German factories or was a delusional idiot - which there is no
credible evidence of. I would further argue that the manner of Speer's
passing proves his evil since if ever a husband should have been loyal
to his wife it's him)
Well, that is his personal life and one can also argue that his wife got the treatment she should have expected given his obvious moral failings. He did not murder her, he only cheated on her, given his history any woman who expected otherwise was living in a dreamworld.
I'm saying Speer was evil and that his conduct post-release
demonstrated that. Sereny's conclusion in her book was that Speer
misled the Allied investigators and thereby dodged a well-deserved
noose at Nuremburg.
I share her view.
Shrug -- a very minor issue in the grand scale of this poochscrew.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Major point.
You imply that the UK was providing part of the Marshall plan - not so at all.
No - I didn't say that. I'm well aware that Britain benefitted from
the Marshall plan as did France.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Fact of the matter is the UK & France each sucked up more of the Marshall plan money than Germany, and grew slower.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan
The UK sucked up more than twice what Germany did, France got substantial more than Germany.
It has been argued that both German and Japanese industry was far more
destroyed by the war than Britain and that when they rebuilt they
built new as opposed to in Britain where they had the choice of repair
or rebuild and in the 50s and 60s gained an advantage as their
industrial stock was newer.
Broken window fallacy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

This is the epitome of sour grapes.
Post by The Horny Goat
I'm not saying Britain messed up - I'm quite prepared to believe they
did the best they could with what they got but were starting from a
higher industrial level in 1945-48 than did West Germany.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
Ironically Volkswagen pretty much destroyed the British auto industry
in the 50s and 60s so successive British governments can argue whether
the decision to rebuild Volkswagen (as opposed to other German
industries) was a good idea!
Nonsense. No one has the right to stay in business making an inferior product at higher prices. The British auto industry was unwilling or unable to compete head to head with Volkswagen, or in fact the serious competition of that era.
More to the point, the British auto industry had older equipment and
was much slower to modernize and paid the price. I'm well aware
American automakers particularly Ford were major competition in the
UK.
Which was who's fault?
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
In any case you are wrong on the facts, from the mid-50s till late 60s US brands were the serious competition.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_industry_in_the_United_Kingdom
And aside from that the British were not net providing aid to Germany, so this is silly.
Never said they were. You're drawing on my option 3 previously which
was long-term food aid to Germany - which would have been primarily US
and to a lesser extent Canadian. That discussion was about food, not
about industrial aid.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Wrong, he did not. He wanted the UK to be on his side or to stay neutral in a dispute they had no earthly business being in. His mistake was in thinking the British would be rational about Danzig, and the fact that his constituents included the German people living in Danzig which was a Nazi party stronghold.
If you are right in this show me concrete examples of what he did to
appeal to British interests. Demonstrate some way in which Hitler
sought a British alliance - you can't blame his failure to do so on
Churchill alone!
You're making my point - Hitler WANTED British support but never made
any serious effort - and certainly no concessions - to get it. By
Munich both British opinion and that of the British government was
deeply suspicious of Hitler. His occupation of Prague in early 1939
"proved" to the powers that be in London that German long-term keeping
of treaty commitments was problematic at best and that further demands
had to be resisted.
Certainly there was not a whole lot to be done for Poland but by early
1939 the view that something had to be done about Germany was
prevalent in the UK though the Germans certainly gave them more than
they bargained for.
It was madness to think they could do anything effective. A similar example, Hungary ~ 16 years later, the US led NATO could technically have told the USSR to leave Hungary alone and given guarantees to the Hungarians of self-determination. WWIII would have resulted and we would all glow in the dark. Intelligence is important in picking battles that are winnable at reasonable cost.

The UK and France could not expect to beat Germany and save Poland at reasonable cost. Marching into the Rhineland when Germany militarized it would have been cheap. This was loony tunes.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
His hold on the Nazi party could slip if he did not back the people of Danzig's desire for unification with Germany.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_City_of_Danzig
Perhaps later on - certainly not in 1939.
Hitler was a real politician who was dependent on keeping his word to his constituents. I do not see that he has much maneuvering room on that issue.
At the same time "Danzig's desire" could be manipulated and it's not
credible to say that Berlin had its hand in doing so.
You are playing wag the dog, the desire of the German people for political unity is crystal clear even now. Look what happened and how fast when the Russians pulled out of east Germany.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
"German-Polish tensions
The rights of the Second Polish Republic within the territory of the Free City were stipulated in the Treaty of Paris of 9 November 1920 and the Treaty of Warsaw of 24 October 1921.[47] The details of the Polish privileges soon became a permanent matter of disputes between the local populace and the Polish State. While the representatives of the Free City tried to uphold the City's autonomy and sovereignty, Poland sought to extend its privileges."
With the utmost of respect do you seriously think Hitler would have
settled for peace solely based on the cession of Danzig? That doesn't
pass the giggle test.
Why? Facts please, not loud assertions.
All right - what sort of German - Polish settlement in 4th quarter
1939 would Hitler have agreed to make? I would be surprised if the
answer was anything less than the 1914 eastern boundary.
If there is documentation on what might have been an acceptable peace
in 1939 in Hitler's eyes I'm not aware of it.
The problem is the UK was making guarantees to Poland before the negotiations got started. That made Poland think her bargaining position was far better than it was.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Silesia#Interwar_period_and_World_War_II
Perhaps you mean that given the choice of allowing Poland to continue to forcibly inflict the ugly injustices of Versailles Treaty on German minorities inside the nominal Polish border (but majorities in the districts they lived in), or war with Poland, Hitler would choose war with Poland. So would any national leader with a backbone.
Well that's certainly how it was seen in Germany.
No kidding.
Post by The Horny Goat
I've argued numerous
times in this newsgroup that Versailles was not particularly harsh
relative to the treaties of the 19th century and most particularly not
harsh compared to Brest-Litovsk,
Horse manure.

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/soc.history.what-if/7ZZM_xFc9cM

The allies wanted 132 billion gold marks from the Germans. That is 47,311 metric tons of gold.

The Germans asked for 6 billion gold marks of the Russians or ratio 132/6 = 22, the Germans were asked for 22 times what they asked of the Russians.

The land taken from the Russians was not historically or ethnically Russian, it was Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia Poland and Ukraine. The Germans withdrew from ethnicly Russian land, and they intended for most of that land to be self-governing buffer states. They intended to rule Poland and Lithuania, and let the rest be self-governed.

This whole noise about Brest-Litovsk being harsher is horse manure.
Post by The Horny Goat
which the Germans themselves imposed
not long before Versailles.
Pre-Wilson it was fairly common to have national minorities in a state
with little difficulty. So perhaps it's all Woodrow Wilson's fault!
Post by Alfred Montestruc
You should put aside the partisanship of the war and look at things objectively. The Germans were not cardboard villeins, they had very real grievances against their neighbors and especially the allies.
They may or may not have in 1919 - in 1914 any grievances were much
less.
Well I think Britain went out of their way to do them dirt.

They did not need to fight on the land with the French to make the point about Belgium, a blockade would do it, and would be a lot cheaper in terms of British lives.
Post by The Horny Goat
This tends to be the norm for major powers who lose wars,
particularly those they start - and make no mistake about it I do
consider that the widening of the Austro-Serbian conflict was
primarily due to German moves in August 1914 particularly with respect
to France.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The French & British drove Germany into the Nazi-Soviet pact by refusal to recognize their unjust treatment of Germany at the end of WWI, and in the years after, and at the same time their block-headed refusal to enforce the Versailles Treaty. The allies treated the Versailles Treaty as a joke (by refusal to enforce it), and expected the Germans to deal honestly with them.
Why should the Germans be honest with them? The allies had not dealt honestly with them, as regards the Versailles Treaty. Both by making the terms absurdly harsh, but not being willing to do the work of trying to enforce it. That is a recipe for disrespect.
Bollocks on your comments about Versailles. As for non-action in
1935-36 yes that would have saved a lot of grief. We disagree on
'absurdly harsh'
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The allied politicians made fools of themselves and were far more dishonest with the Germans in this than Hitler ever was with the Allies.
Really? I would have argued that Chamberlain definitely expected
'peace in our time' for more than 4 months after Munich
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Arguments against your interpretation are Hitler's vehement anti-French focus in Mein Kampf, his continued anti-French focus in his unpublished second book, and his discussion of the inevitability of a showdown in western Europe in the Hossbach memorandum of 1937.
Post by The Horny Goat
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
But I would not call an attack on the German rear "inconceivable". That is a mighty degree of certitude to express for a hypothetical.
Agreed - I would argue that Stalin would have had a considerably
better chance of hurting Germany in 1940-41 than Japan did the United
States in 1941-42. I would still rank Germany a heavy favorite to win
a war of attrition with Soviet industry being in the condition it was
in in 1940-41 but certainly less so than the United States was vs
Japan.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Please explain how attacking a group of nations in the back, some of whom are democratic with democratically elected governments (including Germany) engaged in a death struggle with arguably the worst tyranny in history is something you can sell to the British and French electorate.
No sensible person could argue that Hitler came to power in January
1933 by legal means quite within the bounds of what was the norm of
the day. By 1936-37 it was clear that by his outlawing any opposition
that he had no intention of staying within the bounds of anything
considered democratic in the west. By that time it was clear that
Germany had been transformed into a totalitarian state.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
See above. The allied politicians both French & British had their own credibility issues. So they lied to the Germans that they really meant it about the Versailles Treat, and German politicians who did not want to have French and British armies of occupation coercing the German people at gunpoint, tried to pay the debt the allies wanted, and German children starved, and the German people endured enormous hardship in the 1920s. Hitler was elected because of this, and showed that the allies were frauds.
He lied to Chamberlain's face, , , and? So what? Why on earth given how the British had treated the Germans at the end of WWI should Chamberlain expect different?
Hitler was the allied WWI politician's monster. They created him and gave him power, and as much as anyone they taught him to lie.
Oh bull. Was he a creature of German defeat in WW1? Undoubtedly - but
Hitler's evil was not taught by London or Paris.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
That their endless meddling in Eastern European politics only makes him stronger. They don't like him lying to their face, they should learn to deal honestly with other nations. Give explicit examples of their lies. Show that they ignore the interest of the common people.
France was definitely trying to ensure European peace by building
networks of alliances. One of those was with Czechoslovakia which is
why Chamberlain and Daladier went to Munich.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Do not attack Poland, do engage in a really nasty propaganda offensive against the French and British political elite, do stoop to hiring private detectives and throw as much mud as can be thrown.
You're almost suggesting you think the Gleiwitz incident was genuine.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
They need to stop meddling, they need to stop being pro-Soviet. Accuse them of being communists.
In what meaningful way were the western powers "pro-Soviet" in 1939?
In what meaningful way was Brest-Litovsk harsher than Versailles? Seriously, you are claiming that it was, I dug up a lot of evidence that shows that claim to be a lie.

The Brits and French started spraying the horse-manure around about Germany being the sole guilty party of WWI, also that Brest-Litovsk was harsher than Versailles, and ignoring the plight of German (and Netherlander) women and children starving while the French insist on BS payments the Germans cannot possibly make, why on earth should the allies expect that lies not be told by the Germans about them?

What goes around comes around.
Post by The Horny Goat
Had they been remotely as pro-Soviet as you claim Stalin would have
been invited to Munich.
Why, his Representative Chamberlain was there. Great Stalin is too busy to bother with trivia like that.
Post by The Horny Goat
Sorry - but in the old days you were never such a Nazi fanboi - are
you sure Giwer hasn't hacked your account?
I am not pro-Nazi, never been pro nazi. I am opposed to lies and stupid policy on the part of anyone, but especially the US and UK governments. Me below attacking Holocaust denier in 2002.


https://groups.google.com/d/msg/alt.revisionism/GSd-5a1Hn6k/VIVQt3GoSkcJ



Guarantees to Poland were stupid, it does not matter what Hitler promised after Munich, all you need pay attention to is what is in his interest and figure he will do that. Getting your knickers in a twist over the fact that some evil bastard is lying to you, and tricked you is crazy. That is what evil bastards do.

Guarantees to Poland were stark raving mad.

But it appears that you do not believe in the right of people to disagree, and are still thinking emotionally almost 80 years after the war started.

Guarantees to Poland were a stupid policy that got a lot of British people killed. Probably also a lot of other too.
Alex Milman
2015-05-28 14:34:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by The Horny Goat
On Mon, 25 May 2015 20:49:35 -0700 (PDT), Alfred Montestruc
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by Rob
Post by Alfred Montestruc
If Hitler gives France and the UK no reason to attack or blockade him, and they do not attack him, he has vastly less to gain by attacking them than by staying at peace with them. He can buy things on the world market and that is a huge issue if he is in a fight with the USSR. He simply cannot get the needed resources from continental Europe and the UK thrown in.
That could have been objectively true, I just have strong doubts that Hitler would have seen his opportunities that way.
Hitler was evil, he was not insane. Sorry, just too much evidence exists especially in the 1920s through early forties that he was brilliant and quite sane.
I don't think there's any doubt he had lost his marbles at the time of
his death. And there's a world of difference between legally
incompetent and actually incompetent as my late father demonstrated in
the last 10 years of his life to his family's sorrow.
I would argue that Hitler was entirely sane up to Stalingrad (though
his blind trust in Goering at the time of Stalingrad was misplaced
loyalty not insanity), and largely insane after 20 July 1944. In
between who can tell for sure?
Strongly disagree. His orders in the spring and summer of 1942 leading up to Stalingrad were very questionable.
A frontal assault on Stalingrad, rather than envelop & bypass seems insane.
Actually, bypassing part was done but it is rather difficult to "envelop"
with one of the biggest rivers on the world in front of you.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The armored units sent in to Stalingrad should have been probing for a plausible river crossing point north or south of Stalingrad on the Volga.
I doubt that there were "plausible river crossing point" anywhere close to
Stalingrad: Volga is a huge river there. The only "plausible" way to do this
without having numerous barges, boat, etc. is to wait until it is frozen in
winter (can't tell how reliable this part would be). But by the time Volga
was frozen, the issue of its crossing became rather irrelevant.

Of course, it can be argued that to use a heavily motorized army to storm
the city was not a great idea but:

(a) Paulus Army ended up there as a result of an offensive which started
far away from the city (and Hoth's tank group kept fighting outside the city
so it is not like all German tanks ended up there or like only tanks being
there.

and

(b) Where would the replacements come from? Surely, you are not suggesting
that sending the Rumanians or Italians to storm the city would be a good idea.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
http://www.stalingrad.net/maps/stalingrad_map_5.htm
They should also have gone north flanking the Russian troops defending on the Don river. Doing that would either result in large numbers of captured or killed Red Army troops, or forcing the Red Army to pour enormous resources between the Don & Volga which is near ideal tank country to try and win an open country tank fight with the Germans, I don't think they could, and if they could the cost to the Red Army would be horrific.
This is all a great example of a theoretical generalship. :-)

Unfortunately there were factors which you are totally ignoring:

1. There was a major offensive toward the Northern Caucasus and your
Northward schema would create a weakly defended front putting Army Group A
into a serious danger of being cut off (as almost happened in OTL).

2. Situation of OTL developed as a result of BOTH German offensives and the
Soviet counteroffensives so none of the sides had a complete freedom of
maneuver and front had been stabilized on Don because the Germans could not
go further. Neither could Paulus ignore Stalingrad and start prancing around
after the numerous Soviet counteroffensives of the summer and early fall: the
Soviets would be using the city as a Launchpad for the future counterattacks.


3. A gap between Don (a reasonably big river) and Volga (a huge river)
is rather narrow so you can't easily put the major force advancing there
and by the time shown on your map there hardly was a spare big force
in the area. Not to mention that, if pressure on Stalingrad was eased, it
would act as an ideal place from which this "going into the gap" force
could be attacked to the rear.

4. Don itself had been defended by the numerous Soviet troops and a frontal
attack across the river would be costly with the success anything but guaranteed.

5. Even as it is, the Germans could not maintain an uninterrupted front (look
at the map you are referencing to: there was a huge gap in the Kalmuk steppes).
Doing more fancy things like trying to run in all directions simultaneously,
would make situation even more dangerous.

6. Practical component of the idea of taking Stalingrad was to cut the Soviet
defense in two, securing the Southward direction (oil, oil, oil). Stalingrad was located in a westward river bend so this was the shortest direction of
advance capable to accomplish this goal. An extra consideration that below
Stalingrad Volga splits into Volga and Akhtuba - taking the city would
provide control over all traffic on Volga while the narrow gap between Volga
and Don would provide a perfect defensive perimeter from the Soviet
counteroffensives from the North.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Or the Red Army could just retire behind the Volga, and the Germans move up near cost-free.
Yes, it also could emigrate to the US or to go vacationing on Aruba.

How and why would the troops defending Don front "just retire" behind the
Volga? Did you pay attention to the map you are referencing to?
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Also some of that German Armor squandered in attacking Stalingrad could have gone southeast and found a point they could cross the Volga.
I'm afraid that you simply don't have a clue. Volga is the BIGGEST river in
Europe in the terms of water flow. I was once in Stalingrad area: you can
hardly see another bank. Tanks can't "cross" it. All river craft was in the
Soviet hands so not too much help there. Not to mention that (a) the tanks
need fuel to move and while there were no ready gas stations on the other
side, there most definitely were numerous Soviet troops present (the whole
freaking Stalingrad Front). Speaking of which, to get to the rear South of
the city, the Germans would have to defeat couple of the Soviet armies and/or
to move through the Kalmuk steppes which, perhaps, could qualify as a perfect
tank area in the terms of being flat but also have certain disadvantages
like shortage of water, shortage (or absence of the roads), etc.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The Germans get a significant sized armored force across the Volga they can cut the rail lines leading from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan toward central Russia, and by doing so cut off supplies of oil and supplies from Iran.
And if they manage to get a significant sized armored force all the way
to the Pacific Ocean, they could do even more damage .... :-)

A thin blue line on a map may turn into a major problem in a reality.
Post by Alfred Montestruc
My point being was he was squandering huge amounts of very precious resources on BS.
No, his idea was neither BS nor insane. It is just that he was not playing
this game alone and the opponent became competent enough to spoil his plans.
Rich Rostrom
2015-05-31 09:33:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The Germans get a significant sized armored force
across the Volga they can cut the rail lines leading
from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan toward central
Russia...
If the Germans hold the lower Volga they have
cut off the Caucasus from Russia, both by rail
and water.

However, the rail connection from Russia to
Kazakhstan is about 2,000 km further east -
and the Germans only advanced about 500 km
from their 1942 start line to get to Stalingrad.

(This assumes that "Kazakhstan" is shorthand
for the settled areas east and south of the
Aral Sea. Actual Kazakhstan includes part of
this, and also part of the belt of settlement
stretching due east from Russia into Siberia.)
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.

http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
WolfBear
2015-06-02 04:35:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The Germans get a significant sized armored force
across the Volga they can cut the rail lines leading
from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan toward central
Russia...
If the Germans hold the lower Volga they have
cut off the Caucasus from Russia, both by rail
and water.
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.
http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
I've got a question, though--can't Russia still access the Caucasus via Iran and Central Asia in this scenario, though? After all, in this scenario, one could go by land from the Caucasus to northern Iran (which was Soviet-occupied during this time), then to Central Asia, and then to Russia.

Am I missing something here? Were there no railroads *at all* which had such a path in the early 1940s?
Rich Rostrom
2015-06-03 21:25:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by WolfBear
Post by Rich Rostrom
If the Germans hold the lower Volga they have
cut off the Caucasus from Russia, both by rail
and water.
I've got a question, though--can't Russia still
access the Caucasus via Iran and Central Asia in
this scenario, though? After all, in this scenario,
one could go by land from the Caucasus to northern
Iran (which was Soviet-occupied during this time),
then to Central Asia, and then to Russia.
Am I missing something here? Were there no railroads
*at all* which had such a path in the early 1940s?
In theory, there's a land route. However, there
is no rail connection between Iran and Turkmenistan.
Indeed, AFAICT no rail lines in NE Iran.
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.

http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
Alfred Montestruc
2015-06-02 04:51:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Alfred Montestruc
The Germans get a significant sized armored force
across the Volga they can cut the rail lines leading
from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan toward central
Russia...
If the Germans hold the lower Volga they have
cut off the Caucasus from Russia, both by rail
and water.
However, the rail connection from Russia to
Kazakhstan is about 2,000 km further east -
and the Germans only advanced about 500 km
from their 1942 start line to get to Stalingrad.
(This assumes that "Kazakhstan" is shorthand
for the settled areas east and south of the
Aral Sea. Actual Kazakhstan includes part of
this, and also part of the belt of settlement
stretching due east from Russia into Siberia.)
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.
http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
http://www.stalingrad.net/maps/stalingrad_map_4.htm

By this map you cross the Volga south or north of Stalingrad and proceed NNE for maybe 200 miles and cut the rail line near Saratov, and you have clipped their wings.
Stephen Graham
2015-05-28 23:53:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
As a prime example Churchill and FDR at Yalta figured out that there
were really only 4 options for Germany postwar: (1) Germany feeds
itself by retaining territories in the eastern portion of pre-1939
Germany, (2) Germany undergoes either mass immigration or starvation,
(3) Britain and the United States provide roughly 25% of Germany's
food supply permanently or (4) Britain and the United States help
rebuild German industry to allow German to earn the foreign exchange
required to feed itself.
Stalin wouldn't allow option 1 and option 2 and 3 were rejected by
Churchill and FDR so that pretty much left #4. The Marshall plan in
it's final form wasn't pre-ordained but without it one of options 2 or
3 largely were.
Option 1 wasn't an option: Germany had not been self-sufficient in food
for a very long time and it was unlikely that it would become
agriculturally self-sufficient in any meaningful way post-World War Two,
whether or not it retained the pre-1937 borders or not.

Whether or not Germany needed to be rebuilt with foreign assistance
depended upon what level of subsistence the Germans really needed. It
may have been possible to leave Germany to its own resources for trade,
etc., had the comparative level of the standard of living fallen
significantly.

It's also ahistorical to present the US (or really the UK) as having a
definite policy towards Germany at the time of Yalta. There's a mass of
contradictory policy positions and briefing papers from that period.
Pete Barrett
2015-05-26 19:04:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Hitler should not have attacked Poland, rather he should have used the
British guarantee to Poland as a bully propaganda stick to hit the British
government with as a war monger who would try to provoke a war with
Germany against the interests of the British and German people, and use it
to undermine the current British government and hope (loudly for the ears
of the British public) for a sane British government that does not want a
blood bath.
*Hitler* should portray *Chamberlain* (still extremely popular for rescuing
peace at Munish) as a war-monger?
--
Pete BARRETT
Brett Dunbar
2015-05-26 21:00:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Pete Barrett
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Hitler should not have attacked Poland, rather he should have used the
British guarantee to Poland as a bully propaganda stick to hit the British
government with as a war monger who would try to provoke a war with
Germany against the interests of the British and German people, and use it
to undermine the current British government and hope (loudly for the ears
of the British public) for a sane British government that does not want a
blood bath.
*Hitler* should portray *Chamberlain* (still extremely popular for rescuing
peace at Munish) as a war-monger?
After Hitler occupied Bohemia-Moravia in March 1939 it was undeniable
that he could not be trusted to keep his word. After that there was no
real dissent from the view that whatever he tried next would have to be
opposed unconditionally.

Chamberlain had done everything in his power to buy peace even at the
cost of his and Britain's honour. It was abundantly clear by then that
the dishonourable deal at Munich had failed.

If you believed that Hitler would eventually attack you, which they did,
he should be faced at the first opportunity before he expanded his
empire further. Even if he didn't yet plan to attack, every success he
had emboldened him and boosted his ambitions.

The reaction to Munich had been initial relief, memories of the First
World War were still fresh quickly followed by guilt at betraying
Czechoslovakia out of fear of the cost of doing the right thing. Then
following the events of March 1939 a determination to oppose what Hitler
did next, no matter what it was or how unpleasant the victim. Hence the
territorial guarantees to the fairly odious Polish regime.
--
Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search http://www.mersenne.org/prime.htm
Livejournal http://brett-dunbar.livejournal.com/
Brett Dunbar
John Dallman
2015-05-24 15:36:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alfred Montestruc
He can buy things on the world market and that is a huge issue
if he is in a fight with the USSR.
Please remember that he didn't consider the USSR to be a formidable
opponent before Operation Barbarossa. He, and most other opinions,
expected the Soviets to collapse during 1941.

John
Rich Rostrom
2015-05-23 18:09:26 UTC
Permalink
... a belief that Germany was economically too weak
to be really dangerous; it just did not have the
capacity to fight a major war for very long. This
belief was neither unique to the US nor
unreasonable...
It would seem true - and yet Germany _did_ fight such
such a war on a gigantic scale.
Nor were German tanks qualitatively superior; in
fact, quite the opposite (Tooze 2006:371).
This assessment is quite common, but misleading.
France and Britain had many tanks that outclassed
the German tanks in armor thickness and gun caliber,
but those are not the only qualities that matter.

German tanks had better mobility, and were equipped
with radios. Many of the French tanks had two-man
crews, which meant that the tank commander was also
the gunner and loader, and was often distracted from
watching the battle area.
no sober observer at the
time on either side thought it could succeed.
Shall we say "_expected_ it to succeed"?
The German
experiment with superheated steam engines for larger vessels had produced
little success and mechanical difficulties were commonplace. These factors
limited the range of the larger ships to about 1,000 nautical miles...
Not sure what he's on about here. GRAF SPEE covered almost 30,000
nautical miles on her one war cruise, before she was sunk: from
Germany to the South Atlantic, around into the Indian Ocean (going
about 1,500 miles past the Cape of Good Hope). She did refuel at
sea, but only about five times.

In fact the Germans equipped several of their large ships with
Diesel engines which gave them exceptional range.
The most obvious what-if: Suppose somehow the Danzig crisis had been
resolved pracefully in 1939. Just how long could the German economy endure
a continuing preparation for war? Even if Hitler wanted to wait, did he
realy have that option or was it necessary for him--if he wanted to go to
war at all--to do it now and ganble on a quick victory giving him the
chance of making up for Germany's economic weakness by having the French
economy to loot?
I don't think he was gambling on looting the French
economy in the near future. He did not then (if ever)
really understand the nature of blitzkrieg warfare.

His rhetoric in 1939-1940 shows he expected a long
struggle like WW I - except that this time, his
resolute will would carry Germany to the victory
that would have been won in 1918, except for the
_dolchstoss_.
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.

http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
WolfBear
2015-05-23 21:39:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
His rhetoric in 1939-1940 shows he expected a long
struggle like WW I - except that this time, his
resolute will would carry Germany to the victory
that would have been won in 1918, except for the
_dolchstoss_.
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.
http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
Ah, Yes, the Stab-in-the-Back Myth--the myth that if the Weimar German government and the German sailors and soldiers who rebelled in late 1918 would have been willing to fight on and continue the war, then Germany would have been able to bleed the Entente/Allies to exhaustion and get them to agree to a pro-German peace.

IMHO, the Stab-in-the-Back Myth is an interested but delusional belief; after all, at that point in time, feelings on the Entente/Allied side would have probably been too hardened to agree to a compromise peace with Germany. Plus, the *massive* amount of U.S. troops coming to Europe would have very likely ensured that the Allies, unlike the Germans, would *not* have had manpower shortages for a very long time. Thus, IMHO, the only thing that having Germany fight on to the bitter end during World War I would have accomplished would have been a prolongation of World War I for another couple of years, massive damage to Germany proper, Allied troops being in Berlin itself in 1920 or 1921, and an even worse peace treaty for Germany after World War I (after all, does anyone here honestly think that Warren G. Harding would have refused to give France sovereignty over the Saar(land) and Landau in the post-World War I peace talks in this TL?)

*And Yes, I am aware that Wilson had a stroke in late 1919; however, as far as I know, Wilson let his various Cabinet officials largely manage their own departments themselves; thus, I don't think that Wilson's stroke would have been fatal to the U.S. war effort in World War I in this TL.
Rich Rostrom
2015-05-24 20:09:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by WolfBear
Post by Rich Rostrom
His rhetoric in 1939-1940 shows he expected a long
struggle like WW I - except that this time, his
resolute will would carry Germany to the victory
that would have been won in 1918, except for the
_dolchstoss_.
Ah, Yes, the Stab-in-the-Back Myth--the myth that if
the Weimar German government and the German sailors
and soldiers who rebelled in late 1918 would have
been willing to fight on and continue the war, then
Germany would have been able to bleed the
Entente/Allies to exhaustion and get them to agree
to a pro-German peace.
There's actually some variants around the _dolchstosslegende_.

IIRC, Ludendorff and Hindenburg claimed, postwar,
that the Army was in fine shape, but the socialist
leaders who came to power were cowards who caved in -
perhaps out of secondary motives, thus possibly
comitting treason. I.e. they capitulated not because
they thought it was necessary, but to gain political
advantage in Germany. Or they were just weaklings
who let down the Army.

They were lying, of course - they had told the government
a few weeks before the armistice that the Army was falling
apart and to make peace ASAP.

Hitler's version was different. He claimed that the Army
_was_ being defeated in 1918, but that the defeat was due
to bad morale, deliberately fostered by conspirators in
Germany. (I'm not sure if he also claimed there was
physical sabotage of the German war effort as well.) He
also asserted that if "he" (that is, a man of strong will)
had been Chancellor, the Army could have been rallied and
won the battle. But the cowards, weaklings, and traitors
who had come to power surrendered instead.
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.

http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
Dimensional Traveler
2015-05-24 02:15:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
... a belief that Germany was economically too weak
to be really dangerous; it just did not have the
capacity to fight a major war for very long. This
belief was neither unique to the US nor
unreasonable...
It would seem true - and yet Germany _did_ fight such
such a war on a gigantic scale.
Many analysis I've read conclude that Germany did so only by using the
loot from each conquest/offensive to fund the next. So it was quite
possible that Germany could not continue fighting a major war with just
Germany's own capabilities and the analysts didn't factor in looting
conquered territories. Possibly because they didn't accept that
Germany's initial offensive(s) could succeed.
--
Veni, vidi, snarki.
kenney@ cix.co.uk (Kenneth Young)
2015-05-24 15:17:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Many analysis I've read conclude that Germany did so only by using
the loot from each conquest/offensive to fund the next.
Certainly the Czech armaments came in very useful. Also occupation and
second line troops made extensive use of captured weapons. Barberossa was
supposedly made possible by captured French trucks and fuel.
s***@yahoo.com
2015-05-25 22:36:59 UTC
Permalink
As for the difference between "Kampf" and real life; the page where jews are spoken ill of also says something similar about the Japanese.

So, yes, Mein Kampf was easily tossed aside by the real world mr hitler.
Rob
2015-05-28 21:34:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Tenner
Not a what-if but an article relevant to many what-ifs about the late
1930's, appeasement, etc.: Bear F. Braumoeller, argues in "The Myth of
American Isolationism" that the US failure to do more to stop Hitler in the
1930's was less a symptom of isolationism than of a belief that Germany was
economically too weak to be really dangerous; it just did not have the
capacity to fight a major war for very long. This belief was neither
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10561317/webPDFs/Braumoeller2010.pdf
Responding to the article in the very first post, David cites a paper arguing that US policy was genuinely proportionate to the demonstrated threat all along, rather than willfully underprepared to deal with foreign adversaries.

There are good points in this. The US had fewer exposed interests around the globe before WWII than after WWII. It also had more reasons to think that relatively benign powers (the British and French Empires) formed a sufficiently strong buffer between the US and potential adversaries before WWII. After the fall of France and exhaustion of Britain through the course of WWII, the objective strength of any such buffers was clearly much less.

So, according to the argument, it was only the freak event of the defeat and conquest of France in 1940 that justified, not only psychologically, but also objectively, the American build-up of major expeditionary forces for global service. Before that point, there was simply no need.

This is valid, but only up to a point.
Circumstances for the US indeed changed quite a lot with the Fall of France. (& its Pacific corollaries, which facilitated Japanese occupation of French Indochina. & which was compounded by the absorption of the USSR in defense after Barbarossa). But, it is a mistake to attribute to American strategy a consistency that only changed as drastically as global circumstances.

WWII clearly was a strategic watershed for the US, with undeniable major differences in America's innate risk-tolerance, attitudes, preferences and priorities before and after the war.

America before WWII was basically content with carrying much less military "insurance" of its national interests before the war than it was after.

Even if we regard the German Blitzkrieg of 1940 and conquest of France as a fluke event that would have been imprudent to plan for, the situation in the Pacific in 1941-1942 starkly demonstrates America's stinginess prior to WWII in purchasing military insurance coverage.

Japan was such an industrial pygmy compared to the United States that the 6 months of initial Japanese victories and conquests from Pearl Harbor onward simply never should have happened.

America before WWII judged that its fleet, its industry and its latent military *potential* alone were sufficient to deter an attack against the United States and even its string of more exposed interests in the Western Pacific. In other words, America's innate assets were sufficient strategic "insurance". Actually existing forces and infrastructure-in-place sufficient to repel attacks on the American empire (the metropole and its dependencies) were not a priority. US lawmakers and executives at the time would have judged the maintenance of such forces to be a distortion of a sensible household budget for the USA that would misallocate excessive resources to armed "insurance".

Turns out that the US ended up suffering the loss of several overseas territories and dependencies for several years. As a colonial power, America failed in fulfilling one of the few redeeming features of colonialism, protecting the colonies against the depredations of others. It had miscalculated its adversaries' capacity for strategic stupidity.

After WWII the US attitude towards the need for military insurance went to the other extreme, and perhaps was somewhat excessive for objective circumstances. America wanted a large military establishment and a navy and air force second to none, ever since WWII. America's priorities were different, its risk tolerance was lower, it preferred, if it was to err at all, to err on the side of over-investing in military (and diplomatic) insurance. This was clearly a sea-change in American attitudes that was remarkably persistent after the WWII watershed.

Countries have "mood swings" and this is a great illustration of it.

Re-imagine American history without this mood-swing, or at least less of it. A history where America kept a fairly tight equilibrium more in tune with its objective threat environment.

Before World War II, if America had been willing to invest in military insurance even at the level of the lowest spending Cold War years (like 1948-1949), or half of that, it probably would have made a substantial strategic difference in Europe and the Atlantic in the late 1930s and 1940s. The strategic difference in the Pacific would have been huge, and I would argue, decisively so.

Such a level of investment in military resources for the navy, air and ground defense for the United States and its dependencies like the Philippines and Guam, would have prevented Japan from successfully invading or occupying any of them. In all probability this level of American military capability would have deterred from Japan from attacking the United States at all, or otherwise risking war with the US. It probably would have made the embargo of Japan a viable policy for eventually backing out of China without a US-Japanese war at all.

Post-World War Two, a US at greater equilibrium and less of a "spare no expense" attitude towards defense would have been satisfied with the deterrent power of local ground forces and its own air and naval power to deter Soviet aggression. Even if US forces were used as a stopgap for the first decade after WWII, the US would have passed the buck for local ground defense to its recovering European and Japanese allies no later than 1960 or so.

The US would have invested substantially less in defense and more on other priorities.

With more self-assurance about the ability to keep the world order and balance of power tolerable, the US would likely have been less deferential in trade disputes with allies that were seen as too precious to risk during OTL's Cold War and post-Cold War.

I'm pretty confident in the post-WWII scenario and downright certain of the pre-WWII Asia-Pacific scenario.

Thoughts?
Dimensional Traveler
2015-05-29 03:40:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rob
It had miscalculated its adversaries' capacity for strategic stupidity.
Sorry, I just had to respond to this. In all fairness, how many
countries do you know of that base their military plans on potential
enemies being suicidally stupid? :D
--
Veni, vidi, snarki.
Phil McGregor
2015-05-29 05:21:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Post by Rob
It had miscalculated its adversaries' capacity for strategic stupidity.
Sorry, I just had to respond to this. In all fairness, how many
countries do you know of that base their military plans on potential
enemies being suicidally stupid? :D
Given that half of all military planners are completely wrong (i.e. those on the losing side, or at least those that the leaders of the
losing side *listened* to) and, of the half on the winning side, the number whose predictions as to how the war will play out are likely to
be far less than half of that half, maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea if countries DID plan based on their enemies being suicidally stupid?

'-)

Phil

Author, Space Opera (FGU); RBB #1 (FASA); Road to Armageddon;
Farm, Forge and Steam; Orbis Mundi; Displaced (PGD)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Email: ***@tpg.com.au
Alex Milman
2015-05-29 12:22:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Phil McGregor
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Post by Rob
It had miscalculated its adversaries' capacity for strategic stupidity.
Sorry, I just had to respond to this. In all fairness, how many
countries do you know of that base their military plans on potential
enemies being suicidally stupid? :D
Given that half of all military planners are completely wrong (i.e. those on the losing side, or at least those that the leaders of the
losing side *listened* to) and, of the half on the winning side, the number whose predictions as to how the war will play out are likely to
be far less than half of that half, maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea if countries DID plan based on their enemies being suicidally stupid?
'-)
That would be a great idea but what if planners on BOTH sides are suicidally stupid? (seems to be the case by 1939). Or was it "I know that I'm suicidally stupid but I expect that the other side knows that and tries to plan
rationally"?



:-)
Alex Milman
2015-05-29 16:50:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rob
Post by David Tenner
Not a what-if but an article relevant to many what-ifs about the late
1930's, appeasement, etc.: Bear F. Braumoeller, argues in "The Myth of
American Isolationism" that the US failure to do more to stop Hitler in the
1930's was less a symptom of isolationism than of a belief that Germany was
economically too weak to be really dangerous; it just did not have the
capacity to fight a major war for very long. This belief was neither
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10561317/webPDFs/Braumoeller2010.pdf
Responding to the article in the very first post, David cites a paper arguing that US policy was genuinely proportionate to the demonstrated threat all along, rather than willfully underprepared to deal with foreign adversaries.
There are good points in this. The US had fewer exposed interests around the globe before WWII than after WWII.
Still, there were interests on the Pacific like Philippines.
Post by Rob
It also had more reasons to think that relatively benign powers (the British and French Empires) formed a sufficiently strong buffer between the US and potential adversaries before WWII.
With one of these potential opponents being Japan, the Brits were quite
vulnerable due to the over-stretched communications and, as far as the
interests on the Pacific were involved, the French were almost completely
irrelevant as a buffer (the Dutch had a greater footprint there but as a
military power they were insignificant).
Post by Rob
After the fall of France and exhaustion of Britain through the course of WWII, the objective strength of any such buffers was clearly much less.
It became quite clear at the time Japanese started systematically kicking
the old colonial powers out of their possessions, which happened on the
early stages of WWII.
Post by Rob
So, according to the argument, it was only the freak event of the defeat and conquest of France in 1940 that justified, not only psychologically, but also objectively, the American build-up of major expeditionary forces for global service. Before that point, there was simply no need.
Perhaps as far as expeditionary force is involved but not for naval buildup.
Post by Rob
This is valid, but only up to a point.
Circumstances for the US indeed changed quite a lot with the Fall of France. (& its Pacific corollaries, which facilitated Japanese occupation of French Indochina. & which was compounded by the absorption of the USSR in defense after Barbarossa). But, it is a mistake to attribute to American strategy a consistency that only changed as drastically as global circumstances.
Was there any official "strategy" in any positive meaning?
Post by Rob
WWII clearly was a strategic watershed for the US, with undeniable major differences in America's innate risk-tolerance, attitudes, preferences and priorities before and after the war.
Yes, there is an old proverb about the people who are learning on other
people's mistakes and those who learn on their own. :-)
kenney@ cix.co.uk (Kenneth Young)
2015-05-29 17:25:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alex Milman
Perhaps as far as expeditionary force is involved but not for naval buildup.
Hence the Vincent,Tramiel act and the later Two Ocean Act. The first was
a blanket authorisation of ships to the Naval treaties limits. The second
passed after the US withdrew from the treaty system was authorisation of
a massive building program as VT was then limiting construction. For any
US person I am aware that authorisation is not the same as Appropriation
of funds. However, only authorised ships could legally have designs
produced.
Alex Milman
2015-05-29 19:42:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by kenney@ cix.co.uk (Kenneth Young)
Post by Alex Milman
Perhaps as far as expeditionary force is involved but not for naval buildup.
Hence the Vincent,Tramiel act and the later Two Ocean Act. The first was
a blanket authorisation of ships to the Naval treaties limits. The second
passed after the US withdrew from the treaty system was authorisation of
a massive building program as VT was then limiting construction. For any
US person I am aware that authorisation is not the same as Appropriation
of funds. However, only authorised ships could legally have designs
produced.
While ago I saw a table of the ships production by the participants of WWII. Initially, the US was lagging behind but then it started looking like a
steamroller going down the hill. If not for the domestic agenda, all these
carriers could be built (and the crews trained) well before the war.
kenney@ cix.co.uk (Kenneth Young)
2015-05-30 07:53:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alex Milman
If not for the domestic agenda, all these
carriers could be built (and the crews trained) well before the war
UP to the treaty limits. IIRC the only classes the US did not hit the
overall tonnage limits were heavy cruisers and Eerie class gunboats. The
US did not withdraw from the treaties until after the european war had
started.
Rob
2015-05-30 19:02:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by kenney@ cix.co.uk (Kenneth Young)
Post by Alex Milman
If not for the domestic agenda, all these
carriers could be built (and the crews trained) well before the war
UP to the treaty limits. IIRC the only classes the US did not hit the
overall tonnage limits were heavy cruisers and Eerie class gunboats. The
US did not withdraw from the treaties until after the european war had
started.
A US with post-WWII attitudes would not have been so constrained either would have never signed the treaties in the first place, dropped the treaties and built over the limits after Japanese establishment of Manchukuo, or at the very latest dropped the treaties and built over limits once the full-scale Sino-Japanese war broke out in the Shanghai area in 1937. Of course in the meantime the Japanese had walked out of a Naval Conference and done a large fleet build-up,starting to go over treaty limits, which would only further justify going over treaty limits. A natural corollary of building beyond treaty limits would have been abandoning limits on fortification of US bases in the western Pacific. The condescending US let a fundamentally weaker country catch up with it in the arms race. Silly US.
Rob
2015-05-30 01:16:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by kenney@ cix.co.uk (Kenneth Young)
Post by Alex Milman
Perhaps as far as expeditionary force is involved but not for naval buildup.
Hence the Vincent,Tramiel act and the later Two Ocean Act. The first was
a blanket authorisation of ships to the Naval treaties limits. The second
passed after the US withdrew from the treaty system was authorisation of
a massive building program as VT was then limiting construction. For any
US person I am aware that authorisation is not the same as Appropriation
of funds. However, only authorised ships could legally have designs
produced.
Yes, the US naval build-up in the thirties was nontrivial, and throughout the decade the US maintained one of the top world fleets. It was clearly a later and smaller build-up than would have been needed to "insure" the Philippines, Guam and Wake against foreign invasion and occupation, and it was a later and smaller buildup than the US economic-industrial base could support. But, it might have been as much as the US political system of the 1930s could support.
Political feasibility, much more so that raw economic-industrial-military potential, is shaped by national attitudes, priorities and tolerance of risk.

Nothing can illustrate the stark difference in US national security politics pre- and post-WWII as much as the contrasting relationship between military spending and arms control before and after. In the interwar Washington Treaties, the US accepted naval limitations permitting Japanese superiority within the western Pacific, and furthermore as part of the deal accept restraints of fortifying its most distant and vulnerable western Pacific possessions. And the US actually built its navy well below treaty limits, and 1930s Congress and Administration's ideas of an arms buid-up was building "*up to* treaty limits. It was only much later, after years of watching Japanese violations of the treaty system, that there was a political demand for America to build up *beyond* treaty limits. The post-WWII US Senate never would have accepted a treaty limiting fortification of territory where the US flag was flown. As it was, pretty much all arms control agreements since WWII have been politically controversial in the US, and indeed the US pushed for rolling back the most substantive arms control agreements of the Nixonian Detente era. Major difference in the median American political position on how much the US should rely on arms-control versus arms before and after the WWII watershed.
Bradipus
2015-05-30 19:29:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rob
WWII clearly was a strategic watershed for the US, with
undeniable major differences in America's innate
risk-tolerance, attitudes, preferences and priorities before
and after the war.
America before WWII was basically content with carrying much
less military "insurance" of its national interests before
the war than it was after.
Even if we regard the German Blitzkrieg of 1940 and conquest
of France as a fluke event that would have been imprudent to
plan for, the situation in the Pacific in 1941-1942 starkly
demonstrates America's stinginess prior to WWII in purchasing
military insurance coverage.
Japan was such an industrial pygmy compared to the United
States that the 6 months of initial Japanese victories and
conquests from Pearl Harbor onward simply never should have
happened.
America before WWII judged that its fleet, its industry and
its latent military *potential* alone were sufficient to
deter an attack against the United States and even its string
of more exposed interests in the Western Pacific. In other
words, America's innate assets were sufficient strategic
"insurance". Actually existing forces and
infrastructure-in-place sufficient to repel attacks on the
American empire (the metropole and its dependencies) were not
a priority. US lawmakers and executives at the time would
have judged the maintenance of such forces to be a distortion
of a sensible household budget for the USA that would
misallocate excessive resources to armed "insurance".
Turns out that the US ended up suffering the loss of several
overseas territories and dependencies for several years. As
a colonial power, America failed in fulfilling one of the few
redeeming features of colonialism, protecting the colonies
against the depredations of others. It had miscalculated its
adversaries' capacity for strategic stupidity.
After WWII the US attitude towards the need for military
insurance went to the other extreme, and perhaps was somewhat
excessive for objective circumstances. America wanted a
large military establishment and a navy and air force second
to none, ever since WWII. America's priorities were
different, its risk tolerance was lower, it preferred, if it
was to err at all, to err on the side of over-investing in
military (and diplomatic) insurance. This was clearly a
sea-change in American attitudes that was remarkably
persistent after the WWII watershed.
Countries have "mood swings" and this is a great illustration
of it.
Re-imagine American history without this mood-swing, or at
least less of it. A history where America kept a fairly
tight equilibrium more in tune with its objective threat
environment.
Before World War II, if America had been willing to invest in
military insurance even at the level of the lowest spending
Cold War years (like 1948-1949), or half of that, it probably
would have made a substantial strategic difference in Europe
and the Atlantic in the late 1930s and 1940s. The strategic
difference in the Pacific would have been huge, and I would
argue, decisively so.
Such a level of investment in military resources for the
navy, air and ground defense for the United States and its
dependencies like the Philippines and Guam, would have
prevented Japan from successfully invading or occupying any
of them. In all probability this level of American military
capability would have deterred from Japan from attacking the
United States at all, or otherwise risking war with the US.
It probably would have made the embargo of Japan a viable
policy for eventually backing out of China without a
US-Japanese war at all.
Post-World War Two, a US at greater equilibrium and less of a
"spare no expense" attitude towards defense would have been
satisfied with the deterrent power of local ground forces and
its own air and naval power to deter Soviet aggression. Even
if US forces were used as a stopgap for the first decade
after WWII, the US would have passed the buck for local
ground defense to its recovering European and Japanese allies
no later than 1960 or so.
The US would have invested substantially less in defense and
more on other priorities.
With more self-assurance about the ability to keep the world
order and balance of power tolerable, the US would likely
have been less deferential in trade disputes with allies that
were seen as too precious to risk during OTL's Cold War and
post-Cold War.
I'm pretty confident in the post-WWII scenario and downright
certain of the pre-WWII Asia-Pacific scenario.
Thoughts?
War economy showed that war (or war preparations) increases GNP
by govt. expenses (public budget, debt etc) and the only way
to make Americans pay the needed taxes for that budget
increase is to set in their mind the idea that America is
under a terrible threat.
IOW, instead of govt. spending in social welfare "a la
europeenne" US govt. spent money buying (and selling) weapons
and paying jobs in that sector.
So economy went good for some time till war expenses grew too
much (Vietnam engagement) and financial instability followed.
--
Bradipus
Rob
2015-05-31 15:45:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Tenner
Not a what-if but an article relevant to many what-ifs about the late
1930's, appeasement, etc.: Bear F. Braumoeller, argues in "The Myth of
American Isolationism" that the US failure to do more to stop Hitler in the
1930's was less a symptom of isolationism than of a belief that Germany was
economically too weak to be really dangerous; it just did not have the
capacity to fight a major war for very long. This belief was neither
"Absent hindsight, the conclusion that Germany was not to be feared was a
reasonable one at the time.
snippage
Post by David Tenner
--
David Tenner
Yes there are many contemporary statements from the 1930s right up until the moment of French collapse predicting Nazi unsustainability and French strength, in line with the thrust of the Bear F. Braumoeller article David linked to.

But for every example of confidence in the Allies, there is a counter-example of Allied pessimism.

For instance, German airpower was consistently overestimated, and not just by Charles Lindbergh and Joe Kennedy.

Within Britain itself, Lord Vansittart contrasted the Franco-British position in the war of 1939 most unfavorably with their position in 1914. As he put it, "During the Great War, we barely scraped by, and that was with Italy and Russia on our side, and this time they are both most decidedly not."

Consider the evidence cited by historian Brock Millman in his "Toward War with Russia: British Naval and Air Planning for Conflict in the Near East, 1939-1940"

It reveals contemporary pessimism about the Germany collapsing economically in the short-term:

"By the winter of 1939, London was faced with evidence that Germany was not only surviving, but winning the economic war. Hankey, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, warned in November 1939:

Germany in almost every case has succeeded in reducing the deficit against her in the clearing with European neutrals below the figureat which she started the war. With the active assistance of firms in adjacent neutral countries she is developing organizations which will help her to evade action that may be taken by us against her exports.'6

Britain's blockade was failing. The British were not the only ones who could see this. The Mediterranean blockade especially, Weygand complained, was 'entirely ineffective. Everything was going through."7The lesson for the economic planners was clear. Unless Britain took some direct action against German trade, then at the bitter end of the economic war, Britain and not Germany was likely to be starving in the dark. Since British and French planners, by winter 1939, had rejectedthe possibility of an Allied land offensive in the west, the loss of the economic war would mean the loss of the war.18The economic war, then, would have to be prosecuted with greater ruthlessness. By December 1939, the Chiefs of Staff were considering operations in the Baltic, against Rumanian oil 'by diplomatic action or guile' - and against Russian oil, as options towards escalating the economic war.'9"


Brock Millman also cites evidence that the Allied General Staffs looked towards a German offensive in the spring of 1940 with far more dread than confidence:

"The General Staffs of Britain and France had long identified the spring of 1940 as a 'time of trial'. If they would not be strong enough to attack the Germans, then the contrary, that the Germans would not be strong enough to attack them, was far less likely to be true. If war could not be started elsewhere, it would come to France; and since it seemed unlikely that the Germans would oblige by attacking anywhere but at the decisive point - in France - it was left to France and Britain to get the
shooting started elsewhere. This argument gained greater urgency, since, despite public assurance to the contrary, neither the British nor the French General Staffs faced the coming 'time of trial' in France with complete confidence."

This created a desperation to drastically accelerate economic warfare and move the fight away from France, as Millman explains:

"Finally, it is probable that much that passed as strategy in the last few months before the decisive clash of arms in France had as much to do with psychology as strategic calculation.
....
On 3 April, Reynaud convoked his first War Cabinet with the French Chiefs of Staff present. For ninety minutes the future of the Armee de l'Orient was the topic of discussion and Weygand the star performer. ...At the end of the discussion, it was decided that it was essential that France open, and in short order, an Eastern Front, otherwise neither Ministers nor Chiefs of Staff could see how France could win the war - whatever level of assistance Britain provided.40"

Looping back to a what-if question. Rather than addressing the question of whether Hitler could have put off invading Poland, as posed in the OP, I'll ask what if, after Poland, the western attack had been delayed past spring 1940?

On the one-hand the Allies would have gained combat strength along France's borders, relative to the Germans, as time went on.

On the other hand, per the Millman article the French and British were likely to get themselves into a second war, with the Soviet Union, by launching a bombing campaign against her as soon as their heavy bomber strength in the Middle East built up.

Millman argues that a Franco-British air attack on the Soviet Union, in the absence of the Fall Gelb campaign, was quite likely for several reasons. (Gerhard Weinberg also pushed the case for a strong French desire to attack the Soviet Union in 1940, in the *hope* this would somehow prevent action closer to home). The end of the war in Finland apparently had no effect in reducing French and British ardor to attack the USSR, as Reynaud and Churchill favored.

Per Millman:
"It seems entirely probable that the slide from contingency planning through operational planning to actual operations would have continued and that such an attack would have been attempted if the decision had not been made to await the arrival of additional squadrons of heavy bombers - pushing back the possible start date beyond the beginning of the German assault on the West."

Millman goes on to say:

"operations against Russia in the Near East were probable, given Allied strategy, had they not been pre-empted by the German attack in the west in May 1940, and that such operations, by this time, were aimed less at Germany through Russia, than at Russia directly...That it was postponed, as the preceding discussion should make clear, was less the result of any clear-cut policy decision, than of the short-term weakness of Britain's regional Air Force."

So, if the Germans had failed to attack west in the spring or early summer of 1940, they would have left the British and French with idle hands, and those idle hands seemed about ready to occupy themselves with fresh trouble. Their heavy bomber strength in the Near East (Syria & Iraq) for attacking the Caucasus would have grown and they could have launched the attacks on Baku, Batum and Grozny.

Despite contemporary British and French strategic rationalizations, I would argue that such a move could only have major downside risks, with no real prospect of a strategic payoff on the upside. It would probably end up considered the "own goal" of the 20th century.

There likely would have been limits to the severity and duration of damage that even a beefed up Middle East air force could have done to the Soviet oilfields and refineries in 1940 or 41. In this part of the war the accuracy and effectiveness of strategic bombing was always being overrated.

Furthermore, this would have had much less effect on German POL supplies than anticipated, and therefore not done much to deny them a chance to attack west in the fall of 1940 or the spring/summer of 1941. Millman explains:

"By October 1939, Air Plans noted, Germany was importing only about 4 per cent of its petroleum from the USSR.44
By March, when the Cabinet was considering the possibility of the aerial bombardment of Russia, Air Plans had determined that Russia had ceased to be a net oil exporter at all..."

Worse than ineffectiveness could have been a Soviet air and ground counter-thrust into the Middle East.

As Millman puts it,
"the avoidance of conflict with Russia, whatever it may have seemed at the time, was an unmixed blessing for the Allied cause. War against Russia in 1940 probably would have been, as A.J.P. Taylor has suggested, like
Gallipoli - only worse."

Over the long-term a second ground front against the Soviets in the Middle East would have done no favors for the Allied forces in France.

The French and British were paradoxically actually thinking that taking on the Soviet Union would increase prospects for cooperating with Mussolini and smaller Balkan states like Romania.

Perhaps this could have been true given general Soviet unpopularity after the Pact and Finnish war, but it would have been a mighty gamble.

In the worst-case, the effects of going to war with the USSR could have had even worse cascading strategic effects for the Franco-British cause.
For one thing, the USSR's preoccupation in southwest Asia would have left Japan less worried about striking southeast Asia.

Likewise, Mussolini would have been free to make a volte face vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, and their drawing off of Allied Middle Eastern strength may have made him more interested in attacking the Franco-British in the Mediterranean and Africa.

This risk of such a nasty turnabout for the Franco-British would have been especially great if their initial air offensive is followed by a Soviet counterattack that begins scoring success and pushing the allies south, and then this being followed in quick succession by the Germans belatedly opening up their offensive in the west.

If the Germans started winning in the west, while the Soviets were winning in the east, the temptation for the Italians and Japanese to join them to scavenge off of the French and British would only have grown.
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