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View Full Version : What happens if Hitler does not invade the Soviet Union in 1941?


Beagle
02-24-2003, 12:45 AM
Operation Barbarossa (http://history.acusd.edu/gen/WW2Timeline/BARBAROS.html), which launched the German offensive into the Soviet Union, was a total strategic surprise. Stalin, allied with Hitler in conquering and dividing Poland two short years before, was stunned. Stalin could not believe that Hitler was violating the non-aggression pact.

Despite early German successes, experts agree, the Soviet campaign was one of the worst military miscalculations, maybe ever.

What if it never happened? Does Britan fall? Can the US and Britan fight the Axis without the Soviets?

greenphan
02-24-2003, 01:11 AM
The problem in answering the question is that it's all conjecture; we can only say what we think and it will be said with little certainty.
That being said, I think everyone should hazard a guess. We probably won't come to a consensus, but it would be fun to theorize.

Okay, one of the things which made D-Day possible was the split German army; what wasn't fortifying France was fighting in Russia (gross simplification, I know, but you get the idea). So, D-Day, if it happens, is a trillion times more brutal. But it probably wouldn't happen. Too risky.
Briton wouldn't have fallen, I wouldn't think, if America entered the war as it did. They were doing fine keeping the Germans at bay on the sea and over air. If things got diceier, America, I would imagine, would have gotten to Europe sooner to support the defense of England.
So, how to attack Europe? I'd say Italy, although the Alps crossing would be brutal. Perhaps Greece. Wasn't Germany having problems keeping Greece under control from other Allies?

The Allies would have still invaded Europe, I'm sure, as it would be the best bet to release Hitler's stranglehold on the continent. A D-Day type invasion although much more brutal, I'm sure. The wildcard, however, is whether or not, seeing their buddies under attack, the Soviet Union would have come to Germany's aid. In that case, the Allies would have lost the war. There were just too many Russian soldiers being sent to slaughter for the Allies to hold back.

I mean, I'm not a WW2 scholar, so all this based off of what I've garnered through nearly 2 decades of public schooling and the history channel. Plus, this is my one in the morning, just had two vodka and cranberry juices answer.

An interesting topic, I must say, although, as I already said, it's all fantasy, albeit a possibly well-researched fantasy (as I anticipate answers with cites and studies and years of research and so forth; what a great message board!)

--greenphan

ProjectOmega
02-24-2003, 01:31 AM
What would have happened if Germany didn't invade the USSR? The USSR would have invaded Germany.

Beagle
02-24-2003, 01:45 AM
Of course, Stalin did not trust Hitler. (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSnazipact.htm) Stalin viewed war as inevitable.

But, in 1941, Stalin was totally unprepared. He could not believe that Hitler would open an Eastern Front. So, the question remains, what would have happened? ProjectOmega, there is no evidence that Stalin had plans to invade Germany any time soon. Care to guess when Stalin would have tried to turn on a more and more dangerous foe? After all, it's the attrition on the Eastern Front 41-43 that did the Germans in. D-Day was not, of course, until June 6, 1944.

By 1943-4, we're talking jets and V-2s (http://www.worldwar2database.com/html/wizardwar.htm).

I, Brian
02-24-2003, 02:22 AM
In seems that Stalin and Hitler would have slugged it out with their armies at some point - Hitler went for a pre-emptive strike before the Soviets had an established armed force anywhere near the lines of the more "modern" mechanized German army.

As a general strategy, a war on two fronts is a bad policy - and as a general observation (already made), the Soviet campaign was an absolute disaster, almost on a par in terms of loss and consequence as the failed Napoleonic invasion.

With hindsight it can be said to have been a bad move - a very bad move. But, ultimately, warfare is about taking risks to achieve objectives. If Hitler had actually succeeded, we could quite easily be sat here writing in German about the fantastic strategy and daring tactics involved with the German conquest of Russia, the success of which decided the war against the UK-US allied powers.

CyberPundit
02-24-2003, 02:28 AM
I am no expert but it seems to me that if Hitler had concentrated in 1941 and 1942 on building the submarines and planes to defeat Britain, he would have likely won in the West (Britain came close to losing the Battle of the Atlantic anyway).

Also he shouldn't have declared war on America after Pearl Harbor.

Then the summer after Britian was defeated he could have attacked the USSR. Without the massive supplies from the US and UK it would have been significantly weaker. Plus IIRC 1941-42 was the worst Soviet winter in a long time and subsequent winters weren't so harsh. Plus no diversion of troops and time in North Africa. Germany could have stil lost ,of course. but its chances were surely a lot better.

Either way all of Europe would likely be either Nazi or Soviet. It's hard to see how America could liberate Western Europe without the British springboard or whether it would even try without a German declaration of war. It would concentrate on defeating Japan.

New & Improved Scott
02-24-2003, 04:40 AM
Two words:

Atomic Warfare


If the American saw no hope in defeating the Germans in a land war, do you really believe that they would have qualms at that point to blasting German cities to oblivion in order to force a surrender?

smiling bandit
02-24-2003, 06:31 AM
Probably true.

FranticMad
02-24-2003, 07:28 AM
-Britain's air force collapses by 1941. Possible land invasion of Britain in 1941.
-Concentration of forces in Western Europe makes Allied invasion impossible.
-Germany takes and holds oil fields in Greece.
-German industry stays intact since Brits and Americans cannot build and defend bomber airfields in southern England.
-Germans continue to work on nuclear weapons, Einstein still writes his letter, project Manhattan begins.
-Germany tightens control of resources in Norway, Denmark.
-Large German airbases in France support sea power across the western Atlantic, consolidating their hold on Europe.
-Re-invasion of Africa, Middle East.
--------------------
With the collapse of England's defenses, the Scots, roused by opportunity and centuries of pent-up resentment, invade England. Though they fondly hate the English, they really loathe the Germans. German infantry on English soil is no match for the Scottish rugby fans swarming down on them from the north. As Scots leap over the remnants of Hadrian's wall and maraud down the countryside, the surprised Germans are trampled and slugged; Panzer tanks are tossed aside like wee cabers, shells are punched from the sky with bare hands, whole battalions are smushed, and swept one-by-one back into the English Channel with 7-irons. Churchill sues for peace with the Scots, the King puts haggis on the royal menu, and the age of the Scottish Empire is begun.

Cerowyn
02-24-2003, 09:45 AM
A few random points: Germany really had no choice about declaring war on the U.S. after America declared war on Japan. The two countries had a formal alliance (German-Japanese Agreement and Supplementary Protocol, Signed at Berlin, November 25, 1936 (Anti-Comintern Pact) (http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/pre-war/361125a.html#1), and others). The "Battle of Britain" was over six months before Operation Barborossa begain, so the latter really had little bearing on Germany's failure to defeat the British. The Commonwealth still had major assets in Africa, the Middle East and Asia (indeed, Commonwealth Navies participated in many major battles of the Pacific war). The Axis never managed to secure even the Mediterranean, failing repeatedly to take Malta.

CyberPundit
02-24-2003, 09:47 AM
"If the American saw no hope in defeating the Germans in a land war, do you really believe that they would have qualms at that point to blasting German cities to oblivion in order to force a surrender?"
If Germany didn't declare war on America it's doubtful that it would just drop atom bombs on Germany. The US might not even have developed them in the first place if Japan was the only enemy. Not to mention the fact that America possessed only two bombs by 1945 certainly not enough to win the war. And eventually Germany would have developed their own atom bombs.

nogginhead
02-24-2003, 10:46 AM
I think war between Stalin and Hitler was inevitable. If Hitler had waited longer, Stalin would have been readier. If he waited long enough, Stalin attacks first, as someone else said.

I think the net result would have been soviet-dominated communism over more of Europe, and (even) less cordial soviet/west relations, since the alliance would never have needed to be even as close as it was.

Meanwhile the US/UK alliance would have been fighting its way up Italy...

G. Cornelius
02-24-2003, 10:48 AM
Originally posted by New & Improved Scott
Two words:

Atomic Warfare

If the American saw no hope in defeating the Germans in a land war, do you really believe that they would have qualms at that point to blasting German cities to oblivion in order to force a surrender?

It is my understanding the the Americans were propted to developed the Atom bomb because of fears that the Germans would get one first. The bomb was intended for German cities. Of course, whether the allies would have actually used the atom bomb is a nother matter. If the situation had developed where a D-day invasion was impossible and the combatants were slugging it out with bomber fleets, then I think it is very likely that they would use it.

also:

Germany would never invaded the UK. It is pretty clear that the preparations for doing so were never serious. Even if the RAF had been defeated, the RN was very much intact. Anyway, Hitler did not see the British as natural enemies and had no taste for a sea war.

If Hitler had not ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union and had instead adopted a more subtle policy of low intesity war with the UK then I think that the war could have dragged on for ages without very much real fighting. Eventually the public would have seen continuing to prosecute the war as pointless and there would have been political pressure to stop it. Hitler could offer some tempting carrots: an end to aerial raids and attacks on atlantic shipping and a conditional withdrawl of forces from France. Sooner or later some pretext for war with the Soviet Union would have come along, by which time the Germans could have completed their modernisation of the army (by no means complete at the time).

Under such circumstances, I think that an attack on Peal Harbour would have been unlikely to lead to the USA's "Germany First" policy.

On going war with the British had many consequences for Germany. Peace in the West would have given Germany access to trade routes and raw materials. Also, AFAIK German factories would have been out of the range of Soviet bombers.

Hitler was not, initially, impressed by promises of super weapons (jet engine, V1, V2 etc) but once he changed his mind their development was hindered by lack of fancy alloys etc. Trade routes would have given him all the materials he could have wanted.

If Hitler had be patient, he might have won.

eburacum45
02-24-2003, 11:04 AM
Hitler would have been even more assured of victoy if the Soviet- German Pact had become a true cooperation of dictatorships.
The great, or terrible, thing about dictatorships is that they are capable of following the whims of a single person.
or in this case two single people...
there could even have been a tetrarchy of evil, with Mussolini and
Hirohito...
I can just see the statues...
How long this imaginary tetrachy would have stayed together is anyones guess.

CyberPundit
02-24-2003, 01:22 PM
"Germany would never invaded the UK. It is pretty clear that the preparations for doing so were never serious."
That was true in 1940 and of course later Hitler concentrated on the East Front. But that was a matter of choice. In a sense the debate is what would have happened if Hitler had chosen to finish off Britain.

Germany didn't even need to invade Britain as such. If it concentrated on building submarines it could have starved Britian through submarine warfare something it came close to doing anyway. That combined with massive aerial attacks would have forced the British to surrender.

Without a declaration of war from Germany, I really don't see America declaring war on its own and just dropping atom bombs on Germany. Note that even after the Cold War started the US didn't threaten to drop bombs on Soviet Union AFAIK even though it had a nuclear monopoly for several years.

Mr. Miskatonic
02-24-2003, 01:48 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Cerowyn
[B]A few random points:[list] Germany really had no choice about declaring war on the U.S. after America declared war on Japan. The two countries had a formal alliance (German-Japanese Agreement and Supplementary Protocol, Signed at Berlin, November 25, 1936 (Anti-Comintern Pact) (http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/pre-war/361125a.html#1), and others)

Which could easily have been ignored same as the non-agression treaty. Hitler would even have a good excuse by pointing out that Japan started a war with an unwarrented act of agression via surprise attack. Germany certainly had a choice.

Lemur866
02-24-2003, 02:14 PM
You have to remember that in Hitler's mind, the invasion of Russia was the whole point of WWII. North Africa, France, Belgium, Norway, England, all of these were sideshows to the eastern front. Hitler wanted to take out or neutralize the western countries so that they could not interfere with his eastern lebensraum war. Eastern Europe would be colonized by Germans, and the Slavs would be enslaved and/or exterminated.

And when we look at the course of the war, Hitler was in some ways correct. The western allies never did put up much of a fight, and the bulk of Germany's losses were against the Russians. It wasn't until Germany was already on the ropes that the western allies were able to stage the Normandy landings.

Milum
02-24-2003, 02:25 PM
If Hitler had not decided to invade Russia we would have dropped the first A-bomb on Germany. Remember Dresden?

Sam Stone
02-24-2003, 02:39 PM
Germany never had a chance to win the war. Many people today don't realize just what an economic and military powerhouse the U.S. was during WWII. Once the U.S. entered the war, the final outcome was never in doubt.

For example, by 1942 the U.S. was producing more tanks in a single year than the entire number of tanks built by Germany in its entire history starting from WWI.

By 1941, Germany's industrial infrastructure was at full capacity, and all production was devoted to creating weapons. In the U.S., on the other hand, there was still so much excess industrial capacity that not only was the country producing more arms than all other combatants combined, but it was still building more factories, meaning the gap would have grown larger.

Even so, the U.S. is the only major combatant to not suffer so much as a single quarter of recession during the course of the war. U.S. wartime production reached its peak in 1942, after which the U.S. started to scale back because it already had just an overwhelming capacity to produce weaponry. And even so, the U.S.'s percentage of production devoted to the war was by far the lowest of any major combatant. The U.S could have easily doubled or even tripled production of weaponry, given enough time.

By the end of the war, Germany had lost so many soldiers that it was drafting 14 year old boys for war. In contrast, the U.S. had only lost something like 240,000 men, out of a male population of over 100 million. So it had a huge advantage in being able to field armies as well.

When WWII started, the U.S. was severely lagging in technology, as well. Its airplanes were inferior, many of the U.S. warships were leftovers from WWI, and American tanks were no match for the German or Soviet designs. Nevertheless, by the end of the war the U.S. had the best, most advanced weaponry of any of the combatants overall, although in a few areas they still lagged a bit. But given a longer war, the U.S. would have rapidly passed by the other powers, as it did after the war.

And while all other combatants were having their infrastructure bombed, the U.S.'s was completely intact, and would have remained so even if the war had lasted another ten years.

So what would have happened if Germany didn't invade the Soviet Union? Here's my guess: The war would have lasted until maybe 1946 or 1947. The U.S. and other allies would have lost maybe twice as many soldiers, but then the atomic bomb would have ended the war anyway. But the Soviet Union would not have captured eastern Europe, the eastern territory it grabbed in the later part of the war, or east Germany.

The cold war would have been very different. There probably wouldn't have been a Korean war, and the Soviet Union would have wound up much weaker. In addition, without the horrible losses of World War II, it would have been interesting to see if Stalin could have maintained his brutal grip.

No matter what the result, the world would look very, very different today. But the U.S. would still be the big power in the world.

FranticMad
02-24-2003, 03:20 PM
I don't see how an invasion of Europe by the Allies would be possible. The D-Day landing was nearly turned back at a number of points as it was. If only half the massive numbers of armored Panzer groups and aircraft that were lost to the Soviets were instead used to counterattack Allied landings, I doubt that D-Day would succeed. Monty was tied down. If Patton had made a breakthrough, the German air and armor would cut off his supply lines. He'd run out of fuel just like the Germans did in the Battle of the Bulge.

Yes, the USA had overwhelming industrial capacity, but the problem is logistics. Germany would deny Allies the use of a base of operations (UK). D-Day took years of preparation, and surprise was possible only because the plan could be implemented overnight across the English channel. Without UK airbases, the Allies would never have achieved air supremacy over Europe. Instead, Germany would have air supremacy and further destroy the logistical support for an inland invasion by the Allies.

With Germany's air supremacy, Allied tanks that did manage to land in Europe could be effectively picked off by mere Stukas, not to mention the masses of fighter-bombers that Germany used so effectively on the Eastern front.

The USA would have long supply lines, and no safe harbor within reach of the enemy. Germany would be fighting with short supply lines, and plenty of reinforcements. The logistics of that situation nullifies America's industrial advantage for a years.

Only 1000 jet planes were produced. Without D-Day and the Soviet cataclysm, Gemany would have had the time and capacity to produce many thousands of jet aircraft. This would give Germany a strategic advantage for at least a year or two starting in 1945. Long-range, high flying German jet bombers would have been able to attack any base the Allies established after that.

Eddie the Dane
02-24-2003, 03:39 PM
There's a few things which I feel should be addressed here:

1) Russia could not have been successful against Germany without massive aid from the western Allies of key supplies such as vehicles, telegraphic wire, high octane gasoline, etc. The idea that Russia essentially beat Germany all by herself is inherently wrong - Russia wouldn't have survived the winter of 1943 had it not been for massive Lend Lease assistance from the U.S. and Britain. The U.S. and Britain also shared their strategic intelligence with the Soviets - of course the Soviets did not reciprocate in this!

2) War between Germany and Russia was inevitable. The Non-Aggression Pact between them was a cynical exercise by both parties to it - as evidenced by their collusion in carving up Poland in a secret codicil to the pact. Both sides entered the agreement hoping to forestall the aggressive intent of the other party in order to buy time to prepare for the inevitable.

3) It is highly arguable whether Germany possessed the means and true intention to conduct an invasion of Great Britain, as well as the means and ability to occupy it and Ireland. Since GB has neither bountiful supplies of natural resources Germany needed, lots of acreage in which to transplant happy Aryans (liebensraum), or millions of Jews to exterminate, it is indeed quite questionable that Hitler and his generals ever truly planned an endeavor to capture the islands. More likely, at least in my opinion, Hitler and his generals looked into it as a diversion. The failure of the Luftwaffe to win control of the skies over England, coupled with the paltry capabilities of the German navy either to conduct an amphibious operation or protect it from English warships, doomed Operation Sea Lion to essentially a "what if" exercise on the part of German High Command.

4) There are many who believe that we would never have delivered atomic weapons on German targets because they were a "Western" ethnicity as opposed to the asian Japanese. I, however, do not share this view. The decision to launch the atomic weapons upon Japan was based primarily on the desire to prevent further unnecessary loss of American lives, and also to demonstrate our devastating new weapon to the Soviets to keep them honest (of course we pissed that hand away!) - NOT for any other reason.

5) Much has been made (not necessarily in this thread) as to the extraordinarily high Soviet casualties in World War II as an indication of their contribution to the effort against Germany. I, however, have a different attitude about it. In my opinion, the appalling casualty and fatality rates suffered by Russian combatants AND civilians was a result of the cynical and ruthlessness of their leaders. Russia's leaders correctly judged that they had many more men at arms Germany could ever field and therefore made the entire war one of human attrition. This lack of care for human life is evidenced in their "human wave" tactics where many Russian soldiers were not even given weapons prior to being ordered to attack - they were told to simply find them on the field of battle instead! I simply cannot find the manner in which the Russians conducted war in WWII to be admirable in the least - it was the military equivalent of a sausage grinder.

Beagle
02-24-2003, 04:20 PM
Eddie the Dane, good points. You should post more often. ".02 posts per day"?!

To expand on your first point, Eddie, Stalin even kept one of our B-29s (http://www.rb-29.net/HTML/03RelatedStories/03.03shortstories/03.03.10contss.htm). He was nice enough to finally return the crews. Some "ally.".....Stalin was continually pressured for the release of the crews and planes, however it soon became obvious that he had no intentions of giving them up. He decided to steal them. He figured it would take over five years to design and build their own much needed long range bomber. A better way would be to steal these already in his possession and make a bolt for bolt exact copy of them. Stalin demanded the reproductions be ready in two years. The entire Soviet aircraft industry was mobilized to meet this seemingly impossible deadline. At that time any dissention was met with punishment, even death. That would be considered sabotage to question a project. This project received top priority. The Russians were completely dumbfounded when faced with the enormity of the situation. They were fascinated with the gigantic “Silver Bullet”. What better luck than to have three of them dropped right in their back yard.

Finally through some bizarre diplomatic negotiations between the US and Molotov it was arranged for the aircrews to “escape” to Tashkent, Russia, via the Trans-Siberian Railroad. They were given adequate treatment while interned. From Tashkent they were transported by train and truck to Tehran, Iran, for their release. However their release wasn’t going to be that simple. They were warned not to talk to anyone, and had to sign top secret documents swearing them to secrecy. They were flown to Naples, Italy, and then shipped to N.Y. where they finally found freedom.....

Random Googling

Stalin was estimating that by the Summer of 1942 (http://www.stfrancisprep.org/departments/socialstudies/ww2/notes/docs/barbarossa_docs.htm) the Germans would finish Britan off and turn towards him.

When did Hitler lose the war? (http://www.2worldwar2.com/when-hitler-lost.htm).....In his outstanding book Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties, Paul Johnson clearly marks the exact point in time when the outcome of the war was decided. His analysis is shared by other authors, and was also shared by Winston Churchill himself at the time of events when they happened. Remaining wartime reports by german generals allow us to see it clearly from the german military's point of view.

It's obvious that Adolf Hitler gambled everything by invading Russia, that attacking Russia and failing to defeat it could only mean that Germany will be defeated.

When the German invasion of Russia began in June 1941, Germany could potentially defeat Russia and win the war. Its initial victories were tremendous. Russian losses in men, equipment, and land, were unbelievably enormous. But Russia is HUGE, with endless resources, its soldiers are tough, and its winter is terrible for anyone not fully equipped for it, and the German military was definitely NOT equipped for the russian winter, and knew it.....

CyberPundit
02-24-2003, 04:28 PM
"By 1941, Germany's industrial infrastructure was at full capacity, and all production was devoted to creating weapons"
No this is quite wrong. I don't have the figures with me now but IIRC German weapons production increased in 1944 despite massive strategic bombing after it was put under the control of Albert Speer. I don't think the Germans really pushed their economies to the limit until near the end of the war. One of the what-if's is what if they had done this earlier at the start of the war. Presumably they could have fielded more division or at least much better equipped divisions on the Eastern Front which could easily have made the difference.

Also let me repeat that a lot of you are simply assuming that America would fight Germany anyway. IMO this is most questionable. If Britain had been defeated in 1941 or 1942 and Germany decided not to declare war after Pearl Harbor it is difficult to see America unilaterally declaring war on Germany and invade Europe. Atom bombs would have been irrelevant without the right policial/military context.

Susanann
02-24-2003, 05:14 PM
Originally posted by Eddie the Dane
1) Russia could not have been successful against Germany without massive aid from the western Allies

2) War between Germany and Russia was inevitable.

3) It is highly arguable whether Germany possessed the means and true intention to conduct an invasion of Great Britain,

4) The decision to launch the atomic weapons

5) the appalling casualty and fatality rates suffered by Russian combatants AND civilians was a result of the cynical and ruthlessness of their leaders.

Eddie the Dane,

Excellent analysis.

We developed the atomic bomb to be dropped on Germany, not japan.

However, if germany ended up fighting russia, would we not just sit out and wait to see who came out on top of that battle before we dropped any bombs on germany? After conquering russia, germany would have its hands full, and its army stretched, just occupying all of europe and russia, and wouldnt Hitler then offer peace with the United States at that point?

I agree that there was no (cost benefit)reason to invade Britain if britain stopped its fighting, but wouldnt hitler have conquered Britain eventually anyway just to get revenge? after he built many more battleships like the Bismark?

notquitekarpov
02-24-2003, 07:00 PM
Originally posted by FranticMad
-Germany takes and holds oil fields in Greece.


and a doper doesn't jump on him immediately? You are losing your grip obviously!;)

For the record Greece had no oil - maybe FranticMad was thinking or Rumania (which Germany had access to anyway) or Persia...

To me, what too few of the posts in this thread really seem to stress enough are the politic imperatives upon the Nazis (and to a lesser extent Stalin) - they were a revolutionary party dedicated to a revolutionary agenda and simply "being patient" and screwing down the United Kingdom was, whilst quite logical. not something they could politically choose to do. The Nazis always felt less secure than they actually were - hence the lack of any total industrial organisation for war production until 1944 ( :smack: ) and the lack of use of women labour etc.

Hitler needed constant war until his war aims were met by "blood and iron" (to quote an earlier aggressor) and that meant going for Russia to keep up the momentum. Preparing U-Boat, Air Power or anything else to deal with Britain first would have looked like they didn't know what they were doing....

Barks' dog food
02-24-2003, 07:02 PM
For those who think what-if history is interesting I would recomend the news group soc.history.what-if. This is a scenario which has been discussed often there and you might want to search the archives on google. Just read the FAQ before posting and if you belive that Germany could have won the war in this scenario(with US in the war) you'd better know what you're talking about.
Originally posted by Eddie the Dane
There's a few things which I feel should be addressed here:

1) Russia could not have been successful against Germany without massive aid from the western Allies of key supplies such as vehicles, telegraphic wire, high octane gasoline, etc. The idea that Russia essentially beat Germany all by herself is inherently wrong - Russia wouldn't have survived the winter of 1943 had it not been for massive Lend Lease assistance from the U.S. and Britain. The U.S. and Britain also shared their strategic intelligence with the Soviets - of course the Soviets did not reciprocate in this!

3) It is highly arguable whether Germany possessed the means and true intention to conduct an invasion of Great Britain, as well as the means and ability to occupy it and Ireland. Since GB has neither bountiful supplies of natural resources Germany needed, lots of acreage in which to transplant happy Aryans (liebensraum), or millions of Jews to exterminate, it is indeed quite questionable that Hitler and his generals ever truly planned an endeavor to capture the islands. More likely, at least in my opinion, Hitler and his generals looked into it as a diversion. The failure of the Luftwaffe to win control of the skies over England, coupled with the paltry capabilities of the German navy either to conduct an amphibious operation or protect it from English warships, doomed Operation Sea Lion to essentially a "what if" exercise on the part of German High Command.


I agree with most of what you said but I want to make some remarks. I think Russia would have stopped Germany (since they stopped them in 1941 befor allied help was effective) but without the help Russia couldn't do the offencive manouvres they did in WW2 and they would have to bleed Germany without taking very much territory.
After June 1940 Britains fighter production was higher then Germany's so I don't know how Germany could get airsupperiority. Then think of the resources used in Overlord and that Germany lacked almost all of these. But I think that an invasion was planned because taken all the barges that was needed for the invasion had a negative effect on German economy.
Producing more u-boats would mean less tanks for the comming war on Russia and this time Germany doesn't have the slave workers.
Germany lacked the resources, factories and oil to have a mechanized army.
How long the German economy would have lasted without slaves is a much debated question.
Jet-fighters wouldn't have won the war, for one Britain also had one(Gloster Meteor). If you watch Discovery programs concerning this they will say in the middle of the program:" Germay lacked the raw materials, fuel, factories and logistical support these planes needed to be effective. In addition the range and lifespan to short, and the time needed to repair the a/c was to long.

FranticMad
02-24-2003, 08:42 PM
For the record Greece had no oil - maybe FranticMad was thinking or Rumania Yeah, Rumania, that's what I was thinkin' of. The only oil Greece had went on salads rather than ME-109s.

lekatt
02-24-2003, 09:00 PM
Originally posted by Beagle
Operation Barbarossa (http://history.acusd.edu/gen/WW2Timeline/BARBAROS.html), which launched the German offensive into the Soviet Union, was a total strategic surprise. Stalin, allied with Hitler in conquering and dividing Poland two short years before, was stunned. Stalin could not believe that Hitler was violating the non-aggression pact.

Despite early German successes, experts agree, the Soviet campaign was one of the worst military miscalculations, maybe ever.

What if it never happened? Does Britan fall? Can the US and Britan fight the Axis without the Soviets?

Stalin would have attacked Germany first if allowed to go another year. Russia had 14.5 million soldiers in positions around Moscow at the time Germany attacked with 1.5 million troops. In the earlier fighting German soldiers were killing Russians soldiers at a rate of 15:1. Plenty enough to win, but got caught in the Russian winter. It was the weather that beat them. Russia also developed the T-34 tank which could stand up favorable against the German Panzers. It was not possible for Germany to win the war, some of his advisors told him so as early as 1940. We are lucky Hilter was such a mad man and made many mistakes.

Sam Stone
02-24-2003, 09:39 PM
"By 1941, Germany's industrial infrastructure was at full capacity, and all production was devoted to creating weapons"
No this is quite wrong. I don't have the figures with me now but IIRC German weapons production increased in 1944 despite massive strategic bombing after it was put under the control of Albert Speer. I don't think the Germans really pushed their economies to the limit until near the end of the war. One of the what-if's is what if they had done this earlier at the start of the war. Presumably they could have fielded more division or at least much better equipped divisions on the Eastern Front which could easily have made the difference.


Production increased on a few, high priority things. What I meant was that there was really no excess production that could be devoted to new factory construction. It's a general statement, and I'm fully aware that in a few specific areas new factories were built, but often at the expense of other needed products.

But it was a testament to Germany's incredible industrial base that it even managed to hold production steady in the face of heavy bombing.

Speaking of which... Those who think that we would never have used an atomic bomb on Germany are crazy. The allies were were carpet-bombing Germany daily, and the firebombing of Dresden killed people on the same order as a nuclear weapon.

RickJay
02-24-2003, 09:54 PM
Originally posted by Sam Stone
For example, by 1942 the U.S. was producing more tanks in a single year than the entire number of tanks built by Germany in its entire history starting from WWI.

By 1941, Germany's industrial infrastructure was at full capacity, and all production was devoted to creating weapons.
These statements are completely false. U.S. tank production peaked at about 30,000 in 1944 - in 1942 it was 24,000 - which is certainly not more tanks than Germany built in both wars; Germany peaked at about 22,000 tanks in 1944, and build some 80,000 over the course of the war.

The German economy absolutely did NOT peak in weapons production in 1941; German production peaked in almost every major category of weapon and weapons platform in 1944. The German was economy was highly disorganized in 1941; reforms to improve production were not undetaken until 1942-1943, mostly under Speer. In fact, Germany did not introduce mass production techniques in aircraft construction UNTIl 1943-1944. The results were amazing; aircraft production doubled in 1943 and went up about 30% in 1944.

U.S. wartime production reached its peak in 1942, after which the U.S. started to scale back because it already had just an overwhelming capacity to produce weaponry.
Totally false... are you just making this up? American production increased, quite dramatically, until war's end. Aircraft production in 1944 was three and a half times greater than in 1942, shipbuilding quadrupled between 1942 and 1944; tank production peaked in 1943.

In contrast, the U.S. had only lost something like 240,000 men, out of a male population of over 100 million.
Unless a truly amazing percentage of Americans in 1941 were male - the population at the time being about 150 million - I don't believe this could be possible.

Many of your general points are correct but you might wanna revisit your specific figures.

CyberPundit
02-24-2003, 09:56 PM
. "Production increased on a few, high priority things. What I meant was that there was really no excess production that could be devoted to new factory construction"
I am not sure this is true either. Consumptions levels were kept quite high in the early years of the war. Women weren't used in the factories. And I think there was general inefficiency which was only removed only after Speer was put in charge. I will see if I can dig up some numbers.

About the atom bomb there are several questions:
1)Would the US even be at war with Germany?
2)How many atom bombs would it have ? With only two atom bombs in 1945 I don't think it would be enough to beat Germany. Remember that atom bombs alone didn't beat Japan. You had a combinations of massive conventional bombing, crippling naval defeats and blockades and the Soviet entry into the war.
3)If you are talking of war going on into the late 40's how long before the Germans acquired their own bombs? Especially with the resources acquired/freed up after defeating Britain and maybe the Soviet Union.

FranticMad
02-24-2003, 09:57 PM
Let me try another approach to the OP.

It took the Soviets almost 4 years to reach Berlin. In the Soviet's favor, they had no intervening oceans or channels (unlike the Allies), they had a huge army, and superior armor (eventually). These are important tactical and strategic advantages over the Allies.

Even considering that the Soviets had incompetent military strategy for the first phases (Stalin exterminated his best commanders), I can hardly imagine that the Allies could have done better than the Soviets. Despite the Soviet's advantages, conquering the Germans took a long time.

If Germany didn't attack Russia, then I don't think Stalin would rush into Germany. Although Stalin was afraid of Germany, he was quite obsessed with internal conflicts, real or imagined. I think he was more interested in consolidating his political power within the Soviet Union, and was not an adventurist like Hitler.

As notquitekarpov said, the Nazis had a political imperative, and even a mythological imperative. That is why I once suggested that the only reason Germany would not invade Russia was because Hitler was gone. Given a more rational military leadership (imagine Rommel being alive and having power), Germany would make different choices than it did.

Sam Stone
02-24-2003, 11:13 PM
Well, clearly I'm going to go back and dig into this. I studied this stuff a few years ago, but maybe I've got my numbers mixed up. Sorry if I dropped any false info out there, and thanks to both Cyberpundit and Rickjay for catching it.

Badtz Maru
02-25-2003, 01:31 AM
Have any of you played the PC game 'Hearts of Iron'? It's a strategy game where you control a nation in the 1936-1947 timeframe (some scenarios start later than 1936 if you don't want to bother with the pre-war buildup). It's very interesting to see the weird alternate histories that you can build in that game. It's still being patched to get the AI countries to behave more realistically (in earlier versions, Japan rarely joined the Axis or fought the USA, in the latest version it tends to join the Comintern!), but it's still a great game.

rogue4007
02-25-2003, 04:59 AM
If the Germans had not invaded Russia, then i think the war would have lasted considerably longer, maybe even a kind of stalemate would have occured. Hitler took to many military decisions instead of leaving it to his commanders, he became obsessed with taking Stalingrad, believing that if it fell the demoralising effect on Stalin would take them to victory. Initially they wanted the oil, but Hitler allowed himself to get sidetracked.
If they had concentrated on the oilfields, they would have had a seaboard too, allowing them to resupply.The winter wasted over a million soldiers in Russia

Bartman
02-25-2003, 10:50 AM
Originally posted by CyberPundit
About the atom bomb there are several questions:
1)Would the US even be at war with Germany?

I think it is almost inevitable that the US was going to end up at war with Germany. I have drawn up a quick time line and I think it shows that although the US was solidly against war in '39 by mid '41 the US was rapidly approaching war with Germany. Even if Germany refrained from attacking the Soviets most of these events would have taken place as they were intended as a support for the UK.

1938
23-Sep Gallup poll shows 73% favor keeping mandatory arms embargo

1939
1-May Gallup poll shows 72% approve discretionary embargo of aggressors
29-Jun Mandatory arms embargo extended. Gallup poll shows 51% approve
5-Sep United States proclaims neutrality
8-Sep Limited national emergency declared
22-Sep Gallup poll shows 62% favor repeal of mandatory arms embargo
3-Oct Declaration of Panama - 300-mile Security Zone around western hemisphere
4-Nov “Cash and Carry” law passes

1940
27-Aug Reserves activated for 12 months’ duty.
3-Sep United States exchanges 50 destroyers for British base rights
16-Sep Draft instituted

1941
29-Jan British and American hold joint staff conversations
11-Mar Lend-Lease Act passed
24-Mar $50M in Yugoslavian assets frozen when Prince Paul signs Tripartite Pact
27-Mar Congress approves initial $7B lend-lease appropriation
30-Mar Coast Guard seizes 64 Axis ships in U.S. ports for lend-lease convoys
2-Apr 10 Coast Guard ships transferred to Great Britain
9-Apr US occupies Greenland
11-Apr U.S. destroyer Niblack fires depth charges at German U-boat
28-Apr $50M in Greek assets frozen after Greece fell to Hitler
21-May 1st U.S. ship sunk, freighter Robin Moor
26-May German battleship Bismarck located by US-built PBY flown by US pilot
27-May Unlimited national emergency declared
6-Jun 80 foreign merchant ships seized in U.S. ports
14-Jun All remaining Axis funds in U.S. frozen
16-Jun All German consulates closed, diplomats expelled
7-Jul US occupies Iceland. Gallup poll shows 61% approve
26-Jul United States declares oil embargo on Japan.
14-Aug Roosevelt and Churchill announce Atlantic Charter
4-Sep German torpedo attack on USS Greer opens tacit shooting war in Atlantic. Gallup poll shows 62% approve
28 Sep The Lend-Lease act is expanded to include the Soviet Union.
1-Oct First Soviet Protocol signed by U.S., Great Britain, and USSR at Moscow.
31-Oct 1st U.S. warship lost , destroyer Reuben James
5-Nov Gallup poll shows 81% favored arming merchant ships & 61% favored ships entering war zones
19-Nov Gallup poll shows 72% regard "defeating Nazism" as "the biggest job facing the nation"
24-Nov U.S. Army occupies Dutch Guiana
7-8 Dec Japan delivers simultaneous bombing attacks on Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Wake, and Guam, invades Malaya and Thailand, seizes Shanghai, and declares war on the U.S. and Great Britain.

You can also read this forward in the July 7th, 1941 special edition of Life. It seems fairly obvious that the editors of Life thought they were addressing a largely pro-war public.
Life Magazine Special Defense Issue July 7, 1941
Contents
"This special issue of LIFE is given over to the arming of America and the effort of the Republic to save its freedom. Words like freedom and independence have a new meanings too. The sizzle of rockets in an evening sky means less today than the hiss of the welder's arc sewing up a ship's side. The waving of Fourth of July flags means less than the flag-waving shown above, for when these workers have finished waving they will go to work for defense. For a year now, America has been working for defense. The result of its effort is described in the chart on the following pages. In its industrial effort the country is about where it has a right to expect to be, considering that it is a peaceable nation lacking the real warrior spirit. Considering the awful urgency of the situation, the simple conclusion is this: things could be worse but they should be a whole lot better. In the pictures which follow, some of the first tangible results of the country's quick tooling-up are shown. Soon the country will begin to get arms in quantity. They are late in coming and the uncomfortable fact is that time has not been on our side. But when Germany turned on Russia (see pp. 30-40), the U.S. was given more time in which to prepare -- weeks, months, no one knows how much more. For this extra time the U.S. may have to pay in the form of military material sent to help Russia fight the Nazis. Already the U.S. arms program is burdened with the vital responsibility of helping two democracies, Great Britain and China, fight a fight which is not only their fight but also America's. An honest -- but not complacent -- examination explains why the U.S. effort has sometimes seemed so slow that the desperate men who knew the dangers felt the people had no eyes, no ears, no understanding. Above all, the U.S. effort has been made without the whiplash of declared war.
about the cover
Not until a year ago was there any real drive forward. But the past year saw the machine move. More than $3,000,000,000 dollars in new defense plants was authorized or built. Almost $30,000,000,000 was set aside for defense. The Lease-Lend Act was put in effect. The first peacetime conscription was effected and today the Army stands at a historic peacetime strength of 1,441,500 men and officers. The country is awake, though not yet aroused. And there are growing signs that America is willing to show the grim purpose that Germany and Britain showed, growing signs that the love for freedom on this Independence Day is greater that the hope for comfort." (p. 17)

"The Purpose of this special issue of LIFE is to show its readers, in pictures and words, the mighty stir and drama of the nation's defense effort. To this end, LIFE herewith presents more pages in color than it has ever before printed in a single issue. Among the 20 color pages are photographs of a night bombing mission, portraits of the Army's top generals, the U.S. Marines in a bivouac, the Armored Force in action, camouflage, Army food and seven specially commissioned paintings by leading American artists."


2)How many atom bombs would it have ? With only two atom bombs in 1945 I don't think it would be enough to beat Germany. Remember that atom bombs alone didn't beat Japan. You had a combinations of massive conventional bombing, crippling naval defeats and blockades and the Soviet entry into the war.
By the time of Hiroshima US manufacturing was averaging just over 1 warhead per month. The predictions at the time were that they could increase that by about one a month per month. And that was going to significantly increase in mid '46 as additional separation facilities came online. By mid '46 they expected to be producing roughly 20-30 per month. Historically the US program achieved roughly these rates even without a wartime imperative. So I think it is reasonable to assume they could have achieved those production rates at least. Under those conditions I simply can't imagine the war extending into '47.

3)If you are talking of war going on into the late 40's how long before the Germans acquired their own bombs? Especially with the resources acquired/freed up after defeating Britain and maybe the Soviet Union.
A long time. The Germans were at least 5-6 years behind the US in nuclear development. By the end of the war the Germans had at least four huge deficiencies.

1- They had a distinct lack of raw uranium. Even if they had produced a bomb it would have only existed in very small numbers. But this lack of resources meant that experimentation was limited. US researchers simply had a lot more opportunities to play around with the stuff. This directly contributed to two of the other issues.

2- They never developed a successful separation/breeder method. Raw uranium ore is worthless as a nuclear material. In order to build a weapon you must either separate out the fissible material (U-235) or breed it (plutonium). Even if the German programs had come up with a workable method overnight, it would have taken several years before plants could be developed to produce it in any quantity. Separators and breeder reactors simply don't just appear overnight.

3- The German program never got the basic physics right. And even worse for them, their theories were taking them down the wrong paths. They never achieved a workable design for a reactor let alone successfully bringing one online. This was pretty much the first step to any program. The US brought their first pile online in '42. To add to these problems the whole program was either being terribly mismanaged or intentionally sabotaged (depending on who's account you believe) by its primary researchers and program director. Compare this to Groves who expertly ran the US program and likely shaved a year or more off the whole project.

4- Even if the Germans had successfully developed a device, they had no delivery method. At some point they were going to need to make a Heavy Bomber or exceptionally large V-series rocket. Even if a working German bomb had suddenly come into existence in '45, it would have taken a couple of years to develop something to use it.

CyberPundit
02-25-2003, 11:10 AM
Thanks for the information. I think your timeline shows support for economic sanctions against Germany and economic support for Britain. I don't know if it shows support for full-blown invasion of Europe. Why did the US have to wait till Pearl Harbor and a German declaration of war? Besides it doesn't address what would have happened if Britian had surrendered in 1941 or 1942. Without Britain to prod America to war and also providing a springboard for the final invasion I don't think the US would jump into war with Germany on its own.

Let me also note again that the US didn't use atom bombs against the Soviet Union even though it had the nuclear monopoly for several years and even after the Cold War had begun in earnest. I don't see the US just declaring war and dropping a dozen atom bombs on Germany even it could.

BTW would the US even have the means to bomb the Germans without a British base. Would they have to use aircraft carriers? What if the Germans had established supremacy in the Atlantic with their submarines and also perhaps the British fleet at their disposal?

Bartman
02-25-2003, 01:03 PM
Originally posted by CyberPundit
[B]Thanks for the information. I think your timeline shows support for economic sanctions against Germany and economic support for Britain. I don't know if it shows support for full-blown invasion of Europe. Why did the US have to wait till Pearl Harbor and a German declaration of war? Besides it doesn't address what would have happened if Britian had surrendered in 1941 or 1942. Without Britain to prod America to war and also providing a springboard for the final invasion I don't think the US would jump into war with Germany on its own.

Well absolutely the US would not have entered the war if the UK had already come to terms with Germany. However Germany had virtually no chance of actually forcing the UK to come to terms. Sealion was never more than a pipe dream. Germany lost the Battle of Britain. And by mid '41 Germany had functionally lost the Battle of the Atlantic. Even there Germany never seriously threatened UK supplies. All told over the course of the war less than 1% of allied Atlantic shipping was sunk by the Germans. The only way that the UK is out of the war is if they choose to leave it.

As for American support for an active war... US troops were not going to be availible until late '42, in significant quantaties in any case. Until then we still have the US actively invading nominally axis controlled territories. And they are engaging in active naval warfare against the Reich. Functionally the same kind of rationalization that had been used to justify the occupation of Danish and Dutch territories could be used for French North Africa. Under those conditions FDR doesn't even need a declaration of war until the Sicily invasion in mid '43. As it was FDR was hoping to avoid full participation in the war until May-July of '42. The country just wasn't going to be ready until then. Japan forced FDR's hand. But he was going to ask Congress for a Declaration of War by Mid '42. And given the fact that in Nov. '41 72% of the country thought "defeating Nazism" was "the biggest job facing the nation," I think he would have gotten it. If 72% of the country today thought defeating Saddam was "the biggest job facing the nation," Bush would have already started the invasion.

BTW would the US even have the means to bomb the Germans without a British base. Would they have to use aircraft carriers? What if the Germans had established supremacy in the Atlantic with their submarines and also perhaps the British fleet at their disposal?
Absolutely. The US had sufficent sea power to take any island off the coast of Europe at will. By '45 the US fleet was larger than the fleets of the rest of the world COMBINED. Any scenario suggesting that the German subs could wrest control of the Atlantic if pure fantasy. And for the Germans to gain control over the British fleet would require use of orbital mind control lasers. The Germans have no way of forcing a British capitulation. And even if they did, the fleet would not have been handed over to the Germans. Historically the Germans never even gained control over the French fleet. Even the portion that remained afloat and under Vichy control was kept mostly in North Africa and the individual officers given strict orders to scuttle should the Germans attempt to seize them.

Even at its height, total European Axis GDP barely equaled the British Commonwealth. It was totally overshadowed by the US. On top of that many of the vital resources necessary for a modern war were completely outside the Reichs reach. The Commonwealth alone controled 90% of the worlds Bauxite. And the UK and US between them controled access to something like 85% of the worlds oil in '41. Even without the Soviet Union, per the OP, Germany didn't have a prayer of forcing terms on the British. The British wouldn't have been able to force terms on Germany either. But sooner or later, most likely by mid '42, the US will join the Commonwealth. And in late '45 the nukes start falling. The only hope Hitler has is that the Allies give up.

FranticMad
02-25-2003, 01:32 PM
And by mid '41 Germany had functionally lost the Battle of the Atlantic. Even there Germany never seriously threatened UK supplies. All told over the course of the war less than 1% of allied Atlantic shipping was sunk by the GermansWow, this contradicts what I had believed about the war. Maybe I've listened to too many programs that dramatized the danger faced by Britain.

I thought that '42 was a pretty bad year for tonnage sunk by U-boats, and that Britain really felt the effects of that (re: Churchill's statement that the only thing that really scared him during the war was the U-boat threat). I thought that it was only in '43 that Allies implemented sea radar and other methods to sink U-boats in large numbers. Can you point us to some information that supports the viewpoint you've proposed?

FranticMad
02-25-2003, 01:45 PM
Any scenario suggesting that the German subs could wrest control of the Atlantic if pure fantasy. Okay, let me fantasize a bit then. Assume that no invasion of Russia has occurred. Assume further that Germany instead pushes many of those eastern front forces to the west in order to take all French seaports, and to establish large airfields along the coast. With the increased number of aircraft available for the western front, Germany could project air support over the Atlantic, continue to harrass England's coast, and disrupt American attempts to establish an island base.

Any island won't be better than England for the Americans to take over. England had ports, dock facilities, rail lines, fuel depots, power: in other words, lots of logistical infrastructure. Even today the USA takes weeks or months to mount an overseas offensive, and they are doing it without being under attack. During WWII, I think any attempt by the Americans to create a base outside of England would be disrupted on a regular basis. Further, depending on the size of the island that you propose they could take, they would be exposed to observation -- Britain was too big to fully observe. It would be difficult to create what D-Day had, namely surprise.

CyberPundit
02-25-2003, 01:53 PM
"However Germany had virtually no chance of actually forcing the UK to come to terms. Sealion was never more than a pipe dream. Germany lost the Battle of Britain. And by mid '41 Germany had functionally lost the Battle of the Atlantic."
Actually my understanding is that the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic was in 1942 and that despite American entry into the war the U-boats were still a serious threat till early 1943.

And this despite the fact that the Germans achieved their target of 300 Uboats only in July 1942 and that they were distracted by the East Front

Let's posit a scenario where:
1)The Germans made Uboat their top priority after the Battle of France and decided to postpone Barbarossa till Britain was beaten. They would have achieved their target of 300 U-boats much earlier probably in the middle of 1941
2)The Germans didn't declare war against the US which remained merely a hostile neutral

I find it hard to see how Britain would have survived beyond 1942 at best . As it was with just 100 U-boats the Germans came close to defeating Britain in early 1941 when food imports came close to a minimum. How would the Brits have survived against , say 200 Uboats in that period? Or against 300 Uboats later in the year and maybe 400 Uboats in early 1942 without any active American military support.

Since we are both agreed that without the the Brits fighting the US wouldn't be in the war I won't discuss your other points.

Bartman
02-25-2003, 04:43 PM
Originally posted by FranticMad
Wow, this contradicts what I had believed about the war. Maybe I've listened to too many programs that dramatized the danger faced by Britain.

I thought that '42 was a pretty bad year for tonnage sunk by U-boats, and that Britain really felt the effects of that (re: Churchill's statement that the only thing that really scared him during the war was the U-boat threat). I thought that it was only in '43 that Allies implemented sea radar and other methods to sink U-boats in large numbers. Can you point us to some information that supports the viewpoint you've proposed?

Well to be fair I did engage in a bit of hyperbole there. The 1% figure is very solid. But it does reflect the entire war. And the situation improved very drastically mid '43 just when enormous amounts of material were beginning to cross the Atlantic. Most allied material made the crossing after Donetz withdrew the U-boats.

'42 was the best year for the Germans as they sunk 6,149,473 tons of merchant shipping throughout the year. The next best year was '43 with 2,510,304. But most of this was sunk off the coast of the US. Most of it had nothing to do with the UK. Most of this was 'local' shipping only. In fact for the Halifax convoys, '42 was their safest year yet. It was certainly damaging to the allied war effort, but in terms of knocking the UK out of the war it was the worst decision they could have made. The convoys actually crossing the Atlantic and supplying the UK were largely un-molested.

I don't have the Commonwealth numbers here at work but the US alone almost made all this good with new construction. The US produced 5,479,766 tons of new shipping in '42. Combined with Commonwealth figures the allies were building new shipping faster than the Germans were sinking it. The loss of the material they were carrying was damaging. But it never again became critical. And British stocks never ran as low as they had in Oct. '40.

The point is CyberPundit is proposing that German U-boat operations could have knocked the UK out of the war before the US joined. I disagree. The '42 numbers were an anomaly borne out because the US took far to long to adopt wartime measures such as escorted convoys and blackouts. The Germans never would have had that kind of success without declaring war on the US. The British ships were traveling in well protected convoys. They had already started operating most of the counter-submarine measures that were developed in WWII. Although many of them had not been perfected. Without the DoW on the US, allied shipping losses would almost certainly have been in the 2 - 2.5 million ton range just like in '40, '41, and '43. And Britain had already demonstrated it could deal with that level of losses.


Originally posted by CyberPundit
Let's posit a scenario where:
1)The Germans made U-boat their top priority after the Battle of France and decided to postpone Barbarossa till Britain was beaten. They would have achieved their target of 300 U-boats much earlier probably in the middle of 1941
2)The Germans didn't declare war against the US which remained merely a hostile neutral

I find it hard to see how Britain would have survived beyond 1942 at best . As it was with just 100 U-boats the Germans came close to defeating Britain in early 1941 when food imports came close to a minimum. How would the Brits have survived against , say 200 Uboats in that period? Or against 300 Uboats later in the year and maybe 400 Uboats in early 1942 without any active American military support.
And where are you getting these extra U-boats? Even with Barbarossa U-boats were made pretty much a top priority. Unlike say tanks or planes, shipbuilding is not something you can just switch production to overnight. Here are the production statistics for seagoing (not coastal) submarine production:
1939 15
1940 40
1941 196
1942 244
1943 270
1944 288

Now compare this to total aircraft production:
1939 8,295
1940 10,247
1941 11,776
1942 15,409
1943 24,807
1944 39,807

Despite years of focus on adding additional slipways, German shipbuilding was only able to increase production by roughly 50% between '41 and '44. To contrast aircraft production was increased nearly 340%. It is relatively easy to switch a tractor factor to a tank factory. It is impossible to switch a tank factory to a submarine factory. For Germany to have made a stronger effort to produce submarines it needs to construct the slipways at least a year, and probably more like two, in advance. So even if Germany tried to radically increase submarine production in late '40 (our likely point of departure from the original timeline) this increased production doesn't begin to hit the water until '42 to '43.

Of course all of this is impossible anyway because submarines require vast amounts of exotic metals, none of which are easily available to the Nazis. And many of these raw metal requirements are largely unique to submarine construction so you can't make it up by reducing tank or airplane construction. Add to this the great difficulty and precision required in submarine work and you don't have enough dock workers to make the things anyway, at least not in the short term. None of this allows you to have your 300-400 active boats in '42.

And even if the Germans pull off some miracle and somehow flood the Atlantic with U-boats, they can't do this without the British knowing about it. And they are at least as capable of upping escort and Merchant production as the Germans are of upping u-boat production. Had it gotten bad enough they even had contingency plans to pull the Far East fleet into the Atlantic as well.

And you still haven't explained how all this happens without Britain receiving in your words "any active American military support," when in real life by April '41 the US was already fighting a full scale anti-submarine war.

ralph124c
02-28-2003, 08:14 AM
From what I understand, this project was headed by the Nobel prizewinner (W. Heisenburg). Although a briliant man, he made a fatal mistake: he thought that a bomb could be built without the use of enriched uranium. Because of this error, the germans never actually had a working reactor..they built a reactor that was an array of uranium blocks, suspended by chains. This whole array was to be lowered into a bath of heavy water (the moderator). US experts who examined the german site later declared that if the pile had ever reached critical mass, the reactor would have most likely blown up, and fried everybody around it! Which leads us back to Dr. Heisenburg..after the war, he always maintained that he knew of his error, but kept to it TO PREVENT THE GERMANS from achieving the bomb!
I think the guy was a liar!

Little Nemo
02-28-2003, 10:38 AM
Here's my take on the OP.

In the Spring of 1941, high level meetings are held in Germany and the decision is made to postpone plans to attack the Soviet Union and the current state of wary neutrality is maintained. With the new "England First" policy in effect, advocates of the Mediterranean policy are able to win their arguments. Gibraltor and Malta fall to airborne and marine assaults and the Axis troops in Africa start receiving significant reinforcements. Egypt falls and the Germans press on into Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Arabia, and Iraq (in many cases with local support). Meanwhile, without the strain of the Eastern front, Germany is able to devote resources to other neglected military areas such as the navy, rocket forces, jets, and strategic bombers.

By October, Britain, faced with slow strangulation by submarines, aerial bombardment, and a long series of defeats on land, has had enough. Churchill is ousted and the new Halifax government opens armistice talks with Berlin. The resulting peace is not unbearable; the UK remains unoccupied and free but has to recognize German superiority over the rest of Europe. The neutrals of Europe see which way the wind is blowing and Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Russia all accomodate their foreign policies accordingly.

In the United States, there has been a prolonged debate between the interventionist and isolationist factions in the government. With the British collapse and European peace, the isolationists win the day and their victory is reflected in the November congressional elections. But there victory is short lived when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor a month later and then occupy the Philipines, Malaysia, and the East Indies. Britain having just emerged from one war has no heart for another. Troops and ships are sent to India, Burma, and Australia but the United States is told that they will only be used to defend against further attacks. Japan receives even less help from their supposed ally; the Germans tell them that as far as they're concerned Japan has started its own war and should not expect any direct support from the Reich.

With the passage of a year, the prospect of a strike east is against raised in Berlin. This time, despite the reforms and rebuilding of the Red Army, the prospects are better; there is no second front, Germany has secured its own oil supply in the Middle East, the United States is distracted in the Pacific, and the armed forces have had several months to rest and refit. Early one May morning in 1942, over a million soldiers smash their way across the Soviet frontier (including the borders of Finland and Turkey) in a campaign that will not end until Moscow falls five months later (along with the second and third largest Soviet cities of Leningrad and Kiev). The Soviet government is able to evacuate to Kuibyshev and continue the fight but there will be no foreign support this time. The Wehrmacht's 1943 Summer offensive sweeps through southern Russia and the Soviets are forced to evacuate again to Magnitogorsk. Stalin himself does not make this trip. Having lost confidence in his leadership it is decided by others that he can best serve the Motherland by dying in combat at the front. The subsequent ruling trioka of Beria, Molotov, and Zhukov negotiate a grim peace that cedes control of everything east of the Urals.

The Japanese fare even worse. With no European front to compete with, the Pacific war receives the full strength of America. The Japanese conquest is stopped in 1942 when American code-breaking enables the USN to ambush the Japanese attack on Panama. 1943 sees the Japanese conquests liberated one by one as the American armed forces reach their full strength. In June of 1944, American troops bring the war to Japan with the invasion of Kyushu. Six more months of bitter fighting across the home islands are required, however, before Japan's final surrender.

The Germans spend 1944 mopping up resistance forces in their conquered lands, but by New Year's Day 1945, the world is officially at peace (with the exception of the Indian civil war which breaks out in 1944 and doesn't end until Subras Bose's victory in 1949 and the evacuation of the Nehru government to Ceylon). But the reality is a cold war between the two superpowers of the United States and the German Reich. The Americans win the race to build the first atom bomb in 1947 but the threat of retaliation by German jet bombers and rockets (as well as the first German a-bombs which appear in 1950) keep the uneasy peace.

FranticMad
02-28-2003, 12:07 PM
Interesting scenario, Little Nemo. But is Hitler capable of imagining and coordinating such a plan? I think his inherent inability to delegate authority and to accept strategic retreats would send him off the rails.

Bartman
02-28-2003, 05:59 PM
Not bad Little Nemo however there are a few points that need to be addressed.

With the new "England First" policy in effect, advocates of the Mediterranean policy are able to win their arguments. Gibraltor and Malta fall to airborne and marine assaults and the Axis troops in Africa start receiving significant reinforcements. Egypt falls and the Germans press on into Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Arabia, and Iraq (in many cases with local support).
Malta is eminently takeable and probably should be assaulted. Gibraltar is going to be tough nut to crack though. Simply put the RN and RAF forces can easily repulse any seaborne invasion the axis can mount. That leaves only a land based assault through Spain. Historically Hitler tried to get Franco to agree to an assault and Franco refused. Spain imported much of its grain from Commonwealth nations at the time and Franco couldn't afford to lose that. The option of a German invasion of Spain is possible but unattractive. No one knows exactly what would have happened, but visions of a repeat of the Peninsular War sure spring to mind. Historically Hitler actively pursued this option and eventually decided it was unworkable.

Even if somehow both Malta and Gibraltar are taken this doesn't greatly improve the Axis position in North Africa though. The biggest issue is one of logistics. When Rommel reached El Alamein, the reason he stopped is that he had outrun his supplies. Tripoli to El Alamein is over a thousand miles of unpaved roads (and no rail service). To deliver a single gallon of fuel required the Axis to use 10 gallons to fuel the transports. In comparison the British are right on a good rail back to Alexandria and Cairo. Simply put the Germans simply don't have the legs to make it much further than they did historically.

By October, Britain, faced with slow strangulation by submarines, aerial bombardment, and a long series of defeats on land, has had enough. Churchill is ousted and the new Halifax government opens armistice talks with Berlin. The resulting peace is not unbearable; the UK remains unoccupied and free but has to recognize German superiority over the rest of Europe.
You seem to have skipped a step. Why does any of this cause the Churchill government to fall? No production changes made in the Spring of '41 will greatly change the situation by October '41. Britain will still have the upper hand in the Battle of the Atlantic. They will still have a larger and better trained air force. And slightly heavier losses in the Middle East are in no way going to be more of a morale killer than watching their ally, the Soviets, getting slaughtered. Historically Churchill easily survived a vote of no confidence (only one vote against IIRC) in almost your exact scenario. At the time it was felt that Rommel was going to take Cairo and Singapore had just fallen. Why would the British people be any more tired of war than they were historically?

Early one May morning in 1942, over a million soldiers smash their way across the Soviet frontier (including the borders of Finland and Turkey) in a campaign that will not end until Moscow falls five months later (along with the second and third largest Soviet cities of Leningrad and Kiev).
Except the Soviets will be vastly more prepared than they were historically. The border fortifications will be completed and fully manned. The new weapon systems such as the T-34 tank will be available in (for the Germans) disconcerting numbers. The new post-purge officer cadre will be in place. And the red army will be nearly 1 million men stronger than it was in '41.

Historically the west front didn't take anything from the east front in '41-'43, so there is no reason to expect the Germans will be any stronger in your scenario than they were historically. In contrast the red army was in shambles in '41. Give them an extra year to prepare and the Germans will advance only a fraction of what they did historically.

All in all not bad. But you have hand waved several important points. The fact of the matter is the Germans were very fortunate to have done as well as they did. In fact if the French had had a viable tactical doctrine the Germans probably would have collapsed by late '43. As it was, by '42 European Axis production was roughly 25% that of the allies, and population was roughly 35%. Even if the Soviets are removed the Germans will be operating at a severe disadvantage. In fact by the time you remove the resources they were able to plunder from the Ukraine and other Soviet territories things don't look at all good for the Axis.

Little Nemo
02-28-2003, 11:10 PM
I've always felt that both the Anglo-German and the Russo-German wars were a lot closer than most people credit. Too many people seem to automatically assume that because Germany did lose, its defeat was inevitable. In my semi-informed opinion, any number of relatively small decisions could have changed the outcome of either or both conflicts.

Once the war was over, most British people retroactively placed themselves in the Churchill "never surrender" camp. But during the actual war, there were a number of voices speaking otherwise. It wasn't a black or white case of either defeating Germany or being subject to Nazi occupation. The large gray area in the middle was a recognition of the status quo in early 1941: Britain hasn't been defeated but has no realistic chance of defeating Germany in the near future without outside help.

As for war between Germany and Russia, it probably would have happened eventually. Conquering Russia was always a cornerstone in Hitler's plans. But there's no reason it had to happen in 1941 as opposed to 1940 or 1942. Hitler was capable of being deviously flexible when he saw the advantage of it. As for Stalin, while he was ruthless, he was no risk taker. He wouldn't have declared war on Germany unless victory was a sure thing; a scenario unlikely to emerge. Nor do I feel the Soviets would have been miraculously able to totally remake their military if given the mere eleven months I posed. Improvements would have been made, but the Germans would have used the same period to improve also and probably done so more effectively.

The United States was always the big shadow over Axis plans for expansion. I fully agree with those who say the US was virtually undefeatable once it committed itself to war. But that commitment was never inevitable. Right up to December 7, 1941 there were many influentional people arguing against a military build-up or confronting the Axis. Ironically, America's very superiority was one factor used by those arguing against war. Many people said that because Germany and Japan couldn't really threaten the US itself, there was no need to go to war for the sake of other countries.

So overall, I stand by my post as being plausible except for two area: my passing reference to India was obviously intended as a comment on post-war China and I have to admit in retrospect that there's little chance the isolationists would have gained many seats in 1941 when there were no Congressional elections that year.