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Old 11-05-2019, 03:11 PM
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Nazi Germany: Suppose an "East only, never West" strategy


I know we've had hundreds of threads about World War II, so I hope there haven't been threads on this before, or at least, not too recently:

In IMHO, a poster asked why most of Europe was so reluctant to go to war with Hitler, and the main reason was because the severe trauma of World War I made them want to make war an absolute last resort. Hitler, no doubt, knew this as well. Moreover, the Western Europeans didn't like Bolsheviks/Communists any more than anyone else.

Suppose Hitler had only ever gone east in his war - focusing all his efforts solely on conquering all of Europe east of Germany, and never bothering with any of Europe to the west (well, at least not for a decade or two) - this would have had several immense advantages for the Nazis:
  • Germany does not over-extend itself by attacking everyone all at once. In this scenario, Germany doesn't have to spend forces and resources on capturing Netherlands, Denmark, France, Belgium, attacking the UK, Norway or fighting any Americans, nor does it have to wage any Atlantic U-boat campaign;
  • Russia was even weaker in 1939 than in 1941;
  • The consolidation of Germany's concentrated forces on its Eastern Front is even more effective than it was in Barbarossa;
  • Assuming that Hitler makes his intentions clear ("I'm only going east, never west"), the French, Americans and Britons would have had strong incentive to stay out of the war. They would have wanted to sit on the sidelines and watch the Nazis and Communists duke it out with each to the maximum extent. Sure, they would have armed up their forces, but they wouldn't have much incentive to attack or invade Germany, absent any German attack on them first.


By the 1950s, Hitler might have then turned his eye west, and found the western Allies too tough a nut to crack (since they would have been arming up for a long time now,) and there would have been a prolonged Cold War between the Axis and free west. But Russia and all of Eastern Europe might be Axis.
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Old 11-05-2019, 03:31 PM
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I know we've had hundreds of threads about World War II, so I hope there haven't been threads on this before, or at least, not too recently:

In IMHO, a poster asked why most of Europe was so reluctant to go to war with Hitler, and the main reason was because the severe trauma of World War I made them want to make war an absolute last resort. Hitler, no doubt, knew this as well. Moreover, the Western Europeans didn't like Bolsheviks/Communists any more than anyone else.

Suppose Hitler had only ever gone east in his war - focusing all his efforts solely on conquering all of Europe east of Germany, and never bothering with any of Europe to the west (well, at least not for a decade or two) - this would have had several immense advantages for the Nazis:
  • Germany does not over-extend itself by attacking everyone all at once. In this scenario, Germany doesn't have to spend forces and resources on capturing Netherlands, Denmark, France, Belgium, attacking the UK, Norway or fighting any Americans, nor does it have to wage any Atlantic U-boat campaign;
  • Russia was even weaker in 1939 than in 1941;
  • The consolidation of Germany's concentrated forces on its Eastern Front is even more effective than it was in Barbarossa;
  • Assuming that Hitler makes his intentions clear ("I'm only going east, never west"), the French, Americans and Britons would have had strong incentive to stay out of the war. They would have wanted to sit on the sidelines and watch the Nazis and Communists duke it out with each to the maximum extent. Sure, they would have armed up their forces, but they wouldn't have much incentive to attack or invade Germany, absent any German attack on them first.


By the 1950s, Hitler might have then turned his eye west, and found the western Allies too tough a nut to crack (since they would have been arming up for a long time now,) and there would have been a prolonged Cold War between the Axis and free west. But Russia and all of Eastern Europe might be Axis.
They didn't have a choice once they invaded Poland, as the western powers declared war on them. Eventually, France and Britain would have attacked Germany, especially if Germany continued pushing east and actually engaged with Russia. If Germany allies with Russia and they basically divide Eastern Europe between them then you still have to account for the western powers attacking Germany. Sorry, but Germany had gone as far as they could and remain at peace with France and Britain. Unless they stopped before Poland, war was inevitable. Eventually, France and Britain would attack Germany, whether they chose to fight in the west or not. I'm not convinced Germany could win a totally defensive war with France/Britain at this stage either, as their own defenses weren't in any sort of shape for that, and their forces were really more geared towards offense than defense. Even WITH the Soviets on their side I don't see how that works out for them, and my WAG is Stalin would have gladly cut Hitlers throat the first chance he got...just like Hitler did to him in the real timeline.

Why do you think that France and Britain would hold off indefinitely?
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Old 11-05-2019, 03:54 PM
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They didn't have a choice once they invaded Poland, as the western powers declared war on them.
Exactly. Arguing about whether Germany should have had a different policy is a moot point. They were in a war with Britain and France because Britain and France declared war on Germany. And the reason they did so was because Germany was seeking to expand to the east in Poland. So Germany didn't have an "east only" option.
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:00 PM
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Yeah. None of these “what-if” plans work out for Germany. The only way The Nazis end up not militarily defeated is if they aren’t Nazis and don’t invade anyone.

Of course, then they just collapse in a few years as their economy was a shell game and they needed to plunder conquered nations to avoid bankruptcy.
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:02 PM
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They didn't have a choice once they invaded Poland, as the western powers declared war on them. Eventually, France and Britain would have attacked Germany, especially if Germany continued pushing east and actually engaged with Russia. If Germany allies with Russia and they basically divide Eastern Europe between them then you still have to account for the western powers attacking Germany. Sorry, but Germany had gone as far as they could and remain at peace with France and Britain. Unless they stopped before Poland, war was inevitable. Eventually, France and Britain would attack Germany, whether they chose to fight in the west or not. I'm not convinced Germany could win a totally defensive war with France/Britain at this stage either, as their own defenses weren't in any sort of shape for that, and their forces were really more geared towards offense than defense. Even WITH the Soviets on their side I don't see how that works out for them, and my WAG is Stalin would have gladly cut Hitlers throat the first chance he got...just like Hitler did to him in the real timeline.

Why do you think that France and Britain would hold off indefinitely?
Because the French and British would have to sell their populace on the following: "We are only twenty years removed from a deeply traumatic Great War, and the Germans aren't hurting or planning to hurt us, they only want to go after East Europe and the Bolsheviks. Meanwhile we need to mobilize millions of our men to get potentially wounded or killed even though it would be in our interest to just sit back and watch Stalin and Hitler go against each other in the ring for as many rounds as possible."
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:11 PM
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And how does Germany do that without going through Poland, which Britain and France had a security treaty with?

And again, it's not something Germany can control. Only Britain and France can sell that message to their populaces. There is no way Germany can unilaterally have an east-only policy.
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:35 PM
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Because the French and British would have to sell their populace on the following: "We are only twenty years removed from a deeply traumatic Great War, and the Germans aren't hurting or planning to hurt us, they only want to go after East Europe and the Bolsheviks. Meanwhile we need to mobilize millions of our men to get potentially wounded or killed even though it would be in our interest to just sit back and watch Stalin and Hitler go against each other in the ring for as many rounds as possible."
They can't though. They were hoist on their own petard, since they had said, clearly, that they WOULD go to war if Germany invaded Poland...which Germany did. When that happened, a state of war existed at least wrt the agreed upon policies (I think Chamberlain declared war jointly for the allies a few days later). Now, I suppose you could posit that the UK and France decided that, despite this, that they really didn't mean it and it was all good. That seems...unlikely.

So, you have the Brits and French declaring war. Now, I suppose you could posit that with the phony war happening, the Brits and French decide they will just sit on the defensive and do nothing as long as the Germans don't invade westward. The Germans, of course, didn't or couldn't know that this was what the French and Brits would do in the long run. The Brits and French were content to sit on the defensive in the short term while they built up their forces, but eventually they would have pushed into Germany, especially if the Germans were only going east.

Sorry, there is just no way to make your scenario work in the real world, if Germany in fact invades Poland...which they pretty much had to do to make your scenario of Germany going east work. Once that happened there is just no way for Germany NOT to have to fight the western powers.

Also, neither France nor the UK were stupid (well, not THAT stupid). They weren't going to just let Germany expand eastward unchecked, even if they did decide to sell the Poles out. At some point, they simply couldn't just continue to let Germany expand eastward without doing anything. This is why they DID decide that Poland was their red line. But if it wasn't Poland it would have been something else. Certainly, if Germany went ahead and invaded Russia that would have been a line for them, despite what they felt about the Soviets.
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:42 PM
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Because the French and British would have to sell their populace on the following: "We are only twenty years removed from a deeply traumatic Great War, and the Germans aren't hurting or planning to hurt us, they only want to go after East Europe and the Bolsheviks. Meanwhile we need to mobilize millions of our men to get potentially wounded or killed even though it would be in our interest to just sit back and watch Stalin and Hitler go against each other in the ring for as many rounds as possible."
Here's the map of Europe on the eve of the outbreak of the Second World War. Nazi Germany physically can't attack the U.S.S.R. without first invading Poland. A few days later Nazi Germany did just that. And Britain and France, "twenty years removed from a deeply traumatic Great War" notwithstanding, promptly declared war on Germany (along with the rest of the British Empire and Commonwealth).

The only way I can think of for the Nazis to have mounted an "East only, never West" strategy would be to somehow persuade the Poles to let Germany send a huge army through their country unopposed ("We're just passing through on our way to attack those nasty Bolsheviks, cross our hearts and hope to die!"). While the Poles had long-standing and more recent reasons for not getting along with the Russians, they also didn't exactly have much historical reason to trust the Germans (let alone Adolf Hitler), and in any event letting the Big Powerful Country on one side of you use your country as a highway to attack the Big Powerful Country on the other side of you is probably never a great idea, strategically speaking.
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Old 11-05-2019, 10:37 PM
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The policy of the Great Powers since oh about 1871 was to contain Germany. Why would the suddenly change their minds?
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Old 11-05-2019, 10:44 PM
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Because the French and British would have to sell their populace on the following: "We are only twenty years removed from a deeply traumatic Great War, and the Germans aren't hurting or planning to hurt us, they only want to go after East Europe and the Bolsheviks. Meanwhile we need to mobilize millions of our men to get potentially wounded or killed even though it would be in our interest to just sit back and watch Stalin and Hitler go against each other in the ring for as many rounds as possible."
Well, that's pretty much what they did. With the Maginot Line and the English Channel, France and Britain didn't feel they were directly threatened by Germany. They declared war against Germany to keep Germany from expanding into Eastern Europe.
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Old 11-05-2019, 11:27 PM
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As noted, it wasn’t Hitler's choice to go to war with the UK and France over Poland. Yes, technically he responded to an ultimatum that stated, in effect, "Withdraw your troops from Poland, or else we’ll declare war on you," by declaring war himself when the deadline passed. But it was effectively France and the UK's decision to give that ultimatum, and I don’t think it’s likely that they would have held back and not declared war themselves, as advertised, if Hitler hadn’t first. Left to his own devices, absent an ultimatum from the Anglo-French alliance, he would have preferred to hold off on a war with the west.

Perhaps a more historically/geographically plausible question—if you’ll pardon my proposing it in this thread—is...

What if Germany and Japan had actually coordinated their efforts, as the allies ultimately did, to attack their mutual foe on separate fronts? A strategic, if not an operational, partnership akin to what the US and UK had with the USSR.
  • Invasion of Poland and Battle of France go down as written in the historical record.
  • Hitler makes no pretense at preparing for an invasion of the UK and "most earnestly and sincerely" articulates his desire for peace with the UK.
  • Germany and Japan coordinate to launch dual offensives into the USSR, from Manchuria in the East and Poland in the West. They squeeze the USSR between them as a vice.
  • Japan actively avoids confrontation with or provocation of the US. Whatever happens in December of 1941, no US territories or protectorates are threatened.

Now, the UK might have kept fighting and the US might still have ended up being drawn into the war absent a direct attack against it, much as it was drawn into WWI when it became too inconvenient to remain neutral, but 1) it would have given Germany and Japan (oh, uh, and Italy) a free hand for longer, and 2) the enthusiasm of the American people for a long, drawn-out, and bloody war would have been much diminished, and FDR (if he was even still in office if and when the US ended up going to war) would have had a much harder time mobilizing the nation for total war. No Pearl Harbor, no rallying cry, no more near-universal consensus (I mean, there was one vote cast against war in the House...)

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 11-05-2019 at 11:30 PM.
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:16 AM
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Meanwhile we need to mobilize millions of our men to get potentially wounded or killed even though it would be in our interest to just sit back and watch Stalin and Hitler go against each other in the ring for as many rounds as possible."
Except that it would not be in French or British interests to let either of them conquer the other and become sole master of the bulk of the Eurasian landmass. Sooner or later either would present a real threat to British interests in India, and directly to metropolitan France.

Essentially similar arguments applied over Czechoslovakia and Poland. Public opinion wasn't ready over the Sudetenland, but was over Poland, after the takeover of the rest of Czechoslovakia.
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:25 AM
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Yeah. None of these ďwhat-ifĒ plans work out for Germany. The only way The Nazis end up not militarily defeated is if they arenít Nazis and donít invade anyone.

Of course, then they just collapse in a few years as their economy was a shell game and they needed to plunder conquered nations to avoid bankruptcy.
Well, not quite. If Halifax had become PM, he would have considered a deal to end the war. With GB out, France out, and the USA not in (and never will be vs germany) that leaves the nazis vs the USSR, and even Stalin admitted they would have lost.

That brokered peace is about the only thing that would have allowed germany to win.

The only other possibility is that Stalin has Zhukov eliminated like all the other officers(Zhukov was going to be, but a chance meeting with a Field marshal buddy of Stalin saved him and sent him back to command vs the Japanese). No Zhukov and thus Japanese Northern plan works, they push into Russia. That would have made things very very tough for the USSR.

But both those things are very early in the war. Once Hitler attacks Russia and the Japanese attack Pearl, it's all over.
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Old 11-06-2019, 02:46 AM
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Here's the map of Europe on the eve of the outbreak of the Second World War. Nazi Germany physically can't attack the U.S.S.R. without first invading Poland. A few days later Nazi Germany did just that. And Britain and France, "twenty years removed from a deeply traumatic Great War" notwithstanding, promptly declared war on Germany (along with the rest of the British Empire and Commonwealth).

The only way I can think of for the Nazis to have mounted an "East only, never West" strategy would be to somehow persuade the Poles to let Germany send a huge army through their country unopposed ("We're just passing through on our way to attack those nasty Bolsheviks, cross our hearts and hope to die!"). While the Poles had long-standing and more recent reasons for not getting along with the Russians, they also didn't exactly have much historical reason to trust the Germans (let alone Adolf Hitler), and in any event letting the Big Powerful Country on one side of you use your country as a highway to attack the Big Powerful Country on the other side of you is probably never a great idea, strategically speaking.
The way this discussion is being carried is as if nobody is aware that Nazi Germany and the USSR pretty much invaded Poland jointly and in agreement with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
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Old 11-06-2019, 03:03 AM
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Germany could have also built up its defenses along its western border very stoutly, such that France would incur high costs in invading Germany, and decide not to invade.
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Old 11-06-2019, 05:15 AM
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Germany could have also built up its defenses along its western border very stoutly, such that France would incur high costs in invading Germany, and decide not to invade.
They could have called it the Siegfried Line.... oh wait
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Old 11-06-2019, 05:37 AM
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What if Germany totally backstabs Stalin?

Let Russia invade Poland, sit back, don't invade themselves. Let Poland panic for a bit, maybe the UK and France declare for Poland. Talk with Finland a bit about the Winter War. Then, when Poland is about to panic, offer help against Stalin, seeing as Germany has this useful army next door. And not across the ocean or over in France.

Germany would lose the tactical advantage of surprise they had when they attacked Russia, but gain a strategic advantage in allies against Russia and no multi-front war. Coordinate with Japan about attacking Russia in the east, because that would probably be the point when the western allies would start to worry about Hitler more than Stalin. Useful to control when that happens.
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Old 11-06-2019, 05:58 AM
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Zero chance of
1) The Soviets invading Poland without direct support from Germany
2) France and the UK going to war with the Soviet Union over Poland.
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Old 11-06-2019, 06:46 AM
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Hard to say what the outcome would be


But very interesting to think of Germany taking an East only, never West approach. My hunch is that America would never have entered the war, in those circumstances, so long as Japan took a West only, never East approach.

And what if the Nazi's avoided Poland altogether, and went east through Hungary & Romania to get to Russia? Or even a more southern route? Not sure which countries had pacts, but it's interesting to think of what might have happened if the Nazi's went east only & the Japanese went west only. Where would we be today?
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Old 11-06-2019, 06:51 AM
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Zero chance of
1) The Soviets invading Poland without direct support from Germany
2) France and the UK going to war with the Soviet Union over Poland.
The backstab was convincing them you were going to support, then not actually doing so. Communications in the 1930s were not as quick as today, and the Soviets were not exactly at the cutting edge of logistics and communication.

As for France and the UK... they were willing to go to war with Germany over Poland, even after the experience of WWI. And given Soviet behavior in the Baltics and against Finland I think they would be an issue of concern. if you remember how much worry there was about the ideology of communism at the time, as opposed to Nazism and Fascism.

However, just Germany + Poland + Finland against Russia would be a huge improvement on our historys strategic position for Germany.

Althugh on reflection I think getting Japan to invade Russia without attacking the US would be difficult, they had their own war aims which was not just territory.

Last edited by Grim Render; 11-06-2019 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 11-06-2019, 07:30 AM
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Great idea., Lets avoid the basically undefendable North European plain and attack through the Carparthian mountains.
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Old 11-06-2019, 08:04 AM
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What if Germany totally backstabs Stalin?

Let Russia invade Poland, sit back, don't invade themselves. Let Poland panic for a bit, maybe the UK and France declare for Poland. Talk with Finland a bit about the Winter War. Then, when Poland is about to panic, offer help against Stalin, seeing as Germany has this useful army next door. And not across the ocean or over in France.

Germany would lose the tactical advantage of surprise they had when they attacked Russia, but gain a strategic advantage in allies against Russia and no multi-front war. Coordinate with Japan about attacking Russia in the east, because that would probably be the point when the western allies would start to worry about Hitler more than Stalin. Useful to control when that happens.
Real world, the U.S.S.R. didn't invade Poland until a couple of weeks after Germany did. Granted that Stalin's decision to agree to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in the first place does seem extraordinarily stupid just on geopolitical terms, it's still pretty hard to imagine Hitler talking Stalin into actually going first.
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Old 11-06-2019, 08:58 AM
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At the time, the Polish - Soviet war and the Battle of Warzaw was less than 20 years in the past. About as long ago as 9/11 is to us. Clearly it would take some diplomacy... but Stalin was disposed that way already.
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Old 11-06-2019, 09:04 AM
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I don’t think there is any scenario where Germany wins. But the closest might be if they had focused on long-range fighters in the buildup to 1940. Achieve air superiority over Britain, and once achieved, bomb industrial centers into the stone age. This would take much time (allied bombing didn’t effect a reduction in German production until late 1944, as a yardstick) Postpone Barbarossa until done, say by 5 years. Of course, Staling might wake up sometime in that stretch, and Germany is fucked again. They could’ve helped themselves by not using resources to torture and murder millions of people, but to the Nazis that was the whole point, so fat chance of that. They could go to a 3-shift war economy, but Hitler was reluctant to inconvenience the German people at large (for his special definition of German) . They could have qualified military personnel make military decisions, instead of a homicidal megalomaniac, but the very nature of Nazi-Germany made that impossible.
The defeat of Nazi-Germany is built in to what it was.

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Old 11-06-2019, 10:16 AM
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I donít think there is any scenario where Germany wins. But the closest might be if they had focused on long-range fighters in the buildup to 1940. Achieve air superiority over Britain, and once achieved, bomb industrial centers into the stone age.
Even with longer range fighters - and bear in mind the British were not stupid and would have adjusted their own defenses accordingly - winning the Battle of Britain was never reasonably in the cards. Time over target was a disadvantage, but the primary problem was that Britain had a supply of fighter planes that was never going to run out; they literally had more at the end of the Battle of Britain than they started with, because they built fighters faster than Germany could shoot them down. Indeed, at no point in the Battle of Britain did the RAF even commit the entirety of its force to the battle; Hugh Dowding was very cautious about overcommitting his reserve or moving fighters and pilots into 11 Group; Fighter Command still had relatively lightly used resources in the other groups that could have been pulled into the critical areas of operation had things gotten really desperate. Building more complex fighters - something that was not easy, as evidenced by the fact Britain didn't have any good long range fighters, either - would have put Germany further behind in numbers, and just exacerbated that problem.

On top of that, Germany couldn't have bombed Britain's industrial centers back into the Stone Age even if they did have fighters that could stay over Britain a little longer, because they simply did not have enough bombers, and their bombers did not carry enough bombs and couldn't bomb accurately enough. The Allies struggled to stop German industry with a bomber force that was ludicrously more powerful - Germany's primary bombers were amusingly small as compared to what the Allies were rolling out; the biggest, the He-111, carried less than half the bomb load of a British heavy bomber. They also carried defensive armaments that were simply not good enough to dissuade fighter attack. So you'd have to also posit a universe where Germany builds larger, better bombers. Which can't have happened, because they did not really have the technology or the capacity; if they'd concentrate on that they have to give up something else somewhere. Bombers were REALLY expensive to design and manufacture, by the standards of the time. The USA spent more money developing the B-29 than they did developing the atomic bomb.

As scary as the experience was for Britain, the truth is that they kicked the shit out of Germany in the Battle of Britain; it was not all that close, there was never any chance it would be close, and the results were disastrous for the Luftwaffe. They lost almost two thousand aircraft, and many highly skilled pilots, all of which was badly missed in the war against the Soviets.
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:09 PM
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Germany and Japan coordinate to launch dual offensives into the USSR, from Manchuria in the East and Poland in the West. They squeeze the USSR between them as a vice.
I'm finding this step somewhat incredulous. To paraphrase Churchill, "Some chicken, some vise." The USSR was an awfully big country with an awful lot of resources. Germany could out industrialize it but lacked the resources. Japan had neither the industry nor the resources.
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:14 PM
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But very interesting to think of Germany taking an East only, never West approach. My hunch is that America would never have entered the war, in those circumstances, so long as Japan took a West only, never East approach.
Not sure how that happens, either.

They'd have to also leave the Philippines alone (which they actually attacked within hours of Pearl Harbor), leaving a huge hole in their coverage of Asia and counter to their claims over the region. There's no way the US doesn't look at the map and think, "Jeez, I'm sure Japan will continue leaving this large set of islands alone after attacking literally everything around it".

The hope of both Germany and Japan was to strike so quickly that the war did not drag on. That wasn't ultimately realistic.
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:14 PM
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Iím generally not a fan of these history re-writes. Largely because we ask historical character to not act in character Ė Hitlerís not anti-Semitic and the southern aristocracy isnít beholden to slavery etc. However, this scenario does intrigue me.

Having said that, I donít think it would work out for Germany as many have stated.

But if you wanted to make a go of it . . .

First, Germany would have to virtually immediately invade Russia. Germany wasnít prepared to do that two years before they ultimately did in June 1941. But they would need to do that and sell the allies that they really wanted to fight Russia, not France, and certainly not England or the United States.

Secondly, they would have to treat Poland as temporary, and not a conquered nation, with a pledge to leave Poland when the war ended. (That certainly didnít work for Germany via-ŗ-vis Belgium 25 years earlier of course).

Thirdly, they would have to take no offensive action against France or Great Britain. So no sinking of HMS Courageous for example.

Fourth, Germany would have to go on a major worldwide PR campaign stating that they were just attacking Communist hordes in Russia for all of mankind. Sell that to Great Britain, France, the United States, and repeat over the nine months of the Phoney War. And donít invade France of course.

Would this work? I doubt it. But the future allies werenít clamoring to fight another war, as if at least partially evidenced by the length of the Phoney War.
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:27 PM
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Not sure how that happens, either.

They'd have to also leave the Philippines alone (which they actually attacked within hours of Pearl Harbor), leaving a huge hole in their coverage of Asia and counter to their claims over the region. There's no way the US doesn't look at the map and think, "Jeez, I'm sure Japan will continue leaving this large set of islands alone after attacking literally everything around it".
...
Sure, FDR will think that, and will build it up. But we wont start a war over it.
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:59 PM
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I'm finding this step somewhat incredulous. To paraphrase Churchill, "Some chicken, some vise." The USSR was an awfully big country with an awful lot of resources. Germany could out industrialize it but lacked the resources. Japan had neither the industry nor the resources.
I don’t necessarily disagree with what you’re saying, but to the extent it may be true, it only highlights just how strategically bankrupt the Axis powers were. If it was untenable for Japan and Germany to take the USSR on together, then that only highlights just how foolhardy Germany was to think it could do it on its own, and while still fighting a war against the UK, with an active theater in northern Africa. All I’m saying is that, at the very least, Germany and Japan seem to have formed an Axis in only the loosest sense, and seemed to have worked strategically not only at cross-purposes, but in the case of Germany, to have followed the other down some pretty questionable holes.

Even if they hadn’t coordinated, and even if Japan had still gone ahead, on its own initiative, with Pearl Harbor and other attacks in the Pacific, Germany chose to follow them to war with the US. It’s treaty with Japan imposed no such obligation on it for a war of aggression initiated by Japan. While it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that FDR would have still been able to get a declaration of war against Germany with a whole lot of politicking, it’s unclear to me how many weeks/months/years that would have taken if Germany hadn’t done him (and Churchill) the favor of declaring war on the US just days after Pearl Harbor. Surely "Europe First" (to the extent it was even needed—the Japanese folded pretty much in step with Germany even with the focus on Europe) would have been a tougher sell, even if FDR had eventually been able to mobilize opinion in favor of a two hemisphere, truly global war.

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I’m generally not a fan of these history re-writes. Largely because we ask historical character to not act in character – Hitler’s not anti-Semitic and the southern aristocracy isn’t beholden to slavery etc. However, this scenario does intrigue me.
Just wanted to say, I generally agree with this. I hate alternate history genre fiction for this reason, but—and I’m not saying you’d agree or disagree—I think considering the feasibility of alternatives that are otherwise consistent with the world as it was at the time is in another realm. It’s not so much fantasy (as, say, positing that George Patton would still have been born exactly as he was even if the Confederacy had won the war), but a way of trying to better understand the world as it might have appeared to those living in it. The question of whether or not Germany could have ever, even with Japan, overpowered the USSR, says something about how delusional the Nazi hierarchy may have been in reality.

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Old 11-06-2019, 02:06 PM
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I'm finding this step somewhat incredulous. To paraphrase Churchill, "Some chicken, some vise." The USSR was an awfully big country with an awful lot of resources. Germany could out industrialize it but lacked the resources. Japan had neither the industry nor the resources.
If Russia was on it's own, it would have been defeated. Stalin himself admitted that. There is not doubt.

Now, with lend lease, etc- it was a close run thing, and if Japan had attacked Russia, drawing off support and troops, Moscow could have fallen. Many historians have speculated that the fall of Moscow could have caused the collapse of the USSR.

But when Zhukov gave the Japanese a bloody nose, the Japanese gave up on the Northern plan.
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Old 11-06-2019, 02:38 PM
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Iím generally not a fan of these history re-writes. Largely because we ask historical character to not act in character Ė Hitlerís not anti-Semitic and the southern aristocracy isnít beholden to slavery etc. However, this scenario does intrigue me.

Having said that, I donít think it would work out for Germany as many have stated.

But if you wanted to make a go of it . . .

First, Germany would have to virtually immediately invade Russia. Germany wasnít prepared to do that two years before they ultimately did in June 1941. But they would need to do that and sell the allies that they really wanted to fight Russia, not France, and certainly not England or the United States.

Secondly, they would have to treat Poland as temporary, and not a conquered nation, with a pledge to leave Poland when the war ended. (That certainly didnít work for Germany via-ŗ-vis Belgium 25 years earlier of course).

Thirdly, they would have to take no offensive action against France or Great Britain. So no sinking of HMS Courageous for example.

Fourth, Germany would have to go on a major worldwide PR campaign stating that they were just attacking Communist hordes in Russia for all of mankind. Sell that to Great Britain, France, the United States, and repeat over the nine months of the Phoney War. And donít invade France of course.

Would this work? I doubt it. But the future allies werenít clamoring to fight another war, as if at least partially evidenced by the length of the Phoney War.
Myself, I think that instead of the above, you move the time a bit further ahead. Germany has successfully defeated France. They have not, as yet, turned on Russia. They also have not yet pissed off the US that war is inevitable. Instead, Germany pushes for peace with the Brits and works their system such that Churchill doesn't become PM. They offer very generous terms. They also offer a bone to the US (and clearly tell the Japanese that they will NOT support any sort of attack on the US, and if Japan does so it's on it's own). Then, they push, hard for their planning, especially the logistics, for their invasion of Russia. They, again, play on the anti-communist forces in the UK (though, as this was mainly Churchill, IIRC, I'm not sure how this works out). They get some sort of cease fire with the Brits, so no battle of Britain, no submarine interdiction (which means less tension with the US as well). Then they go all in on their attack on Russia, push everything they have to taking Moscow and forcing the Soviets to pull back, making it clear that Stalin is the root cause of all of Russia's woes. That means they act less like wild animals when they invade, thus not only not pissing off the local peoples in Russia but also making them more likely to throw Stalin out. As it was, Stalin was on a knife edge, especially with the early idiotic blunders he made as well as just the fact he so miscalculated. Push those odds so that Stalin is taken out and shot, and the whole Soviet system does in fact collapse, at least partially.

If you could also get the Japanese to attack from Manchuria into Siberia (thus, limiting the Russians from being able to bring in all those Siberian divisions) with some sort of bone the Japanese would want, I think you could do it...you could knock Russia out, or split the country such that they would have to withdraw back behind the Urals and try and rebuild their industry. In the following year, you take the oil fields to the south and that's pretty much it...Germany 'wins', for certain definitions of the term.

There are some glaring issues with this, of course. Japan doesn't get what it wants. I don't see a carrot big enough to get them to do this. You'd have to actually know, in advance, how history plays out to really pull the strings to get the conditions I talked about above. No one would have thought Churchill was key. German didn't think the US really mattered. Hitler et al would have to understand all the things they would need to do to really knock the Russians out, to get them to give Stalin lead poisoning, to not piss off the local population, what forces and logistics they needed to make their decisive strike, that they really needed medium term planning for things like, oh, say a new tank design for the Panzer III's and winter weather gear, etc etc. It's a huge house of cards to get them to 'win', and they would need a ton of foreknowledge to do it. Even then, it's not a sure thing, though I think it's plausible they could take Russia out anyway.

In the end, these what-if scenarios are interesting but, basically, the actors would have to not be the people they were to make them work...or some key event would need to change. No Churchill and it's plausible the Brits agree to a cease fire and peace terms, though how they would then react to the Russian invasion is a question.
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Old 11-06-2019, 02:38 PM
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[*]Germany does not over-extend itself by attacking everyone all at once. In this scenario, Germany doesn't have to spend forces and resources on capturing Netherlands, Denmark, France, Belgium, attacking the UK, Norway or fighting any Americans, nor does it have to wage any Atlantic U-boat campaign;
First of all, Germany had ALREADY broken the "never West" strategy before any of this happened. They were involved in the Spanish civil war from 1936 on, remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936, annexed Austria in 1938, and annexed Czechoslovakia that same year over the objections of the Western powers. So they can't really offer a 'never West' promise that will be believed, and their 'East only' strategy had already provoked strong reaction before the eastward move into Poland prompted the formal declaration of war.

Secondly, how is Germany going to fund its war with Russia? Germany was in serious economic trouble as the war started, and needed gold and other wealth seized from occupied countries to keep its foreign trade functioning. Are you expecting the Western Allies to not only not oppose attacks that they historically did, but to also give lend-lease style aid to Germany during this war? In particular, where is their oil coming from - the USSR was a major supplier of German oil in this time frame, and without the Molotov-Ribbentorp pact would not be keen on selling much, and certainly would stop once war was declared.

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[*]Russia was even weaker in 1939 than in 1941; [*]The consolidation of Germany's concentrated forces on its Eastern Front is even more effective than it was in Barbarossa;
While the red army was smaller and had issues, the German Army was also much smaller and much less advanced, with far fewer and far weaker tanks than it had for Barbarossa. They also had not had any easy campaigns to 'field test' and sort out issues in the army like they did historically. And Stalin had no reason to believe that Germany wouldn't attack him, since there was no pact and Germany had just promised to attack him, so wouldn't have a reason to give the military the disasterous 'don't provoke a fight' orders that he did in 1941.

Even if the Western Allies go against what they did historically and let Germany invade Poland, I don't see how a 1940 campaign against the USSR would work for Germany. They'd beat Poland like they did historically, then have to launch an offensive across recently occupied land (instead of land they'd had 2 years to subdue and build up) into the largest country in the world with very low stocks of tanks and aircraft, very low fuel supplies, and little experience. Even ignoring the crippling economic difficulties, I don't see how they'd manage to come anywhere near crippling the USSR, much less forcing a surrender. And then when Stalin defeated the German armies and began moving West, there's no way the Western countries would be able to fire up support for hindering them, since the USSR would be the victim of an unprovoked attack.
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Old 11-06-2019, 03:17 PM
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Ultimately over 34 million served in the Soviet armed forces during WWII, compared to less than 14 million for Germany. Considering that the USSR could essentially keep throwing bodies in front of the German forces for a very long time, how could Germany have overcome that to physically take and hold Soviet territory?
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Old 11-06-2019, 03:30 PM
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Ultimately over 34 million served in the Soviet armed forces during WWII, compared to less than 14 million for Germany. Considering that the USSR could essentially keep throwing bodies in front of the German forces for a very long time, how could Germany have overcome that to physically take and hold Soviet territory?
Because you are looking at things from a 1945 perspective, instead of how things actually were in 1941. At that time the Red Army was in chaos, with much of it's best leadership having been purged, and in no shape to do much of anything. Hell, look at their losses in Finland during the Winter War. The German push during the summer of '41 actually came within a hairs breath of winning, despite some poor planning and ridiculous optimism from the German high command and that idiot Hitler. Stalin actually thought he WAS going to be shot, and had actually prepared himself for it. Initially, in many areas, the Russians weren't all that unhappy with the German invaders, in some places they actually looked on them, initially at least, as liberators, until the Germans did what Germans do and acted no better than the Soviets.

Basically, you got the whole throwing bodies in front of the Germans and not caring so much about the losses (which is partially a myth anyway) by 1945, after history happened. Even into 1942 and early '43 you had Russia's much less committed to the cause...which is why they still needed things like political officers and special formations to ensure proper zeal in the face of the Germans. Until the Russian people really came together (and Stalin really consolidated or perhaps re-consolidated his power base), they were pretty fragmented at the early stages. Considering the shit the Soviets did to many of them, it's not hard to see why this was the case. It was, really, the fact that the Germans weren't any better that probably did more to unify the Russians into the fight than anything else.
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  #36  
Old 11-06-2019, 06:32 PM
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Ultimately over 34 million served in the Soviet armed forces during WWII, compared to less than 14 million for Germany. Considering that the USSR could essentially keep throwing bodies in front of the German forces for a very long time, how could Germany have overcome that to physically take and hold Soviet territory?

George Patton: ďNo dumb bastard ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won it by making some other dumb bastard die for his country.Ē

The Russians had nearly ten times as many troops in the Great War, vs Hindenburg . Yet he whupped them .

I want to point out that Stalin himself said that without lend lease and a second front the USSR would have collapsed.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:27 AM
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I want to point out that Stalin himself said that without lend lease and a second front the USSR would have collapsed.
Was this said while he was campaigning for such aid (i.e. the Tehran Conference) or after the dust settled? Honestly, I'm not that familiar with Stalin's post-war speeches.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:41 AM
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Was this said while he was campaigning for such aid (i.e. the Tehran Conference) or after the dust settled? Honestly, I'm not that familiar with Stalin's post-war speeches.
I've never seen a direct quote from him to that effect. It's more something Zhukov said (from here, though there are lots of sources):

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ĎAnd how much sheet steel they gave us!í
"Now they say that the allies never helped us, but it can't be denied that the Americans gave us so many goods without which we wouldn't have been able to form our reserves and continue the war," Soviet General Georgy Zhukov said after the end of WWII.

"We didnít have explosives, gunpowder. We didnít have anything to charge our rifle cartridges with. The Americans really saved us with their gunpowder and explosives. And how much sheet steel they gave us! How could we have produced our tanks without American steel? But now they make it seem as if we had an abundance of all that. Without American trucks we wouldnít have had anything to pull our artillery with."
It is pretty much true though that without US supplies the Russia's couldn't have done the things they did. And what Zhukov said was true...post war, the US contribution was definitely downplayed not just in Russia but in other places too who wanted to make it clear that Russia did most of the work. It's not just the US that tries to play up it's part and make it seem we were the only key to victory and everyone else was just kind of along for the ride.
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Old 11-07-2019, 03:05 PM
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Ultimately over 34 million served in the Soviet armed forces during WWII, compared to less than 14 million for Germany. Considering that the USSR could essentially keep throwing bodies in front of the German forces for a very long time, how could Germany have overcome that to physically take and hold Soviet territory?
Wikipedia has the German army total as 18 million. The Germans had 12 million men killed, missing, wounded, or captured on the Eastern Front. That would have left six million men left.
The USSR had about 30 million soldiers killed, missing, wounded, or captured. That would have left only 4 million left.

It is possible that Germany could have beaten the USSR alone if they just went East. The sitzkrieg lasted 8 months and France seemed content for it to last longer.
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Old 11-07-2019, 03:30 PM
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..


It is pretty much true though that without US supplies the Russia's couldn't have done the things they did. And what Zhukov said was true...post war, the US contribution was definitely downplayed not just in Russia but in other places too who wanted to make it clear that Russia did most of the work. It's not just the US that tries to play up it's part and make it seem we were the only key to victory and everyone else was just kind of along for the ride.
Yes, now it's part of Russian propaganda to claim that Russia beat the nazis mostly by themselves and that their entry vs Japan made Japan surrender (I have seen both claims repeated here several times) . In other words, the Russians won WW2 without any help.

It took British determination, American manufacturing and Russian Manpower to win the war. All three were critical.

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/t...ase-agreement/
Soviet Premier Josef Stalin would later acknowledge the contributions made by the lend-lease agreement: "Without American production [the Allies] could never have won the war."

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Old 11-07-2019, 04:28 PM
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Myself, I think that instead of the above, you move the time a bit further ahead. Germany has successfully defeated France. They have not, as yet, turned on Russia. They also have not yet pissed off the US that war is inevitable. Instead, Germany pushes for peace with the Brits and works their system such that Churchill doesn't become PM.
Wait; Germany has defeated France but Churchill isn't already Prime Minister? Those aren't things that were ever true at the same time. Churchill became PM at the very beginning of the Battle of France. You perhaps recall that Churchill travelled to France in the first week of the invasion and famously asked Gamelin (in French) "Where's the strategic reserve?" only to be dumbfounded when Gamelin replied "There isn't one."

At the point France is defeated, Churchill was already Prime Minister. The possibility of peace was discussed by the war cabinet and rejected. Britain was not going to make peace; at that point Germany didn't have any realistic chance of convincing Britain to give up.
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Old 11-07-2019, 04:41 PM
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Wait; Germany has defeated France but Churchill isn't already Prime Minister? Those aren't things that were ever true at the same time. Churchill became PM at the very beginning of the Battle of France. You perhaps recall that Churchill travelled to France in the first week of the invasion and famously asked Gamelin (in French) "Where's the strategic reserve?" only to be dumbfounded when Gamelin replied "There isn't one."

At the point France is defeated, Churchill was already Prime Minister. The possibility of peace was discussed by the war cabinet and rejected. Britain was not going to make peace; at that point Germany didn't have any realistic chance of convincing Britain to give up.
Yeah, my timeline is a bit off there with respect to the timing of events. Basically, I'm proposing that Churchill doesn't become PM on May the 10th (the same day the German's invaded), instead it's one of the people in Chamberlain's faction or someone more disposed to a peaceful settlement with Germany. There were several other options besides Churchill after all. Considering how swiftly defeat came on the new PM (basically, by May 20th the Brits were looking at ways to get their troops out of there...and by June 22nd it was all over) it's not implausible. But, yes, you are right...Churchill was already PM in our timeline by the time France surrendered, and in fact was PM starting on the day Germany invaded. Sorry about that.

I disagree with your second paragraph...I think that there WAS a chance the Brits would have considered peace, especially with the scale of their defeat. And especially had they not managed to get over 300k of their troops out of France at the end there.
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  #43  
Old 11-07-2019, 09:30 PM
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Another scenario...


While I enjoy these counterfactuals and think they help us understand history, Iím often taken aback by how many people want to devise scenarios where the Nazis win. So I propose a happier scenario. Marinus van der Lubbe sets the Reichstag on fire, with all the top Nazis in the building. Goering, keen show he is still a war hero and leader, says, ďfollow me, mein Fuehrer!Ē and heads for an exit. But he gets stuck in the doorway. A cascade of Nazis, including Hitler, pile up and fall over and go up with the building. A sane government is formed, war is averted, Stalin happily drinks himself to death by 1940 and moderates take power, Mussolini is deposed and/or assassinated, Churchill is remembered as an idiot who opposed womenís suffrage, and no one has heard of Charles de Gaulle. Meanwhile, in Japan, someone checks US steel production figures against Japanese steel production and takes the result to the emperor who slaps his head and says, ďthe army and navy are morons. Letís call the whole thing off.Ē Roosevelt, totally unstressed, survives his fourth term, and peace and goodwill on earth reign.

Just sayiní.
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Old 11-07-2019, 10:44 PM
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While I enjoy these counterfactuals and think they help us understand history, Iím often taken aback by how many people want to devise scenarios where the Nazis win. So I propose a happier scenario. Marinus van der Lubbe sets the Reichstag on fire, with all the top Nazis in the building. Goering, keen show he is still a war hero and leader, says, ďfollow me, mein Fuehrer!Ē and heads for an exit. But he gets stuck in the doorway. A cascade of Nazis, including Hitler, pile up and fall over and go up with the building. A sane government is formed, war is averted, Stalin happily drinks himself to death by 1940 and moderates take power, Mussolini is deposed and/or assassinated, Churchill is remembered as an idiot who opposed womenís suffrage, and no one has heard of Charles de Gaulle. Meanwhile, in Japan, someone checks US steel production figures against Japanese steel production and takes the result to the emperor who slaps his head and says, ďthe army and navy are morons. Letís call the whole thing off.Ē Roosevelt, totally unstressed, survives his fourth term, and peace and goodwill on earth reign.

Just sayiní.
None of these counterfactuals that we propose here and there mean we WANT Nazis to win. You are confusing an intellectual exercise with a desire for that thing to actually happen.
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Old 11-08-2019, 12:55 AM
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Roosevelt, totally unstressed, survives his fourth term, and peace and goodwill on earth reign.
Itíd be a happier ending if, with the depression hopefully still over in 1940 and no looming crisis on the horizon, he chose not to seek a third term and stepped down in the tradition of every President going back to Washington (with a few head-scratchers like Grant and Teddy Roosevelt along the way).

Maybe as a bonus, he could be the one to push through the 22nd amendment as written on his way out.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:27 AM
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I want to point out that Stalin himself said that without lend lease and a second front the USSR would have collapsed.
Let's suppose a collapse. Could the Germans really have taken control of the Soviet Union's vast expanse?
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:09 AM
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This hypo is trotted about relatively often, but it completely ignores what Nazism *was*. It was not an isolated thing, or a punctual aberration, a strange madness that would have taken Germany and its Germans circa 1930. Fischer and the historians who followed in his tracks rather persuasively demonstrated that it was merely another shade of a German zeitgeist that had started taking shape sometime in the late 19th century, a feeling of being left behind and robbed of its manifest destiny by England, France and even Spain (although of course by that time the Spanish empire had collapsed). Germany saw itself as evidently better than its neighbours, and with some reasons - they had the best science and education, the better industry, a strong social network... and yet the world had already been conquered by those lesser-than next door while Germany's "place in the Sun" was, to quote Blackadder, a small sausage factory in Tanganyka. And a half-decent brewery in Tsingtao. Hitler's regime introduced a racial, genetic component to it as it was very popular in the 30s, but the Germans had long considered themselves to be superior to other European people. This spirit of correcting the obvious mistake of history was what drove the Kaiser to speed up WW1, and it's in the same spirit of frustrated ambition that they went along with Hitler's warlike insanity.
Leaving France alone was never ever a possibility. Not trying to push England out of Africa was never a possibility. Not trying to humiliate Russia was never a possibility (hell, Hitler's propaganda machine even pulled Aleksandr Nevsky out of his medieval mothballs as a national insult to be avenged !). From accepting Hitler's leadership, Germany was already set on declaring war on the whole of Europe. It was only a question of time and order of invasions.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:50 AM
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This hypo is trotted about relatively often, but it completely ignores what Nazism *was*. It was not an isolated thing, or a punctual aberration, a strange madness that would have taken Germany and its Germans circa 1930. Fischer and the historians who followed in his tracks rather persuasively demonstrated that it was merely another shade of a German zeitgeist that had started taking shape sometime in the late 19th century, a feeling of being left behind and robbed of its manifest destiny by England, France and even Spain (although of course by that time the Spanish empire had collapsed). Germany saw itself as evidently better than its neighbours, and with some reasons - they had the best science and education, the better industry, a strong social network... and yet the world had already been conquered by those lesser-than next door while Germany's "place in the Sun" was, to quote Blackadder, a small sausage factory in Tanganyka. And a half-decent brewery in Tsingtao. Hitler's regime introduced a racial, genetic component to it as it was very popular in the 30s, but the Germans had long considered themselves to be superior to other European people. This spirit of correcting the obvious mistake of history was what drove the Kaiser to speed up WW1, and it's in the same spirit of frustrated ambition that they went along with Hitler's warlike insanity.
So, why is it that Germany (Prussia?) didn't get there just like England, France and Spain? Was it a sense that "the bastards are cockblocking us from imperial greatness because we weren't unified yet when the empire game started and now it's all taken?"



OP:
Even if Germany had aimed only for the USSR, it would likely have failed. From what I've read and watched about it, Prussia/Germany was in the habit of doing the equivalent of a zerg rush. Planning, preparation, surprise and speed had worked quite well, even back in the days of Frederick the Great. That had allowed Prussia to punch above its weight. Prussia/Germany had quick victories because that's pretty much the only kind of victory it could have against the great powers. It didn't have the manpower for a war of attrition or the fuel for an extensive mechanized war.

It's quite unlikely that Germany would have knocked the USSR out in a quick victory. It's too vast. Taking Moscow wouldn't have resulted in a quick decisive victory for Hitler anymore than it did for Napoleon. Germany didn't have the strategic fuel reserves and didn't do the operational logistics of fuel resupply well enough to do blitzkrieg at a fast enough pace to give it a quick decisive victory over the USSR. The lack of fuel caused German advances to do stop-and-go which deprived them of the speed they needed to do blitzkrieg well enough to get a quick victory. You need good fuel supply to put that blitz in your blitzkrieg. Then it shifted to a war of attrition which the USSR was going to win. Russians weren't going to give up like they did in WWI because in WWI, surrender meant a lower likelihood of death. In WWII, surrender pretty much meant death.

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 11-08-2019 at 04:55 AM.
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Old 11-08-2019, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelEmouse View Post
So, why is it that Germany (Prussia?) didn't get there just like England, France and Spain? Was it a sense that "the bastards are cockblocking us from imperial greatness because we weren't unified yet when the empire game started and now it's all taken?"
Pretty much, yeah. By the time Western Europe was getting in on the colony game, Germany was still very much reeling from the Thirty Year War and its aftermath - which, admittedly, the other Euro powers were all to eager to participate in so long as it wasn't their backcountry that got trampled into a giant field of mud.
So from what I understand (although bear in mind, I'm really no specialist on either that period or Germany specifically) the Germans felt "cheated" in the sense that its competitors "took advantage" of its time of relative weakness to snatch up all of the good foreign lands and/or resource contracts. They tried to get a toehold into the whole "raping China senseless" game but, again, were late to that party and didn't have local strongpoints from which to exert influence so their gains were paltry. Which obviously was yet more unfairness.
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Old 11-08-2019, 06:51 AM
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(oh, of course there also was this inconvenient accident of geography, namely that Germany doesn't border the Atlantic. Meaning any oversea expansion effort was always contingent on the tacit approval of more westerly powers, England especially since it always had the bestest navy. And England was Protestant back when Germany was still Catholic so no go there. By the time Protestant Prussia got around to knocking the remains of the HRE about, the game had changed yet again and nobody really gave a hoot about religion any more - it was now a game of proto-nations and Germany was a different one, so no go on the boats !
Always a day late and a dollar short, was Germany...)
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