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  #51  
Old 11-08-2019, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by ASL v2.0 View Post
It’d 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.
How would that have made things better?

If you don't like his running for a third term on principle, you're not alone - that is why the 22nd Amendment exists. But you can't say he set a bad precedent, because of course the 22nd Amendment was passed so it cannot happen again.

Was there an alternative to FDR in 1940 who would clearly have done a better job managing the war?
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  #52  
Old 11-08-2019, 09:03 AM
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How would that have made things better?

If you don't like his running for a third term on principle, you're not alone - that is why the 22nd Amendment exists. But you can't say he set a bad precedent, because of course the 22nd Amendment was passed so it cannot happen again.

Was there an alternative to FDR in 1940 who would clearly have done a better job managing the war?
I’m pretty sure the post was meant specifically to add to the scenario where the Nazis, Mussolini and Stalin never make it to ‘41, Japan doesn’t go to war etc. I.e, no war. All rose petals and moonbeams.
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Old 11-08-2019, 09:21 AM
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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.
Hitler was eastward focused. He wanted the Slavs in Poland and Russia to be replaced by German farmers and colonists. He did not expect France and England to actually stick by their defensive pact with Poland. He later clearly thought or hoped some sort of arrangement with England could be had. While there were plans to regain and possibly expand Germany’s former colonies in “Mittelafrika” , they were way down the priority list.
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Old 11-08-2019, 10:55 AM
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Hitler was eastward focused. He wanted the Slavs in Poland and Russia to be replaced by German farmers and colonists. He did not expect France and England to actually stick by their defensive pact with Poland. He later clearly thought or hoped some sort of arrangement with England could be had. While there were plans to regain and possibly expand Germany’s former colonies in “Mittelafrika” , they were way down the priority list.
Says who ? Says you ?
France and England declared war on Germany in september 1939. Neither did anything whatsofuckingever until Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands etc... in may 1940 besides creating focus groups and harbouring refugees - what we know in France as "the strange war" because neither we nor the UK did anything besides declaring or reinforcing mutual defence pledges and pacts.
Had Germany focused strictly east and never threatened their actual possessions, neither France nor the UK would have done a goddamned thing ; much like we're not doing a goddamned thing for Ukraine now. Because we ain't give a shit, and in the event that we do give a shit, we don't give *that* much of a shit to really commit to anything substantial. If anything, we French were more interested in seizing this wartime opportunity to arrest Communists (who *wanted* France to commit to attacking Germany in earnest, as opposed to WW1 when they were getting arrested for opposing the war...)

The idea that Germany simply *had* to attack because "the Allies !!!" is ridiculous almost on its face.
  #55  
Old 11-08-2019, 11:21 AM
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I’m pretty sure the post was meant specifically to add to the scenario where the Nazis, Mussolini and Stalin never make it to ‘41, Japan doesn’t go to war etc. I.e, no war. All rose petals and moonbeams.
Yes, this. Kropotkin laid out a scenario in which WWII was a non-starter as cooler heads prevailed in Europe and Asia, so in that hypothetical there doesn’t seem to be any extraordinary circumstance justifying a third term beyond just "screw it, why not?" I do believe that it was "fair enough" of FDR to run for additional terms on a "don’t change horses in midstream" platform (that and, with the benefit of hindsight, he had a pretty good vision for a cooperative victory that would ultimately be justified by history), but make no mistake: breaking that informal precedent, which dates back to the foundation itself, was a threat to the American democratic tradition.

Although FDR did well enough and had the decency to die before he risked wearing out his welcome leading a postwar government, I’m very glad that his unprecedented stint in office provided the impetus to pass a constitutional term limit for the presidency. As to why I think that was/is an especially good thing, beyond just general principal, I’ll leave it at that, lest I invite moderator action.

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The idea that Germany simply *had* to attack because "the Allies !!!" is ridiculous almost on its face.
I don’t see where you two are disagreeing with each other, re: Hitler's prospects with the west. Though I do suspect the French and UK would have done... something. Eventually, if left to their own devices.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 11-08-2019 at 11:26 AM.
  #56  
Old 11-08-2019, 11:41 AM
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I don’t see where you two are disagreeing with each other, re: Hitler's prospects with the west. Though I do suspect the French and UK would have done... something. Eventually, if left to their own devices.
We're disagreeing in the sense that he's arguing that, while Hitler was focused east and did not have any ambitions wrt. France and the UK; the fact is that he did, in fact, attack France and the UK directly. And since neither of us believe it had anything to do with Poland, or the Sudetenland, or Czechoslovakia or anything like that, weeeeell... what the fuck, then ?
My position is that attacking France & the UK was an implicit goal of Nazism in and of itself - and not just as a "revenge" for the Versailles treaty either. That wound was much older and more festering than that. I'm not sure what Isosleepy's position is, really ; but his post seems to imply that eventually they would have become a thorn in Germany's side - which I disagree with.

I can almost even prove it, with an open question to the board's British (and French, but that's just me and clairobscur I think) members : would you agree to get conscripted, or for your children to be conscripted to enter a war with Russia wrt:Ukraine ? Would you agree to be conscripted, or see your children get conscripted, to enter war with Turkey and save the Kurds from dead certain (hah.) genocide ?
Yeah, me neither.
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  #57  
Old 11-08-2019, 11:51 AM
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We're disagreeing in the sense that he's arguing that, while Hitler was focused east and did not have any ambitions wrt. France and the UK; the fact is that he did, in fact, attack France and the UK directly. And since neither of us believe it had anything to do with Poland, or the Sudetenland, or Czechoslovakia or anything like that, weeeeell... what the fuck, then ?
My position is that attacking France & the UK was an implicit goal of Nazism in and of itself - and not just as a "revenge" for the Versailles treaty either. That wound was much older and more festering than that. I'm not sure what Isosleepy's position is, really ; but his post seems to imply that eventually they would have become a thorn in Germany's side - which I disagree with.

I can almost even prove it, with an open question to the board's British (and French, but that's just me and clairobscur I think) members : would you agree to get conscripted, or for your children to be conscripted to enter a war with Russia wrt:Ukraine ? Would you agree to be conscripted, or see your children get conscripted, to enter war with Turkey and save the Kurds from dead certain (hah.) genocide ?
Yeah, me neither.
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I'm not sure I get your point. Are you saying that, eventually, Germany would have gone after France and the Brits? That's true enough, at least wrt France I suspect, though Hitler clearly did NOT want to go to war with the western powers at the time he was forced too. He didn't think that France and Britain would actually pull the trigger on a war for Poland, even though they said they would, since they had said similar things in the past and backed down. I think Hitlers goal was always Russia and expanding the German empire eastward, snatching up eastern Europe and Russia and then down into the Middle East. He would have been fine if France and Britain sat on the sidelines and did nothing. If you are saying that this was never in the cards, realistically, and France and the Brits were always going to step in at some point, then I agree with you...that was always going to happen at some point. If it wasn't Poland it would have been something else. France especially couldn't afford a strong and expanding Germany and the Brits wouldn't want the Germans expanding into areas that would be able to touch upon their own empire.
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  #58  
Old 11-08-2019, 12:01 PM
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I'm not sure I get your point. Are you saying that, eventually, Germany would have gone after France and the Brits?
I'm saying going after France and the Brits was always part of the plan - not a sidegoal or consequence of nor hindrance to the "main" plan. Crushing those arrogant upstarts was part and parcel with affirming the immanent, intrinsic, self-demonstrating greatness of Germany. It's all but spelled out in Hitler's speeches as early as 1937, and although I haven't yet read Mein Kampf I'm relatively convinced you'd find clues in there as well. Because Hitler wasn't a gamechanging superevil aberration, just a product of his time and place, and an expression of nationwide trends.

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He would have been fine if France and Britain sat on the sidelines and did nothing.
But that's what they did. There were some minor skirmishes, but those never encroached upon Germany's borders proper and in any event the French & British governments both squashed them unequivocally.

Last edited by Kobal2; 11-08-2019 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 11-08-2019, 12:11 PM
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I'm saying going after France and the Brits was always part of the plan - not a sidegoal or consequence of nor hindrance to the "main" plan. Crushing those arrogant upstarts was part and parcel with affirming the immanent, intrinsic, self-demonstrating greatness of Germany. It's all but spelled out in Hitler's speeches as early as 1937, and although I haven't yet read Mein Kampf I'm relatively convinced you'd find clues in there as well. Because Hitler wasn't a gamechanging superevil aberration, just a product of his time and place, and an expression of nationwide trends.
Depends on what you are asserting wrt the timing of the plan. Hitler definitely wasn't ready to fight France or Britain at this point, and the German High Command was REALLY against it. The only reason that changed is Hitler miscalculated. If you are saying that, perhaps after German conquered Russia or some large part of it, was expanding into the Middle East and such, that THEN he would turn back to France (this assumes of course that France and the Brits do nothing this whole time) then...schmaybe? Hitler's actual goal, which he spells out in multiple writings and discussions was to go after Russia after Eastern Europe. He might have had speeches about France to the crowds, but at least as far as I recall there wasn't anything concrete wrt planning or anything else to fight the French. It's why, initially, they dusted off the old Schlieffen Plan when it became clear the French and Brits were serious about going to war. It was only when that became clearly untenable that they hit on the Ardennes and driving panzer spearheads behind the dug in French and British forces.

Hitler was definitely not some sort of super genius strategic planner...he was, frankly, an idiot who got lucky. But I've not seen any actual evidence that, prior to the allies drawing and sticking to their guns about Poland that he planned any sort of action against France or the Brits on any sort of near or even medium term time frame.

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But that's what they did. There were some minor skirmishes, but those never encroached upon Germany's borders proper and in any event the French & British governments both squashed them unequivocally.
Yes, but they were building up forces and logistics. He couldn't just ignore them at that point, so they (the Germans) threw the dice in desperation before the French and British could strike first instead. He didn't (couldn't really) know they planned to fight totally defensively, he had to assume at some point they would go on the offensive. And, frankly, he was right...eventually they would have, once they had everything in place.
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Last edited by XT; 11-08-2019 at 12:14 PM.
  #60  
Old 11-08-2019, 12:36 PM
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Depends on what you are asserting wrt the timing of the plan. Hitler definitely wasn't ready to fight France or Britain at this point, and the German High Command was REALLY against it.
And I'd have agreed with German High Command. Fall Gelb was a colossally retarded plan on the merits. It just, y'know, happened to succeed, in spite of itself.

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If you are saying that, perhaps after German conquered Russia or some large part of it, was expanding into the Middle East and such, that THEN he would turn back to France (this assumes of course that France and the Brits do nothing this whole time) then...schmaybe?
No, man. I'm saying Hitler attacked France half-cocked (or sixth-cocked) in may 1939 because Hitler wanted to attack France, period. He wasn't pushed to it, forced to it by any coalition or plot or even aggressive move by the Allies' militaries - French & British diplomats were still seeking ass-covering ways out of any actual action the week before the invasion. The absolute vote gainer in either country was still "anyone who keeps us out of any actual war". There was no practical reason for Fall Gelb. Except for, y'know, Nazism.

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Yes, but they were building up forces and logistics. He couldn't just ignore them at that point, so they (the Germans) threw the dice in desperation before the French and British could strike first instead.
Yeah, no. I call bullshit on that. I don't really know for Britain, but where France is concerned that really was not the case. There was no increase in troop numbers or readiness, no threatening moves, no ultimatums, no provocation, no nothing.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:00 PM
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There was no practical reason for Fall Gelb. Except for, y'know, Nazism.
Not even to secure his western border, and indeed the whole of Germany, against an eventual allied advance as his troops got on with the desired invasion of Russia?

If it was just some nice idea Hitler had, and it was what he wanted, rather than something he was... call it forced, call it provoked, call it whatever due to the state of war imposed on him by France and the UK, then why didn’t he go into France FIRST? Why would he have needed to wait for France and the UK to declare war on him, and give them months of advance notice to overcome the appeasers who still held sway prior to the invasion of Poland?

I just don’t see how you justify claiming that there was "no practical reason" to invade France when we both agree (I think) that the whole idea of invading Poland was to set up an invasion of Russia which, foolhardy or not, he really, really wanted to do because... y'know, Nazism.

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Yeah, no. I call bullshit on that. I don't really know for Britain, but where France is concerned that really was not the case. There was no increase in troop numbers or readiness, no threatening moves, no ultimatums, no provocation, no nothing.
And I in turn call bullshit on your bullshit. Halfhearted or not, I’ll-conceived or not, France absolutely was mobilizing and deploying troops against western Germany, to include (again, halfhearted) efforts to occupy portions of the frontier.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 11-08-2019 at 01:04 PM.
  #62  
Old 11-08-2019, 01:13 PM
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Not even to secure his western border, and I dead the whole of Germany, against an eventual allied advance as his troops got on with the desired invasion of Russia?

If it was just some nice idea Hitler had, and it was what he wanted, rather than something he was... call it forced, call it provoked, call it whatever due to the state of war imposed on him by France and the UK, then why didn’t he go into France FIRST? Why would he have needed to wait for France and the UK to declare war on him, and give them months of advance notice to overcome the appeasers who still held sway prior to the invasion of Poland?
Good question. Why do it ? France didn't increase its military power after the Anschluss or the invasion of Poland. But Germany's military did. As I said, it was a question of timing and order of business. Hitler went after the softest targets first - because at first that's all he was ever capable of. Hell, even as he attacked France/Belgium/the Netherlands he wasn't really capable of doing that. He got insanely lucky on a number of fronts, and that was that much. As I wrote on another forum, had there been a single day of heavy rains (which isn't entirely unheard of in NW Europe's springs) or had France, England etc... got the notion to bomb Germany's single, straightforward, linear logistics corridor through the Ardennes and managed to push that notion past the politics ; the German forces in France would have been thoroughly fucked.
It just never happened, because... stuff. Snafus. Happenstance. Luck. I swear to god, the closer you look into things, personalities, individual divisions ; the more "for want of a nail" it all becomes.

So why commit to such a bullshit, luck-predicated invasion ? When Germany's military not only wasn't ready for it but *explicitly* told Hitler it was a bad idea ? It's not like the generals weren't aware of the geopolitical situation. They just didn't think Fall Gelb was a good idea, nor a needed idea. Which is probably because it wasn't. And Hitler pushed Fall Gelb, not because he needed to, but because he wanted to. And because he was a narcissistic idiot who adamantly believed he knew better than them ball-less Prussian generals of course.

Last edited by Kobal2; 11-08-2019 at 01:15 PM.
  #63  
Old 11-08-2019, 01:14 PM
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And I in turn call bullshit on your bullshit. Halfhearted or not, I’ll-conceived or not, France absolutely was mobilizing and deploying troops against western Germany, to include (again, halfhearted) efforts to occupy portions of the frontier.
But it didn't. I mean, it didn't. Look up the numbers if you like. If pre-war France dreaded anything, it was increased conscription/troop numbers. Hell, it's why we sunk so much money into the Maginot Line to begin with.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:23 PM
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I just don’t see how you justify claiming that there was "no practical reason" to invade France when we both agree (I think) that the whole idea of invading Poland was to set up an invasion of Russia which, foolhardy or not, he really, really wanted to do because... y'know, Nazism.
I don't disagree at all that he intended to tussle with Russia. Because, y'know, Nazism. What I disagree with is the notion that Hitler attacked England & France as sort of collateral invasions in order to secure that tussle with Russia. The confrontations with England and France were just as implicit to the very core of Nazism as that with "Slavs". Because, y'know, Nazism.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:25 PM
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But it didn't. I mean, it didn't. Look up the numbers if you like. If pre-war France dreaded anything, it was increased conscription/troop numbers. Hell, it's why we sunk so much money into the Maginot Line to begin with.
It did though. I'm unsure why you think they didn't, or how you think that French (and British) forces were able to move into their jump off positions and into Belgium (to be out maneuvered by the Germans) if they did nothing. I'm unsure if you understand what it takes to prepare an army to execute a plan, but I can tell you that sitting around doing nothing isn't it.

Where I think you are getting hung up on here is you are equating mobilization with increased troop strength, and that's not always the case. The French didn't NEED to increase troop strength...they had over 100 divisions by the time of the war. What they did have to do was to mobilize those forces and get them to their designated areas, be those fortifications or into jump off points for their plan to move into Belgium to occupy defensive positions there in anticipation of what they thought would be the main German attack. This involved a lot of troop movement, logistics build up and operational planning and execution. They weren't just sitting around with their thumbs up their butts doing nothing the whole time. The thing was, France especially had very intricate plans for this that they had been developing from the 20's, so they didn't have to plan on the fly...they know what and where they wanted to fight. The problem was that they miscalculated.
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  #66  
Old 11-08-2019, 01:31 PM
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Two main reasons have been why Nazi Germany would never have gone to war only with USSR
1. UK and France were compelled to nominally declare war on Germany when Germany invaded Poland, and attacking the USSR required going through Poland.
2. Hitler wanted a war against the West too.

The first has merit though not literally 100% true. Germany's ally (by 1941) Romania shared a significant 1939 border with the USSR, aside from the fact that by June 1941 another portion of the initial front was Germany's ally Hungary's border with the part of Ukraine annexed by the USSR from Poland in 1939. But a German attack on the USSR without being able to use Polish territory would have been strategically constrained, no doubt.

The second argument I think is actually the stronger. Getting even with France was a big part of what Hitler/Naziism was about. And also unlike Aug 1914 or Sep 1939 it was not realistic in June 1941 to expect a very quick victory on one front while holding off a possible attack on the other with weak forces, unlike the situations in Aug 1914 and Sep 1939 where weaker German forces were tasked with delaying Russian and UK/French respectively attacks on the other side for a few weeks until the hoped for (1914) or actually achieved (1939) victory of the main German force. It was one thing to think the USSR could be defeated by Germany, perhaps not. It was another think it would be so quick that a small defending force could just hold things down v France for a few weeks (the Germans did not imagine nor should they have that the austere West Wall aka Siegfried Line manned by only a relatively small fraction of the German Army could keep out a determined French offensive permanently). France had to be neutralized first.

So, I think Nazi Germany would have had a chance to win or greatly extend anyway WWII if it had found a way to make peace with the UK after defeating France (and Norway, Denmark, Low Countries and driving UK forces off continent). Thus probably not eventually also facing the US as opponent, at which point German victory was basically impossible except for a 'what if' weapons technology breakthrough. But such a peace or even tense non-shooting accommodation with Britain wasn't entirely up to Germany.

But assuming it could be done, you can't say IMO Germany 'couldn't' defeat the USSR just based on some numbers argument. Psychology also plays into war in a big way, and there's just no way to say what the breaking point of Soviet morale and Stalin's regime would have been if things went worse, in either the 1941 or 1942 campaigns. According to just numbers Russia couldn't be knocked out of WWI by the Central Powers either, a war in which the Russians were often successful v the Austrians even early on. Or maybe Germany could have lost WWII to just the USSR with Britain having become a neutral and US staying one. One just can't say for sure IMO.

Another thing was that German conquests on the Continent were not necessarily even a net drag at all on their war effort much before 1944. Resistance was generally minor before that, very minor in 1940-2. The Germans did a fairly poor job of integrating occupied Europe's industrial capacity into their war effort in that period...then again did a pretty poor job of fully mobilizing their own economy for war in that period too. But German ground units needed somewhere to rest and refit between deployments in the East. Having some in the occupied West wasn't a big deal itself. Actually having to plan to face an Allied amphibious invasion became an increasingly serious drag on the effort in the East later in the real war.

Last edited by Corry El; 11-08-2019 at 01:34 PM.
  #67  
Old 11-08-2019, 01:42 PM
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It did though.
It didn't, though . Allied military plans where wholly focused on reacting to any German offensive, with good reason - but there was never any plan to invade Germany or otherwise attack in in any way, pre-emptive or otherwise. If you can find evidence for such plans, do disclose - you might be sitting on the big academic bucks

Last edited by Kobal2; 11-08-2019 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:44 PM
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And yeah, I agree with you, there are many avenues of thought, many possibilities, many "what if" alternate history scenarii by which Germany winds up on top. The thing is, they all pretty much hinge on Nazism not being Nazism.
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Old 11-08-2019, 02:10 PM
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Kobal2 I’ll try to answer your posts in Toto, rather than quote individual ones. First of, it’s not says me, it’s says Adolf Hitler. From Mein Kampf all the way through to comments made to Nazi officials in the early 40’s , he separates England and France.
While he shows clear enmity to France, he sees England as “natural brothers” for example. He stated multiple times that in the new world order, Germany would not take advantage of England’s weakness to rearrange its colonies.
Further, in his speeches, writings and conversations, his goals are clear. Clean up Germany, and Lebensraum in Osten. Not im Westen.
He did not want to fight a combined England and France. Even while he was fighting them both, he’s clearly looking for a separate peace with England: see his Reichstag speech of July 29, 1940. Translated here:https://www.upi.com/Archives/1940/07...6824181303557/
Given the weight of writings and speeches about the east vs the west, I have to believe the East was more important by far. In part because the East was about conquest- taking possession. In the west, it was about getting even. And the West wasn’t about not England and France by Hitlers preference, and it wasn’t very much about colonial Africa (place in the sun). They had a department in charge of future colonial efforts, which for most of its existence had no budget.
As to why Hitler invaded France? He was at war with them. Not by his choice, but at war. And Hitler was a strong proponent of attack over defense. And Hitler would have attacked in France’s place (if I recall, France did in fact attack, for like a week, in fall 1939), so he wanted to beat them to it.
All in all, where I disagree with you is that I don’t think Hitler was going to attack England no matter what, and I don’t think the motivation would have been colonial Africa. While I agree that France would in the end would have seen a German attack, I think it was at the bottom of the priority list. And again, colonialism wasn’t a strong motivator: Transferring colonies from Vichy France to Germany was clearly not a priority.
If a magic Nazi fairy had given Adolf Hitler the option of a war against Russia, without ever being able to touch France, I think he would’ve taken the deal. And if England and France had not declared war, I believe Germany would not have invaded the west.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
It didn't, though . Allied military plans where wholly focused on reacting to any German offensive, with good reason - but there was never any plan to invade Germany or otherwise attack in in any way, pre-emptive or otherwise. If you can find evidence for such plans, do disclose - you might be sitting on the big academic bucks
You are looking at things in hindsight, knowing how everything plays out with perfect information. Even if you are correct (and you aren't...there were various plans for an allied offensives at some point. Just a quick google shows this one for instance which would have been a hasty invasion to support Poland in the early stages, before that become moot. This wasn't the only plan. I don't have time to look up every war plan made, but here is an article that talks about allied plans to expand into the Netherlands and also into Scandinavia) , Germany couldn't know that. Also, Germany DID know that the French and Brits planned to invade, essentially, Belgium and fight them there. They knew this because the French and British were staging forces to do just that, and in fact it was part of their own later modified plan to catch the allies off balance and cut them off.

But even if there were zero plans by the allies to ever take the offensive (which begs the question of how they intended to win or force Germany to surrender...or really do anything at all except be on the defensive), again Germany couldn't know that was the case. If Germany does nothing they don't know that France and Britain would just sit there waiting as that would be crazy from any perspective.

Basically, you are looking at things from the perspective of how it played out, as if it was obvious that this was the only thing that could happen. You are also in possession of much more data than the Germans would have or could have had at this stage. You are also, IMHO, injecting your own worldview on everything that transpired since you, rightfully, know the Germans were the bad guys and would be doing heinous things down the line (hell, had already started doing them). You are also, IIRC, French, so you have some bias there as well. You know that in the real world, France and Britain were planning to sit on the defensive, mostly, except for a thrust into Belgium to meet the Germans at pre-planned defensive points there and were thinking they would fight a similar series of battles to how the first world war played out. But that's because you also know that the French, especially, were fixated on the lessons learned in the first world war, and hadn't kept up with how fundamentally things had changed since them. But the Germans didn't know that the French were thinking that way, or what their plans were, or what their strategy or tactics would be. They were also looking at the fact that France had more tanks and better tanks than the Germans did, they had more planes, more artillery, and more troops. They also had a much stronger surface navy. And this doesn't even count the Brits and what they had.

Just to recap, the allies were certainly content to go on the defensive (in Belgium) and fight a repeat of the first world war, but that doesn't mean they planned to do nothing else, ever, and just sit on the defensive the whole time and wait for the Germans to wear themselves out. Certainly the Germans couldn't assume that was the case once France and the Brits declared war after the Polish invasion.
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  #71  
Old 11-08-2019, 05:17 PM
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Just to recap, the allies were certainly content to go on the defensive (in Belgium) and fight a repeat of the first world war, but that doesn't mean they planned to do nothing else, ever, and just sit on the defensive the whole time and wait for the Germans to wear themselves out.
Defend France to the last Belgian!

As a historical footnote, there was, from 1920 to 1936, an Accord between France and Belgium, which the Belgians withdrew from out of precisely such a fear (that they would be the battle ground for the next major war too) and they were really, really hoping the Germans would respect their neutrality the next time.

Ah well, there’s always WWIII to hope for. Maybe the next guys to try and conquer Europe will finally keep off the grass.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 11-08-2019 at 05:18 PM.
  #72  
Old 11-09-2019, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
....m.



Yeah, no. I call bullshit on that. I don't really know for Britain, but where France is concerned that really was not the case. There was no increase in troop numbers or readiness, no threatening moves, no ultimatums, no provocation, no nothing.
France was flying missions dropping propaganda leaflets with totally obsolete bombers, like the Amiot 143 and other flying greenhouses. Of which you could say: "Yes, their defensive armament was total crap, but they sure were slow!"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiot_143

Last edited by DrDeth; 11-09-2019 at 12:04 AM.
  #73  
Old 11-09-2019, 12:38 AM
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Yes, but they were building up forces and logistics. He couldn't just ignore them at that point, so they (the Germans) threw the dice in desperation before the French and British could strike first instead. He didn't (couldn't really) know they planned to fight totally defensively, he had to assume at some point they would go on the offensive. And, frankly, he was right...eventually they would have, once they had everything in place.
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Yeah, no. I call bullshit on that. I don't really know for Britain, but where France is concerned that really was not the case. There was no increase in troop numbers or readiness, no threatening moves, no ultimatums, no provocation, no nothing.
I agree with Kobal on this one. I don't think Britain or France were seriously planning on launching a major offensive into Germany in the foreseeable future. I think their strategy was to essentially fight a better version of WWI. They would have settled in along a defensive line (this time with better preparations to minimize casualties) and then fought a slow war of economic attrition via naval blockade (maybe with some aerial bombing added in as a new factor). I think the Germans could have likewise assumed a defensive strategy along the border without fear of an attack for two, three, or four years.

But while the Germans could have done that, I don't think Hitler could have. It was against his nature to sit still even when holding a position of advantage. He had a psychological need to make things happen.

And I don't think he would have projected his drive to attack on to the French or British. Hitler saw himself as unique; he didn't think other people had the vision and willpower he had. So he would have had no problem believing that the British and French would not attack him even as he was planning on attacking them.
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:44 AM
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Kobal2 I’ll try to answer your posts in Toto, rather than quote individual ones. First of, it’s not says me, it’s says Adolf Hitler. From Mein Kampf all the way through to comments made to Nazi officials in the early 40’s , he separates England and France.
Well, yeah. He obviously was trying to drive a wedge between them, for relatively obvious reasons. Why take him at his word, though ? France & the UK certainly didn't - hence the treaties promising not to seek individual peace with Germany.

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Further, in his speeches, writings and conversations, his goals are clear. Clean up Germany, and Lebensraum in Osten. Not im Westen.
And yet he stabbed west. Again, why take him at his (public) words ?

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He did not want to fight a combined England and France.
Granted, but that doesn't mean he didn't want to fight England OR France. Just not both at the same time.

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Given the weight of writings and speeches about the east vs the west, I have to believe the East was more important by far. In part because the East was about conquest- taking possession. In the west, it was about getting even.
Sure. So ? Is "getting even" not a legit casus belli or something ?

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As to why Hitler invaded France? He was at war with them. Not by his choice, but at war. And Hitler was a strong proponent of attack over defense. And Hitler would have attacked in France’s place (if I recall, France did in fact attack, for like a week, in fall 1939), so he wanted to beat them to it.
Yes, as you say - for like a week. And then the French government stomped on all that, even though if France/Britain had really wanted to curb German military adventures, really the smart thing to do would have been to kick the door in while the German army was busy in Poland.
But they didn't, because they wanted out of having to do a war at all (and besides, many people in France & England thought that Hitler, while kind of creepy, was at least better than the Communists and could be relied on to be a useful proxy bulwark against the Reds)

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All in all, where I disagree with you is that I don’t think Hitler was going to attack England no matter what, and I don’t think the motivation would have been colonial Africa.
I admit that I probably overstated the colonies' thing - that was more Kaiser Wilhelm's hat. The Nazis cared less about those specifically. But they still figured on their long "this is UNFAIR" list of geopolitical grievances.

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Originally Posted by XT
You are looking at things in hindsight, knowing how everything plays out with perfect information. Even if you are correct (and you aren't...there were various plans for an allied offensives at some point. Just a quick google shows this one for instance which would have been a hasty invasion to support Poland in the early stages, before that become moot. This wasn't the only plan. I don't have time to look up every war plan made, but here is an article that talks about allied plans to expand into the Netherlands and also into Scandinavia) , Germany couldn't know that. Also, Germany DID know that the French and Brits planned to invade, essentially, Belgium and fight them there. They knew this because the French and British were staging forces to do just that, and in fact it was part of their own later modified plan to catch the allies off balance and cut them off.
I wasn't talking about military plans - idle militaries draft up plans for any and all contingencies, it's just what they do. The US notoriously has a plan for the invasion of Canada, but I don't think you can jump from there to the notion the Pentagon is going to go for that SOON .
When I talked about plans, I was thinking about a real political will, any drive to actually Do The Thing or actual talks and cables towards that purpose.

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But even if there were zero plans by the allies to ever take the offensive (which begs the question of how they intended to win or force Germany to surrender...or really do anything at all except be on the defensive), again Germany couldn't know that was the case. If Germany does nothing they don't know that France and Britain would just sit there waiting as that would be crazy from any perspective.
Sooo you think that "let's start an actual shooting war because we don't know if and when those guys will start a shooting war we don't want" makes sense ? It's a shame this forum doesn't do images, because that'd be a choice opportunity for a Galaxy Brain meme .
Besides that, as I wrote earlier, if the Allies had really wanted to do something about Germany, they shoulda coulda woulda done it while Germany's military was busy elsewhere. The troops were already in Belgium. The war had been declared. What stopped them, in your opinion ?

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You are also, IIRC, French, so you have some bias there as well. You know that in the real world, France and Britain were planning to sit on the defensive, mostly, except for a thrust into Belgium to meet the Germans at pre-planned defensive points there and were thinking they would fight a similar series of battles to how the first world war played out.
Um, yeah, no. Being French and having read quite a bit on the period, I can tell you for absolutely sure that the one thing French military minds (or the voting public) DIDN'T want was a repeat of WW1. The whole of French military planning, technology, strategy was about not doing WW1 again. Because WW1 had been sort of a light ordeal where France was concerned, you see ?

BTW, this comment goes for Little Nemo as well, in that lovable spirit of "you agree with me ? Well fuck you, I don't agree with you !" which has earned me so many friends over the years . France didn't want attrition warfare. It dreaded that more than anything in the world. We'd been there, done that and fucking hated that t-shirt. The whole idea was that, in the event of war, zee Germans would either try to break through the Maginot Line (which would have held them at least until it could be reinforced by a hurried conscription and would have fared well even if manned by 16 year olds who didn't know a grenade from a potato - while the REAL army would have sprung from Belgium, into the Ruhr, cutting German logistics and war's over before Christmas) OR try to go through Belgium like last time, in which case the modern, all tank'd up army would have done the whole mobile warfare, schwerpunkt thing and tried to pocket the German army, cut it off from logistics, push into the Ruhr, war's over before Christmas.
Static, defensive warfare was really not the plan. Defensive warfare *sucks*. That's the lesson everybody learned from WW1. The French did too.

You'll note, however, that either plan hinges on Germany making the first move. Because that's what was expected the whole time.
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:58 AM
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(oh, and because attacking a defensive Germany would have meant trying to smash through the Siegfried line and they would have had good defensive positions and it would have been WW1 all over again and that's the thing we were trying to avoid at any cost. Which further goes towards the "the Allies would have never made an aggressive move" point.)
  #76  
Old 11-09-2019, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
BTW, this comment goes for Little Nemo as well, in that lovable spirit of "you agree with me ? Well fuck you, I don't agree with you !" which has earned me so many friends over the years . France didn't want attrition warfare. It dreaded that more than anything in the world. We'd been there, done that and fucking hated that t-shirt. The whole idea was that, in the event of war, zee Germans would either try to break through the Maginot Line (which would have held them at least until it could be reinforced by a hurried conscription and would have fared well even if manned by 16 year olds who didn't know a grenade from a potato - while the REAL army would have sprung from Belgium, into the Ruhr, cutting German logistics and war's over before Christmas) OR try to go through Belgium like last time, in which case the modern, all tank'd up army would have done the whole mobile warfare, schwerpunkt thing and tried to pocket the German army, cut it off from logistics, push into the Ruhr, war's over before Christmas.
Static, defensive warfare was really not the plan. Defensive warfare *sucks*. That's the lesson everybody learned from WW1. The French did too.
The French didn't want to suffer attrition. But they wanted to win the war by Germany suffering attrition.

France and Britain may have thought WWI was terrible, which is why they did all they could to avoid another war. But they both felt that if a war occurred anyway, it would be like WWI. So their plans were based on the premise of fighting another war like WWI but this time being prepared for it and not making the same mistakes.

That meant staying inside their own defensive line and fighting a defensive war. The big casualties happened when you tried an offensive. So their plan was to defend themselves. If the Germans attacked, fine - they'd shoot them and weaken Germany. If the Germans followed their example and also stayed on the defensive, they could outwait them. Germany eventually lost the economic war in World War I and would lost it again.

The idea that Germany might launch an offensive and that offensive might succeed was what Britain and France hadn't planned on. That caught them by surprise and they hadn't made any contingency plan for it.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 11-09-2019 at 10:57 AM.
  #77  
Old 11-09-2019, 11:16 AM
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(oh, and because attacking a defensive Germany would have meant trying to smash through the Siegfried line and they would have had good defensive positions and it would have been WW1 all over again and that's the thing we were trying to avoid at any cost. Which further goes towards the "the Allies would have never made an aggressive move" point.)
Right, this was the premise of my OP. With the sales pitch of his lifetime, Hitler may have been able to persuade the French, "It REALLY isn't worth it to you to endure another WW1 ordeal just because I'm attacking Poland. I have no plans to go west, so just chill."
  #78  
Old 11-09-2019, 11:37 AM
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The French didn't want to suffer attrition. But they wanted to win the war by Germany suffering attrition.

France and Britain may have thought WWI was terrible, which is why they did all they could to avoid another war. But they both felt that if a war occurred anyway, it would be like WWI. So their plans were based on the premise of fighting another war like WWI but this time being prepared for it and not making the same mistakes.

That meant staying inside their own defensive line and fighting a defensive war. The big casualties happened when you tried an offensive. So their plan was to defend themselves. If the Germans attacked, fine - they'd shoot them and weaken Germany. If the Germans followed their example and also stayed on the defensive, they could outwait them. Germany eventually lost the economic war in World War I and would lost it again.
I really don't know where you're getting this from. They really, really, *really* didn't want another war of attrition, period. France had lost an entire generation in WW1 - those who didn't end up scattered over a large area came back broken, insane or both. The population hadn't recovered by the time WW2 started looming on the horizon. And I'm not sure how you can even conceive a war of attrition where only one side is getting attrited, but they certainly didn't. They did everything they could think of to not do the whole trenches thing again. They developed weapons and strategies and drafted battle plans specifically to win rapidly, decisively and through manoeuver warfare - much like the Germans did. Because everybody had learned from WW1 that doing a WW1 was a bit of a shitshow - even when you end up winning it.

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The idea that Germany might launch an offensive and that offensive might succeed was what Britain and France hadn't planned on. That caught them by surprise and they hadn't made any contingency plan for it.
Yer wot ? You think the possibility of a German invasion completely skipped past Franco-British military minds ?! When that's literally how the previous two wars had kicked off ?
I literally don't know how to respond to this. Especially after I've laid out the basic gist of the Allied pre-war strategy. Germany attacking France didn't take France by bloody surprise - they were at war. And while they hoped their posture was intimidating enough, and were relatively confident that they'd win when Germany attacked, they still were quite clear on the notion that it was a "when", not an "if", and that appeasement had failed.
What did take them by surprise was the bold/suicidally insane decision of the German military to cut a single, linear path through the Ardennes as their way in. It took them by surprise because *it was an insane plan*. The fact that the plan ended up working doesn't change the fact that, from a military standpoint, it was completely bonkers and any number of things happening would have stranded over half the German army in France with no fuel, no ammunition and no line of retreat. And I'm not even talking about "enemy action" things - as I said earlier, a couple days of heavy rains washing out the hastily built pathway & disrupting German air support ahead of the spearhead would have done it, or just given the Allied forces racing back from Belgium time to regroup and reorganize.

And, in a weird way, the insane plan working could be considered something of a good thing, since it emboldened Hitler to keep launching more insaner plans without ever considering any "but what if..." or listening to any doubt voiced by saner military planners. Y'know, like invading Russia without bothering to pack any winter gear whatsoever.

Last edited by Kobal2; 11-09-2019 at 11:38 AM.
  #79  
Old 11-09-2019, 11:50 AM
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Right, this was the premise of my OP. With the sales pitch of his lifetime, Hitler may have been able to persuade the French, "It REALLY isn't worth it to you to endure another WW1 ordeal just because I'm attacking Poland. I have no plans to go west, so just chill."
I do think that would have worked, yes. But then again that also hinges on Hitler not being Hitler-like, and on Nazism not being in large part built on industrial-grade revanchism. The whole thing was fundamentally based on "we should have won WW1, WOULD have won if not for Them Jews/democracy/soshulists/peaceniks/race traitors/Junkers/defeatists/insert scapegoat here. We'll do it RIGHT this time around !"
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Old 11-09-2019, 01:16 PM
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France didn't want attrition warfare. It dreaded that more than anything in the world. We'd been there, done that and fucking hated that t-shirt. The whole idea was that, in the event of war, zee Germans would either try to break through the Maginot Line (which would have held them at least until it could be reinforced by a hurried conscription and would have fared well even if manned by 16 year olds who didn't know a grenade from a potato - while the REAL army would have sprung from Belgium, into the Ruhr, cutting German logistics and war's over before Christmas) OR try to go through Belgium like last time, in which case the modern, all tank'd up army would have done the whole mobile warfare, schwerpunkt thing and tried to pocket the German army, cut it off from logistics, push into the Ruhr, war's over before Christmas.
Static, defensive warfare was really not the plan. Defensive warfare *sucks*.
I think that idea needs more back up from sources, books would be OK, French language OK, doesn't have to be quick-Google. But that's not my read on the French military concept ca. 1939-40.

As was said extremely costly failed *offensives* through deep defensive zones on dense flankless fronts* was what really sucked in WWI. Defensive warfare was a lot more tolerable. WWI could be viewed as having been won basically by the naval blockade of the Central Powers to which useless waste of manpower in doomed offensives in the West was largely irrelevant until Germany had been weakened enough by that blockade, by 1918.

Also the French concept of 1914 was definitely the offensive, the offensive above all. IOW one thing WWI taught was that you can revere the offensive all you like, but it might just not work with huge mass conscription armies big enough to form a continuous robust line of field fortifications over the whole length of German-French plus German-Benelux border. The German concept of concentrated armored forces overcame that in 1940, but the French armor concept in 1940 was not that similar, and in 1944 once the Allied forces lost their momentum due to logistical limits ca. late August 1944, they also struggled to regain it even when the logistical situation improved, took really till ca. Feb 1945. Nor as mentioned was it at all obvious the Germans would have the success they did in May 1940. It wasn't easy to fight other than a war of attrition with big forces on that narrow front with WW's technology. I think that was if anything clearer in winter of 1939-40 than now, when many very casual students of WWII assume the frightfully costly offensives on dense static fronts in *some places* in WWI were done away with by tanks everywhere in WWII. But that's not really so, they also happened in WWII after 1940, and the German 1940 attack could easily have failed.

Also one of the Anglo-French problems in the Phony War period was just a general lack of clear idea what they intended to do to win the war on the ground, or at least a firm consensus on that among military leaders matched by absolute determination of political leaders to back it at all cost. IOW there's some truth IMO to the pop history idea that the French (the British were a fairly minor though not trivial factor on the ground in 1940 in France) were just not prepared mentally to fight another all out war in 1939 which was a German advantage, because they were.

All that said, I don't think Hitler would have 'turned his back' on France to fight a war against the USSR maybe not even without a French declaration of Phony War, definitely not with one. Once at war with France, Germany had to neutralize France before turning on the USSR. And it was difficult (not impossible, via Romanian border, negotiation with Poland conceivably to use their territory) to attack the USSR without conquering Poland. Plus getting even with France for the German defeat in WWI was as much a pillar of Nazi/Hitler thought as anti-Communism or racial theories about Slavs.

But nor did Germany in any way exhaust itself by defeating France in 1940. If anything that campaign tuned up the German Army for the Russian campaign, though it expanded further before the attack on USSR. The German problem with a war against USSR after having defeated France was how to end the war with Britain, an enemy the Nazi's didn't particularly seek in terms of their racial/ethnic theories. It would not IMO have been impossible for Germany to beat the USSR if Hitler had found a way to bring Britain to terms both could accept ca. June 1940, also avoiding eventually adding the US to UK and USSR as major opponents, which made victory basically impossible save a deus ex machina weapons development. Though German success in a straight up Russo-German war was not guaranteed either IMO.

*it's not as if the offensive never worked at reasonable cost in WWI, it just worked a lot better in various campaigns on lower manpower per mile of fronts in the East, and Mideast, rather than higher density ones like the West and northeast Italy.
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Old 11-09-2019, 01:19 PM
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Kobal, I feel like you're reading about a quarter of what I'm writing. You're raising points that I've already addressed.

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They really, really, *really* didn't want another war of attrition, period. France had lost an entire generation in WW1 - those who didn't end up scattered over a large area came back broken, insane or both. The population hadn't recovered by the time WW2 started looming on the horizon.
Me:
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France and Britain may have thought WWI was terrible, which is why they did all they could to avoid another war. But they both felt that if a war occurred anyway, it would be like WWI.
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And I'm not sure how you can even conceive a war of attrition where only one side is getting attrited, but they certainly didn't.
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That meant staying inside their own defensive line and fighting a defensive war. The big casualties happened when you tried an offensive. So their plan was to defend themselves. If the Germans attacked, fine - they'd shoot them and weaken Germany.
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You think the possibility of a German invasion completely skipped past Franco-British military minds ?! When that's literally how the previous two wars had kicked off ?
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The idea that Germany might launch an offensive and that offensive might succeed was what Britain and France hadn't planned on.
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They developed weapons and strategies and drafted battle plans specifically to win rapidly, decisively and through manoeuver warfare - much like the Germans did.
Okay, I didn't respond to this point. But this point is not true. France and Britain did not have a strategy for winning the war rapidly, decisively and through manoeuver warfare. French and British military doctrine between the wars was that strong defenses won wars.

Yes, there were officers like de Gaulle, Estienne, Fuller, and Liddell Hart who were arguing otherwise. But the generals in charge of the armies did not listen to these officers. They only changed their minds after the German western offensive in 1940 proved the armor prophets had been right.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 11-09-2019 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 11-09-2019, 01:59 PM
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I don't disagree at all that he intended to tussle with Russia. Because, y'know, Nazism. What I disagree with is the notion that Hitler attacked England & France as sort of collateral invasions in order to secure that tussle with Russia. The confrontations with England and France were just as implicit to the very core of Nazism as that with "Slavs". Because, y'know, Nazism.
Nazism was, fundamentally, about conflict. The core conceit of Nazism was that conflict is the natural order of things, that all nations are in conflict, and that the purpose of the state is to win conflict; in so doing, the state demonstrates (or doesn't) the superiority of its people.

Germany attacking France was inevitable, because that's what Nazis do, it was just a matter of what order it happened in. Nazi antipathy to France and all things French was a big, big thing, with philosophical roots going back to Fichte and maybe earlier, so it's true France was SPECIFICALLY detested, but everyone was generally detested.

It is critically important to note, as smarter posters than I already have, that Nazism did not arise from a vacuum; it wasn't that Hitler came along and was like "Guys, check out my book" and all of Germany was like "Whoa, cool, we were totally into liberal democracy before but this is way neat, fire up the panzers." Volkisch thought way predated Hitler. Many of the central concepts - German racial superiority, the treachery of Jews, a rejection of liberal individualism, the concept of expanding Lebensraum as a central national goal, and even the (entirely wrong) use of the word "Aryan" to describe racially desirable Europeans - were well established in German reactionary thought before Hitler was born.
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:42 PM
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I agree with Kobal on this one. I don't think Britain or France were seriously planning on launching a major offensive into Germany in the foreseeable future. I think their strategy was to essentially fight a better version of WWI. They would have settled in along a defensive line (this time with better preparations to minimize casualties) and then fought a slow war of economic attrition via naval blockade (maybe with some aerial bombing added in as a new factor). I think the Germans could have likewise assumed a defensive strategy along the border without fear of an attack for two, three, or four years.

But while the Germans could have done that, I don't think Hitler could have. It was against his nature to sit still even when holding a position of advantage. He had a psychological need to make things happen.

And I don't think he would have projected his drive to attack on to the French or British. Hitler saw himself as unique; he didn't think other people had the vision and willpower he had. So he would have had no problem believing that the British and French would not attack him even as he was planning on attacking them.
Sigh. I feel like the salient points of the discussion have been drown in a lot of misreading and assumptions. I never said, nor did I even imply that the French and British were planning a massive offensive. They PLANNED on a defensive war, as I said numerous times. So, not sure what you are disagree with me on, or agreeing with Kobal on to be honest. Basically, the point is that Germany couldn't KNOW that this was what the allies planned...or, that they would stick with that forever (i.e. never attacking, always waiting on the defensive). Both the French and British were building up forces as well as logistics for their planned invasion of Belgium, and the movement to the jump off points for the identified defensive positions. Beyond that, they had plans, but they weren't anything like firm plans, to take the offensive if they could. There were various proposed plans that could be put in play depending on how things panned out. Since they didn't know how they would pan out, they didn't do them. There were also plans for limited offensives if Germany did nothing after the French and British were ready. Again, it would depend on certain things happening.

It was all rendered moot, however, as France fell a lot quicker than anyone thought. So, trying to posit that the allies would have stayed on the defensive no matter what based on what was basically a 2 month campaign is ridiculous. Of COURSE eventually the allies would have taken the offensive if Germany did nothing. Even if they wouldn't have, however, Germany didn't know that. Once France and Britain declared war on Germany, Germany had no choice but to make plans to fight them. This wasn't 'because Nazi's', it was because reality...France and Britain were very powerful countries that Germany couldn't ignore. Hitler wasn't some mastermind, maneuvering the French and Brits into declaring war so he could attack France, as even his own generals were unsure if they could win such a war. Hitler was an idiot who miscalculated but then got lucky. Had France and the Brits just caved in (again) on Poland, Hitler would have been content to continue moving east, not in fighting France or the Brits. Eventually, I'm sure he WOULD have gotten around to fighting them (or, most likely as I said, he's just push too far for them to be able to let it go...it was going to happen, sooner or later).

Now...if you have an issue with the above, that's fine. Kobal certainly does. But at least address what I'm actually saying. To recap, I'm not saying the French or Brits were planning a massive offensive in the early stages of the war. They fully intended, and clearly planned for a defensive war centered around strategic defensive positions in Belgium. This, however, doesn't preclude them going on the offensive later, depending on how things worked out.
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Old 11-09-2019, 05:05 PM
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Kobal, I feel like you're reading about a quarter of what I'm writing. You're raising points that I've already addressed.
I was pretty drunk when I answered, yes. Apologies. Still, I'm not really sure your addressing of the points actually addresses them very much ?

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France and Britain may have thought WWI was terrible, which is why they did all they could to avoid another war. But they both felt that if a war occurred anyway, it would be like WWI.
But they knew it wouldn't. They knew air warfare and long-range bombing of cities would be a major new thing. They knew (or at least hoped) tanks would pre-empt the need for trench warfare entirely by basically making ad-hoc defensive networks irrelevant unless they were specifically designed to counter tanks - which takes a lot of time and preparation and materials, as in the Maginot or Siegfried lines. But once past those prepared defences (somehow) then tanks could just plow through any hastily dug up infantry trench network.
And I mean, again, the one thing neither Germans nor French nor British wanted to happen was to spend (or have their children spend) years dying on their feet inside a muddy trench, shelled out of their minds on a daily basis, gassed out etc... While it's true that the really massive casualties of WW1 happened during large offensives across no man's land and straight into machine guns, the rest of it was just as traumatizing and a big hairy pile of NOPE for its survivors.

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That meant staying inside their own defensive line and fighting a defensive war. The big casualties happened when you tried an offensive. So their plan was to defend themselves. If the Germans attacked, fine - they'd shoot them and weaken Germany.
This point has also been raised by Corry El, but I don't think it has a lot of merit. You can't win a war by staying on the defensive, sort of by definition. The best you can hope for is for the enemy to stop attacking temporarily. This is all the more true when you consider the "fanatical death cult" aspect of the Axis regimes. Even in '45 with a Germany thoroughly 'sploded (I'm sorry, "de-housed"), starved of materials and industry to an incredible degree and sporting a morale that could only adequately be gauged with an electron microscope, the surrender only came after the crazy old man topped himself because Russian tanks were hours away from his last hidey hole. A similarly thoroughly, comprehensively destroyed Japanese war machine was still somehow determined to keep being dicks to the bitter end - they even tried a coup on the Emperor over his admitting defeat.

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The idea that Germany might launch an offensive and that offensive might succeed was what Britain and France hadn't planned on.
Well, yeah. They didn't plan on their plan(s) to win not succeeding, somewhat tautologically. I don't think many governments or militaries make detailed plans for what to do in the event of complete pwnage, because if you think your plan with result in getting trounced you have some incentive to pick a different plan .
IOW, I'm not sure what that assertion is designed to demonstrate ?

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Okay, I didn't respond to this point. But this point is not true. France and Britain did not have a strategy for winning the war rapidly, decisively and through manoeuver warfare. French and British military doctrine between the wars was that strong defenses won wars.

Yes, there were officers like de Gaulle, Estienne, Fuller, and Liddell Hart who were arguing otherwise. But the generals in charge of the armies did not listen to these officers. They only changed their minds after the German western offensive in 1940 proved the armor prophets had been right.
That's not how I interpret the movements made in response to the actual German invasion ; nor the troop deployments themselves. They absolutely kept forces in reserves, both in numbers (in order to be able to quickly capitalize on breaches) and in depth, all the way into northern France (because letting the bad guys push in then collapse around them was a new strategy both sides were exploring - which is merely the flipside of "have a fast force race around and behind the enemy to form a pocket, then collapse on it")

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I think that idea needs more back up from sources, books would be OK, French language OK, doesn't have to be quick-Google. But that's not my read on the French military concept ca. 1939-40.
Most of it comes from uni lectures about the interwar period which, if I still have the class material & bibliography it's in one of the basement crates I haven't bothered opening after the move ; some more from documentary osmosis over the years (especially stuff explaining the Maginot Line and why the popular perception of it is completely ass backwards - it's one of my weirdly nationalistic pet peeves which I can't quite explain because I'm the least nationalistic guy I know and you wouldn't catch me dead waving any flag ), and my reading entirely too many old newspapers because I was a weird kid.

I will agree that I probably overstated the Allies "modern doctrine" wrt armor, as at that point both the Brits and the French still mostly saw tanks as infantry support and trenchbreakers rather than a gamechanger of their own - but you can do mobile warfare without it necessarily being mechanized warfare. You just have to be willing not to get bogged down in sieges (be they offensive or defensive), to keep reserves to be hastily poured into any opening or at determined weak points etc...

That being said, while we might disagree on the specifics (and I might even have them slightly to completely wrong !) we seem to roughly align when it comes to the big picture, so, eh. Good 'nuff for free work

One thing I will note however in response to your analysis is that contrary to WW1 the French military situation was not nearly as much of a "dense manpower across a flankless frontline" thing. I mean, that was really the sticky point, why so much money and effort was poured into the Maginot line, why French forces tried to narrow the front down to Belgium's SE border instead of the whole eastern France (the other part of that decision being, if we're going to have a hellwar, let's try and have it somewhere Not_France and hopefully in Germany itself this time around, yeah ? ). As I said, the scars of WW1 on the French population were still not healed as many, many of its young men came back from the war incapable of raising a family. By the early thirties the big salient problem was "we can't possibly defend the entire country if Germany comes back, there's not nearly enough of us left", which became all the more pressing that Germany was becoming increasingly warlike and re-arming. Hence the trying to avoid having to actually do the war at all costs, as you note.

But, of note as well, is that the Germans weren't really all that keen on all out hellwar themselves in 1940. The German economy was only shifted to an actual total war footing in, what, '43, thereabouts ? I mean it increased gradually so it's not like there was a clear before/after point ; but I expect you know what I mean.
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Old 11-10-2019, 06:01 AM
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you can do mobile warfare without it necessarily being mechanized warfare. You just have to be willing not to get bogged down
Mobility without mechanization is the essence of guerrillas, which have been around since before Scipio Africanus learned how to tie his own sandals.
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  #86  
Old 11-10-2019, 10:02 AM
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I think that if Germany convinces the people of France and UK that his fight is against Communism he might make it politicaly difficult for their governments to fulfill their obligations. Maybe moving its forces on the west 50km inland to prove the point, it might work. It wasn't that long before that Chamberlain had said "..a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing about"
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Old 11-10-2019, 10:33 AM
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Sigh. I feel like the salient points of the discussion have been drown in a lot of misreading and assumptions. I never said, nor did I even imply that the French and British were planning a massive offensive. They PLANNED on a defensive war, as I said numerous times. So, not sure what you are disagree with me on, or agreeing with Kobal on to be honest. Basically, the point is that Germany couldn't KNOW that this was what the allies planned...or, that they would stick with that forever (i.e. never attacking, always waiting on the defensive). Both the French and British were building up forces as well as logistics for their planned invasion of Belgium, and the movement to the jump off points for the identified defensive positions. Beyond that, they had plans, but they weren't anything like firm plans, to take the offensive if they could. There were various proposed plans that could be put in play depending on how things panned out. Since they didn't know how they would pan out, they didn't do them. There were also plans for limited offensives if Germany did nothing after the French and British were ready. Again, it would depend on certain things happening.

It was all rendered moot, however, as France fell a lot quicker than anyone thought. So, trying to posit that the allies would have stayed on the defensive no matter what based on what was basically a 2 month campaign is ridiculous. Of COURSE eventually the allies would have taken the offensive if Germany did nothing. Even if they wouldn't have, however, Germany didn't know that. Once France and Britain declared war on Germany, Germany had no choice but to make plans to fight them. This wasn't 'because Nazi's', it was because reality...France and Britain were very powerful countries that Germany couldn't ignore. Hitler wasn't some mastermind, maneuvering the French and Brits into declaring war so he could attack France, as even his own generals were unsure if they could win such a war. Hitler was an idiot who miscalculated but then got lucky. Had France and the Brits just caved in (again) on Poland, Hitler would have been content to continue moving east, not in fighting France or the Brits. Eventually, I'm sure he WOULD have gotten around to fighting them (or, most likely as I said, he's just push too far for them to be able to let it go...it was going to happen, sooner or later).

Now...if you have an issue with the above, that's fine. Kobal certainly does. But at least address what I'm actually saying. To recap, I'm not saying the French or Brits were planning a massive offensive in the early stages of the war. They fully intended, and clearly planned for a defensive war centered around strategic defensive positions in Belgium. This, however, doesn't preclude them going on the offensive later, depending on how things worked out.
Okay, here's how I see the British and French strategic planning.

They looked back at WWI as a model for how another war against Germany would go. It was difficult to see the overall course of the war while it was going on. But once the war was over, military and political leaders could look back at the war and form conclusions about what happened.

1. Offenses were a bad idea. They produced huge amounts of casualties and didn't achieve significant gains.

2. Defense was strong. A unit with a good defensive position could stand against a much larger unit on the offensive.

3. Economic warfare worked. Germany, for all practical purposes, was not defeated in the field. They held positions in France throughout the war. There was never any major offensive into Germany. Germany surrendered because their economy collapsed, which happened primarily because they were cut off from trade by a naval blockade.

4. Technology doesn't matter all that much. New technologies got tried throughout the war; mass artillery attacks, radio communication, poison gas, aerial bombardment, tanks, submarines, etc. Many of them achieved tactical success. But ultimately none of them changed the strategic course of the war.

So the French and British planners absorbed these ideas and build a strategy around them. They still wanted to avoid a war if it was possible (I want to emphasize that point) but they made plans for fighting a war if they had to.

1. The overall strategy was to build up strong defensive positions along the border. Don't allow the Germans to establish themselves inside France. These defensive positions would reduce the casualty rates of the troops holding them.

2. Don't launch offensives. They produce casualties without producing results. And WWI showed that you could defeat a country without having to invade it. If the Germans were foolish enough to try to launch offensives against us, let them. Our defenses would absorb their attacks and leave them weaker than they started.

3. Establish a naval blockade. Once you've got a nice stable defensive line and are protected against enemy offenses, sit back and give the blockade time to work. It may take a few years but eventually the German economy will collapse like it did in WWI and Germany will surrender again.

I think if it had been possible, France and Britain would have extended the Maginot line up along the Belgian and Dutch border all the way to the North Sea. This couldn't be done for political and economic reasons. So they accepted the reality that they would have to send troops into Belgium and maybe the Netherlands. But their plan was to send these troops in and establish defensive lines in these countries - not to use them as a route for invading Germany. At most, they might have considered an advance into Germany when that country's economy was on the verge of collapse and an invasion would essentially be a walkover.

This strategic thinking is why Britain and France were unwilling to let Germany have a free hand in Eastern Europe. They wanted to keep the German economic base as small as possible so their plan for winning a war by economic isolation would work. So Poland became a line that they were unwilling to let Germany cross. They would have been even less willing to sit back while Germany defeated the Soviet Union and established an economic base there.

This strategic thinking wasn't a secret even if some of the operational details were. The Abwehr must have known that there was no threat of a Anglo/French attack. This explains the German willingness to strip their western frontier of forces to use them in the invasion of Poland.
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Old 11-11-2019, 05:51 PM
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Okay, here's how I see the British and French strategic planning.

1. The overall strategy was to build up strong defensive positions along the border. Don't allow the Germans to establish themselves inside France. These defensive positions would reduce the casualty rates of the troops holding them.

2. Don't launch offensives. They produce casualties without producing results. And WWI showed that you could defeat a country without having to invade it. If the Germans were foolish enough to try to launch offensives against us, let them. Our defenses would absorb their attacks and leave them weaker than they started.

3. Establish a naval blockade. Once you've got a nice stable defensive line and are protected against enemy offenses, sit back and give the blockade time to work. It may take a few years but eventually the German economy will collapse like it did in WWI and Germany will surrender again.
That would have been a sensible strategy for Anglo-French war v Germany based on the lessons of WWI. But in fairness to the counter argument that French interwar military thinking still envisaged defeating Germany in a war of maneuver *supported* by the permanent fortifications along portions of the German-French border*, consider:

1. Earlier interwar planning by the French could not assume the British would again be allies in a war with Germany, nor that the French Navy would always be able to impose an effective blockade by itself.

2. Somewhat related, plans for land warfare were naturally the province of armies. The French *Army* was naturally reluctant to base its plans entirely on an assumption of an effective French naval blockade let alone an assumption the RN would do so again.

So it's plausible to say IMO that the French Army had some idea of actually defeating the Germany Army, using permanent fortifications as a means to that end, rather than formally adopting a doctrine that eschewed the offensive in favor of defeating Germany in a future war by means of a mainly British blockade.

Also consider the 'German Army' was a moving target. Even with the Maginot fortifications incomplete, general French military unreadiness, and lack of a 100% gtee of British support, the 1936 French Army would have been more than able to defeat the 1936 German Army if there had been the will to do that in reaction to the German reoccupation of the Rhineland. The Germans gained much more in land capability between 1936 and 1940 than the French did.

But when war came, history says the Allies were only willing to launch the tentative Saar Offensive in September 1939, and did not have an active plan to invade Germany in spring 1940. Although they were arguably more willing to take risk in *counter* offensives in Belgium which would result in the outright defeat of the German Army, which didn't work out.

Again though I don't believe Hitler would have relied on Anglo-French quiescence to launch a war in the East without defeating the French and driving the British out first, once they'd declared even Phony War v Germany.

*I recommend "Hommes Et Ouvrages De La Ligne Maginot" by Jean-Yves Mary et al, in 5 volumes, which includes some high level discussion but especially if like myself one is interested in the technical details of fortifications, it's probably the most complete study in that respect, also w/ analysis of the actions related to the fortifications in the 1939-40 Franco-German campaign (and others campaigns, v Italian in 1940 in the Alps, 'wrong way' use of the fortifications by the Germans in the 1944-5 campaign). Anyway, you'll see that significant portions of the Franco-German border did not have the large 'ouvrages' for which the line is famous, besides the borders with Luxembourg and Belgium not having them.

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  #89  
Old 11-11-2019, 06:06 PM
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Earlier, it was mentioned that the blockade cause the German economy to collapse. In what ways? What did the Germans run out of in WWI? How did that compare to WWII?
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Old 11-11-2019, 06:43 PM
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2. Don't launch offensives. They produce casualties without producing results. And WWI showed that you could defeat a country without having to invade it.
Slight (but, I feel, salient) nitpick : technically speaking, Germany was not defeated in WW1. That specific part of the war ended in an armistice, followed by a negotiated and mutually agreed treaty - because the Allies couldn't do better, or at least felt that trying to do better wasn't worth the cost. If, as I think it was Patton (?) who said, the ultimate objective of a war is to strip the enemy of its will to fight then the Allies' will to fight was also down to its metaphorical underpants at that point.

Obviously the Allies were still in a relatively dominant position and were therefore able to extract some serious concessions on the part of Germany... but that's all they were. Voluntary concessions. A return to the status quo antebellum plus expenses, tax and the Preciousssss. I'm sorry; I meant to say Alsace & Lorraine. The Kaiser's government was left in full (if very temporary, but the Allies couldn't know that) control, and at the time even planned on using the terms of Versailles as cudgels against Republicans to further solidify and harden autocratic power.

The point is, it was not an unconditional surrender and annexation/partition/occupation, which is what you really want out of a victorious war. And the fact that 20 years later, heeere we go again bigger, louder and uncut should suffice to demonstrate why that is . It also explains why it was agreed at the Casablanca conference not to settle for anything less out of Nazi Germany this time around.

In contrast, Austro-Hungary was of much lesser import during WW2, as was the Ottoman Empire - both of which had been invaded and partly occupied when their armistices were signed.

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*I recommend "Hommes Et Ouvrages De La Ligne Maginot" by Jean-Yves Mary et al, in 5 volumes, which includes some high level discussion but especially if like myself one is interested in the technical details of fortifications, it's probably the most complete study in that respect, also w/ analysis of the actions related to the fortifications in the 1939-40 Franco-German campaign (and others campaigns, v Italian in 1940 in the Alps, 'wrong way' use of the fortifications by the Germans in the 1944-5 campaign).
Hey, cheers ! Thanks for the recommendation !
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Old 11-11-2019, 07:02 PM
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I think if it had been possible, France and Britain would have extended the Maginot line up along the Belgian and Dutch border all the way to the North Sea. This couldn't be done for political and economic reasons.
Yeah, the Belgians would never agree to that, reasoning that it would have given the French a large incentive to throw Belgium under the panzerbus and/or use Belgium as the primary to-be-comprehensively-devastated battleground. Can't really find fault with that reasoning.

But another good reason not to go all Maginot all the time (and all the way) is that it's not a good strategic or tactical idea to construct an absolutely impregnable fortress, and a much better if less intuitive one to construct a fortress with one predictable way in. The latter can then be further engineered into a kill zone, ending the fight quicker than a long protracted siege.
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Old 11-11-2019, 07:41 PM
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Earlier, it was mentioned that the blockade cause the German economy to collapse. In what ways? What did the Germans run out of in WWI? How did that compare to WWII?
Food and coal were the two biggest problems.
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Old 11-11-2019, 08:02 PM
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Food and coal were the two biggest problems.
In both wars?

It seems to largely come down to energy. In WWII, the Germans used synthetic oil, right? That seems to largely not get used except out of desperation or contingency planning.
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Old 11-11-2019, 08:57 PM
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In both wars?
No, it was more of a WWI issue.
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Old 11-12-2019, 04:59 PM
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I'm saying going after France and the Brits was always part of the plan - not a sidegoal or consequence of nor hindrance to the "main" plan. Crushing those arrogant upstarts was part and parcel with affirming the immanent, intrinsic, self-demonstrating greatness of Germany. It's all but spelled out in Hitler's speeches as early as 1937, and although I haven't yet read Mein Kampf I'm relatively convinced you'd find clues in there as well. Because Hitler wasn't a gamechanging superevil aberration, just a product of his time and place, and an expression of nationwide trends.
That's just not true. It's not historically accurate, especially vis-a-vis Great Britain.

Hitler believed that Germany and Great Britain were natural allies and he made overtures to keep them on friendly terms. Hitler had no designs on Great Britain until he had no chilce. Heck, there's a school of thought that says he let England off the hook at Dunkirk because even then he hoped for them to be allies.

France is another matter. He had conflicting views on France, and I believe that it's hard to know when he might have turned on France.
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Old 11-12-2019, 06:39 PM
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That's just not true. It's not historically accurate, especially vis-a-vis Great Britain.

Hitler believed that Germany and Great Britain were natural allies
No, he said he did. That's not the same as "he did". And then, he didn't and almost overnight the "natural ally" became "the Jew among Aryan peoples" and "perfidious Albion". Where Nazi propaganda had praised the ruthlessness of the UK in conquering its Empire, it turned to denouncing those "few hundred plutocrats" lording it over the entire world. British imperialism was a good example to be emulated, and a terrible example of profit-driven usurpation to be condemned. All at the same time, or in rapid sequence.

Hitler (and Nazis in general) said and believed in a ton of contradictory, otherwise mutually exclusive things, all according to the opportunism of the present minute. Which is par for the course for a movement that ultimately had very little coherent (or sincere) ideology to drive it besides arbitrary hatred(s) ; and whose primary goal was evermore power for power's sake.
Modern neonazis aren't any different, tbh - "the Holocaust didn't happen, that's a Jewish plot to make nazis look bad ; but it should happen exactly as it never happened, because Jews still plot the plots that Hitler used to justify the Holocaust which he didn't do !" *brain discreetly leaking out of ears*

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and he made overtures to keep them on friendly terms.
That's really meaningless as an indication of intentions. Hitler also signed an actual neutrality pact with the USSR, drafting partition plans for Poland et al. while they were at it. Does that mean Hitler had no intention to attack Russia at the time those agreements were reached ?

And of *course* he would make peace offers to the UK - if successful that would have driven a wedge betwen UK and France, allowing him to defeat one without having to worry about the other. Then, thanks to the expanded powerbase of the conquered one, he'd have been in a much better position to attack the other. Does that, in turn, mean he was planning on doing that from the get go ? No, not really, either. But Hitler's regime having been directed by opportunism from the get go, it's hardly a stretch.
Which is why it's also helpful to consider the broader context & origins of Nazism. Even if you're not convinced by Fischer's broader zeitgeist/continuation of WW1 arguments, direct revanchism for WW1 was still a crucial part of interwar Pan-german movements & thought that Nazis co-opted. Guess which side England was on in WW1 ?

Of further note, the ideology of Nazism (to the extent it even had one) was predicated on an enemy to fight, and fighting for fighting's sake. Even *if* in 1939 Hitler really saw England as a natural ally, then had he been succesful in stomping USSR and France and hanged the last Jew with the guts of the last Communist he would have immediately started looking for more enemies to use as justifications for his dictatorship. That's how nazism works. Hell that's how any dictatorship work - nazism being further blinkered in that the mere existence of an enemy is sufficient to justify trying to utterly destroy it to prove yourself stronger, reveal yourself in the conflict, achieve your manifest destiny, whatever the hell else. Nazism is a dumb death cult, is my point.

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France is another matter. He had conflicting views on France, and I believe that it's hard to know when he might have turned on France.
German populist thought in the interwar was really not conflicted on France (anymore that French Boulangists were any conflicted re:Germany in the early 20th century). They took Alsace & Lorraine ! They imposed injust reparations, kicking us when we were down !
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Old 11-12-2019, 07:26 PM
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....


German populist thought in the interwar was really not conflicted on France (anymore that French Boulangists were any conflicted re:Germany in the early 20th century). They took Alsace & Lorraine ! They imposed injust reparations, kicking us when we were down !
Yeah, I am reading The Sleepwalkers and it appears clear to me France was the nation most responsible for the Great War. Not that the rest are in any way blameless. But France had negotiated with Russia to start something in Serbia, so AH would intervene, thus Russia mobilizes a small part of it's army vs AH, leading Germany it, then Russia and France crush Germany in a pincer movement. Which, except for that last part, is just about what happened. I understand Germany's anger at having to accept 100% of the blame for starting the Great War in the treaty....and paying for it all. Having France- who was most responsible for the war- make Germany take the blame must have been "gauling".
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:06 PM
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Yeah, I am reading The Sleepwalkers and it appears clear to me France was the nation most responsible for the Great War. Not that the rest are in any way blameless. But France had negotiated with Russia to start something in Serbia, so AH would intervene, thus Russia mobilizes a small part of it's army vs AH, leading Germany it, then Russia and France crush Germany in a pincer movement. Which, except for that last part, is just about what happened. I understand Germany's anger at having to accept 100% of the blame for starting the Great War in the treaty....and paying for it all. Having France- who was most responsible for the war- make Germany take the blame must have been "gauling".
I haven't read The Sleepwalkers (although it looks interesting and now that you're made me aware of it, I'll check it out) but I question the "France did it" narrative.

The "Austria and Germany did it" narrative runs like this. Austria-Hungary was having a lot of problems. Many of the ethnic groups in the Empire wanted to split off and form their own country. Pretty much the only thing holding the country together was the personal prestige of Emperor Franz Joseph. But Franz Joseph was eighty-four years old and his time was running out. It was widely feared (or in some places hoped) that when he died the Empire would fall apart.

Some people in the government felt that a quick war with a victory over a foreign enemy might be useful. A victory would raise the prestige of the government and having the various ethnic groups fighting side by side against a common enemy would paper over their differences. It was hoped that the good feelings from a short war might keep things quiet long enough to get through the succession crisis.

Serbia then handed Austria-Hungary a perfect opportunity. Austria-Hungary didn't want a big long war but a war against just Serbia looked the right size.

Germany was looking at a bigger picture. They saw their strategic situation getting worse. Their main allies were Austria-Hungary and Italy. But they could see the problems that Austria-Hungary was having. And Italy was growing more distant.

Germany's main opponent was France. France was in the middle of a major political crisis (the Dreyfuss Affair). France's main ally was Russia. Russia was still weakened by the Russo-Japanese War and the 1905 Revolution. But things were finally starting to get better and Russia had just begun a ten year plan of economic and military reform. France was also developing an alliance with Britain. It was still in its early stages but it looked to be getting stronger.

So Germany looked at all of these factors and could see that its strategic situation was going to get worse with time. So if a war was going to happen, it should happen as soon as possible. Therefore when Austria-Hungary consulted them about its war plans, Germany gave them its full support. And Germany wanted a war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia to turn into a general war.

As for France, they were looking at things from the opposite direction. All of the above-mentioned factors that would make the future worse for Germany were going to make the future better for France. France could see that postponing the start of a war for a few years would improve their chances of victory.

So while I agree France was more interested than Germany in fighting a war, I feel the timing is wrong for France to have been the instigator in 1914. Germany and Austria-Hungary had reasons to want a war to start in 1914. France and its allies all had reasons to not want a war to start that year.
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:31 PM
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Yeah, I am reading The Sleepwalkers and it appears clear to me France was the nation most responsible for the Great War. Not that the rest are in any way blameless. But France had negotiated with Russia to start something in Serbia, so AH would intervene, thus Russia mobilizes a small part of it's army vs AH, leading Germany it, then Russia and France crush Germany in a pincer movement. Which, except for that last part, is just about what happened. I understand Germany's anger at having to accept 100% of the blame for starting the Great War in the treaty....and paying for it all. Having France- who was most responsible for the war- make Germany take the blame must have been "gauling".
I haven't read The Sleepwalkers, but I was given to understand Clark's position was to reject the question of the attribution of guilt entirely as being generally unhelpful to understanding the multipartite process ?

(oh, Little Nemo beat me to the punch. FWIW if we're having this discussion, my position is they all did it. Each of the powers had jingoistic actors in key decision-making roles, they each entered the war pursuing nationalist gains and ultimately it wasn't so much a Mexican stand-off as a quick-draw contest)

Last edited by Kobal2; 11-12-2019 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 11-12-2019, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I haven't read The Sleepwalkers (although it looks interesting and now that you're made me aware of it, I'll check it out) but I question the "France did it" narrative.
....
So while I agree France was more interested than Germany in fighting a war, I feel the timing is wrong for France to have been the instigator in 1914. Germany and Austria-Hungary had reasons to want a war to start in 1914. France and its allies all had reasons to not want a war to start that year.
France was hoping for a Balkans issue. But calling them "the instigator" is a bit too much. Obviously, that was Serbia.

And yes, most of the Powers in Europe are to blame. Germany, AH, France, Russia and even GB. I think France deserves slightly more than the others, it was angry over Alsace/lorraine.
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