If Hitler hadn't attacked the USSR?

Reading this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=603519 made me wonder once again. Is there a consensus on what would have happened if Hitler hadn’t attacked the USSR. Would the atom bombs have been dropped on, say, Dresden and Hamburg?

If the mods think this should be in GD, please move it.

The U.S. certainly had a Germany first, Japan second strategy. The atomic bomb was originally intended to be used against Germany. However, it soon became clear that the bomb would not be needed in Europe, so they switched focus to Japan.

So yeah, if the atomic bomb had been needed, they certainly would have used it against Hitler.

Well, the whole point of the war in the west was to quickly knock the French out of the war so the Nazis could concentrate on attacking the USSR. Which, if you replace “the USSR” with “Russia” was the original plan for the western front in WW1, as well. The Nazis tried it again since it turned out so well for the Kaiser a generation earlier.

Hitler was never going to not attack the Soviets. Germany wanted to take “living space” for Germans from Poland and the east since before there was a Germany. Hitler and the Nazis in general had no plans for an extended war in western Europe.

Given that this is a hypothetical, it’s probably better suited to GD than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

Well, assuming he didn’t attack the USSR then I assume he would have concentrated Germany’s energies on consolidating the territory they did gain and finishing off the British…possibly expanding outward to take over or engage anyway the entire British Empire (i.e. territories in North Africa, the ME, possibly India).

Depends on if the British were able to stay in the game or not I guess. If the Germans didn’t attack the Russians, then it would have been up to whether or not the British could stay in the game…without the British there would have been no place for the US to stage out of to effectively fight Germany from, except at sea.

My guess is that the Brits would have eventually folded and sought some sort of peace. Even if they could have held out in the British isles, if Germany went full out after the rest of their empire I think they would have had to throw in the towel…and if Germany isn’t attacking the Russians then they could put more into Operation Sea Lion, their invasion of the BIs.


Its pretty hard seeing the Allies winning WWII without the USSR on their side. The Normandy invasion was hard enough when most of the opposing army was off getting killed by the Russians.

I think the most likely scenario is that the allies convince Stalin to invade Germany in tandem with an anglo-american invasion. By all accounts, Stalin was resigned to going to war with Germany at some point, he just thought he had a few years to prepare. So I imagine he’d be amenable to joining the allies anyways, just a few years later then he did historically.

I’m not sure Atomic bombs of the period were that useful until you had both control of both the air and the land close enough to launch bombers at meaningful targets. In otherwords, you could really only use them if you were already winning anyways.

My unsubstantiated opinion…

If Germany hadn’t invaded the USSR, the USSR would have invaded Germany. Stalin would have waited looking at how the war went in the West and if it had been going too well for the Western powers or started to turn against them severly he would have attacked.

The USSR could not have had a victorous and unhampered by other wars Germany at its doorstep. Stalin knew this.

I would love to have seen Stalin’s impression when he found France had fallen. The panic must have been thick…I;m sure he wanted Germany and France/England to bleed themselves for a few years then he could swoop in.

Eventually I agree that war was inevitable between the USSR and Germany…but it wouldn’t have happened for years if Stalin had his way. I don’t remember where I saw it, but I seem to recall that Stalin’s time table for doing unto Germany before they did unto him was the early 50’s. I doubt Hitler would have waited that long…if he was able to force the UK to either surrender or to some sort of armistice on terms favorable to Germany then I think Hitler would have done exactly the same thing…gone full out after the USSR. But it could have been the mid-40’s before that happened, as it would depend on how long the UK could hold out, and how many resources Germany was willing to throw in to force them off the board.


If war between the Germans and the Soviets didn’t happen by the mid-40s, both parties would later have to confront the possibility that hostilies could go nuclear. The eastern front might have stabilized into a different sort of Cold War.

Germany’s goal in fighting Britain, then, might be to secure control of North Sea oil. German diplomacy would have bent toward the Middle East, working to install friendly dictators in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states (and to find the Lost Ark).

How can Germany still win, really? Striking east and seizing any/all natural resources (including slave labor) actually was the best move Hitler had. Churchill certainly wouldn’t have backed down, and there was no reason to believe they couldn’t hold out nearly indefinitely (or at least until Stalin turned on Hitler or FDR could get the US moving).

The British navy was vastly superior to the German navy to the point the Germans were basically blocked into their own ports. There’s nowhere else for Germany to go after. They were effectively hemmed in Europe. The UK had naval supremacy and had effective air superiority over the home islands.

It doesn’t matter how many millions of troops Hitler had - he had no way to get them past the naval and air defenses, a lack of craft for transport, no significant naval barrages to soften landing zones, and a hostile native force to overcome. It’s the same problem the Allies had, except in reverse. But the Allies had the benefit of both air and naval superiority and vast superiority of materials. And the D-Day landings were still incredibly costly in terms of men.

Besides that, with Australia, India, and Canada ramping up war production and planning, it would be a matter of holding onto the home island while waiting for reinforcements from abroad. The UK was effectively safe for years.

Yup…even the German’s own planners said at LEAST 3 years to pursue a siege strategy…taking Gibralter and Egypt…ramping up u-boats…building a navy to at least somewhat compete etc etc in order to begin wearing England down. Years is right.

By then, Stalin would have been sniffing at the back door.

Had he not attacked first, Western Europe would have gone communist by the 1960s; had he not attacked then — and remember all choices were disadvantageous and led to the same grave — Russia would have attacked Germany pretty soon, perhaps by 1944, and would have had overwhelming strength ratio: Russia would dictate to Germany and the nazi empire would roll up into submission to the new master. Britain would have had to come to some accommodation to Europe, but with most socialists and liberals urging a soviet Britain as the British Empire broke away, they too would have eventually succumbed.
In the real world, the USSR would not have won on the Eastern Front had it not been for the truly massive supplies given by the USA — but had they been the attackers later facing an exhausted Germany which had exhausted it’s plunder economy ( obviously a victorious nazi Germany not facing any immediate threat would have stabilized the European economy to some efficiency eventually, possibly much as at present ) the fighting would be on, and devastating to, Polish and German soil, not as in actuality devastating Russia, and they would have been invincible.

WWII Germany has often been compared to a lightweight fighting three or four heavyweights simultaneously — in manpower, but most particularly in economic power — but when you are in the middle of an alley and you are going to get a beating anyway it’s probably best to strike first at the nearest than stand and wait for them all to punch at once.

There might not have been a second front, and even had there been, British and American troops if they landed in France would not have the werewithal to fight a soviet empire stretching from Mongolia to the Rhine.

There would have been a Cold War between the USSR and America, but neither would be strong enough to attack the other, until one or the other’s economy collapsed.

The only upside, for people who didn’t like communism, is that nearly every intellectual back then who idealistically urged socialism/communism, would have had the entire rationale of their existence torn away by success — nothing more left to strive for — and then each would have been carted away to a slave-camp by the soviet masters. On general principles.

I tend to be of the camp that there can’t really be a scenario of Hitler not invading Russia. Russia and it’s Bolshevism was a significant component of his reason for being. Probably the most apt ‘what if’ would be when he invaded.

Sea Lion was a suicidal pipe dream at best in 1940, and would have become even harder to pull off in later years after the equipment losses from the evacuation of Dunkirk were made good. The Royal Navy massively overpowered the Kreigsmarine and Germany had no way to stop them from sortieing into the channel and flattening any invasion attempt. They wouldn’t even have to fire really; the rhineferries which constituted the bulk of Germany’s makeshift landing craft were designed for river operations in calm waters and could barely manage 4 knots. The wake of a destroyer moving at speed was enough to make them flounder and sink. There’s a thorough breakdown on why Sea Lion was an impossibility here.

The only time the odds were strongly in Hitler’s favour were when he pushed through to the West coast in spring 1940.
Had he not allowed the British army to be evacuated then Britain may have had to come to an arrangement.
As it was, Dynamo gave us the impetus to successfully fight the Battle of Britain and remove any possibility of Sealion taking place.

From then on Hitler could never truly “win” by his terms. He could never fight a war on two fronts.
There were many possible outcomes from that point and we still needed Hitler to make very bad decisions (which he duly did) for it to be such a total defeat for the Germans but nevertheless, it was never going to end well for him.

The Brits at that time were in some ways very insular, with the biggest empire in history they were at ease with peoples from all over the world, but considered Europeans to be greasy foreigners.

Even when allied with the French or whatever they didn’t really like them.

In the event that the Germans DID make a successful landing on British soil, the plan was for the Home Guard (civilians by day, old or very young soldiers when called for,but trained and equipped) to stay in their locations and fight to the death.

Meanwhile the regular forces would manouvere accordingly.

It had been seen what had happened in Europe and there was no desire to repeat it.
The various European nations were familiar with each other and had experienced being conquered and occupation by their neighbours .

If "foreigners "landed then the average Brit would consider it to be worse then rape, and would react accordingly.
Churchill made a famous speech that we would fight them on the beaches,we would fight them in the hills, we would fight them on the landing grounds,that we would never surrender.

I completely,totally and utterly believe this .

From the council house to the stately home I think that we would have done it.

There would have been no folding, no accomodation.