What if Hitler didn't.....

declare war on the USA on Dec 7th, 1941 or whenever he did? As I recall, he did declare war before FDR addressed congress.

Here’s my point… the country sure was up in arms (sorry) about Japan bombing Pearl Harbor, but there were mixed feelings about getting involved in another European war. If Hitler hadn’t declared war against the US, suppose the US only went to war against Japan? All that industrial might and military forces would have gone to the Pacific Theater of Operations. Would there have been much or any to spare to send to Europe? Wouldn’t Lend Lease have shut down? And sure, the Soviet Union fought quite well against Germany, but remember, they had material support from the US too.

Ok, there’s the seed. Let’s water it and see what sprouts. :slight_smile:

Ranger Jeff
*The Idol of American Youth *

interesting idea.
i think Hitler, being the idiot that he was, would have “forced” us to enter the war, probably through unrestricted submarine warfare. my reasoning is that there is no kind of way we would have stopped trade with Britain (too lucrative for our arms manufacturers; can probably get better prices from John Bull than Uncle Sam), and Hitler/Germany would have had to attempt to blockade Britain. i see a re-run of WWI.
still, it probably would have given Germany a little more breathing room. who knows. i recall reading somewhere that in computer simulations of WWII in which Germany captures Gibralter, and thus the Med., Germany wins, as the U.S. never gets into Africa, and thus the Allies never attack up Italy.
lets just be glad he did declare war on us, and us on him.


Yes, Germany (and Italy) declared war on the United States, rather than vice-versa. I think it’s a mistake to assume we wouldn’t have ended up at war otherwise, however. It might have happened with different timing, but it would have happened.

I base this opinion on several factors.

(1) FDR was much more interested in suppressing the Nazis than the Japanese, even though we were more a Pacific power than a world power at the time. US foreign policy has always been very Euro-centric–this is still true–and there wasn’t much chance that we’d stay out of the war in Europe permanently.

(2) US forces had already been engaged in action against German forces, mainly in the Atlantic–part of keeping the Lend-Lease routes open. This wasn’t going to stop, and would likely have escallated even with a declaration of war.

(3) The Japanese attacked British possessions in the Pacific at the same time they attacked Pearl Harbor–we and the Brits were already de facto allies, and now we were going to be outright military allies against Japan. It’s not likely we could have fought a war with the British in the Pacific and remained neutral in Europe.

(4) Hitler already had a two-front war on his hands–a very bad maneuver on his part. Knowing that the US would most likely be at war with Germany eventually, it was better for him to start the festivities earlier, when we weren’t yet really prepared. If he waited, and allowed us to wipe up the Japanese first, he’d be facing a fully-mobilized opponent who could then turn it’s attention to him with no distractions.

As I said before, the timing of events might have been altered if Hitler had held off. We might have beaten the Japanese earlier, before turning our attention to the Germans. Maybe Hiroshima and Nagasaki wouldn’t have been A-Bombed…but maybe Berlin and Dresden would have been.

Alright, I’ve written enough to give people something to dispute me about. Have at it.

Rich Barr
AOL Instant Messenger: Hrttannl

When analyzing WWII, you have to consider racism. The Germans look like us. The Japanese don’t. And how fast did the U.S. move to aid the Jews?

Work like you don’t need the money…
Love like you’ve never been hurt…
Dance like nobody’s watching! …(Paraphrased)

Recall that by December, 1941 most of Europe was occupied. Franco was a Fascist(and considered a friend of AH). Britan was alone and in her “darkest hours.” FDR needed an excuse to get in.
Japan was a recognized member of the Axis.
An attack by one could be considered an attack by all. Hitler just did what FDR would have done anyway.

mangeorge: [[When analyzing WWII, you have to consider racism. The Germans look like us. The Japanese don’t.]]

Nice politically correct pronouncement, but what does it have to do with the question? Are you suggesting that we would not have gone to war with Germany because they “look like us?” Or are you suggesting we wouldn’t have used A-Bombs on German cities? Neither claim makes sense in light of history.

Rich Barr
AOL Instant Messenger: Hrttannl

[[Nice politically correct pronouncement, but what does it have to do with the question? Are you suggesting that we would not have gone to war with Germany because they “look like us?” Or are you suggesting we wouldn’t have used A-Bombs on German cities? Neither claim makes sense in light of history. ]] RichBarr
I dunno about those questions (although the expression “politically correct” makes my spider sense tingle), but we did intern Americans of Japanese descent without doing the same to Americans of German descent.

Although this is true (and horrid), IIRC there was quite a bit of outright bigotry and discrimination practiced back East against Americans with last names of Italian and German derivation, along with some calls for their deportation.

“Politically correct” has become such an easy tag to throw at any non right-wing statement one doesn’t agree with. So much so that that the expression itself has become almost politically correct.
To deny the influence of racism on the readiness of the American people at the time of WWII to make war on Japan is naive. There was a quite lot of opposition to the war in Europe, almost none to the war on Japan. As mentoined above, only people of Japanese descent (American citizens!) were placed in concentration camps. Even the official propaganda toward the Japanese was much nastier than toward the Germans. And the Italians were hardly mentioned.

The US entered the war too late (in the case of Germany) to make a difference? In 1940 the Germans already lost The Battle of Britain and by December 1941 were cut off and fighting a losing battle in Stalingrad. As well, the British were on the verge of their victory at El Alamein.

It would seem that without the US the Germans would have lost or would have at least been confined to Germany and little more. At the time of American intervention the combined resources of Britain (and her colonies) and the Soviet Union in manpower, oil and iron ore production, as well as weaponry manufacturing was sufficient to defeat, or drive back Germany and her allies.

According to “Oppenheimer”, the movie shown on PBS featuring Sam Waterson in the lead role, a recently sent over (after US entered the war) British scientist played a significant role in the success of the Manhattan Project.

The “What if” question is asked too late in the event to make much difference.

Kobolde, die sich mit rotheissen Schuereisen unter Aussenaborten verbergen.


While I believe the basic statement that racism played a serious part in our attitudes toward the war with Japan is true, this quote needs some fine-tuning to be factually correct.

The opposition to the war in Europe vs the war against Japan has more to do with timing than racism. From 9/39 through 12/41, “the war” (meaning a multi-national war including countries that had been our allies and our foes) was in Europe and our isolationist policies focussed on that conflict. The war that had broken out between Japan and China in 1937 was considered a regional conflict, and the fact that China was in the midst of a concurrent (and confusing) civil war made it hard for the “man in the street” to get excited about it. Germany’s U-boat campaign, together with Germany’s declaration of war on the U.S. changed that drastically. That I am aware of, involvement in the European War was not specifically protested at all after December 8, 1941. (There was a lingering pacifist movement, that died rather quickly, but it did not distinguish between Atlantic or Pacific theatres of action.) There was even a fairly famous (at the time) book published, damning the pre-war congress with their own isolationist (or anti-Soviet Union) speeches: The Magnificent Dunderheads.
Another aspect that did nothing to reduce racism, but was independent of it, was the very nature of the Pearl Harbor attack. The Germans and Italians did declare war on us, the Japanese, technically, did not.

The shame of the Japanese internment was not that only Japanese were interned. It was that the internment included U.S. citizens–and nisei who had lived in the U.S. for multiple generations who had been denied citizenship, by law. A very large number of Europeans were interned during the war–and a number of them were not released until 1948. The difference from the nisei situation is that the detainees from European countries were, generally, recent immigrants (and merchant seamen), not citizens.

I believe that the statements regarding propaganda are basically correct, although those ads that targeted the Axis usually included the triumvirate of Hitler, Mussolini, and either Tojo or Hirohito. Ads that singled out a specific country were liable to be much more racist if they targeted Japan.


As an amateur, wanna-be know-it-all about WWII, I must say that I have read in many places how the Normandy invasion barely succeed, and then only with some very good deceptions paving the way (not that the Americans were much help in that department).

Does anyone really think that the British could have given the Germans such a threat of a water-borne invasion as to give the Russians the two-front war they needed?

I personally don’t think so. It was an enormous undertaking even with half of America’s (actually more than half) industry and military strength poured in.

On another, more preaching note, I hope this and other recent wars have shown us that there are real consequences for bad political ideas.

“History is philosophy with examples.”

Hitler had already signed the Berlin-Tokyo-Rome treat making them allies of mutual defence. It would be a lack of face on Hitler’s part if he hadn’t declared war alongside his ally. Hitler was already cocky anyways, correctly figuring that it would take a year before the US assembled a fighting army. By then, he thought incorrectly, Europe and Russia would be his.

Russia was a decisive factor in the war. Stalin had found a proven general in Zhukov after many years embarassing losses and begin to take the offensive (with the help of lend-lease). What someone pointed out before was that the US came out a little late. But they did provide morale, supplies and men to the bankrupt British and the unequipped Russians. In fact, before American aid many of the Russians had to use rifles from the fallen just to fight on the field.

Racism is always be prevalent in society. The Japanese committed many attrocities that aren’t heavily publicized. Who remembers the human guinea pigs or the Rape of Nanking which destroyed the city of over a million? Hell they expect an apology from the U.S for nuking them but won’t even admit these crimes to China… The identification with white Jews among Americans will make them think, “that could’ve been someone I know”, whereas the Chinese where just foreigners from the other side of the world.
Is this really hard to imagine? The ‘colored’ were still in the back. Jessie Owens won the Gold in Berlin a decade before against the threats of many and who could forget the raising of the fists in the medal ceremony? The civil rights movement hadn’t reached its peak until the 60s.
Politcal correctness today is just a sham to cover up the hypocrisy of America’s past.

We were much more eager to declare war on Japan because they actually made an attack on our soil. Also Germany was a European country and most of the politcially powerful people of the US are of European descent. It’s like attacking your neighbor or attacking a guy from two towns over.

Some of the bloodiest wars in history have been civil wars (e.g. the American civil war, the French revolution, the Russian revolution), where people are fighting people that look just like them.

While a backlash against Germans didn’t occur to the same degree as it did against the Japanese, it did occur. For instance, during WWI, all germanic or bavarian street names in Cincinnati were replaced with innocuous sounding names. In Great Britain, George V changed the family name to “Windsor” to disassociate himself from his germanic ties to the House of Hanover and the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

And while the U.S. government did not round up the 1st and 2nd generation German immigrants and put them in interment camps, like we did the Japanese, that may have more to do with the sheer number of German immigrants during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s than a lack of anti-Germanic sentiment.

The US intervention in Europe helped very much to defeat the Germans…

Hitler would have declared war eventually against the United States, which he considered as controled by Jewish interests (newspapers, bankers, or even the movies, of all things) - where did he get that idea?
Talk about racism…
Another question might be - what if Hitler hadn’t gone after the Jews, what if he had invaded Britain, which he really could have done - and what if he had waited to invade Russia or had invaded Russia first or if…

If germany didn’t declare war on us when they did, britian would have been defeated in about 3 months. Even with supplies being shipped to the brits they were down to a 6 week period afterwhich their fuel and munitions supply would have been depleted heavily. Keep in mind hitler was one of the worst leaders who ever lived, he basically caused germany to lose. Germany at the start of the war was the most highly train ,best equipped , and motivated military force in europe. With a 12-13 million strong army, and high technological advances. If germany didnt declare war on us a invasion of japan might have happened(since we would have defeated them much quicker, before we had the atomic bomb), causing nearly a million american casulties, in a single invasion, the germans would have to face the russians on one front, once britian was out of it. Russia couldn’t stand up to germany one on one. Rommel would have reach the rich oil fields of the middle east, probally with the result of germany getting the atomic bomb first. Germanies greatest enemy was hitler himself, he cause so much failures that could have been vicories(remember normandy he didnt release the 12 panzer division that could have destroyed the invasion. And dont forget stalingrad or kursk, or the russian offensive bagration.

Skuller: Actually the Stalingrad and the victory at Al Amein both happened in late 1942. Not that it matters, a real second front only opened up in 1944, when the Germans were in full retreat.

Two very important factors seem to have been overlooked in this thread:

1)For all practical purposes the US and Germany were already at war with Germany in the Atlantic at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. A few more U-Boat attacks on American supply and warships was all the excuse FDR would need to get Congress to declare war.

2)The Japanese declared war on the UK as well as the US on 12/7/41. This made the two countries wartime allies.

Even if Hitler was a totally rational and pragmatic leader he would have seen the inevitability of war with the US. Better to declare war and maintain the goodwill of an ally in the Pacific (Japan) than to tie his military’s hands with the task of having to avoid conflict with his enemy’s defacto ally and munitions supplier.

Well, I really don’t think Hitler thought much of his Axis mutual defense pact. He had a treaty with Russia, remember? Remember how well he kept that one? He did hope that Japan would start more stuff up in the far eastern Soviet Union to siphon off Soviet forces, but Japan didn’t. Seems to me that Germany and Japan did whatever they wanted to do without much consultation with each other.

I guess I phrased my original question poorly. Would FDR have asked Congress to declare war against Nazi Germany if Hitler hadn’t first? You think there was that much support for pulling France’s chestnuts out of the fire AGAIN?

Ranger Jeff
*The Idol of American Youth *