What if WW2 had been about extermination?

This is a seriously nasty scenario, so skip to the next thread if you’re squeamish.

What if Nazi Germany had exterminated occupied countries in Western Europe? Suppose behind the front line troops, all enemy troops and civilians were killed, like Oradour-sur-Glane. Probably starting after the French surrender and progressing quietly, squads killing one village or city at a time. No death or labour camps either, so Jews, Roma, etc are all just killed.

Would this free up many troops for the Russian front? How would the near-absence of the Resistance have affected the escape routes for Allied airmen? What about the effect on D-Day?

And what about the longer term, after the Allied victory? Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Poland, etc, all depopulated. At least the non-Vichy part of France too.

One thing I do remember is that while the Allies sometimes did unrestricted bombing of European cities, the usual practice was to make an attempt to concentrate the bombings on military and industrial targets.

If Hitler had exterminated the population, then all strategic European cities and ports would had been bombed back to the stone age as there was no population to free now.

I would think then that while Hitler had more soldiers available (not keeping the population in check) he still would had to keep a mess of them protecting against an allied landing that would now had the advantage to know that anything that moved on the land was a military target.

But before that, there is also something that many forget: Several countries became allies to Germany and even gave soldiers to fight for Hitler, he even managed to get soldiers to fight for him from the conquered nations! This was usually because they hated the Soviets even more.

However, I do think that if extermination was the order of the day, then you get no allies. Only enemies that now are fighting for their lives. I can see that Hitler would still had conquered all those nations quickly; but then, thanks to the extermination policy, he would had to waste more time and men and the start of the Barbarossa operation would be delayed even more or never made. It would had made Stalin happy as he was expecting Germany to spend troops and resources in Western Europe in the first place.

When a country knows that all the people are being exterminated, the resistance to the invader becomes more desperate and fierce.

Well, their conquest would unravel almost immediately, as countries that had more-or-less passively surrendered would have nothing to lose by fighting, or at least by refusing to work in the factories and shipyards and oil fields and mines that had been, among other strategic resources, what the Nazis were really after.

Besides, the Germans couldn’t possibly multiply fast enough to repopulate these territories (assuming that such a depopulation was even possible), so they’d lay empty for any would-be invader.

It was a war of extermination in the east, between Germany and the USSR.

I’m suggesting that it be done quietly. Remember that communications weren’t nearly so good in those days, and travel was highly restricted.

It wouldn’t have freed up a single troop. The German Army would absolutely have mutinied. One of the main reasons for the switch to the death camps/gas chambers from execution squads was the detrimental effect on morale of killing civilians. And those were mainly Eastern Jews, who the Germans didn’t have the highest view of anyway.

You’re suggesting that the population of, oh, lets say, France, or Denmark, or fill in the blank, be exterminated quietly? How do you even do that? Look at the massive amount of men and resources expended and all the publicity surrounding the mass murder of Europe’s Jews, and that was only 6 million deaths. France alone had a population of 41 million. Denmark alone had almost 4 million people.

You’re not freeing up any troops for the front. You’ll need to take troops off the front to start murdering people. And even if you succeed, now you’ve got farms that can’t grow food, factories that can’t produce goods, mines that can’t produce raw materials. . .

Really, this is just too silly to discuss.

12 million forced laborers taken from the occupied countries.

Historian John Keegan has written that one of the ghastlier lessons of WWII is how astonishingly difficult it appears to be to kill large numbers of unresisting people, even with machine guns. Over and over there were escapees, survivors and the horribly wounded; the whole process was cumbersome and ugly in the extreme even when carried out by experienced executioners.

I agree that the typical Wermacht soldier would have been useless after any significant amount of this. Treating conquered peoples (and the Nazis did not entirely grant “people” status to Jews and Slavs, so we’re talking mostly Western European non-Jews) “correctly” was very important to the German soldier’s admittedly shaky sense that his side wasn’t the bad guys.

PS: re “all strategic European cities and ports would had been bombed back to the stone age”: Keegan has ALSO written that one of the things revealed by the excellent US studies of strategic bombing is how extraordinarily difficult it was to destroy high-grade steel machinery through aerial bombing. I doubt we could have done much more damage than we did.

The bulk of the garrison troops in the west, and especially the ones with any actual fighting ability, weren’t there to chase partisans (who really weren’t that big a threat in the west, as compared to the much larger and better armed partisan forces in Russia and Yugoslavia). The garrisons were there to prevent invasion by the Allies. Depopulating the countries would have made them economically worthless, but wouldn’t have made them any harder to invade.

It would have greatly hurt the German war effort. The German military did get a significant number of troops from the occupied countries of Western Europe and there were a even larger number of Western Europeans working in the German economy to replace the German men who were in the military.

Plus, even if you ignore the inevitable resistance, the amount of manpower and resources Germany would have needed to kill all those tens of millions of people would have been greater than the amount it used to control them while alive.

And an even larger number of Eastern Europeans. About 10% of the workforce of the Polish General Government was working in Germany in 1944. In total, there were as many as 12 million foreign workers working in Germany in the war.

Doctor Who would have thought of something terribly clever at the last moment, foiling their plans.

Even if it could be done quietly (highly doubtful if not outright preposterous), the ends are counter-productive and the resources Germany uses on this extermination effort are completely wasted because there aren’t enough Germans to replace the labourers at the now-empty mines, farms and oil fields. Germany, at best, gets land they can’t use for anything and must tie down soldiers to defend this empty territory lest somebody else just move into it. Even if Normandy, for example, was completely emptied of Frenchmen, German troops still have to stay there to try to repel allied invasion, even though the land in Normandy isn’t producing anything because all the workers are dead.

Anyway, you can dress up this hypothetical any way you want, but it comes down to:
[ul][li]It’s impossible to do.[/li][*]Even if it were possible to do, it would hurt far more than help.[/ul]