Inspired by this thread.
Now, obviously, there are a zillion what-ifs and qualifiers.
Let’s assume the following scenario:
The Nazis win at Stalingrad and also successfully capture the Caucasus Oil Fields. The Soviets are held at bay, and the Nazis have fuel for their war machine.
The D-Day invasion is repulsed. The Nazis, after their victory, reinforce the Channel coastline, making a second attempt much less likely to succeed, and much more costly. Britain and the US are still bombing European cities, but they have no real foothold on land north of the Alps.
In 1945, the Americans build their A-bombs, as scheduled. Let’s say they decide that Germany is the greater threat, and they can afford to take the slower road in grinding down the Japanese. They are faced with the prospect of dropping the A-bombs on the cities of a Germany that is not, as Japan was, on the brink of starvation and defeat anyway, but rather on a people who have a fully functioning war machine and are the apparent masters of Europe.
Would dropping atomic bombs on Germany have led to an immediate Nazi surrender, as everyone assumes? Let’s face it—while atomic bombs are horrific, their effects (considering the limited number of bombs the US had at its disposal) are not significantly different from Dresden-style firebombing. Yes, the psychological impact is greater, and even more greater for the fact that a SINGLE PLANE is all that’s needed to burn out a city.
Assuming enough Nazi leadership survived (and they well might have—many people who took cover in air raid shelters in Hiroshima survived), would they have continued fighting? Would they have called the US’s bluff in terms of seeing how many A-bombs the US had in its arsenal? (i.e., not that many) It seems to me we overestimate the effectiveness of WWII-era atomic weapons in stopping a healthy Nazi Germany.