Hitler's Strategy…


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Many people have balked at Hitlers, plans, risks, and Gambles…

    And other that winning, what was his strategy?  Nobody can really say for sure, everyone just criticizes the obvious mistakes…  Doing stupid things like never retreating, and holding onto Stalingrad…

    But I’ve thought about this concept lately, and I think this was what he had in mind.

    "War’s are fought in the will"

    He didn’t invade Russia to kill every Russian,  he came to conquer it for a number of reasons… to conquer a people, is simple in theory,  you need to break their will.  You break their will by destroying their means (tools, organization etc) to fight, and make choosing peace the better option.

    I think that’s what his grand plan was…  hence why he sued for a Vichy france, instead of total conquest…  Suddenly doing things like holding Stalingrad, and Never retreating, appear as parting of the strategy of will exhertion…  THE SAME overall strategy that seemed to keep the British in the game.

    Also the Nazi concept of TOTAL WAR, was ALL about will,  so much will infact, that the design was to convince every person in Europe to defeat the Asiatic Communist hordes as a team.

    Just a neuron firing…

    Anyone else have any thoughts/elaboration?



  • I think you’ve stated his(hitler) over-all “grand startegy” quite well actually. There was a tiny flaw in his plan though, it was bollocks.

    The idea of the “strenght of the will” was very much the thinking of ol’ Adi and as such the Nazi party as well, which I think came from the experiance of its members from WW1. The idea that the German army was never defeated in battle but that the people simply lost the will to sustain the war was the myth that grew up in the wake of the Geramn defeat. So the idea that the nation that has the superior willpower can win a war became a guiding thought of Nazi ideaology.

    All nations that went through the ringer that was the First World war came away from that experiance with different thoughts on how the next war would be fought. The French believed that limited offensive and aggressive defense, with heavy artillery and defense in depth would be the way to win the next war. The British believed that professional infantry with a number of dedicated armour support forces would be the way to win the next war. The Germans believed that combined arms warfare with Infantry supporting tanks that would in turn be supported by close air support would be the way to win the next war. The baptizim of fire that each of these strategies under went in the early stages of the Second World war proved which to be the superior method of fighting. However, while Britian and Frances strategies proved to be faulty hold overs of the last war, the German idea that the “strenght of will” of the nation proved to be just as faulty of a hold over from WW1 as early war allied strategy had been. What one the war was not a strenght of will but a strenght of production and access to resources. Much as the Geramn defeat in WW1 was linked to the German inaccess to the materials and supplies needed, the same can be said of their defeat in the second. Much like Japans misguided belief in the power of bushido over material strenght, the German belief in their own nations will to fight would not, and more importantly could not, make up for the defiencies in raw materials Germany had.


  • 2017

    Didn’t “will” essentially settle WWI?

    Will alone won’t often win a war (though it certainly can be the deciding factor).



  • I think Clyde has it right
    whoever has the most stuff in the right place at the right time wins
    that was then now is different



  • Prior to world war 1 the “will” of a nation could often be a deciding factor in war. However war on a mass industrial scale will be won by whom ever has the greater strenght of production. This means not just the actual factories and and industrial organization, but having un-restricted access to the supplies needed to run the industries you have. Germany was industrial and had amazing organization of its production system but it did not have un-restricted access to the supplies and material needed to keep them running. In fighting the much smaller scale battles and operations of the early part of WW2 the German industry was more then up to the task and each new conquest would bring German industry and new place to pillage for resources. However once the war dragged on into 1941 and the huge induistrial powers of the Soviet Union and the US got involved there was never any real hope for Germany no matter how much its people had the “will” to fight. To highlight this, in 1942 Albert Speer and Fritz Todt did and study of German production numbers and figured out that Germany’s war industry could produce (in the best case scenario) 2,000 tanks per year, while later that year in the spring during a STAVKA meeting, Soviet production numbers were figured to be about 2,000 tanks per month. That is 10 times the production of Germany, a deficit they could not overcome with will power.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    That is 10 times the production of Germany, a deficit they could not overcome with will power.

    This is exactly my point…  FOR Germany… their enemies were making 10 times as many everythings, yet they were STILL in a conflict…  so, isn`t will the only way they could have won?

    However war on a mass industrial scale will be won by whom ever has the greater strenght of production.

    What about vietnam? Afghanistan (Britain, Russia)? Iraq? again, isn’t their ONLY hope that the belligerent powers that be will capitulate and give up?



  • @Gargantua:

    This is exactly my point…  FOR Germany… their enemies were making 10 times as many everythings, yet they were STILL in a conflict…  so, isn`t will the only way they could have won?

    No, Germany couldnt have won the second world war once the Soviet Union and the US got involved no matter how much they would have willed it. Now, German strategy, superior training and equipment allowed the Germans to fight and come very close to taking all of Europe (though they never would have been able to hold on to it) but this is not a form of “will of the nation”, this is an example of German martial skill, diligence, competence and disiciplin. Again this is not will power, this is a show of German ability.

    @Gargantua:

    What about vietnam? Afghanistan (Britain, Russia)? Iraq? again, isn’t their ONLY hope that the belligerent powers that be will capitulate and give up?

    The wars Britian fought with Afganistan (assuming your not refering to the current conflict) were largely on a late 19th century scale and in all but the first(1839-1842) ocassion Britian won. The only one of the 3 Anglo-Afgan wars was fought in the 20th centruy lasted from may to august 1919 and Britian routinely smashed the Afgans.
    The Soviets war with the Afgans and the US in Viet-nam are very different conflicts from WW2. In both instances neither country was devoting the full weight of its production capability towards defeating these nations like they were against Germany during WW2. Both these wars failed due to lack of concentration of production power and a lack of orgnization and competence on behalf of both powers. Had either country offically gone to war like they did during WW2 against these countries, there is no way either could have lost(in the sense of toppling and destroying their target enemy goverment, not long term occupation).


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    no matter how much they would have willed it

    I don’t think you understand what I’m getting at.  It’s not about the will of the Germans…  but the will of the soviets and Americans.

    If the soviet will to fight had been broken.  Like in WWI,  and/or if Stalin was killed, for example.  I think that was the only way the Germans would have had a chance to win.

    A supporting example of this… is the vast amount of soviet troops who surrendered early in the conflict.

    The same could be said for Britain.  In Blood Tears and Folly, Churchill and his commanders held a meeting in early 1941, basically saying if so much tonnage was sunk by the germans, that their people would starve to death, thus they were going to HAVE to surrender if too many convoys were lost…  there were also many people in Britain who wanted to capitulate at the time.  Again,  a will issue.  If it hadn’t been for Churchill…  who knows what would have happend.

    French production also wasn’t too dissimilar from German Production, and neither were their armed forces.  Also consider that Britain/Canada/South Africa/Australia were their allies already.  Clearly capable of out producing Germany…  Yet in 6 weeks, they folded.  Even then, they had something ridiculous like 2 million soldiers,  better tanks etc, and more of them than the Germans.

    It wasn’t the will of the Germans that won in France… it was the broken will of the French.



  • Many of the things you have listed are very common myths of WW2. Thoughts and ideas about how things were during WW2 that have grown to become fact in the popular perception of WW2. A closer look at the numbers and a more detailed look at the forces involved debunks most of them.

    For starters the French; The common myth is that France has been bled so badly during WW1 that they didn’t have enough people for a major war and the countries will be fight was broken. However a closer look shows the answer is far simpler.  The French economy was in shambles after WW1 with most of the fighting occurring in the North-East where Frances heavy industry was. The fact that they had to rebuild most of it after the war is why they were so unprepared for the German onslaught. French industry was far weaker then Germany’s in reality then it looked on paper. The same is true with most of the French army, everything they had was just left over from WW1. Most soliders went into battle with the same rifle they had used in WW1 despite the fact that the newer and better MAS36 was available, the French government just couldn’t afford to produce them in the numbers they were needed, and the same is true for Frances “better” tanks and AT-weapons. France had actually recovered form its losses in WW1 in manpower by the mid 1920 when its birth rate and population was back up to what it had been before the war. This still put them well below the other major European powers but this trend had begun in France in the late 1890’s and had nothing to do with WW1. In the end it was Frances inability to afford to invest heavily in it military in the 30’s that lead to their defeat. The French beat the Germans at the battles of Hannut in may of 1940 and then after Dunkirk brought the German offensive to a halt in early June on the Somme. It was the lack of reserves to plug the gaps the Germans punched in their lines because the French government couldn’t afford to invest in a large army like Germany did. When the French government surrendered it was because their was no coherent armed force capable of resisting the German army left in metropolitan France, so it was all academic at that point.



  • @Gargantua:

    If the soviet will to fight had been broken.  Like in WWI,  and/or if Stalin was killed, for example.  I think that was the only way the Germans would have had a chance to win.
    A supporting example of this… is the vast amount of soviet troops who surrendered early in the conflict.

    I don’t think the Soviet will could ever have been broken. WW1 tsarists Russia and WW2 Soviet Russia were very different animals. The Tsar was on shaky ground politically to begin with, and Russia’s industrial production was no where near the level it was when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Stalin had forced a brutal industrialization policy on the Soviet people in his 5 year plans but the result was that Russia had finally be dragged out of its industrial backwardness and reached a level equal with that of any of it European counterparts combined.

    Now you do bring up two very good points here about, what would the effects have been if Stalin had died (or been killed in a bombing raid or something) and the mass surrender of Soviet forces.

    1. Had Stalin died I don’t think the effects would have been bad for the Soviet will to resist. If anything the death of Stalin would have been a boon for the Red Army as it no longer would have be constrained to his(Stalin’s) micro-managing and the disasters that created. It would have freed Red army commanders to fight the war more fluidly and more openly without having Stalin meddling in everything. Now the effect on the Soviets people’s will to fight would also have been minimal as I doubt many would have found out about his death until after the war or when the war was all but won by Soviet forces. Stalinist Russia was a tightly controlled state and Stalin’s death could have been easily covered up, just as we saw with North Korea. Stalin was rarely seen by the mass public during the war until it was all but over so I don’t think it would have effected them very much.

    2. The mass surrender of Soviet forces at the wars beginning had very little to do with these men’s will to resist. The Germans invaded the Soviet union with over 4 million men and hundreds of thousands motorized and armored vehicles. Meanwhile the soviets forces arrayed against them in the western defense sector(meaning from the border to about 250 miles inland) was only 2.6 million. So when The Germans invaded they actually have a numerical advantage. Overall Soviet strength was only about 5 million or so, with 1.8 million being deployed in the far east, the 2.6 mentioned above and the rest being somewhere in between or in training. The Soviet armored forces were actually larger then the German forces but were all obsolete and were used in a very poor manor(like the French, being spread out with the infantry). The same is true for the Soviet air force, bigger then  Germany’s but obsolete and caught by surprise and destroyed on the ground. The masses of Soviet prisoners come from them being outnumbered, surrounded, and without supplies. The men who surrendered wanted to fight but no longer had any means by which to do so, many formations having exhausted their ammunition supplies, water supplies, and having no effective way to fight against German tanks (lack of heavy or effective AT weapons). The fact that the Soviets recovered from this is a testament to their mass industrialization and the brutal ways of the Soviet system under Stalin. I’m not saying there weren’t heroic actions involved here, but the Germans could not have over come the mass level of mobilization the Soviet were capable of.


  • 2017

    Whether or not Soviet will was or wasn’t breakable … breaking their will was a more reasonable overall strategy than overwhelming them by force alone (which everyone seems to agree was impossible).

    That being said, Germany shot itself in the foot (in terms of this goal) by alienating millions of discontented Soviet citizens (most notably: Ukrainians, Balts, and other ethnic minorities).



  • Hitler had no understanding of the economic power of the Soviets. They outproduced the Germans many times over. In fact when Hitler realized how much the Soviets could and would produce he said to paraphrase “I would never have attacked them”.

    By the time D-Day rolled around the war was already over (excluding some miracle weapon). WW 2 was really a battle between Germany and the Soviets. Had Hitler been able to knock out the Soviets quickly he would have won WW 2. Had he forced a Soviet collapse in 1941 which by the way he did have a real chance of doing WW2 would have ended then and there. The Germans would have been able to redeploy their forces against the Brits and wipr them out in Africa as well as the Middle East as well as join up with their Japanese allies. Had this happened the combined forces of the western allies would have no prayer of defeating the Axis. After Hitler attacked the Soviets (June 22, 1941) a minimum of 60% of German strength was devoted to fighting in the east. Had even half those forces been avaible to fight in the west it is obvious that at best the western allies could have hoped for was a truce to avoid outright defeat. As Hitler never wanted to fight the western allies this is probably have been the end of the war.



  • @Clyde85:

    @Gargantua:

    2. The mass surrender of Soviet forces at the wars beginning had very little to do with these men’s will to resist. The Germans invaded the Soviet union with over 4 million men and hundreds of thousands motorized and armored vehicles.

    These numbers seem inflated
    The german army was the least motorized of any of the major powers,except possibly japan
    The germans were primarily a horse drawn army
    The early german tanks were inferior to french and russian models
    The germans owed their success to superior leadership and training
    They had approximately a 2:1 ratio in officers and ncos compared to their opponents with the majority having wwI combat experience
    That being said the germans had no chance of ever beating the soviets
    Looking at a map of the two is self explanatory


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Uh… you quoted ME, but those are Clyde’s comments.



  • sorry 🙂


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    I find it amusing that a dude name “morrel” is commenting on Hitler’s Strategy lol.



  • it’s nice to make people smile 🙂



  • German tanks were better then many of the more numerious Soviet tanks at the time they invaded. Most of the Soviet Tank forces at the time of invasion were made up of BT-5, T-26 and T-28’s, which were all vastly inferior to the Panzer IV. Also, Soviet tank forces were used in a vastly inferior way to the German ones and also had terrible inter-tank formation communication, giving the Germans a further edge. The T-34 and KV series tanks were better then the German models, but at time of invasion only a thousands of them were in existance.

    French Tanks had the same problem, they were used in a lousy fashion and had akward layouts with the commanders having to be the gunner and the loader causing lots of problems in combat. While tank for tank the French tanks may have been better then the German ones, they other factors mentioned above detract its over all superiority.



  • Hitler, when supported by, and listening to his field marshalls had “strategically” briliant moments . In using the time given to him by the inability or “will” to act by the British and French (a well as the American population’s unwillingness to emerge from isolation) he grew his military as fast as he could, starting all the way back to 1933 (using resources supplied to him by Sweden and the Soviets). Once he started to move he moved fast because he knew that unless he defeated his enemies quickly he wouldn’t be able to sustain his momentum.  He faltered almost at the height of his momentum when he decided to  take a detour and put off his invasion of Russia and take care of some business in the Balkans (solely because of his ego). His self inflicted delay (which his military commander told him not to do) as well as his need to attack cities in Russia,  mostly because they were name after Soviet leaders (again “ego”) caused him to pull up short of the most important objectives in Russia. Had he taken Russia (which looked to be an almost certainty at one time), who knows we might all be speaking German now. Those things and a billion other varibles could have change the outcome of the war in many different way. As for Hitlers “will” it had everthing to do with how things went for Germany. The Nazi party coming to power was because of his will over those who followed him early on to do terrible things for him. His will drove his commanders to move far and fast when quite a few of them were sure they shouldn’t be provoking the western powers at that time. And in the end his will drove him to ruin by not listening to his commanders, seizing complete control of his armed forces away from his generals and beliving that Germany would win any battle because of his will. As well as inspiring Russian, American, British not to mention Free french, resistance that losing to him was not an option.



  • I have to disagree about his move into the balkans
    He had to secure the oil in romania
    The russians were definitely threatening it



  • @Gargantua:

    Many people have balked at Hitlers, plans, risks, and Gambles…

    And other that winning, what was his strategy?  Nobody can really say for sure, everyone just criticizes the obvious mistakes…  Doing stupid things like never retreating, and holding onto Stalingrad…

    But I’ve thought about this concept lately, and I think this was what he had in mind.

    "War’s are fought in the will"

    He didn’t invade Russia to kill every Russian,  he came to conquer it for a number of reasons… to conquer a people, is simple in theory,  you need to break their will.  You break their will by destroying their means (tools, organization etc) to fight, and make choosing peace the better option.

    I think that’s what his grand plan was…  hence why he sued for a Vichy france, instead of total conquest…  Suddenly doing things like holding Stalingrad, and Never retreating, appear as parting of the strategy of will exhertion…  THE SAME overall strategy that seemed to keep the British in the game.

    Also the Nazi concept of TOTAL WAR, was ALL about will,  so much will infact, that the design was to convince every person in Europe to defeat the Asiatic Communist hordes as a team.

    Just a neuron firing…

    Anyone else have any thoughts/elaboration?

    Much of the criticism against Hitler’s strategy is misdirected, misinformed, or inaccurate. On the other hand, there are elements of his strategy which legitimately merit criticism, and which often go unnoticed.

    As an example of the first, I’d point to the Battle of Stalingrad. The conquest of Stalingrad was a necessary prelude to the capture of the Caucasus oilfields. The capture of those oilfields would have multiplied Germany’s oil supply several-fold, dramatically increasing its ability to wage war.

    German soldiers were at least three times as combat-effective as their Soviet counterparts. This means they normally attained a 3:1 exchange ratio in combat. But Soviet soldiers were able to attain a 1:1 exchange ratio in the street-to-street fighting of Stalingrad. Given that the Germans had paid a heavy price to take Stalingrad once, Hitler didn’t want to have to retake the city later and give the Soviets another chance to attain a 1:1 exchange ratio. That was one of the three factors which caused Hitler to order the Stalingrad force to stay where it was.

    Another factor was Goering’s confidence in his ability to supply the Stalingrad force by air. Previously, a surrounded pocket of German soldiers had been successfully supplied by air, and eventually relieved by the main German Army. Goering incorrectly believed the same thing could be done on a much larger scale at Stalingrad. One reason he was wrong was his own incompetence. Also, the Soviets got considerably better at shooting down German transport aircraft.

    The third factor in Hitler’s decision was the belief that the German Army near Stalingrad could push the Soviets back and relieve the Stalingrad force. That belief proved incorrect: the Soviet force in that area pushed the main German Army slowly farther and farther away from Stalingrad. While the outcome of the battle proved a disaster for Germany–the Soviets came close to attaining a 1:1 exchange ratio–the thought process which led to those decisions was not based on gross incompetence, egotism, or mindless inflexibility. (Except in the case of Goering, who was clearly grossly incompetent.)

    I’d also like to address the Battle of Britain. After Poland fell, Hitler offered a peace treaty to Britain and France. They refused. After France fell, Hitler offered a peace treaty to Britain. He expected Britain to accept this peace treaty, and lacked a viable plan for dealing with a British refusal. (More generally, Germany lacked the manpower, natural resources, and industrial capacity to prepare against every contingency. In the years leading up to the war, if it had devoted vast resources to its navy, it likely would have been unable to conquer France.)

    If Germany’s inability to quickly conquer Britain was a result of its physical limitations, its propaganda strategy of 1940 was far harder to justify. The German people had been led to expect a relatively quick and easy war. They had also been reassured that Allied bombs would not fall on German cities. In 1940 Churchill began bombing German cities. This caused German morale to plummet, in large part because those bombings shook some of the beliefs which had been instilled in the German people. In contrast, Churchill made no promises at all about how easy things would be over the short-term. He made it clear that things would be hard for a long time, but said that in the end the Allies would prevail. German propagandists should have done the same thing, and their failure to do so was a strategic error of the first order.

    In order to repair the damage to German morale which the British civilian bombings had caused, Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to retaliate in-kind against British cities. This solved the German morale problem the British bombings had created. It also solved two of Churchill’s most serious problems. First, German bombers were diverted away from militarily useful targets such as sector stations, airfields, aircraft production plants, and the like. Secondly, the bombings seemed to confirm Churchill’s anti-Nazi propaganda, and dealt a death blow to the peace movement within Britain. This was the opposite of what Hitler had expected: he had hoped that the terror of the bombings might force Britain to make peace. Hitler wanted Britain to agree to an end to hostilities, with existing borders remaining intact.

    Thus far I have addressed the tangential issues your post has raised, but haven’t touched much on the core. I think that the concept of will was central to Nazi military thinking: both in terms of hardening German will and breaking the will of enemies. The whole concept of blitzkrieg was designed in part to demoralize enemy soldiers. Everything had been planned down to the smallest detail, including the noisemakers on the Stukas. That was part of a larger pattern: the German military was by far the best-run in the world. Everything received very thorough attention, whether it pertained to the psychological aspects of war or not.

    German military planners began with the end in mind. Typically, that end involved a lightning conquest, because they knew Germany was not strong enough to win a long war. They then used whatever tactics necessary to achieve the end objective as they envisioned it. Their lightning conquests were extremely effective in conquering Poland, France, and the westernmost portion of the Soviet Union.



  • Never have so many, owed so much, to so few.



  • completely disagree kurt
    stalingrad was not necessary from a strategic point
    sorry completely is too strong,hitler’s ego was the problem
    stalingrad could have been defeated earlier and easily



  • @morrel:

    completely disagree kurt
    stalingrad was not necessary from a strategic point
    sorry completely is too strong,hitler’s ego was the problem
    stalingrad could have been defeated earlier and easily

    I agree that the conquest of Stalingrad itself could have been effected more quickly and easily than had actually been the case. Unhelpful last minute changes in plans slowed the pace of German conquests in the area, giving the Soviets more time to reinforce.

    But had the Soviets been allowed to keep Stalingrad, it would have represented a serious hindrance to the German plans to conquer the Baku oilfields and other territory south of Stalingrad. The plan to capture the oilfields was absolutely vital to Germany’s overall strategic plan. Northern Caucasus accounted for 10% of Soviet oil, and the Baku oilfields for another 80%. Had the Germans succeeded in capturing all that–which was their goal for 1942–it would not only have solved Germany’s oil problems, but would also have created some extremely severe oil-related problems for the Soviets.

    However, those oil-related problems would not have been enough to knock the Soviet Union out of the war. FDR would have responded by shipping large quantities of oil to the Soviet Union. An intensification of the war against Allied shipping would have been necessary to make the Soviets’ oil-related problems back-breaking.


  • 2017 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Stalingrad at the point where it became the objective was less than desirable. Hitler didn’t understand that he also had to maintain control of Baku which was impossible considering the length of the front. Hitler didn’t have the capabilities to control access to the Caucasus. He should have just finished off Leningrad and Moscow and shortened the front in 1942. Stalingrad was only a personal struggle between Hitler and Stalin, it had little importance based on the material they wasted on holding it. Moscow was the main juncture that controlled most the the logistical railines and roads to all parts of the front. Stalingrad campaign was like another faulty strategy like thinking attacking the Soviets was going to make England surrender after Hitler tried to defeat them in the Battle of Britain. Moscow campaign fails and they think rather than go back after Moscow, they fight for a new objective which has no bearing on defeating the Soviets.


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