Clausewitz would be quite astonished.
I am sure “other” will be the winner in this, because there are more than just the 5 possiblities I put here (I went as broad as I could as far as the selection goes). So give your opinion of what could have changed history.
I of course voted Other…
Take Malta. Take Gibraltar. Fire Bomb Stalingrad and Lenningrad. Keep building U-boats.
That means that the Allies are hard pressed in their initial Africa landings, Afrika Corps gets reinforced more easilly, and any attempt by the Allies to move out of North Africa to Sicily is met by lots of U-Boats to sink their invasion forces. Plus of course the increased attirtion on the US/UK supply fleets… And of course the famous Russian defense of thsoe two cities means nothing when they are piles of ash… OK, can’t taken them, burn them and drive on…
I of course voted Other…
Take Malta.Â Take Gibraltar.Â Fire Bomb Stalingrad and Lenningrad.Â Keep building U-boats.
That means that the Allies are hard pressed in their initial Africa landings, Afrika Corps gets reinforced more easilly, and any attempt by the Allies to move out of North Africa to Sicily is met by lots of U-Boats to sink their invasion forces.Â Plus of course the increased attirtion on the US/UK supply fleets…Â And of course the famous Russian defense of thsoe two cities means nothing when they are piles of ash…Â OK, can’t taken them, burn them and drive on…
I agree that that would be huge, but as far as Gibralter goes I think better politics would have been in order. Spain declares war and than Gibralter falls very easily. A naval assault would have been costly at best, suicide at worst. I also think you are focusing a bit too much on how to beat the British/Americans, the war really was won on the Eastern Front and it would have taken more than the fire bombing of 2 cities for the Germans to have won there.
For the record, my vote was to wait until 44 to declare war. The German economy was head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the world and the gap in military strength would have not been so great if they were better equiped.
If Germany and Russia maintained their armistace, and had Germany not declared war on the US, i believe that Germany would never have fallen, and that the Commonwealth might well be speaking German today.
This thread or something close to it was allready covered but … oh well…
I can not vote because some of the reasons can all be plausible and could have changed the war… however first i need to comment on this:
“If Germany and Russia maintained their armistace, and had Germany not declared war on the US, i believe that Germany would never have fallen, and that the Commonwealth might well be speaking German today.”
This misses an important point that Stalin used the opportunity of signing the non- aggression pact with Germany so as to witness a nice war of attrition on the western front with Uk and France, while preparing the entire time to rearm the Soviet war maching. He knew that If Germany and the decadent western allies could basically kill themselves and allows the Soviets to deliver the coupe de main from eastern poland. In fact af late as June 3rd 1941 Stalin told his generals that he had bought his nation about 1.5 years to rearm for the “next war”
However, following 60 days of typical French resistance Stalins plan began to fall apart and his posture was to keep Germany happy at “any cost”
The only plausibility in what you stated is under a scenario where Germany and the Soviets made some agreement to conduct other operations where both would benifit. For example if Germany and the Soviets both attacked Turkey/Persia with the Soviets securing a warm water port ( which is a major objective for Russia since the 1850’s) They would be partners “in crime” and only then could this be plausible… but as you may know Hitler would never have done this.
I place Aug 1941 as the true high water mark for Germany, because only at this point the sucess of the war was dependent on what Germany did, rather than her enemies. Diverting AGC major forces from Moscow and heading south to assist AGS envelop the Keiv pocket lost the tempo for the enertia of Babarossa which was never recovered.
Dunkirk was another disaster… and if Hitler pressed his advantage he would have bagged the entire BEF and people like lord Halifax and others in Churchills cabinent would have presured Uk to sue for peace. Hitler should have planned to invade england like he did for “case white”… long in advance so he would secure the resources, for right after a sucessful Dunkirk surrender, he could have just walked into England and had to only fight old women with sticks as basically every male over 18 was in France at the time. I suspect this could be done during June 1940. I would have tried it!
They had already built the AutoBahn.
They had a high degree of technical engineering skills.
If I was Hitler, the scheme would have involved construction U-boats to tunnel under the English channel for a massive invasion. Massive underwater invasion ferries might also work. Rockets, air power, and hi-milage range gun placements could keep out the Royal navy to make it possible.
It would still take a lot of work. There is a 45 m (140+ ft) depth between Dover and Calais. The strait of Dover is 21 mi at the shortest gap.
But it would have had to be done by 1944. Stalin was planning for an attack then.
Whatever you change makes a diff if all goes well…
but, Hitler could never deliver the coupe dis gracie…
Dunkirk, Op Sealion, Battle of Britain, tech decisions.
However, (and it would never happen)
1)forget the Master race crap.Â Jesse Owens was a good lesson.
2) Do not kill the Jews. Use their financial wizardry and research intelligence to improve German economy and military,
3) do not invade Poland. Make friends and warn of Soviet expansion.Â Help Poles improve their military(lancers on horseback.)
4) This delays or eliminates the war with France/GB. Support the Nazi revolution in France.
5) Make friends with America.Â Support America when possible. Support Nazi party and education.
This would make Poland & Germany the oppressed when Russia attacked Poland.Â Think of America and GB coming to Germanys aid as they did to France.
6)Think of the of the brotherhood built if Germany played the moderate peacemaker, but then supported the Allies against Italy and Japan!
Adolf Hitler could have been the Founding Father of Europa. But he wanted it in his lifetime.
Of course, unless we write a 300-1000 page book we will not begin to thoroughly cover the topic.
If they hadnt become tangled up with Japan, they wouldnt have had to worry about us kiking the crap out of them.
As far as Gibraltar… Key territory. Would have REALLY openned up the U-boat war by allowing more bases, better re-supply, etc.
Malta was the thorn in Afrika Corps side… take Malta out, and Africa resupply becomes stable and effective.
Stalingrad and Lenningrad bogged down too many German forces for too long. Knock them out with Desden style firestorms, and the Germans are again moving toward Moscow without hindrance and with ALL of their available forces.
As far as the US…
Our entry in late 1941 would have been a moot point by that time…
I’d have to agree with EJ on this, mostly.
Follow through on Dunkirk/Sealion - would have knocked UK out.
Less focus on vengeance weapons/retaliation and emphasize the sciences that had real return, even those that couldn’t be tooled for the Nazi aim.
Convince Japan to attack Russia early on in the war. Japan showed Russia a few decades before, and could help again.
Also, trust in his subordinates (giving them proper control) would have gone a LONG way (e.g. the panzers held back on D-Day).
IMO, the critical part was the Eastern front. After all, Germany put 7/8 of its entire war effort towards Russia.
I agree with IL:
I place Aug 1941 as the true high water mark for Germany, because only at this point the sucess of the war was dependent on what Germany did, rather than her enemies. Diverting AGC major forces from Moscow and heading south to assist AGS envelop the Keiv pocket lost the tempo for the enertia of Babarossa which was never recovered
I think it was imperative for Moscow to fall in the Blitz, because Russia was a much, much bigger country than Germany. When Moscow did not fall (as did neither the North or South parts of Russia), Russia was able to continue sending supplies between the north and south parts as necessary, as well as from the East (moscow being the central railline connection point). Now Stalin would probably have continued to fight from the East, but with much less resources as the country would have been broken up… Hitler should have sacrificed progress on other fronts to ensure this happened.
The Italian invasion of the Balkans (which had to be backed up by the German) was blamed by some German generals for delaying Barbarossa…but only about 10% of the intended Barbarossa strike forces were used in the Balkans, which would not have necessitated a delay. And the early days of Barbarossa do not show any generals fretting over lost time. Nevertheless an earlier start for Barbarossa would have helped.
Another possibility would have been had Germany won the air battle over the UK. Air superiority would have made an amphibious landing (Operation Sea Lion) possible, and the fall of the UK would mean essentially germany could then send 8/8 of its war effort towards Russia rather than 7/8…with additional UK built equipment and imported goods from the world due to the removal of the blockade to further assist the effort. This might have made a difference on the eastern front perhaps even as late as the summer of 1942.
Had Japan been willing to attack the east, the outcome could have been different as well since many forces used by Russia came from the East…but after their skirmishes in the late 1930’s, the Japanese knew better than to attack Russians and had their own ideas anyway.
I selected the war could not have been won
Under the following premises:
1.Â initiation of hostilities begins between 1935 and 1945,
2.Â Germany & Italy, plus other minor powers, face the same set of Western Allies + Russia, although the order/timing can change
3.Â Axis does not develop nukes.
With just those conditions, the Axis cannot win :)Â The only possibility is that the Allies could lose…through stupidity.Â My point being that any set of Axis assumptions can logically be paired with the corresponding/likely Allied reaction.Â Â The Germans came nowhere near to winning WWII.Â All of their gains are simply a reflection of poor Allied response from 1939 through 1941.Â Think about it…the Allies could not have been ‘played’ worse.
But an Allied loss is an Axis win. And I don’t see where you think the Axis did not come close. They could see the spires of the Kremlin before they were stopped. Taking Moscow probably would have been the end of Russia. If Hitler hadn’t stomped on Yugoslavia for a month, the timing would have been prefect to take Moscow before winter struck.
I don’t think Japan ever really had a chance, but Germany came very close to knocking Russia out of the war.
Their goals doomed them from the start. Had they been “normal” they could have achieved most of Europe long term very easily. Guess we are lucky they where nutty as fruit cakes.
Japan had a chance… in late December and January 1941… had that fleet come on to California and knocked out San Diego, LA and San Francisco, and a few crack troops in Panama… US sues for peace…
I dont agree with much of what SUD posted:
a few comments…
1.Â initiation of hostilities begins between 1935 and 1945,
+++The target for starting the war was 1944-1945, when the Z-plan fleet was ready to challange UK’s dominance of the high seas
No war could have been undertaken by Germany earlier than 1939. Also Italy bowed out of his “pact of steel” with Hitler, because he understood that the war was gonna take place in 1944… so Italy wasnt ready… Latter she attacked France after it was clear that France lost and Italy could have her place at the peace treaty…his famous comment being… ’ I need 10,000 dead to get a chair at the peace conference’.
2.Â Germany & Italy, plus other minor powers, face the same set of Western Allies + Russia, although the order/timing can change
+++Hitler didnt have to attack her Ally …the Soviet Union that and declaring war on USA on dec. 11 seaded Germany’s fate. Plus the war could have been over in 1940 if UK surrendered (depending on what happens at Dunkirk)
Germany delays Barbarossa to 1942…builds as much armour/equipment as she can.Â Big deal.
If the war started in 39 and Hitler waited till 42… the outcome was worse for Germany because Stalin is preparing for war since 1939 so in a sence your right, only If Hitler spent 1940-1942 capturing UK, and all its African colonies all the way to India and the Oil of the mideast, then Germany stands best in a 1942 war. If they just sit and do noting for 2 years …THEN you have a justified point.
Russia builds more and better equipment in the same time.Â Stalin awakes from his dream and actually deploys Russian forces somewhat properly.
The Soviets were able to build more, but they were a poorly trained army, unlike the veterans of fighting of Germany’s armed forces. Again it depends on what germany did while no war occured with the Soviet Union.
Result: Germany gets smoked and doesn’t make it out of Poland/Western Ukraine.Â Â
Reason 1:Â Germany builds an extra 5,000 inferior armoured units.Â Russia builds 15,000 vastly superior T34s.
Germany allways had better tanks than the Soviets…except in the autumn of 1941 , when those T34’s showed up, after that jolt, Germany made sure it was superiour in terms of quality and employment of these forces… Soviet armored doctrine was very slow to adjust and poor logistics allways ran down the Soviet offensive.
Reason 2:Â The entire Russian airforce and 60% of her ground forces don’t get destroyed for ‘free’ in the first 90 days, especially the first 30 days.
++++A study was done by the whermacht during the war and by the allies after the war, showing what would happen if the Soviets started the war and the result was they would have lost in both studies. That “vaunted great Soviet Airforce” was great in quantity, but made up of crappy planes… if Germany attacked latter she would have a greater advantage in this area.
El Jefe posts:
“forget the Master race crap. Jesse Owens was a good lesson.”
That episode is a great propaganda piece that keeps getting repeated by History, while if you look up the facts you will notice that Germany won more medals in 1936 than at any other time before or since… they had a huge lead over all other nations at this event… Just look at the results… This “little fact” has gotten the brush off for too long. I am not saying they performed better because they believed in the “nazi superman concept”, but it shows what happens when people belive in what the nation is doing and the direction its heading.
In order for us to determine if Germany and their allies could have produced a favorable outcome during the war, we have to examine two factors, one dependent on the other. First, what were the war aims of the Axis powers? In order to know how to define the conditions of victory, we have to establish German (for they are the guiding strategic force in the Axis) objectives. Once those are ascertained, we can define an outcome that the German High Command would see as â€œsuccessfulâ€.
For the duration of this post, I will refer to the collective strategic decision makers of each country as a monolithic entity. For the purposes of this discussion we can ignore the political infighting that was embedded with most nations, as the overall war goals are fairly consistent, the French collaborators notwithstanding.
The Germans had a series of strategic objectives. First and foremost, the Germans wanted to regain the Danzig region and restore a continuous national border. To accomplish this met direct opposition with the Polish. Warsaw would not agree to relinquish this territory. This objective brings England and France into opposition with Germany, adding a second objective: Germany must maintain a secure nation, without suffering a major defeat similar to the so-called armistice of the previous war.
Given the German doctrines in place of a swift, decisive campaign, the German forces have to strike within a certain time window in order to avoid a prolonged conflict. The Polish territorial question came to a head in the summer of 1939. Had the Germans waited to initiate an attack against the Allied armies, rather than strike in the late spring/early summer of 1940, then the likelihood of increased Allied industrial production could negate the superior training and doctrines of the German army. As is stood, the German armor was outnumbered by the French armor. Whether the French would have corrected their policy of dispersed armor is impossible to surmise, but they could have produced more tanks had the Germans waited to attack later than 1940. Delaying the start of conflict with any of the belligerent parties would have seriously compromised the German capability to deliver a swift and decisive victory.
Once the Allied forces on the continent were defeated, the Germans were left with one battlefield: England. The German strategy of crippling the capacity of the Royal Air Force was a sound one. It is here that we find an opportunity for the Germans to change the outcome of their conflict. Had the Germans maintained a policy of destroying the logistical chain supporting the RAF, and their ability to house planes at air bases, the Germans could have fared better in crippling British industrial capacity.
Here we see the Germanâ€s first strategic flaw. They have eliminated the French as a decisive military force, but for how long? The continued existence of Britain leaves an unstable political situation in Western Europe. But, even if the Germans land on the coast of England, and as in Thomas Mackeyâ€s Invasion! force a capitulation of mainland England, what prevents the Americans from entering the war and attempting to aid Canada, South Africa, and the rest of the Commonwealth from liberating England and eventually France? It is easy to say that Germany can avoid fighting America for a time after Pearl Harbor by not becoming Japanâ€s co-belligerent, but if the German position on the European continent becomes too strong, would the Americans have eventually intervened?
This conundrum doesnâ€t even take into account the great bear lurking to the east of Germany. Russiaâ€s strategic importance and their affect on outcomes is a whole other topic, one that I will examine in a later posting, particularly after suppertime.
“First, what were the war aims of the Axis powers? In order to know how to define the conditions of victory, we have to establish German (for they are the guiding strategic force in the Axis) objectives. Once those are ascertained, we can define an outcome that the German High Command would see as â€œsuccessfulâ€.”
Japan had a chance… in late December and January 1941… had that fleet come on to California and knocked out San Diego, LA and San Francisco, and a few crack troops in Panama…Â US sues for peace…
I disagree the US would have sued for peace had this scenario happened, that generation of Americans were tough (probably because they lived through the Great Depression).
The Japanese were hoping they could establish control over the Far East (i.e. consolidate their gains in Dutch East Indies for oil) before the US was able to rebuild the fleet. They were wrong on two counts
The attack proved the Aircraft Carrier was the decisive naval unit and that battleships were obsolete and mostly useless. So not sinking the US carriers at Pearl but sinking the battleships only forced the US to fight efficiently - with their carriers. This the US learned (thanks to Pearl) before even the Japanese although both sides continued to build battleships.
Had they sunk the US carriers and destroyed the supplies in Hawaii, the US would have been out of the Pacific war for a year or two which would have resulted in the war itself lasting at least two additional years…maybe more. But in the end, the Japanese could never hope to keep up with US industrial production which at the time exceeded that of Germany, Japan, and Italy combined and unless the US gave up (perhaps if the Japanese perfected the A-bomb first and had a way to deliver this to the W. Coast) this part of the war was predetermined based on the economics involved.
Germany, IMO, on the other hand could have had sufficient forces (had Russia fallen) to keep the Allies out of Fortress Europe as the combined German/Russian/European production might have been enough to match any US/UK attacks since it is easier to defend than to attack.
Germany could have won the war only under the following conditions:
1. Hitler stays out of the military operations and allows the military to run the show.
Of course his insanity and hubris would never allow this, but to me it’s the only answer.
2. A corollary- Goering and other crackpots are not allowed to make military decisions.
The diversion of Luftwaffe resources from destroying planes, airfields and radar to bombing London (Goering’s decision) was widely acclaimed to be the breathing space which allowed the RAF to recover. This decision again was based on pure irrationality- the British could be subdued and would sue for peace if enough suffering was inflicted on the populace. The only way Britain would be subdued would be either imminent or actual invasion, to which the main precursor was the destuction of British airpower.
From this follows two of the most significant decisions on the Ost Front- the diversion of Army Group Center to the south because of Hitler’s stated goal of destroying the bulk of the Russian Army in the field, and secondly the disaster of Stalingrad- which was largely political in motivation. What the hell was he thinking not pulling out the bulk of the Sixth Army when he had a chance? Pure pride, which cometh before the fall. Turning point on the front and of the war.
Luckily for the world Hitler wasn’t a rational man, and wouldn’t allow those who had a measure of military sense to call the shots.
A corollary- Goering and other crackpots are not allowed to make military decisions.
But in that case you refer to point #1 … “Other crackpots”= Hitler
Goering was a total disaster… very smart man however…damm near genius, but his pride in all things destroyed anything that was possible for him.
However if they had someone like Reinhard Heydrich… that would have been scary for humanity as his brain served and toiled for destruction without reservations… He was the black prince of darkness if their ever was one. He would have “allowed” Germany to win the war without his personal interference.
The Germans lost WWII on every tactical front, for reasons that are blamed on der Furher to just dumb luck on the part of the Allies. They lost due to poor aircraft, they lost due to poor tanks, they lost due to poor shipbuilding, they lost due to poor logistical planning, they lost due to manufacturing bravado. Before anyone says “Hey the Tiger Tank kicks butt, or the Me262 was the best plane in the world” please note that mistakes related to those very items caused the failure that was in the works when the Invasion of France too place. Wrong conclusions were drawn from early victories and it cost them quite a bit.
Poor Aircraft - The Me109 was equal to the Spit I only at the beginning of the war. It was on its heels from that point on. German bombers were terrible. The Stuka was obsolete in 1939 (did you know it had a top speed of 187 MPH?).
Poor Armor - 37mm cannon on the PzKwIII couldnt not kill French Tanks. Only 40 tanks were upgraded to 50mm guns for the invasion of Russia. Tigers (PzKwVI), Panther PzKWV) were not tested properly and were trounced at operation Citadel (Kursk). Did you know Hitler demanded Tigers stick together with no infantry support? The Tigers also did not have MG’s on board at that time. The Panther had awful transmission issues early on. These problems were solved, but it was way too late.
Shipbuilding - Bismark, need I say more?
Logistics - Africa, Eastern Front (Stalingrad), Battle of the Bulge….common theme?
Manufacturing - War production was almost completely stopped in December 1941.
Many people take pride in what the Germans did, but the more I learn, the more embarassing it gets.
The RAF’s retention of downed pilots kept them in the fight as replacement fighters arrived from the US and Canada.
The US recovered pilots (US and Jap) after the Battle of the Coral Sea.
It became standard policy after Midway.
These pilots gained skill and kills and soon dominated the air. They were often outnumbered in the air in dogfights vs the Jap fighters. But these Jap fighters had only a fraction of the flight time of the Pearl Harbor, Coral Sea, and Midway veterans. The inexperience resulted in loopsided defeats. The Jap commanders did not figure it out until it was too late.
Ger and Japan built thousands of fighters after the loss of skilled pilots, but the bulk pilot skill differential was soon set against them.
People are not born with wings, or 3-D maneuvering / positioning instincts.
The Axis leaders saw air power as only industrial output without factoring in the thousands of hours of flight time to adequately train pilots to be victorious over their enemies.
WWI was deadlocked in attritional ground warfare. WWII was won by mobility. Air mobility gave you local supremacy. Sea mobility gave you range. Ground mobility allows your troops to fight more efficiently. Both sea and ground mobility are subject to air supremacy.
The ability to build and sustain a rotating pilot base was one of many advantages that the U.S. enjoyed during the war. The ability to recover downed pilots is an inherent advantage of fighting either at sea or over your own territory. As an aggressor, Germany cannot expect to recover more than a slim percentage of its pilots shot down in action over enemy territory. That’s a factor Germany has to accept in its overall strategy.
The British where known for caring more about the loss of life than matterial. Hitler would ask “How many tanks did we loose?” Churchill would ask “How many men did we loose?”
Stalin would ask “How many divisions did we loose?”