The easiest thing Germany could have done to win the war.



  • UK and France in Finland would be a threat for USSR because by the time when they were suppose to do it, USSR already knew that taking Finland was a problem and the Red Army being weakened by lack of officers and tactics. Red Navy had it easy over Finland and I believe the Royal Navy would be an eye opener for Stalin. Hitler himself didn’t want war with UK however he also didn’t want them to gain any strategic advantage either. One of his reason for invading Norway was because of this, stops the flow of ore to UK. We could also experiment with the crazier idea that maybe Germany could of joined UK and France against USSR however I am pretty sure UK or France wouldn’t allow Germany be friends with them due to the large violations Hitler did with his military.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Narvik:

    The name of the thread is “The easiest thing Germany could have done to win the war”

    In my opinion, the easiest thing that Germany could have done to win the war – and I’ll explain in a moment what I mean by “win” – is to have followed its historical script up to mid-June 1941, then cancelled Barbarossa.  This would have left most of continental Europe and much of Asia were under the control of the Tripartite Pact nations (Germany, Italy and Japan) and/or of countries which were allied to them or which had non-aggression pacts with them (i.e. the Soviet Union, which had non-aggresion pacts with both Germany and Japan.)  Not a bad outcome at all for Germany, and one that Hitler should objectively have been satisfied with (though objectivity wasn’t his strong suit).  That’s the outcome which David Fromkin called “The Triumph of the Dictators” in the chapter he contributed to the book “What If? : The World’s Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been”, as I mentioned previously in this thread…

    https://www.axisandallies.org/forums/index.php?topic=40095.0

    …which covers much of the same ground as the present thread.

    As a more proactive and aggressive supplement to this non-Barbarossa strategy, Germany could also have tried to put Britain even more on the ropes by invading the Middle East, seizing its oil, and possibly driving all the way into India to hook up with Japan.  That scenario is described in John Keegan’s chapter in the same book I mentioned above; as I recall, it’s titled “How Hitler Could Have Won The War.”



  • Yeah man, I think it was Keegan that suggested Hitler would be better off if he ditched Barbarossa and went for the Middle East oil. Keizer Wilhelm II had already made the Berlin Bagdhad Express through Turkey and to the oil fields of Mosul, starting in 1904, but not finished before 1940. Germany would have been independent of both American and Russian oil. Unfortunately our A&A map does not model this vital resource in any sane way. You just got 2 more IPCs and all the neutrals of the world turn against you, not enough to justify what would have been the winning strategy in the real war. Too bad, man. HUH. But in the real world, Germany would be self supplied with oil, and better yet, get a staging area close to the Russian oil fields in Baku. Nothing Russia could do to stop the 6 crack German mountain divisions from climbing over the Caucasus mountains and seize the oil fields. But would that really be the easiest thing they could do, or do anybody at this forum imagine any even more easy thing to do ?


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Narvik:

    Yeah man, I think it was Keegan that suggested Hitler would be better off if he ditched Barbarossa and went for the Middle East oil. Keizer Wilhelm II had already made the Berlin Bagdhad Express through Turkey and to the oil fields of Mosul, starting in 1904, but not finished before 1940. Germany would have been independent of both American and Russian oil. Unfortunately our A&A map does not model this vital resource in any sane way. You just got 2 more IPCs and all the neutrals of the world turn against you, not enough to justify what would have been the winning strategy in the real war.

    Yes, good point.  Without oil, mechanized land warfare, modern sea warfare, and air warfare involving heavier-than-air flying machines all become impossible.  As you’ve said, the sources of oil on land (such as the Middle East) are not properly modeled in A&A, which affects land strategy.  Likewise, the game doesn’t model adequately the importance of the Allied oceanic convoy routes for oil (and other goods, but notably oil) in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, nor of the Japanese convoy routes for oil from the Dutch East Indies to Japan, which affects naval strategy.



  • Hitler may of been better off just sending a full military force into Africa at that point instead of invading USSR. Hitler could of also go all the way in against Malta since that was a huge pain the ass for Italy. A full German and Italy force in North Africa could of changed the outcome where the Axis would of taken Egypt and that would lead to a full invasion of the middle east. Hook up with friendly Iraq and Persia and then go for USSR in the south. I don’t know if invading India from the West could be a good idea but certainly better if they did it the same time Japan came from the east.


  • 2018 2017

    Short answer;

    “Not try to conquer the world at one go”

    Napoleon’s greatest asset wasn’t his leadership ability, it was that his enemies were enemies of one another.

    It took Napoleon’s success and ambition to unite them at all, and as his ambitions grew, so did the opposing, diverse and squabbling alliance until they had got together no less than SEVEN times in just TWENTY SEVEN years.  They really only wanted to contain Napoleon, so he would continue to be a threat that they could play off against one another, but it was only after they realized the danger of allowing him to rebuild and target them one by one that they decided to depose him entirely, which they had to do two, virtually 3 times.



  • Except German end game wasn’t conquer the whole world. This is a huge misconceptions about WWII. Each Axis nation had one national objective;

    Germany was to become the undisputed champion of Europe. Which and whom were allies or enemies didn’t matter.
    Italy was to regain “lost” territory from the Roman Empire but get as much as Hitler would allow. Example; I don’t think Hitler would let Italy capture Spain.
    Japan was to take over control of all Asian nations and unite them under a Japanese banner.



  • @Caesar:

    Hitler may of been better off just sending a full military force into Africa at that point instead of invading USSR.

    Sorry to ruin your day, mate, but that was impossible without a large part of magic and wonders. Germany had a very small merchant fleet and navy. Over a 2 month span they were able to ship 100 000 men with supply from Germany to Norway, and that is a short distance, one day each way. In addition, their air transport fleet was able to get 30 000 men over during that 2 month span. At that time Germany did not poses any port or harbor adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, so they were shipped by the Italian fleet, and what they shipped was the limit of that capacity. If Germany had captured the old Austrian port of Trieste, and established a shipyard there, the distance from Trieste to Cairo is almost 4 times longer than the distance between Kiel and Oslo, so they would need to build 4 times more trannies that they actually had in the Baltic Sea, just to carry 100 000 men with supply over a 2 month span. At that point, I think the UK shipbuilding capacity was 5 times larger than what Germany had at the Baltic, so even if I too love your idea, I figure it was not very plausible. Sorry.



  • Seeing as Italy still had a fighting force in the Med at 41. Your response is moot.


  • 2018 2017

    most of us do not consider the Italians to have been any kind of viable modern “fighting force” in any theatre or type of arms, at any time from 1917-1944.


  • 2018 2017

    Mr. CS;  You also keep returning to this point about “conquering the world”, I realize their immediate goals did not include the creation of a Greater German Seaborne Mercantile Empire but that clearly follows from their attempts to break the Continental System and disrupt the empires of the UK, France, and the US.

    After some peace was made between Germany and the then reeling and broken allies, are you implying that they would have simply rested upon their laurels having gained control of the Baltic, Med, and Black seas?  And remained a landlocked, dependent “empire”?



  • @taamvan:

    most of us do not consider the Italians to have been any kind of viable modern “fighting force” in any theatre or type of arms, at any time from 1917-1944.

    You would be foolish to think the Italian navy is a joke, it really is the only branch of their armed forces that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I assumed this is why Hitler even bothered with allying Italy, they had a navy. That’s why I meant by a fighting force. They could escort landing craft for Germany. If Germany went all in on North Africa, I don’t think UK could hold on Egypt.


  • 2018 2017

    I was sort of teasing, they fought very bravely.  MAS was amazing, the frogmen and special ops did almost more damage than ship’s guns did.  The ground forces and ‘named’ Italian divisions acquitted themselves well in terms of bravery on both Eastern front and in Africa but that doesn’t matter in the face of so many glaring omissions.

    But I offer sir, that the Italian navy was more like a 1910s navy, than a 1940s one.

    No radar
    No nightfighting ability (only Japan covered this)
    No remote ports or support areas
    Some ships made out of untempered steel
    Attacks and plans made for political effect rather than strategic effect
    Hiding often, Fighting only when hiding didn’t work anymore (this is what defeated the French against the Royal navy also–the overassumption of their own clear but partially overstated inferiority)

    No effective air protection of any kind (same all navies up until 1944)
    Fanciful but ineffective protection (fleet in being concept, torpedo nets, didn’t work…)
    no clear coordination between navy and general air forces (Germany was also horrible at this)
    No clear plan to connect information, sabotage, and non-traditional naval forces (or anything else) with conventional gun-based ships…

    When Hitler decided to declare war on the Western Allies, Mussolini’s  ask in return for a declaration was that Germany deliver the equivalent of 2-3 years of oil, steel, coal and aircraft engines BEFORE they attacked.  The German response was something like “with allies like this, who needs enemies…”



  • Sure but Italy in the med was enough to raise great concern for UK, France, and later the US. However, I am not saying that Italy isn’t the be all end all of the allies in the Med. However if given full escort for German forces, Egypt may of been lost. Some people argue the reason why UK won in Egypt was due to sheer numbers. So the question is, if Germany send a full army and not an X force, would they win?



  • @Omega1759:

    Not enough U-boats in 1939 was also a big mistake. The ~30 that they had really did cause a lot of damage. More “Condor” long range patrol planes to attack allied shipping would have been good as well.

    This was going to be my answer.

    “Plan Z” should have never even been suggested. The idea that Germany was going to somehow “catch up” to the Royal Navy in terms of surface combatants was laughable, even prior to the beginning of hostilities with England.

    The two Scharnhorsts and two Bismarks that were completed cost, in total, upwards of $400 million Reichsmarks.

    I would argue that the 100 submarines you could have had instead for that cost would have probably won the war against England around the same time the historical Battle of Britain began.

    And that’s just subbing out a few battleships for subs. A real committment to a submarine construction program prior to the war beginning would have been decisive, even if countered by the UK with more focus on ASW.

    It took nearly 4 years, US entry into the war, and several technological breakthroughs to both fully implement the Convoy System and win the Battle of the Atlantic. I see no outcome other than defeat for the United Kingdom if they face a Germany with 300 U-Boats in 1939.

    The US can threaten war over Unrestricted Submarine Warfare in 1940, but if the UK is defeated before years end, it is essentially an empty threat, as the US is not going to retake Europe by staging out of Iceland or the Azores.

    Of course, extra naval patrol aircraft would have greatly aided in the goal of strangling the UK…but that would have depended on Göring not being a total idiot.

    In fact, I change my answer.

    –-

    Have Göring and Ernst Udet die in a plane crash sometime in early 1933.

    I’m not sure who takes over the Luftwaffe at that point…but they can hardly do worse.


  • 2018 2017

    they only had 57 so we’re giving them 243 extra boots….the surface ships do seem to have been a waste, but that’s because there was no precise vision of how they’d be used without wasting them, and no idea what Germany would have done without any surface ships at all.

    If they had the capability and long range to control the material war at sea, then that would have been decisive.

    But they didn’t have any of the things they would need to beat each enemy in turn, it was built “just in time”.  Some of it (4 engine bombers) was never built or even seriously considered, partially because of dissipation of effort.

    The submarine strategy was very strong when there was no counter, and very weak once there was, so reliance on that to win the war probably wouldn’t work , it meets an escalating counter-response.    In this way of thinking there would have needed to be no blitz, no Barbarossa, etc., but you can’t simply unwind history and say well, if we’d had 500 more tanks at Kursk, things would have turned out differently.  Of course they would have, which is why the tanks weren’t there, because if they had been, Russia wouldn’t be.



  • I am not sure if there is an example of a nation at war with only submarines. However the reason why Germany needed a surface fleet is because they it really is hard to defend transports and merchant ships with submarine since they are so easy to be attacked by aircraft. I know Germany used their surface fleet to shell targets in Spain but I can’t think of any example of them doing that in WWII.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Caesar:

    However the reason why Germany needed a surface fleet is because they it really is hard to defend transports and merchant ships with submarine since they are so easy to be attacked by aircraft.

    I wonder about that.  Germany’s maritime trade wasn’t in the same league as Britian’s, and I doubt that it had a domestic merchant fleet on the same scale as Britain’s, and I’m not aware of Germany operating convoys on anything like the scale of the Allies.  Moreover, the concept of defending merchant ships with surface warships (or with anything else, for that matter) is a concept that only applies in wartime…and in both World Wars, German merchant shipping was quickly eliminated by the Allies (chiefly Britian, probaly) from pretty much everywhere (except possibly the Baltic in WWII).  So if the point of Germany having a surface fleet in WWII was to protect its merchant ships, then that strategy was a colossal failure.

    The conventional view is actually that the point of Germany’s surface-combat warship fleet in both World Wars was, with slight variations in the two conflicts, to tie down the Royal Navy at its home bases by offering a constant threat that Germany’s own warships might be deployed.  This is the “fleet in being” concept, and Admiral Tirpitz in WWI was pretty blatant about it.  The picture for WWII is a bit more complicated, with some of Germany’s modern warships being of Weimar-era origin and some being of Nazi-era origin.  Hitler had a fondness for battleships (in line with his love of grandiosity), but by his own admission he had a poor grasp of naval strategy.  Nazi Germany’s conservative admirals (like Raeder) equated a vast fleet of major surface warships with the concept of Germany being respected as a major power, and were thus in favour of such vessels.  The concept was rejected by the more realist Doenitz, who felt that, in practical terms, U-boats were a more useful asset.  This is roughly similar to what happened in Japan, where the fight was between the traditional admirals who wanted battleships and the visionary admirals who wanted aircraft carriers.



  • The problem with Germany’s navy is that it was built for one thing and then deployed for another. If Hitler allowed Plan Z to be completed, then it would put the Kreigsmarine on par with UK’s Home Fleet. I know Germany merchant fleets were able to supply their forces in Norway since UK never deployed in the Baltic.

    The problem with the Kreigsmarine is that when WWII broke out, it was half A$$ed in strength so High Command thought it should of been enough hence why their Battleships were used aggressively and then when reality set it, Germany reverted back to what it learned in WWI and the fact that something like the Bomber Gap existed so it became a reality that U-Boats were going to be weapon of naval warfare.



  • @taamvan:

    they only had 57 so we’re giving them 243 extra boots….the surface ships do seem to have been a waste, but that’s because there was no precise vision of how they’d be used without wasting them, and no idea what Germany would have done without any surface ships at all.

    Which is precisely my point. There was basically no strategic thinking going on in the Kriegsmarine prior to the war.

    Germany’s only true naval rival was England.
    England could not be caught in a naval arms race.

    The logical extension is to engage in some sort of asymmetrical campaign that enables you to close the gap in capability. Add to that the fact that England is an island nation, and the goal should have been crystal clear.

    If they had the capability and long range to control the material war at sea, then that would have been decisive.

    Exactly. The British knew what was up. The Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935 was specifically negotiated by the British to discourage Germany from building a navy to fight a Commerce War…submarines, armed merchant trawlers, fast cruisers.

    They instead graciously allowed them to build a “Balanced” fleet 1/3 the size of the Royal Navy, made of ships that would be of little use to Germany in a wider war.

    But they didn’t have any of the things they would need to beat each enemy in turn, it was built “just in time”.   Some of it (4 engine bombers) was never built or even seriously considered, partially because of dissipation of effort.

    The submarine strategy was very strong when there was no counter, and very weak once there was, so reliance on that to win the war probably wouldn’t work , it meets an escalating counter-response.

    Well in spite of the fact that later U-Boat designs would be more effective, there was nothing about the U-Boat arm in 1939 that prevented it from defeating the UK aside from the fact that it was too small.

    Also, England was well aware of the threat that U-Boats posed to their empire. The Royal Navy was not standing still prior to the war in regards to the need to defend their supply lines from U-Boats. But it was tactics and technology that were the hurdles from 1939 to 1943, not some failure by the British to respond at a strategic level.

    Early in the war they would send merchants out alone and unguarded, while warships engaged in Search and Destroy operations over thousands of miles of open ocean. MADNESS. The needed goods were completely unguarded, while combat forces wasted their time in fruitless searches.

    Even after the Convoy System was implemented it took YEARS to train both Merchant and Escort crews to maintain fleet discipline during an attack…and even then the need for more long-range aircraft to close the Mid-Atlantic gap was basically unaddressed for months.

    Needed technlogies like Leigh Lights and Centimetric Radar would not be refined until 1941-1943. Those first couple of years were absolutely critical to Britains survival, and the “escalating counter-response” was not simply a matter of trying harder. Without the tactics or technology available, I don’t see a way out for Britain in 1940 if the Germany Navy is properly directed in its mission to strangle English commerce.

    It’s hard to crank out fighters in those factories if the raw materials are on the ocean floor.

    @Caesar:

    The problem with Germany’s navy is that it was built for one thing and then deployed for another. If Hitler allowed Plan Z to be completed, then it would put the Kreigsmarine on par with UK’s Home Fleet.

    In 1948. If the UK stood still and did nothing to counter the build up of their rival.

    I maintain Germany could never win a naval arms race against the British Empire.

    I know Germany merchant fleets were able to supply their forces in Norway since UK never deployed in the Baltic.

    Most of the goods transported in the Baltic were in vessels under Scandinavian flags. Most of Germanys merchant fleet was sunk, captured or interned early in the war.

    @CWO:

    I wonder about that.  Germany’s maritime trade wasn’t in the same league as Britian’s, and I doubt that it had a domestic merchant fleet on the same scale as Britain’s, and I’m not aware of Germany operating convoys on anything like the scale of the Allies.  Moreover, the concept of defending merchant ships with surface warships (or with anything else, for that matter) is a concept that only applies in wartime…and in both World Wars, German merchant shipping was quickly eliminated by the Allies (chiefly Britian, probaly) from pretty much everywhere (except possibly the Baltic in WWII).  So if the point of Germany having a surface fleet in WWII was to protect its merchant ships, then that strategy was a colossal failure.

    Nobody “guarded” merchants with warships. Ever. If you want to “protect” your merchant, you put a gun on it. If you need to defend shipping lanes, only a proper convoy system can do the job, and Germany simply didn’t have need of it, having access to most of what it needed on the continent, oil being a very notable exception.

    The conventional view is actually that the point of Germany’s surface-combat warship fleet in both World Wars was, with slight variations in the two conflicts, to tie down the Royal Navy at its home bases by offering a constant threat that Germany’s own warships might be deployed.  This is the “fleet in being” concept, and Admiral Tirpitz in WWI was pretty blatant about it.

    While true, this, to me, demonstrates a lack of critical thinking by both sides.

    What was the German surface fleet going to do if the Royal Navy just sailed for the Caribbean?? What possible goal could it have achieved, especially in the face of the Royal Air Force, that it could not achieve while the Royal Navy was a factor? Certainly not an invasion. They couldn’t close the Channel. They couldn’t reinforce the Mediterranian.

    So…what??? Seems to me like the German surface fleet as it stood historically was of no use to Germany and no threat to England. Norway, sure, but not England.

    As it was, I’m sure that it was for propaganda/morale reasons that the Home Fleet was kept at home, to keep those in England feeling safe and protected, but I’d argue that that decision lengthened the war. England should have just sent the bulk of the Home Fleet to Singapore in December of 1941. Probably would have saved that city from the Japanese and shortened the Pacific War.



  • “What if” the commander of the Bismark had not sent a radio transmission while the bulk of the Royal navy was franticly searching the atlantic for her?The HMS Hood and Prince of wales battleships had just been sunk and damaged badly.If Bismark escapes,I think Churchill  is under alot of pressure to get out of the war.Remember this all happens about 4 wks before barbarossa.



  • @ampdrive:

    “What if” the commander of the Bismark had not sent a radio transmission while the bulk of the Royal navy was franticly searching the atlantic for her?The HMS Hood and Prince of wales battleships had just been sunk and damaged badly.If Bismark escapes,I think Churchill  is under alot of pressure to get out of the war.Remember this all happens about 4 wks before barbarossa.

    I am surprised the British even tried to do whatever it takes to sink that ship. Granted, it was causing problems for the allies but it’s just one ship.



  • #1: Send panzers against Dunkirk. This destroys 300,000 hard-to-replace Allied troops. The panzers, with infantry support, could have crushed this pocket.

    #2: Don’t terror-bomb England. The RAF was the only force protecting England against Sealion, and Goering almost destroyed it. Had he kept up the pressure a little while longer, it would have cracked, and Sealion would have been a real possibility.

    #3: Make Moscow the #1 focus of Barbarossa. Specifically, the Nazis should not have diverted panzers to other fronts.

    Some other things Germany should have done are:

    Don’t follow a ‘no quarters’ policy in Russia. The Communists were hated by many of their subjects- the Nazis missed a chance to be seen as liberators (although, had they won, they may have faced rebellion as they tried to implement their racial policies in occupied Russia)

    Prioritize Murmansk and Archangel over Leningrad. This may seem strange, but the capture of three of four of Russia’s main European ports (Leningrad, Odessa, Murmansk, and Archangel) would have fatally crippled Russia’s ability to receive Lend Lease. The Finns should also have played a larger part in operations in Karelia.

    Allow retreats. The Wehrmacht would have done far better in Russia (and in 1944-5 in the West) had they been given flexibility. Stalingrad could’ve been just a small reversal had the Germans withdrawn from the pocket and established a defensive line.

    Don’t let Hitler direct everything. Hitler was inept militarily, and many of the decisions he made are listed here (terror-bombing England, diverting tanks away from Moscow, the no quarters policy,  besieging Leningrad, and banning tactical withdrawals), were all ideas of his.



  • I can’t find what Hitler meant by No Quarters but the traditional use of that terms means you don’t take surrendered soldiers.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    I think what AxisAndAllies1940 is referring to is the fact that, in all the territories it captured in WWII but particularly so on the Eastern Front, Germany quickly and comprehensively established a ruthless police state which shattered the illusions of the folks in the USSR who had initially regarded the German invasion as a liberation from Communist oppression.  What made the Eastern Front worse than western Europe was that a) Hitler despised “Slavs” and saw them as fit for little else than slavery, and b) Hitler despised Communists, which in part explains the Commissar Order of June 1941; and c) Hitler generally saw the war against the USSR as a “war of annihilation”.


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