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Old 07-29-2015, 01:03 PM   #26
DoTheMath
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Re: Losing WW II

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Originally Posted by A_C_Slater View Post
Supposedly Hitler said to his generals something like 'only ossified brains still living in the Napoleonic era could see any value in capturing a capital' when arguing to target Stalingrad instead of Moscow.
The argument was for tangible economic/resource benefits, instead of the more ethereal morale benefits of of capturing a capital. Of course, the argument ignores the critical position of Moscow as just about the only surface transportation hub that far east. It was the dislocation of Soviet troop movement that capture of such a hub would cause that makes control of Moscow a prerequisite for German victory.

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I believe the thinking was if they capture Stalingrad they can easily conquer the rest of Southern Russia bordering Iran. The plan then was to link up with new allies in the Middle East that approved of the Nazi's politics.
The goal was to capture the Caucasus oil fields, and secure the Ukraine's agricultural resources. The notion of any linking up with other allies raises the question of who these would be. By the time of the 1942 offensive, any pro-Nazi movements or governments in the Middle East had already been crushed by the British, and there is nothing to suggest that such sentiments were popular in the region. The only sort of link-up conceivable in 1942 was with pockets of anti-Soviet ethnic minorities within the Soviet Union.

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actually hitler had this totally insane idea of rommels africa corps beeing able to meet the troops occupied with the russian campaign in the biggest pincer movement of all time.
I don't think there is any source evidence to support the view that Hitler thought Rommel could reach Iran. That notion grew up after the war in the minds of a few amateurs who knew effectively nothing about the region or about the conduct of military operations in such territory.

The documented thoughts regarding what German forces in North Africa might be able to do was that an all-German mechanized force of four divisions, if it was unimpeded by the need to support any Italian forces anywhere in its area of operations, and if the British were unable to reinforce, might be able to reach the Suez canal, . Hitler appears to have realized neither condition was realistic.

The German notion of what they might realistically be able to accomplish in North Africa is demonstrated by the name they initially gave to the force they decided to send: "Sperrverband Afrika"- Blocking Force Africa.
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:15 PM   #27
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Re: Losing WW II

Was surrounding and bypassing Stalingrad an option? I've heard stories that Hitler didn't want to do that because of it being named after Stalin. But would have doing so potentially helped Germany defeat Russia?

DTM, you seem to have a ton of in depth knowledge on this subject. Any particular books you would recommend?
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Old 07-30-2015, 04:06 AM   #28
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Re: Losing WW II

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Was surrounding and bypassing Stalingrad an option? ... would have doing so potentially helped Germany defeat Russia?
To a certain extent that's what the Germans tried to do, at first. The problems for the Germans arose when they tried later to capture it.

Stalingrad wasn't in the way of the German advance, Rather, it was thorn in their side. To understand its situation, it helps to look at a map. Tula is a town about 175km south of Moscow. Orel is a town about 175km SSW of Tula. Kursk is about 125km south of Orel. Voronezh is about 200 km E of Kursk. Kharkov is 200 km S of Kursk. The Don River rises in the hills to Tula's southwest. The Don flows SE from Tula and then south through Voronezh continuing south for another 100km and then curving to the SE and then ESE towards Stalingrad, which is roughly 400 km SE of Voronezh. About 50km short of reaching Stalingrad, the Don makes a sharp right turn and heads SW and then W into the Sea of Azov (the nearly landlocked part of the Black Sea east of Crimea).

Stalingrad is on the NW bank of the Volga river, which has been flowing towards it from the NNE. Right after the Volga passes Stalingrand, it makes a sharp left turn and flows off to the ESE and the Caspian Sea. The line of the Volga past the turn is pretty much a continuation of the line the Don had been following up until its sharp right turn. If you had been flying downstream over the Don towards Stalingrad and closed your eyes for half a minute before getting there, when you opened them you'd find yourself still following a river, but it would be the Volga instead of the Don. The Don and Volga are both big rivers. So Stalingrad is at the SE end of a fifty km gap in a formidable river barrier separating European Russia and Ukraine from Asia.

At the start of the German summer offensive of 1942, the southern half of the east front line ran roughly southwards, from about 50km E of Orel and Kursk and then arching out slightly westward towards Kharkov and then back eastward toward the east end of the north shore of the Sea of Azov. The summer offensive was the responsibility of Army Group South, which had been strengthened by the transfer of 4th Panzer Army from Army Group Centre. (4th Panzer Army had started Barbarossa as the spearhead of Army Group North!) . The original plan called for a three phase operation. The 4th Panzer Army was deployed on the line between Orel and Kursk. It began the attack by thrusting ESE toward Voronezh on the Don. (The Russians had expected it to attack NNE, east of the Orel-Tula axis.) With the city secured, it was supposed to turn south and race down the west bank of the Don towards Stalingrad, rolling up the Soviet line from north to south. Sixth Army was supposed to swing onto its right flank and do the mopping up, with 2nd Army, 2nd Hungarian, 4th Romanian and 8th Italian filling in the new line along the Don. When 4th Panzer and Sixth Armies reached the Don where it turned right, they were to secure a crossing and then 1st Panzer Army with 17th Army on its right and 3rd Romanian on its left, were to proceed SSE to capture the Caucasus oilfields at Maikop, Grozny and Baku. Stalingrad was not an objective. It was to be masked.

IOW, the whole plan was an offensive at almost right angles to the original front line.

What actually happened is that 4th Panzer Army got bogged down in Voronezh for a few days, and the infantry armies were slow to relieve it. This, coupled with supply problems, put it behind schedule. Hitler was so frustrated that he sacked the Army Group commander and divided the Army Group into two parts. Part A was to immediately begin the drive on the Caucasus without waiting for 4th Panzer and Sixth Armies. Part B was to cut the Volga at or just below Stalingrad. to protect the rear of Part A's advance. Then Hitler diverted 4th Panzer Army to assist in a crossing lower down the Don and guard 1st Panzer Army's left flank.(which just increased the strain on overburdened supply lines) and upgraded Stalingrad to be an objective for Sixth Army. These changes to 4th Panzer and Sixth Armies' tasks had them crossing over each other's paths.

The original German concept for the battle of Stalingrad itself was a double envelopment of the forces defending in front of Stalingrad, rather than pushing the Russians back into the city. Sixth Army would come in from the west and 4th Panzer Army from the south, meeting just outside the suburbs of Stalingrad, behind the defending Russian Armies. This plan failed, as the Soviets held off the pincers long enough to be able to withdraw most of their forces into the city. Then the Germans reached the river upstream and downstream of the city, so it was cut off, except for perilous ferry boat crossings.

So originally Stalingrad was just to be masked, then 4th Panzer Army ran right by it, then it was to be taken by defeating its defenders outside the city. then it was surrounded. When none of that worked, Hitler began feeding his troops into the meat grinder.

With its position guarding an important river crossing and the SE end of a significant gap in the river barrier. Stalingrad had real strategic importance as well as symbolic importance. Despite that, I am unconvinced that its capture was necessary to further the operation to take the Caucasus oilfields. As it was, the advance on Baku was terminated well short of the objective and the Russian offensive to cut of the Germans at Stalingrad didn't really start until after the German advance on Baku had ground to halt. I think a German withdrawal about 50km downstream on the Don would have been a much better idea than the last attempts to take the city. and might have saved Sixth Army and reduced the Soviet advance during their winter offensive. But Hitler didn't really like the idea of tactical withdrawals, and saving 6th Army would not have won the war.

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Originally Posted by campfirewest View Post
I've heard stories that Hitler didn't want to do that because of it being named after Stalin. But ...
IDK if the actual reasons for Hitlers increasing determination to capture Stalingrad are clear, but it sure looks like he got caught in a pissing contest.

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DTM, you seem to have a ton of in depth knowledge on this subject. Any particular books you would recommend?
My main area of interest is mechanized and combined arms warfare in WWII, but focusing on North Africa and the Western Front, especially British Commonwealth and German operations. Other than Barbarossa (especially Army Group Centre), Fall Blau (the 1942 German Summer campaign described above) and Kursk, my knowledge of east front operations is hazy. I don't have any books devoted to the subject in my own collection of 70-80 volumes of WWII history, though a few overview works on the whole war touch on the subject. So, I'm not in a position to recommend any books about operations on the eastern front.
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Old 07-30-2015, 12:32 PM   #29
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Re: Losing WW II

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... accomplishing hitlers goal of uniting europe under Nazism.
I've previously replied to this earlier explaining that the goal wasn't to unite Europe under Nazism but I thought I would add to it as I've been reading interviews lately with German soldiers who were serving in Normany on the 6th June 1944.

The interviews were carried out 10 years after the war ended and one of the things I found quite surprising was that some of the soldiers expressed the view that they were there to protect Europe from an allied invasion, not just Germany. It's difficult to see how they could take this view but Nazi propganda was obviously still going strong and I'm assuming the ones who believed this view were younger (one of them was 20 years old, not sure about the others). The propoganda seems to have created the narrative that they were defending Europe from an imperialist power (Britain) and a power that was run by powerful corporations and banks, the implication here I'm assuming is Jews, (The USA). One soldier talks about the level of bartering etc there was with the local population so this may have increased their view that they were united in some sense however he also admits the same locals were down abusing the Wermacht soldiers who had been taken prisoner by the the allies that day. Amusingly he tells how they started shouting to the locals about the reprisals they would take when the allies left, believing it was just a raid rather than an invasion but that idea was soon put to bed when the scale of the operation became apparent.

One other thing I found amusing came from one of the soldiers who was in a bunker and came face to face with 2 British paratroopers in the heat of battle and was claims he was astonished, and also worried, at the hatred on their faces as they attacked his bunker given they were from a similar culture and the same race as himself. He couldn't understand this at the time.

Anyway sorry for the derail but just thought I would throw that in there.

Last edited by Husker; 07-30-2015 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 07-30-2015, 10:54 PM   #30
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Re: Losing WW II

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Originally Posted by Husker View Post
I've previously replied to this earlier explaining that the goal wasn't to unite Europe under Nazism but I thought I would add to it as I've been reading interviews lately with German soldiers who were serving in Normany on the 6th June 1944.

The interviews were carried out 10 years after the war ended and one of the things I found quite surprising was that some of the soldiers expressed the view that they were there to protect Europe from an allied invasion, not just Germany. It's difficult to see how they could take this view but Nazi propganda was obviously still going strong and I'm assuming the ones who believed this view were younger (one of them was 20 years old, not sure about the others). The propoganda seems to have created the narrative that they were defending Europe from an imperialist power (Britain) and a power that was run by powerful corporations and banks, the implication here I'm assuming is Jews, (The USA). One soldier talks about the level of bartering etc there was with the local population so this may have increased their view that they were united in some sense however he also admits the same locals were down abusing the Wermacht soldiers who had been taken prisoner by the the allies that day. Amusingly he tells how they started shouting to the locals about the reprisals they would take when the allies left, believing it was just a raid rather than an invasion but that idea was soon put to bed when the scale of the operation became apparent.

One other thing I found amusing came from one of the soldiers who was in a bunker and came face to face with 2 British paratroopers in the heat of battle and was claims he was astonished, and also worried, at the hatred on their faces as they attacked his bunker given they were from a similar culture and the same race as himself. He couldn't understand this at the time.

Anyway sorry for the derail but just thought I would throw that in there.
As derails go, it's a good one, so I'll add to it.

The reaction of the last German soldier above is not very surprising. To many Germans, fighting the British, Dutch or Scandinavians was like fighting "our own people". It had never been an objective to fight the other Germanic countries, just a wartime necessity brought on by Britain's inexplicable decision to side with the French in support of some worthless Slavs in Poland. After all, the English were obviously Germanic. Their royal family was descended from the Duke of Hanover on Queen Victoria's side and from the Duke of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha on her husband Albert's side. The English language was a slightly frenchified version of low German. (Remember this before you criticize the Germans for pausing before Dunkirk.)

The German propaganda phrase that covered the concept in your second paragraph was "Festung Europa" - Fortress Europe. The idea wasn't just targeted at German soldiers. It was intended for consumption by civilians across Europe, and it portrayed the Wehrmacht as the defenders of Europe against non-European invaders - the Russians, the British Islanders and the Americans. (notice how the British could be alternately portrayed as race relatives of hostile aliens.)

In some parts, this was not a particularly hard sell. In the Baltic states, which had been invaded by the Soviet Union before Barbarossa, the Germans were widely regarded as saviours. I knew an Estonian Lutheran pastor (ordained in the late 1950s) who had served as a tank driver in the German forces from ~1943-1945. First Germany liberated his country and then they promised to pay for his seminary education if he served in the military for just a little while.

Germany recruited formations up to division size from occupied countries and neutrals to fight against the Communists and Imperialists. E.g Légion Français des Volontaires contre le Bolchéhvisme, and 33 Waffen Grenadier Division der SS "Charlemagne" from France, Cossacks, Tartars, White Russians, Ukrainians and the Caucasian Muslim Legion from the Soviet Union, 5 SS Panzer Division "Wiking" and 11 SS Panzergrenadier Division "Nordland" from Scandinavia, 33 SS Panzergrenadier Division "Nederland", and brigade or division sized formations from Albania, Belgium(2), Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary(3), Italy, and Latvia(2). That's more divisions than the British got from Australia, Canada and New Zealand combined.

In addition, Italy, Hungary and Romania each sent Army-sized formations to fight on the eastern front, and Spain sent a volunteer Corps.

There was also significant civilian support for Fascism/Nazism, or failing that, anti-communism and/or anti-semitism, in much of Europe. It may not have gone to the level of majority support, but in many countries it was a sizable minority that supported Germany against the outsiders. And of course there were the "pragmatists" who were outwardly friendly with whichever power happened to be the occupying force.

Finally, in France, and especially the invasion zone along the north coast of Normandy and Picardy, reaction to the Allied invasion was mixed. After all, the British had been the traditional enemy of the French for a millennium. Almost the moment the French had surrendered to Germany, the British attacked the French Fleet. They had stolen Lebanon and Syria from the French State. The Allies killed more French civilians and destroyed more French property than the Germans had. French women had fallen in love with German soldiers and sailors and many families had befriended young men stationed far from home. There were multiple reports of French civilians aiding the German defenders, and even taking up arms against the invaders. The high incidence of rape and looting by the Allied invaders, especially the American forces, didn't help matters. To many French people the invading allies were hostile strangers. This attitude changed a bit on the Canadian sector of in Normandy, when French civilians heard some of the Canadian soldiers speaking, not only in French, but with an accent and dialect very similar to that of Normandy. The soldiers were members of le Régiment de la Chaudière, a unit that was raised in a predominantly rural part of Québec that had been settled largely by people from Normandy in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In summary, there was no overwhelming consensus in Europe that the Germans were the bad guys.
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Old 07-31-2015, 06:06 AM   #31
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Re: Losing WW II

Certainly in parts of Eastern Europe I think the Germans made one of their biggest blunders of the war with their treatment of populations who would have seen them as liberators. I'm thinking mainly of the ex soviet states. In Western Europe though, despite the fact that some will have been sympathetic to nazism I'm surprised that they would still have taken the view they were defending those countries given that they were only there after waging war and militarily conquering them. I think they may have mistaken certain levels of collaboration with local populations as meaning they were united with them rather than, the more likely case, that they were just trying to make the best of a bad situation I.e they had a victorious foreign army on their soil.

With regards to the comment from the soldier about the hatred on the face of the British paratroopers my surprise is that the soldier held those views as late as 1944. To have them even after the Bef has fought in France, the French fleet has been destroyed, the war in North Africa, the invasion of Italy, the Dieppe raid, the bombing war etc is difficult to understand even though those views were common a few years before.
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Old 07-31-2015, 03:33 PM   #32
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Re: Losing WW II

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Certainly in parts of Eastern Europe I think the Germans made one of their biggest blunders of the war with their treatment of populations who would have seen them as liberators. I'm thinking mainly of the ex soviet states.
Agreed.

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In Western Europe though, despite the fact that some will have been sympathetic to nazism I'm surprised that they would still have taken the view they were defending those countries given that they were only there after waging war and militarily conquering them.
I doubt they saw themselves a defending those countries as individual counties. Rather they may have seen their role as defending Europe as a whole, from the non-Europeans.

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I think they may have mistaken certain levels of collaboration with local populations as meaning they were united with them rather than, the more likely case, that they were just trying to make the best of a bad situation I.e they had a victorious foreign army on their soil.
The German soldiers were undoubtedly subject to confirmation bias relative to the propaganda they were fed, plus most local civilians would avoid going out of their way to provoke the occupiers. Very few German soldiers saw themselves or their state as the bad guys, and they would naturally expect others to agree with them.

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With regards to the comment from the soldier about the hatred on the face of the British paratroopers my surprise is that the soldier held those views as late as 1944. To have them even after the Bef has fought in France, the French fleet has been destroyed, the war in North Africa, the invasion of Italy, the Dieppe raid, the bombing war etc is difficult to understand even though those views were common a few years before.
During 1943 and 1944 (so after all those events you list) Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel wrote a memoir of the war in North Africa. His title for it was "Kriege Ohne Hass" - War without Hate. The professional elements of the German and British regular forces had a strong respect for each other and this would have rubbed off on others under their command. If the anecdote you described involved Americans or SS solders, I would have been surprised. Given that it involved Wehrmacht and British Army troops, it is more understandable.
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Old 07-31-2015, 03:55 PM   #33
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Re: Losing WW II

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During 1943 and 1944 (so after all those events you list) Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel wrote a memoir of the war in North Africa. His title for it was "Kriege Ohne Hass" - War without Hate. The professional elements of the German and British regular forces had a strong respect for each other and this would have rubbed off on others under their command.
Yeah I've read various examples from both sides involved in the North African campaign of the mutual respect they had and how this sometimes lead to fairly unusual situations. One that sticks in the mind is a British fighter flying low over a small German convoy with the pilot clearly seen waving at the troops to get out of the vehicles before going back and strafing them.

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If the anecdote you described involved Americans or SS solders, I would have been surprised. Given that it involved Wehrmacht and British Army troops, it is more understandable.
With regards to this, it just so happens that on the retreat from his bunker he met up with a SS reconnaissance unit and was involved in a small action using panzerfausts against allied tanks. He was pretty shocked and disturbed by the fact one of the SS soldiers used his pistol to shoot the tank crew in the back of the heads as they tried to escape from their disabled tank. Given there are various other examples in the book of machine gunners gunning down tank crews as they tried to escape disabled vehicles I don't know why he was so surprised. I can only surmise the close range made it seem more personal and, to some extent, worse.
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:19 PM   #34
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Re: Losing WW II

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With regards to this, it just so happens that on the retreat from his bunker he met up with a SS reconnaissance unit and was involved in a small action using panzerfausts against allied tanks. He was pretty shocked and disturbed by the fact one of the SS soldiers used his pistol to shoot the tank crew in the back of the heads as they tried to escape from their disabled tank. Given there are various other examples in the book of machine gunners gunning down tank crews as they tried to escape disabled vehicles I don't know why he was so surprised. I can only surmise the close range made it seem more personal and, to some extent, worse.
While that's certainly one possible explanation for the shock he experienced, it is certainly not the only one. Other possibilities include the culture of his unit, and his own personal experiences with war. If he hadn't seen action on the eastern front, he'd be more likely to be surprised by this behaviour. If he had served in Libya/Egypt, but not Italy, he'd be even more likely to be surprised.
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Old 11-10-2015, 07:19 PM   #35
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Re: Losing WW II

interesting thread! guess ill bump it...

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Certainly in parts of Eastern Europe I think the Germans made one of their biggest blunders of the war with their treatment of populations who would have seen them as liberators. I'm thinking mainly of the ex soviet states.
A great point; in some ways i think this idea could be taken a step further. At least part of the fanatical resistance the Germans encountered in Stalingrad, etc is simply due to the fact that the Soviet soldiers were stuck between Stalin's Order 270 and the German reputation for brutality WRT Russian POWs that preceded them. If Stalingrad (and maybe even Leningrad) fall relatively quickly, the Germans then have a window to roll up the massed forces around Moscow before the new Soviet tanks/planes/guns come into play; not to mention they aren't pinned down with a huge exposed flank. Do the Brits and Americans still attempt a cross channel invasion with the Soviets out of play for a solid year or more? We'll never know, but i'd put my money on 'no'.
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Old 11-13-2015, 03:28 PM   #36
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Re: Losing WW II

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interesting thread! guess ill bump it...



A great point; in some ways i think this idea could be taken a step further. At least part of the fanatical resistance the Germans encountered in Stalingrad, etc is simply due to the fact that the Soviet soldiers were stuck between Stalin's Order 270 and the German reputation for brutality WRT Russian POWs that preceded them. If Stalingrad (and maybe even Leningrad) fall relatively quickly, the Germans then have a window to roll up the massed forces around Moscow before the new Soviet tanks/planes/guns come into play; not to mention they aren't pinned down with a huge exposed flank. Do the Brits and Americans still attempt a cross channel invasion with the Soviets out of play for a solid year or more? We'll never know, but i'd put my money on 'no'.
In the view of Albert Speer, and more recently the German official historian Horst ter Boog, the German failure on the Eastern Front was due to the RAF bombing of Germany. Russians, with their long land borders, have a rather paranoid worldview, and they also have memories of Bonaparte, and they would always resist an invader. That wasn't what did it, though.

The Germans had a numerical advantage in the East for some time, but then they got drawn into an air-defence battle at home which they could never win. Because the RAF could strike anywhere at any time, the Germans had to defend the entire country in strength and depth. Which took more resources than they could afford.

By the time of Kursk in July '43, the Germans had more manpower, weaponry and materiel locked up in air defence against the RAF than they had on the Eastern Front. Just 5,000 British, Commonwealth and Allied flyers were holding down more German warmaking power than the 5-million-man Red Army. And that was before the USAAF began to operate effectively, so the position could only get worse.

Last edited by 57 On Red; 11-13-2015 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 11-14-2015, 12:28 AM   #37
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Re: Losing WW II

hmm im definately going to have to look up Albert Speers works, sounds very interesting.

i guess my point is that the eastern front was ultimately decided by the holdout at Stalingrad and Stalingrad was a very very close thing. A victory at Stalingrad leaves open the possibility of a German victory, it doesnt ensure a victory.
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Old 11-14-2015, 07:05 AM   #38
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Re: Losing WW II

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In the view of Albert Speer, and more recently the German official historian Horst ter Boog, the German failure on the Eastern Front was due to the RAF bombing of Germany. Russians, with their long land borders, have a rather paranoid worldview, and they also have memories of Bonaparte, and they would always resist an invader. That wasn't what did it, though.

The Germans had a numerical advantage in the East for some time, but then they got drawn into an air-defence battle at home which they could never win. Because the RAF could strike anywhere at any time, the Germans had to defend the entire country in strength and depth. Which took more resources than they could afford.

By the time of Kursk in July '43, the Germans had more manpower, weaponry and materiel locked up in air defence against the RAF than they had on the Eastern Front. Just 5,000 British, Commonwealth and Allied flyers were holding down more German warmaking power than the 5-million-man Red Army. And that was before the USAAF began to operate effectively, so the position could only get worse.
I'd say it's over-stating it to say that the RAF bombing was responsible for the German failure on the Eastern front. It certainly tied up a fair bit of German resources and from memory I think Speer said in his book that around 50% of the famous 88's were being used in home defence against the bombing campaign.
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Old 12-13-2016, 11:40 AM   #39
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Re: Losing WW II

How about biological weapons?

At the time the horrors of WWI were still fresh, so nobody really wanted to go this route. But what if they had? I think that just the threat of biological weapons could have persuaded Britain to form a truce with Germany. Meanwhile on the Eastern front they could have used them to take down any place that they couldn't conquer.

This would obviously lead to an arms race, creating a Mutually Assured Destruction scenario years before it happened in reality. Once that's in place, I could see peace and eventually normalization of relations, with the Nazis holding most of Europe.
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Old 12-17-2016, 08:53 PM   #40
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Re: Losing WW II

It is my impression that not using gas was mostly pragmatic. It had unpredictable results in battle and faced effective counter measures (masks). Using it against civilians invited certain retaliation.
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Old 12-17-2016, 08:56 PM   #41
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Re: Losing WW II

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How about biological weapons?

At the time the horrors of WWI were still fresh, so nobody really wanted to go this route. But what if they had? I think that just the threat of biological weapons could have persuaded Britain to form a truce with Germany. Meanwhile on the Eastern front they could have used them to take down any place that they couldn't conquer.

This would obviously lead to an arms race, creating a Mutually Assured Destruction scenario years before it happened in reality. Once that's in place, I could see peace and eventually normalization of relations, with the Nazis holding most of Europe.
How would they have delivered the biological weapons to Britain? And remember gas masks had been distributed to the population.
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Old 12-23-2016, 01:36 PM   #42
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Re: Losing WW II

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Originally Posted by darksideofthewal View Post
How about biological weapons?

At the time the horrors of WWI were still fresh, so nobody really wanted to go this route. But what if they had? I think that just the threat of biological weapons could have persuaded Britain to form a truce with Germany. Meanwhile on the Eastern front they could have used them to take down any place that they couldn't conquer.

This would obviously lead to an arms race, creating a Mutually Assured Destruction scenario years before it happened in reality. Once that's in place, I could see peace and eventually normalization of relations, with the Nazis holding most of Europe.
They didn't use gas because that MAD scenario already existed in the case of gas.

I'm not sure what other biological weapons you think existed or could be quickly developed and weaponized.
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Old 01-01-2017, 09:29 AM   #43
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Re: Losing WW II

This is, obviously, always a fascinating what if.

I like to look to what the leaders thought about it at the time for a view on the what if. So if we take WSC, who loved to show what a close run thing it was BTW, here's how it plays out. And surprisingly, IMO, its not nearly as complex as its often made out.

Hitler had to have a definitive defeat of England strategy for 1941.

1. No miracle at Dunkirk.
2. Take Malta.
3. Take Alexandria / Cario.

According to Churchill, the gigs up. He's out & you have a negotiated settlement. You can even leave in Dunkirk & if England lost control of the Med, the gigs up.

Germany defeats Britain by the path of least resistance.

There is no Battle of Britain as we know it. The plan is to hold the RAF & RN in place by threat of invasion.

But if you want to continue the what ifs, full on Battle of Britain as we know it except the target remains the destruction of RAF. Again, what did the combatants at the time believe?

4. RAF on its knees.

Germany has no drain on resources in the west.
There is no war in Atlantic.
The Luftwaffe is fresh & frosty in 42 (wo #4). No deployment needed against Bomber Command because there is none. No loss of industry infrastructure & output. The Persian oil is there's. The Med is a German/Italian lake.

Barbarossa rolls in 42. There is no hope of supply through Arctic or Middle East. Moscow falls. Stalin is assassinated & pro German puppets take over.

Paint a scenario where the US adopts a Germany first strategy?






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Old 01-01-2017, 10:58 PM   #44
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Re: Losing WW II

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Originally Posted by jgrooms View Post
This is, obviously, always a fascinating what if.

I like to look to what the leaders thought about it at the time for a view on the what if. So if we take WSC, who loved to show what a close run thing it was BTW, here's how it plays out. And surprisingly, IMO, its not nearly as complex as its often made out.

Hitler had to have a definitive defeat of England strategy for 1941.

1. No miracle at Dunkirk.
2. Take Malta.
3. Take Alexandria / Cario.

According to Churchill, the gigs up. He's out & you have a negotiated settlement. You can even leave in Dunkirk & if England lost control of the Med, the gigs up.

Germany defeats Britain by the path of least resistance.

There is no Battle of Britain as we know it. The plan is to hold the RAF & RN in place by threat of invasion.

But if you want to continue the what ifs, full on Battle of Britain as we know it except the target remains the destruction of RAF. Again, what did the combatants at the time believe?

4. RAF on its knees.

Germany has no drain on resources in the west.
There is no war in Atlantic.
The Luftwaffe is fresh & frosty in 42 (wo #4). No deployment needed against Bomber Command because there is none. No loss of industry infrastructure & output. The Persian oil is there's. The Med is a German/Italian lake.

Barbarossa rolls in 42. There is no hope of supply through Arctic or Middle East. Moscow falls. Stalin is assassinated & pro German puppets take over.

Paint a scenario where the US adopts a Germany first strategy?

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I was nearly finished a long and detailed reply to this post when my browser hiccuped, and I lost the text. Rather than attempting to retype it all, I'll give you the short version and a couple of links.

There is no plausible plan by which Germany knocks Britain out of the war. Knocking them out of the Med is a faint possibility, but that isn't enough to make them surrender. Doing so, means giving up on Germany's prime war aim of taking out Russia, and choosing to fight a defensive war against the Soviets instead.
  1. is quite plausible
  2. is quite difficult, and politically unlikely in a timeframe that would fit with a 1942 Barbarossa.
  3. is politically and logistically near-impossible and doesn't cause Britain to surrender. What WSC told Roosevelt in an 1941 letter was that if Egypt fell, the war would be difficult, even with American help. That's not the same as saying it would cause Britain to surrender or Churchill to quit. Churchill also later wrote that the only thing that really scared him during the war was the u-boat menace.
  4. is a common fallacy.

As it happens, I have already dealt with 3 and 4 in the Hitlers' Mistakes thread in this forum. 4 is handled in a single post. 3 is handled in a series of about a dozen posts beginning with this one in a conversation with Oski about whether Hitler could have won by attacking Russia through the Caucasus.

Barbarossa in 1941 doesn't fail because of the number of forces left behind defending against Britain. It fails because Germany lacks the means to get sufficient forces far enough east fast enough. Barbarossa in 1942 is likely to be less successful than in 1941 because of Russia out-building and out-mobilizing the Germans, and beginning to set up a defence in depth that wasn't sufficiently advanced in 1941. There is also the unacceptable risk that the Russians would attack before spring of 1942.

Germany has no way to get Persian oil to where it needs it, but they wouldn't have got their hands on it anyway. At the time Iraqi oil was more significant, and the same problems apply to it.
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Old 01-02-2017, 07:32 AM   #45
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Re: Losing WW II

While we're discussing 'what if's...' I've been wondering lately about how things would've panned out if the initial defence of France had been better co-ordinated. The French had plans that showed Germany intended to attack through the Ardennes, but believed they were a hoax. If they instead knew these plans were genuine and Gamelin and had put the bulk of the French armour in this area (and not widely dispersed), along with the BEF etc how they would've faired. I'm also assuming France makes full use of their air force in this scenario, something they failed to do in reality.

Do we see a much longer drawn out campaign in France and do the Germans still emerge victorious? Does the failure to win a swift victory leave Hitler in a more precarious position at home leading to a possible coup?
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Old 01-02-2017, 01:24 PM   #46
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Re: Losing WW II

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Originally Posted by DoTheMath View Post
I was nearly finished a long and detailed reply to this post when my browser hiccuped, and I lost the text. Rather than attempting to retype it all, I'll give you the short version and a couple of links.



There is no plausible plan by which Germany knocks Britain out of the war. Knocking them out of the Med is a faint possibility, but that isn't enough to make them surrender. Doing so, means giving up on Germany's prime war aim of taking out Russia, and choosing to fight a defensive war against the Soviets instead.


  1. is quite plausible
  2. is quite difficult, and politically unlikely in a timeframe that would fit with a 1942 Barbarossa.
  3. is politically and logistically near-impossible and doesn't cause Britain to surrender. What WSC told Roosevelt in an 1941 letter was that if Egypt fell, the war would be difficult, even with American help. That's not the same as saying it would cause Britain to surrender or Churchill to quit. Churchill also later wrote that the only thing that really scared him during the war was the u-boat menace.
  4. is a common fallacy.



As it happens, I have already dealt with 3 and 4 in the Hitlers' Mistakes thread in this forum. 4 is handled in a single post. 3 is handled in a series of about a dozen posts beginning with this one in a conversation with Oski about whether Hitler could have won by attacking Russia through the Caucasus.



Barbarossa in 1941 doesn't fail because of the number of forces left behind defending against Britain. It fails because Germany lacks the means to get sufficient forces far enough east fast enough. Barbarossa in 1942 is likely to be less successful than in 1941 because of Russia out-building and out-mobilizing the Germans, and beginning to set up a defence in depth that wasn't sufficiently advanced in 1941. There is also the unacceptable risk that the Russians would attack before spring of 1942.



Germany has no way to get Persian oil to where it needs it, but they wouldn't have got their hands on it anyway. At the time Iraqi oil was more significant, and the same problems apply to it.


Churchill would not have quit, he would have been replaced. If Alexandria fell, he's out. As PM, he'd seen nothing but one defeat after another.

"If the Suez falls, Britain looses the war." WSC.

Just because Hitler didn't have a plan, doesn't mean it couldn't be done. So there is a "plausible plan". Well at least WSC thought so.

My OP, lets look at what the 'players' said at the time.

Dealing with Britain in 41 does not mean giving up on Soviets. OKW planning already had later scenarios, so obviously it wasn't a 41 or we never do it. Jeez.

And to take a what if discussion & add the ludicrous idea that Stalin would invade Germany in 42...well there is absolutely no historical evidence for this. No plausible plan applies here. To do so would have been to invite disaster. Double Jeez. Yep, Stalin is going to take his rag tag band & launch an invasion. Boy the Germans would have welcomed the opportunity to destroy them in the open.

And the Soviet 'preparation' from 41 to 42 would have been insignificant. Based on 40 to 41. They were not preparing in 41 any defense less they invite war. They actually pulled back from the border to avoid provocation. What changes that stance in 42? Something plausible? The Soviet supply trains were shipping raw materials into Germany on the day of the invasion. Stalin ignored all evidence that the Germans were coming. If 41 was Britain, when does Stalin wake up & start this wonder prep? He doesn't.

Details.

How did Britain get Iraqi oil? Same way the Germans would get it- ship it. The Italians supplied North Africa, its goes the other way once Cairo falls. Logistics 101.

Faint possibility? Rommel sits at El Alamein as part of a side show of a side show. Properly supplied as part of a higher strategic import, gigs up. In fact all he needed was one more Panzer reg & the fuel to move it. The fall of Cairo makes Dunkirk pale in comparison. And there is no little fleet to save them there.

Malta. Accept the loss and result they did in Crete. Proof positive it could be accomplished.

Churchill's done. Who becomes PM? They were not advocates for dying on the beaches choking in their own blood.

Onto the East:

To discount the application of more force avail in the East in 42, is to ignore a basic maxim of battle. A battle which occurred on an unprecedented scale. You say it was about outpacing the ability to put force into place. Hum I wonder if a more robust air campaign would have changed the force application? In an effort to surround & destroy Soviet forces before they could fall back & regroup, most likely. Lets suggest Malta goes better than Crete & Hitler doesn't get all gun shy. Student gets to use his Corps as he pioneered, to drop behind lines & cut off supply & retreat of those Soviet forces in disarray?

To say it couldn't have succeeded is to ignore how close it was.


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Old 01-02-2017, 01:34 PM   #47
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Re: Losing WW II

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Churchill would not have quit, he would have been replaced. If Alexandria fell, he's out. As PM, he'd seen nothing but one defeat after another.
Churchill wouldn't have been replaced. Despite the other defeats up till that point he still enjoyed a lot of support including many in the Commons who were previously very opposed to him becoming PM.
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Old 01-02-2017, 01:54 PM   #48
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Losing WW II

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Churchill wouldn't have been replaced. Despite the other defeats up till that point he still enjoyed a lot of support including many in the Commons who were previously very opposed to him becoming PM.


Maybe, maybe not. With a disaster in the Med, he thought he was done.

MP Wardlaw-Milne's motion: "That this house...has no confidence in the central direction of the war."

He won the vote, overwhelming so. However, Churchill knew it was "more a warning than a victory."

Churchill understood there could be no more defeats: "one more success, & Mussolini and Rommel would enter Cairo...together. All hung in the balance, and...who would predict how the scales would turn?"

Pg 542 on from The Last Lion.

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Old 01-02-2017, 09:41 PM   #49
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Re: Losing WW II

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While we're discussing 'what if's...' I've been wondering lately about how things would've panned out if the initial defence of France had been better co-ordinated. The French had plans that showed Germany intended to attack through the Ardennes, but believed they were a hoax. If they instead knew these plans were genuine and Gamelin and had put the bulk of the French armour in this area (and not widely dispersed), along with the BEF etc how they would've faired. I'm also assuming France makes full use of their air force in this scenario, something they failed to do in reality.

Do we see a much longer drawn out campaign in France and do the Germans still emerge victorious? Does the failure to win a swift victory leave Hitler in a more precarious position at home leading to a possible coup?
I doubt we see the BEF moved from its position on the left of the French. They would want to be near their supply chain to the coast, and putting two international joints in the front line weakens it further.

Concentrating the French armour opposite the Ardennes would require not only a change in strategy but a change in doctrine and organization. Doctrinal and organizational change could not happen that fast.

Like most armies of the time, the French army was divided between the infantry, the cavalry and artillery. Unlike the British and Germans, they had no separate tank branch. Infantry and Cavalry was organized into divisions or independent brigades and battalions. Artillery was always a supporting arm. At the start of the German attack on France in May 1940, the French had three types of division equipped with tanks. Two were types of Cavalry division and one was infantry. The cavalry divisions were the five Light Cavalry Divisions (DLC) which had only 13 light tanks and 13 armoured cars each but well over 1,000 horses, and the Light Mechanized Divisions (DLM), which had 48 medium tanks, 47 light tanks, 69 light machine-gun tanks and 48 armoured cars. Neither of these cavalry divisions were primarily intended for use against enemy tank formations, however the medium tanks in the DLM were intended to engage enemy tanks if encountered while the DLM was manoeuvring. The light tanks were not well-suited to engaging enemy tanks. Most were intended as mobile guns to support the infantry, and as a result moved not much faster than people running. The three DLMs were the closest thing the French had to the German Panzer and British Armoured divisions.

The infantry division type with tanks was the Reserve Armoured Division (DCR). These had 68 heavy tanks and 90 light tanks. This division lacked a lot of the organic specialized troops that make a division an independent force. The role of the DCR was more like that of a British Army Tank Brigade. It was designed to support infantry divisions during an assault on an enemy position. It was intended to go up against fortifications, not tanks, though the heavy tanks could also engage enemy armour. The French had three of these divisions on May 10. The French also had a large number of light tanks organized in independent battalions kept under the control of army or corps headquarters, These would be assigned to support infantry divisions on an as-needed basis primarily on the offensive.

The role of taking on enemy tanks belonged to the artillery units of infantry divisions. So if the French were going to concentrate a defence against an expected thrust out of the Ardennes, they would have done so by putting more class A infantry divisions in the area. The best use of the French air force in such a defence would have been to try to gain local air superiority over the attack point, in order to inderdict the German tactical air forces, primarily their Stuka dive bombers, which served as highly mobile artillery for advancing ground forces.

As a result of such an effort, I expect we see a bit of a delay to the inevitable. The Germans did meet well-organized resistance at a number of points in the campaign, and overcame it with their superior use of combined arms, communications and mobility. The actual rate of advance stunned the German high command, they had expected things to take considerably longer than they actually did. They were alarmed by the speed of their own spearheads and actually issued stop orders more than once. The delay caused by better French defence would have just put the Germans back to their expected timetable. Thus it would not have threatened Hitler's position.
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:38 AM   #50
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Re: Losing WW II

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Churchill would not have quit, he would have been replaced. If Alexandria fell, he's out. As PM, he'd seen nothing but one defeat after another.
That's quite inaccurate. At the time to which you are referring, he'd seen victories in the the Battle of the River Platte, Battle of Britain, Operation Compass, the Battle of Cape Matapan, destruction of the Bismark, Operation Crusader, and the Battle of Taranto.

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"If the Suez falls, Britain looses the war." WSC.
I'm not familiar with that quote. When and to whom was it said? In any event, he made contradictory statements about the outcome of such an event. You can't just pick the one and assume it would be correct. Any strategic analysis shows that such a statement is nonsense without a whole lot of context. Since the loss of Suez would probably require a whole bunch of unlikely things to have happened first, it may be a correct analysis, when these other events are also assumed. But the loss of Suez alone would not cause Britain to lose the War.

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Just because Hitler didn't have a plan, doesn't mean it couldn't be done. So there is a "plausible plan". Well at least WSC thought so.
Churchill made a number of errors in attempting to understand the strategic situation in North Africa, which led him, unwisely, to remove Auchinleck. The closest Britain came to losing Alexandria was not the result of a German plan at the national level. And if there had been such a plan, it is less likely to have succeeded, because the existence of the plan would have tipped the British off.

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My OP, lets look at what the 'players' said at the time.
That's always part of doing good history But it means looking at all of what they said about the matter, not cherry picking. It also means not taking one person's analysis as necessarily correct.

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Dealing with Britain in 41 does not mean giving up on Soviets. OKW planning already had later scenarios, so obviously it wasn't a 41 or we never do it. Jeez.
Sure there were differences of opinion about when or if to go. What do you think decided them to go in 1941?

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And to take a what if discussion & add the ludicrous idea that Stalin would invade Germany in 42...well there is absolutely no historical evidence for this. No plausible plan applies here. To do so would have been to invite disaster. Double Jeez. Yep, Stalin is going to take his rag tag band & launch an invasion. Boy the Germans would have welcomed the opportunity to destroy them in the open.
If is rather naive to assume that Stalin was going to be satisfied with the Baltic States and slices off Finland and Poland. The evidence for Soviet aggressive intentions is there in their force composition, doctrine, espionage efforts, and actions during the period 1935-40...

When the Red Army actually did attack the Germans in 1941, after having lost 4M+ casualties from June to November, the Germans didn't quite manage to destroy them in the open. In fact the Soviets recaptured more area then the area of Poland they annexed in 1939. What do you think would be the result if the December start line had been the Polish Demarcation line and the Red Army had been 4M stronger and the Whermacht 1M stronger?

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And the Soviet 'preparation' from 41 to 42 would have been insignificant. Based on 40 to 41. They were not preparing in 41 any defense less they invite war.
That's ridiculous. They made significant preparations in 40-41, and by spring they had organized two whole new reserve military regions well back from the front. Look at weapons production and induction figures. They were ramping up, and doing so faster than the Germans.

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They actually pulled back from the border to avoid provocation.
That was a very short-term response in late May to signs that the Germans were about to invade coupled with the realization that the Russians weren't yet ready.

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What changes that stance in 42? Something plausible? The Soviet supply trains were shipping raw materials into Germany on the day of the invasion.
IDK if the Soviets would think they were ready for the inevitable showdown in 1942. What Stalin's actual intentions were matters little to this debate. What matters is what the German leadership feared Russia might do.

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Stalin ignored all evidence that the Germans were coming.
This directly contradicts your contention that the Russians pulled back from the border to avoid a provocation.

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If 41 was Britain, when does Stalin wake up & start this wonder prep? He doesn't.
He'd already started. Ramp-up from 1939 to 1941 was a net increase of about 180 divisions, 3.3M personnel, 60,000 guns and 11,000 aircraft. All of these figures constitute a more than doubling of 1939 strength, and are net of losses in the Winter War with Finland.

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Details.

How did Britain get Iraqi oil? Same way the Germans would get it- ship it. The Italians supplied North Africa, its goes the other way once Cairo falls. Logistics 101.
Laughable

For one thing, Britain didn't ship oil from Iraq to Great Britain during the war. They shipped it to India. Iraqi oil production actually dropped during the war. Secondly, Germany and Italy didn't have the tankers to ship the oil. Britain did. Thirdly, even with a loss of Suez, Britain would still control the sea lanes in and leading to the Persian Gulf and Germany had no means of projecting naval surface power in the area. No German tanker would be safe. You can't effectively escort tankers with submarines.

Any way, you have kind of glossed over how Germany goes from reaching the Suez Canal to taking Iraqi oilfields. They are not exactly adjacent.

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Faint possibility? Rommel sits at El Alamein as part of a side show of a side show. Properly supplied as part of a higher strategic import, gigs up. In fact all he needed was one more Panzer reg & the fuel to move it. The fall of Cairo makes Dunkirk pale in comparison. And there is no little fleet to save them there.
You didn't read my conversation with Oski, did you?

In November 1940, when General der Panzertruppen Wilhem Ritter von Thoma made his assessment of what it would take for the Axis to conquer Egypt, the Goldilocks number was 4 Panzer divisions, with the provision that Italian troops be sent back to Libya. Any more than 4 PzDivs could not be supplied given the limits of the Italian merchant fleet lift capacity and the limits of the land supply route. Fewer than 4 PzDivs would be insufficient to defeat the British forces then present: one Armoured and one infantry division in the line, and two infantry divisions in reserve. All this was predicated on the start line being at Sidi Barani in Egypt, and that the extant fuel dumps and truck fleet would be available. By February, 1941, the Italians were a third of the way back through Libya, and their trucks and fuel dumps had been captured or destroyed. The British never again faced a supplied enemy in Egypt with as weak a British force as they had in November 1940. Von Thoma's assessment was made without taking into account the loss of half of Italy's capital ships at the battle of Taranto or the subsequent losses of Italian merchant shipping.

So according to von Thoma, who knew more about this sort of thing than you or I do, after O'Connor's Offensive, the capture of Egypt couldn't be done. Rommel tried. He ran into exactly the limits von Thoma predicted and that war colleges the world over have modelled ever since.

Furthermore, note the bit about withdrawing the Italian troops. Libya was an Italian colony, German troops in North Africa were dependent on Italian ships and planes Why were the Italians going to hand over their claims in Egypt to the Germans? The cooperation between the Axis was never that good. Mussolini didn't tell HiIler in advance about his invasion of Greece. In fact, this invasion was an effort to counter growing German influence in the Balkans. If Italy is cooperating with Germany, they don't attack Greece. If Italy doesn't attack Greece, then Churchill doesn't withdraw most of O'Connor's forces from Libya in February 1941 and send them to help the Greeks. Blocking Force Africa probably never gets the chance to set up, let alone become DAK and Panzerarmee Afrika.

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Malta. Accept the loss and result they did in Crete. Proof positive it could be accomplished.
Malta was a tougher nut than Crete. The British forces had just arrived in Crete. In Malta they were entrenched in prepared positions they'd had for years. Having experienced Crete, the Germans didn't think they could manage Malta. However, if Italy doesn't invade Greece, then Crete never happens and Germany is not scared off. I think that if Germany threw a major air effort at Malta, they could gain air superiority and subsequently take it. However, taking Malta doesn't totally solve the supply problem in Egypt. There are still Royal Navy bases in Gibraltar, Alex, and Haifa. Even if the Axis had control of the sea in the Med, they couldn't supply more than 4 Panzer Divisions in Egypt because of the limits of port capacity, road capacity and distance.

Logisitics dictate that the best the Axis can hope for long term in North Africa is to hold indefinitely at El Agheila. By moving forward to El Alamein, Rommel just assured the earlier destruction of his forces.

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Churchill's done. Who becomes PM? They were not advocates for dying on the beaches choking in their own blood.
In the unlikely event that the British lose Egypt up to the canal, Churchill may well be done. Whoever replaces him is who Parliament thinks will do a better job conducting the war, not somebody who will stop conducting it. So even with the loss of Alexandria, and Cairo, Britain isn't out of the war.

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Onto the East:

To discount the application of more force avail in the East in 42, is to ignore a basic maxim of battle.
You haven't shown how avoiding the Battle of Britain and capturing Egypt up to the Canal lets the Germans apply more force in the East. You originally suggest that the loss of Alex and Cairo takes Britain out of the war. It doesn't. You have now modified the effect to it taking WSC out of the war. It might, but it doesn't stop British involvement. Therefore the same ground forces are still tied down in France. Furthermore you haven't shown a timeline that involves the capture of Malta and the subsequent capture of Egypt in time to refit and ship the Panzers from Africa to the Eastern front before a May 1942 Barbarossa. So even with a German conquest of Malta and the unlikely capture of Egypt west of the Canal, you are looking at a 1943 Barbarossa. Might I remind you that Operation Torch was in November 1942? None of it was based on Egypt. In fact, the Italian front line being at the Canal makes Torch more likely to succeed, as there will be no buildup of Axis forces in Tunisia. Finally you strangely seem to think that if Germany makes no air offensive against the British Isles, for some reason the RAF will reciprocate. In sum, you haven't shown how your plan results in more force being applied to the eastern front, once it kicks off. However, what we know from Soviet build up rates is that the Soviets will have added even more men and equipment in 1942 or 1943 than the Germans will have added. The longer the Germans wait, the more the force balance goes against them.

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A battle which occurred on an unprecedented scale. You say it was about outpacing the ability to put force into place. Hum I wonder if a more robust air campaign would have changed the force application?
It wasn't a shortage of air power that halted Barbarossa. It was a lack of boots on the ground. Stukas and Heinkels aren't going to solve that.

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In an effort to surround & destroy Soviet forces before they could fall back & regroup, most likely. Lets suggest Malta goes better than Crete & Hitler doesn't get all gun shy. Student gets to use his Corps as he pioneered, to drop behind lines & cut off supply & retreat of those Soviet forces in disarray?
Very few of the front line Soviet troops got away. Total casualties through November approached twice the original front line strength. What you'd have to cut off would be the new units being formed, not the old ones running away. There's no operational way to do that.

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To say it couldn't have succeeded is to ignore how close it was.
To say that it could is to ignore why it didn't.
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