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Old 03-24-2016, 11:48 PM   #1
Louis Cyphre
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Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

After the liberation of France the Allies were confident that it was only a matter of time until Germany was defeated. The US transferred troops to the Pacific theatre to support the war effort there.

The German army put up more resistance than expected and progress stalled. This resulted in Stalin being in a position of strength during the Yalta conference and being able to dictate terms.

Was the better option to keep the troops in Europe until Germany surrenders?

What would postwar Europe have looked like if the Allies take Berlin before The Red Army sets foot on German soil?
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Old 03-25-2016, 04:43 AM   #2
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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Originally Posted by Louis Cyphre View Post
After the liberation of France the Allies were confident that it was only a matter of time until Germany was defeated. The US transferred troops to the Pacific theatre to support the war effort there.

The German army put up more resistance than expected and progress stalled. This resulted in Stalin being in a position of strength during the Yalta conference and being able to dictate terms.

Was the better option to keep the troops in Europe until Germany surrenders?

What would postwar Europe have looked like if the Allies take Berlin before The Red Army sets foot on German soil?
Hi Louis:

I think there's another side to this argument which is almost never mentioned. If the war in Europe is ended sooner Stalin would have sent his armies into China sooner and then possibly on to Japan.

At the end of WWII the USSR did withdraw from China perhaps because they feared our nuclear weapons or just didn't have a strong enough foothold to stay. But if they would have moved into Japan partly because US forces were slower getting the reduction in Europe that you mention, a lot of other things might have been different relative to the war in the Pacific.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 03-25-2016, 07:22 PM   #3
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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Originally Posted by Louis Cyphre View Post
After the liberation of France the Allies were confident that it was only a matter of time until Germany was defeated. The US transferred troops to the Pacific theatre to support the war effort there.

The German army put up more resistance than expected and progress stalled. This resulted in Stalin being in a position of strength during the Yalta conference and being able to dictate terms.

Was the better option to keep the troops in Europe until Germany surrenders?

What would postwar Europe have looked like if the Allies take Berlin before The Red Army sets foot on German soil?
I'm not sure it would've made a big difference and there would still have been the problem of taking Berlin. I think the bigger mistake was making it known that the allies would only accept unconditional surrender, therefore increasing the resistance they faced right up till the end.

With regards to the final question, it would just have looked the same except some or all of East Germany would've been in allied hands. That may sound a bit facetious but I don't see it making any other difference.
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Old 03-25-2016, 11:32 PM   #4
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

I don't think demanding unconditional surrender was a mistake. That was to make sure there wasn't a revision of history in Germany like after WWI.

The mistake was in pulling out US troops after the German surrender and letting the Soviets set up the iron curtain.
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Old 03-26-2016, 05:51 AM   #5
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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I don't think demanding unconditional surrender was a mistake. That was to make sure there wasn't a revision of history in Germany like after WWI.

The mistake was in pulling out US troops after the German surrender and letting the Soviets set up the iron curtain.
They would've got unconditional surrender anyway. The mistake was stating it publicly. This was a godsend for Goebbels who was able to use it for propganda purposes and there's no doubt it increased the bitterness of the defence and the fanatacism of those involved.
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Old 03-26-2016, 10:52 PM   #6
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

As I understand it, unconditional surrender was to make sure no one made a separate peace with Germany. The commitment had to be public to stick.

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The mistake was in pulling out US troops after the German surrender and letting the Soviets set up the iron curtain.
Nothing would persuade the USSR to give up its hard-fought buffer zone.
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Old 03-26-2016, 11:28 PM   #7
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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Hi Louis:

I think there's another side to this argument which is almost never mentioned. If the war in Europe is ended sooner Stalin would have sent his armies into China sooner and then possibly on to Japan.

At the end of WWII the USSR did withdraw from China perhaps because they feared our nuclear weapons or just didn't have a strong enough foothold to stay. But if they would have moved into Japan partly because US forces were slower getting the reduction in Europe that you mention, a lot of other things might have been different relative to the war in the Pacific.

Best wishes,
Mason
During the Yalta conference Stalin had to be convinced to even attack Japan and FDR made several concessions to get the USSR to enter the war 3 months after the victory in Europe. That leaves me wondering how interested Stalin was in joining the war in the Pacific theater.
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Old 03-26-2016, 11:47 PM   #8
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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Originally Posted by campfirewest View Post
The mistake was in pulling out US troops after the German surrender and letting the Soviets set up the iron curtain.
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Originally Posted by Bill Haywood View Post
Nothing would persuade the USSR to give up its hard-fought buffer zone.
The division of German into four occupation zones had also been agreed
upon at the Yalta conference. After the war there wasn't much the Allies could do about that.
This is somewhat the point of my OP.



If I interpret this map correctly the Allies liberated France, Belgium and Italy by the end of 1944 and are ready to invade Germany. Even if the ultimate goal is to take Berlin the Allies are 200km closer than the Soviets. That is with already reduced troops.
If the Allies could have nipped the Ardennes offensive in the bud they might not get stalled for 6 weeks and can reach Berlin well before the Red Army.
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Old 03-26-2016, 11:51 PM   #9
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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With regards to the final question, it would just have looked the same except some or all of East Germany would've been in allied hands. That may sound a bit facetious but I don't see it making any other difference.
All other things being equal it's obviously preferable to have Eastern Germany as part of the Western alliance instead of the Eastern Bloc. If the war in Europe ends sooner Poland and Hungary might not end up under Soviet control and have a chance to become democracies or at least neutral states.
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Old 03-27-2016, 11:24 AM   #10
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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As I understand it, unconditional surrender was to make sure no one made a separate peace with Germany. The commitment had to be public to stick.
I disagree that it had to be public to stick.
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Old 03-27-2016, 11:56 AM   #11
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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I disagree that it had to be public to stick.
Maybe, but I believe that was the calculation of the principals who made the decision.
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Old 03-27-2016, 01:12 PM   #12
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

Goebbels would have engineered and ratcheted up the propaganda despite what was or was not made public by the Allies. Masters can do that with ease. And keeping unconditional surrender under wraps was probably impossible anyway. Flimsy secrets like that are one of the first casualties of war.

The soviets were not equipped for the Pacific war effort with the need for massive fleets of ships (including a mind boggling supply chain) and island hopping engagements with fanatical Japanese, in the end they stole some islands from Japan as a sort of vengeance for the 1905 war with Japan, where they were embarrassed but got off easy in the end. The Soviets had their Baltic and Black sea fleets and Northern fleet engaged with the German peril. The Pacific Fleet did minimal work until the very end. Stalin wanted eastern Europe and that was were his concentration and aim was and to punish Germany, he was much less interested in Asia. One continent at a time.

Last edited by Zeno; 03-29-2016 at 04:40 PM. Reason: Typos
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Old 03-29-2016, 04:17 AM   #13
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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Originally Posted by Louis Cyphre View Post
During the Yalta conference Stalin had to be convinced to even attack Japan and FDR made several concessions to get the USSR to enter the war 3 months after the victory in Europe. That leaves me wondering how interested Stalin was in joining the war in the Pacific theater.
Hi Louis:

While this is true, when the USSR did move into China, the Japanese defenses went down quickly and if the war hadn't ended when it did they easily could have invaded the Japanese homeland.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 03-29-2016, 04:26 AM   #14
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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Originally Posted by Louis Cyphre View Post
The division of German into four occupation zones had also been agreed
upon at the Yalta conference. After the war there wasn't much the Allies could do about that.
This is somewhat the point of my OP.



If I interpret this map correctly the Allies liberated France, Belgium and Italy by the end of 1944 and are ready to invade Germany.
Hi Louis:

I'm going by memory so perhaps I have this wrong but it's my understanding that the Germans along with Mussolini held Northern Italy well into 1945.

Quote:
Even if the ultimate goal is to take Berlin the Allies are 200km closer than the Soviets. That is with already reduced troops.
If the Allies could have nipped the Ardennes offensive in the bud they might not get stalled for 6 weeks and can reach Berlin well before the Red Army.
This certainly makes sense.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 03-29-2016, 09:32 AM   #15
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

The US was very impatient for the the USSR to attack Japan because the island hopping campaign was so bloody. The original understanding (but I don't think it was a hard agreement) was that the USSR would share in the occupation of Japan and receive several islands. After the Bomb succeeded in July 1945, Truman changed course and began trying to end the war before the USSR could enter. Joint occupation of Japan was canceled. And by the way, we now want to help demobilize Japanese troops in Korea. Stalin agreed and we've been there since.
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:02 AM   #16
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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Originally Posted by Louis Cyphre View Post
After the liberation of France the Allies were confident that it was only a matter of time until Germany was defeated. The US transferred troops to the Pacific theatre to support the war effort there.

The German army put up more resistance than expected and progress stalled. This resulted in Stalin being in a position of strength during the Yalta conference and being able to dictate terms.

Was the better option to keep the troops in Europe until Germany surrenders?

What would postwar Europe have looked like if the Allies take Berlin before The Red Army sets foot on German soil?
Fairly sure no US divisions were transferred from Europe to the Pacific until after VE-Day, and even then they never fought in the Pacific because of the Japanese surrender.

The 'autumn pause' in Europe, known to the Germans as the Miracle in the West, occurred for various reasons, but the transfer of US troops wasn't one of them. The Battle of Normandy ended in unexpected fashion with an abrupt German collapse and an extremely rapid Allied advance. The British armoured divisions liberated Belgium in a single day, and by D+90 Eisenhower's armies were holding positions they had not been predicted to take till D+365.

This had serious consequences for the supply situation. Fuel and ammunition still had to be trucked from the Normandy beaches or the Riviera. The British then made their famous mistake by capturing Antwerp, the vital supply port for the push into Germany, but not immediately turning left to clear the Scheldt estuary, so German Fifteenth Army just had time to dig in on the estuary and stop the Allies opening Antwerp for business till November.

Meanwhile, Operation Market Garden went wrong and the US Army embarked on the needless and very costly Battle of the Hurtgen Forest which dragged on till February, used up eight infantry and two armoured divisions and achieved nothing. Then the Germans complicated matters by launching the Ardennes offensive, which could never have worked but did impose a long delay on Allied planning.
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Old 04-07-2016, 11:28 AM   #17
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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Fairly sure no US divisions were transferred from Europe to the Pacific until after VE-Day
I was going by what I heard on the documentary (*). After your post I tried to find a source that confirms the redeployment and I came up empty. It looks you are right. This renders the point of my OP moot.

The sources I found described plans of redeploying troops after Germany was defeated and that will probably be months before they can be transferred to the Pacific. The plans were drawn up fairly early. One of the estimates was that even if German is defeated by Nov.1,1944 redeployments won't be possibled before Spring 1945.

(*) most likely I misheard or misunderstood what was said
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Old 04-07-2016, 02:05 PM   #18
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

I did check a full list of US combat divisions during the Second World War and none of them fought both in Europe and the Pacific. The 'Germany First' policy wasn't very popular with Marshall or King, but FDR was very committed to it. By VE-Day, 80% of US manpower and aircraft was concentrated in Europe (whereas the European and Pacific theatres had been at parity as late as December 1943).

They did start transferring divisions to the Pacific, but only after VE-Day. For instance the 97th 'Trident' Infantry Division was transferred, because it had arrived late in Europe and only fought in Germany and only sustained 90% casualties in its infantry battalions. (Units that fought all the way from D-Day to VE-Day characteristically took 250% casualties as the new replacements succumbed to the odds in their turn.)

The 97th was scheduled to spearhead the invasion of the Japanese home islands. I don't like to think how those men felt about that. But then Col. Tibbetts' special B-29 unit on Tinian took a hand and the 97th just became occupation troops.
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:10 AM   #19
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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After the liberation of France the Allies were confident that it was only a matter of time until Germany was defeated.
I was under the impression this was clear since Stalingrad in early 1943. Is that incorrect?
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Old 04-13-2016, 01:00 PM   #20
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

I guess after the successful invasion of Normandy the Allies had a more concrete timetable in mind. Also, as long as the Axis powers can hold Central Europe there is a chance that Germany will develop nuclear weapons before the Allies do.
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Old 10-13-2016, 07:11 AM   #21
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

There is no chance the Axis could develop Nukes before the U.S

Only chance Germany had left after Stalingrad is getting Russia to accept a separate peace which many believe Russia offered a few times.

In that case Germany can send the bulk of their forces to France and the death count for the allies would be massively higher.. they might not have the stomach for it.
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Old 10-13-2016, 11:24 AM   #22
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

Doesn't that scenario end with a nuke on a major German city?
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Old 10-13-2016, 11:58 AM   #23
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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Doesn't that scenario end with a nuke on a major German city?
Probably, although one Nuke doesn't get Germany to surrender.

The Western allies were scared to death that Hitler and Stalin would make a separate peace for years, had they done so who knows how long the war goes on for.
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Old 01-02-2017, 01:44 PM   #24
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

The mistake was named Eisenhower.

Unconditional surrender wasn't a strategic policy until FDR's off the cuff remark.

And FDR, like his 'supreme' commander, was incredibly lucky in their myopic views on war & politics. Completely lost on both was that war was politics.


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Old 01-02-2017, 01:48 PM   #25
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Re: Did the Allies make a strategic mistake late in '44?

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Doesn't that scenario end with a nuke on a major German city?


Delivery of an atomic bomb requires air superiority. No way, no how you risk the loss or capture. Do the Allies have this in this scenario? Doubtful.

And I'm not sure we use it on Anglo-saxons. One cannot discount the racial element in the Pacific theater. And the massive feeling of the need for revenge.


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