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Old 01-13-2013, 09:06 AM   #76
DoTheMath
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
...
You take some significant issues with certain facts, which to be honest, I have not found any other source to support:
...
3. You claim Hitler did not have the resources to equip Rommel with 4 armored divisions in November 1940.
That's not what I claim. I claim that Hitler had assigned neary all of his available armored divisions to other duties, so they were not available for assignment to Africa.

In July 1940, Germany had 10 armored divisions, all with battle damage and worn out equipment. In November 1940, Germany had, on paper, 20 armoured divisions. However at least 10 of these were still working up to operational status after having been created in August, October or November, by converting a number of infantry divisions to armoured divisions, and adding tanks either from half the regiments of the first 10 panzer divisions, and/or by supplying them with (usually inferior) non-German equipment from occupied terrirories. We seem to agree on these basic facts, so I'll skip trying to run down sources.

That leaves the first ten armoured divisions to be created. These were all involved in the campaign against France that ended in the second half of June, 1940. Together, they permanently lost around 700 tanks1. To put that number in perspective, the new organizational model of an armoured divison introduced after France called for an allocation of about 120 tanks to each division's armoured brigade2. (Divisions that were issued inferior tank models usually got more.) In addition, those tanks that survived 7 weeks of combat required serious overhauling to return them to operational condition. [Sources: 1. "Hitler's Panzers", Dennis Showalter, pg. 130, 2. Ibid., pg 136].

Generally these first 10 armoured divisions were available for duty sooner than the second group. I have no reason to think any of them would be unavailabe for deployment somewhere by November. However, once they became operational they were assigned to a number of tasks, including (as you point out) Operation Sea Lion, the occupation of France and Poland, and defence of the Eastern Frontier and the Ploesti oilfields. You say that
Sealion required 4 armoured divisons. That leaves six divisions for
1) Occupying France,
2) occupying Poland,
3) defending East Prussia,
4) defending Romania,
5) national reserve

Even assuming that only one division is assigned to each of these tasks other than Sealion, where is Hitler supposed to find four divisions to send to Africa in November? I count one available. As it turned out, the actual deployments were slightly different (see below).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
You claim you have looked and found only 1 division that was not assigned (you have not sourced this, by the way).
Neither have you sourced the availability of any specific division. All you cite is an obviously incorrect statement by Bevin Alexander that Hitler had 20 armoured divisions available with nothing to do.

One can find the locations and assignments of all divisions in the Germany Army at the Wehrmacht Lexicon website. Using information from this site, plus the Wikipedia Orders of Battle for Operations Sealion and Marita, I will chart the assignment of the first ten armoured divisions after the fall of France until the beginning of Operation Barbarossa.

According to these sources:

1st Armoured Division spent two months refitting in France, and was then assigned to the defence of East Prussia.

2nd Armoured Division spent two months refitting in Germany, and then was assigned to the occupation of Poland and/or the defence of the Polish demarcation line. It was then assigned to Operation Marita.

3rd Armoured Division was ordered to prepare for deployment to Africa. After the Italian invasion of Greece, this order was cancelled and the Division was ordered to prepare for Operation Felix. In February 1941, the Division supplied many of the units that were used to form 5th Light Division, and the remains of the Division refitted at this time.

4th Armoured Division refitted in France and was assigned to operation Sealion. It was designated to serve in the OKH reserve for Operation Marita.

5th Armoured Division had two months for refitting, and then was assigned to the occupation of Poland and/or the defence of the Polish demarcation line. It was then assigned to Operation Marita.

6th Armoured Division spent two months refitting in Germany, and then was assigned to the defence of East Prussia.

7th Armoured Division refitted in France and was designated for Operation Sealion. It remained on occupation duty in France until February 1941, when it was sent home to serve in reserve.

8th Armoured Division refitted in France and was designated for Operation Sealion. It remained on occupation duty in France until it was designated for Operation Marita.

9th Armoured Division spent two months refitting and then was assigned to the occupation of Poland and/or the defence of the Polish demarcation line. It was then assigned to Operation Marita.

10th Armoured Division refitted in France and was designated for Operation Sealion. It returned to Germany in January 1941 and was placed in reserve. (This is one of the three divisions whose assignment I couldn't find in time for my earier post.)

Using the same sources as above, I'll now list the dates of formation and operational readyness, and the assignments of, armoured divisiosn 11-20.

11th Armoured Division was formed in August 1940, and became operational in December, when it was sent to Poland in preparation for Operation Marita.

12th Armoured Division was formed in October 1940 and became operational in January 1941, when it was sent to Stettin. It was designated for the OKH reserve for Operation Marita.

13th Armoured Division was formed in October 1940. It was assigned to Rumania as a training formation (and effectively as a guard for the Ploesti oilfields).

14th Armoured Division was formed in August 1940, and was operational by mid-December, when it was assigned to Operation Marita.

15th Armoured Division was formed in November 1940, and became operational in Africa in April 1941.

16th Armoured Division was formed in November 1940 and assigned as a training Unit in Rumania. It became operational in April 1941 and was assigned to the reserve of 12th Army for Operation Marita.

17th Armoured Division was formed in November 1940 and became operational in mid-March 1941, when it began to prepare for Operation Barbarossa.

18th Armoured Division was formed in late October 1940 and became operational at the beginning of May 1941, when it began to prepare for Operation Barbarossa.

19th Armoured Division was formed in November 1940 and became operational in mid-March 1941. It served in the OKH reserve for Operation Marita.

20th Armoured Division was formed in October 1940 and became operational at the beginning of May 1941, when it was sent to East Prussia to prepare for Operation Barbarossa.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Furthermore, you claim equipping these divisions would be delayed as they had to be modified for the desert (fair enough). Then you conclude that whatever divisions were available would have been used for Marita, anyway.
Not quite. I indicate the divisions actually assigned to Marita. I don't say that divisions not assiognd to Marita would be assigned to Marita before being assigned to Africa.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
I find your claim that Hitler lacked the resources to be unfounded...
As already pointed out, that wasn't my claim. However, I hope you find the above-listed data as adequate foundation for a claim that there weren't 4 armoured divisions unassigned to duties and therefore available for deployment to Africa either in November 1940 or February 1941.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
(if not illogical). First of all, Operation Sealion was cancelled in September 1940.
No, it was postponed indefinitely at that time, not cancelled. It seems it wasn't actually cancelled until Febuary 1942, and some units assigned to the operation were not released for other duties until this date. ["Invasion 1940", Peter Fleming, pg 273.]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
What were the Germans planning to invade with? Looking at the proposed order of battle, I see at least 4 Panzer divisions. Are you claiming they did not exist?
Armoured Divisions 4, 7, 8 and 10 were assigned to Sea Lion. Of course they existed. Since, from mid-July until at least mid-September they were assigned to Sea Lion, they could not be assigned to any deployment to Africa whose planning was being carried out during this time span. Furthermore, it is not at all clear to me when the armoured divisons assigned to Sea Lion were released for other duties. According Fleming, some units were not released until February 1942. Obviously these armoured divisions were released before that date, since they took part in Barbarossa, but we have no reason to know that they were released until they were transferred out of France, which generally wasn't until 1941.

When do you suggest that the planning for a proposed November deployment should be carried out? It should be obvious that these four divisions could not have been used in a November deployment to Africa. The planning for the operation and the preparation by the divisions would have had to begin before they were released by the postponement of Sea Lion. Perhaps you would like to change your definiton of Hitler's mistake to tieing up forces by planning Operation Sea Lion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Furthermore, the need for Marita did not even come into place until November/December 1940, anyway
November 4th. ["Hitler's War Directives", H.R. Trevor-Roper]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
(and it is still a point of debate as to whether Hitler needed to undertake that operation in any event).
You've got to be kidding! You think Hitler could tolerate a British army operating in Yugoslavia and British air bases in Greece bombing Ploesti?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
I bring this point up only to highlight your contention that 20 armored divisions were not available to Hitler at the relative time because you only found 1 to be available. To show your position is misinformed, this one example should suffice.
Well, now I have accounted for all 20. For a November deployment arising from a late-July planning start, only 3rd armoured division was available (and was actually assigned for deploment to Africa), unless you strip the eastern defences or Hitler decides from the beginning on a Mediterranean strategy rather than an invasion of Britain, and his mid-July directive is changed to that effect. Of course, he would also need to postpone Barbarossa. And of course, a November deployment was still impossible because Mussolini refused to allow German troops in North Africa at that time, and Franco refused to allow German troops in to deal with Gibralter, so why would Hitler plan a Mediterranean strategy instead of an invasion?

For an augmented February - April 1941 start of operations, I suppose you could add in 7th and 10th Armoured, to 5th Light and 15th Armoured, as long as you don't think Germany needed a central reserve. Of course this would also require the delay of Barbarossa by a year (at least) and Hitler wasn't going to delay Barbarossa.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
You claim it takes months to modify the armored divisions for the desert.
I assume this is correct. The facts show that it took about 4 months from commitment/planning to have the 15th Panzer in Africa.[/QUOTE]Actually, I didn't claim it takes four months to prepare for the desert. I said it takes about 3 to 4 months for a newly transformed divison to become operational, and an unspecified amount of extra time to prepare for the desert. In total, it took 15th Panzer 5.5 months from formation to becoming operational in Africa.
Looking at the data, I think we can say it takes 1-2 months time to prepare for the desert. Also, some of the highest numbered panzer divisions took longer than 4 months to become operational, due to equipment shortages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
My scenario calls for 4 divisions in November or shortly thereafter.
OK, so why did you say
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
I am drawing a line in 1941; a specific time from where things "jump off" from.
?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Von Thoma proposed 4 divisions to Hitler in July 1940.
July?!?! Every reference to von Thoma's report I have seen has him being sent to Africa in November 1940, and reporting back the same month. Also he didn't make a proposal. He made an assessment. The difference is he didin't actually advise sending four divisions - he stated that was what he thought might get the job done. Any more could not be supplied, but any fewer would not be enough.

What source do you have that has him proposing sending four divisions at any time, and what source do you have that has him making a report in July?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Had Hitler accepted the proposal, there is no reason to believe the divisions could not be ready for desert operations by November/December 1940 (granted, getting them there is still a problem with Malta in place)....
So which four of the then-extant 10 armoured divisions do you think should have been assigned in July/August for deployment to Africa in November/December?

And having been assigned this task, how would they get there, given that Mussolini refused to have them? And how were they to be supplied, given that Mussolini controlled the cargo ships that carried the supplies, and the naval vessels that protected the cargo ships, and the security of the ports where the ships departed and arrived?

Maybe you should change your formulation of Hitler's mistake to "Not killing Mussolini and Franco and replacing them with pliant puppets."
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:18 PM   #77
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

Hitler's insistence on exterminating the Jews diverted resources away from the war effort.

If he just had to exterminate them then he should have waited until successfully concluding the wars he was fighting.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:52 AM   #78
DoTheMath
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
You take some significant issues with certain facts, which to be honest, I have not found any other source to support: ...
So far, you haven't cited any reliable sources. If you read qualified historians, and source documents, you might gain a different impression than what comes from reading amateurs, controversialists, and populist writers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
4. In an earlier post, you claimed that you will side with Von Thoma's appraisal of the situation
That's essentially correct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
(at that time, you simply referred to him as The general in charge of mobile troops, who had been with panzertruppen ever since they were formed, and who was qualified to make basic logistics assessments, and who personally inspected the logistics net available ...").
I think you must have missed two earlier paragraphs in the same post. These paragraphs talked about the origin of the notion of a requirement for 4 armoured divisions. In the second of these two paragraphs, I refer to von Thoma by name, rank and position. This second reference to which you refer here now was by position and experience, in order to emphasize that he knew what he was talking about. I saw no need to redundantly include von Thoma's name in this reference to the OKH General for Mobile Troops, since I had already tied the name and position together earlier. I suggest you read these two paragrphs now, as it may help you understand that my position on von Thoma's observations has been consistent throughout.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoTheMath View Post
This is probably a good point to examine the origin of the 4 division requirement in more detail. It did not originate with Rommel. Hitler had considered the possibility of German offensives against British Mediterrnean interests as early as late July 1940, as an alternative to an invasion of Great Britain. 3rd Armoured Division was ordered to prepare for operation in support of Italian Forces in Libya, and plans were begun to capture Gibralter and suport indigenous opposition to British forces in Iraq and Palestine. In September and again in October, the Germans offered Italy the use of two armoured divisions for use against Egypt. Mussolini refused to allow German troops into Africa until such time as a final push on Alexandria and Cairo could be commenced, in late 1941 or early 1942. Germany attempted to negotiate Spanish entry into the war for a joint attack on Gibralter, or failing that, Spanish permission for German forces to traverse Spain to attack Gibralter. Spain refused.

In November* of 1940, Hitler sent Generalmajor Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma, General of Mobile Troops in the Army High Command, to observe the situation after Marshal Graziani's advance into Egypt had come to a self-imposed halt after a 100km advance with no serious opposition. It was von Thoma's appreciation that 4 armoured divisions would be required to defeat the British Western Desert Force. It is important to note other conclusions that accompanied this figure. First, the number four was reached because it would be impossible to supply more than four divisions, due to the limited transportation capacity in Cyrenaica, the length and condition of the land transportation route, and the problem of British interdiction of sea supply routes across the Mediterranean. Second, for this reason of limited supply, all Italian troops would have to be withdrawn from the front. This was, of course, politically impossible. Libya was Italian territory. Finally, the four divisions were the minimum number needed to defeat the four divisions the British were known to have in the immedate area. Any significant increase in British forces would render it impossible to provide supplies to a force large enough to defeat the British. Von Thoma's supply calculations were repeatedly proven correct at the culmination of each of Rommel's offensives into Egypt.
*Actually he was sent in October, but reported to Hitler in early November.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Well, I cited were he stated that 4 armored divisions could be supported and that the Suez Canal could be taken with 4 armored divisions.
You seem to be quite fixated on the notion that 4 armoured divisions could take the Suez canal. That is not the jist of what von Thoma said. You need to take into accounts several other things he said, and the context in which he said them. Firstly he said the other bolded things in the quote above ["The Life and Death of the Afrika Korps", Ronald Lewin, pp 13-14]. Secondly, the requirement to supply German forces inside Egypt by truck from Tripoli was unsatisfactory. It was desireable to supply German forces from the port of Matruh, which the Italians had not yet captured, but set as their next objective.

Thirdly he was was talking about the situation as it stood at the beginning of November 1940. That includes several important considerations. The Axis forces:
  • are already 100km inside Egypt,
  • have a firm base,
  • have been accumulating supplies in local dumps for six weeks and in Bardia, Tobruk and Benghazi for months if not years,
  • have a certain number of Italian trucks available to transport supplies from the port in Tripoli to the front or to bring up supplies already stockpiled in the rearare faced in the line by one British armoured division equipped with Mk VI tankettes (inferior to the Germans' Pz II), and A9, A10 and A13 cruiser tanks (all inferior to the Germans' Pz III), and one Indian infantry division supported by a battlion of Matilda infantry support tanks (virtually impregnable to German tanks, but unable to manouver to engage them), and with two green and/or understrength Commonwealth infantry divisions in reserve, and
  • have a particular strength relative to the British in sea and air power over the supply lines.
When Rommel arrived in early 1941, none of those conditions still pertained. Why would you think that von Thoma's assessment still applied?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Yet, now you don't seem to side with him as you claim such a task was "logistically impossible." So which is it? You want to agree with Von Thoma, but then you want to disagree with Von Thoma.
I never disagree with von Thoma. I just agree with the totality of what von Thoma said, not just the little bit of it you are fixated on.

Here's an example to help you think about this. Do you think you can beat GSP in a cage match? I doubt you do. Do you think you could beat GSP in a cage match if he was hung over, drugged, blindfolded, duct-taped to a chair and chained to the cage while you were given your choice of weapons? Sure you do! Presuming you agree with the latter proposition, it would be rather unfair of me to simply claim that you said you could beat GSP in a cage match.

So which is it? Can you beat GSP in a cage match or not?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
The simple fact is that he proposed sending those 4 divisions and nothing less;
It may be simple, but I have seen no evidence that it is a fact. Your statement leaves out all the other factors von Thoma included in his report, and mis-characterizes his report as a proposal, rather than an assessment. Source after source speaks about von Thoma being pessimistic about the prospects, and negative about the situation. One source you might want to check is von Thoma himself, quoted by B.H. Liddell Hart (in "The Other Side of the Hill"?). What he actually said is that at least 4 divisions were required to win a campaign, but no more than 4 divisions could be supplied.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Hitler ignored his proposal and sent 1.5 (when Von Thoma told him to forget it if he was not going to send per the proposal).
I have seen no primary source supporting such a claim. Got one?

As I said, von Thoma wasn't making a proposal, and there is no indication he thought Hiter should send 4 armoured divisions. He thought that 4 armoured divisions would be the minimum required to defeat the Western Desert Force, but there is no indication he thought that Germany should attempt to defeat the Western Desert Force. If anything, von Thoma was pessimistic about the prospects for a German offensive in North Africa. If he had a proposal (which I do not believe he had) it would have been to forget it with any number of divisions. Far from ignoring von Thoma, Hitler's decision was directly influenced by von Thoma's report. However, when the dispatch of 3rd Armoured Divison to Africa was called off on Nov. 4th, it was only until Matruh had been captured by the Italians.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Hence, Hitler made a mistake.
Hitler's intent, when he sent "1.5", (which was not in response to von Thoma's report, but in response to Graziani's defeat by O'Conner) was not to take the canal. The force he sent was adequate for its intended task, but Rommel repeatedly disregarded his orders, outran his supplies, and as an eventual result, lost his army. Remember that the title of the initial force sent to Africa was "Blocking Force Africa". It was authorized before the British captured Tobruk. 5th Light's Tank Brigade and 15th Armoured Division were only added when the requirement to remove the British from all of Cyrenaica became clear. However, kicking the Brits out of Cyrenaica would requre a lot less force than conquering Egypt.

Your view of von Thoma's report is at odds with many descriptions of it. Consider for instance, this description by Chris Ellis, the author of many popular books about military history and military technology, given on page 8 of "21st Panzer Division - Rommel's Afrika Korps Spearhead"
Quote:
Von Thoma's own assessment of the situation was produced about that time [October 1940]. He concluded that any operations in North Africa would best be carried out by German troops alone, and thought four panzer divisions would be necessary, not withstanding the difficulty of transporting them and supplying them across the Mediterranean and having to run the gauntlet of the British Royal Navy to do so. This proposal was politically and logistically impossible at the time (not least because four panzer divisions could not be spared).
Yeah, I know, Ellis even used the word "proposal". However, you will note that is referring to the concept itself. When talking about the what von Thoma produced, he uses "assessment".

You should also consider that von Thoma's report is not the only one Hitler received about force requirements in North Africa. In late October, he received a report from Major Hermann Meyer-Ricks of Foreign Armies West giving an intelligence estimate that if the Italians took Mersah Matruh, the British would fall back to Cairo and the Nile Delta, and that it would take considerably more than four divisions to defeat them in this location. Being further east, this would exacerbate the Axis' supply dificulties. ["Hitler's Strategy 1940-1941: The Balkan Clue", Martin van Creveld, pg. 55] Indeed this conforms to preparations (never used) that Auchinleck made when he took over field command during the retreat from the Gazala battles in 1942.[October, 1942 letter from MGen E. Dorman-Smith to B.H. Liddell-Hart]

If you would like to gain a better understanding of the logistics problems that shaped von Thoma's report and constrained Rommel's operations, I suggest you read this paper prepared for the Naval War College by Maj. Paul K. Schreiber, USMC.

To get a better view of what Hitler may have been thinking about strategic concerns in the Mediterranean, read "Hitler's Strategy 1940-1941: The Balkan Clue" by Martin van Creveld.
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:06 PM   #79
DoTheMath
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
So, let's just leave Alexander aside and replace him with Andrew Roberts. I am interested in seeing how you will attack his credentials.
Now we turn to Andrew Roberts. I don't need to do much work to attack his credentials. I can rely here mostly on the works of others far more qualified than myself.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
The following excerpt is from his 2009 book "The Storm of War." To save you some time, The Storm of War was awarded British Army Military Book of the Year 2010.
You say that as if that actually meant anything regarding the validity of Roberts' conclusions It doesn't. The award is only five years old. None of the members of the Jury for the award were historians, and there is no indication that validity of conclusions was a criterion for the award.

"The Storm of War" was an immensely popular book. This is because it was well-written (though not well-reserached or well thought out), was about a popular subject, had a high-profile author and adopted a tone and conclusions that would be popular with a mass audience. "The Storm of War" won an award because of its popularity and accessibility. The award means nothing about the validity of the conclusions you draw from it.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
The Storm of war runs 577 pages of history on the war, then includes about 30 pages of "Conclusions."
IOW, it is a light and breezy treatment of an incredibly large and complex subject.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
The book has nearly 1,000 cites.
Few of which have any significant value. What is more significant about its citations is what is missing from amongst them.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Quote:
Considering that Rommel took Tobruk and got to within 60 miles of Alexandria by October 1942 with the twelve-division Afrika Korps, a fraction of the force that was thrown against Russia could have swept the British from Egypt, Palestine, Iran and Iraq long beforehand. Taking Cairo would have opened up a four glittering prospects, namely the capture with relative ease of the almost undefended oilfields of Iran and Iraq, the expulsion of the Royal Navy from its major base in the Mediterranean at Alexandria, the closing of the Suez Canal to Allied shipping, and the prospect of attacking India from the north-west just as Japan threatened her from the north-east. Stationed in the Middle East, the Germans would have cut Britain off from the her oil supplies, and posed a threat against British India from the west, but also against the Soviet Union and the Caucuses from the south. ... (he also goes on to explain that even if the Axis did not take full opportunity to exploit this gain, that it would at least have the effect of causing the Allies to invest significant resources in the Middle East/Persia to defend it - up to such point, that had not been done.)

Hitler could have then undertaken his invasion of Russia in his own time with Army Group South moving only a few hundred miles from Iraq to Astrakhan, rather than more than 1,000 miles as it had to in 1941 and 1942. Considering how much Stalin decried the idea that Hitler would ever attack him in 1941 0 despite the eighty intelligence reports from dozens of unrelated sources from all over the world that Barbarossa was impending, some of which furnished the precise date - there is no real reason to suppose that the USSR would have been on any better war footing in the summer of 1942, or 1943 than she was in 1941. Army Group South should have taken the Caucasus from the south rather than the west. ... etc.
Roberts, Andrew. "The Storm of War" p. 588
The quality of this book is indicated by the fact that the very first sentence you choose to quote has a blatant error in it. The Afrika Korps never had more than 4 divisions and a Brigade. When it achieved its closest approach to Alexandria, it didn't have the Brigade. 12 Divisions is an imprecise approximation of the forces in Panzer Armee Afrika, not Afrika Korps.

I'm not going to bother here going over all the other errors and misconceptions in the rest of that passage. Maybe later in a separate post.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
This argument appears in the Conclusions section of his book and is based on the facts and circumstances fully fleshed out within the preceding chapters. His conclusions are well-supported and cited.
Please provide the citations he uses to support the claims in the conclusions you quoted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
...
I suppose now you are going to claim Roberts is "advocating obviously preposterous ideas."
You go it.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
I would suppose that any historian disagreeing with your meta-conclusions based on your studies undertaken on a micro-topic of the War would receive the same treatment.
Nope. Show me a competent military historian who reaches the same conclusions based on applicable citations and compelling argument, and I'll sit up and take notice.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Well, I provided a recent work that was voted British Army Military Book of the Year 2010 that states the same conclusions. You have yet to provide any source other than ipse dixit.
And I have now addressed the points in both sentences.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
Anyway, just to head you off, here is a bio on Roberts. Fair Adisclosure: It is copied from his website (). Make of it what you will.

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About Andrew Roberts

Dr Andrew Roberts, who was born in 1963, took a first class honours degree in Modern History at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, from where he is an honorary senior scholar and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). He has written or edited twelve books, and appears regularly on radio and television around the world. Based in New York, he is an accomplished public speaker, and is represented by HarperCollins Speakers’ Bureau (See Speaking Engagements and Speaking Testimonials). He has recently lectured at Yale, Princeton and Stanford Universities and at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

In 2011, NBC commissioned him to commentate alongside Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera on the Royal Wedding of Prince William William to Kate Middleton, following his well-received broadcasts at the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and the wedding of Princes Charles to the Duchess of Cornwall. He also commentated for NBC on The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

His biography of Neville Chamberlain's and Winston Churchill's foreign secretary, the Earl of Halifax, entitled The Holy Fox was published in 1991, to be followed by the controversial, but no less well-received Eminent Churchillians in 1994. As well as appearing regularly on British and American television and radio, Roberts writes for The Sunday Telegraph and reviews history books and biography for that newspaper as well as The Spectator, Literary Review, Mail on Sunday and Wall Street Journal.

In 1999 he published Salisbury: Victorian Titan, the authorised biography of the Victorian prime minister the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, which won the Wolfson History Prize and the James Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction. In September 2001 Napoleon and Wellington, an investigation into the relationship between the two great generals, was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and was the lead review in all but one of Britain's national newspapers. January 2003 saw the publication of Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership, which coincided with Roberts's four-part BBC2 history series.

Roberts holds an honorary doctorate from Westminster College, Missouri. He has two children, Henry, who was born in 1997 and Cassia, who was born in 1999. He lives on Park Avenue in Manhattan with his wife, Susan Gilchrist, who is US Managing Partner of the corporate communications firm Brunswick Group, and a Governor of the Southbank Centre.

In 2004, Dr Roberts edited What Might Have Been, a collection of twelve 'What If?' essays written by distinguished historians, including Antonia Fraser, Norman Stone, Amanda Foreman, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Conrad Black and Anne Somerset.

In 2005 Roberts published Waterloo: Napoleon's Last Gamble, which was published in America as Waterloo: The Battle for Modern Europe. The publication of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 brought him an invitation to the White House in February 2007, where he delivered the prestigious White House Lecture. His books have been translated into Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Turkish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Marathi and Spanish.

Masters and Commanders, which was published in 2008, won the Emery Reves Award of the International Churchill Society and was shortlisted for The Duke of Westminster’s Gold Medal for Military History and The British Army Military Book Award, both of Britain’s two top military history prizes. The Storm of War was published in August 2009 and reached No.2 on The Sunday Times bestseller list, and won the British Army Military Book Award for 2010.

Roberts is interested in public policy and sits on the boards or advisory councils of a number of think-tanks and pressure groups, including The Centre for Policy Studies, The European Foundation, The Centre for Social Cohesion, The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, The United Kingdom National Defence Association, The Freedom Association, the British Weights and Measures Association and The Bruges Group. He is a Director of the Harry Guggenheim Foundation in New York, a founder member of President Jose Maria Aznar's Friends of Israel Committee (alongside Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa and Alejandro Toledo), and in 2010 he chaired the Hessell-Tiltman Award for Non-Fiction. He is also Vice President-elect of the Guild of Battlefield Guides.

Dr Roberts is a quondam judge on the Elizabeth Longford Historical Biography Prize, he chaired the Conservative Party's Advisory Panel on the Teaching of History in Schools in 2005, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has also been elected a Fellow of the Napoleonic Institute and an Honorary Member of the International Churchill Society (UK). He is also a Trustee of the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust and of the Roberts Foundation.

In 2011 Dr Roberts was appointed to the committee of the International Friends of the London Library, the Academic Board of the Henry Jackson Society, the Review Committee of the Dan David Prize, and he became an Honorary Co-Chair of the New York Historical Society’s Chairman’s Council.
In April 2012 he was awarded the William Penn Prize (former recipients include President Ulysses S. Grant, Gen. George C. Marshall, Walt Whitman and Earl Mountbatten).
What his bio shows is that he is a well-connected biographer of the rich and famous who for the last few years has expanded his sphere of writing to the edges of military history, without having done any serious work (or having any qualifictions) as a military historian.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
If you are expecting me to type out his bibiliography and the 800 or so books cited along with the other 200 or so cites of magazine articles and other sources, that is simply not going to happen. Sorry. So, I guess I am just have to take a leap of faith and hope you except Roberts as a "qualified historian" according to your standards.
Not a chance. There was nothing in that bio that shows him to be a qualified military historian. There was a lot in there that shows him to be a well-connected and popular writer. Not at all the same thing.

"Saving Private Ryan" was a very popular movie "based on real events". As entertainment, it was also a very good movie. As history, it was bunk. For exmple, the climax of the movie has Tom Hanks' little band caught up in a German counter-attack. This counter-attack is conducted in a manner entirely inconsistent with German doctine, and includes a Tiger tank - a piece of equipment which historcaly never came anywhere close to where American forces would have been searching for the missing soldier. Good movie, lousy history.

The Omnivore has collected links to fourteen reviews of "The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War". Unfortunately nearly all of these reviews are hidden behind pay walls. The Omnivore does provide brief extracts from the reviews to give us a notion of the reviewers' comments. These reviews run the gamut from complete praise to complete condemnation.

The most positive reviews are generally from people who are qualified to comment on its quality of writing, but not on how it is as history. They are written by professional writers. Most have the good sense not to comment on the book's value as history. The most negative reviews come from professional historians, and it is their judgement that should inform us about how reliable are Roberts' conclusions.

Here are excerpts from reviews of the book, written by historians. I have ripped brief biographical summaries of the reviewers from Wikipedia.

David Stafford is projects director at Edinburgh University's Centre for the Study of the Two World Wars and Leverhulme Emeritus Professor in the University's School of History, Classics, and Archaeology. He was Professor of History at Canada's University of Victoria, and was executive director at the Canadian Institute of International Affairs.
He writes:
Quote:
So, amidst the plethora of books that continue to appear about the Second World War, is this one worth le détour? Well, it depends on what you enjoy. Roberts is a fluent writer with undoubted gifts who writes with authority and flair... One problem is that it resembles a ramble through familiar terrain rather than a focused expedition to uncharted lands... A large number of the endnotes reference either press clippings or books by popular historians which, whatever their other merits, hardly count as scholarly sources.
M.R.D. Foot, C.B.E. was a British military historian and former British Army intelligence officer and special operations operative during World War II. Foot taught at Oxford University for eight years before becoming Professor of Modern History at Manchester University. He says:
Quote:
This eminently readable book will not much advance [Roberts'] professional reputation...
Piers Brendon was Lecturer in History, then Principal Lecturer and Head of Department, at what is now the Anglia Polytechnic University. He was Keeper of the Churchill Archives Centre from 1995 to 2001, and is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He comments:
Quote:
In
sum, this book looks like a 70th-anniversary potboiler. The prose betrays signs of haste... There are also flawed judgments... The second world war, which cost more than 50m lives, has a perennial fascination that he conveys through an admirably lucid narrative.
The most telling, and most damning, review is by Sir Richard Evans, who is arguably the most qualified of the reviewers to assess the book as history. This review is notorious for the degree of its criticism.

Evans is Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College. If there is a more prestigious professorship of history in an English university, I am not sure what it is - perhaps the Regius Professorship of Modern History at Oxford. Evans was knighted for his service to scholarship. He specializes in Modern German History. One of his most noted works is a three-volume history of the Third Reich. I suggest you read the third volume "The Third Reich at War" as a counter-point to Roberts' work.

Among current history professors, Evans is singularly qualified for the purposes of dicussing the value of Roberts' work for our purposes. A major part of Evans' effort has been to promote good historical scholarship and to criticise poor historical work associated with his area of specialization. He came to public notice when he served as the chief expert witness for the defence when David Irving sued Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt in a British court for allegedly libeling Irving in "Denying the Holocaust". Even though the onus is on the defence in a libel case under British law, Irving lost. This is chiefly attributed to Evans' testimony based on two years' examining of Irving's work.

In the same spirit, Evans writes in his review of "The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War"
Quote:
This is not a new history of the Second World War in any meaningful sense of the word; it is not even an adequate history of the Second World War. It is certainly not a reliable one. It does both author and publisher a disservice, as well as the reading public... [A] deeply inadequate book
Canadian writer Jeet Heer has blogged about Roberts and the Evans review. I suggest you read the entire blog article, but here are a few excerpts to add to our knowledege of Evans' take on the book, and Heer's take on Roberts.

Quote:
Not too many years ago, Andrew Roberts was a respected historian. He specialized in a very old fashioned sort of history, writing sympathetic biographies of conservative British bigwigs... However conventional they might be, these volumes were based on original archival research and graced by a fluid prose style. ...

But in the last decade Roberts has degenerated into something much worse, a glib tabloid historian who writes vapid books celebrating the British Empire and its American successor. In this incarnation, Roberts has won some worldly success even as his scholarly reputation has been tarnished. ...

In the August 21 & 28, 2009 number of the Times Literary Supplement, the historian Richard J. Evans has a devastating review of Roberts’ latest book, The Storm of War: A New History of Second World War. As Evans notes, the new book and some of Roberts’ other recent works can be categorized as “hastily written potboilers, widely criticized by reviewers for their inadequacies and inaccuracies.”

More specifically, Evans notes that Roberts relied heavily on book reviews, rather than actual scholarly studies; that the books Roberts did use were often general reference tomes, such as the Collins Encylopedia of Military History, rather than monographs; that these books in any case tend to be dated; that all of the sources Roberts relied on are in English (thus ignoring the massive and important historical literatures of Germany, France, Italy, and Russia, among other countries); ... And of course, Evans has no trouble finding numerous inaccuracies, both large and small, in The Storm of War. ...

Although written in the temperate language of academic politeness, the Evans review was absolutely annihilating. If Roberts had any sense of decency and shame, he would have immediately recognized that he had been thoroughly exposed as a hack and fraud.
So, as a summary of the reviews I offer: "Great read, lousy history."

If you want to be taken seriously when it comes to drawing historical conclusions, you really ought to rely on a whole different class of book - books written by competent military historians. A few of these are to be found amongst the citations I have included in my most recent posts.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:56 PM   #80
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

So, granted that you have superior sources (even though I cannot seem to divine just what your arguments are since you seem to move the goalposts and your claims from post-to-post). In any event:

1. You do not find that Hitler made a mistake by not attempting to take the Suez Canal?

2. Indeed, Hitler (correctly) dismissed proposals that sought the Canal as a military target and only deployed Rommel as a blocking force?

You agree with those positions, right?

But, we know that Rommel did try to take the Canal (or perhaps, you disagree that he did).

In your opinion, did Rommel defy his orders?

If he did defy orders, did Rommel make a mistake in doing so?

If he didn't defy orders, just what was Hitler's plan then?
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:09 PM   #81
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

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Originally Posted by DoTheMath View Post

If you want to be taken seriously when it comes to drawing historical conclusions, you really ought to rely on a whole different class of book - books written by competent military historians. A few of these are to be found amongst the citations I have included in my most recent posts.
The problem is that I am not "trying to be taken seriously" as I am not claiming to be an authority.

A thread about "Hitler's Mistakes" requires that one assess the facts as known and then work with them to explain what other choices could be made. In order to engage in an exercise such as this, we have to move beyond "what actuallly happened." You seem trapped in the "what actually happened" and cannot imagine that initiating a different choice would necessarily alter the landscape of the situation.

Indeed, under this approach, the thread would be, "well, that can't be a mistake, because it actually happened and since the alternative you propose did not happen, it could not have happened." That's no fun. We would merely have threads about trying to determine "what actually happened," and nothing further.

Again, I have never doubted your scholarship on your subjects of interest, however, I find your method of argument to be disingenuous and a lot of work to really pin down your claims. I think you value "winning an argument" above all else and have employed some angle-shots that really take the pleasure out of discussing the topic as presented (I mean, jeez, you now claim you never took a position on whether the Middle East and Persia was heavily defended or lightly defended, even though you made statments that the Axis would unlikely be able to control those areas due to them being defended - and deny that there is an implication that these areas have substantial defenses present. Ok, whatever - you didn't misspeak, because you never said anything to begin with; I get it).

In any event, if you want to maintain arguing against a book you refuse to read, be my guest. I would have much rather got some benefit of your knowledge to see just where these conclusions break down and whatever other mistakes appear in these "popular" works of history. That would be very useful (not just to me, but probably a lot of other people in these threads that demonstrate in interest in such subjects).

But, to each their own. I would surmise, however, that if you sit alone at the top of the mountain, there is nobody there to discuss these things with.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:31 PM   #82
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
So, granted that you have superior sources (even though I cannot seem to divine just what your arguments are since you seem to move the goalposts and your claims from post-to-post). In any event:


1. You do not find that Hitler made a mistake by not attempting to take the Suez Canal?
There are several contexts in which one could try to take the Suez Canal:
  1. As an act of opportunity arising unexpectedly from what is intended to be a war of more limited objectives in North Africa.
  2. As an attempt to conquer Egypt (and maybe the Sudan) and gain permanent control of the Canal itself.
  3. As part of an attempt to gain complete control of the Mediterranean. (This is a superset of the previous case, but with a differerent net effect and purpose.)
  4. As a first stage in an attempt to gain contol of the Mid-East oilfields or, at least, to deny such control to the British.
  5. As a first stage in an attempt to develop a southern front against Russia, prior to launching an attack on Russia. (This would include the previous case as an inevitable byproduct.)
Your argument seems to be that Hitler's mistake was to not attempt case 5. To determine whether this was actually a mistake, one needs to look at how success or failure in the attempt would affect the overall strategic outcomes of the war, and the likelyhood of success given the resources expended, and compare that to the likely results if the attempt is not made.

I suggest that failure to attempt case 5 was not a mistake because: the chance of success was small, the cost needed to maximize the chance of success is prohibitively high, and that the forces that would be needed to develop an attack on the Caucasus from the south are much more valuable if included on the main front.

I suggest that developing an operation south of the Caucasus is not really employment of a flanking attack at all, but rather just an extension of the front line. In this case, doing so dilutes the power of the Gerrnan mobile forces, which history has shown are most effective when concentrated. It hands to the Soviets the advantage of interior lines - something they would not enjoy if the front was restricted to its historic extent.

So, failing to attempt case 5 is not a mistake.

Case 4 does the Germans little good in terms of achieving their main strategic goals. Assuming they manage to control the oilfields and miraculously capture the production facilities intact, they would have no way to transport the oil in quantity to where they needed it: Europe and the Eastern Front. Denying it to the British is not much help to Germany's cause, because, from 1940, Mid-East oil wasn't used to supply Britain. Remember that, during the war years, Mid-East oil production was a tiny fraction of production in the Western Hemisphere. So, failing to attempt case 4 is not a mistake.

Case 3 would make sense as part of an effort to consolidate complete control of a sphere of influence comprising all of Euorpe and its surrounding waters east of the Soviet sphere of influence. Such an attempt would in turn make sense if the overall strategic plan regarding hegemony in Europe was to agree to split the continent with the Soviets, and to take the defensive against any further westward Soviet expansionism. I have no firm opinion on whether this was a superior grand strategy to that of attempting to knock out the Soviets while it was still possible to do so. Therefore I cannot say it was a mistake not to attempt case 3 as part of entirely different grand strategy. However, it should be obvious that Hitler was never going to adopt such a grand strategy. If case 3 was attempted as part of a plan to consolidate control in Europe prior to an offensive against Russia in one or two years time, I think it would be a mistake, as it would reduce the forces available for the attack, while allowing the Soviets more time to prepare. If case three was attempted concurrently with the attack on Russia, it would be a disastrous mistake.

Case 2 does nothing to advance Germany's interests in a war with Russia, and Allied retention of control did little to change the outcome on the Eastern Front, so failing to choose case 2 is not a mistake.

Case 1 comes closest to what happened in reality but, by definition it is not a choice that gets made in advance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
2. Indeed, Hitler (correctly) dismissed proposals that sought the Canal as a military target and only deployed Rommel as a blocking force?

You agree with those positions, right?
That's right. IMO, any mistakes Hitler made in North Africa involve failing to keep Rommel on a leash, and reinforcing failure. Failure to capture or totally neutalize Malta is also probably a mistake. These mistakes were not significant to the outcome of the war, for Germany. Perhaps the largest postwar result of Hitler's choices in the Mediterranean was enabling the British to keep Greece and Yugoslavia out of Soviet control.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
But, we know that Rommel did try to take the Canal (or perhaps, you disagree that he did).
Oh, he did try.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
In your opinion, did Rommel defy his orders?
Absolutely. Multiple times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oski View Post
If he did defy orders, did Rommel make a mistake in doing so?
Often doing so gained him significant tactical victories. Ultimately, doing so led to his strategic defeat. So yes, Rommel's failure to act in accordance with the purposes for which he was sent to Africa was a mistake which led to a slightly faster loss of Africa, and a loss of more forces that could have been helpful on the Eastern Front. However, I do not think that it was a mistake of significant strategic proportion. It had little material effect on the outcome of the war, or the timing of that outcome.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:08 AM   #83
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

DotheMath good work here. Often times armchair historians ignore such important factors as supply lines and just look at a map and say well why not just take objective X.


Btw I am unsure exactly how great the value of capturing the Suez canal would be when it was effectively shut down for supply purposes due to partial Axis control of the Mediterranean.
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:18 AM   #84
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

First of all, excellent debate!

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Nothing is "handwaved" away. The Allies supply lines for materiel and other supplies (excluding fuel) was the longest in history, yet they were able to be supplied. The only advantage the Allies had on the supply side was for fuel as it they had a route from the middle east and persia.
Well, the "length" of the supply line is not really the problem (tho it matters). The safety and reliability are much more the issue. The Allies had a much easier time moving troops and supplies because they controlled the seas the entire war. Rommel had great difficulty due to supply issues in North Africa; offensives would be planned only to be cancelled when criticial fuel would not arrive due to a tanker being sunk, etc. I imagine this problem gets worse the more troops you have and the further through hostile waters you must go to supply them.

Quote:
For some reason, you keep ignoring that the initial plan supported by Rommel called for 4 divisions. At the campaign's peak, the Germans had 4.5 divisions - the fundamental problem is that such were committed ad hoc. Had Rommel been supplied with these units (which were available and not being used at the time) all the beginning of the campaign, he could have met his objective of capturing the Suez Canal which was the gateway to the middle east and persia. From there is would not have been too difficult to secure an oil supply. As for everything else, the Axis supply line was much shorter.

I disagree. As I stated earlier, Gibralter did not have to be taken directly. If the Axis holds North Africa, they could have an Atlantic base for u-boats to interdict supply routes to Gibralter (to add to those on the French coast).
Well, i see two potential problems with this. One, i don't believe the deal with the French allowed fighting from her colonies at all. And two, how do the Germans get supplies to the these bases? Past Malta and over land? Sailing straight from Italy? On the Uboats?

Quote:
The Allies did not have unlimited resources (at least prior to the U.S. entering the war) - thus they would have to consider the purpose of Malta (and Gibralter for that matter) in light of North Africa being in the Axis' hands. I think it is reasonable to consider the primary purpose of Malta is to prevent North Africa and the Suez Canal from falling. Once that happens, what purpose would it serve?
The purpose is to prey on the fat supply and commercial ships in the Mediterranian and cause the enemy great pain. This is pretty much the most effective thing you can do with an unchallenged navy. This is same reason the British held Minorca for 100 years and used the naval base there with great effect against the Spanish and French. The British had no African troops to support.

How did Napoleon's troops fare with full control of Egypt and the Holy Land but no control of the sea?

Quote:
In any event, if one needs to entertain that Malta had to be invaded, you must recall that Hitler sent a significant number of troops (including all of his paratroopers) to capture Crete. This was a target of minimal value as it was only relevant as a piece of the Allies scheme to protect North Africa - but for the Axis, it would essentially be of no use. However, Crete did not have to be attacked directly - it would be rendered irrelevant if Egypt was taken.

In any event, the point is that instead of attacking Malta, Hitler invaded Crete.
Crete was very nearly a disaster for the Germans. Even as a success if was very costly. The lesson they took from Crete was "never again". Actually Crete is in a far better position to intercept supplies sent from Italy to the Levant/Egypt.


Quote:
The Allied bases at Gibralter, Malta and Alexandria (and to a lesser extent, Crete) prevented the Mediterranean from being an Axis Lake. However, these defenses had to each be in place for the others to be effective (and relevant).

I appreciate your point about the chess moves, but it seems that you believe all chess moves are equal. I am not well versed in chess, but one can see that certain moves will set in place a sequence of moves where the other player is forced to react in certain ways or capitulate. Of course, the only way to break this chain (once set in motion) is to provide a brilliant counter. I don't believe the Allies had the resources at the time to do more than react to what the Axis was doing,
True enough :-)

Quote:
Here, you say the "world" would not fail to react to the Germans overruning the middle east. Who is the "world" in this case outside the primary belligerants? What non-belligerant was going to all of a sudden step in and make a difference? Are we to ignore the fact that outside of Great Britain and the commonwealth, nobody was actually fighting for the Allies at that time? Most other countries (including Russia) were caught in the middle and trying to position themselves as best they could (which at that time meant avoiding conflict with Hitler). Even those countries that had already been invaded were holding out hope that Hitler false promises of self-government and quasi-autonomy were true. Of course, they were not. In any event, the point is that there was no white knight that was ready to come in a save the day.

You keep mentioning that Russia wouldn't allow this and that. However, once again, Stalin was trying to keep Russia out of a war with Hitler. Indeed, Stalin was provided reports time and again that the Axis was building up for an attack against Russia; he was told when and where the attacks would take place - and he did nothing.

Now, you are saying "Stalin would do this and that" regarding the welfare of other countries opposing Hitler, but he did nothing when confronted with the certainty that Hitler was about to attack Russia. There is simply no evidence to support this notion.
Russia would never, ever allow the Ottomans and Germans to make an alliance. The Black Sea is far too important to Russia (see Crimean War, WWI). They absolutely would never allow a semi-hostile power to have control over the Black Sea.

Quote:
As far as where troops would be and how they would be protected, you ignore the fact that certain acts change the state of the war. "Fortress Europa" would have been realized and it could have been defended with minimal troop commitment (again, we are not talking about kicking off Barbarossa at the same time or under the same conditions as it actually was) It is true that as the Axis gained more territory, there was more to defend. However, most of the areas to defend would be consolidated allowing more resources to be deployed where needed.

Your last point about these "long, long supply lines" just does not take into account any of the conditions that would change as this scenario unfolds. The Axis standing on a new frontier opposing the Caucauses would get its oil from the middle east. (Where did the Allies get their oil?) They would be supplied either overland (through Turkey) or through ports in the middle east, and Persia (how were the Allies being supplied?)

Finally, you seem to assume that I am arguing something more than "Hilter made a mistake due to the fact there were better options available." I am not guaranteeing that he would have won the war, I am simply pointing out that the choices he made were mistakes because they decreased his chance of meeting his objectives in light of better options. In this case, had Hilter taken the Suez Canal, he would have provided the Axis with far more options and possibilities for winning the war.
And I simply disagree :-)

If the goal is to eliminate the Soviet Union as the ultimate threat that will destroy Germany I think the best option is to commit the heaviest punch possible towards doing that. These other moves of spreading forces around the globe seem to be just diluting strength. These moves would not help fight the Soviets at all. The idea that forces could be shipped across the sea, travel over the entire middle east and persia, and be assembled and supplied over that stretch in significant enough numbers to do anything other than be quickly overwhelmed and slaughtered by the Soviets at the outbreak of war is very unlikley imo.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:54 PM   #85
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

excellent discussion going on itt
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:40 AM   #86
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

Not an expert. But switching targets from RAF airfields to cities has to be one of the biggest mistakes.

According to the show on the military channel the RAF where at their breaking point. If Germany could have destroyed the RAF an invasion of Britain would have been possible.
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Old 01-25-2013, 06:13 PM   #87
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

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Not an expert. But switching targets from RAF airfields to cities has to be one of the biggest mistakes.

According to the show on the military channel the RAF where at their breaking point. If Germany could have destroyed the RAF an invasion of Britain would have been possible.
This was the thinking at the time of the battle and was reflected in books written in the first quarter century after the war. More recent analysis shows that this thinking was probably wrong. The number of available British pilots and aircraft rose each month of the battle. The losses in crew and craft were proportionately very similar between the British and the Germans. However, the British were able to more than completely replace their losses, while the Germans were not.

The misconception probably arises from British overestimation of the strength of the Luftwaffe and of Germany's rate of aircraft production and rate of crew training, combined with German underestimation of the strength of the RAF, overestimation of RAF losses and underestimation of RAF production and training.

If the show actually said that the RAF was at its breaking point, it was exagerating the concern at the time. A better representation would be that the RAF thought it was within two weeks of having to withdraw fighters from the southeastern Group command. They would still have been able to operate their bases in the other three Groups. Two of those three Groups actually provided the fighter cover over southeastern Britain, while the fighters based in the southeastern Group were responsible for interecepting raids before they reached Britain.

As it was, complete analysis of the situation seems to indicate that the breaking point, thought to be two weeks away, would never have been reached, The number of available British fighter aircraft never dropped more than 5% below what it was at the start of the battle. This despite the fact that the RAF never suspended leave rotation for pilots (Germany did not have enough fighter pilots to allow leave rotation), never transferred the significant portion of trained pilots serving in administrative positions to combat roles, and made no significant transfers of crew or aircraft to the southeastern Group from the other three Groups (2/3 of the Spitfires were serving in these other three groups). From August (when the Germans were still attacking airfields) onward, the RAF had more fighter pilots available than did the Germans.

In mid-September, in addition to the hastily trained replacements arriving at the existing squadrons, the RAF added several newly operational well-trained squadrons comprising 104 fighter aircraft (7% of current Fighter Command Strength), including the Polish squadron that had the highest kill rate of all RAF squadrons during the battle, and from then on fighter strength grew at an average of about 5% per week. This influx of whole new units, much more than any changes in loss rate that can be attrributed to a switch from attacking bases to cities, accounts for the turning of the tide.

The effects of attacking the airfields have also been overestimated. Generally, damage was repaired within the day. Only one control centre was ever destroyed, and that was by accident. Each sector airfield had a number of satellite airfields to which they could disperse aircraft. The British would also, from time to time, relocate control centres off-base. For instance, there was a control centre that operated out of a village butcher shop. The Germans never learned how the British fighter forces were controlled and had no idea which buildings to attack in order to disrupt control.

A switch to bombing the cities was in keeping with a leading theory of air warfare at the time. It held that air power alone could win wars, and the way to win air superiority was to make massive bombing raids on civilian targets, to draw the defending fighters into a battle at the time and location of the attacker's choosing, and then use the escorting fighters, combined with the defensive fire of the bombers, to destroy proportionately more of the defending fighters. Albert Kesselring, who commanded the Luftflotte responsible for the offensive on southeast England, was an enthusiastic supporter of this theory, and his boss, Hermann Goering, was at least a partial adherent. A variation of the same theory was followed by the USAAF later in the war.

In summary, it is not at all clear that a switch to city bombing was responsible for the Luftwaffe losing the Battle of Britain. "Correlation is not causation." Remember that Churchill wrote, after the war, "The only thing that really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril". That doesn't sound like somebody who thought Britain was at its breaking point during the Battle of Britain. Switching to city bombing was not one of Hitler's greatest mistakes, and may not have been a mistake at all.

Some useful books from the last decade or so:
"The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain", Stephen Bungay
"Stategy for Defeat: The Luftwaffe 1935-1945", Williamson Murray
"The Battle of Britain: The Myth and the Reality", Richard Overy
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:11 PM   #88
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

Thanks for that info. DTM can you tell me how close the Germans were to making the A-bomb.


I heard from some sources that all they needed was more hard water to complete it, and other sources say they were not even close?
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Old 01-26-2013, 02:57 AM   #89
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

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Thanks for that info. DTM can you tell me how close the Germans were to making the A-bomb.

I heard from some sources that all they needed was more hard water to complete it, and other sources say they were not even close?
I haven't read very much about that. I always had the impression that the Germans were never close, though if they had maintained a constant effort to develop the bomb fom 1939 they might have made a race of it. A problem the Germans faced was that their policies chased many of the key nuclear scientists out of Axis Europe to Britain and the US. Key scientists who left Europe because of facism include Felix Bloch, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, James Franck, Klaus Fuchs, Otto Frisch, Wolfgang Pauli, Rudolf Peierls, Emilio Segrè, Leó Szilárd, Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner. All of these were instrumental in the development of atomic theory and atomic weapons. Most of them worked on the Mahattan project, and the rest had significant influence on it. The scientists remaining in Germany spent some time researching nuclear fission for the army, but it was concluded that such research would not materially help the war effort, so the research was transfered to civilian control and given a lower priority.
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Old 01-26-2013, 04:42 PM   #90
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

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Hitler's insistence on exterminating the Jews diverted resources away from the war effort.
DoTheMath,

Would you please give me an analysis of the quoted proposition?

I thought your last most your best by the way ITT.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:33 PM   #91
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

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Hitler's insistence on exterminating the Jews diverted resources away from the war effort.
DoTheMath,

Would you please give me an analysis of the quoted proposition?
The statement is unquestionably true. It took a large organization to round up the Jews and staff the concentration camps.

OTOH, that effort also produced slave labour, confiscated wealth and and created an organization from which was eventually drawn some useful military force.

The statement suggests a dichotomy that the Nazis might not have accepted. To them, the extermination of the Jews was part of the war effort. To them the decision about how many men to allocate to rounding up and killing Jews was much like the decision about what proportion of steel production should be assigned to building U-boats rather than tanks.

While I think it is likely that the net effect of the effort was a drain on resources, I don't have any reason to believe that it made a material difference to the outcome of the war. More significant was that Hitler's belief in the inferiority of Jews and Slavs was what led him to undertake a war of conquest that was quite probably impossible for him to win.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:25 PM   #92
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Thank you for your considered response DoTheMath.

Do you play diplomacy? It is a board game made for someone like yourself. I bet you do play.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:35 PM   #93
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

[QUOTE=Al Mirpuri;36896370Do you play diplomacy? It is a board game made for someone like yourself. I bet you do play.[/QUOTE]I played Diplomacy for a while about a decade after it first came out. It was even used in a college course I took on international relations. For me, Diplomacy was the gateway drug to military simulations. The simulations, in turn, were a gateway to more serious study of military history.
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Old 02-04-2013, 03:43 PM   #94
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

Pretty sure killing all those jews has to rank up there somewhere.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:59 PM   #95
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

If I had to point to a critical mistake Hitler made, it would be not having a plan to fall back on if/when England and France don't knuckle under over Poland. Everything I've ever read agrees that the Germans were completely unprepared for England and France to actually follow through with the threats to go to war over Poland. Hitler supposedly slumped in his chair when told that the two powers had actually declared war on German and then asked his cabinet, "now what do we do?" He may have had a plan to deal with England and France at some point (meaning in the mid 1940s, after he finished off the Soviets), but the England/France situation completely disrupted his entire plan for the war.

As far as the Japan/Far East/Eastern Front/Collision Course with the US conversation is concerned, there is a long, but excellent, book on the subject by Alvin Coox (not Cox) entitled Nomanhan: Japan Against Russia, 1939. It goes into the detail about that nasty border war between the Japanese and Russians in Manchuria, how after the defeat the only direction the Japanese could expand into was Indochina and the Pacific (which put them on a collision course with the US) and how Hitler's whole point in declaring war on the US was to get the Japanese to invade Siberia in 1942, something the Japanese had no intentions of doing after the beating they took in 1939.
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Old 02-07-2013, 03:09 AM   #96
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

I'm also not an expert but I'm pretty sure I've read/seen somewhere that the highest levels of the German Army never believed they could successfully win the war (although 1940 surprise successes temporarily changed their mind), and they thought Hitler would lead Germany to ruin. There were on and off discussions amongst the military leadership dating well back into the 1930's about possible coup attempts, and the plans for Fall Gelb pretty much imply that the Germans were going for broke at the beginning of the war.

In fact if it weren't for the incompetence and timidity of the Allies at the beginning of the war, the Germans probably would have never gotten off the ground and running beyond 1940.

French could have easily broken through the Siegfried Line and invaded Germany in Fall 1939 ... given how depleted German forces were after their invasion of Poland, the French likely would have made quick work of the Germans and ended the war right there. But they didn't have the political will to do it.

May 1940 you think of the lack of coordination between the Allies ... the incompetence displayed was so bad one could be excused for believing it was intentional ... saboteurs maybe?

Pretty much any competent leadership could have prevented Belgian, French 1st Army, and BEF from becoming encircled... and even when they had been encircled, any competent leadership would have had reserves ready to counter-attack and wipe out Guderian and the Panzers, allowing for a breakout and basically crippling the German army.

I mean, it's not like the Allies didn't have the German battle plans in their possession or anything (they did), or didn't have accurate intelligence reports about the German forces stuck in a traffic jam in the Ardennes (they did).
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:02 PM   #97
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

Is there any realistic scenario what would have happened if Stalin surrendered to Hitlor?
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:58 AM   #98
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

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Is there any realistic scenario what would have happened if Stalin surrendered to Hitlor?
I'm being kind of a nit here but Stalin would have never surrendered to Hitler. If it came down to surrendering Stalin would have been removed from power by the Communist Party and executed then whoever took his place would have surrendered to the Germans.
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Old 06-06-2013, 04:00 AM   #99
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

I think breaking the treaty with Russia had a big impact.
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Old 06-06-2013, 05:29 AM   #100
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Re: Hitler's Mistakes

His biggest mistake was blaming the Jews IMO. He had a lot of great thoughts about the world, but now he just has the devil stamp.
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