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OT: A burning question..

 
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OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 1:31:06 AM   
Footslogger

 

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Since Operation Sealion would not have worked, and Germany had a small navy at the time, I wonder what would happen if?

Lets say that Germans didn't attack the Soviet Union in 1941, but a later date like in 1942 or whenever Stalin wanted to. And since the Germans were poised to attack the British back in 1940, that makes 2 years for Germany to build a navy. Would that have worked?



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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 2:24:48 AM   
Ketza


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Not really.

I would explain my position but I have had a little too much to drink tonight.

*hic*

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 3:43:25 AM   
Aurelian

 

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http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/de-kriegsmarine-plan-z.htm

In January 1939 Hitler approved the Z-Plan building program and subsequently abrogated the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, with the understanding that he would take all the necessary diplomatic actions to prevent war prior to 1944. The invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, made Hitler's intentions for immediate war crystal clear and the Z-Plan was no longer a viable option. The naval building plan shifted focus to the rapid completion of the two battleships and cruiser already under construction. The submarine building program was accelerated to produce twenty to thirty U-boats per month

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 3:50:00 AM   
DorianGray

 

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From what I recall from various readings on the subject of Sealion, German air superiority over the English channel was an absolute necessity - one that was never fully achieved by the Luftwaffe for a variety of reasons.

If air superiority could have been achieved there is the possibility that the German Kriegsmarine (with Luftwaffe & U-boat support) would have been able to support an amphibious landing in 1940 while the British were still recovering from staggering equipment losses that they just suffered in northern France. Additionally, the British were ill prepared to withstand an amphibious assault in 1940.

Another year or two of German naval production would not have been sufficient enough to overcome 2 years of defensive preperation by the British. By that time the British would have their own "Atlantic Wall".

From 1940-1942, Germany only produced a handful of new capital ships and 0 aircraft carriers. Many of these were already in the works before the war began in 1939.

Now, there is the possibility of a German / Italian amphibious assault *if* Gibralter could be taken to allow the Italian fleet into the north Atlantic, but that is another discussion entirely.



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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 4:29:18 AM   
Footslogger

 

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Very interesting! What did the Italians have? I do remember Mussolini telling Hitler that it would be 7 Years before he was ready for war. And more about the Gibralter defenses too.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 9:17:01 AM   
DorianGray

 

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http://www.comandosupremo.com/RegiaMarina.html

Italy had a sizeable WWII surface fleet.

If Gibralter could be secured by the Axis (unleahing the Italian fleet into the Atlantic), it is very plausible for a joint German / Italian naval operation to acheive the required naval supreriority in the Altantic sufficient enough to support a cross-channel amphibious assault.

< Message edited by DorianGray -- 10/14/2012 9:18:15 AM >

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 9:37:48 AM   
Apollo11


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Hi all,

Whilst theoretically possible - the Italian warships were made only with Mediterranean operations in mind...

Also, whilst looking beautiful, Italian warships were inferior to British counterparts in almost every aspect... Italian Navy war record (except for few bright exceptions) was abysmal at the best...


Leo "Apollo11"

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 2:24:30 PM   
carlkay58

 

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The Italian Navy also had one of the largest handicaps in the world at the time - the Italian Navy command. The Italian Navy very rarely ventured out of port - the fear of losing or damaging one of their ships froze them into place and they never really attempted to take on the Royal Navy in the Med let alone elsewhere.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 3:57:15 PM   
turtlefang

 

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The Germans only had a short time to make a Sea Lion operation work. The longer the British had after the fall of France to prepare, the less likely an invasion had a chance to succeed. The British Army simply would rearm faster than any German naval building campaign could produce ships or landing craft.

The Germans, even without and invasion of Russia, would still face:

1) Having to station a large garrison on the East Front; remember, the Soviets had increased thier army by millions of men in 1939-40 and they only had one target. So Hitler would have had to position the majority of his army on the East Front even if he had not invaded.
2) The German's demobilzed thier war industry footing after the fall of France. Without the East Front going to a full war time footing to build up the navy would have been highly unpopular and highly unlikely. Heck, even with it, it wasn't until late 43 or 44 that Germany achieved a full war time footing.
3) The British has such a lead in naval forces that it would have taken mor than 2 yrs for the Germans to catch up. They might have been able to put more resources into the UBoat campaign but that would only have indirectly help an invasion, not directly help by starving Britian of resources.
4) The Italian Navy, while it would add a lot to the German strenght, just wasn't up to the task. The Italian BB were light weights compared to the British BBs, they were not designed to function at thier optimium level in the Atlantic, and many didn't come on line until middle or late 42.

Bottomline, if the Germans weren't ready in 40, they lost thier chance. And they weren't ready in 40.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 5:29:11 PM   
Klydon


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The Italian fleet was numerically large and while the new battleships (Littorio) were very good and on a even footing with any British Battleship afloat, there were not enough of them and the older battleships were inferior to anything the British called a battleship. Most of the heavy cruisers outside of the Zara class were very lightly armored.

The issue for the Germans was not necessarily getting an invasion force ashore, but rather keeping it in supply and have the ability to send reenforcements.

The benefit for a delay for the Germans was not necessarily for the Kriegsmarine, but rather developments for the Luftwaffe. One of the big reasons the Germans lost the Battle of Britain was because the Me-109's were so short legged and drop tanks were not available. This left the bomber force vulnerable to RAF countermeasures. A delay would have meant a stronger RAF as well, but by then drop tanks would have been available and depending on when action was started, the British could have been facing FW-190's. While the 109 and Spitfire were about even, the 190 was a vastly superior aircraft in so many ways.

Sea Lion was in trouble for two big reasons even before the Battle of Britain started. The first was the losses and damage suffered by the Kriegsmarine during the Norwegian campaign and the second was the successful withdraw of the BEF from France. Even though the solders did not have much in the way of equipment, they were still trained and were not green troops. Had Britain needed to raise new formations AND equip them, a smaller German invasion force may have gotten the job done.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/14/2012 8:59:59 PM   
Footslogger

 

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And if the Luftwaffe put its' research into high gear, I wonder what kind of planes it would have come out with? A heavy bomber force? Better planes for paratroop drops? Plus higher production of aircraft could have been better during the Battle for Britian. I think the Germans could of used Luftwaffes I, II, and III and have Luftwaffe IV in defense of the eastern front.

If you remeber the battle for Crete, the 7th parachute and 5th mountain Divisons took heavy losses and Hitler forbid any kind of operation like that agian. I suppose Hitler never wanted to attack the British. But attacking the Russians so early, without taking down the British first I believe to be a mistake.

< Message edited by Footslogger -- 10/15/2012 1:21:25 AM >

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/15/2012 1:02:45 PM   
jaw

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Footslogger

Since Operation Sealion would not have worked, and Germany had a small navy at the time, I wonder what would happen if?

Lets say that Germans didn't attack the Soviet Union in 1941, but a later date like in 1942 or whenever Stalin wanted to. And since the Germans were poised to attack the British back in 1940, that makes 2 years for Germany to build a navy. Would that have worked?






Your supposition ignores the fundamental reason Germany went to war in the first place: to expand the Reich eastward to secure the resources necessary to make Germany a true superpower. Diverting additional resources to invade Britian in 1941 would do nothing to improve Germany's resource position while giving the Soviet Union even more time to restructure the Red Army and further expand its military production. Given his war objectives, Hitler was correct to abandon Sea Lion in favor of Barbarossa.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/15/2012 2:29:57 PM   
turtlefang

 

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jaw -

Excellent point.

And there is no reason to believe that Stalin would wait two years to declare war on Germany. He was convinced that a showdown was coming, it only remained when and who struck first, not if.

Or than Japan would still not have launched Pearl Harbor and the US entered the war. Which would have radically changed Britain ability to defend itself.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/15/2012 8:57:27 PM   
Footslogger

 

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[/quote]

Your supposition ignores the fundamental reason Germany went to war in the first place: to expand the Reich eastward to secure the resources necessary to make Germany a true superpower. Diverting additional resources to invade Britian in 1941 would do nothing to improve Germany's resource position while giving the Soviet Union even more time to restructure the Red Army and further expand its military production. Given his war objectives, Hitler was correct to abandon Sea Lion in favor of Barbarossa.

[/quote]

From the different interprations, I'm not sure if Hitler could ever win. Many times I have heard that the main problem was Hitler himself.

If you were in Hitler's place, what would you have done different?

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/15/2012 9:26:59 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: jaw
Your supposition ignores the fundamental reason Germany went to war in the first place: to expand the Reich eastward to secure the resources necessary to make Germany a true superpower. Diverting additional resources to invade Britian in 1941 would do nothing to improve Germany's resource position while giving the Soviet Union even more time to restructure the Red Army and further expand its military production. Given his war objectives, Hitler was correct to abandon Sea Lion in favor of Barbarossa.


Well, but Hitler also had said that fighting (in WW1) a two fronts war had been a big mistake and that he would be avoiding that. In fact, this is (along with the German structural weakness which made a long war prohibitive) the deep reasoning behind the Blitzkrieg Doctrine (because politics -and not the other way around- shape military operations). Quick, lethal blows, one step (or enemy), then another one. Finish one enemy, then bring another one.

Not finishing the British proved Herr Hitler was a sloppy guy. I doubt they would have finished them in the first place. The British were realist and knew that despite the mighty Royal Navy, perhaps they could not stop the Germans from assaulting the British Isles. The important, vital issue was to cut these forces off though. And this they thought they could 100% do it. Then the isolated units would be more or less harmless and could be finished or at least neutralized.

< Message edited by TulliusDetritus -- 10/15/2012 9:30:12 PM >


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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/15/2012 9:29:16 PM   
Schmart

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Footslogger
From the different interprations, I'm not sure if Hitler could ever win. Many times I have heard that the main problem was Hitler himself.

If you were in Hitler's place, what would you have done different?


There is the fundamental German problem of a two-front war. They were pretty much damned if you do damned if you don't. Had they focused on France/Britain in 1939 (avoiding Poland until later), it might have given them the breathing space to later take on the east, but was the Wehrmacht of 1939 capable of taking on France and Britain like it did in 1940? I'm not so sure. The rapid collapse of Poland probably did much to demoralize the French and British in 1940.

One of the few chances of success would've required full-war production right from the start, not the half-hearted production (and even scaled-back production at certain times) before 1943. Then there was all the in-fighting between regional party officials and administrations running as mini personal empires, rather than full committment to the war. Even when Speer starting turning the economy around, the fragmented, un-coordinated, and inefficient design and production system along with resistance from regional party officials were obstacles right until the bitter end.

Compare the Allied total war production effort to that of the Germans: Scrap metal/material drives, women in factories, suspending pretty much all non-essential civilian production, etc. The Germans were a long-ways off to any of that.

Basically, the Nazis mis-managed the German war economy in the 1930s, and failed to implement the appropriate production policies and planning. Ego, self-interest and delusion were the order of the day for those in charge of production pre-Speer. It was the politically reliable good 'ol boys from the SA/brown shirt days that moved up the ladder and were running society/government at that point. These were not gifted industrialists, managers, bureaucrats, etc. They were goons and bullies. The Nazi party system was very far from the model of German efficiency. It was rotten to its core and short of handing things over to the Army and a Speer-like organizing committee in the late 1930s (of course that would have entailed subordinating Nazi ideology to other interests, naturally defeating the whole purpose of seizing power), they had no real hope.

< Message edited by Schmart -- 10/15/2012 9:43:30 PM >

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/15/2012 11:36:10 PM   
carlkay58

 

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Hitler overreached himself. First he overreached politically and then economically and then militarily. A fatal combination to anyone in history regardless of abilities. Napoleon had done the same 140 years earlier.

Hitler was able to rebuild the military and the West did nothing. He then marched back into the Ruhr and the West did nothing. He merged Austria into Greater Germany and the West did nothing. He took over Czechoslovakia and the West applauded 'Peace in our Time'. So he continued into Poland and was utterly shocked that the West declared war! But the West then stood still and watched as Germany quickly conquered Poland and shared portions of it with the Soviets. So the war began when Hitler overreached politically.

Then the Soviets invaded the Baltic States and the West did nothing. The West stood by and watched the Soviets fight the Finns and outlast them. The only aid the Finns really got came from Germany. So Germany invaded Denmark and Norway and turned the French and British troops back with minor difficulties. But France and Britain continued being at war with Germany - so Germany went after France and the lowland countries (Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands). Ooops - less than six weeks later and only Britain remained! But then the treaty with France ended up with Greater Germany adding a lot of area and population but very little additional farm land - so Hitler overreached economically as the bad situation within Germany before the war became even worse as he added more additional people than additional food resources. So the food shortage was increasing and becoming even more critical.

Britain refused to make peace or release their blockade. This meant that Germany needed to find another food source quickly. Defeating the British would only increase the food problems - once again adding more people and very little additional food resources. And with the British obstinance, the British government could fall back on Canada or India and continue its naval blockade on all of Europe. So there was only a single direction left to go - east. The Ukraine was the breadbasket of the Soviet Union. It produced more food and had more agricultural land France and Germany combined. There really was no where else Hitler could turn to for food within reach. As long as the US food exports were denied them, there just was no other large food source available.

So then Hitler overreached himself militarily and went East into the Soviet Union. The rest is WitE!


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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/16/2012 1:57:23 AM   
turtlefang

 

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"Everything I undertake is directed against Russia. If the West is too stupid and too blind to comprehend this, I will be forced to reach an understanding with the Russians, turn and strike the West, and then after their defeat turn back against the Soviet Union with my collected strength. I need the Ukraine and with that no one can starve us out as they did in the last war."

Hitler to Burckhardt August 11, 1939

It sums up what happened, and lays out at one least one strategy as to why.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/16/2012 2:04:36 AM   
Rufus T. Firefly


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Speaking of over-reaching, I've always wondered "what if" the Germans had forseen the easy conquest of France (which if I recall somewhat surprised them) and had planned Sealion in advance as a single unified operation with the invasion of France. Build and mobolize sufficient barges in advance. Concentrate on destroying the British Air and ground forces on the continent, even if it slowed the blitzkreig. As it was, the British were left so reeling after Dunkirk that a sudden decent on the coast by a couple of German divisions *might* have brought about a quick surrender. Or not.

It is of course rather absurd to imagine that anyone would ever have the foresight to consider, let alone be able do deal with the practical difficulties of putting together such a plan, but it is fun to think about wargaming it.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/16/2012 2:29:12 AM   
turtlefang

 

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In my opinion, the German's simply had no chance of making Sea Lion work unless the British were completely incompentent.

1) The German airforce did not have an effective torpedo until the finally borrowed the Italian torpedo. The German aerial torpedo simply didn't work.
2) German level bombers and dive bombers proved highly ineffective in the first part of the war. They had neither the training or the right bombs for naval attacks at this time - and during 1940 & 41, when they did attack British naval units, did not succeed.
3) The British station a large number of destroyers, light cruisers, heavy crusiers and BB in home waters. These British were perfectly willing to commit these warships to the channel to stop any invasion. These included up to 70 DDs, 6-8 crusiers and 2-4 BBs at different times.
4) The standard German barges are estimated to required between 12 and 24 hours to transit the channel - plenty of time for a surface intervention even if the British air force couldn't.
5) 2 divisions simply wouldn't have been enough to do anything - barely seize a port much less take over enough territory to secure a beach head.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/16/2012 10:45:06 PM   
FM WarB

 

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Every ton of good Krupp Steel used to build a ship instead of a tank was a mis allocation of precious assets. The Kaiser made a similar mistake building his navy before WW 1.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/16/2012 10:58:59 PM   
Footslogger

 

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If Germany attacked just France and the British and not Poland, would the Pols have declared war on Hitler?

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/17/2012 3:05:24 AM   
dave_wolf

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: FM WarB

Every ton of good Krupp Steel used to build a ship instead of a tank was a mis allocation of precious assets. The Kaiser made a similar mistake building his navy before WW 1.

Completely different circumstances.

Building a serious navy was seen as a necessity for a potential 'global player' (as it still is). And it was only a waste of resources if you were stupid enough to challenge the one single sea power too big and too close to take on, the UK.

And keeping the UK out of the war was quite possible. Then they could have blown both the French and the Russian navies out of the water and protected the sea lanes, instead of being blockaded. Which would have made a huge difference!

In '39 the German surface fleet wasn't even prepared to fight the French navy (without an air screen anyway)! You cannot compare the two scenarios.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/17/2012 3:06:45 AM   
dave_wolf

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Footslogger

If Germany attacked just France and the British and not Poland, would the Pols have declared war on Hitler?

Probably not. But it's a moot question since Hitler had no intention to go west.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/24/2012 10:02:49 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Footslogger



If you were in Hitler's place, what would you have done different?
warspite1

Simple, if I were Hitler and I knew it, I would shoot myself.....

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/25/2012 1:13:31 AM   
turtlefang

 

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Taking Hitler's insane policies of how he treated ethic groups off the table (Holicaust, Russian people policy, etc...), his strategic options were limited by 1939.

1) Attack Poland and then go west.
2) Attack Poland and go east.
3) Back down and give up expansion posibilities knowing that the USSR would, most likely, invade at some point.

Given that he misjudged the British/French in regards to Poland, he really needed to finish off the west. And he did that to the best of his ability. Germany had no chance to knock Britian out of the war once Britian made the decision that they would not make a deal with Germany after France fell. Unless the U boats could bring the British to thier knees. And reality was, that Britian has no chance of defeating Germany at that point.

Then he could only look to the East and either:

1) Attack Russia
2) Wait to be attack by Russia

And he chose to attack.

The big strategic mistakes Germany made, in my opinion, was:

a) declaring war on the United States. I must admit I have never really understood the rational for Hitler declaring war on the US. And I think this would have delayed the entry of the US into the shooting war in Europe for a long time.
b) Not deciding to "go here and no further" in Russia. Once 41 passed, the Germans should have decided on a defensive line and set one up along a major river with whatever resources secured by the end of the 42 summer. Then forcing the Russians to wear themselves out.
c) Supporting the Italians to finish off the sideshow in North Africa when the decision was made to go in to the area. Putting in the resources they put in just made sure it would drag on out. Or stay out. I know the original orders to Rommel were a "limited offensive" but that just creates a bleeding sore.
e) Stay at a war time economy in 39.

And Hitler would probably have to drop the UBoat campaign. Too big a chance of the US using that an excuse to go to war.

Truth is, I don't know that Hitler looked at things on a long term basis. Or that he was rational and could follow a rational strategy.

And once he made the decision to attack Poland, don't know that many strategic options actually existed at that point. The die was petty much cast. Especially if you assume that Japan was going to attack the US.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/25/2012 6:51:49 AM   
warspite1


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I would recommend you read Ostkrieg for answers to your questions above. The problem with the stop line was that Germany simply could not afford to do that.

Two main reasons A) she was desperately short of raw materials (Hitler's whole raison d'être was to invade the Soviet Union to make Germany self sufficient in future - the Ukraine would be her bread basket and the Caucasus would provide her oil. Other key materials like coal, manganese etc were also to be found in the USSR) and was becoming increasingly short of manpower. After the winter of 41, losses could no longer be made good. B) that strategy would not work because Hitler knew he had to kill off Russia before the US came into play.

In summary, having chosen to wage war against Stalin, Hitler found himself in a situation whereby he had no choice but to see that gamble through to it's final conclusion - one way or another.

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RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/25/2012 5:32:40 PM   
turtlefang

 

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I have read Ostkrieg. I am less than impressed with it due to a large number of factual errors and will leave it at that.

After Hitler decided to go to war over Poland, I don't think he had any good strategic options. Britain made the decision to keep fighting; the USSR made the decision to not fold and surrender. At that point, Hitler had probably lost no matter what he did. The only question was how long and when. Not much different than Napoleon 140 yrs earlier.

The stop line and trying to keep the US out of the war - or out for as long as possible - was the only chance he had to win. If he could bleed the Soviets long enough, he might force a truce or potentially get the communist to turn on each other. Both highly unlikely but his only chance. And if he could keep the US out of the war long enough, it gave him longer to try and succeed in the East.

As far as the economic argument goes, I don't buy it. In four years, Germany never tried to organize the Ukraine into an economic/food producing area. Just look at the production stats. They did some looting, but even here it was fairly random and very inefficient. While he keep using the economic argument with his generals, reality was that NO PREPARATIONS were ever made by Germany to move oil out of the Caucasus or turn the Ukraine into a breadbasket. In France & Belgium, the Germans did organize stuff into war supporting assets. You never saw anything like that on the Eastern front. Or even the start of that type of preparation. All the advance did after the mid summer of 42 did was extend the front and set it up for a military collapse.

As far as production goes, look at Germany's output increase during the strategic bombing campaign. What do you think would have happened if it could have conserved losses with a stop line and kept the US out of the war for one or two years and no strategic bombing campaign (or a minimum one by the British) would have looked like?

Reality is that Germany, or Hitler, if you prefer, made some very serious strategic mistakes very early and one of the biggest was not moving to a war time economy in 1940.

Now, whether these strategic actions could have changed the war, don't know. As a friend once told me, when you have only long odds to win and every thing else gets you killed, take the long odds, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Once Hitler went to war, he really didn't have a lot of options. But he misplayed the few he had.

(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 28
RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/25/2012 5:40:34 PM   
turtlefang

 

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As far as why Hitler invaded Russia, a lot of ink has been spilled over that one. But I believe that it had more to do with Hitler's belief in the inevitable battle of philosophies (fascism vs. communism) and races (Germanic vs. Slavic). He spoke - or ranted - about this for decades and stated that a total war was coming Germany and Russia. In Mein Kampf he goes on about this for chapters and chapters. As well as dozens of other places.

Much of the early war - in his speeches - is setting the stage for the final meeting between the two totalitarian philosophies. Germany did want to secure the western front to avoid a two front war but Hitler always regard this as the prelude to the "Great War".

The resources and living space was the justification and spoils of the war. Not the driving force behind it. If that were true, he could just have easily depopulated France and used it as a breadbasket and industrial complex to resettle millions of Germans for decades.

But, as I said, this is my opinion - and a lot of ink has been spilled over this one.

(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 29
RE: OT: A burning question.. - 10/25/2012 11:02:01 PM   
warspite1


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As you say that is your opinion. But I think you have got it wrong - not a whole lot of oil in France is there? I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

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(in reply to turtlefang)
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