Sunday, August 31, 2008

People Love What Ifs.... Hitler Wins This Time

In the last few months, I have read books on the rise and fall of the 3rd reich, Stalin's triwsted and cruel dictatorship of Russia, and the conflict between the Nazis & Soviets in WW2. Previously, I blogged about multiple ways Hitler could have been stopped before World War 2 became a huge Euro-conflict. The Pacific theater would have still been a major event without the Euro action. I will discuss how Hitler could have won the Euro theater that he was doomed to lose. I say doomed because from a materials and manpower standpoint, by late December of 1941 he was taking on two of most industrious nations in the World with combined populations far greater than greater Germany and Russia, which ruined Napolean and the French.

Hitler and Germany's main problem was that they did not understand the British and underestimated the Americans. They could not understand why the British would not 'settle' with them, when for decades if not centuries the policy of England was to not allow one nation to dominate the Continent. Their view of Americans was very weak because they did not have a network of spies there, and fell back on crass racial views of the country. Hitler was dumb enough to say that once he had settled Europe, he would move to take on America. This moves beyond his idea of just achieving "Lebensraum" for the Germans in the east. He never thought Americans would fight, as the Jazz Age must have twisted German views of America. After the spring of 1941, Hitler had virtually every country in Europe either allied with him or under occupation. Britain stood alone. America was not directly involved yet, and the Russians were "buddies". How could he have kept the momentum going and set the Reich up for a long reign. I'll start with least likely, and then move to closest to what truly happened, as Hitler was a frickin' psychopath who would not stop with his obsession of destroying the Bolsheviks and gaining lebensraum (see Mein Kampf). Somethign twisted with how the Soviets and the Nazis were on complete opposite ends of the spectrum and geographic neighbors, and almost had to tussle on an epic proportion.

Not going to happen but most likely would have worked....

1. Do nothing more. Set up a European Union with Germany the dominant country. Defend against British air raids, and try to show the rest of the world that you don't mean Britain harm, hoping that other world leaders will force the UK to settle. Then carry out his horrible policies against eastern europe, hoping the current eastern european landmass would be enough lebensraum. At that point, an EU dominated by Germany could have served as a weird balance between the USA/UK and the USSR.

2. Think globally. Hurt the British Empire, faking an invasion of the UK but moving against them elsewhere. Do not force the Battle of Britain, therefore losing tons of planes and other materials. Instead, seize Gibraltar (with or without the Spanish) and Malta, run the length of the Mediterranean southern coast to the Suez canal and go for the oil fields in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, etc. Hitting the Brits in the Imperial groin would have been effective at cutting their supply of raw materials, forcing a settlement. Being cut off from raw materials and starving, the Brits would have settled if it left their island intact and not destroyed by invasion nor bombing. This would have provided the oil to keep the war machine going against a potential war with Russia. After reading several sources, one of Hitler's goals of invading Russia was getting to raw materials and oil resources. I don't understand why he took on the Russian bear to get to the Middle East instead of trying to softer underside of the Mediterranean. Then attack Russia with Operation Barbarossa.

Now we get closer to what actually happened. Taking on Russia without finishing off the UK was Hitler's downfall. Taking on Russia alone still would have been Hitler's downfall.

3. An invasion of Russia through Turkey. Either negotiate passage through Turkey with their government's blessing or just inade them as Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Holland. From there, either go to the Middle East and secure some oil resources for a later invasion of Russia or use Eastern Turkey as a staging grounds for a blitz up the Caucasus Mountains to grab the Caspian Sea and Caucasus oil fields by surprise and cut up through the south of Russia. The Russians were truly surprised by Operation Barbarossa, even though agents gave them the exact date of the invasion. They did not believe the Germans would do it. That element of surprise would still be there in this plan, but they could attack the Russian oil field area first, as well as attack the Ukraine through Southeastern Europe. This still would have left Troops available to attack through the Minsk-Moscow axis. All this plan does is shift resources down from the Northern Attack route (and some from the central attack) to a southern route. The Russians would expect a direct assault, so they would concentrate forces on the path to Moscow rather than try to stop a Caucasus invasion, which unbeknownest to them would be the primary objective. It nabs precious resources when the Russkis are asleep instead of a failed attempt a year after the Russians are on alert as happened in real life. In real history, when the Germans did make it to some of the oil fields, the Russians had destroyed them just in time sot hat the Germans reached the spot for nothing. With surprise, they could have kept some oil intact. This would have stabilized the natural resource problem for the Germans, and would have prevented the rapid transport of industry that kept the Soviet war machine alive since they would have cut off some railroads going east to the Urals and Siberia. If this were as successful as the initial 5 months of Barbarossa, this would have forced the Soviets to settle (which they made feeble attempts to in late '41) or courageously fall back to Kuibyshev or further east. Either way, it puts the evil Nazis in a better spot than the original Barbarossa.

4. Force the Japanese to take some action of the Soviets eastern side as a condition for waging war against America if the Japanese are attacked. Hitler's foreign policy team was weak, and after initial success, he lost his ability to read his opponents. Hitler was dumb in declaring war on the USA, which I will tackle next, but he could have forced the Japanese to give some support vs. Russia. The japanese were smart, so even just limited engagement would have helped the German cause. The Japanese knew the Russians were fierce after skirmishes in the late '30s with Russia in Manchuria, but the least they could have done was bomb Russian military installations, camps, supply depots, etc. timed with the start of Barbarossa. Creating a two front war for Russia would have been too much for the Soviets. The Soviets' sacrifice was great in WW2, but attacks on the East or even just bombings by the well trained and experienced Japanese air squadrons in spring of '41, would have been too much. part of the Soviets strength was their ability to bring in millions of men from the east to concentrate on the Nazis. With Japan wiping out material and some men at the start, those reinforcements are partially gone. With a menace in the East, the Soviets have to decide how to split resources. In 1941, with Stalin controlling so much of the decision making, this probably would have been a horrendous defeat.

5. As Operation Barbarossa rolled through Belorussia and the Ukraine, the Germans act friendly to the natives and ask them to help the fight against the Soviets. The Soviet regime had been horrible to the Ukraine. Instead of wasting time slaughtering civilians, the Germans should have been "nice" and offered liberation in exchange for cooperation. Making the war a war against the Soviet regime instead of vs. Russia would have helped the propaganda side and the hearts and minds battle. The Soviet regime had a tenuous grasp on the country, and they turned the war against Germany as a war for Russia which gave the regime credibility and rallied the people. Friendly natives and resources directed against fighting instead of genocide would have gone a long way in not just attacking the Soviets but in creating a better defense if they had to fall back.

Everything happens as it does in real history except one thing in December of 1941...

6. Do not declare war on the USA. Germany did not have to declare war on America because their agreement with Japan said they would fight with Japan in the event Japan was attacked. This is Hitler at his dumbest, because he stupidly takes on another giant foe when there is no need to do so. This would be a roll of the dice that America would not declare war on Germany, which if you read the history books, is a credible possibility. America was extremely isolationist in the 1930s, and even after Pearl Harbor, the desire was to take down the Japanese as they had attacked us. FDR understood the dangers of the Nazis, and allowed the British and Russians to swing him into the "Germany first, Japan second" plan of attack. American planners imagined a German defeat in maybe 1946, and at best a Japanese defeat two years later. It's amazing how history unfolds. I still think this results in a German defeat. On the other hand, without American supplies to the Brits & Russians and manpower in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and eventually the Italian and French invasions, it would have been a long hard fight for the Russians with the Brits just providing bombings on Germany and naval warfare. In the end, I would envision the Soviet troops marching their way across the Continent and turning Europe into a giant collection of Communist states.

Hitler was going to lose with his course of action, and the world is better for his loss. It is horrifying to think of what would have happened had Hitler won. Would the world have been in a never ending battle of free countries vs. Germany and her client states? Yes. How many more Jews and non-Germans would have died in an expanded Holocaust? Millions. Would a Cold War with Germany been even uglier than the real Cold War? Possibly, see below. Would the Russkis have just fallen back to the Urals creating a never ending guerilla front for the Germans to continuously fight and the USA to secretly encourage the Russians to continue? Most likely. When would they have got the A-bomb, and where would they use it first? Hard to say, but launching one on a V-2 rocket from a submarine at London, Washington or NYC is a distinct possiblity. With their head start in rocket technology, that is the scariest thought. Would the Germans have reached space and the moon first since their leading rocket scientist became the father of NASA (Thanks Operation Paperclip) and placed weapons in space? Cold War would have been mighty chilly with nuclear winter or EMP weapons usage. These are all horrible things to consider, and thankfully, they are just what ifs.

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