Ronald Lameck wrote:... A German-Polish alliance would have meant no war with the West.
Before a German-Polish alliance, would the U.S.S.R. still try to expand into Finland, the Baltic states, and Rumania's Bessarabia?
But, starting 600 Km. further east, with a navy not weakened by the Norway campaign. and fresh parachute troops, I believe that a German-Polish offensive beginning in June, 1940, could have taken both Leningrad and Moscow long before snow fell. I doubt that Stalin could have remained in power after this, and I doubt that the U.S.S.R. could survive - especially without the huge amount of aid it historically received from the West.
2 French navy: Many French ships would be in Mediterranean ports. If all France was occupied, I doubt the Royal Navy would try to attack them underneath the Luftwaffe, which historically so devastated the R.N. at Crete. As the Japanese showed in Dec. 1941 with Prince of Wales, even the 1st-line R.N. ships could not stand up to air attack.
3. Free French: They were of little value until AFTER N. Africa was cleared of Axis forces and they could be equipped with U.S. ordnance.
4. Crews for surrendered French ships: The Kriegsmarine could already supply many trained sailors from the ships it lost in the Norway campaign. Perhaps a few less U-boats could sail for a while, but the control of the Mediterannean (especially if Unternehmen "Merkur" was implemented) and ability to greatly increase escort of supply ships to the Afrika Korps would make this worthwhile.
5. 1st-line R.N. in Med: Exactly WHAT 1st-line R.N. ships were used in the Med. PRIOR to 2nd Alamein? None I can think of.
6. R.N. power in Med.: After Crete, R.N. power in the area was weak. The mining of Queen Elizabeth and Valiant made a dire situation. Only poor Axis intelligence prevented expolitation of that situation.
7. What else instead of "Sitzkrieg"?: In October 1939, Germany should have invaded Denmark and Netherlands. Neither required any great effort, time or troops. Both historically fell before the Allies could meaningfully act. The economies of both countries could have been "looted" immediately. German forces in Denmark may have dampened British incursions into Norwegian waters and the "Weserubung" may not have been needed. That would have preserved many ships for the Kriegsmarine to use elsewhere later.
With Netherlands occupied, the Allies may have felt obligated to move into Belgium - possibly even further northeast than the Dyle Plan prescribed. Then, when the Wehrmacht did attack in 1940, it still would have effected a breakthrough. Its armour tactics and superiority in machine guns would virtually guarantee this. But the, the British Army would be cut off far from sea ports. There could be no Dunkirk. With those 300,000 British troops dead or P.W.'s, even a raging hawk lilke Churchill - the man who said "It's better to jaw, jaw than to war, war" - might have taken his own counsel and seriously considered peace offers.
Ronald Lameck wrote:For lwd: I think we both acknowledge:
We have drifted so far off the originating question as to be in another ocean.
We agree our answer to "Was it due to Italy Germany lost the war?" is an emphatic "No".
Re: Had Poland and Germany allied in 1939.
It was proposed as early as their 1934 Non-aggression Pact. Its likelihood was suggested in 1938 when, as Czechoslovakia was carved up, Poland helped itself to a chunk (Hungary's later alliance with Germany arose at least partly from Czech real estate IT acquired at that time courtesy of Germany.). If a P-G alliance was made, it would negate Chamberlain's foolhardy "guarantee." Hitler would be tacitly given the "free hand in the East" that was all he really wanted.
Re: Nazi-Soviet Pact.
The Pact really only affirmed intentions long held by Hitler and Stalin. Hitler aimed to crush Bolshevism and build a Grossdeutschland in the East, similar to the U.S. in N. America.
Re: Barbarossa "surprise" & Stalin Line
FAR too much is made by (mostly Soviet) authors on these points. Only an idiot would have been surprised by the Nazi attack.
Re: French navy.
Perhaps the most contentious point of those I raised. By the historic surrender date, over half of France was over-run. I doubt the French army, with the scant resources it had left, could have held on more than a few weeks. Surrender of the fleet could have been made a surrender condition.
It had a large number of bombers. Quality aerial torpedoes or not, as U.S. Gen. "Billy" Mitchell showed in 1925, bombs sink ships too.
... Re: Crews for French ships
Britain was able to put 50 U.S. "Lend-Lease" destroyers it was gven in 1940 into service very quickly. The Soviets quickly employed H.M.S. Royal Sovereign, donated by Britain in 1944. Ships are ships just as cars are cars. Getting them operational is not that complex.
Arkhangelsk ran aground in the White Sea in late 1947; the extent of damage, if any, is unknown. The Soviet Navy returned the ship to the Royal Navy on 4 February 1949 after the former Italian battleship Giulio Cesare was transferred to the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. The Soviet Navy had initially sought to avoid sending the ship back, claiming that she was not sufficiently seaworthy to make the voyage back to Britain. After an inspection by a Royal Navy officer, however, the Soviet Navy agreed to return the vessel in January 1949. Upon returning to the Rosyth naval base, Royal Navy personnel thoroughly inspected the ship and found much of her equipment to be unserviceable. It appeared to the inspectors that the main battery turrets had not been rotated while the ship was in Soviet service, and were jammed on the centreline.
The main purpose for obtaining the French fleet would be political and propaganda benefit. The "paper strength" of a Kriegsmarine refurbished or even fattened by French ships would help to make others think about a peace settlement (Britain), staying with the Axis (Yugoslavia) or not fighting at all (Greece may have accepted occupation). You omit the French Dunkerque class, which would have well-complemented the German battlecruisers, and were superior to the Graf Spee class.
Re: "1st-line R.N."
I apologise profoundly for my early-morning sleep-induced failure of Geography. I confused Oran (Algeria) and Rabat (Morocco). Of course Hood was there, shooting at the French fleet in 1940. But I don't rank ships built before or during WWI as "1st-line." They would have been scrap metal before Germany's 1st-line (Bismarck and Tirpitz).
The 'carriers would have been just 'ein leckerbissen' [a snack] to a capital ship. (Think of H.M.S. Glorious and its fate against Scharnhorst & Gniesnau.)
You give more value to the old R.N. ships against Italy's Vittorio Veneto or Littorio than is warranted.
I'm certain that fuel for an enlarged Axis Mediterranean fleet could have been found in 1940.
Re: instead of "sitzkrieg"
By the time the S.U. joined the invasion of Poland on 17 Sep., the issue was already decided. On 18 Sep, the government and military high command escaped into Rumania. On 28 Sep, Warsaw fell. On 5 Oct. the last sizable group of Polish troops surrendered. Although some guerilla action continued into the winter, it would have been easy for the Nazis to detach a large number of troops and aircraft fo ruse elsewhere.
In April 1940, Denmark was occupied in an afternoon by a handful of troops. It would have been as easy in Oct. 1939. In May 1940, the Netherlands fell in 5 days. It would fall as easily in 1939. It only involved 9th Armoured Division, four parachute battalions and about 10 infantry divisions.
It is absurd to speak of any "surprise" about the Germans attacking through Belgium. The only options possible were (a) through Switzerland - highly unlikely due to the terrain. (b) through the Maginot Line - only an utter lunatic would even consider this. (c) through Belgium and the Netherlands. Which, of ocurse, happened.
I reiterate: the West superiority in heavy artillery was more than compensated for by the German superiority in the air, in automatic weapons, and armour tactics. A breakthrough might have taken a bit longer - but only by a few days. The further north and east the West forces could be drawn, the better this would have served the German cause. If the British army had advanced to the Belgian-Dutch border, it would have been encircled and destroyed in central Belgium. A more direct repeat of the WWI Schlieffen Plan may have drawn a more complete result.
Ronald Lameck wrote:For lwd: I realise after sending the above that I overlooked your notion of Norway joining the West in war with Germany, had the Nazis invaded Denmark & Netherland in Oct. '39.
Given numerous West plans to ignore Norway's neutrality and sovereignty to invade across it, ostensibly to aid Finland in the Winter War, or to cut off Germany's supply of Swedish iron ore, or to attack directly at Germany; given numerous West violations of Noway's neutrality and sovereignty by laying mines in its waters and the "Altmark" affair; given the fact that the West already had troops about to load on ships to invade Norway when the Wehrmacht beat them to the punch on 9 April 1940; and given the existence of the small but noisome nationalist-fascist led by Quisling, I rate the likelihood of Norway joining the West as extremely low. ....
Ronald Lameck wrote:Re: possible German-Polish alliance.
The Nazi-Soviet Pact shows a deal can be quickly offered and accepted.
.. A G-P alliance need not long endure. Upon eliminating the S.U., I'm sure both would have happily gone their ways. After all, Britain and the S.U. were not friendly after 1945.
Chamberlain's "guarantee" was a similar complete change of position.
Lloyd George called it "demented" in Parliament.
It put Western destiny in the hands of unstable Polish leaders, but could not be fulfilled without S.U. aid. But nothing was done to assure the S.U. would give aid, or that Poland would accept it. Maximum temptation + manifest provocation = DUMB.
The West fought to fulfill its guarantee of Poland's independence and to remove a potential menace to ensure long-term security. It failed dismally.
After history's bloodiest war, it had to agree to S.U. domination of not just Poland, but all eastern Europe. It abandoned its pledge to the Poles who fought by their side. The effort to overcome Hitler left Europe devastated and weak before a much greater menace.
Britain's empire dissolved, and the U.K. spent decades as a poor dependent of the U.S.
Re: Hitler's eastern vision
Hitler' wanted to do in the east what the U.S. did in its west - massive ethnic cleansing; forced movement of native people to "reservations; " population reduction by outright massacres, deliberate spreading of disease, and playing one group against another; and establishing paternalistic administrative control. The new Germanic settlers would rule as lords of a quasi-feudal society until cities, roads, etc. could be built.
Re: "Barbarossa" surprise?
And the Nazi's still sent goods to the S.U.
What of the vaunted Soviet intelligence network and spies like the "Rote Kapelle?" Where did they think the 140 divisions of "Fall Gelb" were?
This is ostrich politics to mask that the S.U. came within a whisker of destruction in 1941. Only Hitler's lack of a clear strategic goal saved the situation. It was much more that Hitler lost rather than Stalin won.
... Impossible to prove either way, we have only opinions. Mine is that in June 1940, almost all French people were DONE with war. They had fought honourably but lost. The Cabinet could fly to Africa, but the millions of people could not. The Cabinet rejected Churchill's offer of a Franco-British Union. Even if it moved to Africa, I think only a handful of the military would have joined it. I doubt it would retain legitimacy.
The Nazis would portray this as abandonment.
The whole French empire may well have collapsed years before it historically did.
Maybe the historic solution was the best that could have been after all.
Re: Bombing moving ships
But who knew this in summer 1940? I doubt the R.N. would risk capital ships where there was serious risk that they might be lost.
Although it expressed disdain for airpower in the 1930's, it was quite hesitant, cautious and reluctant to risk its ships under airpower in the Norway battles.
The Crete debacle arose from the dire need to try to save 50,000 British and Greek troops who had been out-fought there.
The political effect of serious loss of ships in an attack under enemy air superiority could be devastating to the new, un-elected P.M.
The Kriegsmarine had sailors experienced with the cruisers and heavy cruiser lost in "Weserubung," and some from "panzerschiff Graf Spee." The adaptation would not be extreme. And who can say how much aid they might receive from the French? They could also give the ships to Italy, which had more sailors with capital ship experience.
... The ship was used, just not very intelligently.
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were considered "battlecruisers" by the Allies.
The addition of French ships may have influenced Franco to greater Spanish involvement. He may have agreed to Unternehmen "Felix", which would have chased the R.N. out of Gibraltar. The French ships could have been a "bribe" to Spain - "let us take Gibraltar and you get ..."
Re: "1st-line R.N (1940)."
Nelson, Rodney, Hood, King George V, Prince of Wales (nearly finished), Duke of York (building), the aircraft carriers, about 36 cruisers and about 100 destroyers. The rest (Repulse, Barham, etc.) basically cannon (or torpedo) fodder.
Littorio was damaged by air-dropped torpedoes when docked at Taranto. Vittorio Veneto did get minor damage from an air-dropped torpedo. But no 'carrier captain in his right mind would put it in the range of battleship guns. Aircraft trumped ships in WWII, but not when the weather was poor. The R.N. ability to escort did not help then. Glorious and its destroyers were gunnery practice for the German battlecruisers.
Rodney, Nelson & Hood could be a decent match for the newer Italian ships due of their armour protection, but the old Queen Elizabeth's or Renown/Repulse couldn't take many 380 mm (15 in.) hits. The Italian ships would have been about on a par with Bismarck/Tirpitz in battle.
Bismarck, with only a heavy cruiser in support, sank Hood and sent Prince of Wales running.
If it had not lost its steering (to give you a point, due to an air-dropped torpedo), it may have inflicted like damage on King George V and Rodney a few days later and made it to Brest.
Re: fueling an enlarged Axis fleet
Fuel oil/diesel fuel are much less-refined than gasolines. With a bigger fleet, Hitler/Germany could delay delay "Barbarossa" for a while. The S.U. would continue to send fuel as part of the 1939 Pact. Many Luftwaffe aircraft could be grounded, and the aviation gasoline not made could produce a larger quantity of fuel oil.
The material was there if the use was correctly ordered and scheduled.
Hitler's problem was lack of patience and a clear plan. Indeed, he had no plan for war with Britain at all.
Troops and ordnance could have began movment from Poland by mid-September.
Of some 2000 tanks used, I'm sure 200 could have been put into one division and some infantry divisions added to attack Netherlands.
In late January 1945, Sixth (S.S.) Armoured Army was moved from the Ardennes across Germany to Hungary, and began Unternehmen Fruhlingserwachen in mid-March. That was with rail delays due to bomb damage, and involved two entire armoured corps as well as other troops.
A switch of a limited force to the Netherlands border could have been easily done.
From an article "The Fall of France", by Albert A. Nofi in Strategy & Tactics #27 (1971), in a table on Equipment available: The Battle for France, Spring 1940
Class French British Belgian Dutch Total
M.G. 153,700 11,000 3,600 3400 171,700
However, some 60% of French machine guns were really automatic rifles, and Dutch the figure includes weapons in its colonies - 10% to 20%. Thus the West total is about 120,000. The same table shows German strength of 147,700 .
... the West lacked the tactical sense to hold the shoulders of the breakthrough and lacked the mobile forces to make a successful counter-attack.
Re: Norway joins West?
While Germany's Admiral Wilhelm Canaris warned the Norwegian government of the impending Nazi attack (as he also did Belgium and Netherlands), I find no evidence of any "tacit" agreement by Norway to any of the West plans.
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