Friday, May 12, 2006


How Hitler Could Have Won the War

There's a whole book on the subject but my dad can reduce it to 3 words: "Don't invade Russia." But let's go back to June, 1940. France is out. Britain is alone and pretty much useless on its island nation for the next few years. No one can stand up to the 150 division German Army (except the Soviet Union, with a lot of death and pain, and us, if you give us a year to get buffed up and ready). Hitler wants land for the tightly packed farmers of his nation, but he needs oil, and the closest he can just take is in the Caucasus Mountains south of Russia, north of Persia.

What to do? He can fiddle around in North Africa and air blitz the Brits while he prepares to get to the Caucasus oil the hard way (through the Ukraine and Russia) or he can get serious about North Africa and put 5 divisions (instead of just over one, called the Africa Corps under Erwin Rommel) into Tunisia and take Morocco and Egypt so that no one gets into the Mediterranean except Axis ships and then launch from Egypt across Syria or Iraq into the Caucasus and take the oil. The USSR might not have even fought back.

If Hitler doesn't declare war on us and isn't fighting the Russians, the Brits would never have been able to storm ashore in France or Italy and we might have decided to stick just with the difficult task of defeating Imperian Japan. But to succeed, the Germans had to put a 100,000 men into North Africa in 1940 and take Egypt from the British with plenty of men left to spearhead a drive to the oil. They didn't. Adm. Erich Raeder, however, saw it and urged Hitler to adopt this winner of a plan, but Hitler didn't listen. Later, after defeat in Egypt, Hitler put 10 divisions, nearly a quarter million men, into Tunisia and the French colonies, but he had missed the window of opportunity, and on this day in 1943, they surrendered, along with the remaining Italians, to U.S. and British forces, a bigger defeat in numbers of soldiers lost to the Reich than Stalingrad.

The ultimate end of the war in Europe was no longer seriously in doubt after we defeated the Nazis so utterly in North Africa.

I see, Hitler could have conquered the whole world by not conquering the whole word. Is that the argument?

Makes sense to me.
No, win by not attacking those who actually can beat you. He wins by surviving. Perhaps you were making a joke.
Kind of. I mean, surviving was not Hitlers plan. You might see it as a win, but Hitler wouldn't.
But in the plus column (for him), had he stopped short of invading Russia, he would have controlled all or Europe but Iberian pen., Sweeden, Switzerland and England, maybe that's not the whole world but it's not too shabby, and he would have had the men and materiel to go anywhere in Africa or Western Asia (south of the USSR) with no fear of defeat.
It's not clear to me that Germany would have done much better by not attacking the USSR. Stalin planned to attack Germany also, so the German attack only affected the timing, not the existence of the war. (The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was duplicitous on all sides.)

What Germany needed was for England to be out of the war. A better-handled Battle of Britain in 1940 could have given the Germans air supremacy and allowed an invasion even though the German invasion fleet was pretty pitiful.

Absent the secure base afforded by Great Britain, and the diversion of men and materiel caused by the allied strategic bombing campaign (a huge diversion of force from the USSR and elsewhere), an invasion of continental Europe would have been incredibly difficult and the survival of the USSR far more problematic. (Stalin's opinion notwithstanding.)

You are not hearing me. Yes, everything you just said follows logically but it does not play into the fantasy of world domination which is at the heart of Hitler's thinking.

Also, as Doug points out, once they invaded Poland and pushed that border, war with the Russians was probably inevitable.

You are looking at it in hindsight and saying (quite rightly) strategically this would have been better, and that would result in a horrible situation for us non-Germans. But in this case we are dealing with a man who was hell-bent on world domination. The war would never had started if he wasn't. Sure you can look back and say, "if he stopped here he could of held it." But that is completely irrelevant and self-serving.

The fact that everyone hates to admit is that Hitler had no chance of dominating the whole world. Resistance in the post-war period would have become the main problem for Hitler.

As in all world politics, the leaders underestimate the patriotism and level of resistance from small counties (like Norway during WWII).

You dont' know what would have happened if we didn't invade, but I'll bet my last dollar that the French would not be speaking German.

Think of it that way, Roger. Think of the resistance long term. Sure, it might not have consolidated until the 1950's, but is isn't like the whole world was going to bow down and kiss his ass forever.

Come on! One thing I cannot overestimate is people's pride. That alone would have eventually spelled Hitler's demise, with or without American intervention.

No one knows what the outcome would have been and yet you right-wingers assume we would all be speaking German.

This is fear mongering and ignorance at it's worst.
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