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"What would had been the best course of action for ...." Topic


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655 hits since 22 May 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango0122 May 2018 9:30 p.m. PST

…Germany after defeating France?.

Interesting thread here….


link

Amicalement
Armand

deephorse23 May 2018 10:36 a.m. PST

Say they were sorry, it's all been a big mistake, and you can all have your countries back.

Xintao23 May 2018 11:09 a.m. PST

I found this video a couple of months ago, I thought it was interesting. This sort of addresses Germany's actions after France, it had no choice.

YouTube link

Disclaimer:As for it's accuracy, no idea, as I am a WWII noob.

Tango0123 May 2018 12:26 p.m. PST

(smile)

Amicalement
Armand

Wolfhag23 May 2018 12:39 p.m. PST

+1 for Xintao. He needed oil and land. That's probably how he got the industrialists to back him.

Wolfhag

Mark 123 May 2018 4:44 p.m. PST

This sort of addresses Germany's actions after France, it had no choice.

YouTube link


A very interesting video! Thanks for posting the link.

The video makes a well-reasoned point that WW2 was really a war about oil. I would add that even if some of the participants didn't recognize it as their motive or state it as their explicit war goal, WW2 was a war that ebbed and flowed and resolved based on oil.

The case is made that Germany, by early 1941, could see that it would run out of oil in the fall of 1941 if it didn't either end the British blockade (preventing imports of oil), or grab the Soviet oil fields. And looking at German operations, it seems that indeed the Germans reached a crisis state in about October of 1941.

I think perhaps the video makes a bit too much out of some admittedly interesting quotes. Yes Hitler may well have described the importance of oil and the ignorance of his generals on the matters of national strategy, but he also described the importance of lots of other stuff, and ragged on anyone who suggested otherwise. Doesn't reveal that he really understood how important oil was.

All in all an interesting theme. How can we reconcile a nation that lead the world in tank warfare with an army where 80% of the divisions are foot-bound, with horse-drawn artillery and supplies? Why didn't Germany build more tanks? Because there wasn't enough oil.

But …

This sort of addresses Germany's actions after France, it had no choice.

There are always choices. There may not always be GOOD choices, but there are always choices.

After France, Germany had several ways they could have proceeded. When I look at strategic choice-making, I like to keep strategic factors in mind (rather than just the timeline of events or decisions in the OTL).

Germany was at a peak of military power after France. And if one had been astute, one could have seen this as a peak (ie: not only well above what it had been before, but also well above what it would be in the not-too-distant future).

This was due to a few factors. Better than before due to tactical and operational skills, which had been refined in several very successful campaigns and were built on a relatively unique doctrinal base. Germany was succeeding in practicing war craft that worked, and opponents had not yet come to their own war craft to counter. Not yet.

But not going to remain better for long, because opponents might well be expected to find counters to German war craft, but perhaps more importantly because the German war craft relied upon resources that were in short supply, and that supply was getting tighter as time went on, and potential major opponents did not suffer limitations to the same extent.

Those resources included oil (discussed above), but also several important metals, and even food. The harvest of France and the Benelux was going to be a disaster in 1940. Norway perhaps too. If Germany wanted to build any sort of economical empire from its conquests, there were many dozens of millions of new mouths for the German agricultural base to feed.

The fact that Britain was still in the war made it difficult for Germany to play time as an advantage. The new German empire had more people and more industry, but not enough access to raw materials.

So the choices, as I see them, went in a few possible directions:

1) Reduce conflict with UK. There were half a dozen ways this could have been pursued. Churchill in office made it hard to envision success, but very public displays of peace overtures might well have made it hard to Churchill to resist (or hard to stay in power).

2) Find somewhere else to grab a useful resource base. This was one of the main reasons Barbarossa took place as soon as it did. Germany was at or near their peak, while the Soviets (if the Germans had any realistic assessment of the Soviets) were close to a self-imposed nadir, but finally on the rise again.

3) Reduce their demands for resources. Give up populations and activities. Not too likely in a scenario (or personality) with defined goals of aggrandizement.

4) Do a little bit of several. Maybe limit hostilities (rather than actually reducing), and reduce some demand for resources, while making a grab for further resources.

5) Spout preposterous political theories and self-serving populist propaganda which ensured the British would stick with their fight, and still launch against the Soviets without a focus on what you need to gain in order to win, and then see if you can bring the US (the largest but also most inaccessible source of resources) in against you to supply your other adversaries as well as to become an adversary.

So they chose 5. Not because they didn't have choices, but because that's what they chose.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Fred Cartwright23 May 2018 5:22 p.m. PST

Hmmm! I am it sure your point 5 is valid Mark. I can't see much effort on the Germans part to bring the US into the war against them. I can see US pressure designed to provoke Germany. Roosevelt was prodding both the Japanese and Germans into war.
Not sure about 1 either. Having talked extensively with members of my family that were in Britain during the war I saw no eveidence of any willingness on the part of the population to accept anything less than a victory. Unless Britain had been put into an untenable position there would have been no stomach for it and it would have been a bitter pill to swallow had defeat become inevitable. With out any serious offensive effort against the British I see no prospect of Hitler forcing a deal with the UK.
As for 2 and 4 just where do you suggest to go and grab resources? As the video points out the rewards of going for the Middle East are poor and impose an enormous logistical tail which would be difficult to support and get any resources back to Europe from. Apart from heading east there is no other direction that offers oil, arable land and the metals needed for the German economy.
That leaves option 3. Even giving up all the captured territory doesn't solve Germany's resource problem. It would have taken a major reduction of the armed forces to achieve that. Not a smart move while still at war.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP24 May 2018 4:16 a.m. PST

Assuming Hitler could not get a peace agreement out of England, then with the full benefit of hindsight, I think his best move would have been a 'Mediterranean strategy'. Use pressure or outright force to take control of all the lands surrounding the Mediterranean, pushing the British out completely. Capture Egypt and the Suez Canal, move into Iraq and Persia to seize the oil fields there, browbeat Turkey into either joining the Axis, or at least granting free passage and secure the resources Germany needed. This probably could have been accomplished by the end of 1942. After that, who knows? An attack on Russia would have had a greater chance of success with all those preliminary moves, but there would be the big question of whether the US has joined the war or not.

Andy ONeill24 May 2018 9:51 a.m. PST

Given that stalin was supplying germany with oil then attacking soviet russia before another source was secured
does seem short sighted.

Britain nearly bombed russia as it was. We lost planes doing recon iirc. So it's conceivable just doing nothing more could have seen that mission completed and then maybe stalin becomes some sort of ally.

I think the whole nazi approach to management and production was deeply faulted. Sorting that out would have been an idea.

catavar24 May 2018 11:50 a.m. PST

I recall a history professor who thought a major campaign into Egypt was unrealistic as the Germans could hardly supply the forces that were already there. His theory seemed sound.

I also remember reading an argument that suggests the Germans beat the Russians to the punch. I'm not convinced, but if correct, just the possibility may have limited the options.

Some food for thought.

Legion 424 May 2018 3:06 p.m. PST

"If this Tuesday it must be Belgium … "

Better than before due to tactical and operational skills, which had been refined in several very successful campaigns and were built on a relatively unique doctrinal base. Germany was succeeding in practicing war craft that worked, and opponents had not yet come to their own war craft to counter. Not yet.
So very, very true … blitzkrieg may have been a "mystery"(?) for many armies in 1940. And even if they had an idea they didn't/couldn't manage to take from theory in the FMs/classrooms to actually executing this concept successfully in the field while at war.

Fred Cartwright24 May 2018 3:35 p.m. PST

I recall a history professor who thought a major campaign into Egypt was unrealistic as the Germans could hardly supply the forces that were already there. His theory seemed sound.

I guess it depends what you mean by a major campaign. If it was the full commitment of the German war machine to the med, then maybe not. It would mean taking out Malta and ideally Gib too, if you could get the Spanish to allow access for a land based attack. The question is do the rewards outweigh the costs. It is a lot of effort for what is a meagre amount of oil.

AlexWood Inactive Member25 May 2018 6:07 a.m. PST

I also remember reading an argument that suggests the Germans beat the Russians to the punch. I'm not convinced, but if correct, just the possibility may have limited the options.

Vladimir Rezun (aka Viktor Suvorov). The kindest thing I've heard said about him is "charlatan". :)

Anyhoo, a look at the Red Army deployment in 1941 with their main weight being south of the Pripyat marshes protecting Ukraine and the Donbas gives to the lie to their posture being anything other than defensive.

donlowry25 May 2018 8:49 a.m. PST

I believe that Stalin was counting on the Western Allies keeping the Germans busy, giving him time to build up and train his army -- THEN he would attack (say in '42 or '43).

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP25 May 2018 11:59 p.m. PST

Publicly announce via radio that you want peace and an end to the war with the UK. Give 1/2 of the French fleet to the UK, give Brittany back to the UK, give French Africa to UK and Italy. Make it seem that the UK and Germany have a mutual enemy in France; they are historic allies and enemies of France, WWI being the exception.

Release all UK POWs as a gesture of good will.

Get the US to pressure the UK also.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog

Lion in the Stars26 May 2018 4:16 a.m. PST

I dunno, the British foreign policy prior to WW2 was to play the various continental powers off against each other so that no one country ruled Europe. With the Germans pushing towards being a massive European empire, the Brits would likely have been against that on principle.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP26 May 2018 7:00 a.m. PST

I suppose part of the problem is in the term "best course of action". While there were several areas which would meet this phrase I would argue that due to a variety of factors, not the least is ideology, they are not realistic.

My thoughts are based on the least disruptive to what actually took place. In that case really 3 courses all with the same goal, to adversely impact the forces they would face.

My first course would be an increased emphasis on the u-boat campaign. This would mean giving more resources to the construction of boats and infrastructure to support them. This would come at the expense of other items such as a surface fleet which, while a pain, would never really rival the UK's fleet. We know just how close the campaign as waged brought the UK to the brink. Further strangling imports may have had the added benefit of driving the UK to the bargaining table or at least to further crippling their economy.

Mediterranean strategy. At the end of a rather tenuous logistic line it is not realistic to expect a major upgrade however further forces could have been provided and supplied. The first obvious change in such a strategy was Malta vice Crete. It of course has the added benefit of improving the logistic situation in North Africa. The goal would be a drive to the mid east oil fields. The goal would NOT, at least in the short term, be to secure them for export to Germany but rather to put further pressure on the UK (see u-boat topic above). While it is possible that the UK might not sabotage the canal (hoping to recapture and use it in the future) it is rather unlikely they would not do so to the oil fields. But even if they didnt, German export would be problematic. The Germans did not have anywhere near enough tankers, a pipeline would take years, and German oil industry would not be in a position to either repair the oil fields or build such a pipeline. The goal is to deny the oil to the allies. This has a further benefit of stopping the so called "Persian Corridor" for lend lease to Russia. The route, first used in mid 42, supplied 27% of lend lease to Russia.

Lastly a shift from the 3 prong approach to Barbarossa. Resources "borrowed" from the northern axis shifted to the south. The northern axis now designed to protect the flank of Army Group Center. The goal in the south is the Russian oil fields. Once again it is doubtful, at least in the short term, that the Germans would gain any products from those fields. I seem to remember Stalin threatened dire consequences if ANY functioning fields fell into German hands. As it is the Germans did take Maikop in August of 1942 and held it until January of 43 and not one drop of oil was transported. The real prizes were Grozny and Baku. While Maikop provided some 19 million barrels of crude Grozny provided 32 million and Baku 170 million barrels. The Germans, as it is, came very close to both objectives. Once again the idea is to cripple the Soviets more so than any short term relief for German oil problems. I fully realize there are logistic issues which would have impacted a major shift of resources to the South yet still was at least partially doable.

So there you have it. My shot at a "best" and "realistic" course. All three were operations which the Germans did undertake but with a few differences. If nothing else grist for discussion.

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