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"WWII. 1942 Year of Decision?" Topic


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875 hits since 21 Jul 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Lee49421 Jul 2018 3:27 p.m. PST

I believe that the Allies actually won WWII in 1942. After Midway, Guadalcanal, Alamein, Torch and Stalingrad, et al, there was no way the Axis could win (true some of these carried into '43 but they were largely decided in '42). Thoughts?

Daithi the Black21 Jul 2018 4:51 p.m. PST

The Pacific wasn't decided until Dec 1944. If the Japanese had not surrendered after the second atomic attack after that, the war may have ended at some future point after an invasion of Japan, but there would have been no winner.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2018 5:00 p.m. PST

Japan was indeed defeated at sea, but she still had a
very strong presence in other areas.

Absent the attacks on Hiroshima/Nagasaki, it would have
taken a long time w/o an invasion, but she was defeated,
essentially, after the losses (irreplaceable) at
Midway, both the afloat and in the air components.

And a lot of Japanese would have probably suffered
starvation.

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2018 5:06 p.m. PST

I agree with Lee.
Turned around by the end of '42.

lloydthegamer Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2018 5:17 p.m. PST

Agree with Lee. The war was not over by a long shot, but the writing was on the wall. The Axis could, and did, make victory exceedingly bloody and expensive but there was very little chance of them winning after 1942.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2018 6:18 p.m. PST

June 42 Axis on a roll.

Dec 42 Axis up against the wall.

Pizzagrenadier21 Jul 2018 7:05 p.m. PST

The atomic attacks did not convince Japan the war was over. The declaration of war by the Soviet Union and their offensives against Japanese territories in the east did.

Tgunner21 Jul 2018 8:21 p.m. PST

I agree. The writing was on the wall by the end of 1942, and June was pretty much the demarcation point. Before June the Axis was rolling along. By Christmas they were limping back.

Red358421 Jul 2018 10:57 p.m. PST

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. " Churchill Nov 10th 1942

langobard Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2018 2:35 a.m. PST

While I essentially agree that 42 was the turning point, there were still a lot of things that had to go the allies way to actually bring the war to an end.

David Manley22 Jul 2018 4:47 a.m. PST

The Japanese knew the game was up in 1944. That's when they began discussions with the Allies about ending the war

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2018 5:03 a.m. PST

1942 is when the German army starts to run out of oil and is their last chance to grab the Russian oil fields.

The problem is that Halder, the German chief of Staff and several other generals believed that taking Moscow was the key to winning the war and they would show the Bohemian Corporal that they,as Prussian aristocrats understood warfare better then him. In an attempt to dissuade Hitler from swinging south they withheld troops from Army Group South which had a deficit of some 300,000 men while North was up to strength and Middle was heavily reinforced to dropkick into Moscow.

Hitler decided otherwise and Fall Blau went really wrong on every level.

After that all the bad mistakes they made only start to pile up, like being unable to defeat Britain, failing to defeat the Red Army and declaring War on the USA in the hope that it would bring the Japanese in line with Hitler's own goals.

Starfury Rider22 Jul 2018 7:09 a.m. PST

I think arguably as 1942 turns over into 1943, the overall strategic situation for the Germans in Europe and the Japanese in the Far East/Pacific has gone into decline. They remained capable of large scale tactical success, perhaps even that fuzzy 'operational level' I can never recall the proper definition of. They can still win battles, but they are no longer winning campaigns.

They have failed to eliminate the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union as military adversaries. All three have mobilised for war both on the battlefield and in the factories and shipyards, while the principle Axis powers were probably expecting to be able to take a break and consolidate by late 1942.

The Imperial Japanese in particular seemed to expect the Western nations to come them seeking terms, because they lacked the capacity to continue the war. They still seemed to be expecting that in 1945, despite failed offensives against the Allies in the Far East through 1944, continued losses at sea and a continual shrinking of their defensive perimeter protecting the Japanese Home Islands.

So not over, but rapidly declining without some major shift in weapons technology (like something out of those breathless 'documentary' shows, but you know, real, rather than CGI, which wasn't even enough to win the Clone Wars).

Gary

wrgmr122 Jul 2018 8:20 a.m. PST

Once the U.S. and U.S.S.R economies turned into war production neither of the Axis could compete. I agree with Ed Nov-Dec 42.

donlowry22 Jul 2018 8:50 a.m. PST

The Allies might still have screwed up with a really bad defeat on the battlefield (a repulsed invasion of France, for instance). But it was theirs to lose, as they say.

Mark 123 Jul 2018 11:20 a.m. PST

I agree with the OP proposition.

It marked the end of Axis victories, and the first significant Axis operational-level defeats. In the first half of 1943 the Axis forces still tried to retain the initiative, but failed. By the second half of 1943 the initiative was in the hands of the Allies, and remained so for the rest of the war.

But I think Patrick R is closer to the core issue of "why" 1942 was the turning point.

In September of 1942, a German advanced detachment took up a position from which they could fire upon the rail lines that carried some 80% of the Soviet's oil. But the main force behind them did not have the resources to push forward to re-enforce their position, and so they withdrew.

This was probably the closest the Germans ever came to winning the war.

Without oil, in 1943 the Germans could not have done any more than a limited offensive at Kursk. (Seriously -- all of that planning, all of those Tigers and Panthers and Elephants, and all of our reading and debating aside, even if the Germans HAD succeeded it would only have been the equivalent of ONE of the three major encirclements they achieved during Barbarossa.)

The whole reason that Japan adopted the "Southern" strategy and attacked the US at Pearl Harbor, was their need for the resources of SE Asia, including most notably the oil production of Dutch SE Asia (Indonesia). But in 1942, when they successfully took these territories, the oil fields had been demolished. If they could have grabbed the fields through some form of coup de main, and perhaps more importantly if they could have protected the flow of oil from those fields to Japanese forces across the Pacific, the Pacific war might have gone differently. They still would have been over-matched in terms of industrial output, but they would have had the resources to (critically) train and deploy more effectively after 1942.

We may love us some Swordfish at Taranto, but in fact it was the lack of oil that kept the major fleet assets of the Italian navy out of the central Med.

The reason that the Luftwaffe was cleared from the skies by June 6 had as much to do with German pilot training as with Allied prowess. And German training did not fail because they didn't want to train fighter pilots, or didn't know how to train fighter pilots. They quite simply didn't have the fuel to train fighter pilots. So the pilots they trained got only basic flying skills, and then were sent off to front-line units to learn their aerial combat skills in action with Allied fighter pilots, who offered lessons, but at a very steep price.

Yes, the Yamato's last mission relied heavily on the Japanese spirit of the "kamikaze". But the reason it was even contemplated was that the only oil they could EVER hope to provide to the Yamato was the oil that was already in it's oil bunkers. No more was coming. The only way to use that asset was to find a mission that would not require refueling. So a one-way mission to Okinawa somehow became a reasonable idea.

From 1942 to the end of the war, Axis forces across the board became increasingly desperate over the lack of petroleum. But the same was not the case for the Allies.

The only time the Allies ever lacked for petroleum was when they advanced far enough, fast enough, that they outran their logistics. There was never a question of whether the resources were there, but only if they could reach the front lines as quickly as needed.

But this was not pre-ordained. It was because, by design or by accident, the Axis failed to grab oil resources for their own use, to protect the flow of oil that they had, and to interdict the flow of oil to the Allied forces. This failure was a VERY significant contributor to the path the war took. I don't think changing it, in isolation, could have changed Japan's ultimate fate in the Pacific. But it could well have changed Germany's fate in Russia. And that change could have caused any number of changes as it rippled through the various other theaters of war.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

catavar23 Jul 2018 11:40 a.m. PST

I think it may have been decided by the end of '41. I don't believe Germany's economy, or it's army, were geared to fight a protracted war. Would the Germans have even been able to launch Fall Blau without the axis allies?

As for Japan, Was it Midway, or missing the carriers at Pearl Harbor that led to Midway, that put the writing on the wall? The US bombing campaign combined with the Russians over-running Manchuria may have sealed the deal, but I don't think there was much doubt after Midway.

Lion in the Stars23 Jul 2018 1:19 p.m. PST

The USMC holds that the turning point in WW2 was Midway.

As a submariner, I hold that it wasn't so much the Japanese missing the carriers that doomed them, but ignoring the submarines for the battleships.

It's really a shame that the mural of sunk ships from WW2 is in the no-pictures part of SubPac's offices. Pretty much the entire western Pacific (South and East China seas, Philippine sea, etc) is covered in Japanese flags, in many places to the point that you can't see how many flags are there.

Fred Cartwright23 Jul 2018 2:37 p.m. PST

This was probably the closest the Germans ever came to winning the war.

Do you really think it would have made a difference? Even if they had captured the oil fields I doubt they would have been in a state to get any oil out of them for at least a year, probably longer. Also doubt they could have held them for very long. It is actually difficult to envisage a scenario in which the Germans win the war.

Mark 123 Jul 2018 2:50 p.m. PST

Do you really think it would have made a difference?

I do not know that it would have, but I believe that it could have.

Hitler's expectations in the east were not an unconditional surrender. Rather, he expected the Soviet state to collapse upon itself (not actually that far out of an idea), and expected to build a fortified zone or line, leaving a rump state (or stateless area) east of that line, that would encompass most of the landmass of the Soviet Union.

Changing the war in the east -- turning the Red Army into a foot-bound force, might well have achieve enough of a military differential to make that possible. The Red Army could not continue to sustain the kinds of losses suffered in 1941. One more year of such disasters could well have brought down the organized government of the Soviet Union, whether from internal factors or the Nazis simply occupying the various centers of government as the Red Army collapsed before it. Where it would have gone from there is anyone's guess.

Doesn't mean he wins. But means it is not as clear that he loses. And, from all I have seen in all the many campaigns and theaters of WW2, it was the closest point to an Axis not-loosing scenario once the war was rolling along.

Once you accept the proposition that a Nazi regime in Germany means war against the Soviet Union at some point, and that the Tojo regime in Japan means a war of conquest across the western Pacific at some point, then there is no other path that gets these two regimes closer to a success scenario than chopping off the oil flow to the Soviets. Any other scenario just doesn't work, once the shooting starts. At least not as I can see.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Fred Cartwright23 Jul 2018 3:42 p.m. PST

Changing the war in the east -- turning the Red Army into a foot-bound force, might well have achieve enough of a military differential to make that possible. The losses that the Red Army sustained in 1941 were un-sustainable. One more year of such disasters could well have brought down the organized government of the Soviet Union. Where it would have gone from there is anyone's guess.

Trouble is by then the US is already in the war. Even if the war in the East is slowed down all that achieves for Germany is the dubious honour of being the first recipient of the atomic bomb. Hitler had to declare war on the US so U boats could attack American shipping. Once the US is in the war Germany loses sooner or later.

Mark 123 Jul 2018 4:34 p.m. PST

Even if the war in the East is slowed down all that achieves for Germany is the dubious honour of being the first recipient of the atomic bomb.

Yeah. It's kind of hard to get past that point.

Once the US is in the war Germany loses sooner or later.

This is largely true, but I might be so bold as to modify the statement a bit. Not so much "Once the US is in the war", but more of "If the US stays in the war".

Even without the A-Bomb, the Roosevelt administration had a panel from the Army and the Navy (this was before ther was a Joint Chiefs) spend the summer of 1941 examining the scenario of Soviet loss, and consider how to continue fighting a war (that the US had not even entered yet) when the Nazis controlled all of Europe, including all of the European Soviet Union. There was a real question of whether the UK could stay in the war if the Soviets lost.

That was why the B-36 program was defined (and begun even before the B-29 had been completed). The US needed a way to take the war to a Nazi-held Europe if there was no UK to serve as a regional base ("airstrip 1").

US industrial output was larger than all the other combatants combined. And the US was the world's largest producer of petroleum.

But that does not mean that a combined European economy could not give the US a run for the money. In particular, an authoritarian government often finds it easier to extract more war production from a given population and a given economic base than a democratic country. Often, they (authoritarian governments) recognize this, although as often they don't recognize that there are still real-world limitations on how far they can push their population or their economy. But the US, for all of our industrial contribution to WW2, never came close to the percentage of GDP that the Nazis or the Soviets put in to their war efforts.

Still, as much as we dismiss as Japanese hubris the idea that the US would grow tired of war, the truth is that the US does grow tired of war fairly quickly. Any nuance, any "long term national interest" is quickly lost on the question of "MY son?"

I do not wish to delve too deeply into the "what if" scenarios. The only path to an Axis success requires many changes to the chain of events we all know from history. "What if" scenarios that require a dozen or more changes to what actually happened always seem too contrived to me.

The Soviets losing on the Eastern Front would certainly have set off a cascading chain of changes from what we know occurred. I won't venture to describe all the changes that lead to any one end point. Once you accept the proposition of a German victory in the east as a starting point, then ANY specific scenario of what may transpire over the next 3 or 4 years is a long-shot. The odds may be longer in one case versus another, but they are still long odds in every case.

That's the problem, for me. Give me ANY scenario for what happens after the Soviets lose access to petroleum, and I can shoot it full of holes. I can see both sides, and if there are two sides to every question, and every question relies on the answer to some other question, and leads to another set of questions, well it just seems unreasonable to believe too strongly in any specific result.

Yet history always gets to some result, improbably though that result may have seemed.

If there was no one left in Europe fighting over the issue, or perhaps no one but the UK left fighting over the issue (and the UK mostly fighting by burning the homes of widows and orphans in the dark of the night), it might not be out of the question for the US to lose interest in the war. Not Roosevelt -- I believe he clearly saw the long-term existential threat of a Nazi state with a population and economy to rival the US. But Roosevelt disappeared from the equation before the A-bombs fell.

If there was no one left in Europe to fight for (even if bombing them was kind of an odd way of fighting for them), there may have been limited tolerance for continuing and even escalating the violence. If the US had scaled down it's war efforts in Europe in 1944 because, well, there was nothing to do and hey they weren't bothering us much anyway, would Truman have had the chops to start nuking European cities in late 1945? I don't say whether he would have, or wouldn't have. But as it was, he had to wrestle with the question over dropping the bomb(s) on Japan even in the real timeline, and the US war against Japan most certainly had NOT gone quiet or scaled back. So I think the question has validity.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

catavar23 Jul 2018 6:26 p.m. PST

I understand that Germany needed oil (their reserves would last thru '42 maybe). But they probably weren't going to extract much from sabotaged Russian wells while Russia could always get oil from their allies (who had no such supply problems).

Hitler attacked a country with a population of around, what, 190 million or so? The Soviets would recoup their losses. Yet Hitler couldn't understand where the fresh divisions kept coming from and in '42, as noted by Von Bock, the Russians were getting smarter!

The only way I believe Germany was going to defeat Russia was by destroying, or at least fracturing, the Soviet Government and the best chance of doing that was in 1941! Striking for the oil in '42 was just another mirage Hitler grasped in his desperation to evade the inevitable. Look at his record after 1941: Case Blue; Citadel; Watch On The Rhine; Spring Awakening. Each offensive smaller than the last and with a more questionable chance of success.

All of the above is just in my opinion of course.

Fred Cartwright24 Jul 2018 6:12 a.m. PST

Once you accept the proposition of a German victory in the east as a starting point, then ANY specific scenario of what may transpire over the next 3 or 4 years is a long-shot. The odds may be longer in one case versus another, but they are still long odds in every case.

Mark I can see scenarios in which the Germans do a bit better or a bit worse than they actually did, but to construct a scenario where the Germans win means going way back and altering the timeline considerably. For example in order for the Germans to win in ‘42 you have to go back to ‘39 when the Germans should really have been ramping up production of the Panzer III and IV a lot more than they did, in fact putting their whole economy on a war footing. If they planned to go into Russia they needed to stockpile more oil for when Russian supplies ceased. More U boats to put a stranglehold on the U.K. Recruiting Ukrainians, Latvians and Estonians to help fight the Russians would have freed up more German manpower for the push for oil.
The Axis really have to be at the top of their game to pull off a win.

Mark 124 Jul 2018 11:30 a.m. PST

For example in order for the Germans to win in ‘42 you have to go back to ‘39 when the Germans should really have been ramping up production of the Panzer III and IV a lot more than they did, in fact putting their whole economy on a war footing. If they planned to go into Russia they needed to stockpile more oil for when Russian supplies ceased. More U boats to put a stranglehold on the U.K. Recruiting Ukrainians, Latvians and Estonians to help fight the Russians would have freed up more German manpower for the push for oil.
The Axis really have to be at the top of their game to pull off a win.

Not a thing there I can disagree with. Pretty much spot-on.

I don't mean to suggest that, as things developed, the Nazis ever had much of a chance of victory. But whatever chance there was, I think the closest point was in September of 1942.

Hitler attacked a country with a population of around, what, 190 million or so? The Soviets would recoup their losses. Yet Hitler couldn't understand where the fresh divisions kept coming from and in '42, as noted by Von Bock, the Russians were getting smarter!

The only way I believe Germany was going to defeat Russia was by destroying, or at least fracturing, the Soviet Government and the best chance of doing that was in 1941! Striking for the oil in '42 was just another mirage…

Let me bend your mind a little on this issue.

In the Summer of 1942, Hitler could draw from a population of about 220 – 240million for his war against the Soviet Union. Stalin could draw from a population of about 100-120million.

You see the pre-war populations are only a starting point. Yes, the Soviet Union had a population of about 190,000,000 when the Nazis invaded. But by the summer of 1942 some 70-80,000,000 Soviets were behind GERMAN lines. They were unavailable to Stalin. At the same time the Axis armies in the Soviet Union were drawn not only from the population of "Greater Germany" (Germany, Austria, and parts of what had been Czechoslovakia), but also from the populations of Italy, Romania, Hungary, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain and Denmark, with a co-belligerent force from Finland fighting along the northern flank as well.

So who had the better potential to replace losses?

As the war progressed, the balance turned back to the Soviet's favor. Every Km of space recovered meant a larger population from which Stalin could conscript forces, and Axis nations started to fall out of the war in the East one-by-one, starting with Italy in the winter of 1942/43. As that process advanced the Nazis lost more than 1,000,000 soldiers from the Axis OOB on the Eastern Front.

Now, in part as Fred pointed out, with no coherent management of wartime production on Germany's part, most of those other Axis forces were woefully ill-equipped for the type of warfare that took place on the Eastern Front. But even under-equipped soldiers were useful to hold the lines in non-critical sectors so that German forces could concentrate where needed. And when they weren't there any longer, the frontages German units were expected to hold extended to ridiculous lengths.

But all of that said, 1942 was the high-water mark. The possibility of an Axis victory, however distant in September of 1942, became even more distant month-by-month after that.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP24 Jul 2018 1:19 p.m. PST

There are some issues with the "Soviet surrender" thesis.

Even if they do purge Stalin, it's doubtful that his replacements would inclined to seek peace knowing that Hitler made it all the way to the gates of Moscow. He already betrayed them before and he's clearing aiming for a war of conquest. Even if you are offering peace to buy time you might as well continue the fight. They might even avoid some of Stalin's mistakes …

kevanG25 Jul 2018 1:29 a.m. PST

the axis lost the war on december 7th 1941

TacticalPainter0125 Jul 2018 2:24 a.m. PST

I think there's a big difference in viewing this with what we know now as opposed to what they knew then. You could argue the Germans could never have won the war, therefore the war was decided in September 1939, but that certainly wasn't the way it was perceived at the time.

We can now see that the German decline began in May 1940 with the failure to beat Britain an issue only made worse in October 1941 with the Red Army's defeat of Barbarossa, but that certainly wasn't the perspective at the time.

We can now see that Japan could never beat the US or force them into a compromise peace, so starting the war was the decision point, but again it wasn't how it was perceived at the time.

It was never an even fight and the German and Japanese leaders were well aware that they were taking a huge gamble. The fight just got more uneven the moment Britain, Russia and the US became fully mobilised, but we know that now.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2018 6:19 a.m. PST

Hitler assumed that the USSR was on the brink of collapse.

That is the key to everything.

They didn't look at Khalkin Gol and figured the Soviets won that battle, they looked at the whole of the campaign and figured the Japanese may not have thoroughly beaten the Soviets, but at least held their ground. Ditto for Finland, where they saw a vast army of conscripts consistently beaten by the Fins.

What they didn't see was that the Soviets were learning from their mistakes and that in the end certain things were far less critical than they appeared.

Take the purge of the officer corps, the traditional narrative is that Stalin gutted the Red Army whereas it's now become clear that while he did target many officers it was nowhere near the numbers claimed and that it was more the rapid expansion of the Red Army at the same time with a resulting lack of everything, including officers that hindered it during Barbarossa.

Stalin is fully aware Hitler will attack and he's continuing an ongoing process to modernize a peasant and cavalry army into a modern mechanized army.

We should not forget that the USSR had more tanks and planes than the rest of the world combined. They were still introducing motorization in 1941.

Finland and Japan are good examples because it shows that Khalkin Ghol does show that a proper mechanized force is something to be reckoned with and while they are held up by the Fins due to a haphazard deployment of conscripts with very poor logistics, the invasion of northern Finland goes much better because the Fins can only commit so many troops and face their own logistics problems. And we should not forget that the Soviets do win the war with Finland.

Stalin far from being a fool has tasked officers in the Red Army to observe and note what goes wrong so Stavka can draw proper conclusions.

Speaking of Stavka, Hitler and his staff don't even believe that Stalin has a general staff and that the Red Army would be utterly unable to coordinate so many troops in the first place.

And when the Germans do finally invade they find that while they are able to encircle entire armies, the Heer's inherent problems become apparent, the tanks do maneuver correctly, but the infantry supposed to mop up finds that many escape because they lack motorized troops. Most German infantrymen still rely on trains and marching. They never completely solve the train problem, Germany doesn't have enough trucks, despite using all they can find from their defeated enemies.

What we often fail to grasp is that while Barbarossa seems like a huge success and the Germans can pat themselves on the back for achieve quite a feat it fails to achieve any substantial objective. The USSR does not collapse. Hitler ends up having to fight his own staff on the proper course and this again ruins any opportunities for 1942 when Hitler dooms himself by myopically focusing on Stalingrad when he fails to take the oilfields. And just like the Germans overreached themselves to reach the outskirts of Moscow they do the same with Stalingrad and the Red Army is now getting better, they are no match for the Germans tactically, but strategically they are already taking the lead.

1943 shows that Germany still has huge reserves and industry is finally moving up a gear and the Germans finally have the right kind of equipment, but pay the price in waiting too long for their shiny new tanks and waste a precious opportunity at Kursk. Even a decisive victory doesn't change the problem that they are exhausting themselves, the Red Army won't let itself be trapped and can now outmaneuver the Germans, with a nod to the lend-lease which is finally bringing in equipment in sufficient numbers to use it at an operational and strategic level.

By 1944 the Soviets are feeling the strain, famine, mounting casualties start to become problematic. But the Red Army can launch operations that bring it to the border of Germany within six months. They not only launch one of the most massive operations of the war to take Berlin, but also liberate most of eastern Europe at the same time and the Germans are sending everything they have to the east, what few mechanized forces they have left are all desperately trying to hold on to every foot of ground until Berlin is taken and Germany surrenders.

After the war German generals controlled the narrative, strangely, they came out perfectly blameless, they had the best troops, the best plans, the best equipment, the Soviets were vastly inferior and could only win by fighting 10-15 even 20 to 1, odds against which no general had an answer, especially with the utterly incompetent Bohemian Corporal, who ruined everything, chewing the carpet and making all the wrong decisions …

Oddly enough we did find out that they made the same claim for the West and we know since then that it was never a five Shermans for one Tiger kind of battle, the Allies defeated the Germans with combined arms, though numbers helped, they were rarely a factor in any given battle, in face the Germans had a paper advantage in some battles and still lost.

When we compare casualties we discover that the Germans have a huge advantage in 1941, they easily have a 3.4/1 kill ratio and a staggering 320/1 in soldiers captured. But these numbers month after month turn to the advantage of the Soviets

Numbers for 1942 are 3.5/1 but the capture ratio is now down to 12/1. For 1943 its 3.1 and 4.1.

By 1945 the number is 1/2 in favour of the Soviets and even though the Germans are putting up a strong defense the Soviets don't seem to lose huge numbers and their local ratio never exceeds that of the Germans during Barbarossa. So the German generals don't seem to have been overwhelmed by numbers, they kill plenty of Soviets, but the Soviets do win all the important battles and they are constantly attacking hence the high casualty rates.

To have a real chance of winning the Germans would need Britain's leadership to not only sue for peace, but actively remain out of the conflict for several years AND refuse to cooperate with the US. It would require the Soviets to somehow collapse and leave the door to the Caucasus wide open and then completely fail to retake the oilfields, while Hitler starts to implement the liquidation of the population … Again something that has to be mostly unopposed, unlike the actual situation where the equivalent of several divisions operated behind German lines and drew vital resources away from the front lines.

Hitler would benefit from having a better cooperation with his general staff and come up with better plans than to just hunt for enemy armies to destroy and arbitrary objectives to capture. That's the problem in 1942, the German army tries to do the same as they did in 1941, destroy armies and capture key cities, which will bring the Soviets to their knees, but they achieve almost none of it and end up trapped in Stalingrad another folly where the Generals who apparently had all the answers seemed to have collectively grabbed the idiot stick and made mistake after mistake. Manstein allegedly goes in to rescue Paulus, who is fully primed to break out, but Manstein wants the glory of getting to Paulus for himself, and when he fails he blames Paulus who was ordered to stay put when he still had all the means to do so. But after Manstein's attempt 6th army has already collapsed. Hitler and Paulus are dead or behind the Iron Curtain, guess who gets all the blame in Manstein's memoirs ?

And before you claim any bias, we do have the correspondence and orders exchanged and we see Paulus express his faith in Manstein but warns him that the situation should not be underestimated and Manstein makes several excuses as the attack is postponed and is held back by the Soviets, Paulus being a good officer trusts Manstein even beyond the point that his army has any chance to get out and is starting to starve and is told there will be another attempt which never comes because Manstein has given up on Paulus and his army already.

The Germans want to conquer the east and try to achieve this by taking key cities and destroying enemy armies without ever pausing if this is a good plan. They make the same mistake twice in trying to take an essentially worthless objective and after Kursk they can only respond to whatever the Soviets do, they cannot regain initiative and the only plan seems to be to hold on and wait for a miracle …

TacticalPainter0125 Jul 2018 2:27 p.m. PST

In hindsight we now know they were hoping for a miracle in 1941, they just didn't know it at the time.

Munin Ilor25 Jul 2018 2:57 p.m. PST

I remember reading in "Bloody Road to Tunis" that one of the German generals captured in Tunisia (von Arnim? von Vaerst? I can't remember which) was transported by road to Casablanca for eventual transfer to a stateside POW camp. Upon reaching Casablanca it is said he wept because he knew at that point that the war was over – because the 600 mile road from the Allied staging area in Morocco to the front in Tunisia was solid trucks bringing supplies, and that there was no way on earth that Germany could match that kind of logistics operation.

catavar25 Jul 2018 4:50 p.m. PST

I think expecting too much from the Axis Allies was another of those mirages grasped at by the German High Command. Take the Finns. I'm not aware of them putting any decisive pressure on the Soviets after they reached the border.

I believe most of Germanys allies had good soldiers, but that many were stuck with out-dated weapons, inadequate supplies and lacked sufficient leadership; which I'm sure did nothing to increase their morale. My understanding is that the Germans recognized this and wanted to disperse the allied troops among their own, but allied leaders (Antonescu, Mussolini) refused. Desperate for manpower to conduct Case Blue the Germans let their allies have it their way.

Now, while the loss of the Germans in Stalingrad, and the allied armies north of it, occurred in '42 it was the massive loss of German manpower in 1941 that set the stage in my opinion.

I'm also surprised nobody's noted that from '41 the Soviets were receiving information from "Lucy" that originated from the German High Command. After Barbarossa "Lucy's" messages were given the highest priority and lavishly funded. I think the information sent helped tilt the war in the Russians favor. Maybe not right away, but it began in 1941.

All the above my opinion again, or two cents, as we used to say. Take it for what it's worth.

sidley28 Jul 2018 10:29 a.m. PST

Everything above is valid. My opinion is that it was lost by invading Russia in 1941 rather than 1942. If in 1941 all German resources went into North Africa, Malta would have been suppressed by the Luftwaffe as it was when the Germans maxed out their aircraft in Sicily. Another two or three panzer divisions in Libya plus some troops into Syria would have overwhelmed the eighth army. The loss of Egypt would have led to the fall of the Middle East, thus solving the German oil problem. Threatened British East Africa, made India vulnerable to the u boats and possibly allowed support of French North Africa against a Torch style landing. Maybe even allowed German influence in Afghanistan to disrupt British India. Also 25% of lend lease to Russia went through Iraq, that would have stopped, plus allowed another access point into the rear of Russia via Iraq, although the terrain might have allowed this area to be defended. With access to Middle East oil the Japanese could trade for oil with Germany and thus not attack the Americans which may have allowed a Japanese thrust into Siberia and Mongolia which the generals wanted, whereas in reality the Admirals won that argument and Pearl harbour was Attacked. Even if the US entered the war, if the Med was an Axis lake, rather than do Op Torch they may have gone for Op Roundup and did a 1942 invasion of France which would have been a massacre because the American army learned its trade in Tunisia.

Mark 128 Jul 2018 3:04 p.m. PST

The loss of Egypt would have led to the fall of the Middle East, thus solving the German oil problem.

It may be easy to say the "Middle East", and it may well be true that the fall of Egypt would have greatly weakened or even unhinged British power in the Middle East.

But in the late 1930s and early 1940s, "Middle East" was not synonymous with "oil".

Oil producers in the lead up to WW2, by rank, were approximately:

1 ) The US: By far and away the world's largest oil producer, with over 180 million metric tons in 1940

2 and 3 ) Venezuela and the Soviet Union, with 30 and 27 million metric tons respectively. I do not have full confidence in the exactness the Soviet production numbers, and these two are close enough that it is hard to say with confidence which was the larger.

4 and 5 ) The next tier includes the Dutch East Indies, and Persia (which we now call Iran), at about 8 million metric tons each.

6 and 7 ) The next set, at a bit less, in the range 6 million metric tons each, are Mexico and Romania.

Without access to Soviet oil, or oil from the far east or the Americas, the entire European Axis war effort relied primarily on Romania.

Even IF Germany had managed to go all the way to Persia, and captured all of the Iranian pretroleum capacity intact, we are still talking about a total production (Romania and Iran) that would be only a bit more than half of what the Soviets produced, and hardly 1/10th of what the US produced (nevermind US access to Venezuelan and Mexican output).

Also 25% of lend lease to Russia went through Iraq, that would have stopped, plus allowed another access point into the rear of Russia via Iraq, although the terrain might have allowed this area to be defended.

Lend Lease did not flow in to Russia through Iraq. Iraq did not share a border with the Soviet Union.

Lend Lease flowed into the Soviet Union through Persia. Call it Iran if you prefer, but still that's a different country than Iraq. It's further away from the Med, and from any real or imagined Axis supply base.
It is reached by sea rather easily from the Indian Ocean, which was not particularly well covered by Axis naval assets.

The distance from Tripoli, the major Italian port in North Africa, and the base of logistics for the Afrika Korps, to Tehran, Iran, is about TWICE the distance from Warsaw to Moscow.

You are speaking of crossing a landmass larger, but with only a small fraction of the road and rail network, as was attempted in Operation Barbarossa.

Even if one assumes that Alexandria is taken in good condition and put into service as a productive Axis base of operations, the distance to Tehran is STILL more than the distance from Warsaw to Moscow.

Persia/Iran was not under British rule, so British problems in Egypt do not necessarily mean problems there. The Brits and the Soviets did invade and secure Persia during the war to ensure it remained friendly to their cause (one of the least known strategic actions of the war, in my view). But the allies held reasonable control over the Indian Ocean, and had shared land borders along the southern border of the Soviet Union, and the western border of Pakistan (then part of British India). So in terms of the geography, the allies held all the cards in any potential fight over Iran (Persia).

I think it is presumptuous to assume that Axis success in Egypt equals an Axis victory in Iran. Not that it couldn't have happened, but one should not just assume it.

But even if the Germans DID get "Middle East" oil, their problems were far from over. They, and through them their allies, would then have all of maybe half of the amount available to the Soviets, and about 7 or 8% of the amount available to the US (and so, to US allies). And that's IF they succeed in crossing some 2,000 miles of hostile territory to get to it.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2018 6:41 a.m. PST

Another two or three panzer divisions in Libya plus some troops into Syria would have overwhelmed the eighth army.

I believe we covered this before. The problem wasnt so much troops as logistics. It is doubtful the Germans could have supported two more panzer divisions in North Africa even with Malta neutralized.

sidley29 Jul 2018 6:46 a.m. PST

Most of what you say is right and I did mix up Iraq and Iran, school boy error. The invasion of Persia by the British is interesting to campaign and that anti British feeling could have been exploited. The Germans could have used any Eastern Mediterranean port not just Tripoli and in fact, if memory serves the grand mufti was with the Germans so could have sold the ‘Germans as liberators' story. I'm not saying it's a doregone result but I do believe that the Middle East option was a strong one. Persian oil by your interesting figures would have doubled Axis oil supplies and by denying access to Egypt and later on Italy would have reduced the vulnerability of the Romanian oil fields to US bombers as happened later in the war. The British army at this time was seriously struggling against a couple of German divisions so 6 or 7 would have probably done the job. It is even feasible that Vichy may have offered Syria as a supply base, especially after operation Exporter. During the Iraqi coup the French allowed German planes to refuel in Syria. Iraq was very anti British and may have supported a German invasion if the Golden Square coordinated their coup with a German push. Nothing is certain but if Russia hadn't been invaded in 1941, the resources of Barbarossa thrown into the Midddle East would have steamrollered the British, the logistics would be a challenge, but the distances were similar to those in Russia without the mud or snow. After Mers El Kebir, the French were more than happy to have a pop at Britain and even offered squadrons to support the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. I recommend Colin Smiths book England's Last War against France, some fantastic gaming ideas, particuarly the invasion of Syria.

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