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"If Churchill did not become PM" Topic


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657 hits since 29 Jul 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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28mm Fanatik29 Jul 2018 9:50 a.m. PST

and Britain negotiated peace with Germany after Dunkirk, would Hitler have won the war?

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2018 10:05 a.m. PST

Depending on the terms, a good chance

Without having to maintain anything beyond occupation forces in the West, maybe with an economic alliance with the UK and without the distraction of the Med the Germans could have launched Barbarosso earlier and with more punch – in Moscow by November, farewell USSR

Ugly prospect

Fred Cartwright29 Jul 2018 10:29 a.m. PST

I think that presupposes that a UK prime minister had the final say. Having family that lived through it from what I have been told there was no mood in the country to come to terms with Hitler. So any prime minister that proposed a deal, might not have been prime minister for much longer.

foxweasel29 Jul 2018 10:48 a.m. PST

Probably.

bsrlee29 Jul 2018 6:01 p.m. PST

A lot would depend on 'who else'. If a 'Peace at All Costs' type got into power there could well have been a VBCW played out in 1940.

Also, No Churchill, No Dunkirk. A less resolute PM may well have either cut & run early or have left the BEF to its fate in France, resulting a pretty prostrate Britain.

Possibly no Pearl Harbor if the French & Dutch Pacific colonies were 'thrown under the bus' for the Japanese to scoop up as part of the Axis without the need for an actual declaration of war – oil, diamonds and other strategic materials were the major prizes there & it is hard to see Japan not sharing if Germany got them access.

langobard Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2018 1:25 a.m. PST

At that point, how much trust would there have been in any "negotiations" that Hitler may have offered? Even if some level of "peace" had come about I suspect that the Brits would simply have used the time to rebuild its army, and build up the RAF and Navy and that Hitler, with his eyes focused firmly on the Soviet Union, would have found this an intolerable threat.

Chances of the Brits accepting disarmament as part of a peace treaty would have been almost nil I suspect.

Giles the Zog30 Jul 2018 5:37 a.m. PST

British dis-armament would IMO have been impossible. We had an Empire to police. Dismemberment of the Empire in 1939/1940 would have been unacceptable to the British public, and the Dominions.

Any PM agreeing to that would have been hung drawn and quartered in short order.

At best, a truce or agreement to armed neutrality might have been agreed. Maybe some form of economic treaty.

During which time, the army would be rebuilt along with the RAF and navy.

Would it have meant the Nazis won ? No.

Germany did not have the industrial capacity, nor resources to defeat the Soviets whilst maintaining an occupation of Europe. And they would be looking over their shoulder at Britain all the time.

It would prolong the war.

There would have to have been another change, in the USSR for the Nazis to defeat them. Again, at best they might have seized Moscow and established their Archangel to Astrakhan line and a perpetual low level war.

America would sooner or later go to war with Japan, and suck in the Germans eventually, leading to an Anglo-American alliance.

Legion 430 Jul 2018 7:23 a.m. PST

I think overall Churchill was critical in winning the war in the ETO … Things may very well have been somewhat different without his influence, etc.

28mm Fanatik30 Jul 2018 7:25 a.m. PST

The movie 'Darkest Hour' made it appear to be a distinct possibility, overdramatized a bit perhaps.

22ndFoot30 Jul 2018 12:44 p.m. PST

I wouldn't take the "Darkest Hour" as historical evidence of anything other than the ability of some makeup artists.

The portrayal of Chamberlain after Churchill became Prime Minister and of the evolution of the Dunkirk operation are the most extreme bits of "artistic licence" and, yes, I am considering Churchill's trip on the Tube in that assessment.

Lee49430 Jul 2018 3:36 p.m. PST

Define win. History showed us what utter destruction the Allied "win" caused. So what would an Axis win have looked like. The Japs occupying LA and Germans NYC. I doubt it! Cheers!

4th Cuirassier31 Jul 2018 2:33 a.m. PST

If in July 1940 the Germans had offered a simple end to hostilities, i.e. an acceptance of the status quo with the RAF and RN left intact along with the Commonwealth, I think that deal would have been very hard for Britain to refuse. It could have been sold politically as a respite, at no cost beyond what had already been paid, during which Britain could re-equip herself for the next instalment and hold on to the Empire. It would have sold the Japanese down the river because it would have left the Commonwealth forces free to defend the east properly, which would mean no propitious opening for a Japanese sneak attack on Malaya. Instead they would probably have focused on, and won in, China.

As Britain was in no position to attack Germany's perimeter in July 1940, only a handful of forces would have been left in the west and Germany could then have attacked Russia on schedule in 1940 with more strength and with the Luftwaffe undepleted by the loss of 2,000 aircraft in the Battle of Britain.

Once the USSR was defeated, then unless the USA found a reason to attack Germany, even a rearmed Britain would have had no prospective ally to assist her in doing so.

So by 1942 we would have been moving to an Anglo-American nuclear programme while Germany moved to develop ICBMs and jet bombers that could reach New York. Probably both programmes would have succeeded, but only one would have secured victory in any renewed war.

How long this lasted would have depended on Hitler's personal life expectancy.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Jul 2018 4:10 a.m. PST

4th Cuirassier's assessment is very close to my own. With England neutralized, even temporarily, Hitler's attack on the USSR could have been significantly stronger (no losses in a Battle of Britain would have been huge) and possibly launched earlier and might very well have defeated Stalin in 1941.

I suppose the big wild card would have actually been Italy. Mussolini had his ambitions, but if Hitler made peace with England, could he keep Mussolini from screwing it up in North Africa and Greece? No North African Campaign would mean an additional panzer corps-led by Rommel-in the Russian campaign.

28mm Fanatik31 Jul 2018 7:09 a.m. PST

I wouldn't take the "Darkest Hour" as historical evidence of anything

Neither would I, but that's the whole point of "what if?" exercises like this where we ponder how things might have turned out differently with an isolationist American president, or Britain choosing not to oppose Germany had Chamberlain and Halifax prevailed over Churchill.

Legion 431 Jul 2018 7:14 a.m. PST

Yes, if Hitler didn't have a "Second Front", i.e. France, UK, West Europe, etc. They certainly could have put all their efforts in the East. But remember even as it was over 70-75% of Germany's losses were in the East …

And if for some reason Mussolini wanted to conquer N. Africa, Greece, the Med etc. As we saw with Operation Compass, etc. The Italian Forces generally did not do very well verses UK/Commonwealth Forces.

22ndFoot31 Jul 2018 1:34 p.m. PST

Chamberlain was already opposing Germany as he had promised to do should Poland be attacked but, thanks in part to Churchill's Norway plan, was making a bit of a hash of it when Churchill took over.

Chamberlain had tried to bring the Opposition into a national cabinet to prosecute the war which the Labour party, for its own reasons, declined to do while Chamberlian remained as Prime Minister. Chamberlain was then obliged to find a replacement and Churchill won out. The King did not like Churchill few people did at that time but he did not want Halifax and Halifax didn't want the job anyway. (How, in modern times, a Prime Minister from the Lords might have governed is another question.)

Even when Churchill was Prime Minister, Chamberlain remained in the war cabinet (of only five members) as Lord President of the Council and chaired the Cabinet in Churchill's absense. Chamberlain was entirely supportive of Churchill who greatly appreciated this loyalty and worked very hard to bring the Conservative party, which still distrusted Churchill enormously, around and kept Lloyd George out of the cabinet. Another one of Churchill's less than brilliant ideas. Dunkirk, of course, was Gort's idea, not Churchill's. Most importantly, Chamerlain was instrumental in the cabinet's decision not to pursue peace negotiatios which he felt unlikely to lead to an acceptable offer.

Just because Chamberlain worked hard to avoid a war after he became Prime Minister in 1937 and, of course, at Munich doesn't mean that he wasn't committed to it when it came. There is no way politically that Chamberlain could have acted very differently in those two years. (Whether he could have acted militarily disregarding the political reality is a question where hindsight is most powerful.) Chamberlain was Prime Minister of a democracy and the country was dead set against war there was enormous public rejoicing after Munich. Quite how he could have gone to war earlier in those circumstances is a mystery. After the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Colonial Secretary, amongst others, noted that, "whereas the Prime Minister was once a strong advocate of peace, he has now definitely swung around to the war point of view."

It is also an open question as to whether he would have been a better war leader had he not been suffering from terminal bowel cancer, which killed him in November 1940, the seriousness of which his doctors kept from him but from which he was in enormous pain.

Chamberlain had, of course, as had Baldwin before him, engaged in a desperate but far reaching rearmament programme which, clearly, was just in time and for which he gets no credit. Chamberlain worked to make sure we could fight a war when it came. He wasn't terribly good at fighting the war but he was the one who gave Churchill many of the tools Home Chain radar; an updated Fighter Command and a completely motorised army amongst them which permitted Churchill to fight on.

Doubtless we would have fought on the possibilty of a negotiated peace already having been rejected although we may have been beaten and there would have had to have been a new Prime Minister by November anyway. This would not have been Halifax and might not have been Churchill the Imperial cabinet idea floated by McKenzie King and others might have got a look in without Churchill and adventures like Greece might have been avoided leading to an earlier success in North Africa.

Sure, we might have held talks with a then still neutral Italy at the same time that France was negotiating an armistice as Halifax suggested but there was a war on and the political tone of the country had changed. Terms that might have been acceptable to both sides would have been unlikely to have resulted in an enduring peace.

It is an interesting "what if" but, mercifully, only a "what if."

William Ulsterman31 Jul 2018 5:53 p.m. PST

In his 19th July 1940 speech Hitler's "offer" to the British was that the poms got to keep their empire providing they did not interfere in German dominated Europe. But could you treat a victory speech by that man as a legitimate offer of settlement?

Other discussions occurred in Switzerland between Ullrich Von Hassell and Lonsdale Bryans, but did these have any substance? Opinions differ. The Cabinet meetings of 26th and 27th May 1940 show that there were people who would have negotiated with Hitler towards ending the war.

Does this mean that the German military could have beaten Russia in 1941? I suggest not – in 1941 tactically things could not have gone better for the Germans. But they still couldn't get there because their logistics were inadequate. A bigger navy, a few 100 more aeroplanes and two small panzer divisions – which were the only forces fighting Britain when Barbarrossa was launched, wouldn't have changed the outcome in 1941.

Durrati01 Aug 2018 8:06 a.m. PST

Must agree that Chamberlain has has a bad press in general and was stitched up by the Darkest Hour Film.

It should be remembered that he was the Prime Minister who took Britain into the war and even when he lost the top job he was fully committed to the war effort and was willing to serve in any capacity to support the government in prosecuting the war. What is the world coming to when I am defending a Conservative Prime Minister?

Also, in 38 not sure what other decision he could have made. If he had decided on war with Germany he would have been supported by Labour but probably not by his own party, and the Conservatives might have pulled him out of office rather than vote for war.This probably being supported by the majority of the electorate.

Appeasement is indeed a dirty word. So instead lets just say that the mood of the country in 38 was isolationist (ie lets not get involved, not out problem). Sounds nicer than appeasement but adds up to basically the same thing.

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