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"An Isolationist President - Germany Still Loses WWII" Topic

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06 Mar 2019 2:01 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "An Isolational President - Germany Still Loses WWII" to "An Isolationist President - Germany Still Loses WWII"

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian06 Mar 2019 2:00 p.m. PST

You were asked – TMP link

If the United States had had an Isolationist president in 1940, would Germany have won WWII?

63% said "no, Germany would not have won WWII"
21% said "yes, Germany would have won WWII"

Personal logo 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2019 3:17 p.m. PST

Poor Germany. It doesn't matter what happened differently, they would still have lost.

FoxtrotPapaRomeo06 Mar 2019 3:31 p.m. PST

… and not a bad thing that they did.

Winston Smith06 Mar 2019 3:32 p.m. PST

Roosevelt PRETENDED he was isolationist.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Mar 2019 3:58 p.m. PST

But Stalin gets to wash his feet in the Bay of Biscay in 1946…

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2019 4:08 p.m. PST

It would have been really tough for Britain because there would be no lend-lease. No extra destroyers from the US. No American escorts. No sales of aircraft. Rommel may have made it to Suez. Since the British would not have the Sherman tanks in Egypt. Not to mention China without American support. No arsenal of Democracy.

Assuming Pearl Harbor was attacked. It would have taken the US that much longer to gear up for war. May have added a year or two to length of the war.

It is no secrete that FDR was not an isolationist. That is old news. He had to bring Americans slowly to the idea. The Japanese and Hitler made that process a lot easier.

dragon606 Mar 2019 6:39 p.m. PST

But Stalin gets to wash his feet in the Bay of Biscay in 1946…
But he does it without
The United States delivered to the Soviet Union from October 1, 1941 to May 31, 1945 the following: 427,284 trucks, 13,303 combat vehicles, 35,170 motorcycles, 2,328 ordnance service vehicles, 2,670,371 tons of petroleum products (gasoline and oil) or 57.8 percent of the High-octane aviation fuel,[26] 4,478,116 tons of foodstuffs (canned meats, sugar, flour, salt, etc.), 1,911 steam locomotives, 66 Diesel locomotives, 9,920 flat cars, 1,000 dump cars, 120 tank cars, and 35 heavy machinery cars. Provided ordnance goods (ammunition, artillery shells, mines, assorted explosives) amounted to 53 percent of total domestic production.[26] One item typical of many was a tire plant that was lifted bodily from the Ford Company's River Rouge Plant and transferred to the USSR.
Almost a half million trucks, 2,000 locomotives, 10K flatcars, 57% of high octane gasoline so Soviet fighter aircraft perform less well. Over 4K Shermans, pretty much every tactical radio … not higher level but tank radios

The Soviets moved truck production over to tanks so no trucks. The 1944 offensives break the line but there is no exploitation. Soviet casualties escalate massively.

No bomber offensive means more German production and a lot more German aircraft that are not diverted to homeland defence.

A lot fewer cargo ships which means German submarine warfare is more successful.

Pretty sure Stalin is not going to make it to France.

MiniatureWargaming dot com06 Mar 2019 8:07 p.m. PST

With no western front to worry about, the Russians at best achieve a stalemate.

Blutarski06 Mar 2019 8:21 p.m. PST

No USA involvement = no Lend/Lease = German victory.

The real story of the effect of Lend/Lease upon the Soviet war effort has never really been told.

without L/L …
> no high octane aviation fuel (L/L supplied octane boosting additives not produced or available in the USSR).
> no aluminum for manufacture of modern a/c types
> no machine tools to replace those lost or to expand weapons production.
> a loss of one-half the explosives and propellant ultimately consumed by the USSR during the war.
> no rations which fed the Soviet army for 3.5 years.
> disappearance of enough refined steel (by weight) to manufacture ~70,000 T34s.
> no modern transport which made possible later war Soviet deep operational thrusts like Bagration.
> no modern radio, electronics, communications gear.

People also forget about the number of Soviet workers who were available for war work because they did not have to mine iron ore and bauxite, or farm agricultural products because that sort of stuff was coming from the US in vast quantities.


ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Mar 2019 5:18 a.m. PST

I agree with Blutarski. And the impact is even wider. If a truly isolationist president convinced the Japanese that we would not interfere with their ambitions, then maybe they don't attack us. With no huge conflict against the US, the Japanese would have the forces to invade Australia, take control of the Indian Ocean, and drive through Burma into India itself. With Japan cutting off the convoy routes to the Middle East going around Africa and the Italians cutting the route across the Mediterranean (as they really did) the British position in Egypt become precarious indeed. No US = Axis victory.

Tired Mammal07 Mar 2019 9:25 a.m. PST

It would have taken longer as the contradictions of the German state made its policy of aggressive occupation inherently unstable.
Also there may not have been a policy of lend lease but I would expect Ford/Boeing etc, would have been delighted for the orders from UK USSR.
Even if the isolationist President banned sales to participants Ford (Canada) would have expanded massively.

The biggest question is that would it have made the US more vulnerable to the Japanese (as they would have lost the mobilisation head start) or could they have used the Isolationism to persuade Japan to leave USA alone.

Decebalus07 Mar 2019 9:47 a.m. PST


Is Lend/Lease really so important? The Russians had already won the battle of moscow long before lend/lease made an impact.So you could argue, they would have won over Germany without US help.

Blutarski07 Mar 2019 1:33 p.m. PST

"The Russians had already won the battle of moscow long before lend/lease made an impact.So you could argue, they would have won over Germany without US help."

Think of the Battle of Moscow from a different perspective: the Soviets succeeded in finally stopping the initial German strategic thrust with the aid of a bitter winter, commitment of their strategic Siberian reserves and the first deliveries of L/L (mostly aircraft and tanks, which the Soviets desperately needed).

In the following campaign season, the Germans launched another offensive that took them a further 500-1000km all the way to the Volga (Stalingrad) and the Caucasus by the summer of 1942. Fortunately for the Soviets, the weight of L/L was by that time making itself felt in a decisive way.

Strictly my opinion, of course.


Mark 107 Mar 2019 1:52 p.m. PST

In the following campaign season, the Germans launched another offensive that took them a further 500-1000km all the way to the Volga (Stalingrad) and the Caucasus by the summer of 1942. Fortunately for the Soviets, the weight of L/L was by that time making itself felt in a decisive way.

The German 1942 campaign was nearly decisive.

L/L was not yet achieving the levels that could support Red Army deep penetration operations, as it did in 1944.

But even at a much lower level, the 1942 L/L support was critical. Most importantly perhaps because it was delivered to the critical front, at the critical moment.

The tanks that confronted the Germans in the Caucasus were primarily US M3 "Lee" mediums, and British/Canadian Valentine infantry tanks. These were mixed mostly with Soviet-made T-60 light tanks.

The L/L delivery channel came up through Persia (now Iran). This channel had only recently been opened by the summer of 1942. It was a LONG way to go, with shipping traveling down the Atlantic, around the horn of Africa, and north along the African and Arabian Peninsula coasts, before crossing land from Persia into the southern Soviet Union. Long, but pretty much unhindered by mid-1942.

The L/L tanks in the Caucasus, if not available, might have been replaced with T-34s. But T-34 inventories were still low (re-located factories having just ramped back to production) and the Soviet government still expected another major push on Moscow. So what T-34s were available went there.

IF the Germans had in fact succeeded in fully interdicting the flow of Soviet oil out of the Caucasus, there would have been no way for the Soviets to conduct large-scale armored operations. And if the Germans had actually managed to capture the major oil fields of the Caucasus, not only would the Soviets have been weakened, but the Germans would have been substantially strengthened.

This was the decisive front, and the decisive campaign, and it was fought by the Red Army mostly with L/L tanks.

(aka: Mk 1)

Fred Cartwright07 Mar 2019 2:01 p.m. PST

Also there may not have been a policy of lend lease but I would expect Ford/Boeing etc, would have been delighted for the orders from UK USSR.

I doubt they would have given stuff for free and the US had virtually everything of value that the UK had before lend lease was introduced. UK companies had to sign over US holdings and we had already spent our hard cash.

Johannes Brust07 Mar 2019 2:01 p.m. PST

Stalin looked at a truce in 1943 because he thought the allies were moving too slowly. If he had only Britain as an ally in 1943 I think that truce becomes a reality. Remember that was after Stalingrad and lend lease was well underway. So he answered your question.. no US at best a draw.

Blutarski07 Mar 2019 2:26 p.m. PST

Well, Johannes …. you have educated me. I was unaware that Stalin had ever contemplated a truce offer to the Germans (and AFTER Stalingrad?!).

Always a good day when I learn something new.


Tired Mammal08 Mar 2019 5:29 a.m. PST

True money would be tight but I suspect a way would be found.
Perhaps a colony or 2 in the Caribbean may have changed hands if they were really desperate. The flow would have been slower and only essentials purchased but I suspect Canada would have boomed if there was a truly isolationist President.

But the real question is what would Japan do?
If it stayed totally out then the British empire would have its full resources for the West plus the Dutch and French colonies with their oil and rubber. With and probably without British assistance I suspect the Russia could have achieved a stalemate. The reduced L/L might have reduced the scope of some of Stalin's early disastrous counter attacks. The Russians knew that they just had to stop the Germans and time was in their favour especially as the full British empire would win in the Med if Japan stayed out.

Of course if Japan started attacking the Allies could an isolationist USA just watch them sail past the Philippines without starting to mobilise or at least question their policy? Also U boats were not very good at looking telling ships apart before shooting and USA does not like being told that they cannot sail anywhere.

Once US starts to prepare for defence of the Pacific, Japan would go down its Pearl Harbour route. So an isolationist policy in the US would only make the war longer and worse but probably not put the ultimate result in question unless Japan was totally neutral under a completely different regime (or they carved up the Pacific with the US).

Though the Cold War map would be a bit different.
Basically The Germans and Japanese would not allow an isolationist USA to stay out.

But the real question would be what if the US had a more aggressive "lets see what we can take during this war" policy. Not totally fascist but more go it alone, with an agreement the Japanese to carve up the pacific and to grab some Caribbean islands. Then you would have British empire and Russia alone.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 7:17 a.m. PST

First Mark is right with one little quibble in the wording. The German 1942 campaign WAS decisive. This was Germany's last best chance to knock Russia out of the war. After 42 while their would be various crisis events in the East, and there was still 3 more years of war to go, it took on an air of inevitability. 1943 was not exactly bright and sunny for the Russians but hindsight has shown the mortal crisis to them had been weathered.

Now we are talking about an isolationist President and US policy. I don't think Boeing, Ford, or any other company would have been interested in taking over any colonies and by definition the US government, being isolationist, would not provide military aide/supplies to UK in exchange for bases.

Had L/L been delayed a year would it have been enough, in 42, to tip the balance the German way? As with all "what ifs" impossible to say with certainty but no doubt the Russians would be in more desperate straits and even if they ultimately prevail how long and at what cost.

The lend lease act was signed into law in March 1941, a full 9 months prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. So even if historical events play out as they did with the only difference being an isolationist US policy that would be 9 lost months. What is lost is not only the supplies but the mechanisms to implement lend lease. Remember while actual deliveries to the Soviet Union didnt really ramp up until the US was in the war L/L supplies to the Russians began as early as June 1941 once again predating active US involvement.

And while the US may have indeed increased their readiness if Japan had attacked British, French and Dutch interests in the Far East, but had delayed attacking the US, then the lag in L/L may have been even more pronounced.

Fred Cartwright08 Mar 2019 7:40 a.m. PST

True money would be tight but I suspect a way would be found.
Perhaps a colony or 2 in the Caribbean may have changed hands if they were really desperate.

Money wasn't tight, it was worse than that. The UK was bankrupt. As I said everything of value that the US wanted had already been signed over. Why would the US want colonies? Remember we are talking of an isolationist President, not one who wants to expand US colonies.
As for Canada it produced what it could during the war, but it didn't have even a fraction of the economic muscle that the US brought to bear.

Dynaman878909 Mar 2019 4:57 a.m. PST

An isolationist US may well have sold to the Axis as well. I've not seen that mentioned yet. Follow along with the UK stopping any such shipments – which they would have to do – and the idea that the US joins the Axis in some limited way is not out of the question.

Lee49409 Mar 2019 6:36 a.m. PST

Well that depends on a fine point of definition. If you mean NO US involvement at all and an appeasement policy toward Japan, yes Germany MIGHT have won. If you mean the US avoids war BUT still serves as the "arsenal of democracy" for Britain and Russia, China etc, then Germany still can't win. But Japan might end up owning most of SE Asia, the Western Pacific and China.

But that begs a bigger question. As Germany and Japan captured more and more territory and committed more and more war crimes could the US have remained Isolationist? No. Public opinion was eventually going to force a war. Pearl Harbor just speeded it up. So what does WWII look like if the US enters in late 42 or 43? Food for thought and discussion. Enjoy!

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