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If Hitler had been smart, would Germany have won?

 
 
Wilso
 
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 07:25 am
I'm hoping some of the students of history here can answer this. I certainly don't know much about the subject myself, but on war documentaries I've seen, there seemed to be what appeared even to me to be glaring blunders. Like almost having Moscow in sight, and then making a right turn (can't remember where he turned to). Did it give the Russians time to dig in? I'm sure there are other instances.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 33,575 • Replies: 251
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Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 07:36 am
Hitler was not, in military terms, smart. Politically, he was very savvy, and correctly judged the will of the pre-war English and French governments to honor their commitments to Poland. Militarily, he was an idiot, and it cost Germany dearly.

As for Moscow, taking the city would not have put old Joe Stalin out of business. At any event, the Japanese were ostensibly his allies, but they had nevertheless concluded an armistice with the Soviet Union to end their conflict on the east asian mainland. I've read various figures, but i would say it not unreasonable that the end of the undeclared war with Japan freed about 40 divisions which were transferred to the west. Hitler, idiot he, declared war on the United States after Pearl Harbor, which played right into Roosevelt's hand, as he had always wanted to make war in Europe the focus of American efforts.

I heard an interview with a gentleman named Montefiori on NPR (National Public Radio) yesterday. He has written a book about Stalin. I don't recall the full title, but the subtitle is The Court of the Red Tsar. He claims it is based on documents from the Soviet era which the Russians have now made public. It was his contention in the interview that Stalin had thought that Hilter, being a smart politician, was as intelligent as was he, Stalin. He had thoroughly read up on Bismark and Von Moltke when Hitler had come to power, and was convinced that Hitler would not attempt to fight a war on two fronts at the same time. The author contends that Stalin thought that Hitler would finish off Britain first, before turning east. Stalin was therefore expecting an invasion in about 1943, rather than 1941. The Soviet Union had been deadlocked with Japan, and had recently been humiliated in an attempt to invade Finnland. Stalin had then committed nearly all of his efficient, mobile resources to the war with Finnland. When Hitler struck, the Russians were somewhat caught off guard, but not entirely unprepared.

Hitler's stupidity was such that no provisions were made in the original invasion for a winter campaign. Hitler's assumption that terror bombing would be effective militarily ought to have been disproven to him in the bombing of Warsaw, but he was militarily stupid, and addicted to the excellence of his own opinion. It had no effect of Britain, other than to harden British resolve. It had no effect on the Russians, who, as throughout most of their history, feared the enemy behind them far more than the enemy to their front.
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Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 07:49 am
By the way, the answer to your titular question is no.

If Hitler had been smart, he would not have invaded the Soviet Union while he already had a serious shooting war on his hands. He was committed in Norway, in North Africa and in the occupation of France, and had major assets stationed in the Pas de Calais.

Hitler was an idiot.
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Wilso
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 07:51 am
I was kinda hoping you'd come along Set.
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MyOwnUsername
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:04 am
Depends what you mean by "win".
Setanta is right from his aspect.
But if we look on that on "lower" levels, Germany would've won. If Hitler was smart enough Austria, large part of former Czechoslovakia and probably even large parts of Poland would be German today.
I mean, it's impossible to say actually what would be TODAY, but back then he already had Austria and parts of ex Czechoslovakia with silent agreement of UK and France, and he would probably manage to take some parts of Poland.
He wanted too much though.
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Wilso
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:21 am
MyOwnUsername wrote:

He wanted too much though.


Have to assume that he wanted it ALL.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:24 am
There is a relatively brief book, Wilso, which sheds some light on what the German military thought. In English, the title is The First and the Last. It is the war memoir of Adolf Galland, who ended the war as the commander of the Luftwaffe fighter arm. He was highly critical of Hitler's stupid obsession with bombers. In on passage, Galland details his plans which kept 50 fighters in the air over the English channel at all times, allowing the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the battle cruiser Prinz Eugen to run the English channel in broad daylight, and thereby transfer from the French coast of the Bay of Biscay, where they were very vulnerable, and to make it safely to the Keil canal. Compare that the situation on June 6, 1944--D Day. In all of France, the Germans flew 160 sorties (a sorty is one plane flying one mission). By contrast, the allies flew more than 14,000 sorties over Normandy alone (i.e., a plane would fly its mission and return, would be re-fueled and re-armed, and a new pilot or aircrew would immediately take off for another sorty). Exactly two of the German sorties were over the invasion beaches proper.

In The Rommel Papers, edited by B. H. Liddell-Hart and Rommel's widow, Rommel insists that German resources must be immediately behind the invasion beaches. He contended that the Germans would never be able to make the approach march to the combat zone because of allied air superiority. He based this upon his experience in Egypt against Monty and the Eighth army. The English kept just 24 bombers in the air, but kept that number in the air around the clock. Basically, when Monty launched his attack, the Afrika Korps and their Italian allies were obliged to march on foot away from the battlefield, because no vehicle could survive on the roads. Monty sent the New Zealanders against Rommels strongest "defense in depth" position, and the initial slaughter of the Kiwis was horrible. But the Germans could not hold the position, and could not effectively counter attack because of English air power. Rommel predicted that the policy of keeping the armored divisions in the interior of France to await some big decisive battle in the interior was tantamount to military suicide. Sycophantic officers at OKW pandered to Hitler's vision, however, and even Rommels immediate superior, Von Ruhnstedt (sp?) subscribed to this theory, although he was a hard-headed realist who was unafraid of contradicting Hitler. Rommel was proven correct. He had landed in Africa with the 5th Light Division, which had been converted into the 21st Panzer. On D-Day, the 21st Panzer, by then in France, was stationed on the road leading southeast away from Caen, over a distance of about 20 kilometers. It took three days to assemble the division, which had by that time lost more than half of its mechanized assets. The 6th Falschirmjaeger (sp?--it means parachute light infantry, and among Germany's best infantry) was 60 k. away from the invasion beaches in Brittany. It required a week to assemble this brigade in Normandy--they had to march on foot, and could only do so during the brief summer night of northern Europe. Rommel was proven, saddly from the German point of view, to have been correct. Allied fighters and light and medium bombers prowled the skies over Normandy from sunrise to sunset, and nothing that moved on the roads was likely to survive. Meanwhile, Hitler continued to insist that the prototype jet fighter being developed by Messerschmidt, which had already been flight tested, be sent back to the drawing board to be re-designed as a bomber. Galland was very bitter about this. The prototype had flown in late 1943--the actual fighter jet was not delivered until late 1944. The German "grunts" in Normandy would say, "If you see a white plane, that's the Tommies; if you see a black plane, that's the Amies (Americans); if you don't see any planes at all, that's the Luftwaffe."

I could go on and on like this, but i'll desist . . . for now.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:27 am
Setanta
I have always heard it said the Hitlers greatest mistake and thank God he made it was not to finish off England before going to war with the Soviet Union. Any opinion?
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MyOwnUsername
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:35 am
Wilso wrote:

Have to assume that he wanted it ALL.


Well, probably that's true.
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MyOwnUsername
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:39 am
au1929 wrote:
Setanta
I have always heard it said the Hitlers greatest mistake and thank God he made it was not to finish off England before going to war with the Soviet Union. Any opinion?


I think his biggest mistake was going to war with the Soviet Union at all. "Finishing" England before or not. Although probably even without war with Soviet Union he would soon end up in problems. "Blitzkrieg" was short solution, I doubt Germany would be capable of controlling almost all Europe for a long time. War would certainly be longer, but eventually joint Europe would win - German army was extremely strong, but I doubt they were strong enough to keep control of Scandinavia, France, England and rest of Europe at the same time. Yes for short period (short in historic terms), but not for decades.
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Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:40 am
au1929 wrote:
Setanta
I have always heard it said the Hitlers greatest mistake and thank God he made it was not to finish off England before going to war with the Soviet Union. Any opinion?


Yup
0 Replies
 
Wilso
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:42 am
Setanta wrote:
au1929 wrote:
Setanta
I have always heard it said the Hitlers greatest mistake and thank God he made it was not to finish off England before going to war with the Soviet Union. Any opinion?


Yup


Set's shortest ever post. That must be one for the archives Very Happy
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:42 am
Wilso, in Mein Kampf (i actually read that tripe when i was 12--it says a lot about America that it was available in English in a small town library), Hitler wrote of his plan to find lebensraum, living space, for his master race in the Ukraine.

The proverbial handwriting on the wall . . .
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Wilso
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:47 am
Setanta wrote:
--it says a lot about America that it was available in English in a small town library)


One discovery channel program I watched about that time, I heard a quote from a guy who lived through it.


"America didn't miss fascism by much-I know, I was there".


How much of the US' initial reluctance to join the war was a result of pressure from it's own German population? (Opinions sought)
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 08:49 am
After Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Idiot in Berlin declared war on the U.S., and that was good enough for most Americans. Before that time, however, isolationists were strong, so was the German-American Bund, and many high-profile Americans had chummed it up with Hitler, most notably, Charles Lindberg. Roosevelt definitely was not going to war in Europe without Hitler's idiotic declaration.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 11:41 am
Wilso wrote:
How much of the US' initial reluctance to join the war was a result of pressure from it's own German population? (Opinions sought)

I'm sure the effects were minimal. The German-American Bund existed, but it was an insignificant, fringe movement; I'd venture to say that most German-Americans either ignored or despised the Bundists.

Furthermore, the largest wave of German immigration occurred before 1870; most German-Americans were well-integrated into American society by the 1940s and were not seen as a potential threat (in contrast to Japanese-Americans or even Italian-Americans, who were often one generation removed from the old country). Obviously, the nation wouldn't have chosen a man named "Eisenhower" to lead its armies if it wasn't confident of German-Americans' loyalty.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 11:49 am
As far as I know, the Russians used the same tactics against Hitler that they used against Napoleon. I'm sure Set can fill in the details. If Hitler had been smart, he may have realized that he was neither blonde, nor blue-eyed.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 11:49 am
Nor tall, for that matter. I also understand he only had one testicle.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 11:51 am
Joe, i would disagree with you only to point out that the German-American Bund kept itself before the public by playing the isolationist card for all it was worth . . .
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2004 11:52 am
Here is some more potent information:

http://www.stevequayle.com/Giants/pics/giant.Nazi.html
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