If Hitler had been smart, would Germany have won?

Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 10:14 am
A few reasons that the Nazi's may have been defeated:

1. The ratio of German population to those it made mortal enemies, was far to small. German casualties (and those of its allies) steadily reduced it's ability to fight effectively, while the Allied forces continually grew and became stronger.

2. Germany did not have sufficient raw materials to support the sort of war effort needed to defeat the whole range of countries it was at war with. Oil, rubber, and a host of other critical resources severely constrained German war making.

3. German weapons design/strategy was faulty. Though some weapons systems were far ahead of their time, those systems were often plagued by "bugs" and were in such short supply that they could not be used with full effect. Some systems were not robust enough to withstand the rigors of combat in extreme conditions. Because there were many types, it was difficult sometimes to salvage parts from inoperable weapons to keep others going. The variety and complexity of design also made it difficult to keep sufficient expertise in maintenance and repair.

3a. Through most of the war period most German forces were issued bolt-action Mauser rifles not dis-similar to those used in WWI ... and before. Though that is a fine rifle, it was greatly outclassed in firepower by the M1, other semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons used by the Allied powers. A German company just could not match the firepower of a platoon of MI, or burp-gun, wielding GIs or Ivans ... both of whom more often attacked in larger formations.

4. Though German use of submarines gave it near supremacy in the Atlantic for a few years, its lack of a comprehensive navy was a disaster. To win Germany had to cut the supply line from the arsenals of America to Britain and the USSR. It failed to achieve that critical aim. Perhaps more and better submarines might have achieved the objective, but I don't think so ... see items 1-3 above. German submarines were just no match for Allied ASW resources and techniques in the long run.

5. Air supremacy became critical in WWII. See items 1-3 above. As Allied control of the skies increased, the ability of German forces to effectively fight rapidly declined. German resources were stretched even further as war production was driven underground, or out to the extreme range of Allied bomber fleets. German logistics failed as Allied forces shifted strategic targets from war production plants to transportation networks. Though German war production remained relatively high, there was no way the munitions could be transported to line units short of ammunition, spare parts, etc. As the transportation network collapsed, it became increasingly difficult to move units to those parts of the battlefield where they would be most effective. This was particularly debilitating as the intensity of attack on the German homeland increased.

6. German logistics insufficient to support Armies on the Russian Front, in Africa, and on occupation duty within hostile populations. Troops and the supplies they required to effectively achieve mission requirements often didn't exist, and so many missions were at least relative failures. Germany began the war, and fought a pretty good part of it, using horse drawn carts to move men and supplies. That is suicidal in wars fought after 1920. Rail supply was in short supply, and the differences in rail systems often made it impossible to move material and men continuously from one point to another (i.e., differences in track gauge). To compound the rail problem, crucial rolling stock was diverted to move loot and death-camp bound prisoners.

7. The entrance of the United States into the war, doomed Germany. See 1-6 above. American population, production capacity, innovation, and will to win were decisive. Even if Hitler had not declared war after Pearl Harbor, the United States was committed to defeating the Nazi forces in Europe. Lend-Lease, and other support from the US helped keep Britain and the USSR "on the board" until America came fully into play. Once American resources came into Theater, the end was almost inevitable.

8. Failures in the C cubed system. Command structures were rigid, and often subordinate commanders were reluctant to use their own initiative to exploit unexpected opportunities. Subordinate commanders tended to show somewhat more initiative on defense when their lives were more obviously on the line. Command paralysis to some extent existed throughout the command structure. At the top, there were some brilliant commanders, but the number of political yes-men and incompetents remained high, too high when all elements of the equation are considered. Communications deteriorated as the war went on. Radios were in short supply in some units, and frequently operated on insecure frequencies. Breaking Axis codes gave the Allied forces a very great advantage in structuring force and counterforce. Most German communications were forced onto wire networks, and those were vulnerable to failure. See 5 above. Sabotage within occupied countries frequently disrupted communications. The result of command and communications failures was that coordination and control of German military forces was increasingly fragmented.

9. Though the effect of the resistance Movement in occupied countries has been occasionally over-emphasized, those movements did play an important part in bringing about the defeat of Germany. Communications and transportation attacks by members of the resistance, especially in periods leading up to Allied attacks was very useful in turning the tide against German forces. The need to maintain sizable troop concentrations within occupied areas deprived field commanders of desperately needed troops.

I could go on, but these nine factors I believe were sufficient to pretty much doom German hopes for Victory. Absent any two of the above faults in the equation, excepting item 7 the importance of having the United States as an enemy, Germany still probably could not have achieved total domination of the Europe for very long. The USSR could not be rolled over in the same fashion as Poland, nor was Britain the sort of target that Norway was.

When the decision was taken to go to war, Germany signed its own death warrant. Members of the General Staff warned their political masters of the problems, but were lulled by the ease with which early victories were achieved. Hitler, himself, probably was swept along the path to war by his own rhetoric and the need to maintain political control over his followers. The flaws in Hitler's and Germany's decision to go to war with the world might have occurred even if they had fully appreciated the risks they were taking.
Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 10:31 am
The Way The HRE Gets Big (with Berlin as Capital)
Hitler rips a page out of Bismark's RealPolitik book and:

(1) quite easily destroys the BEF; and
(2) does not declare war on the U.S.A.; and
(3) respects the partition of Poland.

Bam! Hitler puts on the breaks, the U.K. is out of the picture and the U.S. and U.S.S.R. have no motiviation to fight. Germany puts its energy into positive Public Relations and the H.R.E. goes back to its old-school Habsberg borders.

All three of the above were within Hitler's ability to choose. So, to answer the question - yes, Germany wins.

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Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 10:35 am
I consider that Steve has made an error, but an understandable one. I consider that Moishe has been forming opinions based upon personal predilections, without much regard for factual substantiation, and has here displayed extremes of expression which are completely unjustified. The Germans did not operate in Asia at any time; that commonwealth troops from India, Australia and New Zealand is hardly a justifiable basis for a contention that Germany attacked Austrialia; German U-boats did attack shipping in North American waters, but never extensively, and never with significant success--and the purpose was to support their war effort in Europe through the strangulation of England, there is absolutely no reason to have characterized this as an attack on North America. I would point out to Steve that although Denmark took the line that discretion forms the better part of valor, and made not attempt to opposed the Nazis militarily, there was from first to last in the occupation of Denmark, a widespread and effective underground. King Hakkon could not mount a successful defense of Norway, but that did not stop him and the English and French from making the effort. Later in the war, Norwegians operated with British special services in significant numbers, and Norwegian sailors served with the Royal Navy, and many small vessels were brough to serve with the RN. The destroyer Stavenger operated with the RN, before being sunk by German E-boats in the Bay of the Seine during the Normandy invasion operations.

Which brings me to a few observations. The Germans had overrun western Europe militarily, and largely had control of central Europe. This hardly constitutes conquest in all its ramifications--sabotage in captured industry, and in German industry which relied upon forced labor was common; communist organizations in all the occupied territories immediately turned their political organizations into resistance movements. Moishe has created a fairly tale about former European conquests to suggest that the German attempt at conquest in the mid-20th century has antecedants--it does not. Louis XIV and Napoleon certainly made such an effort; there was never any such thing as a Holy Roman Empirse sufficiently cohesive and monolithic to have characterized it as even controlling those German states comprising what was essentially a voluntary political and legal conference, let alone attempt the conquest of Europe; the House of Hapsburg never attempted such a conquest, and was usually (although not always) to be found opposed to French attempts at hegemony, and later, unsuccessfully opposing the Prussian drive for German hegemony. This is a feeble attempt at historical comparison and synthesis which is unworthy of an undergraduate history student. Louis XIV in fact achieved many of his goals, and added to the territory of France--his attempts to establish a French hegemony failed. Napoleon managed to conquer much of Europe--but Spain was his "Viet Nam," and the guerilla there bled France's resources white, long before the disasterous invasion of Russia. There was no equivalent resistance to Napoleon to compare to the nearly universal underground resistance to Nazism. In many respects, after the failure of will of national governments in opposing Germany, the "little" men and women of Europe had their finest hour in resisting the Nazis.

Moussolini's rhetoric hardly qualifies anyone to characterize hims as "svengali-like." His opera buffa performances, so much ridiculed in England and the United States, was simply a case of playing to the crowd, which, in Italy, appreciated and applauded the style. Again and again, Moussolini squandered what little political capital the Fascisti had with the Italian people through bungled or failed military efforts, such as in Ethiopia, Egypt and Lybia, and in the Balkans.

I don't accept the nonsense that Hitler had any "svengali-like" effect on the German nation, either. Basically, a supremely successful gutter politician, he coopted the most effective programs of other street gangs, in particular the Brown Shirts; and he told people what they wished to hear. Virtually none of the Nazi political rhetoric before 1933 was original to Hitler or any of his toadies. His over-inflated estimation of his military judgment was disasterous for Germany, but his canny assessment of the growing political chaos in Poland after the death of Pilsudski, and of the lack of will on the part of the pre-war governments of France and England, created an illusion which many Germans, even military men, shared of his military judgment.

His first great error in judgment was the assumption that England would roll over as had the essentially "facist-wannabe" government of France. There were no operational plans for an invasion of England, which i personally believe was "do-able" in the Summer of 1940, but not thereafter. In his war memoir, Adolf Galland demonstrates the ease with which he siezed and maintained air superiority over the English Channel in broad daylight and clear weather, when Scharnhorst, Gniesenau and Prinz Eugen ran the Channel. This occured at a time when England's air and naval resources were much better than they had been in 1940. The superior performance of German airborne troops in capturing the crucial forts which guarded the Maas River locks at the opening of the war in the west, and the incredible performance of Kurt Student's First FJ Army (i won't pretend i can correctly spell falschirmjaeger) in Crete, in which they took and held their objectives despite casualties in excess of 70% and against repeated counterattacks by the British and New Zealanders--both suggest that the Germans could have opened an airborne bridgehead in Kent, and reinforced it with landings, were such landings made as quickly as possible, and the troops involved knew they had three days supplies, and must secure their provender thereafter. In the summer of 1940, Churchill had almost nothing with which to opppose such an invasion.

But Hitler had badly misjudged the opposition when it came to Norway, Poland and England. The two former nations fought on even when eventual defeat, sooner rather than later, was apparent. The English in the main never seem to have considered the possiblity of defeat--and in this case, that was the "good" variety of hubris.

I won't grace comparisons of FDR and WSC to either Hitler or Svengali with comment. The contention that Hitler simply wished to glut himself with endless conquest is as silly as the contention that he was clinically insane. He may have been--no one has demonstrated as much. His invasion with Russia was part and parcel with his dicta in Mein Kampf about the necessity to find living space in the Ukraine. Stalin misjudged Hitler by giving him too much credit for good military judgment, and thought that no invasion would occur before late 1942, or 1943. (For confirmation of this from papers released by the Russian, see Stalin, the Court of the Red Tsar, by Montefiori, recently published.) There was nothing in the least charismatic about Stalin--he didn't depend upon charm to maintain his grip on power. The characterization of Tojo as a charismatic dictator is so far from anything like the truth as to suggest that Moishe hasn't the slightest idea of how Hideki Tojo became Army Minister and then Prime Minister, nor of the terms of parliamentary government in Japan after 1923 and before their eventual defeat. I'd need about as much space as i've already used to explain that one.

As with your Islamophobia and racist remarks about Arabs and other Muslims, Moishe, this series of remarks demonstrates that you have strong opinions, without apparently feeling the necessity to have informed yourself carefully before forming them.
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Steve 41oo
Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 02:02 pm
Set, I'm not exactly sure where you are pointing out my error. It's possible I made one, Very Happy (it has been known) but I'm not sure what it was.

It is my contention that if Hitler had defeated the USSR in 1941, then Britain would have gone down, probably, but gone down fighting.

I'm not saying that makes us superior to the French or the Dutch or the Danish. But there were three things to our advantange which other nearer neighbours of Hitler did not possess.

1. The English Channel

2. The RAF and Royal Navy, as I said not defeated, bloodied but not destroyed. Its not exactly easy mounting an invasion across the channel even if you have total air and naval superiority, as the Allies found out in June 1944. How much more difficult for a few hundred invasion barges being strafed by the air force and blown to bits by naval and on shore guns?

3. The British will to defend our island, personified by Churchill. There were most certainly questions of morale/politics in France in particular which hindered their ability to mount effective defense. There were no such considerations in Great Britain.

Its possible that after the defeat of USSR, the internal pressure on the govt to make some acceptable peace deal might have been overwhelming.

But by 1942, Britain was militarily stronger than 1940, we had seen off the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain, and I think we would have been "up for it" i.e. for anything Hitler could throw at us in 1942/3. (Note I am not saying we would WIN just not CAVE IN).

I'm not saying everything British is best. Or that the Empire taught the world how to be civilised. There are plenty of things in our history that we should hang our head over...in particular as I know you have an interest in this, Ireland.

But the story of how this country, alone, stood up to national socialist Germany is something in my view that we can be proud of.

(And thanks btw for coming over and giving us a hand in changing the German regime 1943-5)
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Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 04:07 pm
No problem, Boss, we were glad to help out--but don't ask for that sort of thing right now, the boys in DC are a little to eager for that sort of party these days.

In pointing out that the RN and RAF were undefeated, you ignore an aspect of military operational planning which has saved many a uniformed ass time and again--local superiority of force. The most notable beneficiary of this principle was Frederick II during the Seven Years War. His most notable victories, and his bloodiest failed attacks, came when he attempted this.

I have mentioned Adolf Galland's war memoir many times in these fora--The First and the Last. It is a short and very informative read, i highly recommend it. He describes the operation in which he covered the two battleships and one cruiser i've named when they "ran" the English Channel in broad daylight on a clear day. All that is necessary for such an operation is a temporary, local superiority of force--which Galland managed and maintained through what must have felt like a very long day.

When the RN went after Bismark, they eventually blasted it to smithereens by a concentration of force. Earlier, however, in a more or less one on one situation (Lutjens little task force of Bismark and Prinz Eugen was technically outnumbered, but Norfolk and Suffolk would have committed suicide to engage the latter, let alone the former), Bismark required fewer than ten minutes to send Hood to the bottom, with all but three members of her 1400 man complement. Bismark eventually received a pounding such as been delivered to no other battleship in history. Nevertheless, survivors estimate that there were from 600 to 800 men in the water after the action, and that had the RN not left them there, all could have been saved.

The point of all of this is that Admiral Raeder had in the Kriegsmarine a force which, ship for ship, was the match of any navy in the world. In the nasty and bitterly fought contest for Narvik in Norway, the KM destroyers sacrificed themselves in what most navies would have considered unacceptable numbers--but they drove off the RN and saved the landing force.

My mention of German airborne operations in Holland in the beginning of the war, and Student's operation against Crete are the final piece of a puzzle of whether or not the Germans could have effected a landing on the coast of Kent. The titular question here is whether or not the Germans could have won had Hitler been smart. I would suggest the question is moot, because militarily, he wasn't. However, it might have been possible for Germany to have established a negotiating position, and put themselves in a defensive position which might, and only just might, have allowed them to withstand an attack by the Soviet Union. I have little doubt that Stalin would sooner or later have come to that.

In Churchill's book The Second World War, he contends that after Dunkirk, there were a few (two or three if i recall correctly) of the loose militia-type units which were eventually designated Territorial Divisions. They were indifferently to poorly trained, badly equipped, and had no organic logistical support. More than 300,000 Tommies, French and Belgian troops had been evactuated to England, but they were without arms and ammunition. But the Werhmacht (sp?) reached the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay and came to an abrupt halt. Hitler had no further plans, and i suspect was privately surprised that England did not cave in as had France. Poland and Norway ought to have taught him the lesson that some people would literally rather die rather than submit--by then i would suggest that he was in the grip of full-blown megalomania, brought on by a success i doubt he ever even dreamed of in 1922.

Sound military doctrine ought to have included contingency plans for an invasion of Merry Old, and one which the Germans were prepared immediately to implement. Kurt Student could have secured a bridgehead in Kent with the equivalent of two divisions of paratroopers, and heavy infantry weapons and artillery could have been brought in by glider. The 101st Airborne and the 82nd Airborne did exactly that at night in Normandy in the nightmare of the Norman hedgerows. Airborne troops were then the elite infantry in each nation, England's Red Devils proved that at Arnhem in Monty's disastrous Market Garden operation in 1944.

Achieving local superiority of naval forces would not have been necessary to allow the landing of one or two more divisions on the beaches of Kent. An excellent novel about German U-boat service in that war, which was titled Sharks and Little Fishes in English, makes a point which i have since verified in other sources. The early submarine service in the Kriegsmarine was designed to operate in the Baltic, and not the mid-Atlantic. They would have been in a familiar type of waters in the Channel. The Luftwaffe was more than capable of acheiving and maintaining local air superiority. Again, Churchill recounts that in September 1940, Air Marshall Sir Arthur Tedder told him that the RAF could only hold out a few more days under the pressure of the Battle of Britain. Fortunately for Blighty, the Luftwaffe switched to night time area bombing (although certainly not, of course, fortunate for the East Enders, or the people of Coventry and Sheffield). In June 1940, Goering could have put up a cloud of fighters over the Channel. The Supermarine Spitfire was at the limit of its operational range over the Channel, and the RAf would have had little time to have cleared the skies, and i seriously doubt they could have done. Capital ships do not move at very great speed. When Churchill was First Lord before the First World War, he demanded that Admiral Fisher build him battleships which could make 21 knots. The Kriegsmarine could well have sortied from the Kiel Canal, and, operating near Heligoland to give them air cover, could well have put the RN in the position of having no resources to oppose a quick trip of invasion barges across the Channel.

All of this, however, presupposes two things which are hilarious when one keeps in mind what a grip Hitler had on military operations. First, it presupposes that Adolf knew his enemy well enought to have known he'd be obliged to fight his way ashore in England before the English would yield. On that heading, he was clueless. Otherwise, there would have been such operational planning, ready for implementation. Secondly, it presupposes that the Austrian corporal would know how to use naval assets, and to make a reasonable risk assessment on luring the RN to battle in the North Sea. From the standpoint of what was to be gained, i have no doubt that Raeder would have been prepared to risk all of his major assets to achieve such an end--the performance of the destroyers at Narvik, and of Scharnhorst in her final days operating against Allied convoys to Murmansk (another great war memoir is that of a common seaman on Scharnhorst, who had the dubious good fortune to have been assigned to look-out duty on the night the RN sank her, in December, in the waters off northern Norway--that boy was lucky he didn't freeze in the water before an RN destoyer picked him up)--these suggest to me that even in the face of likely destruction, the German sailor would have put up one hell of a fight.

That is why i say that an invasion was "do-able." But, the "what-ifs" are all trumped by the simple fact that militarily, Hitler was a rank amateur, who staggered from one disasterous decision to the next. The litany of his major blunders alone would fill many pages here. In the assessment above, i left out his total incomprehension of the nature of airborne forces and their effective use--simply because Crete had not happened yet, and he hadn't yet decided not to risk Goering's favorite boys ever again. What the FJ's accomplished on Crete was significant, however, and the high casualty rate was more than justified, from a military point of view, because of the result. I doubt that the FJ's would have suffered that level of casualties landing in Kent, and it would have been worth it to have established a bridgehead into which simply a few German divisions could have been brought ashore, to the ultimate undoing of Churchill and company.

Therefore, to return to my constant theme in this and other threads--the question is moot, Hitler was an idiot militarily speaking. Even had the scenario i've outlined here played out, the likely result would have been most of Europe in Soviet hands by 1950. German chances of effective defense of central and western Europe against Stalin would have been slim indeed.
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Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 04:15 pm
Oy vey izmir.
Okey dokey.
My whole fantasy scenario is based on IF.
If Germany had not attacked the Soviet Union.
If German conquest had ended with France.
If Germany consolidated its rule in Europe and did not massacre the Slavs; the Jews; the Poles; the Gypsies; etcetera.
If Germany behaved like other conquerors such as Napolean, who tried to co-opt other nationalities; or the German Holy Roman Empire, who tried to co-opt other nations; or even William of Normandy, whose offspring assimilated into England - but didn't make their mistakes (Russia; Imperial indifference; etc.)
Then there is no reason that they could not have kept Europe. Why not? Europe is trying to give over to German hegemony today? No?

(And Germany was at war with the world. They didn't have to be. But, if they are allied, which they were, with Japan, then their war extends, which it in fact did, to the U.S., Australia, China, etcetera. And, the Soviet Union covers most of Asia. No?)

It's all an IF.
It would have taken a sane and rational thinker and military mind to know when to stop and rule instead of conquer.
Hilter did not have such a mind.
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Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 04:57 pm
Germany attacked the Soviet Union because this was part of Hitler's core plan as outlined in Mein Kampf. Even had they not, i am convinced that Stalin would have attacked them.

At the time that the German advance halted in France, they were already in Holland, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Poland. The incompetence and stunning geopolitical stupidity of Moussolini assured that they would end up in Yugoslavia and then Greece. Hungary was (the government at least), a willing ally. Finland became an ally because they were willing to make a deal with Satan if necessary to get the wherewithal to continue to resist the Soviet invasion. It is hopelessly short-sighted to have seen this as only about overrunning France. The war was presaged by the partition of Czechoslovakia, assuring that they would come into conflict with Poland, which seized a part of Silesia. The war proper in Europe begins in Poland, which assures a long and very difficult to defend border with the Russians. Even absent Hitler's obsession with the Ukraine, this was a recipe for eventual conflict with the Soviet Union.

Germany never succeeded in "consolidating" its rule in Europe because of local resistance. Only in Spain in the beginning of the 19th century did Napoleon face any resistance equivalent to that which the Germans faced right across Europe. It has been reasonably estimated that the escape attempts of Allied POW's alone required at least two divisions staioned in Germany and the surrounding border regions to deal with the problem. Italy proved completely incapable of effectively garrisoning Yugoslavia, and Hitler had to step in after the Greeks bloodied the Italian nose--and the supreme irony here is that Mataxas was a facist and a great admirer of Hitler.

Napoleon, as was the case with Hitler, and even Louis XIV for that matter, was totally clueless about sea power. The French in the 18th century were building better ships than the English, and RN commanders liked nothing better than to be given a captured French frigate. Napoleon made no effective use of his naval assets. This left him in the position of being obliged to attempt to choke England economically--hence his Continental System, which was a monumental failure. The open defiance of the Continental System by the Russian Empire left him with no choice but to invade, or see the rapid dissolution of his control of central Europe. Napoleon co-opted no one. He put his brothers on thrones in Spain, Holland and Westphalia, which had to be propped up by French bayonets--except in Westphalia, where Jerome Bonapart became a serious and popular ruler dedicated to the welfare of "his people," to the extent of opposing Napoleon's demand for troops, which lead to his being "unthroned" by his brother. Spain continued to be an open, profusely bleeding wound which drained France horribly. Napoleon had little regard for anyone other than himself and his family, and that included the French, whom he often openly despised. Given that he was considered by the English, Prussians and Austrians of his day to be as great a monster as Hilter would be considered in the 20th century, he is a poor choice for an analogy. Even poorer in that his European conquests were never secure, even without English opposition. During the 1809 Wagram campaign, he was obliged to fight all over again the populous and powerful House of Hapsburg, and the best of his armies, his NCO's and officers were left dead on the fields outside Vienna. As it was, the Archduke only surrendered on orders of the Emperor, and was prepared to continue the fight. Had the Emperor Alexander not opposed his will, under pressure from the Russian aristocracy, who were losing heavily due to the Continental System, you can bet that Austria would have been back for another round, and Prussia as well. At one point, and one point only, in late winter of 1814, the Allies would have allowed him to remain on his self-made throne, with the Pyrannes and the Rhine recognized as France's "natural" borders--and he rejected it, demanding all or nothing. Of course, in the end, he got nothing.

You seem to have no realistic idea of what the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was. It was never a unified political entity. It had no armies, other than what German "princelings" were grudgingly willing to commit on those few occasions when they could be prodded to unified action. The HRE co-opted no nations.

As for William the Conqueror, the army of largely Normans, with a hefty minority of "pan-european" mercenaries and adventurers, were eventually assimilated into the English nation, but not without profound changes to the polity and the culture. The situations are no where analogous at all. In an age in which there was no such thing as a nation in Europe, and no such thing as a national navy, William's bold grab at conquest succeeded largely because almost no one else cared, and none were willing to dispute his conquest, or to try to take it away from him. The death of Harold at Hastings left the Anglo-saxons leaderless, and when the eventually did rise, with no coordination, William quashed the rebellion with the bloody purge known as "the Harrying of the North," which went far beyond the estates of rebel AS nobility. As for his offspring, William Rufus was murdered, and Rufus' son Henry died without heir, when his son disappeared at sea off the coast of Normandy, under murky and suspicious circumstances. William's offspring were historical non-sequiturs.

I consider it ludicrous to contend that the people of Europe woudl have acquiesced in the conquest of the western and central portions of the continent by Germany, without even considering how tempting a target it made for Stalin, had he been left unmolested.

The putative alliance with Japan was meaningless from a Japanese point of view. The Japanese gave not one iota of support to Germany, and made not the slightest alteration of their foreign policy to accomodate this alleged alliance. Hitler's greater stupidity is evinced by his idiotic declaration of war against the United States in 1941. Bogged down in the invasion of Russia, he did nothing for Japan by that declaration, but he certainly played into Roosevelt's hand, as FDR had always wished to make Germany the target of American might. So little did the alliance mean to Japan, that they concluded an armistice with the Soviet Union, which allowed Stalin to transfer crucial military assets to the west to defend Moscow. Absent that declaration of war, Germany was at war with Canada, by dint of the war with Britain. FDR could not have justified a major commitment to Europe without that declaration, as American attention would rightly have been focused on the Pacific.

Australia was at war with Germany for the same reason Canada was, membership in the British Commonwealth. That Hitler was stupid to have taken on the Brits without finishing the job in 1940 is not to be doubted. That he willfully chose to add South Africa, India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to the list of forces arrayed against him is an allegation without foundation.

No, the Soviet Union does not cover most of Asia.

That Hilter did not have a military mind i would not, of course, dispute. That he could have chosen a point to put a term to his conquest and have been left unmolested in possession of western and central Europe is ridiculous, and ignores the realities of the situation into which Hitler plunged Germany.
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Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 10:11 pm
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 10 Jul, 2004 01:01 am

Thanks a lot for clarifying - at would have taken me ages to write that!

May I add that the Kingdom of Westphalia with Kassel as capital made up largely of Prussian and Hanoverian possessions between the Weser and the Elbe rivers and the greater part of electoral Hesse? Which means that less than 1/10 of this territiry was actually "Westphalia".

(I own a licence to carry firearms, from the Direction Générale de la Haute-Police du Royaume, Commissaire Générale, Préfucture de Fulde, so don't contradict!)
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Reply Sat 10 Jul, 2004 10:38 pm
There really ought to be the little bowing icons to acknowledge total and abject defeat.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
I will refrain from speculating on fanatasy scenarios.
I will only fantasize on speculative scenarios where one might be able to postulate from one thing to the next.
(Yet, the Earth still moves!....) (Not that he really said that... Rolling Eyes )
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Steve 41oo
Reply Sun 11 Jul, 2004 06:40 pm
I believe Hitler wanted a political settlement with Britain, and that Rudolf Hess's flight to Scotland had something to do with that.

But it didn't happen, and although the Battle of Britain was a pretty close run thing, it was still a defeat for the Luftwaffe. [Goering asked Galland at one time what he needed, answer "Spitfire squadrons"]. I think there was a large element of bluff in Hitler's invasion plans in 1940/41. When area bombing failed to produce the collapse in morale and change of govt. that he hoped for Hitler decided to attack the USSR as it was always part of his greater plan, but also as a means of ultimately defeating Britain. (According to Prof Ian Kershaw - "Hitler").

Even if he had knocked the USSR out of the war by the end of 1941, I can't see how he could be in a position to lauch an meaningful invasion attempt before spring 1943, by which time Britain would have been in a much stronger position than 1940 (when we were indeed fast running out of pilots).

I think there would have been a stand off, between the great land power and a potentially useful maritime power. Given several years of rapprochment who knows? 1955 Hitler travels to London to mark the official opening of the Channel tunnel, meet the Queen and address parliament? No I don't think so either. Wink
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Reply Sun 11 Jul, 2004 08:53 pm
The things you point out are germaine to the later course of the war. What i was addressing was a contention that Adolf could have put a term to his conquest and consolidated and held it. This was never going to happen with England in opposition. The only time such an invasion could have had any prospect of success would have been a few weeks in the summer of 1940. To have done so would have meant advance preparation, before the batttle of France. And that would have meant that Hitler understood what he was getting into, and have prepared for a contingency in which the Enlgish did cave in to pressure.

See posts more numerous than i can recount, some in more, some in less detail, as to why i consider Hitler to have been an idiot.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 11 Jul, 2004 11:55 pm
Well (Steve knows this already), my father belonged to those, who saw the "white cliffs of Dover" twice in a German uniform. (There are even some photos - they really were rather close, regarding the primitive camera he used in those days.)

He told me, the first time, they started this "invasion", everyone thought, it just was an exercise (motto: 'let's see, if we could do such').
When he did it the second time, they didn't take it serious at all, and he even didn't take his complete military outfit on this 'voyage' [motto:'We know that this is impossible.']
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Steve 41oo
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 02:15 am
Seems to me there is broad agreement here. The thing that rattled my cage was that "Hitler was a genius" and that Britain would "cave in".

But one thing really intrigues me, and that's Rudolf Hess. What was he up to? Later it seems it suited both sides to discount him as having gone mad...and it may be so.

But why keep him in isolation all those years? And even at the end when he commits suicide, there is doubt about whether it was really Hitler's deputy in Spandau gaol.

So Walter, you are in possession of illegally taken photographs of the Dover fortifications....

If your father's camera was really good, you might be able to spot my father, possibly waving or perhaps not. He was in Dover for a while about that time. [And its a good job they didn't shoot each other, or contributions to this a2k thread would curtailed....]
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 02:25 am
Well, as far as I remember the vies on those photos (saw them a couple of years ago the last time), you can only see same German soldiers soldiers in a landing craft .... and what might be the cliffs in the very far distance.

I agree with your last sentence, not only re A2K, but especially, since I otherwise hadn't met Barney and ... :wink:
(But actually, my father always had a non-combattant status during the war.)
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Steve 41oo
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 03:20 am
It is one of my great regrets never to have had more in depth discussions with my father. I don't know whether he had non combattant status or not...he was in the RAF but seemed to spend most of his time on a small boat. I think he was involved with logistics or something. Anyway he found himself in Belfast, Dover, Freetown (Now Lagos I think) and various other nice and distinctly un nice places

He said he was once given a rifle and told to go and guard RAF Aldegrove against the IRA. He had to explain that he had never actually handled a rifle before, which infuriated his commanding officer so much that he was sent on a training course to learn the difference between the bang and non-bang ends. So after that he probably did have combat status!

Barney sends his best wishes btw, at least I think thats what he was saying as I "encouraged" him out of the house. Not too much blood this time. :wink:
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Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 04:34 am
Lagos is in Nigeria, Freetown in Sierra Leone--and i believe it is still known by that English name. With all the hoo-rah in Lybia and Egypt, Freetown assumed a great deal of significance--supplies and soldiers from India and South Africa came by way of the Atlantic, because the Med was not secure, and Freetown was an important base along that route. Churchill mentions its significance in his book.
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Steve 41oo
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 05:15 am
Quite right Set, thanks it was in Freetown where my father caught dysentry and his weight dropped to 6 stones.

Was hoping you could enlighten me on Hess...save me the bother of doing the research Wink
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Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 05:21 am
I really don't know what motivated Rudolph Hess. I rather suspect they kept him under wraps because he arrived with damaging information on Englishmen who were in high social positions. The Duke of Windsor comes to mind. I don't know, though, and would rather not do much speculation.

Dysentary is an awful thing--i contracted bacillary dysentary while overseas, and lost 65 pounds in ten days. It can kill, and is quite debilitating even when one has access to good medical care. Small wonder it kills infants so quickly and easily.
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Steve 41oo
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 05:37 am
You say ...ary and I say ...ery

I dont think anyone has ever written a song about dysentery before, always the first time though.

Regarding Hess, I'm sure the full story is still to be told. I suspect he was hoping to make contact with that faction of the british establishment (including the abdicated King Edward VIII) who were sympathetic to nazism, to make some peace offer. And this could cause severe embarrassment to the royal family even today.

Find it difficult to believe this was a freelance effort by a mad man though
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