How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

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How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby mr friendly guy » 2016-12-06 08:42pm

https://www.quora.com/What-could-Hitler ... -Peynsaert

Turned up in my quora feed, and as a non expert, it seems to make some sense, such as focussing on British planes instead of civilian targets, but not sure about a lot of other things such as Germany should take British positions in Africa and the middle east to flank the USSR.

Up until the summer of 1940 Hitler did everything right on the path to world domination. He re-militarized the Rhineland, annexed the Sudetenland, eventually took over Czechoslovakia, turned Slovakia into a satellite state, won the support of Hungary and Romania, took over Austria, walked over Poland with the support of the Soviet-Union, conquered Denmark and Norway (perhaps not the best decision, because the German navy incurred some losses, but still), conquered Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg. And most astonishing of all blitzed France to a humiliating defeat in record time, perhaps the most remarkable victory of the entire 20th century.

If Hitler had died of a heart attack in the summer of 1940 he would probably be ranked as one of the world’s greatest strategists and military geniuses. All this credit he squandered in a shocking string of blunders. Even at the height of his success he made a surprising mistake. When his forces breached the flank of the allied armies by slashing through the Ardennes with armored forces, cutting the enemy in two and driving the British towards the coast to an almost inevitable mass surrender, he paused. The British and a large number of French forces got bottled up at Dunkirk, but instead of pushing on, Hitler halted his forces and opted to let the Luftwaffe destroy the embattled allies that were frantically scrambling to leave the coastal town behind and cross over to England.


The plan didn’t work, the allies escaped, mostly without their equipment, but the men didn’t go into German captivity and went on to form the nucleus of an army that would eventually pose a major threat.

Historians have developed many theories to explain this seemingly erratic move. Some say he halted his forces as a gesture towards the British. If he let them escape they might be more willing to conclude a peace later. A rather absurd claim. It’s true that Hitler had a lot of sympathy for the British and wanted to make peace with them. He was afraid that if Britain collapsed its entire colonial empire would collapse as well and other nations would pick up the pieces. Hitler often had very flawed reasoning and overthought matters until reality and imagination started to blur. The British would never have accepted a separate peace, they would never have left the Germans in control of the European continent, and the chances of their making peace would certainly not be improved with a nucleus to form a new defiant army around. If Hitler wanted peace his best option was to utterly thrash the British and capture every single soldier he could at Dunkirk.

Another theory is that Hitler wanted to make a statement to his generals. His generals clamored to push on. He wanted to show who was the boss and halted them, just because he could, because he was the man in charge, period. This reflex to show who was the boss may have played a role.

The third and most plausible theory is that Hitler lost his nerve and became scared. He was afraid the French would attack the German forces that had cut through Northern France. The French were almost entirely incapable of pulling this off because they hadn’t understood the art of making war with tanks. Hitler wasn’t aware of just how paralyzed French forces were and halted the German spearheads. Leaving it to Luftwaffe to finish the job. A bad decision, but with the ignominious surrender of France only a little while later it seemed only a small stain on an otherwise brilliant canvas. At the height of his triumph however Hitler would start making one stupendous mistake after the other.

Attacking the wrong islands


It’s very well possible a German invasion of England might have succeeded immediately following the collapse of France, but operation Seelöwe was postponed again and again until it was postponed indefinitely. It would have been a risky business for sure and there were other options.

Instead of invading or focusing his attention elsewhere where he could really hurt the British, namely in North Africa by capturing the Suez Canal and storming all the way to the oil fields of the Middle East, he opted to launch a bombing campaign against England.

At first this went fairly well, because in the initial stages the Luftwaffe targeted British airfields and other vital infrastructure. The toll started to tell, even though the British had several advantages such as radar, the excellent Spitfire airplane and the fact that they were protecting their own skies and the Germans couldn’t stay long above England before they had to return to refuel. The British were also outproducing the Germans. In spite of all this the Germans were slowly gaining the upper hand.

Just when the British started struggling to maintain their airfields and keep their pilots in the air, Hitler switched to terror bombing. Instead of targeting air fields, he wanted to bomb London to try and cripple civilian morale. The British air force recovered, civilian morale did not collapse, even though the damage was significant, and slowly, but steadily the Luftwaffe was chased from British skies. The battle of England turned out to be a clear German failure.

The motive for Hitler’s switch during the campaign shows just how much he was akin to a petulant child bent on instant gratification. On the 25th of August the Royal Air Force managed to bomb Berlin. The damage was small, but Hitler was outraged. He wanted to retaliate. Instead of focusing on a clear strategic plan that was certain to cripple the enemy’s air force, he wanted revenge and wanted to cause as much visible damage as possible, the kind of damage that looked good propaganda wise. Time and time again we see that Hitler was incapable of sticking to a roundabout course of action, he was impatient, hit the enemy head on, and refused to hit the enemy where he was truly vulnerable. He either lacked the patience or simply didn’t understand strategy.

Side show Rommel


We see this again in his decision to devote only very limited attention and forces to North Africa. The British position there was very vulnerable. The Italians in Libya were no match for them, with poor tanks, poor equipment, incredibly poor leadership and soldiers with very little taste for a fight. The outnumbered British made short work of the Italians. As a token of support Hitler sent one of his best division commanders to the theater, Erwin Rommel, but with a very small force.

Rommel proved to be a genius and beat the British on several occasions. He kept asking for reinforcements -only a couple of divisions-, but Hitler sent only a trickle. Even worse, Hitler refused to secure the supply lines that ran from Italy to the German Afrikakorps. The key to protecting those lines was Malta, an island in the hands of the British from where they could easily destroy Axis supply ships and transports. Instead of securing this island, Hitler opted to conquer Crete, a useless operation, deemed necessary to protect oils fields in Romania against potential British air strikes launched from bases on Crete.

A far better strategy would have been to take Malta, supply Rommel with at least three more panzer divisions and let him take Egypt and block the Suez Canal. This would have made the entire British position in the Mediterranean untenable. Hitler fantasied about taking Gibraltar, an almost impregnable British position in the south of Spain, Hitler couldn’t take it unless he got Franco’s support or if he attacked across Spanish territory.

There was no need for such an operation at all, if he had taken over all of North-Africa - with or without the support of the French Vichy regime - he could easily have dominated the strait of Gibraltar. The Mediterranean would have become an Axis lake. The Axis could have gained control over the oil fields in the Middle East, which were far more important than the Ploesti oil fields in Romania that Hitler was so concerned about.

None of this happened of course. Rommel got the absolute maximum out of his token force and thrashed the British several times, but in the end it was virtually impossible to take Egypt with such a small force. Later he was forced back. The chance was lost. Especially after US troops landed in North Africa which doomed the Afrikakorps.

Conquest of Palestine, Iraq and Iran would have severely damaged the strategic position of the Soviet Union as well. The Axis would have been poised on the Soviet flank, and close to the vital oil fields of the Caucasus.

A big appetite and a small mouth


This leads to another abysmal failure. Hitler’s frontal assault on the Soviet-Union. Instead of opting to flank the Soviet Union and firmly securing his position in Europe and Africa, thereby handicapping Britain to have any real influence on the course of the war, he knocked his head straight on the Soviet front door. He was very lucky that Stalin had concentrated large forces close to the border and that the Soviets, just like the French, weren’t aware of the possibilities of massing tanks. Instead they had spread out their tanks to support infantry. The Germans quickly surrounded large concentrations of Soviet troops who surrendered en masse, but only after putting up stiff resistance, unlike anything the Germans had encountered up until then.

The German attack went surprisingly well, but at a heavy cost. This initial success was largely wasted however by Hitler’s decision to set way too many goals for his troops and by exhausting them by shifting them back and forth.

He set three goals: the capture -through starvation- of Leningrad, the capture of Moscow and the conquest of the Ukraine. On top of this he put off the drive towards Moscow in favor of capturing the Ukraine and forcing the surrender of encircled Soviet soldiers there. When he finally did decide to take out Moscow it was too late. The supply situation in the German army was getting increasingly difficult and Stalin had used the respite to shift troops from Siberia to Moscow. These were hard fighting and well equipped forces that helped to beat back the German assault on the Soviet capital.

It's true that the Soviet Union would have continued the war even after the loss of its capital, a vital nerve center of communication and transport, but it would have dealt a very severe blow to the Soviets. It would also have been a huge propaganda victory. The Germans did not spend the winter in Moscow, instead they froze their ass off deep into Soviet territory in the midst of one of the hardest winters in a very long time.

German generals wanted to retreat to a shorter line that would have been more easy to defend, but Hitler refused, he ordered them to stay put. About 100,000 German veterans froze to death, but remarkably, the line held. This led Hitler to believe that it was ALWAYS better to hold to line and for the remainder of the war he would designate any threatened city as a ‘Festung’ or Fortress and deny German officers permission to retreat until it was too late. Even retreating to shorten the front lines and allow for a better defense was out of the question.

A stalemate was possible


Some historians argue that Hitler could never have won the war after the failure of operation Typhoon, the battle for Moscow, but this thinking overlooks the vast tactical superiority of the German army and the superb quality of its officers and fighting men. In 1942 and even in 1943 or 1944 the German army could still have fought the Soviet Union to a bloody stalemate. The Germans still excelled at mobile warfare, they still had superior command systems, known as Auftragstaktik, that gave officers in the field a lot more freedom and encouraged their initiative. In the Soviet army there was a sort of command paralysis where no one dared to take initiative for fear of being court-martialed and shot.

Hitler completely forfeited this advantage by focusing on offensives, refusal to retreat in any circumstances, by attacking strong Soviet positions head on and -again- by setting much too ambitious goals.

In 1942 he made the disastrous decision of splitting his forces in the south in two, one part was to take Stalingrad, the other part was to take the oil fields of the Caucasus. Even either one of these goals would have been very tricky to pull off. On top of this it made no sense to capture Stalingrad and it certainly made no sense to move the mobile, tactically superior, into the heap of rubble that this city had become. Prior to moving into Stalingrad the Germans launched the biggest aerial bombardment of the war on the eastern front. The city was turned into one big bunker. Tanks could not maneuver in the rubble, the German soldiers had to turn to street fighting, capturing the city house by house, street by street and block by block. The Germans were not trained for this sort of combat.


Nevertheless, they forced the Soviets back and after almost two months of fighting the Soviets only clung to a small part of the city along the banks of the Wolga river. The Soviets then launched an offensive of their own and encircled the city. Hitler – as always- refused to let the Germans at Stalingrad retreat. He backed the delusional plan to supply the besieged army by air. The sixth army at Stalingrad needed 700 tons of supplies a day if it had to have any chance to survive. In the best of circumstances half of that was possible. Often only 90 tons a day arrived. The Sixth army started to perish. Erich Von Manstein, another German military genius, almost managed to open a corridor to the besieged, but Hitler refused to let them break out. The loss of the Sixth army was a major bloodletting for the German army. On top of that it made the position of the other part of the German southern front, in the Caucasus, very perilous. Von Manstein realized that the Germans needed to retreat. Von Manstein wanted to more than that, he wanted to lure the Soviets in a trap, by letting them advance and then stabbing them in the flank. The army in the Caucasus was saved eventually, but an intricate, yet viable plan Von Manstein offered to give the Soviets a bloody nose through cunning defensive-offensive tactics was something Hitler just wouldn’t allow.

Amazingly though the Germans managed to stabilize the front and Hitler would go on to wreck the army in 1943 with the practically suicidal assault on the Kursk salient, a heavily fortified position that looked juicy enough on a map, but was in reality a death trap.

An inflexible mind

This focus on frontal assaults, on attacking the enemy where he was strongest destroyed the German army’s capacity for offensive war fare, yet Hitler refused to go over on the defensive. When Rommel devised a defensive plan involving deep mine fields and the massive use of anti-tank guns, he refused to implement it. Until the very last stages of the war Hitler kept thinking offensively, dreaming of offensives that would shatter the enemy, wide sweeping operations that his armies simply lacked the strength for.


In Africa he was dumb enough to send reinforcements when it was too late, when the Americans and British had amassed vastly superior forces. Instead of retreating his troops to Italy where they could make a real stand, he let them be bottled up in Tunisia where they were forced to surrender, a loss that was even worse than the loss of the sixth army at Stalingrad. Remarkably the defense of Italy after this catastrophe went fairly well, even after the Italians gave up and tried to switch sides.

Hitler was sleeping when D-day was in full swing, which paralyzed the German reaction to the allied landings in France. Rommel had wanted to keep tanks right near the coast to defeat the allies on the beaches, but Hitler decided to spread his forces thin all the way from the Netherlands to the south of France, even though an allied attack could be expected in only a couple of places, the allies couldn’t land just anywhere, their options were limited and the Germans could have guessed.

If the tanks had been there from the start, the invasion would almost certainly have failed. After the allies managed to get a foot on the ground, against tough opposition by German troops, Hitler again made some stupendous decisions by demanding offensives. Large numbers of German soldiers got surrounded in the Falaise pocket and were destroyed.

After that debacle things went quickly, Paris fell, and the allies stormed through France and Belgium was liberated.

They could have won the war months earlier, but they also made some mistakes and their supply situation was far from optimal. Hitler then was lucky that the allies tried to force their way into Germany by an attack involving lots of parachute landings in the Netherlands. Operation Market Garden failed. Germany got some respite on the western front.


Hitler then decided on his last great gamble. He stripped the eastern front of some vital forces and sent them West. He ordered a massive buildup of almost 300,000 troops -an impressive figure given the staggering losses the Germans had suffered- around the Ardennes and launched an attack aimed at recapturing the Belgian port of Antwerp. The surprise was total and led to the costliest battle in American history, but the Germans from the outset never had the necessary supplies to reach their destination. The plan’s success hinged on capturing allied supply dumps and… the weather. Bad winter weather was supposed to keep the massive allied air force on the ground. As soon as allied planes were able to take off the offensive was entirely doomed. Hitler had destroyed the last offensive capabilities of his army. The western front was shattered and on the eastern front the Russians met less opposition then they could have faced if Hitler had focused on fighting a defensive war aimed to reach a stalemate, not total victory.

Squandering of opportunities

Hitler made other mistakes such as the very expensive V1 and V2 project. One V2 rocket cost about as much as an excellent bomber and could be used only once, whereas a bomber could be used lots of times as long as it wasn’t put out of action. The V-rockets also had a rather small payload and in the end did little damage.

At a critical moment in the war he also refused to produce the necessary number of U-boats to destroy allied shipping, and after initial successes the Axis also lost the battle of the Atlantic.


His decision to treat conquered people in the east as Untermenschen caused these men and women to turn against the Axis, whereas at first many of them greeted the Germans as liberators who would destroy the communist yoke they were suffering under.

A winning strategy would have involved the conquest of North Africa and the Middle East, turning the Mediterranean into an Axis lake, not declaring war on the United States -as Hitler incomprehensibly did after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor- and isolating the Soviet Union, flanking them and then attacking them or forcing to pay tribute. If the Axis had controlled the Middle East, the Soviet Union would have been in such a hopeless position it would have had little choice but to comply with German demands and the same goes for Turkey.

Hitler lacked the flexibility to see any of this, he wanted quick results and saw only straight paths to his goals. He also wanted to accomplish too many things at the same time, and oddly, for a risk taker such as Hitler, he often did not dare to commit enough forces to an attack. At the time of Von Manstein’s operation to save the sixth army at Stalingrad he refused to draw large numbers of men from less threatened sections of the front to turn the operation into a success.

In a way it’s good that Hitler survived until the end of the war so everyone could see that he led Germany to destruction. Otherwise some fans might still think that somehow he would have thought of something to turn the tide. Now it’s clear that he didn’t have a trick up his sleeve, that he was incapable of learning from his mistakes, that he grew even more rigid as time went on and that eventually he even turned on his own people, with the infamous Nero order. Since Hitler could never admit to a mistake he had to blame the German people for his defeat. Hitler somehow came to believe that will power trumped strategic insight, numbers, production or any other circumstances. His will power and charisma dominated people around him and scared weak political opponents, but on the battle field it often takes far more than mere will power to be victorious.

This article is based on extensive reading, but two books stand out:

-Anmerkungen zu Hitler, by Sebastian Haffner, click here for the German version.

Or click here for the English version, titled 'the meaning of Hitler’

-How Hitler could have won world war II, by Bevin Alexander. Click here to get a copy.

Originally published on projectauthenticity.org
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Gandalf » 2016-12-06 09:10pm

I'd say that the article loses me about here:

Up until the summer of 1940 Hitler did everything right on the path to world domination


The moment he rolls into Poland, it's clear to all that there's no stopping until he either wins everything (somehow) or someone else's flag flies over the Reichstag.

But to be more specific, the article doesn't really back up its claims. It says that if Germany just does x, then they can better accomplish y. What isn't fleshed out is how they fuck they do x in the first place.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Ziggy Stardust » 2016-12-06 11:17pm

Yeah, I couldn't even really get past the first paragraph. Just that paragraph reads completely like someone whose only knowledge of military strategy comes from playing Risk. The author just waives his hands and points to all the territory Germany conquered without putting any of the events in question within any historic or military context whatsoever. For example, it lists the conquest of Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg as separate events, and separate from the invasion of France, which is idiotic, since those were all part of the same exact military maneuver (and part of a strategy that predated Hitler by decades).

I tried to read a little further, but the litany of errors was too great to handle. Hitler wasn't even the one that ordered the halt on Dunkirk, for shit's sake (or, rather, the idea didn't originate with him; it originated with von Rundstedt and von Kluge, and Hitler simply deferred to their judgment). I didn't bother to read any further, because any author ignorant enough to write those first 3-4 paragraphs is not someone whose opinion on the rest of WW2 I'm going to trust.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Flagg » 2016-12-06 11:24pm

Gandalf wrote:I'd say that the article loses me about here:

Up until the summer of 1940 Hitler did everything right on the path to world domination


The moment he rolls into Poland, it's clear to all that there's no stopping until he either wins everything (somehow) or someone else's flag flies over the Reichstag.

But to be more specific, the article doesn't really back up its claims. It says that if Germany just does x, then they can better accomplish y. What isn't fleshed out is how they fuck they do x in the first place.

I would argue they lost when Churchill was made Prime Minister because he was unwilling to accept German offers of peace, forcing the Nazis to keep a large amount of troops in the west and to expend resources constructing the Atlantic Wall. I don't envision Hitler ever not invading the USSR, and as soon as he was able to do so due to the Red Army slowly replacing all of the purged officers and becoming stronger every day. The British Royal Navy and RAF would have still hampered Germany in North Africa and the ME given the supply line having to cross the Med.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Tribble » 2016-12-07 12:24am

What the article fails to mention was that just as a lot of German mistakes led to allied victories, a lot of Allied mistakes led to German ones. It's easy with hindsight to say "this is what they should have done!" but the reality on the ground at the time was very different.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby The_Saint » 2016-12-07 04:27am

I don't want to repeat everyone else but from what I read (before I gave up on the idiocy) ... a lot of what are attributed as "Hitler's masterstroke" or "Hitler's mistake" were events entirely predicated on other people's mistakes, supply problems, completely different strategic planning (than what people assume was happening) or sheer, raw, dumb luck.

People forget that hindsight is 20:20 and that almost anything that went right (for anyone) before 1941 was due in no small part to luck.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-12-07 04:43am

Yeah.

A lot of articles like this boil down to "if only Hitler could have flipped a coin and had it come up heads twenty times in a row, instead of having it come up heads eight times in a row, he could have conquered the world!"

As though it's plausible that just because you can get an eight-head winning streak (roughly 0.4% of the time), you can get a twenty-head streak (literally one in a million odds, or worse).

EDIT: Comments about "all the oil of the Middle East" becoming available to Hitler are also an interesting example of logistical blindness, as far as I can tell. While there WERE oil fields in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Persia at that time, the pumping infrastructure that moved oil to the ports where the Axis could have gained access to it were very vulnerable to sabotage. If you have a Risk-level understanding of strategy that doesn't matter, because it's "province captured- oil bonus unlocked!" But real industrial machinery that can be blown up and takes years to rebuild is a different matter.

If I understand rightly, this is probably why Germany relied so heavily on Ploesti (which they didn't have to conquer by force), and why the Japanese moved so aggressively in the East Indies (so that they could seize oil production facilities faster than the enemy could react and sabotage them).

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-12-07 06:09am

The article is a typical example of pop-history.

Many of Hitler's "bad decisions" did not originate with him, but within the German general staff.

After the war, sore Nazi general losers wanted to explain their utter defeat with anything but their own mistakes.

Let us not forget that Halder was the one who planned an offensive in Russia only having enough fuel to last till winter. By that time war was supposed to be over. Hitler only deferred to their judgement of what was possible, and what was not.

In the end, reality checked on them. It was not Hitler's meddling only which caused the Nazi defeat. Objective reasons way beyond anything discussed in the article were at play. German manpower requirements, for example. The need to keep defeating enemy forces at such lopsided ratios that could only have happened under conditions of total surprise against unmobilized forces - and quickly evaporated after the enemy mobilized and a total war of attrition began.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Lord Revan » 2016-12-07 09:15am

K. A. Pital wrote:The article is a typical example of pop-history.

Many of Hitler's "bad decisions" did not originate with him, but within the German general staff.

After the war, sore Nazi general losers wanted to explain their utter defeat with anything but their own mistakes.

Let us not forget that Halder was the one who planned an offensive in Russia only having enough fuel to last till winter. By that time war was supposed to be over. Hitler only deferred to their judgement of what was possible, and what was not.

In the end, reality checked on them. It was not Hitler's meddling only which caused the Nazi defeat. Objective reasons way beyond anything discussed in the article were at play. German manpower requirements, for example. The need to keep defeating enemy forces at such lopsided ratios that could only have happened under conditions of total surprise against unmobilized forces - and quickly evaporated after the enemy mobilized and a total war of attrition began.

Exactly. A lot of people seem to think that if nazis did this instead of what they did they would have won, but the thruth is that the logistical infrastructre of the german military wouldn't have been ready for a large scale war until 1945 at earliest (without the war happening that is) more likely 1947 or later so the german army relied heavily on new tactics and surprice to make up for the logistical defency, once the enemy developed counter-tactics or was ready to face, that defency made sure the third reich was doomed.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-07 04:57pm

The article is the same old 'my grandad said in 1955 based on WW2 propaganda' stuff as ever and basically all nonsense. The Germans were never going to beat the British in 1940, the shift to London happened because an invasion was clearly impossible and carpet bombing to that date, had worked out pretty damn well in the Germans favor at Warsaw, and while for no military gain it did a shitload of damage, at Rotterdam. In hindsight we know London would not burn end to end, but people fucking feared it would with reason. One reason it did not was

when the war broke out the British fire service was increased in size by 800% in men according to prepared plans. When that wasn't enough a massive national fire watch was also made mandatory during the Blitz, all buildings or small groups of houses had to have someone standing around constantly looking for a fire, and ready to put it out or physically clear a smoldering incendiary bomb. People had to do this not knowing the end, its no surprise the war seemed as close at it did at the time, but that time has long passed and history badly needs to remember how fucking bad the Germans and Japanese lost as a reminder if why those wars were so damn dumb in the first place. Hitler was smarter then at least some of his generals, and he damn well knew he was taking huge gambles, but part of what made him so evil was he really didn't care. If Germany lost it was because she really was unworthy of world race empire, at which point it didn't matter if it meant Germany was totally destroyed in defeat. He had to try once he could.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Elheru Aran » 2016-12-07 05:17pm

Out of curiosity-- I think this has been answered before but I honestly can't remember what the answer was-- if the Germans had taken the British army and whatever French allies they had along at Dunkirk, how would that have affected the war again?
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-07 05:40pm

Short term it just doesn't matter, the British never expected to get so many men off. Even if the Germans got as far as landing some troops in the UK....it just wouldn't matter, the British are weak but still had a lot of troops at home at all times while the Germans couldn't have even suicide landed much over one army corps. British soon got huge shipments of US WW1 reserve stocks anyway, not just rifles but several thousand 75mm guns and thousands of machine guns of all types. Long term it might mean they don't send troops to Greece but they probably still could, and North Africa might take slightly longer. But past that the US just threw too much stuff into the war, and way too many ground troops that did nothing but occupy England 1942-44, for the UK loss to matter much.

What this will mean is bomber command is a fair bit smaller, and the British Army in north west Europe in 1944-45 would be much smaller, so much so that Monty or anyone else the British might fancy, might have trouble establishing an Army Group level command.

But it's not like moral would crack or the war lost. 400,000 men would be in Nazi hands, but the British also had over 400,000 men killed or wounded, with maybe half the wounded coming back to duty, in the Battle of the Somme. So it's worse then that, but it's not worse then the western front was each solid year 16/17/18. Also it would have been very hard for the Germans to stop them all escaping, but they easily might have gotten half. The British had limited ammo but a very large number of weapons left to deploy.

In hindsight we know no real flanking risk exists to the Germans thrust because French command and control imploded during the entire battle, but at the time the Germans were unaware of this. That's the number one 'allies were fools' factor for Nazi super victory in the first place.

In hindsight also the damn Dutch should have fought on, and would have had they realized the real situation on the ground, but the paratrooper panic was a one time thing in history.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-07 05:53pm

www.airpowerstudies.co.uk/sitebuilderco ... ol3no4.pdf
I recommend this magazine included article on Logistics in the Battle of Britain for just why the Germans had no damn chance of winning in 1940. The Germans didn't just have the wrong planes for strategic raids, they had no repair service to actually keep all the planes going for any length of time.

The Germans did not have the raw bombing capacity to put all of this out of action at once, they tried and their own servicebility rate was dropping faster then the British. They could have drawn it out longer, but eventually things would have imploded for them first. You can see that eventually happen with the tapering off of the night bombing campaigns, which were predicated on hyper heavily using bombers 2-3 times each night in the early weeks.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2016-12-07 06:44pm

Hmm..his comment about how it's possible Operation Sea Lion could have succeeded jogged something in my memory. Didn't the Germans and British wargame it out in the 70's? I remember reading a summary of it that boiled down to "first wave gets ashore, RN trashes second wave, Germans lucky to extract one division out of the ten initially landed."
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-08 01:28am

Eternal_Freedom wrote:Hmm..his comment about how it's possible Operation Sea Lion could have succeeded jogged something in my memory. Didn't the Germans and British wargame it out in the 70's? I remember reading a summary of it that boiled down to "first wave gets ashore, RN trashes second wave, Germans lucky to extract one division out of the ten initially landed."


Bob Forzcyck - who is normally very skeptical of pro-German alt-histories - recently published a book named "We March Against England" which posits a sort-of successful Sea Lion scenario primarily by highlighting the Royal Navy's weakness in finding and locating enemy convoys (especially given the short hop over the channel). I'm not very convinced however - mainly because it assumes the Nazis will be willing to grit out potential (and heavy) shipping losses instead of aborting a lot of convoys instead whenever they get a whiff of potential Royal Navy warships in the channel.

And note that this is pretty much the most optimistic Sea Lion scenario I've seen.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-08 01:37am

Oh, and as for the original article: For God's sake people need to stop pretending that North Africa could have been anything more than a side show. The land distance between Alexandria and Tripoli - the two primary supply sources of both sides - is greater than the road distance from Berlin to Moscow.

Panzer General and all of the beer and pretzel war games on the subject completely fail to show how long the damn operating theater actually was, which is why the supply network pretty much dictated the entire campaign. Even worse, people are still talking about a glorious Rommel-Manstein link-up in the Caucasus.... while ignoring that several hundred thousand Turks basically froze to death just trying to climb the damn mountains from the south side in the First World War.

All in all, it's typical wankery where the author clearly never even looked at an actual goddamn map of the places he's conquering in his head.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-08 01:50am

Simon_Jester wrote:EDIT: Comments about "all the oil of the Middle East" becoming available to Hitler are also an interesting example of logistical blindness, as far as I can tell. While there WERE oil fields in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Persia at that time, the pumping infrastructure that moved oil to the ports where the Axis could have gained access to it were very vulnerable to sabotage. If you have a Risk-level understanding of strategy that doesn't matter, because it's "province captured- oil bonus unlocked!" But real industrial machinery that can be blown up and takes years to rebuild is a different matter.

If I understand rightly, this is probably why Germany relied so heavily on Ploesti (which they didn't have to conquer by force), and why the Japanese moved so aggressively in the East Indies (so that they could seize oil production facilities faster than the enemy could react and sabotage them).


Middle East oil production wasn't that high in the 1940s - this was outstripped by Soviet production in the Caucasus and that was completely dwarfed by American production in California and Texas.

That's why the truly big and insane oil offensive was directed towards the Caucasus region - in the form of the Case Blue offensive in 1942. Problem was, it was just a lot of wishful thinking. The Germans in fact captured one of the oil production centers in the region - Maikop - but the Soviets had basically blown up all the wells and the Germans were able to get a grand total of 10 barrels a day out of the place. Attempting to restore production proved to be a farce because all the oil-drilling equipment was stuck in Austria / Ploesti expanding existing production - and in any case buying more oil drilling equipment wasn't really on the table because most of it was being made in America.

To support this farce, the Wermacht basically doubled the length of its frontline with a weaker army - and made Stalingrad a very, very forgone conclusion.

Japan's plan for the East Indies seemed almost sane in comparison, but the fields were in fact also sabotaged to a fair degree and production never fully restored. It didn't become quite as big an issue since they weren't consuming as much as the Germans (particularly the Luftwaffe, which consumed twice as much fuel as the Army) until the submarine attacks on their tankers prevented the oil from getting to Japan to be refined into avgas; at which point the Japanese started getting so desperate that they started to "train" fighter pilots by showing them film reels instead of giving them flight time.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-08 04:18pm

The problem with blue is since the line extends constantly the Germans were all but ensuring they would not encircle anymore Russian forces, the only possible way they could deal with them. They just drove them back in 1942, instead of massively destroying the defenders as happened in the initial blitz. The Germans advanced just as fast, but not to a useful point operationally.

The original general staff plan for an offensive only against Maikop might have worked. The problem is then the Soviets still hold the enormous complex at Stalingrad as a giant base literally mass producing its own tank armies...right on the German flank. Meanwhile the German line would still be extended, making any future offensive much harder in turn. A limited offensive in other words, was only a plan for defeat in it's own right. The situation was too fucked.

A push on Moscow region, not just the city, again would have gone right at the bulk of the Soviet Army in 1942, because that's what they expected, and setup a chance for another huge encirclement if the refreshed Panzer armies could pull off even one breakthrough. Very risky, but compared to the near certain defeat of Blue, and the fact that the Germans were still way better organized then the Russians averaged, as shown by the 4th Panzer counter attack at Stalingrad ever having gotten anywhere, it would have certainly been a better operation to try.

Either way we hit it's 1943, Germany has not beat Russia, and now all those Russian war emergency factories are screaming out whole tank armies of heavy weapons a month and the Russians still have the men to man them, while in the west the US can assert air superiority anywhere it goes. Germany just can't do anything about this and it ensures its utter defeat. So does lots of other stuff, but really, the Germans could have had all the fuel they wanted and it would have made no real difference. Just more allied losses.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-12-09 04:23am

Was not the scenario that Germany does not declare war on the US though?
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-09 06:41am

No war with America is just more historical nonsense not passing the common sense test or historical fact. Such a war was already happening with ships sunk and men killed. Hitler declared war because politically and in terms of German moral it favored him to be the one to declare it openly, and then a military chance existed to exploit US weakness and diversion to the Pacific (this failed because US political resolve was so strong on Germany First as a s strategy). Waiting for the US to declare war, which would have just happened the next time a US destroyer was sunk, would have only been to the US advantage. Hitler wasn't going to let 1917-1918 happen again if he could help it.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-14 05:33am

K. A. Pital wrote:Was not the scenario that Germany does not declare war on the US though?


No, the article includes a whole bunch of very silly discussions involving Hitler's mistakes against the US and British forces on D-day, like the myth that the German forces were "paralyzed" because Hitler was asleep.

In reality the Nazi fanboys just don't want to admit that only one Panzer Division was in the Normandy sector and there was no chance it could throw back the invasion; or that the armored reinforcements around Caen only arrived gradually which is why the Germans were forced to either use them in piecemeal counter-attacks or to plug holes in the defense line.

On June 7th for instance only 12th SS had actually arrived and with only one battalion of tanks and assorted Panzergrenadier elements. Panzer Lehr by most accounts fought most of the first weeks without any of its Panther tanks which were still being fixed in Germany during the invasion day. And just recently I had to explain to another Nazi fanboy that his beloved Das Reich was still in Southern France on June 10, where elements of the Division were too busy massacring civilians at Oradour and a lot of its exploits in Normandy were just literal fanfiction published by HIAG and its surviving Waffen SS writers. :roll:

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-14 03:28pm

The reality is while many German units were well trained, equipped and organized they were not realistically killing allied tanks at a better then 3:1 ratio in big battles like this. The allies didn't loose enough armor for it to be possible when you consider how damn many towed anti tank guns the Germans also had, the latter very valuable for defense but almost lacking in value in the offensive.

This is also super true of the damn Panther tank. The front was near immune to allied tank fire, but on the offensive it only had a vertical 40mm thick side, worse then the T-34 tank and all of 2mm thicker then a Sherman. So if it actually tried to massively attack into an allied position it would still get shot to pieces. Low and behold, the Germans never managed any kind of deep penetration of the allied position after day 1 of the entire battle. The Tiger tanks were never numerous enough to matter operationally. Fans online expect completely unreasonable things out of mere tank superiority. These tanks could still be destroyed, and unlike the modern day the allies in WW2 were not allergic to laying LAND MINE FIELDS EVERYWHERE to negate the Tiger in the offensive. Guess which side had the most heavy caliber AT landmines and trucks to haul them into position? The allied invasion physically built some major roads through the landscape and a whole bunch of airfields on top of beating the Nazis solid.

3:1 was good as a kill ratio, but not when the Allies could tanks 10 times as many tanks and self propelled guns. And not when the German kills didn't come in the context of German forces also securing vital terrain on the offensive. hat's when the Sherman being light counted. One LST could dump 30 of them onto the beach roaring for combat without trying hard, and they could zip right to a vulnerable point of action in the worse case. An allied Tiger scale tank would have had to be unloaded one a time from a major ship, or else use highly specialist landing craft as the British used to get a few Churchill tanks ashore early. All German reinforcing tanks had to make 200km road marches under air attack just to get to the battle zone.

Meanwhile most of the German army still depends on horses, including almost all of its artillery strength. No WW2 tank attack can get far against massive artillery and bombing superiority. It breaks up any ability to create a mass attack in the first place. Thanks to the allied transport bombing strategy all German rail and road traffic had to cross the Seine at or north of Paris, and all rail bridges on the Loire were constantly out of action too. All German troops from Calais if they took the most direct route, were highly exposed to daylight air attack and had to ferry across the Seine. Losses from these attacks were not heavy until you got close to the battle zone, but they massively delayed and disrupted forces.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-15 12:00am

Sea Skimmer wrote:The reality is while many German units were well trained, equipped and organized they were not realistically killing allied tanks at a better then 3:1 ratio in big battles like this. The allies didn't loose enough armor for it to be possible when you consider how damn many towed anti tank guns the Germans also had, the latter very valuable for defense but almost lacking in value in the offensive.


The British study into the Normandy engagements (which I believe was brought to light by Buckley) basically concluded that the Germans scored no more than a 1.5-1 kill rate, and indeed they tended to lose if the British were able to get that level of superiority in the first place.

This is also super true of the damn Panther tank. The front was near immune to allied tank fire, but on the offensive it only had a vertical 40mm thick side, worse then the T-34 tank and all of 2mm thicker then a Sherman. So if it actually tried to massively attack into an allied position it would still get shot to pieces. Low and behold, the Germans never managed any kind of deep penetration of the allied position after day 1 of the entire battle. The Tiger tanks were never numerous enough to matter operationally. Fans online expect completely unreasonable things out of mere tank superiority. These tanks could still be destroyed, and unlike the modern day the allies in WW2 were not allergic to laying LAND MINE FIELDS EVERYWHERE to negate the Tiger in the offensive. Guess which side had the most heavy caliber AT landmines and trucks to haul them into position? The allied invasion physically built some major roads through the landscape and a whole bunch of airfields on top of beating the Nazis solid.


That assumes the Panthers were working to begin with, which on most days didn't seem to be the case. Half of the Panthers the US Army recovered had broken final drives, and research done by for the GMT game Operation Dauntless (covering Fortenay/Rauray) using a variety of French, US, and German sources shows that their return rate from damage/repair was half that of the Panzer IVs. By contrast the data which claims that the Panther had much-improved reliability in Normandy stem mostly from Zetterling's Normandy '44 - which is a great ORBAT reference but whose methodology (a reliance of German War Diaries and Maintenance Logs) doesn't account for the simple reality that quartermasters and unit commanders tend to be terribly distracted while writing these reports and that other accounts often directly contradict their statements.

And in any case, we have many well-documented cases of Panthers getting shot to pieces in Normandy anyway. The first Panthers in action - Meyer's from 12th SS - basically arrived a day late on June 8th and was thrown right into an ambush of Sherman and 6 pounder ATGs which rendered the attacking company combat ineffective. Panzer Lehr's first deployment of them in July - the first time the US encountered them in Normandy - was a similar fiasco with 25% losses on the Germans while the Americans barely noticed.

In short, the fabled Panzer offensives into the beaches did happen - they just ended up so weak and ineffectual that most Internet commentators and many historians don't even realized they happened!

Thanks to the allied transport bombing strategy all German rail and road traffic had to cross the Seine at or north of Paris, and all rail bridges on the Loire were constantly out of action too. All German troops from Calais if they took the most direct route, were highly exposed to daylight air attack and had to ferry across the Seine. Losses from these attacks were not heavy until you got close to the battle zone, but they massively delayed and disrupted forces.


Yep, and yet people still keep pretending the bulk of the Panzer Divisions were already around Caen by June 7/8; instead of being strung out in long traffic jams all over France.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Lord Revan » 2016-12-15 12:55am

From what I've read something that certainly didn't help the germans logistically was there wasn't that much interchangebility between the different tank designs so if a Panther broke down you needed spare parts meant for a panther and only a panther and if you didn't get those in time your only option was the abandon the hardware as spare parts for Panzer IV or a Tiger wouldn't work in a panther (or the other way around).
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-15 05:54am

Lord Revan wrote:From what I've read something that certainly didn't help the germans logistically was there wasn't that much interchangebility between the different tank designs so if a Panther broke down you needed spare parts meant for a panther and only a panther and if you didn't get those in time your only option was the abandon the hardware as spare parts for Panzer IV or a Tiger wouldn't work in a panther (or the other way around).


That was an issue but parts commonality within tanks of the same model was already chancy to begin with. Salvaging a component from a broken Tiger I didn't necessarily mean that the same component could be used on another Tiger in the same battalion - because each tank tended to be individually machined into existence. Oftentimes the component has to be machined to fit its new machine in the repair shop. American tanks by contrast - often derided by the Germans and their fanboys as crude "mass production" models - actually had higher QA standards to allow for parts commonality.

Oh, and it's worth remembering that Tiger and most German tanks basically had no real supply of spare parts to begin with. Overy claims that there was one spare engine for every ten Tigers by 1944, which was the result of Speer stupidly deciding to increase "tank production" at all costs as part of his "miracle". Basically Speer decided that the best way to make himself look like an economic genius was to tell the Panzer factories to convert all spare parts into working tanks; regardless of how much the spare parts were actually needed at the front to keep the tanks running. Predictably the availability of Panzers at the front nose-dived despite all the shiny new tanks delivered because the engineers at the repair shop basically had to fix each individual tank one by one instead of just replacing any broken component with a spare.

This is a reason why the logistical tail of a Tiger battalion was so huge compared to a Sherman battalion. A Tiger battalion of 45 Tiger tanks was supported by a train of 130 trucks and assorted repair vehicles (including three entire gantry cranes). Each Tiger was allotted about a squad of engineers just to keep it running. The US Sherman battalion of sixty tanks by contrast only had an organic supply train of 30 trucks - mostly carrying spares that could easily be swapped in and out of damaged or broken down tanks.

That said the big issue with repair and recovery for the Tigers and Panthers was their sheer weight and lack of proper recovery vehicles to support such tanks. Basically you needed to dispatch two recovery vehicles to drag a broken (45 ton) Panther to the repair shop, when one would have sufficed for a (under 30 ton) Mark IV. Some specialized recovery vehicles for the Panther and Tiger were developed, but they were built in very small numbers (thanks to Speer deciding to up tank "production" at the expense of everything else needed to support the said tanks) and were not terribly reliable to begin with.


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