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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 12:21am
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http://www.jstor.org/pss/152782
Google helps for more details.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 01:22am
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Stas Bush wrote:
MKSheppard wrote:
Burn the book before it contaminates your braincells and destroys more of them.

Echoed. Turtledove causes brain damage which, in some cases, can be quite severe.

Are you kidding? The man is a genius. He must get paid by the word, because he manages to take what would be a 250 page novel and turn it into a 400+ page monstrosity simply by rewording paragraphs to essentially say the exact same thing in each and every chapter. It's like if every episode of '24' spent the first 20 minutes telling us who each character is, what he's doing, and why he's doing it.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 08:26am
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David Weber does it too; I feel bad for his co-authors because their names are getting slapped on books that are full of an increasing amount of skippable sludge.

Stas Bush wrote:
MKSheppard wrote:
Burn the book before it contaminates your braincells and destroys more of them.
Echoed. Turtledove causes brain damage which, in some cases, can be quite severe.
A strong mind can resist the damage, but it's not necessarily worthwhile to do so.

Mystikal wrote:
Um, from what I have rtead about Stalin, it is very likely that either the Russian people would have eventually rebelled against Stalin and the Communists...
Why? I mean, is there evidence that Stalin was simply going to continue the purges indefinitely until society fell apart around him? Something like that?

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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 08:44am
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No, I think he refers to the idea that if Stalin started a war, the population would rebel. Now, the population supported the East European annexions and conquests of the USSR, because it was seen as restoring former Russian lands to it's master, rejoining nations, etc. (most notably the Belorussians). So this idea seems to be wrong.

How the populace would behave in a large European war (which wouldn't go too good for the USSR, I believe)... I'm not sure.

It's unlikely there'd be a full rebellion, but the army, even after the purges, had some pretty shrewd scheming people, who could have banded to depose Stalin. Also, NKGB. But it's all just speculation. A popular rebellion was unlikely, whilst an elite "deposing" slighty more likely if the war is a failure.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 09:04am
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Flagg wrote:
Are you kidding? The man is a genius.


He has perfected the art of pulp hardback trash. He is however a decent writer at setting up the "feel" of an era. Too bad his plots are utter bullshit past the initial "Race Invades in WWII" one.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 09:29am
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Mystikal wrote:
Um, from what I have read about Stalin, it is very likely that either the Russian people would have eventually rebelled against Stalin and the Communists and that he would not have modernized and advanced the Red Army that he did, to the extent that he did, as fast as he did.


There's very little historical evidence to support that contention. What brought the communist system in Russian down eventually was its economic failure, deftly assisted from the West. There's almost nothing to indicate that a generalized rebellion against the Soviet system existed in the time span in question; indeed outside a limited circle, it's arguable that Stalin actually had a pretty good image in Russia as a whole. It was the old traditional "he's a good man but he's sometimes mislead by bad advisors". In that context, the Great Purges were seen as him getting rid of those bad advisors. Notably, those purges, drastic though they were, were limited to a relatively narrow circle.

The second part of your comment is odd because it doesn't actually relate to the first part and putting them in the same sentence defies logic. In point of fact, the Russian military establishment in the 1930s was extremely forward looking and advanced. It was experimenting (on a grand scale) with concepts that matched any in the world (mass use of paratroopers for example; the development of combined arms armor tactics at a time when most armies were either ignoring tanks completely or succumbing to the Fuller Heresy - or both, the integration of air support into ground operations and so on. In fact the social and operational ethos of the Soviet State in the early - mid 1930s was highly conducive to doctrinal development rather than the reverse.

Quote:
IF this butterflies away the Winter War, then not only is the logistical side of still against the USSR too much for a conquest like in OTL but he would still have a less than optimal armor strategy.


I'm sorry but this also doesn't make much sense. The Winter War has absolutely nothing to do with the logistics of invading Russia from the west. That's a factor of geography, size and the orientation of railway lines. Neither factor has anything to do with the operational doctrines of the Soviet Army as they existed pre-Great Purge.

Quote:
One of the main things that got Stalin to modernize the Red Army was its appaling performance against Finland and later the extreme pressure by the Nazis.


Actually, the problem is both simpler and more complex than that. During the 1930s, the Russians created an extermely modern and well-balanced army that had an excellent command structure. Stalin then effectively destroyed that Army in the Great Purges. What went to war in Finland was the derelict husk of that Army commanded by incompetent time-servers. Finland had nothing to do with the massive change in the Soviet Army that took place between 1937 and 1939. What it did do was catastrophically highlight the disastrous effects of that change. What the German assault in 1941 did was to reverse that change. It's not that common knowledge but there actually was a sort-of coup in Russia in October/November 1942. Zhukov and the other senior Russian generals went to Stalin and told him to his face that unless he allowed them to put the Army right and stopped interfering with the military command structure, they would walk off the job and Russia would lose the war. Stalin caved and from that point on, Unitary Command was restored. The Army that won the Second World War in 1943/44 was the Army Russia had in 1936 before it was emasculated in the Great Purge.

Had that Great Purge not happened, the army facing the Germans in 1941 would have been the 1936 Army but equipped with T34s and KV1s - in effect the Army Russia actually had in 1943/44. If the Winter War had actually happened, the Finns wouldn't be boasting about it today - or if they do, they'd be speaking in Russian while they did it. As Grazhdanin Stas has pointed out, logistic and industrial problems might well have meant that Army was not that effective outside Russia (although I believe he understates how effective it could have been) but inside Russia, the 1935/36 Army upgraded with 1942 equipment would have been a very hard nut for the German armies to chew upon. They'd have broken a lot of teeth trying.

Quote:
Without a reason to look outward, he would most likely continue to focus his paranoia at home.


This is a non-sequiter of amazing proportions. Stalin was paranoid because everybody was out to get him and he knew it. His governmental system relied upon his enemies taking each other down for him while his government methodology was that of an elevator. Rightd ecisions and loyalty to Stalin took one from the lowest floor to the highest with remarkable speed but screwing up or suspected disloyalty could drop one down again with equal speed. In political terms, Stalin knew that Germany was coming for him sooner or later, he had every reason to keep looking outwards.

MKSheppard wrote:
What about the Soviet-Finnish War? That was basically: "We'd like you to redraw your boarders to our advantage." "No." *Invades*


It was a lot more complicated than that and the Finns were a lot less innocent than post-war propaganda has alleged but Finland really stands out because it was an exception to the general rule. For example, after the clashes with the Japanese, the Russians didn't head south in a massive territorial grab even though they knew they comprehensively outclassed the Japanese across the board. Likewise in Eastern Europe, the abiding impression is one of the dog that didn't bark. The 1930s weren't marked by any "minor border readjustments" even though the scope for them existed.

montypython wrote:
I wouldn't say that the German's didn't understand the Soviet war production capacity necessarily, having cooperated with them from 1922-1932, rather the assumption was that a massive shock a la Barbarossa would overwhelm what the Soviets had available for production, negating any possible advantages. Of course things didn't turn out that way.


Frankly, I don't think the Germans had a clue what Russia was really like or the resources it could command. Having cooperated with them between 1922 and 1932 didn't mean the Germans saw anything and everything. That would be profoundly un-Russian. The Germans saw an image that was carefully presented to them and the "cooperation" was carefully controlled to match that image. It's called Maskirovka - strategic deception - and the Russians are surpassingly good at it. The Germans used their 1922-32 experience to estimate the size of the Russian Army and came up with a figure that was 50 percent of the real number. They also underestimated how quickly the Russians could form and mobilize new units. Neither of those errors was an accident.

Thanas wrote:
In Germany the effect would be next to nil. The left tried such a powergrap already in 1919 and a few years later they tried to take control of the Ruhr valley. In both cases they were dispersed without many problems. Germans are notoriously bad at revolutions.


In Germany, perhaps. But in France (then apparently the most capable military power in Europe) the communists were a major political power that was very close to gaining control. Italy and Britain were in a similar position - it was the strength of communist-dominated factions in the UK that led Halifax to espouse the beliefs that he did. A "European Alliance" that has Britain, France and Italy hobbled at best and out of it at worst isn't very impressive. A s time wore on and the true nature of the Nazi regime became apparent, its very easy to see many of the more powerful European countries dropping away.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 09:59am
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Stuart wrote:
The second part of your comment is odd because it doesn't actually relate to the first part and putting them in the same sentence defies logic. In point of fact, the Russian military establishment in the 1930s was extremely forward looking and advanced. It was experimenting (on a grand scale) with concepts that matched any in the world (mass use of paratroopers for example; the development of combined arms armor tactics at a time when most armies were either ignoring tanks completely or succumbing to the Fuller Heresy - or both, the integration of air support into ground operations and so on. In fact the social and operational ethos of the Soviet State in the early - mid 1930s was highly conducive to doctrinal development rather than the reverse.
Fuller Heresy?

What, tanks über alles, or am I missing something here?

Quote:
In Germany, perhaps. But in France (then apparently the most capable military power in Europe) the communists were a major political power that was very close to gaining control. Italy and Britain were in a similar position - it was the strength of communist-dominated factions in the UK that led Halifax to espouse the beliefs that he did. A "European Alliance" that has Britain, France and Italy hobbled at best and out of it at worst isn't very impressive. A s time wore on and the true nature of the Nazi regime became apparent, its very easy to see many of the more powerful European countries dropping away.
What if the Germany of this scenario isn't the Nazi Germany we know and loathe? Some alternate scenarios I can think of:

-No Nazis at all, or at least no highly effective and organized fascist party in Germany. In this case, the Weimar Republic survives into the late '30s and early '40s. Remilitarization does not proceed (much), and Germany is effectively a noncontributor to the war effort in an Allies vs. Soviets war, except possibly as a source of manpower if someone else can turn out the equipment they lack the factories to produce.

-Weimar Republic gets deposed by a right wing government, but the old militarist aristocrats wind up on top by outmaneuvering the fascist element. Germany rearms, but the result looks a lot more like the Second Reich than the Third.

-Nazis take power, but Hitler is deposed in a coup over one of his gambles in the '30s. Germany rearms and controls some of the territories Hitler gained for Germany (say, the Rhineland but not the Sudetenland), but does not pursue an aggressive war in the East and West. The government winds up somewhere between Second and Third Reich configurations.

Or am I missing something?

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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 04:01pm
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Stuart wrote:
In Germany, perhaps. But in France (then apparently the most capable military power in Europe) the communists were a major political power that was very close to gaining control. Italy and Britain were in a similar position - it was the strength of communist-dominated factions in the UK that led Halifax to espouse the beliefs that he did. A "European Alliance" that has Britain, France and Italy hobbled at best and out of it at worst isn't very impressive. A s time wore on and the true nature of the Nazi regime became apparent, its very easy to see many of the more powerful European countries dropping away.


To be honest, while numerous, those factions are not strong enough to actually gain control. Note that they did not even manage to secure French and British intervention in the Spanish Civil war. The worst damage they could actually do was to limit rearmament in the inter-years war, but they won't manage to completely destroy the forces during that time.


Simon_Jester wrote:
What if the Germany of this scenario isn't the Nazi Germany we know and loathe? Some alternate scenarios I can think of:

-No Nazis at all, or at least no highly effective and organized fascist party in Germany. In this case, the Weimar Republic survives into the late '30s and early '40s.


Wrong. In this case, you get a highly effective and organized monarchist party, in which case the most likely scenario is Hindenburg asking Wilhelm II. back into Germany. The only way one can avert is by making either sure Germany wins WWI, there is no Versailles or that there is no great depression. Of course, the chance of the first two happening is slim unless Wilson also happens to stumble and break his neck.


Quote:
Remilitarization does not proceed (much), and Germany is effectively a noncontributor to the war effort in an Allies vs. Soviets war, except possibly as a source of manpower if someone else can turn out the equipment they lack the factories to produce.


This of course presumes that the Weimar Republic survives. Which is quite unlikely.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 04:30pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
Fuller Heresy? What, tanks über alles, or am I missing something here?


The Fuller Heresy is that an all-tank army will sweep everything before it. It's heresy becuase it ignores such mundane considerations as what happens when the tanks run out of gas - which they do after about 100 miles. If anybody starts talking about an "expanding torrent", drag them out and wash their mouths with soap.

Quote:
What if the Germany of this scenario isn't the Nazi Germany we know and loathe? (snip) Or am I missing something?


The problem here is that the loathsomeness of Nazi Germany is the defining force of the early-middle 20th century. If we change that, we change pretty much everything else so much that the situation becomes completely different. For example, lets assume that somehow Germany becomes a bucolic peace-loving state that beams munificently on everybody else and wouldn't even dream of using force in international relations. It could well be argued that, just as Nazi Germany led a lot of Europe into the ways of fascism, its departure in the opposite direction would lead the same countries in the ways of peace and goodwill. Without the developing threat on his borders, Stalin gets a lot less edgy and the end result is a tranquil golden age for Europe. Hmm, good alternative history scenario there for somebody.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 05:36pm
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I don't think Nazis are at all necessary for WW2. This Stratfor article in my view provides a very convincing explanation of Germany's motivations in late 19th and 20th century:

Article wrote:
The German Geopolitical Problem

Until 1871, Germany was fragmented into dozens of small states — kingdoms, duchies, principalities, etc. — comprising the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire. The German-speaking world was torn apart by internal tensions and the constant manipulation of foreign powers.

The southeastern part of the German-speaking world, Austria, was the center of the multinational Hapsburg Empire. It was Roman Catholic and was continually intruding into the predominantly Catholic regions of the rest of Germany, particularly Bavaria. The French were constantly poaching in the Rhineland and manipulating the balance of power among the German states. Russia was always looming to the east, where it bordered the major Protestant German power, Prussia. (Poland at the time was divided among Prussia, Russia and Austria-Hungary.) Germany was perpetually the victim of great powers, a condition which Prussia spent the roughly half-century between Waterloo and German unification trying to correct.

To unify Germany, Prussia had to do more than dominate the Germans. It had to fight two wars. The first was in 1866 with the Hapsburg Empire, which Prussia defeated in seven weeks, ending Hapsburg influence in Germany and ultimately reducing Austria-Hungary to Germany’s junior partner. The second war was in 1870-1871, when Prussia led a German coalition that defeated France. That defeat ended French influence in the Rhineland and gave Prussia the space in which to create a modern, unified Germany. Russia, which was pleased to see both Austria-Hungary and France defeated and viewed a united Germany as a buffer against another French invasion, did not try to block unification.

German unification changed the dynamic of Europe. First, it created a large nation in the heart of Europe between France and Russia. United, Germany was economically dynamic, and its growth outstripped that of France and the United Kingdom. Moreover, it became a naval power, developing a substantial force that at some point could challenge British naval hegemony. It became a major exporting power, taking markets from Britain and France. And in looking around for room to maneuver, Germany began looking east toward Russia. In short, Germany was more than a nation — it was a geopolitical problem.

Germany’s strategic problem was that if the French and Russians attacked Germany simultaneously, with Britain blockading its ports, Germany would lose and revert to its pre-1871 chaos. Given French, Russian and British interest in shattering Germany, Germany had to assume that such an attack would come. Therefore, since the Germans could not fight on two fronts simultaneously, they needed to fight a war pre-emptively, attacking France or Russia first, defeating it and then turning their full strength on the other — all before Britain’s naval blockade could begin to hurt. Germany’s only defense was a two-stage offense that was as complex as a ballet, and would be catastrophic if it failed.

In World War I, executing the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans attacked France first while trying to simply block the Russians. The plan was to first occupy the channel coast and Paris before the United Kingdom could get into the game and before Russia could fully mobilize, and then to knock out Russia. The plan failed in 1914 at the First Battle of the Marne, and rather than lightning victory, Germany got bogged down in a multifront war costing millions of lives and lasting years. Even so, Germany almost won the war of attrition, causing the United States to intervene and deprive Berlin of victory.

In World War II, the Germans had learned their lesson, so instead of trying to pin down Russia, they entered into a treaty with the Soviets. This secured Germany’s rear by dividing Poland with the Soviet Union. The Soviets agreed to the treaty, expecting Adolf Hitler’s forces to attack France and bog down as Germany had in World War I. The Soviets would then roll West after the bloodletting had drained the rest of Europe. The Germans stunned the Russians by defeating France in six weeks and then turning on the Russians. The Russian front turned into an endless bloodletting, and once again the Americans helped deliver the final blow.

The consequence of the war was the division of Germany into three parts — an independent Austria, a Western-occupied West Germany and a Soviet-occupied East Germany. West Germany again faced the Russian problem. Its eastern part was occupied, and West Germany could not possibly defend itself on its own. It found itself integrated into an American-dominated alliance system, NATO, which was designed to block the Soviets. West and East Germany would serve as the primary battleground of any Soviet attack, with Soviet armor facing U.S. armor, airpower and tactical nuclear weapons. For the Germans, the Cold War was probably more dangerous than either of the previous wars. Whatever the war’s outcome, Germany stood a pretty good chance of being annihilated if it took place.

On the upside, the Cold War did settle Franco-German tensions, which were half of Germany’s strategic problem. Indeed, one of the by-products of the Cold War was the emergence of the European Community, which ultimately became the European Union. This saw German economic union and integration with France, which along with NATO’s military integration guaranteed economic growth and the end of any military threat to Germany from the west. For the first time in centuries, the Rhine was not at risk. Germany’s south was secure, and once the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no threat from the east, either.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 05:44pm
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Stuart wrote:
The problem here is that the loathsomeness of Nazi Germany is the defining force of the early-middle 20th century. If we change that, we change pretty much everything else so much that the situation becomes completely different...
Yes, but we can take intermediate cases (such as a Germany where Hitler is overthrown in a coup in 1938), which will still be loathesome, but less loathesome.

Or, and this is the idea that motivated the original scenario, we can pretend (and I know this is not true) that Stalin actually had territorial ambitions outside the former Russian Empire. Because that's sort of a prerequisite for the question as posed: the notion that Stalin intended to wage a war of conquest and was blocked by the political unity of the postwar Western Allies and/or by the damage the German invasion did. And yes, again, I know that's not true.

If, counterfactually, it were true, then it would not matter so much whether Germany was run by Hitler, by the Kaiser, or by a clique of generals. Stalin's attitudes would still be affected, but he would retain the same underlying goal of conquering (some of) Europe.

Thanas wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
What if the Germany of this scenario isn't the Nazi Germany we know and loathe? Some alternate scenarios I can think of:

-No Nazis at all, or at least no highly effective and organized fascist party in Germany. In this case, the Weimar Republic survives into the late '30s and early '40s.

Wrong. In this case, you get a highly effective and organized monarchist party, in which case the most likely scenario is Hindenburg asking Wilhelm II. back into Germany...
Ah. I was not aware that the absence of the Nazis as an organized force would necessarily lead to a successful political effort by the German monarchists. However, this outcome would lead to my alternate scenario #2:

I wrote:
-Weimar Republic gets deposed by a right wing government, but the old militarist aristocrats wind up on top by outmaneuvering the fascist element. Germany rearms, but the result looks a lot more like the Second Reich than the Third.
In this case it would look exactly like the Second Reich, even to the point of having the same head of state until Kaiser Bill dies.

Quote:
The only way one can avert is by making either sure Germany wins WWI, there is no Versailles or that there is no great depression. Of course, the chance of the first two happening is slim unless Wilson also happens to stumble and break his neck.
"Germany wins WWI" might remove the preconditions for an "Allies vs. Stalinist USSR" scenario, because a strong imperial Germany and its satellite states in Eastern Europe would greatly weaken the threat Soviet Russia could pose. Germany might well be able to handle that threat single-handedly, even with no support from France and Britain.

Though the trauma of defeat for the Allies might lead to socialist revolutions, I suppose... in which case you get a sort of inverted WWII, with Germany facing off against multiple Communist rivals (Russia and France and/or Italy). Britain would be a wild card in that case, because unless I'm badly wrong, they'd be relatively unlikely to go full Communist.

Quote:
Quote:
Remilitarization does not proceed (much), and Germany is effectively a noncontributor to the war effort in an Allies vs. Soviets war, except possibly as a source of manpower if someone else can turn out the equipment they lack the factories to produce.
This of course presumes that the Weimar Republic survives. Which is quite unlikely.
True. Note that my second scenario (which includes both Monarchist '30s Germany and a hypothetical Right-Wing Oligarch '30s Germany without the monarchy) suggests that Germany would rearm. Only in the event of the survival of the Weimar Republic (which I agree is probably unlikely) do I not see Germany rearming.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-25 06:04pm
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Stuart wrote:
Quote:
What if the Germany of this scenario isn't the Nazi Germany we know and loathe? (snip) Or am I missing something?


The problem here is that the loathsomeness of Nazi Germany is the defining force of the early-middle 20th century. If we change that, we change pretty much everything else so much that the situation becomes completely different. For example, lets assume that somehow Germany becomes a bucolic peace-loving state that beams munificently on everybody else and wouldn't even dream of using force in international relations. It could well be argued that, just as Nazi Germany led a lot of Europe into the ways of fascism, its departure in the opposite direction would lead the same countries in the ways of peace and goodwill. Without the developing threat on his borders, Stalin gets a lot less edgy and the end result is a tranquil golden age for Europe. Hmm, good alternative history scenario there for somebody.


My thinking is that without a threat force to focus on in the West, Stalin would be paying more attention to developments in Asia with all sorts of possible outcomes from that.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-26 07:56am
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Stuart wrote:
Actually, the problem is both simpler and more complex than that. During the 1930s, the Russians created an extermely modern and well-balanced army that had an excellent command structure. Stalin then effectively destroyed that Army in the Great Purges. What went to war in Finland was the derelict husk of that Army commanded by incompetent time-servers. Finland had nothing to do with the massive change in the Soviet Army that took place between 1937 and 1939. What it did do was catastrophically highlight the disastrous effects of that change. What the German assault in 1941 did was to reverse that change. It's not that common knowledge but there actually was a sort-of coup in Russia in October/November 1942. Zhukov and the other senior Russian generals went to Stalin and told him to his face that unless he allowed them to put the Army right and stopped interfering with the military command structure, they would walk off the job and Russia would lose the war. Stalin caved and from that point on, Unitary Command was restored. The Army that won the Second World War in 1943/44 was the Army Russia had in 1936 before it was emasculated in the Great Purge.

Had that Great Purge not happened, the army facing the Germans in 1941 would have been the 1936 Army but equipped with T34s and KV1s - in effect the Army Russia actually had in 1943/44. If the Winter War had actually happened, the Finns wouldn't be boasting about it today - or if they do, they'd be speaking in Russian while they did it.

True. The state of the Finnish army at the start of the Winter War was absolutely ridiculous. The men had to bring their own rifles if they had them because there was a shortage of everything and often the only equipment they got issued was an army badge (white dot encircled by a blue ring encircled by a white ring).

Without Stalin's purges, it would have happened as Stuart describes, because we barely held on as it was.

Stuart wrote:
MKSheppard wrote:
What about the Soviet-Finnish War? That was basically: "We'd like you to redraw your boarders to our advantage." "No." *Invades*


It was a lot more complicated than that and the Finns were a lot less innocent than post-war propaganda has alleged but Finland really stands out because it was an exception to the general rule.

What does this refer to? Finland's behavior before the Winter War or Finland's actions in the Continuation War of 1941-44?

Finland did not provoke the Winter War and most of the territorial demands to us were unacceptable. The Continuation War is a different matter and there were actions done there that would or should make anyone proud. What we should have done was stop at the old border, then fortify that and sit there instead of trying to build some sort of Greater Finland. Even though that particular aspect doesn't get too much play in our school history books, it does get mentioned and not in a very positive light.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-26 08:11am
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Edi wrote:
The Continuation War is a different matter and there were actions done there that would or should make anyone proud. What we should have done was stop at the old border, then fortify that and sit there instead of trying to build some sort of Greater Finland.

Was that even an option given the dependence on Germany?

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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-26 09:02am
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Edi wrote:
What does this refer to? Finland's behavior before the Winter War or Finland's actions in the Continuation War of 1941-44? Finland did not provoke the Winter War and most of the territorial demands to us were unacceptable. The Continuation War is a different matter and there were actions done there that would or should make anyone proud. What we should have done was stop at the old border, then fortify that and sit there instead of trying to build some sort of Greater Finland. Even though that particular aspect doesn't get too much play in our school history books, it does get mentioned and not in a very positive light.


I don't disagree that the Russian demands were completely unacceptable and that the Winter War would today be classed as a war crime. However, what gave the Russians the excuse were a series of minor (very minor) incidents along the border that included damage to the railway tracks feeding into Leningrad, raids on isolated Russian communities and so on. It is by no means certain who the perpetrators were; they could have been Finnish criminals doing cross-border raids, Finnish irregulars making political points, Russian equivalents of same etc etc. In short, they are all the problems one normally expects from a very long, uncontrollable border with hostile parties on both sides of it. Viewed objectively and seventy years later, I would suggest that a valid comparison could be made with crimes taking place along the US/Mexican border today. However, the Russians mirror-imaged; essentially they said "This is what we would do if we were them. Since This is happening they must be doing it. Therefore we must stop them." The fact that This was probably the act of non-state players didn't figure. In retrospect, it's hard to see Finland with a way out at that point. By the time things had got to that point, the Russians had already made the decision to invade and were going through the motions. Even if Finland had agreed with the demands, it probably wouldn't have made much difference. Avoiding the Winter War would probably require enough foresight from the Finnish Government to be aware of what was happening on the border (or more precisely how it was perceived in Moscow) and (say) offering the Russians right of hot pursuit over the border plus cooperation over locating and eliminating those responsible for cross-border incidents. I suspect that was politically impossible. (I don't rule out the possibility that said cross-border incidents were set up by the Russians to give grounds for an invasion. A sort of Gliewitz Radio Station writ large. As I said, it was a very complicated situation.)

As you say, the Continuation War was an entirely different kettle of fish; that was a catastrophic blunder. The Russians had every right to be mildly annoyed there. "Up to the old border and then stop dead" is actually the strategy adopted by the Finns in Winter Warriors right up to the end of 1945 when they get bribed/bullied by the Germans into taking part in a major Kola Peninsula offensive. The results of that are catastrophic for Helsinki and in the final analysis for Finland as a whole (I actually got hold of what the peace terms would have been if the Russian Army had made it into Helsinki rather than Finland surrendering. They are savage.)

A little bit of amusement for you. I was actually told by a self-appointed "expert" on Finnish strategy that the Continuation War wouldn't have happened because there was no reason for it. I assume he thought that the Russian and Finnish armies between 1941 and 1944 were having friendly football matches.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Riech Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-26 09:06am
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Spoonist wrote:
Edi wrote:
The Continuation War is a different matter and there were actions done there that would or should make anyone proud. What we should have done was stop at the old border, then fortify that and sit there instead of trying to build some sort of Greater Finland.

Was that even an option given the dependence on Germany?


Probably; the Germans looked in the Finnish troops as being the fount of all skill and knowledge where winter warfare was concerned. Had the Finns said "we can't go any further and nor will you if you've got any sense", the Germans would probably have believed them. Quite a few probables there. A quiet word with the Russians "we won't make any more trouble if you don't" would probably have gone down well with Moscow. It's quite possible that had the Finns done what Edi suggested, they would have fared a lot better postwar.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-26 09:37am
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Stuart wrote:
I was actually told by a self-appointed "expert" on Finnish strategy that the Continuation War wouldn't have happened because there was no reason for it. I assume he thought that the Russian and Finnish armies between 1941 and 1944 were having friendly football matches.

What? Is that true? Oh the irony. Did he perhaps miss all these German troops in Finland? To say ther was no reason for the war in 1941-1944 is... more than strange.
Stuart wrote:
In short, they are all the problems one normally expects from a very long, uncontrollable border with hostile parties on both sides of it.

These problems extended even back to old Tsarist days... as you may know, not all folks in Russia were cool about loosing all former Russian Empire lands. So provocations on both sides of the border had a very complex set of reasons.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-26 09:53am
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Stuart, it is entirely possible and even probable that (most of) the border incidents you cite were framed by the Soviets. Russia has publicly admitted to the Mainila Shots having been fired by Soviet artillery, and that incident was the one used to justify the start of open war. It took 60 years before they admitted that much and these days all aspects of Soviet culpability on that are being quietly ignored in Russia.

I don't know what the peace terms you talk about would have been, but it's probable some digging around in Finnish sources would turn them up. No doubt "savage" is only the beginning of it. I talked with my father just a couple of weeks back and this topic came up (he's something of a history buff) and he said that actual documentation for the plans of the occupation of Finland have been uncovered and included such nice things as the liquidation of 300,000 Finns right at the outset. Any career regular army officers, police, teachers and the political leadership would have been either executed outright or shipped off to starve to death in some Siberain gulag and it certainly would not have ended there. The number of actual Finns now would be at most half of the current numbers, probably less, and we'd all be speaking Russian, those few of us who would be alive.

Despite O.W.Kuusinen being as close as he was to Stalin, Stalin for some reason held a special hatred for Finns that went beyond his normal paranoia and murderous vindictiveness. That's one of the things attested to by e.g. Aarne "Poika (The Boy)" Tuominen, who spent years in Moscow at the heart of things before finally fleeing, so those things don't surprise me at all.

Unfortunately I don't have any idea where to even begin to look for English language sources. Rather little has been translated from Finnish and the same is true of the material available in Russian as it pertains to Finland and the Winter and Continuation Wars when compared to the whole.

Oh, and that "expert" you mentioned, yeah, he's goddamn hilarious. If he ever does come to Finland, he'd be well advised to keep his "expert" opinions to himself if he wishes to remain in one piece. Most of our war veterans are dead, but a there's a huge number of their children and grandchildren around who had to deal with the fallout of the war and the privations following it, so the chance of getting beaten to a pulp is a lot more than just theoretical. I know he'd get physically thrown out of any house that has my family members living in it and my immediate family didn't even lose anyone closer than maybe my maternal grandfather's cousins in the war.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-26 10:19am
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Edi wrote:
I talked with my father just a couple of weeks back and this topic came up (he's something of a history buff) and he said that actual documentation for the plans of the occupation of Finland have been uncovered and included such nice things as the liquidation of 300,000 Finns right at the outset.

Liquidation? Deportation, perhaps (the USSR did deport around 300-450 k people from Baltics, Poland etc.) But direct execution? That's an overkill number (for a population as small as Finland, especially), it seems. Then again, the USSR did liquidate 40k Poles. *shrugs*
Edi wrote:
Despite O.W.Kuusinen being as close as he was to Stalin, Stalin for some reason held a special hatred for Finns that went beyond his normal paranoia and murderous vindictiveness. That's one of the things attested to by e.g. Aarne "Poika (The Boy)" Tuominen, who spent years in Moscow at the heart of things before finally fleeing, so those things don't surprise me at all.

That's interesting. Why did he dislike them so much? It's well known that Stalin was not a fan of national independence even in the 1920s (he tried to overrule Lenin's guidelines during the inception of the USSR), but why Finns?

Unlike Poles, who earned a lot of bad rep with the Soviet leadership due to the deaths of Red Army POWs in the 1920s, what did the Finns do, other than repress their communists?



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-26 10:33am
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Maybe losing the Winter War was too much a humiliation for Stalin to stomach, knowing how vindictive Stalin is...



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-26 10:51am
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Stas Bush wrote:
Edi wrote:
I talked with my father just a couple of weeks back and this topic came up (he's something of a history buff) and he said that actual documentation for the plans of the occupation of Finland have been uncovered and included such nice things as the liquidation of 300,000 Finns right at the outset.

Liquidation? Deportation, perhaps (the USSR did deport around 300-450 k people from Baltics, Poland etc.) But direct execution? That's an overkill number (for a population as small as Finland, especially), it seems. Then again, the USSR did liquidate 40k Poles. *shrugs*

Deportation probably, but a lot of direct executions as well somewhere out of sight. The end result would have been all those people dying in any case, so it's very much like a question of "Would you like to be shot, drowned or die in a fire?"

Stas Bush wrote:
Edi wrote:
Despite O.W.Kuusinen being as close as he was to Stalin, Stalin for some reason held a special hatred for Finns that went beyond his normal paranoia and murderous vindictiveness. That's one of the things attested to by e.g. Aarne "Poika (The Boy)" Tuominen, who spent years in Moscow at the heart of things before finally fleeing, so those things don't surprise me at all.

That's interesting. Why did he dislike them so much? It's well known that Stalin was not a fan of national independence even in the 1920s (he tried to overrule Lenin's guidelines during the inception of the USSR), but why Finns?

Unlike Poles, who earned a lot of bad rep with the Soviet leadership due to the deaths of Red Army POWs in the 1920s, what did the Finns do, other than repress their communists?


I don't know. Some of it may stem from his visit to Finland sometime before the Russian revolution and some it came probably from something else, I don't know. Tuominen didn't either, not all of it, but he knew some of the reasons. We're a stubborn, taciturn, recalcitrant bunch who have don't take kindly to being told what to do by outsiders and we may very well have just rubbed him the wrong way at some point.

Tuominen's autobiography, both parts of it (written in prison in Finland) was very interesting reading. The first part was about the rise of the Communist Party of Finland (SKP, Suomen Kommunistinen Puolue) and the second about his years in Russia. He got out in 1937 or 1938, IIRC, or possibly early 1939, I don't remember. Took a posting in Sweden and defected back to Finland, where he spent several years in prison before being pardoned in the 1950s.

Those volumes are hard enough to find in Finnish (my parents have them) and I'm quite positive they were never translated to Russian, what with being as accurate about the reality as they are and rather anti-communist overall, since Tuominen rejected communism in favor of social democracy.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-26 11:08am
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Fingolfin_Noldor wrote:
Maybe losing the Winter War was too much a humiliation for Stalin to stomach, knowing how vindictive Stalin is...

Stalin did not lose the Winter War. He was able to set the peace terms much to his liking and the Finnish government was pretty desparate for peace when the armistice came, which by traditional definition means that he won the war. That he did not get the overwhelming victory he had hoped for is certainly true, however.

I would say that Stalin did not like the Finnish communists much because they proved to be nearly useless to his aims, even if good old Otto-Wille had good relations with him. The general harshness of the accupation plans was probably a result of the fact that Finland had already had its own civil war, which was won by the Whites. Anti-communistic nationalism had a strong following among well-off farmers and city middle class, which meant that there were a large number of potential protesters and guerrilla fighters in Finland. Stalin wanted to get rid of all potential counter-revolutionaries, which in his mind meant either killing or deportation.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-27 12:46am
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I've been thinking about this thread and all of the great information posted in it and thought up another question/scenario:

What would have been the implications of a failed operation Overlord and no second front (besides the quagmire in Italy) to essentially "meet the Soviets halfway" in a conquered Germany? Would the liberated Europe have essentially been the same, or would the Soviets have gained more territory?



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-27 01:23am
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Flagg wrote:
I've been thinking about this thread and all of the great information posted in it and thought up another question/scenario:

What would have been the implications of a failed operation Overlord and no second front (besides the quagmire in Italy) to essentially "meet the Soviets halfway" in a conquered Germany? Would the liberated Europe have essentially been the same, or would the Soviets have gained more territory?

There was a thread where this was discussed, to an extent, semi-seriously.

This would result in a huge Soviet sphere of influence; some parts of it like France, Yugoslavia etc. might be in a "weak" sphere of influence, so to say. Not sure if the USSR would require any sort of uber-huge militarization in the West, because most of Europe would be under Soviet influence and thus an ally; but quite certainly the changes would be dramatic.

Regardless of whether the Soviet Army would enter France or not, for example, it's quite likely that even a nationalist France would have fallen under Soviet influence.



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 Post subject: Re: Did Hitler & The 3rd Reich Save Western Europe? PostPosted: 2010-03-27 01:36am
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Thanks for the link and the other info.



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