What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today.
NeoVisionist
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What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby NeoVisionist » 12 Oct 2017 01:04

Also posted in the strategy thread, no activity there so delete as appropriate.

Assuming Hitler is an Anglophobe instead of Anglophile and that Germany either pre-empts Britain's ultimatum for war or simply attacks Britain regardless of Poland's position, either with a very limited long-range bombing sortie with Condors or Kriegsmarine shelling of an RN base, or even with a Gunther Prien Scapa Flow infiltration attack, would the Americans immediately declare war on Germany?

Historically it was Britain's war, Britain's choice until Pearl Harbor forced Hitler's hand vis a vis Roosevelt, who famously hated Germany and itched for war. Would a German attack be just what he was looking for, even as early as 39?

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SpicyJuan
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Re: What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby SpicyJuan » 12 Oct 2017 03:52

It is highly unlikely that America joins in 1939 or even 1940.

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Re: What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby ljadw » 12 Oct 2017 06:32

In the US Congress declares war, not the president, thus the opinion of Roosevelt about Germany is irrelevant .

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Re: What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby jesk » 12 Oct 2017 07:48

In the USA there was a strong isolationist lobby. Only after Pearl Harbor Americans have forcedly entered war.

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losna
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Re: What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby losna » 12 Oct 2017 09:55

NeoVisionist wrote:Also posted in the strategy thread, no activity there so delete as appropriate.

Assuming Hitler is an Anglophobe instead of Anglophile and that Germany either pre-empts Britain's ultimatum for war or simply attacks Britain regardless of Poland's position, either with a very limited long-range bombing sortie with Condors or Kriegsmarine shelling of an RN base, or even with a Gunther Prien Scapa Flow infiltration attack, would the Americans immediately declare war on Germany?

Historically it was Britain's war, Britain's choice until Pearl Harbor forced Hitler's hand vis a vis Roosevelt, who famously hated Germany and itched for war. Would a German attack be just what he was looking for, even as early as 39?


It's highly unlikely that the US will declare war to Germany immediately, but the more supplies sail toward the UK the more is likely that war will spark.

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Re: What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby OpanaPointer » 12 Oct 2017 11:31

jesk wrote:In the USA there was a strong isolationist lobby. Only after Pearl Harbor Americans have forcedly entered war.

After the fall of France the US became progressively more interventionist. The number in Nov. '41 were in the 70s. (Link to the Gallup polls available on request.)

Secretary of War Stimson, an avid diarist, recorded two instances in 1941 where the entire cabinet told FDR that he could very likely get a declaration of war against Japan through Congress if they attacked either British or Dutch possessions in Asia. Such unanimity in the Roosevelt cabinet is a strong indicator of the public mood.
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Re: What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby maltesefalcon » 13 Oct 2017 02:02

If Germany attacked UK in Sept 1939, then most of their Luftwaffe resources would be committed to the Polish campaign.
There would only be scant aircraft to attack Southeast England. Such missions would need to fly from German soil, so in all likelihood would be sans fighter escort.

Any action by DKM would be at the peril of attack by RAF and Coastal Command as well as RN. Submarines would be problematic, but were in fairly short supply at this stage and would also have no channel coast bases to sortie out of.

France, Belgium and Netherlands were still intact so I'm not sure the pre-emptive attacks would sound alarm bells in the USA. Lets say a slighly larger Scapa Flow raid results in the sinking of a couple more ships than IRL.

It would certainly stoke the fires of British anger, but less so in USA. In fact, the USA did not declare war on Germany for sinking one of their own, Reuben James six weeks before Pearl Harbor.
Last edited by maltesefalcon on 13 Oct 2017 16:36, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby OpanaPointer » 13 Oct 2017 11:02

[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S.–British_Staff_Conference_(ABC–1)]U.S.–British Staff Conference (ABC–1)[/url]
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The U.S.–British Staff Conference was a series of secret discussions between United States and British military staff members on American, British and Canadian (ABC) military coordination in the event of U.S. entry into World War II. The conference took place in Washington, D.C. from January 29, 1941 to March 27, 1941 and concluded with a report entitled "ABC-1" which was tacitly approved by the President two days later.[1]


This was the conference where the "Germany First" policy was laid out. It was confirmed at the Atlantic Conference.
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Markus Becker
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Re: What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby Markus Becker » 13 Oct 2017 13:07

How few Condors did the LW even have in 1939? The KM surface forces would have certainly made nice targets for the vastly superior RN.

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SpicyJuan
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Re: What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby SpicyJuan » 13 Oct 2017 22:19

Markus Becker wrote:How few Condors did the LW even have in 1939?

Very few.

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Re: What if Hitler struck first against Britain- does the US declare war?

Postby maltesefalcon » 15 Oct 2017 02:53

One also needs to consider the Soviet reaction. The ink was barely dry on the Molotov Ribbentrop agreement which was supposed to set the border between the Soviet and Axis nations.

Stalin had a deep distrust of Western nations. A sudden move against the UK could be interpreted as a ploy to draw the Soviet Union into a conflict with them as well.


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