maltesefalcon wrote: ↑
07 Aug 2019 00:31
HistoryGeek2019 wrote: ↑
06 Aug 2019 18:27
Michael Kenny wrote: ↑
06 Aug 2019 16:34
HistoryGeek2019 wrote: ↑
06 Aug 2019 14:50
Why didn't the Germans just go home after June 1940?
Because they needed the French resources to pursue their Eastern ambitions.
According to everything I've read (Tooze, Holland), the Germans had an initial gain from plundering France and the Low Countries, but within a few months it became more of a burden to maintain occupation forces in those countries.
France had a coastline on the Mediterranean and a long coastline on the Atlantic/North Sea. Both would come in handy for air bases and UBoat pens. Prior to 1940 German vessels needed to thread the needle from Kiel to get into open waters.
As long as Germany controlled Belgium, Holland and France they also had absolute control of the Rhine from the Swiss border to the mouth. Barge traffic on the Rhine and its tributaries was absolutely vital to the economy and war effort.
I guess a second question goes along with my first: Did Hitler really think that he could win an offensive war against Britain using bases in France? Obviously, the answer is yes, as Tooze explains that Germany's grand strategy prior to the war was to use air bases in northern France to send an armada of 5000 Ju 88s to bomb Britain into submission. Germany never got close to that figure, and learned relatively quickly that daylight bombing wouldn't work.
So, I guess my question is, was there ever any discussion in the German leadership as the war progressed of "liberating" France and the Low Countries by withdrawing militarily and then negotiating a peace treaty? It would seem like the ideal time do it would be immediately after the start of Barbarossa, but the problem is that the high command was still focused on fighting Britain in the long-term, for which they needed France and the Low Countries.
It was only around November 1941 that Hitler's top economic advisers realized they couldn't win the war. And even if someone in the Nazi hierarchy realized this might be a good time to withdraw from France and concentrate everything on Russia, Tooze documents the delusional hopes that the German high command placed on the Japanese navy tying up the Americans for at least several years. Germany wanted to wage a two front war against America, so the high command was eager to join the war against the United States in the hope of over-stretching America's navy ... for which Germany needed bases in France. But the Second Happy Time lasted only a few months and had no real strategic impact on the war.
Which takes us to mid-1942 and the Allies are firmly in the de Gaulle camp and would have no qualms about riding ruffshod over even a truly independent French State.
In sum, it would have required miraculous foresight by the German leadership to realize prior to Barbarossa that waging war against Britain and the United States from France was a lost cause.