Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

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Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Sep 2018 18:00

valadezaj wrote:
07 May 2002 17:56
In 1938 the world came close to war. Hitler wanted the sudetenland, .... At a conference in Munich Britain and France gave Germany the territory in exchange for a promise to guarantee what was left of czechoslovakia. Later, in 1939, Hitler broke his promise and took the rest of the country anyway. Many people say that it was at that point that France and Britain began looking for war against Germany and that was why they opposed him when he wanted the city of Danzig. In your opinion how might things have gone had Hitler kept his promise and spared the rest of czechoslovakia.
One important point here. Britain and France did not think war was 'avoided' for the longer run. Leaders in both nations threw the Cezchs out of the sleigh in 1938 so their rearmament programs could bear results. They both wanted two years of new arms production and training. That still occurs if Prague is not occupied and the Cezch government remains. The difference the Cezch occupation made was political, causing the Anglo French leaders to realize they did not have two full years. Any next attempt at territory was going to come soon, and any settlement would be no more sincere than any of the other agreements and promises.

If the Polish crisis comes without the Cezch occupation Britain and France are liable to be caught by surprise, and the leadership would react slower than OTL. Poland might be half overrun or Warsaw besieged, before they realize the German attack is not just another negotiating ploy.

As others have pointed out the German army would be weaker without the Cezch tanks & automotive transport. I don't think the other Cezch arms, their modern artillery & infantry weapons were integrated into the German field formations until the mobilization waves of late autumn or winter of 1939. The infantry corps equipped with those were undertrained and deployed along the upper Rhine in May 1940. They matter, tho perhaps not decisively in the OTL context of the 1940 campaign.

Getting back to my first point here. The Anglo French leaders were from November 1938 'looking' for war with Germany, but they thought they had a couple years before it would be necessary. This bit of wishful thinking was driven in part by their military leaders, like Gamelin or Vuellimin claiming vast German material superiority in 1938, & that it would require 2-3 years to gain superiority.

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Futurist » 04 Sep 2018 00:25

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
01 Sep 2018 18:00
valadezaj wrote:
07 May 2002 17:56
In 1938 the world came close to war. Hitler wanted the sudetenland, .... At a conference in Munich Britain and France gave Germany the territory in exchange for a promise to guarantee what was left of czechoslovakia. Later, in 1939, Hitler broke his promise and took the rest of the country anyway. Many people say that it was at that point that France and Britain began looking for war against Germany and that was why they opposed him when he wanted the city of Danzig. In your opinion how might things have gone had Hitler kept his promise and spared the rest of czechoslovakia.
One important point here. Britain and France did not think war was 'avoided' for the longer run. Leaders in both nations threw the Cezchs out of the sleigh in 1938 so their rearmament programs could bear results. They both wanted two years of new arms production and training. That still occurs if Prague is not occupied and the Cezch government remains. The difference the Cezch occupation made was political, causing the Anglo French leaders to realize they did not have two full years. Any next attempt at territory was going to come soon, and any settlement would be no more sincere than any of the other agreements and promises.

If the Polish crisis comes without the Cezch occupation Britain and France are liable to be caught by surprise, and the leadership would react slower than OTL. Poland might be half overrun or Warsaw besieged, before they realize the German attack is not just another negotiating ploy.

As others have pointed out the German army would be weaker without the Cezch tanks & automotive transport. I don't think the other Cezch arms, their modern artillery & infantry weapons were integrated into the German field formations until the mobilization waves of late autumn or winter of 1939. The infantry corps equipped with those were undertrained and deployed along the upper Rhine in May 1940. They matter, tho perhaps not decisively in the OTL context of the 1940 campaign.

Getting back to my first point here. The Anglo French leaders were from November 1938 'looking' for war with Germany, but they thought they had a couple years before it would be necessary. This bit of wishful thinking was driven in part by their military leaders, like Gamelin or Vuellimin claiming vast German material superiority in 1938, & that it would require 2-3 years to gain superiority.
Excellent post, Carl!

Of course, the interesting thing is that while Britain and France had an additional year to prepare by September 1939, they also had to fight without a Soviet ally once World War II actually broke out. In contrast, had war broken out in 1938 or even early 1939 over Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union might have very well fought on the Anglo-French side--which one would think would compensate for any improvements that Britain and France made to their militaries over the next several months/year.

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Sep 2018 01:29

That the anti Communists in Chamberlains government vetoed a alliance with the USSR in the spring of 1939 is one of the tragedies of this era. Stalin was eager to achieve this & only turned to a treaty with Germany out of desperation.

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Futurist » 04 Sep 2018 01:44

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Sep 2018 01:29
That the anti Communists in Chamberlains government vetoed a alliance with the USSR in the spring of 1939 is one of the tragedies of this era. Stalin was eager to achieve this & only turned to a treaty with Germany out of desperation.
Yeah, I mean, I can understand the risk of the Soviets not leaving Poland if Soviet troops occupied Poland, but this risk appears to have been much less severe for Czechoslovakia since occupying it would have resulted in a huge salient for the Soviet Union.

In my honest opinion, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union should have jointly guaranteed the borders of the rump Czechoslovakia in early 1939 and waged war on Nazi Germany if it nevertheless occupied this rump state. This would have allowed a broad anti-Nazi alliance to form but would have also decreased the risk of the Soviet Union staying in Eastern Europe after the end of the war.

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Futurist » 04 Sep 2018 01:47

Also, as a side note, allying with the Soviet Union would have been an excellent way to stick it to the isolationists in the US. Indeed, Britain and France could have said that, with the US being unwilling to fight in another European war, they had no choice but to ally with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany.

Ultimately, Chamberlain really screwed up in regards to this and ironically it was only the Fall of France that prevented Britain and especially France from enduring horrific casualties during World War II. Specifically, the Fall of France ensured that the Soviet Union would do the overwhelming majority of the bleeding in the European part of World War II--which certainly sucked for it but was great for Britain and France!

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Sep 2018 01:56

Futurist wrote:
04 Sep 2018 01:44
... This would have allowed a broad anti-Nazi alliance to form but would have also decreased the risk of the Soviet Union staying in Eastern Europe after the end of the war.
Might have avoided any Red Army west of the border at all. If the alliance activates & all declare war the German generals might actually act , and eliminate the nazi government, or distegrate Germany in a civil war. Either way only token Soviet military units would enter Poland, Slovakia, or elsewhere.

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Futurist » 04 Sep 2018 01:58

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Sep 2018 01:56
Futurist wrote:
04 Sep 2018 01:44
... This would have allowed a broad anti-Nazi alliance to form but would have also decreased the risk of the Soviet Union staying in Eastern Europe after the end of the war.
Might have avoided any Red Army west of the border at all. If the alliance activates & all declare war the German generals might actually act , and eliminate the nazi government, or distegrate Germany in a civil war. Either way only token Soviet military units would enter Poland, Slovakia, or elsewhere.
Yes, that would certainly be the hoped-for scenario. Of course, it's a gamble because Germany's generals would have to act quickly--and from the perspective of Chamberlain & Co., there is no guarantee that they actually would act as quickly as Chamberlain would like.

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Futurist » 04 Sep 2018 02:01

Of course, Chamberlain & Co. could have prepared for the worst-case scenario (a long-term Soviet occupation of Poland, in the event that Hitler isn't quickly ousted after war breaks out) in any case and nevertheless allied with Stalin--with the logic being that if the worst indeed comes to pass, they can always blame American isolationists for forcing them to turn towards the Soviet Union.

BTW, do you think that a hypothetical U.S. declaration of war in September 1939 would have been enough for Germany's generals to overthrow Hitler and the Nazis in either late 1939 or early 1940?

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Sep 2018 02:35

No, everyone was aware how long it took the US to mobilize a army to Europe in 1917-18. There was no evidence in 1939 this would occur any faster. Most German leaders understood that in this situation the war would be lost before the US, or British armies would be significant.

If my reading of Merekov is accurate the Red Army could deploy immediately some 60 divisions in the west. In six months that could be doubled fairly easily.

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Futurist » 04 Sep 2018 02:50

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Sep 2018 02:35
No, everyone was aware how long it took the US to mobilize a army to Europe in 1917-18. There was no evidence in 1939 this would occur any faster. Most German leaders understood that in this situation the war would be lost before the US, or British armies would be significant.
Lost for whom? For Germany?

If France is strong enough to beat Germany by itself, wouldn't that have been more of a reason for the German generals to launch a coup against Hitler and the Nazis in September 1939 in real life?
If my reading of Merekov is accurate the Red Army could deploy immediately some 60 divisions in the west. In six months that could be doubled fairly easily.
120 divisions in six months! Now that's really impressive!

Anyway, the Manstein Plan would be dead on arrival in this scenario considering that Germany would need a lot of troops to protect itself in the East, correct?

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Sep 2018 03:07

The Red Army in 1939 grossed well over 100 standing divisions in early 1939. Its reserve system was different than a year or two later. The cadre for the reserve infantry divisions was contained within the sixty odd infantry divisions in the European portion of the USSR. So, on paper at least the existing divisions could fill out into 180 with complete mobilization of reservists. I don't know what portion of the equipment in reserve was modern or obsolescent. The cavalry and tank formations were organized a bit different than the infantry & I don't have the details. In October 1939 a reorganization was adopted that redistributed the trained cadre from the existing standing divisions across several classes of standing and reserve divisions. This reorganization was the start towards the 300+ divisions the Red Army mobilized in late 1941 after the German attack. There were also some doctrinal changes implemented in late 1939, with further changes in 1940 and the first half of 1941.

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by wm » 18 Sep 2018 18:25

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
01 Sep 2018 18:00
Getting back to my first point here. The Anglo French leaders were from November 1938 'looking' for war with Germany
What is the evidence for that?
As far as I know, Chamberlain declared the war threatened by an imminent vote of no-confidence which would topple his government.
And himself dragged France kicking and screaming to do the same by threatening Britain would declare the war alone.
The British opposition leaders wanted the war but not the Anglo-French leaders.

During the last days of peace and the first days of the war they did everything possible to avoid it, including the two most memorable events: forcing Poland to cancel her mobilization (three days before the war) and forcing Poland to negotiate with the Nazis just hours before the war started.

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by wm » 18 Sep 2018 18:44

Futurist wrote:
04 Sep 2018 01:44
Yeah, I mean, I can understand the risk of the Soviets not leaving Poland if Soviet troops occupied Poland, but this risk appears to have been much less severe for Czechoslovakia since occupying it would have resulted in a huge salient for the Soviet Union.
Bohemia and Moravia (the Germans didn't plan to occupy Slovakia) were divided from the USSR by almost 1000 kilometers of mountainous terrain including one of the highest mountains in Europe, with few roads and railway lines. Even today no army is capable to project force in such conditions against a major military power.
See Odessa and Prague on this map:
europe1935.jpg
The Soviets not only didn't want to help (for free), they weren't even capable to do so.
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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Sep 2018 09:46

wm wrote:
18 Sep 2018 18:25
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
01 Sep 2018 18:00
Getting back to my first point here. The Anglo French leaders were from November 1938 'looking' for war with Germany
What is the evidence for that?
As far as I know, Chamberlain declared the war threatened by an imminent vote of no-confidence which would topple his government.
And himself dragged France kicking and screaming to do the same by threatening Britain would declare the war alone.
The British opposition leaders wanted the war but not the Anglo-French leaders.

During the last days of peace and the first days of the war they did everything possible to avoid it, including the two most memorable events: forcing Poland to cancel her mobilization (three days before the war) and forcing Poland to negotiate with the Nazis just hours before the war started.
Its difficult to take seriously a question from someone who lifts a sentence out of a post to lose its context, asks a question that appears as if they had not read the rest of the post, & has a extended history of this.

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Re: Hitler spares czechoslovakia.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Sep 2018 10:05

Futurist wrote:
04 Sep 2018 02:50
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Sep 2018 02:35
No, everyone was aware how long it took the US to mobilize a army to Europe in 1917-18. There was no evidence in 1939 this would occur any faster. Most German leaders understood that in this situation the war would be lost before the US, or British armies would be significant.
Lost for whom? For Germany?

If France is strong enough to beat Germany by itself, wouldn't that have been more of a reason for the German generals to launch a coup against Hitler and the Nazis in September 1939 in real life?
That was the assumption previous to the German/Soviet pact, and Polands collapse in 1939. This pessimism for Germanys position drew from economic as well as strictly military consideration. The underlying belief was Germany was surrounded by enemies, with no real allies, & its potential allies minor nations. Thats why the treaty establishing the neutrality of the USSR, and through economic agreements making a large hole in a blockade was such a game changer. While the anticommunists in the British government had prevented a formal alliance between the USSR, France, and Britain, there had been a assumption the Soviet Unions self interest would keep it neutral and not assisting Germany in reducing the effects of a Allied blockade/economic warfare. Like so many assumptions this one appears weak in hindsight, but represents much of the thinking at the moment.

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