Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

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Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 Jan 2019 05:29

To the extent there's any historical controversy about Barbarossa (AFAIK) the main camps are (1) there is and was no feasible plan for Hitler to beat Stalin and (2) Wehrmacht could have won a quick campaign that captured Moscow in '41 but for Hitler's errors.

I'm mulling over a different scenario where the Wehrmacht is prepared for a long war of attrition and actually wins it. Before I go recreating the wheel, however, I'm wondering whether and where there are similar arguments made re German victory over Russia in '42 or (more likely) '43 - or maybe even later.

I'll just give the basic outlines of the idea for now, and maybe return to articulate it further when time permits.

Basic points:
-Pre- and early-war Germany under-invested in its army relative to Luftwaffe and (pre-war) Kriegsmarine, resulting in a June '41 force that was insufficient for Barbarossa. In addition, the failure to prioritize land weapons production sufficiently meant a lag in the production acceleration that occurred too late in the war.
-The degree of insufficiency, however, is less than commonly imagined and Germany was closer to winning a war of attrition against Russia than is commonly assumed.
-Had Germany, say, an extra 20 divisions of mobile/panzer forces, Ostheer could have executed multiple encirclements during the border battles. 20 divisions represents ~400k personnel - folks later mobilized after the going got tough - and their equipment represents a ~15% increase in expenditure on land weapons, meaning ~8% of Germany's war budget. Seems doable.
-The additional encirclements by AG's North and South would have reduced Russian field strength by ~1 million by mid-July. The Red Army would have been 35-40% weaker and would stay that way throughout '41. Ostheer could mount multiple Kesselschlacht across its entire front in the subsequent stages as well: 7 to 9 Smolensk/Kiev/Minsk/Vyazma-scale operations instead of "only" four front-destroying Kesselschlacht and a handful of smaller ones.
-Ostheer captures Moscow in ~November '41 as AG Center doesn't have to help the other groups destroy their opponents. AGS takes and holds a ~Voronezh-Rostov line, AGN more deeply invests Leningrad and its defenders.
-Ostheer has time to consolidate its position before the Russian winter counteroffensives, which are substantially weaker than IRL and face a significantly stronger, dug-in opponent. Red Army strength is down to ~1mil on Dec 1, 1941; Ostheer is at its logistical limit but is digging in for attacks to come in January/February. With time form coherent defensive front and mobile reserves, Ostheer repels attacks handily and/or encircles penetrations.
-As a result, Russia enters the '42 campaign season with ~2mil fewer men while Germany has several hundred thousand more. IRL it was ~5.8mil against 2.7 mil for the '42 campaigns, in this scenario it's maybe 4.5mil greener, less-happy Reds versus ~3.2mil Germans with better equipment and morale than IRL.
-From May '42, Ostheer again launches offensives across the front. In the center from Moscow towards Gorkiye and Kuibyshev, taking the whole Russian heartland west of the Volga. In the South to Stalingrad and Baku, but with a flank protected by AGC's marauding. In the North towards Archangelsk (perhaps after a winter/spring coup de grace against Leningrad).
-As of, say, July '43 the Red Army has suffered ~5mil more permanent casualties than IRL, and has lost another ~2mil from population/territory capture (not all or even most Russians evacuated from the German advances; it wasn't a society capable of supporting millions of refugee peasants). It has also lost ~30% of its industrial capacity in the Russian heartland plus nearly all of its oil in the Caucasus.
-IRL the Red Army had ~5.8mil men on its front in July '43. With ~7mil further "unavailable soldiers," Red Army would struggle to scrape together another 4mil army, let alone equip and fuel it. But even if it could, that army couldn't stalemate or resist the Ostheer (which has suffered ~700k fewer casualties than IRL), especially considering the large Axis-allied armies still in the field because not destroyed in '42.

If the USSR is still standing in May '43, the strategic picture is that Ostheer is strong enough to drive towards the Urals if it wants to, but could also release up to 1mil men to swallow the Allies in the soft underbelly of the Axis. Whether Ostheer drives on the Urals or not, Red Army can no longer afford even the ~5-1 casualty ratio that normal (non-Kessleschlacht) combat with Ostheer would bring, as Russia is at the end of its manpower rope. In addition, the string of German victories certainly means greater allied (Romania, Hungary, Turkey?) contributions to the war, more recruitment by the Waffen-SS into FremdeHeer Ost, and much more captured equipment. These augmented allied/foreign forces could screen the front should the Wehrmacht deploy even greater forces against the West, or could watch quieter sectors while the Ostheer main body pushes to the Urals. Unlike in '42, Hitler would authorize elastic defense across the vast lands east of the Volga, inviting the Red Army to waste its remaining reserves charging into empty space.

The collapse of organized, large-scale resistance in the East and/or a crushing defeat of Allied armies on the continent, seems likely to convince the West that it would take at least 5mil deaths to reach Berlin, and some peace settlement would be reached.

But of course there's the A-bomb issue. My intuition that U.S. won't have the stomach to use the dozens of bombs necessary to force unconditional surrender. Germany could hold millions of occupied folks and POW's hostage, placing them in city centers (many already were there) and inviting the Allies to vaporize hundreds of thousands of innocent Dutch/French/Poles/Belgians. Many Germans could move to Paris, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Brussels, and dare the Allies to nuke those cities. It would cause huge disruption to the economy of course... In the end America would have to murder millions of Europeans with A-bombs to compel a surrender and I just can't see that happening. Some settlement is reached that frees Western Europe and leaves Germany master of most of Eastern Europe. After all, that's the tradeoff we made with Stalin.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated. Including, as I said above, "hey dumb*ss somebody has already argued this all before."
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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 Jan 2019 05:51

One possible objection to this scenario:
-Do the Allies accelerate their invasion timetable if a collapse of Russia seems imminent? And/or do they take other extraordinary steps to bolster Russia?

My understanding of the history here - though it's not deep on this point yet - is that most/many in the West expected Russia to collapse as late as November '42. So if they didn't intervene more strenously IRL, I don't see what changes under my "what if."

But just to be safe, I'd posit a secondary/corollary "what if."
Central to my thesis is that Hitler/Germany realize pre- and early-war that the army is the thing. Thus no "Plan Z" and therefore probably a much greater focus on the U-boat campaign. At '39-'41 loss ratios, another 100-200 U-boats means ~10-20mil more Allied shipping losses. That's sufficient to put a dent in any major Allied move against Europe and probably sufficient to rule out massive aid to Russia.
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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by South » 20 Jan 2019 08:03

Good morning Marches,

Welcome to AHF. I missed your first dozen plus posts.

I don't want to reinvent the atomic bomb so will just ask:

Re: "Under-invested in its army relative to...";
Re: "say, an extra divisions of...";

Would not the Third Reich need to - also - invest in their non-pure-military such as roads and their maintenance, their coastal sea water route eg Kiel Canal to the German port cities ?

Would not the Third Reich require a large capital infusion into Berlin's banking system ?

A "long war of attrition" needs to address food availability, its transportation and distribution.

Does the USSR have any viable allies? Does the Third Reich have any - viable - allies ?

How's Germany's pharmaceutical industry faring under a "long war of attrition" ?

In "industrial warfare", focus on the industry.

Tavarish General Secretary best explained "5mil deaths to reach Berlin". It's a statistic.

Using the word "murder" in "murder millions ..." reminds me of the Vietnam War movie "Apocalypse Now". A quality line from the movie: "Looking for a murderer here is like looking for a speeder at the Indy 500."

Again, welcome to the forum.

If you're in the winter storm area: Keep warm and safe !

~ Bob
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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by thaddeus_c » 20 Jan 2019 18:45

[*]disclaimer[*] my view the Axis cannot defeat and occupy the USSR however a more potent Barbarossa could have rendered the Soviets unable to wage modern warfare or reduced the country to failed state similar to their contemporary KMT China.

that does not fulfill your scenario of preparation for "long war" on the face of it, though it might be viewed that conflict with USSR would be "resumed" or Cold War anticipated?

think the efforts in the Baltic and Black Seas were underwhelming, the KM had schemed a transportable u-boat pre-war, that along with more and enhanced S-boats would have aided the capture of Leningrad and Odessa by limiting or denying the aid they received from Soviet navy.

for the LW they had identified the aircraft engine plants as bottleneck for the Soviets, had they attacked those (yes they would have had to assemble Mistels or schemed some other long range options) in the initial stages, the Soviet air force would have been crippled, unable to replace their losses.

for the efforts to build giant gliders and transports they might have been better off to add the captured French engines to Gotha gliders in mass?

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RE: Germany Successfully Executes a "Long War" Against U.S.S.R.

Post by Robert Rojas » 20 Jan 2019 22:06

Greetings to both brother "THE-MARCKS-PLAN" and the community as a whole. Howdy T.M.P. (or Erich if you so prefer)! Well Herr General Oberst, in deference to your point OR points-of-view as articulated within your respective postings of Saturday - January 19, 2019 - 8:29pm and Saturday - January 19, 2019 - 8:51pm, just for laughs, old yours truly would like to recommend the following WHAT IF thread for your perusal. The WHAT IF thread in question is entitled as DO ALLIES MAKE PEACE IF RUSSIA IS BEATEN? The thread's author goes by the nom de plume of Ian Seymour 95 and the thread's inauguration date was Sunday - August 06, 2017 - 3:54pm. I believe you will generally find that a fair amount of your topical subject matter is also touched upon within Ian Seymour 95's ersatz creation. I hope you find DO ALLIES MAKE PEACE IF RUSSIA IS BEATEN thread to be illuminating. Now, if anything, you will definitely get a solid feel for the disparate personalities that often darken the WHAT IF section of the forum. ENJOY! Incidentally, for whatever this might be worth to you, the GERMANY SUCCESSFULLY EXECUTES A "LONG WAR" AGAINST U.S.S.R. was and is quite a breath of fresh air in a section of the forum where dreck is generally the rule and not the distinct exception. Oh, and by the way, welcome to our merry little asylum! Well, that's my initial two Yankee cents worth on this very latest incarnation into DRANG NACH ÖSTEN - for now anyway. In any case, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day from sea to shining sea.


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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by T. A. Gardner » 21 Jan 2019 02:51

Actually, I'd say the Germans might have pulled this off in a different way. Pre-war, Germany-- let's say some prominent engineer, architect, maybe Speer-- adopts more mechanization in civil engineering and it becomes the norm in Germany. That is, Germany moves towards US methods of major construction projects. The Heer likewise adopts these for their major projects and it trickles down some.

So, when Germany invades the Soviet Union, the railway engineer units are equipped with trains they can carry all their equipment forward on, have cranes, bulldozers, etc. Construction battalions likewise have some degree of heavy machinery for construction. In addition, these units have available pre-fabricated, easy to erect, wooden structures they can put up quickly.

The result of all this is the railway system into Russia is quickly resized for German trains. Roads are improved be it with gravel, or asphalt, or something else. New roads are quickly built. Where bridges have been destroyed, these are reconstructed far more quickly.

The Germans also pay attention to how send riverine craft into Russia and put these vessels on major rivers they cross.

All of this results in greater supplies being available for the troops. The wear and tear on military trucks is say cut by a third, meaning there are far more running vehicles available in better condition.

Because of the improved infrastructure, the Germans suffer far less casualties due to weather, and are better able to keep their armies supplied and equipped in the field.

In winter, many units have the luxury of prefabricated buildings delivered that can be set up to get the troops out of the cold. More are used to protect supplies so more "stuff" is available for distribution.

This alone would have been a huge force multiplier. It would be worth likely an Army or more in terms of reduced losses, possibly more.

In a long war of attrition, this level of engineering would have paid huge dividends. The Luftwaffe gets all-weather airfields sooner and nearer the front. The roads and rail system become adequate. As the war grinds to a static set of lines, the German forces along the front are reasonably supplied and have far more equipment to use in combat due to reduced wastage.

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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by maltesefalcon » 21 Jan 2019 18:39

Just a few rambling thoughts of my own on this:

There was no way any of the Axis powers could survive a genuine “long war” scenario. They had too many disadvantages in terms of capital, manpower and resources. It was in their best interest to finish the conflict, before the real manufacturing capacity of their opponents would overwhelm them. That being said, the Axis in general and Germany in particular, may have made some changes that increased their chance of winning the war outright by military means, or by inflicting such losses on their opponents as to force a negotiated settlement.

IRL Germany was not set up to fight a long war, or even a long single campaign. Their armed forces and the economy as set up, allowed for short but intense campaigns (typically<6 weeks) as happened in Poland, Norway, France, and the Balkans. Each time, the Wehrmacht moved over fairly short distances, which both masked and mitigated the shortcoming of the bulk of their troops being non-motorized. Once over, the armed forces could regroup and like a fire brigade, move to the next task. These forces were also smaller, so that the loss of farmers and skilled factory workers to the Wehrmacht was not as keenly felt.

The desert campaign and of course Barbarossa, covered huge distances and their infrastructure/logistic setup just could not cope, even with an expanded armed force.

So what to do?

First of all, the old "make a plan, work your plan” adage. Hitler had told his planners to prepare the economy and armed forces for a small scale war in 1941 and a large scale war in 1943. Not sure whether the western Europe war fit in the 1941 or 1943 timeline, but in any event he had jumped the gun by 2 years. In particular, the Navy suffered; as their Plan Z was under way, but not complete by 1939. By the time of Barbarossa, Hitler had a navy that fell between two stools-too weak to pose a serious threat to the Allied surface fleets, but too expensive not to use.
Waiting a year or two would allow the armed forces to grow in peace time and weed out for instance, the all but useless PI and PII tanks. Perhaps add some more vehicles and winter clothing for troops? Drop tanks for fighters would not go amiss. Stockpile two more years of strategic oil supply so those extra ships, tanks and planes will have fuel to run them.

One could argue that the Nazi’s economy was already in jeopardy in 1939, as huge loans came due. Hitler was a master negotiator and may have been able to buy time. IRL it took the invasion of Poland for the Anglo/French allies to commence hostilities. Not likely either would go to war over a bounced check....

The other tactic the Axis could have used was better communication and cooperation. Hitler’s pact with Russia in summer 1939 came as a shock to Japan, as did the invasion of Poland. In turn Mussolini acted unilaterally in his foray into France, then the fiascos of the Balkans and North Africa. Involving his nation in a conflict for which they were totally unprepared cheapened the Axis brand and drew Hitler’s troops into distractive campaigns, to save the day. Ultimately, these losses and delays may have doomed the 1941 Russian campaign.

Hitler surprised Japan again by attacking Russia in 1941. He had no reason to then be chafed when they would not come in on this. Instead, Japan unilaterally decided to attack the USA and UK to obtain their colonies, plus those of Holland.

So by the end of the year Germany/Italy/Japan found themselves at war with the three most powerful nations on Earth. The "long game" strategy was useless at this point. Time was on the side of the Allies, especially since the Axis was less self-sufficient. Their manufacturing based economies relied on trade with other nations to get the capital and resources they needed to survive in the long run. From their point of view, a major world war had divided the rest of the world's nations into three broad categories. Enemies, those who did not want their goods and those that did, but could not pay for them.

Perhaps a few more summit meetings to form a cohesive plan and tackle one “project” at a time would have helped? It worked for the Allies after all.

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RE: Germany Successfully Executes a "Long War" Against U.S.S.R.

Post by Robert Rojas » 21 Jan 2019 20:05

Greetings to both brother South and the community as a whole. Howdy Bob! Well sir, in respect to your posting of Saturday - January 19, 2019 - 11:03pm, old yours truly is of the school of thought that there is a bit of Finance Minister Hjalmar Schacht coursing through your veins. I am NOT exactly a passionate student of economics, but from what I "understand", Hjalmar Schacht brought up more than his fair share of pragmatic GUNS VERSUS BUTTER arguments that openly challenged both the financial and economic weltanschauung of the all knowing Bohemian Corporal. Needless to say, Hjalmar Schacht was on the losing end of these arguments - especially when Hermann Göring and the architecture of the FOUR YEAR PLAN were interjected into the equation. Yes, there is nothing like telling the emperor that he is not wearing any clothes. Well, that's my latest two cents, pfennigs or kopecks worth on this most recent incarnation of DRANG NACH ÖSTEN - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day over in your corner of the Old Dominion that is the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by South » 22 Jan 2019 19:42

Good afternoon Uncle Bob,

Whenever I see Hjalmar Schacht's name, I also think of Roman Polanski. Both had been imprisoned in concentration camps.

Industrial warfare requires a focus on the industry aspect...and industry costs much gold marks. Plus, industrial warfare requires a substantial civilian labor component working the industries. Krupp and the Bayer aspirin folks need foreign exchange (FOREX) no less than rolling stock needs fuel.

Meanwhile, with the Austrian corporal and his august assembly of minds not listening to their FinMin, the French and the Russians don't write with umlatts.


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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by Erwinn » 23 Jan 2019 09:56

If they haven't killed the Jews, treat any other minorities as animals than perhaps they wouldn't have had those manpower shortages during long war.

Many of the Ukrainians, Baltic countries and a considerable minorities did hate the Soviets. You can easily draft them if you don't act like you did in OTL. In Ukraine for example Germans were greeted as liberators during 1941 but after the horrors they experienced they realized they are not better than the Soviets.

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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 24 Jan 2019 01:04

Thanks for the thoughts and apologies for the late replies. I thought I'd be notified of responses in this thread...
T.A. Gardner wrote:Actually, I'd say the Germans might have pulled this off in a different way.
Your ideas are good; you're correct that adoption of U.S.-style manufacturing and logistics practices pre-war would have greatly helped the Germans. This would be part of a fuller articulation of a long war Germany victory scenario.

I don't think Germany survives a long war, however, without more operational success against Red Army in 41/42 along my envisioned lines - say another 5 million Russians captured/killed in that period along with conquering the Caucasus and Volga basin.

Otherwise you just have a better-equipped Wehrmacht but it's still massively outnumbered and outgunned. Germany needed to inflict greater than 10-1 casualty rates to avoid facing a 7mil Red Army that would steamroll it even against better equipment.
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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 24 Jan 2019 01:17

Maltesefaction wrote:There was no way any of the Axis powers could survive a genuine “long war” scenario.
I appreciate your thoughts but you're just stating the conclusion against which I argue without engaging my argument.
Specifically, if Germany spends ~10% more on its army pre-41 and launches a Barbarossa that takes Moscow, then takes the Caucasus and Volga basin in 1942, how do the Allies ever recover?

Russia will be completely without oil and German advances will have cut all but the Vladivostock supply route, which was already operating at maximum capacity. Having ~7mil fewer soldiers than IRL by 1943, and having lost all its domestic oil production (Caucasus and Kuibyshev), Russia will be so weak that Germany can either take the Urals or put about 2mil more men in the west that year. Germany could also hold in the West during 1943, take the Urals, and then have 3mil more men in the west by June 1944. The Germans only mustered about 600,000 troops against Overlord by the end of July 1944 and still held the Allies for months. Multiply the German Army by six and Patton, Montgomery and friends are in deep trouble.

Facing those kinds of German ground forces, I don't see the Allies being able to land in France, let alone win there if they can get a toe-hold.

You are correct that the very long-run balance of power tilted against Germany but if you need a million-man landing on D-Day it'll take years to build up that kind of force. I just don't see the U.S. and UK having the stomach to lose millions of men in a land war against Germany, while we know Germany did have it. Japan is almost certainly still screwed, however.
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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 24 Jan 2019 01:31

Another twist to this scenario is that the German victories would have a good chance of convincing Turkey to join the war. Inonu wanted to stay neutral but large elements of the Turkish state and populace wanted to join the Axis as late 1943.

Had Turkey joined in, say, March 42 - as Germany begins its push into the Caucasus, then Hitler could have sent a dozen or so divisions via sea to the southern Caucasus front and into Iraq's oilfields around Mosul if UK/US declared war on Turkey as well. The Italian navy could have wiped out the Black Sea fleet, easing the advance along the Black Sea cost south of Novossirisk. Freedom of movement in the Black Sea basically solves the logisitics problems with reaching Baku and Grozny.

Given a crushing victory in Barbarossa (Moscow fallen and millions more dead/captured Russians), Hitler could credibly threaten Turkey into joining, in addition to offering Greek isles, Georgian/Armenian land, and Mosul/Kirkuk. If Inonu didn't go for those gains, there were members of Turkey's military/politics who likely would have been willing to volunteer to replace him with German help.

Final point: Pan-Turkism was a big thing in Turkey then, still is to some extent now. Per this idea, about 40 million Russian subjects in Caucasus / Central Asia were basically Turks and needed to liberated. Those people had themselves attempted to break away from Russian Empire / USSR. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basmachi_movement

So in my counterfactual, a better Barbarossa should result, by the end of 1942, in Russia losing 5-7 million more men, all of her oil, as well as the loyalty of maybe a half of the population remaining under its territorial control (which would extend not quite to the Volga).
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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 24 Jan 2019 01:37

...Okay one more point for now...

A better Barbarossa would also have a good chance of bringing Japan into the fight. The Japanese were watching the campaign unfold and actually increased the size of the Kwantung army in Manchukuo to its largest extent ever during 1941. Japanese soldiers were encouraged to act aggressively along the front.

From what I can tell, Hitler did not put sufficient pressure on Japan to attack during the period that Barbarossa was superficially going well. He likely didn't have a sense of urgency given his expectation of imminent Soviet collapse.

But probably he could said something like this: "Hey Japan, if you don't make sure that not a pound of U.S. material comes through Vladivostock, I'm going to revoke the Tripartite Pact. I'll have to finish off Russia myself and will seek a separate peace with Britain as soon as possible. Good luck facing the UK and US alone."

Lots of Japanese officials wanted to attack Russia in '41. Extreme pressure by Hitler combined with Wehrmacht capture of Moscow would have stood a good chance of tipping Japan into war against Stalin.

If that happens, Vladivostock is immediately useless. The Russians probably get the better of Japan on land; I'd be surprised if they don't advance and take Harbin, for example. That probably postpones Pearl Harbor until Japan can get its northwest front in order, which would be a good thing for Germany. The most harm Russia could do to Japan would be advancing all the way to Korea but I'd predict Stalin would be too obsessed with retaking Moscow to spare the resources for that drive.
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Re: Germany successfully executes a "long war" against USSR

Post by gracie4241 » 25 Jun 2019 16:48

Manstein in his memoirs(with the value of hindsight) said the German High Command should have planned for a Two year(41 and 42) as one would not suffice, especially in view of the late start in 1941.The reason for haste from the german side had NOTHING to do with the Russians per se, but rather the fear that after a year or two there would develop a real threat from the West.After all, germany "defeated" Russia in WW1 at Brest=Litovsk in march 1918, almost 4 years into the War.Actually a long war would have helped the germans, but ONLY and OBVIOUSLY if there were no western enemy.By late 1942 the Soviets were weaker relative to Germany than at any time in the War.Bellamy, in "TOTAL WAR" calculates the soviet GDP as at best only 60% of Germany(with Lend Lease included). Stalin, in his Order 227,aka "No step back",acknowledges Russia was in extremis because of the loss of critical raw material(including especially food) and scarier still,faced potential further losses that would be non survivable.He also noted that the USSR had lost 60 MILLION!! in population to german occupation(not to mention nearly 10 million permanent casualties) and their manpower superiority had largely evaporated.Had Russia been germany's only enemy a soviet economic collapse-and mass starvation-awaited by mid 43 at the latest.So a "long war" victory predicated and oriented on economic resource areas of the Soviet Union was not only viable but probably certain.However, the "what if" to this result falls back on Britain making peace in 1940 and eliminating the US as well

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