If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

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ljadw
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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by ljadw » 23 Jun 2021 13:07

EKB wrote:
23 Jun 2021 10:49
Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
Barbarossa had to succeed in 1941 in order to avoid the two front war that Hitler was worried about.

A conspiracy theorist like Hitler was committed to expanding the war to other fronts. For him, the enemy appeared to be everywhere. He dismissed all hazards of fighting another major economic power when he declared war on the United States, which in his mind, was part of Jewish-controlled cabal that included the Soviet Union.


Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
The huge Red Army of June 1941 was destroyed in five months and apparently Barbarossa was a success.That it did not succeed was because the Germans did not know that which was unknown to them not because they knew it and did not plan for it.

The Nazis planned to fail by placing amateurs in key positions of government.

Hermann Göring was put in charge of the economic Four Year Plan, despite being a non-expert, violent drug addict. As Minister of Aviation, he ran the Luftwaffe into the ground, both literally and figuratively. Göring was a bloated, walking billboard for hypocrisy in the Nazi party.

Albert Speer, Minister for Armaments and War Production, was an architect with no military service or knowledge of the arms industry. Lutz von Krosigk, Minister of Finance and a Rhodes Scholar, had no business background in banking but he did study law, which he violated frequently.

Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s widely despised Minister of Foreign Affairs, had been a traveling wine salesman. Alfred Rosenberg, Minister of Occupied Eastern Territories, was another architect who gained currency as a leading culture commando. That appears to be his only credential for the job, although to his embarrassment, the purity of his German ancestry was questioned more than once.

Hitler’s bona fides to lead a nation at war was his experience as a lowly soldier in the World War I trenches. If the Nazis had used a merit-based system to make promotions and decisions, they would not be Nazis.


Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
With their armed forces smashed the fruit from the Soviet tree would fall into Hitler’s hands.

During the previous war Germany negotiated the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Bolsheviks, after major defeats were inflicted on Russia. That type of diplomatic compromise was unthinkable to Hitler in 1941. His plan for Eastern Europe was founded on waging a war of ideology. Practically all choices were driven by this overriding obsession with racial divides. Hitler did not seriously consider other alternatives.


Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
People usually base their actions on the information available to them.

Not if those people were high-ranking officials from Nazi Germany. This counterfactual is like many others on this board; with a fundamental misunderstanding of Nazism on display.

We are never told which of the Nazi leaders could somehow bloom into a sage that implemented policy based on sound advice. The Third Reich and its war economy was like a building with no framework. Like a pie with hard crust, but soft on the inside.

I don’t understand the purpose of these myopic, repetitive discussions that focus only on possible military decisions, as if that can be divorced from political culture and ideology. It might be more plausible to guess how Second Reich officials, not so hidebound by ideology, might deal with problems that were hopelessly botched by Hitler and his cabinet ministers.
Goering was a very capable LW commander,til 1943 and even without him ,the LW would be defeated .
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was not a compromise, not negotiated with the communists, but was imposed on them : it was much harsher than Versailles .When the communists refused to accepts Brest-Litovsk ,the war started again and the Germans advanced very fast :Operation Faustschlag or Railway War.
Schwerin von Krosigk worked before 1933 at the ministry of Finance and became minister of Finance already in 1932, in the cabinet von Papen . And no one said that he was incapable .

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by ljadw » 23 Jun 2021 13:16

EKB wrote:
23 Jun 2021 10:49
Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
Barbarossa had to succeed in 1941 in order to avoid the two front war that Hitler was worried about.

A conspiracy theorist like Hitler was committed to expanding the war to other fronts. For him, the enemy appeared to be everywhere. He dismissed all hazards of fighting another major economic power when he declared war on the United States, which in his mind, was part of Jewish-controlled cabal that included the Soviet Union.


Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
The huge Red Army of June 1941 was destroyed in five months and apparently Barbarossa was a success.That it did not succeed was because the Germans did not know that which was unknown to them not because they knew it and did not plan for it.

The Nazis planned to fail by placing amateurs in key positions of government.

Hermann Göring was put in charge of the economic Four Year Plan, despite being a non-expert, violent drug addict. As Minister of Aviation, he ran the Luftwaffe into the ground, both literally and figuratively. Göring was a bloated, walking billboard for hypocrisy in the Nazi party.

Albert Speer, Minister for Armaments and War Production, was an architect with no military service or knowledge of the arms industry. Lutz von Krosigk, Minister of Finance and a Rhodes Scholar, had no business background in banking but he did study law, which he violated frequently.

Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s widely despised Minister of Foreign Affairs, had been a traveling wine salesman. Alfred Rosenberg, Minister of Occupied Eastern Territories, was another architect who gained currency as a leading culture commando. That appears to be his only credential for the job, although to his embarrassment, the purity of his German ancestry was questioned more than once.

Hitler’s bona fides to lead a nation at war was his experience as a lowly soldier in the World War I trenches. If the Nazis had used a merit-based system to make promotions and decisions, they would not be Nazis.


Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
With their armed forces smashed the fruit from the Soviet tree would fall into Hitler’s hands.

During the previous war Germany negotiated the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Bolsheviks, after major defeats were inflicted on Russia. That type of diplomatic compromise was unthinkable to Hitler in 1941. His plan for Eastern Europe was founded on waging a war of ideology. Practically all choices were driven by this overriding obsession with racial divides. Hitler did not seriously consider other alternatives.


Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
People usually base their actions on the information available to them.

Not if those people were high-ranking officials from Nazi Germany. This counterfactual is like many others on this board; with a fundamental misunderstanding of Nazism on display.

We are never told which of the Nazi leaders could somehow bloom into a sage that implemented policy based on sound advice. The Third Reich and its war economy was like a building with no framework. Like a pie with hard crust, but soft on the inside.

I don’t understand the purpose of these myopic, repetitive discussions that focus only on possible military decisions, as if that can be divorced from political culture and ideology. It might be more plausible to guess how Second Reich officials, not so hidebound by ideology, might deal with problems that were hopelessly botched by Hitler and his cabinet ministers.
Goering was a very capable LW commander,til 1943 and even without him ,the LW would be defeated .
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was not a compromise, not negotiated with the communists, but was imposed on them : it was much harsher than Versailles .When the communists refused to accepts Brest-Litovsk ,the war started again and the Germans advanced very fast :Operation Faustschlag or Railway War.
Schwerin von Krosigk worked before 1933 at the ministry of Finance and became minister of Finance already in 1932, in the cabinet von Papen . And no one said that he was incapable .
And if Ribbentrop was an amateur,so were Eden, Halifax, Cordell Hull, Austin Chamberlain, etc,etc ,who were appointed for political reasons,as are most politicians .
At least Ribbentrop was working for a living,which can not be said about Eden, Halifax, Hull,Austin Chamberlain .
Most of Hitler's military decisions were sound, and even without him, Germany would lose .
Whatever were lying after the war Guderian,Halder, Liddell Hart ,etc
Being a criminal does not mean to be stupid .

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by Steve » 23 Jun 2021 15:59

America was clearly hostile to the Third Reich and was supporting the UK this was no figment of Hitler’s imagination as EKB seems to think. From the start of the war large amounts of war material were reaching the UK from America and in September 1940 fifty old destroyers were handed over. Also in September 1940 legislation for the first peacetime draft in American history was passed. Clearly America was preparing for a possible war against somebody. In December 1940 Roosevelt came up with Lend Lease for the UK.

It was a perfectly reasonable for Hitler to conclude that in the future he would be faced with the UK and USA in the west with Stalin behind him. If he destroyed the Soviet Union and gained access to its raw materials he would probably be unbeatable in the west.

“The Nazis planned to fail by placing amateurs in key positions of government.”
Barbarossa had been planned and was implemented by (at that time) the best army in the world. Hitler’s leadership of the army was certainly problematic but the higher ranks were professionals. I always though Albert Speer did a good job in arms production.

I wrote that people usually base their actions on the information available to them and I don’t see anything “counterfactual” in that. Nazis, communists, religious extremists and other nutters are not rational when it comes to making decisions but I was referring to military planning. Hitler’s ideological views certainly played a part in Barbarossa but its military planning was not based on ideology. To give an example, the planners did not look at where Jews were most numerous and make these areas targets.

“I don’t understand the purpose of these myopic, repetitive discussions that focus only on possible military decisions, as if that can be divorced from political culture and ideology.” Are you suggesting that before any discussion of a military action we delve into the political culture and ideology behind that action?

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by historygeek2021 » 23 Jun 2021 18:35

Steve wrote:
23 Jun 2021 15:59

“I don’t understand the purpose of these myopic, repetitive discussions that focus only on possible military decisions, as if that can be divorced from political culture and ideology.” Are you suggesting that before any discussion of a military action we delve into the political culture and ideology behind that action?
It makes a lot of sense to look at political culture and ideology before discussing German military decisions in WW2. For example, in the case of Barbarossa, you correctly point out that the campaign was planned by the German army's general staff, who were true experts in their field as much as anyone else in 1941. But their main failure was in intelligence - they had no idea as to the size of the Red Army, both actual and potential. This wasn't due to failure in direct military means of gathering intelligence (e.g., deciphering communications and reconnaissance), but to the civilian/spy side of intelligence, which requires either (1) a cultural or ideological motivation for a spy to betray one's country or (2) a financial reward. Nazi ideology was so repugnant that virtually no one outside of Germany would betray their country by selling secrets to Germany. And it was so repugnant, and Hitler's rule so inept, that Germany was virtually isolated financially from the start of his reign, meaning that Germany had no financial means to bribe potential spies.

So the failure of Barbarossa in many ways comes down to the political and cultural ideology behind German military actions.

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by Steve » 24 Jun 2021 17:29

Do I understand this correctly, if I were to start a discussion on say why Germany never launched an invasion of Malta I should start by looking at the political culture of Germany or maybe Germany and Italy? I would then follow this up by looking at Nazi ideology and perhaps the Fascist ideology of Mussolini. Then I would come to the actual military decisions on Malta. If anyone joined in the discussion and disagreed with my version of political culture and ideology they would presumably start their reply with their version of the political culture and ideology before discussing the military aspects. After discussing Nazi political culture and ideology once surely it will be hard to come up with anything new and impossible if it is discussed prior to every discussion on German military decisions. I don’t think this is going to catch on.

German intelligence failed completely with regard to the Soviet military machine but so did British intelligence and USA intelligence. British intelligence produced a report on June 14 1941 that estimated the Germans would reach Moscow in four to six weeks. A lack of intelligence was nothing to do with the Nazi regime being repugnant, prior to the war people thought of it as another extremist right wing regime. The Germans had lots of collaborators and volunteers for the SS in the conquered countries. In the Soviet Union where a civil war had ended 21 years previously there were plenty of anti communists (see General Vlasov) but for whatever reason it was a black hole.

Political and cultural ideology may well have played a part in Hitler’s reasoning prior to his decision to attack the Soviet Union. Decisions on military planning for Barbarossa and during Barbarossa were not made on the basis of political and cultural ideology. Even if Hitler had not attacked the Soviet Union and not declared war on the USA (an undeclared war was already taking place in the North Atlantic) almost certainly he would eventually have faced a coalition of the USA and UK in the west. Could he risk this with Stalin behind him?

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by historygeek2021 » 24 Jun 2021 18:37

Steve wrote:
24 Jun 2021 17:29
German intelligence failed completely with regard to the Soviet military machine but so did British intelligence and USA intelligence. British intelligence produced a report on June 14 1941 that estimated the Germans would reach Moscow in four to six weeks. A lack of intelligence was nothing to do with the Nazi regime being repugnant, prior to the war people thought of it as another extremist right wing regime. The Germans had lots of collaborators and volunteers for the SS in the conquered countries. In the Soviet Union where a civil war had ended 21 years previously there were plenty of anti communists (see General Vlasov) but for whatever reason it was a black hole.
British and US intelligence weren't preparing for a major ground invasion of the Soviet Union. They were busy gathering intel on Germany, Italy and Japan. Even Germany's decision to go ahead with the invasion of the Soviet Union despite a lack of reliable intelligence on enemy dispositions and mobilization capabilities reflects the political and cultural structure of Nazi Germany. So yes, the politics and culture of Germany are the root cause for its failure in both wars and deserve a top spot in any discussion about the war.

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by Steve » 25 Jun 2021 02:33

Britain was interested in the Soviet Union. In 1939 there had been talks between France, Britain and the Soviets on an eastern front and what the Soviets could contribute was of interest. It was thought then that while the Soviets could fight defensively they would not be able to launch an effective offensive. After the war started Britain was interested in Soviet activities in Eastern Europe and also what the Soviets were supplying Germany with and how much of it.

The Germans knew that Stalin had decapitated the Red Army’s officer corps; they had met the Soviets in eastern Poland in 1939 and had watched the very bad performance of the Soviets in the winter war. From all this they concluded as everyone else also seems to have concluded that the Red Army was very unlikely to perform well in the near future. Hitler told Goebbels on June 16 that the Soviets had between 180 and 200 divisions. A look at the Barbarossa Wikipedia page gives in order of battle June 1941 220 divisions for the Soviets. German intelligence was not far off in its estimate.

Hitler may well have been driven by his racial beliefs when making the decision to attack the Soviet Union and then rationalised the decision with a fear of a two front war. Without the Nazi ideology perhaps the Germans could have raised substantial anti communist forces.

The figure of 180 – 200 divisions come from Hitler 1936 1945 Nemesis by Ian Kershaw page 385

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by historygeek2021 » 25 Jun 2021 04:19

Regarding the German intelligence failure for Barbarossa, see David Glantz:
In August 1940 the Germans estimated Soviet military strength at 151 infantry divisions, 32 cavalry divisions, and 38 mechanized brigades, at a time when actual Soviet ground force strength was 152 rifle divisions, 26 cavalry divisions, and 9 newly forming mechanized corps (each composed of 2 tank divisions and 1 motorized rifle division). Although German estimates of Soviet regular infantry and cavalry forces were close to accurate, the Germans began a long-lasting process of underestimating Soviet armored strength. Against this force the Germans postulated their own attack force of 147 divisions (24 panzer, 1 cavalry, 12 motorized infantry, and 110 infantry), a force which would remain stable throughout subsequent planning.

The final German assessment of Soviet strength, prepared in early June 1941, estimated a force of 170 infantry divisions, 33½ cavalry divisions, and 46 motorized and armored brigades (equivalent to 15 divisions). At this time the Red Army active strength was 196 rifle divisions, 13 cavalry divisions, 61 tank divisions (58 with mechanized corps and 3 separate), and 31 motorized rifle divisions (29 with mechanized corps and 2 separate). Of this total the Germans assessed Soviet strength in the border military districts at 118 infantry divisions, 20 cavalry divisions, and 40 mobile brigades (a total of about 150 divisions) whereas actual Soviet strength was 171 divisions of all types. In the remainder of European Russia, German intelligence estimated there were about 32 Soviet divisions, when, in fact, about 100 existed.

These figures underscore two major faults in German assessments of existing Soviet military strength. First, the German did not adequately keep track of the scale of Soviet readiness efforts. While this was true of military districts along the border, it was even more pronounced in the internal military districts where mobilization could be better concealed. Second, the Germans had an inadequate appreciation of Soviet force restructuring, in particular restructuring associated with the Soviet mechanization program. As late as 22 June, German intelligence continued to count older Soviet tank brigades and cavalry divisions without realizing that most of these had reformed into tank and mechanized divisions and mechanized corps. By 22 June the Germans had identified one mechanized corps each in the Baltic, Special Western and Special Kiev Military Districts out of the sixteen which were actually there (in various stages of formation). Nor did the Germans detect the large antitank brigades formed in the border districts designated to cooperate with the new mechanized corps.⁴ It is true, however, that German operational and tactical proficiency largely compensated for this intelligence failure. Nevertheless, the failure established a pattern which would persist in the future with inevitable negative effects.

Far more serious than this problem was the German failure to appreciate the size and efficiency of the Soviet mobilization system. German estimates tended to look only at active Soviet forces, that is, those maintained in peacetime at various levels of combat readiness. They did not, however, detect or closely examine Soviet mobilization or spinoff divisions, which had seemingly insignificant cadre and equipment complements in peacetime. This was perhaps understandable in light of German estimates that the Barbarossa operation would be over in about four months, before the Soviets could generate significant new combat-ready forces. The German High Command reasoned that any new Soviet units could be dealt with in successive stages of the operation.

To appreciate the scale of this German failure, it is only necessary to review the actual Soviet mobilization record. Soviet armed forces strength on 22 June 1941 was 20 armies (14 along the western border and 6 in the Far East), 303 divisions (31 in the process of forming), and about 5.0 million men.⁵ By 1 July 1941 the Soviets had called 5.3 million men into military service. Between 22 June and 1 December 1941, increased personnel call-ups permitted the Soviets to field 291 new divisions and 94 brigades. Of this total 70 were brought to strength and transferred westward from internal military districts and 27 were dispatched westward from the Far East, Central Asia, and Trans-Baikal Military Districts. The remaining 194 divisions and 94 brigades were formed anew from cadre in the mobilization base. Subsequently, in 1942 the Soviets formed 50 new divisions and reformed 67 divisions.
From If the Allies Had Fallen, Ed. Dennis E. Showalter and Harold C Deutsch, page 158-161

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 25 Jun 2021 05:42

historygeek2021 wrote:Far more serious than this problem was the German failure to appreciate the size and efficiency of the Soviet mobilization system.
I doubt any of the WW2 powers had good insight into the inner workings of each other's force generation system.

Glantz is looking in the wrong places, as do most commentators on the topic. This was a failure of political judgment, not of intelligence: Germany simply assumed the Soviet state would collapse - with it would go any future force generation.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by ljadw » 25 Jun 2021 05:48

historygeek2021 wrote:
24 Jun 2021 18:37
Steve wrote:
24 Jun 2021 17:29
German intelligence failed completely with regard to the Soviet military machine but so did British intelligence and USA intelligence. British intelligence produced a report on June 14 1941 that estimated the Germans would reach Moscow in four to six weeks. A lack of intelligence was nothing to do with the Nazi regime being repugnant, prior to the war people thought of it as another extremist right wing regime. The Germans had lots of collaborators and volunteers for the SS in the conquered countries. In the Soviet Union where a civil war had ended 21 years previously there were plenty of anti communists (see General Vlasov) but for whatever reason it was a black hole.
Better intelligence would not help the Germans,because better intelligence does not increase the strength of the Ostheer .
The planning of Barbarossa was mainly founded on the strength of the Ostheer , not on what the Germans knew about the opponent .They were the weaker ones and they knew it . Of course, after the failure of Barbarossa, the field commanders as usual blamed FHO .

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by Steve » 25 Jun 2021 16:02

Hitler was commander of the German army and if he said that the Russians had around 180 – 200 divisions you assume that he had seen all assessments of Soviet strength. He also said they were massed on the Reich borders and that this was an advantage “they would be smoothly rolled up”. From this it would seem that he was not talking about the total strength of the Red Army but only the part near the Reich borders. Glantz says the German assessment was about 150 divisions in the border military districts when there were actually 171. Taken at face value it seems the number of Soviet divisions in the border areas was overestimated by Hitler not underestimated.

Glantz says that German estimates underscored two major failures in German intelligence but gives no intimation of how the Germans could have avoided major failures. The USSR was a totalitarian society run by a paranoid individual who suspected that enemies within the communist party, the army, Trotskyites, Jehovah Witnesses et all were plotting against him. This paranoia permeated down the chain of command with the NKVD watching everyone. To move around in the Soviet Union you had to have an internal passport and permission to travel, to set up a spy network was difficult to say the least. Unless the Germans had an agent near the top of the Red Army or a high ranking defector they were unlikely to obtain good intelligence.

I agree with TheMarcksPlan that “This was a failure of political judgment, not of intelligence: Germany simply assumed the Soviet state would collapse - with it would go any future force generation.”

The words of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on February 12 2002 sum up very well I think the dilemma for German planners in 1941. “Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones."

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by historygeek2021 » 25 Jun 2021 18:33

Steve wrote:
25 Jun 2021 16:02


I agree with TheMarcksPlan that “This was a failure of political judgment, not of intelligence: Germany simply assumed the Soviet state would collapse - with it would go any future force generation.”
Which is what I've said from the start of this discussion - politics and culture need to be at the forefront of any discussion of German military decisions in WW2.
Donald Rumsfeld
:oops:

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by ljadw » 25 Jun 2021 21:16

Better intelligence would change nothing : the Ostheer would not be stronger and the Red Army would not be weaker .
Germany assumed that the Soviet state would collapse,because it was the only way to defeat the USSR .
Germany did not lose in the East: the Soviets won .

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by KDF33 » 25 Jun 2021 22:06

ljadw wrote:
25 Jun 2021 21:16
Germany did not lose in the East: the Soviets won .
Those are not mutually exclusive.

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by EKB » 26 Jun 2021 01:04

ljadw wrote:
23 Jun 2021 13:16
Most of Hitler's military decisions were sound

Only if his goal was to reduce Germany to a pile of rubble.


ljadw wrote:
23 Jun 2021 13:16
Goering was a very capable LW commander,til 1943

Göring tended to the Luftwaffe like it was a sideshow. Always distracted with his personal empire, he was the absentee leader much of the time due to his desire to consolidate power and dominate other political ministers. This was tolerated by Hitler until bombs fell on Germany.


ljadw wrote:
23 Jun 2021 13:16
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was not a compromise

A peace treaty by definition is a compromise instead of continued fighting. Otherwise Germany would not consider it.


ljadw wrote:
23 Jun 2021 13:16
Schwerin von Krosigk worked before 1933 at the ministry of Finance and became minister of Finance already in 1932, in the cabinet von Papen . And no one said that he was incapable

He was capable of being a sycophant. Krosigk was a standard bearer conservative by repute. But that is hardly a selling point because he was rarely effective at persuading Hitler to curb out-of-control military spending.


ljadw wrote:
23 Jun 2021 13:16
And if Ribbentrop was an amateur,so were Eden, Halifax, Cordell Hull, Austin Chamberlain, etc,etc ,who were appointed for political reasons,as are most politicians .

If you want to rehabilitate Ribbentrop, I don’t see much fertile ground. Just another toady sidelined by Hitler.

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