US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

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TheMarcksPlan
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US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Oct 2020 12:38

In several threads I've argued that the W.Allies would likely have been unwilling and/or unable to defeat Germany had she conquered the SU.

I arrived at this conclusion through my own analysis of the relative economic/demographic/military factors, presented on this board to friendly, substantive discussion.

I joined this board not quite two years ago, around when I started reading about WW2 again after a hiatus of 20 years or so. Since then I've learned a lot, including much from folks here (thanks!). I'm still finding new resources and digging into new areas that hadn't previously interested me.

In the course of all this reading I recently came across Mark Stoler's Allies and Adversaries: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Grand Alliance, and U.S. Strategy in World War II. The book gave me the pleasant experience - I wouldn't quite call it surprise - of learning that most contemporary leaders in the U.S. (and seemingly Britain) shared my view that a German victory over the SU in 1942 would have made conquering Germany very unlikely.

Prior to finding this book, I'd been reading the official U.S. Army histories - Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, Global Logistics and Strategy, The U.S. Army and Economic Mobilization, etc. From hints in these volumes I perceived an unspoken unwillingness to raise an American army large enough to defeat the Heer absent RKKA, plus doubts about the ability to do so. I've previously had to argue that these hints reflected the true but unspoken American view- one that couldn't be written in official histories (e.g. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=243557&p=2220239&h ... a#p2220239 viewtopic.php?f=11&t=227341&p=2266514&h ... a#p2266514).

As Allies and Adversaries and the excerpts below make clear, top American leaders - from FDR to the Joint Strategic Survey Committee (representing all branches) to the Army's War Plans Department - all opined in '42 that Germany would be unassailable in Europe, or capable of lasting "indefinitely" if she defeated Russia.

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A brief aside:

I did a forum search on "Mark Stoler" and "Mark A. Stoler". Aside from my posts, there have been only two mentions of Stoler's Allies and Adversaries. viewtopic.php?f=19&t=11534&p=99902&hili ... ler#p99902 viewtopic.php?f=113&t=156937&p=1897285& ... r#p1897285

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Excerpts from Allies and Adversaries: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Grand Alliance, and U.S. Strategy in World War II by Mark Stoler:

FDR:
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war
depends on the Russians." Recorded in Morgenthau's diary on June 15, 1942.
FDR:
Russia alone possesses the manpower potentially able to defeat Germany in Europe. ‘‘Brief Joint Estimate of the Military Situation of the Associated Powers,’’ memo, Dec. 21, 1941, JB 325, serial 729, RG 225, NA
Germany would become invulnerable
were she able to defeat Russia and subsequently exploit the resources of the Eurasian land mass.
As noted above, Roosevelt realized this by September, perhaps
as a result of reading ‘‘between the lines’’ of the Victory Program in that month,
and in October the Army WPD openly admitted it. If Russia were defeated, it
warned, Germany’s war effort would ‘‘not be decisively affected by the tightest sea
blockade.’’ Economically and militarily, Germany’s position would become ‘‘practically invulnerable.’
Stoler's analysis here is something I've suggested numerous times: That the Victory Program has a meaning legible only "between the lines." Specifically, it implies that the only W.Allied chance of victory over Germany rested on the untested theories of the air power advocates, as raising an army large enough to defeat Germany was impractical politically and economically. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=248298&start=165#p2296175
The army, on the
other hand, insisted that Britain and Russia were incapable of defeating Germany
alone
and viewed all such assistance [LL and peripheral operations] as a method of extending their military
resistance long enough to allow for full U.S. rearmament, entry into the war, and
deployment of major forces into Europe from the English ‘‘launching pad.
Thus, if the naval Victory Program estimate had been ‘‘fundamentally unsound,’’ as
army planners claimed, because of its lack of emphasis on the creation
of large ground forces, the army estimate was equally unsound because it did not
recognize the political impediments to the creation of such a force, Roosevelt’s
unwillingness to do so, or the impossibility of ever creating one large enough to
defeat the Wehrmacht unsupported. On the basis of both political and military
realities, Germany simply could not be defeated without continued Russian participation in the war.
The last sentence expresses a point I've made repeatedly: even if the W.Allies had, theoretically, the capability to defeat Germany alone, it doesn't answer the question of whether they would do so. All contemporary W.Allied political leaders had an aversion to large armies, whether due to personal inclinations (e.g. Leahy) or due to politics and perceived public aversion to mass battlefield deaths.
Five days earlier the JSSC had bluntly stated that ‘‘Russia must be supported
now by every possible means’’ because the absence of a Russian front
would postpone ‘‘indefinitely’’ the end of the war.
Related to my last commentary, to postpone indefinitely the end of the war would have been politically infeasible, IMO.
The retention of Russia in the war as an active participant is vital
to Allied victory,’’ now acting chief of staff McNarney had emphasized on April 12 [1942].
if German armies were allowed to turn west, ‘‘any opportunity for a successful
offensive against the European Axis would be virtually eliminated
.’’
As early as April–May, OPD, G-2, and the joint committees had begun to explore
the appropriate response should this ‘‘desperate situation’’ result in a Soviet collapse, and in early August
the JSSC completed and forwarded to the JPS a massive
study of such a contingency. This study indicated that Russian collapse would be
a ‘‘catastrophe’’ of such magnitude as to put the United States in a ‘‘desperate’’
situation too, one in which it ‘‘would be forced to consider courses of action
which would primarily benefit the United States rather than the United Nations.’’


A revival of isolationism and an ‘‘increase
in defeatism’’ within the country were also possible in this scenario. Even without
British withdrawal, however, the only sound U.S. response to a Soviet collapse
would be to ‘‘adopt the strategic defensive in the European Theater of War and to
conduct the strategic offensive in the Japanese theater.’’
The JSSC study was adopted by the JCS as JCS 85. Does anybody have access to this document? I haven't found it in FDR's papers, which are online.
JCS 85's dichotomy between "interests of the United States" and of the "United Nations" must refer to abandoning some part of the world to an enemy, in order to preserve US narrow interests. In context that almost certainly means abandoning Europe to Hitler and pivoting to Japan.

The only major exceptions to JCS 85's views were the wartime prophets of (conventional) strategic bombing. Even AAF chief General Arnold, however, responded to it as follows:
On August 25, the same day Marshall demanded an offensive in Burma to keep
China in the war and informed Eisenhower that no naval craft could be released
from the Pacific, the Joint Chiefs discussed JCS 85. Leahy labeled it ‘‘an excellent
statement of policy,’’ but Arnold, who on the previous day had insisted that the
danger of Russian collapse required continuation of Germany-first and an air
offensive from England to protect the British Isles from the increased danger of
German invasion, countered that the Pacific shift recommended in JCS 85 would
require England to defend itself without U.S. assistance.
So Arnold appears not to have opposed the substance of JCS 85, only pointing out that England's safety would be endangered by a Pacific focus, post-SU.

Various army bodies also commissioned the following documents around that time:

"Conditions under Which an Armistice Might Be
Negotiated between the United Nations and the European Powers,’’ June 11, 1942,

and

Col. Nevins, ‘‘Courses of Action Open to the United States in the Event the Prospective
1942 German Offensive Forces Russia to Capitulate,’’ memo, Apr. 1942, and unsigned memo to
Nevins, Apr. 25, 1942.

Yes, parts of the U.S. Army were analyzing an armistice with Germany in the event she defeated Russia. Note this was prior to the "unconditional surrender" demand issued at Casablanca, when the SU's survival seemed ensured. I don't have access to the document, which is in the papers of Harley A. Notter. https://www.bsb-muenchen.de/mikro/lit146.pdf

------------------------------------------

There is of course no plain statement by high officials like "we will definitely lose if Germany beats Russia." Likewise my argument is that German survival in the conventional war would be the likely outcome. Reading the statements together, in context with political constraints, makes clear that the W.Allied were not confident of victory had the SU fallen. Hindsight appears to color prevailing AHF views on the issue.

Furthermore, the post-SU defensive and encircling position advocated by WPD, JCCS, and the British would have been unlikely to have held. In my next post I'll share some more primary documents I found on that subject while searching for JCS 85 in FDR's papers.

-------------------------------------------

We live in a postwar world built on Axis defeat; the victors wrote a popular narrative in which Allied victory was always inevitable once the USA finally did the right thing.

But it wasn't inevitable; everything turned on Germany bungling its war against Russia.

I suspect the victors' narrative is preferred because it makes the universe comprehensible: we don't live in a world where incomprehensible evil could have prevailed. In a Cold War context, it also hid the fact that the liberal democracies prevailed only because of communist heroism.

The narrative has the ideological and propaganda backing of a military, economic, and media superpower. Removing it from one's mind takes effort. Maybe these quotes will help recover some of the real, contingent history. In any event, we already know that a nihilistic/racist agenda can destroy half the world, legitimize genocides, and/or ruin centuries of human progress. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genghis_Khan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_ ... e_Americas

------------------------------------

If the W.Allies can hold out for the A-bomb in a post-SU scenario, the analysis is different of course. Two points that I might develop downthread:

1. Again the political constraints. Would W.Allied publics support indefinite siege warfare against Germany, especially if (as is likely IMO) such warfare involved further bloody defeats in Iberia and the Middle East? What about the 1944 elections? A likely outcome is someone like Taft winning, making peace with Germany, and focusing on Japan.

2. Would the W.Allies have been willing to bomb Germany into oblivion? Even with millions of non-German Europeans in German cities? Even when Germany responds with its own WMD (sarin gas)?
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

EwenS
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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by EwenS » 14 Oct 2020 14:00

Perhaps the starting point needs to be an answer to the question what shape does a Russian defeat in 1942 take? Questions like

1. Is Stalin deposed and if so who replaces him?
2. Is a peace agreement negotiated with a new Germanic eastern border?
3. Is that a permanent peace or merely a pause (maybe a fairly long one) in hostilities?
4. Where is that border?
5. Can USSR withdraw further towards/beyond the Urals and dig in there, rebuild its evacuated industries?
6. How much partisan activity would continue in the German rear?

The nature of the answers to those questions surely impacts just what forces Germany requires to retain in the western/southern USSR to keep the population under control. That in turn impacts on your supposed opportunities on the Iberian peninsula and Middle East. Only then do you get to consider the impacts on the forces that a western allied invasion of Europe would have had to have faced.

Or do you see a Russian defeat in terms of Hitler rolling all the way to the Vladivostok?

Warsaw to Stalingrad - c1000 Miles
Stalingrad to Vladivostok c4000 Miles and the other side of the Urals.

Is any Russian leader simply going to shrug his shoulders and throw in the towel after losing a huge chunk of the country? I can see a some kind of diplomatic truce being reached but Soviet pride is not going to allow that to last forever. So any suspension of hostilities in the east is bound to be temporary IMHO.

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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Oct 2020 14:32

EwenS wrote:what shape does a Russian defeat in 1942 take?
I'll put the questioning back to you:

What shape of Russian defeat would tie down or kill sufficient Germans to allow for W.Allied invasion of Europe?

What shape of Russian defeat would preclude Germany sending 30 divisions against the MidEast?

Unless there is a version of Russian defeat in which Germany can't move strongly against the MidEast and foreclose invasion of Europe, it's difficult to see any path to W.Allied victory that doesn't rely on the A-bomb.

The main result of continued Russian resistance beyond the Urals would be the number of soldiers Germany could demobilize to increase war production and delayed ability to support Japan via Trans-Siberian.
Soviet pride is not going to allow that to last forever.
The Poles got 17 years out of their settlement with SU.

"Soviet pride" also didn't compel taking revenge against Japan for intervening in the civil war with 90,000 soldiers, nor for killing thousands of Russian soldiers at Nomonhan and Changkufeng - not for 24 and 6 years.

Soviet pride is one thing, leadership's rational self-interest is another. Stalin didn't care about much besides maintaining his own power; peace with Germany/Japan would be the only way to do so. There are tankies who'd claim Stalin would sacrifice his life and regime for the Wallies but I'm sure you're not one of those. The only scenario where I see national immolation in Siberia is if somebody irrational overthrows Stalin of if civil war breaks out.
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"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Oct 2020 22:44

Another related area of some controversy has concerned Axis-Allied warfare in the MidEast had the SU fallen.

On that note, the primary sources indicate that US leaders held views very different from AHF consensus, suggesting the latter should be scrutinized for hindsight:

Image
Image

Documents from FDR PSF, available at http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/_resou ... 000314.pdf

The FDR-Hopkins exchange came in the context Rommel taking Cairo, then anticipated by G-2. Obviously that didn't happen but the discussion of broader strategic issues is still illuminating:
  • The "defense of the oilfields... would depend upon success of Russian defense in the north."
  • To defend Syria and "keep Turkey in line" would require 9 divisions (4 armored, 2 mot., 3 inf.) plus 10 air groups initially. Critically for the broader strategic discussion, longer-term defense would require expansion of forces, something judged "far beyond our capacity."
  • To defend the "Black Sea area" would "necessarily depend on the Russians" and would "bleed us white."

    "The sea lines of communication are long and vulnerable, presenting an impractical proposition for military operations against strong enemy movement out of the Mediterranean."
Obviously neither FDR nor Hopkins were always right and these quotes aren't offered uncritically in that fashion. They do, however, convey the extent to which hindsight colors views that hold the W.Allies easily capable of defending the MidEast had Russia fallen.

Hopkins was particularly aware of grand strategic questions such as W.Allied shipping capacity. His views - that deploying more than 9 American divisions in MidEast was "far beyond our capacity" - should be taken with the utmost seriousness.

Likewise his view that major military operations in MidEast were impractical for shipping reasons. In a couple now-locked threads I presented this view based on quantitative analysis of shipping resources. As with the OP, it is pleasant and not surprising to learn that US leaders shared my strategic evaluation.
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"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Oct 2020 23:47

Hi TMP,

I fear your ego is getting away from you.

You post, "The book gave me the pleasant experience - I wouldn't quite call it surprise - of learning that most contemporary leaders in the U.S. (and seemingly Britain) shared my view that a German victory over the SU in 1942 would have made conquering Germany very unlikely."

No, they were expressing their opinions probably long before you were even born. You are sharing THEIR view.

I think it is a widespread consensus that, the Atom Bomb excluded, had Germany beaten the USSR there was no likely way that the remaining Allies could have beaten Germany by conventional means.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Oct 2020 08:37

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi TMP,

I fear your ego is getting away from you
Maybe. But it seems like a substantive discussion of the historical issues is a better use of our time. Even I am not very interested in discussing my personality traits.
it is a widespread consensus that, the Atom Bomb excluded, had Germany beaten the USSR there was no likely way that the remaining Allies could have beaten Germany by conventional means.
One thing is odd then: the AHF reception of my threads asserting that German victory over SU would imply durable German hegemony in Europe. Adopting a British understatement, I'll say their reception has been less than warm.

If I'm simply asserting the prevailing view, surely you'll be able to point to some evidence of that view's predominance - on AHF, in popular histories, and in academic histories. Can you?

[I suspect that the academic view is closer to mine than AHF's and the popular view]

And by the way - if I'm wrong about holding a minority view I'll be happily wrong. This seems like a great moment for all those who've opposed me in the past to step forward and prove me decisively wrong - by agreeing with my views. Don't miss this chance!
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: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by glenn239 » 15 Oct 2020 17:07

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Oct 2020 08:37
One thing is odd then: the AHF reception of my threads asserting that German victory over SU would imply durable German hegemony in Europe.
The USAAF along with the RAF would have defeated the Germans after 1944 - it was just barely getting warmed up when the war ended. It might have taken into the late 1940's, but the strategic trend was apparent. No level of Luftwaffe defenses would have been able to ward off US industry fully ramped up for a massive aerial campaign.

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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by T. A. Gardner » 15 Oct 2020 17:56

Well, I think first we need a better definition of what things look like at the time of this defeat of the Soviet Union.

For example, if we assume it occurs late in 1942, which seems most likely, then it's also likely that the Allies still overrun N. Africa but go no further. The Axis defeat there occurs concurrently with the loss of the Soviet Union as an active participant in the war but consolidation and such of the Soviet Union by Germany will take months to achieve. It won't happen instantly.
Germany also has bigger fish to fry than N. Africa which from their POV is really more of an afterthought than a truly important theater of conflict. I would think they'd be focused more on the combined, and growing, bomber campaign. The other issue might be demobilizing some of the ground forces to return them to the workforce to reduce the use of slave (inefficient and unreliable) labor.

If so, the Allies would be stalled offensively by say mid to late 1943. Germany is still going to lose the U-boat war. They don't have a navy to change that outcome and a guerre de course on its own isn't a winning strategy. It's a spoiler.

I'd think the Allies might well shift their focus some. A concentration of propping up the remaining Soviet state while defeating Japan and preparing for a different war on Germany could well become their new strategy. They adopt the centuries old British strategy of peripheral sniping--raids, shallow bomber penetrations, supporting internal resistance movements, etc., while finishing off the Japanese.

Once Japan is out of the picture, and it's now say 1945 - 46, Germany becomes the recipient of the first full atomic war and has nothing in kind to respond with. Sure, the Germans will suddenly be scrambling to produce a nuke of their own but that'll be two plus years away since they not only need to do the research on the weapon but produce the incredibly massive and necessary R&D and production infrastructure to make it happen. As it was, the Germans had one reactor design almost ready by 1945 and it was a literal death trap to the operators. Without the means to research and develop their own nuclear weapon immediately available, not to mention lacking the means of producing it, they would be nuked into smoking rubble in nothing flat.

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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Oct 2020 21:19

glenn239 wrote:
15 Oct 2020 17:07

The USAAF along with the RAF would have defeated the Germans after 1944 - it was just barely getting warmed up when the war ended. It might have taken into the late 1940's, but the strategic trend was apparent. No level of Luftwaffe defenses would have been able to ward off US industry fully ramped up for a massive aerial campaign.
I've written elsewhere regarding my doubts on this. IMO it's important to distinguish two things: (1) who has more aerial production from (2) who can mount a dominant and decisive strategic air campaign.

Because a heavy bomber costs anywhere from 3-20x a fighter (depending on which bomber/fighter), it's not always true that the side with greater production can dominate the other. Truly decisive aerial campaigns require a level of material superiority that would not hold ATL.

I've discussed elsewhere why a post-SU WW2 economic balance would look far different from OTL's. viewtopic.php?f=76&t=251476

As discussed in that thread, I see Germany having twice the productive manpower in ATL 1944 as in OTL. I see the US/UK having significantly less productive manpower than OTL due to the need for larger armies.

If Germany has twice the productive manpower as OTL, twice the production of OTL is an extremely conservative estimate:
  • Germany will have less bomb damage than OTL.
  • Restoration of European agriculture will increase worker productivity.
  • Inefficient resource deployments on autarky programs (oil, rubber) will no longer be needed.
...but let's stick with twice the total production as OTL.

Let's estimate OTL 1944 German war production as distributed thus:
  • 40% LW*
  • 8% KM
  • 52% Heer
*I am aware that O'Brien and others have higher figures but these for munitions only, not total war production. viewtopic.php?f=76&t=250292&start=75#p2287802

And let's estimate ATL 1944 distribution thus:
  • 60% LW
  • 20% KM
  • 20% Heer
A little arithmetic shows LW production at 3x OTL, KM 5x, Heer 77% of OTL (which should be plenty absent the Eastern Front).

If we multiply LW's peak production by 3 then Germany is producing 9,000 fighters/month. (Probably wouldn't build 9,000, would build fewer but better fighters e.g. more Fw190 and He-219). There's no chance of the CBO enduring against that production level.

As we move beyond 1945 I'm less knowledgeable but B-36's surviving swarms of Me-262's and Ta-183's seems unlikely.

More importantly, I don't see W.Allied publics lasting so long. If Germany controls nearly all of Eurasia by 1944, having inflicted repeated and bloody defeats on W.Allied armies futilely defending the MidEast and elsewhere, the war be over. Germany can launch tens or even hundreds of thousands of V-1's against England. The 1944 US elections would seal it, IMO. Somebody like Taft or MacArthur would run on a "Japan first" platform and win.

The other probability fork is whether the W.Allies can hold Great Britain. That's by no means certain; the Arnold quote upthread reflects the danger. With 5x OTL KM production, Germany could build a massive fleet of landing craft protected by hundreds of E-Boats, Fleet Torpedo Boats, and destroyers. Against a "Channel Fleet" that can launch thousands of torpedoes it would be suicidal to attack with bluewater RN/USN units. Savo Island times a hundred. Such a defeat would risk losing the war against Japan, or delaying its conclusion by years. The Channel Fleet and, say, 10,000 landing craft would carry something like 50,000 Flak barrels. So the RAF/AAF can sink a few hundred LC's perhaps but they're going to lose thousands of bombers to Flak doing so (German light flak was deadly to low-flying bombers; high-level anti-shipping bombing is very ineffective). That's saying nothing of all those LW fighters.

Even if the Germans don't invade England, the credible threat of such invasion would tie down enormous W.Allied resources. You'd need at least 100 divisions stationed in UK because if the Germans invade there wouldn't be time to mobilize and transport the required forces from the US or from the Pacific.

Now what about Japan? A defeated SU changes things dramatically.
  • Kwantung Army was bigger than the IJA in China. Now it's free for decisive action in China.
  • Via the Trans-Siberian, Germany can ship high-value, low bulk armaments like MG's and older tanks to IJA.
  • Japan would rapidly overrun the remaining cities under Chiang's control; his government would either fall or make peace.
  • With the W.Allies now kicked out of China, the Japanese industrial complexes in Manchukuo and Korea can't be bombed. Japan planned to relocate production there OTL but abandoned it when China-based B-29's struck.
  • With Germany's enormous fighter production, she could spare thousands of Me-109's or other cheap aircraft and would recognize the strategic benefit of keeping Japan in the war. A few thousand fighters based on key points like Okinawa, Formosa, and Luzon would negate the USN's ability to create air dominance over landing fleets, thereby negating the ability to land.
  • Germany would also provide ASW assistance to Japan, as she did to Italy. https://rommelsriposte.com/2015/12/07/g ... sels-pt-3/ The sea LoC between Japan proper and at least the Manchurian/Korean industrial base would be reasonably secure therefore.
In this condition, the W.Allies can't finish Japan unless they make a peace with Germany. Otherwise Japan can maintain its core Asian and island territories and hold out indefinitely.

In addition, there is the Indian issue. Once Japan finishes off China, a massive army is freed up. It can use the formerly Allied logistical routes from Kunming into Burma and redouble its investment in the Burma railway. So in contrast to OTL, the Allies face a much bigger and better-supplied foe in CBI by 1944. To protect CBI's western front, somebody needs to stop the Germans somewhere in Iran. Not sure how that campaign looks but it's another enormous draw on W.Allied resources - especially shipping.

This condition in India would be very threatening to Britain's security. Why? Well if you need millions of men in India to contain Axis pressure, those forces can't be redeployed except on a timeline that would approach a year. What if Germany lands in Britain? The Indian forces can't help but German forces can move along interior lines to back up the invasion within weeks or a couple months. Reconquering Iranian wastelands in such an event is strategically irrelevant compared to taking London.

The alternative course would be to abandon India around 1944 as Axis pressure builds against it. But are the British going to lose the heart of the Empire to continue siege warfare against Germany with no victory in sight? Seems unlikely.

--------------------------------------------------

Didn't mean to write so much but once I got started...

You mention the full scaling-up of American industry. It's no doubt true that America could have produced more than OTL had it not pulled back in 1944. Do you know any sources discussing the issue? Like production schedules for a longer war in contingency planning?

Considering the production effect of drafting another 5-10mil workers, I don't see American war production being higher than OTL.
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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by T. A. Gardner » 15 Oct 2020 21:41

As we move beyond 1945 I'm less knowledgeable but B-36's surviving swarms of Me-262's and Ta-183's seems unlikely.
I see it this way. Even in 1944, the US was already well into developing stand-off weapons. Once they have one that can reliably hit a city-sized target at say 75 to 100 miles, German coastal, and near coastal, cities like Hamburg become undefendable against nuclear attack.

Image

Something like this would be sufficient given it has reasonable accuracy. (B-29 or B-36 launching a Rascal missile).

As for a peace with the Soviet Union, I'd expect the Germans to make a deal like they did with France. Most of the Soviet Union becomes an unoccupied state subject to German control. The Germans agree with the Soviets to let the latter run it with a rump military. Germany likely gives little, if any, consideration to Japanese interests as they did historically.
A German occupation of the entire Soviet Union would see the fighting continue on nearly endlessly. It'd be at its best Yugoslavia times 100 and it'd take years to overrun the entire country.

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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Oct 2020 22:07

T.A. Gardner wrote:As for a peace with the Soviet Union, I'd expect the Germans to make a deal like they did with France. Most of the Soviet Union becomes an unoccupied state subject to German control. The Germans agree with the Soviets to let the latter run it with a rump military.
Exactly.

I envision Hitler going to the Urals (as he said he would if necessary). He'd occupy the the Central Urals containing the key industrial centers but leave them under Soviet administrative control. Rhetorically he'd say "we expelled Bolshevism from Europe, the Asiatics can have it if they want." (per Nazi racial theory and propaganda, Russians were Asiatic interlopers on the European continent)

With the Central Urals under Germans control, the few unoccupied Soviet cities (Tyumen, Omsk, Novosorbirsk, Magnitogorsk) could be "Case Anton'd" with ease if the Soviets make any trouble. No more than 20 German divisions deployed forward of/in the Urals.

Axis leverage would be immense (including control of oil access) so the Soviets would be forced to facilitate German-Japanese communications over the Trans-Siberian. Among other things, this reopens German access to some rare metals that had flowed under MR Pact.
T.A. Gardner wrote:Once Japan is out of the picture
That's an unjustified assumption. See above post for my analysis. You may disagree but a full analysis has to consider how significantly SU's defeat changes the Asian picture. Most people do not realize the strategic weight that the SU carried for Japan throughout the war (and vice versa).
T.A. Gardner wrote:demobilizing some of the ground forces to return them to the workforce to reduce the use of slave (inefficient and unreliable) labor.
Partial demob is a certainty and would dramatically increase German war production.

Reduction of slave labor, however, makes zero sense (except morally) even if slaves were inefficient - which they weren't.

First, so long as a slave produces more than he/she consumes, their efficiency doesn't matter. Surely we all realize that Germany's forced workers weren't given much.

Second, Slavic forced workers were often more efficient than those lazy, undependable Germans. Russian women in particular were at least as productive as unskilled Germans (Jonas Scherner article that I've cited repeatedly on AHF). Net of consumption, Russian women were probably far more productive than the average German man.
T.A. Gardner wrote:it's also likely that the Allies still overrun N. Africa but go no further.
Doubtful. Russia is seriously weakened compared to OTL by the end of '41, meaning Germany can spare enough resources to at least take Malta in '42. With Germans streaming into the MidEast with/through Turkey and the Caucasus, there's no way to put a speed bump on the Mittelostheer unless Monty gives up some of his force. Therefore no Second Alamein offensive.

If the W.Allies do Torch they face a better-supplied and stronger army: Spain either joins the Axis or is conquered, meaning no shipping to Algeria and no naval interdiction of Axis supplies. The overland logistics to Tunis via Casablanca simply don't work, especially against secure Axis supply lines from Sicily.

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By 1944 the W.Allies hold a corner of North Africa, maybe a corner of Arabia, and maybe some part of Iran. That plus India is all they control in Eurasia.
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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Oct 2020 03:20

Here's where I envision the front lines being in March '42 under a feasible "SU defeated" ATL such as I've described on this board:

Northern half:
Image

Southern half:
Image

[the forward salient at Nizhny Novgorod (Gorkiy) is distorted across the two images]

The basic sketch of the ATL:
  • Germany plans for a two-summer campaign, therefore has better rail logistics in '41.
  • One more panzer group with AGS enables it to destroy Southwest and South fronts repeatedly and without assistance from AGC.
  • AGC doesn't send help north and south, takes Moscow in August-September, then Gorkiy in October-November.
  • Because AGC and AGS destroy so much more of the RKKA, AG North faces chronically weak opposition, linking up with the Finns on the Svir by October. Kesselschlacht on western shore of Lake Ladoga and in Leningrad (which starves/surrenders after Ladoga link is cut).
  • Finnish Army redeploys from Svir and Leningrad, takes Belomorsk by December, cutting the Murmansk Railway.
  • AGS reaches the Don by November then pauses for railway work and refitting.
  • In January AGS launches the Wehrmacht's winter offensive while the other AG's rest/refit their mobile troops. AGS takes Stalingrad and Maikop by March, is at least near Grozny.
With this setup, the SU should be down to no more than 2/3's of its OTL November '41 population. Production and army size are likewise 2/3 of OTL levels. viewtopic.php?f=76&t=251106

RKKA numbers 3.8mil facing Ostheer in May '42 instead of 5.7mil OTL. Japan faces <700k instead of ~1mil OTL.

Ostheer's casualties are ~1/3 lower than OTL due low-casualty destruction of RKKA in Kessels rather than in attritional battles. Also due to destruction of Soviet warmaking ability during '41 and provision of winter clothing.

Accordingly, Ostheer is at least 10% stronger numerically than OTL.

In addition, planning for two-summer campaign has meant that weapons and ammo production stayed high throughout Barbarossa rather than stagnating or declining. Ostheer is therefore better-equipped than OTL. None of the OTL '42 reductions in artillery batteries, etc. occur.


With this relative strength picture, Ostheer is stronger than needed to finish off the SU. It detaches an air corps and an ID to Kesselring, who takes Malta in Spring '42.

The Ostheer's final target is a line roughly Archangelsk-Yekaterinburg-Ufa-Ural River:

Image

The green line is the May '42 jumping off for Barbarossa II. Blue arrows are the initial Ostheer drives to clear the Volga region, take Archangelsk, and take the Caucasus.

The '42 RKKA will be not only less numerous than OTL, it will also have lower training standards and morale: the '41 campaigns will have encircled many more Soviet units, meaning loss of more specialists like artillerists, staff officers, and communications personnel. Its combat effectiveness will be accordingly lower.

The initial '42 campaigns (blue arrows) should be done by July and would include the destruction of the '42 reincarnation of the RKKA via double envelopments. Ostheer casualties should be ~50% lower than OTL Blau due to RKKA's lower numerical strength and combat effectiveness.

Simultaneously, Japan would either (1) declare that no Allied-originating or financed shipments would be allowed through or (2) declare war on the SU. Either way, LL is finished except the low-capacity Persian Corridor and the SU is on the road to collapse if it doesn't surrender.

By July, the RKKA's ability to regenerate to even the lower ATL '42 starting point will be further diminished by loss of the Volga regions and Caucasus plus lack of LL aid. The Wehrmacht can start drawing down the Ostheer, moving ~30 divisions towards the MidEast and North Africa.

The main final Ostheer offensive will be (1) across the Volga to the Perm-Ufa line abutting the Ural River and mountains [roughly July-August] then (2) the push from Perm to Yekaterinburg/Sverdlosk through the low-lying Central Ural mountains [roughly August-September]. By September, with the central Urals occupied and the SU's remaining industrial centers (Tyumen, Magnitogorsk, Tomsk) vulnerable to blitz, Stalin and Hitler make peace as described above.

Meanwhile, the 30 divisions detached from Ostheer in July will have assembled for the MidEast/Med push:
  • Most likely Turkey either joins the Axis or grants passage through Anatolia, meaning Germans divisions are poised for invasion of Syria and Iraq from Turkey.
  • German divisions in Azerbaijan are likely granted passage by the Soviet Union into their zone of responsibility in Iran. The W.Allies would of course object to this move by Stalin but unless they're willing to push out the Soviet forces in Northern Iran there's nothing they can do. As adding Soviet-W.Allied war to this ATL would be worse for the W.Allies than German passage through Northern Iran, I'll be conservative and say the W.Allies prepare to defend Southern Iran instead of waging war on the SU.
  • Malta has been taken by July so Rommel gets another few divisions to hold in reserve in Libya. These are poised either to occupy Tunisia or to reinforce Rommel if 8th army attacks.
With this setup, the W.Allies have to decide whether and where they can hold a line in the MidEast and whether they want to invade French North Africa. The Americans don't think major military operations are practical in the MidEast (see Hopkins quote above) while the British don't think they can hold the Turkish frontier (see British military appreciations of April '42: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=238638&start=105#p2294326).

As I've been discussing in several now-locked threads, I don't see any good options for the W.Allies in this scenario. The shipping logistics of resisting 25 German divisions in the MidEast are practically impossible, as Hopkins recognized and as any quick glance at shipping statistics will confirm. viewtopic.php?p=2293853#p2293853

My view of what happens next:
  • The W.Allies mount a weak defense of Syria/Palestine (including some elements of OTL 8th Army) and the forces there are destroyed by 15 German divisions in October/November. Suez falls by December. 8th Army and the remaining W.Allied forces retreat up the Nile Valley and down the west cost of Arabia.
  • Axis logistics to Iraq are weaker but even if it takes four months to go from Turkey to Abadan, Germany reaches the Persian gulf by the beginning of 1943.
  • On the Iranian plateau Germany tries to push south along the central railway but the W.Allies start blowing tunnels and progress is slow. Frontline is somewhere around Isfahan as 1943 begins.
  • W.Allies launch Torch, Germans deploy forces as in OTL but slightly stronger and better supplied. Front line is in eastern Algeria as 1942 ends.
  • Germany begins to mass divisions on Spain's border to invade and/or pressure Franco to join the Axis. He probably relents in early '43. Not wanting British First Army to be cut off when Franco closes the sea LoC, the W.Allies pull back in Algeria towards Morocco based on intelligence about Axis intentions.
That's the strategic picture I see in early '43. What happens next is less clear. We'd have at least 4 mini-theaters/fronts in the ME/NorthAfr:
  • Arabia
  • Iran
  • Upper Egypt
  • Morocco-Western Algeria
Each of these seem like stalemates for most of early '43 although Upper Egypt doesn't seem worth much effort.

The big, but longer-term, strategic opportunities for the Axis would be:
  • 1. A Red Sea push in western Arabia and Egypt towards the Horn and Yemen, in order to open the Indian Ocean to Italy/Germany via Suez and open the Med to the IJN.
  • 2. An attack on Morocco to open the Med straits to the Axis, potentially allowing all Axis navies access to the Atlantic.
Logistics for a Red Sea push probably require re-opening the Suez canal. Per Hopkins report of British estimates, that'd take Germany ~6 months. Although Germany could re-lay and update tracks on the Hejaz railway, getting them partway to Yemen. I would guess - but don't know - that the Nile and barges could be used for logistics in Upper Egypt. Germany also has a lot of trucks lying around from the Ostheer in early '43; it could try an entirely truck-supported push in Arabia and Egypt. It's ~1,500 miles from Gaza to the Bab al-Mandab strait, however, so this seems dicey. No idea of the road situation in 1943 Arabia but it must have been atrocious. If the canal is restored in mid-43 the Axis might be able to get to Yemen by '44. W.Allies would have a lot more shipping capacity by then, however, and could conceivably hold Yemen with strong forces.

For a Morocco push the Axis would want to start producing lots of landing craft in the Med (Italian, French, Ukrainian building locations for MFP's) for trans-strait landing from Spain. Also start improving capacity on the Algerian rail line. W.Allied LoC's to Morocco are short and, with the BoA won, secure. It would be at least theoretically possible for the W.Allies to defend Morocco with very strong forces (with port improvements in Casablanca etc. but that's very doable).

In the background of W.Allied defensive commitments in Yemen and Morocco would be the buildup of German threat to Britain. Germany should be producing landing craft and the light naval units ("Channel Fleet") at a high rate; the W.Allies can't ignore this threat. In addition, by 1944 the threat to India from Japan and possibly Iran will probably have developed further.

What can the Allies do in the Pacific meanwhile? Do they land in the Andamans and maybe Sumatra? 1943 seems a little early for that if they plan any resistance in Arabia - shipping is still short and Arabia is very far. By '44 the Japanese are quite strong against India and it'd be difficult to divert resources to a Sumatra push. But maybe they try to flank Japan's CBI position via Sumatra-Malaysia? They'd have sufficient naval superiority to do so.

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I'm fairly confident of how post-SU events go through mid-'43 or so. After that there's a lot of possible war courses.

At a high level, however, I think certain fundamentals are identifiable for '44-'45: W.Allies would have several strategic axes to defend in Eurasia/Africa and several lines of attack in the maritime Pacific/Indian Oceans. If they maintain OTL ground force resources of ~120 divisions, however, I doubt whether they can defend all Eurasian/African axes, let alone mount strategic offensives in the Pacific. So they have to draft more men and, given historical attitudes and politics, these additional men would be largely Americans.

That's a very unfortunate dynamic, however, as American workers were more productive than Imperial and as American combat forces were very inefficient in terms of division manpower slice (>50,000). 120 divisions seems a barely sufficient deterrent to German invasion so the Allies probably need to raise another 100 or so American divisions if they want to hold anything in Eurasia/Africa and advance in the Pacific/Indian Oceans. That means ~5mil more Americans drafted or ~12% of America's non-Ag, non-military labor force. viewtopic.php?p=2293853#p2293853 Combined with increased Army procurement needs, they'll need to cut some air/sea production significantly.

And are 100 more divisions sufficient to hold in Eurasia/Africa, advance against Japan, and defend Britain? Maybe but as we look towards May '45 Germany can have built an enormous Channel Fleet and landing craft, meaning you might need 300 divisions in Britain by mid-'45. Any forces fighting in the Pacific/Indian/MidEast theaters are not relevant to defending Britain so do the W.Allies try to raise another 200 divisions? It's theoretically possible but would be a production catastrophe.

Again, I don't see any route to W.Allied victory over Japan in a conventional war that doesn't include a peace with Germany. Or maybe vice versa but peace with Japan seems unlikely after PH.

It is entirely possible that Germany conquers Britain before August '45, even more possible that it has a secure lodgment on the island by that time - one that can't be removed by a half-dozen A-bombs.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The A-bomb obviously changes things but nobody has sketched a good end game for that scenario. Obviously Germany would be screwed if President MacArthur, Taft, or Truman are willing to vaporize millions of Germans and German-resident Europeans throughout 1946 or even '47. Is that conceivable? There's a certain fairness (obviously debatable) to using a couple A-bomb's to end a war you've basically won already. In a war that you've basically lost, however, would the public perceive it fair to kill millions of civilians to avoid the consequences of losing that war? I don't know...

Seems possible the Allies kill Hitler with the A-bomb and then reach a settlement with Germany giving it something less than total victory?

The really dark avenue of inquiry is the German A-bomb response. We know the Nazis were capable of any evil so do they start massacring Allied PoW's in response to A-bombings, and then move to European civilians? They'll certainly try to kill every Briton with Sarin gas and other chemical/biological agents and seems likely they'd succeed at killing at least a few million. They'd probably use Japan's submarine aircraft carriers to spray large coastal American cities with Sarin - that alone could kill millions.

The W.Allies might win the war in the technical sense of dictating terms but it'd be hard to think of WW2 as a successful defense of the Good and Right if we need to kill tens of millions of civilians to get there. Europe would be significantly depopulated, perhaps Asia as well.
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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by David Thompson » 16 Oct 2020 04:37

An unsourced and taunting opinion post from Michael Kenny, was removed pursuant to the forum rules:
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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Oct 2020 18:49

Hi TMP,

You wrote, "Even I am not very interested in discussing my personality traits."

Perhaps the best way to ensure this is not to let them intrude on the thread!

A closing paragraph including, "This seems like a great moment for all those who've opposed me in the past to step forward and prove me decisively wrong - by agreeing with my views. Don't miss this chance!", doesn't do much to undermine my suggestion that your ego may be getting away from you!

As this is a subject that apparently doesn't interest you, I do not expect a reply.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Oct 2020 19:03

Hi TMP,

You ask, "If I'm simply asserting the prevailing view, surely you'll be able to point to some evidence of that view's predominance - on AHF, in popular histories, and in academic histories. Can you?"

I don't have to. In the event of Germany beating the USSR, the onus is on the Allies to dislodge Germany from the world's major land mass if they are to achieve victory without the Atom Bomb. I know of no convincing proposition as to how this could be done when Germany was in possession of some 200 battle hardened and confident divisions to the British half a dozen of less convincing record and the Americans none, and with the entire resources of the Eurasian land mass to develop at its leisure.

The onus is on the advocates of Allied victory to make a case. If there isn"t one, then German victory remains the prevailing default option. Where is it?

Cheers,

Sid.

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