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.
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
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.
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
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#p2296175Germany 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.’
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.
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.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.
Related to my last commentary, to postpone indefinitely the end of the war would have been politically infeasible, IMO.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.
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 .
if German armies were allowed to turn west, ‘‘any opportunity for a successful
offensive against the European Axis would be virtually eliminated.’’
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.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.’’
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:
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.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.
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,
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)?