What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

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AiBosq
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What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by AiBosq » 15 Jul 2021 18:20

Would this be practical? In hindsight he know Germany never invaded Britain anyway, so could France be useful as a buffer state or would the British try and invade anyway? If France becomes a buffer state that would free up German divisions, though they wouldn't have the ability to loot France and use French slave labor they then have the ability to trade with France and get access to raw materials in their colonies (or even abroad, but likely not due to the British)?

Idk, what do you guys think?

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by historygeek2021 » 15 Jul 2021 21:14

France would rebuild (and invite the USA and UK in) and attack Germany while most of the Wehrmacht was in Russia.

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by AiBosq » 15 Jul 2021 22:02

historygeek2021 wrote:
15 Jul 2021 21:14
France would rebuild (and invite the USA and UK in) and attack Germany while most of the Wehrmacht was in Russia.
What makes you say that? I always hear Petain hinted at a Franco-German alliance aimed at Britain? Besides Britain had bombed the French fleet and there were other problems. Why would they just invite in another foreign power?

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by historygeek2021 » 16 Jul 2021 02:28

Because France and Germany are inherent military rivals due to their common border. France isn't just going to sit around and let Germany become super strong by taking the natural resources of the Soviet Union.

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by glenn239 » 16 Jul 2021 18:12

AiBosq wrote:
15 Jul 2021 18:20
Would this be practical? In hindsight he know Germany never invaded Britain anyway, so could France be useful as a buffer state or would the British try and invade anyway? If France becomes a buffer state that would free up German divisions, though they wouldn't have the ability to loot France and use French slave labor they then have the ability to trade with France and get access to raw materials in their colonies (or even abroad, but likely not due to the British)?

Idk, what do you guys think?

I think you've hit upon one of the great 'what if' strategies available - at least theoretically - to Germany in July 1940. But a number of things were not possible with this option. Sealion or the Battle of Britain. The Battle of the Atlantic would be conducted from Norway, which was not as optimal. Barbarossa is riskier, (if such a thing as this being riskier were even possible!)

On the flip side, a neutral France with an intact fleet poses problems for the British blockade of Europe. More importantly, the US drive to war is reduced because France is in French hands, not German.

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Jul 2021 20:23

historygeek2021 wrote:
16 Jul 2021 02:28
Because France and Germany are inherent military rivals due to their common border. France isn't just going to sit around and let Germany become super strong by taking the natural resources of the Soviet Union.
War follows politics, & politics revolve mostly around economics. Anything that strengthens German economically was anathema to the leaders of France mid century. Not just the Germanophobes, but most political groups. Only the most virulent anticommunists will fail to seen the danger should the German gamble vs the USSR succeed. Over the long haul neutrality & a pro Axis policy does not return France to its previous dominant position in Europe. The destruction of Germany does.

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Jul 2021 21:03

Looking at the original question from a different angle. How does Germany ensure France honors any agreement?

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by Konig_pilsner » 16 Jul 2021 21:57

How? The carpet bombing of Paris.

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by Avalancheon » 17 Jul 2021 02:32

AiBosq wrote:
15 Jul 2021 18:20
Would this be practical? In hindsight he know Germany never invaded Britain anyway, so could France be useful as a buffer state or would the British try and invade anyway? If France becomes a buffer state that would free up German divisions, though they wouldn't have the ability to loot France and use French slave labor they then have the ability to trade with France and get access to raw materials in their colonies (or even abroad, but likely not due to the British)?

Idk, what do you guys think?
There are (unproven) theorys that Germany offered to do exactly this. Peter Padfield wrote a book claiming that Germany and Britain attempted to negotiate a peace deal in 1941. His theory is that Rudolf Hess' flight to meet with the Duke of Hamilton was worked out in advance by both sides. Hess went on his mission of peace with the blessings of Adolf Hitler himself.

As part of this deal, Germany had apparently offered to withdraw from France and the Low countrys (presumably so long as they were partially disarmed). But since Germany and Britain never came to an actual agreement, it is obvious that no armistice between them was possible as long as there was a military stalemate. (If Germany was winning, then maybe that would be a different story)
historygeek2021 wrote:
15 Jul 2021 21:14
France would rebuild (and invite the USA and UK in) and attack Germany while most of the Wehrmacht was in Russia.
historygeek2021 wrote:
16 Jul 2021 02:28
Because France and Germany are inherent military rivals due to their common border. France isn't just going to sit around and let Germany become super strong by taking the natural resources of the Soviet Union.
Even if the Germans withdrew from France as part of some deal, the Vichy would not dare do anything that would provoke them into attacking. The French knew better than to try something stupid like that. Anyway, the Vichy didn't really care about the war besides protecting their colonys from Britain, Italy, and Spain.

It must also be kept in mind that Frances military was largely disbanded, and its armaments were dismantled during the occupation. These things were regulated by the terms of the Franco-German armistice. The Nazis would not be relying on the good conscience of the French: They would be relying on the German armistice commission.

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by historygeek2021 » 17 Jul 2021 04:45

Avalancheon wrote:
17 Jul 2021 02:32

It must also be kept in mind that Frances military and armaments were partially dismantled during the occupation, and was regulated by the terms of the Franco-German armistice. The Nazis would not be relying on the good conscience of the French: They would be relying on the German armistice commission.
Meanwhile France is secretly rebuilding its army in North Africa, and the British and Americans are raising armies. 1942 comes and the Wehrmacht is half frozen to death in the Soviet Union, and a million British and American soldiers sail into French ports, link up with the French North African armies, and steamroll into Germany.

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jul 2021 05:05

Avalancheon wrote:The Nazis would not be relying on the good conscience of the French: They would be relying on the German armistice commission.
A good point. It wouldn't have been THAT hard to keep Germany disarmed after Versailles, had the Allies been sufficiently ruthless. Can anyone doubt that Germany would have been sufficiently ruthless?
historygeek2021 wrote:1942 comes and the Wehrmacht is half frozen to death in the Soviet Union
...but of course if RKKA eventually curb-stomps the Wehrmacht, nothing in France makes much difference. Even a supine France can be invaded by the Wallies later (I don't doubt they'd be sufficiently ruthless, given weak opposition in France) and then Germany is still cooked.

No Axis WW2 ATL is viable unless it leads to defeating the SU.
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: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by Avalancheon » 17 Jul 2021 05:50

historygeek2021 wrote:
17 Jul 2021 04:45
Meanwhile France is secretly rebuilding its army in North Africa, and the British and Americans are raising armies. 1942 comes and the Wehrmacht is half frozen to death in the Soviet Union, and a million British and American soldiers sail into French ports, link up with the French North African armies, and steamroll into Germany.
The Germans would never pull out of Western Europe without some sort of agreement having been made with Britain. They were to savvy for that. But as for the risk of France raising a secret army in North Africa, this was a genuine possibility.


''Germany regarded the interests of Italy as being of much more importance in the French African possessions than its own. The Italian Armistice Commission, however, had a difficult time forcing the French in North Africa to comply with the armistice. The Italians proved quite inept at directing the activity of the French North African array, and the French pursued a successful policy of hiding material and munitions from the Italian control commissions.''

''The 100,000 men assigned as the maximum limit for the French armistice army did not include the size of the French colonial army. In North Africa, the German Armistice Commission did not concern itself with any questions dealing with the French army in those areas under Italian control.''

-The German-French Armistice Of June, 1940, And The German Armistice Commission, 1940-1942.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Jul 2021 05:05
Avalancheon wrote:The Nazis would not be relying on the good conscience of the French: They would be relying on the German armistice commission.
A good point. It wouldn't have been THAT hard to keep Germany disarmed after Versailles, had the Allies been sufficiently ruthless. Can anyone doubt that Germany would have been sufficiently ruthless?
Williamson Murray has a funny anecdote in one of his books about a German officer in 1938 recounting his experiences of the Allied Control Commission. ''I gave my word of honor as a German officer that no arms were concealed behind that wall. The Englishman believed me and was prepared to go away. The Frenchman did not, with the result that the wall was pulled down and that my arms were taken away.''

Anyway, Germany didn't really start chaffing against the Treaty of Versailles until after the Nazis got into power. That was when Britain and France should have taken action. Their failure to do so is presumably what led to Winston Churchills desparing words about 'not fighting for right when you can easily win without bloodshed.'

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by historygeek2021 » 17 Jul 2021 12:24

Avalancheon wrote:
17 Jul 2021 05:50

The Germans would never pull out of Western Europe without some sort of agreement having been made with Britain.
And the British would never make an agreement with Nazi Germany, so I guess we can throw this ATL out the window.

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by KDF33 » 17 Jul 2021 14:32

IMO, this could be a workable strategy, if accompanied by shelving the invasion of the USSR.

I would add that Germany should have:

1. Let the French keep Alsace-Lorraine
2. Freed all French PoWs
3. Let the French keep their army

The Germans should have avoided bombing Britain altogether and instead focused on a downgraded version of the submarine campaign, the prompt elimination of Malta and a fully-resourced offensive from North Africa into the Middle East.

Meanwhile, repeated offers of terms, including through French channels, should have been sent out to Britain.

Effectively, the goal would be to 'freeze' the conflict in a manner that limits the desire for - as well as the geographical feasibility of - offensive action against Germany.

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Re: What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Post by thaddeus_c » 17 Jul 2021 17:05

glenn239 wrote:
16 Jul 2021 18:12
I think you've hit upon one of the great 'what if' strategies available - at least theoretically - to Germany in July 1940. But a number of things were not possible with this option. Sealion or the Battle of Britain. The Battle of the Atlantic would be conducted from Norway, which was not as optimal. Barbarossa is riskier, (if such a thing as this being riskier were even possible!)

On the flip side, a neutral France with an intact fleet poses problems for the British blockade of Europe. More importantly, the US drive to war is reduced because France is in French hands, not German.
KDF33 wrote:
17 Jul 2021 14:32
IMO, this could be a workable strategy, if accompanied by shelving the invasion of the USSR.

The Germans should have avoided bombing Britain altogether and instead focused on a downgraded version of the submarine campaign, the prompt elimination of Malta and a fully-resourced offensive from North Africa into the Middle East.
they probably could have struck some deal where they largely withdraw from France. held all the KM in Norway as a fleet-in-being (or a fleet-in-waiting) prior to Barbarossa, been more effective blocking the Arctic Convoys?

obtained some of the French auxiliary cruisers already in the Med to bolster the KM there? absent the French Atlantic uboat bunkers, allowing the use of Tunis and Aleppo might seem a good deal to the French side?

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