What if Germany withdrew from France after its surrender?

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
KDF33
Member
Posts: 943
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

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

Post by KDF33 » 17 Jul 2021 17:46

thaddeus_c wrote:
17 Jul 2021 17:05
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?
IMO, it doesn't make much sense for the Germans to attack the Soviet Union if they withdraw from France.

Also, pressuring Paris into allowing the use of Tunis and Aleppo will just antagonize them. Better to let France stay completely neutral, with strong national capabilities, but remove any and all casus belli from the relationship. A 'no victor, no vanquished' type of situation, where the armistice with Germany leaves France wholly intact, and effectively only undoes the declaration of war of 9/3/1939. With an anticommunist, conservative-authoritarian government at the helm, and with Germany's benign intentions toward France established via the armistice conditions, I don't see France resuming hostilities.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Member
Posts: 2602
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Jul 2021 05:54

KDF33 wrote:
17 Jul 2021 17:46
thaddeus_c wrote:
17 Jul 2021 17:05
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?
IMO, it doesn't make much sense for the Germans to attack the Soviet Union if they withdraw from France.

Also, pressuring Paris into allowing the use of Tunis and Aleppo will just antagonize them. Better to let France stay completely neutral, with strong national capabilities, but remove any and all casus belli from the relationship. A 'no victor, no vanquished' type of situation, where the armistice with Germany leaves France wholly intact, and effectively only undoes the declaration of war of 9/3/1939. With an anticommunist, conservative-authoritarian government at the helm, and with Germany's benign intentions toward France established via the armistice conditions, I don't see France resuming hostilities.
KDF33 doesn't say anything about the feasibility of this course; I assume he doesn't think it's feasible given historical personalities etc.

So my point isn't to critique the reasoning on purely rational terms, which seems valid.

Rather, I'll say this points up that WW2 was a German problem rather than a Nazi problem (many specific horrors of the war, however, being Nazi-specific problems).

Why? Because the mostly non-Nazi conservative-authoritarians in Germany would never have supported this deal and likely would have coup'd Hitler had he made it. The Holocaust was not a step too far for them; abandoning the gains paid for in sacred German blood would have been. Even Bethmann-Hollweg, a leftist by German WW2 standards, would have taken a pound of flesh from France. Prior to WW2, even liberals like Stresman never conceded the validity of Germany's Versailles borders.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

glenn239
Member
Posts: 5313
Joined: 29 Apr 2005 01:20
Location: Ontario, Canada

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

Post by glenn239 » 19 Jul 2021 17:29

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Jul 2021 21:03
Looking at the original question from a different angle. How does Germany ensure France honors any agreement?
Germany would retain the Maginot Line.

glenn239
Member
Posts: 5313
Joined: 29 Apr 2005 01:20
Location: Ontario, Canada

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

Post by glenn239 » 19 Jul 2021 17:32

KDF33 wrote:
17 Jul 2021 14:32
IMO, this could be a workable strategy, if accompanied by shelving the invasion of the USSR.

....

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.
Yep.

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 425
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: America

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

Post by historygeek2021 » 19 Jul 2021 17:43

glenn239 wrote:
19 Jul 2021 17:29
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Jul 2021 21:03
Looking at the original question from a different angle. How does Germany ensure France honors any agreement?
Germany would retain the Maginot Line.
That wouldn't be a withdrawal from France then. It would just be a lesser occupation zone, i.e., the effective annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, which even the most far-right French politicians (Laval) would never accept, and would provoke another war with France at the earliest opportunity (i.e., when most of the German army was in Russia).

glenn239
Member
Posts: 5313
Joined: 29 Apr 2005 01:20
Location: Ontario, Canada

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

Post by glenn239 » 19 Jul 2021 19:55

historygeek2021 wrote:
19 Jul 2021 17:43
That wouldn't be a withdrawal from France then. It would just be a lesser occupation zone, i.e., the effective annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, which even the most far-right French politicians (Laval) would never accept, and would provoke another war with France at the earliest opportunity (i.e., when most of the German army was in Russia).
The discussion has already identified war in the USSR as incompatible with a strategy of withdrawal from France. So was the Battle of Britain, or a more effective War of the Atlantic. KDF33 hit the nail on the head by saying that what the OP is proposing is a limited war strategy intended to prevent a total war.

Conflating the occupation of the Maginot Line with annexing Alsace-Lorraine seems a bit of a reach.

KDF33
Member
Posts: 943
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

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

Post by KDF33 » 19 Jul 2021 21:50

glenn239 wrote:
19 Jul 2021 19:55
Conflating the occupation of the Maginot Line with annexing Alsace-Lorraine seems a bit of a reach.
I agree, although IMO the Germans shouldn't even occupy the Maginot line in this scenario.

In effect, the goal would be to demonstrate to the French that they lose absolutely nothing in an Europe where Germany is ascendant, but not hegemonic. There would be no annexations, no occupation, no disarmament, no reparations, no obligation to do anything besides exiting the war.

Thus, France would remain as a great power, albeit now a conservative-authoritarian one that, by virtue of its very geography, would block the way to a landing on the continent. The optimal outcome would be that Paris would get more and more annoyed with British refusal to make peace, given how no obvious French national interest would be threatened by the new status quo. At some point, the British would look silly partaking in a war that they can't effectively wage, and that everyone else has moved on from.

As for 'guarantees' against renewed Franco-German hostilities, they would be:

1. No territorial disagreements between France and Germany (Alsace-Lorraine would be conceded to France for good)
2. No limits to French national sovereignty in the new Europe
3. Compatible ideologies in Paris and Berlin, most prominently authoritarianism and anticommunism
4. The retention of the bulk of the Wehrmacht in Germany

U.S. desire to join the war would be limited by the smaller scope of the war at sea, as well as the end, post-Battle of France, to German expansionism.

In the absence of peace with Britain, the war's main theater would be the Mediterranean, with the Germans launching a major effort to 1) take Malta to secure supply lines and 2) upgrade port capacity and logistics in the Libya-Egypt area. Again, at all times the Germans would make it known, including through French back channels, that they are willing to conclude a 'no victors, no vanquished' peace with Britain, similar to that just concluded with France.

thaddeus_c
Member
Posts: 687
Joined: 22 Jan 2014 03:16

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

Post by thaddeus_c » 20 Jul 2021 01:30

glenn239 wrote:
19 Jul 2021 17:29
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Jul 2021 21:03
Looking at the original question from a different angle. How does Germany ensure France honors any agreement?
Germany would retain the Maginot Line.
my speculation always suggests that as a border, convenient since in the north it is a series of fortifications not exactly a fixed line?

it would take some period of time for the "proper" Maginot Line in the east to be "reconstructed" and the historical payments, paid out of Belgian and Polish gold reserves to be received?

still think anything that returned the government to Paris and did not have u-boat bunkers being constructed along the coast would be popular.

glenn239
Member
Posts: 5313
Joined: 29 Apr 2005 01:20
Location: Ontario, Canada

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

Post by glenn239 » 20 Jul 2021 18:13

KDF33 wrote:
19 Jul 2021 21:50
I agree, although IMO the Germans shouldn't even occupy the Maginot line in this scenario.

In effect, the goal would be to demonstrate to the French that they lose absolutely nothing in an Europe where Germany is ascendant, but not hegemonic. There would be no annexations, no occupation, no disarmament, no reparations, no obligation to do anything besides exiting the war.
There was the further option where Germany offered French annexations of Belgian and other territory as quid pro quo for German annexations in Poland.
As for 'guarantees' against renewed Franco-German hostilities, they would be:
While Britain was at war, Germany holding the Maginot Line would do wonders to quiet any French voices in Paris arguing for a war of revenge.
U.S. desire to join the war would be limited by the smaller scope of the war at sea, as well as the end, post-Battle of France, to German expansionism
And the war at sea itself would be smaller in scale due to no French ports, meaning less likelihood of a German-US naval clash.

User avatar
MarkF617
Member
Posts: 173
Joined: 16 Jun 2014 21:11
Location: United Kingdom

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

Post by MarkF617 » 21 Jul 2021 21:08

So in this German utopean Europe what happens when Britain doesn't give up? What happens in a couple of years when the Soviets are fully re-organised and fully equipped with T34s and KVs, modern aircraft and roll across the inter Polish border?
There are many possibilities for Britain. With France handed back there is absolutely no chance of an invasion, no need for fightet seeps over France so Churchill is free to massively re-enforce North Africa and with reduced U boat threat there will be more transports to support this.
Question: what is Italy doing in this scenario? I'm assuming they are defeated in africa as OTL and German troops sent to help also as OTL but do they still invade Greece? And if so does Germany bail them out?
I see a future in this ATL with a sizable British landing in the Balkans (one of Churchill's pet wants) and simultaneously with a Soviet thrust towards Romania and East Prussia. France will probably also attack at this point (as they have not been disarmed or restricted) giving Germany no hope. And that's if the Americans only provide lend lease aid not direct intervention.
At the end of the day this is just another "lets find a way that Germany doesn't get stomped" thread. At the end of the day the only way to do that was for the Nazis to be nice and not start the War.

Just a few thoughts

Mark.

Just
You know you're British when you drive your German car to an Irish pub for a pint of Belgian beer before having an Indian meal. When you get home you sit on your Sweedish sofa and watch American programs on your Japanese TV.

KDF33
Member
Posts: 943
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

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

Post by KDF33 » 21 Jul 2021 22:45

MarkF617 wrote:
21 Jul 2021 21:08
So in this German utopean Europe what happens when Britain doesn't give up?
Britain gradually loses its territorial holdings in Africa and the Near East.
MarkF617 wrote:
21 Jul 2021 21:08
What happens in a couple of years when the Soviets are fully re-organised and fully equipped with T34s and KVs, modern aircraft and roll across the inter Polish border?
First, why would they do such a rash thing?

Second, if they did they would become the aggressor, in the context of an Europe that is mostly free of German occupation, with France as an heretofore neutral, but anticommunist, great power.
MarkF617 wrote:
21 Jul 2021 21:08
There are many possibilities for Britain. With France handed back there is absolutely no chance of an invasion, no need for fightet seeps over France so Churchill is free to massively re-enforce North Africa and with reduced U boat threat there will be more transports to support this.
The Axis is far more capable of 'massively reinforcing North Africa' than Britain in this scenario.
MarkF617 wrote:
21 Jul 2021 21:08
Question: what is Italy doing in this scenario? I'm assuming they are defeated in africa as OTL and German troops sent to help also as OTL but do they still invade Greece? And if so does Germany bail them out?
Presumably the same as historically. Admittedly, a less ambitious Germany might also better coordinate with its Italian partner.
MarkF617 wrote:
21 Jul 2021 21:08
I see a future in this ATL with a sizable British landing in the Balkans (one of Churchill's pet wants) and simultaneously with a Soviet thrust towards Romania and East Prussia. France will probably also attack at this point (as they have not been disarmed or restricted) giving Germany no hope. And that's if the Americans only provide lend lease aid not direct intervention.
How would the British land in the Balkans? In point of fact, how would the British maintain their position in Africa and the Near East?

Why would the Soviets attack Germany?

Why would France attack Germany?

Why would the U.S. join the war as an active belligerent?

User avatar
MarkF617
Member
Posts: 173
Joined: 16 Jun 2014 21:11
Location: United Kingdom

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

Post by MarkF617 » 22 Jul 2021 00:56

Why wouldn't they?
Stalin knows Hitler has his eyes on liebensraum in the east so is getting ready for a confrontation. We don't know if he was planning to attack or not but it is more likely than letting France off with a slap on the wrist and don't do it again.
If france was left alone with no restrictions and allowed to fully re-arm after the masdive humiliation they suffered why wouldn't they take advantage to get their own back?
I never said America would directly intervene but they might. Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Poland, Norway, Denmark were still under German control, possibly Yugoslavia and Greece by this point and shipping still being sunk in the Atlantic. Not much has really changed, only France has been let off the hook.
In the Mediterranean tje Germans could not re-enforce any more than they fid in the OTL. There simply wasn't the shipping or port facilities. Britain on the other hand could. Imagine Alamein build-up a year earlier.
Just because Germany is nice to France just after the nation's greatest humiliation since Azincourt doesn't mean everyone else will think the Nazis are nice lets leave them alone.

Thans

Mark.
You know you're British when you drive your German car to an Irish pub for a pint of Belgian beer before having an Indian meal. When you get home you sit on your Sweedish sofa and watch American programs on your Japanese TV.

User avatar
MarkF617
Member
Posts: 173
Joined: 16 Jun 2014 21:11
Location: United Kingdom

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

Post by MarkF617 » 22 Jul 2021 00:59

Another point is if every thing is so sorted in the west why no Barbarossa?

Thanks

Mark.
You know you're British when you drive your German car to an Irish pub for a pint of Belgian beer before having an Indian meal. When you get home you sit on your Sweedish sofa and watch American programs on your Japanese TV.

KDF33
Member
Posts: 943
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

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

Post by KDF33 » 22 Jul 2021 02:01

MarkF617 wrote:
22 Jul 2021 00:56
Why wouldn't they?
For one, because attacking Germany, especially a Germany fighting a limited war, will be seen as a mortal threat to almost everyone in Europe. The Finns, Romanians, Hungarians, Italians - and yes, in all likelihood even the new regime in France.

In this scenario, I can even see the U.K. questioning the centrality of its opposition to Germany: it would be much better to have Germany as primus inter pares among a concert of great European powers than a conquering Soviet Union spanning from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
MarkF617 wrote:
22 Jul 2021 00:56
Stalin knows Hitler has his eyes on liebensraum in the east so is getting ready for a confrontation.
I don't know about that. Stalin offered to join the Tripartite Pact in November 1940.
MarkF617 wrote:
22 Jul 2021 00:56
If france was left alone with no restrictions and allowed to fully re-arm after the masdive humiliation they suffered why wouldn't they take advantage to get their own back?
First, because most the Wehrmacht would be stationed in Germany.

Second, because there would be no point in resuming hostilities, beyond a general desire to destroy German power. But why would a conservative-authoritarian regime in Paris want to destroy Germany, in a situation where the latter is not overbearing? In this context, the destruction of Germany would only open the road to Soviet power in Europe, a far more dangerous affair for France.
MarkF617 wrote:
22 Jul 2021 00:56
I never said America would directly intervene but they might. Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Poland, Norway, Denmark were still under German control, possibly Yugoslavia and Greece by this point and shipping still being sunk in the Atlantic. Not much has really changed, only France has been let off the hook.
Much has been changed, in point of fact. By leaving France intact as an autonomous great power, and keeping the peace with the USSR, the threat of unlimited German hegemony would vastly recede.
MarkF617 wrote:
22 Jul 2021 00:56
In the Mediterranean tje Germans could not re-enforce any more than they fid in the OTL. There simply wasn't the shipping or port facilities.
Of course there was enough shipping and port facilities. The Italian merchant fleet started the war with over 2 million GRT in the Mediterranean! With no war in the East, the Axis could also focus on the production of cargo ships, as well as develop port facilities in Libya and into Egypt.
MarkF617 wrote:
22 Jul 2021 00:56
Britain on the other hand could. Imagine Alamein build-up a year earlier.
Alamein a year earlier against a Wehrmacht unoccupied by war in the East would be a British disaster.
MarkF617 wrote:
22 Jul 2021 00:56
Just because Germany is nice to France just after the nation's greatest humiliation since Azincourt doesn't mean everyone else will think the Nazis are nice lets leave them alone.
It's not about the Nazis being nice. It's about the Nazis not threatening everyone by seeking unlimited expansion and power.

User avatar
AiBosq
Member
Posts: 19
Joined: 29 Mar 2021 18:09
Location: USA

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

Post by AiBosq » 22 Jul 2021 02:20

MarkF617 wrote:
22 Jul 2021 00:56
Why wouldn't they?
Stalin knows Hitler has his eyes on liebensraum in the east so is getting ready for a confrontation. We don't know if he was planning to attack or not but it is more likely than letting France off with a slap on the wrist and don't do it again.
I believe Hitler in his meeting with Molotov said that the conquests in Poland were "enough to last Germany for 100 years," and Stalin had read the transcript of that. You also have the fact that Hitler offered to let the Soviets join the Tripartite pact, I think you're being too deterministic about Barbarossa imo.

Return to “What if”