Chances for a German Soviet armistice in 1941-42

Discussions on WW2 in Eastern Europe.
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Scott Smith
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A Separate Peace...

Post by Scott Smith » 06 Nov 2002 14:26

Qvist wrote:
Scott wrote:I don't see why there couldn't be a balance-of-power between these two powers or even ideologies as with any others.
In principle I agree, but not after Barbarossa.
Ordinarily this would be so but we are not speaking about "bourgeois" nations here but two systems run by dictators; thus, we don't need diplomacy based on a long history of trust-relationships. Conflict has a way of bringing catharsis. Even if it yields nothing for either side, a good peace can still come of it because it is a mutual self-interest.

If in the autumn of 1941 (before the first German reversals but after it *should* have been obvious to the German General Staff that there was a problem looming with Barbarossa), Hitler had proposed to Stalin something along the lines of the "historical" Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which had been signed by Lenin, both sides could have saved face. This would have given Hitler and Stalin each some breathing room and neither would have been very rash about restarting the conflict.

Even with a peace treaty with Russia, for Germany to survive, Hitler would have had to find a way of getting the British out of the war without bringing the USA into it. He could have been generous and restored sovereignty in Western Europe as soon as the British signed a peace treaty. The next few years would be touchy but normalization would have resumed without war providing some skilled diplomacy was at work. You don't deal with Western diplomats like they are bourgeois German political parties during the Kampfzeit. Hitler would have to rebuild the trust lost at Munich.

Hitler might have reopened the chapter on diplomacy which had failed him following Munich if he had clearly understood that there were fundamental cracks in the Prussian military establishment and that "Blitzkrieg" offered no panacea; but I don't think that realization sunk in until after the reversals of the Russian winter, and by then it was too late.

For Stalin, the immediate crisis was soon past; there was always plenty of men and materiel to throw into the breach. Japan was now in the war and occupied elsewhere, and the USA was in the Total War against Germany to save Anglo-Saxon world hegemony. Therefore, Stalin almost couldn't lose and had little reason to deal with Hitler except on HIS terms, and the price would be very high.

So in the autumn of 1941, Hitler would have to:

1) Offer a Brest-Litovsk style peace to save Stalin but leaving Germany in a better peacetime economic position, as Hitler would have more access to resources and labor.

2) Find some way to contain Great Britain or get them out of the war without drawing the USA into it.

The above was doable prior to Pearl Harbor. But with each Russian victory and the onset of winter conditions Germany's bargaining position would have eroded, so the sooner the better.

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