The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

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historygeek2021
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The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by historygeek2021 » 23 Feb 2021 22:40

Germany's overall strategy in 1941 makes sense when you look at it from the perspective of trying to knock Britain out of the war. The strategy is basically as follows:

1. Deliver a crippling blow against the Soviet Union.

2. With the Soviet Union crippled, Japan is free to conquer Britain's colonies.

3. Germany helps Italy defeat Britain in the Mediterranean.

4. German U-boats sink Britain's merchant fleet.

The German strategy was to force Britain into a "three front" war that it could not win: (1) against Japan in the Pacific, (2) against Italy and Germany in the Mediterranean, and (3) against Germany's U-boats in the Atlantic.

This explains the elation among Germany's senior commanders when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The main goal of the Barbarossa campaign was to free Japan to attack Britain's Pacific colonies, and this had been achieved.

Today we know that the flaw in the plan was the United States, but the Germans in 1941 didn't know how quickly the United States could come to Britain's rescue. When you consider that the main goal of the plan was to knock out Britain, it makes sense that Germany would declare war on the United States in December 1941. This would prevent the United States from focusing everything on Japan and saving Britain's colonies in the Far East.

Obviously this was not a perfect plan, but it does make a certain kind of sense from a global geostrategic point of view.

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by historygeek2021 » 23 Feb 2021 22:52

The other flaw in the plan is that it underestimated Britain's will to defeat Germany, and Hitler in particular. Britain was willing to lose its most valuable colonies if it meant getting rid of Hitler and eliminating Germany as a threat once and for all. Hitler seems not to have understood just how strongly he was hated by the British and thought they would engage in a cost/benefit analysis of continuing the war rather than a devoted struggle to rid the world of Nazism.

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wm
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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by wm » 23 Feb 2021 23:48

If the success of your strategy depends on your enemy's responses you're are doing it all wrong.
Because your enemy may be unwilling to do your bidding in a fytw manner.

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by nota » 24 Feb 2021 23:53

better by far would have been a one nation at a time war against the combined forces of the axis
and as GB was the only one up finish that war first
do NOT move on to the reds before japan joins the war on GB and they get a deal to end it
only after that build up to fight the reds and maybe they have a small chance of a win more likely a tie/deal

leave the USA alone as much as possible as long as possible or they lost the war










g

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by Sheldrake » 25 Feb 2021 03:59

historygeek2021 wrote:
23 Feb 2021 22:40
Germany's overall strategy in 1941 makes sense when you look at it from the perspective of trying to knock Britain out of the war. The strategy is basically as follows:

1. Deliver a crippling blow against the Soviet Union.

2. With the Soviet Union crippled, Japan is free to conquer Britain's colonies.

3. Germany helps Italy defeat Britain in the Mediterranean.

4. German U-boats sink Britain's merchant fleet.

The German strategy was to force Britain into a "three front" war that it could not win: (1) against Japan in the Pacific, (2) against Italy and Germany in the Mediterranean, and (3) against Germany's U-boats in the Atlantic.

This explains the elation among Germany's senior commanders when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The main goal of the Barbarossa campaign was to free Japan to attack Britain's Pacific colonies, and this had been achieved.

Today we know that the flaw in the plan was the United States, but the Germans in 1941 didn't know how quickly the United States could come to Britain's rescue. When you consider that the main goal of the plan was to knock out Britain, it makes sense that Germany would declare war on the United States in December 1941. This would prevent the United States from focusing everything on Japan and saving Britain's colonies in the Far East.

Obviously this was not a perfect plan, but it does make a certain kind of sense from a global geostrategic point of view.
I don't think Hitler can be found as at any point agreeing with your points. However, I can see why an alien might see this pattern. There are several definitions of "Strategy". There is a planned strategy and an emergent strategy.

Hitler justified the attack on the USSR as a means of defeating the only possible British ally in Europe. But it neatly dovetailed into the idea of Lebensraum outlined in Mein Kampf

Surely the Germans hoped that the Japanese would attack the USSR and not gobble up British colonies?

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by historygeek2021 » 25 Feb 2021 04:24

Ribbentrop sent the following message to Japan in 1941 before Operation Barbarossa:

“Today it is impossible to avoid a war against the Soviet Union. If the war really comes, however, I am convinced that it will be over within a few months. Please trust me on this. In this war Germany does not need any help from Japan. Moreover, the outcome of the war will favor Japan.”

Quoted in Ellman, James. Hitler's Great Gamble (p. 239). Stackpole Books. Kindle Edition.

Germany made no attempt to include Japan in its plans for attacking the Soviet Union. All of Hitler's actions in 1940 were geared toward getting Britain out of the war. When they failed, what did he say?

"Britain's hope is Russia ... the removal of Russia strengthens Japan's position in Eastern Asia enormously. Russia is Britain's and America's rapier against Japan. Russia is the factor on which Britain is counting most of all."

https://books.google.com/books?id=HiMlD ... PA165&dq==

Why would Britain need a rapier against Japan in the Pacific? Because Britain's most valuable colonies, containing the world's largest supply of natural rubber, were located within striking distance of Japan. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, there was elation in Berlin, because they did not think Britain could survive a three front war against Japan.

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by Andy H » 25 Feb 2021 15:14

historygeek2021 wrote:
23 Feb 2021 22:40
Germany's overall strategy in 1941 makes sense when you look at it from the perspective of trying to knock Britain out of the war. The strategy is basically as follows:

1. Deliver a crippling blow against the Soviet Union.

2. With the Soviet Union crippled, Japan is free to conquer Britain's colonies.

3. Germany helps Italy defeat Britain in the Mediterranean.

4. German U-boats sink Britain's merchant fleet.

The German strategy was to force Britain into a "three front" war that it could not win: (1) against Japan in the Pacific, (2) against Italy and Germany in the Mediterranean, and (3) against Germany's U-boats in the Atlantic.

This explains the elation among Germany's senior commanders when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The main goal of the Barbarossa campaign was to free Japan to attack Britain's Pacific colonies, and this had been achieved.

Today we know that the flaw in the plan was the United States, but the Germans in 1941 didn't know how quickly the United States could come to Britain's rescue. When you consider that the main goal of the plan was to knock out Britain, it makes sense that Germany would declare war on the United States in December 1941. This would prevent the United States from focusing everything on Japan and saving Britain's colonies in the Far East.

Obviously this was not a perfect plan, but it does make a certain kind of sense from a global geostrategic point of view.
Hi historygeek2021

I think you're stretching the meaning of the word 'strategy' here.

If you look at Germanys strategy, it was more a case of broad brush wishful thinking or reactive measures when it came to its allies.
The Axis had very few detailed strategies in how to beat the Allied nations. They failed woefully in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean sea, the Balkans and Russia.

The fact that you state that the Germans didn't know how fast the US would react, shows wishful, naïve and inept thinking. The US without the attack on PH was slowly creeping to a more active role, PH just facilitated that move. Also bear in mind that Germany declared war on the US first, another make it up as you go along plan.

In terms of a 3front war with the UK, Germany forced the first in the Atlantic, Italy (not Germany) decided on its path in the Med & Indian ocean and at best Germany/Italy actions enabled the Japanese offensives in late'41.

Regards

Andy H

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by historygeek2021 » 25 Feb 2021 18:08

The title of the thread says "in 1941". Yes, the Atlantic and Mediterranean theaters were givens by 1941. What was Germany's strategy in 1941? Invade the Soviet Union. This has been widely lampooned as the biggest mistake of the war, but most people don't look at its global implications and how they would be seen with the limited information that German leadership had in 1941. Germany correctly saw that with the Soviet Union eliminated as a threat, Japan would be free to conquer Britain's valuable Pacific colonies. This was the most amount of damage that Germany could inflict on the British Empire. Germany couldn't invade Britain. Germany couldn't bomb Britain into submission. Germany was already making as many U-boats as possible. Germany might be able to take the Suez Canal but Britain could just ship the long way around Africa. By attacking the Soviet Union, German effectively took away the territories that were the reason for the Suez Canal in the first place.

Germany adopted the strategy that:

(1) Inflicted the most damage on what they believed to be their primary opponent (Britain), and

(2) Crippled, at least temporarily, the only ground army in Europe that was capable of challenging the Heer, and at the same time acquired substantial buffer space against a counterattack and acquired a source of vital resources.

So I ask you, what was a better strategy in 1941? Other than the only correct choice, which was to surrender.

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by glenn239 » 25 Feb 2021 18:14

historygeek2021 wrote:
23 Feb 2021 22:40
The main goal of the Barbarossa campaign was to free Japan to attack Britain's Pacific colonies, and this had been achieved.
The Japanese and Soviets signed a non-aggression pact in April 1941that freed up Japan to attack in other directions. This was before the German invasion of the USSR.

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by historygeek2021 » 25 Feb 2021 19:58

Non-aggression pacts weren't worth the paper they were printed on. Japan was planning to betray the Soviet Union as soon as Matsuoka got back to Tokyo. It wasn't until the US embargo that Japan decided on the southern strategy.

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by KDF33 » 26 Feb 2021 04:01

historygeek2021 wrote:
25 Feb 2021 18:08
So I ask you, what was a better strategy in 1941? Other than the only correct choice, which was to surrender.
How was surrendering the correct choice? The German leadership couldn't survive defeat.

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by historygeek2021 » 26 Feb 2021 04:20

Surrender was the only choice that would have saved the lives of the German people and their cities and homes from destruction. Obviously the people in charge would never choose it. Given that they would continue the war, they could either go on the defensive or try to deliver the strongest possible blow to their enemies. Operation Barbarossa was the latter.

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by KDF33 » 26 Feb 2021 05:32

historygeek2021 wrote:
26 Feb 2021 04:20
Given that they would continue the war, they could either go on the defensive or try to deliver the strongest possible blow to their enemies. Operation Barbarossa was the latter.
They could also accept the Molotov draft agreement for Soviet entry into the Tripartite Pact.

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by historygeek2021 » 26 Feb 2021 06:37

The Soviet reply after Molotov's visit to Berlin required the following:

(1) German troops withdraw from Finland,

(2) The USSR be given a free hand to attack Turkey so as to gain control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles, and

(3) Bulgaria must sign a mutual-assistance pact with the USSR and provide the Soviet military with bases along the Black Sea coast.

Finland supplied key resources to Germany: nickel, copper and timber. It also bordered Sweden, which supplied Germany's most important import: high grade iron ore. Bulgaria is 100 kilometers from the Ploesti oil fields. And Turkey was Germany's only source of chromium, other than the Soviet Union.

The Molotov proposal would have put German completely at the mercy of the Soviet Union. If Germany's leaders were communists who wanted to spread worldwide revolution and didn't care about the power of their own country, then signing the Molotov pact would have made sense. But no self-respecting German nationalist in the first half of the twentieth century would have put their country at the mercy of Josef Stalin.

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Re: The Logic of German Global Military Strategy in 1941

Post by wm » 26 Feb 2021 09:36

The Germans put themselves at the mercy of Stalin by signing the Hitler-Stalin Pact.
Nothing changed a year later.

The Ploesti oil fields were close to Bulgaria but we're close to the Soviet border too.

Hitler gave Finland to Stalin and broke his word by sending his troops there.

Unrestricted access to oceans was a long-standing Russian goal - if the Germans never heard about it then, maybe they should have read more.

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