At what point did Germany lose WW2?

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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Sep 2019 03:39

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
23 Sep 2019 03:05
Peter89 wrote:
22 Sep 2019 05:59

And even if the whole SU collapses, the West could defeat Germany on their own.
This is the key point that everyone seems to be missing. The USA and UK were lightyears ahead of Germany economically and technologically. Germany was under siege, with shortages of manpower and raw materials, while the western Allies had access to the entire planet's resources on a scale dwarfing anything Germany could have harvested from the Soviet Union. The Allies could sit back and siege Europe while Germany slowly starved.
This is a big topic; our disagreement is explored elsewhere.
A Germany in control of all Europe (including Russia to the Urals) has more economic resources than the Anglosphere (of course there's a mobilization issue).
Germany certainly wouldn't have starved under blockade in this scenario. Many Europeans might have starved, especially in the East, but obviously Hitler doesn't think that's his problem.
With the Caucasian oilfields coming back online in 1943-4, the agricultural output of occupied Europe could have been brought back to near pre-war levels.
The West would have tried to bomb Baku but there's no reason to think they'd see more success than against Ploesti; plus a Germany that has beaten Stalin has far greater resources, a far greater portion of which would go to the LW instead of the Ostheer.
Siege isn't an option for Western victory; nuclear devastation stretching into 1946 perhaps is. But then what do the Allies do when the Nazis retaliate with Sarin gas against not only the UK but occupied Europe as well? It's hard to imagine things worse than Nazi victory in Europe but a continent-wide nuclear/chemical holocaust might fit that bill.
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: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 23 Sep 2019 05:25

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Sep 2019 03:39

A Germany in control of all Europe (including Russia to the Urals) has more economic resources than the Anglosphere (of course there's a mobilization issue).
That's just silly. The USA alone had three times the GDP of Germany at the peak of Germany's economy in 1944. See the below chart from "The Economics of World War II", edited by Mark Harrison:
WW2 GDPs.png
The Allies had access to the entire world's resources other than Europe. All of South America and Africa and the Middle East, and once Japan falls, all of Asia too. The United States had the vast majority of the world's oil (many times more than Baku), the world's largest supply of tungsten, and more than enough food for all of the Allies. The USA's labor force was almost 20 million higher than Germany. The USA and UK both had higher GDP per capita than Germany. Germany would have to rely on slave labor and plundering its neighbors, which can only last so long. An economy based on autarky is inherently weaker than an economy that can freely trade with the rest of the world.

The Allies would have been in no rush. They could slowly choke off continental Europe from the rest of the world and watch Germany get weaker and weaker while its conquered populations grew poorer and more rebellious, and its own citizens struggled under the strain of harsh rations, which is what led to domestic unrest in 1918.
The West would have tried to bomb Baku but there's no reason to think they'd see more success than against Ploesti; plus a Germany that has beaten Stalin has far greater resources, a far greater portion of which would go to the LW instead of the Ostheer.
It's 180 kilometers from Baku to the Persian border. From Ploesti to the closest spot in Italy is 900 kilometers. Baku would have been one giant crater. And Germany lacked the labor force and infrastructure to exploit the raw materials they conquered. It had to rely on slaves and coercion of conquered peoples to harvest these resources, and that is an inherently unproductive, weak economic system.

The best case scenario for Hitler is that western populations see pictures of starving people in Europe, blame their own governments (rather than the Nazis) and force their politicians to send economic aid - but we all know anything more than a token isn't going to happen.
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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by Annatar » 24 Sep 2019 05:11

I doubt Germany would have been starved out if the USSR had fallen by the western allies, Germany would have complete self-sufficiency in food, raw materials & energy due to it occupying land up to the Urals. I agree America had a bigger economy and industrial base than Germany but that itself would not lead to a German defeat insofar as a physical occupation of Germany is needed and America would have to build up a huge land army with 250 or more divisions and it's doubtful the American people would have supported that, there were manpower shortages relating to front line infantry units in a much smaller US army of 89 divisions by early 1945 it should be noted, unless FDR can get Americans ready to lose millions of men I don't see how Germany is defeated if the USSR falls.

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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 24 Sep 2019 07:28

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:The USA alone had three times the GDP of Germany at the peak of Germany's economy in 1944. See the below chart from "The Economics of World War II", edited by Mark Harrison:
True re 1944 but you're looking at a peak USA versus a devastated Germany and occupied Europe.
See Harrison's chart based on 1938 GDP of territories under Axis/Allied control in 1942:

Image

I'll concede that using 1938 figures under-represents the USA, as it slipped back into depression that year.
Nonetheless, if we move ~$200bil of the USSR's GDP from Allied to Axis due to Soviet defeat, the 1938 score tips even in further in Axis favor: ~$1,750bil Axis to ~1,250bil Allied.
EDIT: I highlighted the wrong figure for the Allies - I should have highlighted the 1,748 instead of 1,443. Nonetheless, transferring USSR GDP to Axis would still put Axis 1942 territorial GDP (1938 figures) ahead of Allies, just to a lesser extent (1,750 to ~1,550).
The true economic picture would fall somewhere between 1938 territorial apportionment and 1944 OTL GDP figures.
A Germany with no serious continental enemies can build enough fighters to blunt or even stop the Allied bombing offensive, meaning 1944 production ~25% higher. That applies to the bombing of Baku as well as of industry.

With secure food and oil supplies, the fuel- and fertilizer-starved economies of occupied Europe can regenerate their production.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:The USA's labor force was almost 20 million higher than Germany.
Not once Germany has 400 million people under its sway.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:Germany would have to rely on slave labor and plundering its neighbors, which can only last so long.
I don't see any intrinsic limit to Germany's ability to use foreign labor. Do you? There was never any serious challenge to German rule in occupied countries from partisans alone. The USSR kept its boot on the neck of Eastern Europe for decades; I don't think Hitler would have been squeamish about compelling acquiescence.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote: It's 180 kilometers from Baku to the Persian border. From Ploesti to the closest spot in Italy is 900 kilometers. Baku would have been one giant crater.
Who says Germany stops at the Persian border? Churchill certainly didn't think he would. With the USSR defeated or in collapse, Hitler can make the Caspian Sea an Axis lake, protecting Baku.

It's also extremely difficult to bomb oil production - the Allies always bombed refineries instead. There's literally thousands of individual wells that need something like a direct hit to be permanently out of production. There's insufficient built up area around wells to create a firestorm with area bombing.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:It had to rely on slaves and coercion of conquered peoples to harvest these resources, and that is an inherently unproductive, weak economic system.
Per Tooze, foreign labor was ~70% as productive as German. So yeah, maybe inefficient but Europe's 400+ million could potentially produce more at 70% efficiency than the U.S.'s 130 million or the Anglosphere's ~200mil.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:And Germany lacked the labor force and infrastructure to exploit the raw materials they conquered.
Re infrastructure I estimated in another post that it would cost <2% of Germany's OTL steel budget to build a brand-new double-track railway from Poland to Baku:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=243557&start=300#p2219941

-----------------------------------------------------

Whether the Anglosphere alone would have maintained a real GDP advantage over a Nazi Grossraum stretching from Lisbon to Yekaterinburg is debatable, depending on your assumptions about bombing and occupied collaboration.

If we look at the history of modern warfare, however, a block needs overwhelming superiority to conquer an opposing block. WW1 involved a similar mismatch of economies but was a darn-close call. IMO if Greater Germany and/or the European Axis can maintain even a 2:1 disadvantage against the Anglosphere, the good guys probably don't march into Berlin. There's just too many advantages for the defenders, including asymmetric strategic needs such as a massive shipbuilding industry that Festung Europa needn't worry about. And there's the fact that German soldiers were better, man for man and weapon for weapon, than their contemporaries.

And critically, as Annatar points out, the good guys need to build an army multiple times stronger than OTL and shed blood on a different order of magnitude to reach Berlin. It's at least not obvious to me that the Anglosphere would have been willing to do that.
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: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 24 Sep 2019 07:55

Annatar wrote:unless FDR can get Americans ready to lose millions of men I don't see how Germany is defeated if the USSR falls.
To put a finer point on this, consider Allied losses in the Normandy campaign. Wikipedia has cites to Zetterling's very good book on this subject and I can confirm from my copy that the cites are correct. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Overlord

Over 86 days of fighting against a total of ~640,000 Germans, the Allies suffered 226,386 casualties.
By simple arithmetic with these figures, the average German soldier caused .0041 casualties per soldier-day. [This actually far understates things because German frontline strength was nowhere near 640,000 at the beginning of the campaign.]

By simple extrapolation, a 2-year campaign against a German army with a total strength of 5mil would cost ~15mil casualties. (!)(!)(!). If that sounds impossible, just ask Russia.
Assuming 1/4 of casulties would be deaths, we're talking nearly 4mil dead. If we use a slightly higher estimate of casualties per German solider-day, 5mil dead is easily foreseeable.
Maybe America would be down for such a bloodletting but the UK almost certainly would not have been.
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: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by Peter89 » 24 Sep 2019 09:58

The world (economy, technology, military, demography) was very different in 1940 than it is today.

Europe was the absolute center of the world, it's economy was very dependent on colonial import / export. Also, the second world (like Latin-America) was a major market for the western economies, that helped developed countries to be ran on a high level. The successor states of A-H and the Ottoman Empire on the Balkans couldn't improve their purchase power either, because they were forced to sell goods to Germany without compensation.

The downfall of the Reich's economy was inevitable, or at least a serious drop in living standards. Churchill correctly assumed that a blockade with no invasion will unleash hell on the continent, which actually happened. The Holocaust, the Hunger Plan, etc. aimed to improve the living standards in a brutal way, so make no mistake, a Nazi-ran Europe could only endure with brutality.

Re the balance of power. The anglophonic world was without equal in 1940. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was the only chance to form an alliance which is somewhat competitive with the West.
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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by ljadw » 24 Sep 2019 12:25

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
24 Sep 2019 07:55
Annatar wrote:unless FDR can get Americans ready to lose millions of men I don't see how Germany is defeated if the USSR falls.
To put a finer point on this, consider Allied losses in the Normandy campaign. Wikipedia has cites to Zetterling's very good book on this subject and I can confirm from my copy that the cites are correct. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Overlord

Over 86 days of fighting against a total of ~640,000 Germans, the Allies suffered 226,386 casualties.
By simple arithmetic with these figures, the average German soldier caused .0041 casualties per soldier-day. [This actually far understates things because German frontline strength was nowhere near 640,000 at the beginning of the campaign.]

By simple extrapolation, a 2-year campaign against a German army with a total strength of 5mil would cost ~15mil casualties. (!)(!)(!). If that sounds impossible, just ask Russia.
Assuming 1/4 of casulties would be deaths, we're talking nearly 4mil dead. If we use a slightly higher estimate of casualties per German solider-day, 5mil dead is easily foreseeable.
Maybe America would be down for such a bloodletting but the UK almost certainly would not have been.
Extrapolations are useless

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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by ljadw » 24 Sep 2019 12:36

Annatar wrote:
24 Sep 2019 05:11
I doubt Germany would have been starved out if the USSR had fallen by the western allies, Germany would have complete self-sufficiency in food, raw materials & energy due to it occupying land up to the Urals. I agree America had a bigger economy and industrial base than Germany but that itself would not lead to a German defeat insofar as a physical occupation of Germany is needed and America would have to build up a huge land army with 250 or more divisions and it's doubtful the American people would have supported that, there were manpower shortages relating to front line infantry units in a much smaller US army of 89 divisions by early 1945 it should be noted, unless FDR can get Americans ready to lose millions of men I don't see how Germany is defeated if the USSR falls.
Germany would not have self-sufficiency by the conquest of European Russia, as it would be impossible to produce and transport to Germany the needed food,raw materials and energy .
The occupation ,exploitation and colonization of European Russia would ruin Germany and even without war with the US the Third Reich was doomed : it would collaps BEFORE 1953 .
Where would Germany get the millions of colonists ?
Where would Germany get the millions of soldiers ?
To occupy Europe from the Pyrenees to the Urals,Germany would need,for generations a WM of 5 million men= 6% of the population : imagine the US with a peace army of 20 million men .
Besides, US would not need an army of 250 divisions to defeat Germany : a few nuclear bombs would be sufficient .

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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by Peter89 » 24 Sep 2019 13:52

ljadw wrote:
24 Sep 2019 12:36
Besides, US would not need an army of 250 divisions to defeat Germany : a few nuclear bombs would be sufficient .
A very important topic.

The race for nuclear weapons, medium-ranged ballistic rockets, jet planes, etc.

As much as I know of research (as a researcher myself), the international academical community was aware that a major breakthrough in nuclear physics was imminent. It was Leó Szilárd who invented the proper method for fission, but other research teams would reach that point eventually. There are some debates about the role of Heisenberg (whether he sabotaged the Nazi nuclear bomb project or not), and the role of information stealing by the Soviets, but I think these things only affected their speed.

Btw I think without the war pressure, most of the inventions would have not been made in about a decade.
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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 24 Sep 2019 16:01

@TheMarcksPlan - The GDPs of conquered countries subject to the Allied blockade did not maintain their pre-war levels. In the chart I gave from Mark Harrison above, France's GDP fell by almost half from 1939 to 1943. This is the figure you need to look at, not Tooze's estimate of slave labor production in German factories. We can already see where slave labor got Germany in Table 1.3 from Harrison above - to one third of the United States' economic output.

Tooze also demonstrates the pathetic contribution of conquered countries to German war production in Chapter 12: "In total, during the entire war, the Luftwaffe, the Wehrmacht’s most adventurous sub-contractor, took delivery of only 2,517 aircraft from France and 947 from Holland." He then notes that the primary contribution of the conquered countries was in conscripted labor, which takes us back to Table 1.3 from Harrison - Germany's economic output is one third that of the United States.

Tooze summarizes the flaw in your analysis bluntly in Chapter 12: "In 1938 the Western European countries now dominated by Germany had been a formidable economic force, with a combined GDP greater than that of Britain. The combined effect of the British blockade and the German occupation was to reduce them to a shadow of their former selves." And as Harrison notes, it is western countries that contributed the most to Germany's economy during the war - Germany extracted far less from the impoverished conquered people of eastern Europe.

It is pure fantasy to suggest that a Germany occupying continental Europe, cut off from trade with the rest of the world, will have anything close to the economic production of the United States and British Empire that have access to the entire planet's resources and that operate on a relatively free trade basis rather an inherently inefficient autarkic command economy.

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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by Globalization41 » 25 Sep 2019 04:06

By the end of May 1941, it looked real bad for Britain. Crete had fallen to Hitler. The Hood had been sunk. Would Stalin join the Axis? … F.D.R. hated aggression and wanted in the war badly. Had he asked Congress for and gotten a declaration of war, it would not have been unanimous. Roosevelt would not have gotten an instant blank check. There would have been an antiwar movement and opposition to the draft. The resources needed to produce the A-bomb would have been more difficult to obtain. Minus the war in Russia and political will in America, the western Allies could not have forced unconditional surrender in Europe.

Globalization41.

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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by Peter89 » 25 Sep 2019 06:19

Globalization41 wrote:
25 Sep 2019 04:06
By the end of May 1941, it looked real bad for Britain. Crete had fallen to Hitler. The Hood had been sunk. Would Stalin join the Axis? … F.D.R. hated aggression and wanted in the war badly. Had he asked Congress for and gotten a declaration of war, it would not have been unanimous. Roosevelt would not have gotten an instant blank check. There would have been an antiwar movement and opposition to the draft. The resources needed to produce the A-bomb would have been more difficult to obtain. Minus the war in Russia and political will in America, the western Allies could not have forced unconditional surrender in Europe.

Globalization41.
In 1941 May the British Empire was intact, the island was secure from the air, the mobilisation was on its way, Japan didn't attack, the alliance with the USA was building up. And btw the loss of Hood is greatly exaggregated. It was a symbolic event, not an actual problem. The Bismarck was destroyed, and the whole surface armada of the Reich wasn't a threat anymore.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 25 Sep 2019 06:38

@HistoryGeek2019

It's important for me to be specific about what I mean: I am not saying Nazi Grossraum would out-produce the Anglosphere; the original quote was:
A Germany in control of all Europe (including Russia to the Urals) has more economic resources than the Anglosphere (of course there's a mobilization issue).
We're now basically arguing about the extent of the mobilization issue: to what extent could a Nazi regime sustain the economies of the Grossraum under Allied blockade?

Most critically, could a Nazi regime sustain production at such a level as to preclude the overwhelming material advantage required for a successful Allied attack on Nazi Europe?

You and Tooze correctly point out that occupied economies were collapsing under German occupation but for many reasons it's simplistic to say OTL economic outcomes would have been the same as ATL in which Germany beats Russia.
First, as Tooze notes, a big factor in the collapse of occupied economies was the lack of fuel and fertilizer for the agricultural sector. A Germany that controls the Caucasus can address this issue; a Germany not devoting its chemical industries to filling millions of shells for the Ostheer can produce sufficient fertilizer for Europe.
Second, economic and other collaboration with Germany varied heavily according the perceived course of the war in occupied countries. This is a big topic with many sources but this lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3G0O3nMB1k is a good summary of the issues (I like to convert Youtube lectures to MP3 and listen to them while I'm driving, walking the dog, etc.). To quote the video description:
One of the principal myths concerning collaboration during World War II in France, as in other countries, is that the domestic collaborators did so despite themselves, or to prevent even greater atrocities. In fact, many French, Belgians, Hungarians, Poles, Dutch and others voluntarily and enthusiastically abetted the occupying Germans. This collaboration, inspired by anti-Semitism and xenophobia, often resulted in extremely zealous persecution of Jewish nationals, communists, and others. Along with the myth of reluctant collaboration, France has also been obliged to confront the myth of widespread resistance, promulgated in part by a victorious Charles de Gaulle. Many questions concerning collaboration and resistance still remain unresolved in formerly occupied European countries to this day.
The conventional wisdom is that the Nazis were so odious that nobody would abide them; that narrative is IMO a self-serving revisionist history expounded immediately after the war and perpetrated in national self interests.
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: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 25 Sep 2019 06:50

Exactly what economic resources does continental Europe have more of than the Anglosphere? It certainly doesn't have more oil, or food, or rubber, or tungsten, or chromium. Does it have a greater population, when you take into account the 500 million strong British Empire, and the Free French colonies that would have defected to the Allies by the time the Soviet Union collapsed, and the South American countries that joined the Allies? I doubt it. But it is certainly the case that the European labor force would have had far less economic output per capita, which Harrison identifies as the key factor in determining the economic strength of the WW2 belligerents (with the exception of the Soviet Union for reasons that wouldn't apply in the case of a Nazi occupied Europe). So please tell us exactly what economic resources continental Europe has more of than the Anglosphere.

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Re: At what point did Germany lose WW2?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 25 Sep 2019 08:12

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:Exactly what economic resources does continental Europe have more of than the Anglosphere?
First and foremost, I'm talking about the pre-war economic production of areas occupied by an ATL Germany that has beaten the USSR.
As I've already stated, this pre-war picture must be adjusted for mobilization problems and, as you're suggesting, for raw materials bottlenecks.

The biggest bottleneck to production is always labor; in a modern economy it's industrial labor (i.e. labor that can do more than subsistence farming). This is, to use Harrison's phrase, the "ultimate bottleneck."
The 1950 population of Europe was ~550mil; subtract the British isles and neutrals and you're at ~450mil.
The population of the settler Anglosphere (US plus UK and dominions) was ~200mil.
So the direct answer to your question is industrial labor.
You invoke the full population of the British Empire but the millions living in India and Africa did not participate in industrial labor (they were subsistence farmers), were largely illiterate, and there were no plans to integrate them into the industrial system via the mass migration that would have been required.
It is a generally accepted economic maxim that restrictions on migration are a massive impediment to realization of full global productive potential: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insig ... pportunity
https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdf/10.1257/jep.25.3.83
It is deeply ironic that Nazi Germany, the most racist of all WW2 belligerents, leveraged the economic benefits of migration to a greater extent than any other power (of course they did so in a brutal manner totally inconsistent with those of us who - like me - would love to see a hundred million Indians move to the U.S.).

Beyond labor's ultimate bottleneck, we'd have to look at what other bottlenecks would/could have constrained an ATL Grossraum's production.
You're right that Germany had less oil and other resources than the Anglosphere, but did these constitute operative constraints on production?
Take oil:
Using Harrison's 1943 figures, the German block had ~40% of the GDP of the Anglosphere. In that same year, however, U.S. oil production alone was over 20 times greater than Germany's (including imports and synth fuel). So obviously oil wasn't a linear bottleneck on the productivity of German/Occupied labor (though it was somewhat less than a linear bottleneck because lack of oil compelled less efficient uses of labor), else the German block would have had a few percent of Allied GDP.

By taking the Caucasus, Germany could effectively quadruple its oil resources. Now of course I'm not suggesting that this implies a quadrupling of the block's GDP - that would be as absurd as claiming a 20x factor for U.S. GDP based on oil production - but it does remove the most serious oil-related bottlenecks to European productivity (as mentioned above, fuel for the agricultural and other sectors, along with diversion of chemical industry resources to synth fuel instead of fertilizer).

Re other raw materials, I don't see any prohibitive constraints. Until recently (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_Berge_Stahl) there was very little large-scale shipping of bulk commodities like iron ore and coal - Europe must have been self-sufficient in these factors. German economic planners foresaw being able to supply all of Europe with iron and manganese once the Ukraine was conquered.
-----------------

@HistoryGeek2019 a few topline questions:

(1)(a) Do you agree that (A-bombs aside for now) it would take a significant material advantage for the Anglosphere to successfully invade Europe?
(1)(b) If yes, what material advantage do you envision being sufficient? I don't have a firm view on this question yet other than to say 2:1 seems an absolute minimum.

(2)What material/economic advantage do you envision an Anglosphere holding over an ATL Germany/Europe post-USSR-defeat? [I don't have a firm answer on this yet but I believe it wouldn't exceed 2:1]

(3) Is there any ceiling, in your opinion, on the projected casualties from invading Europe that the Anglosphere polities would abide? [My initial sense is that if it seems that 5mil men were likely to do die on the march to Berlin, then invasion doesn't happen].

As you can hopefully see, I'm open to discussion on these matters. The one thing I am absolutely convinced of is that Anglo-American unconditional victory over a post-USSR Germany wouldn't have been obvious.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
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