US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 8234
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Michael Kenny » 16 Oct 2020 19:34

Sid Guttridge wrote:
16 Oct 2020 19:03
I know of no convincing proposition as to how this could be done when Germany was in possession of some 200 battle hardened and confident divisions ........
This is the Army that was specifically created to invade Russia and was only expected to be needed for a few months with a quick demobilization once Russia was conquered. The Germans knew that they could not adequately equip and maintain this size for any great length of time and it was circumstance that forced them to keep it in the field. It all started going wrong in the winter of 1941 and the gamble did not pay off. Germany was locked into a nightmare (for them) scenario of having to run at stop speed just to be able to stand still.

Volyn
Member
Posts: 455
Joined: 04 Jul 2018 04:53
Location: USA

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Volyn » 16 Oct 2020 20:02

Michael Kenny wrote:
16 Oct 2020 19:34
This is the Army that was specifically created to invade Russia and was only expected to be needed for a few months with a quick demobilization once Russia was conquered. The Germans knew that they could not adequately equip and maintain this size for any great length of time and it was circumstance that forced them to keep it in the field.
Yes, why is it in these threads financial costs are not discussed?

It requires a significant sum of money to pay, feed, train, equip, transport and replace military forces. Germany did not have infinite money or slave labor to maintain this size military for an indefinite period of time. Their own poor decision making cannot be overlooked either, defeating the SU would not mean that Germany could consolidate, or resist efforts to recapture the territory.

OpanaPointer
Financial supporter
Posts: 5605
Joined: 16 May 2010 14:12
Location: United States of America

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by OpanaPointer » 16 Oct 2020 21:54

I would keep in mind that the US was going to be supplying considerable amounts of L-L material to the Soviets, something not all American approved of whatever the danger. Cynical old me would believe that fluffing up the Soviet's need for our aid and our need for the Soviets blood wasn't beyond the political machinations of the day.
Come visit our sites:
hyperwarHyperwar
World War II Resources

Bellum se ipsum alet, mostly Doritos.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 10158
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Oct 2020 22:29

Hi Guys,

Without an active Eastern Front, Germany wouldn't have to keep its army fully mobilised. It took the Anglo-Saxon powers until 1944 to mount an invasion of Western Europe even with most of the German Army occupied fighting the USSR. How much longer, if ever, would it take to do the same knowing that almost all the far more experienced German Army would be available to oppose them?

I don't see Germany winning a war against the Anglo-Saxon powers, but I don't see the surviving Allies doing so by conventional means, either.

Cheers,

Sid.

Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 8234
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Michael Kenny » 16 Oct 2020 23:26

Sid Guttridge wrote:
16 Oct 2020 22:29


I don't see Germany winning a war against the Anglo-Saxon powers, but I don't see the surviving Allies doing so by conventional means, either.
That is the fundamental flaw in all these 'how can I make it so Germany wins WW2' threads. It is incorrectly assumed that Germany is some sort of omnipotent and unchallengeable land super-power that can never be defeated if it is a 'fair fight'. That somehow any such 'fair fight' will always result in a German win. The size of the German army is always used an example of German superiority when in fact it was a recognition that things were going badly for her and she needed this unsustainable huge army to defend herself from the even more huge armies of her enemies. The UK had hundreds of years of experience putting coalitions together to take down mighty european enemies so its not as if there is no history of ways such large powers can be brought down.
Last edited by Michael Kenny on 16 Oct 2020 23:32, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Oct 2020 23:31

volyn wrote:Germany did not have infinite money or slave labor to maintain this size military for an indefinite period of time.
To the extent you're implying that Germany couldn't have maintained 5 more divisions in 1941, the fact that the Wehrmacht grew by 2-3mil after 1941 decisively rebuts the suggestion.
Sid Guttridge wrote:Without an active Eastern Front, Germany wouldn't have to keep its army fully mobilised.
Not only that, they wouldn't have had to increase mobilization of men. Just for example, BMW lost 11.5% of its workforce in early 1943 to further Wehrmacht drafts. See Arming the Luftwaffe. Because these were men deferred from service earlier, they obviously would have been skilled or at least semi-skilled workers. This happened all across German industry throught '42-'44. These drafts wouldn't have happened absent the Eastern Front; German production would have been significantly higher.
Sid Guttridge wrote:It took the Anglo-Saxon powers until 1944 to mount an invasion of Western Europe even with most of the German Army occupied fighting the USSR. How much longer, if ever, would it take to do the same knowing that almost all the far more experienced German Army would be available to oppose them?
The views of contemporary leaders on this possible military quandary are relevant; as quoted in the OP they all viewed it as impractical.

Just consider the equipment shortages, reduced training, and logistical problems that plagued the German Army on the Western Front in OTL 1944. Now imagine that all those qualitative problems are solved and the W.Allies face 300 divisions instead of 40. W.Allied success is inconceivable in that condition absent some fundamental shifts in W.Allied economies and attitudes about ground warfare, which is also inconceivable.

Sid it looks like you're getting a first-hand test of your thesis on the prevalence of hypothetical post-SU beliefs (at least on AHF).
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 8234
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Michael Kenny » 16 Oct 2020 23:38

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Oct 2020 23:31
Now imagine that all those qualitative problems are solved and the W.Allies face 300 divisions
So a 300 division army is only needed because of the Russian front and once Russia is defeated they can be dissolved but the reason the Western Allies can not attack the Germans is because the Germans keep a 300 division Army even after a victory over the Soviets?
If it not for captured French, British and Czech vehicles it is doubtful in the 1941 invasion could have gotten as far as it did.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Oct 2020 01:30

So a 300 division army is only needed because of the Russian front and once Russia is defeated they can be dissolved but the reason the Western Allies can not attack the Germans is because the Germans keep a 300 division Army even after a victory over the Soviets?
I'm going to take this opportunity to articulate more a general point I've mentioned elsewhere and which subsumes the specific answer to this objection.

The point seems obvious when directly considered but is frequently under-remarked in WW2 analysis:

Geographical distance was a fundamental parameter of WW2 strategy; the US is farther from France than Germany.

What's the strategic payout of this simple point? A very large one:

Germany need not mobilize most of its army until the W.Allies land in Europe, the W.Allies need to mobilize months or even years ahead of invasion.

Hopefully we can all see how this point answers the quoted objection: The 300 divisions facing the W.Allies after they land in France would not have been a permanent standing army. Rather, ~80% of it would have been working productively and then would be mobilized/deployed on a timetable of weeks. 40-50 permanently-stationed divisions would have been sufficient to contain an initial landing, then a few months later the fully-mobilized Heer is in the field. Realistically 300 German divisions is probably overkill but it's entirely possible for an army that moves by rail/road a few hundred miles versus an army that needs to cross an ocean first. Of course I'm so far ignoring Axis-allied forces (Italian, Romanian, probably Spanish).

The months-long timeline of W.Allied mobilization for an invasion relates to the shipping capacity constraint. The greatest number of American troops shipped monthly to the UK was 188k in February '44. If the U.S. somehow raised a 300-division army, shipping that army's ~10mil in-theater personnel to Europe would take >4 years at maximal OTL shipping rates. Of course the U.S. would divert more shipping to Bolero in such an ATL than it did OTL, and would probably build more ships as well (it would have to). Even so, it's difficult to see such a troop movement being completed in less than a year.

While the US deploys these millions of men, 80% of their German counterparts would be working in factories productively.

10mil men is 23% of America's non-agricultural labor force.

...so the distance factor must be considered at every level of WW2 analysis, including the economic.

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

The distance-dictated dynamic analyzed above would apply with at least as much force to the W.Allied burden of defending Britain against a German invasion: Germany can mobilize on a timeline of weeks for such a landing; US ability to provide maximal reinforcement would be on a timeline of many months and possibly of years. Any American or British forces defending the MidEast/India corridor are likewise basically stranded.

This would also hold for whichever naval assets the W.Allies would want available to contest an invasion: They're pinned down, they can't attack Japan or even help in the MidEast. If you want DE's and such ready to contest a landing they can't be on convoy duty. This means the W.Allies must maintain in Britain a force adequate to repel what the Germans can mobilize, even if the Germans haven't mobilized.

So even the mere threat of German invasion would pin down massive W.Allied resources - as Arnold pointed out in his above-quoted point to Leahy when discussing JCS 85 and its recommendation of pivoting to Asia if the SU collapsed.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 17 Oct 2020 01:45, edited 1 time in total.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 8234
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Michael Kenny » 17 Oct 2020 01:43

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Oct 2020 23:31


Just consider the equipment shortages, reduced training, and logistical problems that plagued the German Army on the Western Front in OTL 1944.
Those 'shortages' started to bite in December 1941.

Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 8234
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Michael Kenny » 17 Oct 2020 01:46

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Oct 2020 01:30
10mil men is 23% of America's non-agricultural labor force.

There was a massive pool of replacement 'labour' sitting just south of the USA.

Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 8234
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Michael Kenny » 17 Oct 2020 01:50

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Oct 2020 01:30
the W.Allied burden of defending Britain against a German invasion...
What invasion?
Are you still thinking they can build a causeway from France to the UK?
50 Divisions in the UK for an invasion is more than enough to defeat this 'narrow front' attack!

glenn239
Member
Posts: 5852
Joined: 29 Apr 2005 01:20
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by glenn239 » 17 Oct 2020 13:41

T. A. Gardner wrote:
15 Oct 2020 21:41
As we move beyond 1945 I'm less knowledgeable but B-36's surviving swarms of Me-262's and Ta-183's seems unlikely.
Tactical airpower in the numbers the United States was capable of producing made the German position ultimately untenable. Generally speaking, the Anglo-Americans can use naval and air power to establish a series of salients from which tactical airpower can dominate out to the combat range of the P-51. These bastions are places where for geographical reasons Germany's land forces will have difficulty bringing superior combat power to bear - Scandinavia, (Norway, Sweden, Denmark), Balkans (Turkey, Greece), Med (Southern France, Corsica, Sardinia), Aegean (Albania, Croatia), Iberia. Germany's oil industry is destroyed, its army loses its mobility as its mechanized forces go immobile due to loss of rail communications and lack of fuel.

It would take years, but the results would be inevitable. This talk that Germany could somehow hold off American naval and airpower if the SU was defeated ignores the fact that American airpower (land and carrier based) by 1945 was simply beyond anything the Germans could cope with. The Germans would lose. Might take into the late 1940's, but they their industry surely would be destroyed by tactical air power even if the strategic air campaign failed.

Germany's only chance in WW2 was an alliance with the Soviet Union. Therefore, this thread's premise is bankrupt on its face; Germany can win no war against the USA in which the SU is hostile to Germany. That is true whether the SU is an active belligerent or is defeated.

User avatar
T. A. Gardner
Member
Posts: 3528
Joined: 02 Feb 2006 00:23
Location: Arizona

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by T. A. Gardner » 17 Oct 2020 16:18

Glenn, that was Marcus Plan that wrote that. I am familiar with US aircraft of the late 40's and 50's.

I also think that in this scenario the Luftwaffe wouldn't push ahead with building the Me 262 like they did historically. If the air war were going better they'd stick with what they knew and the Me 262 would have remained in development mainly because of the unreliability of the engines. The He 162 would never exist-- it was an "emergency" fighter pushed into service only because Germany was losing the war.

I suspect the Ta 183 would have to have major design changes if it flew at all. The fuselage is simply too short. Tank figured that out post war with the Argentine Pulqui, co-designed with French aircraft engineer Emil Dewoitine. That plane had more fuselage in the Pulqui II that was to be the production aircraft. That's right folks, Kurt Tank went to Argentina to continue his career in aircraft design right after the war. He later went to India and worked at Hindustan Aircraft.

Image

So, while something like it might eventually take to the air in the late 40's it wasn't happening by 1945.

The US, not being stupid, would also push aircraft into production like the B-45 most likely by 1947 at the latest and more likely by late 1945. The B-45 was started as a design in late 1944 and in wartime I'd expect flying prototypes within 6 or so months. It used extant technology so it wasn't a ground breaking design. The rival B-47 and B-48 (Martin) were slower to develop and the B-47 involved considerably more cutting edge technology, so they'd be slower to get into service.
The problem for the Germans becomes one of how do you stop a bomber that can fly above 40,000 feet at close to 400 knots (cruise) and has bombing radar that can easily pick out a target and accurately bomb it at night or through clouds? The Germans right up to 1945 had near infinite problems getting pressurization to work in production aircraft. You'd have to have a reliable and good system to fly at those heights.
It's likely that the RLM would scrap the Me 262 before production for something better because the 262 wasn't going to cut the mustard taking on something like the B-45

Volyn
Member
Posts: 455
Joined: 04 Jul 2018 04:53
Location: USA

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by Volyn » 17 Oct 2020 16:37

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Oct 2020 23:31
volyn wrote:Germany did not have infinite money or slave labor to maintain this size military for an indefinite period of time.
To the extent that you're implying that Germany couldn't have maintained 5 more divisions in 1941, the fact that the Wehrmacht grew by 2-3mil after 1941 decisively rebuts the suggestion.
Actually my comment is in reference to sustaining a 300 division force indefinitely, or even the means to mobilize a force of this size again. Germany could not keep this group mobilized for years to come, it was part of their plan to demobilize afterwards. Also, do you still factor >1 mil German causalities by early-1942? How long did you foresee them occupying France in defense of a potential W. Allied invasion with the remnants of this victorious army?

The Wehrmacht grew by 2-3 mil soldiers over an extended period of time, and they were increasingly less well-trained and equipped, therefore, they were less expensive to field and sustain. They were also employed in regions that were closer to Germany with each passing month of the war, and they fought less effectively (due mostly to their lack of resources and equipment). The best of the Wehrmacht was dying in the SU between 1941-1942, these were professional soldiers with more than 3 years of training and battlefield experience, and cannot be replaced by numbers alone. The irony for the Soviet Union is that they lost professionals at the start of the war, but their greatest casualties had been inflicted upon those who were poorly trained and equipped. This changed over the course of 1 year, so that by the time of Stalingrad everything was turning in the favor of the Soviets.

Back to my initial comment, Germany never had sufficient money to really "win" the war. Hitler was able to take advantage of a peculiar event in human history, universal disarmament. After WW1 all of the industrialized powers demobilized their militaries and intentionally limited their military budgets for the better part of 2 decades. It was therefore inevitable that one day someone would take power of one of these nations and attempt to rearm fast enough to overcome as many other nations as possible.

The Soviet Union attempted this first, however, the Soviet economy was so woefully backward that they lost to Poland and gave up on their dream of international expansionism by military force for a time. Stalin's 5-year plans were his way of getting the economy industrialized sufficiently so it could rearm with modern weaponry, most of their designs proved ineffective by the time Germany invaded, but they had the ability to replace them with better equipment afterwards.

Italy is a similar situation, they are an agrarian economy that Mussolini attempted to industrialize quickly so they could rearm and conquer other territories. He knew they were far to weak to challenge Western Europe so he focused on the Balkans and Africa, which were less industrialized and easier to attack. Japan followed the same path towards rapid industrialization in order to build up their military, they attacked nations with resources which they needed to continue their expansionist agenda.

Hitler wanted to rearm but his ambitions were even larger, so he needed to spend enormous sums of national GPD in an even shorter period of time, because France and Britain were also responding and modernizing due to these global events. Germany had a window of opportunity starting in 1932 when he came to power, but he did not have an immediate militarized industrial base to work with. He could only begin mass conscription in 1935, and by 1939 the Wehrmacht was still badly under-equipped for his purported goals and desires. Germany needed to borrow capital from the international market in order to build up the armament industry, and it took some time to build these new factories. He then needed to borrow more money to pay for the military equipment that they were initially producing in secret (slow growth), and later openly (accelerated growth). Hitler did all of this in the span of 7 years, compared to Stalin's 15+ years of preparation.

The problem for Hitler was that Germany now had sizable debt payments that were coming due, and since his national investments were geared towards a heavily militarized industry, they did not have sufficient national funds to pay it. Hitler built a one-way ticket to war, if he defaults on the payments he will never be able to continue his modernization of the military, leaving the Wehrmacht with the threat of becoming an obsolete force in the very near future, and a ruined economy because people cannot eat tanks; Hitler was forced to "use it or lose it". History shows he was accurate in his own timetables and he took advantage of a rapidly closing window of opportunity, until he faced a modern British RAF. Germany went back to winning for a time when they fought Yugoslavia, Greece and the SU, because they were all inferior in their air and ground forces.

The basis that Germany defeats the SU by 1942 does not mean they could have continued to sustain a mobilized army of 300 divisions. Even after they robbed Europe of it's funds and treasures with Swiss help to launder it, and the use of millions of people as slave labor for 5 years, it was barely enough to just to keep a failing war continuing. Germany was in a hole that it could not climb out of, Hitler should have had a 20 year German modernization plan and a martial force of >10 mil soldiers mobilized at the start of his war.

How do you propose Germany handle their monetary issues?
Last edited by Volyn on 17 Oct 2020 16:58, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: US leaders believed Germany would likely have been invulnerable had it defeated SU

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Oct 2020 16:44

glenn239 wrote:This talk that Germany could somehow hold off American naval and airpower if the SU was defeated ignores the fact that American airpower (land and carrier based) by 1945 was simply beyond anything the Germans could cope with.
OTL but not necessarily ATL. Economics of post-SU Grossraum economy differ fundamentally from OTL. LW production would be 3-4x OTL.
The Germans would lose. Might take into the late 1940's, but they their industry surely would be destroyed by tactical air power even if the strategic air campaign failed.
You're assuming the American/British public would tolerate indefinite warfare. There's enough documentation in the historical record that leaders feared they would not, so it's an unjustifiable assumption. I can see arguments for W.Allied long term endurance (e.g. publication of the Holocaust), but there are counterarguments as well.
Scandinavia, (Norway, Sweden, Denmark), Balkans (Turkey, Greece), Med (Southern France, Corsica, Sardinia), Aegean (Albania, Croatia), Iberia.
Anything with a rail connection to Berlin is out of the question unless W.Allies build an army bigger than Germany's, which would rule out OTL aircraft production. So Iberia, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, and Denmark are out.

Anything in the Med assumes the Germans don't control Suez and Gibraltar, which again can be argued but shouldn't be assumed.

Norway/Sweden can secured by invading Sweden or demanding passage rights, which is reasonably easy so long as Germany controls Denmark and the Baltic, which it would unless the W.Allies match Germany's army.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Return to “What if”