Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

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vgunn
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Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by vgunn » 25 Nov 2008 22:08

I am working on an alternate history story in which the Nazi plot a preemptive strike against America in 1937 using a WMD. Of course this did not happen, nor does it appear that the technology was available to create an atom-bomb (or a dirty-bomb). However, I would like to have the appearance that this is seems plausible.

Here is my what if:

Germany launches an unprovoked attack on the USA in 1937 by dropping a WMD on New York City.

Here is some background information:

December 1934

Hitler is well-aware of the events of WWI which transformed America into an emerging world power. The Great Depression in America provided a new and for a time persuasive rationale for the isolationist position towards Germany. Confronted by urgent domestic problems, the immediate impulse of the United States was to turn inward and to regard events outside its borders as distractions tending to impede the solution of problems at home. But how long before this would change? Hitler becomes very fearful of seeing America once again coming to the aid of Western nations. He feels Germany cannot prevail should America enter the war against them.

January 1935

Seventy-nine year-old Dr. Nikola Tesla enters New York Police Building near Penn Station claiming that private scientific documents have been stolen from him. A wonder-weapon that he designed could be used against America. Investigators dismiss the report and claim that Tesla is suffering from mental illness.

February 1935

A ultra-secret project is started by Reichpost minister Dr. Wilhelm Ohnesorge. Taking the designs stolen from Telsa, a team of scientists under the direction of Baron Manfred Von Ardenne begin development of a superweapon. German spies also steal information from noted scientists Leó Szilárd and Enrico Fermi.

June 1935

Hitler knows that the US neutrality legislation of the 1930s clearly reflects the isolationist contention that America went to war in 1917, and might do so again, not because its interests were threatened, but merely because its activities, particularly those relating to trade, produced incidents that blurred judgment and inflamed passions. However, the risk is still there and should America come in, it would make the likelihood of victory much more precarious. Hitler makes private visit to Von Ardenne and shown weapon project plan.

October 1935

Facility near Deutschneudorf, Germany becomes operational with a modified cyclotron based on the Lawrence/Livingston design and the research documents of Dr. Nikola Tesla.

May 1936

First production of Red Mercury is achieved at Deutschneudorf cyclotron facility. Bombarded with neutrons the ballotechnic material is so explosive that it can be used to trigger a fusion reaction in tritium or deuterium-tritium mixture.

August 1936

Hitler is stunned at the success of Jesse Owens in 1936 Olympics watching as Owens set multiple records. Other black American athletes do well and the USA comes away with the second highest medal count in the games behind Germany.

September 1936

Hitler again visits the Deutschneudorf facility and meets with Von Ardenne.

October 1936

Hitler calls for private meeting with Göring, Hess, Himmler, Von Ardenne and Ohnesorge. Discussed are potential plans for feasible method to launch a devastating attack against the USA. No decision is made and meeting adjourns.

January 1937

Second meeting occurs with tentative method and timetable. Detonation would occur over Manhattan island, New York on May 6, 1937. The first flight of the Hindenburg in 1937 would serve as the delivery vechicle. The intention is quite obvious: the destruction of the financial and business center of New York City. This alone would have an unparalleled military and psychological consequences on America. Such a blow would have been incalculable, demonstrating conclusively to the United States and Western Allies that Germany was more than capable of mounting significant attacks against the American mainland, at levels of destruction which were militarily, economically and psychologically devastating. All would capitulate to German might.

February 1937

An operational test would occur in Spain with a bombing raid conducted by the Condor Legion. Time and location were still to be determined.

March 1937

Condor Legion chief of staff Wolfram von Richthofen formulates plan for attack on Guernica and sends information to Göring. Special package is delivered to the Legion.

April 26, 1937

The bombing of Guernica, a small town in northern Spain by units of the German Condor Legion. Red Mercury device is successfully detonated in the bombing raid causing massive damage and loss of life.

May 3, 1937

Pineapple-sized Red Mercury bomb is placed in a Reichpost package and loaded with the rest of the mail on the Hindenburg. A single agent is the only one on board who is aware of the bomb--all crew and security remain unaware of the plot.

Hindenburg departs for America...

Hopefully this will provide enough information for some feedback and falls under the guidelines required for a "What If".

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Tim Smith
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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by Tim Smith » 26 Nov 2008 00:47

Nazi Germany launches a 'terrorist' attack on the USA in 1937? Wow.....

How can America respond? (Assuming she finds out that the Nazis are responsible - Polish, French and Soviet agents might help with that, even by fabricating the necessary 'evidence')

1. Seize all German assets in the USA.
2. Imprison all German citizens currently in the USA.
3. Declare a full trade embargo on Germany.
4. Declare that any country in the world that trades with Germany, from now on, will have a full trade embargo placed on it by the USA. (I.e. the USA will not trade with any country that also trades with Germany. And since most countries in the world depend more on trade with the US than trade with Germany, most countries will accept and join the anti-German trade embargo.)
5. Declare war on Germany.
6. The US Atlantic Fleet (mainly battleships and cruisers, but also 1 aircraft carrier) sails for Germany, with the mission of bombarding a coastal North German city like Wilhelmshaven (including civilian areas.) Other US Navy vessels hunt and either capture or destroy every German merchant ship they can find.
7. The US government tries to persuade France and Britain to join the war. For both Britain and France, this is a great opportunity to deal with the Nazi threat before it becomes too dangerous. France especially is likely to accept, provided the US sweetens the pill by offering France free armaments and war supplies (Lend Lease type agreement).

Nazi Germany will soon be in a very dire situation, I think.......

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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by vgunn » 26 Nov 2008 01:05

Tim Smith wrote:How can America respond? (Assuming she finds out that the Nazis are responsible - Polish, French and Soviet agents might help with that, even by fabricating the necessary 'evidence')
I really like this idea.
Tim Smith wrote:
1. Seize all German assets in the USA.
2. Imprison all German citizens currently in the USA.
3. Declare a full trade embargo on Germany.
4. Declare that any country in the world that trades with Germany, from now on, will have a full trade embargo placed on it by the USA. (I.e. the USA will not trade with any country that also trades with Germany. And since most countries in the world depend more on trade with the US than trade with Germany, most countries will accept and join the anti-German trade embargo.)
5. Declare war on Germany.
6. The US Atlantic Fleet (mainly battleships and cruisers, but also 1 aircraft carrier) sails for Germany, with the mission of bombarding a coastal North German city like Wilhelmshaven (including civilian areas.) Other US Navy vessels hunt and either capture or destroy every German merchant ship they can find.
7. The US government tries to persuade France and Britain to join the war. For both Britain and France, this is a great opportunity to deal with the Nazi threat before it becomes too dangerous. France especially is likely to accept, provided the US sweetens the pill by offering France free armaments and war supplies (Lend Lease type agreement).

Nazi Germany will soon be in a very dire situation, I think.......
If the Germans were to announce after the attack that they were in possession of many more superbombs would this change American/world reaction?

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phylo_roadking
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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by phylo_roadking » 26 Nov 2008 01:50

No.

You USE two...as in Japan in 1945 - for THAT makes the world think you have lots and the means to produce them. Using ONE then bluffing is the worst thing you can do...for then your oppoent empties his cities and says "Oh, yeah? Put up or shut up" and if you can't make good on the threat, he's coming at you fast.

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Baltasar
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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by Baltasar » 26 Nov 2008 02:42

Just throwing one or two nukes doesn't sound like a long term plan. Not even Hitler would've started a war without at least a rough idea of how he hoped to defeat his enemy. Additionally, his 'traditional' enemy was communism rather than capitalism.

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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by Inselaffe » 26 Nov 2008 22:13

Hello,

Vgunn, this scenario seems to project contemporary terrorist tactics/methods onto a very different era being used by a very different kind of organisation.
Baltasar wrote:Just throwing one or two nukes doesn't sound like a long term plan.
Exactly, what does a state like Nazi Germany gain from a one off 'spectacular'? Even with the possible threat of more bombs they lack the means to reach much of the US, how would they disrupt the American's ability to fight to any great extent? You'd just see the same build up of forces that happened from 1941 onwards in the OTL. An attack of this nature would make Germany a 'rogue state' and the many countries already uncomfortable with the regime by 1937 would be queueing up to 'avenge' New York. It just doesn't fit in with any possible objectives for the regime.

Of course, you could be saying that they would keep the whole thing deniable (though still not sure what they gain) but that certainly opens up more cans of worms. :D

Cheers.
"It was like Hungary being between Germany and the Soviet Union. What sort of choice was that? Which language would you like your firing squad to speak?" Tibor Fischer 'Under the Frog'.

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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by Borys » 27 Nov 2008 09:08

Baltasar wrote:Just throwing one or two nukes doesn't sound like a long term plan. Not even Hitler would've started a war without at least a rough idea of how he hoped to defeat his enemy. Additionally, his 'traditional' enemy was communism rather than capitalism.
Capitalism too - he was a National SOCIALIST, remember?
Read some of Hitler's writings, and you'll see that he vented on capitalism as much as on communism.
E.g. the song Horst Wessel mentions both as the "enemy".
Borys

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Baltasar
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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by Baltasar » 27 Nov 2008 10:30

Borys wrote:
Baltasar wrote:Just throwing one or two nukes doesn't sound like a long term plan. Not even Hitler would've started a war without at least a rough idea of how he hoped to defeat his enemy. Additionally, his 'traditional' enemy was communism rather than capitalism.
Capitalism too - he was a National SOCIALIST, remember?
Read some of Hitler's writings, and you'll see that he vented on capitalism as much as on communism.
E.g. the song Horst Wessel mentions both as the "enemy".
Borys
Hitler wanted the west to join him in his conquest of the Bolsheviks, that's probably why he hoped that neither France nor Britain would dow him for attacking Poland.

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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by vgunn » 09 Dec 2008 16:27

Thank you for the responses. Interesting to hear the feedback.

I would like to revise the what if by changing the motive. What if the Germans set it up to appear that it was a Russian attack. Or at least a radical communist group bent on destroying capitalist pigs. Credible information is leaked which links the terrorists to Stalin's government. The Nazis attempt to gain American/Western support in retaliation against the Soviets.

For argument sake, assume the tech is there for the bomb.

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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by Lkefct » 13 Dec 2008 17:46

The kind of attack you are describing is the sort of thing that would like provoke a military repsonse from America, not a moral blow. Similar to the 9/11 attacks or Pearl Harbor both where the sort of similar attacks to the US you describe, yet they polarized public opinion and justified military action when shortly before such action was viewed as unthinkable.

I have never understood how people think that a moral blow will do anything. All the strategic bombing in WW2 was assumed that the morale effects would carry the day. I would like to know if anyone has any evidence that anyone ever decided to surrender or where willing to stop fighting due to strategic bombing. Many German and Japanese troops who where interviewed after the war reported the opposite, that it had stiffened their resolve and the fact that military production increased doesn't support the view that it hurt morale effects.

The fact that America has a very small army and army air corp would have some trouble striking back at Germany. However, having the USN standing off the coast of Germany shelling anything that moves, including Hamburg and the Kiel Canal, plus launching carrier strikes vs Germany would make it tough to respond, since the German navy is so weak and the LW is not so well established.

By the way, Guernica was a tactical air strike on a military target. It was poorly executed and the follow up waves just aimed their bombs at the explosions and kept dropping bombs in the wrong spot hitting the town rather then the intended target. They had intended to hit the road and bridge and just couldn't pull it off. It should be remembered that Richthofen was never a believer in anything but tactical bombing.

A last thing to consider is that rather then using Hindenberg's maiden flight, it would be better to wait. You would want to make the flights routine to catch the US off guard. Also, if you are the Germans, you want to make sure that the flights will work before you commit such a terrible weapon.

If the Germans are using airships, the most obvious defense is a long range, heavy fighter, like a bf 110. The emphasis would be on range and a 2 man crew. Airships where reasonably effective in WW1 when aircraft where not that much slower then aircraft. However, a bf 110 has a speed of over 300 miles per hour, so an aircraft with a cruising speed that is several times that of an airship, makes them horribly vulnerable. Also, it is not like an airship can easily navigate in stealth from Europe. Just about every other country would probably be willing to help the US, even if just in intel gathering. After all, the method would point out everyone's vulnerability, so it is likely to get a huge international response against Hitler. Lot of people to help against Hitler and a still growing but weak military in Germany.

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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by Baltasar » 28 Dec 2008 16:46

vgunn wrote:Thank you for the responses. Interesting to hear the feedback.

I would like to revise the what if by changing the motive. What if the Germans set it up to appear that it was a Russian attack. Or at least a radical communist group bent on destroying capitalist pigs. Credible information is leaked which links the terrorists to Stalin's government. The Nazis attempt to gain American/Western support in retaliation against the Soviets.

For argument sake, assume the tech is there for the bomb.
For the sake of credibility... how about B or C weapons rather than a nuke? First of all, there were already several sorts available and secondy, it wouldn't be 'that' high tech like a nuke, making it easier to blame somebody else. Combined with some explosives it would certainly cause severe casulties in any urban area, but would 'only' cost lives and do little damage to production facilities unless specifically targeted. Combine it with some communist propaganda leavlets, et voila.

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Simon K
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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by Simon K » 28 Dec 2008 18:10

But there is no communist or Trotskyist grouping in the world at the time which would fit that kind of profile.

The excellent Soviet espionage system would probably have infiltrated the plot. Very low deniability.

A 1937 war between The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany would have been a very likely outcome. With the U.S. supporting Russia.

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Tim Smith
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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by Tim Smith » 28 Dec 2008 18:57

Historically, the USSR was brilliant at espionage in the 1930's.

Germany was crap at it. Even Italy was better at espionage than Germany.

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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by Cantankerous » 04 Oct 2023 15:37

Tim Smith wrote:
26 Nov 2008 00:47
Nazi Germany launches a 'terrorist' attack on the USA in 1937? Wow.....

How can America respond? (Assuming she finds out that the Nazis are responsible - Polish, French and Soviet agents might help with that, even by fabricating the necessary 'evidence')

1. Seize all German assets in the USA.
2. Imprison all German citizens currently in the USA.
3. Declare a full trade embargo on Germany.
4. Declare that any country in the world that trades with Germany, from now on, will have a full trade embargo placed on it by the USA. (I.e. the USA will not trade with any country that also trades with Germany. And since most countries in the world depend more on trade with the US than trade with Germany, most countries will accept and join the anti-German trade embargo.)
5. Declare war on Germany.
6. The US Atlantic Fleet (mainly battleships and cruisers, but also 1 aircraft carrier) sails for Germany, with the mission of bombarding a coastal North German city like Wilhelmshaven (including civilian areas.) Other US Navy vessels hunt and either capture or destroy every German merchant ship they can find.
7. The US government tries to persuade France and Britain to join the war. For both Britain and France, this is a great opportunity to deal with the Nazi threat before it becomes too dangerous. France especially is likely to accept, provided the US sweetens the pill by offering France free armaments and war supplies (Lend Lease type agreement).

Nazi Germany will soon be in a very dire situation, I think.......
The only way the US could have been provoked into breaking off diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany in 1937 would have been if members of the German American Bund planted bombs inside the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings and bring those skyscrapers down just because those buildings were seen by Hitler as epitomizing of a supposed conspiracy by Jewish bankers to dominate the world's economic affairs, and the US found a telegram from the Nazi Party to the German American Bund urging that organization to blow up the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings.

The British and French chose to declare war on Nazi Germany following the German invasion of Poland after having hammered the Munich Pact in September 1938 because they were dismayed that Hitler chose not to agree to Poland's warnings against Germany annexing the Free City of Danzig. Thus, they would have declared war on Germany only under circumstances of Hitler invading one of his neighbors regardless of a bomb attack on the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings leading to the US breaking off diplomatic ties with the Nazi government.

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Re: Germany launches an unprovoked attack on America in 1937

Post by OpanaPointer » 04 Oct 2023 16:00

Cantankerous wrote:
04 Oct 2023 15:37
Thus, they would have declared war on Germany only under circumstances of Hitler invading one of his neighbors regardless of a bomb attack on the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings leading to the US breaking off diplomatic ties with the Nazi government.
...maybe.
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