Re-arming Panzer divisions

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Danzig69
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Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Danzig69 » 26 Mar 2009 03:59

A question I have always wondered about, can't seem to find any information on the topic, I'm sure someone here has insight. How true was the story that Gen. Patton wanted to re-arm 26 Panzer divisions and combine them with his forces to invade the crippled Soviet Union in 1945? This could have stopped the Cold War before it started, not to mention subjecting Eastern Europe to 50 years of brutal Soviet influence.
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Qvist
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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Qvist » 06 Apr 2009 20:03

Not to mention subjecting the heap of rubble that was Central and Eastern Europe to another prolonged round of wholesale slaughter and destruction, with no certain end. Millions would have died. Poles, balts and so on must speak for themselves, but to me it seems like a pretty good deal to wait 50 years for it to sort itself out.

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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Borys » 06 Apr 2009 21:06

Ahoj!
I would had preferred a 1945/46 roll back of the Soviets ... would had saved the survivors 50 years of misery.
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Qvist
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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Qvist » 06 Apr 2009 21:14

Well, that's your prerogative. As someone coming from the other side of the fence, I'm in no position to tell you you're wrong. But the consequences would at best have been absolutely devastating - even with peace, it was barely possible to stave off large-scale famine in 1945 Europe. There's misery and then there's misery. But, as said....

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Tim Smith
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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Tim Smith » 11 Apr 2009 14:00

Sorry, but I think the US Army soldiers in Europe would have mutinied en masse (like the French after Verdun in 1916) if their generals had ordered them to attack the Soviets in 1945. They were relieved that the war in Europe was over, wanted to go home, and weren't very enthusiastic even about being transferred to the Far East to fight the Japanese.

There would also be a catastrophic collapse of US morale on the home front had the Allies attacked the USSR - the American people were sick of the war by mid-1945, and wanted peace, and they didn't give a tinker's damn what happened to Eastern Europe.

Even the British Army might have mutinied under these conditions.....

Patton would end up leading his rearmed German soldiers and no-one else! (except maybe a few Poles.)

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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Borys » 11 Apr 2009 19:32

Tim Smith wrote: Patton would end up leading his rearmed German soldiers and no-one else! (except maybe a few Poles.)
IMO, as far as Polish units are concerned, in later Summer 1945 there would had been 5 Divisions (3 Infantry, 2 Armoured), and 3 Brigades (1 Armoured, 1 Tank, 1 Parachute) of enthusiastic anti-Soviet fighters.
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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Michael Kenny » 11 Apr 2009 22:07

Danzig69 wrote: How true was the story that Gen. Patton wanted to re-arm 26 Panzer divisions and combine them with his forces to invade the crippled Soviet Union in 1945? This could have stopped the Cold War before it started, not to mention subjecting Eastern Europe to 50 years of brutal Soviet influence.
The trouble with all these scenarios is they never consider that this might have led to 50 years of Soviet rule in France.

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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by vszulc » 13 Apr 2009 23:28

Borys wrote:Ahoj!
I would had preferred a 1945/46 roll back of the Soviets ... would had saved the survivors 50 years of misery.
Borys
I take it you're rather young, and didn't actually live through the cold war?
Most Poles that I've talked to, who lived through those "50 years of misery" actually didn't find live behind the iron curtain to be THAT bad. Some of them would actually prefer the communist system over what Poland has now, and speak of it with a certain nostalgia and longing.
The trouble with all these scenarios is they never consider that this might have led to 50 years of Soviet rule in France.
Exactly. Who's to say that victory would be a sure thing? The Soviet Union was vastly superior in both quantity, and in some respects quality. The T34 and IS2 tanks were vastly superior to most Allied and German designs.
(Not to mention that most of the factories that produced those German designs didn't exist anymore)
And in 1945 the number of German troops who would have been of fighting value was limited. Most German veterans were dead by that point, and the few that weren't, were undernourished, physically and mentally exhausted, and wanted nothing more than to go back to civillian life, after spending years on Hitlers dubious crusade.

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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Larso » 14 Apr 2009 00:40

"Most German veterans were dead by that point, and the few that weren't, were undernourished, physically and mentally exhausted, and wanted nothing more than to go back to civillian life, after spending years on Hitlers dubious crusade."

This is largely true. But there were certainly some who believed Hitler's propaganda about combining with the Western Allies to fight the Russians. There was also the fact that most Germans were terrified of what Russian occupation would mean. I suspect significant numbers of German soldiers could've been persuaded to take up arms again to liberate Eastern Germany. And yes while many were underfed, they had been coping for years like that and Allied supply lines would've remedied that to a sufficient degree. I'm intrigued though as to whether German soldiers would've been as effective using Shermans and other Allied materials.

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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Danzig69 » 05 May 2009 23:36

Michael Kenny wrote:
Danzig69 wrote: How true was the story that Gen. Patton wanted to re-arm 26 Panzer divisions and combine them with his forces to invade the crippled Soviet Union in 1945? This could have stopped the Cold War before it started, not to mention subjecting Eastern Europe to 50 years of brutal Soviet influence.
The trouble with all these scenarios is they never consider that this might have led to 50 years of Soviet rule in France.
Not if Patton was allowed to go in and destroy the Soviets first. I don't think it would have taken that long to bring the Soviets to their knees like everyone is saying. Wouldn't it be better to suffer a few more years rather than the 50 that happened since the Soviets were able to do as they wished - unopposed in Eastern Europe?

I'm not alone in thinking we (allies) fought the wrong people in WW2 and wished that Germany was able to conquer Russia or at the very least do as much damage as possible before giving the Russians any sort of aid. It could have saved the free world a lot problems if this would have occured.
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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Michael Kenny » 05 May 2009 23:58

Danzig69 wrote: I don't think it would have taken that long to bring the Soviets to their knees like everyone is saying.
Isn't that what Hitler said?

Danzig69 wrote:I'm not alone in thinking we (allies) fought the wrong people in WW2 and wished that Germany was able to conquer Russia
If you believed the world was flat you wouldn't be alone either.

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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Pips » 06 May 2009 01:30

By 1945 the most effective army in Europe were the Soviets, in size, equipment and skill. If the Allies had been rash enough to attack them then in all likelihood, as someone mentioned earlier, the Cold War front would have been in France.

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Qvist
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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Qvist » 06 May 2009 18:30

The soviet army in 1945 was still losing men at pretty much the same horrenduous rate as in preceding years despite facing a much deteriorated enemy, which is kind of hard to square with it being the most skilled army in Europe, or for that matter remotely close to as skilled as its German or western counterparts. It was also in many respects still not very well equipped compared to the US and British armies, above all with regard to the degree of motorisation. But large it certainly was, compared to both Western and German forces.

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PaulJ
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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by PaulJ » 07 May 2009 04:03

All of these responses avoid the actual question -- regardless of speculation about whether it would have been wise or successful -- did Patton actually advocate such an action?

It is not clear to me that he did seriously advocate attacking the Soviets [with or without Germans], other than perhaps as a flip quip. Indeed, setting policy such as that was far beyond the purview of anyone in the military, let alone an army commander [that's two levels of command down from the theatre commander, Eisenhower].

Anyone have an evidence that he did suggest such action?

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Re: Re-arming Panzer divisions

Post by Zebedee » 21 May 2009 14:36

PaulJ wrote:All of these responses avoid the actual question -- regardless of speculation about whether it would have been wise or successful -- did Patton actually advocate such an action?

It is not clear to me that he did seriously advocate attacking the Soviets [with or without Germans], other than perhaps as a flip quip. Indeed, setting policy such as that was far beyond the purview of anyone in the military, let alone an army commander [that's two levels of command down from the theatre commander, Eisenhower].

Anyone have an evidence that he did suggest such action?
Wilcox's book on Patton's death (Target:Patton) is the latest to make the suggestion that Patton was so anti-communist that he was close to insanity in wanting yet another war in Europe. (Wilcox claims that he was murdered to prevent an accidental war/embarassing revelations etc). He gives this example of a telephone call (supposedly from transcript):
"Hell", Patton exploded, "why do you care what those goddamn Russians think? We are going to have to fight them sooner or later.... Why not do it now while our army is intact and the damn Russians can have their hind end kicked back into Russia in three months? We can do it easily with the German troops we have if we just arm them and take them with us. They hate the bastards."
E.H. Cookridge also mentions the same telephone call, however his version, while substantively the same, does vary in how it is written. (Gehlen: Spy of the Century).

Sorry but I didn't think to check where they sourced the 'transcript' from when making my notes. I filed both books under 'semi-fiction' but if you can track down their source and it proves accurate and reliable then you may get close to a historical answer.

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