Could Germany win WW2?

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
ljadw
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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by ljadw » 01 Apr 2010 16:28

Of-course,the nature of the Nazi regime was an indirect cause of the war,but one should not exagerate:no body declared war because Hitler occupied Prague,the nature of the Nazi regime was well known before 1939 (Kristallnacht ) and most nations were at war with Germany ,because ...they were attacked (Hitler declared war on the US,not the opposite ),most of the other (Latin-American )countries declared war-but were not fighting -because of the US influence (economic,....).

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by LWD » 01 Apr 2010 18:23

ljadw wrote: The fact that Britain and Canada had the same king,was maybe also a reason for Canada to declare war :otherwise ,we would have George VI,as king of Britain,at war with Germany,and the same George VI,as king of Canada,beying neutral. :o 8O

If you are talking about essentially feudal obligations such as the above even more extreme cases are found thought they are considerably older. This line is however OT.

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Panzermahn » 02 Apr 2010 14:08

I don't think Germany could win WW2 but I would think most likely, if Germany had fought the war in Eastern Front utilizing the anti-Bolshevik hatred of eastern people right from the start and discarding the racialist policies of Himmler, the Eastern Front would have collapse.

The only real chance Germany ever had in WW2 was a strategic draw (a view postulated by the Austrian military historian, Dr. Heinz Magenheimer) against the Allies. Even that would not last since the industrial production of United States are too great (compounded by the fact that Luftwaffe does not have a strategic bombing force)

One of the biggest mistake in Germany's war direction was that there was no significant efforts of politico-military undertaking (which is an irony since Clausewitzian theory on the art of war that was adhered by a generation of German generals of the 1920s and 1930s was that war is a continuation of politics) of aligning war efforts (tactical & operational) to meet (strategic) political aims (not necessarily non-existent but when it came, it was at a very late stage of war, for example the various National Committees of different ethnic groups that only comes into the picture in early 1945).

The earliest politico-military undertaking by Germany only begun in 1943, after the surrender of the 6th Army in Stalingrad, where senior German officers as well as politicians begin to realize that there is a possibility of Germany losing the war. The German Army demonstrated brilliant tactical and even operational acumen despite being severely pressed on all fronts (by 1943) but apparently bad in orientating tactical achievements to suit strategic political aims (although this is partially conditioned by the fact that it is the Wehrmacht's dictum not to be involved in politics). In fact one of the most successful politco-military undertaking by Germany during WW2 wasn't achieved by Wehrmacht, but by Joseph Goebbels and his Propagandaministerium ('Promi') in manipulating the issue of the German discovery of the Soviet massacre of Polish officers in Katyn, 1943 which caused a temporary spilt between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union.

As a matter of fact, it wasn't the old-school German generals (reared in Clauzewitzian theory) who realised that military tactical & operational success in battlefields would have to be realigned and reorientated to suit strategic political aims in order to bring a successful conclusion out of a war but the younger generation of Nazis especially from the SD such as Heydrich, Schellenberg and even Skorzeny (despite being a latecomer in the cloak and dagger scenes), Karl Radl, Walter Girg of the SS commando forces as well as German officers who had experience in dealing in pre-war Eastern Europe such as Reinhard Gehlen, Gerhard Wessel of the FHO, Hellmuth von Pannwitz, Hans-Adolf Pruetzmann, Ernst Koestring, Oskar Ritter von Niedemayer, Theodore Oberlander, Wilhelm Hintersatz (Harun al-Rashid). These two different groups realised that anti-Bolshevik hatred as well as national political determination for these eastern peoples should be the ultimate objective if there were to be any successful conclusion of the war at Eastern Front (especially by Theodore Oberlander at the start of Operation Barbarossa when he was the political adviser of the Ukrainian volunteer battlegroups "Nachtigall" and "Roland"). Heydrich realised that the stick could only be used to pacify tactically but it was always the carrot that would win the political objectives which is why the Czech war production actually increased during Heydrich's tenure as the Protektor of Bohemia and Moravia and also why the British viewed this as extremely dangerous (from a political viewpoint) and decided to send Czech parachutists to assassinate him. It is a matter of conjecture that if Heydrich survived his assassination attempt, he would reorientate and realign Germany's political efforts to harness the anti-Bolshevik hatred of the eastern people into a true total and absolute war effort against Bolshevik Russia after the debacle at Stalingrad.

Among the major national socialist party functionaries, it was only Alfred Rosenberg who had the same view with the people mentioned above since Rosenberg was a Baltic German who had experienced first hand the Bolshevik/communist revolution around Central & Eastern European countries after the end of WW1. However Rosenberg was regarded as a political featherweight in the Nazi political scene in Germany and even Hitler had scant views almost bordering to a contemptuous level towards Rosenberg. Typical rumbustig national socialist functionaries such as Reichkommissars Wilhelm Kube and Erich Koch successfully alienate any pro-German affinity of the occupied population with their stupendously brutal policies despite the welcoming of the German Wehrmacht as liberators during the early stages of Barbarossa.

However, apart from Heydrich, these individuals are mid-level ranking functionaries of the increasingly factional blocs in the national socialist empire that does not have much say in strategic policy making of Germany's war effort. As mentioned it was only very late at war that Himmler as well Hitler was forced to confront with the realities of the war and were reluctantly forced to pushed aside their racist worldview that finally allows the formation of a Russian Liberation Army lead by General Vlassov in 1944 although German officers had begun to clamor for it as early as 1941/42. It was too little and too late to affect the course of war. In fact, even some farsighted SD officers believed Germany has already lost the war as early in 1941/1942 when Hitler declared war against the United States. However it is also the same group of SD officers believed that even if Germany lost the war, the best bet was to reorientate whatever strength and efforts Germany still left to continue the struggle against Soviet Union via proxies and third party connection to Western Allies. This can be shown by the fact that the SD has begun to cultivate nationalist forces of the Central and Eastern European in a joint effort against Soviet Union (albeit under German leadership) such as AK of Poland, UPA of Ukraine, Balli Kombentar of Albania, Chetniks of Mihailovic, Iron Guardists of Rumania, Arrow Cross of Hungary, the powerful Lithuanian partisan forces, BKA of Belarus even as early as in 1942. When the end was coming to Germany in 1945, the SD step up efforts trying to contact the Western Allies by proxy using these nationalist forces although it could be say that the SD themselves deluded themselves by thinking that the Western Allies would want to cooperate with the Germans in a joint effort against the Soviets.
Last edited by Panzermahn on 02 Apr 2010 19:47, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by ljadw » 02 Apr 2010 16:53

I agree,safe for the first sentence:"The Eastern front would have collapse " .I prefer :The Eastern front COULD have collapse.

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Qvist » 02 Apr 2010 17:11

Quite apart from being an illusory option in the sense that it presupposed an approach to the Eastern question that was fundamentally contrary to the whole rationale of invading the Soviet Union in the first place, the "mobilising the east" option is in my opinion vastly overrated in its potential. The Germans did employ eastern volunteers on a fairly massive scale - perhaps approaching as many as 1 million altogether during the course of the war. But the experience with employing them in any sort of frontline duty was one-sidedly negative. Even in the functions they were mainly employed - rear area security and menial support tasks within German units - those employed in separate units were by the second half of 1943 considered so unreliable that they were seen more as a libaility than an asset, as a result of which they were moved en masse to the West where they were thought less likely to defect or mutiny. Nothing in the actual experience suggests that they represented a possible solution to the German manpower problem. That they were used at all is in my opinion more a reflection of how desperate the German situation was thna of any great potential. The RLA incidentally was never in fact formed - the initiative was stamped out by Hitler before it got off the drawing table. In any case it did not amount to much more than putting a new tag on something that a) already existed and b) had proven to be fairly useless.

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Panzermahn » 02 Apr 2010 19:41

Hi Qvist,

I don't think the potential of mobilising the eastern option is overrated. The failure of Germany to take advantage of it together with its brutal policy of pacifying the occupied Eastern front territories with only stick is the main reason why Germany was doomed from the beginning of Barbarossa. The treatment of the majority of Soviet POWs were horrendous (Germany captured more than 4 million Soviet POWs and if she had rearmed and refit the Soviet POWs, there is a potential of having extra more than 200 to 300 divisions of Russian troops to face the Red Army) which resulted a loss of potential manpower. 200 divisions of Russian troops led by a White Russian emigre General such as Pyotr Krasnov or a German commander-in-chief who truly understand the Russian or Eastern people mentality such as General Hellmuth von Pannwitz who have put Germany in a higher esteem in the eyes of these captured Russians. Racist claptraps such as Himmler who believed the Slavs were inferior to the Germans put paid to to Germany's politico-military undertaking efforts in the war.

True enough, RLA wasn't given the appropriate equipment, training nor oppurtunity to prove itself in battle and their commander, General Vlasov was severely handicapped but numerous factors such as the SS doesn't really trust him but what about the Kosaken Kavallerie Korps led by General von Pannwitz? For XV KKK, the Germans had nothing but only praises for the steadfast of the cossacks who together with their German comrades-in-arms. The reason that the majority of Eastern troops did not performed as much as Germany's expectation is due to Germany's real or perceived treatment of the eastern peoples. News or even rumours of Germany behaving extremely bad in eastern front resulted that many eastern people, viewed Germany with distrust even those with neutral attitudes.

If Germany had begun Barbarossa with the political aim of liberating the Eastern people from the Bolshevik yoke, Soviet Union would have collapse. However, this political aim was only resurfaced at the near end when Germany set up the "National Committees" and promised independence if the tide of war changed to Germany's favour. But it doesn't take anyone blind to see that Germany was losing the war despite all the promises. Yet, as you can see, the nationalists forces of Central and Eastern european nations still hoped that Germany, despite it is obvious the end is near for her, still had enough of strength to weaken the Soviet Union so that the pattern of political vaccum that exists from 1918 to 1925 repeat itself this time. The UPA and the Lithuanian nationalist partisans provides a good example of how they cooperated with Germany right up to the very end of the war for her. As a result, the Soviets did not managed to pacified Ukraine and Lithuania which produced the most fearsome anti-Soviet armed resistance post-1945 until the early 1950s with massive retaliation such deportation against the civilian population of these countries.

In one retrospect, the Soviets won the Eastern Front thanks to Hitler himself

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Jon G. » 02 Apr 2010 20:03

Barbarossa would have had had to take a wholly different shape if the Germans had planned to invade the USSR as liberators.

Sure the prospect of 200 divisions of Russians turned on their former masters would have been interesting, but that was not what the Germans needed, or planned for. If they had planned for that, they would first have to plan on capturing the required number of POWs for 200 divisions, which seems a tall order, then having a suitable political programme in place to offer independence to Ukrainians etc. (which the Germans manifestly weren't interested in), then allow adequate resources for feeding, shelteting and eventually also equipping and training said hordes of POWs (which would all be well outside the Barbarossa timescale), and also exercising much more lenient occupation policies which, again, would have meant additional strain on the already over-stretched logistics chain because the Germans would then have to bring all the food and other supplies they needed, rather than just taking it from the local population.

Remember, Barbarossa wasn't intended to last very long. By the time the Germans became less discriminating on the ethniticity of the warm bodies they put between themselves and the Soviets, Barbarossa had failed.

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Guaporense » 02 Apr 2010 20:39

On paper, the territories of the occupied soviet union had manpower to double the strength of the ost front: It contained about 70 million people. Historically, that would mean 5-6 million extra personnel, if assimilated into the wehrmacht, would increase their field army size from 4.8 million to 7-8 million, or about 2-3 million extra men into the eastern front.

However, if that kind of logic would apply to any territory that the Germans conquered, and in total, they controlled about 320 million people in 1942-43 (60 million of France+Benelux, 80 million Germany+Austria, 35 million Poland, 25 million southeastern Europe, 40 million Italy, 70 million occupied USSR, 10 million Nordic countries) that would mean that the wehrmacht should have had ~30 million men, roughly the same size of the American, Soviet and British armed forces put together in their respective peak sizes plus 3-4 million extra men.

Clearly, that didn't happen and couldn't happen: There is a thing called national identity. If the Germans conquered one hectare of land, that land wouldn't become instantly part of their reich and contribute to the war effort like the original pre-war territory did.

But they managed to extract significant resources from the conquered lands, but not in proportion to their potential. For example, Germany managed to maintain the largest armed force in proportion of the general population in WW2 among the major powers (9.5 million in 1943 out of a population of 90 million, compared to 12 million out of 130 million for the USSR, 11.5 million out of 140 million for the US, 4.8 million out of 48 million for Britain) because the labor lost to the armed forces could be replaced by foreign labor.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Guaporense » 02 Apr 2010 21:09

Panzermahn wrote:The only real chance Germany ever had in WW2 was a strategic draw (a view postulated by the Austrian military historian, Dr. Heinz Magenheimer) against the Allies. Even that would not last since the industrial production of United States are too great (compounded by the fact that Luftwaffe does not have a strategic bombing force)


1- The difference in industrial production between the US and North Vietnam was at least 100 times greater than the difference between then and Germany. Also, while annexed territory couldn't provide quality manpower to the armed forces, it could provide industrial capacity. Second to Paul Bairoch's estimates of international industrialization levels, by 1938, the US had 31% (or 32, don't remember exactly) of the world's industrial capacity, Germany had less than 13%, but western Europe had 37%, with discounting Britain, Spain and Sweden, comes to 25%, with consisted of Ger's occupied territory, plus the conquered areas of eastern Europe brings the German empire total to about 27-28% of the world's industrial capacity, or ~90% of the US's (in terms of coal, the territories under German control in July 1940 consumed 400 million tons of coal in peacetime, while the US produced 404.9 million tons of coal in 1939). Surely, the 14-15% of industrial capacity outside pre war Germany couldn't be utilized like Ger's industrial capacity, for several reasons, but they could provide a large bonus to Ger's pre war capacity.

2- Strategic bombing force? That mechanism for psychological warfare?

3- Define winning? To me Ger winning means two things:

Survival of the regime and conquest of lebensraum.

4- Dr. Heinz Magenheimer said that? Second to Amazon's editorial review:
"With yet another look at the "what if's" of World War II, Magenheimer, an Austrian military historian with five books and hundreds of articles to his credit, expends considerable energy exploring key strategic decisions that might have won the war for the Third Reich. In this rather dry and scholarly work, he analyzes turning points in the war from the perspective of the German leadership, focusing on Germany's missed opportunities and their consequences. Supported by an exhaustive bibliography and lengthy notes, his study reviews German options involving military, political, economic, and technological factors. He offers no new revelations, instead simply rehashing the uncertain variables of the "fog of war" that impacted German decision-making. Certainly, Germany could have won the war if it had not made so many geopolitical and strategic mistakes, but then such miscalculations are often the cause of defeat in war. Recommended only for academic libraries.ACol. William D. Bushnell, USMC (ret.), Brunswick, ME"
We have a different picture.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Jon G. » 02 Apr 2010 21:34

Why do you keep making your comparisons based on 1938 figures for US industrial production and GDP? As has been pointed out to you many, many times before, 1938 represents one of the worst years for the US after 1929 due to the effects of the second round of the great depression.

In other words, you are comparing a US close to the bottom of its capacity with a Germany running at close to peak capacity. Did you Economics professor teach you anything about basing your grandiose conclusions on statistical outliers?

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Guaporense » 02 Apr 2010 22:04

That 1938 statistic is not about the bottom of the US industrial production, it is an estimate of industrialization level. In terms of actual output, US's heavy industry production in 1938 was perhaps a fraction of Western Europe's capacity.

And also, Europe was in deep depression too. So, to say that it is invalid to compare 38's gdp levels based on that is a absurd extrapolation: If you like, you can correct gdp data to include the unemployed resources, if the US's unemployed level was 19% in 1938 and Europe's level was 10%, you can assume that US's potential GDP was 10% higher relative to actual compared to Europe. Not a very large difference. That would be like adjusting the US's industrial production to 34 of the world's output instead of 31.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Jon G. » 02 Apr 2010 22:16

Guaporense wrote:That 1938 statistic is not about the bottom of the US industrial production, it is an estimate of industrialization level.


Ah, right. That does not make the comparison less outdated, though. Also, you should try and add Soviet industrial potential (which was growing, and which largely avoided the effects of the Depression) to the other side of the scales.

In terms of actual output, US's heavy industry production in 1938 was perhaps a fraction of Western Europe's capacity.


Perhaps. What I've been asking you to do is to make the comparison from a later point in time than 1938.

And also, Europe was in deep depression too.


Not to the same degree as the USA and Canada in 1937-1938, no.

So, to say that it is invalid to compare 38's gdp levels based on that is a absurd extrapolation


I am not making any extrapolations, absurd or otherwise. On the contrary, I am pointing out the absurdity of your extrapolations.

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Guaporense » 02 Apr 2010 22:41

Jon G. wrote:
Guaporense wrote:That 1938 statistic is not about the bottom of the US industrial production, it is an estimate of industrialization level.


Ah, right. That does not make the comparison less outdated, though. Also, you should try and add Soviet industrial potential (which was growing, and which largely avoided the effects of the Depression) to the other side of the scales.


These are the data:

US - 31% or 32%

Western Europe - 37%
Of with: Britain, 10.5%, Ger, 12.7%, other 14%

USSR - 9%

Other eastern europe (Poland, etc) - 2.5%

Japan - 5.3%

Axis Europe: 27% (Western Europe - Brit -Spain -Sweden + Eastern Europe) + Japan 5.3%
= 32.3%

US (31) + Brit (10.5) +USSR (9.0)
= 50.3%.

So the allies still had the upper hand in industrial potential, in roughly the same proportions as in WW1 (were Central powers had 19% and the Entente had 28%).

But note that when Germany invaded the USSR in 1941, the western allies didn't have much current impact on the war, and the USSR was nearly alone against 27% of the world's industrial capacity, having 9% to face it. And with the territorial losses to Barbarossa, by 1942 the USSR's had around 6-7% of the world's industrial capacity, 4 times less than Axis Europe.

If the USSR lost in 1941-1942, the allies would have to face 32.3% of the world's industrial capacity with a little over 41% (maybe 43 with Canada and Australia). So it would be a quite close match.

In terms of actual output, US's heavy industry production in 1938 was perhaps a fraction of Western Europe's capacity.


Perhaps. What I've been asking you to do is to make the comparison from a later point in time than 1938.


He doesn't have data between 1938 and 1953.

In 1953 he estimated that the US had 44% of the world's industry. Due to WW2, western Europe was reduced to 20-25% (I don't remember exactly). USSR had around 10%.

That was the US's peak. Today the US has 20% or less of the world's industrial output.

And also, Europe was in deep depression too.


Not to the same degree as the USA and Canada in 1937-1938, no.


Well, that's because the US and Canada were in a recession in the middle of the depression.

So, to say that it is invalid to compare 38's gdp levels based on that is a absurd extrapolation


I am not making any extrapolations, absurd or otherwise. On the contrary, I am pointing out the absurdity of your extrapolations.
[/quote]

They are only mean to be a rough estimation.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Panzermahn » 03 Apr 2010 03:49

One of the major reasons that Dr. Magenheimer postulated that Germany's only hope in WW2 was a short-term strategic draw was the tactical success of the Wehrmacht during the 3rd battle for Kharkov which was brilliantly manouvered by Field Marshal von Manstein. I am not sure if von Manstein conducted the retreat from Kharkov and then savagely destroyed a Russian armoured corps (Mobile Group Popov) with a strategic foresight but despite popular perceptions (conditioned by Soviet propaganda), the Battle of Stalingrad wasn't the turning point of the war in the Eastern Front from a military viewpoint (however one could argued it was the turning point of the war from the perspective of morale) and once could say the II SS Panzerkorps was largely responsible for the scythe style armoured manouver.

However Germany never took advantage of this tactical success by chanelling it to political objectives. Even Stalin, was shocked by this setback at Kharkov after the victory at Stalingrad, with his great political acumen, begin to send feelers via third party (I believed it is thru Madame Kollontai, Soviet ambassador to Sweden). Hitler demonstrated his political naivete by demanding that Germany would only go to the negotiating table after one more huge and impressive victory as well as from a position of strength (which is not unreasonable but illusionary based on German war industrial production situation at that time) and dismissed von Ribbentrop's efforts.

Even at this middle stage of war, several German generals, advised by knowledgeable German intelligence officers, began to clamor that all German manpower andresources from the secondary fronts such as the Norwegian front, the Italian front, the Balkans and Greece to be pulled back and to be concentrated either at Western Front (German intelligence knew that would be an invasion coming in 1944) or the Eastern Front. Again, Joseph Goebbels demonstrated his political acumen (not surprising since Goebbels had experience dealing with politics especially in Berlin from the 1920s) by declaring that Germany would have to go thru the stage of total and absolute war by whipping into frenzy the German civilian population as well as the German war economy and this may be one of the reasons why the German people endured stoically the Anglo-American terror bombing efforts from 1943 right up to the very end of the war.

The unconditional surrender option put forward by FDR at Casablance 1943 demonstrated that he lacks political acumen which resulting the war dragging for two more years and resulted in Allied casualties rising. Even Stalin, with the Red Army, holding the strategic initiative in the Eastern Front after the battle of Kursk, didn't proposed any unconditional surrender since it was entirely FDR's idea and Churchill too, was surprised by it. The Prussian Officer Corps would never accept such options for Germany (due to the traumatic end of 1918 and the stab-in-back theory) even if they wanted an end to the war. However, the majority of the Germans believed the best bet would be a deal with the Western Allies rather than Soviet Union since the Germans believed they had more in common culture and beliefs with Western Allies.

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Re: Could Germany win WW2?

Post by Qvist » 03 Apr 2010 10:26

Konig_pilsner wrote:Qvist wrote,
I appreciate you not continuing your arguement, since it was a futile exercise in semantics. Repeating your opinions on the variables of global decision making are not relevent when the point is that Nazi policy wasn't the reason the Allies went to war with Germany.


Ah, another classic - "futile exercise in semantics". Often seen from posters who wave about concepts they think they understand because they've simplified them to the point of idiocy, and when this is pointed out they wave it off as an exercise in semantics, which obviously is also a concept that is subject to scant understanding. Oh well, there's no talking to people who aren't even prepared to acknowledge the issues involved.

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