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Hitler invades the Soviet Union in 1940

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by DerGiLLster, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. DerGiLLster

    DerGiLLster Member

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    Found this while surfing the web yesterday, talks about Germany attacking the USSR in 1940 rather than 1941. I recommend you read the file before commenting, it's short around 80 pages, so you should be done with it in a half hour.

    http://digitalcommons.apus.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1047&context=theses

    Now, as in every alternate history story, there will be holes to poke and I very welcome it. I don't see any in here, but if there are, than it provides greater opportunity for me to be informed and learn.

    Why I believe the idea sounds feasible.

    -the year between the defeat of France and the invasion of the Soviet union alarmed Stalin and gave him a year to work up the industry, the file states that in July 1940, Russia had seen Hitler as the biggest threat to him in Europe.

    -In the aftermath if the Winter War against the Finns, Stalin saw how incompetent the Red Army was, and how his purges had hurt them. From March of 1940 to June 1941, they had 15 months to buildup their forces, invading Russia instead of France in May 1940 would not be enough time to prepare as they were still recovering from the Winter War

    -In World War 1 the Germans were able to provide decent offensives against France and Russia, in this alternate scenario, the Germans could build their own form of defenses such as the Maginot line against a possible invasion of France. It's unlikely that France would want to invade Germany had they put their own set of defenses

    -Would France even intervene? Many French people had hoped not to go to war, during the Sitzkrieg, they had conducted no major offensive operations against Germany, even when Denmark and Norway fell, they had still sat in their defenses, also wouldn't the French see an attack on Russia by Germany as something of good coming out of it. Not to say they would like it, but France in 1940 had a much more shaky relationship with Russia than in 1914, due to the difference of ideologies(of course they disliked Germany's ideology as well, but some disliked Communism more than fascism).

    -How could France and Britain prepare? They had no capable strategic bombers and if they did, would do little harm to German industry at all. British bombers were in few and during bombing raids on Germany they often missed their targte by many miles. I am making an educated guessing statement but, if Hitler had succeeded in defeating the Soviet Union in three to four months, they would be blessed with a huge amount of natural resources. I understand it would take around a year to finally be able to use the resources and then have the enslaved population do the armaments work, it's fair to believe that in the time Germany could defeat the Soviet Union in three to four months, when it was much unprepared and had less tanks and planes, then the war for france would take around a year and Hitler could then have control over Europe. The invasion of Britain might also happen with the use of the Soviet Union's resources as they can build more ships to challenge the Royal Navy.

    I am looking for a fun, yet mature debate.
     
  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Moved to the what if section.
     
  3. green slime

    green slime Member

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    The idea is horribly malformed.

    Germany was already at war with both France and Britain.

    Without bases in France or Norway (because he advocates not invading Norway either), the U-boat threat is reduced.

    France and Britain were both gearing up. They may not have felt themselves ready to go on the offensive, but they were at war, and they were increasing their strength.


    He waffles about the German need to police and protect more land; Partisan activity in 1940 was almost non-existent. Most of the policing in France, and Norway, was done by local forces. There is a great deal to be said for driving the Western Allies off the continent, before starting a war with the largest power on the continent. Especially when that power is supplying you with goods.

    Additionally France paid for its own occupation, with cash, bases, etc. Further, the capture of France provided enormous amounts of booty in the form of Gold, Foreign Currency, and Oil for the deprived Germany economy; a very valuable shot in the arm.

    The defeat of France gave the Germans the hubris to actually believe in Operation Barbarossa. Without the defeat of almost the entirety of Western Europe, it's very possible someone is going to try and remove the madman suggesting going to war against yet another power.

    The political situation. Germany wouldn't have the allies it did, because without the defeat of France, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Greece, it's suicidal to join such an escapade. It's hard to see Romania joining the Axis powers. Not impossible, but difficult.

    And there's still the problem of actually getting the Soviets to surrender. It is not a smaller nation in 1940, than in 1941. You still can't inflict a defeat of such magnitude, that will force the Soviets to seek terms. It still has millions and millions of potential conscripts, and thousands of kilometers of space.
     
  4. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    What "working up industry" would that be? In 1937 the Soviets built 1,558 tanks, in 1938 they built 2,270, in 1939 3,034, in 1940 2,793, and in 1941 4,968. Other armaments industries were similar.

    The only major "expansion" of the Red Army 1939-1940 I am aware of was the decision to reform the mechanized corps in May 1940, which had been broken up in November 1939.
     
  5. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    For all intensive purposes the policy of appeasement was an OK for Hitler to crusade against Communism, as the Western powers saw Communism and Stalin as a main threat to the status quo of the profit capitalist system and Freewill Democracy in general. Its when Hitler went after Poland because they were also anti-Communist and an ally to France and Britain that the West drew the line. If Hitler invaded Russia in 1940 I bet the West would let them fight it out because I'm sure they viewed Russia as traitors for signing the non-aggression pact with Germany in the first place, and they had no sympathies for Stalin. I guess it all depends on how The West saw the break in action after the campaign in Poland, if diplomatic actions were taken in a "what if" scenario. If the West somehow came to terms with Hitler's actions in the East, including Poland and German European Hegemony in Central and Eastern Europe, I doubt they would have helped Stalin.
     
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  6. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I believe the phrase you were looking for is "For all intents and purposes..."
     
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  7. DerGiLLster

    DerGiLLster Member

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    -Of course they were at war, but France and Britain sure didn't treat it as such by sitting in place.

    -Why does it matter if the U-Boat threat is reduced, Germany at best could only temporarily stall the navy, and with no threat to Britain, the United States is not likely to sign the lend lease to provide support to Britain. Germany should have emphasized much more on a ground and air force rather than a navy to begin with. There was just no way to face Britain's Navy with the resources they had.

    -Of course France and Britain are gearing up, they do react according to Hitler's actions and produce more weapons, but it is likely Germany and France would repeat another trench warfare type battle between and simply hold their lines.

    -Yeah, France did provide some oil, too bad it was wasted for the Battle of Britain, the Blitz and the North African campaign. What good would french currency do with the British blockade around them? Sure it was good for German bankers but irrelevant at all to the war effort.

    -So even though Russia lost to Finland, Germany still didn't believe Russia could be defeated? How could someone try to rid of originator of the idea if it will become successful in starting advances and battles?

    -Well, considering that Russia and Romania had many border disputes, an invasion of Russia may encourage Romania to get involved and claim some more land. Also considering that the world saw the Soviet Union rather than Nazi Germany as a threat, some Eastern European countries might send some support with the hope of carving up Russia. It's possible for Yugoslavia, Greece, and Bulgaria to send supplies to help the Germans in the best case scenario or just remain neutral and not even get involved.

    -Well of course the Soviet Union is still huge, but considering how Hitler lost planes,tanks,trucks, horses from the Battle of France, Battle of Britain the North African campaign, with the Soviet Union only building up their defenses and being prepared. Considering how close Hitler was to Moscow in Barbarossa with much of the losses he sustained from the previous campaigns(Galntz states how Germany had fewer than 200 bombers in spring 1940 than in the spring of 1941), the year buildup and reformation and along with there being no T-34s on the battlefield and less KV tanks, the Soviet armed forces would be in an even worse condition than in 1941. Of course they were still not prepared, they had worse morale, were still recovering from the Winter War, had virtually only light tanks and had mobilized less divisions in 1940 than in 1941. It's going to be hard for the Soviet Union to face a German Army fresh for combat while the Red Army had just received an embarrassing blow from the Finns they had not quite recovered yet.
     
  8. green slime

    green slime Member

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    There is the fundamental fact these theories ignore:

    Hitler didn't think France would collapse, when he invaded France in 1940.

    The evidence lies in the priorities given to production in the Winter 39/40. Ammunition and airplanes consumed two thirds of all resources allocated to armaments. Ammunition in the form of howitzer shells, and mortar shells (handy for fighting WW1 again). Tanks, vehicles, weaponry, ships, and u-boats, all had to make do with the remaining third.

    Now, if he didn't think they could defeat France in 1940 (at least in the speedy manner in which they ultimately did), why would he even try for the Soviet Union? A much bigger state, with much larger forces?

    The expectation was, that the French army would halt the German advance somewhere immediately past the lowlands, in a similar fashion to WW1. They needed to reach the English Channel, in order to have airfields from which they could attack England. That is why, the German production for the whole of Winter of 39-40 was so focused on ammunition, and aircraft. The fighting in Poland had revealed many severe shortcomings with the German Forces, Infantry hadn't performed as well as expected, and there was a severe lack of ammunition.

    Post Poland, the OKW's military-economic staff suggested fighting a purely defensive war, with the army abstaining from any offensive actions. But this would require a diplomatic solution to the war, and not a military solution. Because everyone realised, that playing a "long war" scenario, France and Britain would win.

    'Everything had to be concentrated so as to finish with the Western powers as soon as possible, since it was not clear how long the Russians would hold to us.'
    -Keitel


    French currency, and above all, French foreign currency holdings, could be spent in Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Spain. They sold Germany many of the raw materials needed (Iron, Magnesium, Tungsten, etc...)
     
  9. green slime

    green slime Member

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    "Russia" did not "lose" to Finland. The Soviet Union actually won, but it was a pyrrhic victory. The Finns did ultimately sue for peace, which you don't do, if you win. There was no Finnish victory parade in Moscow, nor in Helsinki.

    If you can't see the difference between fighting a foreign local war of aggression, during which time your country is still functioning on peacetime standards and an all-out war of annihilation, then you must be wondering why, when the USA was "defeated in Vietnam", the Soviets didn't immediately invade Europe...
     
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  10. green slime

    green slime Member

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    German losses prior to Barbarossa were miniscule.

    The Red Army losses in Finland, when compared to what the Red Army could field, were trivial.

    Why would the Red Army morale be battered by a single little war in the frozen North? They had won in Manchuria, taken half of Poland, the Baltic states, and Bessarabia. They had the largest army in the world, and an efficient propaganda system. They believed in the future.

    The Germans would still need to defend their Western borders.

    T-34's did not stop the Germans. The Red Army did. Obsessing over individual weapon systems is juvenile, when discussing Operations on this scale. It's not a tactical skirmish. Or else the French Char B's would've creamed the Germans.
     
  11. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    I guess your right, I usually don't make grammatical errors.
     
  12. DerGiLLster

    DerGiLLster Member

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    -Hitler was a mad gambler, always going against his generals and usually coming out on top until June 1941, he could have gambled against the Soviet Union in May of 1940.

    -Well Hitler should have decided at the end of the Winter War to use those weapons toward Russia.

    -Because the Soviet Union was seen as incompetent after the Winter War by the rest of the world, and this could give an excuse for invading Russia.

    -In the event of the switch having more bombers will be more helpful, toward Russia, and an attack by France is unlikely considering they hadn't yet mobilized for offense and would have mixed feelings about a war in Russia.

    -Well then they should have improved on their Siegfried line considerably and have evacuated some German citizens out of the area, in order to build and prepare more defenses.

    -I always thought that Germany should never tried on making on ocean going navy, they should have made it for tactical reasons, this would have saved steel, time, oil and machinery to focus on making more small arms, tanks, artillery and planes. Then he would he would be able to acquire the resources he needed from the Soviet Union.
     
  13. DerGiLLster

    DerGiLLster Member

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    Well the campaign sure did showcase the weaknesses of the Soviet Union, the image of the Soviet Union was hurt. The Finns may not have won, but Russia sure didn't get want it wanted either.

    We made the Vietnamese suffer huge losses, the public was just starting to get tired of the war and decided that we had enough. Germany should then deal with Russia in an all out annihilation of war. Germany is not going to have a problem of distinguishing who is a good or bad guy. They will just execute/enslave every Soviet they see.
     
  14. DerGiLLster

    DerGiLLster Member

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    -They were not as bad as compared to Barbarossa but "miniscule" seems to be underplaying it. They had lost a good amount of planes from Britain and the Blitz, which could have been helpful for better surveillance and ground attack of the Soviet Union.

    -They hadn't taken the Baltic states until June-July of 1940, this is if Hitler makes his move in May 1940. Well this "little war" sure did make the Soviet High command restructure their whole army and divisions, they trained more soldiers into reserve and had improved upon production of war in response to the event.

    -Okay they will defend their western border with the soldiers intended to occupy France but are put are put on the defensive. I cannot see France making any advances into Germany when they focused on the defensive. Considering that 500,000 men occupied France and 300,000 occupied Norway along with tens of thousands in the Kriegsmarine going against the Royal Navy, they would have enough to defend their western border and a few more divisions to send to Russia.

    -Of course they didn't do it alone. They were many factors that had helped slow down the Germans advances. The T-34s and KV tanks did come as a shock to the Germans and had lacking anti-guns to defeat them. This surprise may have set the Germans back by about a week. A formation of KV tanks is credited with slowing an advance to Leningrad and destroying around two dozen German tanks. Also, the Molotov line played a role in slowing the advance. It may have huge sectors open but it was able to pin German elements of the southern advance, slowing the northern and center groups. The biggest one is that the Soviets had thousands of more tanks and planes and divisions in 1941 than in 1940. I am aware that one factor never contributes to a loss, but it was Germany's underestimation of Russian buildup, failing to take advantage of the situation, sustaining casualties with Britain, France and in North Africa all the while Russia was able to prepare and not lose anything while they were doing so.
     
  15. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I doesn't matter what the Soviet Union has before the war starts. It basically had lost everything; all tanks, all aircraft, all men, in the first 6 months anyway (Loss of effective planes topped eighty percent in early July already.). Do you think a week or two dozen German tanks matters on a conflict of this scale?

    The Soviets started with ca 5 million men. A month after the invasion, it had conscripted a million more. Then ½ million each month, for the rest of the war. Which it would've done even in 1940.

    The vast majority of the Soviet tanks the Germans encountered, were not KV-1s or T-34s. If all they are doing is losing them and territory, it doesn't really matter what they are. Time and Space are Russian friends, and Germany has no easier defeating those in 1940, than in 1941.


    Stalin's aggressions in the time between the Nazi-Soviet Pact and Operation Barbarossa actually harmed Soviet defensive plans and partly-completed frontier fortifications of 1939, disrupting mobilization, domestic war preparation, and existing strategic plans.

    Germans destroyed in 1941 the entirety of what they thought the Soviet military was. But there was always more, while the Germans and their allies lacked any comparable deep reserves or potential.
     
  16. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The German underestimation of Russian buildup (besides: very questionable ) was irrelevant for the failure of Barbarossa which happened in the summer of 1941 .

    That the Soviets had more tanks and aircraft in june 1941 than in 1940 is as such irrelevant, as they had much less tanks and aircraft in december 1941 than in june 1941.
     
  17. DerGiLLster

    DerGiLLster Member

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    -Well having less to face does reduce the need for resources to destroy them. Of course they lost a huge amount, but they had more reserves waiting for them to be used in the Ural factories. I never said a week or two dozen tanks would change the course of the conflict but facing an enemy that has less of something while you have more of it, can be of huge help to the campaign.

    -Yes they did start with that amount of men, they would then have around 3.5 million if the Wehrmacht were to invade in May 1940. Also considering how the Red Army had been trying to improve the efficiency of it's army, it's questionable if they could have have been able to mobilize those men when they would be even less prepared in May 1940 than in June 1941.

    -I never said the vast majority of tanks were T-34 tanks and KV tanks, they had started to see some numbers in 1941. In 1940, there were only prototypes of the T-34 tank while only half the number of KV tanks they had in May 1940. Time and space would aid in defense, but if the Germans face less resistance than they historically would have, along with not having to worry about feeding soldiers and supplying, maintaining trucks and planes in Norway, France, the Low Countries, and North Africa and not having to deal with the Royal Navy at the same time, then they would be able to have more resources, and supplies for the Russian campaign.

    -So even though Stalin had setup bad defenses, it's still not as bad as having no defenses at all. I think making an effort to try and defend your country is better than not having anything put up at all. The Soviet High Command had been able to reform many divisions and the mechanized corps without Stalin's disruption. Even though Stalin would disrupt it, he didn't make worse than before, something being done is better than nothing at all.

    -Less tanks, planes = less resistance = faster advances. Germany will have suitable reserves for not having troops stationed in France, Norway or North Africa so they will be able to replace more troops and not have as much exhausted divisions as they had before.
     
  18. DerGiLLster

    DerGiLLster Member

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    So what does, the Soviet's analysis of Germany being their biggest threat to you in July 1940, attempt at making the molotov defense line, having less planes and tanks to deal with at the start of the invasion have to be irrelevant for the start of Barbarossa?

    Why is having less tanks and planes irrelevant. Sorry but I cannot grasp your point, if an army had less of something to encounter and destroy than advances would be much faster. If the enemy had no fortified defenses at all, compared to there being some defenses in Barbarossa, than it would have faster advances than usual. If they were only 15 miles from Moscow when they had troops stretched across France, Norway and North Africa and had to deliver supplies to them, and had to deal with more resistance along with the fact they were short of 200 bombers in the spring of 1941 than in the spring of 1940, then it showcases that the Germans would be to advance much faster in time to reach Moscow before the muddy season and would have more reserves to put into battle against the Soviet Union.
     
  19. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    I afraid you are simplifying quite a bit. As mentioned the Red Army did not "lose" to Finland. It was a victory but at a high cost. The Red Army wasn't as much to blame as the leadership. Veroshilov was in charge of the Finish front and was still in favor of frontal Calvary charges. He was extraordinarily incompetent and once replaced, the same Mannerheim line was over run with the same Soviet Army within weeks.

    The Baltic States and Poland as mentioned above were very quick victories because of leadership and tactics.

    I see you have quoted Glantz. Well done, he is a master of the Eastern Front IMO. He also said that Hitler simply got "lucky" attacking when he did. Had he attacked one year sooner or one year later he wouldn't have been half as successful...
     
  20. green slime

    green slime Member

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    You're not getting it.

    The majority of the resistance faced by the Germans, was not specific types of tanks. The Primary resistance offered the Germans was infantry divisions. They are still there, regardless of the numbers of tanks. Generally, the Panzers' goal was never to go head to head against enemy tanks, but to encircle units, and destroy HQ, supply, and disrupt communications, disrupting and immobilizing enemy units.

    The Soviet airforce was already basically destroyed, by the end of July.

    The numbers of Soviet tanks was irrelevant in 1941, because of the pre-war disposition, handling, doctrine, poor training, and bad co-ordination.

    The plans for general mobilization were there, well before 1940.

    The speed of the German advance was not fundamentally affected to the degree you are pretending by T-34's or KV-1s, or numbers of other tanks. Few Soviet tankers in 1941 had received adequate gunnery training. The German advance was disrupted mainly by its own need to resupply. If you want to move the Germans faster, you have to solve the logistics problems they are facing, rather than the worry about Soviet tanks. Time and space are still the problem, which the Germans were also well aware of.

    The amount of supplies needed in Norway, France, etc by garrison divisions is minimal, when compared to a fighting frontline division, and the quantities of materials it consumes.

    The railways in the East were logjams, logistical bottlenecks, through which supplies for the invasion had to flow. North Africa, wasn't even secondary; it was tertiary. The effort to meet the needs of three German divisions in NA, pales in comparison to what was going on in the East.
     

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