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What if the USA had sustained significant mainland damage?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by WalkerBulldog, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    OK, now you are changing the situation a bit. You should have posted this information along with your first proposition.

    It's an open question whether Stalin and Hitler could have remained allies for any length of time. I'm not totally convinced by the argument on either side, but I tend to lean to the belief that they could not. In any case, I'm firmly convinced that the Soviets would not be anywhere near as much help to Germany as most people believe.

    As for Germany overwhelming Britain, even with the Soviet's help, that's not going to happen. Germany needed to actually invade Britain in order to overwhelm it. That was an impossibility as long as The RN outmatched the German Navy as badly as it did. It would take three to four (peacetime) years, at the very least, for the Germans to build enough specialized ships for an invasion of Britain to be successful. By that time, the US would be involved in the war and Germany is back to square one.

    Then you talk about US "war weariness", and the "country" (the US I assume) being nearly "bankrupt". The US was far from bankruptcy in 1945. In fact, it was alone among belligerent nations in having an economy in which consumer spending actually rose during the war. Taxes were high, but far from unbearable, and don't forget, the US, immediately after the war was able to spend billions on the Marshall Plan and ship millions of dollars worth of food to Japan to avert a famine in 1946, as well as give aid to other countries. Bankrupt, or nearly bankrupt, nations don't do these things.

    War weariness, there was, but it was nothing like the "war weariness" of later times and had different causes. An opinion poll taken in early 1945 revealed that better than four-fifths of the public favored continuing the war against Japan until unconditional surrender was achieved, no matter what the cost. I think you are being too simplistic and assuming way too much as to what causes "war weariness" and a breakdown of civilian morale in war situations.

    No one was "very proficient in guided missile technology" during WW II, let alone Germany. The V-1 and V-2 missiles were unguided, and as such were practically useless as weapons for bombarding militarily useful targets. The Germans did have a scheme to build large submersible canisters in which V-2's could be towed by subs to the East Coast of the US and launched against area targets. But they could hardly have produced enough such missiles to do much damage, and the damage would only have affected the immediate coastline, would have been random in nature, probably hitting far more empty fields and swamps than cities, and would have been extremely costly to Germany. Developing subs which could launch multiple missiles was beyond the capability of German shipbuilding yards at the time

    In order to effectively bomb American cities on the East Coast, Germany would have had to develop huge fleets of very long range manned bombers with far better performance than even the B-29. Something like the B-36 would have been necessary, and in great numbers, to deliver conventional bombs. This fleet would have been so costly to build and operate that Germany would have had to forgo her large Army, and any sort of navy. In the period 1940-45, the economics just weren't in favor of Germany doing anything of the sort. And even if they had been, only the extreme east coast cities would have been in range; the interior of the US still would have supported war industries to produce weapons and equipment to counter any German attacks. It just wouldn't have worked out for Germany; there was no chance that Germany could significantly damage the US East Coast, or anywhere else in the Continental US..


    Again, you are exaggerating the "war weariness" of the American Public. Yes, it wanted the war to end and soon, but it also wanted victory, and was willing to pay the cost. Pearl Harbor enraged and united the American public because it was a treacherous sneak attack in time of peace, which killed many Americans, not because of the damage done, or whether it was to private of government property.

    Furthermore, you are assuming that the Axis could inflict severe damage on American cities. This was never the case. At best, even assuming Germany was not engaged in a war with the Soviet Union, Germany could mount nuisance raids against US territory which could in no way repay the cost of launching them. Germany might enjoy some propaganda triumphs with the first few, but coud not sustain a military campaign with any reasonable expectation of gaining more than it lost.

    In comparing the current anti-war feeling in the US with any supposed reaction to military attacks on the US in WW II, you are comparing apples and oranges. The current attitude is based on a feeling that certain military initiatives the US government has taken are not in the country's best interests; That was not the case in 1941-45. You have to make distinctions as to the reasons for public opinions, which you are not doing.

    Bringing the American Civil War into the discussion is entirely inappropriate. Civil wars, are, by their very nature, complex and unlike wars between countries. The motivations, public and private, for engaging in a civil war are quite different, and the dynamics of public opinion also very different. Just as comparing public opinion about undeclared wars in foreign countries is deceptive, so is comparing public opinion about an internal war versus an external war misleading.

    I think your discussion was superficial and far too simplistic. You need to also study the differences between current situation and historical events, not just the parallels. And take a good look at the realities of economics, both in the US and Germany.
     
  2. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    While I find the question largely absurd as a realistic proposition I would state the following in response:

    I doubt that even if the Germans (or Japanese) had some means of projecting firepower to the East (or West) Coast of the US it would have had much impact on the war.
    The biggest problem for either is not just having a delivery system for some weapon but targetting. Other than using it for pure terror purposes ala, Bomber Command style ("the target for tonight is Cologne!".... not a factory, not a rail yard, the city) neither had sufficent information about where US industry was located to actually carry out a surgical strike to destroy a particular factory.
    This leaves simply striking at population. We can see clearly that at best this would be very time consuming, require a massive amount of material effort and, never have the desired result. The US could have easily carried out evacuations of cities that were threatened.
    Another problem both would face is that much of the US is unreachable and that the US is locating more of its industry there. Boeing opened plants in Wichita Kansas for instance to build the B-29. Why? Geographically it was as far from any coast as you could get and still near an ample labor supply.
    The US would also have taken measures to mitigate the ability of either to continue attacks. First, there would be active military measures such as antiaircraft artillery, and fighter defenses. Next, camoflauge and deception measures would have been taken (and were) on a massive scale. Many aircraft manufacturing plants near the West coast were given very elaborate and extensive camoflauge. Given the lack of targetting data the attacker had some sort of reconnissance would be necessary. With such camoflauge in place and no on the ground spy network it would be difficult or impossible to locate camoflauged factories and likely result in targetting errors.
    The US could also take measures to move production out of range or rearrange how it was being done. For example, the U-boat threat early in the war led to a pipeline being laid from Texas to Pennslyvania to move POL products. This solution eliminated the need for tankers to move these resources and thereby eliminated the U-boat threat to POL supplies for the East coast entirely. After all, a U-boat couldn't torpedo a pipeline on land.

    A last problem is geographical as well. If Germany is just able to just reach New York with a weapons system that leaves about 90% of the US unreachable. This means that the US can focus their defense into a small region while mitigating any effects by moving critical parts of the economy out of range.

    On the whole, anything the Germans or Japanese could have realistically come up with in this regard would have been nothing but expensive pin pricks that had little, if any, lasting effect.
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Sorry but you are wrong. I suggest you take a look at the guidelines for this section. While it is possible to construct wildly counter factual what ifs, my impression any way, is that this list encourages well constructed ones that have a specific PoD (point of departure) and flow logically from their. Yours so far has no specified PoD and would require it to be so removed from the start of WWII and so divergent fromt he real world that it is not clear what can be stated.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Nothing I've seen will lengthen the war much beyond 45.
    It was Germany that was almost bankrupt before the war even started. If the Soviets and Germans don't fight then the war ends with the Germans acquiring 1 or more self luminescent cities.
     
  5. RAM

    RAM Member

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    This is very interesting. The 9/11 attack was performed by a few terrorists and it was followed by a total panic in the US and an all out war against what was called terrorism.

    What had happened if you had an full scale (or may be not even that) invasion on the continental US?

    You would have panicked completely.
    Unlike most European countries (and Asian as well) you never had an enemy soldier marching on your soil.
    You don't know what it's like and I really don't think you are able to imagine the situation having the Swastika flag on the Brooklyn Bridge.

    RAM
     

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  6. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    The only people that were "panicking" were the common people who didn't know any better or those who suffered in 9-11. The US government had the historical catalyst they needed for war against OPEC delivered to them on a silver platter.

    I was in the city during the catastrophe. My initial reaction was "Goading them took that long?"
     
  7. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    That's what the Japanese thought, too. Gee, I wonder what happened there? If we are going to start comparing WWII to Islamo-fasciist terrorism (if you would allow me to use that term for the sake of brevity), then I think a new thread would be in order.
    Call America fortunate, lucky, blessed or (insert your adjective here), you are quite correct, except for instance the War of 1812. Frankly, I don't believe anyone who has never experienced it personally could ever imagine it or how they would act. As you speak as someone who has lived through this experience, my heartfelt sympathies to you for having to endure that tragedy.

    However, the original question was what would the US response have been in WWII. As another poster concluded, I think it would have only heightened the resolve of the US population. I find people make many assumptions about Americans that are quite baseless. I'm sure Americans are no different in that regard about others. The fact is, people at the time lived under the assumption that the US could or would be attacked, and that fighting in Europe and Asia was the best chance of staving that off or preventing it.

    My family was in Detroit during the war, a city that was purportedly responsible for 35% of wartime production ("The Arsenal of Democracy" per FDR). My mother sewed parachutes and all of the rest of them who were not in military service were also involved in production facilities. Mom talked about routine air raid drills they had, blackout inspections at their houses (apparently every neighborhood had an inspector or warden) and a host of other civil defense initiatives. The shipping locks in Sault Ste. Marie (between Michigan and Ontario, Canada) had active AAA stations to protect the shipping of iron ore. Detroit too had active AAA batteries and I recall as a kid in the 60s seeing the searchlights at the armories that dated from WWII. This is all despite the facts we know now that no such capability existed for any Axis power to reach the Great Lakes. Nonetheless people were prepared for an attack on US soil.

    Don't foget that most Americans really wanted to be isolationists before Pearl Harbor. That's really all it took to turn the tide 180 degrees and I can't think of any reason that further attacks on the continental US wouldn't have strengthened an already steel resolve to achieve victory.

    As someone else pointed out, I really don't think you can compare the US involvement in WWII to Iraq or Viet Nam for that matter. Japan assumed we had no fortitude. Some today see the US as warmongers or imperialists. I don't think any of that is true, but the point is that the US has demonstrated a propensity to stay with the fight if the people believe in it. There's no question that the American people believed in the cause of WWII. I'll leave the discussion of other conflicts to some other place.
     
  8. RAM

    RAM Member

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    Well, I was born after the war so I can't claim to have endured it.
    However, I grew up in the ruins, the rubble and the wreckage of WWII. The bunkers, the sunken destroyers and the downed planes were my childhood playground.
    My grandparents, my uncle and my mother lived in Narvik and watched the destruction of the town and later the bombing of Tirpitz in Tromsø.
    My father was an undercover agent watching the german naval activity along the Norwegian coast. He had to hide in the mountains from late 1943 until the end of the war when the Gestapo discovered the network he was a part of.

    Did any american had to hide in the Rocky Mountains to avoid being captured and tortured by the Gestapo?
    Did any american in the continental US had to leave his belongings and head for the mountains leaving everything behind because they were bombed out of their homes?

    It may be so, but I haven't heard of it yet.

    RAM
     
  9. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    Although in a much different context than your question, Jeff, I have played with the mental "what if" Germany had not attacked Russia. The problem with that scenario is that taking over Russia was always the plan.

    As somewhat of an aside, I am currently reading Mein Kampf. I sheepishly admit I have never read it before, assuming I knew what it said. That is pretty much what I am finding to be the case but it is interesting to experience it first hand. Actually the text for me mostly drones on in a very boring fashion, but it is amazing what Hitler was willing to commit to the printed word, and I'm only a quarter of a way into it. He has already plainly outlined his thoughts about the Jews and Slavs and stated that taking over Russia was what Germany needed to do to secure its future. My dad told me he had read it prior to WWII and was always amazed that Hitler ascended as he did and others initially capitulated to his expansionist whims, as he clearly told everybody what he would do and then set about doing it! But again, I digress.

    The invasion of Russia was central to Hitler's plan and the only other aspect of the question would be the timing, as in delaying the invasion. For reasons like money and the vast expanse of Russia, I don't believe Germany could have ever whipped them into submission, however, I do believe that Hitler was correct in his assessment that the longer he waited, the less were his chance of success. Also, it was only a matter of time before Stalin would have broken the pact, when he had strengthened his forces sufficiently and attacked Germany, which Hitler realised too. So, I just don't see maintenance of the non-aggression pact as ever having been a possibilty.
     
  10. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I do too.
     
  12. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    Of course not and I do commend the brave actions of your relatives and countrymen and truly am sorry for what they had to endure.

    I can only assume that the US would also have suffered additional emotional and physical scars had foreign boots tread on our soil. Again, I think that the population here, as in Norway, would have risen to the challenge. I'm not sure why anyone would assume otherwise. Perhaps it would have soured us on pursuing further military action after WWII, I don't know. However, it was what thrust the US onto the world center stage, a role no one was looking for, by the best I can tell. I would say though that Korea and VN were seen by many American vets of WWII as valid engagements to try and prevent a repeat of WWII. Again, another discussion I will leave for elsewhere.
     
  13. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    The answer is no, but so what?

    Are you claiming that Americans wouldn't do so if the country was invaded? On what evidence do you base this conclusion?

    You're assertion of "panic" due to the 9/11 attack is mistaken. There was no panic, the people and government reacted with a measured and logical response. You may not agree with it, but that does not mean it was driven by panic.

    The original poster of the thread was not positing an invasion of the US, but attack by enemy bombers or rockets, which is a very different situation.

    In any case, there is no historical reason to believe that Americans would react any differently than people of other nationalities. In fact, the difficulties inherent in America's geographic position would render an invasion almost impossible and would induce an attitude in the American people that eventual victory was inevitable.
     
  14. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Panic? I would call it outrage and a deep concern for the victims
    We have. War of 1812 against the British. Remember they took Maine, failed at taking New York, and burned our Capital City. Most of this (except in New England) only strengthened our resolve.

    Again See above
    I have absolutely no idea where you are going with this. I feel for you, I really do. I have no idea what it is like to grow up in the aftermath of such destruction. However it sounds like you are hating on America because we were geographically to distant too first hand witness the effects of such a brutal regime. Maybe because our isolationist fathers and grandparents did not want to join in what was perceived here as Europe's problem. I'm not really sure, but I will tell you I am damn proud of what my relatives did during the war, and I am sure you are with yours as well. Either way Americans fought just as hard as any other allies in the war, so don't hate us because we weren't invaded.
     
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  15. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Mikebatzl. Myself and Ram have had disagreements in the past on other topics, but his post history just does not show him as having any hatred of hating America...'sounds like you are hating on America because...' In fact just the opposite.

    The problem with this is maybe that the thread should be in the freezone and not the what if zone. The original thread starter then can discuss this without the fervour we all have when someone says our birth country may be invaded or foreign flags flying.
    Its only to be expected.

    I've read endless amounts of drivel and postulating in the past on whether my own country should have survived in 39-40 and laughed my socks off at some of the postulating, without responding. But it does irk doesnt it when you see your own country being invaded theoretically and others telling you how you would react.

    My own view is that it would never have happened. But it doesnt stop someone being able to speculate what if it did. If that speculation does not meet the requirecd standards of the thread rules, then perhaps just move it or close it.

    But Ram is certainly not the baddie here. Kudos to his family.
     
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  16. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Hello Urqh. Thank you for your response. As stated I just don't know where he was going with the...
    "Did any american had to hide in the Rocky Mountains to avoid being captured and tortured by the Gestapo?
    Did any american in the continental US had to leave his belongings and head for the mountains leaving everything behind because they were bombed out of their homes?"

    I have myself never before seen any Anti-American rants from RAM, and I respect him and his opinions. Just adressing what was what I perceived (probably incorrectly) as, not an attack, but more along the lines of a poke at or jab, on America.
     
  17. RAM

    RAM Member

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    It doesn't matter if they were Islamo-fascists, Hindu fanatics or Christian fundamentalists, that's not my point.

    I used the 9/11 as an example because the continental US had no bomb attacks or impacts from enemy missiles during WWII.

    I was thinking of the chain of reactions that followed after the attack.
    We witnessed a president that didn't show up until several days after the attack. Where was he? Was he scared and cowering in his bunker?
    Why didn't he show up telling his nation that everything was under control?

    We witnessed subsequently an attak on an innocent (to the US) nation (Iraq) using non-existing WMDs as an excuse.
    (where was the intelligence service?)
    It turned out that Saddam Hussein was rather harmless after all with his antiquated military arsenal.
    His biggest problem was that he was not popular with the Bush family who needed a scapegoat.

    This looks like panic to me.

    RAM
     
  18. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Not true. Japanese Submarine I-25 surfaced near the Columbia River and attempted to shell Fort Stevens. Damage was minimal. This occurred June 21/22 1942. Also on September 9 1942 A Japanese seaplane launched from I-25 dropped two 80kg incendiary bombs over Oregon. Japan also launched thousands of balloon bombs toward the Americas, one landed as far inland as Chicago. I realize this is not anywhere near the extent that other countries where bombed, but it did happen.

    Cowering in a bunker? You have to be kidding. He addressed the Nation that very night.
    No, we invaded Iraq in March 2003. Afghanistan was in response to 9/11. More than a year later cannot be considered panic caused by 9/11

    There was more than just WMD's. The US was not the only country who thought he might have them. Saddam even admitted he wanted the world to think he still had them.



    Tell that to the victims he maliciously murdered.
     
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  19. RAM

    RAM Member

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    I'm not anti-American. On the contrary, I have probably just as many relatives in the US as I have in Norway.

    My paternal great grandfather had five brothers and one sister, they all immigrated to the US and settled in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Now their children are scattered all over the US.
    My great grandfather was the youngest one and had to stay home to help his parents on their small farm. Later his brothers sent money back home for his education.

    From what I have understood of those who I have met they are all staunch Republicans, but that doesn't keep me from asking critical questions, no offense intended.

    RAM
     
  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Y'all kiss and makeup or whatever and roll back toward the topic of the thread.

    If you need further discussion on the sidetracked topic, please create another thread.
     

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