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What if WWII in Europe started in 1943?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Falcon Jun, Oct 10, 2007.

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  1. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    I've read a book saying that some German military planners felt that Germany would be be better prepared to start a war in 1943. By temporarily pausing expansion, they believe that Germany would've been able to consolidate its gains and put into line emerging technologies (ME-262, better oxygen technology for U-boats, flat tops, etc.) that would've given German forces a decisive edge. What if Hitler agreed with these planners and started the war in 1943?
     
  2. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    IF Germany had waited until 43' to launch its war, I do not believe they would have progressed as far as she did starting in 39'. The USSR, Great Britain and France would have had the time to bring their military up to speed. Knowing that Hitler would not be satisfied with staying within his borders, the allies knew they were in a race against time. War in 39' favored the Germans. War in 43' favored the allies. Now imagine Germany going against the USSR with brigades of T-34s. Germany may have been better prepared for a 'long' war in 43' but would not have been as successful. My 2 cents worth. :D
     
  3. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Agreed!

    One is is for sure, if Hitler would have invaded the Soviet Union in 1943, then he would have come up against a well supplied and equiped army and airforce and would have been facing 20,000 T-34's and not 1300 ;)
     
  4. tikilal

    tikilal Ace

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    A good what if. To look at this we need to lay out the assumptions that we make.

    PzJgr assumes that Germany was considered a threat by Great Briton, France and Russia. And that with the perception of this threat the nations would have undertaken steps to counter act Germany. This is a huge assumption. But yes under this assumption The war would have been harder for Germany.

    The school assumes that things went on like they did before war with Poland. After the annexation of Czech. had Germany laid low and built its military, industry, and strategy it would have been a monster in '43. Why do I say this? France lost not because of lack of men or equipment but because of tactics and leadership. Nothing was going to change these short of a war. England would have been able to field better equipment in the form of fighters and bombers, but the number is questionable because of politics, the government felt the number of planes the RAF need was half of what they were asking for. This might have changed. Russia was working with Germany up until the invasion by the Germans. I can not see why this would not have continued until '43. This would give the Germans better insight into Russian tank designs and general practices. The Russians problem in '41 was similar to the French in '40, training, tactics and leadership. The reforms in the Red Army and the mass production of weapons was triggered by the war, and most probably would not have changed with out it.

    The German tactics were still theories like the French, British and Russian tactics. Only the use of these tactics in Poland, France, and Russia proved that they were superior.
     
  5. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    And when was Germany not a threat to Great Britain or France? Hitler's existence as Fuhrer was based on making Germany strong, repealing the Versailles Treaty and restoring its borders.

    The T-34 was already off the drawing boards in 39'. A tank is not rolled out over night. The pzkfw V (Panther) was one that came about as a result of the encounters wiht the T-34. So anything after the pzkfw IV would not have been produced in 43' under this scenario. The only country that probably would not have changed its military structure would have been France. It always thought that the Maginot Line would have protected them.
     
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    By 1943 the Enormous French Army and the British would likely have advanced greatly with the modernisation programmes, in both materiel, and more importantly doctrine, that were begun in the '30's. I don't think Germany would have got beyond France. In many ways the timing for the war's opening, though not strictly part of the overall plan, proved exquisite for the Germans.

    As for them having special insight into Russian Armour, they had that anyway right up to the outbreak of war and it still didn't help them to expect the T34.

    PzJgr largely nailed it for me too.
    (Though I disagree that the French would remain hidebound to the static defences, they were controversial during their entire development and 4 years is a very long time in military thinking. They were as intrigued by modernisation as any other army and I'm sure that as Germany's buildup became more and more apparent over 4 years they'd have had plenty of time to adapt.)

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  7. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Excellent point PzJgr!

    Stalin himself knew that a war was coming but not so soon. He was planning war to break out no sooner then 43'..... And was mobilizing his army on this premise. In terms of experience, the Russians got it in the "Winter War" and when Zhukov defeated the Japanese at the battle of Khalin Gol with Mongolia in 1939.

    As for the T-34, this tank was built in complete secrecy. It is also argued that one of the reason why the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, is because they had no idea how many tanks the Russians had and of what quality they were. The first German encounters with the T-34 were nothing short of amazement as it was superior to anything they had at the time.
    And the Panther was built as a result of the encounters with the T-34's and its design.

    But it wasnt just the T-34 then the Germans werent familiar with but also the KV seriers, which is why whenever those tanks were taken out of commission, Germans would line up to take pictures next to it as they have never seen anything that big before ;)
     
  8. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    A lot of things could have happened between 1939 and 1943.

    Since this is a what if, let's assume that Hitler agreed not to continue his expansionist policy. (But to Hitler's mind, this would just be a pause until conditions are even better).
    If this was so, then it's certainly possible that Winston Churchill wouldn't be Prime Minister and Chamberlin's political stock would've climbed.With Churchill out of the way, the anti-Nazi voice in UK would not be as powerful.

    Another possible factor that could change the equation is the British attitude towards the Soviet Union and vice versa. I read somewhere that the British had supported anti-communist forces in Russia before the 1930's.

    If these were the political conditions prevailing, it would've been possible that the UK and Russia would've come to blows over Finland. At the very least, the relationship between UK and USSR would've been very very low.

    A canny Hitler could've used this political set up and improved his relationship with UK while undermining Russia. France, I think, would've followed UK lead but not lower its guard. In the US, the pro-Germany movement backed by Charles Lindbergh could've gained ground, too.

    It's mind boggling to think of all the possible permutations.

    Given the above, I think if Hitler had continued his expanionist policies in '43, the UK (nor the US) wouldn't be in a good position to go against Hitler, especially since UK has been keeping a wary eye on Stalin (to Hitler's glee). France would be in a better position militarily since it shares a border with Germany but it's leadership is iffy.

    One factor I couldn't place are the existence of the Nazi concentration camps in Germany. Could Nazi Germany keep their existence secret through the "peaceful" years up until 1943? If the UK found out, would this be enough to sway the British to once again think of Hitler as public enemy number one instead of Stalin?
     
  9. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    This is so true and I forgot to mention it. Had the Germans known of the KV, they would have known that their PAKs would have been obsolete. The Germans were aware of the importance of anti-tank guns.
     
  10. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    I was under the impression that both the British and French had their "Guderians" but were not convinced and stuck to keeping their tanks as part of the infantry for support. Though, I could be wrong.
     
  11. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    So what DOES happen in your what-if, in this 4 year gap?

    Is there war in Europe? is there Jewish and other minority persecution?
    Is Hitler supporting the Civil War in Spain? Is Hitler annexing Rhineland, Austria, Chech...ect?
     
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    They were both becoming more and more interested in mechanisation/modernisation of doctrine. The successful results of the 'Mechanised force' exercises carried out by the British, amongst other trials, were very slowly beginning to penetrate even the more old fashioned quarters of the staff. Even Very traditional cavalry regiments were already receiving armoured cars & tanks, a sure sign that the new way was coming. In 1939 it was far from set solid, but by 1943 indications are that the process would have been greatly advanced.

    Don't forget that Guderian's success was largely coalescing ideas propagated in the wilderness by mostly British theorists, who's voices were finally being more and more listened to across the world. The modern age of war was coming, Germany only just beat everyone else to it's very cusp.

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  13. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    This was very true. What was the name of the British advocate for tank divisions?
     
  14. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Sirs,

    I see all your points and they are all valid. However, I personally believe that Stalin would've been perceived as the greater threat to Western Europe if Hitler had waited longer. Thus giving Hitler an advantage instead of a disadvantage if he had waited.

    What's my basis for this?

    Nazi Germany had capitalists, just like France and UK, so by focusing on this angle, communists would've been their common enemy (under the saying "the enemy of my enemy is my friend").

    If I follow the usual assumptions and focus only on comparing the technological/industrial capacities and development of UK, France, Nazi Germany and USSR, Hitler would be at a distinct disadvantage in 1943. If political possibilities are factored in, it becomes a wide open field for conjecture, i.e Il Duce and Adolph might have a falling out by 1943.

    A similar question to mine postulated a war in 1941. Now if it was only a two-year difference, the one on the disadvantage in 1941 would be Hitler. I say this because two years are not enough to discern political developments or patterns.
     
  15. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    I think I bit off more than I could chew with this question. All I wanted was to find out what are the possibilties that could've happened, especially the political developments that would've underlined World War II in Europe. The reason I focus on the political aspect of war is because war is a political act and the preveailing political atmosphere can alter alliances.

    Excluding politics from the picture, I'd go with the majority view, Hitler might have a better equipped military but he would've been surrounded and eventually overwhelmed.

    Bottomline, France wouldn't have been a cake walk because most of the aging military officers from World War I would be retired or died of old age by 1943 and the younger more innovative French officers would be in a better position to implement changes. It's even possible that such a French military would've stopped Hitler cold.
     
  16. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Who would have replaced Chmaberlain, he died in 1940? And judging by the elections of 1945, the head of government would not have necessarily been a Conservative and would the King's government have persued a different course, if controlled by the Labour Party?

    It is diffcult to jump from 1939 to 1945, skipping good evaluation of each intervening year. Unless you go year by year, it is hard predict long-term outcomes, as the events of one year are totally influenced by what happens in the immediate year or years. An example of this is the question, would the US have become involved in Korea in 1950 were it not for Pearl Harbor? Probably not, if we look the conditions prevalent in the the US in 1939 or 1940. However, looking at what happens in the following years, our actions slowly point to involvment in the Korean War.
    I guess what I am saying is that we cannot directly translate real history into a hypothetical history unless we factor in how small changes will affect the outcome on down the line, out of proportion to thier immediate effect.
     
  17. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    The problem is that your What-if seems too broad.....

    However in general, I would say that Germany would suffer a disadvantage in starting the war later rather then earlier.... ;)
     
  18. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The most significant thing to consider here is what does Japan do? If we assume US - Japanese relations take their original course then the US, Britain (and the Commonwealth), France, and the Netherlands are at war with Japan and have been for about two years. This means the US now possesses a true two ocean navy and is on the verge of crushing Japan. It also means that the above countries are fully mobilized and are in a war production footing.
    For Germany this means that France in particular has a very large army and navy available. Their airforce is now equipped with modern aircraft and lots of them. They have an early warning system at least equal to that of Britain early in the war now in place.
    Britain now has an effective naval air arm and a number of new and very potent carriers available. Their army is gaining significant experiance and is much larger and far better equipped than it was in 1940. Their airforce also now possesses a trained and experianced bomber force along with a good number of pilots that have seen alot of fighting.
    The US being on a full war footing is approaching 100 divisions in strength and has a massive airforce; one much larger than Germany's. At sea the US has become the singular naval force plying the world's oceans. With the British there is absolutely no way the Germans could expect to run surface raiders with any chance of success. Since the US also now possesses a large number of carriers and destroyers even the chances of a submarine campaign are dim for Germany.

    On the German side Hitler had to scale back his war production substancially to avoid economic collapse. While the Wehrmacht is larger and reasonably well equipped it is still short on motor vehicles. Some manufacturers are still shunned like Opel as it is considered a "foreign" corporation and the military and leadership in Germany do not want to use it.
    For aircraft, the jet and rocket remain curiosities and their production remain low priority so there is no Me 262 or He 280 or something similar in service. Instead, the Me 109's successor is coming into service.
    The German navy remains a small force. Submarines remain at a total of less than 100 simply because the economy will not support more. The handful of surface units are now looking at a huge British, US, and French naval force. The Italians cannot be relied on to make up this imbalance even to a limited extent.
    With the Japanese on the ropes, a 1943 war in Europe finds the full British and French navies back in home waters and the Med as the US can handle the Pacific war on their own.
    Even the Poles are now more of a problem. Instead of one mechanized cavalry regiment they now have a dozen or so brigade sized armored /mechanized units. They are much better equipped for a mobile war than they were in 1939.
    Because Britain and France have been receiving US material support they too are in better shape and could even send units to support Poland prior to the outbreak of the war making things more difficult.
    The Soviets have replaced most of their obsolesent tanks with the T 34 and KV 1 among other vehicles and continue to possess a huge military. Their navy has an actual surface force including new battleships, cruisers, and destroyers.

    On the whole, the Germans find themselves unable to go to war as they did in 1939. Instead, Hitler must settle for political solutions only as a military one looks more and more dim with time. His navy tells him that there is little hope of success against a British / US alliance in the Atlantic. The US is clearly a major military power now and has demonstrated clearly that it is capable of outproducing and crushing any other major power if it wants to. The British and French are now substancially better equipped and have the experiance they lacked in 1939. Their airforces rival Germany's in size and equipment and have the advantage of lots of experiance fighting the Japanese.
    Germany is finished if they declare war.
     
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  19. Roddoss72

    Roddoss72 Member

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    No the French leadership by 1943 would not have changed, same old faces same circumstances, they would still be a pushover. The only way France had a hope and that it has an entire cleanout of it's political and military leaders, who were the tragic victims of WWI tatics.
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    While I agree with a lot of what you said there is another potential twist. What if the Soviets attack Germany in 43?
     
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