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What would the Western Allies have done if ......

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by PzJgr, Aug 6, 2001.

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  1. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    What if Germany had not attacked Westward but continued on and attacked the USSR. What do you think the reaction of the Western Allies have been?

    This is an expansion of the topic "if Barbarossa was an honorable cause". I see some debative answers of how Germany was the perpatrator and how Russia was a helpless victim, etc.

    My opinion to the above question would be that the Western Allies would have sat it out, built up their armies and watched the two dictatorial powers slug it out. Churchill was definitely anit communist as was the rest of the western world. In an indirect way, Hitler's attack on communist Russia would have been seen as an honorable cause. The question was not was the war fought in an honorable way. What do y'all think? Remember how the way of thinking was at that time.
     
  2. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    I have to agree with you as England could not do it alone and I think Churchill wouldnt be disturbed at all, with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
     
  3. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    The Germans would have been beaten soundly. If you mean the Germans dont pull up on the reins on September 17th '39 and plow into the Soviets in Poland, the Red Army would be in Berlin July/August 1940.
    The vast majority of prime movers in the Wehrmacht during Op Barbarossa were captured during the campaigns in the west. Most of their petroleum reserves were captured in the west. Germany sucked France, Denmark, Norway, and the Low countries dry of fuel, I dont know the numbers off hand but its something in the 100's of thousands of tons of petroleum were hauled back to Germany in 1940. These stocks were placed immediately at the Wehrmacht's disposal instead of going through normal supply channels and ended up being almost all their supply during the coming campaigns. Without this fuel, German ability to wage war and not have German society creep to a halt for lack of fuel may not exist. There werent enough German soldaten to even man a front line in Russia in '39. Its just not possible.
    The Russians would be employing KV-1's and T-26C(S) against Pz II's and Pz 38's. There would be a bigger difference than between these than a Pz III and T-34. Russian airbases would not be in Poland, but out of easy reach in Russia. Stalin would be surprised by the assault, but the breakthroughs of '41 would not be possible as the Russians lacking the initial paralysis of '41 would blow bridges, destroy railways, and attain a better defensive posture. The Germans would advance until they ran out of trucks and fuel, hanging themselves, dying the vastness of Russia.
     
  4. Rodrigo

    Rodrigo Member

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    Besides fighting against the Soviets, one of the Churchill´s intention it was to dismiss the power of the Nazis at Germany.
    So, I think that the Western Allies perhaps to knock down after Hitler's government.
    Maybe even let the Polish Corridor to Germans, at diplomatic ways, like some generals was thought, before Fall Gelb.

    [ 07 August 2001: Message edited by: Rodrigo ]
     
  5. Rodrigo

    Rodrigo Member

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    Sorry for the bad english Language.
     
  6. Madcap7

    Madcap7 Member

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    If the campaign against France had lasted longer than it did Germany stood a very good chance of runnng out of fuel. Germany's armed forces were only capable of fighting short, sharp wars and as a result Germany only had enough reserves for short, sharp wars. So if the German's plan had not gone as did then Germany would have been in a dire situation. The Panzers refueled using French petrol stations!

    So any attack on the Soviet Union at this early stage of the war would have had the success it did in 1941. Even if the Red Army was as unorganised as it was. I think the T34/76 hadn't entered sevice, but on the other side Germany's Panzer forces were light tanks Panzers I(?) and II, the Chzech tanks, some Panzer IIIs and possibly a few Panzer IVs (not sure). So the Germans were totally ill-prepared and would have faced total defeat.
     
  7. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Good posts Rodrigo and Madcap. I have to sit on the fence on this one, because you both have sound judgements here.
     
  8. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    Very good posts here. Germany indeed didn't stand a chance to attack the Soviet Union in 1939. In fact, in 1939 the only countries they could have beaten they did beat - Czechoslovakia (without combat) and Poland. It was even impossible for Germany to attack France with a hope of success in 1939. In fact it could be argued that viewed realistically, they had only the slimmest chance (on paper) of beating France in 1940. The remarkable thing about the campaign in the west in 1940 is after all not that it was over in six weeks, but that it was won in three days.

    Germany had the potential to beat the Soviet Union only at the precise moment when it attacked. The war in the east could have been won by the end of August 1941. If anybody's interested in why it wasn't, I'll be too glad to post my reasons here.
     
  9. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Andreas, definately interested. One of the main things I know of why they did not win is because they were also helping their ever faltering ally-Italy.

    Has Mussolini, waited to attack those places as Hitler suggested, the outcome would surely have been in their favors. But... we know what Musso did.............................. dont we.........
     
  10. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    Okay, this theory isn't mine but was first brought forward by a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma, so bear with me.

    Briefly, the argument is that if Hitler hadn't stopped the assault on Moscow in August 1941, which left the panzer groups undertaking it completely paralyzed for several weeks before they headed directly away from Moscow into the Ukraine on a completely unneccessary supporting mission for Heeresgruppe Süd. Finally, in October they began heading for Moscow again. By now of course it is raining, and the Soviets have had two months to pull a defense together. So it is not very surprising that it takes the Germans two months to even reach Moscow. The argument is that if the panzers had continued straight for Moscow, they would have reached it in August and taken it in September at the latest. This is quite possible from all points of view since there was nothing standing between Moscow and the Germans that could have held them up.

    Now imagine Moscow fallen in early September 1941. Let's also assume that Stalin did what he did later - he remained in the city. So the entire government of the Soviet Union, 15% of the entire industry, the central hub of the railroad network are suddenly gone. Co-ordinating any sort of large military operation at all is now impossible, resupply extremely difficult, production severely restricted.

    What choice does the Soviet Union have but to surrender? None.
     
  11. alath

    alath Member

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    Continuing the offensive on the Moscow axis might have been a good idea; certainly Guderian was in favor of it and I have a great deal of respect for Guderian (not only his tactical-operational skills, but also, of all the Wehrmacht leaders, he was least tainted by Nazi atrocities - he maintained his honour as a man and as a soldier as well or better than any other high-ranking German officer of WWII, I'd say).

    But even if Hitler had listened to Guderian, they still would have had some major problems and in some ways, Hitler may have been right in his opinion.

    The diversion of Panzer Corps certainly slowed down the farthest-reaching German advance, but the rest of Army Group Centre wasn't idle that whole time. The foot- and horse- bound units (which were the vast majority of German forces) needed time to catch up with the spearheads, consolidate the gains, and mop up remaining pockets of resistance.

    Also, the diversion of Panzer Corps was decisive in the encirclement of Soviet Kiev forces. You can't draw up a scenario where Guderain keeps going straight to Moscow, and also destroys the very large Red Army forces in the Kiev area.

    Guderian might well have made it to Moscow, but his supporting infantry would have been miles and miles behind at the far end of a very extended and vulnerable line of communication. Bogged down in street fighting, grossly overextended, with active resistance in rear areas, lacking infantry support, and with remaining strong Red Army forces on his Southern flank, Guderian would not have been in an enviable position.

    In short, continuing the drive to Moscow could have just as easily led to an earlier, more decisive, Stalingrad (only to the North).

    Also, you have to remember the decisive impact of Stalin's westward transfer of Far East troops. Like Zhukov himself, the Far East Red Army Corps were distant from the purges and less affected by them: well-trained regular forces rather than bottom-of-the-barrel hastily trained reserves, and led by a far more competent, less-decimated, more independent-thinking officer corps.

    If a major threat had emerged sooner on the Moscow axis of the offensive, Stalin would surely have moved much sooner to transfer the Far East forces back to the threatened area. He would certainly have given up large areas of Siberia, if necessary, to a purely hypothetical Japanese offensive, if it was necessary to defend his capital. Remember, the early success of Operation Blue was in part due to Stalin's over-allocation of resources against the German forces facing Moscow. Stalin would have demanded defense of Moscow to the last bullet, calling in all available forces from every possible area.

    It would have been a hell of a fight, and it might have led to a quicker, more decisive outcome of the Nazi-Soviet struggle. But I think it's a mistake to assume the Nazis would have automatically won under these circumstances.

    This is just another example of the basic problem behind most "what-if scenarios;" we always assume one side radically changing its strategy and tactics, but at the same time, we assume that the other side does everything exactly the same as they historically did. Fact is, it doesn't work that way. Right or wrong, the Stavka was reacting to the Wehrmacht's actions in 1941. If the Wehrmacht's actions had been different, so too would have been the Red Army response.
     
  12. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    The East front was war to the knife. Stalin will not throw in the towel. Reaching Moscow and taking Moscow are two different things. The Germans even reaching Moscow in September is doubtful, and remember, taking Moscow will require the Germans to throw away their best asset, movement. Penetrating even the defenses of September will incur heavy losses. Couple this with the effects of attrition due to pushing their men and machines to the limit to reach Moscow at this time and you realize that the Germans will enter the city exhausted, out of gas, out of ammo, with 25% of their machines. House to house, factory to factory fighting against Molotov cocktail wielding Hero's of the Soviet Union will take a terrible toll on irreplacable men and machines. Stalin would not remain in a Moscow about to be surrounded, he would retreat forming legions with which to counter attack. Large sections of Moscow could not only hold out, but actively fight against the Germans, maybe until spring. Most likely a December or Janaury counter strike by siberian divisions and the remaining Red Army would most likely open the jaws of the German trap holding Moscow. The outcome of all this is that Moscow, not Stalingrad, is the rock that the Wehrmacht breaks on. Hitler wouldnt let anyone retreat from Moscow, forcing the same outcome as Stalingrad. Suffering 100-150,000 killed, wounded, and captured in the Moscow campaign, EASY, in just 3-4 months would destroy the Wehrmacht of late '41. Training camp graduation rates for the men and factory output for the machines was too low at this time to come close to replacing losses like these. So again, no matter how bad the Soviets would be hurt, the Germans would be hurt just as much, a viscious circle. Giving the Germans no larger advantage than they had. A Germany captures Moscow scenario most likely means that both sides are exhausted in early '42, most likely preventing the Germans from repeating their advances in the South as they did in history in '42. The lines would probably stay static as both sides attempted to recover, the Soviets receiving 100's of thousands of tons of lend lease goods through the year.
    This most likely means Germany would have to strip Western Europe and Africa of troops to have a chance at a summer offensive. Operation Torch most likely conquers North Africa virtually unopposed, invasion of Sicily in '42? Italian invasion early '43?
     
  13. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    I think you're incorrectly assessing the strategic picture of August 1941. This is the time when Stavka didn't know whether divisions existed or not, where army corps were heading and the only thing they could do to slow the Germans down was to throw anything and everything against them that was within reach.

    In the north and south this remained so until the autumn, when the rains began and German movement slowed. Only in the centre were they able to reform thanks to the turning around of the panzer groups there and the general halt of everything else. So I can't believe that the Soviets would have been capable of launching such a flank attack because this requires an intact command and control network that was in shreds and a reserve of uncomitted units that didn't exist. You're also forgetting Heeresgruppe Süd, I think. If a major threat to the main assault appeared, the panzers of Heeresgruppe Süd would have been diverted to take care of it (and not vice versa) because the main assault on Moscow would take precedence.

    I have no reason to believe that foot-marching infantry couldn't keep up with the panzers now. Why shouldn't they when they've done so for the past one and a half months? If infantry can march twenty to thirty km per day (which is really not too much for a trained fit infantryman) you can easily follow and panzers, because they almost never advance more than that per day. So where's the problem there?

    Out of ammunition? Never in a million years. The expenditure rate of ammo would remain largely the same, so why should they run out?

    Out of fuel and 25% remaining vehicles? Well, the fuel expenditure rate would be the same too, so I see no problem here. As for 25% vehicles remaining operational, that is quite possible. But I believe that would be enough. After all they had not much more to work with during the actual drive to Moscow in November which succeeded against the stiffest resistance possible.

    I give the Germans two weeks to reach Moscow if they had continued the drive in that direction. Let's make it four weeks to account for a long line of supply (although the German railway building gangs were so effecient, this would not be as much of a problem as many believe). I don't think it's possible to move any unit at all from Siberia to Moscow in that short time. Maybe in four weeks, but only maybe. Moving divisions requires preparation and the trip itself is also not exactly instantaneous.

    I agree that capturing Moscow itself is not exactly a given factor if the Red Army commits itself to house-to-house fighting. OTOH, prisoner interrogations give us a pretty clear picture of the fact that by August 1941 most Russian soldiers considered the war lost anyway and were usually quite glad to be made POWs when given an opportunity, if only to get away from their comissars. IIRC, no encircled pocket of Soviet soldiers anywhere held out longer than four weeks during Barbarossa (but I'm on a very slippery slope here).

    Of course Moscow could have been different, and I'm not saying that the Germans would by default have taken it if they'd attacked. What I am saying is that this is probably the only chance they had of doing it and winning the war in the East.
     
  14. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    And the discussion also goes that if the russians had not had been recieven any lendlease materials (not much at that exact time) such as transport trucks, they literally would habe been stuck in the mud and defeated.
     
  15. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    IMHO, the speed required to take Moscow before the mud quagmires of October would incur far greater supply and material losses. Even in August the Russians had the 32nd Army group in reserve West of Moscow. September 1st the Soviets had 26 existing army groups(in Europe), STILL. Leningrad held, why wouldnt Moscow?
     
  16. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    I think the first Lend lease shipment arrived in Russia in May or June of '42. LL wouldnt affect things until later in the year.
     
  17. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    The long debates about Leningrad have more or less led to the conclusion that Leningrad fell not because of Russian resistance but rather because of German lack of initiative at the highest level (one guy) who again ordered the advance to halt. This was something he did pretty frequently, in fact he nearly wrecked the entire French campaign by ordering something similar. (Un)Fortunately most field commanders ignored him.
     
  18. Lord Lovat

    Lord Lovat Member

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    i know im a bit late on this discussion but i'd just like to point out a mistake which i think was made in the ealier posts if i undertand corectally the question is if hitler hadnt attack france and the west would the west have got involed in hitlers war on russia? May i point out that had this happend britain prime minister would still have been neville chamberline not churchill plus britain would have been at war anyway because of poland. assuming i understand the disscusion corectally.
     
  19. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Being that this is a What If? your addition is good for it. I hadnt thought of Chamberlain still being the PM.
     
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