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If Operation Barbarossa had been delay by one year?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Todd W Secrest, Feb 4, 2020.

  1. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Good question. I don't see the Germans being completely free of a North Africa/Middle East commitment even if they captured Alexandria or the Suez Canal. British Empire forces in the Middle East were supplied by convoys around Africa and from South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Even if they were pushed back to Sudan, Palestine, Syria, Iraq they would still be there, planning to retake their lost territory and forcing the Germans to maintain sufficient forces to hold them off.

    Japan's entry into the larger war stemmed from their ongoing war in China and the economic sanctions imposed by the United States. The absence of a Russo-German conflict would not seem to change this. Most of the British Empire's military power would still be tied up fighting the Germans and Italians. The Japanese would have installed themselves in Vichy French Indochina. No doubt having Russia tied up in a life-or-death struggle with Germany was helpful, but all of the Russo-Japanese conflicts had been initiated by the Japanese; they could feel reasonably safe about their northern flank while striking south to obtain the resources they needed.

    Historically the opening of war in the Far East dragged British Empire resources away from the Middle East, to the benefit of the Germans, and that would still be true in our current scenario.

    So we come to the question of whether Hitler would declare war on the United States, his greatest error in the opinion of many including myself. Historically he was fighting a major war with Russia, which had just taken a disasterous turn with the Soviet offensive beginning December 6. In our scenario, he would be preparing to launch the attack on Russia in spring 1942, with the confidence that it would collapse once he kicked in the door. In his mind, the danger of fighting both America and Russia might appear less than it did in real life.
     
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  2. Christopher67

    Christopher67 Member

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    I am fully aware of the political justifications.

    But Im also fully aware that food shortages and lack of oil were the principle reasons for launching Barbarossa to begin with.

    Politics provided motivational justification. But political considerations must and always will form only a backdrop to economic realities.

    Remember, that Wilhelmenian Germany had gone to war in 1914 principally because it was believed that it was the "right" time, that the principal enemies of Germany would be that much stronger if left to prepare for much longer, particularly in the case of Czarist Russia.
    The same justifications were applied to Barbarossa. In so many words, the attitude was that the invasion be launched sooner rather than later, or it would be too late to launch an invasion at all.

    Both decisions were driven forward by economics, with political (and later racial) ideology serving only to bolster morale.

    Politics could not change essential facts stemming from industrial truths.

    Germany had to launch Barbarossa in 1941 or not at all..
     
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  3. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    Hitler described it as being "A war of annihilation". The "living space" notion, how in God's name was he going to sell it to the Volk". Heydrich had attempted to "Germanise" his "Protectorate" and found that people simply did not want to move the region if they could not do this how they expected to sell Russia as a "new home" to a people who simply did not want to go. Ideology and reality often clash.
    Economically there was a shortfall in labour in the agricultural sector for some time, the employment of French POWs and later "workers from the east" were used to relieve this chronic deficit. Germany became a state which depended on forced labour and slave labour.
    Germany under the NSDAP was working on loans and bonds a short term solution to fund the Fuhrer, it was in the long run unsustainable and inflationary pressures were building prior to Sept 39, the taking of the Czechs and Austria had eased things a little. Germany could not afford the Nazis and their pipedreams, for all Germanys conquests in 1940 she really did not economically benefit greatly from them.
     
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  4. Christopher67

    Christopher67 Member

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    Germany was under pressure in 1941 from basic lack of food and oil.

    The three million man army was not tied down by other fronts, and they were refusing to supply oil to a close ally like Italy even when it was obvious that the Italians needed the stuff desperately.

    The lands and cities of conquered nations were being stripped bare of foodstuffs and economic loot just to keep the wheels turning. If deliveries from the Russians right up to June of 1941 were not enough to prevent this, then yes, Barbarossa was an act of economic desperation justified politically and socially by calling the Russians "Judeo-Bolsheviks" and classifying them as "subhuman", or "untermenschen".

    Just remember that Stalin was in the middle of a phase in the Soviet economy called "Catch Up and Overtake". Stalin's requests for trade in exchange for foodstuffs and raw materials were all military products. He wanted samples to copy and blueprints for things like warships and submarines, and other "catch-up" type requests that would give Soviet industry a boost. In fact, I've read that Soviet delegations were described by western observers as "descending on Germany like a hoard of locusts"

    Time, to both Hitler and the planners of Barbarossa, did not seem to be on the side of the Germans at all. Hitler, in early 1942, just before the start of "Operation Fall Blau" is on record as saying "If I don't get oil, then I must end this war."

    The pressure was on
     
  5. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    There is outside pressure and self imposed pressure.

    If there was food shortages, Germany could have deferred all or part of the 1941 conscripts or released the oldest veterans to return back to farming. Britain would not be a threat to German control of western Europe for many years to come without a outside (US or Russia) direct threat. Germany would also not need as many draft animals for a army staying put. Then there were all the French, Polish and other POW's that could have been sent home to work the land. Finally you had the Jews, gypsy's, homosexuals and other so called undesirables rounded up and sent to ghetto's and camps lost to productive work.

    Hitler fell back on the wife beater's argument, it's your fault for my violence.
     
  6. green slime

    green slime Member

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    The food "shortages" could not to be alleviated by releasing men back into the agricultural workforce. Germany (and Europe) was not self-sustainable in foodstuffs at all, and had not been so during the last 100 odd years. Feeding Europe required imports, and Europe was blockaded. Only in recent decades, with modern agriculture, vast subsidies, and significant EU effort, does Europe produce enough food to feed itself. People starved in mainland Europe during WW1, and they did so in WW2. The Great Famine in Greece (in general, it is estimated that Greece suffered approximately 300,000 deaths during the Axis occupation as a result of famine and malnutrition) was the worst in Non-Eastern Europe during WW2. But across Western Europe, the caloric intake plummeted. The situation was worst in the occupied Eastern Europe, where millions starved.
    The famines of WWII | VOX, CEPR Policy Portal

    It was precisely the German experience of WW1, that prompted such harsh measures against the occupied countries;
    Food Fights
     
  7. Brutal Truth

    Brutal Truth Active Member

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    Germany didn't suffer from significant food shortages until the last year of war. Yes, they had to use ersatz products but chicory coffee or synthetic margarine aren't likely to be significant factors on the morale of a population that withstood years of massive city bombings. With additional agricultural work force (more reliable and efficient than the slave labor they increasingly used during the war) and imports from the Soviet Union they would have coped just fine. And is Vox even a reliable source?
     
  8. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Active Member

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    I think Monty hit the nail on the head with his First Rule of Warfare. I don't think there's any good year for Germany to invade Russia, and 1942 instead of 41 would have allowed the Russians to better absorb the lessons of the Winter War, as well as build stockpiles, while the Germans would still be expending men, equipment, and production fighting the British.

    I don't know that Hitler would have joined Japan's war with America without the Eastern Front. I think his declaration on 10 Dec was based on the hope that the Japanese would return the favor by declaring on the USSR. So if I'm right, and that's very debatable, in springtime 1942 Hitler faces the UK and Free French only.

    Contrary to what was posted upthread, I think Hitler's greatest mistake was invading the USSR at all. To my thinking, he lost the war when Zhukov unleashed his counteroffensive in front of Moscow. The USSR was a swamp sucking in men, equipment, and money.
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    In 1942 the Red Army would have some 3-4,000 T-34' s when in 1941 I recall they had some 1,200. 1941 was better year to attack although Hitler was disillusioned that the USSR would crumble as soon as they attacked.
     
  10. Riter

    Riter Active Member

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    Even if the attack was delayed until 1942, it would only mean that the Soviet Army would be equipped with better material. That doesn't automatically mean that their men will be trained to operate them. Many of the T-34s were undriven and left untouched after delivery for fear of wearing them down. Soviet leadership was still recovering from the purges and officers were afraid to be noticed. I highly doubt if the Soviets would have performed better if the Great Patriotic War began in 1942

    The question whether Hitler would attack after Pearl Harbor and war with England is a valid one. The entry of the United States increased the possibility for an Allied invasion of the Continent. By then he would know that the Japanese Kwangtung Army wasn't about to go Round II with the Bear but Hitler being Hitler would probalby have invaded the Soviet Union anyway. He's not the sharpest pencil in the drawer.
     
  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I read that One reason might be the pact of steel. If Hitler had not declared war to the US the Japanese might have considered the pact was just a piece of paper not worth the ink on it and left the pact.
     
  12. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Active Member

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    I disagree. The pact called for member nations to come to the defense of signatories that had been attacked It did not call for signatories to declare war on whoever another member nation attacked.

    Germany attacked Russia; Japan remained neutral. Japan attacked America, the British Empire, and the Dutch Empire. Had Germany not declared against America, what complaint could the Japanese have had for the Germans staying neutral against America?

    Germany declared war on America not for concerns of the treaty's strength, but because Americans and Germans were already fighting in the Atlantic, and because America was supplying the UK with war materiels, and lastly because Hitler just couldn't help himself, I think.
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Japan did have two plans. The US or the USSR. I don't recall now but the attack was to be broadcasted something like North wind or South wind.

    I'll look it up as it is here in the Forums.
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The Japanese thought of attacking the country that crumbled. In the case of the USA other reasons would lead to war.

    Broadcasts:
    East wind rain war with the USA.
    North wind cloudy war with Russia.
    Three west wind clear war with Britain.
     
  15. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Active Member

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    Yes, Japan had two options on the table. No, the choice was not driven by treaty considerations.

    Japan did not join Germany against the Soviet Union in June 1941. Why should they complain of Germany taking the same tack of neutrality later that same year, against America?
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Japan did not trust Hitler after Nazis and the USSR made a peace pact. Also By August Japanese considered Germany was not winning. But if the USSR had crumbled they might have attacked North. The Molotov pact also caused Mussolini was enraged and almost left the pact. Hitler was heading to being without an ally. He had to make decisions to win the trust back. Or stay alone with the fear of perhaps Italy joining the Allied agains communist partner Germany.
     
  17. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Active Member

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    My point is that Germany wasn't driven to declare war on America out of fear of the treaty with Japan falling apart, as the Japanese showed already they didn't consider the Tripartite Pact binding wrt offensive actions.

    The relevant text from the pact:

    The Avalon Project : Summary of the Three-Power Pact Between Germany, Italy, and Japan, Signed at Berlin, September 27, 1940.

    [Emphasis added]
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2021
  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Just c
    Just Curious. What do you think destroyers for bases September 1940?
     
  19. Brutal Truth

    Brutal Truth Active Member

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    Yes, the Pact was not binding for offensive actions, and Japan didn't attack the USSR when Hitler started Barbarossa, but followed its independent strategy. Thus Hitler didn't in any way own Japan the joining in a war against the US. And this leads to an obvious question: why on Earth did Hitler declare war on the US in December?

    Conventional wisdom says that a war with US was inevitable in the long run. That may be, but why declare war on 11 December? The offensive on Moscow had just failed, and the Soviets had started their winter counteroffensive. On 8 December, Hitler had signed his directive No.39, ordering the Wehrmacht to assume a defensive stance on the whole front (Wikipedia). The US was already giving support to Britain and Russia, but that is not comparable to having the biggest industrial power on Earth directly engaged in a full war against you, when you already are at war with the biggest Empire (British) and the biggest country (USSR) on Earth. It should have been evident even for the Germans that the American public, whose isolationist tendencies were well known, would not have approved a declaration of war against Germany, but would focus their ire against Japan.

    One reason given is pressure from the Kriegsmarine. The US merchant fleet, caught with its pants down, was very vulnerable to U-boot attacks in December and for a time German submarines would have had a field day. Ironically that's not very different from the reasons why Germany accepted a war with the US in 1917. Thus again the German leadership ignored major strategic issues for short terms military advantages. To me that shows an almost unbelievable blindness and arrogance, and a catastrophic failure in political and strategic leadership. And I don't think Hitler bears the only responsibility, I'm not aware that any of his political cronies and major military leaders tried to dissuade him.
     
  20. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Active Member

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    Legally speaking, it's an act of war, as was LL:

    The Avalon Project - Laws of War : Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War (Hague XIII); October 18, 1907

    I've read that, further to the issue of submarine action, the undeclared war going on in the North Atlantic annoyed Hitler to no end anyway, and he'd long wanted to give his submarines full scope, which accorded with Doenitz's wishes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2021
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