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North African campaign

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by GunSlinger86, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    This is a hypothetical question and the answer is probably obvious, but if the Germans waited to launch Barbarossa or didn't invade the USSR at all and were able to concentrate those millions of men in North Africa, would it have been the final nail in the coffin for the Allies? Would England have been able to mobilize all of their Commonwealth troops into a substantial fighting force to take on the large German Army?
     
  2. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    There would have been no way to support millions of men in Africa and the loss of the Med would have been a blow, but it would not force the British to surrender. The basic issue was Italy did not have a navy to deal with the British and it did not have enough transports to sustain large amounts of men. Even if the Germans somehow managed to get a hold of the oil, they had no way th transport it back to Germany.
     
  3. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    If National Socialist idelogical , economic and political ultimate target had been Western Europe or Africa/Middle East what you said might have been possible. But ever since Hitler got the he wanted his no:1 target had alweays been Eastern Europe especially destruction of Soviet Union mortal enemy of Nazi ideology from his perspective. From signing Nazi-Soviet Non Agression Pact to invasion of Western Europe all of his actions were aimed to invade and occupy Russia all the way to Caucaus , exploit it , make it a German colony and destroy Soviet regime at the end. That was the main core of Hitler and Third Reich foreign/military strategy. To deny it to deny Third Reich itself. He needed most of his armed forces in East for his long desired Crusade against Bolshevism. Hitler involved the war in Middle East and Balkans to his considerable chagrin in 1941 only because his close partner and ally in Steel Pact , Mussolini screwed up against British and Greeks in Mediterranean in 1940-41 and Hitler felt obligaded to rescue him by sending a minimum land and air force to this theater. Not because he saw any value about operations in this region..

    Ironically in my opinion the forces he sent there German Afrikakorps and one Luftwaffe Air Fleet was basicly too small to have a decisive effect but in their constant campaign in North Africa between 1941-43 they basicly trained , drilled Allied armies about German way of war making and tactics , operational skill. That why I meantioned in one of my earlier threads that Erwin Rommel and Albert Kesselring were best trainers for Allied armies.
     
  4. denny

    denny Member

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    "Not because he saw any value about operations in this region".

    I thought Hitler attached importance to ...The Sues Carnal...Mid East Oil...and Georgia Oil as a way to preserve his corporation...and also as a detriment to The British Corporation.
    Who was the beneficiary of that region.?
    Thank You
     
  5. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Rommel was sent to prevent the allies from gaining control of Africa, Rommel simply went beyond his original mission. There was oil discovered in Saudi Arabia, but the region was still under explored until well after the war. As I stated Germany had no way of exploiting any oil reserves in the mid east he may have captured. The Suez was important as a symbol but traffic was shut off from traversing the Med until after the fall of Italy. The oil of the Caucasus was a vital objective for Hitler but it was beyond German capacity to reach. The distance between Rostov to Baku is the same as the distance from Rostov to Romania.
     
  6. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Assuming that there would be no war against the SU for several years at least then they may have had some chance if they used what they had wisely and switched the Italian shipping industry to building lots and lots of tankers but that would require the SU not attacking first and forcing the Axis to switch there production and allocation of logistics.
     
  7. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    That is like of saying Hitler did not base all of his actions as a counter force an anti thesis against Soviet Union and Communist ideology ever since he assumed power. All of his actions was getting a final showdown against Soviet Russia and communism which he assumed was controlled by Jews and in collaboration with capitalsm (which was also under Jewish control) in his twisted conspiracy theory perspective. He hold Soviet Union and communism as biggest threat against Germany and German culture and he was restless for a final showdown or crusade against what he hold as subhuman slavs under jewish control. That was first the main theme and motivator behind his actions for war above anything.

    As for the second one getting resources like vast oil , grain and mineral fields and basicly getting a Lebensraum (living space ) for German people by colonising Eastern Europe especially Russia. That was the second vision of Hitler for Third Reich and Germans. He basicly wanted to turn the clock to December 1917 when Brest Litovsk Treaty was signed and Bolshevik revolutionary goverment desperate for stability gave away most of Ukrania , Belarussia and even some parts of Caucaus to Imperial Germany. That is when Hitler considered Germany won the war but then was betrayed and cheated of his gains by German revolutiaries , jews , communists and left the war as defeated....Middle East , Suez Channel were secondary in his vision and he left them to his partner Mussolini's sphare of influence after the Pact of Steel was signed in 1939. After Mussolini made a mess of everything in North Africa and Greece in 1940-41 era Hitler invaded Balkans and diverted a small force to Libya (Afrikakorps) to stabilize the front and support Italians. Not because he had any grand strategic scheme about North Africa , Middle East or Suez. His long desired "Crusade" against Bolshevism was about to start and he couldn't afford to disperse the army nor did he wish to delay Barbarossa any longer.
     
  8. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    On that regard Nazis preffered to capture and colonize Caucaus and Ukranie which were seen as bread baskets and oil rich areas. (Maybe even getting over Urals and Iran towards India ) Not Middle East which they considered infertile.
     
  9. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The oil fields of the Saudis were on the Indian Ocean, it would take an absolute fall of British power for the Germans to be able to transport the oil up the Red Sea to the Med. The main problem with the build theory is that it would take a couple of years to build enough tankers and build facilities in Italy and a means to transport it back to Germany. Which begs the question where would Germany get enough oil to build those tankers and fuel them to get to Saudi Arabia assuming there was no risk.
     
  10. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The Saoudi oil was of course excluded and meaningless,but even the Iraqi oil would remain in Iraq and not arrive in Germany.
    BTW: why should Germany need the oil of Iraq ? In 1941/1942,Germany had more oil than before the war .
     
  11. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    While I'll agree that the likelihood of Hitler choosing NA/Middle East over Russia is slim to none I am talking about hypothetical's here based along this thread's premise.

    That being said, Although the Saudi Oil was along the Indian ocean giving a great length of travel I was more looking at the Iraqi oil which had pipelines running to and operating from Haifa in the British mandate of Palestine and the French mandate in Lebanon, Tripoli. Far shorter route for shipping to travel that would also be easier to defend (Assuming Egypt is captured preventing Allied ship's from accessing the Suez canal to attack them).

    While it is more then likely the pipeline would be sabotaged I envision that with the Axis industry focused to an extent towards NA/Middle East that they could repair the pipeline, Certainly it would be easier to repair then to wage a naval war in the Red Sea/Indian Ocean against the RN/RAN risking valuable tankers.


    While my memory isn't crash hot didn't Germany only have more oil before the war because of the stock's they captured in France? With nations conquered they would need more oil correct? Where would they get it from... Iraq would give them some element of self control and secure them from Russian resources although I'll concede Hitler being logical in the matter would be unlikely.
     
  12. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Total oil available for Germany (domestic,synthetic and import)in millions of ton

    1933:3.1
    1934:3.6
    1935:4.8
    1936:5.2
    1937:5.4
    1938 :5.9
    1939:8.1
    1940:6.7
    1941:8.3
    1942:9.4
    1943:10.3
    1944:6.4

    The OP was that Hitler did not invade the SU ,but was going to the ME.

    Now,my question is :why should he invade the ME instead of the SU ? Did he need more oil in 1940? In 1941?
    If he did not invade the SU,he still would have oil from the SU (not that it was important:for 1940/1941: 5% of the total),but the point is that in the OTL,when he had no oil from the SU/ME(in 1942),he still had 40% more oil than in 1940 and still lost .
     
  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The oil of Iraq is a non sequitur:

    1)First,the Germans had to go to the north of Iraq

    2)Than,they had to repair the oil installations

    3)Than,they must protect the installations against air attacks and sabotage

    4) The pipelines : the same points: 1,2,3

    5)The Syrian harbours : same objections

    6) The transport of the oil by Italian tankers to Venice : very big problems

    7)The transport of the oil from Venice to Germany :idem

    8)After the oil was refined,THE big problems would start: how would the oil leave Germany to go to the front.And,no Barbarossa = no front,thus no need for more oil.
     
  14. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I disagree with the last points, though the first 3 are enough to make it a non starter and protecting the pipeline is a tough proposition, but the remaining ones are far from show stoppers.

    If the German gets to Northern Iraq they must have taken Alexandria and blocked the Suez canal so there is no Royal Navy base in the Eastern Med.
    A "Med first" campaign is heavily dependent on what the French do, if they allow Axis bombers to base in Tunisia with Alex gone Malta is indefensible. The small British subs would have a hard time operating in the Eastern Med from Gibraltar and the larger ones are unsuited to the Mediterranean. So the Haifa - Venice route is pretty safe from RN interference. Long range aircraft are a very iffy proposition, the bases (Southern Iraq or Sudan) would be awfully vulnerable to the Luftwaffe.
    One more element is that an early Mediterranean strategy is likely to prevent the fall of Italian East Africa (the few troops the British have after Dunkirk are all going to be committed to attempt to slow the Germans), if that happens Sudan air bases are no longer viable.

    I see a lot less problems in bringing oil from Trieste or Venice to Germany than doing it from Ploetsi.
    Syria is Vichy French so pro Axis and while Gaullist saboteurs may be able to operate there it's not much of a chance they may do more than pinpricks.

    The last point makes little sense, Germany had to curtail pilot training in 1944 and Italy had to stand down a lot of the fleet for lack of oil in 1942 so oil was an issue and more oil will have an effect on axis capabilities.



    .
     
  15. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Again it will take time for the Germans to either build a pipeline or to build more tankers. One of the reasons for the German shortage of oil is Italy needed a lot to run their merchants and fleet. I am trying to find a list of actual tankers but no luck so far. The Italians had apx 500 merchants available when they attacked France. So the number of tankers cant have been that many and I doubt they were of large capacity. Also most of the oil from Germany actually came from Romania.
     
  16. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Cyprus was a British base .

    Syria was occupied by Britain in june 1941,while Rommel still was in Lybia

    About the last point : there was a shortage in 1942,because the war in the East claimeda lot of oil . The OP was : no Barbarossa,but Schwerpunkt NA/ME/
    Besides,the Axis never could go to Iraq:the distance Tripolis/Bagdad is some 4000 km .
     
  17. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    For the tanker situation (you can look at the AHF) :it was very bad for the Axis :Germany and Italy had lost a big part of their tankers in september 1939/june 1940
     
  18. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    LJAd, While yes Germany had more oil in 1942 then they did in 1940 what you need to take into account is the domestic and military requirements of Italy (Were there oil resources cut back or increased?) and the domestic need's of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Norway etc etc even occupied all of these nations still needed oil so was Germany's increase in oil enough to offset them and if so would it not then affect the total military asset's they can field due to more oil going to domestic uses across Europe?


    1. Agreed that it is some distance in getting to the North of Iraq but that being said there were rail lines that could have been of use, Specifically those in the Vichy French territories but that would depend on who got there first, The campaign by the allies there didn't start until 4 months after the formation of the Afrika Korps and about 2 1/2 months after Rommel's first offensive? so there was some time if done right. But I'll agree that is a number of very important WI's but that being said in the event the allies are pushed back to the Suez canal do we know where the British planned to hold at/pull back to? If they would even be able to supply a force to such a defence of Northern Iraq while being pursued along NA?

    2. That they did and I'm guessing distances involved would be the biggest hassle? That being said I cant say how much the British would be able to damage/destroy or how hard it would be for the Germans to repair so I'll leave this point up to those who have a better understanding then me.

    3. I would say Sabotage would be there biggest problem, That being said if Hitler is smart (unlikely) and lets Iraq keep there independence with maybe a token German force to help fight off the British imperialists (Just some political world play that could get them to keep troops there) then Sabotage would be difficult to say the least with a hostile enemy protecting it and a hostile populace looking out to find you. As for air attack most RAF bases I can find of which ones that would be of any use would be in Sudan, Oman and Bahrain however Sudan would probably be that little bit too far and Bahrain that little bit too close for comfort.

    4. Ability to be sabotages would be limited that being said the repair would be hampered due to distances involved.

    5. Syrian harbours would be well out of reach of any serious danger, Possible submarine threat but with ranges involved for the Allies the risk and cost of such an undertaking could be more then they would be willing. Air attack again would be well out of the way going to the extreme in range no accounting for Axis AA and Fighter's. But again there are 2 harbours that would be able to be used and the likelihood of both being knocked out so completely is limited at best.

    6. I'm assuming you refer to the distances involved? Which I agree at the start would be a big problem but some thing that would be alleviated as more tanker's are built. That being said just to cross my T's and dot my i's does any one now roughly how long it took an Italian slip to build a tanker and how many such slips could build them?

    7. I'm guessing it would depend on either a pipe line or increased use of rail transport. That being said the extra fuel could just as easily be sent to occupied territories for there domestic use.

    8. That's assuming the oil is refined only in Germany, But ignoring that as I pointed out earlier occupied territories still needed oil for domestic need's, Italy still needed large amounts of oil for both Domestic and there navy. As far as I can tell there was still the need for it but if any one can prove me wrong and that Europe's Domestic and Synthetic sources could cover it all then I'm willing to cede this point of the debate.
     
  19. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    GunSlinger86,

    If you you now have the impression that an Ant hill just got kicked over, you would not be too far off the mark :)

    What you describe has often been called the "Southern Option" for the Axis and is much debated here on the forum. Feel free to check into our Alternate History sub-forum for several interesting threads and debates on this very subject.

    To attempt to answer your question, it would have been impossible for Germany to "concentrate those millions of men" in a North African campaign for several reasons. First many of the Axis troops in Operation Barbarossa were not German, but Eastern European troops in Alliance with Germany. None of them would have any motivation to deploy troops into this area. Even if they had all of them would have been exceptionally ill suited to operate in a arid, desert environment. The biggest obstacle to any such action was that they bordered the Soviet Union and they would never put themselves in such a risky position.

    The Italian 8th Army could have been redeployed into this theater along side other Italian forces, but in reality, deployed anywhere other than in Italy itself (or possibly the Balkans) it would simply be a drain on Axis resources for extremely limited combat value.

    This then leaves the Wehrmacht. Hitler did send over a million German servicemen into Russia, but in a scenario where there is no Eastern War not all of these troops could be sent into North Africa as Germany also shared a border with the Soviet Union and had a vested interest in the protection of her Eastern European allies. Germany would need at least 500,000 to 750,000 troops to hold this extensive border to keep Stalin honest.

    Far more limiting is port capacity in Italy and North Africa, as well as shipping to move and supply such a force.

    While it would be impossible to send a large force into North Africa, a considerably smaller one might be enough to tip the balance if sent before 1942. A German Panzergruppe consisting of two Panzer Corps (added to the DAK) would give Axis force some 6 Panzer and 3 Motorized Infantry divisions, a force Britain would have great trouble in matching during summer of 1941.

    Keeping such a mobile force fully supplied would be a challenging, but not impossible feat. Italian force's (in North Africa) would have to be kept in reserve, near static, positions guarding ports and supply lines and not used as frontline troops to reduce the rate of supply usage by these units to a minimum. Germany would have to invest heavily in both ends of the Mediterranean supply line to make Italian ports work efficiently and expand North African ports to accept greater incoming cargo.

    Considerable numbers of trucks would need to be stripped from passive units stationed in Germany, Poland and France to form Transport Battalions to get supplies from North African ports to where ever the front line might be. Ancillary actions would need to be undertaken to seize and develop various Islands to permit Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronutica to control the Mediterranean so as to allow supplies to be shipped with minimal loss of tonnage. Existing rail networks would need expansion as well to limit truck usage as much as possible.

    What in the end does this give Germany?

    Such a force might secure Egypt and possibly Palestine, but without considerable re-enforcement and Turkey joining the Axis to allow a land route to supply these new troops, a movement further east is almost impossible to contemplate without a utter and complete collapse of the British Empire (highly unlikely event). Loss of Egypt however, might cause a change in the British government with a vote of No Confidence for Winston Churchill, Hitler's greatest foe in Britain, and possibly this in turn might lead to a British government that would consider some accommodation with Nazi Germany or pursue a less vigorous or determined war effort.

    All this is highly speculative, but what is not is that such a strategy would have played to Germany's strengths without putting them into a position where they were expending blood, oil and munitions at a rate they simply can not maintain.

    There are some who will quickly point out that Britain would never enter into a peace treaty with a Continental power who controlled Western Europe and that American and Soviet entry into the war was inevitable. The first is not entirely true as they did reluctantly agree to peace with Napoleon in 1802 (though they violated it as soon as they could create a new Coalition).

    This then leaves America and Russia. Russia would never roll the dice until Germany was near collapse and this would require a Western Allied army at the German frontier, best case scenario 1945-46, and probably later. As for America, if Hitler shows restraint and common sense and does not declare war shortly after Pearl Harbor and pulls in the reins on his U-boats, it might be as late as 1943 before FDR could get Congress to support a DoW against Germany.

    I hope this answers your question.
     
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  20. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Now that you mention it belasar, Turkey allowing a land route or not would be one of the most important events should Germany get into a position to move further into the east.. What are the chances of this occurring if at the time the Suez canal has fallen into Axis hands and Cyprus is near collapse?

    That being said would the British be able to supply an army located in the Middle East with supply lines having to run through the Persian Gulf?
     

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