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I'd also say that since virtually no one joined the coup and the military leadership went along with the surrender that that is rock hard proof that the military leadership by mid 1945 was ready to surrender.
Not necessarily. The Germans anticipated that two things would happen:
1. Britain under Churchill would refuse to support the Soviet Union actively;
2. Japan would abrogate its treaty with the Soviet Union and jump into the fray.
What exactly could the British do for the Russians?
This entire thread should be dipped in gold and encased in carbonite.
I just found out I am going to Vicksburg next year- Any recommendations on books about that campaign?
Anyone up for another game of diplomacy? In about 5 days there will be no more BFF active games. Seems a shame to let it die.
It really does depend on the context. Obviously for a revolutionary leader like Washington, the ability to train/inspire troops was critical, but for the British Generals opposing him it was minor. They were handed trained professional troops by their system. I think you can say a few basic things.
1) Tactical/operational proficiency is table stakes. You can't be great, or even good if you're constantly being out-maneuvered/out-fought. You can win, but you're just a butcher, like a Zhukov, or any of the successful Soviet commanders. They never stopped having 3:1 to 5:1 adverse casualty ratios against the Germans, even in '45 when the German Army was a hollow shell.
2) Charismatic leadership is almost always a prerequisite to greatness. The ability to instill/maintain discipline, and still inspire aggression and have men eager to follow you is found in nearly every great commander.
3) Aggression (to bobm's point), nearly to the point of recklessness. Generals who worry about failing never succeed.
Created a new game at playdiplomacy.
BTF Diplomacy VI
The Western armies, for all their flaws (especially poor tanks), always inflicted casualties at near parity starting in '42 (maybe 1.3:1 against early on), and moved to an advantage by late in the War
Fair. But, I put the blame for that heavily on the Generals.
I think the answer is that the Soviet leadership was far more complicit in the Stalinist system than was true in the Nazi case.
but the Nazis weren't far off the Soviets' time scale- had that regime lasted it pretty much would have exterminated the entirety of the non-Nazi leadership class in roughly the same number of years it took the Soviets in Russia.
Where should one start when first reading Bruce Catton?
I just can't rate a general very highly when with very good equipment (Russian tanks and planes were always at least equal to the German, and often better), and massive numerical superiority, they always suffered casualty rates of 3 to 5 times those they inflicted.
If the Allies had the stomach to fight the Soviets in 1945, they would have cut through them like a warm knife through butter.
We better not be freaking Russia and Turkey again.
They also took a severe beating at the Battle of Kursk when they were on the defensive. Any other army would have crumpled and folded after the beating they took but instead the Russians went on the offensive and permanently sent the Germans on the defensive for the rest of the war.
IANAWWIIE, but didn't Operation Husky distract Hitler and the Germans during July of '43?
OTOH, how could Hitler NOT have been distracted by one thing or another? He was simultaneously managing two fronts, one that was 1500 miles wide and the other on another continent with fronts on both sides of his troops, all the while conducting a U-boat interdiction campaign in the north Atlantic. Against not one, not two, but THREE major powers, all of which could bring superior force in one form or another, either naval, or in material, or in human capital.
I've seen no evidence that Zhukov's Siberian troops were particularly effective, except when in Dec-Jan '41-'42 when they were fresh fighting exhausted Germans.
The key for the Germans wasn't Moscow or Stalingrad or any other city. It was the Baku oil fields. If they could have gotten those and secured them, then they could have sustained their offensive. Without them, they were toast. Hitler never truly got that, the relationship between supplies and the sustainability of an offensive. I wonder what would have happened if they had made a mad dash for Baku first, then worried about Stalingrad later, instead of the other way around.
Surely Grand Moff Tarkin is the worst Grand Moff ever.
I still wonder, what the #### was Hitler thinking when he declared war on the US?
Well that's not a very interesting hypothetical ;-)
I think the point is that a lot of Hitler's actions were driven by irrational hatreds. It's not far fetched to think he could have been a little more controlled by better advisors, or irrational in slightly different directions, e.g.,
1) What if his hatred was confined to Jews and Bolsheviks, and he viewed the Slavs as potential "junior partners" rather than potential helots?
2) What if he had been convinced to settle for exiling the Jews rather than exterminating them? There were serious debates about this among the Nazis.
3) What if he had been a tradition meglomaniacal imperialist w/o the racial undertones? i.e. a smarter, more charismatic, Kaiser Wilhelm.
I've seen suggestions above like, "What if the colonel had let the generals run things" and "It was a bad idea to send in the Einsatzgruppen." But that's asking Hitler not to be Hitler. And if he's not Hitler, then "Let's not have a war at all" becomes something to seriously consider in terms of the national interests of Germany.
He seems to have believed that American neutrality was providing major cover for shipment of British war supplies.
As I said before land isn't what truly mattered. If the Germans take Msocow without destroying the Soviet army it doesn't mean anything. Look at Napoleon. He absolutely conquered Russia and Moscow but had to slink away because his supply lines were overextended and the Russian army was still out there and still deadly.
If the Germans didn't go to war the Russians would have. Europe at some point in the 40's was going to be aflame.
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