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Monday, December 10, 2012

Sickels: George McClellan, Dayton Moore, and the Kansas City Royals


Dayton Moore is trying to avoid being McClellan. He’s got the farm system built up, the army trained and organized. He’s good at that. Now he’s taking the field of battle and deploying those forces. That’s admirable.

Of course, what’s the next part of the story? Is Moore going to turn into an aggressive, brilliant field commander like Ulysses S. Grant or William Tecumseh Sherman? Will he be cautious but effective like George Gordon Meade? Mercurial and erratic like Joe Hooker? Or will he be the well-meaning but dangerously inept Ambrose Burnside? The suicidally aggressive John Bell Hood?

Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: December 10, 2012 at 08:25 PM | 631 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: civil war, history, rays, royals

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   501. Traderdave Posted: January 04, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4339141)
As one historian said, if the Germans raised the Ukranian flag over Kiev instead of the Swastika, they beat the Soviets.


Perhaps.

But if the Germans respect Ukrainians enough to do this, they never draft Generalplan Ost to begin with.
   502. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 03:52 PM (#4339148)
But if the Germans respect Ukrainians enough to do this, they never draft Generalplan Ost to begin with.

Correct. That doesn't mean that under different ideological leadership (anti-Bolshevik and German Imperialist), rather than German racialist) they never fight the Soviets in order to establish dominance over the states of Eastern Europe.

The ideal German solution, that was palatable to the West, would have been a proto-EU, under strong German leadership, comprising the states of the former Austrian Empire, Poland, the Baltics, and an independent Ukraine, and Caucasian Republics (Armenia, Georgia, Baku region). The Germans get markets and petroleum for their industries, agricultural security from the threat of Western blockade, and reinforced military strength, while denying many of those resources from the Soviets or a Russian successor state. There was plenty of land in White Russia to compensate the Poles for the return of pre-WWI German area.
   503. zonk Posted: January 04, 2013 at 04:02 PM (#4339160)
As one historian said, if the Germans raised the Ukranian flag over Kiev instead of the Swastika, they beat the Soviets.


concur
   504. zonk Posted: January 04, 2013 at 04:04 PM (#4339165)
But if the Germans respect Ukrainians enough to do this, they never draft Generalplan Ost to begin with.


I don't recall exactly -- but didn't Romania also have concurrent plans for administering at least a good chunk of the same area? What I don't recall is whether the Romanian plan was concurrent/factored into Ost, or, if the Nazis essentially rolled their eyes at it...
   505. zenbitz Posted: January 04, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4339178)
The Germans estimated that they would have to destroy 100 Russian divisions to beat them. By September 1941 they had already killed/captured 150 and encountered 200 more. Although Russian divisions were smaller than German ones.

I like alt-history more than most, but I don't think the war in the East was really that close. I don't think an independent Ukraine or Moscow falling or reaching Baku makes that much of a difference in the long run. Certainly (like, for example a Japanese victory at Midway or the US carriers not being at Sea on Dec. 7th 1941).

Eventually, they combined might of the US/USSR/GB overwhelm Germany and Japan. Maybe it takes another 5 years.

Now - what I think might change this is if the US stays out of the war - as pointed out above, there was no real reason for Hitler to DOW the US.

Similar to a Confederate victory - it would require some sort of unique collapse or surrender. As long as the bigger economies stay fighting.
   506. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4339186)
Eventually, they combined might of the US/USSR/GB overwhelm Germany and Japan. Maybe it takes another 5 years.

That's the rub. I doubt the US and UK had the will to fight for another 2 years, much less 5. Especially if a smart German leadership offered to free France, the Low Countries, Norway and a puppet Poland. The US and UK were not going to suffer hundred of thousands of dead to restore the borders of the Soviet Union.

The whole picture changes if German leadership wasn't imbued with rush racial hatred. The Slavs would have gladly fought against the Soviets, and accepted German as "first among equals" in a confederation. They even could have gotten away with exiling the Jews. I don't think the West fights to the death over that.
   507. Zach Posted: January 04, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4339219)
The ideal German solution, that was palatable to the West, would have been a proto-EU, under strong German leadership, comprising the states of the former Austrian Empire, Poland, the Baltics, and an independent Ukraine, and Caucasian Republics (Armenia, Georgia, Baku region). The Germans get markets and petroleum for their industries, agricultural security from the threat of Western blockade, and reinforced military strength, while denying many of those resources from the Soviets or a Russian successor state. There was plenty of land in White Russia to compensate the Poles for the return of pre-WWI German area.

If those are your war goals, you shouldn't be fighting. That's not rhetorical -- Germany would have been far better off with sane leadership that simply sought leadership of East Europe, plus peaceful assimilation of German speaking areas outside of the existing German state. None of that requires armed occupation, violent transfers of money/resources/population, or any of the other horrors of WWII.

I've heard it said that the EU looks an awful lot like Germany's war goals from WWII. I'll put that another way -- the EU is what Germany should have been pursuing *instead* of WWII.
   508. zonk Posted: January 04, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4339231)
That's the rub. I doubt the US and UK had the will to fight for another 2 years, much less 5. Especially if a smart German leadership offered to free France, the Low Countries, Norway and a puppet Poland. The US and UK were not going to suffer hundred of thousands of dead to restore the borders of the Soviet Union.


Heh... Churchill might have - I can't say whether the Brits would have decided to stick with him for another 5 years - but no way Winnie ever makes peace with Hitler.

The US, I think, depends wholly on how they enter WWII... after Pearl Harbor? I think they were in it until it's done. If they had more slowly slid into the conflict, similarly to our WWI entry? That becomes a much more interesting question to me...


Eventually, they combined might of the US/USSR/GB overwhelm Germany and Japan. Maybe it takes another 5 years.

Now - what I think might change this is if the US stays out of the war - as pointed out above, there was no real reason for Hitler to DOW the US.


Not that it was a simple matter of asking -- at least, some of the better minds in the IJN (Yamamoto for one, at least) already knew they were biting off more than they could chew and were really hoping for a some quick resolution just against the US -- but for the life of me, I never understood why the Germans didn't push harder for a quid pro quo with the Japanese (i.e., eliminate the USSR exclusion in the tripartite pact).

Especially by Pearl Harbor -- the russians had already moved most of their eastern reserves to the German front... I'm not suggesting the Japanese could have just sent squads in to seize a wholly undefended Vladivostok - but I would have thought that they could have at least held their own/not gotten overrun as they did in spring of '39.
   509. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4339234)
If those are your war goals, you shouldn't be fighting. That's not rhetorical -- Germany would have been far better off with sane leadership that simply sought leadership of East Europe, plus peaceful assimilation of German speaking areas outside of the existing German state. None of that requires armed occupation, violent transfers of money/resources/population, or any of the other horrors of WWII.

I've heard it said that the EU looks an awful lot like Germany's war goals from WWII. I'll put that another way -- the EU is what Germany should have been pursuing *instead* of WWII.


The world's a lot different without Stalin leading the Soviet Union. The resources Germany needed control over, Ukrainian grain, Romanian and Causcus oil, were either under Soviet control or in a contested sphere.

The 1930-60's Soviet Union does not allow Germany to achieve peaceful hegemony.
   510. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:01 PM (#4339236)
OF course the UK and USA had the will to fight another 2 years if need be or even 5.

If those are your war goals, you shouldn't be fighting.

Different climate back then. Germany wasn't merely some country that dreamed of better things. It was a country that was severely crippled by WWI and severely handcuffed by the treaty. They had to overthrow the powers that be to do anything.
   511. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:04 PM (#4339239)
OF course the UK and USA had the will to fight another 2 years if need be or even 5.

For what goals? The US population was always begrudging in support for the European War; they hated the Japanese. Britain was exhausted in '45. They had to demobilize divisions to provide replacement for others.

I don't think the US or UK was willing to fight another month to return the Ukraine and Caucuses to Stalin. Especially if our "relatively sane Hitler" was willing to establish semi-credible local autonomy.
   512. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:05 PM (#4339240)
The US, I think, depends wholly on how they enter WWII... after Pearl Harbor? I think they were in it until it's done. If they had more slowly slid into the conflict, similarly to our WWI entry? That becomes a much more interesting question to me...

America up until that point were big on "unconditional surrender" philosophy. Unless millions of full bodybags start getting shipped stateside America isn't agreeing to a ceasefire.
   513. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:06 PM (#4339242)
I don't think the US or UK was willing to fight another month to return the Ukraine and Caucuses to Stalin. Especially if our "relatively sane Hitler" was willing to establish semi-credible local autonomy.

If you have a relatively sane Hilter then you also don't have the UK and US involved in the war so the question is moot.
   514. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4339245)
America up until that point were big on "unconditional surrender" philosophy. Unless millions of full bodybags start getting shipped stateside America isn't agreeing to a ceasefire.

Well, beating a Germany that had forced the Soviets half-way back to the Urals was going to require a lot of bodybags.

If you have a relatively sane Hilter then you also don't have the UK and US involved in the war so the question is moot.

Probably can't keep out the UK, but maybe the US.
   515. Zach Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4339262)
The world's a lot different without Stalin leading the Soviet Union. The resources Germany needed control over, Ukrainian grain, Romanian and Causcus oil, were either under Soviet control or in a contested sphere.

In my hypothetical world, non-insane Germany is the bulwark against Soviet expansionism. They just finesse it to avoid outright war as much as possible. Maybe more of an East European NATO than an EU, at least to start.

The Soviet Union was extremely vicious, but not extremely expansionistic. The only time they expanded beyond their original borders was in the aftermath of WWII, when they already occupied the territories that they would go on to subjugate. In fact, the Soviet Union was so vicious as to raise the question of whether the army would ever be allowed to grow large enough for a war of conquest -- such a large army could also be used to prosecute a civil war or depose civilian rivals such as Stalin himself (defense against invasion changes this calculus, obviously). A secondary issue is that Germany was already the natural market for Romanian and Caucasian oil, and would have been the natural market for Ukrainian grain if there had been any available. Why fight for what's coming to you anyway? It's not like oil becomes free just because a different flag is flying over the oil fields.
   516. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:36 PM (#4339268)
The Soviet Union was extremely vicious, but not extremely expansionistic. The only time they expanded beyond their original borders was in the aftermath of WWII, when they already occupied the territories that they would go on to subjugate. In fact, the Soviet Union was so vicious as to raise the question of whether the army would ever be allowed to grow large enough for a war of conquest -- such a large army could also be used to prosecute a civil war or depose civilian rivals such as Stalin himself (defense against invasion changes this calculus, obviously). A secondary issue is that Germany was already the natural market for Romanian and Caucasian oil, and would have been the natural market for Ukrainian grain if there had been any available. Why fight for what's coming to you anyway? It's not like oil becomes free just because a different flag is flying over the oil fields.

They expanded a lot in 1918-20, and only stopped b/c the Poles kicked their asses. They also expanded a lot in 1939. Eastern Poland, the Baltics, invaded Finland.

I think a Soviet/German clash was pretty inevitable, and under sane German leadership, could have been a very good thing for the world, ending the Soviet nightmare decades earlier.

Always remember, as much as the Allies couldn't beat Germany w/o the Soviets, the Soviets couldn't beat Germany w/o the Allies. By 1944, every truck, every boot, and every field ration in the Red Army was being supplied by the US, as well as tens of thousands of tanks, and aircraft.
   517. zonk Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4339279)
If you have a relatively sane Hilter then you also don't have the UK and US involved in the war so the question is moot.


Probably can't keep out the UK, but maybe the US.


I'm amused at how Snapper and I can be simultaneously be in complete agreement in one thread and complete disagreement in another ;-)...

But yeah - I wholly agree.

A 'sane Hitler' can probably avoid war with the US, but I don't see any way the UK doesn't get involved.

It's hard to construct a realistic historical model where they don't.... for one thing, whither France? Is there any scenario where the century+ of on and off Franco-Prussian conflict doesn't again flare up? I don't see it - and given the state of western European diplomacy in the 30s, that pretty much automatically pulls in the UK.

Even if our 'sane Hitler' tells France/UK -- begs them even (and they believe him) - "I only, solely, and completely want to look east" - you still end up with a scenario where France/UK aren't just going to let Germany return to 'power parity' on the continent, even if only as a bulwark against the Soviets. Maybe they bend a bit, Munich-style, on letting sane Hitler grab a bit of Poland... but that probably requires either Molotov-Ribbentrop or immediate war with the Russians.

Either way - there inevitably comes a point where France/UK decide that Germany is again getting too powerful and must be stopped before they become a real threat.

The UK and France were never, ever going to let Germany become anything approaching powerful enough to threaten their position as the 1-2 powers supreme in Europe.... at best - they'd have only allowed a distant 3rd, and only so long as that distant 3rd existed as a buffer against the Soviets.
   518. zonk Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4339284)
BTW -

I'd also say that this is a case of "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean 'they' aren't out to get you!" regarding Stalin and his suspicions towards the west...

I do wholly believe that our sane Hitler might have been successful, for a limited period and to a limited extent, in convincing France and the UK to let him take on the Soviets... but there would have been a point where either Germany would have had too much success (thus drawing in west to preserve the 'proper' balance of power), or, lost.

Stalin's miscalculation was that:

1) Regardless of the fact that he was probably at least somewhat correct in the idea that the West was at least partially OK with letting the Soviets and Nazis bloody each other - there were limits

2) The allies realized Hitler was a much bigger and more immediate threat


In other words - the paranoia, I think, was perfectly logical... but he was a fool to think that the warnings the Brits tried to pass him regarding the Germans stomping on M-R were some 'ploy'.
   519. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:11 PM (#4339285)
Even if our 'sane Hitler' tells France/UK -- begs them even (and they believe him) - "I only, solely, and completely want to look east" - you still end up with a scenario where France/UK aren't just going to let Germany return to 'power parity' on the continent, even if only as a bulwark against the Soviets. Maybe they bend a bit, Munich-style, on letting sane Hitler grab a bit of Poland... but that probably requires either Molotov-Ribbentrop or immediate war with the Russians.

Either way - there inevitably comes a point where France/UK decide that Germany is again getting too powerful and must be stopped before they become a real threat.

The UK and France were never, ever going to let Germany become anything approaching powerful enough to threaten their position as the 1-2 powers supreme in Europe.... at best - they'd have only allowed a distant 3rd, and only so long as that distant 3rd existed as a buffer against the Soviets.


Right. Germany needed to beat France, a la 1940, and impose the mildest peace conceivable that gave them a free hand vs. Soviets.

Against a sane Germany, the UK doesn't enter fight-to-the-death mode. If Albert Speer, or von Rundstedt are Chancellor of Germany in 1940, the UK and France make a quick, mild peace.
   520. zonk Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:34 PM (#4339303)
Right. Germany needed to beat France, a la 1940, and impose the mildest peace conceivable that gave them a free hand vs. Soviets.

Against a sane Germany, the UK doesn't enter fight-to-the-death mode. If Albert Speer, or von Rundstedt are Chancellor of Germany in 1940, the UK and France make a quick, mild peace.


I think the big question probably becomes -- does the UK accept Germany as the 'continental' European power (the 'new' France, in a sense)?

Maybe... perhaps even probably... the key really becomes the point at which either 1)Germany becomes too big for the UK to accept, or 2)when Germany makes peace with the Soviets... and starts wondering if it's not too late to get back to the old WWI idea of contesting some of the UK's colonial empire.

At its more machiavellian - I think the UK would have been fine with a continually flipping balance of power between Germany and France.
   521. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4339312)
They expanded a lot in 1918-20, and only stopped b/c the Poles kicked their asses. They also expanded a lot in 1939. Eastern Poland, the Baltics, invaded Finland.


They didn't "expand" in 1918-20
they contracted, all those places, had been part of the Russian Empire prior to the 1917 Revolution

Not counting 1944/45 when they drove the Germans back all the way to Berlin, 1979 when they invaded Afghanistan was the only time the Red Army rolled beyond the borders of the pre-revolution Russian Empire.


   522. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:55 PM (#4339321)
Against a sane Germany, the UK doesn't enter fight-to-the-death mode.


If Hitler was "sane,"
let's see
for starters he doesn't invade Poland because Poland was being run by a bunch of Germanophiles who right up until the beginning of 1939 were trying to cozy up to Germany and form common cause against the Soviets- it would have been very easy for Germany to have used Poland as a "ally" like it did Hungry and Romania- indeed having more people and industry an intact Poland might actually have been a more useful militarily useful ally than Hungry and Romania.

The people of UK/France were desperate for peace- that's one reason they kept falling for Hitler's lies- even though he lied constantly he reneged on every promise and agreement- usually with very little time spent between making the promise and breaking it- but if he actually stood down after taking the Sudetenland, said, "I'm done, I've restored Germany, I'm focusing inward" and stopped making noise about Danzig and Memel, and then actually stopped bullying his neighbors for a year or two, he'd lulled UK/France into an extra 2-3 of inactivity. The thing was, once he started he was relentless, he was incapable of doing that, the second he achieved one goal he was on to the next, no matter how many still wet agreements he was immediately breaking- the people in the UK and France did not want to believe what was happening but he gave them absolutely nothing to sustain their state of denial.




   523. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:58 PM (#4339323)
I think the big question probably becomes -- does the UK accept Germany as the 'continental' European power (the 'new' France, in a sense)?


They had before after 1871, they were perfectly ok with Germany as the "continental" power, what they were not ok with was Germany as a continental power AND as a naval power.

After WWII the problem was quite frankly that the Nazi Regime was too nakedly threatening and expansionist.
   524. NattyBoh Posted: January 04, 2013 at 07:29 PM (#4339342)
Afghanistan was the only time the Red Army rolled beyond the borders of the pre-revolution Russian Empire.


Imre Nagy's widow and orphan would disagree with this statement. There are still bullet and shell holes in many of the buildings in downtown Budapest from the Red Army.
   525. just plain joe Posted: January 04, 2013 at 08:19 PM (#4339364)
Imre Nagy's widow and orphan would disagree with this statement. There are still bullet and shell holes in many of the buildings in downtown Budapest from the Red Army.


Didn't the Russians roll into what was then Czechoslovakia in the late sixties? If so, that was another instance of them rolling into an area that was not part of the old Russian empire. I may be wrong about this but wasn't Czecho part of the old Austrian-Hungarian empire? I must say this is one of the most interesting threads here in a long, long time.
   526. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 04, 2013 at 08:35 PM (#4339373)
Did you see this article that was on Slate recently?

That reminds me: What is the link to that iconic map that shows how the Grand Armee withered away?
   527. NattyBoh Posted: January 04, 2013 at 08:42 PM (#4339374)
Didn't the Russians roll into what was then Czechoslovakia in the late sixties?


Yes, Alexander Dubcek and the Prague Spring. Soviet tanks rolled in August 1968 IIRC. I had wanted to add that, but the edit functionality has me stymied.

Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1989 were all part of the Brezhnev doctrine. Hungary in 1956 could be considered a precursor.
   528. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 04, 2013 at 08:51 PM (#4339377)
That reminds me: What is the link to that iconic map that shows how the Grand Armee withered away?

There's a really nice reproduction in Edward Tufte's Visual Display of Quantitative Information. I bet he sells posters of it or something.
   529. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 04, 2013 at 09:34 PM (#4339395)
Yes, Tufte's site is where I saw it. Thanks!
   530. McCoy Posted: January 05, 2013 at 01:09 AM (#4339475)
Stalin was going to attack Germany but Germany beat him to it. Once war broke out on the continent Stalin was perfectly willing to take part in the land grab.

As for sane Hitler if there was a sane Hitler then the war doesn't start in 1939 and he doesn't have the UK as an enemy while also having the Russians as an enemy. No sane leader does that. Nor does a sane leader get drawn into Italy's mess in North Africa.
   531. Publius Publicola Posted: January 05, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4339577)
I think the big question probably becomes -- does the UK accept Germany as the 'continental' European power (the 'new' France, in a sense)?


From Waterloo onward, the essential question with western Europe (which eventually spread to all of Europe) was how the change in the balance of power was going to be handled between France and Germany. Once Germany unified, it was inevitable they were going to become more powerful than France and its instructive to study how France coped with this reality. In retrospect, I think it's safe to say France didn't handle it very well. But I think it's equally safe to say that Germany handled it even worse.

I realize I'm talking about an entirely different set of circumstances here but don't you think Britain handled handing over sea supremacy to the US much better? If Britain was anything, it was a naval power and it was galling for them to be eclipsed like that so dramatically. I know the objections to the comparison, and there are many, but one must remember that the US and Britain had terrible relations for the first hundred years post-Yorktown.

So why did Germany and France behave so stupidly? I think in both cases it was arrogance. The tonic of nationalistic pride intoxicated the both of them.

The irony of ironies is that Germany has now (finally!) established themselves as the pre-eminent European continental power, through entirely peaceful means (this isn't exactly correct because the US is actually the pre-eminent european power and everyone knows it but bear with me). They have yet to translate that power into military power, however. I think it bears watching as the stain of the Nazi era erodes away whether a resurgent and more confident Germany will start demanding their rightful place in the geopolitical pecking order.

BTW, fascinating discussion above. Good job.
   532. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 05, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4339589)
They have yet to translate that power into military power, however. I think it bears watching as the stain of the Nazi era erodes away whether a resurgent and more confident Germany will start demanding their rightful place in the geopolitical pecking order.


Does Germany have a significant militaristic population/political party? Japan does seem to have one and seems to be trying to bulk up their military and work around their self-defense constitution. Granted its more of a self-interest as China is a much more belligerent and real threat to Japan then Russia is to Germany.
   533. Publius Publicola Posted: January 05, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4339601)
Oh, I forgot to address Zonk's question: does Britain accept Germany as the new France?

I think it depends. If Germany showed no interest in building a navy that Britain found threatening, then I think Britain would accept them, even preferably to France. But if Germany started throwing their weight around globally, messing with the colonial status quo, then I think Britain would try to diminish Germany's power, perhaps not by direct military intervention but by withholding trade, making agreements with Germany's competitors to isolate them geopolitically etc. Sort of what the US did to the Soviets after WWII.
   534. BDC Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4339606)
Does Germany have a significant militaristic population/political party?

No. If anything, the trend is in the other direction; compulsory military service, a Cold War necessity in both east and west, has been eliminated. The German military presence in Afghanistan is a very sensitive issue, with the trend now toward reducing or eliminating the German role there, which has been strongly spun as peacekeeping all along, even by the current center/right government.

There are problems in Germany with nationalist and racist elements, particularly in the old East, but they're (generally speaking) internal problems. Skinheads despise Turks, and want Germany for the Germans; but they don't want to march across the borders for new provinces for Germans.
   535. Publius Publicola Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4339607)
So here's a really fascinating question:

Germany's problem is that they did not have sufficient access to the raw materials that could nourish their rising industrial juggernaut- they were forced to go to their competitors with the begger's cup asking for a little consideration. The perception at the time was that it was the colonies, and the exclusive trade zones inherent in the colonial system, that enriched the european powers, especially Britain, and conferred tot hem their lofty geopolitical perch. Germany felt the only way they could compete was to have colonies of their own. But by the time Germany could go seaching for some, they had already been taken, mostly by Britain and France.

There has been a great deal of scholarship devoted to measuring the longterm value of the economic strategy of colonialism, and the inherent advantages and disadvantages in that system. On the one hand, you have exclusive access to raw materials and can basically set very low prices, since the producer nations have to leverage to set the sale of these resources at their true market value. But a growing number of economists would argue that by making things easy on themselves, and screwing their trading partners, the industrial base of the colonial powers got flabby, contented and inefficient. Not worried about competition, they became less interested in innovation and creativity. And this would explain how Germany could grow so mightily industrially in the 19th century despite the relative lack of cheap natural resources their colonial competitors enjoyed.

So what if Germany realized this? What if they said to themselves "Hey, wait a minute. We're better than them. All we have to do is sit tight, don't make waves in a militaristic manner and bide our time, all the while teaming up with the US to make the moral case against colonialism? Eventually, they're going to collapse under their own weight and we'll be right there ready and able to pick up all the best pieces."?
   536. Zach Posted: January 05, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4339651)
So what if Germany realized this? What if they said to themselves "Hey, wait a minute. We're better than them. All we have to do is sit tight, don't make waves in a militaristic manner and bide our time, all the while teaming up with the US to make the moral case against colonialism? Eventually, they're going to collapse under their own weight and we'll be right there ready and able to pick up all the best pieces."?

That's what I'm arguing above. Germany didn't really need territorial expansion, or colonies, or a huge navy. They needed to sit in the middle of Europe and let things come to them. They also needed a way out from under the Treaty of Versailles, but renegotiating treaties is something that happens all the time. There was widespread knowledge that the Versailles terms were too harsh, and it's hard to believe that a unified Germany couldn't find anything to offer that would be enough to tempt other nations to the bargaining table.

A peaceful Germany with a strong alliance with Poland and a deep cultural bond with Austria is a tough hand to beat. Just hunker down for a couple of decades, and you're a superpower without ever firing a shot.
   537. Publius Publicola Posted: January 05, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4339659)
They also needed a way out from under the Treaty of Versailles


Of course, if they did they above before WWI (or even before the Franco-Prussian War, which is the one that really set the stage for the two monster conflagrations that followed), then Versailles never happens and we are all taught German in grammar school so we can all understand science and engineering.
   538. Publius Publicola Posted: January 05, 2013 at 01:28 PM (#4339661)
Why fight for what's coming to you anyway? It's not like oil becomes free just because a different flag is flying over the oil fields.


My guess is they wanted everything at colonial power prices (i.e.- free).

Another question left to historians to ponder is what happens to Germany if, say, Bavaria were the predominant province of a unified Germany instead of Prussia? I can't imagine they would have taken the blood and iron course to solving their geopolitical objectives in the way they did. OF course, it was Prussia that led the way to the reunification so maybe that isn't as big an if as one might think. It was inevitable Prussia would dominate.
   539. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: January 05, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4339662)
How owuld a sane Hitler have gotten arrested in the first place? How would his power base have reacted if he had taken the slowe method of expansion proposed above?
   540. Publius Publicola Posted: January 05, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4339664)
He doesn't come to power. One thing historians will grant Hitler was that he was a master (if completely sociopathic) politician.
   541. McCoy Posted: January 05, 2013 at 01:53 PM (#4339667)
A peaceful Germany with a strong alliance with Poland and a deep cultural bond with Austria is a tough hand to beat. Just hunker down for a couple of decades, and you're a superpower without ever firing a shot.

So Stalin in the East is just going to be ignored?
   542. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4339668)
They didn't "expand" in 1918-20
they contracted, all those places, had been part of the Russian Empire prior to the 1917 Revolution

Not counting 1944/45 when they drove the Germans back all the way to Berlin, 1979 when they invaded Afghanistan was the only time the Red Army rolled beyond the borders of the pre-revolution Russian Empire.


I'm sorry, that's sounds like a Soviet apologia.

Who cares what was part of the Russian Empire? We don't give Hitler a pass b/c big parts of Poland and France used to be part of the Prussian Empire.

In 1918-20, the Soviets conquered multiple independent countries that wanted nothing to do with Soviet rule, and were on the path to conquering more until the Poles kicked their butts back to Minsk. The shame of it is that the West didn't give more support to Poland, or the Whites earlier. Maybe they could have strangled the monster in its crib.

In 1939 the Soviets invaded Finland, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In 1945 they carried out vicious ethnic cleansing against Germans, Poles and others in areas they wanted.

In the late 1945-50 they imposed puppet regimes on Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The threat of Soviet bayonets was the only thing keeping those countries Communist. It was a defacto Empire regardless or a few extra UN seats. In 1956 and 1968 the Soviets invaded Hungary and Czechoslovakia to ensure compliance by the puppet states.

To call the Soviet Union anything but a vicious, aggressive state is revisionism of the worst kind.

As an aside, I am currently reading an abridged version of The Gulag Archipelago, by Solzhenitsyn. Everyone in this thread should read it.

The Gulag was every bit as murderous as the Nazi death camps, and on a larger scale for longer. Solzhenitsyn estimates 66 millkion victims of the massacres and the Gulag. The only difference being they extracted more forced labor out of their victims before their deaths.

   543. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4339670)
A peaceful Germany with a strong alliance with Poland and a deep cultural bond with Austria is a tough hand to beat. Just hunker down for a couple of decades, and you're a superpower without ever firing a shot.

So Stalin in the East is just going to be ignored?


I think Stalin holds steady knowing that Germany with those ties could not be invaded, if he were to do so I can see the rest of europe pushing back with them.
   544. Publius Publicola Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4339672)
So Stalin in the East is just going to be ignored?


He would not be ignored. But he would have to fight all the way across central Europe just to get to Germany's door, with a hostile population and a hostile geopolitical environment all around him. Provided the internal political environment in Germany seemed somewhat normal, the western democracies weren't going to just stand by and watch Germany get handed over to the Bolsheviks without providing massive aid, at the very least. I can easily see Russia being defeated in that scenario, in a setting that would be acceptable to both the Germans (i.e. most of the fighting occurring on Polish soil) and the western powers (minimal military involvement).

But then that presents another problem. If that were to come to pass, then Germany would reap all the spoils of war, including the vast resources of mother Russia, and become probably the world's preeminent power, perhaps more powerful than the US. I don't think the western powers would let that happen either. They would all pile on Russia so they would be in a position to get their share of the spoils. THe US might sit it out, given the pre-war isolationist tempo but Britain and France would certainly pile on, each for their own reasons.
   545. McCoy Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4339678)
He would not be ignored. But he would have to fight all the way across central Europe just to get to Germany's door, with a hostile population and a hostile geopolitical environment all around him

Which Stalin did anyway in 1939. If Germany is playing the economic game then that means they aren't ramping up for war which means both Germany and Poland are really weak militarily. UK is bankrupt and France has spent the last two decades plowing money into an army and a defense network designed to beat Germany. I don't really see how they could supply Germany with much aid right away or how they would be much of a deterrent against Stalin.

I think if Stalin attacks the West aligns against him but I don't see how Germany comes out of the war sitting pretty and rosy.
   546. Publius Publicola Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4339685)
If Germany is playing the economic game then that means they aren't ramping up for war


Well, this isn't a binary decision. They could ramp up sufficiently for a rigorous defense. And Stalin invaded Poland after the Nazis did, not simultaneously. The two parties didn't have a partition treaty per se. All the Germans promised is that in the event of hostilities breakinig out, vis a vis Poland they would respect their (the Soviets) legitimate interests. Stalin jumped in later before all of Poland had been gobbled up.

I think if Stalin attacks the West aligns against him but I don't see how Germany comes out of the war sitting pretty and rosy.


The Russians weren't prepared for a major war in 1939, as many have pointed out above. The officer corp had been so badly decimated by Stalin's purges, it was a pretty dysfunctional army. The Germans would have withstood an attack from the east just fine, fighting it on Polish soil. As it wore on, the Russians might have been able to correct their deficiencies but so would the Germans. And the Germans would have gotten more and more support from the west. I don't see how they lose in that scenario, as long as they could convince the western powers of benign intentions. If the Germans are bearing the burden of a fight against the communists, Versailles gets torn up and a new treaty is signed amenable to German interests. There would have been too much at stake in a scenario like that for the western powers to just watch from the sidelines.
   547. McCoy Posted: January 05, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4339725)
On my way to see the Hobbit so this will be short. It kind of does have to be binary. Germany did not have the resources, economy, or treaty rights to build up their military. Even with disregarding the treaty Germany was going broke with its military build up and had to go to war when it did.

As for Russia I'm not claiming they would attack in 1939 but just because a well equipped German army destroyed a surprised Russian army in badly defensible positions doesn't mean Ann ill-equippe German army could hold off an invading Russian army.

Finally a Germany that creates alliances with eastern Europe is going to force france and russia to form Ann alliance just like they did before ww1
   548. zenbitz Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:15 PM (#4339778)
. already mentioned
   549. zenbitz Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4339784)
Not mentioned... the German blitzkrieg of France was not exactly a foregone conclusion either.

What happens if the Allies are even partially organized and manage to hold France for a couple of months, or a year?
   550. tfbg9 Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4339790)
As an aside, I am currently reading an abridged version of The Gulag Archipelago, by Solzhenitsyn. Everyone in this thread should read it.

The Gulag was every bit as murderous as the Nazi death camps, and on a larger scale for longer. Solzhenitsyn estimates 66 millkion victims of the massacres and the Gulag. The only difference being they extracted more forced labor out of their victims before their deaths.



Agree. And yes, its a must-read. Horrific beyond belief.
   551. Morty Causa Posted: January 06, 2013 at 04:05 PM (#4340127)
   552. GregQ Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4340901)
Thanks for the recommendations of Vicksburg-any body know a good book on the 30 Years War?
   553. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: January 07, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4340950)
Thanks for the recommendations of Vicksburg-any body know a good book on the 30 Years War?


I would also be interested in that.

I just read a couple books I'd recommend highly, one was This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenbach on the Korean War and the other was the Crimean War by Orlando Figes. Both taught me a lot about conflicts I didn't know much about.
   554. Ron J2 Posted: January 07, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4341028)
Didn't the Russians roll into what was then Czechoslovakia in the late sixties?


Yes. There's a very old Doonesbury that has a General complaining that the Soviets have an unfair advantage becuase they could invade their allies. He wanted to invade Luxembourg.

A good friend of mine left Prague at 16 in front of the tanks. Ended up in a camp in Italy.
   555. Ron J2 Posted: January 07, 2013 at 04:16 PM (#4341048)
What happens if the Allies are even partially organized and manage to hold France for a couple of months, or a year?


For that matter, what if the high command actually keeps a meaningful mobile reserve. Maybe the stop the initial break through in its tracks. More likely the buy enough time to extricate the forces in the Netherlands (at which point it becomes a very hard slog for both sides)

On the list of bad decisions through history Gamelin's decision to leave no reserves has to rank up there. Churchill wrote about meeting Gamelin shortly after the battle began, seeing a map which made the problem rather obvious:

He asked, "Ou est la masse de manouvre, he demanded ("Where's the strategic reserve"), only to be glumly answered by the French Chief of General Staff, General Gamelin, "Aucune" ("There is none".)

One of the low points of his life.

   556. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 07, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4341094)
I'm sorry, that's sounds like a Soviet apologia.


and I'm sorry that historical reality doesn't always accord with your obsessions.

The Russian Empire/Soviet Union did not expand in 1918-1920 as you claim, it contracted,
it contracted because you may have noticed that some parts of the Russian Empire, like Finland, managed to become and stay independent, other parts, like the Ukraine did not.

But you are somewhat right, the Baltic states did manage to liberate themselves and remained free until WWII, when the Stalin lead Soviet Union conquered them in act of aggression.

The Gulag was every bit as murderous as the Nazi death camps, and on a larger scale for longer. Solzhenitsyn estimates 66 millkion victims of the massacres and the Gulag. The only difference being they extracted more forced labor out of their victims before their deaths.


The Gulags were an abomination but they were not nearly as bad as the Nazi camps, in act people like Solzhenitsyn survived, were freed and wrote about them, no one was freed, no one was ever gonna get freed from a Nazi camp until Germany lost the war- of course it is possible that had Stalin not died no one would have survived the Gulag either.

We've had this discussion before, but aside form the Stalin days the behavior of the Soviet Union from beginning to the end fit right in with the behavior of the Russian Empire from Ivan the Awesome to 1917, and hell since the counterrevolution through to Putin - being Russian has always been pretty bad by western standards, and being one of Russia's neighbors has always been pretty scary,

it's a pity the Russians are a very productive people, but culturally the strains of paranoia and authoritarianism are a bad mix that they can't seem to get past.



   557. zonk Posted: January 07, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4341156)
For that matter, what if the high command actually keeps a meaningful mobile reserve. Maybe the stop the initial break through in its tracks. More likely the buy enough time to extricate the forces in the Netherlands (at which point it becomes a very hard slog for both sides)

On the list of bad decisions through history Gamelin's decision to leave no reserves has to rank up there. Churchill wrote about meeting Gamelin shortly after the battle began, seeing a map which made the problem rather obvious:

He asked, "Ou est la masse de manouvre, he demanded ("Where's the strategic reserve"), only to be glumly answered by the French Chief of General Staff, General Gamelin, "Aucune" ("There is none".)

One of the low points of his life.


I think this was a doctrinal issue, no?

I.e., Allied doctrine of 39/40 still had armor to be used wholly as infantry support, rather than the spearhead/blitzkrieg approach that was then being rolled out by Germany.

There were multiple instances where the panzers were actually in serious danger of being cut off - and a fair number of German generals were aghast at the risks of the ultimate Fall Gelb plan.... ultimately, though - the allies fell for the northern feint, their best forces were completely disorganized, and there wasn't enough left to take advantage of Guderian/Rommel's aggressiveness.... In fact - if memory serves, the German command had actually ordered a pause to strengthen and reinforce at the Meuse crossing, but the panzers under Guderian and Rommel essentially demanded (and got) permission to 'scout' further ahead, but turned the 'scouting' into a full scale penetration.

With the Luftwaffe holding supreme in the air, that was pretty much all she wrote...
   558. Ron J2 Posted: January 07, 2013 at 06:07 PM (#4341191)
#557 Not talking about the use of armor. I'm talking about the decision to have absolutely nothing in reserve. That's just stunningly stupid. The bad guys have an annoying habit of breaking through some place inconvenient.
   559. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 07, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4341199)
So did the French just not have enough troops or did they just mass them all along Maginot line? Weren't the massed tanks supported from the air going to run over anything the French put in front of them due to the British/French using outdated tactics?
   560. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 07, 2013 at 06:52 PM (#4341227)
#557 Not talking about the use of armor. I'm talking about the decision to have absolutely nothing in reserve. That's just stunningly stupid. The bad guys have an annoying habit of breaking through some place inconvenient.


In some ways having reserves and not using them is worse than not having them at all. McClellan at Antietam is an example of this. Also I am rusty on my D-Day history, but weren't the Germans having problem getting their reserves rolling out to help defend against the invasion force?
   561. Ron J2 Posted: January 07, 2013 at 06:56 PM (#4341231)
#559 The had plenty of troops. They just opted to send all of their top quality troops into Holland -- and hold the Ardennes area with 10 of their worst divisions. (All understrength and under-equipped)

The tanks rolled over the defenders in no small part because they were of low quality. After that it was primarily an issue of meeting engagements which the Germans were better prepared for.

What was needed was a couple of good divisions that could be pushed into the line to contain the damage long enough to extricate the forces in Holland. We're not talking huge amounts of time required.

I don't insist that the Germans wouldn't have won. As noted, they had a big edge in the air. The Germans caught the wave of modernization just perfectly, while the best the French could do in terms of fighter was probably P-40Bs. Absolutely no match for the Germans (didn't help that a lot of planes got caught on the ground) and the Brits only stationed Hurricanes in France (they did use Spitfires at Dunkerque) and again, absolutely not a match for a 109.

But the armored forces got pretty beat up as it was (an awful lot of the armor was Panzer II and it was junk) and they had things pretty much their own way.
   562. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 07, 2013 at 07:44 PM (#4341261)
The Russian Empire/Soviet Union did not expand in 1918-1920 as you claim, it contracted,
it contracted because you may have noticed that some parts of the Russian Empire, like Finland, managed to become and stay independent, other parts, like the Ukraine did not.


Invading independent countries is expansion, whether you used to own it or not. The first damn things the Reds did after the Civil War was invade Poland. Then planned to keep going, but the Poles beat them. Don't mistake weakness for lack of intent.

The Gulags were an abomination but they were not nearly as bad as the Nazi camps, in act people like Solzhenitsyn survived, were freed and wrote about them, no one was freed, no one was ever gonna get freed from a Nazi camp until Germany lost the war- of course it is possible that had Stalin not died no one would have survived the Gulag either.

Read the book.

I would vastly prefer a bullet in the head, or a quick death by gas, to 10 years in the Gulag, The death rate was well above 90%. There is no functional difference between working on the White Sea canal, or a death camp. A tiny fraction survived death camps (escapees, trustees, collaborators) and a tiny fraction survived the Gulag.
   563. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 07, 2013 at 08:21 PM (#4341291)
I.e., Allied doctrine of 39/40 still had armor to be used wholly as infantry support, rather than the spearhead/blitzkrieg approach that was then being rolled out by Germany.


I think the French used armor wholly for infantry support, even though they had officers (including DeGaulle) who had by the mid 30s worked out a pretty good armored division doctrine.

the Brits had a really confused tank doctrine before WWII, they divided Tanks into "infantry tanks" and "cruiser tanks"
Infantry tanks were heavily armored, slow and undergunned-
The Matilda 1 had very good armor protection for the day, but was painfully slow (couldn't reach 10 mph on the road- after all an infantry tank supports infantry- so it didn't need to be an faster than a human...) and it main armament was a 50 cal machine gun- which meant it couldn't take out other tanks... but then gain most German tanks couldn't take out a Matilda either (but all could outrun one) The Matilda II was a little more useful, it's gun 40 mm) could at least take out early version Panzers...

In essence the Brits had tanks that could take punishment, but couldn't really dish it out- or move very well, then they had Cruiser tanks which could move, but were woefully under-armored, and didn't have much better guns than the Infantry Tanks, either way they were woefully mismatched against the much better rounded Panzer IIS and IVs.

The Russians actually divided their tanks up the way the Brits did, fast light tanks (the BT tanks), and heavily armored slow tanks (the KV tanks)- but a poor plan executed extremely well is better than poor plan executed poorly - the BT tanks evolved into the T-34 series, and while the KV Tanks were based upon the same operational idea as the Matildas, the KVs were much better simply because they went with a more is more philosophy, even more armor and size and a bigger gun.
   564. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 07, 2013 at 09:21 PM (#4341320)
362. spankz Posted: December 21, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4330590)
I would recommend "The Imperial Cruise" by James Bradley as he goes into some of the history of America's involvement in the Pacific before and after the Spanish- American war and how he feels that some of the decisions that Teddy Roosevelt made led directly to our war with Japan. Although you can take issue with some of his conclusions in that regard, the chapters dealing with our treatment of the Phillipines after we "liberated" it from the Spanish was defintely eye-opening.


Missed this earlier. I happened to stumble upon this book recently and am listening to it on my commute. It covers a portion of our history I barely knew existed. I knew about the Span-Am War, but mainly about the Cuban portion. Family legend said that my greatgrandfather was a Roughrider, but I looked it up. His militia unit served in South Carolina. Did the US fear a Spanish attack on the coast?
   565. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 07, 2013 at 09:39 PM (#4341346)
Did the US fear a Spanish attack on the coast?


The Spanish-American War, like the Mexican War, was primarily about US expansion - one could make a good argument in both cases that the US went out of its way to find a casus belli. The Spanish weren't out to attack anything, but to defend their interests in Cuba and the Phillippines.

-- MWE
   566. McCoy Posted: January 07, 2013 at 09:40 PM (#4341347)
#559 The had plenty of troops. They just opted to send all of their top quality troops into Holland -- and hold the Ardennes area with 10 of their worst divisions. (All understrength and under-equipped)


The French were very keen on not fighting the next war on French soil. It's why they built the Maginot line and why they planned to fight the war on the lowlands. The problem wasn't a lack of reserves but that the Allies couldn't properly account for the tempo of the war. They were operating on a timetable that simply did not work against the speed of the German invasion. A good chunk French forces either never fired a shot or barely engaged the enemy by the time France capitulated. I don't see how reserve forces that were poorly trained, under-equipped, operating under out dated doctrine, and have nobody else coming to their aid would do anything but be a mosquito on the back of an elephant.
   567. Publius Publicola Posted: January 07, 2013 at 09:55 PM (#4341383)
Also I am rusty on my D-Day history, but weren't the Germans having problem getting their reserves rolling out to help defend against the invasion force?


Well, irony or ironies, Rommel made the same mistake that the French made. The Atlantic Wall was the Germans version of the Maginot line. The problem with trying to stop the invasion at the beaches is that they had massive naval artillery support. If they had done what Runstedt suggested, having a deeper defense set farther back from the coast, they might have had a chance to stop it.

There were many reasons for the slow reinforcement response, not the least of which was Hitler's unshakable belief (planted by Operation Fortitude) that the invasion would come to the Pas De Calais. They only realized they had been had until well after the invasion was already a success. Hitler demanded that it was only he who could mobilize the panzer reserves, and he never gave his approval until it was too late. And part of the invasion plan was to either blow up or secure key transport facilities like bridges and rail hubs. For the most part, this was a success.

Another huge ####-up by the Wehrmacht.
   568. Publius Publicola Posted: January 07, 2013 at 09:58 PM (#4341387)
The Spanish-American War, like the Mexican War, was primarily about US expansion - one could make a good argument in both cases that the US went out of its way to find a casus belli.


More accurately, one would be hard-pressed to make a good argument that they were about anything else but US Imperialism.
   569. McCoy Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:06 PM (#4341408)
Well, irony or ironies, Rommel made the same mistake that the French made. The Atlantic Wall was the Germans version of the Maginot line. The problem with trying to stop the invasion at the beaches is that they had massive naval artillery support. If they had done what Runstedt suggested, having a deeper defense set farther back from the coast, they might have had a chance to stop it.

There were many reasons for the slow reinforcement response, not the least of which was Hitler's unshakable belief (planted by Operation Fortitude) that the invasion would come to the Pas De Calais. They only realized they had been had until well after the invasion was already a success. Hitler demanded that it was only he who could mobilize the panzer reserves, and he never gave his approval until it was too late. And part of the invasion plan was to either blow up or secure key transport facilities like bridges and rail hubs. For the most part, this was a success.

Another huge ####-up by the Wehrmacht.


Except regardless of what tactic was used the Allies were getting a beachhead and the Atlantic Wall kept the Allies bottled up for almost two months despite whatever failings one wants to ascribe to it. Rundstedt's defense in depth wouldn't have done it any better and was likely to be unworkable given German shortages.
   570. Publius Publicola Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:18 PM (#4341439)
Oh, I don't know about that. The Allies were very lightly armored those first few days. If the Germans had mobilized a lot of tanks to the area, I think it could have gone either way.
   571. McCoy Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:27 PM (#4341466)
Oh, I don't know about that. The Allies were very lightly armored those first few days. If the Germans had mobilized a lot of tanks to the area, I think it could have gone either way.

That was Rommel's plan. Rundstedt's plan was defense in depth. His plan didn't have everything at the beach but instead had the tanks stationed around Paris and they wouldn't be called into action until the invasion point was identified. This strategy poses some problems. For starters time would be a problem, getting the tanks into action would be another, and supplying those tanks would be a third problem.

In the end neither really got what they wanted. Rommel got barely any tanks and was allowed very few in the Normandy area and Rundstedt didn't get his tank reserves as the armor was spread out throughout all of northern France and the lowlands. You can't really say Rommel's plan failed since he didn't get to implement his plan both because Hitler over-rided him and because the Atlantic Wall wasn't completed. But again despite all of that the invasion was a close run thing and the Germans kept the Allies bottled up in the vicinity of their beachhead for almost two months.


If superior naval and air support means the Atlantic Wall wouldn't work I'm not sure how sending a bunch of tanks against that was going to work either.
   572. Publius Publicola Posted: January 07, 2013 at 11:24 PM (#4341585)
What do you mean by "bottled up"? The allies had the entire Cotentin peninsula within 3 weeks, including Cherbourg. If that isn't a permanent foothold, I don't know what is.

Rommel got barely any tanks and was allowed very few in the Normandy area and Rundstedt didn't get his tank reserves as the armor was spread out throughout all of northern France and the lowlands.


Well, sure. My argument is, what if he, or Runstedt for that matter, had the flexibility to move the tanks where they thought best. If there had been a more speedy response, things would have been very difficult for the allies, especially is the tanks were close enough to the beach where they could have been used as mobile artillery to contest the landings. Runstedt's plan was to have the defense set back far enough so that the opponents naval artillery was not a factor, and, as you say, to allow for a more flexible counterattack, once the identity of the invasion location was clear.
   573. McCoy Posted: January 07, 2013 at 11:56 PM (#4341641)
What do you mean by "bottled up"? The allies had the entire Cotentin peninsula within 3 weeks, including Cherbourg. If that isn't a permanent foothold, I don't know what is.

I mean bottled up. It took the Allies two to three months to achieve the objectives they were supposed to achieve on the first day. They were stuck in Normandy for two months and were contained so well in Normandy that the Allies would face serious shortages until the Fall/Winter of 1944. The objectives of DDay were not to take a peninsula in 3 weeks.

Runstedt's plan was to have the defense set back far enough so that the opponents naval artillery was not a factor, and, as you say, to allow for a more flexible counterattack, once the identity of the invasion location was clear.

And again air and naval superiority meant those tanks were never going to be effective against the beachheads. They simply weren't. Germans tanks were dangerous and deadly in the Norman countryside where they could be concealed from the air and hedgerows and narrow roads funneled Allied arms into confined spaces.

Anyway, German armor "set back far enough" means the Allies keep the beachhead and do so with even less causalities and less chaos. Perhaps the allies achieve some of their first day objectives on the first day instead two to three months laters if the Germans don't contest the invasion as heavily as they did.

No counterattack was going to throw the Allies off the beachhead. If anything a German counterattack, like the Bulge, would exhaust the Germans of their men and resources allowing for a quicker Allied advance.

   574. Publius Publicola Posted: January 08, 2013 at 12:09 AM (#4341656)
And again air and naval superiority meant those tanks were never going to be effective against the beachheads. They simply weren't.


Naval artillery can't be used against tanks, for obvious reasons. And given the stakes, the Germans would have risked their tanks against air attacks, if it meant giving them a fighting chance to stop the invasion. In all the post-action reports by the airborne troops, they all said they were thankful they didn't have to face much armored opposition.
   575. McCoy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 08:05 AM (#4341781)
Naval artillery can't be used against tanks, for obvious reasons.

What are these obvious reasons that the entire military establishment is unaware of?

And given the stakes, the Germans would have risked their tanks against air attacks, if it meant giving them a fighting chance to stop the invasion

I'm not sure why that matters. Risking almost certain annihilation isn't a game changer.

In all the post-action reports by the airborne troops, they all said they were thankful they didn't have to face much armored opposition.

Well, yeah, I'd expect they would say that. Airborne units are light infantry they don't want to face armor but airborne units were a minor part of DDay and the Normandy invasion.
   576. SOLockwood Posted: January 08, 2013 at 10:04 AM (#4341825)
The French mostly divided their tanks between their infantry and cavalry branches. They had tank battalions (mostly composed of slow Renaults) that were assigned to support infantry formations. Then they had their best fast tanks (Hotchkiss & Souma) organized into Armored Cavalry and Light Mechanized Divisions that were assigned to the Cavalry Corps and used for screening and reconnaisance. Finally at the last minute they organized 4 armored divisions (the 4th being under DeGaulle) which barely had a chance to get organized before the Germans attacked.
   577. Publius Publicola Posted: January 08, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4341834)
What are these obvious reasons that the entire military establishment is unaware of?


They have the ability to move away from the spot you aim the projectile.

Well, yeah, I'd expect they would say that. Airborne units are light infantry they don't want to face armor but airborne units were a minor part of DDay and the Normandy invasion.


Minor? Eight divisions were landed on D-Day. Three of them, or 37.5% of the landing force, were airborne. You call that minor? I don't.
   578. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 08, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4341856)
Did the US fear a Spanish attack on the coast?


The US public did (steady diet of misinformation from politicos and the press)
Popular opinion in Europe was that we were going to get our clocks cleaned by the Spanish Navy

The Spanish Navy itself was under no such delusions, their commanders knew they were going to lose, it was only a question of ho badly, no thought was given to sending their major units across the Atlantic, they stayed put in home waters or the Canaries.
   579. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 08, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4341862)
Well, irony or ironies, Rommel made the same mistake that the French made. The Atlantic Wall was the Germans version of the Maginot line. The problem with trying to stop the invasion at the beaches is that they had massive naval artillery support. If they had done what Runstedt suggested, having a deeper defense set farther back from the coast, they might have had a chance to stop it.


No, their ONLY hope was to throw the invasion back in the Channel immediately, once ashore in force, bottled up or not, it was game over. The only way they could possibly have thrown the initial invasion back is if they had armor there the first day and/or significant close air support from the luftwaffe...

Runstedt's plan had a chance of making the slog across France more difficult but a zero chance of success (winning the campaign)
   580. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 08, 2013 at 11:07 AM (#4341870)
Naval artillery can't be used against tanks, for obvious reasons.


If the tanks are in range and within the line of sight (or within sight of forward artillery observers) they most certainly can be-

in fact Naval gunfire devastated German armor at Salerno and may have saved the landing.

There's a photo I've seen of a Tiger flipped upside down- a near miss from a large caliber naval gun
   581. McCoy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4341946)
Minor? Eight divisions were landed on D-Day. Three of them, or 37.5% of the landing force, were airborne. You call that minor? I don't.

Yes.

About 10% of troops were airborne on DDay and they were scattered around the countryside and mostly failed to achieve their objectives on DDay. Airborne played a minor role on DDay.

They have the ability to move away from the spot you aim the projectile.



Um, okay.
   582. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: January 08, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4342046)
I would vastly prefer a bullet in the head, or a quick death by gas, to 10 years in the Gulag, The death rate was well above 90%. There is no functional difference between working on the White Sea canal, or a death camp. A tiny fraction survived death camps (escapees, trustees, collaborators) and a tiny fraction survived the Gulag.


FWIW, according to Wikipedia the highest end estimate is that 10 million of 14 million gulag prisoners died, so 71%. This is way above most estimates: archival studies estimate about 1.6 million deaths (11.4%) when you include prisoners who were released on the point of death. Bloodlands estimates about a million gulag deaths, you'll see other numbers in the 1 to 1.5 million range. So in all likelihood, at least 75% of the prisoners in the gulags survived.

The point isn't that Stalin was a nice man, but that Stalin and Hitler had very different methods of killing people. If you went into one of Hitler's death camps it was because they wanted to kill you and dispose of your body as efficiently as possible. You went in and you died and that was that. The gulag was more a form of terrorism. Nobody much cared if you died, but the larger goal was to completely break you and then let your friends back home see what happened to a person who got on Stalin's bad side. If Stalin wanted you dead you were usually rounded up and shot without ever making it to a camp (or if he wanted your group dead then you died in a famine or got forcibly exported to Siberia or something like that).
   583. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4342196)
So in all likelihood, at least 75% of the prisoners in the gulags survived.


Take the absolute WORST thing that's been written about the USSR- and that's Gospel Truth to Snapper-
he hates himself some Reds... You have to remember this is someone who claims that Franco's group were the lesser of evils in the Spanish Civil War.

Anyway, arguing who was worse, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Abdul Ruzibiza... is kind of depressing.




   584. Publius Publicola Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4342298)
If the tanks are in range and within the line of sight (or within sight of forward artillery observers) they most certainly can be-


They wouldn't have been in the line of sight. And if they didn't know it before, it wouldn't have taken 15 minutes for the panzer crews to figure out that, if they fired and then moved to a new position, the naval artillery would not have been able to pick them off except by an occasional lucky shot. The picture you saw was either of a lucky hit, an inept panzer crew or of an alternative reason, like a large landmine, booby trap or field cannon. The naval artillery was accurate against stationary batteries, not mobile ones, again for obvious reasons. At an average muzzle velocity of about 1/3 of a mile/second for a projectile fired from, a tank can move about 30 ft/sec driving at 20 MPH. A shot fired from 5 miles away would land 450 ft away, if the naval firing crew fired the shot the moment the tank started to move. If you have to hit a tank with a 2000 lb shell within a distance of 30 feet or so in order for your artillery to be effective against them, it isn't going to be.

About 10% of troops were airborne on DDay and they were scattered around the countryside and mostly failed to achieve their objectives on DDay. Airborne played a minor role on DDay.
.

I don't know where you got your figures but Britticana's guide to D-Day states there were two major invasion groups- the British Second Army, tow which the Canadian and French forces were attached and US first Army. The British contingent, out of 83K total was 10% airborne. But of the 73K American, about 16000 were airborne, or about 22%. And most post-action reports cite the importance of the airborne to the success of the overall operation. While an accident, the scattering of the airborne units helped confuse the Germans and delayed and diluted their counterattack. The main objective of the airborne was to distract the Germans from seriously challenging the beach landings and they did that successfully. The Germans also flooded the lowlands around the Omaha and Sword in response, inadvertently protecting the Allies flanks. We'll never know what would have happened if their drops had occurred with more cohesion and they were less scattered. But nevertheless they played a critical role in the success of the operation.
   585. McCoy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4342328)
It seems we're going off on tangents upon tangents. My statement which you are disputing is that tanks were not going to be effective against the beachheads which they weren't. Quotes from airborne units, or % of total airborne units, or whether or not confusion among airborne units creating confusion among the Germans was worth it is besides the point.

If tanks attacked the beachhead they would have gotten annihilated as they did before when attempting to go up against a beachhead supported by naval units. If the plan was to simply wait for the invasion to land and then counterattack the tanks would get mauled by air units and possibly naval units as well if the armor was within the range of naval guns. Furthermore when we talk about armor attacking we aren't simply talking about 50 tanks attacking but 50 tanks and supporting troops attacking. Tanks without infantry are largely useless and very vulnerable.

We know this because we saw this all throughout the allied invasion of Europe. Armor out in the open and attacking got destroyed. Armor worked against the allies as hidden mobile artillery pieces and it worked especially so in Normandy with its hedgerows and narrow roads. But if we flip the battle on its head and have the Germans be the attackers in Normandy while the Allies were the ones defending then it would be the Germans who got mauled and would get worse since they wouldn't have the big guns of the navy or planes in the sky to protect them like the Allies did and in fact would have those tools used against them.

As for Tiger tank mentioned earlier, it is indeed true that at Salerno two American destroyers badly mauled German armor. The Brooklyn and the Mayo were credited with destroying 46 tanks and artillery pieces in a single day and the Mayo was nicknamed the Tank Buster ever after. Using spotters and planes to direct the fire the Mayo was firing a 5" shell every 4 seconds during the height of the battle and all of the barrels had to be repaired after the battle.

   586. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4342329)
or field cannon.


Yep, your typical WWII field piece was capable of flipping a 57 ton Tiger completely upside down.

a tank can move about 30 ft/sec driving at 20 MPH


WWII tanks generally did not fire while moving
and the German heavier tanks were not exactly agile when accelerating from a standstill

plus a forward artillery observer would radio in naval fire and the ships would fire a spread of shells- sure if your target is one(1) tank it's pretty inefficient, but at places like Salerno Naval gunfire was devastating to a massed armored formation and elsewhere basically deterred it afterwards.

You are simply wrong in believing that the threat of naval gunfire had no or should have had no effect on tank operations.
   587. McCoy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4342335)
Here's what you need to know, PP thinks the military treats artillery like sniper rifles. That about explains all you need to know about this discussion.
   588. McCoy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4342343)
From wiki on Normandy armor:

"With the Invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, the 503rd was transferred to the command of Panzergruppe West. The first company was equipped with 12 Tiger II tanks. It was the first Pz.Komp to be equipped entirely with the Tiger II. The detachment fought well in combat against Allied tank forces during the battles around Caen. On the launch of Operation Goodwood, the 3rd company, which was based in Cagny, was caught in the preliminary bombing raids and completely wiped out, with bomb impacts powerful enough to turn even a 68-ton Tiger completely upside down. Only one Tiger was operational at the end of the day. During the first day of "Goodwood," the unit reported the loss of 13 tanks. On July 18, a remarkable incident took place when a M4 Sherman tank under the command of the Irish Lieutenant Gorman rammed a Tiger II of the I/s.H.Pz.Abt 503 and disabled it.
On the next day the two remaining companies were in defensive positions around Cagny and helped to halt a British advance. The Wehrmachtsbericht reported 40 enemy tanks destroyed, many of them by the 503rd. At the end of July, the 3rd company received new Tiger II tanks. Heavy aerial attacks destroy most of the equipment of the Tiger II company. Only 2 "Kingtigers" were brought back to Germany, the tanks with turret number '314'/annelise and '323'. The 503rd, along with the Panzer-Lehr-Division's 316th Funklenk Panzer Company, were the only formations in Normandy to operate Tiger IIs. The 101st SS Heavy Tank Battalion got Tiger II tanks in late August but they saw no action.
The severely depleted 503rd managed to escape the horrors of the Falaise Pocket and was engaged in a fighting withdrawal to the German border. In late August the detachment was pulled from the line for a complete refit with Tiger IIs."

   589. Publius Publicola Posted: January 08, 2013 at 06:07 PM (#4342359)
WWII tanks generally did not fire while moving
and the German heavier tanks were not exactly agile when accelerating from a standstill


And German tanks generally did not fire their cannons and then just sit there like a dodo bird waiting for a forward observer to call in the coordinates so a gunship could blast the crap out of them. They gave their tanks diesel engines and track treads for a reason.

Yep, your typical WWII field piece was capable of flipping a 57 ton Tiger completely upside down.


Only the very largest of the naval cannons could have been capable of flipping a Tiger too, and only then with the shell landing practically right on top of it from several miles away. The allies had relatively few of those deployed. Only the battleships and, perhaps, cruisers could lob shells big enough to do that.

You are simply wrong in believing that the threat of naval gunfire had no or should have had no effect on tank operations.


We'll have to agree to disagree. The principle value of that tank, a heavily armored form of mobile artillery, was that it could avoid decimation by fire and move tactical principles. This is armored tactics 101. Jeesh.
   590. Publius Publicola Posted: January 08, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4342382)
McCoy, if you read the whole section on Operation Goodwood, you will note that it occurred between July 18-20, well after the D-Day landing, and involved 3 British armored divisions. The initial bombardment also involved a massive bombing raid by Lancasters, B-26s and fighter-bombers. Those were more likely to have hit the tanks than the naval artillery. If you want to argue that air-based attacks were effective agains the German tanks, I'll agree with you wholeheartedly. Here:

The bombing put both the 22nd Panzer Regiment and the III/503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion temporarily out of action, causing varying degrees of damage to their tanks. Some were overturned,[127] some were destroyed outright,[132] and 20 were later found abandoned in bomb craters.


   591. McCoy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 07:06 PM (#4342410)
The quote wasn't in support of anything about DDay but about the fact that tanks would have gotten mauled if they concentrated their forces and attacked the Allies in Normandy.


high level bombers, artillery barrages, and naval barrages have all been used against armored units and there isn't a tanker alive that would want to be in the middle of any of them. As I also said before, armored units traveled with infantry and support units. Without which armor isn't really effective and extremely vulnerable. Even if somehow a sustained barrage on an area managed to not knock out a single tank the sustained fire would be withering to infantry and support units caught out in the open. Attacking armored units spotted by the Allies would quickly find their offensive stalled and on the defensive.


   592. Ron J2 Posted: January 10, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4343986)
Yep, your typical WWII field piece was capable of flipping a 57 ton Tiger completely upside down.


Yeah most people just don't have a handle on how big/powerful naval guns are compared to field artillery.

The smallest gun that would be in use in naval support is 5 inches. That's about 127 mm. The largest field piece (155 mm) is about the same size as a 6 inch gun (ie light cruiser main guns)

But it's not just about size of round. Naval guns are much longer. Leading to much higher muzzle velocities.

And it worth noting that yes, the targets can move but:

a) naval gunnery assumes a moving target. An individual tank is a smaller, more maneuverable target than a ship, but big naval guns don't need to hit to be devastating.

b) simply forcing them to move continuously sharply reduces their effectiveness. WWII era tanks couldn't fire with anything approaching accuracy while on the move.

Still, I think Rommel was likely correct. The only chance to win was an immediate counterattack. It just wasn't likely to succeed.
   593. McCoy Posted: January 10, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4344000)
The problem for Rommel was that he didn't know where the Allies were going to attack and he didn't have the time and resources to cover all the possible areas of invasion.
   594. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: January 10, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4344037)
These battleships were used on D-Day:

USS Arkansas, BB-33 (12-inch)
USS Texas, BB-35, (14-inch)
USS Nevada, BB-36 (14-inch)
HMS Ramillies (15-inch)
HMS Rodney (16-inch)
HMS Warspite (15-inch)
plus HMS Nelson (16-inch), which was held in reserve until June 10.

From wikipedia's page on the Iowa Class armament (yes, I know they weren't used on D-day):


For unarmored targets and shore bombardment, the 1,900 lb (862 kg) Mk. 13 HC (High-Capacity—referring to the large bursting charge) shell was available.[25] The Mk. 13 shell would create a crater 50 feet (15 m) wide and 20 feet (6 m) deep upon impact and detonation, and could defoliate trees 400 yards (360 m) from the point of impact.[25]


None of the big guns used on D-day were quite as powerful as the 16-in/50cal's on the Iowa's, but, they weren't far off from that destructive capability.


   595. just plain joe Posted: January 10, 2013 at 11:39 AM (#4344054)
None of the big guns used on D-day were quite as powerful as the 16-in/50cal's on the Iowa's, but, they weren't far off from that destructive capability.


You wouldn't necessarily have to kill many tanks to blunt the efficiency of an armored formation. In addition to the tanks, an armor battalion would contain numerous "regular" vehicles devoted to resupply of ammo, fuel, food, etc. These would be easy targets not only for HE shells but could also be put out of action by strafing; it wouldn't take many .50 caliber rounds to disable a truck. In addition, armor formations have support personnel devoted to the functions mentioned above, even if they weren't killed or wounded in an attack, it isn't likely they will become somewhat demoralized, especially if under attack for long periods. No armor formation can sustain operations if they aren't constantly resupplied with the materiel it requires.
   596. Ron J2 Posted: January 10, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4344092)
#595 The topic of a German counterattack has come up before. Worth noting that the Hitler Youth did launch an attack against the Canadians. Broken up primarily by allied air power (after initial success).

A front of 5 infantry (reinforced) divisions with an outer screen of 3 airborne divisions takes an awful lot to destroy. Tedder expected 70-90% casualties among the airborne forces precisely because he expected a counterattack and they'd be the one to bear the brunt.

Very unusual for Tedder, he was happy to admit he was wrong. Casualties were far lighter than he anticipated. And while it's true they mostly failed to achieve their objectives, their primary role was actually to buy time to organize the main landing. Not truly needed and everybody was glad of it.
   597. zenbitz Posted: January 10, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4344260)

If you have a 4x6 table, several dozen hours, and an affinity for high pressure arithmatic, there is a great new game on the 1940 invasion of france called "The Blitzkreig Legend". From mmp, Schillings company.
   598. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 10, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4344283)
Isn't naval bombardment and artillery effective against an area and not individual (mobile) targets? I thought a spotter would call in a grid and then a bunch of ships or a battery of artillery would then fire. The spotter would then call back in and have them adjust. I may be wrong but I don't think any one destroyer would ever actively engage one tank. I don't doubt most ships guns would take out a tank, especially since tanks are generally not as well armored up top.

Dive-bombers were pretty accurate in those days and I guess would be the most effective at taking out individual tanks.
   599. Morty Causa Posted: January 10, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4344298)
Rommel's experiences in North Africa made him extremely fearful of Allied air power. Thus, he wanted to position his forces so as to neutralize that as best he could. Rundstedt knew the invasion would be fast and hard, and he wanted to maintain a flexible response, and he feared naval bombardment. In truth, the Germans were between and a rock and a hard place. They were at the choose your poison stage, podnuh.
   600. akrasian Posted: January 10, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4344313)
#598

That's my impression - they would lob a bunch* of shells at a fairly small area, and it may or may not be close enough to take out an individual tank. Of course, the targeting would likely be for areas with any sort of concentration of tanks. If the Germans combated it by spreading their tanks out instead of having them in any sort of formation, that would make the tanks more vulnerable to other attacks. And the naval artillery only has to narrowly miss a tank once to take it out. And they would have plenty of time. Not to mention the whole aspect of tanks having to navigate around the suddenly appearing craters. Naval artillery likely wouldn't destroy all of the tanks, but it would likely destroy some, and diminish effectiveness of them significantly.

*sorry for throwing out technical terms.
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