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"Hitler's Great Gamble"

Discussion in 'WWII Books & Publications' started by GunSlinger86, Mar 7, 2020.

  1. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    This is a recently released book. It's premise lays out that Hitler's Invasion of Russia was a calculated gamble with the odds in his favor, not a folly of hubris, going into historical context of the First World War and the similarity of the Septemberprogramm to Hitler's aims, the state of Europe and the other nations in the Spring of 1941, and that the conventional explanations for the loss of Germany are for the most part lacking in certain factual areas. I'm half-way through it. Interesting read so far.
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Does the book explain why Hitler did not prepare for Winter war? I guess he believed in the 8 week war to beat the Red Army.
     
  3. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    obviously the odds were not in his favor...things started going down hill in early 1943
     
  4. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    I recommend checking the book out as it comes from a strategic point of view from the German side. I would have to type paragraph upon paragraph to answer those questions as the author did.
     
  5. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    He lays out all of the different explanations given in classic WWII works and goes into why those explanations weren't all that feasible anyways as alternative paths to victory.
     
  6. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Another MBA writing military history. The reviews do not impress me, especially the on remarking on the lack of in depth historiography.
     
  7. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    I have this book on my "Amazon" list, Barbarossa was certainly a huge gamble although Hitler did not view it as such for him it was a war he intended to make and was already looking east from the summer of 1940 and was fully set on the attack from the end of December 1940.
    He saw the Red Army being destroyed in approx 12-16 weeks before winter and in the region close to the border with occupied Poland, but pf course it didn't quite work out.
    By the end of July / start of August, the game had changed completely and the Germans were in spite of their successes were losing control and were being overwhelmed by the size, depth, and environment of Russia something which they had failed to take into their planning process.
    This went beyond a gamble, a gamble indicates some chance of success and as the invasion played out, disagreement simmered and objectives changed it became evident that the Germans were not strong enough to attack all along their growing front and that to achieve local superiority they had to move forces and dislocate their effort to fight battles, to re-orientate themselves took time and resources both of which they were fast running out of. Each battle cut and bled them a little more losses mounted, divisions, weakened, the logistics fiasco became more complicated and a reality gulf widened between those around the planning table and those who attempted to carry out the increasingly unrealistic orders.
    If Barbarossa was a gamble the odds became increasingly worse as summer gave way to autumn and the Red Army although seriously damaged did not fall apart and the political control of the Communist party remained intact, the door had been kicked in but the structure did not come crashing down.
    In many ways, Barbarossa set the course for what would follow in 1942 and again in 1943 the illusory search for a victory which would prove decisive.
    In 1941 the Army Commanders back at OKH / OKW seemed to be of the opinion that if the right will prevailed victory would follow, Hitler said at Stalingrad that "National Socialist Zeal" was needed to finish the battle and in 1943 Citadel "would shine like a beacon", illusions sometimes appear as gambles.
     
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  8. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    It is still an interesting read with some valid points, regardless if its written by an MBA with a bachelor's in history and economics.
     
  9. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    I also just picked up "1941" by Andrew Nagorski. That's the next read.
     
  10. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ....they were still at war with Britain!! there are not many modern examples of a country invading and taking over another country/winning the war .....the US could not beat tiny/etc NVietnam...the UK and Russia lost in Afghanistan .....true, Germany beat the UK and France 1940, but the war was not won ....there was resistance all over Europe....
     
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  11. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    Yes invading Russia to deny GB any help seemed a bit of an excuse, politically and racially AH was committed to it. “This will be a war of annihilation”.
     
  12. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..people still think the same of Vietnam= if we just had the will to win--which is a fallacy
     
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  13. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Expansion to the east was Hitler's fundamental goal. From his point of view, the west was the "second front" that distracting him from pursuing the true objective. He accepted that a certain amount of fighting in the west would be necessary, and there was a degree of satisfaction in paying the French back for 1918, but his preference would have been to get it over with and get on with the real task. I think he was sincere in seeking peace with Britain - if that peace would give him a free hand on the Continent. Since the British refused to cooperate, and there was no clear path to defeating them, the question for Hitler became whether or how long to let these increasingly futile efforts delay his invasion of Russia.
     
  14. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    Hitler had blundered into war in 1939 feeling he had done enough to deter any response from GB & France.As far as any future "agreement" with GB went he had burnt his bridges behind him, yet could not understand why. (I have a feeling Hitler tended only to be able to look at situations from the point of view of his own needs/aspirations.)
    Any terms would have been dictated (and) in keeping with his own narcissistic needs would be subject to alteration or to be disregarded as and when he ( Hitler) felt the situation required.
    As he read things in 1940/41 he had both the time and opportunity in to see off Russia and no one it seems seriously questioned his views nor objected to his intentions on how his war on Russia would be conducted. (It would be genocidal in nature towards both soldier and civilian alike.)
     
  15. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Okay then, what are the valid points he makes? If "It's premise lays out that Hitler's Invasion of Russia was a calculated gamble with the odds in his favor", then he starts from an incorrect premise. It was a poorly calculated gamble at best, given that the intelligence estimates consistently warned about potential Soviet strength. Hitler may have decided that the odds were in his favor, but the simple evidence is that they weren't.

    Anyway, the problem with an MBA reverting to his undergraduate interests is not that he was an MBA, but that he didn't spend his post-graduate years in studying the historiography, which comes out in the bibliography and citations. Any historian with pretensions of going beyond "conventional explanations" would not be poo-pooing the analysis of William L. Shirer and Ian Kershaw.
     
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  16. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    The odds were never on Germany's side not in any sense which could critically appraise exactly what invading Russia would entail and how it would impact upon German aspirations in other theatres, in this sense Hitler was wrong and those who endorsed his views or who failed to question them were equally accountable for the collective failure.
    Hitler knew he was not going to get any direct assistance from Japan and Finland wanted only that which she had lost in 1939 /40 back. The other nations backing up to invade Russia ( including the Italians ) he must have known their lack of preparedness and the questionable military contribution they might be able to make, and if not why not?
    I am inclined to think David Stahel got Barbarossa pretty correct as did Craig Luther.
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I would certainly not accuse Hitler of being excessively rational, but the best piece of evidence as to how a 20th-century Russo-German war might go was World War I, when Russia was totally defeated despite Germany having the majority of her forces committed in the west the whole time. Stalin had spent the 1930s starving and suppressing his people and purging his army, culminating in their inept performance against Finland. Who knew that his regime would prosecute a war so much more effectively than the Tsar's?
     
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  18. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    I'm on my lunch break, I don't have much time. I will directly quote a few of his theses. All I was doing was posting in a forum about "what you are reading", and it was an interesting read with some valid points which I will list when I have the time. It not so much as that the outcome would have been different, its going over the different reasons classically used as to why Germany lost and going over the alternatives as to why those explanations aren't necessarily the be all end all. Part of it what Carronade said, that the German Army's performance over Russia in the First World War, the fact that for the most part Germany destroyed the Russian Army while fighting France and Britain in the West. Russia's purges by Stalin, the poor performance against Finland, Germany had evenly matched forces at Russia's Western lines, Germany just steamrolled France and Britain, who were considered more effective Armies, and that Hitler failed diplomatically to get Finland and Japan to commit fully to cutting off supply lines of lend-lease, as in the book it shows through Japanese released records that they were very close to declaring war on Russia in August or September. Hitler squandered the chance to have Finland go full-on in an advance South to cut off the rail line in the Northern port where lend-lease materials were coming from, and Japan, as part of the tripartite pact, could have cut the supply lines at the port in the Pacific and the Trans-Siberian railway. Instead, they allowed non-military goods through, which included items that were used to make military items or the other crucial supplies that Russia was provided with. He also stated that if Hitler had advanced on Moscow earlier, the supply line would have been too extended and Hitler's flanks would have been vulnerable, as the Southern portion of Russia wouldn't have been attacked as it was (Ukraine), and the Soviet Government was planning on destroying Moscow and turning it into an urban-warfare environment, much like it was at Stalingrad.
     
  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well, Germany steamrollered France, and then that steamroller fell apart at the English Channel.

    Hitler never had much of a chance of getting Japan to cut LL lines to the Soviets, just as he never had much of a chance in getting Japan to invade Singapore. Japan, despite Germany's early success, saw that Germany was floundering against England, and already bogged down in their own war in China, were not to keen on getting dragged into A European war. Despite Hitler & Ribbentrop's pleadings to take Singapore, Japan hedged on their bets, promising to commit when the time is right. Then, as Japan was building it's forces for a strike on Malaya, Germany, without informing Japan, suddenly attacked the Soviet Union. Now, instead of conquering Singapore, Germany wanted Japan to go after the Soviets. Japan now had to build up it's forces north & south, but had not yet decided on which direction to strike. However, on August 9, 1941, the decision was essentially made to strike south. It was not set in stone, and a strike north was periodically looked at, but by August - September, 1941, the Japanese were certainly not "very close to declaring war on the Soviet Union."


    The Tripartite Pact had nothing to do with the matter, as it was a defensive pact, and would only come into effect if one of the signatories was attacked. It said nothing about if one of the signatories was attacked. Further, Germany & Japan were approaching the Triartite Pact from completely different directions - Germany was looking for Japan to forment trouble in the Pacific, so that the European powers would have to spread their forces out to cover many fronts. Whereas, Japan was looking to Germany to forment trouble in Europe, so that Japan could more easily settle her Chinese problem, and then create her own empire in the Pacific at little cost as the attention was focused on Europe.

    Also, the Japanese-Soviet Non-Agression Pact, which allowed for the transport of non-military supplies, was in effect, where the Tripartite Pact was not.
     

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