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If Operation Barbarossa had been delay by one year?

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

  1. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Good post. I like the analogy to WWI. The United States was already giving critical support to the Allies, the Germans thought active belligerence wouldn't make their situation significantly worse, and they considered the prospect of winning the war by unrestricted submarine warfare was worth the risk.

    The ability to operate U-boats freely throughout the Atlantic is the only benefit I can think of that the Germans derived from declaring war.

    I agree it's hard to imagine the US staying out of the war, but I've posed the question many times, without any real response, when FDR could have asked Congress and the American people for a declaration of war or what arguments he could have used to make his case. He didn't say a word about it on December 8, which would have been the perfect time to point out - perfectly correctly - that Germany and Japan were allies and that Japan's action was facilitated by Hitler taking on the British Empire, France, the Netherlands, and Russia. Although most Americans had come to accept that we might get dragged into the European war, there was little support for us taking the step - especially when we suddenly had a real war in the Pacific.

    Even if we assume that the US would be in the war at some point, there was no value to Hitler in declaring war on Dec 11. AFAIK the Germans had no specific knowledge of their "ally"'s plans. It took over a month to get just five U-boats deployed to American waters. The U-boats did enjoy a few months' "Happy Time", but that was transitory.

    Historically, after Pearl Harbor the US Navy started transferring warships to the Pacific (including some which had been brought east a few months earlier to enforce our "neutrality" zone), but the number of destroyers in the Atlantic Fleet remained stable*. If we were not at war with Germany, more of our newest DDs might have been sent to the Pacific.

    * Good discussion of this in Clay Blair, Hitler's U-boat War.
     
  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Also, the bases in the destroyers for bases deal were ones which the British had had to garrison, including patrolling the sea areas around them. The deal meant that the Americans would assume this responsibility, freeing up British forces to be used in active theaters of war. Granted we had an interest in protecting the Caribbean and the approaches to the Panama Canal, but the overall benefit was still to one side in the war.

    Early discussions involved six bases in the Caribbean, but the British also offered Bermuda and air and sea bases in Newfoundland, closer to the Atlantic convoy routes....

    Everything I've seen from the Royal Navy point of view was that the destroyers were not well liked. Aside from their age, the flush deck configuration was poorly suited for North Atlantic waters (almost all destroyers in the world including the 1930s US types had raised forecastles). Churchill seems to have been the most enthusiastic about the deal; even before he became Prime Minister he had been pestering Roosevelt to "give us" thirty, or forty, or fifty, or sixty of our old destroyers. He assumed that as soon as they were given Asdic sets they could go into action, but most of them were not operational until the destroyer crisis had passed.

    As for the laws of war:

    The US declared half the Atlantic Ocean to be a "Neutrality Zone" in which one belligerent could operate freely while the other was subject to being shot on sight.

    We escorted convoys of war materials to a belligerent. Many of the escorting warships, like the Reuben James, were the same class we gave to the Royal Navy.

    We were repairing battle-damaged belligerent warships in our shipyards.

    Apparently the rules take a back seat when one party is the bad guy.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2021
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  3. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Active Member

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    All true. FDR's stated support for "neutrality" was a fiction, a fig-leaf covering his intent to help Britain in its time of need. Noble, sure, but decidedly illegal. I'm sure his failure to mention the illegal non-neutral slant of these actions was entirely a coincidence. :rolleyes:
     
  4. Brutal Truth

    Brutal Truth Active Member

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    I agree with Carronade. I think it's extremely unlikely that the Roosevelt administration could have convinced the Congress to declare war on Germany in Dec.1941, even if they had tried.

    Yes, the US open support to the Brits could be considered a provocation and a reason to justify a German declaration of war. But in that respect Hitler didn't needed to wait for Japan to attack the US. He could have declared war to America earlier if that was the reason.

    The question here is not about legal rules, but simply if it was convenient for Germany to declare war on America, especially right after the failure of Barbarossa and the prospect of a prolonged war in Russia. To me the answer is clearly "no". The Neutrality Zone and the logistic/economic support to Britain and Russia cannot be compared to the consequences of a full involvement of America in the war. Without declaration of war almost the full might of the US military would have been employed against Japan. The nation would not have allowed anything else. That means no American bombing campaign, and no landings in North Africa and France. Britain alone, even with American flow of weapons and supplies, had no chances to make a successful landing in Europe. At most, if everything went well, it could have won the campaign in North Africa, and even that would have taken longer time than in OTL. Germany could have concentrated on the Eastern Front without fearing an invasion of France. Without daylight American bombers a lot of the fighters employed for the defense of Germany could have been used in the East against the Soviets and in the Mediterranean against the British.

    One could speculate that later on, in 1943 or 44 the Roosevelt administration would have found some legitimate excuse to declare war on the Third Reich, but even so the delay would have benefited Germany a lot. If I had been Hitler on 8 December I would have summoned Leland Morris and explained him that Germany had no clue of Japan's plans and guaranteed German neutrality in the Pacific war.
     
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  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Other interesting happenings: lend-lease, Atlantic charter, creating a US military base in Iceland, PAN American security zone.

    I agree Hitler made a mistake to declare war to the USA. But it seems it was Hitler's decision for some reason. The longer the war lasted the more he made stupid decisions. More amphetamine?
     
  6. Brutal Truth

    Brutal Truth Active Member

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    Maybe. Hitler eschewed alcohol and recreational drugs, but dr. Morell was giving him a lot of stuff, which, according to this source (Inside the Drug Use That Fueled Nazi Germany) included 'mines and opiates. Furthermore according to a confidential medical analysis already before Barbarossa he suffered from a serious form of arteriosclerosis, which may have affected his brain, and was likely progressive. Another aspect often ignored is the massive use of methamphetamine (Pervitin) by the Wehrmacht early in the war, which may have explained some of the amazing performance of German soldiers in 1940 (even if it gave a lot of side effects).
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The perfect soldier effect. Fights for days when needed.
     
  8. Prospero Quevedo

    Prospero Quevedo Active Member

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    Shultz!!! What are you doooiiinnnggggg
    But would it have made a difference. Like soviets hated to change anything unless they had to. Initial losses showed them the need for command and training changes. German advancements in tank production hastened a response from the soviets. And aircraft would they have had any better than the main g 1, yak 1 or lag1 all underpowered and who was the blame the one jerk who always was and always blamed others, Stalin. New technology isn't instant trial and error. When his planes were not instantly successful he blamed the engineers and labeled them traitors to the states and sent them to political prison or the gulag. His officers realized when things were going badly they needed these engineers back and tried to recover as many as they could. These engineers had ideas about what was needed but they weren't given the chance or authority to precede with new improvements. Stalin stiffened the development of his country. He had to have complete control over everything to ensure his power. Part of the reason. Russia had food shortages was because he wanted control of the land that was owned by the farmers who openly defied Stalin so he confiscated their harvest let them starve claimed the land state property and assigned people there. But real farmers are proud of their farms and the state workers just did what was necessary but no more than they needed to no incentive to do well. Food production plummeted and thousands starved to death as well as his armies. The mans insatiable thirst for power kept back lashing but he never learned. No wonder when the dude died many rejoiced and defaced or destroyed so many monuments dedicated to Stalin and like don't a lot of Russians call that period the dark days like it was something bad and not dwelled upon.
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Strange as it seems to say, Hitler did have a sense of integrity, that it was better to oppose someone honestly and openly than to skulk around pretending to be neutral. Perhaps in his way, he was choosing principle over strategy, which is not necessarily the way to win a war.
     
  10. Prospero Quevedo

    Prospero Quevedo Active Member

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    He was a complicated man sending troops and equipment to Italy and technological info to the Japanese trying to show that Germany supports its allies.
     
  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    How many times Hitler declared war before attacking....ehh...definitely honesty and so lovable...
     
  12. Prospero Quevedo

    Prospero Quevedo Active Member

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    Didn't he usually say they were annexing and that was his last then as soon as they had secured he would announce his new annexed country and say they were the last till he eventually had all of Europe. Should have waited on Russia till Britain had buckeled. Also didn't many refer to Russia as the sleeping bear and how bad it is to wake up a bear. And China I've heard them called the sleeping dragon so is what's going on right now is the dragon waking.
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I think the Barbarossa was the only time Hitler declared war? Molotov to that " What are we supposed to react to that?".....surprised as welll as his puppet master.
     
  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    That's a great idea, but after the British got through 1940, there was little indication that they would ever either buckle or be defeated.

    Expansion to the east was Hitler's fundamental goal. He would have preferred to be able to focus on it exclusively, but he wasn't going to give it up because the British refused to, in his view, behave sensibly.

    The bear aka Russian steamroller had been totally defeated in WWI despite Germany having the majority of her armies fighting continually in the west and maintaining an excessively large navy. Changes since then, mechanization and air power, seemed if anything to make prospects for victory more likely. Who could know that Stalin's autocracy would be so much more effective than the Tsar's?
     
  15. Brutal Truth

    Brutal Truth Active Member

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    He declared war on the US on December 11th, 1941. Also, a telegram was delivered to the Netherlands on the morning of 10 May 1940 with a warning that an invasion was imminent and that if no resistance was made Dutch territorial integrity would be guaranteed. When the German envoy delivered the message however the first airborne attacks had already started. The Dutch government considered the telegram as a declaration of war.
     
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