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What if Japan attacked the USSR instead of the USA?

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by Bomber Harris, May 19, 2009.

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  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I was assuming the BE's what if implied no PH attack. DA is assuming just the opposite. Niether seems to help the Japanese.

    One thing that also seems to be overlooked in both cases is that the Soviets had a pretty good espionage system working in Japan at the time and very likely would have had significant warning of a Japanese attack. This is a potential disaster for Japan.
     
  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    One other thing, this forum is not a democracy by any stretch of the imagination. Your rights to post here extend only as far as your ability to keep the owner and moderators happy.

    So far, that ain't happening.
     
  3. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Actually, I'm not assuming anything about Pearl Harbor; merely pointing out that a lot of historical events (including the attack on Pearl Harbor) were not mentioned except obliquely, and would have to have changed before it would make sense for the Japanese to attack the Soviet Union.

    I am assuming the hypothetical Japanese attack on the Soviets would not take place before the German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June, 1941. If that is the case, then a hypothetical Japanese attack would not occur until late July or August (and more likely, not until the September/October timeframe).

    Without some major historical changes occurring, this means that Japan and the US are in the middle of a period of rising tensions in the Pacific and attempting to negotiate a resolution of the Sino-Japanese war. If Japan were, in the middle of this situation, to attack the Soviets, it would be viewed by the US as an act of bad faith and would almost certainly draw the US into the war against the Axis. Even if the Pearl Harbor attack doesn't occur in this scenario, Japan is very likely to find itself in a war against the US after an attack on the Soviets.

    Since Japan historically worried about the US being able to use Soviet bases in Siberia for air and naval attacks on the Japanese Home Islands, they would have realized that any attack on the Soviet Union represented a serious threat of attack on Japan from not only the Soviet Union, but the US. Thus Japan would not have considered an attack on the Soviet Union as militarily or politically sound no matter what the Germans were able to accomplish in European Russia.

    The only way this scenario works out logically, is if some historical factors change about the turn of the 20th. century and the US does not become alarmed at Japanese territorial expansion in Asia and the Pacific. This is practically unthinkable from any historical standpoint.
     
  4. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Good points there, DA. You're correct in pointing out that there would have to be several changes in the historical timeline for that proposed scenario to be plausible.
    You mentioned that Japan attacking the USSR when the Japan was locked in talks with the US would show bad faith. I completely agree. But allow me to stir this particular pot a bit. Assuming that the Japanese agrees to the US demands, would that not free Japan's hands to strike north?
    Personally, I don't think so but I'm thinking that some of you guys here might have other ideas. I look forward to reading them.
     
  5. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    If by "agreeing to US demands" you mean withdrawing Japanese forces from Indochina and China, then yes, I think it might be theoretically possible for Japan to assemble enough military force to make a "strike north" campaign feasible. However, that ignores the question of Manchuria; was a withdrawal from Manchuria (nominally a province of China) included in the American demand? That's a question I have never seen answered.

    If Japan is required by the US demand to withdraw from Manchuria, then a "strike north" would become even more difficult for Japan. If, for the sake of argument, we assume Manchuria remains occupied by Japan, then an attack on the Soviet Union becomes more attractive to Japan, but several problems still remain.

    Perhaps the most daunting would be the experience of the Japanese Army in the summer of 1939 when the Soviets inflicted a crushing defeat on Japanese arms at Nomonhan. The Japanese recognized that superior armor, artillery, and tactics were responsible for that defeat, but did nothing (basically because they realized the solution was too expensive) to remedy their deficiencies. Further, it was plain that the Soviets were capable of deploying more aircraft than Japan could ever hope to manufacture, so that the Japanese faced a potential deficiency in air power.

    Then, a withdrawal from China would destroy the prestige, and resulting political power, of the Japanese Army by demonstrating that it used poor judgment in attacking China. This would make arguing for an attack on the Soviet Union, a much stronger foe than China, difficult at best. Further, the Japanese Navy would oppose such an argument because an attack on the Soviets would minimize the role of the Navy, resulting in a much smaller slice of the military budget for the Navy. Military budget allocations were always a major factor in Japanese national strategy decisions.

    Another issue is that an attack on the Soviet Union, particularly with the mechanized forces and airpower which might make such an attack successful, would require Japan to secure a source of oil. Since the US would view an attack on the Soviets as a blow against Britain and a threat to the US, it would probably reinstitute the oil embargo and Japan would be back to square one. Remember, one of the major policy objectives of the US is to keep the Japanese from aiding the Axis in the European war.

    Finally, with the Soviets (and allied with Britain) under attack by Germany, a Japanese attack on the Soviets would not be viewed lightly by the US. Historically, prior to the outbreak of the Pacific war, the US made tentative plans to base naval and air forces at Soviet bases in Siberia with the intention of attacking the Japanese Home Islands; the Japanese themselves worried about this possibility and were loathe to do anything that might encourage the Soviets to allow it. The Soviets themselves were cool to the idea, and no US forces were ever allowed on Soviet bases in Siberia, but who knows what might have happened had Japan attacked the Soviets while they were also fighting Germany in Europe?

    Because of all these factors, I think it highly unlikely that Japan would see any advantages in attacking the Soviets, even if they had withdrawn from the Chinese war. They would have the raw numbers of troops to enable it, but not the military equipment required. Japanese naval factions would certainly oppose it because of political and budgetary implications. And the US would definitely impose economic, and possibly military, sanctions because it would have negative effects on Britain and the European war. And finally, it would encourage the Soviets to closer cooperation with the US in Siberia, which might possibly lead to US forces being deployed there, just as US forces were deployed to Iceland prior to actual entry of the Us into the war.
     
  6. Wittman

    Wittman Dishonorably Discharged

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    I could write for hours but just to be clear on this one:
    Okay, according to my sources which are not available to you, tell me are this facts disputable or not ?
    1. Due to muddy conditions that hampered the advance German High Command ordered a halt to Operation Typhoon on 31.October 1941.
    2. On 07. November 1941 Stalin held his Annual Revolution Day parade at which Siberian divions WERE present with their new armour and aircraft which was transfered from Far East. 30 Siberian divisions accounted to almost half a million men, 1000 new tanks and 1000 new aircraft.
    3. On 15. October 1941 Germans resumed their offensive. German Army's were: 3rd and 4rth Panzer Army in the north, 4th infantry Army in the center and 2nd Panzer Army in the south of Moscow.
    4. Guderian could not capture Tula which was defended by 50th Soviet Army (not Siberians)
    5. On 25. November 1941 4th Panzer Army crossed the Volga canal and begun the encirclement of Moscow from the north
    6. On 27. November 1941 Guderian's 2nd Panzer Army suffered heavy defeat at Kashira due to counterattack by the Siberain Divisions. Therefore he could not complete southern pincer movement and encircle Moscow from the south.
    7. On 01. December 1941 German 4th infantry Army attacked at outskirts of Moscow
    8. On 02. December 1941 first blizzards swept form the artic north
    9. On 05. December 1941 Soviets counter offensive (including Siberian divisions) began at full

    Exact moment in time which signals the reverse of trend is the defeat that Guderian suffered on 27. November 1941 at Kashira at which he was counter attacked by the Siberians. And that was 1 week EARLIER than full offensive began of 05. December 1941.
     
  7. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    How can I determine whether these assertions are disputable when you refuse to cite your sources, stating only that they are "not available" to me? How do you know what sources are available to me? Frankly, it sounds as though you just don't want to cite any authorities because no authorities support your argument. When you get serious about citing sources, then we can talk about how creditable they are.

    Well , if I understand your time line correctly, and IF it is supported by creditable sources (which we won't know until you CITE those sources), then my statement has just been proven by your own arguments.

    I said that the Soviet reinforcements from the Far East did not become involved in the Soviet counter-offensive until he German advance had been stopped.

    According to your time line the Germans were "stopped" on 27 November, 1941. Then you state that the Germans launched another attack on Moscow on 1 December, 1941, but there is no indication this attack achieved any significant advance. Then a blizzard struck on 2 December, 1941 (which probably stopped all German attacks). Then, only on 5 December, 1941, after the German advance was dead in it's tracks, was the Soviet counter-offensive launched, with the aid of the reinforcements from the Far East. So if your anonymous sources are correct, my statement has just been proven correct, as well.
     
  8. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Thanks, DA for that analysis on my other scenario. I admit I didn't consider several of the points you raised, especially the rivalry between the IJN and the IJA. It's a historical fact that these two usually had their own agendas. But I doubt that the IJN would suffer greatly if the IJA had its way in Manchuria because Japan is an maritime nation, much like England. The point you raised that the IJA would suffer a prestige loss if it makes a withdrawal from China reminded me that the IJA would refuse to do such an undertaking because it would not want to lose face.
    Based on the posts here and exploring the various possibilities that would open if Japan had attacked the USSR instead of the USA, I would have to say that it looks to me that Japan would have suffered a quicker defeat if it had turned its eyes north instead of south.
    The basis for this conclusion is that Japan still has no secure source for oil as pointed out by DA. And lacking oil, I highly doubt that Japan could make get far if it goes against the USSR.
    Another thing to point out, striking north first for Japan would allow the US to secure its Pacific bases (including the ones in the Philippines) for use against Japan.
    It would have been in the interest of the US to actively aid Russia against Japan. Why? Because the USSR was keeping Germany busy. Anything that would distract the USSR from this would be detrimental to the Allied cause and Japan's attack would be seen as just that.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The following seem a bit asyncrhonous to me. Are you sure the dates are right?
    It might also depend on whether one is talking about a few Siberian units showing up or the bulk of them. My understanding was that they showed up at least in part prior to the German attack completely faultering but they were held in reserve for the counter attack.
     
  10. Wittman

    Wittman Dishonorably Discharged

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    This only tells me you don't have any sources to prove otherwise.
    For part of info I suppose you could try downloading from internet following "Discovery's Battlefield" documentaries which I highly recommend:
    1. Russia
    2. France
    3. Caen
    4. Crimea
    5. Kursk
    6. North Africa
    7. Stalingrad
    8. Leningrad

    There are around 30 episodes in the series but I consider this 8 best ones.

    No, only Guderian's 2nd Panzer Army was stopped but it was obvious at that point that they would loose the battle because Guderian couldn’t complete the encirclement from the south let alone take the city. Hitler thought they didn't come there to make fire camps so 4th Infantry Army nevertheless attacked from the center and 4th Panzer Army from the north, both gained few miles but were more/less annihilated after counter offensive on 05.12.1941.
     
  11. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Your "sources" are the Discovery Channel Documentaries???

    Well, that explains a lot, I suppose.

    Documentaries, BTW, have producers, writers, and consultants; it's customary to name those worthies rather than just mention the TV channel they appear on because each channel may have several documentary series, and the same series can appear on other channels, as well. And the people who wrote the series are really the ones who control the content (and make the errors) so it's important to know who they are.

    Well, if the critical element is stopped and the advance is useless, then the "offensive" is effectively ended. Individual units may "tidy up the lines", as the Brits say, but if the general advance is not happening, then it's "stopped".

    My understanding is that the Soviet counter-offensive did not start until the German forces had ground to a halt because of the weather and poor logistics; Apparently, this is LWD,s question too, as he has questioned your dates, and whether the Far Eastern reinforcements became involved before the general Soviet counter-offensive was launched. I agree with him.
     
  12. Hannibalthegreat

    Hannibalthegreat recruit

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    Helo I'm new but I'll add my 2 cents I have read most of the post so far an I think japan would realy have nothing much to gain by attacking Russia plus :Dthey most likely would lose.... Badly and they needed thier fleet in the pacific emiway. Also wittman you realy have nothing to gain by arguing it would be wise to back off no offence ment ps. So this is how history buffs fight wow i've learned more by reading the post than in history class :D
     
  13. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    There's no fighting here, this is the war room....Sorry, I had to do it, I borrowed that line from "Dr. Strangelove."

    But really, this is the place for historical discussion of all things WW2 here Hannibal, points of interest and theories are presented here and are subject for dissection and study....Some are good, and some are, well sort of lame. You'll figure out as time goes on what to take a serious look at and what to just pass over, and what to just enjoy.

    And welcome to the forum!

    Now go to the "New Members Forum" and introduce yourself....
     
  14. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Well said, A-58!:)
     
  15. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Thankyou, thankyou vury much....
     
  16. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    The Soviet Counter attack began on Dec. 5th 1941 only after the German forces were depleted by as much as 50%.

    Had the 58 divisions not been available for the Soviet counter attack, the Germans would still have to wait out the winter until reinforcements arrived as some German regiments were down to 150-200 men (company size). Taking Moscow in 41' was not possible.
     
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