Could the Germans have won WW2?

Pack tactics were first used in 1940 so no back to the future required for that one
Pack tactics were formulated by Donitz in 1917/18, although not put into use by him then, just filed for later. Read 'Business in Great Waters' by John Terraine for a good explanation of the link between U-boat tactics in the two wars.

As long as the Krauts were led by Adolf they didn't have a cat in hell's chance.
 
A wide range of issues, ranging from political disagreements between the allies, build-up and training of the required forces, logistics constraints from fighting on two (later three) fronts and through terrain mostly favouring the defence.

German forces at tactical level were very adept, no question about it, but that doesn't mean they were able to step outside the basic laws of nature.
Pray tell, which "disagreements" would that have been? Was there ever dissent over the need of fighting Germany with all means possible?
Torch happened as November 1942, Husky Mid 1943, Baytown, Slapstick and Avalanche in September 1943, not to mention the numerous Soviet Operations. Doesn't exactly look like long time for "build-up and training of the required forces". And as you mentioned yourself, they were obviously tactically and strategically sound enough to use "terrain mostly favouring the defence". I personally woul expect such things from an apt defender.
I never said that the Wehrmacht "were able to step outside the basic laws of nature" on the contrary. But they weren't nincompoops either when it came to defence.
 
Pray tell, which "disagreements" would that have been?
Whether there was a need to invade Italy or the South of France.

Whether the post-Normandy campaign should be a broad front on a narrow thrust.

Whether the Ruhr should be captured from North or South.

Who should get supply priority for their advance.

To name but a few on the Western side only.
 
Whether there was a need to invade Italy or the South of France.

Whether the post-Normandy campaign should be a broad front on a narrow thrust.

Whether the Ruhr should be captured from North or South.

Who should get supply priority for their advance.

To name but a few on the Western side only.
And that caused great delays? Like Neptune starting on June 1944 and not on May 1st, as proposed on the Eureka-Conference? As far as I remember the Allies operations Neptune, Dragoon, Husky and so on started in time or only with light delays. The Ruhr-capturing-problem was solved by encirclement, as was the broad or narrow problem solved by the Wehrmacht which did a hasty retreat to the Netherlands on a broad front.
 

Karamoja

Old-Salt
Smartascarrots said :-
German forces at tactical level were very adept, no question about it, but that doesn't mean they were able to step outside the basic laws of nature.

I read or heard it somewhere that some military historian had done a study looking into like for like contacts between Western allied troops and Germans. For example : section v section, platoon v platoon, company v company and so on. Anyway this chap found that in nearly all contacts between equal forces that the Germans nearly always won! Can't remember what he put it down to though.
 
And that caused great delays?
The Master Principle of War is selection and maintenance of the aim. It's hard to see how trying do do everything at once with inadequate supply would give a better, faster outcome than the reverse.
 
I have read the same, trouble is hubris. The Russians have always had manpower but being in Command was a death sentence for far too many competent regimental Officers for the red Army to have been effective enough at that time.
German overstretch has put too high a gloss on the Red Army.
it’s an interesting what might have been.
the German buildup seems to have no consideration if what to do if the Russians twigged and fired first.
a lot of the ‘advantage’ the Germans had in the first weeks was indeed as you note the Russian fear of doing something off script. Cue Officers just blindly attacking forwards rather than organising a coherent defence.
Budyonny is the perfect microcosm of the Russian disaster - undoubtedly brave, tactically stupid, but politically sound. Once Stalin belatedly sacked him, things quickly improved As his replacement Timoshenko was allowed to organise a fighting retreat.
 
The Master Principle of War is selection and maintenance of the aim. It's hard to see how trying do do everything at once with inadequate supply would give a better, faster outcome than the reverse.
Nice Header from the 2014 UKDD, I give you that. If I remember right, the Western Allies hadn't big supply problems until they where outpaced by the Wehrmachts retreat and had to cope with the destroyed infrastructure and a lack of usable harbours in France. Then in full accordance with the 2014 UKDD they started the sadly ill fated Market Garden.
As far as I remember the Wehrmacht fought there a rather succesful defensive action.
 
Here's a crazy what if...

What if instead of attacking Britain at its most heavily defended, logistically accessible and tightly controlled point, southeastern England, as Phillip of Spain attempted, and Napoleon and Hitler threatened, the Nazis had walked in through England's undefended back door, the way the British always feared and their enemies never did properly.

Late August, early September 1940, make it look like the invasion is coming, all out air attacks on SE England, launch flotillas a few miles into the Channel, before pulling back. Do that a couple of nights running, get the British defences heightened to fever pitch, everything and everyone keyed up to defend the Channel and the Channel ports.

Meanwhile in all the chaos quietly launch a couple of seized French liners full of troops out of the Loire, and amid an air raid on Cardiff or Bristol, send a few transport planes full of paratroops (not sure about the range of German transport planes) to veer off to seize Cobh harbour and Gormanstown airbase in Ireland. Maybe send commandos by U-boat to take the transatlantic airport at Shannon.

You have five days, maybe a week to seize control of southern Ireland, the British don't know if it's a feint or diversion from the main event. Long enough to land captured French light tanks, long enough to get troops dug in. You hold a line Galway-Dublin before moving on Ulster. You swamp the Irish Sea with every U-boat you have waiting off Liverpool and Glasgow for British reinforcements.

A bold, daring move. Now Britain is surrounded by Nazi occupied Norway, France and Ireland, the U-boat bases are on the Irish west coast and the British have no bases in Northern Ireland. With the convoy routes cut off and no access to Ireland's huge food surplus, just sit tight, Britain is going to wither on the vine.

Crazy? No more crazy than the capture of Norway or Crete, both operations that happened in supposedly inviolate British-controlled waters. It's October 1940. Britain is truly cut off, from Europe and the Atlantic, where is the war going?
There is always the option that in 1940 following Dunkirk the Government of the Free State of Ireland invites the Germans in. Puts up no resistance and in fact launchers it own attack on Ulster with the support of the German Forces.

The Germans land unmolested in the Republic at the airports/airbases, quickly sort out any logistic issues, fill the JU 52's with fuel and paratroopers and goes on to attack Belfast and other key areas, seizing the docks, airports/airfield with the support of JU87 Stukas, JU88's, 109's etc.

The Irish Army launchers a cross border attack supported by German light tanks and Stormtroopers i.e. a mini Blitzscreed to reunite the Ireland of Ireland.

A lot of the Southern Irish were pro German following on from the events of the 1916 uprising, the Black and Tans, Irish Civil War etc. The Irish Army were wearing the German coal scuttle helmet during the interwar period with thier version of battle dress and 1900's pattern webbing etc.

No doubt a number of Southern Irishmen would have resisted the Germans or deserted to Ulster and there could have been a rerun of the Irish Civil War in the Republic, no doubt quickly resolved by the every increasing number of German Garrison Troops being flown in.

The outcome could have been the Americans entering the war earlier to free the Irish Republic from the Germans due to the outrage caused by the large number of Irishmen in the US and depose the pro German Government in the Irish Republic etc.

Ah what if's etc.
 
There is always the option that in 1940 following Dunkirk the Government of the Free State of Ireland invites the Germans in. Puts up no resistance and in fact launchers it own attack on Ulster with the support of the German Forces.

The Germans land unmolested in the Republic at the airports/airbases, quickly sort out any logistic issues, fill the JU 52's with fuel and paratroopers and goes on to attack Belfast and other key areas, seizing the docks, airports/airfield with the support of JU87 Stukas, JU88's, 109's etc.

The Irish Army launchers a cross border attack supported by German light tanks and Stormtroopers i.e. a mini Blitzscreed to reunite the Ireland of Ireland.

A lot of the Southern Irish were pro German following on from the events of the 1916 uprising, the Black and Tans, Irish Civil War etc. The Irish Army were wearing the German coal scuttle helmet during the interwar period with thier version of battle dress and 1900's pattern webbing etc.

No doubt a number of Southern Irishmen would have resisted the Germans or deserted to Ulster and there could have been a rerun of the Irish Civil War in the Republic, no doubt quickly resolved by the every increasing number of German Garrison Troops being flown in.

The outcome could have been the Americans entering the war earlier to free the Irish Republic from the Germans due to the outrage caused by the large number of Irishmen in the US and depose the pro German Government in the Irish Republic etc.

Ah what if's etc.
bit of a problem with that one...

irelands too far away for light German aircraft to reach

the Royal Navy still owns the sea

norn Iron is defended by two battle tested Divisions and plenty of modern air power.

And of course we have the other problem.
Dublin was cooperating closely with London on defence measures to be taken if theGermans tried to invade.... Plan W
 
Churchill was a master of the propaganda war
If he's announced to the public in 1943, 'Things are a bit tough in the North Atlantic but no worries, we're licking them', the public would not have knuckled down to working harder and economising more.
Winston in 1943 had his eye on the main prize, maximising the build up for May 1944 when we took the war back to Europe.

The problem with this U boats scenario is it requires a couple of Back to the Futures

The Germans invent out of the blue Wolfpack tactics in 1939

It assumes losses are directly scalable - double the U boats = double the convoy losses.
As was shown, more U boats came to equal more U boats in a given area and easier to find and sink as the Germans insisted on keeping in radio contact with them.


The largest convoy battle of WWII was SC122/HX229 in March 1943

90 ships and 16 escorts vs 38 U boats
22 ships lost vs 1 U boat


Total allied merchant ship losses for March 1943, all areas, was 120 ships

The Americans alone delivered 1,800 merchant ships in 1943

And by May 1943, we were winning… 43 U boats (25% of the U Boat arm) sunk in the Atlantic for just 34 ships (58 all areas)
I think Bletchley Park may have had quite a bit to do with that. Which brings me to another point. The Germans lost the secret war very early on. Most of their UK spys were either turned or executed before they made any real gains. They were duped at nearly every turn and much of the D day success was down to intelligence and miss direction.
 
Anyway this chap found that in nearly all contacts between equal forces that the Germans nearly always won! Can't remember what he put it down to though.
I've read the same thing somewhere. I think the answer was a strong enough belief in their cause to make them willing to die for it.
 
During the inter war years submarine warfare and countermeasures were not career enhancers. I also think the Navy was more focused on shiny battleships and a little bit on naval aviation.

With hindsight more carriers would have been a good idea (and good aircraft to go on them, Blackburn Skua? Pah!) but a choice was made for surface vessels by both the British and German navies.

The 'Flower' class corvettes were ordered and being built from 1939 onwards, I doubt many extra ones could have been produced without cutbacks elsewhere.

I agree that waiting for another year may have been worse for the Germans but by the same token might the other Europeans have taken it as a sign that Hitler had backed down and scaled back preparations accordingly?

I'm sure the dead hand of the treasury was as helpful in the 30s as it is now:(
Battleships, carriers, and cruisers were all limited in quantity and size by treaty. The UK had very little flexibility there until the naval treaties collapsed shortly before the war.

Capital ships took years to build and relied heavily on scarce specialised manufacturing resources. Corvettes on the other hand were specifically designed to be built quickly by yards which could not otherwise engage in naval construction. The plan from the beginning was to built the large ships ahead of the war, but to then shift focus to the smaller and quicker to build ones once war had commenced or become imminent.

Corvettes could be turned out in large numbers on demand. A very large proportion of global shipbuilding capacity was in Britain, and corvettes and other unspecialised ships were built in large numbers in Canada as well.

For the larger ships, once war was declared the standard policy for Britain was to focus resources on ships which were close to completion and so might be able to play a part in the war, while stopping or delaying work on ships which were further from completion.

The Germans had put the priority on their surface fleet, and their plan was to use their battleships and heavy cruisers to go out on raids against convoys. At the time this was thought to be the most practical way of conducting naval warfare.

British naval strategy was primarily directed at countering the Germans and Italians, and to a lesser degree the Japanese. If the Germans had changed focus then almost certainly the UK would have altered their own naval plans accordingly.
 
(...) I'm not reading through the the whole of this link, but i believe that they were supplied to the Sovs supplied fully kitted out including small arms? (...)
Not initially. The early shipments of American tanks which arrived in the Soviet Union were not ready for combat. They had no spare parts, no tools, not enough ammunition, not enough spare track, were often missing their radios and machine guns, and in many cases were non-functional due to mechanical problems. The Soviets were often forced to strip some tanks of parts in order to make the others functional enough to be sent to the front. Once at the front they were of limited usefulness because once they ran out of ammunition they couldn't be resupplied.

The Americans shipped the tanks to the Soviets the same way they would have been shipped to the American army. The American army receiving the tanks was expected to order all the required ammunition, spare parts, tools, and other bits and bobs through the army supply chain, and then their depot personnel would make the tank ready for service.

However, that couldn't work for the Soviets, as rather obviously the US army supply chain didn't exist there, the ammunition and spare parts were not in production there, imperial size tools didn't exist in any quantity, and so and and so forth. Even things like crew small arms were a problem as there wasn't a lot of room in a WWII tank, and if the existing storage locations wouldn't fit the Soviet submachine guns then where do they put them without redesigning and rebuilding the interior? And if the tank had pistol ports (a common feature in Soviet tanks), would a Soviet submachine gun fit a pistol port that was sized to fit an American submachine gun? All of these issues were specified to the last detail for the Soviets' own tanks, and they expected the same for foreign tanks as well.

There were also problems in how the tanks were shipped. Very often the tanks were shipped in a partially disassembled state with machine guns, radios, sights, and other internal kit removed and shipped separately. However, the shipments weren't coordinated, so the Soviets would often get tanks with no machine guns, no ammunition, no radios, and various other important bits missing. The tanks would then sit about in a depot waiting for this other kit to arrive, but which might never arrive. Sometimes this was due to the missing bits being on another ship in the convoy which was sunk, but mostly it seemed to be the stuff was never sent, or at least it wasn't sent to the Soviets.

So what had to happen was the Soviet liaison officers met with their American counterparts and bent their ears over the problems. The American liaison officers then got on the telegram to their hierarchy, and after a while things got sorted out. The Americans came to an agreement with the Soviets about what the tanks were to be equipped with, how many spare parts there were to be for each, how many loads of ammunition were to be supplied with the initial delivery, how the shipments were to be made, etc. Tanks then started to arrive equipped and ready for service and so could actually be useful. This didn't happen overnight though.

They had many of the same initial problems with tanks from Britain and Canada as well before those were sorted out.
 
As far as I remember the Wehrmacht fought there a rather succesful defensive action.
Technically, the SS did but nonetheless it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if 21AG had been ordered first to secure Antwerp and then been given priority for their operation over Patton's and Hodges' forces further south.

I suspect a combination of terrain and tactical adeptness on the part of the Germans would have put the issue in the balance but securing the flanks of the famous single road would IMO have made a vast difference, as would a greater focus on the aim by US 82nd Airborne.
 
I think Bletchley Park may have had quite a bit to do with that. Which brings me to another point. The Germans lost the secret war very early on. Most of their UK spys were either turned or executed before they made any real gains. They were duped at nearly every turn and much of the D day success was down to intelligence and miss direction.
indeed.....

we were fighting different wars.

The Germans were fighting the war as a series of disparate and non joined up tactical enterprises with little if any joined up thinking or cooperation between the various arms..

The British right from the off were fighting total war with a strategic vision and direction.

yes, we often lost ‘the’ Battle, but we did win ‘the’ War.

in the Fuhrer bunker

Mien Fuher! My U boots have sunk 250,000 tonnes of ships this month in the North Atlantic!

meanwhile in a North African tent.....

vere Ze feck are all ze Americanisch troops and tanks coming from!

because that’s the point..... the North Atlantic trade convoys were not the main event.
just 2% of allied shipping was being lost at sea globally. And that other 98% was doing things like moving millions US men, their equipment supplies across the Atlantic to North Africa and Britain almost unmolested.

everyone loves to pile into Admiral King about the U boat losses off the US coast in 1942.....
well, read US sources and you get a very different picture. he saw his main job was moving Millions of US men to Europe, North Africa and the Pacific, and that’s were his escorts were, not protecting expendable Trade shipping he knew he could replace faster than the a Germans could sink it. once he’s done that, with tiny losses, back came his escorts to the Atlantic and they unleashed a world of hurt on the Germans.

looked at as part of the big picture... the North Atlantic trade convoys were being used as bait and US/UK Signals intelligence played a key role here Allowing a very well oiled convoy machine to send the strategically valuable convoys through waters they knew were u boat free
 
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Dwarf

LE
You're thinking like an Englishman. The vision described in Mein Kampf was that the "east" was to be a homeland for Germans. Imposing a small ruling class on a colony is how the British might have done things, but this was to have the pyramid sitting on its point, which Hitler was very clear he didn't want. He wanted a pyramid which sat on its base, which meant the Germans were to be the population of the new territory, not just the ruling class.

His stated model was to be the US, a US which by the way settled it's newly conquered western territories in less than two generations. I suspect that German farmers could have filled up the better farming areas of the east fairly quickly, abandoning their small holdings in old Germany for expansive mechanised farms in new Germany. Large areas of the eastern US went back to forest when American farmers there abandoned their small farms for new larger ones in the west. This would have been repeated by the Germans going east after the war.

If total agricultural production in the new eastern territories fell overall as a result of this it didn't really matter as there were going to be a lot fewer mouths to feed anyway once the Slavs were liquidated. It would be enough for Germany to be self-sufficient in food, and with grain and much livestock production having moved eastwards this was quite possible.

The same by the way applied to Slavic territories closer to Germany. Bohemia (the Czech territory) was to have its population categorized into Aryans and Slavs. The Slavs were to be liquidated and a new population brought in to replace them.

I suspect that part of Hitler's view of the world arose from his origins in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where a multi-national, multi-ethnic empire crumbled and then shattered into pieces. The new German homeland was to be one nation, and thus stick together come what may in his view.
While I take your point I think that the sheer scale of the problem would cause the headache for Germany. I understand what AH wanted for the lands in the East and the cleansing of the Slavs and other sundry Untermensch.

But that couldn't happen overnight and immediately after the conquest there would be many millions still in these lands. It wouldn't be easy to achieve this cleansing in short order and once the people realised what was on their particular menu then I can't see them lying down and rolling over until it happened. There would have been widespread resistance which would not have beeen easy to control especially if aided from outside.

But also assuming that it was achieved fairly quickly then one is presented with an empty land and a mere handful of millions of German settlers as opposed to the hundreds of millions of inhabitants that occupied them before with plenty of space for them as it was.

One would have a land with extremely sparse human control and a very vulnerable land at that to outside interference and leftover partisans.

Short of driving vast hordes of people eastwards to form a mass of people in rump Russia I can't see how it could be easy for the Germans to achieve an early ethnic cleansing. Plus Germany would just be creating a potential returning army armed by Russia and just possibly the USA. Assuming any survived the trip.



AH was clear what he wanted far less clear on the how it would be done and I suspect it would have proved far more difficult than he thought.
 

Robme

LE
All good answers as IRT, however in a direct answer to the question, No.
To fight a war, you need men, resources and will power. And even with an army of 3 or 4 million he didn’t have enough of any of that or indeed all. Fighting a war on 2 fronts takes more than a bunch of nutters with a massive downer on Jews. Murdering 6 million of them, cost an absolute arm and a leg, which Germany needed to fight the real war, a massive waste of resources none of which they have in any great numbers . He could have used the Jews as a massive slave labour force/breeding program to keep the war machinery rolling, and how much does it cost to transport/murder/cremate a Jew.
Concentrating on the Rooskie was by far a better war plan. He could have turned to the Low Countries and France at a later date. However it was always doubtful he would have beaten Uncle Joes lot, especially after getting their arses kicked at Stalingrad. Least we forget Von Paulus, lost the entire 6th Army at Stalingrad, to a bunch of ‘inbred heathen peasants’ as one of the gang once said. But if he had of done then access to resources would have been a lot less of a problem.
The bomb? It cost the Septics billions to develop the first bomb, and enough men/women to form an extra army. They also had the best atomic scientists mainly Jews who had a burning desire to make sure the bomb worked. I for one do not believe the Heavy water Route they took would have created anything other than a damp squib (boom boom I’ll get me coat).
Good thought provoking question though, and I’d like to see more of them.
 

ericferret

War Hero
I think that Germany might have won a war of sorts if they had thrown all their expertise into peaceful R&D instead of placing the country on a war footing.
My father served in Germany after the war and often talked about the German Autobahns, central heating and double glazing. Unheard of in the Dundee tenements. German science and technology was already moving ahead and I wonder what a further 10 years of peace might have brought. Harnessing the expertise of the ethnic communities rather than destroying them would have brought further gains. A Hitler with a different mind set was required and he did not exist.
 

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