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Poland 1939 Was Hitler Right

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
Realistically, in order to achieve what Hitler wanted (the conquest of "Russia", the extermination of the Slavic population, and it's replacement with "Aryans"), Germany needed to defeat Poland and incorporate it into the new expanded German state.

Hitler didn't really describe the ultimate fate of Poland in Mein Kampf, other than to describe it as an obstacle that must be destroyed before achieving his ultimate objective of the conquest of "Russia". But I don't think that Hitler really differentiated between Poland and Russia with respect to their ultimate fates. I suspect he simply thought in broader terms of "the east", and geographic terms such as "Poland" or "Russia" would be relegated to the history books once the new German territories were conquered and settled. There had been no Poland for centuries before WWI, and there was to be no Poland after WWII.

What made German plans ultimately fail was that they didn't have the ability to conduct a protracted war. If they had built up large strategic stockpiles of food, oil, and other raw materials, they might have been in a much different position during the invasion of the Soviet Union. There were a lot of things they needed to do to prepare for the war, but hadn't had ready in 1939.

If I recall correctly, the German navy were told to prepare for a war which was to start in 1943, and their construction plan was based around that. If that reflects the real overall plan, then an additional four years of preparation might have helped the Germans somewhat, although their enemies would also have had more time to prepare.

There is a line of argument that the Germans were approaching bankruptcy by 1939 and so were forced into action prematurely. If this is true, then that might explain some of the lack of preparation, although I don't think the Germans realised just how unprepared they were.
When the German army was 80 to 90% still horse drawn at the start of Barborossa then I think they were unprepared, and as Barborossa started late their was no provision for a war in the Russian winter. That really screwed the Germans up, no winter provisions of wintrer oils, uniforms and still too many horses plus a logistics chain that was both long and behind the front increasingly insecure.
 
When the German army was 80 to 90% still horse drawn at the start of Barborossa then I think they were unprepared, and as Barborossa started late their was no provision for a war in the Russian winter. That really screwed the Germans up, no winter provisions of wintrer oils, uniforms and still too many horses plus a logistics chain that was both long and behind the front increasingly insecure.
They had to be horse drawn. There was never enough fuel in Germany to go full motorised and mechanised.
Hitler and also parts of the generals, blinded by the success of the Blitzkrieg, actually assumed that they would have won in Russia before winter. This took bitter revenge later that year.

Despite all the analysis one thing must not be forgotten, Hitler did not run smoothly, the man saw himself sent by Providence, was most probably a drug addict and probably had at least one mental illness.
 

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
They had to be horse drawn. There was never enough fuel in Germany to go full motorised and mechanised.
Hitler and also parts of the generals, blinded by the success of the Blitzkrieg, actually assumed that they would have won in Russia before winter. This took bitter revenge later that year.

Despite all the analysis one thing must not be forgotten, Hitler did not run smoothly, the man saw himself sent by Providence, was most probably a drug addict and probably had at least one mental illness.
They went too late after the move into the Balkans and Greece which consumed resources in particular fuel. If they had stopped and thought about it maybe 1942 when they had re-provisioned the army and Luftwaffe would have been a better option.

I was at a set of lectures on the war in the Atlantic a couple of years ago and stood talking to professor Eric Groves the naval historian from Salford University and his view was the Germans lacked the material to wage a war, oil, metals and supples. The in effect blockade in the Atlantic slowly strangled Germany. The German plan was to plunder (which was fully supported by the Generals) Russia of food and resources to enable Barborossa to happen and let the population to slowly starve to death.

Morrell, Hitlers 'physician' was pumping hime full of drugs including meth-amphetamine. The Parkisonian appearences later in the war may have been drug side effects.
 
But it was the jumped-up Corporal who decided that war was the answer and who made the strategic decisions.
As far as I can tell the German general staff weren't any better in this regards. They thought that if they defeated the Red Army the Soviets would give up. Only the Soviets didn't give up, they kept going.

The German army then found out that the huge distances they were operating over in eastern Europe were just as big a barrier to them as the English Channel was. They hadn't prepared for either because they were used to defeating their enemies within a couple of hundred kilometres of their borders and then everyone sitting down for a peace conference.

German lost WWI for the same reason. There's a part in Churchill's book about WWI "The World Crisis" in which he states that it was predicted at the start of the war that if Germany didn't win the war in the first 40 days they would ultimately lose. The German advance stalled out in somewhere about where predicted, and the rest of the war then became a war of attrition, which Germany was destined to lose because of geography.

Of course Hitler was aware of this problem and did have a solution for this, which was to conquer "Russia" and so solve the problem of geographic limits by making Germany self sufficient. However, it was a chicken and egg problem in that he didn't know how to conquer Russia and so let himself get carried away by wishful thinking.
 
When the German army was 80 to 90% still horse drawn at the start of Barborossa then I think they were unprepared, and as Barborossa started late their was no provision for a war in the Russian winter. That really screwed the Germans up, no winter provisions of wintrer oils, uniforms and still too many horses plus a logistics chain that was both long and behind the front increasingly insecure.

 
They went too late after the move into the Balkans and Greece which consumed resources in particular fuel.
That was in Part down to Mussolini and Adolf couldn't leave his flank hanging Italian failure in the war was resented by the Germans.
As far as I can tell the German general staff weren't any better in this regards. They thought that if they defeated the Red Army the Soviets would give up.
Well we we know that now, but the reality was that Adolf didn't want all of Russia, what he wanted was a Russian surrender. But I've always thought that uncle joe was quite canny in that respect and it has to do with "Soviet unpreparedness". If you can give ground and clog up the system the enemy needs with unwanted prisoners, you have won a major battle. If also, you can guarantee that your newly captured workforce can undermine the enemy, so much the better.

It's also worth remembering that despite the bravado later, many soviet prisoners realised they were in for a time in Gulag for "colaboration" , if they were lucky and Joe didn't care about that. I don't think the OKH had any illusions about the outcome if they couldn't win quickly. When the winter set in that confirmed it.
Certainly the Bevoelkerung were under no illusions.
 

Chef

LE
That was in Part down to Mussolini and Adolf couldn't leave his flank hanging Italian failure in the war was resented by the Germans.

Well we we know that now, but the reality was that Adolf didn't want all of Russia, what he wanted was a Russian surrender. But I've always thought that uncle joe was quite canny in that respect and it has to do with "Soviet unpreparedness". If you can give ground and clog up the system the enemy needs with unwanted prisoners, you have won a major battle. If also, you can guarantee that your newly captured workforce can undermine the enemy, so much the better.

It's also worth remembering that despite the bravado later, many soviet prisoners realised they were in for a time in Gulag for "colaboration" , if they were lucky and Joe didn't care about that. I don't think the OKH had any illusions about the outcome if they couldn't win quickly. When the winter set in that confirmed it.
Certainly the Bevoelkerung were under no illusions.
Up to a point I'd agree with you.

Except Stalin couldn't be certain that the Ukrainians and some of the other subject nations, wouldn't simply join up en masse with the brave Germans liberating them from the communist oppressors. Which was how they were viewed at the start of the invasion. Don't forget the USSR wasn't that old as an idea let alone a state.

Likewise the partisans weren't a guaranteed asset for the Russians either. That neither happened was down to German ineptitude in winning hearts and minds.

Two things that Stalin/Russia got right was the scorched earth policy and staying in Moscow even when the Germans were close enough to smell and the Politburo was all for legging it.
 

Spartak1st

Old-Salt
Up to a point I'd agree with you.

Except Stalin couldn't be certain that the Ukrainians and some of the other subject nations, wouldn't simply join up en masse with the brave Germans liberating them from the communist oppressors. Which was how they were viewed at the start of the invasion. Don't forget the USSR wasn't that old as an idea let alone a state.

Likewise the partisans weren't a guaranteed asset for the Russians either. That neither happened was down to German ineptitude in winning hearts and minds.

Two things that Stalin/Russia got right was the scorched earth policy and staying in Moscow even when the Germans were close enough to smell and the Politburo was all for legging it.
Given that 1 in 8 of the German army were Russian ‘Hiwis’ by end of the war, Stalin wasn’t all wrong.
 

Chef

LE
Given that 1 in 8 of the German army were Russian ‘Hiwis’ by end of the war, Stalin wasn’t all wrong.
I think we're agreeing that Stalin wasn't 'canny' in that respect, just lucky. Imagine a few divisions of motivated ex-red army holding the line against their erstwhile colonial masters and at the same time the partisan attacks being much reduced due to many of them fighting for the Germans against the Russians.

'It was a near run thing' as Wellington might have said.
 

Spartak1st

Old-Salt
I think we're agreeing that Stalin wasn't 'canny' in that respect, just lucky. Imagine a few divisions of motivated ex-red army holding the line against their erstwhile colonial masters and at the same time the partisan attacks being much reduced due to many of them fighting for the Germans against the Russians.

'It was a near run thing' as Wellington might have said.
 

Spartak1st

Old-Salt
I think we're agreeing that Stalin wasn't 'canny' in that respect, just lucky. Imagine a few divisions of motivated ex-red army holding the line against their erstwhile colonial masters and at the same time the partisan attacks being much reduced due to many of them fighting for the Germans against the Russians.

'It was a near run thing' as Wellington might have said.
I’m not sure about Stalin to be honest. I’m more interested in reading about the grunts and their experience rather than the generals or leaders (too much idolisation by authors over the years).
 
(...) Well we we know that now, but the reality was that Adolf didn't want all of Russia, what he wanted was a Russian surrender. But I've always thought that uncle joe was quite canny in that respect and it has to do with "Soviet unpreparedness". If you can give ground and clog up the system the enemy needs with unwanted prisoners, you have won a major battle. If also, you can guarantee that your newly captured workforce can undermine the enemy, so much the better.

It's also worth remembering that despite the bravado later, many soviet prisoners realised they were in for a time in Gulag for "colaboration" , if they were lucky and Joe didn't care about that. I don't think the OKH had any illusions about the outcome if they couldn't win quickly. When the winter set in that confirmed it.
Certainly the Bevoelkerung were under no illusions.
Having his army collapse at the start of the war wasn't part of Stalin's plan. He wasn't prepared for the rapid defeat of the French and thought that he had a few more years before he would have to fight the Germans.
 

Dwarf

LE
As far as I can tell the German general staff weren't any better in this regards. They thought that if they defeated the Red Army the Soviets would give up. Only the Soviets didn't give up, they kept going.
To be fair they took 800,000 dead and 6,000,000 wounded and captured. It would be a fair assumption that any army would pack in after that. As you say they didn't but i think the High Command had a reasonable expectation.
 
Up to a point I'd agree with you.

Except Stalin couldn't be certain that the Ukrainians and some of the other subject nations, wouldn't simply join up en masse with the brave Germans liberating them from the communist oppressors. Which was how they were viewed at the start of the invasion. Don't forget the USSR wasn't that old as an idea let alone a state.

Likewise the partisans weren't a guaranteed asset for the Russians either. That neither happened was down to German ineptitude in winning hearts and minds.

Two things that Stalin/Russia got right was the scorched earth policy and staying in Moscow even when the Germans were close enough to smell and the Politburo was all for legging it.
Part of the German plan for the invasion of the Soviet Union hinged around killing tens of millions of Soviet citizens through starvation. The Germans planned to seize all the food supplies and use it to feed their own army and then ship the rest back to Germany to feed the home population. There was no intention by the higher authorities to "win hearts and minds". The Slavs were expected to all die, just like the Jews.
 
Up to a point I'd agree with you.

Except Stalin couldn't be certain that the Ukrainians and some of the other subject nations, wouldn't simply join up en masse with the brave Germans liberating them from the communist oppressors. Which was how they were viewed at the start of the invasion. Don't forget the USSR wasn't that old as an idea let alone a state.

Likewise the partisans weren't a guaranteed asset for the Russians either. That neither happened was down to German ineptitude in winning hearts and minds.

Two things that Stalin/Russia got right was the scorched earth policy and staying in Moscow even when the Germans were close enough to smell and the Politburo was all for legging it.
Well true, but then didn’t Napoleon say that his generals needed luck as a prerequisite. Russia was in effect already the USSR under the tzar, he was after all Monarch of all the Russias and the systems of control were merely perpetuated. Scorched earth was used as a means to defeat Napoleon, so nothing new. In fact I forget his name but a later USSR op was named after him. Moscow was a blind as it had been before, no need for it.
 
Having his army collapse at the start of the war wasn't part of Stalin's plan. He wasn't prepared for the rapid defeat of the French and thought that he had a few more years before he would have to fight the Germans.
That’s the bit I don’t believe these days. I know it’s not convenient. I just don’t buy it.
 

Chef

LE
Well true, but then didn’t Napoleon say that his generals needed luck as a prerequisite. Russia was in effect already the USSR under the tzar, he was after all Monarch of all the Russias and the systems of control were merely perpetuated. Scorched earth was used as a means to defeat Napoleon, so nothing new. In fact I forget his name but a later USSR op was named after him. Moscow was a blind as it had been before, no need for it.
Pyotr Bagration was the general the 1944 op was named after. However it was another General, Barclay de Tolly who proposed scorched earth strategies when Napoleon invaded Russia. From Wiki:

'During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, Bagration commanded one of two large Russian armies, the other commanded by Barclay de Tolly, fighting a series of rear-guard actions. The Russians failed to stop the French advance at the Battle of Smolensk. Barclay had proposed a scorched earth retreat that was approved by Alexander I, although Bagration preferred to confront the French in a major battle. Mikhail Kutuzov succeeded Barclay as Commander-in-Chief and continued his policy until the Battle of Borodino near Moscow. Bagration commanded the left wing, later called the Bagration flèches, at Borodino, where he was mortally wounded and died a few weeks later. He was originally buried at a local church, but in 1839 was reburied on the battlefield of Borodino.'

I recall Napoleon asking after a general had been recommended as an excellent commander something like,

'All well and good but is he lucky?'
 

Chef

LE
The horses came into their own in the Winter though as many German vehicles broke down or became bogged down. Iirc there was a particular breed bred for the Eastern Front (Panjas?) and although they had to be fed and looked after, you could eat them as and when.
But while the dobbins were coming into their own, the Russians were developing a strategy based on mechanised mobility. Winter, spring, summer and fall.

As for eating them, that strikes me as a tacit admission of defeat before you've even started.
 

Gabion Groyne

Old-Salt
But while the dobbins were coming into their own, the Russians were developing a strategy based on mechanised mobility. Winter, spring, summer and fall.

As for eating them, that strikes me as a tacit admission of defeat before you've even started.
Agreed as it was their territory they were fighting on, but if a wheel broke and there was no more straw, Dobbin got it. A Fleischerei in the ranks would be a busy bloke.
 

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