Was WW2 unavoidable?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by mr.fawlty, Sep 12, 2007.

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  1. In his memoirs, Hans-Ulrich Rudel, states that when they invaded the USSR, the Germans were astonished by the Soviets' lack of preparedness against an attack, and the lack of defensive trenches, fortifications, etc. Instead, what they found were columns of Soviet trucks and other vehicles, ready to roll westward. The Germans were glad that they attacked first, as it was obvious to them that the Soviets would have done the same. That's why the Soviets had such huge losses from the start of the German offensive, and this also would explain why Stalin ignored the repeated warnings about a German invasion, because he thought that he would attack first.

    Rudel's memoirs were published in the 60's I believe, and I didn't pay much attention to this part of his story when I read it first. However, a Russian author the writes under the pseudonym of Victor Suvorov and is an ex-member of the GRU recently wrote a book, which he claims is based on documents found in the Russian army archives, tells the same story, that Stalin was prepared to invade Western Europe, and that Hitler preceded him by a year or two.

    So could this be true, and even if Hitler wouldn't have started the war, then Stalin would have done it?
  2. I find that hard to believe as the Russian Army was still recovering from the shock of the purges in the late 30's when thousands of Officers were liquidated on the orders of Stalin.They were also smarting from their good hiding in Finland so i doubt that they would have had any serious plans at all for Invading Western Europe.
    It is worth contemplating though what would have happened if Britain and France had invaded Germany in 1938 or 1939.The french army was huge in 1939 and had a pretty large and modern Tank Force whilst the BEF was totally motorised!!The Germans admit as well that they were unprepared for war in 1939,however as we all know that made little difference when they smashed France in 1940!!
  3. Not according to my father...or the two large RMP who came to collect him!!

    Actually joking, he volunteered for the RAF ahead of his due conscription date.
  4. The title of this thread has little relation to your post. Instead of 'was it possible to stop WW2 from happening' it should have been something along the lines of 'Would Stalin have started WW2 if Hitler hadn't?'

    The answer to the latter question is almost certainly, but at a much later stage, and it would not have started at the German/Polish/Russian frontier. Most probable would have been an assault on Persia, Afghanistan and Pakistan as an end-game to the 'Great Game' played between Britain and Russia for much of the preceeding century.

    For the former, of course WW2 was avoidable. It simple depends how far back you are prepared to situate your "what ifs" or what compromises you think the allies could have made. e.g. WW2 would never have happened if UK and France had surrendered to Germany when Hitler annexed Austria.

    Looking further back in time, if the Prince Imperial hadn't died in the Zulu wars then France may have had a strong king and stronger empire when Hitler was on the rise... etc etc
  5. The Soviet armies were on the western frontier, and what good would invading Persia, Afganistan and Pakistan have done in 1940? The invasion of estern Europe would have established a soviet Europe, along the lines of thought of Marx & co. Britain and France had no reason to surrender to Germany in 1938; even so, ww2 would have still happened, as the Soviets would have invaded Europe a few years later, and that is the point of my post. In other words, no matter how the allies would have treated Germany, they totally neglected Stalin, and a Soviet invasion would have come sooner or later. As a matter of fact, a strong Germany was seen as suitable by many as an obstacle to the USSR.
  6. You mean - Would Stalin have invaded Europe if there had been no Hitler/

    Yes probably, they would have attacked Poland in an attempt to avenge the defeat of 1921 and to recapture the territory lost at Brest-Litovsk. And I doubt a Liberal Democratic Germany nor any other European would have done much to stop them.
  7. you mean all of europe east of poland would have been ruled by a bunch of unelected unaccountable incompetant corrupt communists?
  8. I have always been lead to believe that Stalin refused to mobilize his forces as he did not believe Germany would invade.

    I suspect the columns of vehicles were the soviets desperately trying to deploy and dig in before herman arrived. Whole Russian Army fronts were encircled and captured during the early months of the invasion due to the confusion.
  9. Stalin and hitler had an agreement, destroy poland.
    Hitler only really fancied his chances after the russians were stuffed by the Finns.
    Stalin at this stage had grabbed the baltic states, and was working his way down Romania.
    From history I get the impression that he was just waiting for the german Army to punch itself out (north africa, the balkans) and then mount his own attack.
    "Czar Nicholas made it to paris", Stalin at the allies conference 1945.
  10. Having really enjoyed Suvorov's 'The Liberators' and 'Aquarium' (?) I was put off the book you refer to, 'Icebreaker', by the fact the edition I saw had absolutely no referencing whatsoever. Not a footnote or citation, let alone a bibliography.

    Speaking historiographically (puffs out chest with pride in a big word...), I reckon that puts Suvorov's book with Chang/Halliday's similarly limited new biography of Mao: some bits we knew already but their new bits they can't prove.

    Didn't Stalin keep the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement supplies rolling towards germany until the last minute? Was that, then, an attempt to lull the Germans into a false sense of security? Stalin's post-Barborossa disappearing act, and the plausible suggestions that it was nervous breakdown, suggest that our Joseph wasn't psychologically prepared for a fight any time soon. I'm nowhere near convinced...
  11. And you would not now be living in Budapest and never met your girly :D
  12. The Soviet Union may have planned an attack on Western Europe - to agree with other posters, would the Red Army have been in any state to do so? Probably not, Stalin was quite prepared to go after Poland safe in the knowledge that Hitler would not object, and go after Finland hoping (correctly) that the Western Democracies were too tied up with Germany to be able to render any meaningful help to Finland. Whether he would have attacked a Europe that was not at war, and (potentially) given France & Britain (who had guaranteed Poland’s borders) and Germany a cause to unite in is probably unlikely, IMHO.

    As was said by Eric Hobsbawm, historian, "The causes of WWI are complex; the cause of WWII was Adolf Hitler."

    To quote from an article I read recently about appeasement in the 30's and that Britain and France had no real alternative,

  13. Hitler did not start WWII, he finished WWI
  14. On reflection could Hitlers war have been avoided, probably not. Even if Versailles had been more lenient Germany would still have suffered badly in the depression, and there seems to have been no other charismatic leader who may have prevented him getting enough support to take power. We could probably have taken action over the Rhineland, but that would probably have delayed him till Germany developed it's war industry further. The union with Austria would have taken place and he may have been put off from taking action in the Sudeteland, and Poland for a bit .

    Equally the factors whci initiated the Japanese/US war would have been unchanged by that so Pearl Harbour would have happened, unless Japan had pulled out of China and that seems unlikely. Equally Mussilini would still have continued on his imperial route unless military action had been taken against him and with a more quiescent German at that time would any of the eventual allies have had any willingness to go to war over Ethiopia.
  15. Referring to your point about charismatic leaders other than Hitler, you could argue that Germany suffered a double blow in 1929: the Wall Street Crash in the US (given that Germany was tied to the US by a financial umbelical chord after the Dawes Plan etc) and the death of Gustav Streseman, the leading statesman of the Weimar era. Streseman was also a Versailles revisionist but sought to overturn it peacefully by cultivating good foreign relations.

    Streseman got reparatioins reduced to 2000000GBP in 1928. Might he have used the Great Depression as leverage to reduce them still further? His foreign policy may well have undercut Hitler's foreign policy agenda given more time and more economic stabilty.

    Regarding the Rhineland, Hitler himself said that the 48 hours after he ordered his troops in there were the most nerve-wracking of his life. His troops had orders to high-tail it out at the first sign of a French soldier. Had he been stopped here, it is possible the domestic consequences might have been most severe for Hitler as perhaps army elements might have acted against him ('Fuhrer Oath' notwithstanding).

    As it was, foreign policy success 1936-38 seems to have consolidated his grip on power. A more assertive Anglo-French posture might have denied him that success in 1936 when he was still arguably vulnerable to both internal and external pressure. That Hitler ended up discounting Franco-British action and their guarantees to Poland and Romania seems clear from his September 1939 military dispositions.

    Could WW2 have been avoided? The 1920s seemed a promising international relations arena, in 1928 the Nazis only had 12 seats in the Rechstag - with global economic stability arguably things could at least have stayed as they were if not improved.

    Had the permanent members of the League of Nations made a genuine commitment to collective security, and therefore to collective- and not self-interest, then arguably both Japanese aggression from 1931 and German aggression from 1936 could have been nipped in the bud. The necessary increased military spending might have helped reflate the British and french economies - after all, that's what worked for Hitler and finally got the US out of the doldrums.