Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

The forgotten invasion of Germany in 1939, and the greatest what if.

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The forgotten invasion of Germany in 1939, and the greatest what if.

    Lost opportunity? Apparently so according to German military leaders, .
    Did the lack of intelligence hamper the western leadership or was it a lack of will?

    https://youtu.be/lKTbhC0s5xg
    Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

  • #2
    Two classical items from a starter pack of WW2 myths:
    - in September 1939 the German western border was stripped bare
    - the Wehrmacht ran out of ammunition during the Polish Campaign

    In reality the German Army had some 40+ divisions in the West. They were deployed either on a strongly fortified position or behind a strong natural obstacle (Rhine River). That was enough to check slowly mobilizing French until additional forces could be transferred from Poland. There was hardly any lost chance.

    Comment


    • #3
      Agreed. Of the numerous divisions deployed in the 11 were 1st "Welle" and almost all of these were deployed in the critical Saar region, The French peacetime army consisted of just 100,000 regulars and 100,000 reservists plus the African and colonial divisions. The regular troops spent more time training the conscripts than practicing their own combat trades. On the 1st of September the Germans actually had more troops available in the Saar sector than the French. Further, French mobilisation required a number of the regular divisions to give up at least one regiment to help form Category A and B Reserve Divisions. This meant that even those divisions that were, on paper, supposed to be combat ready, had to wait for reservisits to fill in the gaps in the ranks.

      By the time the French had mobilised enough troops to have the requisite superiority it was mid-September and by then a major offensive would have accomplished little except inflicting unnecessary casualties on the army. Poland's frontlines had already begun to collapse by the 6th and by the 15th Poland was already collapsing. An attack on the 17th would have been a "political" act, not a militarily viable one.

      What is not mentioned in the overwhelming majority of narratives of the Phoney War and 1940 campaign is that France had only 1/2 the number of men of military age that Germany had by 1940. Combined with a weak Franc, stagnant economy and inefficient/outdated industry France was already severely handicapped. With as much as 80% of the mobilised formations consisting of reservists, most of whom had been away from the colours for years, the army needed training in much of new equipment issued since 1936-37 and later.

      For France to have been in a position to attack Germany in 1939 would have required a different history from at least 1928 (perhaps 1922-23) both internally and internationally.
      The Purist

      Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by The Purist View Post
        (….)
        For France to have been in a position to attack Germany in 1939 would have required a different history from at least 1928 (perhaps 1922-23) both internally and internationally.
        The 'forgotten invasion' that actually happened

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_the_Ruhr

        German factory workers refused to co-operate with the occupying French and Belgian armies. With the German governments support, the workers went on strike. The French sent in their own workers, and arrested the leaders of the German strikers and the German police. This led to violence on both sides.
        This was called the Dawes Plan.

        Under this plan, the reparations were reduced to 50 million marks a year for the next five years, and then 125 million marks a year following that. The plan also recommended that the German National Bank was reorganised, and that Germany receive an international loan. This loan was for 800 million gold marks, financed primarily by America.

        These measures eased the economic pressure on Germany, and relations with other countries began to improve and then stabilise.

        This economic improvement, as well as improvements in foreign relations, led to the years between 1924 and 1929 becoming known as the ‘Golden Years’.
        https://www.theholocaustexplained.or...n-of-the-ruhr/

        Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post
        Did the lack of intelligence hamper the western leadership or was it a lack of will ?
        Lack of hindsight imho, Germany really only became enemy # 1 after 1940, before that time there was always some hedging of bets going on, on the part of all involved.

        It [The British Labour Party] saw Germany as the martyr of the postwar period and France as vengeful and the principal threat to peace in Europe. The tension between France and Britain peaked during a conference in Paris in early 1923, by which time the coalition led by Lloyd George had been replaced by the Conservatives. The Labour Party opposed the occupation of the Ruhr throughout 1923, which it rejected as French imperialism. The British Labour Party believed it had won when Poincaré accepted the Dawes Plan in 1924.[25]
        Last edited by Snowygerry; 04 May 20, 08:49.
        Lambert of Montaigu - Crusader.

        Bolgios - Mercenary Game.

        Comment


        • #5
          Lack of hindsight? More like a lack of foresight!
          And not just in France,. realistically, there was much more going on between the wars it would be nearly impossible to see any other outcome than WWII.
          Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post
            Lack of hindsight? More like a lack of foresight!
            And not just in France,. realistically, there was much more going on between the wars it would be nearly impossible to see any other outcome than WWII.
            Some "form" of WWII yes, but no one "foresaw" the sweeping German victories of 1939-41.
            Lambert of Montaigu - Crusader.

            Bolgios - Mercenary Game.

            Comment


            • #7
              The part missed in this video is why France operated the way they did in this offensive.

              The problem the French had was their doctrine--how they conducted their combat--was deeply and irrevocably flawed. The French Army had trained for decades on the doctrine of methodical battle. This was how they were going to fight and that is how they conducted this campaign.

              The French operational planning would organize and set up each operation in minute detail with limited objectives based on trying to minimize casualties. So, each "offensive" would move forward at a snail's pace taking a few miles of ground at most, often less. Then the whole operation would grind to a halt and planning for another offensive operation would begin. Days later, the process after meticulous planning and organizing would be repeated.

              It worked in 1918 and the French high command was so sure it would work again that they forbid any discussion of any alternate doctrine. This creaking, plodding, time consuming doctrine ensured that the French Army would fail in the field in 1940. It's that simple. So, had the French employed more divisions the outcome would have looked much the same. The French advance a few miles at most, stop when meeting even the slightest opposition, and then sit for days planning out their next move.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                Some "form" of WWII yes, but no one "foresaw" the sweeping German victories of 1939-41.
                No argument there, Who was the threat in 1938? Stalin? Hitler? Fascism? Communism?
                However, in hindsight, and if we are honest about it, the European powers watched as both Germany and Russia where building powerful war machines and made no secret about their plans for world domination. And those in power did little to prepare their nations for the inevitable.
                Most of the world was already at war.
                Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post
                  Most of the world was already at war.
                  In '38 ?

                  Lambert of Montaigu - Crusader.

                  Bolgios - Mercenary Game.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post
                    Lack of hindsight? More like a lack of foresight!
                    And not just in France,. realistically, there was much more going on between the wars it would be nearly impossible to see any other outcome than WWII.
                    Easy to say, in hindsight. How should we view the contemporary Crimean annexation or the Georgian war?
                    Should NATO have gone to war already, in view of perceived Russian expansionist plans and actions?
                    Is it nearly impossible to see any other outcome than WWIII?
                    ScenShare Guidelines:

                    1) Enjoy creating it
                    2) Enjoy playing it
                    3) Enjoy sharing it
                    4) Enjoy helping others create them

                    The PlayersDB - The Harpoon Community's #1 Choice.

                    FAQ http://www.harplonkhq.com/Harpoon/Fr...dQuestions.htm

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post

                      No argument there, Who was the threat in 1938? Stalin? Hitler? Fascism? Communism?
                      However, in hindsight, and if we are honest about it, the European powers watched as both Germany and Russia where building powerful war machines and made no secret about their plans for world domination. And those in power did little to prepare their nations for the inevitable.
                      Most of the world was already at war.
                      I don’t think you get just how much WW1 traumatised Europe. An entire way of life was destroyed in the trenches of 1914 - 18. Institutions and systems that had stood for centuries, and in 1913 looked as if they would stand for centuries more were either overthrown or viewed with distrust. There was a huge crises of faith among the victors. Did they really sacrifice so much to gain... nothing really.
                      And communism and fascism were not the bogey men we know them as today. They had replaced the old creaking order that led Europe into mass suicide, had an energised people, and were getting things done. That it was all smoke and mirrors, and was built on mass murder and terror only really became apparent later.
                      So doctrine was to appease and to plan for a war that would not see another Somme or Verdun. It seems foolish now but hindsight is 20/20, and in regard to the French almost cowardly, but that overlooks just how horrible the French experience was in WW1. The doctrine of attack, attack, attack saw 100’s of thousands cut down in 1914. Verdun taught them that well prepared defenders could stop anything (although I’m not making the case that Verdun was well prepared; more that if it could hold then imagine what the marginot line would do). And never forget that when the did go on the offensive in 1917 it was a bloody shambles, and it nearly cost them the war.
                      Probably something overlooked is that France had just watched a bloody civil war take place in Spain. There was a strong undercurrent of communist sympathies in France at the time, and as events showed later, more than a few that saw fascism as the way of the future. Something politicians and planners were acutely aware of when they developed their doctrine.
                      So poor France was left in a bad position. Traumatised, economically struggling, taking the wrong lessons from WW1, fearful of a return to that war, and trying to appease a population that had lost faith in the system. Rather than kick them for not getting it right the should be appreciated for having the balls to stand up to Germany, even if they did get it horribly wrong.
                      Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

                      That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                        The part missed in this video is why France operated the way they did in this offensive.

                        The problem the French had was their doctrine--how they conducted their combat--was deeply and irrevocably flawed. The French Army had trained for decades on the doctrine of methodical battle. This was how they were going to fight and that is how they conducted this campaign.
                        Flawed in hindsight. At the time, and after very careful study, the French believed they had developed the doctrine that met the requirements of modern combat. The view that "Fire Kills" was reinforced by the 1914-18 period and that the weapons of the 1930s would kill in even greater numbers. Link that to a an army of just 100,000 regulars who had to train an active reserve of 100,000 1 year conscripts and you will find your options reduced.

                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                        The French operational planning would organize and set up each operation in minute detail with limited objectives based on trying to minimize casualties. So, each "offensive" would move forward at a snail's pace taking a few miles of ground at most, often less. Then the whole operation would grind to a halt and planning for another offensive operation would begin. Days later, the process after meticulous planning and organizing would be repeated....
                        Makes perfect sense when basing experience on the 1918 model and reinforced by the Rif War in north Africa and then by the Spanish civil war. As late as 1939 everything pointed to their view being correct.

                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                        It worked in 1918 and the French high command was so sure it would work again that they forbid any discussion of any alternate doctrine....<snip>...
                        Actually, no. The French military and command school reviewed just about every new paper that was developed both in France and those emanating from other nations. They were weighed and measured against the realities of French experience, recruitment law and outside examples (as noted). Rapid movement was not discounted, far from it. The very idea that the French would have to advance into Belgium to meet the Germans meant they had to be ready for a meeting engagement and to a greater degree, they were.

                        In the Gembloux Gap, at Dinant throughout the 13th and even at Sedan for the first day the French met and held the German attacks. At Montherme a (static) fortified infantry division with artillery and a few tanks in support stopped a panzer corps from developing anything close to a successful bridgehead until their flanks gave way to the north and south.

                        What truly crippled the army was the command response time, not the nature of their offensive doctrine.

                        They had planned for a long war strategy that would hold the Germans away from their resource, industrial and population centres, thereby wearing down the attackers through attrition. Once the balance of power had shifted through allied mobilization and perhaps US involvement, the French would go over to the attack and defeat the Germans.

                        It was a viable strategy based on what they knew and thought they understood.

                        Armies do not choose bad doctrines. Such weaknesses are exposed on the battlefield and, as we have discussed before, France did not have an English Channel to retreat behind or the strategic depth of the Soviet Union, or the manpower to absorb the attack.

                        Methodical Battle did not lose the battle of France. The batle was lost in the trenches of WWI, in the political instability between the wars (40 odd governments), in the halls of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate and in the League of Nations in 1923, 1928 and 1936 (among other dates).
                        Last edited by The Purist; 04 May 20, 17:55.
                        The Purist

                        Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                          Two classical items from a starter pack of WW2 myths:
                          - in September 1939 the German western border was stripped bare
                          Indeed the Siegfried Line was actually well manned and it's artillery operational. When the Saar Offensive commence, the Germans forces based within did not hesitate to lay waste their own villages along the border.


                          Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                          The 'forgotten invasion' that actually happened

                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_the_Ruhr

                          I think it is important to realize that the interwar treaties meant to make German terms more manageable were actually to the detriment to France. American businesses in particular were eager to reopen markets in Germany...damned that Germany never intended to abide to any agreement or treaty they signed. The high point of all of this was when France threatened to intervene when Hitler reoccupied the Rhineland, only to find that both the US and the UK not only admonished France for wanting to enforce the treaty but actually made threats of diplomatic isolation. The irony, is this resulted in France looking to the Maginot mentality as the only sensible thing left to do.

                          You'll live, only the best get killed.

                          -General Charles de Gaulle

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The Purist View Post

                            Flawed in hindsight. At the time, and after very careful study, the French believed they had developed the doctrine that met the requirements of modern combat. The view that "Fire Kills" was reinforced by the 1914-18 period and that the weapons of the 1930s would kill in even greater numbers. Link that to a an army of just 100,000 regulars who had to train an active reserve of 100,000 1 year conscripts and you will find your options reduced.



                            Makes perfect sense when basing experience on the 1918 model and reinforced by the Rif War in north Africa and then by the Spanish civil war. As late as 1939 everything pointed to their view being correct.



                            Actually, no. The French military and command school reviewed just about every new paper that was developed both in France and those emanating from other nations. They were weighed and measured against the realities of French experience, recruitment law and outside examples (as noted). Rapid movement was not discounted, far from it. The very idea that the French would have to advance into Belgium to meet the Germans meant they had to be ready for a meeting engagement and to a greater degree, they were.

                            In the Gembloux Gap, at Dinant throughout the 13th and even at Sedan for the first day the French met and held the German attacks. At Montherme a (static) fortified infantry division with artillery and a few tanks in support stopped a panzer corps from developing anything close to a successful bridgehead until their flanks gave way to the north and south.

                            What truly crippled the army was the command response time, not the nature of their offensive doctrine.

                            They had planned for a long war strategy that would hold the Germans away from their resource, industrial and population centres, thereby wearing down the attackers through attrition. Once the balance of power had shifted through allied mobilization and perhaps US involvement, the French would go over to the attack and defeat the Germans.

                            It was a viable strategy based on what they knew and thought they understood.

                            Armies do not choose bad doctrines. Such weaknesses are exposed on the battlefield and, as we have discussed before, France did not have an English Channel to retreat behind or the strategic depth of the Soviet Union, or the manpower to absorb the attack.

                            Methodical Battle did not lose the battle of France. The batle was lost in the trenches of WWI, in the political instability between the wars (40 odd governments), in the halls of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate and in the League of Nations in 1923, 1928 and 1936 (among other dates).
                            Actually, little if any of that is true. The French adopted a badly flawed combat doctrine, then rigidly stuck to it. At one point in the 30's it became forbidden for French officers to write papers or other articles on alternatives to methodical battle without the express permission of the War College and High Command neither of which was in any mood to entertain alternatives. DeGaulle was passed over for a promotion to General because he broke this edict.

                            https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/policy-defeat

                            https://www.usni.org/magazines/proce...nwont-work-now

                            https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a346267.pdf

                            https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2018/0...doctrine-1940/

                            http://www.historyofwar.org/bookpage..._disaster.html

                            There's plenty more both online and off that argues pretty much conclusively that methodical battle as a doctrine hobbled the French Army into impotence on the battlefield in WW 2.

                            It wasn't the individual soldier or tank crew that was the issue. French troops were every bit as brave and even in within their doctrine trained as German. But, methodical battle crippled their ability to use quick initiative, flexible responses, and adopt to the realities of warfare as presented to them by the Wehrmacht in 1940.

                            If as you claim, the "battle was lost in the trenches of WW 1..." then what explains German success? I say it was the Germans came away from that same war with an entirely different doctrine, one based on small unit tactics, individual initiative of leadership at every level, and an ability to meet conditions on the battlefield with quick and flexible decision making. There was no plodding need for detailed planning, elaborate phase lines, carefully coordinated and calculated artillery fires like the French put into their doctrine.

                            I liken the two to a chess game where the French player makes a move and the German player gets to make three moves. That's a game you can't win as the French.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                              Actually, little if any of that is true. The French adopted a badly flawed combat doctrine, then rigidly stuck to it.
                              It cannot be called flawed in the 1930's because it had already been proven in combat in 1918. Experience in the 1920s and 30s only reinforced the view. The defensive aspects of French doctrine actually worked reasonably well and the offensive component was never able to be put into practice. It certainly would have failed, the Germans were not planning to be tied to trenches as they had by the end of 1914 but prior to 1940 this was by no means evident.

                              Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                              ...At one point in the 30's it became forbidden for French officers to write papers or other articles on alternatives to methodical battle without the express permission of the War College and High Command neither of which was in any mood to entertain alternatives. DeGaulle was passed over for a promotion to General because he broke this edict.
                              At one point it was certainly frowned upon but you do not seem to ken why. An army consisting of mostly reservists with only short term military service (most just 1 year, or, in fact, 169 days) and little in the way of refresher training was not going to be able to manage complex tactical doctrine. De Gaulle was calling for an army that France could not provide.

                              More simply put - an army cannot have two doctrines - one for a small mechanised force trained for mobile warfare and another designed for reducing casualties and fighting a "Long War Strategy" designed to capitalising on the strategic depth of the British and French empires and American industry and resources, if not troops. De Gualle's plan would have meant rewriting French conscription laws as the 1 year service conscript (or even 2 year) could not be trained to execute his view on how the army should operate nor maintained as the conscripts rotated out. Where would time be found to conduct such training considering the regular army was focused almost entirely on either the incoming class of recruits or discharging previous class who's term of service was up. And they had to do so twice per year. Such a change was not going happen, especially considering the rate at which governments came and went in the 1930s.

                              The French high command had to deal with the realities of French politics and the nature of France itself and the impact the casualties of 1914-18 had on the population. Thankfully, the army was seldom short changed on its requests for equipment though it often took years for the equipment to be developed and delivered (the issue with French industry). What suffered most in the early and mid-30s were funds for additional reservist training. The army agreed to a 1 year service period in 1928 in exchange for regular reservist training. The realities of the early and mid 1930's economic depression meant funds were seldom made available or in drastically reduced amounts. The reservists stayed home.


                              Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                              ...If as you claim, the "battle was lost in the trenches of WW 1..." then what explains German success? I say it was the Germans came away from that same war with an entirely different doctrine, one based on small unit tactics, individual initiative of leadership at every level, and an ability to meet conditions on the battlefield with quick and flexible decision making. There was no plodding need for detailed planning, elaborate phase lines, carefully coordinated and calculated artillery fires like the French put into their doctrine.
                              German doctrine between the wars and into WWII was not that much different than 1914 or even the second half of the 19th Century. It simply added the internal combustion engine to their already well developed Auftragstaktik or mission oriented tactics, combined with their well tried Bewegungskrieg, or war of movement, that looked to encircle the enemy and destroy their armies. It is also worth noting the Germans did not expect to succeed as well as they did. The French collapse came as no small surprise.

                              In 1914 the Germans almost succeeded with Bewegungskrieg but got bogged down in the west as manoeuvre was stifled by firepower. However, in the east (Russia and Romania), with foot and horsepower, both Auftragstaktik and Bewegungskrieg were constantly put into practice. It is worth noting that many of the manoeuvre enthusiasts in the Wehrmacht served in the east, while the more conservative members generally served in the trenches in Flanders. This played itself out in the mid-30s with Hitler eventually supporting the manoeuvre generals.

                              In any case, the Second World War was not won by superior tactics but by well thought out long term strategy that aimed to bring allied strength, once fully mobilised, to bear against Nazi Germany. The problem for 3rd Republic France was that it did not have the means to hold long enough for that strength to be developed. That French doctrine failed to meet expectations cannot be denied but prior to 1940 there was little evidence that this was so.
                              Last edited by The Purist; 05 May 20, 07:19.
                              The Purist

                              Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

                              Comment

                              Latest Topics

                              Collapse

                              Working...
                              X