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The German's greatest mistake in WWII

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  • #46
    By far the biggest mistake was invading Poland. The Austrian Annexation was excepted as an inner German thing. Czechoslovakia was given to Hitler. France and the UK were not going to war over either of those. With the invasion of Poland both France and the UK were backed into a corner that they had to put up or shut up. No invasion of Poland, no WWII. MAYBE
    "Ask not what your country can do for you"

    Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

    you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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    • #47
      We covered the subject of food pretty thorougly in the "Eisenhower and the POWs" thread. The blockade by the Allies was very thorough and successful, much more so than the German blockade of the British Isles. Clay Blair in Hitler's U-Boat War makes very plain that despite some sucesses in the early war, at no time was a majority of a convoy sunk or even attacked on the northern run, and even one alarming month (March, 1942? Don't remember exactly) was due to a pack of Type IXs raising cain in South Africa, not the British-US convoys..
      Will no one tell me what she sings?--
      Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
      For old, unhappy, far-off things,
      And battles long ago:
      -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

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      • #48
        German U-Boats fought against impossible odds (not a cliche!)

        Originally posted by Desiree Clary View Post
        We covered the subject of food pretty thorougly in the "Eisenhower and the POWs" thread. The blockade by the Allies was very thorough and successful, much more so than the German blockade of the British Isles. Clay Blair in Hitler's U-Boat War makes very plain that despite some sucesses in the early war, at no time was a majority of a convoy sunk or even attacked on the northern run, and even one alarming month (March, 1942? Don't remember exactly) was due to a pack of Type IXs raising cain in South Africa, not the British-US convoys..
        An excellent point.
        One which I made in my thread-starter "Which world war did Germany have most chance of winning" some months ago.

        This is what I had to say about Germany's naval effort in WWII:

        "Naval WWII:
        Germany faced impossible odds in the World War Two naval war from day one but only recently have historians like Clay Blair for example, in his benchmark opus ‘Hitler’s U-Boat War Vol.1 & 2’ shown that the old conventional wisdom of Germany’s submarines ‘almost winning the Battle of the Atlantic’ is virtually a total myth with vast majority of convoys getting through not only unmolested but undetected by the subs!

        There was certainly a WWII U-boat ‘nuisance’ and much tonnage was taken out by them in six years and enormous ‘hype’ expended by the allied propaganda machine on the menace they posed.

        In overall terms however, they had no chance to overcome the massive naval superiority, ship-building capacity, Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft and vast advantage in global network of bases, established sea-lanes, naval training infrastructure and naval warfare experience the Anglo-allied maritime powers enjoyed.

        The German surface fleet was always miniscule compared to the UK/US armadas.
        The Germans had some great publicity coups in surface actions with vessels like the Graf Spree, the ‘Channel Dash’ (Gneisenau and Scharnhorst) and of course the Bismark but the idea that their tiny numbers were in any way a ‘serious challenge’ to the allies is laughable.

        Doesn’t stop the same old ‘German naval threat’ line being peddled by some historians even today!

        Most crucially for Germany’s naval effort in WWII of course was the reality that Hitler was quite simply a ‘land animal’, a central European whose ‘strategic mindset’ was focussed overwhelmingly on Germany’s relations with her continental neighbours (of course the list of ‘neighbours’ kept growing as Adolf kept invading and occupying lands outside Germany’s original 1938 borders). He had no real ‘feel’ or for that matter serious interest in things maritime. After all he did order the surface fleet scrapped in mid war!"

        Good to see you've been doing your homework Desiree!

        Regards lodestar

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        • #49
          I'd have to agree with Tsar. Not assaulting the BEF at Dunkirk. The first big mistake is usually a prelude to utter failure. Wiping out 400,000 British soldiers would have been a huge blow to their morale. Then again perhaps the Wehrmacht really was too over stretched and couldn't assault the pocket.

          Comment


          • #50
            Originally posted by ljadw View Post
            1)You are under illusions : an other German occupation policy would have changed nothing :initially,a lot of people were going working in Germany :this had nothing to do with a harsh/soft German policy :they went to Germany for a living(there was no work in their country),they stopped going to Germany because of the bombardments and were looking for work in their own country(work that also benefited the Germans .

            2)There is no proof at all that the escape /capture of 200000 soldiers at Dunkirk had any influence at allon the British decision to continue the war,thus Dunkirk having no influence (military/political) ,it can't be considered as a mistake

            3)The opinion in the US is irrelevant,what was relevant,was what Adolf was seeing : a gigantic US mobilization,end of isolationism:the 2 1940 presidential candidates were openly hostile to Germany and there was cash and carry,succeeded by Lend Lease,there was the openly US intervention in the Battle of the Atlantic.
            There was Arcadia ;Churchill and FDR were meeting each other at the coast of New Found Land,discussing the reconstruction of the world after the defeat of Germany .

            And:there was the British decision to continue the war,which had as reason
            the certainty that the US would intervene .

            Every day,there were more and more incidents on the Atlantic,which would give the US the excuse to declare war on Germany .And,if they did not,they would finish Japan,and than turn against Germany .
            By declaring war,the US would be forced to divide its forces,the strategy would be :Japan first,and meanwhile,they would leave Europe alone .

            Wel:this was the POV of Adolf,and,without hindsight,this POV was not stupid .
            1. You're mistaken. By early 1941- there were just over 1 million foreign laborers in Germany, and they constituted no more than about 8 percent of Germany's workforce. The overwhelming majority of foreign labor flow into Germany didn't even begin until March 1942. And they went because they were forced to do so, or were duped into believing that the living and working conditions were good. They weren't.

            2. Faulty logic on your part. The B.E.F. wasn't captured at Dunkirk, so we'll never know what the reaction would have been.

            3. You're entire point here ignores the factor of time. What was relevant was direct U.S. participation in the war- something that needed to be avoided by Germany for as long as possible. The direct link to U.S. participation was Great Britain's current participation in the war. So- how to force Britain from the war so as to clear his flank for the impending struggle against the Soviet Union was of vital importance to Germany. The best chance the Germans ever had of forcing the U.K. from the war was to eliminate the B.E.F. if possble. Had this occurred, the U.K. MAY have negotiated a peace. We'll never know for sure what would have happened, but by not eliminating the B.E.F., the Germans just increased the likelyhood of Britain fighting it out. However inevitable U.S. entry due to U-Boat incidents in the Atlantic may have been, Hitler just spurred on the inevitable.
            Sgt.

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            • #51
              Originally posted by goomohn View Post
              I'd have to agree with Tsar. Not assaulting the BEF at Dunkirk. The first big mistake is usually a prelude to utter failure. Wiping out 400,000 British soldiers would have been a huge blow to their morale. Then again perhaps the Wehrmacht really was too over stretched and couldn't assault the pocket.
              The figure is 200000 ,NOT 400000

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              • #52
                Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                The figure is 200000 ,NOT 400000
                Well, according to wikipedia 338,226 if you count beach evacuations. Which I would as it is part of the same operation. They were part of the same pocket. If the Germans had attacked Britain would of had a 6th Armee type stain to deal with.

                But, I was referring to the 400,000 Allied soldiers in the Dunkirk pocket.

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                • #53
                  338000 Allied soldiers were evacuated from Dunkirk ,of which 199000 British .

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                  • #54
                    About Dunkirk:the point is that at the moment von Rundstedt was taking the halt decision,approved later by Hitler,there was nothing that one could use to label this decision as a mistake

                    1)There was no information about the number of British soldiers at Dunkirk

                    2)There was no information about the fact that theevacuation already had started

                    3)There was no indication that a capture of these troops would have been possible,and :[COLOR="red"] there still is no such proof[COLOR="red"]

                    4)There is no indication at all that the British government would have given up if those 199000 men had been captured

                    5)There were good reasons for the halt order: the PzD had suffered badly and were needed for Fall Rot

                    6)When the German leadership received other informations,it changed its policy :the halt order was rescinded definitively

                    7)No one can give an answer why the halt order was bad,AT THE MOMENT it was given and why an attack would have been a good decision .

                    8)A mistake with hindsight is no mistake,otherwise,everything can be labelled as a mistake :Market Garden could be labelled as a mistake,because,we have informations,the Allied commanders did not have .

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                    • #55
                      And, despite popular myth, the Allies were fighting back hard (yes, they were losing, but they hadn't quit). The Germans were taking considerable casualties. To reduce the Dunkirk area, the Germans expected some hard fighting, which was one of the reasons the halt was ordered historically. Destroying the 300,000 allied troops in the area would not have been "free" and may have had follow on effects for the Germans that no one seems interested in forecasting when this "Hitler let the Brits go" discussion comes up.
                      Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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                      • #56
                        It is the same for the declaration of war on the US:why would a decision not to declare war have been better? (because,that's the discussion :declare war or not declare war).Without hindsight,and with the informations available to Hitler,his decision is defensible :he was convinced that the US would attack him very,very soon.Thus,why not be faster,instead of waiting ?

                        Other point:could Adolf look elsewhere,while Japan was fighting with the US?
                        :if he did not declare war on 11 december,could he declare war in february? Of course not :he would be ridiculous .
                        :already before PH,he had a lot of valid reasons to declare war,and,now,while the US were busy in the Pacific,it was the ideal moment .

                        And,what were the immediate negative results of the DOW?Did Britain receive more aid in january than in november ?

                        There also was a positive result :Paukenschlacht:without the DOW,this would not be possible.

                        For Adolf,the fact was :war with the US was inevitable,and would happen in the next weeks,declaration of war,or no declaration of war .

                        Considering what he believed,can one claim that the declaration of war was a mistake ?

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post
                          And, despite popular myth, the Allies were fighting back hard (yes, they were losing, but they hadn't quit). The Germans were taking considerable casualties. To reduce the Dunkirk area, the Germans expected some hard fighting, which was one of the reasons the halt was ordered historically. Destroying the 300,000 allied troops in the area would not have been "free" and may have had follow on effects for the Germans that no one seems interested in forecasting when this "Hitler let the Brits go" discussion comes up.
                          Good point :
                          a defensible argument is :
                          if the allies were weak,a temporarily halt would do no harm
                          if the allies were strong :was it not better to wait for reinforcements ?Especially artillery .

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                          • #58
                            The mistake I am citing is that the German forces did not destroy the Dunkirk pocket before the British managed to evacuate an army group's worth of men.

                            I would compare it to the battle of Tora Bora. United States and Afghan forces had a sizable Al' Qaeda force (and possibly Osama Bin Laden) surrounded in a mountainous redoubt. They could have put every effort into the raid capture and killing of these men. They did not. It was a mistake in my mind.

                            The Germans could have captured that army group. If they could cut through twice as many French forces on their way to Paris, I don't doubt they could have marched and rolled into Dunkirk 3 days earlier. Leading massive lines of Allied POWs out.

                            The British Cabinet was discussing a conditional surrender after the battle of France had turned. I'm sure having 20% of the British army off the rolls wouldn't have helped the resilience to resist in that discussion. Dunkirk became a propaganda piece that British folk rallied around.

                            To say it was not a mistake because of poor intelligence or this or that reason well... That is the sound of excuse. In which case there are no rational reflections on decisions made in the past. They just happened. No doubt to me that the failure to assault Dunkirk in a timely effective manner was the first and best mistake the Germans made for the Allied cause.
                            Last edited by goomohn; 23 Mar 13, 14:11.

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                            • #59
                              The whole point of Case Yellow was to achieve a decisive victory over the Allies. This is the primary reason why Manstein's plan was adopted. This was to be accomplished firstly by isolating and then eliminating the Allied left wing in the north, and then advancing on the remaining Allied forces in the south. The halt order was a mistake- even at the moment that it was confirmed by Hitler- because the Allied forces in the north were not completely isolated. Not isolating them simply gave the Allies precious time to consolidate their hold on Dunkirk and organize an evacuation of the trapped forces. Actual German losses up to this point were extremely light. Their losses in tanks were more serious; but in no way were they severe, because the overwhelming majority were due to breakdowns and not enemy action. Lastly, Case Red was not even remotely a time sensitive operation, whereas isolating the Allied forces in the north was. Had the Germans instead pressed an assault, the bulk of the Allied forces would likely have been destroyed or captured. Sure, there's no solid proof of that- after all, the Germans didn't make the attempt. But it is a likelyhood, given the then existing conditions.

                              By the same token, no one can say how the British political leadership would have reacted had they been informed that the B.E.F. had been destroyed or captured. One can say however that negotiation would have been more seriously considered- if for no other reason, than because of the knowledge that Great Britain's largest standing force had been eliminated from their order of battle and with it, the vast majority of trained and experienced officers and N.C.O.s that would otherwise have been used to lead any newly formed army.

                              This was significant because, likely or not, eliminating the B.E.F. from the U.K. order of battle offered Germany her best hope of forcing the British to negotiate. And Great Britain's continued participation in the war was the key factor in eventual U.S. participation. Without British involvement, the United States would have almost certainly have not gone to war with Germany- leaving the Germans free to turn their attention to the Soviet Union with Germany's overseas trade largely restored and with not 75%, but perhaps 90% of the Wehrmacht available.
                              Sgt.
                              Last edited by Sgt. Saunders; 23 Mar 13, 14:16.

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                              • #60
                                Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                                It is the same for the declaration of war on the US:why would a decision not to declare war have been better? (because,that's the discussion :declare war or not declare war).Without hindsight,and with the informations available to Hitler,his decision is defensible :he was convinced that the US would attack him very,very soon.Thus,why not be faster,instead of waiting ?

                                Other point:could Adolf look elsewhere,while Japan was fighting with the US?
                                :if he did not declare war on 11 december,could he declare war in february? Of course not :he would be ridiculous .
                                :already before PH,he had a lot of valid reasons to declare war,and,now,while the US were busy in the Pacific,it was the ideal moment .

                                And,what were the immediate negative results of the DOW?Did Britain receive more aid in january than in november ?

                                There also was a positive result :Paukenschlacht:without the DOW,this would not be possible.

                                For Adolf,the fact was :war with the US was inevitable,and would happen in the next weeks,declaration of war,or no declaration of war .

                                Considering what he believed,can one claim that the declaration of war was a mistake ?
                                Paukenschlag was the greatest victory ever achieved by the U-Boats, but it should be placed in proper perspective. What's that perspective? It's this:

                                Because of the U.S. entry into the war, the tonnage that the U-Boats needed to sink every month in order to force Britain from the war went up sharply; from 700,000 tons per month to almost 2,000,000 tons per month. This fact alone made U.S. entry into the war a disaster for Nazi Germany and was just one of many reasons why the Germans should have never have declared war until at least the Soviets were defeated.
                                Sgt.

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