Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

What was Hitlers greatest mistake of world war 2?

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

  • #46
    Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post
    Hitler knew when he attacked Poland the BEF would be obligated to fight. Why he did not throw everything into if not destroying, to at least to capture the British forces at Dunkirk is unbelievable.
    Finish the task at hand before starting another one..
    There is an informative article here. It's a pretty traditional viewpoint but the endnotes are worth checking out too for some interesting perspectives. The decision had some logic behind it - the Panzer units were worn down, the infantry was lagging well behind, the flanks were insecure, the Luftwaffe controlled the skies and an evacuation of that scale, and speed, had never been undertaken. There is another factor - if France was eliminated the British were not thought capable of staging a comeback to the European mainland on their own. Even with US assistance an invasion would be several years away, more than enough time to deal with the Soviet Union, take control of the vast natural resources there and render a Nazi run Europe almost impregnable. So yes it was a mistake but a very understandable one.
    Signing out.

    Comment


    • #47
      Voted for "smash the BEF at Dunkirk".

      Britain is the key to the continent.

      Besides, of all the options listed, this one is a realistic option given OTL knowledge. While the original proposal to halt the panzers was by von Rundstedt, I understand that it was Hitler who would have had the last word on the matter. Of course, the army had come a long way and the logistics were stretched, infantry lagging behind and exhaustion setting in, but imho von Rundstedt tried to relieve the strain on his force by asking for a pause, a natural thing to do for a commander in such circumstances.

      Given the momentum, I consider an all-out pursuit to the channel and eventual encirclement with ruthless hammering of the evacuating BEF to have dire consequences for the Allies. Even at significantly higher casualties on the German side, it's the crowning achievement of the whole campaign.

      Thoughts behind: Dealing with the British is the top priority for a healthy strategy in the east. The two-front war that emerged is the grand strategic blunder that must be precluded. One thing should have been clear for Hitler, that the time for diplomacy was over.

      The suggestions dealing with the sealing off of Gibraltar, turning the Med into an Axis lake, taking Malta are closely related concepts. They conceptually revolve around knocking the British out of the war. And the best groundwork, in June 1940, thus early enough, is to crush a substantial number of the BEF at Dunkerque. 320k got away historically? Well, if you can half that number, it would be a solid gain.

      While also related strategically, incresed U-Boot interdiction of Atlantic supply routes is a risky business: The British could put to good use another Athenia. While building an U-Bootwaffe substantially more powerful than in OTL, I'd reserve them for the time being. If needed, they would be at hand dealing a quick, sharp and devastating shock during a couple of months stalling the Atlantic trade.

      Consequently, don't get involved in the BOB or Sealion. Place remaining Kriegsmarine on "en potence" footing, demonstrate over Britain in the air (no civilian center bombing! Keep a clean look!) but continuously emphasize that you 1.) did not start this war 2.) dont want war with great britain 3.) deliberately refrain from bombing civilian centers (and contrast this to, if
      applicable, to the British bombing German ones) 4.) but state that it cannot be that perfidious Albion is meddling with German teritorial affairs.

      Hitler was in a similar boat as Napoleon when it comes to grand strategy. Sealing off the continent, but the Asiatic hordes looming in the east, with Britain feeling towards mobilizing them against you.

      Comment


      • #48
        Dunkirk was a minor event

        Dunkirk did not lose Germany the war.

        False premises in your argument is that the British, had the majority of BEF at Dunkirk been lost, is that such an event would have caused Britain to surrender. In any case the entire BEF was not even at Dunkirk. Also, the evacuation numbers were about 2/3 British and 1/3 French - it was not 320,000 British troops. The defence of Britain in the summer of 1940 did not hinge on the BEF divisions nor were 1940 BEF division used again before late 1942 or even 1943.

        All the reasons for the halt made perfect sense and Hitler was simply following the advice of his professional officers. As mentioned above the high command feared the weakness of the divisions, the potential for strong counterattacks and future needs of the campaign. They cannot be blamed for suggesting logical steps to be taken just because they could not see into the future. Apologists for the German war effort cannot blame Hitler for an error by following professional advise on Monday and then blame him for not doing so on Wednesday.
        Last edited by The Purist; 13 Nov 13, 13:26.
        The Purist

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

        Comment


        • #49
          Hitler did blink at Dunkirk. Only hitler knew what his ultimate plan was. Is there any doubt that his ultimate plan was to attack Russia?
          Attacking Russia under the best of circumstances is a bad idea, attacking Russia while you are engaged with Britain and your forces are still occupying France and many of your tanks are in need of a refit?
          Absolutely insane!
          Perhaps the answer to the poll question should be;
          Hitler believing his own propaganda was his biggest mistake.
          That would be the root to all of his failings.
          As they say in entertainment " don't read your own press clippings"
          He bought into his message that German could not lose.
          Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

          Comment


          • #50
            Originally posted by The Purist View Post
            Dunkirk did not lose Germany the war.

            False premises in your argument is that the British, had the majority of BEF at Dunkirk been lost, is that such an event would have caused Britain to surrender. In any case the entire BEF was even at Dunkirk. Also, the evacuation numbers were about 2/3 British and 1/3 French - it was not 320,000 British troops.
            Purist,

            I agree that in the overall context of the war as it histroically developed, Dunkirk "did not lose the Germans the war." But this thread if about a different topic.

            At that time, in June 1940, hindering, lets say 80-160k British boys from coming home would be the best bargaining chip Hitler could get hold of.

            Again: The objective is to knock Britain out of the war.

            Historically, letting them evacuate per se was plain stupidity. It's like playing "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" with a hedgehog.

            I see 198k British were evacuated -roger that.
            Last edited by qwertzu575; 13 Nov 13, 13:07.

            Comment


            • #51
              Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post
              Only hitler knew what his ultimate plan was.
              Well... I wouldn't be too sure about that.

              Comment


              • #52
                Originally posted by qwertzu575 View Post
                Well... I wouldn't be too sure about that.
                True enough. Other knew but probably didn't know the timetable.
                Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

                Comment


                • #53
                  Originally posted by qwertzu575
                  ...At that time, in June 1940, hindering, lets say 80-160k British boys from coming home would be the best bargaining chip Hitler could get hold of....
                  The British lost 68,000 troops in the campaign and at Dunkirk 1 in 8 British soldiers became POWs. About 140,000 or 338,000+ troops were French Belgian or Polish. That means the British evacuated just under 200,000

                  With nearly 70,000 dead wounded and prisoners plus 200,000 evacuated the British lost about 25% of the strength committed. Equipment losses are well known but the belief that Britain was disarmed has been demonstably proven to be false (although there were significant losses).

                  Originally posted by qwertzu575
                  ...
                  Again: The objective is to knock Britain out of the war.
                  There is no evidence that Britain would have been knocked out of the war had Dunkirk been less successful.

                  The Germans did not "let the British evacuate" from Dunkirk. The evacuation was opposed from the air and suffered significant losses.

                  The Germans were well aware of the terrain in Flanders, they were aware of the weakness of the panzer divisions, there were aware of the potential for strong counterattacks from north and south and they were aware that their own infantry was lagging behind. They were also aware that they needed the panzer arm for the Case Red when it was ready and needed to rest and refit the armour.

                  The Germans did not shrug their shoulders and ignore Dunkirk, they simply underestimated the ability of the RN and French navy to organise an evacuation and believed the LW could prevent any rescue. Even the allies did not believe it would be as successful as it became.

                  Britain was not going to negotiate with Hitler unless Hitler took London, perhaps not even then. Hitler realised as early as July 1940 that he could not defeat England from the air alone and saw the US as a growing threat as it step by step sided with the British from "cash and carry" through the signing of LL to escorting merchantmen. Thus he turned to his plan to defeat the SU and remove any hope of Birtain gaining a continental ally as well as remove the potential US "interest" in getting involved in a European war. Hitler believed he could use the resources from a conquered Europe (included the USSR) to force the British to terms as well as match the power of the United States. Hitler also counted on Japan, attacking the US in the Pacific to change American focus away from Europe.

                  Hitler's made a number of mistakes (all leaders did) but Dunkirk was not the worst of them.

                  Claiming the Dunkirk was the greatest mistake of the war is flawed and cannot be supported by the facts.
                  Last edited by The Purist; 24 Dec 13, 08:54.
                  The Purist

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

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by The Purist View Post


                    There is no evidence that Britain would have been knocked out of the war had Dunkirk been less successful.

                    The Germans did not "let the British evacuate" from Dunkirk. The evacuation was opposed from the air and suffered significant losses.
                    Correct, there is no evidence. Neither did I claim there was. If, on the other hand, there was a meaningful scenario to TRY to knock Britain out, it would hinge upon not letting the BEF get away, imho. Believing that doing so (knock the British out of the war) is the key to more reasonable grand strategy.

                    To make myself more clear: The Germans did not do everything in their power to let as few Allies as possible get away.

                    IIRC, Hitler paid a frontline visit to von Rundstedt 24th of May; that evening the "halt-order" was given. It was agreed on that the infantry and Luftwaffe should take care of the Allies -25th of May the British began to withdraw and fortify the beachhead around Dunkirk.

                    If Hitler gave the halt-order out of political/diplomatic considerations, that is, to spare the British a devastating defeat and "save their faces" for an envisaged green table tete-a-tete, it was a huge mistake for obvious reasons.

                    If on the other hand the halt-order was given out of military considerations, it still remains a blunder. Given the dispostiion of forces, not to capitalize on mechanized spearheads cutting Allied communication was a mistake: 24th May, the Allied position was in a sharp crescent from Calais over Lille back to Ieper. What was called for was German armor slicing their position south of Saint-Omer, and establishing communications with von Bock's army group in the North a.s.a.p., thus bagging the bulk of the Allies around Lille.

                    It can hardly be denied that the Germans had gained experience and proficiency in sealing off and wiping out enemy pockets during Fall Weiss and Fall Gelb.

                    In doing so, the potential threat from an overextended flank, vulnerable to Allied counterattacks has been mentioned. I'd respond that this is a risk that must be taken.
                    If the Allies, with their backs to the sea, the Belgians surrendering and von Bock driving in on them from the North, withstand the onslaught of the victorious Wehrmacht and break out ... well, then they plainly deserve to get away. It's as simple as that to me.

                    As Urban Hermit mentioned, the conduct of the Wehrmacht in the critical days of 20-25th May was a "blinking". They drive in 10 days to Abbeville, build up that massive momentum and then let it fade, get (over-)cautious? That in itself, by allowing the Allies to gain their breath, seems to me more dangerous than a temporarily extended flank.
                    Last edited by qwertzu575; 14 Nov 13, 07:00.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Britain was effectively neutralised after Dunkirk. The bigger mistake, for the Germans, was fighting the Battle of Britain. The loss of experienced aircrew hindered the training of new ones and the aircraft losses were not made good come June 1941.
                      Signing out.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by qwertzu575 View Post
                        They drive in 10 days to Abbeville, build up that massive momentum and then let it fade, get (over-)cautious?
                        Sure, and they likewise stopped after their stunning advances into the USSR in the first weeks of Barbarossa. And the Soviets, likewise, did repeatedly stop after repeatedly building exceptional momentum in spectacular breakthrough offensives. And the Western Allies in France sputtered to a halt in the fall of 1944.

                        Maybe there is a reason behind all of that, which isn't sudden timidity? Maybe we could sum that reason up with two words? Maybe those two words could be: over-extension, logistics?

                        Just a suggestion.
                        Michele

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                          Britain was effectively neutralised after Dunkirk. The bigger mistake, for the Germans, was fighting the Battle of Britain. The loss of experienced aircrew hindered the training of new ones and the aircraft losses were not made good come June 1941.
                          Absolutely true!
                          Germany and its Allies started Barbarossa with some 3.500 (Luftwaffe) Aircraft. Germany lost some 2.000 Aircraft in the BoB and even more experienced Aircrews got killed or became POW.
                          Question is, if those 2000 Aircraft would have made the difference...

                          Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                          The loss of experienced aircrew hindered the training of new ones and the aircraft losses were not made good come June 1941.
                          German communications between Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe had its peak in the Battle of France and were not matched after the summer of 1940.
                          IMO mainly due to the loss of before mentioned pilots and aircrews...
                          So fighting the BoB did not only result in a highly reduced Luftwaffe but also in a lower effectiveness of the average Aircraft.

                          IMO those facts, combined with the delay of Barbarossa for about 4weeks, resulted in the failure to take Moscow.
                          Question here is again if the loss of Moscow (and probably some 100.000 more losses in troops) would have defeated the Soviet Union.
                          Last edited by Hanov; 14 Nov 13, 06:07.
                          One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Michele View Post
                            Sure, and they likewise stopped after their stunning advances into the USSR in the first weeks of Barbarossa. And the Soviets, likewise, did repeatedly stop after repeatedly building exceptional momentum in spectacular breakthrough offensives. And the Western Allies in France sputtered to a halt in the fall of 1944.

                            Maybe there is a reason behind all of that, which isn't sudden timidity? Maybe we could sum that reason up with two words? Maybe those two words could be: over-extension, logistics?

                            Just a suggestion.
                            Michele,

                            you seriously want to compare the logistics issues in the multi-hundred kilometer thrusts you mentioned with the situation in sealing the deal in Fall Gelb? C'mon.

                            The distances involved here are of an order of magnitude below.

                            Now, , I don't know the exact whereabouts of von Rundstedt's infantry at 24th-26th May (assuming the infantry would be needed to mop up the to-be-created pocket). But given the Belgians surrendering, the infantry of von Bock, while still having to keep French 1st Army busy, could come in handy.

                            Push the infantry, whereever it may sit around, by forced marches. The pocketing panzer spearheads need to hold out no longer than, what, 48hrs before serious reinforcements could be expected.

                            The German high command lacked the killer instinct that was called for.

                            Without wanting to venture into psychology... maybe they were surprised of how well it went. The German top animal rights activist wasn't ready to club the proverbial seal.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Far too much hindsight and not nearly enough attention paid to the details of the campaign.

                              -The infantry was being pushed, they were forcing their march every day.
                              - The French 1st Army in the Lille Pocket was tieing down most of the available infantry that might have been able to push towards the coast but even these were more than two days from Calais.
                              - The Belgians had not surrendered by the time the German tanks reached the coast
                              - German logistics were already strained. The Belgians had done a pretty good job of blowing the railway tunnels in eastern Belgium and this delayed the rail repair schedule while at the same time Germany was short of trucks (having drafted almost every available truck from the civilian economy).

                              And in the end there is still no evidence to suggest, much less declare, that the British would be knocked out of the war because of the loss of most of the BEF.

                              Since that claim is unsubstantiated the conduct of the Dunkirk battle cannot be called the greatest error.
                              Last edited by The Purist; 24 Dec 13, 08:55.
                              The Purist

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

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by qwertzu575 View Post
                                Michele,

                                you seriously want to compare the logistics issues in the multi-hundred kilometer thrusts you mentioned with the situation in sealing the deal in Fall Gelb? C'mon.

                                The distances involved here are of an order of magnitude below.
                                Sure. So were the logistical resources. Additionally, you will have noticed that I mentioned the Allied drive across France of 1944, too.

                                Without wanting to venture into psychology...
                                Good idea.
                                Michele

                                Comment

                                Latest Topics

                                Collapse

                                Working...
                                X