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What was Hitlers greatest mistake of world war 2?

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  • #61
    Originally posted by qwertzu575
    ...To make myself more clear: The Germans did not do everything in their power to let as few Allies as possible get away....
    Hindsight. In fact they believed they were following the most logical course of action.

    Originally posted by qwertzu575
    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.
    The British and French began deploying along the canals and rivers in the Flanders flood plain May 21st,... soon after the fall of Calais.

    Originally posted by qwertzu575
    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....
    A thoroughly discredited theory. It was proposed anukber of years ago but an examination of German records shows no such deliberations amongst Hitler and his entourage or the high command. The simple fact is no one believed the British and French could be evacuated.

    Originally posted by qwertzu575
    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.
    Hindsight and does not take into account the needs of the future campaign, logostics, what the Germans thought or what they even may have been capable of doing. Your argument is based on Guiderian's claims - made after the war when second guessing was possible. The German command was not in possession of a crystal ball.

    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.

    Originally posted by qwertzu575
    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.
    Not blinking, evaluating. That is what commands are supposed to do. The command needed to plan for the future. An equally valid argument could be made that "momentum" was spent and the condition both of the lead tank units, their personnel and the stae of logistics would have prevented a successful wheel from west to the northeast amongst the streams, rivers and canals of lower Flanders.


    In the end the argument is still stale. It is guesswork. If the loss of the BEF would not have caused Britain to exit the war then the conduct of the Dunkirk battle cannot be claimed to have been "the greatest mistake".

    Everything we know states that Britain would have fought on.
    The Purist

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

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    • #62
      While I'm at it, I looked up some info about the 7. Panzerdivision. Nowadays, everyone remembers jus tthe epic part of its adventuring to the Channel Coast, its nickname as the Ghost Division, and so on. So it could just fight on and on and on?

      Some reality check is due. It started out on May 10 with 225 tanks of all types.
      Rommel in his memoirs recalls he reached the Channel with 24 operational tanks. This may have been a bit of an exaggeration.
      However, after an Auffrischung period after May 30, on June 4 it still had just 84 operational tanks.

      Surely most of the absentees had not been put out of action permanently; but the repairs service just couldn't keep up.

      Over-extension, logistics.
      Michele

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      • #63
        Originally posted by The Purist View Post
        Far too much hindsight and not nearly enough attention paid to the details of the campaign.

        ...

        Since that claim is unsubstantiated the conduct of the Dunkirk battle cannot be called the greatest error.
        Fair enough objections. I see where you're going.

        So, ... they sickle through to the Atlantic, get behind the bulk of the Allies (in particular the mechanized units which could deal a quick counterstroke) and then the Germans run out of imagination. Might well be.

        For interest, does anyone know of anybody in German high command actually advocating the encirclement on June 24th? Possibly supported by official references, without hindsight 20/20 (Guderian).

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        • #64
          If Hitler had not worried about his flank at Dunkirk and sent the armour in it would not have brought the British to surrender.
          It would not have allowed the Germans to invade Britain either so would not have made any difference to the war.
          German intervention in Spain would however make a huge strategic difference to their situation.
          Hence why it was one of Hitlers main regrets.
          I seriously doubt French North Africa would go over to the allies as any territory transfer would no doubt come after the war.
          France could also be offered various British African territories or parts of French speaking Europe.

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          • #65
            Originally posted by Philip F View Post
            If Hitler had not worried about his flank at Dunkirk and sent the armour in it would not have brought the British to surrender.
            Right, that alone would have been insufficient. But then, how could the British be brought to their knees? I can't think of any "battle" manoeuvre to do so.

            The British must be convinced that it is in their own best interest to cease hostilities. Given their well-known tenacity, yet dependence on imports, any "military-only" solution seems counterproductive.

            Comment


            • #66
              Originally posted by qwertzu575 View Post
              Right, that alone would have been insufficient. But then, how could the British be brought to their knees? I can't think of any "battle" manoeuvre to do so.

              The British must be convinced that it is in their own best interest to cease hostilities. Given their well-known tenacity, yet dependence on imports, any "military-only" solution seems counterproductive.
              As some one mentioned if Germany had planned to invade Britain right after the fall of France it would have had a small chance.
              The Ken Macksey book Invasion - the alternate history of the German invasion of England July 1940 covers this.
              But I think it would still likely fail.
              Another alternative would be to rush Gibraltar in June/July 1940 as many suggested to Hitler and try and bring Mediterranean shipping, the Italian fleet and Spanish Fleet up for the invasion of Britain in late September 1939.
              Of course they may well fail too.
              Britain is in a very strong position in defending its homeland right through the war.

              Comment


              • #67
                Apart from Infantry legging behind, exhaustion, refreshment, gesture-Bullshit and whatever, I think another factor played into the decision of "halting the Panzers":
                AFAIK the speed of the German advance in Fall Gelb was not only surprising the French and British but also the Germans themselves. After a week or so OKH was getting more and more confident of victory and pressing for speed, while Hitler was getting nervous and scared of vulnerable flanks and supply. He was also outraged by the disobedience of his Panzer Commanders. The disobedience was a real problem for Hitler. He saw his position of absolute power endangered. And that really scared(!) him.
                AFAIK Hitler wanted to make an example and therefore temporarily sacked Guderian and gave the "halting order of Montcornet" on May 17th. One week later, on May 24th, German formations were closing on Dunkirk when the bulk of the later evacuated Allied formations were still engaged with 6th and 18th Army. On this day the second halting order was issued (by Rundstedt IIRC). Rundstedts order was a reaction to Brauchitschs extraction of the 4th Army (the Panzers) out of Heeresgruppe A on May 23rd. This measure was taken without Hitlers knowledge, who became aware of the order on May 24th. Hitler was furious again and canceled the order. So IMO it was a struggle of power. Hitler was simply scared that he would loose too much authority to OKH...
                One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by The Purist View Post



                  The British and French began deploying along the canals and rivers in the Flanders flood plain May 21st,... soon after the fall of Calais.
                  .
                  Just a quick fact check, Calais fell on the 26th, with the final handfull of troops being rescued from the quay early on the 27th, no?
                  "In the absence of orders...find something and kill it!" Lt. General Erwin Rommel, 1942

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                  • #69
                    Apologies, I meant to refer to the German arrival on the coast at Abbeville.
                    The Purist

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

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Originally posted by Hanov View Post
                      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...


                      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.
                      NOPE!

                      Refer to Joel S. Hayward (Stopped at Stalingrad) for a realistic appraisal of Richthofen's Fleigerkorps VIII (and Lohr's units at 2nd Kharkov) and the total beatdown they laid on the RKKA during 1942. This period was the true pinnacle of Heer/ Luftwaffe integration and co-operative effort.

                      The instances exhibited during Fall Gelb/Rot are not even close in terms of their actual effect on the battlefield situation.

                      Do a little more "research" before jumping to unsupported conclusions...

                      Cadre losses over England had little to no impact on the units of the Luftwaffe that were to carry out the bulk of the "army co-operation" missions on the Ostfront. You don't need a full blown IFR qualified pilot to fly a "bomb truck" Ju 88 50 miles, drop his load on a river crossing, supply depot, or muster point, and then RTB.

                      The losses suffered by Ju 87 units during the "Kanalkampf" phase of "Angriff auf England" were more pertinent and hence? The StG's were withdrawn at an early point in the demonstration...replaced by the bomb carrying Bf 110's and 109's of Eprobungsgruppe 210. Who (I might add) gained significant experience over southern England...which was to subsequently prove very handy, (vis-a-vis the reformation of the Bf 110 units as dedicated ground attack units) for use in the eastern "adventure".

                      But I digress.

                      One must bear in mind the unbelievable leap in tech/capability that aviation experienced during the period; one must also give due credence to the fact that the "learning curve" was a VERY "fluid situation" during these years, and much more during the "formative" years of the war.

                      Get Hayward's book and read though it. Backed by Primary references from OKL records held by the BAMA. It's the "real deal" with respect to the subject of Heer/Luftwaffe co-ordination of effort.

                      Cheers, Ron
                      48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
                      __________________________________________________ __________________

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                        Apologies, I meant to refer to the German arrival on the coast at Abbeville.

                        Right. That was a game changer for sure!

                        Footnote: Calais was held sternly by the KRRC in one of the most heroic stories to come out of this campaign. Anyone who isn't aware of this unit's story should look it up sometime.
                        "In the absence of orders...find something and kill it!" Lt. General Erwin Rommel, 1942

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                          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 ever 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 day 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.
                          Great post, no arguing with your facts, but the question requires us to use hindsight. In fact, I don't know how we can discuss any historical event and not use hindsight.
                          But maybe if Germany had employed more foresight.....
                          Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

                          Comment


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post
                            Great post, no arguing with your facts, but the question requires us to use hindsight. In fact, I don't know how we can discuss any historical event and not use hindsight.
                            But maybe if Germany had employed more foresight.....
                            History is the discipline of hindsight.

                            Regards
                            Scott Fraser
                            Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                            A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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                            • #74
                              Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                              History is the discipline of hindsight.
                              Originally posted by Urban Hermit
                              In fact, I don't know how we can discuss any historical event and not use hindsight.
                              There's a great quote at the end of the '..... Misconceptions' video I posted on the WW2 section - "Historians cannot predict the future, they can only predict the past."

                              Hindsight can often tell us what was wrong, what mistakes were made, what the consequences were etc etc. What it can't tell us is why and that 'why' is the key to understanding. The problem is that the 'why' changes as new information emerges and doubt is cast on the provenance of 'old' sources. But that's why History is interesting.
                              Signing out.

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                              • #75
                                Every history book is in fact a study in hindsight. Strange that few politicians ever learn from it.
                                Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

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