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What if US decided to send troops to Rhineland in 1936?

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  • #16
    You tube recording of FDR's December 29, 1940 Fireside Speech called "The Arsenal of Democracy", where he among other things tried to prepare the public for war. This is an edited version

    Elements of the speech could have been used in 1936 to send forces to France during the Rhineland crisis.



    Much of the ending of the speech attempted to remove a sense of complacency. Roosevelt laid out the situation clearly, and then pointed out the flaws in that argument. He mentioned that "Some of us like to believe that even if Great Britain falls, we are still safe, because of the broad expanse of the Atlantic and of the Pacific." He refuted this by saying that modern technology had effectively reduced the distances across those oceans, allowing even for "planes that could fly from the British Isles to New England and back again without refueling."
    After establishing the danger, the president then proceeded to request action from the people. He acknowledged a telegram he had received. He refuted its message, which he summarized as "Please, Mr. President, don't frighten us by telling us the facts." The central fact he felt Americans must grasp was, "If Great Britain goes down, the Axis powers will control the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia, and the high seas—and they will be in a position to bring enormous military and naval resources against this hemisphere."
    He then continued to describe the situation in Europe, punctuating his remarks with warnings of how the Nazis would use the same tactics in the Western Hemisphere, and giving vivid imagery such as "The fate of these nations [occupied by force by the Nazis] tells us what it means to live at the point of a Nazi gun." Roosevelt attacked the British prewar policy of "appeasement," calling it ineffective. Listing prior examples given by European countries, he said it was futile.
    The only solution was to assist Britain ("the spearhead of resistance to world conquest") while it was still possible.
    While not explicitly pledging to stay out of the war, he stated that "our national policy is not directed toward war," and argued that helping Britain now would save Americans from having to fight. "You can, therefore, nail–nail any talk about sending armies to Europe as deliberate untruth." Europe does "not ask us to do their fighting. They ask us for the implements of war, the planes, the tanks, the guns, the freighters which will enable them to fight for their liberty and for our security. Emphatically we must get these weapons to them, get them to them in sufficient volume and quickly enough, so that we and our children will be saved the agony and suffering of war which others have had to endure."
    He urged this to change, all the while stressing that open war would not hurt the country: "the strength of this nation shall not be diluted by the failure of the Government to protect the economic well-being of its citizens." He focused on that theme of "splendid cooperation between the Government and industry and labor" for several paragraphs, cited how American labor would make an impact in the combat zones, and noted how important the manufacture of weapons and vehicles is to being strong, as a nation.
    He warned against labor disputes, saying, "The nation expects our defense industries to continue operation without interruption by strikes or lockouts. It expects and insists that management and workers will reconcile their differences by voluntary or legal means."
    Roosevelt stressed that it was not the American government but the American people who had the power to turn the tide of the war. It was here that he used the phrase "arsenal of democracy": "We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war." Finally he reassured the American people: "I believe that the Axis powers are not going to win this war."


    • #17
      Originally posted by Foxwood20 View Post
      My guess is if Roosevelt proposed U. S. troops to occupy the German Rhineland (note proposed, it would have been defeated overwhelmingly in Congress), there is a chance we see Alf Landon beating him in the fall 1936 presidential election. People had had enough of war in the Great war, they would not want interference in Europe especially with an action that would be considered an act of war.
      And it is certainly possible that the US could have become strictly isolationist in 1936 or 37, and Germany could have ended up winning the war. I'm reminded of the old Star Trek episode (The City on the Edge of Forever) in which Joan Collins co-starred. McCoy went back in time, and inadvertently changed history by saving Joan Collins' life, which allowed her to develop a great peace movement in the US - I think this supposedly happened in 1936.

      The City on the Edge of Forever - on you tube


      • #18
        Wikipedia article on FDR's Civil Rights Record

        In June 1941, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which created the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC). It was the most important federal move in support of the rights of African-Americans between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The President's order stated that the federal government would not hire any person based on their race, color, creed, or national origin. The FEPC enforced the order to ban discriminatory hiring within the federal government and in corporations that received federal contracts. Millions of blacks and women achieved better jobs and better pay as a result. The war brought the race issue to the forefront. The Army and Navy had been segregated since the Civil War. But by 1940 the African-American vote had largely shifted from Republican to Democrat, and African-American leaders like Walter Francis White of the NAACP and T. Arnold Hill of the Urban League had become recognized as part of the Roosevelt coalition. In June 1941, at the urging of A. Philip Randolph, the leading African-American trade unionist, Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing the Fair Employment Practice Commission and prohibiting discrimination by any government agency, including the armed forces. In practice the services, particularly the Navy and the Marines, found ways to evade this order — the Marine Corps remained all-white until 1943. In September 1942, at Eleanor's instigation, Roosevelt met with a delegation of African-American leaders, who demanded full integration into the forces, including the right to serve in combat roles and in the Navy, the Marine Corps and the United States Army Air Forces. Roosevelt agreed, but then did nothing to implement his promise. It was left to his successor, Harry S. Truman, to fully desegregate the armed forces.

        FDR could have issued such an executive order in 1936. As the article mentions, though, the big change was when Truman desegregated the armed forces.

        It is hard to see Roosevelt doing this in 1936, but following the same assumptions in earlier posts, namely that this was the key issue facing America, and that he felt a sense of urgency due to his mortality, if Roosevelt had desegregated the armed forces in 1936, he would have had a tremendous impact on society.

        Wikipedia article about Truman's desegregation order
        Last edited by lakechampainer; 13 Jun 14, 15:57.


        • #19
          As mentioned before, I see the US shipping out of its still at that time largest port of Metropolitan NY. I see the first regiment to be shipped, and it's support troops, shipping out together, in a large "convoy" -although no German sub threat at this point- and heading to one of the great Southwestern France Ports used by the US in WW I, perhaps Brest or St. Nazaire. The convoy warships are Wickes-class or Clemson-class destroyers and Omaha-class cruisers.

          The same rail lines to bring troops to the US zone during WW I can be used again to bring troops to the same general area. The link below shows shipments of material of men from ports during WW II, New York by far the heaviest on the East Coast, San Francisco in the West. Boston and Newport News also were important - by 1944, Boston and Newport News were in the ballpark of New York 1942, in terms of passengers.

          link to an edited version of Pershing's end of war report, which discusses selection of ports among other things (Note: can anyone find the full report? I had it earlier, can't find it now)

          The US troops will be deployed from the beginning in such a way that it will be obvious to the Germans that the Americans could after build-up serve as a "fixing force" which would free up French forces including armored forces to the left and right of the US to serve as maneuver forces. The French will also deploy units that will make it clear it can easily move to the Belgian border on the Rhineland. The US from the beginning would deploy artillery units. The B-10 bombers would be deployed in a location, obviously, where they could reach targets in Western Germany, including the Ruhr (ie Krupp Works, etc.)

          Last edited by lakechampainer; 13 Jun 14, 21:51.


          • #20
            As an "alternate history" of this thread, and noting that the Reichstag fire took place on February 27, 1933, and the US Presidential inauguration on March 4, 1933, another question would be, what if a national consensus developed early to stop the German's from re-arming/expanding. The different event here, is Hoover and Roosevelt more or less settle their differences on inauguration day, to the extent they are civil to each other and can communicate going forward. FDR is apologetic for some of the the things said during the campaign. He says that he is going to radically change domestic policies, but internationally he is very scared of Germany and the USSR and Japan and wants to draw on Hoover's vast experience. This might have led to a situation where the US and France had a "training exercise" with in 1934 or 1935. The whole intent of course is to show the willingness and ability to project power across the ocean. Return to France, instead of the later Return to Germany (REFORGER)




            • #21
              I think that if that US actually started the process of sending forces to France, a certain Georgian-born gentleman in Moscow would be most interested. He would immediately start pondering how to turn this situation to his advantage, as he would would see it as his big chance to eliminate Germany as a competitor. He would supplement his solo thinking with many all-night booze-filled dinners with his lieutenants, where he would attempt to ascertain what they really thought about the situation. I think his basic thinking would be:

              1. Do essentially nothing in the short term - see how it plays out. Some play to the "useful idiots" about fighting fascism, about supporting their French Allies (1935 Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance)
              2. If a situation actually arises where there is fighting, this would be his dream situation. Let Germany be knocked out and then occupied to some extent by the West. Guess who looks to East Prussia(which of course would require taking the Baltics)? Guess who then marches in and takes Poland, then looks to Rumania (and its oil and wheat fields)
              3. If Germany is forced to withdraw, there will be much in-fighting in Germany, and less central control, regardless of whether Hitler survives in power or not. Also, from this point on, Stalin is much assured that Hitler will never be able to exploit the resources of France and the low countries for use against the USSR, as he did in actual events.
              4. Stalin may give thought to provoking war with Japan, given a safe situation in Europe.
              Last edited by lakechampainer; 14 Jun 14, 11:48.


              • #22
                I think Hitler's reaction to US plans to send forces to France is fairly predictable:

                1. Since he considers the US weak, and doesn't understand it, he more or less simply continues on with his plans. If anything, he sees this as weakness on the point of France - an excuse to in the end do nothing.

                2. He will use what ever influence German intelligence has with Bund-type organizations in the US, in an attempt to get them to fight this with everything they have. In fact, though, at this point, the Bund is not too strong, although there are weak, more or less US grown groups.

                3. Hitler will continue with re-armament as planned.

                4. He and his diplomats and his admirers will tell his many friends and admirers in Europe and the US that Germany is the best weapon against Stalin and world Bolshevism. And that Germany is a friend of "capitalism". From Radical Reference - "Support for Hitler (or Fascism) in the United States"

                5. He consults with his military high command to see how this unexpected involvement might change the military issues. One issue the German High command stresses is that besides everything else the US can supply, including manpower, refined petroleum and especially aviation fuel could be very important.

                6. He decides that if necessary he will agree to the earlier British demands to prohibit bombing of cities and to work towards a "general settlement", to allow the allies to tell their people that they "won"

                On the German Army - The Road to War I: 1936-1938

                During the summer of 1936. the Army created a new armaments program in which, by October 1939, Germany would have a peacetime army of 36 infantry divisions &emdash; a total of 830,000 men, and a war-time field army of 4,626,000 men.Such a program required a vast increase in the financial and economic resources, and there were signs that Germany was nearing the limits of its productive capabilities. Numerous demands were being made on labor and raw materials: the continuing Autobahn program, extensive urban development, prestige building projects such as the Nürnberg Party rally complex and numerous Gau Party buildings, and last but not least, the requirements of production for export in order to provide the foreign exchange for raw material imports essential to the rearmament drive. Not only did all these programs All these demands compete with the requirements of the three branches of the armed services, but these in turn competed against each another.General Werner von Fritsch, Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, was deeply troubled by the pace of the rearmament program. He ordered a study of the financial, material and manpower requirements then in existence. The resulting memorandum confirmed Fritsch's worst fears. It noted that existing plans called for a military budget which required increasing funding outside the official bud get. For example, in 1937, 5.3 billion more Reichsmarks than were officially provided in the budget; and another 5.3 billion in 1938, and 5.02 billion in 1939

                Wikipedia article - Tanks of the Interwar Period

                From Foreign Affairs - The French Army: 1936

                This defensive system consists of two types. In Alsace, where an invading army from southern Germany would first have to cross the Rhine and would then encounter the Vosges mountains, the French High Command has been satisfied to multiply emplacements for machine guns and artillery commanding the river and the points on the French side where an enemy might be able to gain a foothold. On the other hand, along the 125 miles of open frontier between the Rhine and the Moselle there has been created an extremely powerful line of fortifications. Reënforced concrete and armored forts have been constructed at the principal strategic points, and smaller forts and machine gun nests in the intervals between the main forts. The environs of the large fortifications have been made inaccessible to tanks and infantry by various devices, notably by systems of upright steel beams imbedded in reënforced concrete. All of these works have the most modern appointments: they are impervious to gas, they are supplied with electric appliances, and they are connected with the outside and frequently with each other by underground communications.
                By 1933 the process of giving France an effectively fortified north-east frontier was well under way, but it was far from complete due to financial considerations which necessitated spreading the work over a number of years. The accession of Hitler showed France that her military preparations would have to be redoubled. In fact, it became necessary to reorganize the whole French army.
                The question of effectives immediately became acute. Faced with the fact that by 1936 the German army would be 700,000 strong, could France continue to maintain military service at only one year? Arithmetic supplies the answer.
                Up to 1935 France annually called up about 240,000 young men to perform their year of military service. However, from this figure must be subtracted the 25,000 men who are not fitted to take their places in the ranks and who are placed in the "auxiliary service." The home army thus contained only 215,000 young men called to the colors. If we add the 58,000 professional soldiers (non-commissioned officers and specialists) and the 45,000 North African natives garrisoned in France, we find that in 1935 the French army could not have consisted of more than 318,000 men. This is a maximum figure, for the 45,000 native troops constitute the so-called "expeditionary force;" they must be ready to go to a colony on short notice and consequently might not be in France at the moment of a German attack. Furthermore, the French birth-rate fell sharply during the five years of war. In consequence, contingents formed of the men born between 1914 and 1919 will vary from a maximum of 159,000 men in 1936 to a minimum of 121,000 in 1937 and 1938.
                Last edited by lakechampainer; 14 Jun 14, 22:12.


                • #23
                  The way I see this Alternate History playing out in the next few years is something like this:

                  1. The US does in fact gear up to send troops and does in fact send 1 regiment and a squadron, as per the original plan. The Air Corps flies very impressive long-range practice missions, and the army logistics set-up does work quite well. When in the process of sending another regiment, an agreement is reached with Hitler, and then the US forces come home, hailed as successful.

                  2. Roosevelt is quite unpopular after using up his political capital to do this. He decides not to run for a second term. He feels he has done the right thing, although he doesn't necessary think the Germans have been stopped.

                  3. The British in fact did provide support during the process, but not ground forces on the continent. They also practiced air missions, and most importantly had naval exercises which were essentially practice blockades of Germany.

                  4. The main benefit probably of the whole process was that with Herbert Hoover acting as the personal representative of FDR, Belgium agreed to let French forces onto their soil, and to set up a unified command structure. So essentially France was able to cover their frontier this time, and they had room to maneuver (The heart of France is between Paris and Brussels). And there is much more room for Britain or the US to send troops.

                  5. The Germans reach a "general agreement" to return to "the normalcy of the 20s". They in fact don't withdraw from the Rhineland, but they agree not to build up bases along the Western frontier.

                  6. Everyone portrays themselves as a winner. The US Presidential election is wide open in both parties. FDR does not endorse anyone, nor does Herbert Hoover.

                  7. On Hitler's agenda next: Czechoslovakia.

                  8. On Stalin's agenda next: The Baltics. In this scenario when the war comes Stalin doesn't inexplicably order his front line troops not to respond in advance, he doesn't freeze, etc. The battle more or less starts with both sides fighting from the beginning, when the battle starts in Poland.

                  Many options as to how it all turns it in the end. I feel though that in this scenario Germany is ultimately weaker because 1. They have less time to re-arm before the Western Powers get serious 2. He doesn't get to draw on the resources of France and the Low Countries 3. Stalin sees what's happening and starts his conquests earlier. 4. In this scenario the US continues to develop its aircraft and other technological weapons. The US also starts earlier in its buildup of its Philippine defenses.

                  So ultimately I see the decisive war between Germany and the USSR starting with the USSR in a stronger position and Germany in a weaker position. I see the USSR winning, although not clear what the implications are for Western Europe. Probably Winston Churchill says around 1940 that " An iron curtain is coming down in Europe". The US sends forces to Western Europe. There is a Soviet occupied zone of what was Germany and a French/British occupied zone. Italy as usual changes sides during the conflict. The British come into conflict with the Soviets/Soviet-backed communists in Greece and Yugoslavia.

                  9. Japan has made moves against the Soviets in the East and has done fairly well in the war, with the USSR tied up in the greatest war of all time. Now with the USSR winning in the West, they turn their attention to Japan and route them near Mongolia and attack into Manchuria. The position of the Chinese communists is improved. This scenario may well see widespread use of chemical and bacteriological weapons.

                  10. The Soviet Union is unquestionably the world's greatest military power. Also, in this scenario the Soviet heartland is not devastated as it was in actual events. China is falling more under the sway of the communists. The US and Britain have a technological edge in weapons, and Japan has a great Navy, particularly Naval Aviation. The Soviets work on new weapons, including their rocketry program. They have captured almost intact the German rocket research site, and many of the scientists. The US is also working on a rocket program, which was started under the auspices of The Office of Scientific Research and Development, under Vannever Bush. The rocket program chief scientist is Dr. Robert Goddard.
                  Last edited by lakechampainer; 15 Jun 14, 18:06.


                  • #24
                    There were no US troops needed, nor wanted. Historically, despite the many misgivings, doubt, and great reluctance, France had been prepared to use force on her own. The worst resistance came from the US and UK. Had there not been such a diplomatic backlash against France by her own allies, the situation over the Rhineland may have been much different. The US Navy could have contributed by cooperation with the RN to threaten a blockade of Germany.
                    You'll live, only the best get killed.

                    -General Charles de Gaulle


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by asterix View Post
                      There were no US troops needed, nor wanted. Historically, despite the many misgivings, doubt, and great reluctance, France had been prepared to use force on her own. The worst resistance came from the US and UK. Had there not been such a diplomatic backlash against France by her own allies, the situation over the Rhineland may have been much different. The US Navy could have contributed by cooperation with the RN to threaten a blockade of Germany.
                      I feel that France was basically abandoned soon after the war by the allies in terms of occupation, etc. I feel that France had major complaints against the allies, who among other things wanted to resume business as usual with German industrialists. From the end of the war if not sooner, Ludendorff, Krupp, the military, the aristocrats, the other industrialists and of course Hitler were plotting to end the occupation and re-arm and fight again. Certainly covered in "The Arms of Krupp."

                      The fact is France fought Germany again and lost. Obviously not desirable, and I think certainly not inevitable.

                      Regarding the occupations, etc. right after the war:



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