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April 7/8, 1940.

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  • April 7/8, 1940.

    Bad weather does not prevent the British fleet from destroying the German Invasion of Norway.

    What happens next?
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  • #2
    Depends on how big a debacle it is - if really bad the German High Command pulls a military coup, jails or shoots Hitler and associates and opens negotiations with the British and French governments. Otherwise preparations for the invasion of France and the low countries continue apace.
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)


    • #3
      Long term stratigic effects:

      1. No submarine bases in Norway from 1941

      2. No northern base to interdict cargo ships to the USSR via Murmansk.

      3. Norwegian air bases to harass Germany from the north.

      4. Sweden is not isolated & in a impossible straigic position. Brit efforts to get Sweden to cut off exports to Germany may bear fruit earlier.

      5. Possibility of surface raids on the German 'northern frontier'. So a garrison must be built up there.

      6. Brit subs may be able to enter the Baltic.

      7. Another direction the Allied deception ops can threaten a invasion of Germany from.

      8. Germans must consider a second try for all the reasons above.


      • #4
        Did the RN have the opportunity to smash the entire invasion? The paratroops would still have landed, and some of the troops deployed did the short crossing to Oslo. The Germans would have held Oslo, and with air superiority could have maintained those troops for a short period.
        Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.


        • #5
          Hitler's better off ...

          ... without it, the Germans had enjoyed the benefits of a neutral Norway in WWI, without having to defend it, that was equally a German perspective that they denied themselves in WWII, and paid for it.

          (This is an old post which dates back to the late 90's, I know it doesn't answer your "What if" directly, but it kinda does on the periphery, maybe, sorta?)

          Too much is made of the use of the port of Narvik to carry Swedish iron ore. It was only of real benefit in the winter months when the northern extremities of the Baltic Sea froze over due to its low saline content, more southerly Scandinavian ports remained ice free. The major Swedish iron and steel mill centres, at Oxelösund and Luleå, are located on the Baltic Sea coast. The Gällivare iron fields were connected by rail to Luleå, both finished steel and iron ore were shipped out from its port, Svartöstaden, one of Sweden's largest export harbours. Unlike the Skagerrak and West Coast of Norway, which were patrolled by submarines, the Baltic was relatively immune to RN trade interdiction. In fact, the Malta Force U-Class Subs which devastated the Italian merchant marine, had been pulled from Norwegian Coastal patrols in late 1940 because of the scarcity of targets. Most of what was shipped to Germany from Sweden was sent by Baltic convoys, escorted by Swedish warships after the Soviets sank 5 Swedish merchantmen in 1942. By mining and by using anti-sub nets across the Gulf of Finland, the Germans kept Soviet subs out of the Baltic until Sept. 1944. In any case, in April 1940, the Soviets were Germany’s allies, of a sort. Given the resources Germany expended in Norway during the war, it would have been far cheaper to use neutral Norwegian shipping to ship a larger volume of ore when ice free to compensate for the loss of the use of the port of Svartöstaden in winter. Either that or fund a high volume railway to a southern Baltic completely ice free port.

          FALL GELB i.e. the attack on France and the Low Countries, had been in the works before WESERUBUNG, the attack on Norway and Denmark, but was postponed nearly 30 times, starting in Nov. 1939. One of the most serious delays occurred when a courier plane made a forced landing in Belgium and orders for the co-ordinated air attack were lost to the enemy – the date for invasion as stipulated in those plans was 17 January 1940. As Guderian said “An aeroplane accident compelled our masters to abandon the Schlieffen Plan. It had to be assumed that the Belgians and probably the French and British, knew all about our proposed operation.” This was undoubtedly to Germany’s benefit as things worked out, but FALL GELB had been intended to proceed earlier, ahead of WESERUBUNG, and could’ve. WESERUBUNG then would not have been required, if FALL GELB was a success.

          Although German Adm. Wegener’s book “Die See Strategie des Weltkriegs”, recommending the seizure of Norway in WWI, to base U-Boats to break the stalemate in France, influenced many German Naval officers (Doenitz being among them), Raeder was not in Wegener’s camp, at least not initially, and not to acquire naval bases. Raeder believed that facilities in Luleå should be expanded so that Germany’s yearly requirement of Swedish ore could be sent from there in 8 months, that shipping from Narvik wasn’t necessary. He believed that on balance, a neutral Norway offered greater advantages to Germany than would the seizure of Norwegian bases, the army agreed. As early as Oct 10, 1939 his opinion changed. On that day Raeder received intelligence from Canaris’s Abwehr that showed British interest in Norway. Vidkkun Quisling, a former Norwegian Minister of Defense was a great source of information. Raeder took it to Hitler, who wasn’t interested. Instead Hitler issued his directive for an early offensive on the west. Alarmed by the Soviet attack on Finland, that the British could use that pretext for action in Norway and Sweden to assist the Finns, and use the excuse to cut off German ore supplies (still a naval matter), Raeder persisted. On Dec. 11 Raeder brought Quisling to meet Hitler and on Dec. 14, 2 months after his directive planning an attack on the west, Hitler ordered OKW to draw up a preliminary study of an invasion of Norway, with FALL GELB actually beyond the planning stages, and dates set (although they weren’t carved in stone). There it stayed, until the Altmark incident. Hitler was furious, WESERUBUNG, his response to invade, was out of anger but he should have been more analytical, the rescue of 300 or so merchant sailors from the Altmark was a PR coup at best. The Norwegian Navy had intercepted Altmark, and she was under escort when the RN Cruiser Arethusa and the 4th Destroyer Squadron caught them. The Norwegians insisted that they not interfere with her in Norwegian waters, which allowed Altmark to slip into Josenfjord in the 1st place. The Norwegians protested the ensuing boarding action, which truly was beyond their control. The early analysis that Germany’s yearly requirement of Swedish ore could be shipped from Luleå was still correct, plus Britain’s opportunity to act would soon pass.

          Meanwhile in Britain in Sept. 1939, Churchill as 1st Lord of the Admiralty, pushed first for RN action in the Baltic, then the need to stop ore shipments from Norway, then the mining of Norwegian waters i.e. the Leads, but the Cabinet refused to breach Norwegian neutrality. The discussion was brought up again in conjunction with the Allies giving aid to the Finns, and supporting the Norwegians and Swedes after the Soviets attacked on Nov. 30th. The Soviets were astute when they seized the Finnish Arctic Port of Petsamo early on in the Winter War to prevent aid from the Allies. The Norwegians and Swedes were approached, but both, in fear of Germany, refused to cooperate. In any case their neutrality wasn’t tested, the Finns sued for peace in March, Britain’s opportunity was lost.

          Hitler and Raeder hesitated when the Finns surrendered. Did the need for the invasion still exist? Hitler gave the order on the 2nd of April for landings in the early morning of April 9th. British intentions were completely different, regarding abrogating Scandinavian neutrality and for a reason. Churchill finally persuaded Chamberlain that mining the Leads should be pursued. On April 5th warning notes were handed to both the Norwegian and Swedish governments and the mining forces set sail. Six troop battalions were embarked on cruisers at Rosyth, and the Clyde, but all were to remain in port, to respond only if the Germans did. Why the restraint? Britain and the US were democracies, and it was an election year in the US. Britain at this point was already reliant on the US for supplies and war materiel, Churchill was by now in steady communication with FDR. If public opinion in both Britain and the US had been so negative regarding the Soviet’s assault on the Finns, how would a British attack on Norway and Sweden look? It was one thing to consider doing so under the context of helping the fellow Scandinavian Finns against the Soviets, quite another to do so under the same context as the Soviets had against Finland. Even if privately Churchill had FDR’s personal support, FDR could not guarantee support for Britain in such an action, neither he nor Churchill could risk jeopardizing US public opinion in this inopportune time. Hitler had no such restraints.

          Another consideration, the British landed in Iceland on May 10th, 1940, a month after Denmark’s neutrality had been abrogated by Germany in it’s attack on Norway, simply because Denmark was in the way, and Danish airfields were needed. The British landed to prevent the Germans from gaining Iceland through the Danes, and securing British and US sealanes to the mutual benefit of both. May 10th was the same day that Germany launched FALL GELB against neutral Belgium, and the Netherlands. Unlike the actions of the Germans, the British guaranteed not to interfere with Iceland’s internal affairs. Likewise the Azores were an attractive location to base convoy aircover and hunt U-Boats, but the British didn’t use air bases there until Oct. 1943, and that after protracted negotiations with Portugal, they weren’t placed into “protection custody”, despite their attractiveness, and the fact that U-Boats prowled the area. Actions against Vichy colonies could be justified in that support was being given to the Free French in what amounted to Civil War. German action cannot be based on preventing reciprocal action by the British, there simply was no pretext to do so. Germany conquered, Britain sought self-interest, but that self-interest was tempered by the need to maintain relations with the US, and the other neutrals. But the benefits of Allied control of Iceland, courtesy of Hitler’s attack on Denmark, and Norway, in and of itself when it comes to its role in the Battle of the Atlantic and the defeat of the U-Boat, far outweighed any benefit that Hitler got out of Norway, there’s no comparison.

          History has shown that Britain could not, and would not abrogate Scandinavian neutrality after the Winter War was concluded. Considering Norway, the Germans had more than adequate intelligence, to the extent that they would’ve known that mine fields were laid, if the Norwegians did, and they did. It was spring, and Luleå would be opening up, sailing from Narvik need not even be attempted. Germany had 8 months of clear Baltic shipping and time to expand port facilities. WESERUBUNG was launched after a fit of temper, not out of need.

          In 1940, when contemplating FALL GELB and WESERUBUNG how could Hitler have surmised that Norway would be of any use at all in attacking Allied convoys to the arctic, enroute to his then ally Stalin??? In any case, in April 1940, the Soviets and Germans were still living under an agreement. Given the resources Germany expended in Norway during the war, it would have been far cheaper to use neutral Norwegian shipping to ship a larger volume of ore when ice free to compensate for the loss of the use of the port of Svartöstaden in winter. Either that or fund a high volume railway to a southern Baltic completely ice free port.

          Again, much like Sweden, Norway as a neutral with its merchant marine intact trading with Germany or carrying German goods would pose more of a problem to the RN blockade which had issues with neutrals largely for political reasons, than shipless Norway in German hands.

          As far as the Arctic convoys go, the loss of materiel was 7%, the loss rate of n/b ships being 7.8%, and empty s/b ships 3.8%. The Arctic route was pursued in the winter because it was deemed to be worthwhile despite the losses i.e. they were acceptable. The British did not have to pursue Arctic convoy routes. When losses rose in the Atlantic due to U-Boat predations, U-boats based in France in the main, not Norway, the Arctic convoys were simply discontinued, their ASW escorts were sent largely to the Atlantic, their capital ships to ops. in the Med. The Arctic convoys only carried 22.7% of the Lend Lease supplies sent to the Soviets, most Allied assistance went across the Pacific in Soviet convoys, or through Persia.

          Hitler had no crystal ball, plus it was his choice to abrogate their non-aggression pact. As I said above, Hitler knew that Britain had attempted to help the Finns against the Soviets, courtesy of Quisling, and the fact that neutrals being the sieves of information that they were, Hitler knew a great deal more. What’s more Britain had seriously contemplated bombing Baku to stem the flow of Soviet oil to Germany at the time. Hitler figured that if France was defeated, Britain would sue for peace and had no long term plans where Britain was concerned anyway. The Soviets had just been vilified in the world press following the attack on the Finns, particularly in the US where Hitler and Stalin could’ve been put in the same boat. As it turned out Lend Lease to the Soviets was delayed because of the difficulty of accepting the Soviets as an ally, and then it was only given after Churchill’s repeated urging. Just exactly which nation, did Hitler expect to send aid to the Soviets via Murmansk after he attacked them, anyway? With that rationale i.e. Norway taken because it was required to prevent convoys to Murmansk after an attack on the Soviets, with all the troops sent to Norway, why wasn’t Murmansk taken by force, much like Petsamo was by the Soviets in the Winter War? The Germans moved into the Petsamo area to secure the nickel fields, and there was a halfhearted attempt at cutting the Murmansk Railway, but that’s it. Germany being in a position to threaten Arctic convoys to aid the Soviets was an unexpected windfall, never fully exploited.

          In terms of military resources:

          "An order by Hitler forced Terboven to meet the demands of the Wehrmacht and its construction program with resources from the Norwegian economy. It had to supply a fully functioning army whose number was as high as 400,000 towards the end of the occupation. Among all the countries under German occupation, there was none where the number of troops in proportion to the population was less favorable than Norway. There, was one German soldier for every eight Norwegians."

          "The German Occupation Regime in Norway and Denmark, 1940-45 - A Comparative View", Prof. Robert Bohn, Universität Kiel

          And lastly, we come to economics – Norway was a wasted effort here too. In brief, some very bizarre things occurred in Norway; the Germans sank tons o’ dough i.e. capital investment, for very little return on their RM's. Because Norway fell so early, the Germans started working on plans to fit Norway into their new vision of Europe i.e. Grossraumwirtschaft soon after the occupation, and kept at them long after they stopped making any sense.

          For example consider aluminium; the Germans decided to set up aluminium works in Norway to rival those of Germany, 4 new smelters in phase 1, 6 more in phase 2, to equip the Luftwaffe with aircraft; the German Air Ministry and Junkers were in on the deal too, from 28,000 metric tons in 1940, to some 250,000 metric tons of aluminium by June 1944 – the capital came from Germany. Why? Cheap electrical power, but that still meant another 8 hydro electric stations, the complete lack of raw material i.e bauxite didn’t mean much, peace was right around the corner, right? It was proposed to ship bauxite from France, and Hungary (which developed its own aluminium industry), thing is though that Britain didn’t sue for peace, and the RN had something to say about it all, but the Germans persisted in their folly. Then there are the agricultural investments in sheep, the autobahn from Berlin to Trondheim, the railway from Stavanger to Oslo …

          Ultimately 1 aluminium plant and 2 new power plants were built, the agricultural plans went for naught, Norway remained a drain on food resources, and without its merchant marine (which financed the Norwegian Government in exile), had a major trade imbalance otherwise anyway. The sheep never panned out (4 million head were projected), sheep stocks remained about the same (1.7 million), but pigs were down 30%, poultry by 60%, all to make room for the sheep of course! The Norwegians still had to be fed, the one bright spot on the caloric/protein front, the Norwegian fishing fleet, sat largely in port; turns out German contractors paid better wages to build power plants, alumina smelters, plus the fortifications and barracks to house that massive military presence, than the fishermen could get by fishing! Can you say left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? But Hitler remained soft on Norway, he reinforced Norway for little expenditure on the part of the Allies, who knew how to play him simply with feints to the area, such as the 2 US BB’s assigned to “Operation Governor”, a feint associated with Operation Husky, seldom mentioned. Now that’s the way to play Hitler - Norway while a huge tactical success for German arms in 1940, was a strategic failure of considerable proportions, it didn’t cost Hitler the war, but it wasn’t even close to the price it eventually cost.

          So Nick, given your "What if", IF Hitler waits it out until the success of FALL GELB is secure, then the WESERUBUNG rebuff can simply go down in history as one of the most brilliant feints in history!
          Last edited by Marmat; 18 May 16, 17:29.
          "I am Groot"
          - Groot


          • #6
            The Germans still successfully invade from the South and between air landings and continued reinforcement begin to push north.

            The invasion and subsequent fall of France ends British land operations as they pull their troops out, along with the French units who are otherwise going to surrender / stop fighting under Vichy orders.
            Hitler is far more wary about launching Seelowe so he doesn't make the massive and expensive effort that was made historically.
            By mid 1941 it makes no difference on events.


            • #7
              1940's it had to be minedMarmat-Superb"
              all I can add is cryolite , needed to flux aluminum, was in short supply Reich wide. In the
              Last edited by marktwain; 28 Nov 18, 09:49. Reason: Brain bubbles...
              The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..


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