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What if Hitler Had "Modest" Ambitions?

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  • What if Hitler Had "Modest" Ambitions?

    What if Hitler and Germany only had "modest" ambitions? At the start of WW2, they had already absorbed Austria, Czechoslovakia and remilitarized the Rhineland. With the invasion of Poland, they got the mines and industry of Silesia, farmland and linked East Prussia to Germany again. What if they had stopped then?
    Here is where I divert from real life. Hitler deports the Jews but makes them leave the majority of their assets. He doesn't enslave the Slavs in Poland and Slovakia but only makes them serfs to the new German landlords. The navy never builds the Bismarcks or the S&G. They just have the pocket battleships for "show the flag" cruises and concentrates on submarines and minor surface units for the Baltic and North Seas. The Luftwaffe stays much the same. The army concentrates on building Panzer Mk IV and its variants and mechanizing to get rid of horses. The active duty army is smaller but with a huge reserve force. They build an eastern wall to deter the USSR.
    The French and British showed that they weren't serious about attacking Germany after Poland by their inaction during the "sitzkrieg". Germany would have been stronger and with a better economy. They would still be getting iron ore from Sweden and oil from Romania. Some of the smaller European countries (Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary and Romania) would have come under their indirect control, whether willingly or not. Some would have liked the "strongman" position and politics of Germany and others would have no choice due to the impotence of France and the UK.
    The question(s) are...would Germany have stayed strong enough to deter France and the UK from doing anything offensive? Would the US stay out of it? Would the eastern defenses of Germany keep the USSR from eventually invading?
    I've read that as late as the Spanish civil war that large parts of France and Great Britain considered communism (USSR) a bigger threat than fascism.
    I'm sure I've missed some things and am counting on my argument getting picked apart, so have at it!!!

  • #2
    Originally posted by johns624 View Post
    What if Hitler and Germany only had "modest" ambitions? At the start of WW2, they had already absorbed Austria, Czechoslovakia and remilitarized the Rhineland. With the invasion of Poland, they got the mines and industry of Silesia, farmland and linked East Prussia to Germany again. What if they had stopped then?
    Britain had already declared war upon them after the invasion of Poland. If they had stopped short of invading Poland, then it might be plausible to avoid WW2. Expecting Britain to withdraw their declaration, once issued, is just not believable.

    Originally posted by johns624 View Post
    The French and British showed that they weren't serious about attacking Germany after Poland by their inaction during the "sitzkrieg". Germany would have been stronger and with a better economy. They would still be getting iron ore from Sweden and oil from Romania. Some of the smaller European countries (Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary and Romania) would have come under their indirect control, whether willingly or not. Some would have liked the "strongman" position and politics of Germany and others would have no choice due to the impotence of France and the UK.
    Britain was building her strength.

    I think that the important question would be, 'How would Germany fuel her newly acquired empire?'

    The two main sources of petroleum would be the Middle East (controlled by Britain) and the USA. (Romania, Dutch East Indies, and Russia, too.) The British would not sell them oil and the Romanian fields would be insufficient. Unless the Dutch, the USA, and/or Russia sold them oil, the war was pre-ordained, at that point.
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    • #3
      With Germany on the defensive, her oil needs would be much less than in real life. Also, the UK was a maritime power and couldn't do much against Germany and its possessions.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by johns624 View Post
        (….)
        The question(s) are...would Germany have stayed strong enough to deter France and the UK from doing anything offensive? Would the US stay out of it? Would the eastern defenses of Germany keep the USSR from eventually invading ?
        Idk, this scenario is quite similar to "what if H. was murdered in 1939" ones I've seen around….

        Everything then depends on the actions of other actors.

        Such a "defensive" Germany is quite popular in wargames too..

        I've read that as late as the Spanish civil war that large parts of France and Great Britain considered communism (USSR) a bigger threat than fascism.
        Certainly - even the actual German invasion of 1940 was greeted by some as being preferable to the indecisive, conflict-ridden, liberal democratic/socialist governments that preceeded it.

        To Catholics for example, socialists and communists were definitely a bigger threat than fascists.

        Fascism had its attractions - and without a visibly insane maniac in command, it's anyones guess what might have happened….
        Last edited by Snowygerry; 12 Sep 19, 03:05.
        High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
        Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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        • #5
          So long as Hitler was determined to follow his lunatic racial policy Germany was doomed to continue trying to expand - there was nowhere to deport the Jews to. They tried mass deportations from the annexed territories partly for logistic reasons to the Central Government (the German run remains of Poland) this failed utterly for logistic reasons and partly because of opposition from the Germans (including ethnic Germans) running the Central Government. That's why for example the Lodz Ghetto was formed - as a holding place until they found somewhere. The idea was that once the Soviets had collapsed they would all be shipped off to somewhere East of the Urals and allowed to starve to death.

          German agriculture was relatively inefficient and without imports could not sustain the population. The British embargo blocked sea borne imports so Germany needed to conquer new agricultural sources (like the Ukraine for example) and populate them with ethnic German farmers.
          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)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MarkV View Post
            So long as Hitler was determined to follow his lunatic racial policy Germany was doomed to continue trying to expand.
            Certainly yes, but since we're having a "modest" H. we may as well strip him from his obsession with deporting/murdering Jews, that was hardly a necessity after all, nor was it very beneficial I imagine.

            Indeed wargames, which are the only places where I typically encounter such "what ifs" usually ignore the issue entirely...





            High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
            Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

              Certainly yes, but since we're having a "modest" H. we may as well strip him from his obsession with deporting/murdering Jews, that was hardly a necessity after all, nor was it very beneficial I imagine.

              Indeed wargames, which are the only places where I typically encounter such "what ifs" usually ignore the issue entirely...




              The OP states in his scenario that Hitler still deported the Jews. Hitler's underlying obsession was achieving a Jewish free Europe - it underlay and informed almost everything he did. First he thought that it could be achieved by driving them to flee, then by forced deportation out of Europe and then finally by genocide. Remove this and you really don't have Hitler
              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)

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              • #8
                Fair enough
                High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                  What if Hitler and Germany only had "modest" ambitions? At the start of WW2, they had already absorbed Austria, Czechoslovakia and remilitarized the Rhineland. With the invasion of Poland, they got the mines and industry of Silesia, farmland and linked East Prussia to Germany again. What if they had stopped then?
                  Here is where I divert from real life. Hitler deports the Jews but makes them leave the majority of their assets. He doesn't enslave the Slavs in Poland and Slovakia but only makes them serfs to the new German landlords. The navy never builds the Bismarcks or the S&G. They just have the pocket battleships for "show the flag" cruises and concentrates on submarines and minor surface units for the Baltic and North Seas. The Luftwaffe stays much the same. The army concentrates on building Panzer Mk IV and its variants and mechanizing to get rid of horses. The active duty army is smaller but with a huge reserve force. They build an eastern wall to deter the USSR.
                  The French and British showed that they weren't serious about attacking Germany after Poland by their inaction during the "sitzkrieg". Germany would have been stronger and with a better economy. They would still be getting iron ore from Sweden and oil from Romania. Some of the smaller European countries (Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary and Romania) would have come under their indirect control, whether willingly or not. Some would have liked the "strongman" position and politics of Germany and others would have no choice due to the impotence of France and the UK.
                  The question(s) are...would Germany have stayed strong enough to deter France and the UK from doing anything offensive? Would the US stay out of it? Would the eastern defenses of Germany keep the USSR from eventually invading?
                  I've read that as late as the Spanish civil war that large parts of France and Great Britain considered communism (USSR) a bigger threat than fascism.
                  I'm sure I've missed some things and am counting on my argument getting picked apart, so have at it!!!

                  I think the problem here is overstating the 'weakness' of France & Germany & over rating the strength & strategic position of Germany.

                  Time was not on Hitler's side. It took France & Britain time to get themselves fully on a war footing. Weapons production was still scaling up & equipment from the US was just starting to arrive (in France at least) when Germany invaded. They had only really scratched the surface of what their empires could provide. A land attack on Germany - which had its own fortification system - made no sense once Poland was defeated, and that took place well before either nation was ready. The only way into Germany that didn't involve ploughing head on into German fortifications & defensive preparations involved invading two (or three) nominally neutral nations. No simple thing at any time.

                  I don't recall the longer term Allied plan, but my bet is that bombing begins to ramp up. With the ability to fly escorted missions to the Rhur and to fly in from Norway as well, that is going to make life difficult for Germany. With British industry effectively beyond German reach and the US supplying aircraft too the balance in the air will start shifting toward the Allies in time.

                  In Europe Belgium was already part of Allied defensive arrangements. Holland was a different matter, but I wouldn't assume the Dutch would just align themselves to Germany because the Allies didn't drive tanks through them in an attempt to invade Germany. Denmark would likely end up in Germany's orbit, but Norway was a different matter. Britain & France were prepared to send forces there in OTL, no reason to believe it would be any different here, except that without the invasion of France they actually prevail & Norway ends up joining the Allies. That makes blockading Germany even easier. It makes access to iron ore harder. Hungary will stick with Hitler, and probably Romania, but Greece & Yugoslavia weren't so keen. With France & Britain mobilising and getting steadily stronger Italy will remain sympathetic to Germany but uncommitted.

                  Germany has a big problem - it needs to import food, oil & other resources, which makes it dependent on the good graces of Josef Stalin in particular. Given that he sees Germany as a rival & potential threat it is hard to believe he will keep doing this once he is confident of the strength of his own forces. I don't recall precisely when the Red Army was expected to be up to strength & Russian industry at the desired capacity, but I can't imagine he will build up his most dangerous rival indefinitely. I'm pretty sure Germany is also importing stuff like tungsten from Turkey & other such things. The Allies may be in a position to disrupt or simply buy off such suppliers, while they have access to the entire world for their needs. German defences in the east & west might keep the borders secure, but keeping the military at the size required to feel safe is going to cost money. I'm not sure Germany has enough.

                  In the Far East Japan is going to be reluctant to take on the US, UK & France at the same time. Worse, without Germany posing much of a naval threat on the Atlantic & Italy not yet in the war, it will be a lot easier for those nation to commit forces. Japan won't be gifted control of Indochina either. Quite what all this means is not entirely clear, but it seems less likely that Britain & France will face a war in Asia.

                  So, France & Britain are strong & getting stronger. They can focus most of their manpower & resources on Europe and they have US industry helping them out. Their biggest issue will be the cost of the war and how to bring it to a conclusion. The longer Germany waits the weaker it gets in relative terms. Hitler either needs to stop in 1939, before he goes to war with Britain & France, or 1941, before he invades Russia. Stopping in the middle is the worst of both worlds.
                  Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BF69 View Post
                    I'm pretty sure Germany is also importing stuff like tungsten from Turkey & other such things. The Allies may be in a position to disrupt or simply buy off such suppliers, while they have access to the entire world for their needs.
                    There was a thread on this forum which told of the Allies buying up the entire production run of certain strategic materials from neutral countries even though they did not need them; just to prevent their purchase by the Axis powers. I don't remember the resource. Perhaps, someone can refresh my memory.
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                    • #11
                      Encourage the development of an International New York style stock exchange in Berlin making it a more important financial center? Be less openly belligerent with England while increasing merchant shipping and take over more of the international maritime carrying trade? Get heavily involved in Latin American so to eventually secure resources there, oil?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Herman Hum View Post
                        There was a thread on this forum which told of the Allies buying up the entire production run of certain strategic materials from neutral countries even though they did not need them; just to prevent their purchase by the Axis powers. I don't remember the resource. Perhaps, someone can refresh my memory.
                        Tungsten was one. Portugal and Spain were the primary importers selling to the Germans. The US and Britain bought up the entire supply at a premium, and put pressure on both countries to end any sales to the Germans.

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