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Is the scenario depicted in Turtledove's 'The Man with the Iron Heart' realistic?

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  • Is the scenario depicted in Turtledove's 'The Man with the Iron Heart' realistic?

    I just read the novel 'The Man with the Iron Heart' and I would be interested to hear your opinions about the scenario depicted by Turtledove. The plot in a nutshell (there will be some spoilers, even if I will try to avoid details):

    Heidrich survives the killing attempt in Prague. In 1943, seeing that Germany risks to lose the war, he convinces Himmler and Hitler to start preparing for resistance in case Germany is occupied. Weapons are stockpiled, hidden bunkers are built in mines at the foot of the Alps and personnel is trained in guerilla warfare. Soon after VE day German guerrilla starts in earnest. As US casualty accumulates, the mother of a GI killed by the German 'Werewolves' starts a movement to withdraw US forces from Germany. Things go from bad to worse, as the Allied military shows absolute incompetence, while the Germans manage to strike with amazing effectiveness. Borrowing from the Vietnam and Iraqi experience, Turtledove describes how the Germans use suicide bombers, IEDs, radioactive materials and even high-jack planes and use them 9/11 style. They even manage to stop the Nurembergs trials, infact they don't even start as the Werevolves repeatedly kill the judges. In the French and Soviet zones the occupiers retaliate brutally, but to no avail. In the US the antiwar movement gains favor in Congress. In 1946 Republicans gain the majority and try stop budget appropriations for the occupation of Germany. A little over 2 years after VE-day the US withdraws, presumably followed by UK. The books ends suggesting that the National Socialists are going to take power again in the US and British zone.

    The book is interesting and entertaining, but I don't think it's realistic. The premise, that Hitler would have allowed to divert resources to prepare for a defeat he never considered is 'iffy', but let's accept it for discussion's sake. Turtledove obviously draws parallel with the Iraq War, but he ignores the obvious difference between the two events. Iraq was no threat for the US, while Nazi Germany had invaded almost all of Europe and declared war on America. The completely different threat profile should have been evident even to the 'man in the street', while German atrocities were well known and documented. The anti-war movement in the novel believes that the atomic bomb would shield America from a resurgent Germany. But everybody knew that Germany was a technology leader, and that they had an atomic program of their own and long-range strategic weapons on the drawing board, so it should have been quite easy for Truman (which staunchly opposes the withdrawal) and the government to pass the message to the public. Also, the incompetence of the US army in the novel overshadows even that in Vietnam. However 1945 was not 1965 or 2005. People at the time were more patriotic, and even in Vietnam it took long time for the anti-war movement to force the US withdrawal. Here it takes two years. It doesn't seem realistic at all. It's more likely that the US would have fallen on the Germans like the proverbial pile of bricks, and mobilized resources to stomp down the insurgency. And the Germans wouldn't have had any external support, unlikely for instance the Vietnamese, so even their stockpiled resources wouldn't last forever.
    Last edited by Proconsul; 22 Sep 19, 12:42. Reason: Typos

  • #2
    Originally posted by Proconsul View Post
    I just read the novel 'The Man with the Iron Heart' and I would be interested to hear your opinions about the scenario depicted by Turtledove. The plot in a nutshell (there will be some spoilers, even if I will try to avoid details):

    Heidrich survives the killing attempt in Prague. In 1943, seeing that Germany risks to lose the war, he convinces Himmler and Hitler to start preparing for resistance in case Germany is occupied. Weapons are stockpiled, hidden bunkers are built in mines at the foot of the Alps and personnel is trained in guerilla warfare. Soon after VE day German guerrilla starts in earnest. As US casualty accumulates, the mother of a GI killed by the German 'Werewolves' starts a movement to withdraw US forces from Germany. Things go from bad to worse, as the Allied military shows absolute incompetence, while the Germans manage to strike with amazing effectiveness. Borrowing from the Vietnam and Iraqi experience, Turtledove describes how the Germans use suicide bombers, IEDs, radioactive materials and even high-jack planes and use them 9/11 style. They even manage to stop the Nurembergs trials, infact they don't even start as the Werevolves repeatedly kill the judges. In the French and Soviet zones the occupiers retaliate brutally, but to no avail. In the US the antiwar movement gains favor in Congress. In 1946 Republicans gain the majority and try stop budget appropriations for the occupation of Germany. A little over 2 years after VE-day the US withdraws, presumably followed by UK. The books ends suggesting that the National Socialists are going to take power again in the US and British zone.

    The book is interesting and entertaining, but I don't think it's realistic. The premise, that Hitler would have allowed to divert resources to prepare for a defeat he never considered is 'iffy', but let's accept it for discussion's sake. Turtledove obviously draws parallel with the Iraq War, but he ignores the obvious difference between the two events. Iraq was no threat for the US, while Nazi Germany had invaded almost all of Europe and declared war on America. The completely different threat profile should have been evident even to the 'man in the street', while German atrocities were well known and documented. The anti-war movement in the novel believes that the atomic bomb would shield America from a resurgent Germany. But everybody knew that Germany was a technology leader, and that they had an atomic program of their own and long-range strategic weapons on the drawing board, so it should have been quite easy for Truman (which staunchly opposes the withdrawal) and the government to pass the message to the public. Also, the incompetence of the US army in the novel overshadows even that in Vietnam. However 1945 was not 1965 or 2005. People at the time were more patriotic, and even in Vietnam it took long time for the anti-war movement to force the US withdrawal. Here it takes two years. It doesn't seem realistic at all. It's more likely that the US would have fallen on the Germans like the proverbial pile of bricks, and mobilized resources to stomp down the insurgency. And the Germans wouldn't have had any external support, unlikely for instance the Vietnamese, so even their stockpiled resources wouldn't last forever.
    WELCOME Back- long time no post..

    I guess, to quote Hubert |essling from memory- "as if a rabble of boyscouts could do what the entire German army failed at..."
    He was quoting some German General I've forgotten.

    Essling's the battle for Germany would answer your question - and is a really great read.
    The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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    • #3
      Thanx pal

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      • #4
        Entertaining but totally unrealistic. For example, in the Soviet zone, they'd wage scorched earth on these guys. I could see severe movement controls the population, mass round-ups with "off to the gulag for you" being the operative term. I could see mass starvation in many areas as the Soviet use food as a weapon.

        For the Western sectors, the British are in Northern Germany and probably largely immune to the attacks being the furthest from the bases described.
        The French would wash their hands of the whole thing and leave it to the US.
        The US back then isn't the USA of today. There'd be instant and oppressive martial law laid down. Nuremburg was the only trials held, and even as they were the people running the tribunals were guarded from the start. That would just ramp up seriously. Use of mass troop operations to root out the guerrillas would be implemented and they wouldn't be nice about it.
        The movement also wouldn't have popular support particularly as the US would still likely start something like the Marshall Plan. Hersey bars and a full meal go a long way to making you popular with the natives. That would mean the resistance would have to start terrorizing the civilian population.
        Worse, the resistance would have no outside help to restock their weapons, ammunition, provide food, etc. In short it would quickly run out of everything and turn into a angry rabble with no real way to strike back.

        Suicide bombing and the like are very unrealistic as they aren't in the German character.

        We'd still be at war with Japan initially too. That wouldn't change and the US population would not suddenly turn antiwar about problems in Germany. Instead, the likelihood given the sentiments of the time would be the US population would demand that these new Nazi resistors get stomped on quick and hard with everything the US can bring to bear on them. There might even be calls to just nuke their whole area of resistance, and it might be seriously considered. After all, at the time the US leadership saw nuclear weapons as just bigger, badder, and more efficient conventional bombs. Whelp, Japan surrendered and we've still got a few atomic bombs laying around. Let's just use them on those Nazi bastards and get it over with...

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Proconsul View Post
          In the French and Soviet zones the occupiers retaliate brutally, but to no avail. In the US the antiwar movement gains favor in Congress. In 1946 Republicans gain the majority and try stop budget appropriations for the occupation of Germany. A little over 2 years after VE-day the US withdraws, presumably followed by UK. The books ends suggesting that the National Socialists are going to take power again in the US and British zone.
          If the Western Allies withdrew, the Soviets would simply walk in and occupy all of Germany. The USSR was quite capable of starving their own citizenry in the Ukraine. I have no doubt that they would have done the same to Germany.
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          • #6
            Moved to Alternate Timelines due to “what if” subject matter
            ACG Staff

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            • #7
              Your Turtledove sound like a closet-Nazi who never heard of the Morgenthau plan.


              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgenthau_Plan

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Phaing View Post
                Your Turtledove sound like a closet-Nazi who never heard of the Morgenthau plan.


                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgenthau_Plan
                Harry Turtledove's paternal grandparents were Jewish so I find it quite unlikely.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Herman Hum View Post
                  If the Western Allies withdrew, the Soviets would simply walk in and occupy all of Germany. The USSR was quite capable of starving their own citizenry in the Ukraine. I have no doubt that they would have done the same to Germany.
                  In the novel it is explained that the Soviet probably would be deterred by fear that the Americans would use the bomb if they tried to invade West Germany. But if the American people wouldn't stomach the German insurgency, which only caused a few thousands dead in 2 years, would they stomach an all out war with the USSR to defend the country from which they had been kicked out? That's another thing that doesn't make much sense. And let's imagine Stalin reaction after the Germans pulled out all the stuff described in the book (here follow spoilers):

                  They kill general Konev, then Zukov and most of the Russian high generals by poisoning them at the New Year party, and then humiliate the Soviet Union by razing the court in East Berlin (where the Allied were trying for the third time to trial the war criminals) with a high-jacked suicide American C-47 (why the Americans would let armed German civilians on a military transport without even checking them is not explained). But this is only some of the inconsistency. They destroy the Eiffel Tower by sending a truck full of explosive with a driver in American uniform who can only speak a couple words in English all the way to Paris. They even manage to destroy the Westminster Abbey, and to blow up a lot of American officers' families by driving another truck into their supposedly protected compound. The sentry doesn't check the contents when he sees in the back of the truck boxes containing certain lady items... The GI blushes and tell the German driver to go on! It seems Turtledove believes that the average IQ in the US Army is below zero...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Proconsul View Post
                    They kill general Konev, then Zukov and most of the Russian high generals by poisoning them at the New Year party, and then humiliate the Soviet Union by razing the court in East Berlin (where the Allied were trying for the third time to trial the war criminals) with a high-jacked suicide American C-47 (why the Americans would let armed German civilians on a military transport without even checking them is not explained). But this is only some of the inconsistency. They destroy the Eiffel Tower by sending a truck full of explosive with a driver in American uniform who can only speak a couple words in English all the way to Paris. They even manage to destroy the Westminster Abbey, and to blow up a lot of American officers' families by driving another truck into their supposedly protected compound. The sentry doesn't check the contents when he sees in the back of the truck boxes containing certain lady items... The GI blushes and tell the German driver to go on! It seems Turtledove believes that the average IQ in the US Army is below zero...
                    What nonsense. If the Germans has such capabilities, they would not have lost the war in the first place. Pure silliness.
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                    • #11
                      With the Soviet generals: They'd have bodyguards and any confab they went to would be both exclusive and well protected. That'd be a hard one to pull off. You'd need someone who spoke fluent, native, Russian with the proper regional accent posing as a very high ranked officer to do it, or if you were using some of the help, likewise someone who was long-term employed in that role and well trusted. After all, they are working within a brutal dictatorship. The NKVD would be a serious problem to overcome here.

                      In fact, speaking of the NKVD, they'd likely get people planted within the German guerrilla forces PDQ. They knew how to spy and turn people. Once that happens, they have all the information they need...

                      To fly a C-47 anywhere in early postwar Germany means you have to be able to deal with Western military air traffic controls. Of course, you have to have somewhere to take if off from, etc.

                      Sending a truck driven by a guy that barely speaks English might be possible in some cases as the US frequently used German POW's for labor immediately after the war. But, he'd be in a POW uniform and identified as such with very strict controls on where he could go and what he could do. But, I doubt a truck of explosives would do much to the Eiffel Tower. It's an open structure with a pretty clear base area



                      I doubt a couple of tons of explosives parked near the tower would do much to it. Blast works best when contained. This scenario shows Turtledove lacks a background in such areas and didn't do his homework.

                      In the early days following the surrender of Germany, most US officers took over larger German homes and mansions turning them into their quarters and offices. There was no basing per se. Troops were often put in tent cities initially. German kaserne were often taken over to house US units.



                      A typical kaserne taken over by a US Army medical command 1946. The buildings are stone and brick and would be hard to take down with just blast effects.

                      Here's the layout of an airbase the US about the same time period. Note how spread out things are.



                      Essentially, Turtledove does what Hairog, a poster we haven't seen here in a while did with his alternate history. He plays fast and loose with facts to make a story he thinks will interest the reader.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Proconsul View Post

                        In the novel it is explained that the Soviet probably would be deterred by fear that the Americans would use the bomb if they tried to invade West Germany. But if the American people wouldn't stomach the German insurgency, which only caused a few thousands dead in 2 years, would they stomach an all out war with the USSR to defend the country from which they had been kicked out? That's another thing that doesn't make much sense. And let's imagine Stalin reaction after the Germans pulled out all the stuff described in the book (here follow spoilers):

                        They kill general Konev, then Zukov and most of the Russian high generals by poisoning them at the New Year party, and then humiliate the Soviet Union by razing the court in East Berlin (where the Allied were trying for the third time to trial the war criminals) with a high-jacked suicide American C-47 (why the Americans would let armed German civilians on a military transport without even checking them is not explained). But this is only some of the inconsistency. They destroy the Eiffel Tower by sending a truck full of explosive with a driver in American uniform who can only speak a couple words in English all the way to Paris. They even manage to destroy the Westminster Abbey, and to blow up a lot of American officers' families by driving another truck into their supposedly protected compound. The sentry doesn't check the contents when he sees in the back of the truck boxes containing certain lady items... The GI blushes and tell the German driver to go on! It seems Turtledove believes that the average IQ in the US Army is below zero...
                        General's

                        Eisenhower and Marshall's plan for ending the war in 1945 gets seriously underestimated. Eisenhower detached most of the American ninth army from Montgomery's command, leaving him enough forces to Swing north and capture Lubeck , and the North German Plain, instead of his 'rapier thrust to Berlin."

                        While This meant that the soviet forces eventually captured Berlin in their macabre, and costly, mopping up campaign, it denied the Russians access to the North Sea ports- in the long run , a much better strategic outcome.

                        the American forces instead rumbled, with the reborn French armies, across the South German rolling country,, securing Bavaria for west Germany, and crushing any chance of the Germans alpine redoubt, or the Soviet entry into Northern Italy. Austria became a neutralized country that swung westward over time, instead of part of the Warsaw pact.

                        Huebert Essling is a Montgomery admirer - but he does not explain how the allies were to capture Berlin, AND the North Sea Ports, and Southern Germany, and Austria.
                        by 1945 the Morgenthau plan was becoming increasingly discredited.

                        Essling's books, including The Battle for Germany , are really worth the read- but he does get sidetracked in the last chapter. Berlin turned out to be a weakening battle for the soviets in the short run- and a a pauper's bag for the soviet union by the 1980's .

                        The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                        • #13
                          Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=588661
                          Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=588661

                          De Lattres' French forces Don't get the credit they deserve for the ' heavy lifting' that they undertook along the Swiss border, through some pretty rough country. They ran a 'rough and ready campaign'- but in the end, t made a heck of a lot of sense.
                          https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2017/0...-april-1945-i/.
                          Last edited by marktwain; 23 Sep 19, 19:41.
                          The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                            The French would wash their hands of the whole thing and leave it to the US.
                            Seriously? If anything the Americans might have to take over the French sector before they go the full Stalin on the population. After the humiliations of 1940-44 there will be no shortage of French looking for an excuse to give the Germans back some of their own medicine. Just remember how the French treated Vietnamese, Algerians & Africans - people whose main crime was to not want to be ruled by France. Then imagine what they will be prepared to do to people who invaded & wrecked their home, killed hundreds of thousands and reduced them to colonial subjects in their own land. They will have no qualms about anything up to and including mass detention and mass killings.

                            The US population might not have much sympathy for Nazis, but pictures of French soldiers dragging old women into the street as they torch their homes and executing men of military age in village squares might be a bit much for them to stomach. The idea of Americans being the 'good guys' was still pretty strong.
                            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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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by marktwain View Post
                              Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=588661
                              Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=588661

                              De Lattres' French forces Don't get the credit they deserve for the ' heavy lifting' that they undertook along the Swiss border, through some pretty rough country. They ran a 'rough and ready campaign'- but in the end, t made a heck of a lot of sense.
                              https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2017/0...-april-1945-i/.
                              I agree that the prestige victory of taking Berlin would not have been worth the casualties and the risk of conflict with the Russians.
                              De Lattre forces fought magnificently, but the rapes and atrocities of his North African troops were a disgrace, even if I don't know if they were as extensive as in the Italian campaign.

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