Was Hitler’s defeat inevitable?

11/22/2012 • Ask Mr. History

Dear Mr. History,  

How close did Hitler come to achieving victory in WW2? Many historians seem to believe that Hitler made too many errors and poor judgements that caused his demise, not to mention his persistent interference with his generals and his mistrust of them. Though I hate using the word, if he was a "better" leader could have he won the war or was his defeat inevitable?  



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Dear Andrew,  

Adolf Hitler loved calculated risks and was encouraged by the growing number that succeededbut therein lay the key to his inevitable failure. He overcommitted himself like hell, bailing out his friend Benito Mussolini in North Africa and the Balkans while sticking to his ultimate plan to conquer the Soviet Union, even while Britain remained unfinished business. His decision to declare war on the United States, even with Britain still fighting and with the Soviets counterattacking outside Moscow and at Rostov, was possibly based on the supposition that the Japanese would take up a lot of the slack, though Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto could have told him differently, had he cared to listen. From that point on, Hitler’s defeat was more a matter of "when" rather than "if," and that inevitability was fairly well clinched after November 1942, when the Soviets encircled the Sixth Army at Stalingrad, the British took the offensive at Second Alamein, Operation Torch landed American and British forces in Morocco and Algeria, the Americans permanently seized the initiative at Guadalcanal, and the Americans and Australians landed at Buna-Gona to take the offensive in New Guinea.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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