Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

What If the Germans Had Captured Moscow in 1941?

By Mark Grimsley 
Originally published on Published Online: June 08, 2012 
Print Friendly
68 comments FONT +  FONT -

One of the classic "what ifs" of the Second World War centers on how—or if—the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, code-named Operation Barbarossa, could have achieved a quick victory. Hitler certainly believed that it could. All one had to do, he insisted, was to "kick in the door" and the "whole rotten structure" of Stalin's Communist regime would come tumbling down. In many respects Barbarossa was a stunning success. The Germans took the Soviets completely by surprise, advanced hundreds of miles in just a few weeks, killed or captured several million Soviet troops, and seized an area containing 40 percent of the USSR's population, as well as most of its coal, iron ore, aluminum, and armaments industry. But Barbarossa failed to take its capstone objective, Moscow. What went wrong?

Some historians have pointed to the German decision to advance along three axes: in the north toward Leningrad, in the south toward Ukraine, and in the center against Moscow. But the Wehrmacht had force enough to support three offensives, and its quick destruction of so many Soviet armies suggests that this was a reasonable decision. Others have pointed to Hitler's decision in August to divert most of the armored units attached to Field Marshal Fedor von Bock's Army Group Center, whose objective was Moscow, and send them south to support an effort to surround and capture the Soviet armies around Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The elimination of the Kiev pocket on September 26 bagged 665,000 men, more than 3,000 artillery pieces, and almost 900 tanks. But it delayed the resumption of major operations against Moscow until early autumn. This, many historians argue, was a fatal blunder.

Yet, as historian David M. Glantz points out, such a scenario ignores what the Soviet armies around Kiev might have done had they not been trapped, and introduces too many variables to make for a good counterfactual. The best "minimal rewrite" of history must therefore focus on the final German bid to seize Moscow, an offensive known as Operation Typhoon.

Here is how Typhoon might have played out:

When the operation begins, Army Group Center enjoys a substantial advantage over the Soviet forces assigned to defend Moscow. It has at its disposal 1.9 million men, 48,000 artillery pieces, 1,400 aircraft, and 1,000 tanks. In contrast, the Soviets have only 1.25 million men (many with little or no combat experience), 7,600 artillery pieces, 600 aircraft, and almost 1,000 tanks. The seeming parity in the number of tanks is misleading, however, since the overwhelming majority of Soviet tanks are obsolescent models.

Initially, Army Group Center runs roughshod over its opponents. Within a few days, it achieves the spectacular encirclement of 685,000 Soviet troops near the towns of Bryansk and Vyazma, about 100 miles west of Moscow. The hapless Russians look to the skies for the onset of rain, for this is the season of the rasputitsa—literally the "time without roads"—when heavy rainfall turns the fields and unpaved roads into muddy quagmires. But this year the weather fails to rescue them, and by early November frost has so hardened the ground that German mobility is assured. With Herculean efforts from German supply units, Army Group Center continues to lunge directly for Moscow.

Thoroughly alarmed, the Stalin regime evacuates the government 420 miles east to Kuybyshev, north of the Caspian Sea. It also evacuates a million Moscow inhabitants, prepares to dynamite the Kremlin rather than have it fall into German hands, and makes plans to remove Lenin's tomb to a safe place. Stalin alone remains in Moscow until mid-November, when the first German troops reach the city in force. And in obedience to Hitler's order, Fedor von Bock uses Army Group Center to surround Moscow, instead of fighting for the city street by street. Nonetheless, the Soviet troops withdraw rather than fall prey to yet another disastrous encirclement, and on November 30—precisely two months after Operation Typhoon begins—it culminates in the capture of Moscow.

The above scenario is historically correct in many respects. The three major departures are the absence of the rasputitsa, which did indeed bog down the German offensive for two crucial weeks; the headlong drive toward Moscow rather than the diversion of units to lesser objectives in the wake of the victory at Bryansk and Vyazma—a major error; and, of course, the capture of Moscow itself.

But would the fall of Moscow have meant the defeat of the Soviet Union? Almost certainly not. In 1941 the Soviet Union endured the capture of numerous major cities, a huge percentage of crucial raw materials, and the loss of four million troops. Yet it still continued to fight. It had a vast and growing industrial base east of the Ural Mountains, well out of reach of German forces. And in Joseph Stalin it had one of the most ruthless leaders in world history—a man utterly unlikely to throw in the towel because of the loss of any city, no matter how prestigious.

A scenario involving Moscow's fall also ignores the arrival of 18 divisions of troops from Siberia—fresh, well-trained, and equipped for winter fighting. They had been guarding against a possible Japanese invasion, but a Soviet spy reliably informed Stalin that Japan would turn southward, toward the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines, thereby freeing them to come to the Moscow front. Historically, the arrival of these troops took the Germans by surprise, and an unexpected Soviet counteroffensive in early December 1941 produced a major military crisis. Surprised and disturbed, Hitler's field commanders urged a temporary retreat in order to consolidate the German defenses. But Hitler refused, instead ordering that German troops continue to hold their ground. Historically they managed to do so. However, with German forces extended as far as Moscow and pinned to the city's defense, this probably would not have been possible. Ironically, for the Germans, the seeming triumph of Moscow's capture might well have brought early disaster.

68 Responses to “What If the Germans Had Captured Moscow in 1941?”

  1. 1
    Dan Bennett says:

    Your scenario lacks the strength of one thing. It fails to take into account the abominable state of Bock's armies in the autumn of 41. Add to this that Hitler expressly ordered that the city be taken, like you said, by enveloping the city from the east. This added an extra 50-60 miles to the route of advance of Reinhardt and Guderian's panzer armies, an added length they were quite unlikely to reach in their desperate state. If indeed they went directly at the capital, they may have garnered the strength to perhaps reach it but in my opinion, the eventual urban fight for the city center would have made Stalingrad look like a training exercise.Stalin would've lost some semblance of command and control, but like you said, this megalomaniacal madmen probably would have found the resources to stay in the fight. No. Moscow was for all intents and purposes, forfeited by the Wehrmacht when they diverted large forces to Yugoslavia & Greece, 6 weeks before the launching of Barbarossa. Or, had Guderian and Reinhardt's group been reinforced with Hoepner's group 1 month earlier than it was, maybe this might have allowed the Germans to reach Moscow. I still believe the actual taking of the city by the German Army was quite impossible.

  2. 2
    Ron Lameck says:

    Moscow should not have been the priority of Barbarossa anyway. It should have been Leningrad. Taking Leningrad would:
    1. greatly relieve the Axis supply problems,
    2. allow the line to be shortened,
    3. allow the bulk of the Finnish army to move north to help Armee
    Lapland seize Murmansk, the only all- weather port in the western
    "Lend-Lease" would be much disrupted – the Kriegsmarine could
    use Murmansk as a base, making Archangelsk to dangerous to
    ship to..
    4. provide a superb base for communications, hospitals, troop
    R&R, etc.
    5. render the Baltic an Axis lake, easing transport, etc.

    Moscow COULD have been taken in 1941, but would likely be the site of a protracted fight in 1942. The "Stalingrad" view above would not come to pass: The Axis would not be at the end of a lengthy supply line while the S.U. would have to ship men and materiels much farther. The S.U. loss of its main communications and production centre would seriously weaken its military effectiveness. The main question is "What effect would the loss of Moscow have on the MANY unwilling citizens of the S.U. – Uzbeks, Kalmuks, Kazakhs, etc.?" They didn't like Russians any better than Hitler did.

    • 2.1
      Carlos G says:

      Germany lost the war when it did harass the population of the conquered S.U. territory considered of "a lesser level". Had it labeled the populations of Belarus and the Ukraine as "freed populations" and tried to conquer their trust, History would have been different. Even more so if Germany had fullheartedly backed the "Russian Liberation Army" and asked the prisioners taken if they wanted to join it and cooperate in freeing Russia from the claws of Stalin and the communists.

      • 2.1.1
        Carlos G says:

        Germany would have many mouths to feed but also gained a lot of manpower to work on the fields and so contributing to the war effort.

  3. 3
    mike says:

    Nazis should have captured moscow in the fall of 1941 and if hitler had not went against his generals experienced advice and diverted his center army after the battle of smolensk,they would have

  4. 4
    Larry C. says:

    The taking of an area or city for political propaganda as opposed to taking an area that results in the (1) the destruction of the enemy force, or (2) adds resources to one’s effort, or (3) facilitates ones logistics is faulty strategy. Hitler wanted Moscow for the political propaganda. As Mr. Lamek suggests, a different strategy may have resulted on a much better outcome for the Nazis. The other problem was that the Germans had really very little concept of what a cold winter really could be. As stated, that winter was not particularly harsh; nevertheless, their tanks could not move in the cold nor turn their turrets. Ideally, the Germans should have “hunkered down” into a defensive line for the winter, regardless of which strategy they took. Unless one is well prepared for winter, one should ride it out. I am from Northern Canada. Even in this day of great communication, I see unpreparedness for winter. Canadian construction contractor work well all winter. American contractors from the south of the USA are crippled in the Canadian winter.

  5. 5
    Mark S says:

    After smolensk the focus should defintely have been Moscow. Moscow in 1941 was the centre of the soviet state. All rail traffic went through Moscow, significant arms were still being manufactured in Moscow, the industrial capability of Moscow was still largely intact with little having actually been moved further East. Approximately 15% of the entire soviet population was living in and around Moscow and much of these people were the more qualified within the Soviet Union aside from the Leadership in all spheres, its doubtful any significant % would have been able to get out of a pincer attack that surrounds Moscow south through Tula north through Klin and sealing the ring just before Vladimir. A Highly likely outcome given the number of daylight hours for operations, the historical weather and the kill and penetrative capabilities of the German units. This would have allowed the investment of Moscow to take place and certainly its surrender, panic along the lines of a Kiev or Minsk. The ongoing alteration of rail gauge adjustment from narrow to wide would have continued to progress at 20 km's per day ensuring that supply into Moscow would have been seamless. Any arriving Siberians would have no ability to deploy laterally given the single rail approach as Moscow had been taken. defence with resupply and much of the additional Soviet armed forces capability eliminated through the loss of Moscow a large winter offensive would have been impossible. If the Soviets were to continue which would be seriously doubtful they would have had to pull back. Supplies from Murmansk and Archangel would have been disrupted permanently without the rail corridor and Leningrad would have surrendered. Essentially the Critical nature of the Moscow Rail Hub would have secured German objectives on the Northern flank comprehensively, together with its population, industrial and political capabilities would have been significantly compromised. The germans would have passed the tipping point and the road to victory been all but guaranteed. The fact that Hitler elected to drive South to conduct the encirclement at Kiev and capture / destroy 660 000 is a tactical win though pales into insignificance against what could have been accomplished with a Moscow victory. ( The latter would have been a strategic game changer). The Kiev thrust gave the Soviets the ability to whether the storm of Operation Typhoon and contain the Germans before leveraging a counterattack with winter as their sweet ally. Certainly Adolf was the Soviets most admirable ally though given his gross interference and incompetence in all matters requiring strategic military thought. (Seems to have been consistently more focussed on controlling coal mines than the destruction of the soviet armed forces capability and the capturing & or destruction of its population industrial, political and logistical capability.

    • 5.1
      wes m says:

      My comment is a little late. Couldn't miss the opportunity to say your analysis is right on. I have no doubt if Germany had proceeded as you aptly stated Stalin would come crawling on his knees to give Hitler all he wanted for an agreed settlement.

    • 5.2
      Ronald Lameck says:

      Mark overlooks several key factors:

      1. Most S.U. administration and personnel were already being moved to Kuibyshev (and, I believe, Saratov), as had many civilians. So they would not be in Moscow to capture or destroy anyway.

      2. Leningrad was also a major manufacturing centre.

      3. What to do about the S.U. forces gathered near Kiev, which would have been free to make a potentially devastating attack at the Wehrmacht flank?

      It gets circular here, but to take Leningrad, with the ensuing collapse of Murmansk and the entire northern part of the S.U. front would have
      greatly shortened the Wehrmacht front. It would have put a huge hole in S.U. "Lend-Lease" aid. That would not be drastic in 1941, but would have been later. Virtually all the armour and mobile forces of Heeresgruppe Nord could have been added to the order of battle for use elsewhere.
      The negative effect on the morale of the S.U. and its foolish Allies, couped with the positive effect on Axis morale, is difficult to empirically quantifiy, but would have been profound. For one thing, it is doubtful that Britain would have declared against Finland in Dec. 1941. The Finns would have remained a useful force for offensive actions (if needed). Maybe Bulgaria and even Turkey might have joined the Axis.
      The point is, notions of overcoming the largest nation on earth in a 6-week campaign were deleriously optimistic from the outset. It was an unrealistic expectation. As Napoleon's misadventure of 1812 showed, capture of Moscow was not going to be sufficient to win the war.

    • 5.3
      Christopher says:

      I greatly agree with Mark. Most people understimate few things about Moscow: Its population, industrail capacity and rail traffic. Look at the rail map: Everything goes through Moscow especially all transports to the north! Capturing Moscow would paralyze Soviet northern front. Also, it would be hard to deploy Soviet forces after capture of Moscow because closest places where you can do so the the east are 100 Km away. The author of article states that 1 milion residents would evacuate but forgets to mention that 6 milions were living in and around Moscow and let's say that also 50% of industrial capacity would be relocated to the east. But that's still a great loss. Soviet forces in Kiev were a threat but if you look at their organization and the preassure of German Army Group South it is clear that they wouldn't be able to counterattack on a flank. They would retreat east. The question for me is that what would hapen after (winter 1941-42). Most of the Soviet southern front intact, Siberian forces coming and new Soviet armies in Center would have a capability to counterattack like Soviets did in reality but after this scenario of capturing Moscow I would give this counteroffensive 60-40 in favour of Soviets that they would recapture Moscow beacause in reality Moscow was a basis of deploment and command on this counteroffensive.

    • 5.4
      Marek says:

      must add albeit very late that Mark's argument is very well thought out. Moscow was the communication hub from which the Communist organ sent out orders. Even surrounding it and severing communications would have changed things tremendously, especially if accomplished before the beginning of October.

  6. 6
    Trent says:

    The reason the Wehrmacht didnt succeed in the Soviet Union is the lack of a main strategy. Hitler wanted both the destruction of soviet armies by ways of mass encirculments and the capture of resources and cities to feed propangda and industry. Hitler changed his goal a few times giving soviets just enough time to hold fast giving the Germans tactical but not strategic victories. Indeed the Germans needed to both destry the soviet armies and gain cities and resources, however the strategy was changed at times when the Germans may have been better 'sticking to the job at hand'. Had the Germans focused on the destruction of soviet armies before making geographic goals then perhaps Moscow would have been taken a lot easier. Or perhaps the german focused on the taking of Moscow and Leningrad for strategic victories which should have bottle necked soviet supplies and troop movements whilst freeing up supply lines for the Germans. Then the Germans could go about destroy the soviet armies. Had Moscow fallen so would have Leningrad almost ensuring a german victory in the east. Perhaps there would be so more huge battles but germany would be without the disadvantages of supply amongst other things that hampered their war effort til the end of the war. Again a typical case of hitlers poor decisions.

  7. 7
    Gavin M says:

    Taking of Moscow would not have made any difference, as Russia still had resources, factories etc east of Urals, plus Baku and oil.
    To have had any chance of success, Operation Barbarossa required the taking of Baku and the oil fields in 1941 as well as Moscow and hence an attack of 4 army groups (with co-operation or coercion of Turkey) in total (perhaps 5 million men, possible if Total war enacted in 1939/40 not 1943). With the oil secured, the Soviets ability to fuel its tanks and armies greatly reduced. By end of 1941 a line from Rostov to Astrakhan could be secured. Then 1942 a further push towards cities like Perm, effectively taking all of Western Russia, with the war in the east won by end 1942.

  8. 8
    Trent says:

    I disagree Gavin. Whatever the Soviets lost the Germans gained making the battle exponentially harder for the Soviets. I do believe the Soviets would have fought on in a heroic battle had the Germans taken Moscow. Germans would have won the central railway lines, and in a few weeks the german rail lines could run from the factories in Germany straight to the front and reinforce, whilst also taking away that advantage from the Soviets. This would also severely damage soviet morale, whilst lifting the Germans. The taking of a capital has always been detrimental in warfare throughout the ages. The German panzer divisions were at u strength by the start of Barbarossa. Had they been at  or 0 then I think World War 2 would have been lost by the Allies. Imagine if there were 200 German divisions on the atlantic wall (assuming the SU lost) – this would be impossible to invade. The Luftwaffe could seriously challenge the RAF and USAAF causing far less damage to german industry, which means more tanks, more aircraft, more AA/AT and more oil synthesization. The knock-on affects of the victory of the battle of moscow are scary.

  9. 9
    James Minton says:

    I'm only a teen, so bear with me…

    What I know was the biggest problem for the Germans by this point was need for petrol for their tanks, planes and etc. I remember one source I heard saying that a big error on Hitler's part was sending his southern group towards the oil fields AND Stalingrad.

    Back on subject, what Trent says is correct. Had the SU fallen and the majority of the Wermacht been on the Atlantic Wall, D-Day would've failed horribly. The transport boats wouldn't have even made it to their beaches, while the lucky ones that did would get picked off by artillery fire. Trent again is accurate on the lack of main strategy. As I said about the southern group, Hitler split in half a large army simply because a city DARED be named after his foe Stalin. If Hitler'd let the task force go all at Stalingrad or the oil fields, he would've succeeded.

    • 9.1
      Christopher says:

      You are speaking about 1942 German offensive (Operation Edelweiss) Not 1941 (Barbarossa and Typhoon) so it's not a point. I am sorry if I will sound agressive but I really dislike the point of Germans lacking petrol in 1941/42. Surely they were lacking it later but they were still able to survive without any petrol fields (I know they had Ploesti in Romania and some very minor ones across Europe) until they went dry in late 1944 so that's not the point in this discussion

  10. 10
    AlanT says:

    It is unlikely the Germans could have taken Moscow. The weather might have been less inhospitable, but it was still going to rain in October to some extent. What was holding back the Germans more than anything was logistics, or rather lack thereof. Not enough petrol, spare parts, winter gear, ammo, etc. German trains were not running in sufficient quantities even when the rails had been re-guaged.

    Had the germans not turned south to make the pocket at Kiev the Soviets there would've held out and threatened Army Group Center's long right flank. They had been doing this since the Germans too Smolensk.

    Read David Stahel's books on Barbarossa, Kiev and Typhoon, along with Glantz. The pro-German histories written by German Generals or primarily using their notes written in the '60's and '70's have been partially/fully debunked. The numbers of prisoners taken at Kiev have been revised downward, though it was still a significant victory for the Germans.

    48,000 pieces of artillery for the Germans in Typhoon – that's a totally bogus number. Check other sources for all those German/Soviet numbers and you will see they are not accurate. For example wikipedia (Battle of Moscow) credits the Soviets with 3,232 tanks and the Germans with only 549 aircraft initially.

    Someone mentioned Germanreinforcements pouring in over rail lines to Moscow if it were taken. The German rail system collapsed for awhile because they had very few trains that could operate in Russia in the winter. Also, there were few remaining replacements (men) and tank production had earlier been reduced in favor of U-boats and aircraft. (Because the Soviets were supposed to have been defeated and Germany was going to turn back on England in 1942.)

    • 10.1
      Gavin M says:


      1. The guages (rail width) used by Germany and USSR were different.

      2. Over such distances through hostile populaces, sabotage would in all likelyhood severely hamper reinforcements.

  11. 11
    ralph says:

    hitler was an idiot.. if he wanted Stalingrad he should have tried to persuaded turkey to get involved and promise them victory and more land.. he's an idiot for declaring war on usa especially when japan wouldn't declare war on the ussr and back the germans. if Russia had a 2 front war they would have collapsed. like someone said above he should have took leningrad instead of trying to starve the people in the city and then take mumansk. then storm to Moscow and build defences. and in the phony war year he should have tried an invasion of Britain regardless of the losses. if Britain fell Canada, australia, new Zealand would be out of the war, Britain stayed a live because of food and supplys from Canada. offensive wars usually win wars but he didn't know the right time to defend or let up

  12. 12
    Lyndon says:

    How far East did German aircraft operate during the invasion of Soviet Union?

    Did they ever strafe or bomb the Urals and Siberia?

    Using Lapland as a base, why didn't the Germans and Finns attack Murmansk and Archangel?

    Just love the thoughtful insight that goes into all these comments!!!

    Keep it up, fellers!!!

  13. 13
    Brendan says:

    I thought the winter of 1941 was the coldest winter in 150 years?

    Had the Germans used the resources used in 1942 for Case Blue (Fall Blau), and had Hitler not sacked Guderian, Brauchitsch, and the other top generals of the OKH in 1941, then a offensive after Typhoon in 1942 would have succeeded in capturing Moscow. While Moscow was obviously not as important as Leningrad, in terms of lendlease and Artic supply routes, Moscow was central railway junction for the entirety of the western SU, and taking Moscow in 1941 or 1942 would have effectively cut the SU in half. This would mean that the resources from the south and Black Sea (i.e. industrial centers such as the Crimea, Stalingrad, Karkov and others) would not be able to be sent to other parts of the SU, and Leningrad, already crippled and under siege, would not be able to rely on the Ladoga lifeline. So while the capture of Moscow in either 1941, or 1942 would (probably) not have meant the surrender of the SU, it may have meant a much longer war in general, or at least increased political pressure on Stalin and the threat of a coup as more losses are taken (not quite sure about that last part).

  14. 14
    Greg says:

    Leningrad was irrelevant. Hitler didn't want to feed a city of that size. And the Finns (presciently as it turned out) refused to attack beyond their 1939 borders. Moscow on the other hand was the command and control center. If it fell, the USSR would become disorganized and collapse.

    • 14.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      Greg, we are getting somewhat circular here. Leningrad was the 2d-most important industrial city in the S.U. It was also a sea port which would allow Nazi supply access in a "partisan-proof" way for half of the years. With it taken, the Finns could transfer their troops north to either play a defensive role on the coast, at the Petsamo nickel mines or to allow 20th Mountain Army to devote its full resources to seizing Murmansk.
      Loss of Murmansk would virtually shut down Allied "Lend-Lease" except by southern or eastern routes The Nazis could base U-boats and the Tirpitz there, out of range of Allied bombers. The Allies would not want to risk capital ships in the Barents Sea, because serious damage would be the same as having the ship sunk – it probably could not make a safe port.
      Hitler had no use for Leningrad, and would have destroyed it in truly Biblical fashion if he'd had the wherewithal. But it would be a good supply and hospital and rest base for die Wehrmacht. With its fall, the ultimate loss of Moscow would be all but guaranteed.
      The psychological effect on Soviet morale – and on German – would be immeasurable. For the Soviets, a catastrophe, for the Nazi, like winning the Gold Cup of Soccer.
      What makes you think Hitler would bother to feed the population? That's what Lake Ladoga was for – load them up on barges, flot the barges into the lake, and use them for artillery and bomber practice.
      This was a "tried and true" Soviet method, used to exterminate a large number of the nearly 22,000 Polish military officers they captured in 1939.

  15. 15
    CHARLIE BOY says:




    • 15.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      Charlie Boy: Maybe you need to sober up before entering a comment. Your conclusions are ludicrous.
      1. Contrary to your belief or desire, the people who take time to comment in this or other fora are not "fools." For the most part, they have a reasionable knowledge of the facts of history. They debate issues much like "armchair quarterbacks."

      2. "Without (U.S.?) entering the war all of Europe (would?) be German right now." But the U.S. only entered the war against Germany upon Hitler's declaration or 11 Dec. 1941. Had he not so acted, there is abundant evidence that the U.S. would have remained militarily aloof to Europe and devoted all of its military attention to Japan.
      It likely still would have sent arms & supplies to Britain – and perhaps to the S.U. but, without its large military contribution, N. Africa would have remained in a stale-mate. The substantial Axis forces not thereby diverted may have been enough to tip the scale against the S.U.
      Without U.S. intervention, in N. Africa, the Nazis would not have felt the need to over-run S. France ("Vichy"). Italy and its possessions would remain active in the Axis.
      There would have not been the invasions of Sicily, Italy, S.France or "D-Day." Rumania, Hungary, Slovakia would remain independent nations.
      That paints a picture of a Europe that is no where near "German" – not any more than it is today with Germany as the leading entity of the European Union.

      3. Fighting on 2 fronts: Hitler was not the 1st or the only to do so – not even in WWII. The U.S. did. Britain did. One of Hitler's heroes, Friedrich der Grosse did. Napoleon often did. It's a strategy born of necessity, but is only a bad strategy if you lose. In mid-1941, it seemed a worthwhile risk. Only "20-20 hindsight" can criticise it.

      4. Even by 1947, the bi-polar drunkard Churchill, speaking in respect of Hitler and Stalin, noted "We killed the worng pig."
      In 1942, he declared that he did not become the King's First Minister so that he could bring about the break-up of the British Empire. But that is precisel;y what he did do.
      He later said "It is better to jaw, jaw than to war, war" – but he refused NINE offers of peace negotiation with the Nazis.
      He COULD have accepted an honourable peace in 1940 and saved countless millions of lives and the turning of E.Europe into a S.U. colony/gulag. But foresight and global thinking were never his fortes.

      5. Now, about 70 years on, the S.U. is only a memory. The Nazis are history. But Europe is strong – perhaps as strong collectively as it ever was. What does this prove? It proves "There has never been a good war, or a bad peace." – Benjamin Franklin, letter, 11 Sep. 1783.

      • 15.1.1
        Neil R says:

        Oh and Hitler's offers of peace negotiations would have been honoured would they? Next you will be telling me that all his preparations and invasions without notice of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, Greece, Russia (its ally at the time in Poland) etc etc were just simple misunderstandings were they!!!!. I don't know what country you are from, USA probably, but thank your lucky stars that Churchill alone saw what Hitler 's murderous intention of World domination was, and led Britain and it's Commonwealth to stand up to him. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and your statement of peace negotiations is laughable.

      • 15.1.2
        duda says:

        Hitler seemed to appreciate great Britain. He didn't want to actually fight them and held off for months before planning operation sea lion. He had always been confident that they would accept peace terms and I think part of that was him hoping they would because of them being decedents of the aryian race. Still it's very good that they did not cave. Giving the royal navy to him would have made Germany unstoppable. And not giving into them meant gb would never fall to them since invading gb was out of the question. Hitler should not have invaded the Soviet Union until gb was neutralized. But again he was hopeful that he wouldn't have to kill them off and thought trashing the soviets would make them cave in.

  16. 16
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Neil: We shall see exactly who is making laughable statements. It is extremely clear that you possess crushingly little knowledge of what you write, and that knowledge has enormous lacunae in it.

    WHO has ever given notice of an invasion? Knock, knock. \Who's there?\ \Goons. We're here to invade your home.\

    Re: Czechoslovakia. After being forced to cede Sudetenland by the intimidation of Britain, France and Italy over the strident objection of the Soviets, it's government was mad to expect all to be sweetness and light thereafter. Hitler made his intentions crystal clear in \Mein Kampf\ 14 years earlier – he wanted to reform the old Holy Roman Empire. The Czech army was about as large as the Wehrmacht of the time and had, for the most part, superior armour. Why did it not lift a finger in the nation's defense if this was an \invasion?\

    Re: Poland. Again, Hitler made his desire crystal clear. Poland knew that, between the Nazis and Soviets, it was a fish between two hungry cats. A glance at a map would show that, if attacked, it would be in a grievous state long before belligerent Britain or reluctant France could do anything. But the ruling junta foolishly accepted Chamberlain's demented \guarantee\ and stopped negotiation with Germany. Poland COULD have treated with Germany and became its ally. That would have added 35 divisions to the Unternehmen Barbarossa order-of-battle, moved the jump-off point some 600 Km. further East, and virtually assured the defeat of the S.U. within the 1st year of assault. What did it gain by falling for the British bovine scatology? – Wholesale destruction.

    Re: Netherlands/Belgium/Luxembourg. They hitched their wagon to the British/French tarnished star. Not like the Dyle Plan was any secret. They had the choice to proclaim neutrality at the outset, but did not and suffered the consequences of being room to maneuver – for both Germans AND Allies. Note that, on a per-capita basis, these two countries gave among the highest numbers of volunteers to the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS.

    Re: France. You ARE joking, right? France declared war on Germany. It made a half-hearted attack across the border on & Sept. 1939 that was easily brushed back. Then you expect Germany to send a bouquet of roses along with a note \Hey. We'll be in your neighbourhood. Mind if we look in?\

    Re: Denmark. Entered by Germany solely as flank protection for Weserubung.

    Re: Norway. Hmm. Germany got most of its iron ore from Sweden via Norway. Britain illegally entered Norway's waters to lay sea mines. The R.N. destroyer \Cossack\ illegally entered its waters to seize British prisoners-of-war from the German freighter \Altmark.\ There was a combined British-French invasion force already at sea when the Wehrmacht beat them to the punch. WHO committed the acts of war against that neutral sovereign nation? (hint: NOT Germany).

    Re: Yugoslavia. In March 1941, the Yugoslav government joined the Axis Tripartite Pact. It was overthrown in a coup-d-etat just days later. The new \government\ showed no intent to honour its commitment. Germany needed to bail out Italy from its ill-conceived invasion of Greece in Oct. 1940. It also needed to guard its flank for the upcoming \Barbarossa\. Yugoslavs could have avoided any pain by proving allegiance to the Pact. No such effort was ever made, so they suffered the obvious consequence.

    Re: Greece. ITALY invaded Greece in Oct. 1940 without informing its ally, Germany. Britain had been sheltering and re-fueling its navy ships at Greece, rendering Greece no longer a neutral, but rather an abettor of Italy's enemy. The attack was a fiasco.
    The Wehrmacht came in April 1941 and made short work of the situation. Another country attacked solely because of its bad decision to affiliate with the war-monging Britain.

    Re: \Russia\ – hint: Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Russia was merely one of its federated republics. Again, Hitler made his intent crystal clear in \Mein Kampf.\ The Soviets certainly knew it, and were certainly NOT surprised by \Barbarossa\, despite their propaganda to the contrary in subsequent years.

    Had Britain stayed neutral in 1939, Canada would not have been silly enough to declare. 40,000 of its citizens would not have died and its national debt would have been vastly smaller.

    No Neil All WWII did was postpone the very situation we have today, and at a cost of 10's of millions of lives. All lost to appease the egos of Chamberlain and Churchill. Thanks for NOTHING.

    • 16.1
      Trent says:

      I do enjoy your writing Ronald. An interesting view on the British situation at the time, it makes for a more 'defensive minded' Germany than commonly accepted history suggests. Although I will have to put your facts to scrutiny before I can agree with your analysis.

      • 16.1.1
        Ronald Lameck says:

        Trent: I defy anyone to find a single word written by Hitler, or uttered by him prior to the French surrender in end of June 1940 the displayed any belligerent approach toward the British Empire or Western Europe. In fact, on 11 August 1939, he said to Carl Burckhardt (League of Nations High Commissioner for Danzig)

        Everything I undertake is directed against Russia (Soviet Union). If
        the West is too stupid and too blind to comprehend this, I will be
        forced to reach an understanding with the Russians (S.U.) , turn and
        strike the West, and then after their defeat turn back against the
        Soviet Union with my collected strength. I need the Ukraine and with
        that, no one can starve us out as they did in the last war.

        THAT is precisely what he did do. All the rubbish about wanting to conquer the world is booze-infused post-war propaganda spewed by Churchill to justify the colossal error he made that led to many millions more deaths (including the so-called Holocaust and the dismemberment of the British Empire) and far more destruction than was necessary.
        Read what Churchill wrote about Hitler in his 1937 book Great Contemporaries to find him singing a completely different song. No government should ever allow a bi-polar to have highest authority.

  17. 17
    rugrat says:

    Had Churchill made peace with Hitler this would b a different world we would b living in Hitler would have almost certainly beat Russia. First of all the Luftwaffe would have been a far more effective fighting force. There wouldn't have been a campaign in north Africa providing more troops for the east. There wouldn't have been a month delay in operation barberossa also Japan seeing that Hitler was very likely to beat Russia would have invaded from Manchuria. Having made this assessment what would the world be like today Hitler reAlly didn't start exterminating the Jews until the war started looking like he might loose. he was originally just thinking of sending them east or to Madagascar
    We would have still researched the atom bomb and in that case would have been safe behind our oceans
    Great Britain would have saved billions of dollars from lend lease all the while keeping her colonies
    Germany the leading aviation industry might have made great advances in technology maybe we would b on our way mars by now.
    No cold war with the Soviet union sparring 55 years of east European dark
    Hitler with the onset of Parkinson's disease as early as 42 might have been deposed by 48
    Was the loss of all those American British and Canadian soldiers on African and European soil really necessary?

    • 17.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      I agree almost 100% with rugrat.
      Note about Churchill that on 10 Nov. 1942 he said that he had not become the King's First Minister to oversee the Empire's dismembering. But that is precisely what was the result of his dogmatic, unnecessary continuance of the war.
      On 26 June 1954, he said that is was better to jaw, jaw than to war, war. Why did he lack this wisdom in summer 1940, when he rejected NINE offers from Hitler to negotiate peace?
      He is attributed to have said (on any or all of 1947, 26 March 1948, or 1960) that "we killed the wrong pig." Once again, 20-20 hindsight.
      This from a reputed "great man." If THAT is "great", give me ordinary.

    • 17.2
      duda says:

      I think had the Germans not been so desperate in 1942 that they would have continued investing in their nuclear program rather than turn to rockets as the quick solution to their problem against Russia. In that case they may have beaten the usa to it. But set aside who gets the big bomb first, a few nuclear weapons hardly matter against a victorious army. Japan was already dead when we used the bombs on them and I doubt it had much to do with being the reason for surrender. Nukes brought peace more than they brought death. With both sides having them and uk friendly to Germany then the usa would also not be aggressive. The world may have been a better place. We would likely be decades ahead rather than having to rebuild everything again. And the usa would not have become such a giant with it not having the opportunity to put bases around the world and capture all of those German scientists. They'd probably still be farmers.

      I'm pretty sure Hitler would not have stayed in power for too long. Eventually someone would have gotten him. If not his illness would. It's unlikely that an organization like the gestapo would have lasted long. The hate would have faded away or people would have rose up against it.

      • 17.2.1
        Ronald Lameck says:

        duda: Respectfully, all your outlook is saying is that, if things had not stayed the same, they would have been different. Obviously, had a coherent and consistent strategy been followed for Barbarossa, it would have been possible to have the Soviets on the ropes (at least) by the end of 1941. If Leningrad had been taken, the Finns could have detached a large force north to aid in the capture of Murmansk. In that circumstance, the Finns may have completely ignored the British declaration of war against them on 6 Dec. or, possibly, Britain may not have made it in the first place, seeing the Soviets as done like dinner. Had Hitler not been so rash as to declare war on the U.S. on 11 Dec., there is a good chance the U.S. may have opted to direct its priority on fighting Japan. The war in Europe would have seen German supreme on the continent in a way that Napoleon dreamed of, but never attained.
        Britain may have realised that it could not defeat Germany in those circumstances and made a peace. And if rainwater was beer, we would all be happy.

  18. 18
    Jackopath says:

    I think you guys are taking the revisionist point of view too far… and you're being unfair to Churchill, and even Chamberlain. It was Conservative PM Stanley Baldwin that committed the UK to a appeasement path long before Chamberlin and Churchill had a shot at being First Minister. Chamberlin was trying to hold off conflict until England was ready to fight. He relunctantly brought WSC into the Cabinet as hostiliteis commenced and put him in a job, Firt Lord of the Admiralty, where he had almost no impact on the conduct of the war until he became PM after the War in France had been decided.

    I think your critiques of the British border on the absurd. They viewed the Germans as hun… barbarians… and they were right. They rejected Peace outright with the Nazis stating that they would be better off \…lying on the ground choking in their own blood…\ then giving into Hitler. I can see someone not liking WSC's political views and the negative results that have come from them in certain ways and in certain points of view. But, do you really go so far as to see Hitler, Stalin and Churchill as moral equivalents? I think that goes way too far.

  19. 19
    Jackopath says:

    But on the question of the day… Debates about tactics and operational strategy are difficult to resolve. I think if the Nazi's weren't so hate and race driven, and not committed such horrific attrocities upon the local populations, found support in the Caucuses and the Ukraine, they could have destroyed the SU in 1941. They had to put a lot of resources into controling the territory they conquered and created fanatical enemies out of people that could just as easily surrendered. Since the German's defeated the Russians in 1917, they could have repeated… instead they ended up like Napolean. Anyone who's been to Moscow will tell you that the German's were actually quite close to the center of the City than the history books describe… I think if they had not laid waste to the whole of Eastern Europe and had not distracted themselves with Greece, Caucuses, etc… and taken Moscow… they'd still be speaking German today. If you look at what they did with their special actions groups and pogroms against commisars and Jews… they just lost their minds and I think that cost them the war.

  20. 20
    Ronald Lameck says:

    To try to take Moscow at the onset of winter with a severely depleted army at the end of a tenuous supply line that was already experiencing partisan attacks creates a sure recipe for disaster the would make Bonaparte's 1812 seem a picnic by comparison.
    1. For the S.U. to launch counter-attacks from 100 km. distance would be no big thing: armour or cavalry could easily traverse that distance in just a few hours.
    2. All the rail lines leading toward Moscow would still exist, and the Red Army could move troops forward using armoured trains, as it did with such success in the 1917-21 civil war.
    3. The S.U. could attack from north, east and south.
    4. If, as you suggest, Kiev Military District withdrew east, that would simply e still more troops & armour available to counter-attack.
    5. Meanwhile, all of the advantages I enumerated about seizing Leningrad instead would apply if that course was taken. To partially reiterate:
    a. To gain a completely secure supply line,
    b. To drastically shorten the front – freeing up, as a minimum, an entire Armoured Group, if not an entire Army Group.
    c. To seize the \second city\ of the U.S.S.R., the spiritual centre of the Soviet ideology – would have a severe negative effect on Soviet moral and a similar extreme positive effect on Nazi morale.
    Take Leningrad and have a \slam dunk\ victory, in my view.

  21. 21
    Ronald Lameck says:

    You need to remember that Unternehmen Barbarossa was intended to be a \blitzkrieg\ campaign of just a few weeks duration (\…kick the door in and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.\) After the fact, we can easily see that was a foolish expectation. However, at the time, given Stalin's office corps purges of 37-8 and the abysmal, almost laughable performance of the Red Army against Finland in 1939-40, it was a reasonable one in the purview of many.
    Hitler was many things, but original he was not. Virtually everything his Reich did had been done by someone else before. Concentration camps? – Russians against Poles in the Partition c. 1770. British in the Boer War, a few other uses. Gas chambers for executions? – U.S.A., 1924. Treatment of \inferior races\ – U.S. treatment of Natives, gleaned from the Karl May books he so loved; universal treatment of black slaves, etc. It all probably seemed like a good idea at the time.
    Re: Greece – Unternehmen Marita happened because of a coup by pro-west Yugoslav officers against the Regency which had just made a pact with the Nazis to be benevolently neutral . The coup caused Hitler to fear the flank of the soon to be launched Barbarossa would be in jeopardy of a British attack. Greece was added to the ledger to bail out the Italian offensive, which had been beaten back and turned into a fiasco. Had there been meaningful communication among the Axis, it would not have been necessary.

  22. 22
    regertz says:

    I agree. Alexander Werth, the British journalist/historian who spent much of WWII in Russia and produced the excellent \Russia at War\, in my opinion, the best single volume history of the Russo-German war 1941-5, stressed the critical importance of the Russian rail system. Losing Moscow in August/September to an all-out early assault would have choked supplies to Leningrad and could easily have led to the fall of Leningrad in October, along with the chance to complete the destruction of the Soviet Southern Front (attacks were launched in the south and north after the Smolensk check) and capture Kiev, Kharkov, even perhaps hold Rostov. The Germans could have had time to dig in to meet any winter counterattacks and been in better position to launch an \oil offensive\ in spring 1942 as well as send more aid to Rommel. Also there is the factor of major prestige loss and at Kuibyshev Stalin's grip would have been weaker…Beria and Molotov might even have found military support for a coup to remove him from power after such disasters or at least to weaken his role, possibly leading to confusion and even collapse.

  23. 23
    Patrick says:

    \he's an idiot for declaring war on usa especially when japan wouldn't declare war on the ussr and back the germans.\

    Er…. Japan were fighting the USSR before the Germans were. That is how the Soviets worked out how to do tank warfare. In fact the returning crews turned out to be quite formidable when they swapped their BT7 tanks for T34's.

  24. 24
    Patrick says:

    \ also Japan seeing that Hitler was very likely to beat Russia would have invaded from Manchuria\

    Not necessarily. Japan's main problem was lack of oil. Thus its focus was on the Dutch East indies after China. If Germany had defeated the USSR, there could have been a link up. But there was no guarantee they would have provided enough oil. Did the Japanese really just Hitler? probably not.

    They also had their asses kicked by the soviets just before Barbarossa at the battle of Khalkhin Gol in sept 1939. By the 1940's Japanese were still a largely infantry army. Their tanks were really not very good and were no match for the T34. So they were better suited for pacific operations. So that would also have influenced them.

  25. 25
    Neil says:

    This is a very interesting discussion. I hope I'm not too late in adding my thoughts.

    There are no simple changes that can be made to the German's historic actions that would have resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although many of you have made some really well thought-out points.

    The Germans could never beat the Soviets because the USSR is just too big and had too many army reserves. Germany had few army reserves and could never supply its forces as they moved deep into Soviet territory. The German Generals advising Hitler didn't tell him of the logistical nightmare that awaited the German army.

    However, even if Germany did defeated the Soviet Union, the victory would have been short-lived as the USA would have nuked Berlin. Roosevelt delayed joining the war against Germany not because he didn't want to stop Hitler, but because he thought Russia and Britain could fight Germany on the USA's behalf (hence, Lend-Lease). Originally, Berlin was to be the first city to be nuked.

    And there could never be a cold war between the Germans and the Americans. The Germans never had the intellectual or physical resources required to produce an atom bomb. So, no matter the outcome of German operations in Europe and Russia, the Americans would have still been victorious. After all, no country could directly attack the USA.

    The only way the Germans could have had a long-term victory in Russia was if they hadn't attacked France and Britain, and had called for the liberation of the Ukraine and other countries within the USSR. Under this scenario, there would have been no Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and Poland would have either been neutral or a German ally. The Ukrainians had suffered badly at the hands of Stalin and would have fought the Russians willingly. However, this is not a realistic scenario as it would have required a very different person to Hitler to be leading Germany.

    With Hitler and the Nazis in charge of Germany, there was never any prospect of lasting peace between Germany and Russia, or Germany and Britain, or any other combination. And Hitler could never be appeased because every (political or military) victory made him more hungry for more territory and more victories.

    Also one minor point, Turkey was a lemon in military terms and would have been no help to the Germans if they had entered the war on their side.

    Overall, Hitler's victories were always going to be short-lived. Maybe the war could have last a few more years, but there is no realistic scenario in which the Germans can counter the size of Russia, the millions of Russian army reserves, and Russia's industrial might, as well as America's industrial might and America being the only country that could produce the Atomic bomb.

    • 25.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      Neil needs to dial back the jingoism a very great deal and acknowledge several realities that he seems to overlook supra.

      1. The Soviet Union could have very easily been beaten. It was not an entity like the U.S. (or Germany), which had a concentrated population that generally all spoke the same language, had similar religious and political outlooks, was better educated, and was united by a common outlook on life. It was also still mostly agrarian and not an efficient industrial producer.
      Rather, it was collection of regions. Many, if not most, were forced to be part of the union. There were dozens of languages, a wide variety of cultures, numerous religions – which were all being forcibly suppressed – poorer education, a wide range of political differences – which, again, were being forcibly suppressed.
      A look at how very quickly and completely the components of the U.S.S.R. scattered like dust in the wind in the early 1990s shows how the identical thing would almost certainly have occurred if the Supreme Soviet had been jeopardised.
      As it was, the Axis got important help from Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian and Cossack populations. Had Leningrad or Moscow fallen, the participation by these rebellious populations would have greatly increased, and many others would have tried to overthrow the union.
      In this, Hitler was entirely correct – all that was necessary was to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure would come crashing down. The problem was that the door was not kicked in. The Axis reached the door at Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad, and knocked on it – even pounded on it, but did not kick it in. Had any of those three fallen, it is quite likely that the U.S.S.R. would have imploded, much as it did in the 1990s.
      Then, Neil suggests the U.S. would have dropped an atomic bomb on Berlin. He does not elaborate on how this magical act would occur. However, I can easily elaborate on why that would never occur:
      . If the Axis was going to defeat the S.U., it would have happened within the first 1 to 1.5 years after attack.
      If this happened, the Axis has much, if not most of the vast S.U. resources at its disposal.
      This means all the oil it wants.
      There is ample area for Luftwaffe pilot training and weapon development. , At least 120 divisions and vast numbers of Luftwaffe aircraft could be permanently removed for use on other fronts. Which means the N. African theatre becomes the focal point of the war. A vastly reinforced Rommel would obliterate the British in Egypt.
      The political influence created by the S.U. demise would almost certainly reflect in other neutral or antigonistic nations either joining the Axis or adopting a much more friendly approach.
      – Thus, Vichy France would actively resist an operation Torch. Instead of scuttling its fleet at Toulon, it may use them to defend French N. Africa and the French Mediterranean coast.
      Spain might actively join the Axis.
      The increased Luftwaffe presence in the West would make the Allied bombing campaigns suicidal. – As it was, heavy losses caused the U.S.A.A.F. to suspend daylight raids for several months in 1943-44 until it could create long-range fighters to escort its bombers across the whole of the raid.
      But the relaxation of pressure on the German industry would allow more and faster production of the newer Luftwaffe aircraft. The P-51 would be just a smaller cannon fodder for the Me-262, He-162 and FW-183 that would be turned out instead of BF-109 or FW-190.
      The 128 mm. radar-guided anti-aircraft gun would be available in greater numbers.
      The increased Luftwaffe presence might mean more bombing of British cities instead. Maybe Britain sees reason and just makes peace.
      You can have 10,000 atomic bombs, but they are all just a lot of scrap metal if you cannot deliver them to a target – which the U.S.A.A.F. would note able to do. Far better to fight Japan and make accommodation in Europe.

  26. 26
    John says:

    Dear regertz: I full agree with you. I think that the other fellows forget the great importance of the rail lines to troops movements and supplies.
    The other important thing, have the germans pressured the Soviets continuosly to Moscow from june 22, they probably take Moscow on september 22, at the most later.
    They probably cut the rail lines needed to retreat more facilities, damaging more the SU war effort.
    After this, a fortification for autum and winter; at the same time they have time to envelope the flanks, and Leningrad and Kiev, Karkov and Rostov will fall before November. The possesion of the central rail lines will accelerate this, of course, and make the SU resistance nonsense.
    One more thing: the TANKS production of Germany was illarious, almost ridiculous for this enterprise. Hilter should start producing 2 or 3 thousand per year from 1938, at later date. Germany produced 10 thousand in 1943 after declaring total war. If he did so, they probably take Moscow and win the war.
    Forget the atomic bomb in this analisis.
    There are very interestings all the post.
    Regards feom Uruguay!

  27. 27
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Many people commenting here seem to overlook the fact that, by the 20th C., wars were fought on a continuous front. The flanks, which could be more or less disregarded in the Napoleonic Era, became vital.
    Therefore, the problem with a concentrated thrust at Moscow is that it is too obvious. The Red Army knows exactly where you are headed, and can concentrate all its effort to delay that thrust. Historically, quite clearly the destruction of Kiev Military District cost die Wehrmacht any hope of taking Moscow because of the time it took to accomplish, and the wear on equipment and personnel.
    Yet, if no effort was made to destroy or at least neutralise that force, it could have made a devastating attack on the flank of Heeresgruppe Mitte, which would have prevented or at least seriously delayed an attack at Moscow.
    Conversely, it could also have detached many of its units to reinforce the Red Army before Vyazma. Suddenly, the sweeping Wehrmacht victory would become an slogging battle of attrition – the sort of thing that the Wehrmacht was ill-prepared for.
    I still support a main effort at Leningrad to shorten the line and guarantee the Axis supply line, partisan-proof all year-round.

  28. 28
    Neil says:


    There are so many flaws in your argument I don't know where to begin. So I'll keep my reply simple. The Americans and British had cracked the German codes and had radar. These are two massive advantages, particularly if the Americans wanted to send an aircraft carrier with bombers carrying atomic bombs to Europe. Or they could simply launch their bombers from Britain, East Africa, East Russia, etc. Remember the Americans would resort to one-way, suicide missions if necessary (e.g. Doolittle raid on Japan). The power of possessing the atomic bomb cannot be underestimated. It was a game-changer.

    I realise that the USSR is comprised of many nations with different cultures, languages, etc. But what you've failed to realise is that the USSR had millions of army reserves. And a system of control, in Stalin and the NKVD, that was very effective in mobilising the people of the USSR in terms of industry and the military. There is no way that the USSR would crumble if Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad were lost. Stalin was prepared for this outcome.

    Also, if you read about industrialisation, you'll find that it was Russia that was ahead of Germany. Remember, German tanks were not mass produced. Each tank was produced by a small team of craftsmen. This meant parts were not interchangable and repairs on the battlefield were difficult.

    What you also fail to realise is that Germany had inferior tanks and weapons at the start of Operation Barbarossa. And they only had a few hundred thousand army reserves. They were running short of resources. Every territory they occupied further stretched their resources and manpower. And local peoples resisted fiercely.

    If the Germans had taken all of the Western USSR, it would have taken years before they would have gained the benefits. The Russians were prepared to destroy the oil wells and refineries at Baku. Building oil wells and refineries takes year!

    Remember, Hitler hated Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian and Cossack peoples. It wasn't until the Germans were desperate in 1942 that they started actively recruiting from these populations. The people of the USSR had two choices: Surrender to Hitler and become slaves (and probably be killed or starved to death), or fight the Germans. Not much of a choice! While many people hated Stalin, Hitler was even less tolerant. He wanted to kill everyone in the Ukraine so it could be populated with German farmers.

    As I said, there is simply no realistic scenario in which Germany can beat the USSR and win World War II. America would have never appeased Hitler. Their late entry into the war was only because they thought that Britain and the USSR would take care of Hitler for them. They would have entered the war sooner if Britain or the USSR collapsed (which as I have argued is highly unlikely).

    Ronald – Stop with the magical thinking and leaps in logic. The fall of Moscow would have certainly lengthened the war, but it wasn't a game-changer.

  29. 29
    psujoe says:

    Germans lost the war when they couldn't defeat the western front and invaded Russia. Absent their not defeating Britain they needed to embrace the non Russian countries, the biggest of which is the Ukraine whose citizens hated Russia.Failing that they really need to stay on point as far as objectives. Pick one, Leningrad or Moscow. Secure the objective and go from there. A strong pivot from Leningrad would've been a huge asset. Decimation of the Moscow industrial railroad center would be as well. Can't divide forces like this.

  30. 30
    Baybars says:

    It is interesting that most counterfactuals about WW2 in the Eastern European theatre look at a hypothetical scenario where the Germans would not make mistakes they did make whereas the Russians would make all the mistakes that actually were made. That logic seems to neglect that changing behaviour of one side may well affect the behaviour of the other side too. For instance, had Yugoslavia not had a coup on 27th March 1941 and not been invaded on 6th April, perhaps it would have finally dawned on Stalin that Hitler was happy to leave his old enemy, the Serbs, alone in order to stay on course set in Mein Kampf. Perhaps Stalin would have then at least avoided some of the Soviet's grave mistakes that helped Germans so much during the border battles.By the same token, had Hitler pushed for Moscow without taking Kiev, Stalin might have taken advantage of enemy's overstretched supply lines to attack their flanks and perhaps make Germany's ultimate defeat come much sooner than it did. And so on and so for.

  31. 31
    John says:

    I agree with you, psujoe. The objetives of Barbarossa they would be conquered one by one, trough very strong blitzkrieg type attack. The number one, withouth doubt, was Moscow. If the Germans allow Guderian to continue trough Moscow, and the Panzer reserves of two thousand (pleaes read my earlier post) come to the front, he could conquer moscow. The flank SU forces are not of danger, because infantery forces at this time, not mecanized, and withouth air superiority, can not attack the germans because of they lack of mobility. Remember that the soviet counter attacks of 1941 never ended in victory, but in a blod bath against less but well supplied German Forces. In this argumentation, please read GENERAL RAUS \Panzer Operations\. Withouth a trusted supplie line, with food and ammunition, very strong russian forces were defeated by less german forces. One more point: Moscow fall means to me the defeat of the SU, but we do not know what could hapen with the entire war.

  32. 32
    John says:

    Dear Baybar: you are true, there are more hypotesis \ what could hapen if….\ About German mistakes, than Soviet Union mistakes.
    Perhaps the great gamble of Hitler is a very interesting thinking, because he made a Poker lay, instead of deep and cientific analysis of German real capabilities of victory. I always remenber when he said in 1941 that if he would knew the size of SU army forces, he would never start the war against them.

  33. 33
    psujoe says:

    I agree that Moscow should've been the main objective once the invasion began. It was referenced earlier that Germany wasn't on a \total war\ footing until 1943. Just terrible planning and short sighted. Even using second shifts in production alone would've provided much needed equipment and supplies(on the western front as well). Capture of Moscow by September sure would've hampered Russian logistics North, South and West of Moscow. The Germans could've cut off the armies in the Ukraine at that point and straightened out the defensive line. No guarantee of German victory, but if they hold Moscow until Spring it sure would seem possible a Spring/Summer 1942 offensive could've been decisive.

  34. 34
    John says:

    Thank you for your comments, Mr. Psujoe! Really you are the first one that, knowing a lot about WWII, agree with me.
    Of course, it is a simple elucubration / suposition of both.

    I would kindly ask you two things:
    1- do you think that if Germany concuerde Leningrad at the end of July, when they arrived to the Luga river but stopped for a month, this punch could make they win the entire campaign in 1941?

    2- do you know why they stopped for a month in the Luga, instead of use the Luftwaffe transport capabilities to advance fuel and ammunition, and close the ring around Leningrad?
    Tahnk you and
    Regards from Uruguay!

  35. 35
    psujoe says:

    I'd like to know why you think Germany could've tken Leningrad by the end of July?

    I am always puzzled by the lack of air transport in the German attack plan. They had total command of the skies over Russia, but no Heavy bombers and poor usage of their transport planes.

  36. 36
    John says:

    Dear psujoe: I 've read that Manstein Panzer korps ( first Pz army) conquered the bridge over the Dvina in five days, after the june 22; and in a month they arrived to the Luga River, perhaps 100 km from Leningrad. But, because the infantry remained too on the rear, they do nit try to conquer the city by a coup the main. The ground ( forest, swamp) qnd of course the Russian reinforcement that come in a hurry, stopped them. But, a more decisive air supply and perhaps aerotransportated mission, could at least seal the ring around the city. One book that I' ve read said this, is not my idea. The mistake was the same that in France the earlier year at Dukerque: to stop the panzers to wait the infantry. It is not necesary, because the confusion and lack of mobility of the enemy, the German air superiority, make the Russian quite paralized. This is the point, I guess. Waiting for the infantry, the Russians had a month to build trenches, the population (also women) in number of thenth of thousands reinforced the army and the engineering works (obstacles, antitank trenches, etc.)

  37. 37
    Keith says:

    All the Nazi should have scenarios are pointless. If the Nazis had hung on through additional victories on the eastern front for another five months the direct result would have been the nuclear attacks on Germany rather than on Japan. Hitler himself would have been hard pressed to survive an atom bomb, even in his Berlin bunker. The allies knew of his location through ultra. Politically, the result of nuclear strikes would also have lead to his over throw even if Hitler did survive the nuke strikes. In the end the Nazis never had a chance of winning ww2 against the soviets and the americans. If Adolph had not declared war against the americans the Nazis may have survived to defeat the soviets, since there was considerable sympathy for the Nazis in America and hatred of the communists. Britain without American assistance could not have sustained a war against the third reich, Once the Nazis were engaged on a war of two fronts the Nazis were doomed.

  38. 38
    Kevin Gallagher says:

    @ Ronald Lameck. Great writing, and your knowledge on the subject is obviously excellent. In regards to your rebuttal of Neil's \cookie cutter\ 130min WW2 documentary propaganda, very in-depth. However, I wanted to add some criticism regarding the last statement of his prior commentary questioning Hitler's multiple \peace offers/negotiations offered\ to the British during the immediate outbreak of WW2. He obviously doubts this historical fact as well as the indisputable fact that Hitler tried in earnest to negotiate with The Polish over the Danzig question (and was ignored primarily due to Britain and France not only instructing The Poles outright to \negotiate but do not relent\ via the foreign offices, but promising both verbally and by treaty to \guarantee Polish independence\… by opening an immediate military attack/front to relieve Poland). The Polish obviously never receiving such military relief as Britain and France never intended to do such. They, like everyone, used Poland to implement political policy and larger aims to \destroy\ Germany as a nation. Neil ironically proves his own closing statement that \a little knowledge is dangerous\. Yes Neil, and virtually no knowledge is simply pathetic. As to the larger original postulation of \Had Germany captured Moscow\? In my opinion, had the Germans conquered Moscow in 1941 Russia would have either collapsed from the loss or would have been forced to sue for some type of peace (which unfortunately Hitler would likely have rejected as he had a clear desire to eradicate the Soviet Union as a country, people, culture, and idea… But the postulation I believe is one borne upon the supposition that the event happened as a result of Hitler placing more faith and ultimately militarily strategic decision making in the hands of his best commanders). That said, Moscow was an extremely important rail and communications hub, and the political nerve-center of the S.U. The reverberations would have been out of proportion to the actual capture of the city in purely military terms. The Brits would likely have sued for peace, Leningrad would likely have capitulated, and the Wehrmacht would have found itself better supplied, better rested, strengthened by numbers and materials, and holding the title of the undisputed military power in not only western and central Europe, but of eastern Europe as well. As many have pointed out the Russian \lend-lease\ program would have been highly affected further north, and the resources the Soviets did have to throw into the battle had they decided to fight on would have had difficult approaches to the German lines with \jumping off\ points for any military campaigns located 100 or more miles to the east of the proposed new borders that were to be implemented after the fall of Moscow. The Germans time and again displayed their superior military prowess and tactical savvy, and did so throughout the war even as the odds against them climbed from 2:1 to an astounding 11:1 at war's end. Basically German military tactics were superior enough to win the war, but they could not overcome Hitler's flawed strategic blunders. One of the best lines I've ever heard is the following: \The German army became so good at winning battles, that they lost the war because they focused most of their energy on winning battles\. Thanks for posting, and never mind the fools spouting History Channel propaganda.

  39. 39
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Neil: I am irked that a lengthy reply I made to supra some time ago is, for some reason, not here. I try to reproduce at least its gist herein:

    1: You accept without question the highly dubious claim first made by William Stephenson in his book A Man Called Intrepid (or, as its vast army of critics call it, A Man Called Insipid).
    If you can read all the messages of your enemy, whom you outnumber by at least 5 to 1 in manpower, not to mention natural resources, but still need more than 5 yrs., 8 mo. to defeat him, while incurring VASTLY more casualties, then you must be the All-Time Incompetent Buffoons.
    Just a couple examples of how ludicrous this claim is:
    a. Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein – the 2d Battle of the Ardennes, or so-called Battle of the Bulge. By the published admissions of Eisenhower, Montgomery, Bradley, Hodges, Patton, etc., etc., this attack by THIRTY divisions caught the Allies completely by surprise..
    b. The major argument used ex post facto to justify the Allied terror-bombing of Dresden in mid-Feb. 1945 was that it would prevent the transfer to the eastern front of Panzerarmee 6 (SS), which had been the main force employed in the Ardennes. But at that time, that army was ALREADY in the east, in Hungary. It was transferred through Regensburg, some 260 Km. to the southwest of Dresden.

    2. You posit the U.S.N. could send an aircraft carrier with bombers carrying atomic bombs to Europe. But no aircraft carrier extant at the time was wide enough or long enough to launch a bomber loaded with the A-bomb of the time. The only aircraft able to carry such a bomb a significant distance was the B-29, FAR too large for any aircraft carrier of the time.
    You posit that the aircraft could fly from Britain. But there was no guarantee the bomb would be effective. Even the July 1945 test gave cause for doubt about what would actually happen. There is extreme doubt that the British government would allow such a flight from its territory – or even allow use of the weapon at all. The A-bomb was an unknown quantity.
    But what WAS known is that Germany had huge numbers of V-2 rockets, which flew so high & fast as to be indefensible. It was also at least strongly suspected on reasonable & probably grounds that Germany had a large stock of sophisticated chemical weapons (nerve gas, etc.). It would be very easy to make such stuff the warhead of a large salvo of V-2s. The ONLY reason Germany never used these weapons, even in the last hours, was due to the objection of Hitler, who was a gas casualty in WWI. The risk of this happening was far too great. No British government that allowed a mass attack by such a weapon would survive the week. To paraphrase the bi-polar drunkard British P.M., there are things up with which the British people would not put.
    Finally, the Doolittle raid on Tokyo (vastly over-blown by U.S. propaganda) was NEVER designed as a suicide raid, any more than any other bombing raid was. Its plan was to have the B-25s fly on to mainland China and land (even if a forced landing) there. Which is what DID happen.
    Possessing an A-bomb was NOT a so-called game-changer, much as you might so wish it to be. The Allies were NEVER sure until after VE-Day how far German development of an atomic, or even a dirty bomb was. They might well have found the Nazis had it too – MEGA OOPS! (Again, so much for the Insipid claim of reading codes.)

    3. ANY army could have millions of reserves. But if those reserves choose to not fight,there are no Ghostbusters you can call to make them. It is very common in wars for troops of the losing side to simply vanish. They want no part of being the last man to die in a futile war. It has happened in probably every war ever fought – the famous U.S. Army big skedaddle after being routed before Washington D.C. in August 1814, & the invisible Republican Guard in the 1st Gulf War being just a couple of examples. The N.K.V.D. were human too, with mothers, fathers, wives, children, etc. There comes a point when you do not merely say NO to the guy issuing the order, but when you just point your gun & blow him away. Do svidanye Iosif Vissarionovich!

    4. You have an immense misunderstanding of German vs. Soviet industry. German armour was not hand built – it was a much more sophisticated piece of equipment. The Germans were past-masters at improvisation & at jury-rigging repairs. Most of Red ARmy troops were so poorly educated & trained that they could scarcely operate their machines, & showed almost no initiative in using them. No S.U.tank had a radio – the company leader would issue orders by waving coloured signal flags from his opened turret hatch. ALL German ones had radios – the best of any army in the war, at that. They also had vastly superior gun sights. The German larger tanks were had a crew of 5, the Soviet tanks of only 4.
    The Soviets themselves noted how, in 1941, it was nothing at all for a German tank to travel 200 Km., but S.U. ones would be virtually guaranteed to break down at least once in that distance. For much of the war, T-34 crews carried a spare transmission on the back of the tank because the installed units were of such poor quality. These reasons, and the far superior German tactics & crew training, were why, even in the last days of the war, the German army had a huge kill ratio vis-a-vis the S.U.

    5. The S.U. citizens did NOT fiercely resist die Wehrmacht. A tiny number were partisans – most of these were Red Army soldiers who had been cut off, or who were parachuted behind lines. Most of this was done in winter 41-42. That more than 1 million children were left behind by the evacuating Wehrmacht who were fathered by German troops is perhaps the greatest rebuttal of your claim that can be made. (B.T.W. – more than 250,000 in France – so much for the ex post facto much-vaunted Maquis)

    6. Re: oil well destruction. The wells destroyed in the 1st Gulf War were almost all operational within a year. That ones allegedly destroyed by the Red Army in the Caucasus take any longer is something you claim, but offer no support for. I live in Alberta (a.k.a. Oil Country), where your claim is met by mirth. Further – this presupposes that the local people would allow this destruction to go forward. HUGE numbers of the populace of the Caucasus were very co-operative, even friendly to die Wehrmacht.

    7. You claim about the S.U. peoples also does not bear scrutiny. They were not employed in 1941 for the very simple reasons that
    a. Germany expected – hoped – to put paid to the S.U. in 1941. These people were not needed.
    b. They were considered of dubious quality – although events proved many of them fought with distinction.
    c. It takes time to recruit, train, equip & move troops into the field.
    d. There were large numbers of Red Army men who were captured & then served as Hilfwillgen (willing helpers) throughout the war & on all fronts. They were much of the service & supply, artillery troops, etc. In Normandy in 1944, about 50% of the German artillery was actually captured Soviet 152 mm. guns. Most of this was manned by ex-Red Army men.

    8. The late U.S. entry into the war was because it would NOT have been there at all, save for the manifest provocation of Roosevelt. His embargo of oil supplies to Japan made the Pacific war a virtual certainty. Had Hitler not supported his (largely useless) eastern ally by declaring against the U.S., it would have devoted its primary effort against Japan.

    9. Had the S.U. collapsed – which would have been quite likely had the suggestions I made supra been carried out – the moral or propaganda value to Germany would have been immense. As noted, Vichy France (with its sizable fleet) & Spain would probably have joined the Axis. Turkey would have salivated at the chance of acquiring some of the S.U. empire.
    Even the bi-polar drunkard may have realised a few years earlier that it is better to jaw jaw than to war war.

    There were absolutely ZERO examples of so-called magical thinking or leaps of logic in MY notes supra. Many in your, yes. But none in mine.
    The fall of LENINGRAD (my premise) would have led to the fall of Moscow, which would have led to the end of the S.U.. This would have ensured Axis supply. No one in N. America would give a tinkers dam about what went on in Europe thereafter.

    • 39.1
      Neil says:


      Your passion for history is admirable. However, there are numerous flaws in your arguments. Have you heard of confirmation bias? You are cherry picking the evidence that supports your argument, while dismissing any evidence that doesn’t support your argument. Why are you so desperate to believe that the Nazis should have been victorious? For some reason you seem to think that the Wehrmacht were unbeatable and that all of the mistakes made are attributable to Hitler. Such reasoning is very silly.

      I really can’t be bothered arguing with you because I know that it doesn’t matter what I say, you will continue cherry picking the evidence. The actions of the Nazi and Wehrmacht were not honourable or humane; they brutalised much of Europe and eastern S.U. The peoples of Poland and Ukraine suffered terribly at the hands of the Nazis (and Soviets). Please reconsider your worship of these thugs.

      A few points that you can’t refute (but I know you will try to ignore):

      - The Soviet Union demonstrated a tremendous resilience in the face of the German advance. They had millions of well-trained army reserves. They were mass-producing equipment that was better suited to the winter conditions than the German’s equipment. The Soviet Union won the war precisely because Stalin, the Communist party and the NKVD were prepared to sacrifice everything to stop the Germans and knew how to motivate the many peoples of the S.U. There were no mass defections or refusals to fight, despite shortages of weapons and ammunition, the loss of millions of men and dwindling resources. Be grateful that you did not have to endure such hardship. The loss of Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad wouldn’t have changed anything; the Soviets were prepared for such a loss.

      - Together, the British and Americans demonstrated an incredible resourcefulness and innovativeness during the war. The Germans only had a vague idea of how to make an Atomic bomb; they also didn’t have the capabilities to produce a bomb. If given half a chance, the Americans would have used the Atomic bomb on the Germans. The Americans would have found a way to bomb the Germans if the war was going badly. Planes can be modified after all.

      - There were no limits to Hitler’s ambition. Had he beaten the S.U., he would have kept going. This was his downfall; he didn’t know when to stop. Hitler would never quit while he was winning. Roosevelt knew this fact, which is why he was determined to stop the Germans before the Japanese. The Americans knew the Germans were the real threat, not the Japanese.

      - The only reason the Germans advanced as far as they did is because the British, French and Soviets choose to appease Hitler in an effort to avoid war. If the French had attacked the Germans following the invasion of Poland, there would have been no WWII. If Stalin hadn’t trusted Hitler, the Germans would have been stopped within 100 miles of the Soviet border. The Germans pushed their luck to breaking point and the result was the total destruction of Germany.

      To sum, I agree that it is possible that the Germans could have captured Leningrad and/or Moscow. But this would never have changed the outcome of WWII; it would have only extended the war by a few months.

      • 39.1.1
        Editor, HistoryNet says:

        Neil, you and Ronald are putting forth some excellent arguments and counterarguments from which other readers can learn and perhaps they will be prompted to do more research on their own into the subject; that is what we hope for in these comments on HistoryNet.

        Unfortunately, both you and Ronald are also engaging in the sort of personal put-downs we don't allow on HistoryNet. Please restrict your posts to reasoned arguments without the put-downs.

        —Editor, HistoryNet

  40. 40
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Keith: You conclude what you conclude because that is what you want to conclude. Additional victories in the east for die Wehrmacht would not have meant a merely delaying things a few months – it would have meant a fundamental change in the course of the war.
    In spring 1943, Ribbentrop & Molotov had talks aimed at a mutually-agreed peace. This, despite the recent Soviet victory at Stalingrad & the Western decision for unconditional surrender as the only basis to end the war.
    An eastern peace in spring 1943 would have meant the vast German troops, armour & aircraft historically devoted to the Kursk battles could be moved west. The attack on Sicily would have faced very heavy opposition by air & land forces, & would almost certainly have been pushed back into the Mediterranean. There would have been no landing in Italy that year.
    Because of the vastly increased Luftwaffe presence, the evisceration the U.S.A.A.F. historically experienced at Schweinfurt that August would have been general at all of its targets. After Schweinfurt, it ceased raids for 5 months until long-range escorts could support the bombers. But the much larger Luftwaffe could still make short work of things.
    As a result, development of weapons could go faster & in greater numbers.
    Without writing a book or being repetitive to issues I have already argued elsewhere in this forum, there would almost surely not have been an Allied attack in west Europe in 1944. There would have been vast numbers of Me-262, He-162 & even Ta-183 jets to keep the skies clear.
    There would be no nuclear attack as it would likely not be agreed to be Britain, which would bear repercussion. Even if attempted, it would be unlikely to get through.
    As for this ULTRA nonsense – the repetition needed to put that bugbear to bed! In spring 1945, the Western Allies had no idea where Hitler was. That was why they sent raids to bomb die Berghof. The first they knew of where he was came from German reports as Berlin was being surrendered.

    • 40.1
      Neil says:


      I repeat – stop cherry picking the evidence. There is no credible reason to believe that there would be a lasting peace between the Germans and Soviets, while Hitler lived. Hitler hated the Soviets.

      Also, Ultra was extremely successful. The Allies were taken by surprise in the Ardennes and they didn't know where Hitler was at all times, but this doesn't mean Ultra was a failure.

      German jet fighters produced on mass years earlier than did occur would certainly have made a huge difference to the length of the war and, perhaps, the outcome. But such a change to history requires a lot of improbable "what ifs".

  41. 41
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Kevin: I have never watched History Channel. I have seen enough programs on P.B.S. that were rife with inaccuracies and propaganda. This is why I got interested in history in the 1st place – my father was a great Paul Bunyan or Baron von Munchhausen. I learned from a young age to research everything he said, so I have scoured myriad books, etc,.
    My belief that the main target of Barbarossa should have been Leningrad is based around the following:
    Discounting the Finnish front, to attack the Soviet Union (S.U.) from the west & go as far as the Ural Mts. (the planned extent of the German effort), one finds it widens like a reversed funnel, with Moscow situated more-or-less in the middle.
    As you advance further east, you need ever-more troops to create a continuous front. The attack spearhead loses force as troops are detached to hold the expanding line.
    Meanwhile, the defender needs only to practice the standard technique used against an attempted deep penetration – hold the shoulders (flanks). As the attacked plunges ever-deeper, his spearhead is in ever-increasing jeopardy of losing force due to an ever-longer supply line & of being cut off & destroyed in detail.
    Die Wehrmacht recognised this problem, which was why a large force was temporarily detached from the spearhead to destroy the S.U. left shoulder – Kiev Military District. As a result, the deepest 1941 German penetration was by Heeresgruppe Sud , which reached Rostov-on-Don before being beaten back to the Mius R.
    An attempt was made to destroy the S.U. right shoulder – Leningrad Military District. This was not successful, resulting in a WWI-like long & deadlocked front which was west of the main German effort.
    Moscow was seen as the political heart – but the politicians & bureaucracy had already been moved further east. (Just as in 1940 the French had moved their politicians & bureaucracy south to Vichy before Paris was captured).
    It was a communications hub, yes, but less so from the west than it was from the east. To capture it alone, with the S.U. still holding one flank & Moscow in the middle would mean little. Napoleon captured Moscow in 1812. It meant nothing. He had to retreat from it & lost the campaign.
    Whereas Leningrad was the key. It would always be the ideological heart of the S.U. version of Communism – named after the man who brought about the revolution. The propaganda & moral effect of its capture would have been an incalculable disaster for the S.U.leadership, for the people, & for the world-political regard for the S.U. Previous neutrals like Vichy France, Spain, Turkey & possibly even Sweden may have joined the Axis, seeing the demise of the S.U\ as a strong likelihood. Even war-monger Churchill may have reconsidered peace.
    Of course, all I wrote supra about the shorter Axis front, likely fall of Murmansk, etc., would also apply.
    What I find odd about the German attack on the S.U. is that Hitler was a political animal. It astonishes that he seemed to not recognise these advantages, even though he had at least 16 years from his mention of crushing the S.U. in Mein Kampf to work out the best way to do so. But the attack ended up like a child in a candy store, dashing from side to side, from counter to counter, lusting over this or that sweet, never able to make up his mind. A golden opportunity missed.

    • 41.1
      Neil says:


      I agree with everything in your post up to the point where you claim the loss of Leningrad "would have been an incalculable disaster…" This is the point where you stop using logic and evidence to support your argument. If the Germans had focused on Leningrad, the Soviets would have acted very differently. You haven't accounted for the Soviet's likely response to a German spearhead aimed at Leningrad only. The Germans had three army groups because they wanted to overwhelm the Soviets. It worked. But they didn't know that the Soviets had millions of well trained army reserves; the Germans simply didn't have the army reserves and logistical support to beat the Soviets. End of story!

  42. 42
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Since you toss basic social psychology around, try to address your fundamental attribution error. There is no so-called cherry picking in my note supra – save that whenever I refute one of your issues, you dig up another to profess is decisive. This means, like St. George battling the dragon, I must address & refute it too. Because this complex issue involves vast distances & millions of humans across years, in the interest of brevity, I counter only that issue & nothing more. Otherwise, I could write hundreds of pages. You do not perceive this because you are too occupied in a vain effort to find something that is irrefutable.
    You harbour a misguided belief that I am somehow desperate to belief the AXIS – not merely Nazis – should have been victorious. There is no foundation for your assertion whatsoever. It is all in the past, & further in the past with every tick of the clock. I merely point out the lost opportunity, noting that even the unfortunate Churchill himself said allegedly said in retrospect that We killed the wrong pig.
    I DO think it would have been far better for the world overall, and eastern Europe in particular, had the S.U. government been obliterated – the foul baboonery, as the unfortunate Churchill called it. Then the quality of life enjoyed there over the last 20 years could have been enjoyed from the end of the war, as it would not have been overrun by the Red Army & made into a combination Gulag & colony at least as oppressive & probably far more economically damaging than anything Hitler envisioned for the S.U. lands. But that is a digression.
    To argue the Nazis & or Wehrmacht brutalised any part of Europe or the S.U. is to pretend the S.U. did not do so to a far worse degree – which the millions of people living in those lands today who lived under both regimes will refute. Not one of hundreds I have spoken to have anything useful to say about the S.U. – not even its former citizens.
    It also overlooks that the Western Allies were guilty of a large number of crimes & atrocities. Truly a matter of Let the one who is without sin throw the 1st stone. By far the best solution would have been for Britain & its reluctant French sycophant to have just kept their imperialistic noses out of the issue.
    The points YOU think are irrefutable are easily refuted.

    1. The S.U. won the war precisely because of the immense aid it was given in Lend-Lease by the West – millions of tons of food. Vast amounts of medical supplies, radios, tools & parts. Vast amounts of ammunition. More than 20,000 tanks (which, as already noted, the S.U. valued highly) – including about 3,750 M4 Sherman tanks. More than 30,000 aircraft. At least 1 battleship. Full & detailed itemisation is not REALLY necessary, I hope but, if you wish to remain an obstinate contrarian, that can be done.
    To contend that there were no mass defections of refusals to fight among the S.U. citizenry or troops is to be either painfully ignorant or wiIfully blind.
    Your need to read Solzenhitsyn, Gulag Archipelago, Pt,II fairly SCREAMS.
    The German Cossack Corps, the Russian Liberation Army, the vast numbers of ex-Red Army Hilfwilligen – all that & much more your overlook.
    You are in the land of mythology if you think loss of Leningrad, Moscow & Stalingrad would not have meant anything. That is borderline delusion.

    2. Here we go with your A-bomb mania once again. I despise repetition, but your seeming lack of reading comprehension makes it necessary – NO ONE knew how far along Germany was in nuclear research until after the war. But it was known or at least very strongly suspected that Germany possessed advanced chemical weapons & the means to deliver them to British cities with utter impunity. You magical dream of American ingenuity
    overrides all logic. This tack of yours has already been obliterated. Move on.

    3. You insist on contriving a wholly false contention about Hitler & his long-term plans. The man did, or at least tried to do everything he said he would, & to a degree that may be unprecedented among political persona throughout history. He did NOT do, & did not try to do any of the things he did not say he would do. That simple. What Roosevelt knew was the Britain was not in any sort of condition to endure decades-long war, as it did in the Napoleonic era. So to attack Germany was the best way to ensure British survival in order to get it & its Empire to help overcome Japan (which, after all, was chiefly attacking British interests in the Pacific.)

    4. France DID attack Germany after the invasion of Poland began. In May 1939, the French government promised the Polish government in a solemnly signed treaty that it would attack Germany No less than 15 days after mobilisation.
    On 7 Sep. 1939, eleven divisions of French troops attacked along a 32 km. front near Saarbrucken. They advanced 8 km., capturing at least 12 villages & small towns that German reserve troops evacuated. Four R35 tanks were destroyed by mines.
    This was supposed to be the start of a general offensive by the French Second Army Group, which was to involve 40 divisions, of which one was to be armoured, 3 mechanised, supported by 78 artillery regiments & 40 additional tank battalions
    On 10 Sep., a German counter-attack re-captured a village, but the French re-occupied it hours later.
    On 12 Sep. French troops captured Brenschelbach, the largest municipality taken in the offensive. But the offensive was aborted after the French occupied the heavily-mined Warndt Wald, without reaching the Westwall (Siegfried Line).in the Saarland.
    Not a single German soldier was diverted as result of the attack. On 16-17 October, die Wehrmacht, now reinforced with troops returning from Fall Grun in Poland, easily re-took the occupied German territory as the French
    withdrew. To 17 Oct., French losses were about 2,000 dead, wounded or sick. German losses were 196 dead, 114 missing, 356 wounded & 11 aircraft. Anyone who studied history rather than limiting to watching television programs would know this.
    To say Stalin trusted Hitler is to be a reader of Pravda. There was never any trust between the two. In June 1941, the Red Army on its western border was aligned in an OFFENSIVE posture. It was beaten back with immense losses because it was out-fought by a force that was better trained & used superior tactics. Even in the last hours of the war, German units met & overcame vastly larger & better-equipped S.U. forces – a point readily & frankly admitted by all in the ex-S.U. who did not write the Official History.
    To sum, Neil, you just go right on believing all the bovine scatology you wish to if it makes you feel better. But do NOT purport to know anything about history. You only embarrass yourself with that contention.

    • 42.1
      Editor, HistoryNet says:

      Ronald, you and Neil are putting forth some excellent arguments and counterarguments from which other readers can learn and perhaps they will be prompted to do more research on their own into the subject; that is what we hope for in these comments on HistoryNet.

      Unfortunately, both you and Neil are also engaging in the sort of personal put-downs we don't allow on HistoryNet. Please restrict your posts to reasoned arguments without the put-downs.

      —Editor, HistoryNet

  43. 43
    Neil says:


    I apologize if my remarks have caused any personal offense. That was not my intent. I have enjoyed debating the issues with you, but I realize my choice of words could have been more careful at times.

    You obviously have a very good knowledge of WWII. My basic issue is that, I believe, it is very difficult to construct a credible argument for how the Nazis could have won the war without making fundamental changes to the original timeline (which have unpredictable consequences).

    The main reason for believing this is the fact that Germany didn't have the resources and capabilities for a prolonged war. While Hitler and his Generals knew this fact, they didn't have a clear plan for stopping the war. Hitler had a warped sense of the concept \survival of the fittest\. He predicted that following the German victory in Europe/Russia, there would be an intercontinental war with North America. The war would only end after the Germanic people were in total control of the whole world. With such an unreasonable goal, it was only a matter of time before Germany would be beaten. And this is what actually happened. (I note that Hitler's views on how the war would progress were spelt out in his books: Mein Kampf and Zweites Buch.)

    Under such conditions, there are no \simple\ changes to the original timeline that can be made that would result in a German victory in the long-term. I admit (and have already stated) that German could have taken Leningrad, Moscow or other cities, but I maintain that this wouldn't have mattered in the long-term because of (1) Hitler's and the Nazi's ambition, (2) Soviet's ability to mobilize and motivate its many peoples, and (3) British/American advantages in resources and innovation.

    I keep mentioning the Atomic bomb because it was an incredible technological breakthrough and was a game changer. Following the successful detonation of an atomic bomb in July 1945, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the Americans possessed a weapon of unequaled power. I believe that they were resourceful enough to find a way to drop the bomb on Germany had the war been prolonged for some reason.

    As for your rebuttal of my points:
    1. I never denied Lend-Lease was important. I mentioned it in my first post to this forum. And of course, the Soviets had some discipline issues. But that doesn't change the fact that the Soviets were really good at mobilizing and motivating their people to fight the Germans. This is a fact of history.

    2. Not knowing the state of Germany's atomic program is a very good reason why America wanted to stop the Nazis before dealing with the Japanese. Also, it is a good reason to use the Atomic bomb on Germany before they were in a position to do so. I doubt Hitler would sign up to the \mutually assured destruction\ doctrine of the Cold War.

    Germany didn't use chemical weapons in the war because the Allies had effective counter measures, e.g. wide spread availability of gas masks.

    3. Again, Hitler's own words tell us that he aimed for domination of eastern Europe and western Russia in the short-term and world domination in the long-term. He didn't believe that the Soviets were a real military threat. Psychologically, Hitler would never stop the war if he was winning. That is obvious from his writings, speeches and actions.

    4. The French attack on the Germans was not well planned and lacked conviction. If the British and French has really tried to stop the Germans and defend Poland, things would have been very different. But following my own advice, the outcome is difficult to predict. So, I will concede this point. However, I still maintain that the appeasement of Hitler and Stalin's trust of Hitler were major errors and gave Hitler misplaced confidence to start the war.

    Finally, my personal view is that the world would have been better if Hitler, Stalin and Mao had never come to power. These dictators are responsible for the deaths of millions. To quote Churchill, \Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.\ History supports this view.

  44. 44
    Allan says:

    Senario = Army Group NNW (North North West – fictious) makes a massive push from Lenigrad to Moscow – distance 731km – Amry Group Centre makes a push as per Barbarossa – Armt Goup south takes the oil fields in the Caurcaus region. Result – the Baltic States are cut off and with German naval power (the only region they were effective) easy meat for Army Goup North. Moscow secureed for the up and coming winter months and Russia split….interesting

  45. 45
    Ronald Lameck says:

    The main point is that Hitler intended – hoped or expected that the invasion would be a blitzkrieg, much like Fall Gelb in the west. The populations in those areas were rather well-treated initially. Relations with them began to fall apart after the Soviet winter counter-offensive, when the Wehrmacht was at times in headlong retreat. It lost forever its mystique of invincibility – to the citizens of the occupied lands, to the Wehrmacht itself, & to all of its opponents. Then the large numbers of Red Army men who had been cut off from their units & Soviet command decided to stick with the Devil they knew just in case the Wehrmacht was not successful. It was only during early 1942 that serious partisan acts occurred.
    Support for the Vlasov R.L.A. would have been a huge issue of trust. As it was, many captured Soviets became Hilfwilligen, working in the supply & service, or active soldiers in the West (chiefly manning artillery). But the risk of treachery by a large number of R.L.A. would have been too great to bear. Even if they proved ineffective as troops, that would have been a disaster. – Look what happened in the winter of 42-3 when the Rumanian, Hungarian & Italian armies, despite many desperate, valiant efforts, simply melted away before the better-equipped Red Army.
    No. The war was lost because none of the three major centres fell – Leningrad, Moscow & Stalingrad. The loss of their productive capacity as well as the effect on morale would have been fatal to the S.U.

Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! |
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy