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What If the Germans Had Captured Moscow in 1941?

By Mark Grimsley 
Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: June 08, 2012 
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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.


34 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.

  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: http://www.karty.by/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/railway_SSSR_schema.jpg 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:

      And-

      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:

    U RE AL FOOLS. WITHOUT S ENTERING THE WAR ALL OF EUOPE WUD BE GERMAN RIGHT NOW. THE IDIOT FOUGHTON 2 FRONTS WHICH WS BIGGEST MISTAKE.

    WE DEFEATED HITLER AND HAT HAPPENED AFTERWARDS? 60 YEARS OF THOS RUSSIAN BASTARDS THATS WHAT

    WERE HE RUSSIANS ANY KINDER TO OUR PEOPLE THAT THE GERMANS? NO THEY TRIED TO ELIMINATE OR PEOPLE JUST LIKE THE NAZIS DID USA SHUD HAVE LET BOTH OF THEM L EACH OTHER AND THEN WE CUD HAVE CLEANED UP AFRERWARDS. WE BACKED THE RUSSIANS????? WHAT A JOKE THAT WAS. THEY DID WHT HITLER ID ANYWAY. TOOK MOST OF EUROPE ND MADE US LOOK LIKE FOOLS

    • 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.

  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.

  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
    Age.
    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.

  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.



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