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Subject: Say it is September 1939..... rss

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suPUR DUEper
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Imagine you are on the German general staff. Der Fuhrer has DoW'd Poland. The Western Allies just DoW'd Germany. For the sake of this thought experiment, you do not have our hindsight. You do, however, have access to the intelligence briefings that are shared at the highest levels of the military.

On 9/7/39, what probability are you assigning that this conflict will end positively for Germany?

Is there ever a time when you become 90% certain that the war will end in your favor? If so, when did you reach that certainty?

At what point do you think the war has a less than 50% chance of ending favorably?

At what point are you absolutely certain that Germany will be defeated?


We often point to invading of the Soviet Union as the turning point. Or maybe Stalingrad. I wonder how the participants viewed the arc at that time.

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Equilibrium suggests that one entity or state dominating that many ethnic cultures for any appreciable length of time to say they "won" is simply not possible.

The examples from the ancient world aren't very applicable given the dramatic technological, literacy, and communication developments between say Alexander or even Marcus Aurelius and 1939.

It just doesn't seem plausible even without bringing into the conflict economic and military industrial factors.
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Imagine you are on the German general staff. Der Fuhrer has DoW'd Poland. The Western Allies just DoW'd Germany. For the sake of this thought experiment, you do not have our hindsight. You do, however, have access to the intelligence briefings that are shared at the highest levels of the military.

On 9/7/39, what probability are you assigning that this conflict will end positively for Germany?
33%. I can't believe it! That idiot Hitler just managed to get France AND England to declare war on us! We are f&$@ked! Honey, pack the bags, we are moving to Switzerland!

Is there ever a time when you become 90% certain that the war will end in your favor? If so, when did you reach that certainty?
June 17, 1940. I can't believe it - the French have surrendered! I can't believe that crazy plan to drive through the Ardennes actually worked! Yes, the British are still around, but c'mon, they have to see sense - they will come to the peace table, you'll see! Honey you can unpack those bags, things are looking up...

At what point do you think the war has a less than 50% chance of ending favorably?
June 22, 1941. The start of Operation Barbarossa. What the hell? Hitler just had us invade Russia?! You're kidding, right? Yes, I know the Russians are sub-humans, and I know we are mowing them down in droves, but there are SO MANY OF THEM! I have a bad feeling about this. Honey, did you unpack those bags?

At what point are you absolutely certain that Germany will be defeated?
August 19, 1944. The conclusion of Operation Bagration. So, that's it then? The Russians have overrun every position of ours on the Eastern Front in less than a month and we've lost 500,000 men. There's nothing standing between the Reds and Berlin! Honey, I hope your English is passable...forget the bags, let's drive to France and see if we can sneak over to the American lines!


We often point to invading of the Soviet Union as the turning point. Or maybe Stalingrad. I wonder how the participants viewed the arc at that time.

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Luka Kovač Plavi
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I'd have to get in touch with my father who shared this piece of information with me, but he was reading private journal of a high ranking officer in the german army and possibly also in nazi party who was to become Reichsprotektor of Moscow. In there he wrote as early as august or september of 1941 (my memory might not be 100% correct on the month) that he doubts anything will come of it (meaning of his future position).

I watched a documentary not long ago about war in the Pacific and one of the interviewed people was the acting Japanese ambassador in the USA at the start of war. He said that from the moment when Japan declared war on the USA he started to think how will Japan reconstruct after he loses the war. Journalist asked him 'so, you knew that the Japan will lose?' and he replied something like 'if I didn't I would be a very lousy ambassador'.

Also, at the moment when USA entered the war and Hitler (unprovoked) declared war on USA, Speer was bringing him comparisons of USA's and Germany's outputs in industrial production. He said they are propaganda.
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gamesontables wrote:
Equilibrium suggests that one entity or state dominating that many ethnic cultures for any appreciable length of time to say they "won" is simply not possible.


Ending favorably does not necessarily mean conquering the world. It could mean England suing for peace in July 1940. War over in favor of Germany.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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I'd recommend that someone on the German General Staff in 1939 loudly and enthusiastically endorse what they're supposed to endorse, while quietly studying options for getting the hell out and devising methods for hiding bombs in briefcases.
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Hmmm... I suppose it depends on how you define a positive or favorable ending:

The whole kit 'n' kaboodle -- Europe (minus Switzerland, of course), Russia, chunks of the Middle East?

Lebensraum -- The Greater Germanic Reich and some room to grow eastward?

Unified Germany and Austria (and maybe the Sudentenland)?

I imagine the definition of a favorable outcome slid back and forth during the war (with a general downward trend).

At the same time, what constitutes a defeat? Status quo ante? Certainly anything less than that would count as a defeat, I would think.
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This reminds me of an observation written by Peter Tsoureas. He was discussing the early German victories over Norway, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.

"Most remarkably, the peoples of those countries understood the etiquette of war and had the good manners to know
when they were beaten and not take too long at it either."


First the British refused to understand "the etiquette of war" and then the Soviets. Of course, Germany and Japan also lacked the good manners to surrender promptly... and were pulverized.
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Luka Kovač Plavi
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I it IS much smarter to 'give up' when you are a 5 year old kid being picked on by a an adult and wait for the friends and relatives to help you out, but being in a knife fight to the death with a madman is something else entirely...
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FWIW, Jodl testified that Hitler knew as early as the end of 1941 that the war couldn't be won militarily. His goal from that point was to force his enemies to come to the peace table.
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MC202Folgore wrote:
Hmmm... I suppose it depends on how you define a positive or favorable ending:


That's why I chose the word "favorable" as a relative term versus some objective measure. Remember, this is from some random officer's perspective not Hitler's. I think Leo's narrative on what he is telling his family nails the approach of what I am looking for.

On Sept 1, favorable probably meant forcing Poland to surrender and the Allies sitting idly by.
On Sept 7th it probably meant knocking England and France out of the war.
In July of '40, forcing England to terms.
In July of '41, starving the English into submission and knocking out the Soviets
In July of '42, well, probably not going to be favorable anymore.....
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Bart Brunscheen
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That was the tipping point. Once Russia was attacked there was about a 90% chance all was lost. A good thing of course but I always wondered why Hitler couldn't stop.
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MC202Folgore wrote:
Hmmm... I suppose it depends on how you define a positive or favorable ending:


Well, let's say that over a course of several decades, your economy becomes massively dominant in Europe, while the rest of the continent is governed in an economic-political union which is effectively subservient to your bankers, capitalists, and bureaucrats.

Hmmm...
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Sean Chatterton
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armed-medic wrote:
That was the tipping point. Once Russia was attacked there was about a 90% chance all was lost. A good thing of course but I always wondered why Hitler couldn't stop.

I can't remember where I read it, but Churchill's cabinet expected no more than 12 weeks resistance from the Soviet Union. Without hindsight, the best time to attack would be as early as possible; as close to the disaster of the Winter War, without giving the Soviets a chance to recover from their disastrous management of the army during and after the purges. With Britain confined to nothing more than bomber raids and inneffective expenditure of material in the desert, there was no reason to consider the west as an active front, and rather than being a mistake, attacking in 1941 gave Germany the best chance of winning a war in the east.

The myth of inevitable Soviet victory is a decidedly post-war sentiment. In early 1940 Britain and France were contemplating declaring war on the SU themselves. Germany was not the only country to underestimate what it would take to defeat the SU. I would be surprised if there was much defeatism, even in private, by the German General staff after their performances in 1940 and early 1941.

The war in the west could easily have ended in the Summer of 1940. Destroying the BEF in Dunkirk, Lord Halifax being chosen over Churchill, or a Cabinet revolt at Churchill's insistence on national suicide by continuing the war alone. That would have allowed for even better preparation against the SU as a puppet UK would not have created the distractions in Yugoslavia and Greece.

Overall in 1939, if I were a German officer, I would be extremely confident. Moltke's blunders aside, France's geography and internal political weakness makes her ripe for quick victory, and the British never fight alone. I would also assume this to be a precursor to ridding the world of Bolshevism, and look forward to dining in Moscow sometime in September or October of 1941.
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MC202Folgore wrote:
Hmmm... I suppose it depends on how you define a positive or favorable ending:

The whole kit 'n' kaboodle -- Europe (minus Switzerland, of course), Russia, chunks of the Middle East?

Lebensraum -- The Greater Germanic Reich and some room to grow eastward?

Unified Germany and Austria (and maybe the Sudentenland)?

I imagine the definition of a favorable outcome slid back and forth during the war (with a general downward trend).

At the same time, what constitutes a defeat? Status quo ante? Certainly anything less than that would count as a defeat, I would think.


You can lean into this even more, based on the state of Germany prior to their spin-up to war. When you have zero to lose dropping your last chip on 34 and spinning the wheel looks like a win-win. Truth be told putting Germany on a war footing got the people jobs and stabilized the economy, something they could sustain, briefly, through the siezure of property in neighboring countries. At that point you party until the booze runs out, not worrying about the repercussions that morning will bring.

S.
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armed-medic wrote:
That was the tipping point. Once Russia was attacked there was about a 90% chance all was lost. A good thing of course but I always wondered why Hitler couldn't stop.


This comment reminds me of the story of the frog and the scorpion. Scorpion asks frog for a lift across a river. Frog refuses saying scorpion will sting and kill him. Scorpion points out that both of them will die - him of drowning. The frog agrees and they set off. Halfway across the scorpion stings the frog. 'Why did you do that' asks the frog.

'Because I'm a scorpion' comes the reply...
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Such arguments are best left for inebriated conversations with professional historians. We, "common folk", tend to lean towards specious arguments that simply agree with the preconceived notions in our heads.

Most of my information on the subject comes from "British Foreign Policy in the Second World War" by Sir Llewellyn Woodward. It has an, obviously, British-centric perspective on matters.

spc9999 wrote:
armed-medic wrote:
That was the tipping point. Once Russia was attacked there was about a 90% chance all was lost. A good thing of course but I always wondered why Hitler couldn't stop.

I can't remember where I read it, but Churchill's cabinet expected no more than 12 weeks resistance from the Soviet Union. Without hindsight, the best time to attack would be as early as possible; as close to the disaster of the Winter War, without giving the Soviets a chance to recover from their disastrous management of the army during and after the purges. With Britain confined to nothing more than bomber raids and ineffective expenditure of material in the desert, there was no reason to consider the west as an active front, and rather than being a mistake, attacking in 1941 gave Germany the best chance of winning a war in the east.


It's obviously debatable. They did have contingency plans for a "French" resolution of the conflict. But they did describe the local population as numb, in a good way, and fiercely opposed to occupation. British political efforts and propaganda are also not to be underestimated. They were in it for the long war and they seemed to be aware of this better than anyone else involved.

1941 or earlier obviously gave the Germans the best odds, the question remains, however, was it actually something worth doing. Did they really think they could maintain a relevant occupation?

spc9999 wrote:
The myth of inevitable Soviet victory is a decidedly post-war sentiment. In early 1940 Britain and France were contemplating declaring war on the SU themselves. Germany was not the only country to underestimate what it would take to defeat the SU. I would be surprised if there was much defeatism, even in private, by the German General staff after their performances in 1940 and early 1941.


Britain and France are talking about very specific operations for the Baku oil fields as a way of starving out the German warmachine. The reason to attack the USSR is the fact that diplomatically the UK seems unable to stop them from trading with Germany. They are also considering the possibility of a consolidated German-Soviet alliance as a result of this. These discussions come at a time when things are very much in flux and it was only superficially researched, it was also pushed by the French much more than the British as a way of starting a war farther away from home.

Defeatism was not a concern, but other internal political frictions may have cropped up.

spc9999 wrote:
The war in the west could easily have ended in the Summer of 1940. Destroying the BEF in Dunkirk, Lord Halifax being chosen over Churchill, or a Cabinet revolt at Churchill's insistence on national suicide by continuing the war alone. That would have allowed for even better preparation against the SU as a puppet UK would not have created the distractions in Yugoslavia and Greece.


Easily, no. Potentially at all, hard to say.

The loss of the BEF in Dunkirk would have been a devastating blow. It boosted British morale to an unforeseen degree. It was treated like a major victory in some ways.

Lord Halifax over Churchill is a very unlikely and irrelevant situation. Lord Halifax himself acknowledges that Churchill, as Minister of Defence, would have run the show anyway. Plus, Lord Halifax's role as Ambassador to the United States is not to be underestimated.

A cabinet revolt against Churchill is not something that is plausible at all.

spc9999 wrote:
Overall in 1939, if I were a German officer, I would be extremely confident. Moltke's blunders aside, France's geography and internal political weakness makes her ripe for quick victory, and the British never fight alone. I would also assume this to be a precursor to ridding the world of Bolshevism, and look forward to dining in Moscow sometime in September or October of 1941.


Officer and army morale was good, but still, starting an Eastern Front while Britain stands and there are calculated fears of the USA joining the war is not a decision to be taken lightly. Assuming this would be the case is an insult towards the military intelligence present at the time in Germany, which was as competent as it was misguided socio-politically.
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TedW wrote:
have access to the intelligence briefings that are shared at the highest levels of the military.

Given their bias & quality, is this a positive or negative?

Quote:
On 9/7/39, what probability are you assigning that this conflict will end positively for Germany?

100%, as the Corporation is Too Big to Fail. Also its track record is good: the Soviet Union is an enthusiastic supporter, and the French are a reluctant enemy with all sorts of problems, who broke in the Great War.

Quote:
Is there ever a time when you become 90% certain that the war will end in your favor? If so, when did you reach that certainty?

By early August 41 it is plain that the Soviets are finished militarily. The comparison with the first six weeks of the French campaign is clear. Why should there be any great difference between the two, when their respective fortés and foibles can be said to balance?

Quote:
At what point do you think the war has a less than 50% chance of ending favorably?

late 44, following D-day, Bagration and AG E's retreat from the Balkans, and the loss of armour supremacy in the east. The Soviets are still hedging with peace feelers, as their war casualties approach an untoward high.

Quote:
At what point are you absolutely certain that Germany will be defeated?

Unconditionally, by the end of the Bulge fighting.

Quote:
We often point to invading of the Soviet Union as the turning point. Or maybe Stalingrad. I wonder how the participants viewed the arc at that time.
The turning point toward what? A political settlement? or the highly unusual & enormously costly/bloody military eclipse that did transpire? There were too many late successes & enemy failures, even after Kursk-Sicily, for any certainty as to outcome.
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pete belli wrote:
This reminds me of an observation written by Peter Tsoureas. He was discussing the early German victories over Norway, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.

"Most remarkably, the peoples of those countries understood the etiquette of war and had the good manners to know
when they were beaten and not take too long at it either."


First the British refused to understand "the etiquette of war" and then the Soviets. Of course, Germany and Japan also lacked the good manners to surrender promptly... and were pulverized.


I think you'll find the Dutch army didn't surrender cause it was beaten.
The high command surrendered cause if they had not, there would have been no population left to defend with the Germans bombing major cities.

I'm not saying the Dutch army would not have been beaten in the end, but it put up more of a fight then the Germans had expected and they started bombing civilian targets, cause they lost patience and the war in the Netherlands was taking too much time.



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sagitar wrote:
pete belli wrote:
This reminds me of an observation written by Peter Tsoureas. He was discussing the early German victories over Norway, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.

"Most remarkably, the peoples of those countries understood the etiquette of war and had the good manners to know
when they were beaten and not take too long at it either."


First the British refused to understand "the etiquette of war" and then the Soviets. Of course, Germany and Japan also lacked the good manners to surrender promptly... and were pulverized.


I think you'll find the Dutch army didn't surrender cause it was beaten.
The high command surrendered cause if they had not, there would have been no population left to defend with the Germans bombing major cities.

I'm not saying the Dutch army would not have been beaten in the end, but it put up more of a fight then the Germans had expected and they started bombing civilian targets, cause they lost patience and the war in the Netherlands was taking too much time.




3,000 civilian deaths from the invasion compared to 100,000 from the holocaust. Burning out the historic center of Rotterdam was not exactly on a par with rounding up all the Jews was it?
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Jon_1066 wrote:
3,000 civilian deaths from the invasion compared to 100,000 from the holocaust. Burning out the historic center of Rotterdam was not exactly on a par with rounding up all the Jews was it?


I don't think that that's a fair accusation. Them fighting on wouldn't have stopped the holocaust in the Low Countries.

And the fact that even after its capitulation the Netherlands continued to fight in some respects is still admirable. This proved most helpful, especially in the Pacific.
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I thought this book covered the crucial periods well and gave some insights into Hitlers increasingly desperate gambles.



These are the turning points he chooses:

1) The decision by the British War Cabinet in late May 1940, led by the new prime minister, Winston Churchill, to fight on after the fall of France and not to pursue, as some suggested, a negotiated settlement with Nazi Germany.

2) Hitler’s decision in July 1940 to attack the Soviet Union the following year, ensnaring Germany in a war it could not win.

3) Tokyo’s decision in September 1940 to join the Tripartite Pact with Italy and Germany and to occupy French Indochina. This led to an American embargo on the export of iron and scrap metal and brought conflict with the United States one step closer.

4) Benito Mussolini’s decision in October 1940 to focus the bulk of his war effort not on North Africa, where the British were vulnerable, but on the invasion of Greece, which turned into a debacle that tied down German troops and eventually led to his own downfall.

5) The decision by Franklin Roosevelt in August 1940 to send 50 old American destroyers to Britain, followed by Congress’s approval of the Lend-Lease deal in March 1941, symbolically committing the United States to the anti-Axis cause by (as Roosevelt put it) all “methods short of war.”

6) Stalin’s failure in the spring of 1941 to heed numerous intelligence reports warning of an impending German invasion — a mistake that cost the Soviet Union dearly when Germany’s Operation Barbarossa began on June 22.

7) Roosevelt’s initiatives in July-August 1941 to embargo oil shipments to Japan, extend conscription, draw up the Atlantic Charter of war aims with Churchill and provide armed escorts to merchant shipping in the western Atlantic — all steps that drew America into an “undeclared war.”

8) The decision reached by the Japanese cabinet and emperor between September and November of 1941 to embark on the southern strategy of grabbing European colonies in the Pacific, beginning with a pre-emptive strike on the United States Navy.

9) Hitler’s decision, in the days following Pearl Harbor, to declare war on the United States, thus sparing Roosevelt the necessity of persuading his countrymen to fight the Nazis as well as the Japanese.

10) Hitler’s decision in the summer and fall of 1941 to begin the mass extermination of European Jewry, making the Holocaust a major feature of the conflict.
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andrewbwm wrote:
Jon_1066 wrote:
3,000 civilian deaths from the invasion compared to 100,000 from the holocaust. Burning out the historic center of Rotterdam was not exactly on a par with rounding up all the Jews was it?


I don't think that that's a fair accusation. Them fighting on wouldn't have stopped the holocaust in the Low Countries.

And the fact that even after its capitulation the Netherlands continued to fight in some respects is still admirable. This proved most helpful, especially in the Pacific.


But it is in response to "we had to give up or - bombers"

The German airforce did not have the ability to kill 100,000+ Dutch citizens. I wouldn't be surprised if the Allies killed more Dutch citizens in bombing raids than the Axis.
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On 9/7/39, what probability are you assigning that this conflict will end positively for Germany?

Well, at the begin of "Fall Weiss" I would have thought that the Reich is in a similar situation than during WW I.
Germany would not have been able to fight against Poland in the East and to defend against France/Britain IF THEY WOULD HAVE ATTACKED in the West.
So I think that I would have worst fears at the 9/7/39.

--

Is there ever a time when you become 90% certain that the war will end in your favor? If so, when did you reach that certainty?

End of June, 1940, I would have thought that Germany has won the war and the fightings with the Brits will be finished soon.
There was a realistic chance to cooperate together with France (collaboration) and the other minor European countries to make a peace in Europe with a dominant Germany.
Why should Britain go on fighting if the other countries sign a peace contract?
I would not realize that there are still plans in Hitler's mind to attack Russia for "Lebensraum".

--

At what point do you think the war has a less than 50% chance of ending favorably?

In Winter 41/42, after declaring war on the USA and the stopped Blitzkrieg in the East, I would have had real bad feelings about a favorable end of the war.
There could be only a POLITICAL solution possible with the Russians at this point but declaring war on the US was too much to handle for the Reich.

--

At what point are you absolutely certain that Germany will be defeated?

I think that I would have thought at the end of 1944 that the war is absolutely lost. Only a total disagreement between the Western Allies and Russia could help. But why should the Allies stop the war when the German troops are beaten on both fronts?
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It is September 1939

Do I win something?
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