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Subject: At What Point was WWII a loss for the Axis (Germany)? rss

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I was reading a book today which said the tide was beginning to turn for Germany in January of 1942 already. I guess that places it during the Russian campaign when they got bogged down during the harsh Russian winter.

Is this accurate? At what point can we look to that saw the turning of the tide for the Axis Powers? Barbarossa? Declaring war on the US? What do you think?


(Also, just so I get my history correct - the Axis conquers France in June of 1940. France is split into sections: a puppet state called "Vichy France" which basically capitulated to the Axis Powers, under Petain, and the "Free French" which basically continued the fight against the Axis, under DeGaulle. Is that right?)
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Re: At What Point was WWII a loss for the Axis?
I don't think there is one definitive answer. A good case could be made for a number of points. The failure of The Battle of Britain, Barbarossa (on the assumption that it wasn't actually possible to defeat the USSR), US entry to the war, Stalingrad/Tunisia. There are myriad "turning points."

Another question is, does it matter? Germany fought on to the bitter end (and beyond if you count various garrisons, U-boats, etc.), and Japan until they were nuked twice.

You have the France situation basically right, although it was more complicated than that (of course). Petain was the official head of the Vichy government, until the Germans invaded Vichy, too. There were also other collaborationalist leaders and parties, as well. Fascists, monarchists, etc. DeGaulle was the official Free French leader that the Allies worked with, but there were also the Communist Resistance and others.
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Re: At What Point was WWII a loss for the Axis?
Quote:
At What Point was WWII a loss for the Axis?


For the Axis powers individually or for the Axis as an alliance?

Germany and Japan had different "victory conditions" and Italy's desires can essentially be dismissed.

It should be mentioned that the victory conditons of "Germany" were actually the victory conditions of Hitler.

Japan wanted to dominate that side of the Pacific.

Any talk of Germany invading Great Britain or Japan occupying the West Coast of the United States is, to be charitable, beyond the historical narrative. Stuff like that might become the framework for "What-if?" wargames.
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Re: At What Point was WWII a loss for the Axis?


Q; At What Point was WWII a loss for the (German) Axis?

A: as soon as Germany invaded the USSR ...

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Re: At What Point was WWII a loss for the Axis?
For the Japanese, Pearl Harbor. For the Germans the Soviet Counteroffensive before Moscow...in both cases, December 1941.
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Re: At What Point was WWII a loss for the Axis?
By the late spring of 1942 the Japanese had achieved most of their original objectives. Remember, they started with the idea of grabbing a bunch of valuable property and holding on until the USA lost the will to continue. Japan was still in the game after Midway but the outlook was not good.
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Re: At What Point was WWII a loss for the Axis?
I guess when I say "Axis" I guess I mean more Germany than anything else. Definitely not Japan as the Pacific Theater seems a whole different war entirely. And I know Italy ends up being overrun by Germany anyway.

Does it matter? I guess not really. I'm just reading about the fire bombing of Germany, and whether or not it was effective - and, though it mentions the tide turning in Jan of 42, still continues to talk of how Germany's strength waxed and waned over the course of the War. And you grognards are probably more versed in the subject than I am, so thought it might be an interesting conversation other than "[Insert whatever] on your Table" monthly subscriptions or bashing around what pertains as a "wargame."

I realize my summary of French history is greatly simplified, but at least I sort of understand who the main players are.
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Re: At What Point was WWII a loss for the Axis?
wernervoss wrote:
I don't think there is one definitive answer. A good case could be made for a number of points. The failure of The Battle of Britain, Barbarossa (on the assumption that it wasn't actually possible to defeat the USSR), US entry to the war, Stalingrad/Tunisia. There are myriad "turning points."


Japan not declaring war on Russia is another.
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Pete Belli
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Damjon wrote:
wernervoss wrote:
I don't think there is one definitive answer. A good case could be made for a number of points. The failure of The Battle of Britain, Barbarossa (on the assumption that it wasn't actually possible to defeat the USSR), US entry to the war, Stalingrad/Tunisia. There are myriad "turning points."


Japan not declaring war on Russia is another.


Japan had anticipated a war with the Soviet Union.

Setbacks during the 1939 border clash influenced Japanese thinking.

FDR's oil embargo forced Japan to seek resources not available in Siberia. They turned south.
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Re: At What Point was WWII a loss for the Axis?
Well, if you play strategic level games about WW2 its all about the economic engine,right, that's the ultimate driver of history. So, the fact is the German army leadership were dead against attacking France so early, they said the machine wouldn't be ready til 1941 or 1942. As it happened the German Blitzkreig of France went very well, but there was a lot of luck there - maybe rolling a 6, certainly a 5 or 6 - which history has interpreted as more inevitable than it was. So, maybe actually they lost it as soon as they attacked France, they just didnt know it yet.

Yes, at the high level you have it right about France post 1940 in that there was a split, but there is quite a lot of devil in the detail.
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Quote:
I guess when I say "Axis" I guess I mean more Germany than anything else.


Many of the world's military "experts" thought the Soviet Union would collapse after a German invasion. Stalin came close to an emotional breakdown during the first days of the attack (read Stalin's Folly for details) but he recovered. After that Germany's chances for a knock-out blow diminished. Attrition was not a winning strategy for Hitler.
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When 'Merica got involved.
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I would say it was over as soon as they invaded France.


After that, no one had any illusion Hitler would stop and the world started organizing to fight him.
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December 1941. The Russians begin there counteroffensive at Moscow and Hitler declares war on the United States. They hung in there until 1943, by than it was hopeless.
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Bob Holmstrom
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When the Axis powers declared war on the U.S.
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Your post asks about when the tide turned, but your title made me think of a different question: not so much when Germany was "starting to lose", but what action would make the Allies, joined by the US (or not?), focus their economic and political will on Germany's unconditional surrender. That can happen well before the tide turns, as the Allies are gearing up to respond. It's more a political question than a military one, if you accept that Allied production and manpower will always dwarf Germany's. If the US stays out of the war, it's possibly an economic question too.

Everyone was weary of another major war after WWI, but many were also probably a little extra sensitive to yet another German war of aggression. So which event makes the non-Axis world internally decide that the German war machine must be fully dismantled? Some possibilities:

1. The occupation of Czech lands not already taken under the Munich Agreement (thus violating that agreement)
2. The conquest of Poland
3. The conquest of France
4. The Battle of Britain

I could list more, but I think the conquest of France guarantees an Allied commitment to a major victory over Germany, if not unconditional surrender. At that point, although it didn't look like it, the war was "lost" for Germany. The conquest of Poland might have been enough too (ie. the Germans have "lost" as soon as there is a WW2).

Allied economic superiority might depend on US involvement. The US government was already committed to helping with the European war before fighting in it, so it might be a non-question. Lend-lease helps the Soviets withstand Barbarossa, which then guarantees eventual German retreat. Since this means the Soviets rolling over Europe, US military involvement is probably guaranteed just in order to prevent a fully Soviet continental Europe.
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Lhowser wrote:
(Also, just so I get my history correct - the Axis conquers France in June of 1940. France is split into sections: a puppet state called "Vichy France" which basically capitulated to the Axis Powers, under Petain, and the "Free French" which basically continued the fight against the Axis, under DeGaulle. Is that right?)


As I understand what you stated, you are incorrect.

North France (more or less the part actually conquered by German military operations) was under direct German occupation and control.

South France and most of the foreign empire was Vichy France (the "Free Zone"), under the puppet government of Petain.

De Gaulle was nominal head of the 'government in exile' and Free French resistance based mainly in England.

"Officially" there was no division of France, and Paris was the nominal Capital, but functionally, Petain controlled the south from the city of Vichy.
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December 1941.

Germany failed to defeat Russia in a rapid war, and was not prepared, nor capable, of defeating Russia in an extended war of attrition.

Germany declared war against the US and was now arraigned against the two most powerful countries in the world.

Game over man.
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Another way to ask the question is. "How could the Axis have won?" The deviation between that timeline and the real timeline would be the point where the Axis began to lose.

Therefore, I would say the choice of taking on Britain directly with the Battle of Britain rather than crippling England (and the West) by taking over the Middle East and Gibraltar, thus making the Med an Italian Lake.

This would have secured vital oil supplies for Germany. In addition, 95% of non-plane Lend Lease went through Iran. Iran was both a transit point and we built a huge number of factories there.

Then, there are 2 possibilities.

1. Germany is sated and satisfied with controlling Continental Europe (except Russia) plus North Africa plus the Middle East. Perhaps when Hitler orders Operation Barbarossa, he is assassinated and Rommel, the hero of North Africa and the Middle East becomes leader. Rommel declares war on Japan after Pearl Harbor and America now has no interest in fighting Germany. Britain is pretty impotent at this point and the British will just want to hang onto India and other Asian/African colonies. Rommel solves the "Jewish Problem" by kicking them out of Europe to Palestine.

2. After the conquest of North Africa and the Middle East, Hitler makes a grand anti Communist bargain with Japan and Chiang Kai Shek (sp). Japan will withdraw from non Manchurian China. China will attack Mao. Japan will forego Midway and attack eastern Russia. This will pin down Russian troops and prevent the transfer of planes from the U.S. to Russia. The U.S. still has a year before it can launch major offensives. Germany invades Russia in 1942 in conjunction with Japan. They destroy enough of the Russian Army and take enough territory that Stalin agrees to peace with Germany gaining huge tracts of land like the Ukraine, the Baltic States, as well as guaranteed access to caucuses oil. Japan gains Siberia. Then, Germany and Japan present a united front to the U.S. negotiating peace, perhaps including a show trial and hanging of the "war criminals" Yamamoto and Tojo for organizing the dastardly attack on Pearl Harbor. Japan also allows Philippine independence as an additional incentive.

So, for the original question, I would say initiating the Battle of Britain instead of taking Gibraltar, North Africa, and the Middle East. ("It's the economy, stupid.")
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Bob Holmstrom
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To expand on my answer of "the axis declaring war on the U.S."

Had the axis powers had a unified strategy, I think they very well may have won the war. Had Japan invaded the Soviet Union in 41 rather than gearing up for a war against the U.S., the Soviet Union likely would've fallen.

Had that happened, the axis would've won the war.
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Japan had already lost to the Soviet Union, and was not enthusiastic about a rematch. More importantly, war with Russia would not provide immediate access to the raw materials Japan desperately needed.

A better strategy for Japan would have been to attack only the European colonies in Asia, and avoid war with the US (ignoring the Philippines, for example). Without a direct attack on the US, American interest in going to war would have been low.
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pete belli wrote:
Damjon wrote:
wernervoss wrote:
I don't think there is one definitive answer. A good case could be made for a number of points. The failure of The Battle of Britain, Barbarossa (on the assumption that it wasn't actually possible to defeat the USSR), US entry to the war, Stalingrad/Tunisia. There are myriad "turning points."


Japan not declaring war on Russia is another.


Japan had anticipated a war with the Soviet Union.

Setbacks during the 1939 border clash influenced Japanese thinking.

FDR's oil embargo forced Japan to seek resources not available in Siberia. They turned south.


Indeed and for those reasons, by not declaring on Russia, the Russians did not have to seriously consider a two front war.

Events probably wouldn't have played out differently in the long run, but this lack of declaration has deprived us of considerable war gaming material.
 
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Bob Holmstrom
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Westie wrote:
Japan had already lost to the Soviet Union, and was not enthusiastic about a rematch. More importantly, war with Russia would not provide immediate access to the raw materials Japan desperately needed.

A better strategy for Japan would have been to attack only the European colonies in Asia, and avoid war with the US (ignoring the Philippines, for example). Without a direct attack on the US, American interest in going to war would have been low.


But that's my point. It wasn't a unified strategy. Has Japan attacked the Soviet Union, it would've likely resulted in their collapse. The Siberian divisions couldn't have been diverted to the defense of Moscow.
 
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Strategery21 wrote:
Westie wrote:
Japan had already lost to the Soviet Union, and was not enthusiastic about a rematch. More importantly, war with Russia would not provide immediate access to the raw materials Japan desperately needed.

A better strategy for Japan would have been to attack only the European colonies in Asia, and avoid war with the US (ignoring the Philippines, for example). Without a direct attack on the US, American interest in going to war would have been low.


But that's my point. It wasn't a unified strategy. Has Japan attacked the Soviet Union, it would've likely resulted in their collapse. The Siberian divisions couldn't have been diverted to the defense of Moscow.


I'm no expert, but it doesn't seem from what I read that the amount of troops transferred from Siberia was huge (maybe 10% of Moscow's defenses). The Siberian troops may have been more important for their experience, equipment, freshness, reputation, and Zhukov's leadership. But even so, breaking Moscow doesn't necessarily break the Soviets. And it sounds like new formations were made to defend the East, joining already existing troops; they might have been green though.

Mind you, if the entire Japanese Kwangtung Army was thrown into Siberia, that would be hard to deal with. But if there are no relevant resources in Siberia for Japan, then what is there for the Soviets to lose? They could simply retreat, and far further, into far worse land, than on the German front. The Japanese wouldn't follow unless they were suicidal, and would be sacrificing troop strength elsewhere. China might have played an even bigger role against Japan as a result. Running amok in the Soviet hinterlands and swamps doesn't do much if they can still regroup around the Urals.
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