Could Hitler Have Won WWII?

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. When I was a graduate student, one of my professors (Dr. Gerald Henig, an expert in U.S. Civil War history and a fine teacher) once commented to me that speculation about the "what might have beens" in history was a useless exercise in futility. He made his comment because I was always arguing with him that, with a little luck, Lee could have won at Gettysburg and the South could have won the Civil War. :D Anyway, such speculation was what he termed "cocktail history, i.e., the kind of thing that might be discussed after knocking back a few too many at a faculty cocktail party. I always disagreed with him on the value of such discussions. I argued that such speculation, so long as we remain entirely aware that it is mere speculation, can provide some very useful insight.

    I would like to propose such a speculative issue for discussion here on the forum: Could Hitler have won World War II?

    My own view is that he could have, or at least possibly could have, had he made different decisions at certain key points. While a German victory in WWII is a truly frightening prospect, I do believe there are some key questions that deserve exploration. For example, what might have happened had Hitler not wasted resources on his battleships prior to the war, but instead had concentrated on submarine construction instead? Admiral Doenitz wanted 300 subs before war commenced, yet he started the war with only about 50. What if Hitler had not attacked Russia as early as he did, but had instead continued to pound Britain with his Luftwaffe during the famous Battle of Britain, despite the losses he was taking? What if Hitler had not foolishly declared war on the U.S. after Pearl Harbor (on December 11, 1941), but had tried instead to keep us out of the war in Europe as long as possible while he solidified his position in Europe? These are all relevant questions, I think, and should provide the basis for an interesting discussion.

    Load armor piercing and fire when ready, history buffs! :D
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 16, 2006
  2. John Kay

    John Kay New Member

    Mar 12, 2006
    You bet he could have if only he used his head and waited until he was fully prepared to wage war. He also had the best generals in the world at the time, for one Rommell and Von Runstedt. He didn't have the sense to listen to them. But heck, he was only a corporal, you couldn't expect anymore from one. Attacking Russia was his Waterloo and it was all downhill from there.
    The big question rears its ugly head. Will history repeat itself like it always has a tendency to do??? I wonder.

  3. Hitler may have won World War II by making three critical changes.

    1st, NOT fighting World War II . With out firing a shot, using only bullying and bluster, and diplomicy he:
    A. Sent troops into the demiliterized zone between France and Germany.
    B. Unified Germany and Austria.
    C. Took over Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia had a very strong industrial base, many German armored vehicles were of Czech origin.
    Unified Germany with Austria and Czechoslovakia was a very powerful state, gained with out war.

    2nd, NOT declairing war on the U.S. It is said Hitler felt obliged to join Japan in going to war with the U.S. If so this may have been one of the few promises he kept. I can't think of one thing Germany gained by going to war with the U.S. The down side is obvious, the majority of the U.S. war effort directed agains you.

    3rd, when fighting the U.S.S.R. learn from the Romans. The Roman Empire tried to us forces from defeated nations against future enemies. The Georgians, Ukranianians and other ethnic groups had no great love for the U.S.S.R. If instead of ruling in a vicious manner the Nazis had a more benign rule these area would have been much more of an asset to the German empire. Conquered areas could have been given semi independence. They would have been required to supply troops and raw materials to Germany. The Ukraine for instance had a very strong agriculture sector.

    A German Empire organized like the old Roman Empire would have been tremendously strong. Modern heavy industry in Germany, France, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. Belgium had an excellant fire arms industry. To the east conquered areas could have supplied huse amounts of raw materials and food. The people of areas formerly under Soviet control may have been the best to us as soldiers. These areas were use to shifting control, and may have seen the Germans as the new boss, much like the Russians were the old boss.

    One thing to remember about "ify history": Most times it is assumed that your opponent does nothing to counter your changes. Real life is dynamic.
  4. You make excellent points, 17th, and I can disagree with none of them. It might be suggested that Hitler's greatest mistake was sucumbing to greed, precipitating a shooting war that Germany could not win unless it got very, very lucky. Assuming he did start an acutal shooting war, I think he might still have won with a slightly different strategy. As you point out, as did I earlier, perhaps the most costly mistake was attacking the Soviet Union, yet had he played his cards right, that could well have been turned to his advantage. The Ukrainians and Belorussians hated Stalin passionately for the many, many cruelties he had inflicted on them over the years. Indeed, the Germans were initially hailed as liberators. Hitler's treatment of these people, especially by his Einsatzgruppen, turned that support very quickly into active support for "Mother Russia." Another point was Hitler's overconfidence. He was right about the effect of his surprise attack, but not about how much distance had to be covered and the time it would take to knock the Russians completely out of the war. Had he equipped his troops for a longer campaign, including winter clothing, the outcome might well have been different. Also, I think, the speed of his march outran his logistical supply ability. A slower, more concerted movement would likely have resulted in victory.
  5. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    You have to remember, first and foremost, that old Adolf was an opportunist. He was NOT going to wait until he was "ready," but play the cards as they were dealt.

    He was really surprised that the British and the French actullay DID declare war over Poland, after all, they essentially did nothing when he took Czechoslovakia which may have been a bigger prize.

    But the two BIGGEST mistakes he made was allowing Goring to switch targets so much during the BOB, granted with SOME of his OWN famous "meddling." They ALMOST knocked out all the radar stations, even though even the Germans didn't FULLY understand how important they were, but then they switched to knocking out the RAF and fighter production, and ALMOST succeeded, before switching to "terror bombing" the cities, which ultimately allowed Fighter Command to rebuild, and win.

    MAYBE a decent long range fighter?

    MAYBE paying a little more attention and giving some freedom to the Navy? Maybe Sealion would have had a chance....

    DEFINITELY not declaring war on the US. That was probably the single decision which cost him the war.

    Invading the USSR was the next most stupid decision. With Stalin's secret reserves, plus Stalins 2 recent resounding wins over the Japs in Siberia which NOBODY knew about, it not only freed up battle hardened troops to fight in the West, it insured the Japs would NEVER attack Russia, whcih Hitler was counting on. Sorry, there was NO way Germany could have beat the Soviets. It was lost even as he crossed the border.

    But MAYBE with limited goals in the USSR, AND better treatment of the Ukrainians especially, who welcomed Germans as LIBERATORS, he COULD have had a negotiated peace.

    But that still leaves OIL. There is no way Stalin negotiates a settlement leaving Hitler with the Caucuses Oil fields.

    MAYBE instead of invading the USSR, he maintains the "Non-aggression pact" longer and puts everything into taking the Mid=East after Crete???

    Secures the MidEastern oil, THEN goes after Russia?

    I dunno, it's a tall order. He was all right as long as everyone backed down, but as soon as someody stands up to any bully, they usually come apart like a house of cards, which the "Thousand Year Reich" certainly did, after only aboput 5 or 6 years of war!

    But I too, like this "What-If" History! YES it is pure fantasy and speculation, but it ALSO makes you THINK.

    (And the South would STILL have lost if Lee "won" at Gettysburg, and in fact, just maybe SOONER. :cool: )
  6. BULLPUCKY! :p ;) :D But we'll save that one for later. :cool:

    It would seem we are not terribly far apart on the "Hitler wins" issue, Polish, though I do beg to differ with you on a couple of points.

    Actually, I think they could have, Polish, though I grant you it would have been far more difficult than they anticipated. Yes, the Russians had enormous reserves, and yes, they had an industrial potential that exceeded even our own. Yet, I think the Germans stood a reasonable chance of winning had they been able to win quickly enough. Hitler did surprise Stalin with his attack--very badly--and the Germans did almost reach Moscow before being thrown back. Indeed, at one point, newly available documents show, Stalin would likely have made concessions of territory to end the attack had the Germans been willing to accept such terms. Once again, Hitler got greedy. Besides, the Germans had Mausers and the Russians only had Mosins. :D :p Seriously,I will grant you, it is unlikely Germany could have totally beaten the Soviets and toppled the entire Soviet Union, but I do think they could have taken and held most of European Russia if Hitler had not been such an arrogant fool. Fortunately for Western Civilization, he was. With all of Western Europe in his pocket, with its industrial capacity, a final victory over the Soviets at a later time seems quite possible.I certainly must concur, however, with your assessment that Hitler attacked the Soviets much too soon, before he completed his conquest of Western Europe. Most don't realize that the vast majority of fighting in the ETO did not occur in Western Europe, but in European Russia. That is where most of the Wehrmacht was committed. Had that not been so, I don't see how any invasion of mainland Europe could ever have been made.
  7. Pistolen, what do you mean they (U.S.S.R.) had an industrial potential that exceeded the U.S. Maybe in one or two areas they matched the U.S. in production, but overall production the U.S. dwarfed Soviet production.

    The only two items I can think of that the Soviets matched U.S. production in were tanks (various sources say either the T-34 or the Sherman was the most produced tank in WW II) and artillery. Every other catagory the U.S. out paces Soviet Production.

    Ships for instance: Soviet production was practicly non existent. The U.S. built hundreds of carriers, and thousands of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and merchant ships. Over 2000 Liberty ships were produced!

    And the U.S. out produced the Soviets in food and vehicle production. There is an old saying "amateurs talk tactics and strategy, experts talk logistics". Many experts say the most important vehicle to the U.S. and :) U.S.S.R. :) victory over the Germans was the U.S. 2-1/2 ton truck, or the deuce and a half. This vehicle was very dependable, easy to maintain, and had a good load carrying capacity.

    The Wester and Eastern allied artillery, infantry and Sherman and T-34 tanks, were the vise that crushed the Nazis. But it was the U.S. 2-1/2 ton truck which fed the troops, brought up the ammo and fuel. There were over 560,000 2-1/2 ton trucks built! It was the standard truck of U.S. and U.S.S.R. forces, and most of our allies.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2006
  8. Polish, I like pistolen, have read many places that Stalin was willing to negotiate a peace with the Germans in 1942 when they where taking the worst of it.

    I find it hard to believe that Stalin was such a strategic genius that he held back large reserves, luring the Germans deep into the U.S.S.R. to encircle and destroy them.

    From the German prospective the best way to defeat the Russians would be seize the western areas, get in a good definsive position and hope that Stalins regime would fall from with in. Of course Stalin was ruthless on his internal security.

    And of course he should have stuck with one strategy in Russia. Either try and capture the capitol, or go for the oil fields.

    Polish you seem to think in terms of Russia vs. Germany. ( I am going on the assumption that Hitler is smart enough to NOT declare war on the U.S., which he was not) But in reality it is Russia vs Germany with an absorbed Austria + German allies. Granted most German allies other than Finland are of marginal use. But a smart Hitler and his military staff would make good use of all man power available to them. And that would include peoples of the conquered territories.
  9. Mark

    Mark New Member

    Jul 1, 2006
    If any of you would read the book, "In Deadly Combat" by Biedermann, you would be able to see the mistakes made against the Soviets. I also would remind all of our gentle readers about Dunkirk. Had he the British beaten, but didn't follow up.

    Hitler's Germany NEVER ran out of raw materials, just the factories to produce finished goods. By the Holocaust, he threw away millions that could have been working.

    Having said all this, no, he couldn't have won the war. His mind wasn't right, he was a madman.
  10. wolfgang2000

    wolfgang2000 New Member

    Dec 10, 2005
    Mountain Grove MO.
    The only way Hitler could have changed the outcome of WWII was to leave the fighting to the Generals.

    Hitler was egotistical maniac, and had more "issues" than I care to type out. Yes he made a few good diplomatic tactial decisions in the begining. And the German solider and Officers did well during the run through France, and even Africa. Africa was where you saw Hitlers mental deficienties start to come out. The more he took control the worst it got.

    We could go into details of good preformance of the german soldier or officer, but the question was "what Hitler could do".
  11. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    !7th, I never said Stalin "lured" Hitler in, on the contrary, he refused to believe the Germans had even ATTACKED until they were half-way to Moscow! He absolutely could not handle that somebody could be as dastardly as HE was....he got caught with his pants down, but nOT all the way :D

    The "Secret Reserves" were secret even to his OWN Gernerals! They existed for TWO reasons, the SECOND was for his OWN opportunism, in case HE ever had the chance to invade Hitler's empire should the allies weaken it enough, but the FIRST reason was the same reason Caesar had the Praetorian Guards, Hitler had the SS, and Goring had his own private army, and Sadam had the "Republican Guards..." Tyrannical self preservation!

    Stalin, like MOST despots, TOTALLY distrusted his Generals, heck, if he didn't NEED at least a few of them he would have had them ALL shot in the purges of the 30s! (as it was, he kept quite a few "on ice" in the Gulags that he originally ordered shot, just in case, which was a good move!) His "Secret reserves" were kept separated from even each OTHER, usually each was only battalion, no more than regimental strength, spread ALL over the interior of the USSR, away from the prying eyes of any diplomats, or spies, even his OWN, training in secret with the LATEST equipment, with "ideologically pure" officers, all being fed the line that THEY and THEY ALONE were the "Elite" protectors of the USSR, and the personal bodyguards of Stalin....and this is BEFORE Germany attacked! NOBODY knew he had then, not even Zhukov or Timoshenko!

    And it ALL makes SENSE if you think about it, I NEVER bought the fact that the "demoralized conscript masses" that had really shown up to this point they could do nothing except retreat or surrender, could regroup SO QUICKLY around Moscow in 1941, just because it SNOWED???? The first "Secret" reserves were committed to the counter-offensive in '41, but only about 1/4 of what he had...and of COURSE Hitler still didn't believe he had ANY, much less believe the intelligence telling him what he didn't want to hear, that, hey, some of THESE guys are well armed, well-trained, well-led, and well FED, NOT like all the millions of "turkeys" we faced UNTIL now....

    And then STALINGRAD...WHERE did Stalin get ALL those well-trained, well-armed troops for the encircling offensive North and South of Stalingrad??? All the WHILE feeding the Siberian battle-hardened troops and the "regular" (i.e., KNOWN) reserves INTO Stalingrad...and just HOW did Hitler AND his Generals get SO surprised by them when they attacked??? They had NO idea he even HAD them...which is why the surprise was SO complete...and why the Germans, who "by definition" COULDN"T be "surprised," ESPECIALLY by the "inferior" RUSSIANS, were so QUICK to blame the Romanians and Italians that took the first attacks on those flanks and were wouldn't have mattered, if those lines WERE manned by Germans...

    When you start reading the NEW research, and MORE seems to come out DAILY since the fall of the USSR, (the Soviets documented EVERYTHING)it all starts to make SENSE... ;)

    And you are right, 17th, in "Ivan's War," the author says there were two English words that EVERY Soviet Soldier knew... "Spam" and "Dodge." :p

    The Russians DID produce more tanks, artillery, guns, planes, and ammunition than we did, but sacrificed trucks and logistics to get the fighting stuff out first. Which kind of makes sense when yuou are fighting on your OWN soil...

    Which is ANOTHER reason Stalin had to keep up the "myth" that he needed a second front, that the USSR was in danger of collapsing, (when it NEVER was...)

    He NEEDED Lend-Lease...if Roosevelt and Churchill ever SUSPECTED he was in as good a shape as he was, it might STOP....and he NEEDED those trucks to conduct ANY offensive into Germany....

    In fact there are some Historians who are saying that Stalin just MAY have overestimated the German strength, if he WOULD have launched right at Berlin right after Stalingrad, on a narro overwhelming offensive, instead of advancing on the several broad fronts to take back all of his lost territory FIRST, and THEN take over Eastern Europe, he MAY have ended the war single-handedly, and then be in position to take ALL of Europe before the Allies could have landed in France at all...which is what Churchill feared, which is why the Allies had contingency "Ad Hoc" plan to land small forces quickly in 43 if it happened, to recover SOMETHING before Stalin got it all...
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2006
  12. Good analogies, Polish, and I think you are certainly correct in your first assessment. In my opinion, you are even more correct in your second. The material that has become accessable to historians since the fall of the Soviet Union pretty well confirms that argument. The Pact between Hitler and Stalin to carve up Poland was never considered binding by either party despite all the rhetoric to the contrary by both. Hitler did not trust Stalin, and Stalin did not trust Hitler, and each had good reasons for that mistrust! Indeed, there is good evidence that Stalin was planning eventually to attack Germany; Hitler just beat him to the punch and damn near pulled it off.

    I've often wondered what the eventual outcome of WWII might have been had Germany managed to force Stalin to capitulate at least in part; i.e., through some negotiated peace settlement. That was clearly contemplated at one point and Stalin almost agreed to propose it. When Hitler invaded Russia in 1941, he did so with over 3 million troops, with countless others, together with massive amounts of ancillary equipment (tanks, aircraft, etc.), committed to the battle over the ensuing years. If those troops and that equipment had not been committed to the Eastern Front, "Festung Europa" might well have been a truely impregnable fortress, at least until the Allies got the Bomb into production in 1945.
  13. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Absolutely, PS, and many people don't realize that during the ENTIRE "Manhattan Project," right up until VE D, the stated first target intended for the Bomb WAS Germany...and EVERYONE associated with it understood it...maybe it was Divine Providence it WASN'T ready sooner than it was....if "Providence" had anything to do with it, it sure didn't help the Japanese... :cool:

    But then again, maybe it did too...Downfall/Galvanic would just MAYBE have been "Hell on Earth..."

    That is PART of the reason, and I fully understand the ramifications, that I feel the M4 tank did so well against the Germans in Europe...the fact that there was actually so LITTLE Tank vs. Tank action in the was all happening on such a GRAND scale in the EAST....if all those Tigers and Panthers and 88mm AT guns were in the WEST, I might be singing a different tune... :cool:
  14. Your point is indeed well taken, Polish. The M4 did well (I've never argued differently), but against better opposition--indeed, far more German tanks as well as AT weapons and troops--I do feel it would likely not have gotten the job done, or if it did, at a cost so high it's too terrible to contemplate. The M4 won because it was, as Patton wanted, a highly mobile tank, easy to repair, and relatively inexpensive to produce. Most of the Tiger IIs and Panthers went to the Eastern Front. Imagine if all those sent there had been available for use at Normandy and on the long march across France and Germany. Eisenhower would never even have gotten ashore, much less finished the war in less than a year.
  15. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Oh, I believe Eisenhower would have gotten ashore, the Germans NEVER had anything for the US or Royal Navies!

    Given enough fighter cover, even IF the Luftwaffe wasn't destroyed as it was, the Germans would never have sustained ANY mobile forces within range of Naval Gunfire support. But breaking out would have been another matter. And keep in mind by 1944 we almost had too MANY Essex class CVs in the Pacific, so we also would have seen the Hellcats flying cover for the Naval Gunfire support, with Avengers spotting, and attacking Tanks and troops as well, from a Task Force of at least 4 of them.

    Either that or the British Carriers would have come home, and it would have been Corsairs and Avengers. THAT is probably what would have happened, Nimitz and Halsey hated working with the Brits, their carriers were a logistic drain and too "short legged" for the Pacific.

    And if the Luftwaffe HADN'T been destroyed yet, even IF somehow Hitler had enough fuel to keep them flying, the whole nature of the airwar would have changed too...the B-17s and 24s would probably fly unescorted, maybe even switched to night bombing with the Brits on a massive scale, while all available Spitfires, and P51s would be flying top cover for the P38s, 47s, Typhoons, B-26s and any other tac air we would have scraped together that would actually be hammering anything in our way from low level..

    I STILL think the allies would have won, eventually, even without Stalin, but with exponentially higher casualties.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2006
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