Excerpt from How Hitler Could Have Won World War II, by Bevin Alexander, pages 49-52:
[Erich] Raeder [chief of the German Navy] felt that the senior army generals had a “purely continental outlook,” did not understand the war-winning opportunities that had opened up on the south shore of the Mediterranean, and would never counsel Hitler correctly. Although the OKH and OKW did advise Hitler to send troops to North Africa, their proposals lacked Raeder’s urgency. Never did Brauchitsch, Halder, Jodl, or Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of staff of the OKW, express the conviction that the war could be won in the Mediterranean, although Keitel told Benito Mussolini that capture of Cairo was more important than capture of London. Part of their hesitancy lay in the knowledge that Hitler had been fixed for a long time on destroying the Soviet Union and gaining Lebensraum for the German people. Their careers depended upon not rocking that boat. However, they never stressed to Hitler, as did Raeder, that victory in the Mediterranean would make it easier, in the end, to achieve victory over the Soviet Union.
Once Axis forces overran Egypt and the Suez Canal, they would close the eastern Mediterranean to the Royal Navy. The British fleet would immediately retreat into the Red Sea, because it could not be supplied sufficiently by means of convoys through the western Mediterranean. Whether or not the Germans seized Gibraltar by a direct attack—and this was virtually excluded because of [Spanish dictator Francisco] Franco’s opposition— Britain strategically would be paralyzed.
The Axis could move at will into the Middle East, for the British had no substantial forces there. Thus, not only would Syria and Palestine fall, but German panzers could seize Iraq and Iran with little effort. These two countries produced much of the world’s oil, and their capture would provide ample amounts of Germany’s single most-needed strategic material.
The advance on the southern frontier of Turkey would put the Turks in an impossible position. Hitler was already in the process of gaining Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria as allies. Therefore, Turkey could be approached either by way of Bulgaria across the Bosporus at Istanbul or from northern Iraq and Syria. Turkey would be forced to join the Axis or grant passage for Axis forces and supplies. A defiant stance would result in the swift defeat of the Turkish army and disaster.
Passage through Turkey would reduce the importance of Malta and Gibraltar. However, both could be eliminated without the active support of Franco and without direct assault.
German forces could easily occupy French North Africa ( Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) with or without Vichy France’s cooperation. From French Morocco, they could approach from the south the small strip of Morocco along the Strait of Gibraltar ruled by Spain. Spain would be forced to grant transit rights, or stand aside if German forces occupied the strip without permission. Spain could not resist for fear of a German attack into the heart of Spain from France. Consequently, German airfields and batteries could be set up along the south shore of the strait. This would close it to Britain—without an expensive military assault on the rock of Gibraltar.
Furthermore, closing the Strait of Gibraltar would force the British to abandon Malta, because they could not supply it.
With the Royal Navy out of the Mediterranean, it would become an Axis lake. This would permit German forces to occupy all of western Africa, including the French base at Dakar, in Senegal. Aircraft, ships, and submarines from Dakar could close down much of Britain’s convoy traffic through the South Atlantic, even without seizure of the Cape Verde islands.
In the Middle East the strategic payoff would be even greater. German forces in Iran would block that country as a route for supplies to the Soviet Union from Britain and the United States. Russia would be left with only the ports of Murmansk on the Barents Sea and Archangel on the White Sea through which goods from the west could be funneled. This would require dangerous passages in atrocious weather, with constant danger of attacks by German ships and aircraft stationed in Norway.
Even more important, the Soviet Union’s major oil fields were in the Caucasus and along the western shore of the Caspian Sea, just north of Iran. Germany could threaten not only an attack directly from Poland and Romania in the west but also from the south through the Caucasus to the Soviet oil fields. This danger of envelopment and quick loss of oil would immobilize Stalin, and obligate him to provide Germany with whatever grain and raw materials it might need. In other words, Germany—without loss of a single soldier—would have the benefits of the Soviet Union’s vast materials storehouse, as well as delivery of tin, rubber, and other goods from southeast Asia by way of the Trans-Siberian Railway.
A German position in Iran also would pose a huge threat to India, agitating for independence under Mohandas K. Gandhi and other leaders. From Iran Germany could invade India through the Khyber and other passes, invasion routes long before and long after Alexander the Great made the passage in 326 B.C. Germany would not actually have to do a thing. The threat alone would force Britain to commit every possible soldier to defend its crown jewel. Germany, again without the expenditure of a single man, could immobilize Britain.
In possession of the Middle East, all of North and West Africa, and Europe, its armed forces virtually intact, its economy able to exploit the resources of three continents, Germany would be virtually invincible. Britain’s defiance on the periphery of Europe would become increasingly irrelevant. Germany would not have to inaugurate an all-out U-boat war against its shipping. Britain’s remaining strength would have to be expended in protecting its empire and the convoys to and from the home islands.
The United States would have no hope of launching an invasion against the mainland of Europe and an undefeated and waiting German army until it had spent years building a vast navy, army, and air force, not to speak of the transports, landing craft, vehicles, and weapons necessary for such a giant undertaking. It is possible that the United States would take on this task, but the chances for its success would be extremely small. Far more likely, the American people would turn first to counter the expansion of Japan in the Pacific.
Meanwhile Germany could consolidate its empire, bring subject nations into an economic union, and grow more powerful economically, militarily, and politically every day. Before long, the world would become accustomed to the new German Empire and insist on a return to normal international trade.
This at last would give Hitler the opportunity he had sought for decades. He never wanted more of the Soviet Union than the region west of the Ural mountains. Once a de facto cease-fire had been achieved, Hitler could strike at European Russia from south and west, drive Stalin and the surviving Soviets into Siberia, and get the Lebensraum he coveted.
12 replies on “How Hitler could’ve won the war”
The Fuhrer was right about everything, except Operation Barbarossa.
I was thinking exactly the same as a teen (and told my dad, afaik). But there are a few counter-arguments.
1. Logistics. Supplying even those two divisions + Italians as it were was quite difficult. Amassing more forces makes little sense if the supply lines are unreliable, through the sea and the desert roads.
2. Timing. When would such a venture have taken place? In 1940? At the time, the Italians would not have allowed any help from the Germans. See the Spanish dwarf Franco (instigated by the traitor Canaris to boot). Of course, legitimate political will on the part of Hitler might have changed things – but was there a case for urgency at the time? The archenemy of Germany was France, and France had fallen that miraculous summer.
This reads like a typical Anglo self-obsession. The war was effectively over in June 1940, and France became a German ally. As a black-pilled pacifist with hindsight, my own advice to the Führer would be to give Bulgaria to Russia and try to form a Eurasian bloc Berlin-Moscow-Tokyo to fight the Christian American influence in the field of ideology.
On the other hand, if you do want war, James Ellman (admittedly, a nobody) in Hitler’s Great Gamble makes a decent case about putting the blame on the Finns and the Japanese – and on Hitler’s failure to convince them to attack Russia (even during his personal visit to Ryti and Mannerheim in June 1942).
>The Finnish government made no official reply to London or Washington, but the warnings certainly had an effect. Ryti convinced Mannerheim to halt all offensives after the capture of Medvezhyegorsk on December 5. Despite General Siilasvuo and his III Corp being nominally under German command, Mannerheim quietly transmitted orders to end the drive designed to take the town of Loukhi and cut the northern section of the Kirov Railway. At the time, Siilasvuo’s forces had recently taken the town of Kestenga, and the front lines were less than twenty miles away from Loukhi. The officers commanding the leading units at this front were optimistic and believed that prospects were good for a continued advance. Nevertheless, the Finnish offensive halted. […]
>Not only did the Finns hold their lines in front of Leningrad, they refused to participate actively in the siege, neither shelling the city from their positions nor allowing bombing missions against it from Finnish airfields. The Soviets quickly detected the halt of the Finnish offensive, which allowed them to transfer several units from the northern to the southern defenses of the city.
” try to form a Eurasian bloc Berlin-Moscow-Tokyo ”
In what timeline could that have happened? Surely it would have to ignore all jewish influence at least.
why he chose the name Barbarossa? the original Barbarossa was also a failure since he was defeated in Northern Italy.
Hitler put himself in a trap when he invaded Poland, at that moment he signed his death warrant. If he didn’t launch “Barbarossa” Stalin would attack Germany and western Europe
Hitler dismissed honest reports of Soviet strength. He willingly chose to be surrounded by Yes men who were chosen for their loyalty rather than their competence
He removed anyone who opposed his ideas, filling the OKW with yes-sayers
He also squandered Germany’s strength in fighting wars of maneuver by attacking urban centers like Stalingrad (unnecessary for blocking the Volga) and well defended Russian positions at Kursk.
The Stalingrad disaster still would occur, even if the Germans had captured Stalingrad, because the Volga line could only be held if the Soviet Union had collapsed before the Germans were at the Volga .
Even if the Germans were not going to the Volga, they still would fail in the Caucasus (besides, the German economic experts had warned against the asumption that the Soviet Union would collapse without the oil of the Caucasus).
And, even if the Germans were not going to the Caucasus, they still would fail at the Volga .
Defeat or victory in the East did not depend on what the Germans could/would/should do, but on what the Soviets could/would/should do, and undoubtedly the Soviets were the strongest party.
US and UK were a side show.
Alternate History is fascinating. There are entire forums that propose, discuss and debate theories and PODs (points of diversion) and try to extrapolate the consequences based on historical facts.
I’ve spent countless hours reading a multitude of these posts; they can be quite enlightening on the specifics of the time, be it economic or military.
On Bevin Alexander’s thesis:
He’s day-dreaming. The speed of mobilization he imagines on the OKW is unrealistic, and does not take into account the limitations of Germany’s logistical reach. There’s only so much you can do when your main source of oil is Ploiesti, and a significant part of your industrial capacity is devoted to maintaining trade with the Soviets via the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact – which was growing more unfair as time passed (USSR was extorting Germany after the Battle of Britain).
After reading Viktor Suvorov’s “Chief Culprit” and Joachim Hoffman’s “Stalins Vernichtungskrieg” I am convinced the USSR was going to attack Germany in summer 1941, and later ‘liberate’ France and the Benelux countries from ‘fascist occupation’. There was no time for oil-hunting in the Middle-East. The main event was Barbarossa, and the Wehrmacht prepared as best it could.
Despite being numerically and technologically inferior to the Soviets in tanks and airplanes, the main factor that caused such rapid advance through West Russia wasn’t only superior German Auftragstaktiks and Bewegungskrieg doctrine, it was also the mass-surrender of the disaffectionate Red Army in the opening stages of the operation.
Barbarossa was a close-run thing, and it was incredible that the Germans got as far as they did. Could it have gone better? Hard to say. The diversion to Kiev was a smart move, despite what Stolfi says. Leningrad could have fallen, if air support priority was given to Army Group North…
There’s a ton of PODs, and frankly this is not the site for that.
In my honest opinion, defeating the USSR was paramount, and a ‘Cold War’ in the early 40s was not an option like Alexander proposes.
Suvorov is quite a contentious fellow (and not a historian), but regardless of that. Does everyone just concede that had Germany remained peaceful in 1941 and Russia attacked, the Reich would have keeled over and died? You are correct on the huge number of the captured Russians in the cauldrons, but Germany lost precisely when attempting a transition to positional warfare in 1943, with depleted resources and a 2000-km-long front line. A war with Germany on the defensive in 1941 would have given her quick supply lines, a short front line, a fanatical cause, immediate total war economy, sure sympathy from all around Europe (France, Italy, even Sweden, Bulgaria and Turkey), and would have had a high chance of turning America pro-Hitler.
The Soviet army clearly showed its ineptitude in mounting even local counter-attacks in 1941 – why would it have suddenly become the menace it had grown in real history by 1944? Chances are, those enormous hordes of light tanks would have bogged down in a logistical and technical mess in Poland and in the Carpathian passes, while a failure at achieving victory in a short war of aggression would have spelt doom for the Russian morale, just as in WW1.
The main Russian achievement was surviving 1941. In some ways, Hitler was right – the Russian army was incredibly weak. I fail to see how it could have easily conquered Berlin in 1941. It was only with the years of harsh experience, American trucks, and insane suffering for “the motherland” (over 20 million dead) that the famed Asiatic beast was forged.
And then, the Rhine front was broken on 23 March 1945, and geographically, the war was over. But without the Americans, and in 1941, the Germans would have fought with the same ire as in the darkest last days of 1945. And they would have had no need for occupying Hungary and Italy – they instead would have had a headache of supplying the huge masses of volunteers against the Eastern menace!
You mentioned two books you read (Suvorov’s & Hoffman’s), but the list of pros & cons books on the Soviet offensive controversy is longer.
I was wrong above to say that Hitler’s only mistake had been the Barbarossa Plan. He shouldn’t even have invaded Poland. He should have waited until he had the atomic bomb.
Hitler had no choice, but to invade the Soviet Union as Stalin was about to attack not only Germany but all of Europe. The time difference between Barbarossa and the Soviet attack was about three weeks. Victor Suvorov who had access to Soviet archives is quite sure of the timeline. I agree with Alexander’s point about making the Mediterranian an Axis lake, but it had to be done quickly. Rommel needed two more panzer divisions and Hitler would not allow it. He saw North Africa as more of a side-show and he was wrong about that. But, would have Rommel succeeded even with two new panzer divisions? Many historians always forget about the Ultra secret and how the British were reading all of the German despatches from the enigma machines. Plus, the Germans had horrible supply problems throughout the war.
Reblogged this on My Journey.
British historian and Churchill’s biographer Andrew Roberts also believes Hitler could’ve easily won the war if he had pursued the Mediterranean strategy.
I don’t know if I agree with that, simply because of horrible German logistics problems.
Seizing the Suez Canal and capturing/neutralising Malta would have been enough to cripple the British and bring down Churchill’s government.
This did not require tremendous logistics or anything. It just required better co-operation between Hitler and Mussolini in 1940-41.