Saturday, July 07, 2012


I've been watching a lot of films and reading numerous books about the Nazi conduct of WW2. Sometimes, it is underestimated just how close Hitler and the Nazis came to establishing their 1000 year Reich--and also how the strategic importance of Britain played a major part in Nazi planning (and also in their eventual defeat). After Hitler had conquered continental Europe, only Britain stood in his way. But what to do next? Britain was a major rival that wasn't going to roll over easily, separated as it was from the continent by 22 miles of water. The Nazis might have come up with some plan to try and take the British airfields by the use of paratroops, but it would have been very risky and likely to fail. The British naval superiority was less important as in the narrow channel, the RN ships would have been sitting ducks for the Luftwaffe that was protecting the invasion force. It was, however, necessary for the RAF to be destroyed before any invasion was attempted--and, crucially, Hitler's forces were unable to do this. Almost certainly, if the early waves of Luftwaffe attacks had been successful in their aim of destroying the RAF, invasion and inevitable defeat would have followed. This would have had crucial long term results. Hitler could have concentrated on his war with Russia without worrying about the opening up of a second front in the West or any effective participation by the US in the war. The USA forces were able to threaten the Nazis only through the use of Britain as a kind of static aircraft carrier on which they could build up all their resources for an invasion of France. If Britain had already fallen when the Americans came into the war, how could they have conducted hostilities so far from home? An invasion fleet from America itself was most unlikely--as unlikely as a direct German invasion of the US.

The second factor was the USSR. Ideology and Hitler's hatred was the main cause of the war with Russia--but the specific timing of the attack, in June 1941, was due to Hitler's failure to conquer Britain. If he could smash the USSR in just a few months, as most military analysts of the time believed he could do, Britain's hopes of aid coming from the east would be shattered. The Nazi plan was to confront Britain with a Europe that had been totally subjugated to Hitler's will. With everything settled with Russia, the Nazis would have been able to face the Anglo Saxon enemy from a position of strength. Britain would have been smashed whatever the cost and then the Nazis could have joined their Japanese ally in an attack on the US via Eastern Russia. For the first time in US history, there would definitely have been a foreign invader fighting on American soil--and the US, make no mistake about it, would have been fighting for its very existence.

To sum up, Hitler's failure to conquer Britain resulted in the catastrophic invasion of the Soviet Union and opened up the possibility of an eventual US attack on continental Europe, through the use of the UK as a storage base and launching site for invasion. It was a close run thing and if the RAF had failed to hold off the Germans in 1940, the war might have turned out completely differently. Even if the Germans had still been unable to defeat the Soviet Union, possibilities for a stale mate would have been significantly increased without the opening up of a second front in the West. Of course, some analysts would say that Hitler's forces were sure to have been defeated in the east, eventually, even without the opening up of a second front: but that is an imponderable we cannot be sure about. It may be true--but we can't be certain that things would have turned out that way.


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