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Interesting what if. WWII, repercussions of a Soviet collapse during the war.

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Showing 1-25 of 535 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 31, 2012, 4:53:56 PM PDT
I was thinking (dangerous I know). During WWII, Germany made some disastrous military, political, and human rights choices in Russia during the war. However, a careful analysis of the campaign leads me to believe that they had a very real chance defeating the Russians. On the long term, what would the repercussions of that have been? Would the outcome have been better or worse for the world? Would Germany have prevailed in the war?

I have my own ideas about it, what are yours?

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012, 5:16:12 PM PDT
Swedey says:
My shot from the hip thinking here is that the USA would've dropped more than just the 2 atomic bombs in 1945. So the outcome would've been very different for Russia. Germany would have lost eventually. Starvation was a very real problem in Russia.

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012, 5:40:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 31, 2012, 7:21:44 PM PDT
L. King says:
Depends on the scenario you paint for the Russian collapse and how much of a military commitment Germany would have had to have made to hold Russia. Under Molotov-Ribbentrop the Soviets were allied with Nazi Germany - if the Russians could be persuaded this way once they could be again, which would allow Hitler to do what - head south to the Arabian Gulf and cut off Allied access to oil, aviation fuel and infantry from India? Create a Fortress Europe?

Hitler's paranoia precluded anything other than expansion IMHO. He would have overextended German conquests at some point.

BTW - if you haven't introduced your son (around 12 now?) to Harry Turtledove's Crosstime Traffic series you should. Curious Notions is about a world where the Kaiser won WW I and takes place in an alternate San Francisco and The Gladiator take place in a Europe that is run by the Soviets.

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012, 5:46:09 PM PDT

Certainly, more may have been used, but so much else comes into to play. My opinion (for what it is worth) is that the Germans go down in '46-'47 after the collapse of Japan. Although one wonders what the story is without a German declaration of war on the US. Anyway, the conditions for a German victory in Russia probably involve the cultivation of Ukrainian sympathy. That is a lot of potential Wehrmacht soldiers. This extra time and manpower can make a difference. But here is the biggy ... Russian oil (gobs of it) and scarce raw materials (manganese, tungsten, chromium, etc.) changes the war dynamic in a big way. Then there is the 65% of the Wehrmacht, SS, and Luftwaffe that never fought in the West. Imagine a tripling the size of the Luftwaffe with trained and experienced pilots, a safe place to train and fuel more of these pilots. In '45 I think there were only two bombs available. But that is where they would have been dropped, Germany. Here's the rub. With that massively enhanced Luftwaffe having time to perfect and bring into service some very impressive weapons (ME 262, V3, etc.) do the Allies ever establish the air superiority they need? Do they dare fly B-29 over the drastically more dangerous airspace over the Reich (which made Japan look like a cake walk). This matters because the B-29 is the only plane that can carry the weapon to Germany.

An annihilated Soviet Union vastly reshapes the post war. Perhaps Chaing even wins the Civil War. Is the world a better place for that outcome?

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012, 6:30:48 PM PDT
they only had two bombs in 1945

it was a bluff taht they would continue using them

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012, 7:32:46 PM PDT
OldAmazonian says:
Continuing to firebomb the bejabbers out of an already demolished Japan that had effectively lost all capacity to resist militarily would have been as effective as dropping more A bombs. The USAAF had run out of places to bomb.

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012, 8:52:29 PM PDT
John M. Lane says:
I agree, surfin'. It's my guess that the Soviet Union came terribly close to collapse in the face of Barbarossa.

Fortunately for the Soviets, Hitler interfered with Wehrmacht operations and Himmler's SS conducted itself with such brutality that potential allies were alienated and turned against the Nazis rather than seeing them as liberators from Stalin's tyranny. Hitler was fanatically committed to waging what he described as "racial war" instead of the more traditional military/diplomatic warfare.

Had the Soviets collapsed, the West might very well have caved in leaving Hitler's Reich, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy as dominant powers in the world. Instead of the bi-polarity of the the Cold War, the world would have experienced what Churchill described as a "new Dark Age."

Hitler's plans weren't well-formed, but were outlined in very general terms in what has been called "Hitler's Second Book." It's available in a variety of translations and editions, but is just as turgid and opaque as MEIN KAMPF, in my opinion.

Hitler would have been in a position to implement his sinister "Master Race" theories.

Posted on Jun 13, 2012, 11:20:33 PM PDT
If the Soviet Union had collapsed in the wake of Barbarossa, and if the Germans had managed to cobble together some kind of a peace with England (perhaps even at the cost of evacuating France) they might have staved off US involvement in the war in Europe. This could have led to a armed truce between England and possibly France against Germany while Germany digested the Soviet Union and acquired it's raw materials and productive capacity. At some point the truce would fail and Germany would go back on the offensive, but reinforced by all the resources of the Soviet Union. I think the outcome for France and England would have been bad.

The US would have been dealing with Japan, and with the cessation of hostilities in Europe FDR wouldn't have had any legitimate reason to continue Lend-Lease, so France and England would have been left to their own devices and both were either broke, or nearly broke.

I think the end result could have been a Germany/Pan European superpower in a cold or hot war against a US/Pan Pacific superpower.

Posted on Jun 14, 2012, 12:49:48 AM PDT
Well, too many questions left unanswered..You need to detail your scenario

A collapse in 1941 is one thing, a collapse in late 1943 (for example) is another

What resources would Germany get ? (if it gets even half of the Baku oil its a game changer, if it does not get oil, the axis is still in dire straits)

What losses does Germany take in the process and what percentage of its armed forces need to be kept in the east ?

Does Germany get to install a puppet regime in the USSR and thus gets a good percentage of not only resources but also weapon production + troops to support its war effort ?

Posted on Jun 14, 2012, 9:48:00 AM PDT
I question whether Germany could hold onto Russia under any circumstances. Even if Stalin had signed an unconditional surrender, wouldn't an underground Russian resistance constantly disrupt the supply lines until Germany went bankrupt? In a war of conquest, the invaders need a vast amount of wealth while the home guard can operate on almost none.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012, 10:29:01 AM PDT
My scenario is 1941 and a total capitulation of the Soviet government like France did. So no more losses, and access to the total raw material, industrial and manpower wealth of the Soviet Union. Most Red Army troops couldn't have been relied upon for combat duty, but non-communist units could have been raised in many parts of the Soviet Union with little fear of treachery, if the Germans had restrained the Gestapo and the SS. By 1943 the Soviet economy could have been producing Soviet as well as German designs in large numbers, and some Soviet designs were as good or better than German ones. Germany's weakness was always not enough manpower or industrial depth and access to ex-Soviet industries and manpower would have cured that. I'm sure there would have been some pro-communist guerrillas, but taking a page from the Tsar's book and using Cossacks for an internal security force could have handled that. The Cossacks never liked ethnic Russians anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012, 10:32:19 AM PDT
mr. critic,
The Soviet Union wasn't a monolith like the US in the '40s. Most member-states were held in the union by force or intimidation. Given fair treatment the majority of the Soviet Socialist Republics would have actively supported the Germans over the Communists. Remember most adult Soviet citizens could remember pre soviet freedoms (not that the Tsar was a big proponent of personal freedom) and weren't exactly enthralled with Communism.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012, 1:29:47 PM PDT
Richard M. Smith: It makes you wonder why Germany didn't simply carve up Russia one slice at a time instead of trying to devour the entire pizza in one campaign. I am reading "The Forgotten Soldier" this week and it seems there were certainly regions quite willing to trade their communist slavery for a fascist slavery.

Posted on Jun 14, 2012, 2:57:20 PM PDT
DarthRad says:
This scenario has been played out in historical fiction before, the most notable effort was this novel/movie:

Fatherland: A Novel

Fatherland [VHS]

Posted on Jun 14, 2012, 5:02:55 PM PDT

Interesting hypothetical...

What does the "collapse" look like?

Are we talking about a military collapse? A collapse of the Soviet central government? A surrender with a specific stop line? Brest-Litovsk II?

TM has already mentioned the issue of the timeframe.

Personally, I'm not sure that you get a total, clear-cut collapse. More likely, it would be something very messy, and not entirely conclusive.

RMS has suggested a scenario. Do you imagine a collapse that looks like his, or do you imagine something different?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012, 5:27:16 PM PDT
mr. critic,
Hitler and the uber mensche fable got in the way of pragmatism.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012, 10:54:10 PM PDT
>>>> My scenario is 1941 and a total capitulation of the Soviet government like France did <<<<<

That is a best case scenario (from the German perspective).

In that situation I would assume that the UK and Germany would come to some settlement and Germany would be the dominating power in Europe for decades and a global hegemon.....I dont see the US intervening (at least not directly) in Europe with these kinds of odds. You then have a cold war between the US/UK alliance and the "continental" european block dominated by Germany.

Meanwhile Japan gets squashed even more rapidly.

However within 30 years or so the German empire (like those of the French and the British) fritters away as countries regain their independence. But not before many more millions are exterminated in the death camps and by organized famine. In particular the Polish population would be all but wiped out.

Not a merry scenario

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012, 12:35:00 AM PDT
Not a merry scenaro at all, but it almost came to pass. From my reading, at one point Stalin was prepared to surrender if the German's were able to capture Moscow. It was just the Soviet's luck that the Germans frittered away their advantages and didn't prepare for winter fighting.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012, 12:57:04 AM PDT
patrick says:
the idea of another Anglo-french coalition against Germany, post the 1940 defeat, is an extraordinary one....if im interpreting you correctly.
You'd have never gotten the French into another war against a far more militarily formidable Germany even than the one which had routed them already.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012, 1:02:10 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012, 1:03:00 AM PDT
patrick says:
I dont think that a German-led empire need collapse in our time as the Soviet one did...a combination of being able to deliver certain outcomes for its citizens that the Soviet one never could,and its generally better efficiency bureacracy... while promising at least as savage crackdown as the Soviets had ever exercised to "rebellious provinces" such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland.
There is actually a hell of a lot of pro-German even pro-Nazi German sentiment in every branch of the Slavic world that I know of, with the possible exception of in Serbia.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012, 1:06:57 AM PDT
I'm not sure that's what I was proposing. I believe I said that both France and England would have been nearly bankrupt and in no position to resist a Germany with all the resources of Eastern Europe behind it. With a peace settlement, FDR couldn't have continued Lend-Lease so the Brits would have been on their own. A resurgent Germany would have smashed France quickly, and I think England would have had to sue for whatever terms they could get. Germany could have continued into Spain, captured Gibralter and closed off the Med to English shipping which would have eliminated England's entire oil supply.

Posted on Jun 15, 2012, 7:34:14 PM PDT
RMS writes...

"With a peace settlement, FDR couldn't have continued Lend-Lease so the Brits would have been on their own."

RG responds...

Although the flip side to this is that US Neutrality Laws would no longer apply. The British would be able to buy on credit provided that the will existed to extend credit. I can see this playing out in either way.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012, 11:31:22 PM PDT
Perhaps you're right, but I don't see the Brits being able to raise enough credit during what would have obviously a temporary peace to rearm themselves. They pretty much had an open checkbook with Lend-Lease. Who knows perhaps the German's would have been able to exert enough economic and political pressure to prevent the Brits from buying US goods at all. We would have had our hands full with the Japanese threat.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012, 1:31:07 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 16, 2012, 1:31:53 AM PDT
patrick says:
they were already at the end of their rope by 1940-41, in terms of gold reserves..I think that Ive heard that they were down to 4 million pounds worth of gold..
Henry Ford wanted to demand payment for his own exports in advance in gold...

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012, 8:19:04 PM PDT
You know, in thinking about this, it just occurred to me that we've all been overlooking a rather important question of timing...

While most of the discussion so far has speculated upon a hypothetical Soviet collapse in 1941, does that collapse come about before or after December 7th? December 11th? Also, do the Brits seek a cease-fire immediately in response to the Soviet collapse, or do they hang in the fight until after December 7th/11th?

It's not too far of a stretch to imagine the Germans reaching and commencing a battle for Moscow by say late October/early November (remember, we're accepting a counter-factual chain of events), but would the Germans really be able to close the deal, and bring about a Soviet collapse, before the US is at war? I don't think that there's any plausible scenario in which a final battle for Moscow isn't a massive operation fought at the end of a very long logistical chain under very difficult environmental conditions. (And that's assuming that the loss of Moscow would be the straw that broke the bear's back.) The point is, if the collapse has not yet taken place as of December 7th, and we accept Hitler's historical response to Pearl Harbor, then the US is at war with Germany as of Hitler's declaration on the 11th. Under those circumstances, Britain becomes an indispensable ally worth supporting at virtually any cost.

OTOH, if there's some sort of European cease-fire BEFORE December 7th (which I view as unlikely), then there's a much better chance that Britain's European needs get "back-burnered" as far as the US is concerned once the Japanese strike. Conversely, though, in that scenario, the Australians and New Zealanders become the crucial US allies, which in turn results in a renewed US/BE link via the backdoor.

America First was still active in late '41 (Senator Nye was actually delivering a speech as the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor was coming in), however, my sense is that by that point the movement's influence was on the wane. I would like to think that enough common-sense would have prevailed to carry the argument that letting Britain go down would have been a catastrophic strategic blunder.
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Discussion in:  History forum
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Total posts:  535
Initial post:  May 31, 2012
Latest post:  Aug 3, 2012

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