Jackson Seizes Little Round Top; Meade's Flank Broken, Lee Defeats The Army Of The Potomac And Surrounds Philadelphia; So Today I'll Complain About The Kaiser's Slave Duty Increasing The Price Of Good Domestics

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13 Responses

  1. Ken says:

    Hey! I almost dual-majored in English literature!

  2. ElamBend says:

    The Poles were in a tough position before the war. The didn't like either the Russians or the Germans. Yet, while the Russians were afraid of the Germans, they half-convinced themselves they could deal with the Germans. The Poles knew that the Germans could never be trusted. Indeed, the German plan all along (despite entreaties to the Poles) was the complete destruction of Polish society. Indeed, a large chunk of WWII can be viewed as a war on Poland: Polish Jews [once the center of Jewry], wiped out; Polish high society; murdered by the Germans and Russians; Polish major cities, flattened by the Germans. Indeed, once the Germans were getting ready to pull out and it was clear that the war was going against them; Hitler had Warsaw flattened in a nihilistic rage.

    All of the countries between Germany and the USSR underwent an incredible bloodletting over the course of two wars last century including mass (intentional) starvation, systematic killing and rape. Anyone from that area of the world today is the descendent of the lucky and the survivors. It's no surprise that neuroticism, paranoia, and cynicism is rife in those from there.

    btw, if you get the chance, read the book "Bloodlands" written by the reviewer Timothy Snyder. It's grim, but important.

  3. marco73 says:

    The alternate history is fine so far as it goes, but I disagree with the premise the USSR would fall. The Germans came within about 12 miles of actually entering Moscow in 1941, but the Germans would still have to fight every inch to take the city. The USSR wasn't going to surrender, it would have to be defeated. So what if the Germans had taken Moscow. Napolean captured Moscow 150 years earlier; what did that get him?
    The idea that the Japanese could have fought 4000 miles from Vladivostok to meet up with the Germans in Moscow ignores the lack of Japanese manpower when the Japanese were already spread all over the Pacific.
    Oh yeah, and the weather. What genius was going to be able to feed and supply a fighting army, thousands of mile from any sea ports, during a typical Russian winter?

  4. Richard Hershberger says:

    I haven't read the book, but I read that review the other day. My response was that, in addition to the numerous problems others have already mentioned, any counter-factual which relies on removing all the mistakes of one side, while keeping in place all the mistakes of the other, is fundamentally uninteresting.

  5. Richard Hershberger says:

    I meant to also add that how-the-Germans-could-win-WWII scenarios also have the common flaw that they don't address the reality of the Manhattan Project (which, it should be recalled, originated long before the US was in the war). You have to do some furious hand-waving to avoid a scenario where the the US simply starts systematically nuking German cities until they cry uncle. It can be done, but it pretty much has to be the center of the counter-factual.

  6. John Farrier says:

    You have to do some furious hand-waving to avoid a scenario where the the US simply starts systematically nuking German cities until they cry uncle. It can be done, but it pretty much has to be the center of the counter-factual.

    I think that a German conquest of Europe without US nuclear strikes is quite plausible provided that the US never gains air superiority over Germany and occupied Europe. If the US lacks a useful delivery system, then the nuclear threat is small until substantial improvements in rocket technology.

  7. Patrick says:

    A good point Marco. The reason Stalin wasn't eliminated in the disastrous first month of Barbarossa is that he'd killed Tukhachevsky and every other Russian capable of a coup. Of course, the replacement of talented generals like Tukhachevsky with mediocrities like Budenny, and the sidelining of capable surviving generals like Zhukov, is part of the reason Barbarossa was such a disaster for the Soviets in the first place.

  8. SPQR says:

    A lot of people don't realize that the anti-Fascist coalition saw the USSR as a Fascist ally until June of '41. Britain and France considered intervening in Finland against the Soviet Union, and in fact started operations to invade northern Norway to open a supply route to Finland just as Germany invaded Norway.

  9. John Burgess says:

    I'm with ElamBend here. Nazi antipathy toward Slavs in general and Poles in particular would not have been conducive to any sort of pact with Poland. Over 6 million Poles–Jewish Poles included–were killed for simply being Poles and living in an area that both Hitler and Stalin coveted.

    Change that fact as the central counterfactual and perhaps there's a story. I'd certainly be interested in reading what changes to history would have allowed a German-Polish pact as I simply cannot imagine one.

  10. The Californian says:

    Marco73, there is ample reason to think the Soviet defense would have fallen apart were Moscow taken by the Nazis. Napoleon's capture of Moscow after the Russians evacuated it and set it on fire does not tell us whether the Soviets could have maintained a war effort if they lost it. First of all, St. Petersburg was the capital of Russia in Napoleon's time. Moscow was the largest city, but not the administrative center. Additionally, although the imperial Russian state was already pretty centralized, there was necessarily much more autonomy for regional leadership than there was in the USSR under Stalin: until sometime after the middle of the 19th century, it took well over a month for an order from St. Petersburg to reach, say, Vladivostok.

  11. SPQR says:

    Californian, not to mention that importance in WWII of Moscow as an industrial and rail hub that was not nearly as relevant as in the pre-railroad Napoleonic warfare era.

  12. Japan was far too interested in China to bother working towards Moscow or allying with Germany, they would have been too busy eating large chunks of the defenseless country to help Hitler.

  13. ElamBend says:

    Japan got their nose bloodied by Zhukov and hit boys and decided that China made a much easier target.