Barbarossa 1941; what was the need?

Nineteen Kilo

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Lots of 'probably's and 'ifs' in that theory. At any rate, actual history notwithstanding, this sounds like the makings of an alt-history miniseries for Amazon.
Indeed. To clarify my Original Question was not "What would have happened if Barbarossa kicked off in 1942?" or even "What would have been the strength's and weaknesses of the combatants in 1942?"; but rather "What was so pressing that the Germans couldn't have waited until 1942?" or if you prefer "Why give the go ahead in 1941 if the designated start date was missed?"

We're wandering off into another question here. A good question worthy of it's own thread, but not the question at hand.
 

daniel zucker

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It seem to me from what I'm reading here is that Hitler wanted to defeat Stalin and that nothing was going to get in the way of doing that. So going 'balls out' to Moscow was the highest priority to him. Lets say that he got to moscow by Oct 41. and Stalin conseeds. Japan is still going to attack Pearl and that brings America into the war. I can't imagine that Hitler will NOT declare war on the US. He was all crazy about showing his support for his allies. The US is still in the war and is going to have a Germany first hard on. So I don't see things ending any different. just maybe 6 to 12 months longer but basicly the same result.
So in answer to the original question...longer war, same result
 

Brian W

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It seem to me from what I'm reading here is that Hitler wanted to defeat Stalin and that nothing was going to get in the way of doing that. So going 'balls out' to Moscow was the highest priority to him.
Hitler, with the support and advice of the general staff, diverted the armored groups from Army Group Central, one going north and one south, in order to bag what was thought to be the rest of the Red Army, eschewing Moscow as the primary objective in late July 1941. This resulted in the greatest destruction of armed forces in the history of the world. Some still argue that the panzer groups should have aimed at takeing Moscow instead, but the invasion's strategy was to destroy the Red Army, then capture territory that was left defenseless. As far as it went, it was sound strategy. However, the Germans vastly underestimated the depth of commitment to the communist government and the nation, and the ability of the nation to field armies to replace what the Germans destroyed
Lets say that he got to moscow by Oct 41. and Stalin conseeds
Stalin could never concede. He could have been deposed by his people (and murdered), or killed himself, or take to the mountains a la Mao, but he could never surrender.
 

kcole4001

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..............

Stalin could never concede. He could have been deposed by his people (and murdered), or killed himself, or take to the mountains a la Mao, but he could never surrender.
True.
When members of the Politburo came to plead with Stalin to resume command, just to tell them something, he thought they were there to shoot him.
If Moscow had fallen the govt. would have moved further east, making logistics a bit more difficult for the remainder of the country, but resistance would go on.

Winter and fresh troops would likely have done pretty much what they did do at the end of '41, perhaps Zhukov would have had more of a free hand if Stalin's prestige had suffered enough from the fall of the capital, who knows.
 

MAS01

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Indeed. To clarify my Original Question was not "What would have happened if Barbarossa kicked off in 1942?" or even "What would have been the strength's and weaknesses of the combatants in 1942?"; but rather "What was so pressing that the Germans couldn't have waited until 1942?" or if you prefer "Why give the go ahead in 1941 if the designated start date was missed?"

We're wandering off into another question here. A good question worthy of it's own thread, but not the question at hand.

Let's take this into a slightly different direction.

Why not continue East in 1940 rather than 1941? The Phony War of 1939 showed that the French Army didn't have the stomach to take the offensive to Germany. I don't think that they, nor the British, would have used Belgium and The Netherlands as an avenue to attack the northern German plain. After taking Denmark and Norway (gaining submarine bases), what really prevented Hitler from going after Russia then? Combine Barbarossa in 1940 with a significant North African campaign aimed at the Middle Eastern oilfields and then you probably get Turkey involved on the Axis side.

Just a thought.
 

Eagle4ty

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Let's take this into a slightly different direction.

Why not continue East in 1940 rather than 1941? The Phony War of 1939 showed that the French Army didn't have the stomach to take the offensive to Germany. I don't think that they, nor the British, would have used Belgium and The Netherlands as an avenue to attack the northern German plain. After taking Denmark and Norway (gaining submarine bases), what really prevented Hitler from going after Russia then? Combine Barbarossa in 1940 with a significant North African campaign aimed at the Middle Eastern oilfields and then you probably get Turkey involved on the Axis side.

Just a thought.
My guess (only) is that it really galled old uncle Adolf that the French (especially) & the British put such a devastating burden on Germany at the Armistice in 1918. In other words, pure revenge may have been the deciding factor, though perceived preparedness of the antagonists and capabilities of the German Armed forces and the German economy in 1940 may have been a serious consideration as well. I believe he really believed the war in the west would be completed quickly, though perhaps not as quickly as the actual campaign, and realized a longer campaign would be required to subdue the Soviet Union. If he had opted for an invasion of Russia first, I believe his thought was the more industrialized western allies would have sufficient time to prepare for an extended war and that a stalemate similar to the First World War could possibly ensue. That is, they were the most dangerous potential enemy and he had the army to deal with them first when they were relatively unprepared if all went well and according to plan. I believe The Phony War had reaffirmed his belief that their resolve was lacking and that the campaigns in Denmark & Norway were not only campaigns to improve Germany's strategic position, but also a final test of the mettle of the Western Allies; And he found them wanting.

Even though the plans for the invasion of the Low Countries and France had been drawn up and somewhat set into motion by March-April of '40, he could have postponed them had the German efforts to the north come to naught. It could be possible then he would hope for a negotiated peace (if one can look into that demented and twisted mind). I think this is quite probable if you look at Hess' irrational flight to England and his quite improbable mission (supposedly unauthorized, but who knows for sure). JMO, but it's a start.
 

AdrianE

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Let's take this into a slightly different direction.

Why not continue East in 1940 rather than 1941?
Two things:
Barbarrossa wasn't really possible without the looted stocks of French oil and French trucks and guns.
No one in 1940 expected the French army to be as doctrinally impaired as it turned out it was.
 

Paul M. Weir

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Two things:
Barbarrossa wasn't really possible without the looted stocks of French oil and French trucks and guns.
No one in 1940 expected the French army to be as doctrinally impaired as it turned out it was.
And it was the French and British who defeated the Germans in WW1, not Imperial Russia.
 

Paul M. Weir

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The Americans had more than a little bit to do with the German defeat as well.
A bit, a little bit. While the US definitely made an enormous difference in WW2, I don't feel the same concerning WW1.

WW2: In the Pacific I would rate the US as doing something like 70%-85% of the heavy lifting. In Europe while the British could survive and hold German expansion from going beyond Europe, the US and USSR were the German beaters. Either could defeat the Nazis on their own, though at greater cost, time and blood.

In WW1 what collapsed first was not the German Western Front, but the home front. The British blockade starved the German economy of things like nitrates for fertiliser, leading to food shortages and malnutrition (the neutral Dutch had problems as well). The British and French had by that stage worked out the technology and tactics to finally grind through the trench stalemate. Without the US, a modified version of the Plan 1919 (methodical battle) would have led to German defeat. The final German March 1918 Operation Michael offensive had run out of steam before the US could really make much of an impression. Indeed I have read some authors who suggested that some of the German advances slowed down due to them taking time to loot for food! It did give the British and French a morale boost and permit a safe reorganisation of the British Army, which like the French and Germans earlier, was moving from a 4 battalion brigade (regiments in German, French armies) to a 3 battalion organisation due to manpower shortages. On the other side US entry was demoralising. So while the US did hasten the war's end, Germany was already staring defeat in the face.

So while useful the US effect was not on the scale that it had later in the century. It was only awakening as a superpower.
 

Brian W

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So while useful the US effect was not on the scale that it had later in the century. It was only awakening as a superpower.
I am not sure I agree with your analysis of 1918 and 1919, but I will certainly add that without the US banks, the allies could have easily lost the war for want of bullets, so even if the military contribution of the US was not decisive, the economic contribution probably was. And I say that being an Anglophile for the Royal Navy, whose blockade pushed Germany into starvation.

Every event after the US's declaration of war is colored by that declaration, so what the Germans would have done, even on the home front, without that declaration is very much an open question. And while I don't want to support the "we surrendered while we were still winning" Nazi meme, there were certainly paths to something that could have been called victory for the Germans if the US were not to declare war, even if we accept that the US would continue bankrolling the Allies without actually going to war.

Having said all that, I still think it most likely that the Entente would have pushed the Central Powers to the peace table as long as the US did not cease loaning money in 1917. What would have happened if the banks had stopped the flow of money, I do not know. The blockade may have still ended the war, but maybe the Germans would have forced the French and/or British into an armistice with terms favoring the Germans, or at least returning to something of the status quo. Alternative history is a big rabbit hole.
 
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OK here's a Q that has worried me.

The German's needed the Caucus oil. So did the Russian.

I think the British bombed it so it was unusable for considerable period of time for ANYONE.
 

AdrianE

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OK here's a Q that has worried me.
The German's needed the Caucus oil. So did the Russian.
I think the British bombed it so it was unusable for considerable period of time for ANYONE.
The British did NOT bomb the caucus oil fields. They thought about it and planned it with the French but did not do it.

The Russians did not actually need the Caucus oil. They had more production elsewhere and they had stockpiled a lot. IIRC its an 80% to 20% split.
 

The Purist

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Going back to the original post the "need" was - 'the sooner the better'. German capability versus the Red Army was about as good as it was going to get. There were economic reasons as well, see Adam Tooze - "Wages of Destruction" - to see just how 'over stretched' the German economy was.
 
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