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Old 03-25-2012, 10:35 PM   #1
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Default The "Wars of the Past" Thread

Here is a place to discuss the nature of past wars and conflicts around the world like World War II, Vietnam, the American Civil War, Cold War etc.

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This is an best case scenario for what Germany would have looked like if it won World War II. Western Europe made into vassal states and the colonies of all nations except the British Empire are under German influence.

If Hitler had not declare war on the United States and not pursued harassing their sea traffic in the Atlantic with U-Boats, he might have lasted longer. Hitler would have kept pushing against the Eastern front getting closer to Moscow, but gotten pushed back over and over again by the Soviets until his forces were exhausted. He had already tried to land in Britain and had no absolute desire to occupy the islands and actually did hope to coexist with them.

What's left? A fascist France, the Italian Empire remains, Germany is now about four times its original size, and an arms race with the Soviet Union continues for years as both are regional powers.

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Old 03-25-2012, 10:51 PM   #2
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I question whether or not Germany could have kept France under its thumb indefinitely. After all, the fourth largest allied army were the Free French Forces, who were still fighting the Germans after the fall of Paris.

Though the real question is whether or not the Germans could have conquered the Soviet Union. It's possible that they could have, if there had been no Western allied invasion in Western Europe and Africa, since that would have allowed them to focus almost entirely on the Eastern front.

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Old 03-25-2012, 10:58 PM   #3
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I think Germany's success ultimately depends on its nuclear weapons. Or its lack thereof. Einstein was the key to the bomb, but he was Jewish so he would never have been listened to by the Reich. In fact, they called his discoveries "Jewish physics." Perhaps the Germans could have built a bomb on their own eventually, but they would have needed the high command to put the war on hold until it was ready. Reasonableness and patience was never Hitler's strength.

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Old 03-25-2012, 11:00 PM   #4
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^My guess is they might have reached Moscow like Napoleon did, but would have faced a battle as big as Stalingrad. Even without the two front war that Stalin wanted the Russians held their own and pushed the Germans back. I think Germany would have kept some parts of eastern Europe like the Ukraine to colonize with their citizens. Would the Germans have killed as many Jews and Slavic peoples in the Holocaust? Probably not. Sort of like how the US had an Indian territory in Oklahoma, if not for the shortage of resources during the war, they probably would have been resettled in ghettos in the Ukraine in an impoverished territory forced to work the low end jobs of society for German production sort of how blacks did in the American South after emancipation. After all most of the German people didn't think the Jews needed to be killed and the government kept it a secret until the end anyway.


Here are more details of German plans for postwar Europe.

Europe, If the Nazis Had Won


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Old 03-25-2012, 11:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: Wars of the Past Thread

With the title of this thread I feel like I'm at an exhibit at DisneyWorld.

Except Disney wouldn't have a "If the Nazis won" type horror fantasy going on.

On a side note, if anyone hasn't gone to the Holocaust Museum in D.C. they absolutely must do it.

And with that I've already derailed this thread.

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Old 03-25-2012, 11:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by DACrowe View Post
With the title of this thread I feel like I'm at an exhibit at DisneyWorld.

Except Disney wouldn't have a "If the Nazis won" type horror fantasy going on.

On a side note, if anyone hasn't gone to the Holocaust Museum in D.C. they absolutely must do it.

And with that I've already derailed this thread.
Oh I could make so many jokes right now.

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Old 03-25-2012, 11:50 PM   #7
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Though the real question is whether or not the Germans could have conquered the Soviet Union. It's possible that they could have, if there had been no Western allied invasion in Western Europe and Africa, since that would have allowed them to focus almost entirely on the Eastern front.
No, because by the time the western Allies finally opened up a second front in June 1944 the Germans had long since lost the initiative on the Eastern front. Hitler's last attempt to re-take the offensive failed with the German loss at the Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943. In December of that year, the Soviets undertook a massive offensive through Eastern Europe.

By mid-1944, the Germans were fighting a desperate rearguard action against the Soviet steamroller. If the western Allies hadn't invaded France when they did, they would have met the Red Army not in the middle of Germany, but at the English Channel. That was the real reason D-Day occurred when it did.

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Old 03-26-2012, 12:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by DACrowe View Post
With the title of this thread I feel like I'm at an exhibit at DisneyWorld.

Except Disney wouldn't have a "If the Nazis won" type horror fantasy going on.

On a side note, if anyone hasn't gone to the Holocaust Museum in D.C. they absolutely must do it.

And with that I've already derailed this thread.
I think you've been watching too much of this.


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Old 03-26-2012, 12:51 AM   #9
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No, because by the time the western Allies finally opened up a second front in June 1944 the Germans had long since lost the initiative on the Eastern front. Hitler's last attempt to re-take the offensive failed with the German loss at the Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943. In December of that year, the Soviets undertook a massive offensive through Eastern Europe.

By mid-1944, the Germans were fighting a desperate rearguard action against the Soviet steamroller. If the western Allies hadn't invaded France when they did, they would have met the Red Army not in the middle of Germany, but at the English Channel. That was the real reason D-Day occurred when it did.
After Pearl Harbor, the Germans needed to keep millions of troops in Western Europe and Northern Africa in anticipation for an American-led invasion. As Operation Torch proved. The invasion of Europe was originally planned for 1942 (Operation Sledgehammer, if I recall). Hell, Torch was the Soviet's idea. They wanted it for that exact reason, so the German armies and air forces had to stay in Western Europe, and fight in Africa.

In any event, they all felt those armies and large air forces in Western Europe could have made a big difference. No America, no invasion to worry about, a million more troops, at your disposal.

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Old 03-26-2012, 01:05 AM   #10
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After Pearl Harbor, the Germans needed to keep millions of troops in Western Europe and Northern Africa in anticipation for an American-led invasion. As Operation Torch proved. The invasion of Europe was originally planned for 1942 (Operation Sledgehammer, if I recall). Hell, Torch was the Soviet's idea. They wanted it for that exact reason, so the German armies and air forces had to stay in Western Europe, and fight in Africa.

In any event, they all felt those armies and large air forces in Western Europe could have made a big difference. No America, no invasion to worry about, a million more troops, at your disposal.
Obviously the Soviet Union would be stronger with the American and British forces opening up a second front against Hitler. Stalin tried repeatedly to get the western Allies to open up a second front before 1944, to no avail.

What I'm saying is that by the time the western Allies actually did invade Normandy, the tide of war in the east had long since turned; the Soviets were clearly on the offensive and it was only a matter of time before Germany crumbled. Of course the western offensive helped, but it was always secondary to the massive conflict in the east.

From The Soviet Experiment by Ronald Grigor Suny, a professor at the University of Chicago:

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British historian John Erickson has written, "Whatever the scale of measurement, the decisive role in defeating the 'Fascist Bloc' was played by the Soviet Union.' Throughout most of the war, the Soviet Army confronted 70 to 75 percent of the German forces, while the rest of the Allies dealt with the other quarter to a third. Even at the time of the Normandy invasion, the western armies met with only 27 of the 81 German divisions on the western front, while the Soviets faced 181 German divisions and a third as many satellite divisions in the East.

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Old 03-26-2012, 01:12 AM   #11
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Well, they couldn't. Not for a lack of trying. They had a 1942 plan and a 1943 plan. They just couldn't get enough people, planes and armor to Britain fast enough.

Having said that, it's quite impressive that so few Germans held off the Western allies as long as they did. In hindsight, they'd probably wish they hadn't. But by your reasoning, would the Soviets have taken Germany by themselves, with no Western allies opening a second front?

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Old 03-26-2012, 02:58 AM   #12
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Default Re: Wars of the Past Thread

I love military history. I have a book on the greatest battles of the past five thousand years, including famous battles, causes, technology at the time and strategies, soldier statistics and casualties and how the aftermath changed the countries involved.

World War 2 was epic, but it's focused on so much that other conflicts get overlooked. I've been on a real World War One kick the last year or so. Read some great history books on it and some good novels like 'All Quiet on the Western Front', 'A Long, Long Way' and Birdsong' and some of Wilfred Owen's and Sassoon's poetry. The stuff about the Christmas truce, conditions in the trenches, the madness resulting from using 20th century killing machines in tandem with dated 19th century strategies, the gas attacks, the primitive dog-fights, Battle of the Somme, some fascinating stuff.

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Old 03-26-2012, 03:00 AM   #13
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We definitely need more movies about the Great War. Problem is, very few young people remember it (beyond it being the big war before WWII), and even less care.

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Old 03-26-2012, 03:04 AM   #14
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Yeah and it doesn't make for a good video-game (Jump the trench, get shot). No parachute drops behind enemy-lines, Normandy beach landings or villains as evil and distinctive as Adolf Hitler (although it had its share of villains). Also, everyone who fought in it is dead.

It's a fascinating conflict though, and actually at the moment I'm more interested in reading about it then seeing the same stuff about World War 2 rehashed over and over again. World War 2 is of course fascinating, but I feel like it's gotten too much exposure since Saving Private Ryan and FPS games became big, to the detriment of other conflicts now being forgotten about.

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Old 03-26-2012, 03:12 AM   #15
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The war in Africa was quite interesting. Lot of riding and shooting. Sieges, naval battles, and even a few dogfights. The Lion of Africa, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck's escapades would make a good movie. Think Rommel on horseback with a sword. And he gave Hitler the finger.

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Old 03-26-2012, 03:16 AM   #16
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I love this quote about Lettow-Vorbeck. From his Wikipedia entry.

"During the 1960s, Charles Miller asked the nephew of a Schutztruppe officer, “I understand that von Lettow told Hitler to go **** himself.” The nephew responded, “That's right, except that I don't think he put it that politely.”

Sounds like a cool cat.

The Red Baron is also a very interesting character from World War One lore.

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Old 03-26-2012, 03:22 AM   #17
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And if someone is obsessed with World War 2 they kinda owe it to themselves to research World War One, since so many seeds of the second conflict were sowed in the first.

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Old 03-26-2012, 08:31 AM   #18
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Do you guys know about the British soldier who had a German soldier in his sights but decided not to shoot him because the Armistice was about to take effect and he saw no point to one more pointless death?

A little over a decade later that German soldier invited him to the Reich Chancellery where they exchanged memories about the war.

Corporal Adolf Hitler.

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Old 03-26-2012, 08:36 AM   #19
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Yeah and it doesn't make for a good video-game (Jump the trench, get shot). No parachute drops behind enemy-lines, Normandy beach landings or villains as evil and distinctive as Adolf Hitler (although it had its share of villains). Also, everyone who fought in it is dead.

It's a fascinating conflict though, and actually at the moment I'm more interested in reading about it then seeing the same stuff about World War 2 rehashed over and over again. World War 2 is of course fascinating, but I feel like it's gotten too much exposure since Saving Private Ryan and FPS games became big, to the detriment of other conflicts now being forgotten about.
All true. WW1 just isn't as "cinematic". No D-day landings, no Pearl Harbor, no Battle of Britain, just a bunch of guys shooting each other across trenches for years on end.

Also, part of why movies like to tell WW2 stories so much is because Hollywood loves Nazis so much as villains. WW2 had a clear villain while WW1 was much more a gray area.

But I agree that understanding what happened in WW1 is indispensable to understanding WW2.

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Old 03-26-2012, 11:34 AM   #20
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I love military history. I have a book on the greatest battles of the past five thousand years, including famous battles, causes, technology at the time and strategies, soldier statistics and casualties and how the aftermath changed the countries involved.

World War 2 was epic, but it's focused on so much that other conflicts get overlooked. I've been on a real World War One kick the last year or so. Read some great history books on it and some good novels like 'All Quiet on the Western Front', 'A Long, Long Way' and Birdsong' and some of Wilfred Owen's and Sassoon's poetry. The stuff about the Christmas truce, conditions in the trenches, the madness resulting from using 20th century killing machines in tandem with dated 19th century strategies, the gas attacks, the primitive dog-fights, Battle of the Somme, some fascinating stuff.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a wonderful novel and kind of the definitive book about losing one's soul in war.

I do agree WWI gets overlooked by storytellers, but that's probably for many reasons. WWI is just so depressing. It's called the "Lost Generation." So, so many in Europe died. An entire generation gone to the horrors of Mustard gas and trench warfare across from Britain to Russia. The more you read of the French-German lines the more depressing it becomes. It also started over geopolitical opportunism after an obscure duke was assassinated and ended in a way that just left the door wide open for the second world war. WWII is much more clearly defined as "good vs. evil" with the Nazis and Empire of Japan being some of the most clearly identifiable bad guys in history. It also ended in a way that prevented another world war.

Add on most of the filmmakers of the last 25 years' fathers fought in WWII and the generation before that either fought in WWII or knew people who had. It is just more satisfying for audiences.

Out of curiosity what did you think of War Horse? It's very 1950s David Lean-styled and I thought really good. I also feel like because it was WWI, not many people cared about the movie.

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Old 03-26-2012, 11:55 AM   #21
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It's interesting that, in many ways, World War 1 saw more major historical events stemming from it than WW2. From the ashes of WW1, you had the fall of 4 major aristocractic empires, the rise of communism, conditions for the rise of fascism, a major leap forward in Japan's modernization and militarism, major moves towards independence for Britain's colonies (Canada, Australia, India, etc.), women's suffrage, America's ascendance into an economic and cultural superpower, etc. I've always felt that World War 1 began in 1914 and ended in 1989.

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Old 03-26-2012, 12:16 PM   #22
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Well the "American Century" arguably began in 1914. The US was not a superpower until the end of WWII, but it became a major international player with that war when before the international stage was the realm of a still very aristocratic Europe. Destroying your continent and killing each other off (twice) tends to end such supremacy while the growing nations of the democratic/capitalistic US and the communist USSR expanded and grew until it became a century where they were the two major players.

I really feel like what we imagine as "The 20th Century" is 1914-2001. It's really hard to tell what the 21st is going to look like now, but the first chapter of the post-9/11 world for both the US and Europe has looked very ugly. But despite what defeatists say, the narrative is not yet written.

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Old 03-26-2012, 01:11 PM   #23
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Presumably America will remain the dominant power until at least the middle of the 21st century. China may become a superpower, but like the Soviet Union, it wasn't built on a stable foundation. It has some major obstacles in its way.

Things will get interesting in the next ten years. The Chinese plan to put a red flag on the moon. That might rile America. A second Cold War may be on the horizon.

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Old 03-26-2012, 01:21 PM   #24
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^America's military supremacy of the world is over after the fiascoes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Never had a military occupation lasted so long and produced so little except debt and death. America's debt maxing out it's GDP next year ensures that the reductions of the number of troops and bases around the world is going to slowly retreat to nothing probably in the next quarter century. The United States will remain an economic power though as the third or fourth largest economy in the world behind China, Japan, and Brazil. China has only been an defensive power of its own territory and has never been an unprovoked invader in its history.

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Old 03-26-2012, 01:23 PM   #25
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Well, they couldn't. Not for a lack of trying. They had a 1942 plan and a 1943 plan. They just couldn't get enough people, planes and armor to Britain fast enough.

Having said that, it's quite impressive that so few Germans held off the Western allies as long as they did. In hindsight, they'd probably wish they hadn't. But by your reasoning, would the Soviets have taken Germany by themselves, with no Western allies opening a second front?
Yes, even without the help of the western Allies, by 1944 it was clear the Soviet advance into Germany was unstoppable.

Stalingrad was the first major setback for the Germans and Kursk put them on the defensive for the rest of the war. The Soviet advance that started in 1943 was the greatest military offensive in history, and even though the Germans fought back tenaciously, the gap in manpower and weaponry was too large for them to stand a serious chance of beating the Russians by that point.

Hitler's entire strategy on the Eastern Front rested on the idea that Germany could quickly defeat the USSR in a short, decisive campaign. As soon as they got bogged down by the Russian winter and the Soviet counteroffensive at the end of 1941, it was clear the German strategy had failed, even though they made more advances the next year. Given the historical conditions, there was no way Hitler's Germany could have won a prolonged war of attrition against Stalin's Russia, given how much stronger the Soviet Army was compared to the tsarist army in the First World War.

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WWII is much more clearly defined as "good vs. evil" with the Nazis and Empire of Japan being some of the most clearly identifiable bad guys in history. It also ended in a way that prevented another world war.
This is debatable. You could argue it ended in a way that ensured the Cold War, because American imperialism and Russian Stalinism represented contradictory political-economic systems with a lot of suspicion on both sides.

Plus, if the Cold War at any point had gone hot (what if the Cuban Missile Crisis turned out differently?), we would look at the Second World War in the same way we look at the First - as setting up an even bigger conflict.
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