Could the Allies have prevented the Fall of France and western Europe?
The answer to this question is far more complex and far-ranging than most people realize. The German victory on the Western Front was secured when the French and British refused to re-arm their armies or put additional funding into their programs until early 1939. Western democracies had craved peace so much they hadn’t put any money into their armies, still using many obsolete tanks and planes when compared to German tanks and planes. The next was a refusal to analyze the previous world war. When the Germans lost, they put together a staff of officers (100 officers) in 1923 to analyze everything that went wrong with the war and devise solutions.
The French flatly refused and the British only analyzed the problems that had been GOOD for the British (IE the first use of tanks and how they could make them better). They didn’t look at any of their failures and this was a huge problem. The Germans knew what was wrong with their strategies and would use those strategies to overcome their sub-par enemies in the 1940 invasion of France. The last part of the preparation that went against the Allies was the Polish war.
Germany was able to see all the flaws in their armored capabilities; what went right, what went wrong, how can they fix them, did certain tanks were better in certain terrain, was the mechanized infantry more effective with or without tanks, etc, etc. They were able to get a battlefield grasp of their Army and correct the mistakes while the British and French still had no idea exactly what these new units (they were very few) were capable of.
The battle itself went pretty much as planned by the Germans; the swing through the Northern countries of Belgium/The Netherlands which the British and French were prepared for. The French strategy was to send its main army in a thrust into Belgium to defend Brussels and help the Belgium Army.
The problem is, they left only a couple of very weak reserve divisions in the Ardennes forest which the Germans capitalized on, steamrolling through with a blitzkrieg and encircling the French and British by their long drive to the coast. Hitler asked the longtime leader in Panzers Heinz Guderian whether a drive to the coast or a drive directly to Paris was the best objective and he told him to the coastline, which would encircle the main armies and allow them to batter them into submissions.
Had it not been for Hitler listening to Goering’s insistence that the Luftwaffe be in charge of Dunkirk and had just attacked from the ground, Britain would have found itself in terrible shape and may have conceded the war right then and there.
The simple answer to this question is yes. Of course, anyone can prevent anything if you give it enough preparation and aid. But the Allies failed horribly in all aspects of preparation and failed to understand what Germany was capable of and that is what led to the downfall of France.
View # 2
I agree with Germany easily taking over western Europe because France and Britain failed to rearm themselves. The reason behind their decision was basically because nobody wanted another war like the last one. The officers as well as the soldiers that witnessed the last war did not want to go through the same devastation. It affected everybody around the globe and so the best thing to do was to try and appease the Germans. Such is the case with the British when Chamberlin was the prime minister. He convinced the others that the only solution was to try and appease Hitler as much as they can.
Yes, you are right about not studying the last world war. Nobody thought to study it as the Germans did. It was another one of their advantages during World War II. The whole idea behind studying it was so that they will not make the same mistakes as the last time and to find out their weaknesses and to rise up to them. The Germans I believe played them from the beginning. Britain and France were aware of the Germans’ increase in military force but ignored it. Thanks to Prime Minister Chamberlain, he still did not take action even after the Germans took over Austria. The blockade against them did not do any good and so Britain still went along with the idea that Germany will not go any further. It took the invasion of Poland for them to join forces with France and declare war on Germany. But by then, Germany was already ahead of the game taking Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Norway, and so forth.
View # 3
I think at this point in time it would have been extremely difficult for the Allies to stop the advance of the Germans through the Ardennes. It had become completely apparent that Hitler’s resolve was very much far-reaching. He himself knew that he needed more than what Germany could offer as a country if his ideals were to be met by all of the surrounding areas around Germany. Therefore he started his conquest of Europe. He started off small with Romania and Czechoslovakia where he met very little resistance, however, it would become apparent that he would need many more resources to keep his war machine moving.
He would find these supplies with both the Czechs and the Romanians in the form of fuel and arms, however, he would need more as well. He would particularly need Ores so that he could create his massive motorized army, along with building up the Luftwaffe. He would find these Ores in Scandanavia, however, France had the Ores also. It became apparent quickly that France was a much better solution to the lack of metals and therefore Germany would need to take it. This would not only be the reason for moving into Western France. The Germans wanted the British to concede. Hitler believed that if he could take the coast along the English Channel that was closest to Great Britain he could launch his pre-emptive attacks that would force the British to capitulate. This of course did not happen. The resolve of the British would soon change.
In Great Britain, at least at first, they were taking a more reserved approach with the German’s. The Prime Minister would constantly make statements that Hitler was sensible and would come around. Not to worry about him because he was just ensuring the survival of his country. Therefore Great Britain led the thought process that would lead the rest of the continent into a sense of false security. Neither the British nor the French built their armies up in preparation even in the face of the build-up in Germany. In other words, if the Germans resolved to build up their army as a Cobra, it would have bit the French and the British in the face. Therefore I don’t think at the time that the Allied Powers would have been able to stop the Germans from moving throughout Western Europe. The Fall of France was subsequently inevitable.
I agree with what you said about Hitler and his drive to achieve his goals. Germany was not able to supply him, especially his armies with everything for the upcoming war so, in order for him to meet those goals, he needed the help of the neighboring countries. In so doing, he invaded countries such as Austria as well as took over Romania because of their oil fields. He gained a whole lot from invading these countries from tanks to weapons, food, personnel, raw materials, and so forth.
Britain and France were both trying to recuperate from the last war. The same goes with the United States which faded back into the shadows after World War I in their own corner away from all the problems in the European countries. It was not until Japan decided to invade them that they finally joined in the war. After WWI, France was not ready for another war. Like Britain, their military forces were not ready to go up against the mighty and organized forces of the Germans. The last war crippled France dramatically as well as their lack of preparation easily led to their fall in 1940.
The Germans were far ahead for the Allies to try and make a stand. They have covered a lot of ground and they have been planning this invasion longer than the Allies. The Germans had the manpower which consisted of well-trained officers and soldiers compared to the Allies who did not possess trained and experienced soldiers ready to go into combat. Some of these soldiers witnessed the last war and they did not want to be a part of another one. As far as equipment is concerned, the Germans outgunned the Allies with both their stockpiles over the years as well as equipment acquired from their successful invasions of the other countries.
View # 4
Message: I think that Operation Barbarossa could have been stalled or even stopped by the Russians. There were many points along the way to the invasion that Stalin and the Red Army could have operated and reacted to the Germans differently. The Germans could have planned logistically and what to do after they went into Russia.
The first mistake that Stalin made was the delivery of goods to the German forces which only made Hitler’s army stronger. The Russians tried to buy their way into the Germans’ favor and this did not work. The Germans had already made plans to invade the Soviet Union and break the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. If Stalin would have been more suspicious of the Germans and trusting of his own intelligence this might have stopped Stalin from sending goods to the Germans.
This brings me to the next point that the Russians could have stopped Operation Barbarossa was Stalin trusting his intelligence and not killing off his most experienced officers. This made the Russian Red Army weaker and the senior officers only worried about what Stalin would do to them if they failed and not on the western front of Russia. Russian officers only being given the maps that German forces were in and not the area where they might have to fall back is another foolish thing that Stalin did to hurt his military on the ground. Russian intelligence would have also told Stalin were to put most of his forces.
When Stalin massed most of the Russian force to the south, this made northern Russia open for attack. The Germans took advantage of the foolish placement of Russian troops. If the Russian military would have been on high alert, the Russian planes might have taken off the ground before the Germans could destroy them where they were parked on the airfields. Also during the first phase of the attack, the Russians lied to the soldiers in the field that the Germans made only minimal advances into the Russian front.
The Germans did not have the logistics in place to sustain a fight where the Russians could fall back. This was the biggest mistake that the Germans did. The German logistics and what they brought to the fight would lead to the reason for their overall failure in the war. The Germans thought that it was going to be easy to break and conquer Russia. So, they only brought the ammunition that was needed to take France. This was the other big mistake for the Germans.
Leading up to Operation Barbarossa the Germans gave the Russians little tips that it was not in favor of becoming allies with them. The Russian leader Stalin was blind throughout most of the build-up of the operation from the Germans. If Stalin would not have killed his most experienced officers and not trusted his intelligence, Operation Barbarossa might not have had the success it had at the beginning.
This sentence sums up how Stalin could have stopped the invasion. “His great purge of the military in the period from 1937 to 1939, his mendacious and dishonest foreign policy, his obdurate overconfidence, and his dismissal of all the warning signs of invasion magnified the extent of the catastrophe that engulfed the Red Army after 22 June 1941.” (MURRAY 2000) If the Germans would have planned their logistics right and had a solid plan on what to do when they broke through deep into Russia, the Germans would have taken Moscow before the winter months
Russia’s number one mistake was supplying the Germans with raw materials per their previous agreement. Stalin I believe did not make a lot of good choices for his country especially the part where he got rid of all his most experienced and well-trained military officers who would have come in handy during the war against Germany. Stalin should have known that something was wrong and amiss when he did not get a reply back from Germany after he contacted them several times. He failed to see Germany’s true intentions after their invasions of other countries such as Romania and Hungary. Flanking Russia was Romania down south so when Germany succeeded in taking over that country, Russia still did not see Germany’s movement towards their way.
Hitler, I believe lost it when he invaded Russia. He wanted to accomplish a lot of things when he made his way towards Russia. Hitler wanted to cover a lot of ground by sending his army to take over Ukraine, Leningrad, Moscow which was unheard of because logistically it was impossible. The logistical officer in charge voiced his concerns but Hitler disregard them because he believed that Russia will be conquered before winter which was not the case. Another major issue at hand with the Russians was the people. Hitler believed that the people will cooperate with them once they get there but his army’s invasion made it even worse. It pushed the already battered and run-down population towards a dictator and his government that they hated so much. What greeted the German army was a rebellious crowd.
View # 5
Message: 1. Could the Allies have prevented the Fall of France and Western Europe?
The Allies may have prevented the fall of France if they had acted well before it was too late. If we put aside the fact that the allies were afraid of war with Germany and look at the ability to wage war on the Germans we could come to the conclusion that WWII was preventable. Germany was poor and owed a huge war debt. The Germans had very little industry and raw materials to develop. Their military forces were growing but were far inferior to the allied forces. The Allies had a guaranteed income from the German payments and could (and should) have used to money to modernize the militaries. But that was not the case. The Allies wanted to forget about war and Germany and focus on building their countries’ economies.
The modernization of the allied military forces would have stood as a deterrent to Germany’s desire to increase her “Lebensraum” or living space. Hitler knew from his dealing with Britain and France that they would not stand up against Germany. (1) The British had the resources to build the military, they just didn’t want to. France could not have stopped the Germans if it had wanted to. National defense spending was minimal. (2) The government officials, most notably, Andre Leon Blum (9 April 1872 – 30 March 1950)(3) were of the opinion that if the Germans invaded France, the government would not need to raise an army as the French citizenry would rise up against the Germans.
In a way, he was partly right as we see from the French Resistance but Blum underestimated the Germans and his own country. For the Soviets, they may have been able to prevent the fall of France but that was counter to their anti-capitalist belief. The fall of France actually served the Soviets’ desire for a socialist world. The Italians may have been a factor if they had not been interested in their own expansionist ideas. If the allies would have taken action before Hitler took Austria, the Germans would not have stood a chance as they were numerically inferior to the allied forces.
I believe that they were not afraid to go to war with Germany. I think that the Allies did not want to start another war or go through it because the last one was still fresh in their minds. It affected everybody around the globe and so they kept appeasing the Germans and stayed out of what they were doing in hopes to avoid another world war. France was in no condition to go head to head with the Germans because they were trying to recuperate from the last one. They took a huge beating as well as the British from the last one.
It is true that Germany was making payments for the devastation from the last war but if one is not able to make the payment then it affected not only the European countries but it also affected the United States too. Such is the case with the United States stock market crash that led to a huge problem with retributions not being made by the Germans to the Allies. Germany took the opportunity to build its forces and its country in preparations for their invasions of other countries for raw materials and resources needed to field their military forces.
There was just too much turmoil going on at the time which was the perfect opportunity for Germany to make their move. Other countries such as the United States, France, and Britain were trying to nurse back their countries from the devastations of World War I. While they were doing that, Germany was slowly rebuilding their armed forces. To the allies, they just did not have the time to think about an upcoming war and they definitely did not have the money to rebuild or stockpile military personnel and equipment.
(1) Williamson Murray, and Allan R. Millett. War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War, 1937-1945. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. Pg 4.
(2) (Murray and Millett 2000) pg 5
(3) Archontology.org. Biography of Blum, Leon. June 26, 2009. http://www.archontology.org/nations/france/france_govt08/blum.php (accessed Jan 10, 2011).
Archontology.org. Biography of Blum, Leon. June 26, 2009. http://www.archontology.org/nations/france/france_govt08/blum.php (accessed Jan 10, 2011).
Murray, Williamson, and Allan R. Millett. War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War, 1937-1945. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.
David Hagen, 10472228