Well I’ve written about the revolutionary war, the constitution, now it’s time to gore another sacred cow: WW2.
I’m assuming you know the basics of Nazi Germany in world war 2, so this will just be a sheet making all the case that needs to be made.
Germany in World War 2:
The economic ideology of Nazi Germany was similar to that of the US at the time and today. The German government was larger as a percentage of GDP, but the basic idea of fascism - the corporate state - was in full bloom in the United States. The idea was to combine industry with government - high taxes, high subsidies, and high regulations. It was NOT a clash of ideologies in the main, it was a clash between the interest of states.
The Nazi Economic policies were disastrous, nominal wages rose but real wages fell under Hitler.
German invasions of various states:
- Austria: Austrians volunteered for the German Army at a rate similar to the rest of Germany. German troops were welcomed into Austria, and Hitler was from Austria. Hardly an invasion at all.
- Poland: The Polish Government reapportioned land, denied employment to the Germans in Poland. The easiest way to solve the problem would be to allow Germans in Poland back into Germany, but instead it was used as an excuse to invade Poland.
- Sudatenland: Land and wealth redistribution schemes favored Czechs over the German Minority. The seizure of the Sudatenland, presupposing the validity of “ethnic groups”, was valid. There were about 4 million Germans in the Sudatenland. In comparison, there were about 6.6 million Germans in Austria. This was a significant German population.
- Czech Republic: Simple act of aggression, seizing the remainder of Czech. Slovakia was not seized. Bohemia and Moravia had been under Holy Roman, Austrian and German dominion as far as can be remembered. Today it appears barbaric since the Czech have for so long been a distinct people.
- Norway: A great deal of iron ore from Sweden passed through the port of Narvik. British warships were using Norwegian ports, to the exclusion of German warships, while Britain and Germany were at war. At any point Norway could have shut off the spigot. That is, Germany could have been losing the war against Britain and France, and then Norway could have shut off Narvik, but Germany would have been powerless to invade Norway in response.
The battle of Norway should really be called the battle of Narvik, since that was what it was about. Many were puzzled as to why the British sent troops to Norway after it was clearly too late to stop them from seizing most of the populated areas. The British kept sending troops, and the Germans kept their foot on the gas until Narvik was captured.
Because Norway was not neutral, the attack on Norway get my *relative endorsement*. Remember, I oppose states per se, but given the states, the German invasion of Norway was not an act of aggression.
The invasion of Norway was a stretch of German resources, and no more would have been invaded without cause than Spain or Turkey (or Yugoslavia had Italy not invaded).
- Denmark: The invasion of Denmark was a prerequisite for the successful invasion of Norway. The Nazis did not control the domestic affairs of Denmark, and the Danish government surrendered in two hours of the invasion. The German occupation allowed the Danish government to function at first, but later on in response to increasing Danish resistance, the Germans took direct control and attempted to seize the Jews, who luckily escaped to Sweden.
- France: Declared war on Germany
- Holland: More Dutch soldiers joined the German army than participated in the resistance. Given British fanagling in Norway, and that Holland was directly situated in a prime position next to the Ruhr and the north sea ports, the invasion of Holland was strategically understandable.
Remember that Hitler didn’t know how successful the invasion of France would be:
Both armies had 3.3 million men
The Germans had more aircraft, the French had more tanks and artillery
The success of the attack through the Ardennes wasn’t known entirely
If the war in France led to a stalemate like that which occurred in 1915, then a British co-opting of Holland would facilitate attacks against the Ruhr and north sea ports. If that occurred and British troops started being moved from France to a now-allied Holland, the British would be at a tactical advantage, because from Holland they could attack EITHER the Ruhr or north sea ports, and the Germans would have to at least in part split their forces to defend both critical points, while the British only had to defend the portion of Holland where all the people were. This also would have brought the war to German soil.
Even if the Germans had defeated France without invading Holland in 1940, they would have invaded Holland eventually because they went to war with the USSR and couldn’t have Holland serve as a launch-pad then either.
- Belgium: On the way to France, same problems as with Holland.
- Greece: Italy invaded Greece from Albania, but was unable to conquer Greece. Greece wasn’t able to push Italy out of Albania or invade Italy, but Greece was now at war with the Axis, and was in bombing range of the Romanian oil fields for British bombers. Peace with Greece would have been like peace with Holland, that is Greece was apt to now align with Britain if Germany became overstretched. And because Germany was unwilling to break off the alliance with Italy, they had to invade Greece.
- Yugoslavia: Yugoslavia was dominated by Serbia. The public of Yugoslavia was anti-axis and pro-USSR. In world war 1 Russia used Serbia to cause problems and divert resources. That is in order to be safe the Austro-Hungarian Empire had to spend more resources on the war with Serbia than the Serbians mustered against Austria, and this was while Austria was fighting a war with Russia. A similar thing could have been done during Germany’s war with the USSR.
Invading Yugoslavia allowed the Germans to knock them out independently and to focus on the USSR.
It is better to fight one army of one million men, then another army of one million men, than it is to fight both armies at once. Or in this case one army of half a million men, and then an army of 10 million men, than to fight both at once.
On March 25 1941, the Yugoslav Regent Paul Kadadordavic agreed to join the Axis with Italy, Germany, Japan, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Finland. This was unpopular in Yugoslavia, and he was replaced by Peter II on March 27. Peter II maintained the alliance with the Axis, but it was clear that Yugoslavia was none too enthused.
During world war 1, Italy was originally allied to Germany and Austria-Hungary, but later joined the British, French and Americans. German planners were cognizant of fair-weather allies.
I am not giving my endorsement of all of these invasions, I am explaining the rationale for each invasion. Remember invasions cost lives, equipment, fuel, ammo and popular-ideological support within and without Germany. War is expensive, Germany had limited resources, and Hitler wasn’t just invading places precipitously.
- USSR: As bad as Stalin’s purges were and meddling was, the reason for German early success in the USSR was surprise. When looking at the USSR, there were two real avenues to win: cut off the north, and cut off the south. Cutting off the ports in Karelia (north Russia next to Finland) Archangelsk and Murmansk would prevent war material from coming in from the US. Seizing the oil fields in the Caucasus would cut the USSR off from their main source of oil. Neither of these critical points were taken.
Moscow was not critical. Many thought that the war would be over if the Germany captured Moscow, and I have no idea how anyone could think this. The war in Russia didn’t end when Napoleon captured Moscow, and the Soviets were willing to relocate entire industries away from the German invasion. The initial German invasion was a failure, and all of that land captured had to be, at least partially, controlled by the German military government, which cost more than the land was worth.
The only two exceptions would be the Donestk basin which had excellent mining facilities and the general farmland area between Kiev and the Crimea. Perhaps you could say that those areas provided more value than the troop cost of suppression, but that didn’t help much in the war with the USSR because minerals were not the limiting factor in German offenses, petrol was, and while additional surplus food production was definitely useful given the closing of imports by the British fleet, it was not critically valuable.
And all of this happened without any US intervention, except the shipment of supplies which was I do not believe was critical:
The war was in doubt between June 1941 to February 1943, so lets be generous and say for 20 months. Between 1941 and 1943, USSR GDP averaged a GDP of $313 billion, and my best guess for USSR GDP during the months that the war was in doubt is $522 billion. (Though this is misleading, as the USSR was outproducing Nazi Germany even when they had a lower GDP.)
The US gave the USSR $11.3 billion over the entire 45 months during the war. My best guess is that $5 billion worth of material was given during the months the war was in doubt. This would be less than 1% of USSR GDP. I don’t like using GDP for anything in general, but in this case it gives us some idea of how much was produced and how much the lend-lease program really did.
Japan was allied to Germany, but did not declare war on the USSR. On December 7 Japan attacked the US, and offered to attack the USSR if Germany declared war on the US. Given that the initial thrust into the USSR had failed and the German army was practically immobilized by the winter, Hitler was looking for a way to apply immediate pressure to the USSR before they recovered, and a Japanese attack on Vladivostok and thrusts across Siberia could do that.
While Japanese ground forces, as far as a war with the USSR was concerned didn’t have any tanks, they had excellent infantry, superior aircraft and a navy that could assist in coastal operations. And once Vladivostok et al was taken, the push into Siberia would be over area with minimal infrastructure in which large armored forces would be of dubious value.
But Japan did not invade the USSR, and it makes sense for Japan: if they defeated the USSR, Germany was in position to take the good stuff in Russia while Japan would get Siberia, and then there would be a single state: Nazi-Germany / USSR, which would be the most powerful state in the world, right on their border.
The second offensive toward Stalingrad failed. Stalingrad was also not as close of a fight as is portrayed, because the battle of Stalingrad was really the battle of the Caucasus oil fields. Capturing Stalingrad would have prevented Soviet reinforcement of the caucasus. The city itself wasn’t very valuable, nor was the territory captured in the push from Donetsk very valuable.
And even if the Germans captured Stalingrad and there were no Soviet forces so close in vicinity as to have the same effect as being in Stalingrad, the German army would still have to have enough power left to drive into the Caucasus and capture the oil fields, which were in very mountainous and defensible terrain. This is because the Germans already sent out an army fitted to fight in the mountains, and that army was unable to capture the oil fields.
But the Germans lost at Stalingrad, and that was the end of it.
In Europe there were three problems occurring between 1939 and 1945:
1. The German State murdering selected groups of people
2. Combat deaths
3. State control of economies
I am going to be America-centric:
If Roosevelt wanted to save the lives of minorities, the easiest way would be to open borders and offer to accept all of the peoples Hitler wanted to exterminate. This would have been useful for Hitler to purge the peoples he wanted without having to kill them quasi-secretly with the death camps (that took resources). Americans didn’t even have to KNOW what was going on in central europe, they just had to open their borders and support freedom.
But because of restrictive immigration policies, those 11 million had to die, locked in Europe with a nazi beast which tore them to pieces. All of the civilians Hitler wanted to exterminate in the USSR could have been shipped to America, and this promise to not kill but deport all “undesirables” could have been made in exchange for the US not directly declaring war on Germany, or more realistically supporting British involvement. But the labor unions opposed immigration.
The US didn’t deploy any ground forces against the Axis in Europe until November 8, 1942 in Morocco. The battle of El Alemein, which gave the British the advantage in North Africa in their own right, ended on November 5, 1942. The Battle of Stalingrad ended on February 2, 1943, only 4 months after the US troops arrived in North Africa.
The battle of Kasserine Pass, in which the American forces where eaten alive by a smaller German force, was fought between February 19 and 25, 1943. By the time Americans started to have an impact on the war, the Germans had already been contained by the British and Soviets at Stalingrad and El Alemein.
At the height of their power in 1941, the Germans were unable to invade Britain across the English channel. The idea that they would be able to cross the atlantic and invade America after 1943 is transparently laughable. That was all propaganda.
The Americans were not decisive in preventing a German victory. But I will assert that they were decisive in unnecessarily prolonging the war.
The situation in February 1943 for Germany was this:
- The Soviet Union was outproducing Germany. Even without US intervention, time was not on Germany’s side. The US intervention certainly accelerated this dynamic, but the notion that Germany was winning otherwise is a myth.
- Germany had a large “empire” full of partisans and resistance fighters that took resources to suppress: France (41m), Poland (35m), occupied Ukraine (~25m), Yugoslavia (15m), Czech and Slovakia (15m), Belarus (~10m), Holland (8.7m) and Belgium (8.3m), The Baltic States (5m), Denmark (3.7m) and Norway (2.9m). Granted the Germans didn’t use their best troops or the latest equipment to suppress these areas, it still took men and supplies.
- Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria were fair-weather allies that could (and did eventually) switch sides at any opportune moment. Romania did this in August of 1944, and the German army later had to take direct control of the Italian and Hungarian governments to prevent them from surrendering. It was more of a coalition than a true alliance.
- On paper the combined manpower of these states is impressive. In the field they were just fodder.
- There was an oil / rubber shortage, the USSR and British Empire surrounded and cut off the continent from the rest of the world.
~550K German civilians were killed in the bombing raids over Germany, bombing raids that were later determined to have little impact on war production. It was just slaughter, an atrocity. Stategic bomber pilots in WW2 were not shortening the war or lowering German production, they were just killing people who weren’t able to serve as soldiers.
On January 24, 1943 (the outcome of the battle of Stalingrad was pretty much decided by then) in Casablanca Roosevelt demanded unconditional surrender on the part of Germany. This was opposed by both Stalin and Churchill. This demand for unconditional surrender was used by the German government as a propaganda tool to fight long past the point where victory or even an acceptable peace was possible.
Given the response to what Germany did in world war 1 (versailles), the German government could only imagine what would be done to them this time. Roosevelt’s call for unconditional surrender confirmed this fear. German generals who knew about the Holocaust could only imagine calls for retaliation in kind, and had all the incentive in the world to fight to the end. German troops were fighting after the Rhineland was taken, and fanatics where fighting in the hills of Bavaria and Austria after the surrender. Hitler ordered a scorched earth policy in Germany, which given the fear that the Americans would destroy Germany anyway wasn’t completely irrational.
In Michael Balfour’s article in International affairs, “Another Look at ‘Unconditional Surrender’”, he wrote:
“… those Germans-and particularly those German generals-who might have been ready to throw Hitler over, and were in a position to do so, were discouraged from making the attempt by their inability to extract from the Allies any sort of assurance that such action would improve the treatment meted out to their country.”
From the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, a German Language Swiss newspaper:
“So far, the Allies have not offered the opposition any serious encouragement. On the contrary, they have again and again welded together the people and the Nazis by statements published, either out of indifference or with a purpose. To take a recent example, the Morgenthau plan gave Dr. Goebbels the best possible chance. He was able to prove to his countrymen, in black and white, that the enemy planned the enslavement of Germany. The conviction that Germany had nothing to expect from defeat but oppression and exploitation still prevails, and that accounts for the fact that the Germans continue to fight. It is not a question of a regime, but of the homeland itself, and to save that, every German is bound to obey the call, whether he be Nazi or member of the opposition.”
The Morgenthau Plan for Germany was to deport all scientists and engineers from Germany to other countries and turn Germany into an agrarian state with no heavy industry. American public opposition caused Roosevelt to shut up about it.
Early in the occupation, while there were still many nazi fanatics fighting a guerilla war against the Americans, Hoover was implementing the Morgenthau plan. But it was difficult to uproot industry and people, there was little political will to do so, and the recognition of the Soviet Union as the prime enemy resulted in a change to the Marshall Plan, which is credited to the German postwar “economic miracle”.
A bit of a tangent, but the reason west Germany did so well was that the Germans resisted the occupiers so much, and it was difficult to collect taxes or impose wage and price controls or any licensing or regulations. The result was that Germany was in a de facto relatively free market for the short period of time in which the boom occurred. Once the state regained it’s footing, the taxes and controls were re-imposed and the boom promptly ended.
So what would I have the US state do?
1. Open borders. Hitler wanted to purge undesirables, and this was known before the extent of the savagery was known. I know there is a real debate on the numbers of civilians exterminated in the death camps (and that debate is relevant, which I will explain) but at any rate the course of action is the same: provide a refuge. Let them in.
2. Instead of issuing an ultimatum of unconditional surrender, offer Hitler conditional peace terms in February of 1943.
Roll back the occupation of France and Belgium. That is, allow German military forces in place, but give the German Government no control over the economic affairs of the citizens in those areas. Make a 20-year phase-out of the occupation of those places.
Immediate withdrawls from Norway, Denmark and Holland on the condition that those states remain neutral (which Norway was not).
Break up Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania from the USSR. Break up Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia from Yugoslavia. Break up Czech and Slovakia from Germany.
Make arms balance agreements between Germany, Britain and the USSR, recognizing the precarious geographic position Germany is in. Breaking Austria from Germany would not be in the tradespace.
Doing both of these things would have not only saved lives from the death camps and by shortening the war, but would have prevented the whole iron curtain scenario. Racism was already becoming more stigmatized by the 1940’s, by the 1970’s the Nazi ideology would be at odds with the majority of Germans, and by the 2000’s positively despised.
1. Nazi Germany would not have taken over europe if the US did not intervene.
2. Closed US borders caused many unnecessary deaths
3. The US bombing campaign caused ~550k deaths with no appreacable shortening of the war
4. US interference lengthened the war and created the Iron Curtain
Therefore, from any point of analysis, be it economic efficiency, individual freedom, or saving lives, the US should not have gone to war with Germany in world war 2.
Population in 1939:
Germany-Austria-Sudaten: 80.2 million
Switzerland: 4.2 million
Hungary: 9.1 million
Romania: 19.9 million
Italy: 44.3 million
Bulgaria: 6.4 million
Poland: 34.8 million
Czech and Slovakia: 15.3 million
Yugoslavia: 15.4 million
Greece: 7.2 million
USSR: 168.5 million
USA: 131 million
Britain: 47.7 million
France: 41.7 million
Belgium: 8.3 million
Holland: 8.7 million
Denmark: 3.8 million
Sweden: 6.3 million
Norway: 2.9 million
Finland: 3.7 million
Lithuania: 2.6 million
Estonia: 1.1 million
Latvia: 2 million
In February 1943, Germany had a population of ~80 million, Italy a population of ~44 million, and their other allies in Europe had a population of around 39 million. This totals 163 million.
The Axis states were occupying an area that had 143.8 million people plus however many were occupied in the USSR, which I estimate was about 40 million, so they were trying to suppress 183.8 million people.
They were doing this while at war with Britain (47.7 million), Canada (11.2 million) and the USSR (128 million given the land lost during the invasion), which totals ~187 million. I will presume the resource equivalent of Australia and India were focused on the war against Japan.
If we presume Canada and the UK were as militarily effective man-for-man as the Germans, and there were 59 million of them vs. 80 million Germans. This leaves us with the equivalent of 21 million Germans in surplus. Let us further presume the Finns are as militarily effective as Germans, giving us 24.7 million “Germans”.
If we presume the USSR was as militarily effective man-for-man as the Italians, Hungarians, Romanians and Bulgarians, and there are 83 million non-German Axis vs. 128 million Soviets, this leaves us with 45 million surplus Soviets. So it’s 24.7 million surplus Germans vs. 45 million surplus Soviets.
In this hypermodal analysis, the war appears roughly equal, but this is misleading. By 1942 Soviet Weaponry had advanced while that of the German allies did not, and so Soviet troops, man-for-man, were superior to the German allies, though I would not say as effective as the Germans themselves, and the German allies, as stated before, were ready to crack.
And those 187 million people which took resources to occupy, what did they produce? Maybe munitions, a few volunteers.
The Axis forces had more oil shortages than the British who had the Persian Gulf and the Soviets who had the Caucasus. The German drive to the Caucasus was stopped at Stalingrad, and the drive to the Suez canal and Persian Gulf was stopped at El Alemein.
Now I am not going to make any case about the Holocaust, I’m in enough hot water saying what I have already said throughout this book. But I stated before that the bombing campaign over Germany caused ~550k German deaths directly, and we can only estimate how many total deaths were caused by American intervention. If we presume than Hitler had 11 million people killed, that makes it seem like a war as close to a battle between “good and evil” as you can get.
But if we presume that the Nazis only killed 250,000 people in the various labor and death camps, then that opens the prospect of the American intervention causing more deaths than the Nazi death camps. THAT is why the debate over the Holocaust is relevant. It’s not about making the Nazis out to be heroes. But it definitely would take a big bite out of Americanist mythology and cause people to take a more critical look at everything else that was done during that general era.
When sharing this writing to other people, even after reading it, they will respond, “but Nazi Germany declared war on the US.” At first I thought it was only a few dolts who were saying that, but then more people kept bringing this “point” up. I was stunned.
Hitler declared war on the US because he wanted Japan to attack the USSR. When Japan did not attack the USSR, Hitler found himself at war with the US, which wasn’t something Hitler wanted just for the heck of it. The US didn’t have to actually send troops over to Europe, and the unconditional surrender doctrine prolonged the war.
If we remove the militarism, and remove the persecution of various untouchables by letting them leave Germany, Nazi Germany looks a lot like Germany today. Remember the Nazi Party was popular because of the military victories. In 1943, when they started losing, they may have been unpopular but Roosevelt’s call for unconditional surrender made the war no longer about the Nazi regime but about Germany itself.