Was Hitler a British Agent...

Non-naval discussions about the Second World War. Military leaders, campaigns, weapons, etc.
Byron Angel
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:49 am

RF wrote:This argument about manpower particulary applied in WW1, as from 1916 onwards it was the British (plus in 1918 the Americans) who kept France in the war.

The manpower problem exists with or without the Maginot Line. What I have been arguing is that the Maginot Line wasn't the best solution to that problem, becuase it tied up too much manpower into fixed position defences.
At the start of WW2 the disparity in manpower was actually less so than that in 1914, for while Germany had a bigger population from digesting Austria, Bohemia and Moravia, Germany was not as heavily armed on the same scale as it was for the launch of the Schlieffen Plan, which involved forces totalling five million men. In 1939/1940 Germany was not mobilised for total war. Poland was invaded with a totally inadequate defence force covering the incomplete Siegfried Line. France would have been in a winning position if its army had been updated and re-equipped/retrained with modern armoured and motorised infantry divisions, together with a stronger air force.

The real problem with France was not so much manpower as defeatism. Andre Maginot built the Line named after him in an attempt to keep the Germans off French soil. It wasn't about attacking the Germans or invading Germany, it was to prevent the destruction of French land by enemy invasion and of the huge manpower losses on the scale of the 1914/18 conflict.

Much the same argument about inadequate manpower and the alleged need for fixed fortifications applied to Germany from 1942 onwards, because it was fighting the combined might of the USSR, USA and the British Empire. Hitler greatly embraced such fortifications - and they did him no good at all, because in having such fortifications the Heer lost one of its biggest assets - its mobility. As Runstedt observed, it simply made whole divisions defending fixed positions sitting targets for Allied firepower.

..... RF, you are all over the landscape with your arguments. The manpower inadequacy issue I raised was the STRATEGIC inference drawn by France when the pre-WW2 difference between the French and German populations was taken into consideration. It is an utterly incontestable fact that the population advantage enjoyed by Germany over France was VERY MUCH greater on the eve of WW2 than it had been on the eve of WW1. That simple and inescapable fact of life is what drove France to build the Maginot Line AS A STRATEGIC MEASURE. France required some means of securing a lengthy border frontage with a minimum number of troops and the ONLY option was the use of heavy fortifications as a force multiplier. I really cannot fathom your fixation about the Maginot Line as demanding an excessive commitment of troops. How many troops do you think it would take to defend 150 miles of frontage against a major offensive thrust? The Maginot defenses took approximately 400,000 men. HOWEVER, half or more of those 400,000 were fully equipped field formations that were immediately committed as maneuver elements against the German offensive. That left approximately 200,000 men (about 15 divisions) to defend a 150 mile front versus Germany plus a small additional increment of other fixed defenses covering the border with Italy in the south.

The other points you mention about poor French doctrine, deficient command and control and communications, outmoded tactics, defeatism, political disunity (one may add a fatally lamed industrial base), etc, etc, etc, are all true. I have already mentioned most of them in previous posts and IMHO they represent the true causes of the French collapse.

You might wish to consult Jacques Benoist-Mechin's "Sixty Days that Shook the West - The Fall of France 1940". I think you would find it illuminating in several respects.

I really think we have exhausted this matter. Enjoy your weekend.


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Karl Heidenreich
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:53 am

I missed this one.

Nope: Hitler was not a British agent.

And yes:

The french are a bunch of losers since June 18th, 1815 forwards to present day pasing by the Sedan, Maginot and Dien Bien Phu aside their treachery of leaving NATO when they were (questionable) needed.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:47 am

Byron Angel wrote: ..... RF, you are all over the landscape with your arguments. The manpower inadequacy issue I raised was the STRATEGIC inference drawn by France when the pre-WW2 difference between the French and German populations was taken into consideration. It is an utterly incontestable fact that the population advantage enjoyed by Germany over France was VERY MUCH greater on the eve of WW2 than it had been on the eve of WW1.
I think that the arguments I have put forward are completely cogent. The Maginot Line was conceived more than ten years before WW2 broke out, years indeed before Hitler came to power. Therefore arguments about the size of Germanys' population compared with France in 1939 are not really relevant to its construction.
You might wish to consult Jacques Benoist-Mechin's "Sixty Days that Shook the West - The Fall of France 1940". I think you would find it illuminating in several respects.
Over the last 30 years I have read a great deal about the fall of France, from a great number of sources, including the one you quote. From those sources I can form my own conclusions. And given the variety of interpretations various authors take it is inevitable that some of their conclusions will be disagreed with just as I may concur with others.
My view is that the French, with their existing population and industrial base, with a doctrine of mobility and development of mechanised forces, together with a modern air force, could have survived the ''cut of the sickle'' attack and fought the Germans to a standstill. Particulary given that in reality the Swiss intelligence service gave the French, Belgians and Dutch a warning on 7 May 1940 that the main thrust of German attack would come through the Ardennes.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:00 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:The french are a bunch of losers since June 18th, 1815 forwards to present day pasing by the Sedan, Maginot and Dien Bien Phu aside their treachery of leaving NATO when they were (questionable) needed.
I think it should be mentioned that some of the Free French army forces had a distinguished record between 1940 and 1945, particulary in north Africa and in the liberation of France itself. The forces under command of de Lattre de Tassigny for example come to mind.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by tommy303 » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:44 pm

I think Koenig and the French Foreign Legion at Bir Hakim deserve honourable mention as well.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:54 am

RF wrote: I think that the arguments I have put forward are completely cogent. The Maginot Line was conceived more than ten years before WW2 broke out, years indeed before Hitler came to power. Therefore arguments about the size of Germanys' population compared with France in 1939 are not really relevant to its construction.
..... I'm sorry, RF, but this is a totally specious argument. Are you really claiming that France did not perceive Germany as a potential threat because a politician named Adolf Hitler was not in power?

My view is that the French, with their existing population and industrial base, with a doctrine of mobility and development of mechanised forces, together with a modern air force, could have survived the ''cut of the sickle'' attack and fought the Germans to a standstill. Particulary given that in reality the Swiss intelligence service gave the French, Belgians and Dutch a warning on 7 May 1940 that the main thrust of German attack would come through the Ardennes.
..... You might possibly be correct, in a theoretical way, had a number of factors and conditions within France been materially different. But, in the end, France unfortunately succumbed to its own peculiar political, social, cultural and industrial circumstances and failed to effectively pursue such a line for its military. Opening the door to such alternate history speculation is ultimately fruitless, as it also admits all sorts of theoretical counter-speculation. One could easily argue that Germany would have waited to declare war until it had fully mobilized both its war industries and its armed forces; or perhaps Hitler might have waited until Germany had developed an A bomb and V2 delivery system - Wildy fanciful, to be sure, but no more speculative than your argument.


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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:16 am

Latin America has not performed very well in military history. Mexico for example. However they beat the french and shot an Emperor.

What the french did well during WWII was because they were saved, given shelter, equipped and given a new chance by the British and USA. We can say even more of the Polish who fought for the allies and saved a lot of trapped airborne troops in Arnhem only to be betrayed at the end of the war. Nope: the french had their chance and they blew it big time and the Germans marched at the Arc in Paris. The french could have never defeated Germany in a million years having been for the Soviet Union and the Western Allies. On the one vs one historic contest they could have not won even WWI, least the WWII.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:55 am

Byron Angel wrote:
RF wrote: I think that the arguments I have put forward are completely cogent. The Maginot Line was conceived more than ten years before WW2 broke out, years indeed before Hitler came to power. Therefore arguments about the size of Germanys' population compared with France in 1939 are not really relevant to its construction.
..... I'm sorry, RF, but this is a totally specious argument. Are you really claiming that France did not perceive Germany as a potential threat because a politician named Adolf Hitler was not in power?
B
I don't think it is specious at all. Germany in the 1920's was seen as a potential (but not immediate) threat in the context that it had invaded France twice in the preceeding 60 years and in the immediate aftermath of a cataclysmic war that had been fought almost entirely on French soil with horrific losses in French manpower and immense damage done to French property, industry and infrastructure. Fear of a Germany reviving as an industrial power and eventually re-emerging as a military power, together with experience of WW1 drove the French to place the ''future western front'' right on to their border with Germany and keep the Germans out. This was done largely before the emergence of national socialism in Germany and the coming to fruition Marshall Fochs' prediction of the twenty year truce.

In fact proper enforcement of the Treaty of Versailles - and this is being said with hindsight - should have been Frances' first defence line, rather than the Maginot fortifications. Had the French used the provisions of that treaty to stop Germany re-arming in the early 1930's, enforced with the same determination they displayed in occupying the Rhineland in the early 1920's then there would have been no conflict in the late 1930's. Unfortunately the problem of France was that it was so exhausted and traumatised from WW1 that it lost the political will to stand up to Germany when it could have done so. Economic depression and the internal political conflict that arose from it made France even more impotent.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:08 am

Byron Angel wrote: ..... You might possibly be correct, in a theoretical way, had a number of factors and conditions within France been materially different. But, in the end, France unfortunately succumbed to its own peculiar political, social, cultural and industrial circumstances and failed to effectively pursue such a line for its military. Opening the door to such alternate history speculation is ultimately fruitless, as it also admits all sorts of theoretical counter-speculation. One could easily argue that Germany would have waited to declare war until it had fully mobilized both its war industries and its armed forces; or perhaps Hitler might have waited until Germany had developed an A bomb and V2 delivery system - Wildy fanciful, to be sure, but no more speculative than your argument.
B
Yes it is speculative, but I think a realistic view. What is clear is that France was not prepared for a modern war in 1939. De Gaulle could see that and said so at the time, but not even he forsaw the complete collapse that happened nine months into that war.

Looking at Mein Kampf, Hitler had contradictory views on France, very much indeed like his contradictory views on Britain. The key objective for Hitler was living space in the east and the conquest of Russia. In itself it didn't directly threaten France - unless the fuhrer decided that after Russia he would ''settle accounts with France.'' Again speculation - but my view, whichever way events in the 1930's unfolded was that France would have done better to have modernised its armed forces and its military doctrines rather than rely on fixed fortifications.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:11 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Latin America has not performed very well in military history. Mexico for example. However they beat the french and shot an Emperor. .
Karl, without wishing to go completely off thread, I would mention that some Latin American countries do have proud and successful military histories - Chile is one country that springs to mind. And when you look at Paraguay - you almost think that it was the Germany of South America.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:29 am

RF wrote:
Byron Angel wrote:
RF wrote: I think that the arguments I have put forward are completely cogent. The Maginot Line was conceived more than ten years before WW2 broke out, years indeed before Hitler came to power. Therefore arguments about the size of Germanys' population compared with France in 1939 are not really relevant to its construction.
..... I'm sorry, RF, but this is a totally specious argument. Are you really claiming that France did not perceive Germany as a potential threat because a politician named Adolf Hitler was not in power?
B
I don't think it is specious at all. Germany in the 1920's was seen as a potential (but not immediate) threat in the context that it had invaded France twice in the preceeding 60 years and in the immediate aftermath of a cataclysmic war that had been fought almost entirely on French soil with horrific losses in French manpower and immense damage done to French property, industry and infrastructure. Fear of a Germany reviving as an industrial power and eventually re-emerging as a military power, together with experience of WW1 drove the French to place the ''future western front'' right on to their border with Germany and keep the Germans out. This was done largely before the emergence of national socialism in Germany and the coming to fruition Marshall Fochs' prediction of the twenty year truce.

In fact proper enforcement of the Treaty of Versailles - and this is being said with hindsight - should have been Frances' first defence line, rather than the Maginot fortifications. Had the French used the provisions of that treaty to stop Germany re-arming in the early 1930's, enforced with the same determination they displayed in occupying the Rhineland in the early 1920's then there would have been no conflict in the late 1930's. Unfortunately the problem of France was that it was so exhausted and traumatised from WW1 that it lost the political will to stand up to Germany when it could have done so. Economic depression and the internal political conflict that arose from it made France even more impotent.

..... If I understand the above correctly, are you arguing that France in the post WW1 period was fearful of a revival of German economic might, worried about German re-militarization, but unconcerned about the large and growing population disparity between Germany and France?

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:37 am

RF wrote:
Byron Angel wrote: ..... You might possibly be correct, in a theoretical way, had a number of factors and conditions within France been materially different. But, in the end, France unfortunately succumbed to its own peculiar political, social, cultural and industrial circumstances and failed to effectively pursue such a line for its military. Opening the door to such alternate history speculation is ultimately fruitless, as it also admits all sorts of theoretical counter-speculation. One could easily argue that Germany would have waited to declare war until it had fully mobilized both its war industries and its armed forces; or perhaps Hitler might have waited until Germany had developed an A bomb and V2 delivery system - Wildy fanciful, to be sure, but no more speculative than your argument.
B
Yes it is speculative, but I think a realistic view. What is clear is that France was not prepared for a modern war in 1939. De Gaulle could see that and said so at the time, but not even he forsaw the complete collapse that happened nine months into that war.

Looking at Mein Kampf, Hitler had contradictory views on France, very much indeed like his contradictory views on Britain. The key objective for Hitler was living space in the east and the conquest of Russia. In itself it didn't directly threaten France - unless the fuhrer decided that after Russia he would ''settle accounts with France.'' Again speculation - but my view, whichever way events in the 1930's unfolded was that France would have done better to have modernised its armed forces and its military doctrines rather than rely on fixed fortifications.

..... You might, as I said, be theoretically right. But it is pure speculation. The likelihood of such a thing occurring was IMO miniscule given the political, social, economic and industrial conditions that prevailed in post-WW1 France.

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:55 am

Byron Angel wrote: ..... If I understand the above correctly, are you arguing that France in the post WW1 period was fearful of a revival of German economic might, worried about German re-militarization, but unconcerned about the large and growing population disparity between Germany and France?
B
I haven't made any comment about the population disparity between France and Germany as this existed post 1870 rather than just post 1918. It was not a new issue, but of course the idea of a bigger population meaning a bigger sized army certainly was relevant then as indeed it was prior to WW1, when France sought to alleviate that disparity by signing up to alliances with Britain and Russia - creating the two front war syndrome that the Germans feared, the genesis of the Schlieffen Plan.
Indeed the population disparity in 1913 was bigger than that of 1929 - part of the France of 1929 was in Germany in 1913 (Alsace-Lorraine) plus the fact that substantial Polish territories in 1929 had been part of Germany pre WW1, together with pockets of territory that Germany lost to Belguim, Denmark and Lithuania.. I use 1929 as the year construction on the Maginot Line commenced.
In 1929 France also had alliances with Belguim, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia specifically intended to contain not just any German territorial expansion but also to contain any expansion on the part of the former WW1 enemy countries of Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria, while French occupation of Syria blocked any threat from Turkey. In 1929 France was pretty secure, even with its smaller population than Germany.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:40 am

RF wrote:
Byron Angel wrote: ..... If I understand the above correctly, are you arguing that France in the post WW1 period was fearful of a revival of German economic might, worried about German re-militarization, but unconcerned about the large and growing population disparity between Germany and France?
B
I haven't made any comment about the population disparity between France and Germany as this existed post 1870 rather than just post 1918. It was not a new issue, but of course the idea of a bigger population meaning a bigger sized army certainly was relevant then as indeed it was prior to WW1, when France sought to alleviate that disparity by signing up to alliances with Britain and Russia - creating the two front war syndrome that the Germans feared, the genesis of the Schlieffen Plan.
Indeed the population disparity in 1913 was bigger than that of 1929 - part of the France of 1929 was in Germany in 1913 (Alsace-Lorraine) plus the fact that substantial Polish territories in 1929 had been part of Germany pre WW1, together with pockets of territory that Germany lost to Belguim, Denmark and Lithuania.. I use 1929 as the year construction on the Maginot Line commenced.
In 1929 France also had alliances with Belguim, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia specifically intended to contain not just any German territorial expansion but also to contain any expansion on the part of the former WW1 enemy countries of Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria, while French occupation of Syria blocked any threat from Turkey. In 1929 France was pretty secure, even with its smaller population than Germany.

Population differential between France and Germany -
Year-------France---------Germany---------Ratio
1911-----41,415,000----65,360,000--------0.634
1921-----39,108,000----60,625,800--------0.645
1929-----40,250,000----64,700,000--------0.622
1936-----41,502,000----67,350,000--------0.616
1940-----40,690,000----70,747,000--------0.575
1941-----39,420,000----71,916,700--------0.548
1942-----39,220,000----72,620,000--------0.540

Note -
> All French figures include the populations of Alsace and Lorraine, including that for 1911.
> German inter-war figures reflect population reductions consequent to lost territories.

As can be seen, with the exception of the sudden decline of German popluation in 1921 due to severing of various territories from the old Reich, the ratio between French and German populations continued upon a steady decline even after WW1.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Pandora » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:24 am

Byron Angel wrote: Population differential between France and Germany -
Year-------France---------Germany---------Ratio
1911-----41,415,000----65,360,000--------0.634
1921-----39,108,000----60,625,800--------0.645
1929-----40,250,000----64,700,000--------0.622
1936-----41,502,000----67,350,000--------0.616
1940-----40,690,000----70,747,000--------0.575
1941-----39,420,000----71,916,700--------0.548
1942-----39,220,000----72,620,000--------0.540
this is interesting Germany population still growing in 1942 despite the loses in the front. do you have data from 1943, 1944 and 1945?

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