Was Hitler a British Agent...

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

Post by RF » Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:44 pm

I haven't forgotten the Swiss. Hitler let Switzerland remain neutral as it was in his and Germanys' financial interest for it to be neutral.
At no stage did the Germans feel it necessary to occupy Switzerland, unlike for example Spain and Sweden, countries which the OKW was directed to plan invasions for, but which were never launched.
The Swiss were well aware of the potential German threat. But their defence was not simply based on static fortifications, it was based on Switzerlands' geography and mountainous terrain. They would have fought not so much a war of static defences but a mass guerilla and mobile war, not too dissimilar from the ideas of mobility that the panzer generals espoused.

After 10 May 1940 there were assaults on pieces of the Maginot Line, but not a full frontal general assault. The small scale attacks done were subsidiary to the main attacks through the Ardennes, indeed the assault on the northern end of the Maginot Line from its rear was only made possible by the Ardennes breakthrough. Most of these actions on the Maginot Line came post Dunkirk and while central France and Paris were falling.

The Belgain fort at Eben Emael was a stand alone fortification originally designed by German engineers and the OKW had the blueprints. Thus its unique weaknesses were identified and exploited, particulary its suitability for paratroop attack.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by ede144 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:52 pm

@RF
I don't think that you are right with your statement:"At no stage did the Germans feel it necessary to occupy Switzerland, unlike for example Spain and Sweden, countries which the OKW was directed to plan invasions for, but which were never launched."
Please refer to Operation Tannenbaumhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tannenbaum
Your other statement:"But their defence was not simply based on static fortifications, it was based on Switzerlands' geography and mountainous terrain" is not correct. The geography and miliz system was based on fortifications. MAYBE THIS LINK http://www.forteresse-st-maurice.ch/deu ... fch1_d.htm WILL GIVE YOU AN IMPRESSION.

Also this statement:"After 10 May 1940 there were assaults on pieces of the Maginot Line, but not a full frontal general assault. The small scale attacks done were subsidiary to the main attacks through the Ardennes, indeed the assault on the northern end of the Maginot Line from its rear was only made possible by the Ardennes breakthrough. Most of these actions on the Maginot Line came post Dunkirk and while central France and Paris were falling."
is disputeble, because I do not know where you could attack the Maginot Line from the back by crossing the river rhine. Or that Saarbrücken is behind the Maginot Line, I'm sure you will get strong opposition if you try to discuss this point with the local people there. For referencehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maginot_Line

I wonder if the Germans had the blue prints of a fort that was built exclusively to stop them from invading Belgium and northern France. It was also part of a system of fortifications. Maybe you want to read some details in wiki : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortified_ ... n_of_Liège. And if not new development of weaponry would have been available, than it would have given the Allieds the time to stop the Wehrmacht at the Albert Canal.

Regards
ede

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:54 am

You are right, I wasn't aware of Operation Tanenbuam, I stand corrected. With respect to the Swiss system of defence I don't think there is any real disagreement beyond semantics.

The attack on the rear of the Maginot Line had nothing to do with ''crossing the Rhine.''
The northern end was attacked in the closing phases of the campaign from its extremity southeastwards from the Ardennes, by virtue of it being outflanked. In Alsace the Maginot Line was finally assaulted from the rear by some of Guderians panzer units, who had broken through on the Somme and driven on to the Swiss border, then turned northeast into the Vosges and Alsace. There they finally met German forces in Colmar and Strasbourg who had crossed the Rhine on 15 June. All that happened right at the end of the campaign.

I don't understand the reference to the position of Saarbrucken as I never mentioned that place.

Possession of the blue prints for Eben Emael is disclosed by Richard Humble in Purnells History of the Second World War, published in the 1970's.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by ede144 » Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:54 pm

Rf
I mentioned Saarbrucken, because it is One point where the Wehrmacht attacked the Maginot line from the east and break successfully through. In the Wikipedia Linkall are mentioned

That there were attacks at the back is correct, but this does Not mean that it was possible to attack thefront and break through
Regards
Ede

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:37 pm

ede144 wrote:@ Byron

The Wehrmacht avoided the Maginot Line in a strategical sense, however the broke through several times within hours at will. Even Wiky mentioned it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maginot_Line
And in addition the Belgian fortress Eben Emael was attacked by Fallschirmjäger and surrendered within hours too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fort_Eben-Emael

So WW II proved that large fortifications are not an effective means of defense anymore. Similar to battleships.

Regards
ede

..... Dear Ede,

I must disagree. Fortress type defensive works are not impregnable, but they require a tremendous amount of time and resources to reduce - consider the resistance of the German (French) fortresses at Brest and Cherbourg and Lorient and other Channel/Atlantic ports; some of these held out through the end of the war because the Allies simply could not afford the assets necessary to capture them. Also the Soviet fortress at Brest-Litovsk, the Japanese Okinawa fortifications, the American fortress of Corregidor. There were very good reasons why the Germans chose to avoid attacking through the Maginot defensive system and accepted the difficult passage through the Ardennes. The German attacks on the Maginot Line only took place after it had been outflanked and cut off from the rear and, most importantly, after the important supporting combat maneuver units, which were supposed to act as the mobile counter-attack elements of the Maginot Line system, had all been withdrawn to suppport the French field armies against the German breakthrough to the north.

This is a very interesting website to visit - http://mysite.verizon.net/vzev1mpx/maginotlineatwar/


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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by ede144 » Sat Sep 01, 2012 7:50 pm

Byron
You probably missed. My point. France build the Maginot line to fight Ww I again but more effective. However they forgot the Schliefen plan. Which doesn' worked because the Belgium Army bought the French time. Basicall the wehrmacht planned the same for 1940., until Guderian suggested To use the Ardennes.
What my point is, is that the money spent for fortifications was wasted, because the Western Allies fought with the doctrine of 1918, whereas the Germns used the new weapons and taktics and the same strategy : outflank the majority of the French Army through Belgiue. This forgot the French when building the MAginot line.
That's the reason why fortications lost there value. Which was buy time.
Regards
Ede

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:32 pm

ede144 wrote:Byron
You probably missed. My point. France build the Maginot line to fight Ww I again but more effective. However they forgot the Schliefen plan. Which doesn' worked because the Belgium Army bought the French time. Basicall the wehrmacht planned the same for 1940., until Guderian suggested To use the Ardennes.
What my point is, is that the money spent for fortifications was wasted, because the Western Allies fought with the doctrine of 1918, whereas the Germns used the new weapons and taktics and the same strategy : outflank the majority of the French Army through Belgiue. This forgot the French when building the MAginot line.
That's the reason why fortications lost there value. Which was buy time.
Regards
Ede

..... Dear Ede,

I was addressing your argument that fortress systems were useless in modern war, i.e. "not an effective means of defence anymore" and that the Germans broke through the Maginot Line "several times within hours at will".

With respect to your above comment that the French had clearly forgotten the lessons of the 1914 Schlieffen Plan, I would again have to disagree. Thr strike through the Ardennes by Germany was certainly an operational surprise, but it was not remotely of a magnitude to alone assure a German success I don't think that the fall of France was really related to any fundamental failure in strategic analysis; they were in very close contact with Belgium and Great Britain in full anticipation of a German thrust through Belgium. The failure of the French army was in not keeping up to date with modern war fighting doctrine. They fielded nearly three thousand tanks, but largely tied them in subordinated penny packets to their infantry formations; France had only just begun to experiment with armored divisions when Germany struck. The German army also held a large advantage in mobile radio field and tactical communications. France also failed to keep pace with Germany in the air, beng out-numbered nearly 3 to 1 in front-line aircraft and even worse with regard to anti-aircraft defence. Close air support was unknown. The artillery arm was very large, but almost completely horse-drawn. The French lost because their armies in the field and the commanders of those forces were unprepared, untrained, and perhaps unmotivated to fight under new rules of modern warfare.

The Maginot Line, on the other hand, sprang from one inescapable fact: France simply could not match the German Army numbers-wise; in 1940 France's population (IIRC) = only about 60pct of Germany's. The Maginot Line concept was at its most essential an effort to economize military manpower. As such, it did its job: it detered the Germans from attacking along it frontage and freed up troops for the maneuver armies in the field.

Strictly my opnion, of course.

Byron

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:22 am

ede144 wrote:Byron
... However they forgot the Schliefen plan. Which doesn' worked because the Belgium Army bought the French time. Basicall the wehrmacht planned the same for 1940., until Guderian suggested To use the Ardennes.
Ede
I'm not clear what is mean't here. Andre Maginot certainly didn't forget the Schlieffen Plan as he originally intended to build the fortifications right along the Belgain frontier as well. However this was before Hitler came to power so there was no imminent threat, Belguim was still allied to France and had its own fortifications, while the French government, faced with a worldwide economic depression, didn't have enough money to build the Maginot Line beyond Luxembourg. So the job was basically only half done.

It wasn't Guderian who proposed Sichelschitt, it was Manstein. Guderian was the Panzegrouppe leader who executed the plan after the fuhrer adopted Mansteins' idea as hi own.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:33 am

Byron Angel wrote: The Maginot Line, on the other hand, sprang from one inescapable fact: France simply could not match the German Army numbers-wise; in 1940 France's population (IIRC) = only about 60pct of Germany's. The Maginot Line concept was at its most essential an effort to economize military manpower. As such, it did its job: it detered the Germans from attacking along it frontage and freed up troops for the maneuver armies in the field.
Strictly my opnion, of course.
Byron
Actually the French on 10 May 1940 had more tanks than the Germans, and heavier ones as well. The crucial difference was in the way the tanks were used.....

I don't think that keeping 400,000 plus troops in the Maginot Line really achieved a freeing up of troops to maneouvre in the field - it tied up instead a large part of what should have been Gamelins strategic reserve and more importantly, wasn't able to deliver a counter-punch into Germany at the same time Germany invaded theLow Countries. Those 400,000 troops essentially were excluded from the crucial battle..... they almost didn't exist.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:06 pm

Actually, the Maginot line did it's job in a roundabout way! The Germans didn't want to attack through it, so they go through Belgium, everyone gets pissed and Germany eventually finds itself at war with the rest of the world and loses. Who did you say didn't learn from WW1?

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:06 pm

RF wrote:
Byron Angel wrote: The Maginot Line, on the other hand, sprang from one inescapable fact: France simply could not match the German Army numbers-wise; in 1940 France's population (IIRC) = only about 60pct of Germany's. The Maginot Line concept was at its most essential an effort to economize military manpower. As such, it did its job: it detered the Germans from attacking along it frontage and freed up troops for the maneuver armies in the field.
Strictly my opnion, of course.
Byron
Actually the French on 10 May 1940 had more tanks than the Germans, and heavier ones as well. The crucial difference was in the way the tanks were used.....

I don't think that keeping 400,000 plus troops in the Maginot Line really achieved a freeing up of troops to maneouvre in the field - it tied up instead a large part of what should have been Gamelins strategic reserve and more importantly, wasn't able to deliver a counter-punch into Germany at the same time Germany invaded theLow Countries. Those 400,000 troops essentially were excluded from the crucial battle..... they almost didn't exist.


There is no dispute that France possessed a tank force superior, at least in numbers and certain technical categories, to that of Germany. My comment, as cited above, was actually directed toward France's manpower problem via a vis Germany. It was this strategic manpower shortage that was one of the fundamental factors which drove the Maginot concept as a force multiplier and manpower economizer. Had the Maginot defences not existed, there actually would have been fewer French forces available to counter the German offensive. The only criticism that might be directed to the Maginot Line in terms of manpower is that the French high command felt compelled to garrison it with first line good quality troops.

Go here - http://www.fsgfort.com/uploads/pdfs/Pub ... 3%20Pb.pdf - for a fine essay on the Maginot Line, from which the following observation is excerpted -

In 1940 the largest and most modern of France’s three
groups of armies, Army Group 1, with most of the
mechanized and armored divisions, stood along the
Belgian frontier awaiting the German Army to repeat its
World War I invasion plan. Many of these divisions would
not have been available had there been no Maginot Line.
Probably, they would have been more equally distributed
with Army Group 2 instead. The French may have manned
the frontier defenses with Germany with more troops than
necessary, but many more field divisions would have been
committed had the Maginot Line not been present because
of the attitude of the French High Command.


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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:51 am

Ersatz Yorck wrote:Actually, the Maginot line did it's job in a roundabout way! The Germans didn't want to attack through it, so they go through Belgium, everyone gets pissed and Germany eventually finds itself at war with the rest of the world and loses. Who did you say didn't learn from WW1?
The Maginot Line was a failure. In 1940 had the British come to terms with Hitler - which could easily have happened - Germany would not have lost. In any case the purpose of the Maginot Line was to keep Frances' territorial integrity intact by keeping the Germans out. It falied on two counts. Not only did the Germans go round it, it ultimately failed the test of frontal assault, and a very limited frontal assault at that.

Arguing that it led to Germanys' defeat in this roundabout way is rather like trying to argue that the Schlieffen Plan ultimately paved the way for Nazi Germany and that was the intent of Alfred von Schlieffen.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:06 am

Byron Angel wrote:
In 1940 the largest and most modern of France’s three
groups of armies, Army Group 1, with most of the
mechanized and armored divisions, stood along the
Belgian frontier awaiting the German Army to repeat its
World War I invasion plan. Many of these divisions would
not have been available had there been no Maginot Line.
Probably, they would have been more equally distributed
with Army Group 2 instead. The French may have manned
the frontier defenses with Germany with more troops than
necessary, but many more field divisions would have been
committed had the Maginot Line not been present because
of the attitude of the French High Command.
B
I disagree with this conclusion on two counts.
Firstly France was a major colonial power with substantial troop numbers available from its empire. That in part would alleviate French military manpower shortages. Also France went to war with British support, in the shape of the BEF. Also it should not be forgotten that France had alliances with Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia, which were allowed to ''wither on the vine'' a major strategic blunder. Had the French backed the Czechs in 1938, Hitler would have fallen.
Secondly the whole concept of the Maginot Line reflected a purely defensive posture. A small army in particular requires mobility to be effective. To be mobile requires a doctrine of attack, and it is particulary here that the French failed. The troops required to man the Maginot Line should instead have been formed into as large a strategic reserve as possible - a mobile armoured strategic reserve designed to fight a war of movement, positioned to the east of Paris so that it can deal with whichever direction the German attack comes from. That is what a French supreme commander with the capabilities of a young Napoleon Bonaparte would have done; De Gualle for one certainly recognised it.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:54 am

RF wrote:
Ersatz Yorck wrote:Actually, the Maginot line did it's job in a roundabout way! The Germans didn't want to attack through it, so they go through Belgium, everyone gets pissed and Germany eventually finds itself at war with the rest of the world and loses. Who did you say didn't learn from WW1?
The Maginot Line was a failure. In 1940 had the British come to terms with Hitler - which could easily have happened - Germany would not have lost. In any case the purpose of the Maginot Line was to keep Frances' territorial integrity intact by keeping the Germans out. It falied on two counts. Not only did the Germans go round it, it ultimately failed the test of frontal assault, and a very limited frontal assault at that.

Arguing that it led to Germanys' defeat in this roundabout way is rather like trying to argue that the Schlieffen Plan ultimately paved the way for Nazi Germany and that was the intent of Alfred von Schlieffen.
I admit I was stretching the point. However, I didn't say that was its intent. It certainly did not succeed the way its designers intended, but it did make the enemy act to avoid it, and those actions did have consequences. Granted the invasion of Belgium in WW2 did not have the same political effect as in WW1, but it did confirm the picture of Nazi Germany as a bully invading everyone in reach.

As for the frontal attacks, that was when the line had been stripped of its mobile reserves, nor did the Germans break through easily anywhere. The attacks were costly and in many cases led to failure.

I am not saying the Maginot line was a great invention, it was definitely fighting the last war in a better way, and the resources spent could have been put to better use, but it did have its effect, and just dismissing it as utter failure is IMHO too simplistic.

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:58 am

RF wrote:
Byron Angel wrote:
In 1940 the largest and most modern of France’s three
groups of armies, Army Group 1, with most of the
mechanized and armored divisions, stood along the
Belgian frontier awaiting the German Army to repeat its
World War I invasion plan. Many of these divisions would
not have been available had there been no Maginot Line.
Probably, they would have been more equally distributed
with Army Group 2 instead. The French may have manned
the frontier defenses with Germany with more troops than
necessary, but many more field divisions would have been
committed had the Maginot Line not been present because
of the attitude of the French High Command.
B
I disagree with this conclusion on two counts.
Firstly France was a major colonial power with substantial troop numbers available from its empire. That in part would alleviate French military manpower shortages. Also France went to war with British support, in the shape of the BEF. Also it should not be forgotten that France had alliances with Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia, which were allowed to ''wither on the vine'' a major strategic blunder. Had the French backed the Czechs in 1938, Hitler would have fallen.
Secondly the whole concept of the Maginot Line reflected a purely defensive posture. A small army in particular requires mobility to be effective. To be mobile requires a doctrine of attack, and it is particulary here that the French failed. The troops required to man the Maginot Line should instead have been formed into as large a strategic reserve as possible - a mobile armoured strategic reserve designed to fight a war of movement, positioned to the east of Paris so that it can deal with whichever direction the German attack comes from. That is what a French supreme commander with the capabilities of a young Napoleon Bonaparte would have done; De Gualle for one certainly recognised it.

..... British and French colonial troop support was provided to France in any case; their participation was never conditional upon the existence or non-existence of the Maginot Line. Your argument that the troops commited to occupy the Maginot Line defenses would have made a greater operational contribution as a maneuvering field army runs directly counter to the conclusions drawn by the French high command and requires some explanation on your part of exactly how the lengthy stretch of Franco-German border from Luxembourg to Switzerland was to have been defended. As it was, about half the troops committed to the Maginot defenses were in fact pulled out and committed to the maneuver battle in the north. Had the Maginot Line not existed, France would have gained perhaps an additonal 200,000 troops - about 18-20 divisions, but would also have been saddled with the need to defend about 150 miles of Franco-German border. To my mind, the troop versus frontage math simply does not work in terms of a coherent national defense plan.

Had Czechoslovakia and Poland not fallen to Hitler there would have been no invasion of France. Her other allies were simply too few, weak and too distant to offer any assistance beyond diplomatic protests.

Napoleon defended France in 1814 against 2:1 odds. He was magnificent, but he lost.


B

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