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 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:57 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
. 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.
Well, I did think that my narrative about a mobile armoured strategic reserve, based on a flexible defence in depth, had already provided the explanation you seek. Of course it ran counter to the French high command doctrines; as explained their mode was defensive, whereas my proposal is based on attack.
The geography of the Franco-German border of 1939 favours the French over the Germans, insofar as the Rhine is crossable and thus not as much a natural barrier as it is in Holland. In 1914 the position of the border favoured the Germans more, but even here the French attacks gained territory, indeed the only part of Germany that was put under Allied occupation during WW1. In September 1939 a mobile force could have invaded the Rhineland Palatinate from Lorraine, and also cross the Rhine into Bade-Baden fairly easily because the German forces were in Poland.

Napoleon defended France in 1814 against 2:1 odds. He was magnificent, but he lost.
He only just lost - and he was far from magnificent in doing so. The Napoleon who had fought at Austerlitz would have won at Waterloo....
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by ede144 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:04 pm

RF wrote:
ede144 wrote:Byron

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.
You are right, one should check with the sources before writhing here. :D

Regards
ede

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by ede144 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:12 pm

RF wrote: 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.
This I can easily agree. The troops sitting in the Maginot line could not engage the German troops. They had to wait and basically the Germans just did small attacks to keep them were they are, except the handful attacks where they broke through with specialized Pioniers.

Ironically the French invented what Guderian teached the Germans and demonstrated in superb strokes.

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ede

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by tommy303 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:23 pm

I thought the credit went to Major General John Frederick Charles Fuller with his plan 1919 for an armoured breathrough in classic Blitzkrieg fashion. Plan 1919 became the blueprint for Guderian's plans, with suitable modifications.

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:45 am

tommy303 wrote:I thought the credit went to Major General John Frederick Charles Fuller with his plan 1919 for an armoured breathrough in classic Blitzkrieg fashion. Plan 1919 became the blueprint for Guderian's plans, with suitable modifications.
No question that the writings of Fuller and Hart were influential, but the basic foundations of "Blitzkrieg" stem from German "Stosstruppen" concepts evolved in WW1.

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:28 am

ede144 wrote:
RF wrote: 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.
This I can easily agree. The troops sitting in the Maginot line could not engage the German troops. They had to wait and basically the Germans just did small attacks to keep them were they are, except the handful attacks where they broke through with specialized Pioniers.

Ironically the French invented what Guderian teached the Germans and demonstrated in superb strokes.

Regards
ede

Addressed to RF and ede -

This argument is dangerously reliant upon the assumption that, if the Maginot Line defences did not exist, the Germans would politely have NOT sought to attack in those areas. At least half the 400,000 men originally assigned to the Maginot defenses were in fact immediately withdrawn from their Maginot positions and actively took part in the field battle, where they were defeated along with the rest of the French forces facing the German thrust through the Ardennes. So, right off the bat, we are not talking about 400,000 men available to wreak havoc upon the Germans. The remaining 200,000 men in the static positions (some of them facing Italy, let's recall), totalling perhaps 15 divisions would have been responsible to cover 150 miles or more of Franco-German border and the important economic areas of Lorraine and northern France which lay behind - about one regiment/brigade per five miles of frontage assuming no operational reserve whatsoever being held in hand. Attacking with these Maginot troops into Germany is a nice but unconvincing theory. The French tried something akin to that in 1914, failed utterly against German reservists fighting from defensive fortifications and ruined a considerable number of the pre-war elite formations of the French Army in the process. It is all very nice to talk about forming a strategic mechanized strike force, etc, but the inescapable fact of the matter is that it would not have been strong enough to do anything meaningful, while the price of the attempt would have been the total denuding of French defenses along the German border.

Where is the Rhine easily "crossable"? The Allies later in WW2, with far superior numbers and equipment, had to undertake major army level operations in order to pass that barrier. IMO, it would have been a feat indeed for the French to even reach the banks of the Rhine before the German victory parade in Paris.

RF - I utterly and categorically disagree with your characterization of Napoleon in 1814. The French Army of 1814 was a barely functioning, ill supplied, rag-tag collection of boys, old men, convalescents and survivors of the Russian and Leipzig disasters that was NOTHING remotely akin to the splendid Grand Army that Napoleon had commanded at Austerlitz. What Napoleon achieved with these remnants against massive odds was most impressive, even in defeat.


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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:30 am

ede144 wrote:
RF wrote:
ede144 wrote:Byron

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.
You are right, one should check with the sources before writhing here. :D

Regards
ede

I think if you check the posts in question, it was not I who made that particular comment.

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:51 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
tommy303 wrote: the credit went to Major General John Frederick Charles Fuller with his plan 1919 for an armoured breathrough in classic Blitzkrieg fashion. Plan 1919 became the blueprint for Guderian's plans, with suitable modifications.
No question that the writings of Fuller and Hart were influential, but the basic foundations of "Blitzkrieg" stem from German "Stosstruppen" concepts evolved in WW1.
Byron
Both quotes here are right, however it should be noted that the German stormtroop attacks of 1918 were deficient in one aspect - the use of tanks - and it was the use of tanks that Guderian proposed for blitzkrieg.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:03 pm

Byron Angel wrote: This argument is dangerously reliant upon the assumption that, if the Maginot Line defences did not exist, the Germans would politely have NOT sought to attack in those areas.
This isn't what I was arguing. In 1870 the Germans (Prussians) invaded through Lorraine, and in the absence of a Maginot Line no doubt would have done so in 1940, where the French could have met and blocked them.

With respect to 1914, as I have already commented the border then was far more favourable to the Germans and the French Plan 28 largely failed, principally because the wrong tactics were applied by the attacking French.
Where is the Rhine easily "crossable"? The Allies later in WW2, with far superior numbers and equipment, had to undertake major army level operations in order to pass that barrier. IMO, it would have been a feat indeed for the French to even reach the banks of the Rhine before the German victory parade in Paris.
You are confusing the Rhine crossings in Holland with crossing the Rhine in Alsace. On 15 June 1940 Army group C crossed the Rhine adjacent to Strasbourg and occuppied that city and Colmar with little French resistance. And in late March/April 1945 US and French forces crossed the Rhine from Alsace into Baden-Baden and smashed their way straight through the Siegfried Line.
RF - I utterly and categorically disagree with your characterization of Napoleon in 1814. The French Army of 1814 was a barely functioning, ill supplied, rag-tag collection of boys, old men, convalescents and survivors of the Russian and Leipzig disasters that was NOTHING remotely akin to the splendid Grand Army that Napoleon had commanded at Austerlitz. What Napoleon achieved with these remnants against massive odds was most impressive, even in defeat.B
We are clearly at cross purposes here. I was referring to 1815 - one year later - and the French Army leading up to the Battle of Waterloo.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:54 am

RF wrote:
This isn't what I was arguing. In 1870 the Germans (Prussians) invaded through Lorraine, and in the absence of a Maginot Line no doubt would have done so in 1940, where the French could have met and blocked them.
With all due respect, without the Maginot Line, the French Army would have had to defend against TWO potential major axes of attack. They simply did not have sufficient troops to do so.

RF wrote: With respect to 1914, as I have already commented the border then was far more favourable to the Germans and the French Plan 28 largely failed, principally because the wrong tactics were applied by the attacking French.
It would be nice if you would be more explicit about exactly why the operational terrain was disadvantageous for the French, especially considering that the Germans initially withdrew in front of the French advance for the first four days IIRC. In any case, the terrain was apparently not so daunting as to deter France from planning Plan XVII as a major effort to regain Alsace and Lorraine.

RF wrote:
You are confusing the Rhine crossings in Holland with crossing the Rhine in Alsace. On 15 June 1940 Army group C crossed the Rhine adjacent to Strasbourg and occuppied that city and Colmar with little French resistance. And in late March/April 1945 US and French forces crossed the Rhine from Alsace into Baden-Baden and smashed their way straight through the Siegfried Line.
In the first case, German Army Group C made its crossing the day after Paris had already surrendered to the Germans. In the second case, you are citing a crossing made against a German Army in progressive and irretrievable collapse, destined to surrender unconditionally within about 30 days of the event you mention. Neither case appears to me to be relevant to our discussion.

RF wrote:
We are clearly at cross purposes here. I was referring to 1815 - one year later - and the French Army leading up to the Battle of Waterloo.
With respect to 1815 and the Waterloo campaign, I agree to an extent - not Bonaparte's best moment.


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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:02 am

Byron Angel wrote:
RF wrote:
This isn't what I was arguing. In 1870 the Germans (Prussians) invaded through Lorraine, and in the absence of a Maginot Line no doubt would have done so in 1940, where the French could have met and blocked them.
With all due respect, without the Maginot Line, the French Army would have had to defend against TWO potential major axes of attack. They simply did not have sufficient troops to do so.
The two axes of attack exist whether the Maginot Line is there or not, In 1939 it was also expected that there may be two additional fronts in France as well - facing Italy and Spain, should those two countries join Germany in attacking France.
As I have already explained, a more modern mechanised force was required for operational flexibility and to conduct a war of movement. De Gaulle forsaw that and the Maginot Line presented a substantial opportunity cost to French arms in not keeping pace with miltary developments. Does France have enough troops - well with the Maginot Line there weren't enough troops either - at least a mobile defence gives you an ability to make better use of what you have got.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:50 am

Byron Angel wrote: It would be nice if you would be more explicit about exactly why the operational terrain was disadvantageous for the French, especially considering that the Germans initially withdrew in front of the French advance for the first four days IIRC. In any case, the terrain was apparently not so daunting as to deter France from planning Plan XVII as a major effort to regain Alsace and Lorraine. B
I said that the Franco-German border was more favourable to the Germans in 1914 than it was in 1939. This is because at the start of WW1 the French had no bank on the Rhine, the more westward position of the border put the French starting point further away from Germanys' industrial vitals, and the terrain running eastward of the Voges into Alsace does offer scope for a dug in defence which otherwise there would be no German defence there forward of the Rhine. In Lorraine the Germans had heavily fortified the region around Metz, which was the transportation hub for German mobilisation.
Under the Schlieffen Plan the Germans had expected to do a limited withdrawal in order to lure the French Army deeper into the trap the Germans had laid for them. The French attacks did get as far as Mulhouse - but after the Battle of the Marne the Germans undertook limited counter-attacks on what was now a watershed part of the front and recovered most (but not all) of the lost German territory in Alsace. The''proof of the pudding'' is that during 1915 to 1918 the French didn't make any serious attacks on the southern most porttion of the western front; it was relegated to being an overlooked sideshow.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:01 am

Byron Angel wrote:
RF wrote:
You are confusing the Rhine crossings in Holland with crossing the Rhine in Alsace. On 15 June 1940 Army group C crossed the Rhine adjacent to Strasbourg and occuppied that city and Colmar with little French resistance. And in late March/April 1945 US and French forces crossed the Rhine from Alsace into Baden-Baden and smashed their way straight through the Siegfried Line.
In the first case, German Army Group C made its crossing the day after Paris had already surrendered to the Germans. In the second case, you are citing a crossing made against a German Army in progressive and irretrievable collapse, destined to surrender unconditionally within about 30 days of the event you mention. Neither case appears to me to be relevant to our discussion.
B
You did ask why crossing the Rhine in Alsace is possible when the Allies had such difficulty crossing the Rhine when they tried in 1944. Whether the timing or military circumstances are particulary relevant to battles such as at Arnhem is open to opinion, But Holland and 2 SS Panzer divisions blocking the way was a rather different scenario because of the lack of room to manoeouvre for one thing; the Rhine south of Strasbourg was always less well defended (no panzers or elite troops) with only the half built Siegfried Line to act as crash barrier.
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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by Byron Angel » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:15 am

RF wrote:
Byron Angel wrote:
RF wrote:
This isn't what I was arguing. In 1870 the Germans (Prussians) invaded through Lorraine, and in the absence of a Maginot Line no doubt would have done so in 1940, where the French could have met and blocked them.
With all due respect, without the Maginot Line, the French Army would have had to defend against TWO potential major axes of attack. They simply did not have sufficient troops to do so.
The two axes of attack exist whether the Maginot Line is there or not, In 1939 it was also expected that there may be two additional fronts in France as well - facing Italy and Spain, should those two countries join Germany in attacking France.
As I have already explained, a more modern mechanised force was required for operational flexibility and to conduct a war of movement. De Gaulle forsaw that and the Maginot Line presented a substantial opportunity cost to French arms in not keeping pace with miltary developments. Does France have enough troops - well with the Maginot Line there weren't enough troops either - at least a mobile defence gives you an ability to make better use of what you have got.

This argument ignores (a) the fact that one axis was foreclosed by the presence of the Maginot Line and (b) more importantly IMO, the force multiplier effect of the Maginot defenses themselves. A mobile defense may be more flexible, but if undertaken by inadequate numbers of troops it must prove futile. It is an incontrovertible fact that France was substantially outnumbered in terms of manpower by the Germans. This, in a nutshell, is why the Maginot Line, with the substantial force multiplier effects its fortifications conferred, was constructed in the first place. The French High Command had come to the conclusion that they had not the numbers to successfully oppose a German attack in the field.

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Re: Was Hitler a British Agent...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:02 pm

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.
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