What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Non-naval discussions about the Second World War. Military leaders, campaigns, weapons, etc.
paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 614
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:16 pm

Gentlemen,
In addition an earlier topic 'What if Hitler understood naval power' I have another thought, What would the outcome of WW2 have been if Hitler had listened to his Generals and Field Marshals? For instance, would he have attacked Russia without defeating Gt Britain and her allies or carried on the desert war or even the war in the Balkans?

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 2930
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by Dave Saxton » Fri Oct 17, 2014 1:52 am

There would have been no Stalingrad. There would not have been those rediculous "no retreat" orders which doomed numberless German units in all theators of the war. No Falaise Gap. No holding units out waiting for the "real invasion" at Calais.....and so on and so on.........
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

Gerard Heimann
Supporter
Posts: 89
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 2:30 pm
Location: Bay Shore, NY, USA

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by Gerard Heimann » Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:24 pm

Most importantly in my mind, no halt of the German offensive at Dunkerque.

paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 614
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by paul.mercer » Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:50 pm

Ouch! It does'nt look to good for us Brits then.
I suppose he would still have had to cross the channel and I suspect he would still have attacked Russia, I have often wondered whether he really wanted to invade England as some have said that Hitler actually thought the English and the Germans had more in common with each other.
True or false?

paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 614
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by paul.mercer » Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:51 pm

paul.mercer wrote:Ouch! It does'nt look to good for us Brits then.
I suppose he would still have had to cross the channel and I suspect he would still have attacked Russia, I have often wondered whether he really wanted to invade England as some have said that Hitler actually thought the English and the Germans had a lot in common with each other.
True or false?

Matrose71
Member
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2010 2:46 pm

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by Matrose71 » Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:14 pm

paul.mercer wrote:Ouch! It does'nt look to good for us Brits then.
I suppose he would still have had to cross the channel and I suspect he would still have attacked Russia, I have often wondered whether he really wanted to invade England as some have said that Hitler actually thought the English and the Germans had more in common with each other.
True or false?

True!

Hitler was to no time realy interested to an invasion of the British Island.
His real child and goal was always to invade Russia, you can also read this at "Mein Kampf".

Anyway a no halt of the German offensive at Dunkerque, would have had political and military consequences to GB.
The military consequences would be directly to the North Africa campaign and the political are only speculative.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7519
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by RF » Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:45 pm

paul.mercer wrote:Gentlemen,
In addition an earlier topic 'What if Hitler understood naval power' I have another thought, What would the outcome of WW2 have been if Hitler had listened to his Generals and Field Marshals? For instance, would he have attacked Russia without defeating Gt Britain and her allies or carried on the desert war or even the war in the Balkans?
If Hitler had listened to his senior Heer generals from 1933 onwards there would have been no panzer divisions, no blitzkrieg and no European war. There would have been no introduction of military conscription or re-occupation of the Rhineland, no Anschluss with Austria and no Sudeten crisis in 1938.
All Hitler would have got in terms of territory would be the return of the Saar.

Hitler was only able to threaten and then to wage aggressive war because he overruled the advice of generals like Beck and allowed junior generals like Guderian to promote their ideas in the face of opposition from the conservative minded General Staff.
Last edited by RF on Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7519
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by RF » Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:57 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:There would have been no Stalingrad. There would not have been those rediculous "no retreat" orders which doomed numberless German units in all theators of the war. No Falaise Gap. No holding units out waiting for the "real invasion" at Calais.....and so on and so on.........
If we take the starting point for this question as 1941 instead of 1933 then I think the outcome would be the same. For 1941 there are two critical issues: one, does Hitler concentrate on Moscow before the drive into the Ukraine, and two does he declare war on the United States after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor? Note that none of the senior Heer commanders had any views on declaring war on the US, they tended to agree with Hitler that the US was unable to pose any threat to Germany and would be defeated by Japan. It was Raeder who pushed for the war declaration, because of the Atlantic situation.

Capturing Moscow before Autumn 1941 would give a chance of knocking out the Soviet Union and collapsing communism but that is only a chance, not a certainty. If the Soviet Union stays in the war after 1941 and Germany is at war with the USA as well then the only way Germany can win is by developing the atom bomb ahead of the Allies.
Failing that Germany is doomed to eventual defeat, the difference is that it would have taken a lot longer - except that the Allies would have had the atom bomb by summer of 1945 and instead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki it would have been Munich and Nurembourg put under a mushroom cloud.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 2930
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:54 pm

There was a book I read at college (don't recall the author or the title now) that argued that the generals were mostly onboard about taking out Stalin. They didn't trust Stalin and thought it wise to take out the Soviet Union while they were still relatively weak. The adventure into Finland did not indicate that Soviet military forces were either well equipped or well lead at the moment. (Hitler of course had his own motives).

What strikes me about Hitler not listening to his generals, is not the grand strategy, but rather battle field strategy and tactics, resulting in battle field defeats that could have turned out very differently. As Hitler increasingly undertook micro-managing the battle field this resulted in needless defeat after needless defeat. Just one example is the Stalingrad catastrophe, probably the biggest contributor to German defeat in the war. The generals didn't want to be diverted there, but Hitler didn't listen. Before the encirclement the generals wanted to pull out, but Hitler didn't listen. After the encirclement the generals wanted to breakout while they still could, but Hitler listened to a delusional Goering instead.

The one senior military official he wouldn't listen to much at all was Raeder and he was the one with the best overall understanding of grand strategy.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7519
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by RF » Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:01 am

Dave Saxton wrote: What strikes me about Hitler not listening to his generals, is not the grand strategy, but rather battle field strategy and tactics, resulting in battle field defeats that could have turned out very differently. As Hitler increasingly undertook micro-managing the battle field this resulted in needless defeat after needless defeat.
This is an easy verdict to make from the facts of what happened. However could these generals have done any better? Would Hitler have been any better off by heeding them? I think the war was lost anyway, especially as none of the Heer senior commanders ever expressed any ideas as to how the war could be won. Their ignorance of the military strength and economic power of the USA was greater than Hitler's.
The one senior military official he wouldn't listen to much at all was Raeder and he was the one with the best overall understanding of grand strategy.
Its not that Hitler didn't listen to him, prior to Barbarossa Raeder was influential in getting Germany to help the Italians and in getting some co-operation with the Japanese. The problem for Raeder was that he was marginalised by Barbarossa and its failure. The loss of Bismarck didn't help either.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 614
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by paul.mercer » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:34 pm

Gentlemen,
Once again many thanks for your thought provoking replies, I suppose he would not have considered invading if he had also listened to his senior naval staff who, by many accounts thought it would end in disaster. I have often wondered if there was any truth in the theory that the allies did'nt try to assasinate Hitler because they considered that one of the capable generals who knew what he was doing might take over.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7519
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by RF » Wed Oct 22, 2014 8:20 am

Operation Foxley - the SOE plan to assassinate Hitler at Berchtesgaden - was planned to minute detail but never carried out because Hitler at that late stage of WW2 was more useful to the Allies alive than dead.

There was also the fear that openly assassinating the Fuhrer would cause martyrdom - and strengthen the position of a Nazi successor, which was expected to be Geobbels.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
aurora
Senior Member
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:31 pm
Location: YORKSHIRE

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by aurora » Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:03 am

RF wrote:
Dave Saxton wrote: What strikes me about Hitler not listening to his generals, is not the grand strategy, but rather battle field strategy and tactics, resulting in battle field defeats that could have turned out very differently. As Hitler increasingly undertook micro-managing the battle field this resulted in needless defeat after needless defeat.
This is an easy verdict to make from the facts of what happened. However could these generals have done any better? Would Hitler have been any better off by heeding them? I think the war was lost anyway, especially as none of the Heer senior commanders ever expressed any ideas as to how the war could be won. Their ignorance of the military strength and economic power of the USA was greater than Hitler's.
The one senior military official he wouldn't listen to much at all was Raeder and he was the one with the best overall understanding of grand strategy.
Its not that Hitler didn't listen to him, prior to Barbarossa Raeder was influential in getting Germany to help the Italians and in getting some co-operation with the Japanese. The problem for Raeder was that he was marginalised by Barbarossa and its failure. The loss of Bismarck didn't help either.
Hitler's generals never trusted Hitler and Hitler likewise never trusted his generals, preferring to rely on his own gut instincts while surrounding himself with weak-willed yes-men such as Keitel. Hitler's hands-on style of military leadership would consist of two main habits; first, he took forever to make up his mind, constantly delaying big decisions while he waffled, even when the time element was critical; secondly, once he made up his mind, the decision became the unshakable will of the Führer, no matter how disastrous it proved to be, a fatal stubbornness that would send hundreds of thousands of German soldiers to their early graves.
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7519
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by RF » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:38 pm

Nevertheless, Hitler did get quite a few decisions right.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
aurora
Senior Member
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:31 pm
Location: YORKSHIRE

Re: What if Hitler had listened to his Generals?

Post by aurora » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:50 pm

RF wrote:Nevertheless, Hitler did get quite a few decisions right.
Of course you are absolutely correct RF-eg. Norway and Poland Campaigns,the appointment of Rommel as commanding General of the Afrika Korps to name but a few
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim

Post Reply