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Schroedes13's avatar

Pax Germania: Was it possible?

Asked by Schroedes13 (3864 points ) July 27th, 2011

It’s September 1940 and the Battle of Britain is raging. How possible was it for Hitler, if he had continued with Operation Sealion, to have broken Britain. With Britain gone, it would have been an easy time subduing the rest of Europe. Just how likely do you think a Pax Germania was?

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17 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Countries that take over other countries find themselves having to police the conquered nations, otherwise the native resistance will eventually win out. That sucks resources out of the “winning” country over the long term.

One of the flaws in the German megalomania under the Nazis was: what do you do with France, Benelux, etc., once you have conquered them? The Resistance gave the Nazis headaches well before D Day. If they had conquered Britain, the Germans would have extended beyond their ability to control.

Jeruba's avatar

Are you looking for help with a history assignment, by any chance?

Schroedes13's avatar

@Jeruba I graduated last April with a double major in history and kinesiology. I would not come to fluther with help on a history assignment.

basstrom188's avatar

Don’t forget the main thrust of German expansionism was in the east (the USSR). According to some historians Hitler was forced into the invading western Europe because of the belligerence of Britain and France over Poland. He was a gambler and he gambled on the fact that the western Europeans would give him a free hand in the east, that it was also in their interest to smash Soviet Communism.

Schroedes13's avatar

@basstrom188 I know that, but Hitler already had the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that let him have a free pass from fighting in the East. He could have devoted all of his power to Britain for longer had he so chosen.

Zaku's avatar

“How likely” seems to me impossible to quantify, without adopting some system for doing so which would allow it, but which would never be “the truth”. Having played many simulation games on the subject over past decades, I would say that successfully carying out Sealion would be quite unlikely, and in my estimation hinged on winning the Battle of Britain, by focusing not on attacking cities but on effectively destroying the RAF through attrition. That actually came pretty close to happening, but was spoiled by the focus on bombing targets, attacking cities (counterproductive – it stretched fighter ranges and the morale effects backfired), attacking radar installations, and instead if they baited the RAF into more engagements closer to France, the RAF would have run out of planes and/or fighters. That would make Sealion more feasible, because then the Luftwaffe could have kept the Royal Navy away from the invasion, which otherwise would probably be very unlikely to get past the Royal Navy.

More likely might have been a victory against Russia, which had many potential swing outcomes if certain things had gone differently, in either direction. But if Russia were knocked out without taking so much of the German army and resources away from the west, then that would have made it much more likely to secure Europe.

Schroedes13's avatar

@Zaku But how do you not take troops from the West when Russia had such a ridiculously high number of combat troops?

FutureMemory's avatar

But how do you not take troops from the West when Russia had such a ridiculously high number of combat troops?

Poor judgment.

ucme's avatar

I’m biased of course, but the well held belief that he underestimated the British will & their fortitude under duress meant that his ultimate goals were rather strangled at birth.
Don’t mess with us Brits, we’ll have ya guts for garters!

flutherother's avatar

It wasn’t only possible it looked likely for a time. If we hadn’t had a leader of the calibre of Sir Winston Churchill to maintain morale Britain might well have gone under as well. Mind you Sauchiehallstrasse was never going to sound quite right.

basstrom188's avatar

Maybe the Pax Germania was possible in 1914?

Zaku's avatar

@Schroedes13 I am not sure what you mean exactly about transferring more or lest troops from the west. That is not one of the major issues I think of as a tipping point for the Eastern Front.

History happened the way it happened, and hypothetical discussions of critical moments, chances of different outcomes, and what those outcomes might be, can only have a limited amount of accuracy to them. They are interesting, but I think one needs to keep in mind that there were many factors that could swing results to be very different, and one change would mean everything else could happen differently, too.

Hindsight is also a huge factor, as it were. Looking back, we can make observations that “if X had happened instead, Y would have been very different”, but we can see things like that which the historical decision makers could not or did not see, even though they did see many details which were also crucial, sometimes brilliant, and some of which may take a lot of research to appreciate, or even be lost to history.

For example, I would say that if the Germans had brought a large supply of winter clothing, antifreeze, and other preparations for a severe Mud Season and winter in Russia in 1941, and everything else went as well for them as it did, then they may well have knocked Russia out of the war in 1942 or 1943.

For another type of example, if they had not been evil to the Soviet populations in the regions they occupied, and if they had welcomed help rather than acting like, well, evil murdering genocidal facist Nazi bastard racist overlords, they could have had many willing allies and volunteers, instead of partisans sabotaging their rear areas.

Or even in the Winter of 1942, if von Manstein had been in charge of the southeast front and had been allowed to withdraw Army Group South from Stalingrad and conduct tactical withdrawals and counterattacks as he saw fit, and then in 1943 if the Germans hadn’t been baited into a meat-grinder at Kursk, 1943 could theoretically have gone well for the Germans.

Another example: In the US war with Japan, the naval battles of Coral Sea and especially Midway could have gone against the US if scout planes had been in different places at different times, tipping the balance of naval superiority against the US.

What would have happened to the world, though? I don’t see it as likely at all that the mainland USA would be captured or even invaded before 1945, when the US were able and willing to deploy atomic bombs. If Germany had defeated the Soviets in 1942 or 1943, they might have had it too. What would have happened then? A nuclear and/or cold war between Nazi Europe and the US?

Jeruba's avatar

Ok, @Schroedes13. Lots of people would. But some of us just enjoy continuing to ponder questions in our field of interest. I see that you are such a one, and I’ll bear that in mind.

Schroedes13's avatar

@Zaku That does bring up an interesting point. If Germany had taken Europe and most of Russia, would there have been a Cold War standoff type event between the US and the German Empire? Hhhhmmm….

mattbrowne's avatar

Pax Germania was not possible. People would have rebelled against the principles of Nazism. Including the people in Germany. Totalitarian systems never last. People want freedom. Just look what’s happening in the Arab world right now.

Schroedes13's avatar

@mattbrowne But it still could have been possible for a time. The Pax Romana and Pax Americana didn’t last forever, but they still happened!

mattbrowne's avatar

@Schroedes13 – I would have expected a constant state of rebellion almost everywhere. Maybe like what the Americans experience in Iraq right now. Even during the occupation of various countries before 1945 the Nazi regime was under attack from within too, e.g. in France there was a strong resistance movement. Something of this magnitude didn’t exist during the Pax Romana.

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