10 "What if ...", which could change the course of the Second World War
In the 1941 story The Garden of Divergent Trails, Jorge Luis Borges’s two main characters discuss a fictional novel in which each decision made by a character creates new scenarios. In this case, all previous options are cut off, since the hero can only follow one course. However, in the final of the book all the options displayed at the same time. For example, if a character in a fictional book had flipped a coin, the story would have to contain descriptions of both the tail and the tails.
The Garden of Divergent Paths is a metaphor about how concrete actions affect people's lives. When we come to a fork in the road, we can go only one way. But at some point in our life, we probably would like to know what would have happened if we had taken a different path. Would our lives be worse, better, or exactly the same?
What better way to consider alternative development options than the biggest event of the 20th century - World War II? Of course, it is impossible to say with certainty that these scenarios would be implemented exactly, so if you disagree, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
10. What would happen if ... Spain entered the war?
The main reason why Spain stayed away during World War II was that it went through a three-year civil war, which ended just five months before the start of World War II, so they had neither the strength nor the means . If Spain entered the war, it most likely would have done so on the side of the axis, because during the Spanish civil war the fascist dictator General Francisco Franco and his nationalist party, supported financially by Germany and Italy, defeated.
Mark Grimsley on HistoryNet says that Spain could join the Tripartite Pact, which was signed by Germany, Italy and Japan on September 27, 1940, but Spain would not have much impact on the course of the war.
Grimsley says that the most likely result would be that German troops would pass through Spain and invade Gibraltar, which is British territory on the northern coast of Spain. Gibraltar is of great military importance because it controls access to the Mediterranean.
However, the capture of Gibraltar would not change the course of the war. Probably, the capture of Gibraltar would be only a way to strike at the morale of the British.
If Spain entered the war, then, most likely, it would invade Portugal, but it would need serious military and financial support from Germany, which was occupied by its own military operations.
After the attack in June 1941 on the USSR, Germany would have to withdraw troops from Gibraltar and Spain in order to transfer them to the Eastern Front. After that, the Allies would regain control of Gibraltar and invade the territory of Spain. The Spaniards would not be able to provide serious resistance, because they did not have enough troops. Neighboring Italy probably would not have been able to help either, since she was busy preparing her own defense in case of an invasion of the Allied forces.
As a result, Spain would have been fairly easily conquered, and the Allies would have demanded unconditional surrender. One of the requirements would be the resignation of Franco. Perhaps he would not agree, but he had enough enemies in his own country, and probably would have killed him, after which, most likely, the monarchy would be restored.
Of course, nothing of the kind happened. Instead, Franco led the country until his death on November 20, 1975, after which democracy was established in Spain.
9. What would happen ... if Roosevelt lived to see the end of the war?
Franklin Roosevelt was elected for a third term as president in 1940, and he won the elections in November 1944. However, the war undermined Roosevelt’s health, and on April 12, 1945, just 11 weeks after his re-election, he died, leaving Vice President Harry S. Truman to serve as President of the country. Five months later, the Americans dropped two atomic bombs on Japan.
There are many questions about what it would be if Roosevelt lived at least until the end of his presidential term. In this case, one of the frequently asked questions is: would Roosevelt drop atomic bombs on Japan?
March 10, 1945, during the reign of Roosevelt, the Americans bombed Tokyo, which had many wooden buildings. The city was engulfed in fire, in which 1,04500 people died, while only 80,000 people died from a bomb dropped on Hiroshima (40,000 people died in Nagasaki). Thus, based on the fact that Roosevelt was not against death and destruction, and that the Manhattan project was launched during his presidency, it is highly likely that atomic bombing would still take place.
The main difference between our reality and alternative development is that it would be after the war. Frank Costigliol, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut, said that if Roosevelt had continued to govern the country in the postwar years, he would most likely still have relations with Joseph Stalin. Costigliola says that Roosevelt was thinking of a union in which the United States, Britain and Russia would essentially work as world police. Kostigliola argues that Stalin would eventually agree to an alliance, because it would guarantee the security of Russia.
Apparently, Roosevelt considered Winston Churchill and Britain a more serious problem. Churchill expressed the views of the imperialist and the colonialist, and he would be against the alliance. However, the UK would be financially dependent on the Americans, so it would have to agree with the alliance.
If this had happened, there would have been no cold war, and the world would have been completely different today.
8. What if ... the Nazis were not so cruel?
The Nazi party became the personification of evil. But what if the Nazis were a little more tolerant?
One of the main differences is that Hitler might not have come to power. Hitler did not know how to dispute, but he was a passionate speaker. Having a scapegoat like the Jewish people was a convenient and effective tool for promoting their ideas, because the surest and fastest way to unite people is to have a common enemy.
But what if Hitler stood on the platform of German nationalism, but without anti-Semitism, and he would enlist the Jews in the army and send them to fight in the war?
In 1933, 522,000 Jews lived in Germany, but the Nazis called only healthy and young, so only a small part of these 522,000 people could fight in battle.Although an increase in the strength of the army could be beneficial, it is doubtful that this would change the outcome of the war. In addition, the German military machine relied on slave labor; without forced labor camps, it was more difficult for the Germans to get enough resources to invade other countries.
Of greater interest is the invasion of the USSR, which, perhaps, could be more successful. When the Nazis attacked the USSR, they continued to wage war in the usual ways, and it was a war of annihilation. But the fact is that life in the USSR was not heavenly, and Stalin had more deaths on his conscience than Hitler had killed. Thus, the people in the occupied areas were not at all admirers of Stalin and, perhaps, could even take up arms against him. However, the Nazis never used their anger against Stalin in any tactical way.
The Red Army, in the end, repelled the Nazi attack on Stalingrad and itself launched an offensive. It eventually led to the Battle of Berlin in the spring of 1945, which ended with a decisive victory for the Soviet Union and marked the end of Nazi Germany.
7. What if ...Germany and Japan really coordinated their actions
If we talk about allied relations, they were not particularly close between Germany and Japan. The Nazis signed the Trilateral Pact with Japan in September 1940, mainly as a way to pressure the Americans to keep them from joining the allies. The treaty also defined two spheres of influence: Germany was going to rule Europe, in which Italy had a special place, while Japan was to rule Great East Asia.
In fact, both countries signed an agreement with only two clearly defined goals - they both wanted to expand their territories and wanted to destroy Soviet communism. On the rest of the questions they communicated little, and their actions were not as coordinated as the actions of the allies. If they communicated more, the world today could look different.
It is noteworthy that Hitler and the Nazis did not know that Japan was planning to attack the Americans, and this ultimately led to war with the most powerful neutral country. If Germany and Japan had better coordinated their actions, it is possible that the Germans would dissuade the Japanese from attacking Pearl Harbor, and, instead, they would jointly attack the USSR. Japan would attack from the east, and Germany - from the west.
In addition, if Germany, Japan, and Italy had collaborated more on scientific projects, as the Allies did with the Manhattan Project, they might have made more progress in military research to create better and more destructive weapons.
6. What if ... Hitler was killed in 1944?
Adolf Hitler was of paramount importance for the Nazi party, but he also became one of her biggest disappointments, especially by 1944. As the war approached the end, Hitler largely lost his mind. From the very beginning, he was not quite normal, but by 1944 the war had lasted without interruption for five years, a powerful campaign of genocide was carried out, and all this time Hitler was surrounded by people who implicitly agreed with everything. It is possible that by that time he was already taking hard drugs. All this can damage any psyche, and there were high-ranking party members who saw that Hitler was not mentally healthy. They believed that Hitler led Germany along the path of suicide, while simultaneously waging war on the Western front against the British and Americans and on the Eastern front against the Soviet Union.Therefore, they plotted to assassinate Hitler and intercept the leadership of the Nazi party. After the death of Hitler, they planned to negotiate peace with the allies.
On July 20, 1944, Hitler’s Wolfsan (Wolf's Lair) headquarters near Rustenburg in East Prussia (present-day Poland), Lieutenant Colonel Klaus Schenk von Stauffffenberg, head of the reserve army, put a briefcase with a bomb near Hitler who spoke. When he left the room, the bomb exploded. Von Stauffenberg assumed that the Führer was killed during the explosion, so he flew to Berlin to launch Operation Valkyrie, the uprising of the reserve army against the Nazi Party. But Hitler did not die. Someone rearranged the suitcase, and Hitler received only minor injuries. Von Stauffenberg was arrested and executed the next day.
But what if the bomb killed Hitler? Would this change the outcome of the war? Maybe. The British and Americans might have entered into peace negotiations with the new Nazi government, despite the fact that President Roosevelt, back in January 1943, said that he would only agree to unconditional surrender.It is important to note that Roosevelt and Churchill only discussed the idea of unconditional surrender, but did not make any public statements. When Roosevelt expressed this idea, Churchill was surprised. Therefore, it is plausible that the Anglo-Americans would at least listen to the conditions of peace with the Nazis. Peace with Germany would give Americans the opportunity to devote more time and resources to the war with Japan.
It is doubtful that the Soviet Union would go for it. Stalin was not at all a simple-minded man, and by that time the Soviet army had lost 800,000 killed and 6 million taken prisoner. The Soviet Union lost significant territory and lost many resources. Before the Nazis approached, Soviet citizens fled from their villages, destroyed important buildings, took cattle and burned crops to leave nothing for the enemy.
But by 1944, the Soviet army went on the offensive, and its victory seemed inevitable, so the USSR had no grounds for peace negotiations.
Let's return to England and America. If they had agreed to peace, then the Nazis could have transferred their forces from the western front to the eastern. Probably the Germans would not have been able to drop the Red Army — perhapsthey would not even try to do it, but there was a light hope that they would have managed to avoid unconditional surrender.
Another possible outcome is that Germany would have been occupied by the Anglo-Americans earlier than by the Soviet troops. The Germans could withdraw their troops from France, allowing the Anglo-Americans to move faster in the direction of Berlin, and send the liberated troops to deter the advancing Red Army.
5. What if ... the Nazis did not invade the Soviet Union?
In 1941, Hitler was angry and defiant. And he had good reasons for overconfidence - for two months he conquered almost all of Western Europe, only Britain held out.
It was then that he decided to invade the Soviet Union, despite the non-aggression pact signed in August 1939. Operation Barbarossa began on June 22, 1941, and this eventually became the cause of the defeat of the fascists. The Red Army was too large, and Germany did not have enough forces for a war on two fronts.
The reason why Hitler decided to invade the Soviet Union and not to land troops in Britain was because he believed that the occupation of the USSR would not be too difficult (perhaps Napoleon would not agree with this).The plan was to crush the country thanks to the surprise of the attack. Hitler said: "We need only knock on the door, and the whole rotten structure will collapse." Of course, this was not at all the case, and after massive losses at the beginning of the war, the Red Army launched a counter-offensive, which became part of the death of Nazi Germany.
Could the Nazis win the war if they had not attacked the Soviet Union? Probably not, because Hitler would not have been content with what he had already conquered. Perhaps he would decide to invade Britain, and not be limited to its bombing. Or he might have given more support to the German African corps and expanded the Nazi territories in North Africa and the Middle East.
Of course, there are no guarantees that these scenarios would be crowned with success, especially the invasion of Britain, which was planned as Operation Sea Lion. Most likely, the British would be supported by strong American allies.
The important thing is that Hitler was a warlord who sought to seize as much land as possible. So, if the Nazis had not invaded the USSR, they would probably have just invaded another country (or countries) and continued to expand until they exhausted their resources or until Hitler was killed.
4. What if ...the Nazis captured Moscow?
At the early stage of Operation Barbarossa, the Germans were lucky. Within a few weeks, they occupied 40% of the European territory of the Soviet Union, capturing many coal mines, iron and aluminum deposits, and steel and military facilities. However, they could not take Moscow. Most historians say that the reason why the Nazis failed to seize the capital of the Soviet Union was that Hitler first threw his tank divisions to Kiev, which caused a delay in conducting major operations in the Moscow area and gave time to prepare for defense Moscow
How important would capture Moscow? Would this mean Germany’s victory over the Soviet Union? Probably not - according to the data from HistoryNet. They say that if Russia had lost the big cities and industries, it would still have won the Germans. Stalin was a rather severe ruler, and under no circumstances would he give up. In addition, in Russia there were many industrial areas to the east of the Urals, beyond the reach of the Nazis.
If the Nazis seized Moscow, it could only be temporary. The Soviet Union had 18 divisions stationed in Siberia, which were awaiting attack from Japan. Since the Japanese were not going to attack, in the event of the capture of Moscow, these troops would probably have been sent near Moscow. These fresh troops, who were well equipped to wage war in the harsh Russian winter, might have beaten off the city from the Nazis, exhausted after the assault, who were not ready to fight the newly arrived troops.
3. What if ... the Nazis first created nuclear weapons?
After the invasion of Poland in September 1939, the Nazis began work on a uranium project, but most historians do not think that they are very advanced in creating an atomic bomb. It was a large-scale, expensive and time-consuming project, and the Nazis were too dispersed. But what if they decided to focus their efforts on building an atomic bomb and would be its first owners?
According to the periodical “National Interest”, most likely it would not change the situation too much. The big problem was that it was necessary to develop more and means of delivery.The Americans used the converted Boeing B-29 Superfortresses, but the Germans did not have such heavy bombers. And the creation of an aircraft of this type was also expensive, the B-29 project cost more than the Manhattan project.
This left the Nazis three different options for delivering atomic bombs. First, they could develop small atomic bombs, and then drop them from Heinkel-177 aircraft. Bombs could also be delivered using submarines, but by the time the first atomic bomb project appeared, the Allies had a strong anti-submarine defense, so the boats were not the most reliable options for delivering such weapons. The final version could be the V-2 missiles, but they became famous for the fact that they could explode at launch, and in the case of the atomic bomb, this was unacceptable.
Another problem is that the Nazis could not quickly produce as many fissile materials to make nuclear weapons effective. It would take weeks to build each of the bombs, so it would take years for the Germans to prepare a massive nuclear attack - and time was a luxury that the Nazis did not have.
There are two obvious targets that would be targets for Nazi atomic bombs — London and Moscow. If they could hit any of them, it could help, but only in the short term. The British would probably weaken their morale, and as for Moscow, an atomic bomb could decapitate the Soviet leadership. But this would not have been a fatal blow, and the Red Army would continue to fight.
The Germans would not have been able to strike at the United States, which at that time was working on the Manhattan project. If the Nazis used their bomb against an ally of the Americans, wouldn't the United States decide to drop their atomic bomb on them?
Ultimately, if Germany were the first to develop a bomb, it could lead to the use of atomic weapons in Europe and the USSR, and possibly the transfer of it to Japan if it did not surrender. But the end result would have been the same - the Allies would have won for many reasons, and first of all, thanks to the lesser depletion of their military and human resources.
2. What would ... if the landing in Normandy failed?
“Day-D” is called one of the most important events of the Second World War.On June 6, 1944, 156,000 Americans, British and Canadians landed on the coast of Normandy. It was the largest landing party in history. The landing allowed the Allies to gain an invaluable foothold in continental Europe. By the end of August 1944, the Allies liberated most of northern France, so some called the Day-D the beginning of the end of World War II.
But what would happen if the disembarkation failed?
According to many historians and military experts, this would probably be a disaster for the Allies. Planning for the invasion of Normandy, code-named Overlord, began in January 1944, and General Dwight Eisenhower was to lead it. Failure of the operation would result in massive losses of people and resources. British General Sir Richard Dannatt said that it would take years for people and vehicles to recover from such a number of losses.
This would probably have a strong effect on the morale of all the opposing sides. The forces of Britain were running out, and the defeat in Normandy would have been crushing for her, while the Nazis would, on the contrary, greatly encourage, instill confidence that they would be able to restrain the allies.
The morale of the Americans would also deal a significant blow.War historian Dennis Sawalter believes that Eisenhower would resign, and President Roosevelt probably would not have been re-elected in November 1944.
As for the impact on the outcome of the war, this would greatly slow down the advance of the Allies on the western front. It is possible that the Americans would even decide to limit themselves to defensive actions in Europe and focus on Japan, allowing the Red Army to defeat Germany alone.
Ultimately, this could lead to the fact that the Allies could not count on the unconditional surrender of the Nazis, and the war could drag on until the death of Hitler (natural or violent). It is possible that after this peace would come, but Europe, of course, would have looked different than now.
1. What if ... Operation Unthinkable took place?
After the fall of Berlin, Winston Churchill considered that the allies had the opportunity to defeat the USSR. Yes that's right. Churchill, who could not defeat the Nazis, decided to defeat the army, which defeated the Nazis.
He ordered the development of invasion plans and repel those territories that were occupied by the Soviet Union during the war with Germany.The main goal was “to impose on Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire. Although the “will” of these two countries can only be formulated as a demand for the restoration of Poland’s borders, this does not mean that military requirements should be limited only to this. ”
The plan was to start a full-scale war on July 1, 1945. In order to increase the number of its troops, the Anglo-American troops were going to return the captured German soldiers to the system and immediately restart the Nazi war machine after the capture of Berlin.
So what would happen if Churchill decided at the end of the war to attack the Soviet Union?
The big problem facing the Anglo-American forces was that the Red Army outnumbered them by three times. It is possible that she would have been caught off guard, but that would not have lasted long.
A very likely scenario is that the Americans would drop an atomic bomb not on Hiroshima, but on Moscow. One of the reasons why Americans dropped bombs in Japan was the desire to demonstrate their power to the Soviet Union. So, would it not be the best way to do this to drop your secret weapon to the Soviet capital? In fact, it was Plan B of the “Unthinkable” Churchill operation.He wanted the Americans to drop atomic bombs on Moscow and, possibly, on Kiev.
Of course, a nuclear strike on the capital would undoubtedly frighten the Soviet Union. The question was, would this fright be so strong as to make the USSR surrender? Or would the transformation of the capital into a radioactive desert, on the contrary, would infuriate the leadership so much that the Red Army, which was much more powerful, would recoup it first on the Anglo-American troops, and then on the citizens?
If the USSR did not surrender immediately, a ground war would follow, and it would have been difficult for the allies to fight a superior enemy. It is possible that the Americans would have dropped a few more bombs on major Soviet cities. This, in fact, would be a war of attrition, and the one who previously ran out of power would lose.
Well, but there would be no cold war.
10 What if that could change the course of World War II
10 What if that could change the course of World War II
10 What if that could change the course of World War II
10 What if that could change the course of World War II
10 What if that could change the course of World War II