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Most decisive battle of ww2?


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Interesting stuff guys. Im always impressed by the amount of knowledge displayed on this forum.

Out of interest, was the idea of the germans winning the BOB really that far fetched?

Did they not have fighter command more or less on its knees before the urban bombing started? This is what I've been lead to believe.

And if they had won it....what then? Would Sealion really have gone ahead? I guess only hitler knows...I agree it was far fetched and probably doomed to failure. But what if they had beaten the RAF and then not attempted invasion, just continued to bomb London into dust day in, day out? That is what made me go for BOB...would britain have been able to stay in the war?

Code breaking, spying, deception and espionage were certainly one area that the allies excelled at, especially the British, and it certainly had a huge effect on the outcome of the war.

On other forums, amongst lesser minded individuals, there is always the reoccuring accusation that Britain ran away in 1940 then proceeded to sit on the sidelines, doing nothing and then jump in at the last minute once the US had cleared out all the nasty krauts. Of course we all know this is nonsense. I dont think anyone could really say anyone of the 3 major allies contributed more than the others overall.

Russia gave by far the most lives, America by far the most material and Britain, as in Napoleons day, did everything in her power, from the Invasion of poland to VJ day, to make sure the war went on, on two fronts, until germany was utterly broken.

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The Invasion of Russia -

Failed to take Leningrad

Failed to take Moscow

Failed to take the Russian oil fields

Failed to take Egypt

Failed to knock England out of the war by any means.

America declaring war, the numbers just got bigger against Germany and once the Normandy landings took place it was game over.

To many objectives, not enough troops for everything

Having Axis Allies that werent up to the same standards.

After the summer of 1942 it wasnt going to go in the German favour.

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Slightly off the wall, but I think the most decisive 'battle' of the war was that of the code makers vs the code breakers, and other spying. The Allies won that one decisively. Dont believe me? ..

Not off the wall at all. Spot on. Germany/Italy also suffered major shipping losses while trying to supply Rommel due to the cracking of the Enimga code/machine. He may have never needed to stop at El Alamain with enough supplies. And the Middle East oil would be Hitlers. The German version of the Spruce Goose, Me323, was a disaster; in an attempt to supply North Africa most of them 24 of 27 were shot down on a single day, the Britsh knew they were coming.

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Re decisive battles, maybe the question should be "what if the battle went the other way"?

Those do make for the most interesting counter-factuals. I would toss my vote in with the Battle of the Atlantic.

Although to be fair, calling a multi-year campaign over a such a vast area a "battle" is perhaps giving it an unfair advantage. By that measure Barbarossa was also a battle, as was the struggle in North Africa.

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If WW2 was a war of production, as i often hear, then the Battle of Moscow must be the most decisive battle, as it denied the Germans the prize that might of forced a Russian capitulation, thus stopping the Eastern Front being the major drain on German resources.

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I'm not surprised the invasion of Russian failed to take Egypt, it's not in Russia, it's in Egypt :)

I think what he meant was in the failure to take Alexandria, Egypt in 1941, was a failure to bring Turkey into the war and attack Soviet union from its southern borders.

But for me... the real battle was for Moscow... in taking Moscow you take Leningrad.. releasing the entire Army Nord... as possible reserves. Failing to take Moscow was the ultimate failure.

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For me, Stalingrad. The loss there demoralised Hitler so much that he wasn't inclined to interfere so much in 1943. I read that he had the idea of attacking the Kursk salient from the centre and not pinching it off on the flanks as his Generals wanted to do, and the Russians too. That particular operation might have had quite a different outcome had Hitler been a bit more confident.

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For me, Stalingrad. The loss there demoralised Hitler so much that he wasn't inclined to interfere so much in 1943. I read that he had the idea of attacking the Kursk salient from the centre and not pinching it off on the flanks as his Generals wanted to do, and the Russians too. That particular operation might have had quite a different outcome had Hitler been a bit more confident.

Wasn't Kursk an example of one of the few situations where Hitler made a better call than his generals? I don't know about him having an alternate plan of attacking the center, but I remember reading that he did not want to make the attack at Kursk--that it made him "sick to his stomach" every time he thought about going forward with it. I can't remember the book, but it otherwise painted him in the usual bad light regarding his military decisions.

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Its an interesting question.

If you mean decisive to mean a final resolution it s not easy as a lot of things happened to end the war. However if we change it slightly to what may have been decisive ....

The Battle of France was decisive for Germany in knocking out a major opponent and allowing it to get embroiled - to its eventual detriment in the East. All of this flowed from BoF and if that battle had ended in a stalemate or Hitler got a bloody nose then WW2 may have been avoided as Hitler got thrown out by the officer class.

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Surely if Hitler had decided on a frontal assault for Citadel then the Russians, literally reading the orders before some of the legitimate recipients, would have just changed their defensives accordingly? I think it might be more apposite if each Theatre could be nominated for its own decisive battle, just a thought.

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I feel Dunkurk would have been a very different outcome,if Hitler would not have played I'm the Boss with his Generals and ordered Guderian's Panzers to Halt for 3 days outside of Dunkirk. if the BEF would have been unable to evacuate across the channel would Britian have kept fighting?.........I think it is one of many cases where Hitlers stupidity and Goerings arrogance help helped the Allies win ww2....Thank goodness

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The Battle of the Atlantic.

Knock Britain out, you also take Australia, NZ, India and possibly Canada. America would still have fought the Japanese but that would probably be a separate conflict.

If Britain had to sue for peace there would have been zero appetite to re-join the war, meaning all the garrisons would have been tiny - even the stupid amount in Norway could have made a difference somewhere.

Germany & Russia would have still been a huge war, which I think the Germans would have won - no Western front, no "adventure" in NA and no razing of its cities from the air and probably different timing for Barbarossa.

Also no lend-lease to the Soviets.

A very different conflict and a very, very different world.

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The first answer remains the best answer. The question was also posed "what if the battle had gone the other way" excellent point. But what if the battle had NEVER happened?

So it’s Pearl Harbor. No Attack there means:

1. The US enters the war later and by choice.

2. does not angrily pass laws to change the manufacturing industry to full war footing nearly over night.

3. Does not have the full weight of public opinion behind the war effort.

If War is politics by other means, then Pearl Harbor is the Decisive battle of WW2. When Churchill heard the news he said (may not be exact quote), "thank God... now we'll win the war"

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What about the Battle of Moscow? Up to that point, the Soviets not only can't stop the Wehrmacht, they really are unable even to fight the Wehrmacht on anything like even terms. Wherever the Germans are capable of collecting force, they advance and destroy whatever is in their path, almost at will. Sure weather and terrain cause problems, but the Red Army is almost inidental. If the Soviets commit more troops and equipment to an operation, it's almost as if the only practical result is more Soviet troops and equipment destroyed or captured. And now the Germans are 20 kilometers from Moscow, the most important rail hub, training center, and government seat in the Soviet Union. Probably the Soviets would have survived the loss of Moscow, but that's not the point.

Rather, up until the Soviets kicked off their counteroffensive, the Germans (and the whole world, pretty much) were convinced the Soviets had no counter to blitzkrieg, that they were in the same boat as every other European nation the Germans had overrun.

30 divisions of Siberians attacking in weather conditions the Germans were hard put even to keep their troops alive in, I think was a huge psychological shock on the German leadership, and by this I mean the military leadership. You read v. Gudarian or v. Manstein, the campaign is tough but goes competently forward during 1941, and there is no Fuehrer interference (in substantial terms) that the German generals later could use to explain every failure on the Eastern Front.

And then all of a sudden, the Soviets manage to put a million man offensive in motion, and keep it going when the German logisitic network is failing. Sure part of that success was just Soviet ruthlessness, the willingness to spend whatever lives and equipment it takes to get a result.

But that was the point. The Moscow offensive meant, that for the first time, the Russians had figured out a way to use their strong suits, superior amounts of men and equipment and (possibly) greater ruthlessness and (certainly) greater patriotism, and convert that to a decisive victory on the battlefield. It was also the first time (I believe) the Wehrmacht had been hit with a major strategic land counteroffensive, ever.

For any one willing to look (or with the benefit of hindsight) the writing was on the wall. The Blitzkrieg jig was up. The Germans had an excellent tactical system, but they were human and their system had limits. Those limits, and the strategic implications of those limits, first became exposed with the Moscow counteroffensive. The people who inflicted that defeat were, with the exception on only of the Roma and the Jews, the lowest form of human life, by the Germans' own standards, that the Germans had ever fought.

Certainly the Germans tried to write off the Moscow offensive as an anomoly, we had no winter clothing, the Russians got lucky, we'll beat them if the weather is ever normal, wait until we start making Tigers, etc. etc. But the damage was done; the German image of absolute invincibility was shattered. They could be beaten and by normal men.

And what was worse for the Germans, the Russians were right there to learn the same lesson. Think of what it meant to Stalin and Stavka: Yes, we CAN beat them!

A war where either side can win a battle is a whole new ball game, and that ball game began about 10 kilometers west of Moscow on December 5 1941.

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Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk are on a continuum of declining ambition for the Wehrmacht:

1941 - Germany makes a maximum effort and attacks along entire front, and fails. (Moscow & Op BARBAROSSA)

1942 - Germany makes a maximum effort, but can only attack along ~1/3rd of the front, and fails. (Stalingrad and Op BLAU)

1943 - Germany makes a maximum effort, but can only attack along a tiddly part of the front, and fails. (Kursk and Op CITADEL)

1944 - Germany does not attack.

Moscow ... showed that the war would not be won quickly.

Stalingrad ... showed that the Germans could no longer mount successful strategic operations. At a pinch, you could also say it showed that the Germans could no longer win the war.

Kursk ... showed that the Germans couldn't mount successful tactical operations any more.

On that basis alone Kursk is right out of the frame as the Most Decisive™. Either of the others is probably valid, depending on exactly how you frame the question.

The decline in ambition is linked lock-step with a declining possession of initiative. In 1941 the Germans had strategic initiative and used it. In 1942 the Germans held the strategic initiative, but were only able to apply it operationally. In 1943 they initially had operational/tactical initiative and used it to mount Kursk. After that, for all practical purposes, the Russians held the initiative at all levels.

In macro terms you might imagine it as two line graphs. German initiative is high in 1941 but declining continuously thereafter, while the Russians held essentially no initiative in June 1941, but climbed - albeit unsteadily at times - through the rest of the war. I, obviously, put the crossover point is somewhere around mid-1943, after which point the Germans had pretty much no further say in the progress of the war in the east.

But it's probably debatable whether the Germans still possessed even tactical/operational initiative in July 1943. If you get to start an operation because the opponent chooses to let you, do you really still have the initiative? I guess that's a philosophical question.

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At any rate, regardless I would definitely rate the Battle of the Atlantic over the Battle of Britain (though the two are inevitably related, somewhat). Another one of Hitler's colossal strategic failures was his failure to understand that actually invading and subjugating Britain was completely unnecessary to his geopolitical objectives -- cutting her off from her colonies and starving her into submission would have been easier and would have accomplished everything he needed to do. In fact, a blockade leading to peace on Germany's terms would have in many ways been better for Germany than outright invasion and subjugation of the British Isles, as it would have been a very difficult territory to occupy and control.

At least initially, Hitler was slow to recognize the importance of the battle for the control of the North Atlantic, and as a result the Germans didn't put enough resources into this fight early on. Even so, they nearly succeeded in strangling Britain into submission anyway. IMHO, from a strategic wargaming viewpoint, if the Germans had skipped the whole invasion idea except perhaps as a misdirection to keep the British guessing, and put the resources that went into planning and preparing an invasion into building U-Boats and enforcing a blockade, Britain would have been in a difficult position indeed.

I am inclined to agree with this. If Germany had started the war with even 50 more long range U-boats, they could have placed the British in a very awkward position indeed. That might have Forced the British into a position of at least neutrality. Whether they would have stayed there for long is another matter however. The big if is what would happen once the US enters the war. If the US makes the Pacific War its first priority and if Germany does not declare war against the US, then basically Hitler is free to take on the USSR...and possibly eke out some kind of victory. In which case, he becomes a lot harder to defeat later down the road. Absent nuclear weapons and a means to deliver them reliably, I find it hard to see the US defeating Germany single-handedly. On the other hand, if with US help command of the Atlantic can be taken back from the Germans, then they UK might well re-enter the war. It would be interesting to see just what kind of contribution it could make at that point.

Michael

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