Poll

Which of the following was the greatest German blunder after Sept 1, 1939?

Failure to destroy the British pocket at Dunkirk
10 (38.5%)
Delay Barbarossa by invading the Balkans
1 (3.8%)
Invading Crete instead of Malta
1 (3.8%)
Diverting panzers to the Kiev pocket instead of pressing on for Moscow
4 (15.4%)
Lack of a clear strategy during the Stalingrad / Caucuses campaign in the Summer of 1942
8 (30.8%)
Poor intelligence, deployment and reaction to D-Day
2 (7.7%)

Total Members Voted: 20

Author Topic: Greatest Axis Blunder  (Read 11847 times)

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Mark

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Greatest Axis Blunder
« on: December 01, 2005, 01:06:59 PM »
which contributed the most to the German defeat?
« Last Edit: December 01, 2005, 01:08:54 PM by Mark »

CHNfromG

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2005, 09:24:16 PM »
tough choice, really... but I voted for the Stalingrad / Caucasus disaster. The Germans never got the oil they were looking for in the first place. Conquering Stalingrad was a stupid idea too. Conquering Moscow and eliminating the bulk of the Red Army that ready for its defence would have been the most important job for the Germans in 1942.
The easy success in South Russia was a result of the mere fact, that the Russian were not expecting it. They thought Hitler would try to take Moscow. By invading Stalingrad and Caucasus, the already thin ressources were spread on a much longer frontline, causing the siege of Stalingrad and the hastily retreat from Caucasus.
Thus my vote for this campaign as the greatest of the many blunders of Hitler...
The other options:
Eliminating British troops at Dunkirk would not have taken Britain out of the war. Sea Lion was never a real option, as Hitler aimed at territories in the East and not at conquering London.
Given the bad weather in early summer (April/May) in Russia in 1941, Barbarossa would have faced big problems, if started earlier.
The conquest of Moscow in 1941 would have been a serious blow to Russia, but remember: Napoleon reached Moscow and still didn´t win. Same is true for Germany, Stalin would have continued fighting as all the factories were at the Urals.
Conquest of Malta instead of Crete: Yep, a big mistake, but even the conquest of Cairo wouldn´t have changed that much as the Allies still could have come back to North Africa via Marocco (as they did with operation Torch). Of course, if Turkey would have turned against Russia, things could have changed seriously.
Failure of sending tanks early on against D-Day. Due to their overwhelming air power I believe D-Day would still have been a success. A bloodier one for the Allies, but once started, there was hardly a way back to the landing crafts.

Just some thoughts on that vote. Curious about other opions.

Christoph

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2005, 06:50:27 AM »
Id have to say that any choice after the period of the fall of 1942 was largely outside of the European Axis grasp for eventual victory. The most favored period IMO or rather the closest to victory would be around August 1941, when in a number of theater's of war Germany was clearly dictating the course of the war. So that brings into play of your choices three namely: Dunkirk, Yugoslavia, and the change in assigning forces from army group central to help AGS envelop Kiev pocket (665,000 soviets prisoner).
   Id rank Dunkirk as the biggest prize because it represented a sizable portion of the the British army and whose capture would have led to a different result in Africa, plus might have allowed Hitler to pursue Sealion, or at least have another "window of time" to fight England because they needed themselves time to retrain a new army..etc
The second most blunder would be losing those 6 weeks in the balkans, bailing out IL Duce for his own blunder in Greece and fighting in Yugoslavia.
   The Kiev option lost some for Germany to be sure, but time was allready lost in the balkans, so id have to rank the Balkans higher on the blunder list.
The 1942 options were rather bleak for Germany because the strategic and economic reserves of the Soviet Union were having a toll on Hitlers armies, The whole goal was to win quick victory "on the cheap" without a full mobilization or "Total War" commitment back at home. This could only have been done in that first year, because the numbers were increasingly against the Reich after 1941.
"You know, the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who was still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it." ---John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona

CHNfromG

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2005, 02:52:39 AM »
Hi everybody,

after thinking it all over, the most obvious choice is missing: Starting Barbarossa at all!!!

The attack against USSR while still at war with Britain was an unforced error and opening the two-front-war, that could not be won. Of course, Hitler and his generals thougth to have an easy game with a terror-crippled Red Army, that hardly won against Finland the winter war of 1939/40. Nobody expected the quick and decisive defeat of France in 1940. This combination (german victory in France and weakness of Red Army) led to the worst blunder of all: Blitzkrieg against USSR.

Christoph

Uncle Joe

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2005, 08:44:39 AM »
Wasn't that the point of the whole war tho?  No Lebensraum, no destroy bolshevism = no war, right?

CHNfromG

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2005, 07:29:42 PM »
Well Uncle Joe,

of course that´s right. But first Hitler should have come to terms with Britain. Hard to imagine how he could have done that with Churchill. Perhaps by concentrating on the med after the lost Battle of Britain.
At least starting Barbarossa while still at war with Britain was the kind of thing Napoleon tried and failed too.

By the way: Wasn´t the whole idea of Lebensraum a big blunder???

Christoph

Mark

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2006, 02:52:18 PM »
I don't know if any of these could have changed the course of the war - but I guess I would have to cast my vote for the Summer of 1942 campaign in Russia.  Perhaps had the Germans committed their resources to go after Moscow in the Summer of 42 instead of the Caucuses they would have had a chance to engage and defeat the bulk of the Red Army.  If victorious, Russia might have been too weakened to to go over to the strategic offensive in 43-44.  So I guess that move may have had the greatest impact.

Defiance

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2006, 01:02:28 PM »
I think the following blunders contributed to the German defeat:

- Not -capturing- the pocket at Dunkirk. This would have given Germany a big negotiation position with Britain. 300.000 troops captured.... that's much.

- Starting to bomb London instead of British airfields in the Battle of Britain. This way Germany might have won the air war, or at least prolong the eventual allied air superiority.

- Not winning the early desert war in Egypt when the Italians were on the offensive there. Hitler should have committed more troops to the African front from start on along with the Italians.

- Not getting Turkey involved in the war on the Axis side like in WWI. This way Germany could get a better grip on oil resources in the Causasus and the Middle-east by attacking from Turkish soil. Also remember Iraq had a pro-axis coup in april '41.

- With operation Barbarossa, the biggest mistake the Germans made was to not win the hearts of the Belarussians and Ukrainians, but instead destroying them.

- Second point is that Germany maybe should have waited for a year before attacking Russia: crippling the UK in africa, and by air on the main island even further in '40 and '41 might have been a better choice, and go to war against Russia in early '42.

- Japan should not have attacked the US (pearl harbor). The US economic machine would have entered the war eventually on allied side, but much later in time.


In the end, looking at all these blunders, I think the main flaw is that Hitler didn't let his generals do at what they were best. Hitler was a politician, not an army general. I voted for Dunkirk anyway, as it was the first mayor flaw Hitler made, along with the bombing of London.

From jan '42 and on, the axis would have lost eventually, with the US involved and the Soviets able to hold back the german army. So all this people saying Stalingrad or D-day were decisive in WWII, I disagree.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2006, 01:04:50 PM by Defiance »

Mark

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2006, 08:25:30 AM »
I agree with most of what you are saying Defiance.

I don't think the Japanese had a choice about not going to war, though.  Their alternatives were not acceptable.  The economic embargo we had them under was going to grind their Imperial war economy to a halt by late 1942.  The only alternative to war they had was to pull completely out of China - which I think was pretty unacceptable to the generals/politicians in charge.  So I think that was a done deal.

With respect to the Soviet Union and Germany - I think the war in Europe was all about who was going to master central Europe between communism and fascism and war between Germany and Russia was inevitable too.  The big question is, if Germany did not attack Russia, when would have Russia attacked Germany?  Would Russia have let Germany occupy the Middle East and influence Turkey into joining the Axis?  Maybe.  I have to think that Russia was building up for the inevitable.  France falling in 6 weeks had to scare the hell out of them. 

but hindsight is 20/20 I guess.  Stalin could not have guessed that most of his army was going to fold within weeks of the start of the campaign.  And the Germans believed the war was only going to last weeks, not years - so both sides over-estimated themselves and underestimated their enemy.

You raise another interesting point though, " after Jan 42 there was no way for the Axis to win the war".  I don't know if I agree - fighting to a negotiated peace or a stalemate I think was still a real possibility - probably up until Kursk.

bushido

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2006, 09:30:23 AM »
The biggest blunder was starting Barbarossa while still fighting the U.K.
Nobody wins 2 front wars.

Mark

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2006, 06:50:03 AM »
The biggest blunder was starting Barbarossa while still fighting the U.K.
Nobody wins 2 front wars.

except for the U.S. of course     :D

bushido

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2006, 02:04:26 PM »
As long as the U.S. has help, like the Brits, Commonwealth and Soviets during WWII ;D

boersma8

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2006, 12:10:36 AM »
I'd say the biggest mistakes the Germans made took place in Russia: overambitious goals combined with too few resources. Furthermore, they never should have wagered into Stalingrad, they should've surrounded/ bypassed it and cut off the Wolga supplies somewhere else. Postponing " Kursk"  was also bad, since it was the last opportunity they had to win a decisive victory in the East. Now they allowed the Russians too much time to prepare. If the invasion of Sicily hadn't taken place and the offensive had been started a month earlier, they would've stood a chance. Remember how close the SS divisions came to making a breakthrough!

Uncle Joe

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2006, 01:51:01 AM »
I say Russia in general contributed the biggest mistakes - lack of a clear German strategy from the start, poor intelligence, failure to appreciate the situation in December, ill conceived Summer 1942 strategy and the same in 1943 - failure after failure that the quility of the army could not make up for.

RandR

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Re: Greatest Axis Blunder
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2006, 11:41:59 AM »
All of these actions or non-actions were GREAT strategic blunders. Like in a football game, 1 fumble, 1 interception, 1 missed tackle or 1 missed block in and of itself usually doesn't cost the team the game. However, the accumulation of a group of these blunders will ALWAYS result in a loss. The one item that the Germans & the Japanese didn't catch on to was a simple intelligence matter.  The allied side was reading most of the Axis electronic mail accurately.  Midway & shooting Yamato's aircraft down in the Pacific are 2 successful results of those efforts. The allies had cracked some of the German codes too. I'm just not aware of any specific action that the Allies did that resulted in a major blunder.  I guess you can add 1 more big blunder to the list. That was the attempt to kill Hitler in that bunker in 1944.