Many answers down here are mostly based on speculations and even then those speculations didn’t meet the reality.
Many people loves the romantic idea of an underdog overcoming all odds. One of these are how Germany could have won WW2. Many people thought “If only dumb Hitler didn’t interfere, he would have won”. A lot of these arguments hold water on the surface but on the reflection mostly missed the point or do not make a significant enough change to sway anything.
Germany really could NOT won WW2. The whole war was a lost cause from the beginning. The moment Germany declared war on Poland, they sealed their fate to be destroyed and reduced in territorial size.
Here are many arguments people tends to throw about how Germany could have won WW2 and how they’re wrong :
- Just Take Moscow
If the Germans would just push on, capture Moscow and the Soviet Union would just capitulated. This argument always rarely backed up with any reason/evidence as to why. Even the memoir of German generals after war constantly mentioned that the drive to Moscow would have meant victory in the East.
I think the reason of this is because they model this notion after the Western Campaign, with the capitulation of France. At the French campaign in 1940, the French surrender once Paris is cut off from it’s forces and looks like it’s about to fall. Using this model, a lot of people think that the exact same would apply to the Soviet Union. The only problem is the Soviet Union is a WHOLE different animal, both politically and geographically.
Stalin is willing to put every men, women, and children between him and the advancing Germans and this exemplified of how the Red Army fought the war, often trading casualties for time. So if Moscow was taken, sure it’s a political and logistical defeat, given that the rail network is centered around it but NO WAY do i think that Stalin would have just shrug and say “Well, you tried people” after Moscow was taken and with that we would see the Soviets fighting to the bitter end just like the Germans did in reality.
This is also backed up by real history about a century before from Napoleon’s Russia campaign in 1812 where he managed to capture Moscow before winter and still lost the war. Russia is such a large country that they have the ability to trade casualties and land at a higher rate than any contry can. Thus the normal rules of war like taking the capital and ensuring victory do not apply.
2. Hitler should have listened to his Generals
Another common point is that Hitler made terrible decisions and he should have listened to his Generals.
Now, i’m not defending Hitler. He is after all a mad genocidal maniac, let’s not make two ways about it. But this isn’t always the case. For example, Hitler and the High Command were all in agreement to invading the Soviet Union. They all want to destroy communism. Save Germany Hitler laid out in his book but once the effort was undertaken, Hitler and his Generals began to disagree at times on what moves needed to be made and once the war is over many Generals and their memoirs begin to claim that Hitler made all the bad decisions and had he listened to them the war would have been won.
And one example of this i already pointed out in the first one that Hitler’s Generals were convinced that taking Moscow would end the war for erroneous reason i gave previously.
For Hitler, Moscow was a general direction in which to head but was not the final objective. For him, the resources in the Ukraine and the oil field in Caucasus were a much important target and given Germany’s oil shortage this is the example of where Hitler was right and his Generals were wrong and actually Hitler’s so-called “mistakes” start to make a whole lot sense when you put it into the context of Germany’s oil shortage.
Here i put a link about Germany’s oil shortages problem
Another example of this argument is wrong is Operation Citadel in 1943. Hitler’s Generals convinced him that an attack on Kursk would cripple the Red Army and renewed German initiative on the war. Hitler saw this plan is very flawed though, famously saying “Everytime i think about Operation Citadel, my stomach turns over”. And seeing how poorly this turned out for the Germans, his premonition was eerily correct. Now if this was the caricature of Hitler always overriding his Generals that is commonly seen, Operation Citadel would have been called off before it was launched.
Now these are just 2 examples and yes there are times especially later in the war where Hitler overrides his Generals with poor decision like Battle of the Bulge but early in the war when these decisions really count, Hitler as many times making the right decisions when overiding his Generals or going along with them in an agreement of a common goal.
So Hitler should have listened to his Generals and he would have won is a moot point because many times he did and his Generals turned out wrong and many times he didn’t and he turned out to be right.
3. Just Build More Stuff
A very honest critique of the German war economy is that it was not on the right footing. Many people said that Germany should have just build more Panzer IV instead of pouring resources into Tiger or Germany should have built the Luftwaffe back up so that Germany could regain air superiority and i give you that the German war economy was an absolute nightmare in many places.
This lecture does an excellent lecture on tank production in WW2 and really highlights how backward German production was for armored vehicle manufacturing and mentions how that knowledge can be applied to other types of war manufacturing
And although once Speer takes over production is streamlined to a degree and munitions and weapons production goes up year by year, it’s not near where it needs to be to fight this war of attrition. So obviously the solution is to just streamline production sort of how you see in the American model and this would have given Germany a chance in the war.
Although this is a good criticism, it misses the core issue. The biggest thing Germany was running low on from 1942 onward is, i said before, OIL. Larger amount of tanks and planes wouldn’t be any good for the Germans if there was NO FUEL to run them and also Germany was having manpower shortages as early as 1942 or 1943 and along with fuel to run these machines you also need men to crew them. These are 2 issues that you can’t solved just by streamlining production. At a certain point, Germany would have just run out of oil and run out of men and no amount of tanks or planes would operationally be possible.
4. Just Coordinate With Japan
This is another point where that deceptively seems to make a lot of sense as Germany was crushed by two-front war. It stands to reason that if Germany and Japan through their alliance had coordinated an attack on Soviet Union, the would have won. Well, that honestly maybe true. Big boost for the defense of Moscow came after Russian troops from Siberia were sent west after Russo-Japanese non-aggression pact. The only problem for this is that coordination did not and was never going to happen.
Germany and Japan were allies by circumstances and shared no real common goal with each other and in fact they’re operating in opposition with each other in many times. German training of the Chinese troops in the 1930s as they were fighting the Japanese is a direct example of what i’m saying. In short, neither side was going to stick out it’s head for another, in fact Soviet being the common enemy was probably the only instance in which they would have and even then they did not.
The reason Japan did not wanting to do this is mostly because of Japanese experience against the Soviets at the Battle of Khalkin-Gol, where the Red Army gave the Imperial Army a bloody nose in an undeclared border conflict. This incident convinced the Japanese to not pissed off of the Soviets as they did not want war with them since they already fighting China and soon would be fighting the US.
This avoidance of provoking the Soviet Union went far enough that during the Pacific war, the Japanese refused to sink any US merchant ships heading to the Soviet Union.
So the idea of the Japanese attacking the Soviet Union directly is a pure fantasy.
5. More WunderWaffe
I love this one.
“If they had just insert ridiculous design here, the war would have gone differently” and the idea of Maus, or Ho 229, or P 1000 Ratte would somehow single-handedly lengthened the war. There are a few of people favorites for pics of these, the one i see most often is the Maus :