The basis of this unconventional
Alternate History lies in Hitler’s personality.
He could at best be described as a clever tactical officer, but with
limited long-term conceptions. What
realism he displayed with clearly more limited as he gained more power and
enjoyed more successes. In 1936, he
was realistic enough to understand that the Germans would have no choice, but to
withdraw, if the French opposed them in the Rhineland.
In 1941, he thought nothing of declaring war on the world’s foremost
industrial power; in 1942 he sent the German army into a disaster and in 1944
refused to negotiate with the allies for a compromise peace.
Hitler was basically, therefore,
an opportunist. He took advantage
of western unreadiness in 1936 and 1938. He
saw that the west’s politics could not support an offensive and was able to
gamble and take Poland.
Opportunity, however, knocked
again in 1939. The Soviet Union had
invaded Finland – to strong international condemnation – and the Finns had
knocked them back. It was clear
that the mighty soviet war machine was not as tough as it looked.
This may have played a part in Hitler’s decision to head east in 1941,
but by then the USSR had solved many of the problems in the Red Army.
However, what if the Germans
went east in 1940? There was strong
political cover on many angles (anticommunism, fellow Nordic nation being
attacked, Russian history) and the west was not about to fight anyway.
To Hitler’s eyes, the Russians must have looked like an easy target.
The Red Army would be far weaker
than it was in 1941. The army was
commanded by men who had been chosen on the grounds of their loyalty to Uncle
Joe. The army had also not begun their massive build up –they
would have fewer infantry, weaker tanks (only a handful of T-34s), less
training, fewer planes and the need to keep a substantial force in the Far East.
The Japanese had been clobbered, yes, but if the soviets were occupied in
the west they might decide to try again.
The German army would also be
weaker. Their supply lines would be
longer and less well coordinated. On
the other hand, the Eastern European states could be counted on to provide
troops and bases, even Italy might provide some troops.
The Italians might well be more effective as the Russians would not be
The Germans have another
advantage. Absent the ‘victory
disease’ that plagued Germany and a possible threat from the west, the Germans
have a strong motive to avoid genocidal attacks that force the population to
follow Stalin, instead of sitting on the sidelines or fighting the Russians
alongside the Germans. The Germans
raise several divisions of Ukrainian, Byelorussian and exile-Russian troops,
many of which were captured from the Soviet troops in Poland and add them to the
anti-communist forces. Without a
pressing need to intervene (A German collapse or a genocide campaign that forces
America to push them), France and Britain stay on the sidelines. The Turks contemplate the lands the Tsars and the USSR stole.
The Finns look for a pace deal that allows them their 1939 borders, but
Hitler builds up quickly and
heads east. The soviets apparently
stationed a few tank divisions and infantry divisions in Poland while fighting
in the east. I don’t think they
would have presented much of a problem. Hitler’s
forces quickly take all of Poland and the Baltic States and head into the
Ukraine. Winter comes,
however, and the Germans pause, but with the enthusiastic support of the
population, they survive better than in OTL.
Stalin would probably blame the
failures of the Red army on the Germans instead of his political generals.
Zhukov, arguably the best general the Russians had, might be given
command of the western front or not. It
probably won’t matter.
Stalin uses the winter months to
build up his forces and launch a counter attack.
The problem is that the red army will not be ready for such an attack.
Its air cover will be untrained and therefore minimal.
Its experienced men will have been lost in the early battles or tied down
in the Far East. Its tanks will be
numerous, but the Russians have not yet worked out how to use them properly. The Russians launch a hammer-blow at the Germans forces in
the Ukraine, but the Germans see the attack coming (they’ll have better on
site intelligence if they treat the Ukrainians better), out manover the Russians
and smash the attacking force. Hundreds
of Russians are killed or go into German prison camps. The signal defeat of the Russians brings the Japanese back in
the game. They take the Russian Far
Eastern ports and attack vigorously. They
tie down soviet divisions.
The Russians are having supply
difficulties. They demand that
Britain and France launch offensives into Germany, as well as sending supplies
to Russia. He threatens a separate
peace with Germany if the allies do not comply.
The British offer to send supplies, but demand that the Russians pay for
what they receive, while the French refuse to launch any offensive.
The French are completing the modification of their army and don’t want
to waste it. Both powers think
it’s a shame that Hitler and Stalin can’t both lose.
The Germans have been sounding
out the allies (absent Norway Chamberlain is still in charge) for a peace in the
west. The Germans offer to
resurrect a limited Poland and purchase supplies from the west.
The allies want clear limits, even on German weapons, before they can
leave the war.
The disastrous battles in the
Ukraine convince many people that the Soviet Union is finished.
It’s weakened, yes, but with some care it may bounce back. However, the soviets have lost most of what made them a great
power, much of their industry has been captured or destroyed to prevent it
falling into German hands. The
Germans have been training massive Ukrainian brigades to police the captured
areas, as well as organising work forces and advance scouts. These forces are equipped with captured soviet weapons and
are very motivated to fight the soviets.
The soviets are numerically stronger than the Germans and their allies. That’s about the only advantage they have. Following their defeat, they have conscripted thousands of Russians without military experience into the Red Army. They have devastated areas in the hopes of breaking the German supply line. The conscripts have a tendency to desert to the Germans Russian exile forces or simply to go AWOL. The NKVD uses harsh measures, but the soviets need time to recover their strength.
In April 1940, the Germans and
their allies head further into Russia. Leningrad
falls to a German/Finnish attack and becomes a bastion of the Russian
anti-communist forces. The Finns
settle for that territorial gain and refuse to move further into Russia.
The Germans head eastwards and take Smolensk (Loosely halfway between
Moscow and Minsk). This convinces
several members of the soviet military that Stalin is not a good general.
They launch a coup. In the
wake of confused red army/NKVD fighting, the army, commanded by Zhukov, comes
out ahead. The USSR totters as
reports of Stalin’s death encourage the other SSRs to revolt.
The Turks launch a campaign to liberate Georgia and the Baku oilfields.
The Iranians also take some territory.
Zhukov sues for peace.
Hitler is all for pressing on, but the Germans are having supply
difficulties and are running out of parts.
The Germans directly annex the reminder of Poland and the Baltic states,
as well as the areas of Russia that have been taken and the transport lines
throughout the Ukraine and Byelorussia. Those
two states are permitted a quasi-independent status, but are very dependent upon
the Germans. The remains of the
USSR is under strict limits concerning military power and is forced to supply
Germany with strategic goods.
The west is looking for a fig
leaf to make peace. Hitler grants
them a fig leaf by resurrecting Poland with some of the lands taken from them in
1939. This is a mainly Ukrainian
region, so the area (and the Poles) will remain compliant.
The west takes the deal, however, and peace is made on the basis of the
status quo. As Britain has
benefited from the war (soviet gold), the British are not too unhappy about the
outcome. The Japanese threat is
reduced as the Japanese try to occupy the regions they conquered before the
The Germans soon run into
difficulties with their allies. The
Ukrainians are unhappy about the reluctance of the Germans to supply them with
modern weapons and the German military camps on their soil.
The Germans have also been trying to economically dominate the region,
purchasing mines and factories. Other
parts of the soviet industry, which the Ukrainians regard as theirs, have been
taken back to Germany for study. The
Germans would love to just take over the region, but they’re exhausted from
the war and know how heavily armed the nationalists are.