For want of a crash…
1940 offensive into France, which was brilliantly planned and nearly as
brilliantly conducted, was a historical accident.
Historically, Germany planned to launch a repeat of the 1914 plan, only
moving faster, through Belgium into France.
This was in fact the expected angle of attack.
luck would have it, a German officer broke the rules and flew in a plane to
Hitler’s headquarters. In one of
the little incidents that mark history, the plane crash-landed in Belgium and
the crew (and the invasion plans they carried) were captured. In the confusion that followed, the Germans were forced to
change their plans and proceed with the Manstain Plan.
have that aircraft manage to fly safely to its destination.
Hitler has no reason to change the attack plans, although Norway may
still force him to put the date back, and the Germans will prepare for the
historically, the French expected and planned for such an offensive.
They had intelligence on the REAL line of attack, but ignored it because
it did not jibe with what they thought was coming.
Now, they’re right about the angle of attack, which puts the BEF and
the best French army right in harms way.
let’s assume that Hitler launches his invasion on May 10th, but
using the original plan. The
Germans advance into Belgium and start heading for France.
The French, as historically, realize that the wars begun and advance
themselves. The two forces meet
somewhere in Belgium.
Germans would have had advantages in manovering and command and control.
On the other hand, the battles would have been in a reasonably confined
space which would have given the French and British tanks a chance to deploy
their heavier firepower. The
Germans would have been short of fuel after a few hours and their air support
would have been fighting it’s own battle instead of supporting them on the
this is the battle the French have been expecting.
Gamelin won’t have the unexpected punch in the belly (metaphorically)
that kept him from reacting properly to the OTL attack.
In ATL, he’s got the consolation of knowing that the Germans are doing
as he predicted, and probably less problems with the premier.
the Germans will slowly force their way through Belgium and towards Cambri,
bleeding badly instead of taking little damage.
The Germans cannot take these losses for long, particularly when the
French free up some divisions from the Magnot Line and hurl them into the German
flank. Hitler is apoplectic,
relives a few generals, takes personal command himself and issues a ‘stand and
die’ order. German generals
ignore it and fall back through Belgium to defensible lines.
can think of three possible outcomes from this, although I’m sure that there
are many more, so here goes:
Germans realise that Hitler is leading them to disaster and dispose him.
The new German government opens up peace discussions with the allies and
evacuates Norway and most of Poland. Escencally
a return to the 1914 position, but without German colonies (unless they make
that part of the peace deal) and with a nominally independent rump Poland.
stays in power in Germany, declares total war and keeps building and innovating.
The allies aren’t eager to continue the war (even with the new sprit of
bellicosity), but are forced to invade Germany themselves.
The invasion has such high casutities that the peace deal is much softer
than Versailles. (An alternative to
an alternative would be a successful invasion and the Germans crushed.)
the Germans are trapped in France, Stalin sends the Red Army across the border
and stabs Hitler in the back. The
Germans had very little in Poland at the time, so they’d have to switch forces
back as quickly as they could. The
soviets would probably snatch all of Poland before the Germans could react and
keep pushing west. The most likely
outcome of this would be a Germany divided between Britain, France and the USSR.