Stalin guilty for the war

It may well have ended as a disaster had Hitler had his way and invaded through the only logical route of Belgium in the winter of 1939. I think there is little doubt of a Heer coup d’état --effectively shooting Hitler in the head five years earlier. I mean, everyone knew the Ardennes was impassible, except for one French colonel’s military exercise leading him to the conclusion that while motorized passage through the Ardennes would be difficult, it was by no means impossible nor particularly impracticable unless the enemy air force unwisely decides not to bomb you into a forest fire.

But I think I’d make the point that Gamelin, while not a stupid man, was as much a symptom of French military incompetence as the cause. The French high command was quite geriatric and I’m sure not many better choices were realistically available. A wholesale purge of the top leadership with promotions of younger, more dynamic officers would undoubtedly led to better results though…

I’m far from convinced about that - the attitude of Preussische Feldmarschälle meutern nicht was deeply ingrained, to the extent that the vast majority still backed him in 1945 when it was evident he had led them to a disaster far greater than was possible in 1940. I think it far more likely that the General Staff would have pushed back far more and had more influence on how the war was actually fought as a result.

No forest fires in Europe during May - far too wet. And the original quote was that the Ardennes are “impassable, provided special provisions are made”. Leopold III is the real bad actor here - he decided not to defend them, and kept this fact secret from the French. That totally screwed up their (admittedly too weak) forces in trying to slow down the Germans.

Ultimately the problem is that they were trapped in a mindset which ran at the pace of 1918, and so couldn’t adapt to the much faster rate of attack possible with mechanised transport. André Beaufre also makes a good point when interviewed for The World at War - the French had extensive experience of tanks in warfare and knew what they couldn’t do. The Germans didn’t, but knew what it was like to be on the receiving end. Throw in advances in machinery making tanks massively longer ranged and more reliable, and it’s a recipe for disaster at the Command & Staff level.

The German General Staff did fight back a good deal prior to Fall Gelb, which was why it was successful. The conclusion of the campaign was Hitler’s high water mark as a ‘great warrior generalissimo’ destined for Valhalla. Of course, this is all quite ironic since it was Hitler that pushed Generals Halder and Brauchitsch to prematurely plan and execute a campaign against the French --through the logical road networks of Belgium-- in the Autumn of 1939 that would have been an unmitigated disaster. Halder was all too well aware of this and some think his mini-Schlieffen Plan was so bad and projected so many casualties for minimal gains that he was essentially throwing things to put a damper on Hitler’s delusions of bringing the hated Gauls to their knees in a disastrous war of attrition the Allies very much wanted. It was in fact this “push-back” that enabled Manstein’s (in Churchill’s words) “sickle-cut” plan to be developed into fruition. Hitler is due some credit for his forcing his generals to “think outside the box” and other various clichés. But it wasn’t solely his domineering that resulted in the end run victory over France, it would be Hitler’s faulty claims of post hoc “See, I told you so!” that gave him the credibility to marginalize those that disagreed with his theories. Never again would the forced group consensus that earmarked Fall Gelb be, as Hitler’s supposed military prowess was now unstoppable after Fall Gelb/Rot and the Wehrmacht was bludgeoned into political submission by the Nazi organs of control leading to the absurdly unrealistic planning of Barbarossa.

As for the German officer corp ultimately submitting themselves to Hitler, this is true. But one must remember the military nightmare that unfolded for Germany did not take place overnight and few recognized the inevitably of military disaster after the retreat from Moscow in the Winter of 1941. It was due largely to what were perceived as Hitler’s early successes in the face of potential military catastrophe against France, and in the happy times if the initial advances against the Soviets. Early dissenters reading the tealeaves of unfolding disaster by the end of 41’ tended to end up dead in plane crashes (Toldt) if they spoke of an armistice too loudly. Commanders that actually stood up to Hitler were castigated and marginalized and he surrounded himself with yes men sycophants like “The Gravedigger of the German Heer” General Keitel. The rest had already cast their lot with the Nazi regime and mutiney was unthinkable in the face of the unrelenting Soviet enemy…

No forest fires in Europe during May - far too wet. And the original quote was that the Ardennes are “impassable, provided special provisions are made”. Leopold III is the real bad actor here - he decided not to defend them, and kept this fact secret from the French. That totally screwed up their (admittedly too weak) forces in trying to slow down the Germans.

You are correct; the sin of Gamlin is that he never articulated what these ‘special provisions’ were. But one thing I must take issue with in defense of Gamlin was that there were many endemic, institutional factors and political considerations that were beyond his near term control. One of which was the disconnect of the French “Methodical Battle” doctrine between the Armée de l’Air and the Armée on the ground, a reflection of the rather the inherent slowness of their combined arms approach. It would have been difficult to fix this overnight but I think there was some headway towards modernization. Gamelin’s failures were as much intelligence related as they were operational. I think one could very well make the argument that had the French Army had more time and been blooded a bit more in real combat rather than methodical menageries of fanciful prewar planning, they would have improved their tactical acumen rapidly. Had there been better coordination, I think their chances of repelling or at least stalling the Heer columns through the “greatest traffic jam Europe has ever known” (at least up until that point) of 40,000 vehicles waddling through four bad forest roads would have been much greater. The French tactical bomber force had some excellent planes, but of course far too few ones and the fighter force had less than a hundred modern Dewoitine D.520’s augmented by obsolete and borderline-obsolete-but-still-useful fighters such as the Curtis P-36’s, to oppose the 109’s. But it is true that the French Command, including Generalissimo Gamelin, ignored hysteric reports by their recon pilots of Germans in the woods. These would have been tempting targets. Even if sustained attacks more or less could have led to the same destruction of Allied tactical air elements that befell them in their belated, vain attempts to close the hemorrhage at the Meuse. I think a determine but minimal effort of air strikes driven home could have resulted in a catastrophe for the Heer in the forest.

The Belgians did employ some excellent light infantry that held up the Germans for a bit, IIRC; but yes, they beat feet and withdrew in accordance with their ‘national redoubt’ strategy. However, I also recall that a few small but strategically placed French outpost fortifications in the Ardennes held the Germans up for hours with one slowing them for at least half a day before the fort was knocked out as panzers could not traverse the steep incline around it and infantry were mowed down before they could see where the fire was coming from. Perhaps more of these Ardennes’ forts and less forts on the Maginot Line would have been a better solution, but of course hindsight is 20/20. And of course, there was the awful Dyle Plan itself. I believe Gamelin did not come up with it, but the original plan envisioned a relatively small French holding force of about ten infantry divisions employed as much for political reasons as for military ones. No one wanted to appear to abandon Belgium in a German invasion, but of course they were to act as little more than a picket force to slow down the Germans and hold them until the Bosch’s exact intentions were divined. The plan sending the best trained, equipped and most mobile part of the French Army into Belgium -and away from the real threat- came later.

My long winded, asinine response Cont’d :mrgreen::

I concur with the “1918” comment -to a point. The very term 'Methodical Battle" implies a slow, localized and intricate unfolding of the battle, a notion that was obsolete in the age of reliable automotive transport as you correctly point out. However, there was some tangible effort to reform and modernize the French Army operationally and they were in the mist of creating their own “panzer divisions” with the DLM’s when war broke out. Gamelin was a fool to an extent, but I think at least some of his thinking was sound. He did realize the inferiority of French methodologies and wanted to avoid a running mechanized battle for as long as possible because the Heer’s tactical command and control was just vastly superior to the French Army’s. There was of course the problem that French military aged males were outnumbered by German ones by a ratio of two-to-one and this was in no small way a specter looming over French military thinking. To your astute mechanized transport comment, I would add the French were somewhat hapless with other rapidly improving technologies such as their radio communications. Didn’t Gamelin not even have one in his HQ for fear of SIGNIT OPSEC!? A factor that largely becomes moot in a rapidly unfolding battle where intelligence units have little time to transfer their findings to commanders. French commanders were often caught driving around looking for each other to deliver or receive written orders while the Heer commanders simply spoke by radio transmissions in real time. This communications disaster and disadvantage was in no way a small part of the French military collapse in the Sedan. Furthermore, while some French tanks did have radios, the batteries quickly went dead with no means to recharge them in the field, which seems rather insane! But, I think you’re giving the Heer a bit too much credit here as well.

There was no “blitzkrieg” prior to May of 1940. The Battle of Poland was largely and infantry and artillery duel with tanks playing mostly a support role with armored strategic penetration neither envisioned nor operationally performed. The Heer was simply better than the Poles in tactical C&C and the Polish Army never really properly mobilized nor recovered from the shock anyways. Sickle-cut was as much a localized tactical patchwork done by commanders on the ground like Rommel, Luck, and Guderian -all of whom realized the extent of the localized weakness and the collapse of the in the Sedan and the potential of complete strategic envelopment- as it was any preordained plan. This was of course in hand with the known lack of the French ability to recover after blowing her collective wad with the Dyle Plan. Despite this, the German General Staff often called for halts and consolidation of bridgeheads, corridors, etc. It was the German field commanders simply ignoring these calls that led to much of the success and the deep strategic penetration originally envisioned by Manstein and brought to fruition by Halder. Many of Gamelin’s outdated assertions, however, were shared on the German side. Specifically, the Meuse crossing it was assumed would take about a week-and-a-half because of course one needs lots of artillery and heavy mortars to crush field fortifications and enforce a proper river crossing! That was the typical military dictum at the time. It was of course Guderian and Rommel (and to and extent Halder and Goring) that turned it on its head with their use of air power and tank cannon to neutralize the points of sometimes strong French resistance rather than tube artillery. And of course, on the rare occasions when the French were able to meet the Germans on somewhat equal terms, they were capable of tactical triumphs at places such as Stonne, The Gembloux Gap, and Hannut. The later two battles were successful engagements by the French despite Luftwaffe air superiority. They were conducted with I believe the French assumption that the Germans would be superior in tank vs. tank combat, but with the compensation for this of using the wooded areas to break up the panzer formations and using French armor to essentially act as tank destroyers. And at places like Stonne and Arras, German Landsers temporarily cracked just like their French counterparts did in the face of determined, but hopelessly unsupported, armor attacks. But the general consensus I take away in all the reading is that the French were supremely unlucky, and had just one thing gone their way, perhaps they could have recovered and severed the panzer corridor, or at least contained it. But of course the French didn’t exactly “create their luck” either. Had they done more with the incursion into the Saars, they may have gained invaluable operational experience and gained a more practical, realistic perspective of planning and what they could and could not do…

I can’t recall exact numbers but would also like to add on the mechanization point that the French actually substantially outnumbered the Heer in trucks and motorized transport in 1940, the Heer was still largely a rail and horse-cart bound army in 1940 if not for the duration of the war. The panzer-steel tip of the German Army was very much supported by the wood and feather of infantry, artillery, and pack animal and rail logistics. It just so happened that France was strategically vulnerable, and the short lines of communications and logistics made the German disadvantages largely moot. They of course would not have the luxury of a relative short distance to the Channel when they invaded the vast expanses of the Soviet Union. There, the Russians could recover after losing what the French did in terms of numbers several times over.

Time + Space + Geography, kids…

i subscribe,nice worlds:) Although our “franсo-phile” Nick may not to agree.
I jast have to add more. The French politicans were totally untrustworthy. We have an triple-side agreement signed with France and Chehoslovakia in 1935.This agreement gives the guaranties to Chehoslovakia against the external invasion ( mind German) and was planned as the political barrier against German’s expansions to the East. But in 1938 the Frace suddenly has shoked Stalin- when Hitler clamed the Chehoslovakia the France not just “forgot” about signed previously agreements , but even has enforced the Edward Behes ( the chech president) to admit all the nazis territorial demands. In result the Hitler got all the chehoslovakia …for free:) and now Germany is getting the major industry and military power of Europe at once:).Plus the way to Poland and Russia was opened. After that deal, i guess, Stalin finally comes to conclusion - no more deals with France and Britain ( which he believed stood behind the “dastard” Frech policy) . So we comes to the shamefull Molotov-ribbentrop pact.

Might I, with some trepidation as not a close student of the European War, suggest that in WWII the Germans succeeded in their so-called blitzkreig to the west in the first stage of that War by the then novel process of primarily armoured and mechanized infantry warfare, rather than the much slower and tactically different infantry supported tank attacks in the closing stages of WWI which developed new tactics for the defeat of static and entrenched troops and artillery. Lesser minds in the English and French forces were, as usual, thinking about fighting the last war so far as tanks and entrenched positions were concerned, which produced the Maginot Line.

The ‘blitzkreig’ wasn’t something which quite fitted the notions of infantry and fort / redoubt based thinking which produced the various fortifications which were easily bypassed and or overrun by German armour.

Nor was the use of armour in its own right as a spear rather than supporting the infantry as the spear.

I think you mean Surrender Monkey-Cheese Eating Frogophile. :wink:

who know? you might be civilian until the uncle sam will have again wanted you:slight_smile:
Note, with sort of shit the hollowod propogand feeds you…

honestly not, but who of us is perfect?:wink:

But more seriously, why would you say I disagree? BTW, all nations had assclowns in their political and military ranks. If Stalin didn’t trust the French anymore, perhaps rightly, he sure trusted Hitler right up until his panzers and Landsers were pouring over the Soviet fronts… :wink:

Nope! I’m too old. Strictly Homeguard material now. :mrgreen:

Oh God, that film sounded awful when it came out. The original script had the Chinese invading the U.S. rather than, chuckle, the North Koreans. But the producers were pussies and afraid of pissing off their Chinese market so they made a completely laughably implausible piece of shit rather than a slightly less implausible piece of shit film… :smiley:

WOLVERINES! Die you commie bastards! :mrgreen:


Actually, I’m not so sure about that - rather I’d say that it involved all arms working together and well co-ordinated. Given the technology of 1918 (and indeed what the French had in 1940), that was necessarily slow. The solution wasn’t to jettison the doctrine, however, but to speed up the communication. I’d actually go so far as to suggest that this doctrine is closer to modern combined-arms doctrine than what the Germans were using.

He had no radios, but I don’t think that was the reason - he didn’t have any telephones either!

I wouldn’t say that’s true at all. The Maginot line has had a bad press - it was always intended to enable the French to economise on men defending that frontier, and to force the Germans to come through Belgium. In that, it worked perfectly (although probably absorbing more men than intended - the interval divisions could probably have been made part of a more general reserve than they were) - the Germans did come through Belgium.

The French also had the strongest tank forces in Europe, and arguably possessed the best tank in the world at the time (Somua S.35). Unfortunately, their tactics were poor and their best divisions were in the wrong place. The BEF were also the only fully mechanised army in the world - indeed, during the invasion they saw a lot of German Army horses with British Army brand marks - having been sold to them in the late 1930s as the British mechanised.
That’s the premise of the story I’m writing - instead of committing to the Dyle-Breda plan, Gamelin keeps First Army in reserve around Amiens. Instead of the battle being a disaster for France, it’s a disaster for everybody…

What makes us to think Stalin actually trusted Hitler?
Otherwise he didn’t order to concentrate 100+ of soviet infantry deivisions on the Soviet-German border since mid 1940, accurate when Hitler ordered to start “Barbarossa” plan.

You stil migh hope to be an … paramilitary partisan, blowed up the chinese/korean trains in homeland:)

Oh God, that film sounded awful when it came out. The original script had the Chinese invading the U.S. rather than, chuckle, the North Koreans. But the producers were pussies and afraid of pissing off their Chinese market so they made a completely laughably implausible piece of shit rather than a slightly less implausible piece of shit film… :smiley:

But those produces still didn’t fear to lose a profit in russian market , entering in this implausible piece of shit the “russian ultranationalists”:mrgreen: I’m just puzzled , how those nutfa…rs in hollowood dream to tie the N.korea and russian nationalists if the first agenda of russian nationalists are the fight of “yellows” !!

WOLVERINES! Die you commie bastards! :mrgreen:

Oh , seems that matter a classic that never dies:)

I don’t disagree with your last point fundamentally. The problem was that the French endemically viewed warfare as a localized matter of a static frontage incrementally changing, not in terms of rapid breakthroughs or battles of annihilation, which is why things were to proceed slowly. Remember, they were also obsessed with conserving manpower and keeping casualties down as well. There are lots of hints of the problematic system. For instance, French officers were trained to behind their troops in bunkers rather than leading from the front as did the Germans. The French felt that this prevented leadership casualties and rash, emotive decision making based on the sights of blood and suffering. The German notion of “mission to tactics” held quite the opposite. The Heer did in fact suffer some horrendous junior and even senior officer losses, but their decision cycle was not only much faster, but more realistic and based directly on the tactical situation.

Another anecdote I’ve read is that the French medical system essentially broke down with the rapid pace and average French casualties suffered higher than expected death rates because the hospital system could not cope with the pace of events…

He had no radios, but I don’t think that was the reason - he didn’t have any telephones either!

I heard something about a telephone a couple of miles from his HQ? I think that was his main excuse…

Then why didn’t the French defeat the Germans coming through Belgium in accordance with the French plan?

And, more obviously, why didn’t the French make an arrangement which avoided Belgium, quite reasonably when Belgium was on a hiding to nothing, deciding to save itself which then exposed the French to defeat? What sort of strategic and or military idiot creates a magnificent and supposedly impregnable line of defence to funnel an attack into a neighbour when that neighbour lacks the ability and neighbourly affection to the point of self-sacrifice to defend that end of the line, which allows the enemy to bypass the magnificent and supposedly impregnable line of defence?

What were the poor tactics which allowed France, as the strongest tank force in Europe, to lose?

Why were France’s best divisions in the wrong place if the French were so successful in diverting the Germans through Belgium and it was all going according to plan?

Don’t those questions suggest that, along with carefully funnelling the Germans around the Maginot Line and being unprepared for the consequences, the French planning was somewhat deficient?

Well when the Germans turned up where the French expected them, it was roughly even. Indeed, Hannut and Gembloux could be described as French victories. The problem is, the French were expecting them to come through northern Belgium, and they came through the south of the country.

Prior to Munich, the Belgians and French were allies and so the French were expecting to fight the Germans in the Ardennes and along the Albert Canal line. When the British and French betrayed the Czechs, Albert III got cold feet, and decided he was better off cosying up to Hitler. In the process, he completely cut the French out of his military planning, to the extent that they didn’t know that the defences on the Dyle line didn’t even exist.

The Maginot line pre-dated the end of the Belgian alliance by some years. When that alliance ended, the French rapidly started building defences along the Meuse. Problem is, they were trying to do a lot else at the same time and were also trying to build up a strong field army in northern Belgium. As a result, the defences around Sedan were too weak for the job they faced (although at places like Monthermé the Germans were stopped dead for some time).

Dispersing them in penny packets, so that whenever the Germans turned up they outnumbered the French tanks locally.

Wrong bit of Belgium. Gamelin essentially bet his country that the Germans would come through northern Belgium as they had in 1914 - and to be fair to him that was the German plan until early 1940. Problem is he committed everything to it, including what should have been his reserve. When the Germans turned up elsewhere, he couldn’t adapt fast enough.

No, they suggest it was wildly deficient. The long run grand strategy was right (funnel them north into Belgium to fight them as far from France as possible, and guarantee British involvement). The rest of it was awful though.

My recollection is that the French high command in 1940 was carefully ensconced in a centre remote from the battlefields with limited communications, and intentionally so, which caused a predictable failure to appreciate the situation on a rapidly moving and fluid battlefield and to deal with it.

My reasonably detailed knowledge is limited mainly to some Australian commanders to a slight degree in WWI and to a greater degree in Australian and American commanders in WWII in the Pacific. In every case in those wars (Monash in WWI, Blamey and MacArthur in WWII) the failure of senior commanders to go forward to appreciate the ground (the usually excellent Monash in aspects of assaulting the Hindenburg Line in WWI and and Blamey and MacArthur in Papua - New Guinea on countless occasions from August 1942 onwards) resulted in avoidable problems and or unnecessary casualties under pressure from ill-informed senior commanders remote from the battlefields when those commanders were, to a greater or lesser degree, pursuing wider personal motives to retain or advance their own positions.