Middle-eastern oil at the time was a fraction of what it is now, not enough for the German war machine especially given the difficulty of shipping it to Europe. This is why the Caucasus was the main focus of the German Spring Offensive in 1942 on the Eastern Front.
There is a point about Suez here, except Rommel wasn't sent to North Africa with orders to take Suez, he was told to hold his ground and his offensives in North Africa to start with were actually acting against the orders of OKW.
Overall the African Theatre was a drain on Germany and a disaster for Italy that both stood to gain little from, taking Suez wouldn't secure the Mediterranean as Gibraltar&Malta would still be under Allied control.
>Overall the African Theatre was a drain on Germany and a disaster for Italy that both stood to gain little from, taking Suez wouldn't secure the Mediterranean as Gibraltar&Malta would still be under Allied control.
Not the guy you're responding to, but I have to disagree, heartily. True, North Africa was unwinnable from an offensive perspective, and taking Suez was both pie in the sky and wouldn't completely secure the Mediterranean anyway.
However, because it was so worthless, and because the infrastructure was so poorly developed, it was easier to defend, or at least defendable with lesser force. The maximum German deployment in North Africa was 9 divisions. When it came time to defend Italy proper, as well as places like Yugoslavia, southern France, and Greece that were left vulnerable because of Italy's collapse of government in 1943, the Germans had to divert over 50 divisions that could have been used elsewhere.
I mean in a way, North Africa was a drain on the main front, but it was less of one than the next theater, Italy would be: Germany should have done more to defend the area, IMO, and should have kept a tighter leash on Rommel, or sent someone else entirely, so as to avoid squandering force on offensives that could never work.
>>591894 See, I'm torn. There was nothing of real practical value for Germany to gain out of North Africa. But at the same time, they very well couldn't leave it as a festering sore and let Italy lose what little control it had in the Med.
Really, best possible plan would have been convincing Italy to stay neutral.
>>593382 If Italy stays neutral, suddenly the Mediterranean is wide open to Allied shipping; and open to allied basing.
Convoys won't have to sail around Africa to get stuff to and from places like India and Austealia, they can go right through. If the Allies can convince Turkey to allow shipping through, you've opened a much better corridor than the Arctic route for Lend-lease to the Soviets.
Without Italian presence, the Zbritish can put planes on their islands in the Esstern Med and stage raids on places like Ploesti from there.
Italy's battlefield performance may have been pathetic, but they were still fairly important for how they restricted British action.
>>593422 I understand your point of view and I wrestle with it as well...
I can't legitimately see a way Germany could have won the war in any circumstances, unless England rolled over in 1940, and Hitler got smart and stopped pissing off everyone.
As far as the Italians, I guess it's just a matter of weighing the positive and the negative when it comes to Italy's involvement. I personally see more negative. In theory, even England having a clear transport route doesn't mean anything if the Germans could string up a tight enough U-boat noose around the home Island. If English bombers struck Ploesti, would they have been particularly effective in 1941-42, when it would have mattered?
If, if, if, there are too many if's, but that's speculative history.
>>593438 >>593422 One other thing, when France fell, and Italy had not involved itself, Germany could have easily insisted on Air and Naval Bases in Southern France, giving it the ability to strike at Naval traffic in the Med. Again, another if, and not necessarily something that would result in a decisive advantage.
Italy was supposed to take the balkans and the MENA region. Mario and Luigi cannot into war. So the Germans had to step in. It was a huge drain on manpower and logistics for the Germans. Over a million men and thousands of tanks and airplanes that could have been in Russia.
>>593438 >>593448 >I can't legitimately see a way Germany could have won the war in any circumstances, unless England rolled over in 1940, and Hitler got smart and stopped pissing off everyone.
Very likely the case.
>even England having a clear transport route doesn't mean anything if the Germans could string up a tight enough U-boat noose around the home Island
Extremely unlikely: Historically, the deadleist areas for convoys were in the middle of the North Atlantic, and around the latitudes of southern France. Areas where the British either had trouble establishing air umbrellas or where the Germans could contest the skies.
The waters around England itself were enormously dangerous for u-boats to operate in, they did most of their work a bit further out.
> If English bombers struck Ploesti, would they have been particularly effective in 1941-42, when it would have mattered?
That is an enormously difficult question to answer, based on a hell of a lot of factors. It's possible, but depends a lot on how quickly the Germans can react to the threat; once they're aware of it and put radar stations and fighter garrisons, it's going to take a lot of luck to do any real damage.
>Germany could have easily insisted on Air and Naval Bases in Southern France, giving it the ability to strike at Naval traffic in the Med. Again, another if, and not necessarily something that would result in a decisive advantage.
I don't agree with that at all. One of the huge sticking points was retaining French control over the French fleet. Intermingling it with German control over ports would likely lead to Vichy collapsing earlier than she did historically. I mean, they could try, I guess,but I think something like that is likely to scuttle the armistice process and require Germany to spend more time and effort crushing France into the dirt in 1940.
>>593471 >The waters around England itself were enormously dangerous for u-boats to operate in, they did most of their work a bit further out.
My assumption is they would continue to do their best work further out. Just dedicate more resources to it...in 1936...admittedly running certain transports through the Suez and past the Pillars of Hercules is a quicker route, but much of the most important supplies and equipment came across the Atlantic. This may have been subject to change, but not immediately and assumes the Germans wouldn't continue to send longer range U-boats further afield. Maybe unlikely, but again, we're assuming more German dedication to the starvation of England.
>That is an enormously difficult question to answer, based on a hell of a lot of factors. It's possible, but depends a lot on how quickly the Germans can react to the threat; once they're aware of it and put radar stations and fighter garrisons, it's going to take a lot of luck to do any real damage.
Yep, and I would posit that based on Bomber Commands record in the early years, the lack of excellent late war heavy bombers like the Halifax and Lancaster, and the insistence on Night Area Bombing would make the likely hood of success very low.
As for the Vichy issue, I personally believe, based on all I've read over the years (I know, opinions aren't really worth anything, but I can't source this now) that the French would have accepted almost any terms in June of 1940. Something minor, like access to Naval and Air facilities in the south of France doesn't seem like it would make the French scuttle the process. Realistically, if they wanted any control over the country in a politically significant way, they had to make peace on the best terms being put forward. Of course this would require the Germans to have the foresight to insist on the terms in advance, which may not be a given. Worst case, you have a crisis like in 1943(?) when the rest of Vichy France was occupied anyway.
>>593471 Sorry to change the subject, but what would you have had the German's do? Do you think they had the capability to commit significant forces to North Africa and then keep them supplied? I'm legitimately curious, I used to wonder this a lot myself, eventually decided it was hopeless.
>>593480 I think a lot of what hurt the Germans as a result of the Yugoslav sideshow was the attrition on supplies, aircraft, equipment, etc. It also may (I can't recall, but I think this is accurate) have delayed the opening of Barbarossa by a month or so.
>>593585 >have delayed the opening of Barbarossa by a month or so. no, the intervention in the balkans did not delay barbarossa - unrelated factors like logistics and weather dictated the invasion start date
>>591828 Suez meant shit since very few convoys moved through the Mediterranean. Namely 2 and one of them was late, 1944 lend lease convoy, the second one was Malta.
It is also likely that the channel would be simply destroyed by retreating British so here goes your sea route.
Middle eastern oil resourced DID exist but there was no way of transporting it. Remember that Regia Marina had troubles supplying soldiers in Africa, so thing about how would they transport oil.
Now what they WOULD gain would be control over Iraq and, if they'd proceed quickly enough - land border with Persia wanting to leave British sphere of influence. So that's... something, not too much but still. It would be also possible to convince Turkey to join the war in this way, giving more cannon fodder for the Eastern Front.
Overall though if Axis wouldn't be able to takeover both Suez and Gibraltar(remember - they weren't able to take Malta of all places) they would still have to keep considerable amount of troops here to defend against possible allied invasion.
>As for the Vichy issue, I personally believe, based on all I've read over the years (I know, opinions aren't really worth anything, but I can't source this now) that the French would have accepted almost any terms in June of 1940.
I'm less sure about this, I don't have sources in front of me either, and my last reading on the subject was years ago, but I remember an enormous stink over giving a small strip of border to the Italians to occupy, as well as stuff about German administration of the colonial empire.
Granted, the Germans would probably get what they want by applying more force on the battlefield,, but the longer it drags, the more expensive and bloody it gets, and especially if you want to try to do a sealion, the opportunity slips away further.
>Sorry to change the subject, but what would you have had the German's do? Do you think they had the capability to commit significant forces to North Africa and then keep them supplied?
No, I don't. And that capability also is very geographically bound, the further away you get from Tripoli, the weaker your force gets.
Granted, I don't think it would be enough to win the war, but if you're starting from say, real world history in the start of 1941, I think your best course of action would be:
Send Kesselring, not Rommel. Give him the same force you gave Rommel. Make it VERY clear that his job is to hold on as long as possible, with as little as possible, not to take Egypt. Wear out British forces on the offensive when they try to cross that expanse of desert and weaken themselves; but don't go chasing after Tobruk, don't wear out millions of tons of supplies on faint hopes like that.
With any luck, you can hold out in North Africa for an extra year or so, which might give you a chance to make a meaningful difference in Russia before you have to transfer greater forces to other fronts to meet Western Allied France.
593585 has a point; Van Creveld in Supplying War goes on about this for a bit, although I no longer remember an exact page citation. A lot of fuel and ammo was expended on Yugo, which might have pushed up the Barbarossa date, and that intervention cost them.
On the other hand, you can't really blame Yugo on the Italians: Greece, for sure, but Yugoslavia was caused by a Pro-British faction within the clusterfuck that was Yugoslavia's government staging a coup. They really did have to be taken care of.
I'm not sure how much of that was the weather and how much of that was the Soviets liking to attack in the spring. We only really have 2 other years to work with here, and in both of them, the Soviets were pretty heavily attacking from March until May, all along the line.
>>591812 Sort of but not really. Either way, Germany would have had to defend North Africa because without it, America and Britain could have launched into Italy (like they did) and slapped Italy around, forcing Hitler to either divert his forces into defending it or allow them to have a gateway into Europe.
Consider if all of the forces in NA were on Sicily or the Italian mainland from the beginning, Italy wouldn't have fallen easily if the majority of their forces hadn't been destroyed in the North African campaigns to begin with. HIstorically the Germans very nearly held Sicily with a very depleted Regio Esercito, if they'd instead been preparing for an Allied invasion since 1941 I daresay the Allies would've failed to gain any kind of foothold on Southern Europe.
>onsider if all of the forces in NA were on Sicily or the Italian mainland from the beginning, Italy wouldn't have fallen easily if the majority of their forces hadn't been destroyed in the North African campaigns to begin with
You're being ridiculous: The scale of operations in North Africa was tiny next to the scale of operations in Italy. Kesselring had 22-26 divisions from 1943-45. Rommel had 2-9 in North Africa..
>HIstorically the Germans very nearly held Sicily with a very depleted Regio Esercito, if they'd instead been preparing for an Allied invasion since 1941 I daresay the Allies would've failed to gain any kind of foothold on Southern Europe.
What? No they didn't. Husky went off pretty smoothly, and most of Kesselring's thoughts were given as to how to evacuate his forces off the island. You had successive outflanking landings that would fail because the Allies were progressing so fast that they'd overrun the beaches from the landward sides before the landing parties made it ashore.
>>594992 Italy lost 27 divisions in total from the campaigns in Africa according to the WW2 Encyclopedia by Inc. H. S. Stuttman. The same source records a mere 2 German divisions in Sicily during Operation Husky, however, I'm wrong about them nearly holding Sicily, I'm thinking of them nearly driving off US forces at Niscemi.
But if one considers that with German stiffening, Italian troops were considered to be satisfactory, 27 Italian (+ whatever else was on the mainland by 43-44) and 9 German Divisions might well have been enough to make an Allied invasion not worthwhile.
Yeah, but an Italian division is in no ways equal to a German one in combat, and when push comes to shove, all that outdated doctrine, tactics, equipment, lack of morale, etc: is going to come home.
Plus, Mussolini was historically ousted from power on July 24th, 1943. That's 2 weeks into the invasion of Sicily, before attacks on mainland Italy were involved, and well before Sicily had completely collapsed. His ouster from power led to the Germans being sure that Italy was about to drop out of the war entirely, and the movements to disarm and take up second echelon duties previously held by Italian forces.
A show of force that isn't immediately thrown into the sea is likely to cause the Italians to collapse, especially if they've felt they've had their colonial empire, meager though it was, abandoned by the Germans.
Personally, (and I realize my opinions are pretty worthless too), I doubt it would have been enough and I don't think that Italy had the stomach for much fighting on her own home soil; the further out the defense is, the better.
>>595125 >Yeah, but an Italian division is in no ways equal to a German one in combat, and when push comes to shove, all that outdated doctrine, tactics, equipment, lack of morale, etc: is going to come home. Most of the failures were caused by bad commanders. Giovanni Messe actually outlasted the Germans in Tunisia; The british failed to penetrate his defenses, whereas the Germans crumbled against the US II Corps, forcing the 1st Army to retreat to avoid being cut off
>>595125 I'm not totally convinced either way, but I've always thought it an interesting "what if". The best of the Italian forces were lost in NA, if they hadn't been and had German support/leadership I think Allied planners would have directed everything they had toward the Normandy landings as the terrain of the Italian mainland (think: The Gothic Line) was a much more easily defended stretch of land once an Allied presence had been established. "The soft underbelly" as Churchill called it, would be non-existent anyway as it was historically.
I agree, though this is a hindsight thing, Kesselring was commanding an Air Fleet at the time, it seems unlikely that Kesselring would have been sent under any circumstances. But without doubt, Kesselring would have been a better choice then the loose cannon Rommel. N. Africa required a subtle, intensely circumspect commander who understood the limits of his logistics and the overall strategic goal in N. Africa. Rommel, a fine battlefield leader and tactician, was not the man for this job. He would have been better suited to work under the firm command of someone else, where his talents could have been directed towards a greater strategic goal.
>but the longer it drags, the more expensive and bloody it gets, and especially if you want to try to do a sealion, the opportunity slips away further.
I agree in a sense, but France was disintegrating, the Germans continuing on would have been expensive in terms of supplies and fuel, but fundamentally not all that difficult and cheap in lives (I think). They would have had a hard time screwing things up by the time the second BEF had abandoned the Normandy region. The idea of a redoubt in Brittany was most certainly doomed, and the south of France simply did not have the men to mount a significant defense.
I don't think Sealion could have possibly happened in 1940. The Luftwaffe and Kreigsmarine were simply not powerful enough to force the issue. Though the battle of Britain is commonly seen as a close run thing, I don't believe it was THAT close. Most of this belief seems to stem from both English and German misinterpretation of intelligence. The English air defense system was quite powerful and well organized, unlike France or Poland's.
I think overall we agree on the fundamentals, which is nice. I have to go out now, sorry if I never respond to any responses.
>>595704 Well, of course it would have made a DIFFERENCE, though I don't expect the Axis would have done any better. If Italy had a better organized military, perhaps they could have done better assisting the Axis war effort. Perhaps they would have been handicapped by their poor political leadership. In fact probably.
But Italy made a habit of making poor strategic decisions that it was also incapable of backing up with its horribly run military. Italy became an anchor weighing down Germany, opening fronts they neither wanted or needed, without the capability of handling them. Then again, Germany would be unable to completely ignore the Mediterranean sea indefinitely, so eventual Italian involvement would have likely been wanted....
>>595715 He's probably more or less right, in the end.
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