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Old 2011-01-18, 15:07   Link #21
iLney
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Originally Posted by Kamui4356 View Post
There was literally no way they could have won. Not only were they outproduced, for the most part the allies were throwing greater numbers of equal or superior weapons at them. Now before someone points to Tigers and panthers vs Shermans and T-34s, please remember that they where at least 20 tons heavier than the Sherman or T-34, and a better comparison would be an American Pershing or Soviet IS series.

This.

What kind of buffons would think Germany could actually take on the world? Armchair generals? No one has ever been able to put Europe under control, let alone the world.

On the other hand, Wilson the Clown set WWII up, and it did happen. That alone ensured the winner: the US. (I hate the US involvements in both WW, but this clown sure had vision; he created the FED too, brilliant).
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Old 2011-01-18, 15:19   Link #22
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And when exactly did Germany try to conquer the whole world? They never intended that. That's just U.S. propaganda. They wanted eastern Europe.

And Ithekro has a good point: Italy's failed attempt to invade Greece resulted in a delay of operation Barbarossa of three months. That could have been enough to get Moscow together with Stalin instead if getting stuck in the harsh winter. Who knows what would have happened then?
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Old 2011-01-18, 15:45   Link #23
Kamui4356
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Originally Posted by Ithekro View Post
Easiest way to have won the war....not to have fought it when they did, but for when they expected to start it (six years after it did). The Z-Plan for the naval arm of the German build up would have completed in 1945 or 1946 depending on materials and such factors. Basically they tried to take something (that had once been theirs) and instead of being waved away by a treaty, had war declared on them. Not that the declaration of war helped Poland much at all...nor did it really help France or the Low Countries...since the Germans plowed them under. Britain is a hard place to invade and the Royal Navy is rather large so starving them out is only viable if you have the navy and air arm to do it with. Fighting Russia, while not the best idea in the universe, could have worked...if they could follow their own rules about the invasion. (invade on your own terms. If you are delayed, don't go. If Italy gets you stuck in the Balkans....finish up in Greece, then wait until the next spring to invade Russia).
The problem there is the German economy would likely have imploded without fresh conquests funding it. They were also getting a lot of their material from the Soviets who were expecting payment. Further, Britain, France, the US and Russia weren't sitting around doing nothing. Britain and France's rearmament was surpassing Germany's, and imagine Russia without the losses in Barbarossa. Germany was facing an economic time bomb and even without it they would only get weaker relative to their opponents as time went by. Even with plan Z, look at British ship production during that period. Germany would have had 10 battleships, 4 aircraft carriers, 3 battlecruisers, 8 heavy cruisers, 44 light cruisers, 68 destroyers and 249 submarines. Britain on the other hand produced 14 carriers with several more laid down but either canceled or not completed until after the war, 24 escort carriers, 5 battleships with another 2 under construction but canceled before they were completed, 32 cruisers, 240 destroyers, 413 escorts, and 167 subs on top of the ships they had prior to the war 15 battleships and battlecruisers, 7 carriers, 66 cruisers, 184 destroyers, 45 escorts, and 60 subs. Then add on US ship production. Even with Plan Z Germany would have been hopelessly outmatched at sea, likely getting the same situation they faced in WWI after Jutland and unable to leave port for risk of annihilation.

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Japan was already at war with China, but was trying to calculate who they could gain the resouces to continue that war by taking on the Dutch, but every act would likely get the British and Americans involved (the French seemed to be mostly out by 1941 as Indo-China and Thailand were nominally Japanese allied if I recall). Focus on the Americans and you get the British on your flank. Focus on the British and you give the Americans time of mve in. So they tried to knock out the Americans and British as once with the goal of getting the Americans at least out of the war entirely via a strong push and negotiation. It is...unfortunate...for Japan, that the negotiations part was late to the table, and they underestimated American rage. They didn't underestimate American production ability...they knew exaclty how long they had to defeat the Americans. They just didn't know the Americans mentality. Also they forced themselves to take on the British and Dutch at the same time as they were fighting the Americans and Chinese.
Here too, Japan didn't really have a choice. They needed oil. The US had cut them off, so their only options were to give in to the US demand and abandon their conquests in China, or take the Dutch East Indies. They chose the latter. Once they embarked on that, they needed to take the Philippines, or the US could use them as a base to interdict their shipping. That guaranteed their eventual defeat no matter what they did. The only option for victory was to not go to war.
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Old 2011-01-18, 16:25   Link #24
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Remember that some of that production was based on the war itself and would not have been made without a war (the escort carriers specifically since that was an emergency plan). Though you are correct that the Allies would outproduce the Axis powers and had started playing keep up in the late 1930s before the war started. However one problem for the Royal Navy is they have to be everywhere...the German Navy doesn't have to be anywhere but local waters (relatively speaking). German techology was in some ways more advanced than Allied techologies and thus were producing more advanced items in numbers at the time. The question that cannot be answered (since it didn't happen) is how much the Allies techology would advance without the war for five or six more years? Similarly with German techology, since some of the advances were made because of the pressure from the war effort.

What I don't know (because I don't specialies in economics) is how the Axis would be if they waited five or six years as originally planned. I'm assuming that if they had planned on it, the economy would be able to hold until 1945...at least for Germany and Italy with Russia nominally an Axis power still. Japan may or may not play ball with the Axis if they have to wait, since they were already in parts of modern day China since 1931.

The other question would be the position of the United States if the war was delayed for that many years. While Americans would still be against Japanese expansion on the racial level...what about public opinion on Germany? I would assume FDR would lose an election with no war in Europe in either 1940 or 1944...and even if he didn't he'd probably still die in 1945. And there is not forgone conclusion that the Vice President in 1945 would be Truman even if FDR managed to gain a fourth term without a war going on. There is an issue on who the Americans would support...Britain, France, or Germany? (Unless something radical happened, they wouldn't be supporting Russia).
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Old 2011-01-18, 18:55   Link #25
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The Axis lost because of very poor planning-period. Hitler's invasion of Russia in Operation Barbossa (1941) was the beginning of the end.

Hitler obviously was rushed into it. It was far much for the army to handle, and with North Africa going on (1942-1943) it strained the resources too much. Not to mention-the invasion of Normandy was the final blow to the Axis.

In Germany, because of improper handling of the Battle of Britain, the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) was so weak that it couldn't defend it's factories from firebombing raids, a contributing factor to the economical downfall. Same happened to Japan.

Had the Axis ended the war early, like in 1940, it would have been a very different outcome.
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Old 2011-01-18, 21:21   Link #26
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Originally Posted by sneaker View Post
And when exactly did Germany try to conquer the whole world? They never intended that. That's just U.S. propaganda. They wanted eastern Europe.

And Ithekro has a good point: Italy's failed attempt to invade Greece resulted in a delay of operation Barbarossa of three months. That could have been enough to get Moscow together with Stalin instead if getting stuck in the harsh winter. Who knows what would have happened then?
It was never a secret that Hitler had plans beyond Eastern Europe. So, in short, he did have plans to conquer the world, and yes, to eventually challenge his fellow Axis partner - the Japanese. This also explains his absolutely stupid decision to declare war on the US, and saving FDR the need to think of a reason to persuade Congress for a declaration of war on Germany.

The three months might have meant a victory over the Soviet Union, but IMO, it is only delaying the end. Given how the Nazis administer the lands, it would only be a matter of time before things fall apart. Remember: many republics in the Union initially welcomed the Nazis; they changed their minds quickly enough.
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Old 2011-01-19, 01:06   Link #27
Kamui4356
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Originally Posted by Ithekro View Post
Remember that some of that production was based on the war itself and would not have been made without a war (the escort carriers specifically since that was an emergency plan). Though you are correct that the Allies would outproduce the Axis powers and had started playing keep up in the late 1930s before the war started. However one problem for the Royal Navy is they have to be everywhere...the German Navy doesn't have to be anywhere but local waters (relatively speaking). German techology was in some ways more advanced than Allied techologies and thus were producing more advanced items in numbers at the time. The question that cannot be answered (since it didn't happen) is how much the Allies techology would advance without the war for five or six more years? Similarly with German techology, since some of the advances were made because of the pressure from the war effort.
Remember, capital ships take years to build. Those British battleships and carriers were ordered before the war. There might be fewer destroyers and escorts, but capital ship numbers were not in a response to the war, they were a response to the potential of a war. Everyone saw the writing on the wall and would have responded to a German military build up with a build up of their own. Further, remember that the Germans would have had less resources for their army if more was going to the navy. Neville Chamberlain gets a lot of criticism for appeasing Hitler, but under his leadership the British military was rapidly rearming for war. Also remember, the allies gain an unmatchable advantage in July 1945. You might be able to argue the US wouldn't develop nuclear weapons quite so soon, but US work on nuclear weapons began in 1939, and in Germany their research had hit a dead end, so the allies would still get a nuclear weapon before the axis.

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What I don't know (because I don't specialies in economics) is how the Axis would be if they waited five or six years as originally planned. I'm assuming that if they had planned on it, the economy would be able to hold until 1945...at least for Germany and Italy with Russia nominally an Axis power still. Japan may or may not play ball with the Axis if they have to wait, since they were already in parts of modern day China since 1931.
I'm not sure why you'd assume their economy would hold together just because they planned on it, considering most of the things Germany planned on were flights of fancy. Also Germany always intended on invading Russia. This is not going to change, and Russia was rebuilding its military.

Quote:
The other question would be the position of the United States if the war was delayed for that many years. While Americans would still be against Japanese expansion on the racial level...what about public opinion on Germany? I would assume FDR would lose an election with no war in Europe in either 1940 or 1944...and even if he didn't he'd probably still die in 1945. And there is not forgone conclusion that the Vice President in 1945 would be Truman even if FDR managed to gain a fourth term without a war going on. There is an issue on who the Americans would support...Britain, France, or Germany? (Unless something radical happened, they wouldn't be supporting Russia).
I don't see why you'd assume Roosevelt would lose just because there's no war going on. If anything it would make his reelection in 1940 more of a sure thing, as isolationists couldn't use his support for Britain against him. Also, the US military in 1945 would be bigger and more powerful than the US military in 1939, even if it wasn't at the levels we saw in the war itself. I'm not sure isolationists would be as strong a force in US politics by then.



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Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
It was never a secret that Hitler had plans beyond Eastern Europe. So, in short, he did have plans to conquer the world, and yes, to eventually challenge his fellow Axis partner - the Japanese. This also explains his absolutely stupid decision to declare war on the US, and saving FDR the need to think of a reason to persuade Congress for a declaration of war on Germany.
A casus belli for the US to declare war would have occurred eventually, and likely by mid 1942 at the latest. The US was already fighting what amounted to an undeclared war against Germany in the Atlantic. Really, Germany had more than enough justification to legally declare war on the US, but of course doing so would have been even stupider without Japan getting involved, when they were already fighting Britain and Russia. Not that Germany really cared about legal justifications.
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Old 2011-01-19, 01:07   Link #28
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Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
It was never a secret that Hitler had plans beyond Eastern Europe. So, in short, he did have plans to conquer the world, and yes, to eventually challenge his fellow Axis partner - the Japanese.
Can you provide me with a source to back this up?

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Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
The three months might have meant a victory over the Soviet Union, but IMO, it is only delaying the end.
If you are implying that the U.S. would be too much to take on, I agree.

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Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
Given how the Nazis administer the lands, it would only be a matter of time before things fall apart. Remember: many republics in the Union initially welcomed the Nazis; they changed their minds quickly enough.
I wouldn't totally agree to that. The people who welcomed the Germans probably had their reasons to do so. And chances are those were not the same people who met their makers by the hands of the Germans. (There are still Waffen-SS meetings in the Baltic states for example.)
Some only changed their view as German retreated - just like Italy tried to get rid of Mussolini as they realized the War was a lost cause.
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Old 2011-01-19, 02:20   Link #29
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Originally Posted by iLney View Post
No one has ever been able to put Europe under control, let alone the world.
That in itself is an interesting question. I wonder if anyone had studied the reasons behind this phenomena. Is it an accident of geography, or was there something peculiar about European social-politics that facilitated the fragmentation of power in the continent?

Bear in mind that it can't just be an issue of size. China alone is easily much bigger, but the country was still successfully unified under more than one dynasty.
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Old 2011-01-19, 02:24   Link #30
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The trouble with this topic are the immense amount of variables involved.

If we take history more or less as is, the German's major problem from about the middle of the war on was that their research divisions to production lines never focused on anything and spent a lot of resources building small numbers of just about everything. While none of these inventions was a war winner and certainly not all together would have won the war until their production was not being bombed nearly 24/7 by various Allied Bombing Commands, some of these inventions could have at least stalled the Allies in various areas.

The German Navy was never going to be able to stand toe to toe with Britain. They knew that. That is why most of the fleet was designed for commerce raiding. The real main line capital ships of the Z-Plan would have made for a fine defensive fleet to prevent the Royal Navy from operating without fear in the North Sea and possibly slowed any ideas of invading Europe(if the Navy is properly supported by the Luftwaffe). The submarines and odder warships would be sent to break out (much as they did during the war) to inflict damage to the British economy and, if successful, starve them to the peace table.

(EDIT: This is only using the actually buildable naval vessels they designed. Not the unreasonable H-44, and certainly not the imposssible H-45. (that I found out about today) I'd imagined an H-44 mounting two 80cm cannon instead the eight 50.8cm guns, but I hadn't imagined that they'd designed a ship to carry eight of those monsters. The H-45...2,000 feet long? Over 625,000 tons? Probably just an engineering experiment to see what they would need to do it.)

The more advanced German aircraft would have been able to do more against the British and Americans if they were focused on and used for their intended purposes. They would not be able to maintian their advantage for long, but it might be enough to delay the Allies at critical times since much of the Allied stratagy depended on the Bombing raids taking out the German infrustructure and the Luftwaffe.

As for the nuclear issue. One wonders if the push for it was have been so great if there wasn't an actual war going on. The idea that it might work came out in 1939 and Einstein was worried about that the Germans would be working on it before the war started...but it was the war breaking out the prompted action to happen, because even if you are nuetral you don't want someone to have a bigger bomb than you do. Especially if up until then you'd been considered on of the top powers in the world (At least in naval terms the United States and Britain were the top powers on the planet in 1939, with Britain being slightly ahead since their new captial ships would be lauched sooner). If there is no war, their might not be the mass funding for the atomic bomb...also there might not be as much help from British scientists to the Americans since they might still be considered rivals or sorts.

One wonders what American public opinion of Germany would be in 1941 with no war. Either the British and French didn't declare war when Poland was attacked, or Germany and Russia don't do an all in (no invasion, or instead just a stab at the piece to reconnect Germany with East Prussia). The isolationist and other factors might play a hand...but politics is fickle. FDR was popular and a good speaker. However he wasn't popular with everyone. Electoral votes show one thing and popular votes show another in the actual elections of 1940 and 1944. FDR swept the Electoral votes in both years, but averaged about 54% of the popular vote. Down from nearly 61% of the vote in 1936 and 57% in 1933. Mind you that his win in 1936 was the largest electoral landside since 1820 when James Monroe won because he basically had no opposition (the only one to have none since Washington), with only Reagan winning on number of electoral votes in 1984 (because there were more possible). politics is fickle that way.
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Old 2011-01-19, 05:54   Link #31
yezhanquan
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Can you provide me with a source to back this up?


I wouldn't totally agree to that. The people who welcomed the Germans probably had their reasons to do so. And chances are those were not the same people who met their makers by the hands of the Germans. (There are still Waffen-SS meetings in the Baltic states for example.)
Some only changed their view as German retreated - just like Italy tried to get rid of Mussolini as they realized the War was a lost cause.
Well, in Mein Kampf, he did outline his plans. Before you dismiss them out of hand, keep in mind that Ha Shoah was nothing but a part of his vision as seen in Mein Kampf. Hitler had every intention to carry out what he wrote in the thing. Also, there is Zweites Buch. Granted, people drew different conclusions from it (as is the case from all historical sources). Personally, I lean towards the "global empire" line of thought.

As for the welcoming part, many non-Russian populations hated Soviet control and welcomed the Nazis as liberators. However, Nazi brutality turned this support into resistance.

The Italians turned against Mussolini fairly quickly. The only reason why Italy remained Axis was German troops occupying the place.

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
That in itself is an interesting question. I wonder if anyone had studied the reasons behind this phenomena. Is it an accident of geography, or was there something peculiar about European social-politics that facilitated the fragmentation of power in the continent?

Bear in mind that it can't just be an issue of size. China alone is easily much bigger, but the country was still successfully unified under more than one dynasty.
It had been theorized that due to the geography, there were so many pockets of land where independent cities (and states) can survive relatively easily. Jared Diamond did touch on it in Guns, Germs and Steel.

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Originally Posted by Kamui4356 View Post

A casus belli for the US to declare war would have occurred eventually, and likely by mid 1942 at the latest. The US was already fighting what amounted to an undeclared war against Germany in the Atlantic. Really, Germany had more than enough justification to legally declare war on the US, but of course doing so would have been even stupider without Japan getting involved, when they were already fighting Britain and Russia. Not that Germany really cared about legal justifications.
The problem was convincing Congress to declare war on Germany. FDR's undeclared war was still largely a secret one, and many Congressmen had misgivings about fighting a land where many of their own came from and still shared links.
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Old 2011-01-19, 07:24   Link #32
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It had been theorized that due to the geography, there were so many pockets of land where independent cities (and states) can survive relatively easily. Jared Diamond did touch on it in Guns, Germs and Steel.
I'm familiar with the thesis, but wonder if it's more than just geography that made all the difference. For example, the Romans were able to control most of Western and Northern Europe for around 400 years. True, that's not all of Europe, but when you look at the rest of the Roman Empire, it's clear that geographical barriers alone do not necessarily encourage the formation of tiny independent states.

To me, Diamond's thesis explains only one part of a larger picture. Culture and historical experience also played a role, I suspect, such as the diffuse ways in which capital was created and controlled in Europe, allowing multiple centres of power to achieve and maintain long-term independence.

In the same vein, it's the same kinds of cultural and historical context that drove Hitler to the same mistake committed by Napoleon more than a century prior. It's easy to see how the Third Reich overextended itself, in hindsight, but to the planners at the time, the strategic need to subdue Russia must have seemed as enticing and possible as it did to the Grande Armee.
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Old 2011-01-19, 08:06   Link #33
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In the same vein, it's the same kinds of cultural and historical context that drove Hitler to the same mistake committed by Napoleon more than a century prior. It's easy to see how the Third Reich overextended itself, in hindsight, but to the planners at the time, the strategic need to subdue Russia must have seemed as enticing and possible as it did to the Grande Armee.
The thing is that Hitler betrayed Russia by launching Barabossa. He would have more supplies for the Afrika Corps if he wasn't pitting his troops against the Russian human wave attacks.
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Old 2011-01-19, 08:54   Link #34
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The problem was convincing Congress to declare war on Germany. FDR's undeclared war was still largely a secret one, and many Congressmen had misgivings about fighting a land where many of their own came from and still shared links.
Once enough destroyers and escorts were sunk, and American sailors killed, they'd have come around and support a declaration of war. Besides, it's not like the US hadn't been to war with Germany in the past. Assuming of course Germany didn't get fed up with the US blatantly violating its neutrality and save Roosevelt the trouble by declaring war themselves.

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The thing is that Hitler betrayed Russia by launching Barabossa. He would have more supplies for the Afrika Corps if he wasn't pitting his troops against the Russian human wave attacks.
The problem there is Britain controlled the Med, and the Axis held ports in North Africa were already at close to their maximum capacity. There wasn't much more they could really send. Maybe they could give Rommel some better tanks, but they aren't going to be able to support a significant increase in forces, and without fuel, it doesn't really matter what kind of tanks they had.
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Old 2011-01-19, 10:02   Link #35
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Originally Posted by Kamui4356 View Post
The problem there is Britain controlled the Med, and the Axis held ports in North Africa were already at close to their maximum capacity. There wasn't much more they could really send. Maybe they could give Rommel some better tanks, but they aren't going to be able to support a significant increase in forces, and without fuel, it doesn't really matter what kind of tanks they had.
Arms, infantry and light vehicles. The British SAS was able to use their jeeps to hit Rommel's airfields, and the average German soldier had alot more combat experience than the British.

The Germans actually had a greater ability to control the fuel supplies in Africa than the British, it was actually factionalism that denied Rommel the logistics required to sustain a push. Most of the other command staff preferred to turtle...a dangerous tactic as there is no natural barrier to slow down the enemy or avoid being flanked.
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Old 2011-01-19, 12:01   Link #36
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Well, in Mein Kampf, he did outline his plans. Before you dismiss them out of hand, keep in mind that Ha Shoah was nothing but a part of his vision as seen in Mein Kampf. Hitler had every intention to carry out what he wrote in the thing. Also, there is Zweites Buch. Granted, people drew different conclusions from it (as is the case from all historical sources). Personally, I lean towards the "global empire" line of thought.
He predicted a war against the U.S. to happen at a much later point in time, but I can hardly see that as a "plan for world conquest", rather than seeing it as something inevitable. I also do not find anything about fighting Japan in Mein Kampf or the Zweites Buch. With the latter being unpublished and later hidden I would say it's rather "secret" at well.
But fair enough, I can see how his writings about the U.S. can be seen as some kind of "world domination" plan - but not in the sense of "we declare war to every nation on planet" but rather as "we will have to fight the major powers Russia and the U.S. eventually which will make us a world power in turn".
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Old 2011-01-19, 13:24   Link #37
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Global Empire could also mean "one that has a say in glabal affairs" rather than control the entire globe. Basically to be on par with the world powers of the day (Britain, United States, Japan, France, Italy, and Russia). Germany had lost all its colonies during or as a result of the Great War. To be a global pawer one must have global possessions....colonies. Holding most of Europe and having allies in North Africa and the Middle East would have been enough to be on par with the United States and Britian (one assumes that the Germans could not invade properly, but could get Britain to end the war via negotiations...since most people still believe that invading to conquor Britian is impossible).
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Old 2011-01-19, 13:38   Link #38
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Originally Posted by Asuras View Post
Hitler failed in Russia. Instead of going for the oil field to the East he chose to attack Moscow. His men tried to siege the city for days but failed to defeat the patriotic Russian foes that held the walls. Supplies couldn't be delivered because of proximity to enemy territory and they weren't allowed to retreat.

Dressed in summer clothing during a Russian winter, they mostly froze to death.
I can quite agree. Hitler was being more ambitious than Napoleon I. I think that was truly his greatest mistake. Napoleon practically had the same mistake. So essentially, he would have some knowledge of what has to the foolish, naive French.

Let's Think This:
  1. The Polish
  2. The Danish
  3. The Norwegians
  4. The Dutch
  5. The Belgians
  6. The French

NEUTRALITY
Belgium and Norway (possibly Denmark, I can't recall well) had permanent neutrality. And the Germans violated this right. And let's remember that this is not the first time Germany does this to Belgium. I think I can actually blame this on the Danish, but I'll let it go because they where so badass while saving the Jews.
Sweden's neutrality also cascaded things out of order. They were all like:
"OHEY HITLER YOU CAN PASS THROUGH AS LONG AS YOU DON'T HURT US."
Which is dumb.

In the end, the Germans out-raged the other Allies. They got burnt real bad. Or should we say frozen? XD
I just noticed I didn't talk about the majority of countries I listed
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Old 2011-01-19, 17:04   Link #39
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I'm familiar with the thesis, but wonder if it's more than just geography that made all the difference. For example, the Romans were able to control most of Western and Northern Europe for around 400 years. True, that's not all of Europe, but when you look at the rest of the Roman Empire, it's clear that geographical barriers alone do not necessarily encourage the formation of tiny independent states.

To me, Diamond's thesis explains only one part of a larger picture. Culture and historical experience also played a role, I suspect, such as the diffuse ways in which capital was created and controlled in Europe, allowing multiple centres of power to achieve and maintain long-term independence.

In the same vein, it's the same kinds of cultural and historical context that drove Hitler to the same mistake committed by Napoleon more than a century prior. It's easy to see how the Third Reich overextended itself, in hindsight, but to the planners at the time, the strategic need to subdue Russia must have seemed as enticing and possible as it did to the Grande Armee.
Mostly speculation on my part, but I get the feeling that Rome was on its way to export their culture across Europe in the same way China has historically done in Eastern Asia. During their height, the empire was successful in part because it could export its culture to different ethnic groups, and even had leaders of different ethnicities. As Rome began to decline you saw this trend reverse - leaders were strictly opposed to letting the remaining Germanic tribes become integrated into the empire, and as a result those tribes attacked. When Rome collapsed, Europe was left with a cultural vacuum of sorts, partially filled in by the Roman Catholic church, but the level of solidarity achieved under Rome was significantly lessened, making ethnic groups more isolated from one another. While China has gone through various empires and splintered into different kingdoms, it never completely collapsed like Rome did; as a result east Asia didn't experience the cultural vacuum that led to Europe splitting up along ethnic lines.
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Old 2011-01-19, 22:09   Link #40
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
Mostly speculation on my part, but I get the feeling that Rome was on its way to export their culture across Europe in the same way China has historically done in Eastern Asia. During their height, the empire was successful in part because it could export its culture to different ethnic groups, and even had leaders of different ethnicities.
I don't think it's so much a case of China "exporting" its culture, at least not in the way early Christians proselytised across the Roman empire, for example. For the most part, it was more a case of non-Han ethnic groups being assimilated into the larger, more influential Han culture over time, hence enlarging the Chinese cultural sphere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
When Rome collapsed, Europe was left with a cultural vacuum of sorts, partially filled in by the Roman Catholic church, but the level of solidarity achieved under Rome was significantly lessened, making ethnic groups more isolated from one another. While China has gone through various empires and splintered into different kingdoms, it never completely collapsed like Rome did; as a result east Asia didn't experience the cultural vacuum that led to Europe splitting up along ethnic lines.
This is where the question gets interesting, I feel. While it's true that the collapse of the Western Roman Empire left a gaping vacuum, there was no lack of zeal for reunifying the fabled empire. The Carolingian dynasty was among the first, for example, to attempt a reunification of Western Europe, which culminated in the formation Holy Roman Empire (the progenitor of Hitler's Reich) within 500 years of Rome's collapse. From the Middle Ages to the early modern era, other regional European powers would periodically attempt the same goal of unification, whether by conquest or marriage alliances.

It's this same legacy of European unification that partially drove German ambitions in both World Wars, the same way it drove Napoleon in the late 18th to early 19th centuries. It's easy for latter-day historians to point out the delusions of those leaders — hindsight, after all, is 20/20. But the dream of European unification has not died away, even today. It has merely taken another, more peaceful route, thanks to the total repudiation of military conquest after the industrial-scale horrors of World War II.

Conversely, Chinese political unity was never a given, as the centuries of Warring States prior to the formation of the Qin and Han Empires clearly show. It appears to be the case today only because history tends to gloss over the periods in which China was splintered into multiple kingdoms and dynasties, such as the periods between the Han and Sui Dynasties, and between the Tang and Song Dynasties.

It's just that, by some accident of history and geography, regional powers in or around China tended to be better able to overcome their rivals than their European contemporaries were. There was something about Europe's socio-cultural and political mix, born out of differing economic conditions, that consistently encouraged a balance of powers to an extent seldom seen in China.
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