France doesnt declare war on Germany in 1939

What if the French had refused to go to war over Poland in 1939? The British give their ultimatum as OTL, but the French decide to not participate because the Kasprzycki–Gamelin Convention was not legally binding and not ratified until after the German attack. Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet wrote that the agreement is full of gaps needed to keep France away from war. So from September 3d 1939 Britain is at war with Germany - but France is not. How do things go from here?
 
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Apart from possible naval combat, can the Luftwaffe attack the United Kingdom from its bases? does it have the necessary range? can it fly over Dutch or Belgian airspace? apart from a British intervention in Norway, what land combat is possible?
 
It would be quite a bizarre scenario. The UK would feel betrayed by France not joining them and this would cause a huge rift.

Hitler would be loving it and laughing at what he viewed as the decadent democracies. He might even try to make peace with the British and forge an Anglo-German alliance against France (which wouldn't happen).

In France there would be a mixed reception, between those that would be relieved to stay out of the war, and those who would feel their government was being cowardly and not standing up against the Nazis. Hitler had broken yet another treaty by invading Poland and by now it was clear they couldn't be trusted and war with the Nazis was inevitable.
 
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Hitler always planned vengeance on France for Versailles so not a lot changes.
In 1940 France is overrun by Germany if they do the Sickelschnitt, and might just hold if they do Schlieffen2. Britain supports them as best they can.
Modest knock on effects include the 6 pounder replacing the 2 pounder (at least as an AT gun) early enough to embarrass Rommel in Africa, and less need to take rubbish equipment from America to replace Dunkirk losses, Germany will be even more desperately short of vehicles for Barbarossa, and short of 300,000 or so captured rifles and matching support weapons for garrison troops. Reduced panic sees either no covenanter or a working covenanter, with a chance the Crusader and Churchill or alt equivalents are 6pounder armed from the start.
 
Britain probably would has difficulties to go war with Germany. So perhaps there is armistice. Then Hitler invades France.
 

Garrison

Donor
It's not like Hitler wasn't planning to attack France. IOTL he was demanding an invasion of France in November 1939. Given the Saar offensive was a complete failure I doubt it's absence makes any difference and I suspect the invasion of France kicks off in Spring/Summer 1940 and probably about the same outcome. Only upside is the BEF may not be committed if France doesn't declare war in 1939 and gets taken by surprise in 1940.
 

raharris1973

Gone Fishin'
We would be what-iffing: “What-if France was awake and not in denial in 1939 and declared war alongside with Britain?”with everybody insisting there is *no way* the French could have been caught by surprise and defeated in 1940 under those circumstances.

But. Tactically, the insistence that Hitler must go for France as his very next campaign after Poland ignores the genuine possibility that he would give the Wehrmacht all through 1940 to prepare for a French showdown, possibly in 1941, especially if the British, deserted by France fail to actually go to war and implement blockade and impose pressures that way.

Hitler could occupy himself in 1940 with things other than just a force build-up and refit and looting of Poland, or a western campaign. For example, French inaction during the partition war over Poland will render French (and British) prestige in continental Europe absolutely extinct, and and leave Germany diplomatically supreme. Hitler may want to more fully define his border line with Stalin and secure Romanian oil by diplomatic-military action in the Balkans to impose the Vienna Award, redistributing Romanian territory to its ally Hungary and enticing Bulgaria, while puppetizing and occupying Romania for its grain and oil. And it may do a joint action with Italy against Yugoslavia to distribute territorial spoils, lock down mineral resources, and eliminate that as a point of resistance, before doing a surprise attack on France in 1941.

So it does not have to be Poland 39, France 40, Russia 41 for him. It could be Poland 39, Balkans 40, France 41, Russia 42.
 

thaddeus

Donor
Tactically, the insistence that Hitler must go for France as his very next campaign after Poland ignores the genuine possibility that he would give the Wehrmacht all through 1940 to prepare for a French showdown, possibly in 1941, especially if the British, deserted by France fail to actually go to war and implement blockade and impose pressures that way.

Hitler could occupy himself in 1940 with things other than just a force build-up and refit and looting of Poland, or a western campaign. For example, French inaction during the partition war over Poland will render French (and British) prestige in continental Europe absolutely extinct, and and leave Germany diplomatically supreme. Hitler may want to more fully define his border line with Stalin and secure Romanian oil by diplomatic-military action in the Balkans to impose the Vienna Award, redistributing Romanian territory to its ally Hungary and enticing Bulgaria, while puppetizing and occupying Romania for its grain and oil. And it may do a joint action with Italy against Yugoslavia to distribute territorial spoils, lock down mineral resources, and eliminate that as a point of resistance, before doing a surprise attack on France in 1941.

So it does not have to be Poland 39, France 40, Russia 41 for him. It could be Poland 39, Balkans 40, France 41, Russia 42.

it seems the British would still pursue Operation Wilfred and maybe even the Baltic plan Operation Catherine. otherwise they are allowing the KM to finish the 2 large Bismarck-class ships (and it would seem at the time carrier(s) also?)

unless the former proceeds better than historical the latter would of course be scrapped (meaning an occupation of Norway and Denmark in 1940.) if all this unfolded IDK what the next phase would be(?), except, as stated, the Allied prestige would be virtually nil.

can imagine a division of Romania done in concert with Hungary and the USSR, the Soviets likely, in this timeline, not grabbing extra bits of Romanian territory.

not sure why the Nazi regime wouldn't try to execute their political map of annexing the Low Countries and Switzerland (bringing them up to the French border where the Maginot Line does not exist)
 

raharris1973

Gone Fishin'
it seems the British would still pursue Operation Wilfred and maybe even the Baltic plan Operation Catherine. otherwise they are allowing the KM to finish the 2 large Bismarck-class ships (and it would seem at the time carrier(s) also?)
Would like more tactical detail on exactly what each of these two British plans involved (mining fjords?, actual occupation of Scandinavian land?) and how they specifically counter German shipbuilding in German shipyards.

I suppose these types of maritime-based actions would make sense for Britain if they were stuck in a situation like the OP described where London has declared war over the Poles, and cannot really retract it, but the French have just declared neutrality.
In a somewhat altered situation where upon the Polish invasion the French warn the British in no uncertain terms.....we.....are......just.....not.......doing........it, that might knock Chamberlain and co off kilter enough they do not actually declare war either. In which case, Britain, while continuing defense preps, may refrain from anything so aggressive toward European mainland targets. If caught bluffing again like this and not declaring war though, I suspect Chamberlain would simply have to sacrifice himself and resign.

can imagine a division of Romania done in concert with Hungary and the USSR, the Soviets likely, in this timeline, not grabbing extra bits of Romanian territory.
Ah, so thinking that the Soviets get Bessarabia, but not northern Bukovina? I could imagine that. My original thought had been Hitler engineering more so the Soviets would not get any of Romania though, keeping Bessarabia as part of puppet Romania to maintain a wider, more comfortable buffer for the Ploesti oilfields. Actually, in terms of Ploesti protection, even though northern Bukovina was seen as 'extra grabby' beyond Bessarabia, northern Bukovina is actually more disepnsable for defense of the oil than flat Bessarabia is. And northern Bukovina at least has the Ukrainian/Ruthenian argument (although, so does the southern piece of Bessarabia too, I guess.)

not sure why the Nazi regime wouldn't try to execute their political map of annexing the Low Countries and Switzerland (bringing them up to the French border where the Maginot Line does not exist)
Good point. I just had not thought of treating the Low Countries and France separately, although in a France not declaring war scenario, it is entirely possible, at least in theory.

I guess that is just a matter of tactical choice. Do the Germans see it as a manageable, and useful preliminary, providing good geographic position and advantage relative to France, that can be accomplished with speed, without alarming and causing excessive French reaction or preparation. Or does it 'telegraph' western intentions too much, so, it would be best to handle the Low Countries and France at once, in a single campaign of surprise blows?
 
I am not quite certain Germany would attack a neutral France in 1940. If she were neutral, then the Soviet German Non-Aggression Pact of August 1939 will have served its purpose and kept Germany out of a two-front war. Hitler would be free to follow up with an invasion of the USSR in1940. If France won't fight to save Poland, would she really fight to save Communist Russia? After the USSR attacked Finland in November 1939?
Which brings up a sidebar, how much aid would France send Finland? And if France were neutral, would her ships be blocked passing through Baltic waters controlled by Germany? Any thoughts?
rubbish equipment from America
Quite pithy. Nice.
 
I am not quite certain Germany would attack a neutral France in 1940. If she were neutral, then the Soviet German Non-Aggression Pact of August 1939 will have served its purpose and kept Germany out of a two-front war. Hitler would be free to follow up with an invasion of the USSR in1940. If France won't fight to save Poland, would she really fight to save Communist Russia? After the USSR attacked Finland in November 1939?
Which brings up a sidebar, how much aid would France send Finland? And if France were neutral, would her ships be blocked passing through Baltic waters controlled by Germany? Any thoughts?

Quite pithy. Nice.

Hitler wanted punch France over Versailles. So he would invade the country anyway. And Hitler didn't care any shit about neutrality. Ask from Denmark, Norway and Benelux countries.
 
Hitler wanted punch France over Versailles. So he would invade the country anyway. And Hitler didn't care any shit about neutrality. Ask from Denmark, Norway and Benelux countries.
And France is the most powerful army in Western Europe. Just because it won't fight over Poland doesn't mean it won't fight over Belgium or the Netherlands, or keep rearming and outproducing Germany.
The Molotov Ribbentrop pact was to buy time to deal to France, add in that leaving France intact keeps Italy out of the war, and France before Soviets is the only practical option for Germany.
 

thaddeus

Donor
not sure why the Nazi regime wouldn't try to execute their political map of annexing the Low Countries and Switzerland (bringing them up to the French border where the Maginot Line does not exist)

Good point. I just had not thought of treating the Low Countries and France separately, although in a France not declaring war scenario, it is entirely possible, at least in theory.

I guess that is just a matter of tactical choice. Do the Germans see it as a manageable, and useful preliminary, providing good geographic position and advantage relative to France, that can be accomplished with speed, without alarming and causing excessive French reaction or preparation. Or does it 'telegraph' western intentions too much, so, it would be best to handle the Low Countries and France at once, in a single campaign of surprise blows?

my speculation is as simple as stated "why wouldn't they try?", and the Nazi regime viewed Norway, Denmark, and nearly all of the Low Countries as a natural part of the Reich.

as a practical matter with Norway and Denmark occupied (that was the predicate to my speculation) and a neutral France, the British have only the Low Countries (and that probably means only Belgium) as a feasible place to land a BEF? the Germans could check a British move there and be better positioned to battle France (immediately or later)

OTOH France has not come to the defense of Poland, what has that telegraphed? what kind of deal(s) might Germany be able to reach with the Netherlands, Belgium, and other countries without invasion?

So it does not have to be Poland 39, France 40, Russia 41 for him. It could be Poland 39, Balkans 40, France 41, Russia 42.

Poland 39, Switzerland & Balkans 40, Russia 41 (but with who joining in?)
 
Hitler wanted punch France over Versailles. So he would invade the country anyway. And Hitler didn't care any shit about neutrality. Ask from Denmark, Norway and Benelux countries.
This may be true, but which is more important to Hitler - Revenge for Versailles, or the Lebensraum in the East he has touted for 15 years since publishing Mein Kampf? Which fits better into Goebbel's endless blather about Jewish Bolshevism? Which offers more resources for the Third Reich's remaining 993 years?
France before Soviets is the only practical option for Germany.
I would be interested in the details and analytical process behind the assessment of practicality. As a side, would practicality outweigh ideology in a dysfunctional Nazi Regime?
 

thaddeus

Donor
since there is no functional Entente/Allies, how would the Soviets tailor their relations with Nazi Germany? especially if, as a couple of us suggested, Romania is occupied or a puppet regime instead of a putative ally (i.e. German controls all the oil), then the Soviets don't have Germany over a barrel (of oil.)

historically the flow of materials to Germany was halted or slowed, just IMO that would not happen here. the other question would be whether the Soviets move on any British interests as the Germans encouraged? such as Iran.
 
If Deladier suddenly backs away from war, the French will put someone else in power who will.
Maybe a former minister of war and current ambassador to Spain.
Oh the irony
 
This may be true, but which is more important to Hitler - Revenge for Versailles, or the Lebensraum in the East he has touted for 15 years since publishing Mein Kampf? Which fits better into Goebbel's endless blather about Jewish Bolshevism? Which offers more resources for the Third Reich's remaining 993 years?

I would be interested in the details and analytical process behind the assessment of practicality. As a side, would practicality outweigh ideology in a dysfunctional Nazi Regime?
While it's idealogically more important to move East, until the Winter War showed up Soviet weaknesses, the French look like a more achievanle target. In addition, attacking the Soviets requires a secure southern flank so needs preparatory diplomatic or military effort in Yugoslavia and Italy.
Attacking France (and the Low Countries) needs only reasonable confidence that Italy will be neutral or supportive, so is both easier and faster to organise.
Then there is the fact the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact creates a temporary lull in the east, so presents a chance to take on France without much risk of an attack. That's not the case if they head East, where France still remains a potential. threat with military assets right on the German border.
 

Garrison

Donor
This may be true, but which is more important to Hitler - Revenge for Versailles, or the Lebensraum in the East he has touted for 15 years since publishing Mein Kampf? Which fits better into Goebbel's endless blather about Jewish Bolshevism? Which offers more resources for the Third Reich's remaining 993 years?

I would be interested in the details and analytical process behind the assessment of practicality. As a side, would practicality outweigh ideology in a dysfunctional Nazi Regime?
Dealing with the French also went all the way back to Mein Kampf and was integral to Hitler's plans. Alsace-Lorraine was to be reclaimed and the threat of the French Army had to be removed so Germany could focus on the east. If France didn't declare war and the Werhmact is launched east in 1940 well it won't go well because even Stalin will have to accept there is only one purpose for that build up and for all the deficiencies of the Red Army the Wehrmacht simply can't deploy the kind of force it did in 1941, especially as a larger part of it will have to stay facing the French border, and all the while the French and the British get to finish their rearmament.
 

raharris1973

Gone Fishin'
This may be true, but which is more important to Hitler - Revenge for Versailles, or the Lebensraum in the East he has touted for 15 years since publishing Mein Kampf? Which fits better into Goebbel's endless blather about Jewish Bolshevism? Which offers more resources for the Third Reich's remaining 993 years?

I would be interested in the details and analytical process behind the assessment of practicality. As a side, would practicality outweigh ideology in a dysfunctional Nazi Regime?
Not just practicality, scriptural conformity with Mein Kampf if we are taking that as a sacred or semi-sacred Nazi text.

This is the fundamental difference between how Hitler and real Nazis grouped countries and western anti-communists sitting around doing armchair strategic willing to consider the Nazis as a redirected 'tool' or expedient grouped countries.

The anti-communist westerners grouped the Soviet Union, and in extremis, those east-central European countries that had the poor judgment/luck to reside in between Germany and the USSR as fair targets and outlets for Nazi aggression, while Britain, France, and those good civilized countries to the north and west of Germany, the Low Countries, Scandinavia, were to be left alone by a Nazi Germany playing fair and knowing the 'rules of the game' with the civilized powers of the world.

Whereas the only dividing line Hitler was actually willing to make was at the water's edge, to say that he was generously OK with letting Britain dominate the oceans and colonial world, unlike the last Kaiser and Tirpitz, provided Germany would be left unchallenged to dominate the North European plain - thus Russia AND France, and the connecting smaller countries, Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Low Countries, as needed. He saw Latin and Slavic peoples as occupying different places in racial hierarchy and Latins as having more cultural value and redeeming qualities, but he wanted political dominance over the whole north European geographic space, and would brook no competition or contestation of it.

Hitler's other concession was at the Alps' edge, unlike many other German rightists/nationalists, he saw German interests eastern Lebensraum and western/northern security as so overriding, and strategic interests with Italy running parallel enough, that he was willing to sacrifice the comparatively small racial interest in the Tyrolean Germans, that animated many other, less compromising figures.

And he respected the Japanese and their pride in their own culture and race, and their martial skill, and their strong front against the Russians going back to 1905. So another contrast with that last Kaiser, Mr. Yellow Peril.

Hitler and the Nazi party formed their views, which had a lot of rehashed material, from a retro 19th century views, when French hostility was pretty constant, but British was much less so. And the formative period of the early 20s, Munich Putsch and year in Landsberg and writing of Mein Kampf mirrored this again, with the Franco-Belgian Ruhr occupation going on, while the British were going much softer on Germany at the time. That almost assuredly shaped Hitler's views of British as basically good, Aryan Anglo-Saxons, prone to some unfortunate errors and misunderstandings, whereas the French were implacable enemies, becoming racially degraded by Jewry and African-mixing as well - here he was getting high on his own supply of German Rhineland occupation propaganda.

Because of these formative political beliefs, and the tendency of the French to be attempting more containment alliances against Germany than Britain, all the way through 1938, Hitler stuck to his worldview, and it hardly occurred to him to view *Britain* as his most implacable enemy, and France and the USSR as countries he could more likely bargain with, which was, or was becoming, the objective truth.

He was starting to sour on Britain a bit anyway by 1937 - not sure why - maybe because it nevertheless was rearming, or because despite its appeasing, it was still meddling, and still allowed a Hitler-critical press, and wrote about war with Britain being inevitable at some point.

By 1939, post Munich, Britain probably was more determined to resist him, and France had greater potential --not high potential, but some---to be tempted to stand aside, but he was too attached to his old thinking and hatreds to take such newer possibilities and opportunities to heart. He had, earlier in the thirties, been projecting/predicting a possibility of a French Civil War. There is a chance, if he was certain that would be a protracted affair that truly would be consuming French energies, allowing none to be spared for abroad, that then Hitler might have considered going east without going west. But even then, he might have intervened to crush the French left decisively, and then asserted Germany as definitive senior partner to the French right.
 
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