Hitler authorises the use of chemical weapons as the Allies cross into Germany.

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Download, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. Download Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2015
    Hitler was personally against CW use but lets say when he learns the Allies have crossed into Germany in a fit of rage he authorises the use of CWs including nerve agents. I'm not sure who stepped first into Germany (WAllies or Soviets) but if it was the WAllies it happened in March of '45.

    The Allies had no idea Germany had a nerve agent program. Though adequate for phosgene and mustard, their CW protections are completely inadequate in the face of nerve agents as it only consisted of a gas mask. Many troops had long abandoned their gas masks by this point making matters worse. The Allies also have no clue about treating nerve agent poisonings.

    I anticipate the war in Europe lasts another six months with another half-million to a million WAllied casualties. The UK and US respond with their own chemical agents both tactically and strategically, and the UK goes Operation Vegetarian. The Allies rush in rubber chemical suits which hit the front in a month or two. The Soviets suffer just as badly.

    In the end, the war in Europe ends in nuclear bombings. Given Hitler didn't give up until the end I suspect it will take a lot more bombs to force them to capitulate than it did the Japanese.
    bhlee0019 and Gwachiko like this.
  2. Gwachiko Well-Known Member

    Jun 9, 2017
    United States of Pangaea
    Germany is more severely punished at the end of the war and probably gets divided into multiple smaller countries (like it was before 1871).
  3. The Oncoming Storm Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2010
    Fighting the system from within
    Just two words

    Morgenthau Plan :frown:
  4. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    Sigh. If the only antigas equipment had consisted in a gas mask, then it wouldn't have been adequate to deal with mustard gas, you know. Fortunately, you are wrong. A commonly issued item like a rubberized poncho would already be useful against contact agents, and the Allied troops didn't discard that one. On top of that, standard-issue uniforms of the US soldiers had been treated and would offer a reasonable initial barrier even to nerve agents. Frontline troops actually had a double-layer protection, in that every sock and underwear piece was so treated. That might still leave some small surface of skin exposed, which might be enough to kill with nerve agents, and certainly enough to incapacitate, but it's a far cry from "only a gas mask". On top of that, the gas kits included impregnation materials that could be spread on any kind of clothing to make it resistant to chemicals. On top of that, even though many units had, after the end of operations in Normandy, withdrawn the gas masks to the company or battalion trains (not all soldiers just dropped them by the road side), the subsequent operations brought about a flurry of redistributing, reissuing, and resupplying gas masks and new filters.

    Really? March 1945? Who was in Aachen in September 1944?
  5. The Red A virulent, ignorant bigot

    Mar 30, 2008
    Occupied Scotland
    Hitler wasn't so much against chemical weapons as he was wary of Allied retaliation, presuming you mean the first major Allied offensives into Germany rather than simply crossing into German territory (Jan '45 for the Soviets/March '45 for the WAllies) then the German ability to project any sort of large scale chemical attack is going to be minimal, whilst the potential for Allied retaliation will be massive.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  6. riggerrob Well-Known Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    Hitler knew that using chemical weapons against WALLIES was suicidal because prevailing winds would blow those chemicals onto German soil.
    Far fewer reservations about gassing Soviet soldiers. If an extra million Poles were poisoned, the number would be too small to appear on German ledgers.
  7. thorr97 Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2009
    At the end, Hitler was on record as despising the German people for having "failed him." Thus he could rationalize the risk of any Allied "response in kind" as being a deserved fate for those German civilians who got to cough up their own lungs and choke to death on their own blood as the Allies - east and west - made it "rain" mustard gas and other chemical weaponry all across the Reich.

    And yeah, after that I think even the Morgenthau Plan would be seen as being too generous....
  8. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

    Dec 14, 2012
    Training in the use of these weapons had declined among the German soldiers. A few speciality units had a actual capability of deploying them, but the skill set across the board was weak.

    My gut feeling is that through poor Wehrmacht traning and Allied reaction this shortens the war six months.
    Michele likes this.
  9. Thoresby Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    I don't think this will shorten the war but as @Carl Schwamberger says the Wehrmacht of early 1945 was a shadow of it's former self. Remember operational use of chemical weapons requires far more than some stockpiles. You need weather experts to predict dispersion patterns, specially trained artillery crews, protective equipment needs to be produced and distributed, soldiers need to be taught how to operate in a chemical environment etc. By 1945 the Wehrmacht couldn't do any of that no matter what stockpiles were buried in various bunkers, 1944 had really wrecked it and the ability to fight a chemical war had been lost.
  10. Download Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2015
    Soldiers in WW1 dealt with mustard without chemical suits. I imagine it's not pleasant but it's not likely to kill you like nerve agents will.

    It's not much use without a gas mask and doesn't offer anywhere near the protection needed. As soon as a soldier hits the dirt to take cover from something their legs are going to make contact with nerve agent. Off the top of my head during the Cold War they predicted a 1-2% casualty rate per day to nerve agents and that was with full knowledge of the chemicals used, access to proper protective equipment and antidotes.

    Source please. I can't find anything on WW2 chemical warfare kit besides gas masks.
  11. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    You don't know how dichlorodiethylsulfide works? It's a vesicant agent, and it seeps through ordinary non-treated textiles like cotton or wool. The WWI soldiers "dealt with it" by becoming gas casualties. Not dead, but casualties nonetheless. Contrarily to what you seem to think, it's way more profitable for the attacker to cause non-lethal casualties. That way, you force other soldiers to bring the wounded back, and you quickly saturate the enemy's treatment facilities, first of all hospitals. That's why mustard gas, of which the Western Allies had mountains, is pretty effective even if not as modern as nerve agents.

    First of all, I didn't mention rain capes, rubberized ponchos and gloves, and impregnated uniforms to say that they would be as effective as a full chemical suit (of which the Allies also had some, though by far not for every soldier; only specialized chemical companies had them). I mentioned them to disabuse you and any casual reader of the weird notion that the Western Allies only had gas masks as their one antigas protective device.
    Now, it's true that rubberized rain cape and gloves, gas mask, waterproof boots and impregnated uniform do not provide complete protection against nerve agents. But still this is far better than being naked in their presence. On top of that, you shouldn't feel overly impressed by the lethality of, say, sarin. Yes, it's very lethal if inhalated (but there's the gas mask for that). It's also lethal if it touches your skin - but it takes 2 grams on the skin for a 70-kg man to reach the LD50. And that "50" means "50%", i.e. one man out of two with that dose will survive (albeit completely impaired at the time, and then probably with permanent neurological damage). Now, I guess that you are thinking about the tons of sarin the Germans had stocked. The only problem is that they had no way to administer 4 grams of it to every enemy soldier. The way this and every weapon works is to cause a 100,000% lethal "dose" at the point of impact of the bomb or artillery round... and the rest is spread out in circles in which the lethality drops very rapidly.

    So to go back to the rain poncho, if you are in it some 20 meters from the place where a sarin round falls, you are dead - then again, you might be even if that was a conventional HE round. If you are 100 meters from it, then that rain poncho might mean you have the time to get away, preferably moving to elevated, wind-favorable terrain.

    Consider the real sarin attack in the Tokyo metro. 4 liters of the substance caused... 12 deaths. They also caused some 4,000 non-lethal cases, and of course considerable disruption. But it's not as lethal in practice as you'd imagine by reading about its lethal dose. And remember: that was in enclosed spaces, metro wagons, inside an underground complex. Sarin evaporates very quickly and in the open, a very mild breeze entirely does away with it.

    Yeah, doesn't that tell you that you don't know enough about the topic you are trying to tackle. Try with Kleber and Birdsell, The Chemical Warfare Service: Chemicals in Combat. It focuses on the US Army CWS. Read and learn. You want something quicker? Look up "impregnite" and "CC-2".
  12. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    Generally I'd agree, save that if this happens in January 1945 as the Soviets advance across the German territory that was East Prussia, the war in Europe hasn't six months to run...

    I think that under the massive, round-the-clock gassing of German cities, the very social fabric of Nazi Germany bursts open within three weeks. Hospitals close within the first week out of sheer saturation, the end of medical supplies, and the casualties among their personnel, leaving the hundreds of thousands of casualties to fend for themselves. The distribution of food in cities stops, as it relied on the now dead horses to cover the distance to and from the nearest railway. Survivors flee from the cities to the countryside, abandoning their state administration, rear-area military, and war industry jobs, and the state is unable to stop them. Mobs lynch party officials and storm police stations, soldiers shoot their officers. Upheaval follows as the countryside people try to defend their food from the refugees. Epidemics follow as a consequence of the contamination of water reservoirs and of the untold numbers of unburied corpses, and, again, there are no hospitals. Soldiers desert in mass. Any semblance of military operations, including of course gas attacks, end within six weeks.

    Presumably that's not the end of the war in mid-March 1945, because on the one side, the Allied armies still are heavily disrupted by the gas attacks and cannot just quickly rush in, and on the other hand, there is no German government to sign a surrender. Presumably the mopping up lasts another month, and ends in mid-April 1945.

    No nukes on Germany. OTOH presumably, the consequences of Vegetarian will continue for years and not just in Germany. No Morgenthau Plan either, I'd say, not on a country that has lost an additional 5 millions or so to gases, starvation, epidemics, and civil disorder. The exception might be different partition ideas.
  13. Download Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2015
    Mustard casualties were delayed and while unpleasant were survivable with decontamination. They didn't get some on them and immediately drop to the ground as a casualty.

    Being condescending is not productive.

    I presume your 2g figure is for a modern military setting where a soldier is aware of the agent and proceeds to decontaminate themselves. Pubchem lists some LD50s as being much lower than 2g for an adult.

    At 20m in a foxhole you have a good chance of surviving a HE round. Mix in HE with chemical shells and you're have soldiers making a dash over open ground, assuming they even recognise an odourless and colourless chemical agent.

    You're misrepresenting the subway attacks. They put it in plastic bags, punctured them and dropped them on the floor of a train carriage. Explosive aerosolisation is completely different from that.

    Chemical warfare preparations for a non-chemical war. It's an obscure topic. Being a smug about it is not appreciated. I think you'll find even long-standing members on this board are lacking in information in this area.

    A shoe (clothing?) sealant and a decontaminant used for mustard. I guess you could try smearing your uniform with the impregnite but I'm not sure you'll have enough in the little tin, assuming it works on nerve agents. Assuming CC2 works on nerve agents, how are soldiers supposed to know they've been contaminated with an odourless and colourless agent?
  14. General Tirpitz Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2010
    The Kingdom of Finland
    It's also worth-noting that not all those bags were even punctured, some were left intact due to un-carefulness of terrorists. In addition, some of bags were only punctured once, which meant that they weren't able release significant amounts of poison. The attack could have been significantly worse than it was IOTL, but fortunately we got lucky.

    This attack often comes up in discussions in these discussions but I don't think it is a very good comparison.
  15. USSManhattan Teacher and Writer of Things

    Mar 27, 2014
    An Allied response in kind coupled with the aforementioned harsher treatment of Germany (or what was Germany) after the war.

    I'd have to questions how many German officers and soldiers would be that gung-ho about doing this, however.
  16. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    "Casualty" does not mean "dead".

    Fortunately there isn't much published research on the issue, and figures vary given that they are mostly estimations.

    You do realize that the one is at odds with the other? If you do achieve explosive aerosolization - which isn't a given with most of the weaponization systems available to Germany in 1945 - then that will be a visible mist in the air, defeating the notion that soldiers won't notice it.
    That said, sure, combined attacks would be pretty bad. The point remains, as to the rain capes etc., that even though it seems you find it difficult to accept it, the soldiers could use normal issue items for a partial protection from gases, including nerve agents.

    OTOH, when you are provided with a source, the courteous thing is to thank.

    Any impermeabilization works. Think about it. It's an aerosol, as you yourself mentioned. The way it works is that it travels in the air in the form of minuscule droplets, and once it falls on a surface, it's a liquid again. That is, as long as it doesn't simply evaporate, breaking down and quickly becoming harmless. Now, if it falls on a surface and that surface is your skin, a few drops will kill you. If however the surface is any clothing that is proofed against water, it will keep that liquid sarin out, too. It's not a corrosive agent that can burn through the waterproofing.

    Think about that gas attack you consider so irrelevant: the plastig bags - simple waterproof containers - kept the stuff in, and the attackers carried them around no problem. It did not seep through.

    Also, it wouldn't work that the soldiers find themselves under gas attacks and frantically start smearing stuff on their uniforms and raincoats. No. It would work that the first attacks catch the targets unaware and kill lots of them; they aren't carrying the gas masks. Fortunately, given the shape of Nazi Germany in 1945, that will be a half-cocked dog's dinner of an operation, and will amount to small and isolated attacks here and there. Count that some 20% of the ammunition will have been delayed by the continuous air attacks by the Allies, wrongly handled, spilt out etc. by untrained personnel (causing casualties on the Germans themselves), simply not loaded by officers who can read the writing on the wall and will have none of that, and not used at the planned time due to winds blowing in the wrong direction at that time.

    After that, if we're talking about the Western Allies, the company and battalion trains and stores hand out the gas masks to everybody in the frontlines. The soldiers are ordered to wear their treated uniforms (CC-2 had already been applied to a spare set of clothing and underwear), to renew the impermeabilization of their boots with the impregnite and to use it on gloves. They will be ordered to keep their rain capes at hand. They will be reminded of their training in how to face gas attacks, etc. etc. KIA figures will immediately drop, though WIA won't.
  17. pattersonautobody Well-Known Member

    Jun 13, 2014
    Allies entered Germany in Oct 1944. German weather experts correctly called the cloud cover during the Battle of the Bulge. So, a break out part for chemical weapons in Dec 1944 could have really gave the Wallies a run for their money for a little bit.
  18. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

    Dec 14, 2012
    Wish I had been able to retain the chemical weapons training from the 1980s, and that it were declassified. Maybe it is. I'll note that the nerve agents like Sarin have a limited effective temperature range for optimal use. At the temperatures and humidity common Oct through January the aerosols produced by projectile detonations are going to congeall into larger droplets that will fall to the ground faster. Below a temperature the droplets solidify & don't soak into anything. They lay there & slowly decompose. When still liquid the Ph of the rain or mist they mix with affects decomposition.
  19. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    Here we go again with the weather being a negative factor for one side and not for the other!
    A sizable part of the German weaponization for gas use amounted to aerial bombs. In December 1944 they did not have the lift to employ all of that, but by choosing no-fly weather, they are grounding all of it.
    Naturally they might still launch missions with night-flight techniques to hit the rear areas. That will have some solid shock value in said rear areas. But most of the bombs will fall in the open countryside, and a few in the German rear areas, if Steinbock is any indication.

    The rest is artillery: 105mm, 150mm, and rocket rounds. The Germans historically did advance quickly beyond the first 13 kms; at that point, they're beyond the range of their artillery, and they have to move that forward. They weren't, historically, very quick in doing that (those bad roads, you see). And two thirds of the forces used for the operation were ordinary infantry and Volksgrenadier divisions; that means the artillery, as well as most of the supply train, is relying on horses. One of the artillery battalions of the VG division can't fire gas shells because it lacks the caliber.

    By using gases during Wacht am Rhein, the Germans are selecting the best equipped enemy both as to gas defense (see my posts above) and for retaliation. The USA had no treaty constraint; on the contrary, they have vouched they won't make first use of gases. As soon as he was positive that the enemy made first use, Eisenhower would be free to retaliate. Gas ammo was stored at divisional level, and chemical mortar companies were attached to most infantry divisions; additionally, the integral artillery battalions of US divisions had no shortage of tubes able to fire chemical rounds.
    pattersonautobody and The Red like this.
  20. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

    Oct 4, 2005
    Doesn't lengthen the war by more than 6-8 weeks, jacks up casualties all the way around, but German civilians, who lack even rudimentary protection and are cowering in below ground shelters almost every day/night, are devastated as the Allies drench the Reich with chemicals that are heavier than air and will go down INTO the shelters.

    Germany recovered fairly quickly IOTL. That will not be case here, not with a few MILLION more blinded and/or immune compromised people to care for.

    Actually the idea is so self destructive and foolish that it is right up Hitler's alley.