How "should" WWII in 1940 have gone?

The British establishment of the time, including the most powerful members of the cabinet, and the Prime Minister was extremely, near myopically, focused on avoiding war. In fact, the thing they can, and have, been criticized most for is being so committed to avoiding war that they ignored provocation and failed to prepare the nation for the war they should have seen coming. An accusation most often defended against by the equally true rejoinder that the British people were broadly hostile to any act that might lead to increased tensions and the possibility of another Great War.

In other words, niceness had nothing to do with it. In the considered opinion of a majority of the British public and the leaders of the British political establishment, it was very much not in Britains interest to go to war. Which makes the 1930’s and 40’s about the epitome of “don’t start none, won’t be none”.
My two cents on the matter are that neither the German nor British people wanted war. But also we can reasonably expect everyone to violate international law in some fashion if they think it will get them ahead or if they think it's the only way to hurt the enemy. If the Germans had not initiated terror bombing, the Allies surely would have in the lull after the Battle of France. The same applies vice versa of course, as well. Same goes for things like respecting neutrals' sovereignty. If you believe your country will derive a major advantage from a violation, you will almost always do it. The difference is not so much in the basic willingness to violate law, but in war goals, which in the case of Nazi Germany were inherently criminal, whereas British goals were lawful. If your war goals are criminal against all the laws of man, it follows that you will in pursuit of them not respect the laws of civilization.
 
Conspiracy theories and infighting ravaged the French political establishment so much, that stuff leaked into the military and hampered its leaders' performance. Many officers thought this was dumb, but were forced to go along with it to do what senators wanted and keep them happy. The problem was, this core conspiracy "fanbase" was completely delusional, which led to bad orders and the Fall of France. It could have happened anyway due to the outdated tactics most in Europe still had from World War I that assumed the defense had the advantage, but it could have at least happened differently if more knew what they were doing.

Because of certain politicians' obsessive hate of communism and minimal knowledge of the military they had substantial control over, even the USSR itself thought they were going to invade. Though that never happened, the French spending money to try to "get" the USSR when they were already fighting Germans was a horrible mistake that could have been avoided.
 
@kham_coc And I was referring to this post of yours:
Indeed, they were so un-nice that they were inspired by, checks notes, The UK and the US.
In living memory mind you.
This surely sounds like whataboutism.


It's Lebensraum - And no, invading Poland wasn't (really) that, that was the USSR.
And just how is Germany going to reach the Lebensraum in the east, if not by going through Poland? Initially Hitler hoped to have the Poles on his side, but once they refused, they ended up being categorized as the same untermensch trash like anyone else.

No my point was that a hypothetical 100% liberal democratic Germany could have found itself at war with say the Sanjaca regime who genuinely treated all minorities atrociously, and the UK and France is fairly likely to back Poland anyway (think say, Saudi Arabia, right now).
It's Sanacja, not Sanjaca. And what you call the atrocious treatment of all minorities, was simply the preference of Poles (either people who converted to catholicism) in the administrative positions and career promotion. And it was mostly in Kresy which were seen as polonisable. Sure, occasionally it went down to the attacks on the orthodox churches or the collective punishment action in 1930, but that was only against the Ukrainians and in response to the ukrainian terrorists who had been notoriously financed and equipped by Germany as a way of proxy war against Poland, with just a short period of relaxation in 1934-1938 when Hitler stopped the Weimar Republic's support for ukrainian terrorism for the sake of improving the relations with Poland. Huh, the way I see it, Hitler strangely started making up the stories about "massacres upon the Germans" only after the Poles refused to march with him on the USSR.
 
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Conspiracy theories and infighting ravaged the French political establishment so much, that stuff leaked into the military and hampered its leaders' performance. Many officers thought this was dumb, but were forced to go along with it to do what senators wanted and keep them happy. The problem was, this core conspiracy "fanbase" was completely delusional, which led to bad orders and the Fall of France. It could have happened anyway due to the outdated tactics most in Europe still had from World War I that assumed the defense had the advantage, but it could have at least happened differently if more knew what they were doing.

Because of certain politicians' obsessive hate of communism and minimal knowledge of the military they had substantial control over, even the USSR itself thought they were going to invade. Though that never happened, the French spending money to try to "get" the USSR when they were already fighting Germans was a horrible mistake that could have been avoided.
When it comes to the Soviets, France still hoped that the Soviets are about to fight Germany, whereas at this point it was just absurd to think so. The Soviet Union was then fueling the III Reich with the massive ammounts of resources from the german-soviet commercial agreements.
 

kham_coc

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This surely sounds like whataboutism.
No see you misunderstand that sentence - un-nice - Was understatement. They were in fact some of the worst people ever.

And just how is Germany going to reach the Lebensraum in the east, if not by going through Poland?
Again i think you are misunderstanding me, lebensraum was meant to be up to the Urals, so when I say that wasn't their motivation for invading Poland, I only mean that in the Geographical sense.

Initially Hitler hoped to have the Poles on his side, but once they refused, they ended up being categorized as the same untermensch trash like anyone else.
Also true.
It's Sanacja, not Sanjaca.
That's fair.
And what you call the atrocious treatment of all minorities, was simply the preference of Poles (either people who converted to catholicism) in the administrative positions and career promotion.
So an apartheid state then?

Hitler strangely started making up the stories about "massacres upon the Germans" only after the Poles refused to march with him on the USSR.
You do get that the Polish state's repression of (again everyone) Germans started in the 20´s?
It was like the first thing they did once they could.
 
@kham_coc All I'm saying is that to treat Poland as some kind of bloodthirsty hell is ridiculous. While the Germans weren't liked due to bad memories of how the Poles had been treated within the German Empire, there were never any massacres. There was the so called Bromberg Massacre, but on 3 September 1939 - two days after Germany already invaded alongside the systematic bombardments of the civilian targets. And there are countless pseudohistorians who have hyped themselves for the Bromberg Massacre and miserably fail to notice the date.
 
@kham_coc All I'm saying is that to treat Poland as some kind of bloodthirsty hell is ridiculous. While the Germans weren't liked due to bad memories of how the Poles had been treated within the German Empire, there were never any massacres. There was the so called Bromberg Massacre, but on 3 September 1939 - two days after Germany already invaded alongside the systematic bombardments of the civilian targets. And there are countless pseudohistorians who have hyped themselves for the Bromberg Massacre and miserably fail to notice the date.
It was narration similar to the one used by Russia against Ukraine since 2014.
 

CalBear

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No see you misunderstand that sentence - un-nice - Was understatement. They were in fact some of the worst people ever.


Again i think you are misunderstanding me, lebensraum was meant to be up to the Urals, so when I say that wasn't their motivation for invading Poland, I only mean that in the Geographical sense.


Also true.

That's fair.

So an apartheid state then?


You do get that the Polish state's repression of (again everyone) Germans started in the 20´s?
It was like the first thing they did once they could.
Right back to the well I see.

Germans were NOT under constant attack regarding their civil liberties "as the first thing [the Poles] did". In truth the average German ancestry Polish citizen had an income ABOVE the Polish national average figure, had schools where their children were educated in German, and had full voting rights. Were ANY of the various minorities beloved by the Polish majority? Not really, but the had 20%+ of the seats in the legislature (which was probably less Gerrymandered than a number of American states before 1980). The situation in Poland for its ethnic minorities in the immediate post-independence era was the same to somewhat better than was the case across what had previously been the now defunct Austrian, German, Ottoman and Russian Empires (or, for that matter, the rest of Europe).

Only difference was that the Reich's leadership spent half a decade selling a whole different lie (the Nazis were REALLY good at that).

Since you made your choice by posting this immediately after returning from a kick (despite 'saying all the right things' as it were upon your return) it is clear that you have no real interest in abandoning a quite disturbing line of reasoning.

To Coventry with You.
 
@kham_coc All I'm saying is that to treat Poland as some kind of bloodthirsty hell is ridiculous. While the Germans weren't liked due to bad memories of how the Poles had been treated within the German Empire, there were never any massacres. There was the so called Bromberg Massacre, but on 3 September 1939 - two days after Germany already invaded alongside the systematic bombardments of the civilian targets. And there are countless pseudohistorians who have hyped themselves for the Bromberg Massacre and miserably fail to notice the date.
Indeed. While the interwar Polish state can be criticized for its increasingly bigoted treatment of its minorities under the increasingly right-wing Sanacja dictatorship, it wasn't half as bad as the Third Reich treated its own. Racism as policy was inherent to being a nation-state in the twentieth century, but it was on a spectrum, and Poland was far from the worst in central and eastern Europe where chauvinistic policy was concerned.
 
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Starting a 1940 French reenacting group, so been reading a lot about the period. I've only read about half of the sources I had planned to read so far, but the overall takeaway I am getting is that France had everything it needed to beat Germany in 1940.

The issue was not material things like manpower, weapons or even necessarily tactics (although their inability to concentrate their objectively better tanks is a painful "WHY DIDN'T YOU DO THAT" thing when reading the sources), but national will. France suffered enormously in World War I and there just wasn't the will to continue the fight. It is especially disheartening because the French were starting to learn how to deal with the Germans - fully half of all Heer casualties were taken after Dunkirk. There just wasn't the will to send another generation to the graveyard. Of course, hindsight is what it is, but the French people in 1940 didn't know how bad things were going to get (and to their credit, many did change their allegiance after once it was shown how bad things would get).

Avoiding a big defeat like the French suffered in 1940, and you keep them in the war and grind the Germans down.
I think this is often overstated. Yes. French tanks were better armoured and had better guns, but they had terrible ergonomics and lacked radios so their response time was worse in a war of movement. The failure of France wasn’t inevitable, but I think we need a pre-war POD to achieve a French victory. Unfortunately for the French, they lacked the strategic depth to trade land for time, learn from previous mistakes and come back for the Germans like the Soviets. And unlike the British and the Americans, they couldn’t retreat beyon a body of water and prepare for the second round. As a lover of France (with French ancestors), I kind of wish they’d continued fighting from Algeria. But even that would have left them crippled. Most of France’s industry was in the North. Close to the German border. France didn’t have a lot of room to make mistakes.
 
Again absolutely correct. But how could a German response be any worse than what actually happened after 10 May 1940?
I am also willing to bet my ass against any non-pornographic body part of anyone else that both Belgium and the Netherlands would have been better off in an alliance with Great Britain and France.

Correct.

The Dyle Plan or aka Plan D was fubarred before it even started as they knew that they couldn't possibly move fast enough into Belgium (most likely the same for the BEF) to head off the German advance.

Having the B.E.F or French troops already in Belgium negates this.

Quoted from Wikiposterous

French doubts about the Belgian Army led to uncertainty about whether French troops could move fast enough into Belgium to avoid an encounter battle and fight a defensive battle from prepared positions. The Escaut Plan/Plan E and Dyle Plan/Plan D were devised for a forward defence in Belgium, along with a possible deployment on the French–Belgian border to Dunkirk. Gamelin chose the Escaut Plan, then substituted Plan D for an advance to the line of the Dyle, which was 43–50 mi (70–80 km) shorter. Some officers at Grand Quartier Général (GQG, general headquarters of the French Army) doubted that the French could arrive before the Germans.
 
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Had the British and French been capable of fighting in May 1940 like they had done in the summer of 1918 then WW2 would have been a damn sight shorter and very likely not so World War!

Didn't they though?

Could the outcome in 1940 be recognised more as a result of the way armies were being mechanized with more use of tanks and trucks than 1918?
 

Jacarí

Kicked
Correct.

The Dyle Plan or aka Plan D was fubarred before it even started as they knew that they couldn't possibly move fast enough into Belgium (most likely the same for the BEF) to head off the German advance.

Having the B.E.F or French troops already in Belgium negates this.

Quoted from Wikiposterous

French doubts about the Belgian Army led to uncertainty about whether French troops could move fast enough into Belgium to avoid an encounter battle and fight a defensive battle from prepared positions. The Escaut Plan/Plan E and Dyle Plan/Plan D were devised for a forward defence in Belgium, along with a possible deployment on the French–Belgian border to Dunkirk. Gamelin chose the Escaut Plan, then substituted Plan D for an advance to the line of the Dyle, which was 43–50 mi (70–80 km) shorter. Some officers at Grand Quartier Général (GQG, general headquarters of the French Army) doubted that the French could arrive before the Germans.

But they did get to the Dyle and defended the Gembloux Gap, didnt they? AFAIK that part of the plan succeeded, the problem was in Sedan and Breda.
 

Jacarí

Kicked
I think this is often overstated. Yes. French tanks were better armoured and had better guns, but they had terrible ergonomics and lacked radios so their response time was worse in a war of movement. The failure of France wasn’t inevitable, but I think we need a pre-war POD to achieve a French victory. Unfortunately for the French, they lacked the strategic depth to trade land for time, learn from previous mistakes and come back for the Germans like the Soviets. And unlike the British and the Americans, they couldn’t retreat beyon a body of water and prepare for the second round. As a lover of France (with French ancestors), I kind of wish they’d continued fighting from Algeria. But even that would have left them crippled. Most of France’s industry was in the North. Close to the German border. France didn’t have a lot of room to make mistakes.

The German plan was suicidal and the product of Germany's desperate strategic position, had the French been able to better coordinate their counterattacks, to better communicate, the German spearhead would have been cutoff and the war would have ended right there.

We are too used to blaming the French and seeing the German victory as a natural one... when it was a very, very stupid plan that succeeded due to a combination of bad French doctrine and luck.
 
I do wonder, had the Allied plan worked, and Germany finds itself stuck behind one Belgian river or another, what does hitler do? I could very well see him eagerly feeding the meatgrinder, ordering insane assaults against fortified allied positions until his armor is chewed up.
 

Jacarí

Kicked
I do wonder, had the Allied plan worked, and Germany finds itself stuck behind one Belgian river or another, what does hitler do? I could very well see him eagerly feeding the meatgrinder, ordering insane assaults against fortified allied positions until his armor is chewed up.

He almost crippled the German economy by diverting steel towards artillery shells, fully expecting another round of trench warfare.
 
Didn't they though?

Could the outcome in 1940 be recognised more as a result of the way armies were being mechanized with more use of tanks and trucks than 1918?
I think if you could have replaced the 1940 officers and men of the BEF and French Armies with the same officers and men who were fighting the campaigns of the Summer of 1918 they would have done a far better job.

I mean just look at the shit show that was the French defence of Sedan - it was not that they failed in their attempt to defeat the crossing - they just completely failed to attempt to defeat it - for 3 days - while the Germans desperately sorted out the worlds most armoured traffic jam!

Concentration of forces to defend against the point of an attack was not some form of new and fantastical military art - we saw the Coalition do it before the battle of Quatra Bras and subsequently Waterloo, Lee do it during the Maryland campaign an we should have seen it at Sedan.

55th Division was as we know shattered by heavy Stuka attacks (in leu of sufficient artillery) and rendered ineffective for teh rest of the battle by the heaviest and most intense Luftwaffe attack of the entire war on the Divisions Bunkers and trenches and this mighty air attack inflicted a staggering......56 casualties.

I think soldiers of the Great War who suffered far heavier losses through sustained artillery bombardments and knew to actually bury their telephone cables might not have broken in such a fashion.

And very unlikely to have had situations such as the the panic of Bulson where an incorrect rumour regarding approaching tanks when the German armour was still on the other side of the river resulted in the 55th Division units abandoning their positions and heavy equipment.
 
The German plan was suicidal and the product of Germany's desperate strategic position, had the French been able to better coordinate their counterattacks, to better communicate, the German spearhead would have been cutoff and the war would have ended right there.

We are too used to blaming the French and seeing the German victory as a natural one... when it was a very, very stupid plan that succeeded due to a combination of bad French doctrine and luck.
I didn’t blame the French, but better communication and coordination would have had to be prepared before the war. They needed more radios and more experience. That was one of the decisive factors in Germany’s victory. It allowed them to move more flexibly and respond quicker to changing circumstances on the front. I’m not saying the French Army was bad at all. If anything, I’d say it was probably second only to the Germans. They just weren’t ready.
 
Been referred to here, but bears clear repeating. The Luftwaffe bombing plan captured in the Mellichin Incident should have made it clear the danger Belgium was in. The Belgians had other intel supporting that as well, but as too often happens wishful thinking substituted for a tough decision.

Had the Belgian seen the reality in January or February, or even in March 1940 they'd have initiated measures to assist the French/Brits in execution of a modified Plan D. They did not need French field armies to enter Belgium right away, but some robust liaison and planning would have done a lot. That includes a somewhat better positioning of the Belgian army, and perhaps the most important a understanding of what each intended to do in the Ardennes, and a better defense there. Delaying Kliests Panzer Group even a few days in the Ardennes does a lot to wreck the Sicklecut plan. Jamming the roads, and buying precious time for the defense to solidify along the Mesue River.
 
If you simplify warfare into a dice game, I would say that the otl 1940 invasion of France was Germany consistently rolling a 4 or 5 on average. They didn't rely entirely on luck to win due to the obvious inherent advantages they had, however the campaign could have went significantly worse with the tiniest of pods.

I would say in a world where Germany, France, and Great Britain are all rolling 3s and 4s and luck is split 50/50, I think Germany still manages to grind it's way to Paris after 2-3 months and force France to submit, but the peace deal is much more conditional and the British/Free French forces come out of the campaign much more intact and the German military is much more heavily damaged, to the point where Barbarossa needs to be permanently postponed and Hitler embraces a larger Mediterranean strategy as his only move forward.
Why would Italy jump in if the French were still in decent shape and not collapsing? There is no Mediterranean strategy available in this scenario.
 
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