What if the Wehrmacht coup of 1938 had gone ahead?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by FalconHonour, Apr 15, 2019 at 1:04 PM.

  1. FalconHonour Well-Known Member

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    I was talking to a colleague today and the conversation turned to the intended Wehrmacht coup of 1938. Apparently, just before the Munich Agreement, the Wehrmacht were intending to overthrow Hitler, form a short-term military government and denazify the country before reinstating democracy. The British had been asked to stand firm in Munich long enough to make Hitler's order to march into Czechoslovakia illegal. That's all it would have taken for them to try. Indeed, they were loading the guns to storm the Reichstag when the news came through of 'Peace in Our Time'.

    But what if that news hadn't come through? What if the Wehrmacht had seized power and 'accidentally' shot Hitler in the process to avoid him having to stand trial? What would have happened then? How would the 1940s have panned out without a Nazi Germany? How different would Germany look today?
     
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  2. stevej713 Well-Known Member

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    Well for one, the Wehrmacht as a whole wasn't planning a coup. It was only a few of the most senior officers. Among the common soldiers, Hitler was something of a hero. Any attempted coup would have prompted mutinies throughout the Wehrmacht and would have had little chance of succeeding. If anything, it would have resulted in the Wehrmacht becoming MORE Nazified because the old guard would have been rounded up and shot.

    Secondly, the aristocratic Junkers in charge of the Wehrmacht, had they succeeded, would not have transitioned Germany to democracy, which they hated with a passion. Best case scenario is Germany becomes a Franco-style conservative dictatorship.
     
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  3. Alanith Well-Known Member

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    There would be no mutinies, because clearly the dastardly SS tried to stage a coup. Too bad we weren’t able to save the Fuhrer, indeed, we were only a few minutes late...
     
  4. Anime Ninja Well-Known Member

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    That is the story if they succeed, if they failed, the story would be very different and more bloody.
    Might have slowed the war or started a civil war. That is a huge butterfly.
     
  5. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    There's also the matter of what happens re the Sudetenland.

    The new dictator (whoever he is) may leave it on the back burner for a spell, but imho is pretty certain to revive the claim once German rearmament has progressed a bit further. He'll want to show that he can achieve as much as Hitler would have done.
     
  6. Detlef CMII

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    Actually it was quite a lot of the most senior officers. Plus quite a few junior officers. And this was the last time before WW2 that all of them were inside Germany. With easy communications among them. Which would have helped with the coup. Plus the SS wasn´t a factor back then.

    If I remember correctly the junior officer tasked with storming the Chancellory with Hitler choose his team from former non-Nazi free corps soldiers. And decided to disregard his orders. Apparently he was ordered to arrest Hitler. He decided that Hitler would be shot trying to flee. Because he thought that an alive Hitler would be too much of a threat.

    And no, among the common soldiers, Hitler wasn´t something of a hero yet.
    Even in September 1939 the US journalist Shirer did report that the Germans didn´t greet the outbreak of the war with cheers. They were glum.

    It was even less so in 1938. Hitler got his reputation because until September 1939 the British and French gave him everything they denied the democratic Weimar Republic.

    Hitler only became a hero after the defeat of France.

    A coup would have been quite possible in 1938.

    Unlikely.
    The only German general with political ambitions had been Kurt von Schleicher. And he was killed in the night of the long knives 1934.
    A constitutional monarchy seems much more likely.
     
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  7. Detlef CMII

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    It is really unlikely that the army for a second time would have agreed to swear an oath of obedience to a second dictator. Not after Hitler and his efforts to start a new "Great War". Which he made quite clear in 1938. Allegedly he was furious that the Munich agreement denied him the war he wanted.
    A constitutional monarchy seems much more likely.

    And that new Germany might have raised the question of the Sudetenland too. They wouldn´t have risked a war about it. And if they got the Sudetenland they wouldn´t have annexed the rest of Czechoslovakia.
     
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  8. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

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    It wasn’t “quite a lot” of the senior officers, it was a handful. Halder, Oster, most of the ‘44 crowd, but by no means a majority. That’s a good part of why it never went ahead. There just wasn’t the support for it. Hell, even in ‘44 when the pooch was well and truly screwed, there was nothing like a majority in favour of a coup.

    I didn’t know about that. Do you have a name for this officer? I wonder if he was amongst the ‘44 plotters as well?

    Hitler was popular enough to never be seriously troubled by a coup “from below” as it were. The Hitler Oath was a large part of that, though.


    Well, a restored Monarchy was never popular amongst the Wehrmacht, given the Kaiser’s role in 1918. Very few of the anti-nazis during WWII were what you would call monarchists. Most would fit in the authoritarian right wing mould, definitely not democratic - that was the taint of the hated Weimar. Even if the generals weren’t planning on becoming politicians, they had their own men in line to form a government. The Goerdelers of this world, etc. Look at the peace feelers they sent out during WWII, almost all of them required Germany kept its gains in Eastern Europe and it’s military. Even as late as ‘44, Von Staffenburg was assuming they would be keeping Poland.
     
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  9. oberdada Präsident des Welt- und Erdenballs

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    Even if they are successful at first, taking over Berlin, killing Hitler, etc. ; there is still the NSDAP and all its sub organisations fully functional.

    If the DAF organises a General Strike against the junta, it could be over very soon.
    Worked against Kapp, could work again.
     
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  10. longsword14 Communism: This time, we will get it right!

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    A Goerdeler would be a blessing. That is somebody with who the world could live with.
    It doesn't matter if the replacement is antidemocratic and fascist, as long as he is not willing to up the ante to OTL tensions.
     
  11. Landser03 Well-Known Member

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    As long as it wasn’t democracy, I’m sure the worst the Wehrmacht may react is with an indifferent shrug. That doesn’t mean that Wilhelm II regains his throne, that would cause a crisis all its own. Wilhelm III or his son Louis Ferdinand are the likely candidates. Wilhelm III is more palatable though since he seemed to be more in favour of a military regime.
     
  12. oberdada Präsident des Welt- und Erdenballs

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    They will have to wait until the old Kaiser is dead then.

    No Hohenzollern will take the throne without Wilhelm's consent, and he won't give it, wanting to be reinstated.
     
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  13. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

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    I mean that's still utopian compared to OTL...
     
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  14. Landser03 Well-Known Member

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    Wilhelm was more concerned with the restoration of his dynasty, if the condition was him stepping aside in favour of his son/grandson I think he would. Plus he’s an old man and three years away from death. I think in his declining health he’d be more likely to accept such a demand. The man wasn’t stupid, just excitable and lacking a filter on his mouth.
     
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  15. Zach Rowe New Member

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    That'd be great, have Hitler in there, get Germany out of the Great Depression & unite with Austria, without all the war-mongering. As for what would happen I don't know, I guess I'll give the lame answer & say that basically nothing would happen & the status-quo would be maintained in Europe. In my opinion, Germany today would look a lot better than the Germany in OTL, a Germany that's a lot more patriotic & not ashamed of it's history, also, with no 2nd world war, the Soviets wouldn't have expanded into half of Europe, which would also mean that the eastern Germans would not of been ethnically cleansed like they were in OTL during the war. ( Also, a Germany united with Austria would be amazing to see today ;) )
     
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  16. Dynasoar Yankee AeroSpace Pirate

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    When would the T-34s roll west?

    Dynasoar
     
  17. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    They wouldn't, unless/until the WAllies were at war with Germany. Stalin would never risk having to take on the whole of Europe.
     
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  18. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, on further thought, might they not even have to wait?

    If Chamberlain has already decided to concede the Sudetenland to Germany, does he necessarily change his mind because of the coup? After all, if appeasement is the right policy, how is any less right to appease a Germany run by respectable Army officers than one ruled by a "guttersnipe".
     
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  19. oberdada Präsident des Welt- und Erdenballs

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    Another idea: There is the coup, Hitler is dead, the country in disorder.
    Cut.
    A plane is landing on Tempelhof Airport.
    Enter: The Kaiser.
    He is back!
    Nobody asked him to come.
    But nobody is in place to actually send him home.
    So he gets into a Cab and goes to the palace anouncing that he has taken up the throne again, to secure the Reichs future in this dark hour.
     
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  20. Pennsylvania The Day Shall Come Again

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    [​IMG]
    Kaiser Wilhelm II sneaking into Germany following the overthrow of Adolf Hitler, 1938 (Colorized).