Who would win a 1939 War: German Polish Alliance vs Soviet Union

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Jiraiyathegallant, Nov 28, 2019.

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Who wins?

  1. Germany and Poland win a total victory early

    2 vote(s)
    1.3%
  2. Germany and Poland have early success, get bogged down, but eventually win a total victory

    18 vote(s)
    11.5%
  3. Germany and Poland have early success, get bogged down, but eventually win a limited victory

    78 vote(s)
    49.7%
  4. Stalemate

    7 vote(s)
    4.5%
  5. The Soviets eventually win a total victory

    26 vote(s)
    16.6%
  6. The Soviets eventually win a limited victory

    26 vote(s)
    16.6%
  1. Jiraiyathegallant Well-Known Member

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    Let’s say Poland accepts one of Germany’s alliance offers but things otherwise play out the same up through Germany taking the rest of Czechoslovakia (with Poland’s assistance) in 1939.

    Germany and Poland launch a surprise attack sometime in mid-late 1939. Who wins this war?
     
  2. Nikoloz probably high as he wrote this↓

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    Dec 27, 2018
    In a scenario where the Axis refrains from taking on the France/UK, I'd bank on a pyrrhic Axis victory followed by an interminable Russian insurgency. The rest of the world will be happy to let the hated Nazis and Soviets grind each other into dust. An analogue to NATO will form to defend against the victorious Axis, and a Cold War will set in.

    That said, that is far too moderate a plan for the Nazis to accept. They'll likely bite off more than they can chew by, for example, immediately going after France. There is no way they could tolerate leaving Alsace-Lorraine to them.
     
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  3. RMcD94 Well-Known Member

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    Would there be lend lease?
     
  4. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    I checked "Soviet total victory."

    Even Hitler was not so impetuously overconfident as to assume that the Reich would in fact break Soviet military power without first acquiring the resources of all continental Europe!

    Russia, under Soviet power or before or I assume today, has the strategic advantage of depth, and part of Stalin's rather terrible and inefficient, but as it turned out effective, industrial development strategy was to locate key industries far to the east, beyond the Urals.

    There is every reason to credit Hitler with strategic surprise achieved via the Berlin-Moscow pact. When the Nazis took over in Germany in 1933, the Soviet Union made overtures of cooperation; after all in the previous decade, the German military had secretly and illegally, per the Versailles Treaty, made deals with the Soviets to run war games and test technology on Soviet soil, hidden from the Versailles enforcer powers. The odd couple of German reaction and the USSR had precedent in other words. But in those early days, Hitler completely rebuffed any hint of cooperation with the Communist giant and Soviet policy was subsequently geared to the assumption Hitler would attack someday. By 1939, Litvinov's foreign policy initiatives seeking a common front with the liberal great powers to contain the Reich had failed. Without Hitler suddenly out of a blue sky offering the cooperation that Stalin had sought and been refused six years previously, the Red Army would be an alert, and Soviet intelligence would surely observe signs of Polish-Reich cooperation and interpret it as a possible plan to attack. As things were instead, Hitler's OTL scheme paid off brilliantly for him; it moved the Entente allies from distaste for the Soviets to outright outrage and contempt; it made the conquest of part of Poland that much easier for the Germans, giving the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe valuable seasoning in real war conditions (other than pitifully easy operations against a disarmed and dismembered Czechoslovakia, the only German forces with a whiff of fighting since the Great War were those involved in the Spanish Civil War, and for most 1939 German forces the attack on Poland was their first taste of real combat, those who were not Great War veterans anyway, and no one had experience with the package of modern weapons the General Staff had accumulated in the interim, again beyond SCW experience) without too much risk. It secured the German eastern rear allowing Hitler to systematically carry out his plan of piecemeal conquest of the west, starting with Scandinavia, then the Low Countries, then France itself. Ignoring the value of Poland and Norway and Denmark (indeed Norway over the course of the war was something of a drain on forces who might have been of more value elsewhere) the industries and agriculture of the Netherlands, Belgium and most of all of course France permitted Hitler to greatly multiply the force he could throw against the Soviets. And in fact he did take Stalin by surprise. It is a fact that Stalin got many warnings of Barbarossa, from Soviet agents as well as from the British, but the problem was that Stalin had gotten many such warnings in the past. Mind, the biggest problem was that Stalin had a strong will to believe he had made a deal with Hitler that would last, that with another ruthless dictator like Hitler he was dealing with someone whom the Soviet Union could do business. We should also not forget that part of the Pact was the Soviets agreeing to deliver great quantities of resources the Germans valued very highly, none of which were available to Hitler in summer and fall of 1939.

    So--the Reich forces, even augmented by everything Poland could supplement them with, would be far weaker than those that carried out Barbarossa OTL. The Red Army would be far less liable to be caught flat-footed. The Luftwaffe would not be permitted, as Stalin permitted OTL, to fly scouting missions in advance--OTL Stalin was afraid of provoking the Germans and tolerated a great deal from them that would not be tolerated if the Reich were assumed to be the implacable foe preparing to attack it was assumed to be prior to Hitler's kind offer of alliance.

    Now of course the Red Army was also deranged by purges, and lacking the benefit of the two years of technological upgrades and general preparation 1939-late spring 1941 afforded them.

    We know from OTL that the Soviet Union was able to absorb the terrible blow of Barbarossa in full brutality, and lose pretty much all of old Russia most of the way to the Urals and Caspian Sea. Much is made of Lend-Lease aid to the USSR, but a simple fact about Lend-Lease is that while ultimate delivery was of staggeringly high levels of resources, it took time to get going, and most of the mass of aid was delivered in the last years of the war. Whereas the battle of Stalingrad represents the great turning point, after which the Wehrmacht would be on the back foot and collapsing in retreat before a rising Soviet onslaught. By the time of Stalingrad, the USSR had received only a small fraction of the total aid they would later get.

    So I believe there is no way a German-Polish strike would penetrate as deeply, meaning the ATL USSR would retain more resources, against a fundamentally weaker Axis force doomed to be checked earlier, farther west, and then shoved back to the prewar Polish border and beyond.

    Would Stalin try to negotiate a Brest-Litovsk style concession to the Germans, if there were no prospect of any aid from any Western power whatsoever?

    I really think not!
     
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  5. HARRY Member

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    Jan 9, 2004
    I picture the Nazi / Polish invasion of Russia going a bit like this Monty Python skit with Stalin using the ever reliable fall back and scorch the earth tactic until the inevitable.
     
  6. 33k7 Well-Known Member

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    so Germany doesn't even think about invading the Polish and just go straight for the Soviets Finland and hungry probably join the War to you probably also have a lot of volunteers coming from Italy and the Baltic states
    not to mention you probably have the Western Nations supporting the Polish with their own volunteers and material

    no Allied bombing campaign on Germany and no Allied Lend-Lease to the ussr I don't see how we have a Soviet victory
     
  7. Nikoloz probably high as he wrote this↓

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    Shevek did address the Lend-Lease bit. As for the bombing campaign: it's more or less the same story. By the time the tide turned on the Eastern Front, the western allies had only inflicted a fraction of the damage that was to come. I wouldn't call it a decisive factor in this time frame.

    As for the ultimate result of this war... I made my post assuming that the M-R Pact happens ITTL while the Nazis secretly plan a joint offensive with Poland. So there is still an element of surprise here. It's true that the Germans won't have the resources they captured on the western front IOTL, but I estimate that having Poland on their side and launching alt-Barbarossa ~2 years early would more than make up for this, as the Red Army have had even less time to recover from Stalin's purges or prepare in general.
     
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  8. Jiraiyathegallant Well-Known Member

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    If you think it would exist, then sure.
     
  9. SpicyJuan Well-Known Member

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    LL ITTL is ASB
     
  10. Michele Well-Known Member

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    Let's start with the other powers.
    Why should Finland participate? IOTL, they wanted back the territory they lost to the Soviets in the Winter War. No such war here. They clearly see they stand to gain by remaining neutral, while they'd risk a lot by joining in - for what? They might be German-friendly, but neutral. Same applies to the Baltic states.
    Why should Hungary enter? They fear Communism, but it's not as if they're German-friendly at this time. Teleki was Prime Minister, and IOTL it took his sucide to realign Hungary with Germany. And the Vienna Award - another non-event here.
    OTOH, Romania just might join. But that actually implies two separate wars against the SU, with the Romanians as co-belligerents, not allies. There are neutral states between Romania and Germany, barring easy redeployments. And even so, once the Romanians have retaken Chisinau, why should they go beyond the Dnestr?

    Now to the main front.
    There is no strategic surprise whatsoever. For the German troops to participate to the initial attack, they have to redeploy to Poland. That's not going not to be noticed. There is no excuse. There is no Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to give Stalin a false sense of security. There will be no easy slaughter of the VVS on day one, there will be no easy first encirclement of the best troops in the West in the Bialystok pocket.

    It's true the Krasnaya Armiya's officer corps has been more recently beheaded. OTOH, the border fortification line is still one and in place. The armored units are not in the midst of a reformation. And there's a pool of competent officers in the Far East.

    Yes, the Soviets have no T-34 or KV-1. OTOH, has anybody looked up what passed for the Heer's tank complement in September 1939?

    My assessment is that the German-Polish offensive will bog down within 150 kms from the border by the first snow. They'll then be taken by surprise by the Soviet winter counterattack. This will fail due to poor organization and leadership, but not without causing heavy casualties on the enemy. The offensive will be renewed after the spring thaws, but by then the Soviets will be ready. That doesn't mean the enemy won't advance, but the inroads will be eventually contained. By the fall of 1940, there's a stalemate. Probably the line runs from Pskov to Smolensk to Dnepropetrovsk. The Germans are running out of rubber and aluminium.
     
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  11. Paolo Giusti Kaleckist-leninist

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    USSR would fall back until Axis run out of rubber, oil and rare earths (no lend-lease and Germany had no currency reserves).
    Then Stalin crush Axis until the West stop him: limited USSR victory.
    BTW, FDR would be Stalin's ally ITTL.
    BTW 2: we are forgotting of Japan: they were at war with USSR in 1939.
     
  12. Michele Well-Known Member

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    Nov 9, 2007
    Japan is indeed one of the reasons why I see a long-lasting stalemate rather than a limited Soviet victory. There is a better chance than in OTL for the go-North option.

    I wouldn't be sure the Germans run out of oil. In the worst case, the Romanians are friendly, and the 1939 German army (and its subsequent evolution in this ATL) needs less oil than in OTL. In the best case, the Romanians are co-belligerents of the German-Polish alliance. OTOH, as mentioned by both me and you, they do run out of rubber, aluminium, manganese etc.

    I'm curious about the US alliance with the Soviet Union you suggest, though. Why? Especially if you start with "no Lend-Lease", how does that develop into a military alliance?
     
  13. Paolo Giusti Kaleckist-leninist

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    I said Japan was forgotten since OP not talked about it, I am courious about his/her opinion.

    No lend-lease from UK-France to Axis.
    On the contrary, IMHO USA would see USSR as its natural ally: two young countries against the Old World. I am on phone, may I ask you to wait until i will be back at home?
    But i really doubt the Alliance would be military: in this case Yes, i think there would be a lend-lease, or unsecured loans, while embargo against Axis.
    An Axis Japan would push China-lobby on Soviet-lobby.
     
  14. Titanicus Very Well-Hated Member

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    why?
     
  15. JohnBull Well-Known Member

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    I gather this version of Germany is much less murderous and racist. In this case, Ukraine could easily defect and join the war effort, knocking USSR for good. Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad would be captured and it would be very hard for Russians to revert that.

    Germany would probably got some territorial concessions from the Poland, something between 1914 and 1939 borders, and reward them with territories east.
     
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  16. Michele Well-Known Member

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    A less murderous and racist Germany just doesn't wage a crazy war on the SU. In any case, the POD is 1939.

    As to the Polish motives - and, therefore, rewards - better not to go there, or we would have to conclude this has to go to the ASB subforum.
     
  17. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

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    Would this be a sentiment that develops 1938-40ish ITTL? Bearing in mind there’s no historical basis for assuming the United States of FDR would see the Soviet Union as a “fellow traveller”.

    This is the America of the Red Scare, the Lusk Committee, the Hatch Act and Pat Scanlan after all.
     
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  18. JohnBull Well-Known Member

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    I meant a kind of war they waged against western European countries. A preemptive war against USSR, not a genocidal one. In this case, it would be much easier to not alienate Ukrainians. In any case, if Germany and Poland are set to act together, something fundamentally different is happening in German reasoning.
     
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  19. Michele Well-Known Member

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    No. It would be very difficult, because of OTL's historical logistics. The German army of 1941 - significantly better equipped than the one of 1939 - could not avoid alienating the Ukrainians, because it had to live off the land. The Germans could keep their civlian population well fed and support their Ostheer if they stole bread from the Ukrainians. If they did not do that, either the army or the workers back home aren't fed properly.
    That meant starving the Ukrainian cities, and making even the Ukrainan peasants go hungry. You can't avoid alienating people who are starving because of your stealing of their food.

    That said, a non-crazy German leadership would attack the SU "preemptively" because of - what?

    Not necessarily. It is true that there were some OTL, Nazi Germany's attempts to recruit the Poles as allies. The price was too steep for any non-ASB Polish government to accept it, but ignoring that aspect, it is possible that the OTL historical German offers are made (and accepted) with no change in German reasoning. Note nobody says the Germans were sincere in their promises related to those offers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  20. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

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    Almost everyone that mattered a damn in the German leadership, be they Nazi or Heer or Civilian, assumed the Polish territory ‘stolen’ from Germany would be ‘returned’.

    I just can’t see that attitude producing a lasting alliance with a Poland that saw those same territories as essential to their existence.

    How do you square that circle?
     
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