WI: Germany doesn't even try to fight the Battle of the Atlantic

I've read a lot of threads about how the Kriegsmarine of the 2nd World War could have performed better in the Atlantic, and all of them end with the unanimous conclusion: "They're still screwed". So this thread will ask the complete opposite: what if the Reich's leadership took one look at the British, American, and French navies, and said "I'll see you nerds later"?

ITTL, the General Staff makes the assumption (that wasn't very far of from their IRL thinking) that if they can win air superiority and overrun the continent prior to America getting involved, they've effectively won. Their navy is thus built for two purposes and two purposes only: completing Operation Weserubung to secure Sweden's resources, then pivoting to a purely coastal defense role to prevent commando raids and large-scale landings.

This would probably look like:
-The Scharnhost-class ships are still completed for Weserubung
-Bismark, Tirpirtz, and Graf Zeppelin are never laid down
-The U-Boat fleet is significantly reduced
-R&D for advanced naval weaponry is reduced (acoustic torpedoes, magnetic mines, snorkels)
-More E-boats and similar small craft

Presumably, the resources, fuel, and manpower would be used for the land and air forces instead.
How does this alter the length of the war? Does Germany lose faster with allied shipping not being disrupted? Is Japan going to be obliterated with Britain and America able to send even more ships into the Pacific? Or does this strategy actually lengthen the war by giving the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe more to work with?
 
Churchill said the one thing he feared was losing the Battle of the Atlantic. Indeed in 1942 and up until March 1943 the Kriegsmarine was at least holding its own. Ultimately it was overwhelmed by American shipbuilding. I have always felt the war was won when Roosevelt overruled the strategic bombing advocates and allocated extreme long range planes to the Atlantic. As to your specific question I have seen estimates of 1.5 million serving in the Kriegsmarine. Obviously that is over 6 years so the amount serving at any one time would have been lower. Still that would easily have given you another 20 or so divisions which if properly added and used at battles such as Stalingrad could have made a difference. On the Allied side there would not have been need to build frigates and destroyers as well as fewer escort carriers. This would have freed up shipyard space. In particular this would have resulted in more LSTs sooner. I think the lack of a Battle of the Atlantic would have moved ships to oppose Japan. I think the Royal Navy would have concentrated in the Indian Ocean. In particular I think the Andaman Islands invasion would have been put back in place.
 
Allies say a big, fat 'thank you, Mr. Hitler'.
They need to make less of 'civilian' ships of any kind since the vastage is much smaller, no convoys means that port facilities are not overwhelmed (due to arrival of convoy), ships don't need to wait for other ships to form the convoy. No war material gets sunk = Allies in Europe & North Africa are outfitted to the brim with everything, from food to aircraft. Help for Russia via Norvegian Sea is on no danger of being attacked by Kriegsmarine.
RN does not loose a few aircraft carriers early in the war - those are big butterflies just on themselves.
 
Allies say a big, fat 'thank you, Mr. Hitler'.
They need to make less of 'civilian' ships of any kind since the vastage is much smaller, no convoys means that port facilities are not overwhelmed (due to arrival of convoy), ships don't need to wait for other ships to form the convoy. No war material gets sunk = Allies in Europe & North Africa are outfitted to the brim with everything, from food to aircraft. Help for Russia via Norvegian Sea is on no danger of being attacked by Kriegsmarine.
RN does not loose a few aircraft carriers early in the war - those are big butterflies just on themselves.
The Germans could still make limited convoy raiding in some areas, such as the Norwegian Sea and the Mediterranean. And redouble efforts to mine and bomb the British ports from the air as well as disrupt traffic in the Channel. And such limited efforts could be carried out with a stronger bomber force more focused in naval attack by using the resources left by the reduction in the naval buildup.

OTOH, could that delay Hitler's declaration of war against the USA? If there is no Battle of the Atlantic, there is no undeclared war and Roosvelt never gets close of having a casus belli against Germany, while Hitler might decide there is no point in declaring war against the USA after Pearl Harbor
 
Allied benefits:
UK might decide to fight it out in Norway.
Force Z has two fleet carriers and another BB when it sorties.
Anzac forces aren’t pulled out of North Africa to garrison the homeland.
More resources for Malta resupply.

Axis benefits:
More divisions for Eastern Front.
Maybe some fresh formations available to throw at Dunkirk.
If more airborne units are formed, Crete might fall easier. Could have paratroops available for attack on Malta.
 
Allied benefits:
UK might decide to fight it out in Norway.
Force Z has two fleet carriers and another BB when it sorties.
Anzac forces aren’t pulled out of North Africa to garrison the homeland.
More resources for Malta resupply.

Axis benefits:
More divisions for Eastern Front.
Maybe some fresh formations available to throw at Dunkirk.
If more airborne units are formed, Crete might fall easier. Could have paratroops available for attack on Malta.
More carriers afloat likely means a multi carrier strike on Taranto. Possibly more than one strike as well. Could make for a much more damaging blow to the RM.
 
I've read a lot of threads about ... the 2nd World War ... and all of them end with the unanimous conclusion: "They're still screwed". So this thread will ask the complete opposite: what if the Reich's leadership took one look at the British, American, and French ... and said "I'll see you nerds later"?
I’m personally inclined to think it makes no real difference, as the Axis are so hopelessly outmatched they’ll lose no matter which arm they choose to wrestle with. OTL the UK was a primarily maritime power that initially decided it was going to win or lose the war in a bombing contest and had to make some urgent readjustments before they could continue with their original plan.
If the naval aspect is a ‘no contest’ then all the UK supply routes function much more smoothly, shortages are reduced, and they can focus even more of their industry into the army and RAF. So the Germans strengthen their hand in the air and on land at the cost of also strengthening their enemy. It’s all just ironing wrinkles round the shirt.
Even the US aspect of it is likely a wash. Maybe no direct causus belli but much more of the expensive purchases arrive unsunk and it seems likely the US would continue pushing and pushing their definition of Neutrality until the US army is defending the continental USA from Kent, and all without any interruption to shipping.
 
Before Germany even thinks of going East, they need UK out of the game. Does not matter whether UK throws in the towel, or there is an uneasy peace. Everything else leaves Germany fighting a two-front war, without wherewithal (manpower, money, cheap energy, rare metals) to do it.
Having extra 20 divisions for Eastern front = logistic system is even more strained, and we know how cluster@@@k it was historically.
 
There is another, smaller aspect of this. The U-Boats was one of the most propaganda-ized military branches and one of the most hardcore Nazi ones. They sub 'aces' were hailed as heroes throughout Germany, and considered one of the few weapons Germany could use against the distant allies. Capitulating entirely on the High Seas might be a blow to morale.
 
Allies say a big, fat 'thank you, Mr. Hitler'.
They need to make less of 'civilian' ships of any kind since the vastage is much smaller, no convoys means that port facilities are not overwhelmed (due to arrival of convoy), ships don't need to wait for other ships to form the convoy. No war material gets sunk = Allies in Europe & North Africa are outfitted to the brim with everything, from food to aircraft. Help for Russia via Norvegian Sea is on no danger of being attacked by Kriegsmarine.
RN does not loose a few aircraft carriers early in the war - those are big butterflies just on themselves.
without a Reuben James, Kearny and Greer incidents, US/German relations are far better in 1941. Lend Lease passing would be a lot closer vote in the House and Senate

Would the Mustache declare war after the Japanese attack, or do the Germans and Italians sit things out?
If that's the case, WWII looks very different
 
As to your specific question I have seen estimates of 1.5 million serving in the Kriegsmarine. Obviously that is over 6 years so the amount serving at any one time would have been lower. Still that would easily have given you another 20 or so divisions which if properly added and used at battles such as Stalingrad could have made a difference.
AFAIK the main issue with Germany's campaign in the East was logistics. That doesn't really get better with adding more men.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
without a Reuben James, Kearny and Greer incidents, US/German relations are far better in 1941. Lend Lease passing would be a lot closer vote in the House and Senate

Would the Mustache declare war after the Japanese attack, or do the Germans and Italians sit things out?
If that's the case, WWII looks very different
By the same token, LL supplies reach UK (& Russia?) in greater numbers, which may have direct impact on the campaigns in North Africa and the air war over Western Europe.
 
By the same token, LL supplies reach UK (& Russia?) in greater numbers, which may have direct impact on the campaigns in North Africa and the air war over Western Europe.
the biggest help is for the UK, in not losing 40,000+ men to the U-Boat attacks.
By 1944, they were manpower limited, not material limited.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
the biggest help is for the UK, in not losing 40,000+ men to the U-Boat attacks.
By 1944, they were manpower limited, not material limited.
Very true on the manpower front, I hadn't thought of that. The material arrives in bulk earlier, so it may help the early campaigns in late '41 to early '42.

And effectively the merchant ship losses avoided are worth squared. Not only do they deliver their cargo instead of leaving it at the bottom of the Atlantic, but it is an extra hull that makes the next trip.
 
On the positive side for Germany, that's also a lot of diesel and fuel-oil that isn't being wasted. Along with hundreds of AA guns, and hundreds of thousands of tons of steel, and lots of wasted engine manufacturing ... the manpower issue, too, though 40,000 (total Germans in the U-boat arm, IIRC) isn't going to swing the war. Build a few dozen short-range U-boats to make the North Sea dangerous and stop there.
 
It's a pretty dumb idea. Allies get their convoys to Europe safely and war ends by 1943 with Soviets pumped with lend lease and the Atlantic clear for d day. The Royal Navy and US navy could probably hit the Italians and Japanese even harder. British, American, and Dutch colonies in the Pacific might not even fall.
 
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