Would a Japanese Invasion of the USSR during Barbarossa have actually helped?

Simple question, I guess.

If the Japanese had somehow been coerced/convinced to attack Russia in 1941/1942, would opening that second front have actually done anything to help the Germans continue the advance in the west?
 
The Japanese take everything south of the Amur, but are bogged down. If this in in addition to Pearl Harbor, the Philippines and DEI hold out for an extra month or two. The Battle of the Coral Sea is the massive naval disaster for Japan, not Midway. The Japanese might not even take Java or Sumatra. The Chinese do better since a couple divisions are moved to Russia. The Germans most likely take Moscow, but it is retaken during the Winter Offensive. The Battle of Stalingrad might last longer, and the Germans might reach the Caspian Sea. The Iran Supply Route would keep Soviet troops in Transcaucasia stocked up, preventing the Nazis from crossing the Caucasus Mountains. The Soviets still drive them back. The Battle of Kursk would drag out a little longer. The Soviet Progress in Europe would be a year behind OTL.

With more troops to spare, the Allies land in France a couple months earlier as well. There is a Balkan Campaign along with the Italian Campaig, with Yugoslavia cleared of enemy resistance in mid 1944. The Allies move into a collapsing Germany, with the Germans surrendering en masse to the WAllies, but fighting tooth and nail against the Red Army. The WAllies and Soviets link up Along the Bug River.

After the War in Europe ends, the WAllies have executed Operation Downfall, with the Soviets storming Amuria, Manchuria, and Korea. Japan gives up once Tokyo falls


tl;dr: Japan does worse and the Germans do better.
 
Simple question, I guess.

If the Japanese had somehow been coerced/convinced to attack Russia in 1941/1942, would opening that second front have actually done anything to help the Germans continue the advance in the west?
You mean advance in the east?
Yes, it would have cut off the port where 50% of Lend-Lease came in. The least dangerous route too.
 
The Japanese take everything south of the Amur, but are bogged down. If this in in addition to Pearl Harbor, the Philippines and DEI hold out for an extra month or two. The Battle of the Coral Sea is the massive naval disaster for Japan, not Midway. The Japanese might not even take Java or Sumatra. The Chinese do better since a couple divisions are moved to Russia. The Germans most likely take Moscow, but it is retaken during the Winter Offensive. The Battle of Stalingrad might last longer, and the Germans might reach the Caspian Sea. The Iran Supply Route would keep Soviet troops in Transcaucasia stocked up, preventing the Nazis from crossing the Caucasus Mountains. The Soviets still drive them back. The Battle of Kursk would drag out a little longer. The Soviet Progress in Europe would be a year behind OTL.

With more troops to spare, the Allies land in France a couple months earlier as well. There is a Balkan Campaign along with the Italian Campaig, with Yugoslavia cleared of enemy resistance in mid 1944. The Allies move into a collapsing Germany, with the Germans surrendering en masse to the WAllies, but fighting tooth and nail against the Red Army. The WAllies and Soviets link up Along the Bug River.

After the War in Europe ends, the WAllies have executed Operation Downfall, with the Soviets storming Amuria, Manchuria, and Korea. Japan gives up once Tokyo falls


tl;dr: Japan does worse and the Germans do better.
Interesting, so this of course still leads to an Axis defeat, and a weaker Soviet position in Europe post-war?

You mean advance in the east?
Yes, it would have cut off the port where 50% of Lend-Lease came in. The least dangerous route too.
It's a subject I know little about but have recently been reading up more on (I think oversaturation of all things WWII during high school history kind made me lose interest), so can you go into more detail about the immediate effects of Lend-Lease being slowed or delayed?
 
The Germans most likely take Moscow, but it is retaken during the Winter Offensive. The Battle of Stalingrad might last longer, and the Germans might reach the Caspian Sea. The Iran Supply Route would keep Soviet troops in Transcaucasia stocked up, preventing the Nazis from crossing the Caucasus Mountains. The Soviets still drive them back. The Battle of Kursk would drag out a little longer. The Soviet Progress in Europe would be a year behind OTL.
I'm not convinced the Nazis take Moscow or reach the Caspian sea, but I also think you underestimate how much it hurts the Soviets if the Nazis did manage to do those things. In particular I have grave doubts that the supply route through Iran can really make up for the interference with the other Soviet supply routes; is there really enough infrastructure in Iran and central Asia to allow such a greatly increased flow of supplies?
 
It's a subject I know little about but have recently been reading up more on (I think oversaturation of all things WWII during high school history kind made me lose interest), so can you go into more detail about the immediate effects of Lend-Lease being slowed or delayed?
Offhand no, I'll have to look into it more later and get back to you when I figure out what came via that route when. Generally though lack of food, machine tools, and weapons that comes in 1941-42 would be highly detrimental given the enormous damage to Soviet GDP from the invasion.
 
I suppose it would've helped the Germans, just due to Vladivostok being cut off. It certainly wouldn't have helped anyone else involved (not Japan, the USSR, or the WAllies), which is why Japan didn't do it.
 
Help who? We know that the Sorge ring had informed the Soviets that Japan was not planning on attacking the Soviet Union. This allowed Stalin to transfer between 18 and 40 divisions from the Far East to Moscow forming the backbone of the December counter offensive. This leads to a decision point. Would Sorge have continued to believe that the IJA would not attack or would he have learned and informed Moscow of a threat to attack the Red Army? If the intelligence denying the threat of invasion were delivered Stalin would presumably moved the divisions. I would think the IJA would have penetrated Siberia and captured Vladivostok. This, actually just the declaration of war would have ended Lend Lease shipment to Vladivostok which totaled almost 4 million long tons. While some could have been rerouted via Iran or the Northern convoys I have to believe total Lend Lease shipments would have been less. To me this would be the main factor. I think the IJA would have bogged down and frozen in Siberia. If Sorge had reported the potential attack would Stalin still have transferred troops to Moscow? My thinking is he would trade tundra for the counter attack to push the Germans back from Moscow. Had the Japanese threat reduced the reinforcement in front of Moscow it would have delayed the Red Army counterattack. I do not believe it would have resulted in a German capture of Moscow.
The IJA always maintained a strong presence on the Soviet border so I do not think their would have been much impact on the resources devoted to the Pacific. There probably would have been a diversion of troops from the battles against Chiang. The likely result would have been more of a stalemate as Chiang had little incentive to aggressively pursued the IJA. I have always wondered why Hitler did not condition his declaration of war on the US upon a Soviet Japanese war. While I am sure Stalin would have adopted a Germany first policy any help that Germany could have gotten against the Soviet Union could only have been a help.
 
Siberia was Central Asia. The Japanese would have been attacking the Far East.
yes, but these divisions were deployed to the border with Manchuria, and would have been involved the fighting if Japan had declared war on the USSR
 
my view the best case for Axis would be a stronger effort on the Baltic and Black Seas, along with holding their capital ships to block the Arctic Convoys. (recall the Soviets staged successful evacuations by sea from Tallinn and Odessa)

a further effort in 1942 would close the Volga? assuming no division of their forces. which still leaves the "back door" of Far East route open?

thus if Japan seized Sakhalin and closed the last route for L-L, it would ask the question if the USSR could recover?
 

raharris1973

Donor
Monthly Donor
As everyone is pointing out this is not helping the Japanese.

However, it is decidedly not helping the Soviets either.

It is hurting the Soviets, most significantly, by cutting off Far Eastern Lend-Lease.

However, the impact of this, I believe, is too long term to have major decisive operational effects on the Barbarossa campaign of 1941. Stalin will give Europe, which is far more valuable than the Far East, first call on all reinforcements and resources from the interior of the country, even if that means leaving the Far East forces to fend for themselves.

The first people to suffer in the Soviet Union from lack of Pacific Far East Lend-Lease will be Soviet prisoners, the small numbers of Axis prisoners, and Soviet civilians starving. But front lines in Leningrad, Moscow and the Volga won't falter.

The point of maximum danger from lack of Lend-Lease will come in summer 1942. Even here, Stalin will prioritize Europe above all else, but more choked supply lines will hurt more this year.

I'm inclined to think the USSR will make it through '42. The cost of the extra front I feel will be more long-term for the Soviets as they are more fatigued, more stretched, less mobile and therefore have a somewhat weaker and slower pursuit against the Germans after alt-Stalingrad.

But, the Japanese are also getting absolutely worn down and doing a lot less damage to China and the west, so the west is doing more on both fronts, really from the beginning of 1942 on, at an ever accumulating rate.
 
my view the best case for Axis would be a stronger effort on the Baltic and Black Seas, along with holding their capital ships to block the Arctic Convoys. (recall the Soviets staged successful evacuations by sea from Tallinn and Odessa)

a further effort in 1942 would close the Volga? assuming no division of their forces. which still leaves the "back door" of Far East route open?

thus if Japan seized Sakhalin and closed the last route for L-L, it would ask the question if the USSR could recover?
The USSR would be weaker, that is true, but the Kriegsmarine was tied down in the Battle of the Atlantic. They didn’t have enough ships to spare for a blockade. They could harass shipments to Murmansk and Archangel though.
 
- Soviets can't send vital/nessecary troops west. Moscow and Leningrad both fall at the end of 1942.

- Siberian Lend Lease route is completely cut off. This route as pointed out was the safest and most used.

- 2 front war prevents the Soviets from launching any counter-offensives in the West. Soviet Manpower crunch happens earlier.

- With Moscow and Leningrad taken with no risk of immediate Soviet counterattack. More German troops can be used in offensives against the Murmansk, Archangel, and the Caucuses.

- By the end of 1942, either the Russians abandon the east to save the west or the White Sea and Caucasian lend lease routes are lost.

- Lack of US provided trucks and food and other supplies keeps the Red Army in a poor shape.

- Chance that Stalin starts another purge goes up. Chance of Stalin getting couped also goes up. Either way, politically the Soviet Union is in a unstable position.

- Japan isn't affected that much in the grand scheme of things. You only need minimal naval forces to cut off Soviet ports. If Japan had the manpower to launch Ichi-Go against China and invade attempt a Invasion of Eastern India at the same time in 1944, than they'll have enough forces to invade Russia and still launch a otl war against the WAllies, although they might see a 1944 collapse instead of one in 1945.
 
my view the best case for Axis would be a stronger effort on the Baltic and Black Seas, along with holding their capital ships to block the Arctic Convoys. (recall the Soviets staged successful evacuations by sea from Tallinn and Odessa)

thus if Japan seized Sakhalin and closed the last route for L-L, it would ask the question if the USSR could recover?
The USSR would be weaker, that is true, but the Kriegsmarine was tied down in the Battle of the Atlantic. They didn’t have enough ships to spare for a blockade. They could harass shipments to Murmansk and Archangel though.
- Siberian Lend Lease route is completely cut off. This route as pointed out was the safest and most used.

- Japan isn't affected that much in the grand scheme of things. You only need minimal naval forces to cut off Soviet ports.
my speculation on a better effort by the KM would not involve large surface ships, but rather an earlier and more robust version of historical efforts, i.e. more S-boats, R-boats, etc. to stop the initial Soviet evacuations (sacrificing some of the WWI-era ships might be worthwhile however)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_evacuation_of_Tallinn and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hanko_(1941)

and on the Black Sea https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Odessa_(1941)

they have the example of Dunkirk by this time, the above actions allowed 100's of thousands of Soviets to contribute to the defense of Leningrad and Sevastopol.

IDK if enough to prompt the Japanese to move? if convinced it was the only way to enlist Germany against the US and all they need to do is close the L-L route? (might appear a cheap way to avenge themselves against the USSR)
 
It will definitely help the Germans /weaken the Soviets in the west in 1941, the question is how do the Japanese do this. In terms of numbers they are largely committed in China and already having resource issues because of that (which is why they're looking to go resource hunting at the end of 1941). Best not to start a 2nd land war in Asia against a huge county when you haven't finished your first one.

i.e "can I have invasion of enormous Asian country? No we have invasion of enormous Asian county at home"


the Japanese were obviously looking at Barbarossa, and I think that if it had gone as planned by Germany (soviet collapse in 8-12 weeks, followed by mopping up) you bet the Japanese will invade from the east before the end of 1941. But they're going to wait to see how it goes because they can't risk doing overwise and they aren't just there to make Germany's life easier, and they are cautious about the Russians
 
Last edited:
Top