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Old November 22nd, 2012, 09:31 PM   #41
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Stalin made a huge mistake in not preparing for the German invasion. He dismissed intelligence reports as British provocation. This contributed to the destruction of most of the existing Soviet army. This was sort of understandable, as Hitler's attack didn't make logical sense.

France expected WWI-style trench warfare, and concentrated on defensive fortifications.

The Axis powers all invaded way too many countries too fast. This applies even to Italy, which probably could handle Ethiopia and Albania.
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Old November 22nd, 2012, 10:46 PM   #42

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I think the greatest mistakes of the war were made by the Axis powers, in that Allied blunders (and there were many) were apparently never great enough to delivery victory to the Axis. The Axis on the other hand, did commit blunders that doomed them.

I'd say a tie for the biggest blunder of the Second World War was Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union and Japan's decision to attack the United States at Pearl Harbor. Those two blunders, more than any other, sealed the fate of the Axis Powers.

Runners up for the Biggest Blunder Award would be Germany shifting from bombing airfields to cities during the Battle of Britain, and declaring war on the United States when it was not bound to by the terms of the Tripartite Pact.

The atomic bombings I don't view as a blunder at all. It ended the war without having to spill any Allied blood in a costly invasion of the Japanese home islands, saved the lives of countless thousands in Japanese occupied territories, and although I doubt it figured high in the considerations of American war planners at the time, it ultimately saved Japanese lives. Millions of Japanese, both civilian and military, would have died in an invasion of Japan.

I also, quite frankly, thing some people make too big of a fuss about the moral implications of the atomic bombings. How are they any worse than the conventional bombings of German or Japanese cities, which by the way, also killed a lot more people than the atomic bombings? I can certainly sympathize with those who criticize both, but not those who only single out the latter. What difference does it make if you kill 80,000 people with 1 bomb or 10,000 bombs? Those 80,000 are just as dead either way.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 12:46 AM   #43
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War is just a series of blunders - it is how you handle yours, and take advantage of theirs that counts.

Attacking the USSR was Hitler's goal in life, and could well have succeeded, but for his other one - declaring war on the USA at the same time. Western aid played a part in keeping the USSR afloat, when thing were touch and go, and the distraction of the west, and his own policies towards 'conquered' territories (especailly the Soviet ones) tied down German resources that might have tipped the balance in 1941/42, when he still had a chance of winning.

Had he done it 'one step at a time', it might have worked. You can't fight the whole of Europe, but if you take it one bite at a time, and chew carefully, and stop your enemies from joining up, you just might!

Japan tried to fight the USA with one hand tied behind it's back, in China, and grossly underestimated the American 'moral outrage' at Pearl Harbor.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 01:54 AM   #44

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Mistakes in WW2


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaeva View Post
I think the greatest mistakes of the war were made by the Axis powers, in that Allied blunders (and there were many) were apparently never great enough to delivery victory to the Axis. The Axis on the other hand, did commit blunders that doomed them.

I'd say a tie for the biggest blunder of the Second World War was Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union and Japan's decision to attack the United States at Pearl Harbor. Those two blunders, more than any other, sealed the fate of the Axis Powers.

Runners up for the Biggest Blunder Award would be Germany shifting from bombing airfields to cities during the Battle of Britain, and declaring war on the United States when it was not bound to by the terms of the Tripartite Pact.

The atomic bombings I don't view as a blunder at all. It ended the war without having to spill any Allied blood in a costly invasion of the Japanese home islands, saved the lives of countless thousands in Japanese occupied territories, and although I doubt it figured high in the considerations of American war planners at the time, it ultimately saved Japanese lives. Millions of Japanese, both civilian and military, would have died in an invasion of Japan.

I also, quite frankly, thing some people make too big of a fuss about the moral implications of the atomic bombings. How are they any worse than the conventional bombings of German or Japanese cities, which by the way, also killed a lot more people than the atomic bombings? I can certainly sympathize with those who criticize both, but not those who only single out the latter. What difference does it make if you kill 80,000 people with 1 bomb or 10,000 bombs? Those 80,000 are just as dead either way.
I agree with you essentially.
But I want to add the following comments.
i ) If war is supposed to be the continuation of the Policy of the State ( doctrine of Clausewitz ), Hitler was right, in principle, in attacking Soviet Union, as it was his one unchanging aim,right from the days when he wrote the 1st vol. of Mein Kampf,to seek Lebensraum in the east by destroying the Soviet Union.Where he went wrong was in the appreciation of the overall Strategic Problem namely a) How to conduct war with the Soviet Union? b) What were to be the objectives of this war? c) Could Germany afford to fight the Soviet Union with the business of having to defeat Great Britain still unfinished ? d) Was the right sort of intelligence available regarding the soviet armed forces i.e their strength , their morale, the ability of the russian soldier to defend his motherland, whether in short the structure was so rotten that he had only to kick in the door and it would come tumbling down as he boasted to his generals ? e) Was the right sort of intelligence available regarding the industrial capacity of the Soviet Union to wage war ?
A total lack of clarity on all of these points suggests that this was Hitler's biggest blunder and which unquestionably led to his doom.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:42 AM   #45

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Two more suggestions:
  • The German conspirators failing to kill Hitler in the assassination plot.
  • France's complete lack of any sort of military presence in the Ardennes Forest.
I'm not sure either of those could qualify as the worst mistake, but they're certainly significant ones.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 04:32 AM   #46

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Pearl Harbour was excellent, brilliantly executed opening move which gave Japanese basically free hand in their conquests for about 6 to 12 months.
That's a bit overstated. While certainly damaging, the Pearl Harbor attack wasn't as decisive as might have been, nor as the Japanese had hoped. The 1st Air Fleet sank or damaged obsolescent battleships and lesser vessels. They did NOT damage any USN carriers or infrastructure facilities. Right or wrong, Nagumo opted not to launch the planned third strike that would have taken out the tank farms, submarine pens, and drydocks.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 04:47 AM   #47

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So why didnt the Japanese keep hitting Pearl Harbour or even invade Hawaii whilst the USA was weak, surely forcing them to fight from San Fransisco would have let them hold out longer? Am I thinking wrong on that (in terms of logistics etc).
Japan could have launched a third strike on PH on December 7th (and indeed the plan called for one), but chose not to. Nagumo knew that the American carrier fleet was undamaged. Furthermore, he didn't know where it was and it worried him. The three carriers operating in the Pacific at the time could deliver a serious hurt to the Japanese that they couldn't easily replace. From Nagumo's viewpoint PH was a significant victory and he chose to preserve his fleet to fight another day. There is a great deal of Monday morning quarterbacking going on to this day about that decision.

Taking Hawaii wasn't a serious option, and was never even considered. Remember that PH wasn't the main objective of the Japanese attacks in December 41/January 42. It was only to neutralize the naval threat on their left flank. Simply put, they needed the limited ground forces they had for their southern operations. Moreover, the actions at Midway bear this out. Yamamoto had to threaten to resign to get the comparatively limited ground forces for that plan when Japan wasn't as heavily engaged.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 04:50 AM   #48

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Originally Posted by redcoat View Post
The raid on Pearl Harbor was the most the Japanese could manage, they didn't have the logistical ability to mount anything more ambitious.


ps; One of the reasons the raid took the USA by surprise was the conviction by the US military that the Japanese didn't even have the capability to launch even a major raid against Pearl Harbor.
And the irony is that the USN had gamed that very scenario in Fleet Problems in the 30s.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 04:54 AM   #49

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Well for the four hundred thousand Americans sent to their death it could have gone a bit better. Not as if the American people had much of a choice in the general election, FDR and his faux isolationism and underhanded dealings and Willkie a staunch internationalist. Really it's quite tragic Taft didn't get nomination. A brilliant man who would have kept us out of the war.
There is absolutely no historical evidence that a Taft presidency would have kept America out of the war. Most historians believe that it was just a matter of time before America was drawn into it.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 04:54 AM   #50

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Smile Quotation by Heinlein


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Originally Posted by diddyriddick View Post
And the irony is that the USN had gamed that very scenario in Fleet Problems in the 30s.
I appreciate your remarks on the Pearl Harbour attacks. However, your quotation by Robert Heinlein is very apt. Who is this fellow ? Relation of Conrad Heinlein ?
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