If Germany won the Battle of the Bulge would it have made any difference?

Apr 2017
298
United Kingdom
#1
I have been thinking about the 1965 film "The Battle of the Bulge"( starring Robert Shaw, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas of "Kojak" fame). If Germany had won the battle would it have made any difference to the eventual outcome?
My guess is NO- it would have simply have meant that WWII in Europe ended in August or July rather than May.


Terry
PS the late Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower( who was theatre commander in real life- Ryan played him) reportedly disliked the film or the way his character was portrayed.
 
Jul 2016
7,353
USA
#3
No, it would not have made a difference. It would have slowed down the Western Allies advance into Germany by a few months. It would not have slowed down the Soviet advance, who by the time the offensive started had already made it through half of Poland and was poised to begin the Vistula–Oder Offensive, which essentially destroyed the last shreds of German capabilities to resist.

The operation was originally devised as a small scale operation that was supposed to kick off in August and then September, but the assembly areas they were planning on using, as well as the units, were overrun in the big Allied advances after the Normandy Breakout, which saw Army Group B essentially disintegrate. By rushing back to the Rhine defenses of the West Wall (West-stellung), the Germans were able to catch a breather by manning new waves of replacement troops (Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe enlisted that were shanghai'd into the infantry after loss of ports and fuel docked or grounded most of their navy and air force, as well rest of able bodied individuals used to fill up Volksgrenadier divisions). This gave them some respite, helped by the fact that the Western Allies were on the wrong end of a very tenuous logistical line of communication reaching all the way back to Normandy and Brittany (while Antwerp had been taken with relative ease, the Scheldt Estuary was still German controlled and prevented Allied shipping to dock and unload supplies at Antwerp until November 1944.

Contrary to most people who always hype Germany fighitng a defensive war since 1943 onwards, it wasn't by choice. German military tradition was completely against defensive positional war and emphasized the importance of maneuver warfare as the only recipe for victory. So with the line stabilizing they saw the opportunity for an offensive. The question was how big, and what the goal would be.

They could have done a smaller offensive, with a limited operational objective, like to cut off certain field armies in Belgium and Luxembourg that were over extended and poorly positioned. While that would have likely had some success, in the long term it was a completely waste, as it would not have changed anything in the outcome strategically except waste material (vehicles, fuel, ammunition) and manpower that would be needed later to halt the Western Allies once they got their logistics squared away and were ready for another big offensive. The other option was a big offensive with grand strategic implications. While this one was nearly impossible to pull off, as the Germans lacked basically everything, to include skill, to launch a large scale offensive, it was the only one that would have had even the smallest bit of positive outcome on the strategic level. While most of Hitler's generals wanted an offensive, they knew they couldn't win the big one so they weren't overly enthusiastic to do that one. But Hitler, basically the only one in Germany thinking strategically, was willing to risk big in order to win big.

The overall plan was another Dunkirk, cut through the US Army's First Army, which was stretched out in the Ardenne on a relatively quiet piece of the line, breakthrough it with two field armies, including the 6th SS Panzer Army, then drive past the Meuse and through to Antwerp, take that, sever Allied logistics, encircling Monty's 21st Army Group and the US Army's First Army, reduce that encirclement ,which would set the Allies back half a year, buying time for Germany to then shift most of that force east to the Eastern Front, where it would be used for another equally audacious plan to crush them, and thus the Allies, USSR, USA, UK, would come crawling to the Germans and beg for peace, especially with all the Wunderwaffen/Wonder Weapons that Hitler's disturbed mind thought would turn the war (new U Boats, more V-2 missiles, jet aircraft, massive tanks, etc).

Helping the German plan the most:

1) The time of year, they chose the date based on the knowledge that cloudy winter weather would hinder the strongest ally of SHAEF, tactical air support (which couldn't see, and thus would be grounded for the key days of the attack).
2) Hitler's paranoia due to the 20 July Plot; since he didn't trust his generals he went out of his way to hide the Ardenne Offensive until the very last.
3) Allied Group Think and overconfidence, thinking the Germans were broke, had no reserves left to form a large force to conduct an offensive, and disbelief of the numerous intelligence indications that the Germans were massing for a large scale attack

Along with the two remaining field armies of Army Group B, a massive panzer army was forged from divisions already in theater, some coming from the Replacement Army having been created from scratch, and lots of others pulled from the Eastern Front (in places that would lend to the ease in which the Soviets bashed through the various German Army Groups with relative ease). It was poorly supplied, its troops were generally not trained well enough to conduct large scale maneuver warfare. It lacked fuel, artillery rounds, well trained troops, its logistics was horrific, air support. For supplies, it was utterly reliant on capturing Allied fuel in order to actually make it to Antwerp. Other field armies were reinforced with the newly created Volksgrenadier divisions, which were light on heavy weapons but were well stocked with newer light weapons, like assault rifles, more machine guns and mortars, but less artillery, and less divisional artillery, more artillery brigades operating at the corps level, in order for the Germans to finally attempt to mass artillery fires the way the US, British, and Soviets had been doing for years (in this, the Germans, once again, failed).

However, the attack failed. It had limited tactical success in some areas but failed to make any major breakthroughs that weren't contained. It ran out of steam before reaching the Meuse, let alone Antwerp. It put the Germans in a horrific position once it stalled, as it forced them, again, to perform a fighting retreat on the move, under the attack of the dreaded Jabos, all while the US Army counter attacked on both sides of the German salient, essentially destroyed the three armies involved in the offensive (though also very costly for the US Army too).

Now let's say everyone on the Allied side performed horribly and every pipe dream of the Germans and Hitler especially (who did a lot of the planning himself) worked out. The Allies lose Antwerp and tens of thousands of combat troops that are very hard to replace considering that at the time they had no strategic reserve in the ETO. But they are not done, and its only going to be half a year before the US military has atomic bombs ready for use.

Meanwhile, the Soviet Union, not having much in the way of German armor to worry about, especially in Army Group Center, launches the Vistula Oder offensive in January and makes it within striking distance of Berlin before petering out and consolidating. At this point the Germans are done. Even in success they have to ship most of their forces from Army Group B, especially 6th SS Panzer Army, eastward to try to plug holes and conduct limited counter attacks, which cannot possibly work.

So in the end, the only difference is the Soviets take Berlin on more or less the same time, while the US and UK don't get into Germany, or at least not very far into it, before Berlin falls and Hitler washes down a cyanide capsule with a bullet from his Walther.
 
Aug 2015
2,202
uk
#4
The only possible reason for the Ardennes offensive as far as I can see was to bring the Western Allies to the negotiating table to get a peace deal so Germany could shift everything East. Even better if they could formulate an alliance to then jointly attack Russia. Of course it was never going to work, and (as I've said before) Germany's only realistic chance was to allow the Western Allies to march into Berlin unopposed whilst the Eastern front held the Russians from advancing into Germany.

With a peace deal having been agreed, and with Germany crawling with Allied troops, Stalin's red army would not be able to destroy what was left of Eastern Russia. In fact they wouldn't get an opportunity to occupy Germany at all.
 
Jul 2016
7,353
USA
#5
Of course it was never going to work, and (as I've said before) Germany's only realistic chance was to allow the Western Allies to march into Berlin unopposed whilst the Eastern front held the Russians from advancing into Germany.
This was unacceptable to not just Hitler or other Nazi cronies running the war, but pretty much the entirety of Germans themselves. Occupation was pretty much out of the question when it came to peace. It was only when the Red Army was literally shelling the hell out of Berlin and the Western Allies had already breached the West Stellung and were rampaging through Germany that this was even a factor. In December 1944, the Germans still controlled territory outside of Sept 1939, the beginning of the war. So very very very late war, surrendering the Western Allies vs Soviet Union was a factor, but never before.

The German military, especially its officer corps, had a very old tradition of believing that fighting should last to the bitter end because it was not decided until one side simply lost the will to win. So they loved the idea of last minute victories, which had actually occurred numerous times throughout Prussian-German history, at times just as daunting and hopeless seeming as Nazi Germany in December 1944.
 
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tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
12,427
#6
Define "germans winning the battle of the bulge" ..... what is the exact result ? they retake Antwerp ? what ?
 
Jul 2016
7,353
USA
#8
Define "germans winning the battle of the bulge" ..... what is the exact result ? they retake Antwerp ? what ?
That would have to be what it means. The objective of Wacht am Rhein/Watch on the Rhine was to take Antwerp and to encircle 21st Army Group and half of 12th Army Group, forcing either a mass surrender or a Dunkirk-like evacuation, giving Germany a long reprieve from the threat of Western Allies allowing them to shift everything to hit the Soviets.
 
Apr 2018
190
Italy
#9
I think it was impossible in the condition of the Third Reicht to win the Battle of the Bulge, Allied were too suprior in terms of men, aviation, tanks, guns and other.The maximum who could were have been taking Bastogne and than stop. Taking Antwerp was too much for german forces.
 
Jul 2016
7,353
USA
#10
I think it was impossible in the condition of the Third Reicht to win the Battle of the Bulge, Allied were too suprior in terms of men, aviation, tanks, guns and other.The maximum who could were have been taking Bastogne and than stop. Taking Antwerp was too much for german forces.
They might have reached the Meuse River but couldn't have crossed it. By and large 21st Army Group (not counting First Army after it was attached to them) didn't participate, instead forming a reserve to defend the Meuse, waiting to see if the Germans would reach it. By that point, neither Panzer army involved had done so, with 6th Panzer Army (which was the main effort and supposed to be the one making the most progress, and tasked with eventually taking Antwerp) making less progress then 5th Panzer Army.

Never give an SS general the main effort, they'll always fail in the end.