The largest post-WWII Soviet bloc if France doesn't fall in 1940?

Futurist

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What is the largest post-WWII Soviet bloc that can be formed if France doesn't fall in 1940?

As for my own thoughts on this, I think that, if France doesn't fall in 1940 and a long war subsequently occurs--with enough time for the Soviet Union to enter the war on the Anglo-French side--then the Soviet Union can acquire Poland, Czechoslovakia, and eastern Germany as satellite states after it liberates them from Nazi rule. (The Baltic countries, Bessarabia, and Bukovina would obviously be outright annexed to the Soviet Union.) In addition to this, the Soviet Union can use Hungary's occupation of southern Slovekia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia as an excuse to declare war on Hungary--thus turning Hungary into a Soviet puppet state as well. However, I don't see an avenue for the Soviet Union to turn either Romania or Bulgaria into Soviet satellite states in this scenario.

Anyway, any thoughts on this?
 

Chlodio

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It would depend on whether or not Italy attacks Greece and whether or not Hitler could construct his Balkan scheme. IIRC Hitler tried to bring in Yugoslavia as an ally much like Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria but there was a coup in Yugoslavia that triggered the German invasion. If Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary come in as a German allies. Stalemate on the western front didn't convince Bulgaria to remain neutral in WW1.

I think if the Soviets annexed Bukovina, Romania would almost have to ally with Germany to keep the Soviets out of the rest of the country.

A prolonged war in the west would not tie down the entire German Army. I know the 1940 campaign used most of the Wehrmacht, but Germany continued to mobilize new units throughout 1941 and even into 1942. In WW1 Germany found it convenient to stand on defense in the west while attacking elsewhere. The same could prove true again. Especially if Italy has a free hand in the Mediterranean and doesn't have to worry about a French attack across the Alps - maybe because the French must commit all of their forces against Germany or if France loses most of its army fending off the initial German attack. If Italy stayed neutral re to France and Britain but attacked Greece per actual time line, it might drag Germany into the Balkans while the British and /or French invade Libya or reinforce Greece. (Obviously, Italy tries to remain neutral but Britain and France don't cooperate. With a stalemate on the western front a soft underbelly strategy starts to look appealing to the Allies.)
 

Sam-Nary

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All of this is going to depend on a few factors...

1) Decisive Victory: If the German thrust in the west is crushed decisively... Say, the Allies determine the German plan mark the thrust into northern Belgium as a distraction and thus focus on the Ardennes thrust, and thus commit the best Allied forces to a deliberate trap, and destroy the best German armored formations and stalling the remainder in northern Belgium...

That might encourage the Soviets to enter quickly... and would almost surely keep Italy neutral... although, given the nature of international politics, it's not impossible that the Italians might be willing to reopen the Stressa Front in order to secure their northern frontiers and perhaps force the French and British to concede some territories in Yugoslavia and support the Italians, should they invade. This probably wouldn't be likely, but it'd possible in this specific scenario. The end result would probably likely be about the same as it was in history, as while the Germans would have suffered catastrophic losses that would give the Soviets a chance, this would also be a point where the Soviet military reforms would do little... though the damage the Germans would have suffered would be enough, particularly if the victorious Gamelan pushes an immediate counterattack into Germany in the immediate aftermath.

2) Major Victory, but Not Complete: In this, the German plan is never fully discerned but the Allies get enough of a clue that the Ardennes is seen as the bigger threat than elsewhere, and thus more and better French formations are committed to stopping the German attack here. What follows is a massive set piece battle in which the German armored formations are badly mauled and pushed back at the initial point of contact. However, they are largely in tact and reasonably capable of movement and combat operations... though it would be a while before any major offensive is considered. The Allies may then launch some minor offensives to build on the victory, but this would be more with setting up for the fall of 1940 at the earliest.

Certainly Italy would be deterred from entering the war on either side. Yes, Germany would be beaten, but it would still be in a strong position, which would deter the breaking of the Axis, but while the Allies hadn't won a complete victory, they would still be in a position to deter any direct Italian incursion. Here, the Soviets might still be willing to enter into the war, particularly with the German army mauled. Yes, the Red Army would still be retraining, BUT with the Germans still badly mauled, that might be enough for them to justify an attack. However, they'd likely wait and see what the fall moves are. If the Allies continue to sit defensively, they might decide to wait until their training programs are done... and they would do the same if the Allies attack, but end up caught up on the West Wall, as that might warn the Soviets of reminders of WWI, however, if the Allies show any sign being able to punch through, they could well jump in in the hopes of settling matters while the Germans are distracted.

3) A Strategically Major Allied Victory, but a Tactical Allied Defeat (First Battle of the Marne 2.0): Here the Allies suffer heavy losses, BUT they manage to stop the German advance, somehow or someway. They may even manage to recapture some territory, as happened after the First Battle of the Marne in WWI, but much of this would relate to the strategic/tactical needs of the German army after the failure...

In this, I'd probably see the Soviets deciding to wait and see how the war plays out further before they do anything, almost regardless of what happens next. As this situation would play out too much like the First Battle of the Marne did in WWI. One could argue that it'd be a war winning battle, but not immediate. More that it would set the Germans up to force them into the same sort of stalemated warfare that the Allies were looking to fight. However, the Germans demonstrated in WWI that they could afford to divide their forces for a time, as while they often did suffer strategic failures, they weren't crippling and thus let them project at least a strong façade.

In this, I'd see Hitler continuing to follow the Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact to avoid the two front war and Stalin waiting until 1943 when his armies could be better trained and prepared, and force the Allies to bleed out before any intervention is considered.

4) Minor Allied Victory/Pyrrhic Allied Victory (Battle of Verdun 2.0): The Allies manage to stop the German attack, BUT suffer much heavier losses and any push back is marginal, at best. Essentially, just as the Battle of Verdun was... In this, Italy MIGHT consider joining in on the side of Hitler, more in the sense that the French and British would have surely spent much if not everything and only just barely survived. In this, the Germans, while their 1940 attack plan may have failed, could well be in the strategically stronger position and could afford to wait for the summer/fall to regroup, reposition, and then try again. Italy jumping in might not be likely, but at this point... possible.

Here, with the Germans still retaining a strategic advantage and likely the initiative... any German urge to go after Stalin might be there, but would likely still be on hold until at least France surrenders. And Stalin wouldn't want to get involved at all, as it would likely mean that he would need to take on the bulk of the German armies to rescue the French and British.
 
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Futurist

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It would depend on whether or not Italy attacks Greece
They could, but if they do, they probably won't have Hitler to bail them out since he's not going to be stupid enough to squander decisive troops on some pointless adventure in the Balkans while France is still undefeated.

and whether or not Hitler could construct his Balkan scheme. IIRC Hitler tried to bring in Yugoslavia as an ally much like Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria but there was a coup in Yugoslavia that triggered the German invasion. If Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary come in as a German allies.
I really don't think that Hitler was going to make any demands of Yugoslavia if he's busy in the West. As for Romania, without the Fall of France, it almost certainly remains an Anglo-French ally.

Stalemate on the western front didn't convince Bulgaria to remain neutral in WW1.
True, but nobody forced them into the war either. Had they wanted to remain neutral, they could have done so. Of course, acquiring Macedonia was more important to them.

I think if the Soviets annexed Bukovina, Romania would almost have to ally with Germany to keep the Soviets out of the rest of the country.
Again, I really don't think that Germany would have the troops to spare for this. Sure, it could send some of its troops from the West to the East, but this would only make its position on the Western Front worse. Plus, it's not like Romania was supplying oil to Germany during this time--was it?

A prolonged war in the west would not tie down the entire German Army. I know the 1940 campaign used most of the Wehrmacht, but Germany continued to mobilize new units throughout 1941 and even into 1942.
Those units need to be trained and are going to be needed on the Western Front in this scenario.

In WW1 Germany found it convenient to stand on defense in the west while attacking elsewhere.
Germany attacked elsewhere because it had little choice. Had Russia been willing to make a separate peace anytime between 1914 and 1917, Germany would have probably jumped at this opportunity.

The same could prove true again. Especially if Italy has a free hand in the Mediterranean and doesn't have to worry about a French attack across the Alps - maybe because the French must commit all of their forces against Germany or if France loses most of its army fending off the initial German attack. If Italy stayed neutral re to France and Britain but attacked Greece per actual time line, it might drag Germany into the Balkans while the British and /or French invade Libya or reinforce Greece. (Obviously, Italy tries to remain neutral but Britain and France don't cooperate. With a stalemate on the western front a soft underbelly strategy starts to look appealing to the Allies.)
What exactly is in it for Hitler in regards to saving Italy's skin in Greece? I mean, in real life, he did this due to the fact that he was already the master of Europe and thought that the Soviet Union would quickly capitulate in any case if attacked--which meant that Nazi Germany believed that it had troops to spare for Greece. In this scenario, this certainly won't be the case.
 

Futurist

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All of this is going to depend on a few factors...

1) Decisive Victory: If the German thrust in the west is crushed decisively... Say, the Allies determine the German plan mark the thrust into northern Belgium as a distraction and thus focus on the Ardennes thrust, and thus commit the best Allied forces to a deliberate trap, and destroy the best German armored formations and stalling the remainder in northern Belgium...

That might encourage the Soviets to enter quickly... and would almost surely keep Italy neutral... although, given the nature of international politics, it's not impossible that the Italians might be willing to reopen the Stressa Front in order to secure their northern frontiers and perhaps force the French and British to concede some territories in Yugoslavia and support the Italians, should they invade. This probably wouldn't be likely, but it'd possible in this specific scenario. The end result would probably likely be about the same as it was in history, as while the Germans would have suffered catastrophic losses that would give the Soviets a chance, this would also be a point where the Soviet military reforms would do little... though the damage the Germans would have suffered would be enough, particularly if the victorious Gamelan pushes an immediate counterattack into Germany in the immediate aftermath.
What do Europe's post-WWII borders look like in this scenario?

IMHO, if the Germans experience such a decisive defeat, then this could motivate anti-Nazi elements in the German military to overthrow Hitler and the Nazis. With the war being decisively in Britain's and France's favor, the new German leadership might be relatively conciliatory in regards to peace--perhaps offering to return to Germany's January 1939 borders. I suspect that giving up the Sudetenland would be a step too far for them, though--especially if such a move is going to be followed by mass expulsions of Germans.

As for Italy, it would have one Hell of a time justifying an invasion of neutral Yugoslavia. After all, Yugoslavia posed no threat to it. Italy could make some territorial gains in the north, though. Specifically, I am thinking of having Italy annex Austrian Tyrol and perhaps Vorarlberg as well (Vorarlberg could also go to Switzerland instead--with Italy only acquiring Austrian Tyrol):



Of course, such an Italian move would have to be followed by large-scale ethnic cleansing since the people in these territories would have never accepted Italian rule. Heck, even South Tyrol was a nuisance to Italy since its population was German and since Italy wanted to Italianize them (or have them emigrate).

As for the Soviet Union, given the poor state that its military was in, I don't think that it would be capable of conquering that much in this scenario. Conquering the Baltic states, Bessarabia, and northern Bukovina would probably be doable--as well as perhaps conquering Subcarpathian Ruthenia. Beyond that, though, it's probably unlikely that the Soviet Union gets anything--though it would obviously be allowed to keep its part of Poland since Britain and France wouldn't actually have the willpower to dislodge the Soviets from there.

2) Major Victory, but Not Complete:
In this, the German plan is never fully discerned but the Allies get enough of a clue that the Ardennes is seen as the bigger threat than elsewhere, and thus more and better French formations are committed to stopping the German attack here. What follows is a massive set piece battle in which the German armored formations are badly mauled and pushed back at the initial point of contact. However, they are largely in tact and reasonably capable of movement and combat operations... though it would be a while before any major offensive is considered. The Allies may then launch some minor offensives to build on the victory, but this would be more with setting up for the fall of 1940 at the earliest.

Certainly Italy would be deterred from entering the war on either side. Yes, Germany would be beaten, but it would still be in a strong position, which would deter the breaking of the Axis, but while the Allies hadn't won a complete victory, they would still be in a position to deter any direct Italian incursion. Here, the Soviets might still be willing to enter into the war, particularly with the German army mauled. Yes, the Red Army would still be retraining, BUT with the Germans still badly mauled, that might be enough for them to justify an attack. However, they'd likely wait and see what the fall moves are. If the Allies continue to sit defensively, they might decide to wait until their training programs are done... and they would do the same if the Allies attack, but end up caught up on the West Wall, as that might warn the Soviets of reminders of WWI, however, if the Allies show any sign being able to punch through, they could well jump in in the hopes of settling matters while the Germans are distracted.
How much territory do you think that the Soviet Union can conquer in this scenario?

3) A Strategically Major Allied Victory, but a Tactical Allied Defeat (First Battle of the Marne 2.0):
Here the Allies suffer heavy losses, BUT they manage to stop the German advance, somehow or someway. They may even manage to recapture some territory, as happened after the First Battle of the Marne in WWI, but much of this would relate to the strategic/tactical needs of the German army after the failure...

In this, I'd probably see the Soviets deciding to wait and see how the war plays out further before they do anything, almost regardless of what happens next. As this situation would play out too much like the First Battle of the Marne did in WWI. One could argue that it'd be a war winning battle, but not immediate. More that it would set the Germans up to force them into the same sort of stalemated warfare that the Allies were looking to fight. However, the Germans demonstrated in WWI that they could afford to divide their forces for a time, as while they often did suffer strategic failures, they weren't crippling and thus let them project at least a strong façade.

In this, I'd see Hitler continuing to follow the Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact to avoid the two front war and Stalin waiting until 1943 when his armies could be better trained and prepared, and force the Allies to bleed out before any intervention is considered.
Yep--here I would agree with you that the Soviets are going to wait until the Allies have bled themselves dry before actually intervening itself. Of course, how much territory do you think that the Soviet Union--with its fully trained and prepared military--can conquer in this scenario if it decides to enter the war near the end?

4) Minor Allied Victory/Pyrrhic Allied Victory (Battle of Verdun 2.0):
The Allies manage to stop the German attack, BUT suffer much heavier losses and any push back is marginal, at best. Essentially, just as the Battle of Verdun was... In this, Italy MIGHT consider joining in on the side of Hitler, more in the sense that the French and British would have surely spent much if not everything and only just barely survived. In this, the Germans, while their 1940 attack plan may have failed, could well be in the strategically stronger position and could afford to wait for the summer/fall to regroup, reposition, and then try again. Italy jumping in might not be likely, but at this point... possible.

Here, with the Germans still retaining a strategic advantage and likely the initiative... any German urge to go after Stalin might be there, but would likely still be on hold until at least France surrenders. And Stalin wouldn't want to get involved at all, as it would likely mean that he would need to take on the bulk of the German armies to rescue the French and British.
I agree with this. Of course, World War II in this scenario would ultimately have the same outcome as World War II had in real life, no? Specifically, with a total Axis defeat and with the Soviet Union conquering half of Europe.
 

Sam-Nary

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What do Europe's post-WWII borders look like in this scenario?
In a case where German defeat in 1940 is catastrophic... Much of the territorial changes would be the same as they were in history. Germany would lose everything it gained under Hitler and leaving Germany divided between East/West. The only real question would be where that dividing line is...

IMHO, if the Germans experience such a decisive defeat, then this could motivate anti-Nazi elements in the German military to overthrow Hitler and the Nazis. With the war being decisively in Britain's and France's favor, the new German leadership might be relatively conciliatory in regards to peace--perhaps offering to return to Germany's January 1939 borders. I suspect that giving up the Sudetenland would be a step too far for them, though--especially if such a move is going to be followed by mass expulsions of Germans.
I'd agree that such a defeat would be more likely to trigger an uprising within the German military and that they might wish to make some concessions... But given the population advantage Germany had over France, France's chaotic politics, and the fragile nature of her alliance with Britain... I'm not sure that France would be too inclined to take much in the way of a peace offering, and by the time the Battle of France begins, Churchill would be Prime Minister, who would not be as easily swayed to give concessions to the Germans, particularly when he'd just criticized Chamberlain for making those concessions to Hitler... Not to mention that if the Germans fall into civil war between anti-Nazi military members and the pro-Nazi military members, that would pin the Germans between the civil war, and the enemies on the outside... and it would be at this point that the Soviets step into the fray as the Germans are mauled from defeat in France and eating each other up.

In this, you'd have a semi-nervous France not wanting to have to fight Germany again 20 years down the road, Britain with a new government that had been heavily critical of German expansion under Hitler, and the Soviets preying on the fact that the German army is tearing itself apart over Hitler's failure in order to make sure that the Poland on its border is pro-Soviet rather than pro-West.

As for Italy, it would have one Hell of a time justifying an invasion of neutral Yugoslavia. After all, Yugoslavia posed no threat to it. Italy could make some territorial gains in the north, though. Specifically, I am thinking of having Italy annex Austrian Tyrol and perhaps Vorarlberg as well (Vorarlberg could also go to Switzerland instead--with Italy only acquiring Austrian Tyrol):

Of course, such an Italian move would have to be followed by large-scale ethnic cleansing since the people in these territories would have never accepted Italian rule. Heck, even South Tyrol was a nuisance to Italy since its population was German and since Italy wanted to Italianize them (or have them emigrate).
Indeed they might... but that's assuming that Italy truly turns on Germany as it did in WWI. And if Mussolini does... I'd wager that he would still want his own sort of military expansion and would operate with his own agenda, regardless of whether or not France and Britain agreed with it. After all, Mussolini pushed for the Stresa Front, but when France and Britain wouldn't support his war of conquest in Ethiopia, he decided to join forces with Germany. A catastrophic German defeat might be enough for Mussolini to jump in with the idea of capitalizing on the situation, just as he did in history. In this case, though, the game might just be to secure Franco-British neutrality in some of his other adventures in trying to recreate the Roman Empire.

Though... I would also comment that I'd think that it'd be more likely that Italy would stay neutral.

As for the Soviet Union, given the poor state that its military was in, I don't think that it would be capable of conquering that much in this scenario. Conquering the Baltic states, Bessarabia, and northern Bukovina would probably be doable--as well as perhaps conquering Subcarpathian Ruthenia. Beyond that, though, it's probably unlikely that the Soviet Union gets anything--though it would obviously be allowed to keep its part of Poland since Britain and France wouldn't actually have the willpower to dislodge the Soviets from there.
The Soviets might still be "weak" from the purges and what they'd learned in the Winter War, but I'd doubt that Stalin would just sit by in a situation where Germany is defeated catastrophically. Especially if the German army turns against the government and the Nazis end up fighting the army in the streets while the Allies advance in the west. It would devastate Germany and would leave them vulnerable, which I'd think Stalin would take advantage of. It would allow him to make sure that the nations that border him that had come under German influence prior to 1940, Poland and Czechoslovakia be friendly to him. He would not want the Polish government in exile back in Warsaw, as it had been anti-Communist and would potentially mean a major war with the West at some point. Pushing the borders east and making sure that the Soviet Union has support would be on Stalin's agenda... to buy time for 1943 when his army would be ready...

Though if the French and British move quick, the Germans might not lose as much of their eastern territories as they did in history by 1945. Pomerania and Silesia might still be lost, but the Soviets wouldn't get into Brandenburg/Berlin.

How much territory do you think that the Soviet Union can conquer in this scenario?
This would all depend on what the Allied moves and actions following the Battle of France are and then what happens. I'd generally see the Allies getting hung up on the West Wall, at least initially. It might not be as bad as in history, as the Allies would largely be beginning their push from closer to Germany and with better supply lines through the northern French ports and the German army would still be facing some difficulty from the defeat in France. In this, if the fighting becomes lengthy, the Soviets would likely wait and see with regard to what happens. They'd only move if it looked like the French and British would follow up the victory in May/June 1940 with another major victory, for much the same reasons they'd move if Germany suffers a catastrophic defeat in France. To defend their borders and present the claim of "liberating" Poland, gambling that France and Britain wouldn't pick a fight with the Soviet Union.

Yep--here I would agree with you that the Soviets are going to wait until the Allies have bled themselves dry before actually intervening itself. Of course, how much territory do you think that the Soviet Union--with its fully trained and prepared military--can conquer in this scenario if it decides to enter the war near the end?
Probably about the same as they did in history. For if the Allies keep the fighting close to the borders in the west, but end up in a lengthy fight that never sees a real breakthrough... by the time the Germans are ground down, the Soviets would be strong enough to push forward. They might also target areas next to the German controlled territories to settle old scores that related to the wars that came immediately after WWI and often had connections to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. In this case they might stop once they meet the Allies in Germany... potentially in fear that by that point the US might be involved, which would make further aggression risky.

I agree with this. Of course, World War II in this scenario would ultimately have the same outcome as World War II had in real life, no? Specifically, with a total Axis defeat and with the Soviet Union conquering half of Europe.
It could also vary with regard to the fact that if the Battle of France proves to be a Pyrrhic victory... there could be the potential that Germany recovers before the French and British and wins in the second round. Which could well set up the war to then move into something else... As if the west is badly mauled and barely standing after winning one battle, everything for them would depend on recovery.
 

deaf tuner

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Plus, it's not like Romania was supplying oil to Germany during this time--was it?
It did.

Generally speaking, commercial exchanges increased in the interbellic period (logical: Germany was geographically the closest great economic power), and Romania was of special interest to Germany because of it's oil: it was the only significant source close, easy to access.
 
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Futurist

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It did.

Generally speaking, commercial exchanges increased in the interbellic period (logical: Germany was geographically the closest great economic power), and Romania was of special interest to Germany because of it's oil: it was the only significant source close, easy to access.
If Nazi Germany had a vested interest in Romanian security and made this clear to the USSR, then I strongly doubt that the USSR would have ever aimed to conquer all of Romania.