Was it better for Britain and France to fight in 1938 as opposed to 1939?

Was it better for Britain and France to fight in 1938 as opposed to 1939?

  • Yes

  • No


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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
#1
Was it better for Britain and France to fight in 1938 (for Czechoslovakia) as opposed to 1939 (for Poland)?

I voted Yes due to the fact that Britain and France would have likely had the Soviet Union as an ally had they fought in 1938 (even if the Soviet military was weakened by the purges--which in itself might have ironically been a good thing since it might have made the Soviet Union less inclined to stay in Czechoslovakia after the end of the war) and also due to the fact that Czechoslovakia was probably much more capable of delivering damage to Nazi Germany than Poland was (in no small part due to its defensive fortifications in the Sudetenland). Also, this is not to mention the fact that, in the event of a long war, there would have been much less Jews killed in WWII had Britain and France fought in 1938 since the Nazis would not have gotten their hands on Poland's vast Jewish population.

Ultimately, I think that all of these factors outweigh the fact that Britain and France were less prepared to fight in 1938 than they were in 1939. Thus, I voted Yes to the question here.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,239
Dispargum
#3
Yes, if
1. the Soviets also fought Hitler,
2. if Poland gave the Soviets access to their territory so the Soviets could attack the Germans,
3. if the Western Allies were willing to pay Stalin's price (whatever that was), and
4. if the French could summon the wherewithall to invade Germany.

But only the first of these four conditions was likely to have occurred.
 
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Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,249
US
#4
Yes, if the Soviets also fought Hitler, if Poland gave the Soviets access to their territory so the Soviets could attack the Germans, if the Western Allies were willing to pay Stalin's price (whatever that was), and if the French could summon the wherewithall to invade Germany. But only the first of these four conditions was likely to have occurred.
The Poles would have never given the Soviets access to their territory. That is a historical fact. The Poles approached the French in 1936 about a preemptive strike on Germany. I think an allied offense without the USSR (Britain, France, Poland) could have won in 1936. Remember , Italy was not committed at this time.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
#6
Yes, if
1. the Soviets also fought Hitler,
2. if Poland gave the Soviets access to their territory so the Soviets could attack the Germans,
3. if the Western Allies were willing to pay Stalin's price (whatever that was), and
4. if the French could summon the wherewithall to invade Germany.

But only the first of these four conditions was likely to have occurred.
The Soviets can go through Romania and Hungary in order to get to Czechoslovakia. Winston Churchill wrote in his post-WWII memoirs that the Soviets could have used railroads which connected to Czechoslovakia and which did not pass through either the Romanian or Hungarian capitals (thus making the possibility of a Soviet regime change in Romania and Hungary much less likely).

I'm not sure that Stalin was demanding much, if anything, in 1938. At worst, I suppose that he could demand Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from Romania, but why exactly should the West care about this?

As for the French lacking courage, Yes, they should have fixed that.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
#7
The Poles would have never given the Soviets access to their territory. That is a historical fact. The Poles approached the French in 1936 about a preemptive strike on Germany. I think an allied offense without the USSR (Britain, France, Poland) could have won in 1936. Remember , Italy was not committed at this time.
Completely agreed with all of this but the Soviets could have gotten to Czechoslovakia through Romania and Hungary. They didn't actually need to go through Poland in order to get to Czechoslovakia.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
7,973
#8
While the French and British rearmament was ramping up and the longer it went the better prepared they would be, rthe Geman war machine was just no nearly as well primed to dleiver a quick knock out blow to france as it was in 1940. The Gemran miliatry gained much form trail mbolization in 1938, and the Polish campaign, as well as extra prodction of better tanks and aircraft that were very essential to performance in 1940. Germans paratroops only formed in 1938.

If Germany does not knock Franc out in the first few months it will became a war of attrition that Germany is pretty unlikely to win, especially if there is no soviet resources available.

The Question can the French with lmited British support hang on a few months. Once the they gain combat expeince they allies will learn., perhaps not quickly, but they will start to learn.


the Effectiveness of German armor thrust warfare would be reduced in 1938, the German would be without much of there decent tanks no 38ts, 200at lbest PsIVs, 90 the PZIIIs. teh Germans would be fielding les sthan a thrid of teh decnt tanks they had in 1940.

German armored fighting vehicle production during World War II - Wikipedia

"The introduction of a new generation of bombers and fighters after 1936 caused serious transition problems.High accident rates coupled with low in-commission rates continued to plague the transitio nprogram as late as the summer of 1938.At that time Luftwaffe operational ready rates were surprisingly low.On August1, 1938, the in-commission rate forbombers was 49 percent, for fighters 70 percent, and for the whole force 57 percent.85 Only after drastically reducing flying and training time could the Luftwaffe bring its in-commission rate to a respectable level by the end of September 1938, shortly before the onset of the planned invasion of Czechoslovakia."The levelo f aircrew training was equallydeplorable.InAugust, the Luftwaffe possessed barely two-thirds of its authorized crew strength, and over 40 percent of the crews on duty were not fully operational."

--- page 17 "Strategy for Defeat The Luftwaffe 1933-1945" Williamson Murray.


If the French and British actiually fight in 1938 even if their offensives are inffective, they hopefully sack Gamelin, the ability of Germnay to launch a knock out blow in 1938 is muh less.
 
Likes: Futurist
May 2011
13,541
Navan, Ireland
#9
Very difficult to answer this question.

The traditional view point is that the 'peace' bought at Munich allowed the British and French a year with which to start rearming--- which is true but that equally applies to Germany , who benefited most from this year of grace?

Were the Czechs better prepared than the Poles for war?

One very important factor that the breaking of the Munich agreement showed to the British (and much of the wider world) that Hitler was not reasonable and could not be trusted. Britain was very anti-war (Chamberlains much maligned Munich Agreement was greeted by cheering crowds -Churchill was an unpopular war monger). WWI left Britain very anti-war and most people wanted peace at (almost) any price, sci-fi writers and other writer predicted that another world war would be even worse than WWI (they were not wrong) giving in to Hitler even at the price of the abandoning of Czechoslovakia and his subsequent dis-honesty showed that there was no other choice than war.
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,239
Dispargum
#10
The Soviets can go through Romania and Hungary in order to get to Czechoslovakia. Winston Churchill wrote in his post-WWII memoirs that the Soviets could have used railroads which connected to Czechoslovakia and which did not pass through either the Romanian or Hungarian capitals (thus making the possibility of a Soviet regime change in Romania and Hungary much less likely).
I'm not sure that Stalin was demanding much, if anything, in 1938. At worst, I suppose that he could demand Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from Romania, but why exactly should the West care about this?
As for the French lacking courage, Yes, they should have fixed that.
I suspect already in 1938 Stalin had, at the very least, his eyes on restoring the borders of the old Russian Empire. In addition to Bessarabia and Bukovina there's also the Baltic States, Finland, and Eastern Poland. Stalin may have already been thinking about installing Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Churchill's plan about bypassing Bucharest and Budapest with railroads doesn't seem very realistic to me. In the 1920s, the West was as afraid of Communism as they were of Fascism in the late 1930s. The rise of fascism replaced Communism as the great fear but did not alleviate it. Chamberlain and his contemporaries were extremely wary of Communist expansion. There's a reason Stalin was not invited to the Munich Conference. No one wanted Communists involved in European affairs. The British response to the Winter War in Finland was "How can we aid the Finns?" Churchill began considering an invasion of Norway as a way to open a supply line to Finland. A common American response to Barbarosa was "Oh, good! Our two enemies can destroy each other while we stay neutral!" Communism was seen as a severe threat long before the Cold War. It took Hitler to turn Stalin into an ally of Churchill. Niether Churchill nor Chamberlain would have gone there on their own.
 
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