Was unconditional surrender in regards to Germany in WWII a good policy?

Was unconditional surrender in regards to Germany in WWII a good policy?


  • Total voters
    31

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
17,807
SoCal
#1
Was unconditional surrender in regards to Germany in World War II a good policy?

As for me, I voted Yes. After the Germans began murdering people--especially, but not only, Jews en masse--I would have become strongly opposed to any policy in regards to Germany in World War II which would not have included unconditional surrender. Basically, I would have wanted to teach Germany a lesson that such behavior--specifically things such as the Holocaust--are vile and completely unacceptable and that countries and leaders who engage in such behavior deserve to the punished appropriately. I would have also wanted to avoid a repeat of the stab-in-the-back myth that emerged in Germany after the end of World War I--where Germans complained about how they got an extremely harsh peace in spite of the fact that they "weren't actually" defeated.

Sure, a policy of unconditional surrender might have prolonged World War II. However, what choice was there? Giving Germany a mere slap on the wrist after it killed millions of innocent people--especially, but not only, Jews--would have been completely unacceptable!

Anyway, any thoughts on this?
 

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,437
Athens, Greece
#3
Was unconditional surrender in regards to Germany in World War II a good policy?

As for me, I voted Yes. After the Germans began murdering people--especially, but not only, Jews en masse--I would have become strongly opposed to any policy in regards to Germany in World War II which would not have included unconditional surrender. Basically, I would have wanted to teach Germany a lesson that such behavior--specifically things such as the Holocaust--are vile and completely unacceptable and that countries and leaders who engage in such behavior deserve to the punished appropriately. I would have also wanted to avoid a repeat of the stab-in-the-back myth that emerged in Germany after the end of World War I--where Germans complained about how they got an extremely harsh peace in spite of the fact that they "weren't actually" defeated.

Sure, a policy of unconditional surrender might have prolonged World War II. However, what choice was there? Giving Germany a mere slap on the wrist after it killed millions of innocent people--especially, but not only, Jews--would have been completely unacceptable!

Anyway, any thoughts on this?
Agreed, for both the reasons you mentioned.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,624
Australia
#4
Yes. We saw what happened in Germany after WWI when the 'stab in the back' myth gained ground. After WWII Germany had to know with utter certainty that she was beaten, otherwise the world risked a repeat of the same conditions.
 
Jun 2017
2,780
Connecticut
#5
Yes in this situation. Generally in great power v great power conflict it's terrible and therefore rare policy but this is different due to Hitler's crimes the unconditional need for regime change and the situation with the Soviets who were never going to accept anything other than unconditional surrender regardless. Normally the pitfall of unconditional surrender is the amount of human lives lost but after what the Soviet's had been through don't think it really mattered at that point to them and any armistince with Hitler could very easily result in a second Barbarossa down the line. Hitler had proven his words meant little and thus any such armistice would mean little.

The interesting thing though is that while with Japan the Allies waited to make the unconditional surrender policy until Japan's defeat was sealed, the Allies made this decision when the Germans still had a somewhat decent chance of defeating the USSR. This was more risky because there was a real chance the Allies wouldn't be able to compel the Germans to surrender(this was early 1943 I think same time they announced with the Japanese?). Of course this is through 1943 lens not modern ones.
 
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Guaporense

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
5,047
Brazil
#6
As for me, I voted Yes. After the Germans began murdering people--especially, but not only, Jews en masse--I would have become strongly opposed to any policy in regards to Germany in World War II which would not have included unconditional surrender. Basically, I would have wanted to teach Germany a lesson that such behavior--specifically things such as the Holocaust--are vile and completely unacceptable and that countries and leaders who engage in such behavior deserve to the punished appropriately. I would have also wanted to avoid a repeat of the stab-in-the-back myth that emerged in Germany after the end of World War I--where Germans complained about how they got an extremely harsh peace in spite of the fact that they "weren't actually" defeated.
The Soviet Union killed millions of innocent people. Why didn't the other Allies correct then by forcing Stalin into unconditional surrender? :zany:

By the way, I am not sure if you are aware but the US and the UK killed over 1 million innocent civilians in WW2. Most of those were killed because the policy of unconditional surrender as Germany would have certainly negotiated peace if they could already in 1943.

Sure, a policy of unconditional surrender might have prolonged World War II. However, what choice was there? Giving Germany a mere slap on the wrist after it killed millions of innocent people--especially, but not only, Jews--would have been completely unacceptable!
You could allow Germany a negotiated peace and then send assassins to kill Hitler and other Nazi cronies. There is no point in destroying entire cities and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent German civilians plus hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians from other countries to end with the Nazis.

Anyway, there have been plenty of murderous regimes that killed millions of people and the Nazis are relatively unique em being the only time such kind of regime "required" unconditional surrender. There is no logic behind the concept of unconditional surrender.

Second, the main contribution of the armistice of WW1 in starting WW2 was not that in WW1 the Entente made a negotiated peace with Germany but that terms of that peace treaty were just absurd.

Making a negotiated peace in 1943 with Germany would have saved the lives of over 20 million people. Then, after negotiated peace was attained the Nazi regime would just fall on it's own: There were about a dozen attempts to kill Hitler in WW2, in peacetime the Nazi security would be more lax and hence more vulnerable, therefore I don't expect the Nazi regime lasting much longer after a negotiated peace in 1943.

It's true that making a negotiated peace with Germany in 1943, even if the Nazis are removed from power by an internal coup, would still mean a German dominated continental Europe. But, what do you think we have now with the EU? The EU might have been formed much earlier in case of a negotiated peace to end WW2.

Another good point of ending WW2 with a negotiated peace in 1943 would be that Eastern Europe would be saved from communist occupation. Countries like Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Poland and Bulgaria would become free market economies much earlier and Europe as a whole would be much more prosperous in the past war period.

The main obstacle with negotiated peace in WW2 I think would have been the Soviet Union. Because of the brutal nature of the war in the Eastern Front, just stopping the war in 1943, with both Nazi Germany and the USSR standing, would have been quite a crazy situation: how would post-war diplomacy between Hitler and Stalin would be conducted? Well, after the Nazi regime collapsed I guess normal diplomacy could be normalized.
 

Guaporense

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
5,047
Brazil
#7
The interesting thing though is that while with Japan the Allies waited to make the unconditional surrender policy until Japan's defeat was sealed, the Allies made this decision when the Germans still had a somewhat decent chance of defeating the USSR. This was more risky because there was a real chance the Allies wouldn't be able to compel the Germans to surrender(this was early 1943 I think same time they announced with the Japanese?). Of course this is through 1943 lens not modern ones.
That concept of unconditional surrender was conceived just after Stalingrad. By that point the Wehrmacht was in critical situation being being pushed back in a wide front by the Red Army while the US and the British Empire were gearing up to throw their entire weight into the balance. And if the Wehrmacht was already being pushed back against only the Red Army, with this additional reinforcements their situation would be even more critical.

That was easy to understand since Germany, a country of 80 million, was engaged in attrition warfare against 3 major powers with combined population of 400 million, 5 times larger and territories about 100 times larger than Germany.

Hence, by 1943, the overall strategic situation was already clear: Germany was going to lose the war. Hence why Roosevelt came up with the notion of unconditional surrender.
 

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,437
Athens, Greece
#8
The Soviet Union killed millions of innocent people. Why didn't the other Allies correct then by forcing Stalin into unconditional surrender? :zany:

By the way, I am not sure if you are aware but the US and the UK killed over 1 million innocent civilians in WW2. Most of those were killed because the policy of unconditional surrender as Germany would have certainly negotiated peace if they could already in 1943.
You cannot possibly draw parallels between the Holocaust and the civilian casualties caused by the Allies. Also, I doubt the numbers you present. Sources?

Another question is how much the Nazis operated despite the will of the general German population, and how much the civilian population actually supported the invasion and destruction of so many European countries. A still greater question is how many Germans were actually aware of the Holocaust and participated in it, one way or the other. Was it perpetrated by Nazis only, with no accomplices or at least silent acceptance by the rest? Which leads to the question, reversely, how widespread was this "innocence" you speak of, and how to deal with it?

Also, I seriously doubt that the Nazis would be gone if Germany was offered a conditional surrender before its total defeat. Even after its unconditional surrender, the process of denazification was never completed, only time accomplished this.

Finally, are you aware of the stab-in-the-back-myth, and if so, how to avoid its repetition after WWII if Germany was not completely and utterly defeated?
 
Likes: Neutral
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
#9
Conditional surrender would have almost certainly have left the Nazis in control. And you just know that sooner rather than later you'd have to go back in and finish the job off. I hate to think what history would think of Stalin,Churchill and FDR if we'd let them off the hook.
 
Jun 2013
745
Agraphur
#10
Conditional surrender would have almost certainly have left the Nazis in control. And you just know that sooner rather than later you'd have to go back in and finish the job off. I hate to think what history would think of Stalin,Churchill and FDR if we'd let them off the hook.

Nah, had the allies offered to negotiate a peace with a non-nazi government, the German military would have ousted Hitler in early 1944 latest. The demand for unconditional surrender was the reason they followed Hitler into the wall. If German society was to be destroyed anyway there were no reason to quicken the fall by fighting Hitler also. The 20 july conspirators almost succeeded despite having no intention to surrender or ceding an inch of German territory.


As I understand it, the demand for unconditional surrender was mainly a trust feature the Western allies offered the Soviet union to ease Stalin's fear off them switching sides once the Germans started offering the Western allies tempting deals to save themselves from the Russian conquest. The western allies obviously didn't want to see eastern Europe fall under communist dominion either.


Unconditional surrender prolonged the war but kept Stalin committed since he wouldn't be cheated of the spoils of his victory.