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

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,298
#61
In my perspective, the moral thing to do in 1943 would be that allowing a nationalist German government to control continental Europe would be vastly preferable to killing 20 million people. So what if France and Italy were reduced to German puppets? Canada is right now a US puppet and nobody bats an eye.
With the same German regime it would have only been a ceasefire while they reloaded and tried again bigger and with a greater death toll.

Would have saved no one at all.
 

botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,454
Amelia, Virginia, USA
#62
That is not really related to the topic. One might argue that issue is if people would rather consent to an agreement on the terms they know versus to one that has terms which are unknown to them. Demanding to hear what the exact hypothetical terms would have been is just obfuscating the matter - and in fact utterly irrelevant. They could have even been offered the exact same terms they ended up getting after surrendering unconditionally. The problem with unconditional surrender demand was that there was no way for the Germans to know what the Allies wanted - hence the statement which i already posted previously: "[demanding] unconditional surrender is an open invitation to unconditional resistance".
Of course it's related to the topic. If people keep asserting that a conditional surrender should have been offered, and actually assert that "generous terms" or "decent terms" would have resulted in an amicable end to the war, then it's fair to ask what the generous terms would be. Persisting in being vague is obfuscating the matter.
You think unconditional surrender was a mistake, then fine. It's fair to ask what your alternative would be, isn't it? How can it be "utterly irrelevant" to ask this? Do you think Stalin would have offered "generous terms"? How do you think he would have regarded the US and UK offering "generous terms" in 1943?

What is your alternative to unconditional surrender? How do you reconcile the various grievances held by the nations at war?
 

botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,454
Amelia, Virginia, USA
#63
That's because the Allied powers were not thinking about saving lives they were only concerned with their own national interests (which were not the interests of their citizens by the way).

For example, Stalin was willing to sacrifice 15 million soldiers, which were the Soviet operational casualties between Stalingrad and Berlin to occupy Eastern Europe. While the Western Allies were willing to sacrifice 1 million soldiers to occupy France, Italy, Benelux and West Germany before the Soviet army could do so.

In my perspective, the moral thing to do in 1943 would be that allowing a nationalist German government to control continental Europe would be vastly preferable to killing 20 million people. So what if France and Italy were reduced to German puppets? Canada is right now a US puppet and nobody bats an eye.
So WW2 is the Allies fault for fighting back?
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,759
At present SD, USA
#64
That's because the Allied powers were not thinking about saving lives they were only concerned with their own national interests (which were not the interests of their citizens by the way).
But then, that really is how they SHOULD be operating. If "saving lives" is the sole objective, then the Allies should have surrendered EVERYTHING before a shot was fired, because Hitler wasn't going to back down. He was going to take what he wanted come hell or high water.

In my perspective, the moral thing to do in 1943 would be that allowing a nationalist German government to control continental Europe would be vastly preferable to killing 20 million people. So what if France and Italy were reduced to German puppets?
And let them recover, rearm, and retrain their armies and then strike again?

Remember that the reason Foch said the Versailles Treaty was only a 20 year armistice was that the treaty wasn't harsh enough on Germany. He didn't say that because it was harsh to begin with, and the appeasement of Hitler in the 30s didn't stop him. In fact the more the powers of Europe backed down from risking life and limb, the BOLDER he became. In that sense, France and Britain should have gone to war with Germany over the Rhineland crisis, regardless of how ready they were and with the consequence of violating the demilitarized Rhineland would be the cost of the existing German government at the time. Because the more that was given up to avoid war, the more that was claimed.

It's the whole give an inch take a mile sort of thing.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#65
The number of civilians killed by British and American air raids certainly were over 1 million. About 400,000 German civilians were killed by British and American bombing, plus 400,000 Japanese civilians killed in strategic bombing plus the 150,000 Japanese civilians killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Plus the French, Italian and other civilians killed in areas occupied by Germany during the war.

And yes, I can drawn a lot of parallels between the Holocaust and the civilian casualties caused by the Allies. Specially if you consider that among the Allies you had Stalin who murdered about 5 million people in Ukraine in the Holomodor, being in terms of evil deeds an equal to Hitler and whose armies represented the vast majority of the military forces deployed by the Allies in Europe during the war.
There is the fundamental.difference between the deliberate, targeted killing of individuals and the death of individuals that were merely the byproduct of military action. Accidentally blowing up a hospital and killing a lot of patients in the process when you were trying to blow up a mutions factory instead, is not the same thing as deliberately pulling those same patients out of the hospital and shooting them in the back of the head. Now it doesn't make the aerial.bombing morally right, but there is a difference of guilt. All sides practiced the bombing of civilian targets, Japanese and Germans as well as the Allies, the difference was the Allies were simply better at it. However, not all.sides systematically raped women as part of government policy, as with the Japanese, or conducted horrific medical experiments on prisoners as the Japanese and Germans did.

Another big factor was that the National Socialists in Germany killed a lot of civilians who were Jewish and as we know the Jews are on average among the richest and most influential individuals in the western world. If you kill millions Africans like Belgium did in their colonial territories (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atrocities_in_the_Congo_Free_State) nobody cares but if you kill the same number of Jews, Hollywood will make 1,000 movies about it.

In Japan, for instance, a country outside of the Western cultural sphere, the Nazis are not regarded as being a special kind of evil. That is, something distinct from the atrocities committed by other State actors.
Japan committed its own share of atrocities in WW2 that it keeps trying to downplay in its history books, so it is hardly surprising they don't regard the Nazis in the same light. But you are right in that in can be questioned were the Nazis really that much worse that Stalin in the Ukraine, or Belgium in the Congo.


You are claiming that individuals living inside a country are responsible for what the government of that country does. That is a ludicrous assertion. Individual human beings that just happen to be born inside a territory that is controlled by an organization that we can The State are not in any way responsible for the actions of that organization unless they are actively involved in it's decision making.
If you work in the factories, farms, etc., you support the war effort. Most soldiers do have any control over decission s made by their generals, and many cases, are not given a choice to serve either, yet they are legitimate targets.

If is unfortunate and nasty part of total warfare. I believe your country sat out the war, meaning that I directly it was supporting Hitler's Final Solution.


The government of Germany was controlled by a small set of individuals: Hitler, Speer, Goebbels, Goring, Himmler, etc. These individuals were the ones who gave the orders and planned for the holocaust.

To attribute responsibility for the actions of an individual organization that is controlled by a small set of people (in a dictatorship) to the population living inside the territory controlled by this organization is a common type of belief that people have.
You don't have to carry out immoral orders, you could refuse. True, you could get killed, but you can still refuse. The argument that one was only flowing orders has been thoroughly rejected. Hitler, Himmler could not have killed the millions they did without the support of millions who were just "following orders". Spears, Goering, Himmler, and company didn't do it all themselves.

I think this belief is derived from collectivist philosophies that equate the individuals living inside a country with the "country itself" as if "Germany" was an entity that existed beyond the individuals living inside it and this entity "Germany" was "guilty" of atrocities and had to be punished for it, hence the murder of hundreds of thousands of women and children in German cities by Allied bombs was perfectly moral since these women and children were part of "Germany" and "Germany" was "evil". I cannot express the level of repugnance I feel for this kind of political philosophy.
While I question the morality of the bombing campaign., I am rather put out by moral judgements being passed by those who sat out the war and in effect, supported the Final Solution by their neutrality.


I rather have a fascist German govenrment after WW2 and saving the lives of 20 million people rather than having what we had historically, having half of Europe under Stalinist occupation and tens of millions of deaths. Fascist regimes were common back in the mid 20th century: Brazil under Vargas and Spain under Franco also were fascist regimes, yet nobody was talking about invading these countries, unlike Germany.

Even if the fascists in Germany remained in power they would be much less likely to start another war given that they were defeated and after being defeated the geopolitical situation would change to a much more stable geopolitical world order.
You would allow the Nazis to complete their final solution and the elimination of those they regarded as undesirable, and to allow those to remain in power who started the war and caused such death and misery. That would have been a betrayal of the sacrifices madeand the lives lost to put an end to such regimes, it would have been immoral.to do so, and would encourage others to do similar things in the future. The rate of the Nazis and Japanese leaders must give pause to would be dictators pondering similar actions. Won't always stop them, but even once is enough.

WW2 started mainly because the leading powers at the time were weaker than Germany: France and the UK were the leading world powers in the 1930's and they lacked the manpower and industrial resources to effectively restrain Germany. So naturally, a nationalist Germany would rise and try to wrestle their dominant status.
Not true. Britain and France had the power to stop the Nazis early on, but they did not understand who they were dealing with. Their lack of decissive action gave encouragement to Hitler. When they finally did respond, it was too late. Had Hitler been forced to back down earlier, he never would have been able to do what be later did. Hitler might have evovled into another Franco, without dreams of world conquest.

With the US and the Soviet Union emerging as the leading world powers after WW2, with their massive manpower, natural resources and industrial resources, they would be much more effective in enforcing a global order and preventing hostile actors like Fascist Germany into invading other countries.

After Stalingrad WW2 was over in strategic terms as the Axis were already defeated. WW2 lasted so long after it not because the Nazis were irrational genocidal murderers but because of the lack of willing to any compromise by the Allies. Hence, for the Axis powers their optimal strategy was to defend themselves until the Allies became exhausted as to allow for some sort of compromise. The Allied powers on the other hand were perfectly willing to sacrifice tens of millions of people in order to completely annihilate the state actors that they didn't like.

The Nazis in charge weren't willing to surrender, and they made no effort to discuss surrender terms. That is why the group tried to assassinate Hitler, because they knew German would not surrender as long as Hitler was in charge.
 

Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,635
#66
Of course it's related to the topic. If people keep asserting that a conditional surrender should have been offered, and actually assert that "generous terms" or "decent terms" would have resulted in an amicable end to the war, then it's fair to ask what the generous terms would be. Persisting in being vague is obfuscating the matter.
No it really is not if you get down to it. The exact terms are utterly irrelevant as said they could have even been the exact same that were given in the end. The difference is with hearing the terms of surrender before the actual surrender or only learning of them only after surrendering.
You think unconditional surrender was a mistake, then fine. It's fair to ask what your alternative would be, isn't it? How can it be "utterly irrelevant" to ask this? Do you think Stalin would have offered "generous terms"? How do you think he would have regarded the US and UK offering "generous terms" in 1943?
It is irrelevant because the exact terms do not really matter as such. As pointed out above.
What is your alternative to unconditional surrender? How do you reconcile the various grievances held by the nations at war?
Offering terms of surrender. Even without yielding at any of the demands it does make a difference if the terms of ending the war are known before that (end of the war) actually takes place than after it.

You can actually see kind of an example of this even in WW II era. The war between Finland and the USSR in 1941-44 - aka the Continuation War, (i) Soviets offered terms to Finns in Spring 1944, which were almost acceptable apart from two: demanded reparations were unrealistic (both in quality and quantity) and time limit for driving out the Germans was impossible to fulfill. (ii) Around 20 June 1944 when the Soviet 1944 offensive against the Finns was in a sense at its peak the Soviets demanded an unconditional surrender, which only worked to increase and solidify the Finnish resistance. (iii) After the Soviet offensive had been stopped dead short of its goals a new round of negotiations followed, Soviets offered almost the same deal as in Spring 1944 but this time with reduced reparations (cut to half) and more time allowed to push the Germans out of Finland -> armistice.
 

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,357
Athens, Greece
#67
The number of civilians killed by British and American air raids certainly were over 1 million. About 400,000 German civilians were killed by British and American bombing, plus 400,000 Japanese civilians killed in strategic bombing plus the 150,000 Japanese civilians killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Plus the French, Italian and other civilians killed in areas occupied by Germany during the war.

And yes, I can drawn a lot of parallels between the Holocaust and the civilian casualties caused by the Allies. Specially if you consider that among the Allies you had Stalin who murdered about 5 million people in Ukraine in the Holomodor, being in terms of evil deeds an equal to Hitler and whose armies represented the vast majority of the military forces deployed by the Allies in Europe during the war.
Was the intent of the Allies to exterminate every single German, men, women and children? Obviously not. Was the intent of the Nazis to exterminate every single Jew, men, women and children, and also every Roma, homosexual, disabled, and Communist? Obviously, yes. This is why the actions of the latter are called Genocide, while the actions of the Allies are not. So no, you cannot draw parallels between those two, you cannot equate them without strikingly underestimating the nature and scope of the Holocaust. You could draw parallels between the Holocaust and other genocides, like the Armenian one, the Rwandan one, etc.

Mentioning the Holodomor is bad service to this thread, a red herring, because a) it happened years before the war and the formation of the Allies, you cannot bring up past evils the Allies had individually committed in the past to compare them with Nazi evils, and b) it is still disputed if the Holodomor was an act of genocide, meaning an act of intentionally exterminating a specific group, in this case, the Ukrainians, or if it was part of a greater Soviet famine lacking the specific intent to exterminate a specific group.

I wonder why so many people believe in the fact that the National Socialists in Germany were a special kind of evil, as if the civilians murdered by other governments were a lesses evil than the civilians murdered by the National Socialist government in Germany.

I think that the main cause of this belief is the propaganda machinery of the Allies, that since they won the war they write history and so the maximized on the "evilness" of their hated enemies.

Another big factor was that the National Socialists in Germany killed a lot of civilians who were Jewish and as we know the Jews are on average among the richest and most influential individuals in the western world. If you kill millions Africans like Belgium did in their colonial territories (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atrocities_in_the_Congo_Free_State) nobody cares but if you kill the same number of Jews, Hollywood will make 1,000 movies about it.

In Japan, for instance, a country outside of the Western cultural sphere, the Nazis are not regarded as being a special kind of evil. That is, something distinct from the atrocities committed by other State actors.
Each murdered human being counts the same as the next one. However, each murderous act is not the same as the next one. It remains to the living to judge the actions that led to death, their motives, effect, intent, and scope. That is why there is justice, in a legal and moral sense. The Nazis were indeed a special kind of evil, because their very ideology was murderous, and the death they produced was intentional, relentless, without remorse or doubt, and in the few years they were in power they managed to murder and destroy in a scale unprecedented in human history. If they were allowed to exist more years, death would only stop when their intentions would have been achieved: no more Jews left, no more Roma, Poles, Russians and other Slavs reduced to slaves and murdered according to pre-decided population percentages, no more disabled, homosexuals, Communists, and whoever else the Nazis wouldn't approve in the future as accepted in their eugenics planned society. Could you think of a more twisted, vile, nightmarish, evil world to live in?

You are dead wrong that nobody cares "if you kill millions Africans like Belgium did in their colonial territories", at least not now in the post-colonial era. And it is not about the Jews, only. Nazi Germany destroyed a whole continent and murdered millions of non-Jewish Europeans. Including many of its own citizens. This scale of death and destruction cannot be easily forgotten, Jews or no Jews. Even without the Holocaust, the Nazi regime would stick out as one of the vilest and most dangerous ones in human history. Do not downplay the suffering of so many people, of so many social and ethnic groups, saying it's just the Jews.

You are claiming that individuals living inside a country are responsible for what the government of that country does. That is a ludicrous assertion. Individual human beings that just happen to be born inside a territory that is controlled by an organization that we can The State are not in any way responsible for the actions of that organization unless they are actively involved in it's decision making.

The government of Germany was controlled by a small set of individuals: Hitler, Speer, Goebbels, Goring, Himmler, etc. These individuals were the ones who gave the orders and planned for the holocaust.

To attribute responsibility for the actions of an individual organization that is controlled by a small set of people (in a dictatorship) to the population living inside the territory controlled by this organization is a common type of belief that people have.

I think this belief is derived from collectivist philosophies that equate the individuals living inside a country with the "country itself" as if "Germany" was an entity that existed beyond the individuals living inside it and this entity "Germany" was "guilty" of atrocities and had to be punished for it, hence the murder of hundreds of thousands of women and children in German cities by Allied bombs was perfectly moral since these women and children were part of "Germany" and "Germany" was "evil". This kind of mentality is exactly what is behind political philosophies such as National Socialism. I cannot express the level of repugnance I feel for this kind of political philosophy but I find it rather funny that the people who think that mass murder of Germans was justified are thinking in exactly the same way as the Nazis when they were thinking about their plans for the mass murder of Jews.
In fact no, what I'm claiming is not "that individuals living inside a country are responsible for what the government of that country does", which of course is correct to some extent, depending on several criteria. What I'm actually arguing is the degree to which the general German population actively supported and participated in the Holocaust and in all other murderous policies of the Nazis, including the invasion, occupation, destruction, exploitation, and dehumanization of whole countries and peoples. What I'm arguing is along the lines of the following:

Everyday Murder: Nazi Atrocities, Committed by Ordinary People - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Rape, Murder and Genocide: Nazi War Crimes as Described by German Soldiers - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Nazi Death Marches: Book*Details German Citizens' Role in*End of War Killings* - SPIEGEL ONLINE

The Führer Myth: How Hitler Won Over the German People - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Hitler exterminated the Jews of Europe. But he did not do so alone. The task was so enormous, complex, time-consuming, and mentally and economically demanding that it took the best efforts of millions of Germans... All spheres of life in Germany actively participated: Businessmen, policemen, bankers, doctors, lawyers, soldiers, railroad and factory workers, chemists, pharmacists, foremen, production managers, economists, manufacturers, jewelers, diplomats, civil servants, propagandists, film makers and film stars, professors, teachers, politicians, mayors, party members, construction experts, art dealers, architects, landlords, janitors, truck drivers, clerks, industrialists, scientists, generals, and even shopkeepers—all were essential cogs in the machinery that accomplished the final solution.

Feig, Konnilyn G. (1981). Hitler's Death Camps: The Sanity of Madness.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsibility_for_the_Holocaust

I rather have a fascist German govenrment after WW2 and saving the lives of 20 million people rather than having what we had historically, having half of Europe under Stalinist occupation and tens of millions of deaths. Fascist regimes were common back in the mid 20th century: Brazil under Vargas and Spain under Franco also were fascist regimes, yet nobody was talking about invading these countries, unlike Germany.

Even if the fascists in Germany remained in power they would be much less likely to start another war given that they were defeated and after being defeated the geopolitical situation would change to a much more stable geopolitical world order.

WW2 started mainly because the leading powers at the time were weaker than Germany: France and the UK were the leading world powers in the 1930's and they lacked the manpower and industrial resources to effectively restrain Germany. So naturally, a nationalist Germany would rise and try to wrestle their dominant status.

With the US and the Soviet Union emerging as the leading world powers after WW2, with their massive manpower, natural resources and industrial resources, they would be much more effective in enforcing a global order and preventing hostile actors like Fascist Germany into invading other countries.

After Stalingrad WW2 was over in strategic terms as the Axis were already defeated. WW2 lasted so long after it not because the Nazis were irrational genocidal murderers but because of the lack of willing to any compromise by the Allies. Hence, for the Axis powers their optimal strategy was to defend themselves until the Allies became exhausted as to allow for some sort of compromise. The Allied powers on the other hand were perfectly willing to sacrifice tens of millions of people in order to completely annihilate the state actors that they didn't like.
You seem to have no sympathy for the German people themselves first of all, arguing that it would have been better if the Nazis were allowed to dominate Germany, just like Franco did in Spain. The Nazis were nothing like Franco, or even Mussolini, they were not your ordinary fascists. I mentioned earlier what more years of Nazi rule would mean. A Germany ruled by the Nazis would end up a dystopia never seen before. Half of Europe under Stalin - how did you come up with the tens of millions of deaths because of this? Are you aware of the future the Nazis had in mind for that half of Europe?


Percentages of ethnic groups to be destroyed and/or deported to Siberia by Nazi Germany from future settlement areas.[15][16][3]

Ethnic group/Nationality Population percent subject to removal

Russians[17][16] 50–60% to be physically eliminated and another 15% to be sent to Western Siberia
Estonians[3][18] almost 50%
Latvians[3] 50%
Czechs[16] 50%
Ukrainians[16] 65%
Belarusians[16] 75%
Poles[16] 20 million, or 80–85%
Lithuanians[3] 85%
Latgalians[3] 100%

Generalplan Ost (GPO) (English: Master Plan East) was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Central and Eastern Europe.[19] Implementing it would have necessitated genocide[15] and ethnic cleansing on a vast scale to be undertaken in the European territories occupied by Germany during World War II. It would have included the extermination of most Slavic people in Europe. The plan, prepared in the years 1939-1942, was part of Adolf Hitler's and the Nazi movement's Lebensraum policy and a fulfilment of the Drang nach Osten (English: Drive towards the East) ideology of German expansion to the east, both of them part of the larger plan to establish the New Order.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalplan_Ost

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensraum
 
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botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,454
Amelia, Virginia, USA
#68
No it really is not if you get down to it. The exact terms are utterly irrelevant as said they could have even been the exact same that were given in the end. The difference is with hearing the terms of surrender before the actual surrender or only learning of them only after surrendering.
Your speculative terms are relevant, for two reasons:
1) They have to be realistic. Offering to partition Germany, try the leadership (not just Hitler) as war criminals, remove even more territory than in 1919, the Soviets get to occupy half of Germany for 45 years...that's unconditional surrender. Reminder that the Germans fought hard against the Soviets, not because of unconditional surrender, but because they feared the retribution. Which leads us to
2) By agreement, the Allies can't make a separate peace. That means that any terms must be agreed upon by the Big Three, at the least. By others as well, unless you think it's ok to betray the occupied countries by ignoring their grievances. Stalin would not have offered "generous terms", particularly after the victories of '43.

Offering terms of surrender. Even without yielding at any of the demands it does make a difference if the terms of ending the war are known before that (end of the war) actually takes place than after it.
The only terms thus far suggested are the actual results of unconditional surrender, i.e. utter submission with zero say in anything. You are perhaps the only person who thinks that would have shortened the war.

You can actually see kind of an example of this even in WW II era. The war between Finland and the USSR in 1941-44 - aka the Continuation War, (i) Soviets offered terms to Finns in Spring 1944, which were almost acceptable apart from two: demanded reparations were unrealistic (both in quality and quantity) and time limit for driving out the Germans was impossible to fulfill. (ii) Around 20 June 1944 when the Soviet 1944 offensive against the Finns was in a sense at its peak the Soviets demanded an unconditional surrender, which only worked to increase and solidify the Finnish resistance. (iii) After the Soviet offensive had been stopped dead short of its goals a new round of negotiations followed, Soviets offered almost the same deal as in Spring 1944 but this time with reduced reparations (cut to half) and more time allowed to push the Germans out of Finland -> armistice.
Is this your suggestion? Offer increasingly better terms until the Germans agree?

Here's something no one thought of: Maybe the Germans, realizing that the war is lost, realizing that the Soviets are bent on vengeance, make their own realistic offer to end the war and the killing.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#69
Your speculative terms are relevant, for two reasons:
1) They have to be realistic. Offering to partition Germany, try the leadership (not just Hitler) as war criminals, remove even more territory than in 1919, the Soviets get to occupy half of Germany for 45 years...that's unconditional surrender. Reminder that the Germans fought hard against the Soviets, not because of unconditional surrender, but because they feared the retribution. Which leads us to
2) By agreement, the Allies can't make a separate peace. That means that any terms must be agreed upon by the Big Three, at the least. By others as well, unless you think it's ok to betray the occupied countries by ignoring their grievances. Stalin would not have offered "generous terms", particularly after the victories of '43.
Even if the Allies had wanted to negotiate a separate peace treating, the Soviet U would have ignored it.

Here's something no one thought of: Maybe the Germans, realizing that the war is lost, realizing that the Soviets are bent on vengeance, make their own realistic offer to end the war and the killing.
The Germans tried, that was what the plot to kill Hitler and Project Valkyrie was about. Hitler would never surrender on any terms.