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

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#71
They should have acted earlier--at the very least, before the Holocaust in Hungary began (so, at least two months earlier).
I read in the Wikipedia article that there were 15 assassination attempts on Hitler. Perhaps they did try earlier, and this is the only one we heard about because it was the biggest attempt.

But given the failure of Project Valkyrie, even if they tried earlier, the outcome wouldn't like have changed.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,764
At present SD, USA
#72
They should have acted earlier--at the very least, before the Holocaust in Hungary began (so, at least two months earlier).
It wouldn't be so much of "trying earlier" but being willing to give something up. Even with the general information known on the Valkyrie Plot, the only ones that the plotters really were willing to surrender to were the Western Allies, which were by that point in France and were breaking through the German lines in Normandy. By that point in July 1944, even with the strategic situation WORSE than it was in early 1943 from the timeframe between the end of the Battle of Stalingrad and Kursk in the east and the Allied invasion of Sicily in the Mediterranean, there wasn't any real intention to surrender to the Soviets...

The Allies by that point might be able to restore the 1938 borders in the west and the pre war governments... (or in France's case ultimately putting De Gaulle in a good enough spot where he could establish the 4th Republic), but with the war still going on in the east, the Allies wouldn't likely be able to get Germany to allow Poland to be reestablished and Germany would still be staring death in the face, as by that time, the Red Army was beginning to enter the territories to the west of the 1941 borders that the Soviet Union had. All the end of the war in the West would accomplish for Germany is likely to only buy them time, which wouldn't truly mean much by that point in the war... simply for the fact that there wasn't any recognition on Germany's part that they had lost completely.

In this, any successful assassination of Hitler and the replacing of the Nazis with either the military or a coalition between surviving anti-Nazi politicians and the military would have to depend on Germany being totally willing to admit that they had lost, essentially just as the German Empire did in late 1918 leading up to the November 11 armistice. And that's something that isn't likely by WW2 as so many of the German officer corps in the Wehrmacht were either disgruntled veterans of WWI who essentially agreed with the "Stab in the Back" myth or were truly dedicated Nazis in spite of official political neutrality and weren't going to put Germany in a position where they would essentially allow Germany's enemies to dictate terms to them, again.
 
Likes: Futurist

Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,635
#73
Your speculative terms are relevant
They really are not. Unconditional surrender guarantees exactly nothing. Having terms - of any kind - gives at least some hope for the future.
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.
Yet even that would guaranteed some status for Germany following the war. Something which didn't exist with unconditional surrender. Having something is still whole lot better than having nothing since it still gives hope. After all since the German did not know the Allied terms there was no reason to stop fighting.
Is this your suggestion? Offer increasingly better terms until the Germans agree?
No. The point was that Finnish government was willing to consider negotiated peace but was not under any condition willing to accept unconditional surrender. Fighting to the bitter end was seen as preferable (by far) and even suggesting an unconditional surrender only worked to increase the morale (and 'fighting spirit') of the defender since it only worked to indicate that they had nothing to lose.
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.
Why not. That would require there to be Germans in lead who have some connection to the reality - Hitler & the lot certainly did not.
 
Jun 2013
737
Agraphur
#74
They should have acted earlier--at the very least, before the Holocaust in Hungary began (so, at least two months earlier).

The thing is that opportunity makes the thief. Hitler relations with the generals had always been mixed. And on a number of occasions they were very close to pull the plug on him.
Most notable centered around Franz Halder the OKH general chief of staff, the planner of Hitler's conquests. Halder and the others were military conservatives not anti-nazists. Their opposition was mainly rooted in Hitler's aggressive foreign policy that seemed destined to doom Germany into a world war Germany was hopelessly equipped to handle.


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


"By September 1938 the Schwarze Kapelle had drawn up plans for a provisional government, based on the British Constitutional Monarchy. A coup was all ready to take place, when the Munich Agreement failed, as they thought it would. The plotters thought Britain would deny Hitler the Sudetenland, and they were certain that Hitler was not just rattling his saber, that he would then give the order to invade the Sudetenland. The order for the coup depended on Hitler's order to invade. The conspirators were convinced such an invasion would result in a war that Germany was sure to lose, and they were bound and determined to avoid such a war.[5] It was one moment in history in which the military of an aggressive country was specifically against starting a war. When Chamberlain caved in, the invasion was unnecessary, and the coup was aborted. During the coup Captain Friedrich Heinz was to have arranged for Hitler to be shot "resisting arrest."[6] This was not to be the last time Heinz had such an assignment. With the Munich Agreement Hitler rose to his highest esteem yet; under those circumstances, no coup could possibly hope to win the support of the German people, or even the military. Chief of Staff Franz Halder called off all coup plans.
The plans for a provisional government were brought out of mothballs a year later, in October–November 1939, when Hitler planned a November 12 autumn attack through the neutral low countries into France. Many on the General Staff thought it would be a military disaster at that time of year. At least as many high-ranking officers were also outraged at the barbarities being reported out of Poland, fearing what it would do to German prestige. The two motivations pushed events to within hours of launching the coup, which included a very detailed plan to quell any opposition from the Gestapo or SS. Captain Heinz was again tasked with capturing and shooting Hitler for attempting to "resist arrest." It all revolved around the Wehrmacht—if Halder, again the man needed to give the go-ahead, would set things in motion. After a meeting between Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch and Hitler—on the very day, at the very hour, of the planned coup, 1:30 p.m. on November 5, 1939—Halder utterly panicked after hearing von Brauchitch's account of the meeting, in which Hitler spoke of the "spirit of Zossen," meaning OKH headquarters. Halder (wrongly, it turned out) took it to mean Hitler had found them all out and thought the worst. He ordered everything shut down and all documents burned.[7]
There was enough support from high-level military commanders during both the 1938 and the 1939 plots that the chief conspirator, Abwehr head Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, was able to offer the British the end the war, if either coup had succeeded. Ending or preventing war was, in fact, the reason for both coups. Unfortunately, the British were never really on board; the plotters never had enough confidence that Germany would be treated fairly, as opposed to 1919 and Versailles. This, plus the Stab-in-the-back legend, made it difficult for the Wehrmacht conspirators in particular (and they were central to any coup attempt) to be convinced they would not be seen as traitors. It was absolutely necessary that they pick a moment when Hitler was not popular, rather than viewed as a genius. In their minds, a coup in Germany could only take place against Hitler when they could claim successfully that he was taking Germany down a disastrous path. With Chamberlain's capitulation at Munich, and after the Hitler's delays on attacking in the West, the opposition's momentum never quite came in 1938 or 1939. "


After Hitler's crushing victory over France the plots lost all steam. He was simply untouchable. the careful Halder drank the victory juice and thought it would be possible to conquer Russia too. Ironically the first time his cautiousness would have been rewarded.
Once it was clear to the public that Germany had lost the war it would only a matter of time until the generals would have gotten rid of him. Even at the height of his power the general staff of army group center was rife with plots against Hitler coordinated by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henning_von_Tresckow
Which eventually petered out with the 20 july conspiration. These men were ready to die to see Hitler dead. Hitler ability to evade a dozen of their clever attempts of on his life was nothing short of miraculous.
This was even with the demand of unconditional surrender hanging over them. Imagine what support they could have had if they had had a fighting chance to save Germany.
 
Likes: Futurist

royal744

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
9,841
San Antonio, Tx
#75
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.
Guaporense may point out that the Brazilians did indeed send an expeditionary army that fought in Italy during WW2. Brazil received a significant amount of Lend-Lease from the US. So did Mexico which received a number of squadrons of fighters which were scheduled to participate in the invasion of Japan.
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#76
Guaporense may point out that the Brazilians did indeed send an expeditionary army that fought in Italy during WW2. Brazil received a significant amount of Lend-Lease from the US. So did Mexico which received a number of squadrons of fighters which were scheduled to participate in the invasion of Japan.
Insignificant numbers, nothing like the hundreds of thousands of American and British troops.invovled, nor did the Brazilians have men who hand been languishing in POW camps for years. Brazil didn't face war rationing like Americans and British did, which it's restrictions on what they could buy. It is easy to pass judgment when it isn't your son or father who have to worry about not coming home every day the war lasted.

As for the terms of unconditional surrender, it didn't.delay the end of the war, since the leadership of Germany wasn't going to surrender as long as it was in charge. The Soviet Union was not going to accept any negotiated surrender.
 

royal744

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
9,841
San Antonio, Tx
#77
§
What do you think Stalin and the Soviet people would consider “just and fair”?
How would that mesh with what Poland would regard as “just andfair”?
What’s “just and fair” to Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia....
Stalin is going stop fighting and let the Germans peacefully leave when the tide has turned? Just ignore the horrors and devastation? Who gets Hitler? Stalin or the West?
This scenario is a pipe dream.
Sounds like a pipe dream to me. If I were ordered to come up with terms and conditions that would be acceptable to the Allies they would be:

1. On the day of surrender, Germans military units lay down all arms
1.1. Immediate withdrawal of all German forces from every country it legally invaded and occupied

2. Large weapon systems will be destroyed

3 Allied search teams - Operation Paperclip/ The Monuments en, etc - would be allowed to compete to get whatever scientific information, hardware, rockets, secret aircraft, nuclear piles ad take them to Britain, the US, France and Russia.

4. Immediate evacuation of Poland by both the Nazis and the Russians (the latter might not be happy about this.)

5 Immediate evacuation of Danzig, Memel, restoration of Czechoslovakian

6 Immediate erasure of the province of Prussia

7 Alsace-Lorraine remains part of France

8 Austria goes back to being Austria instead of the “land” of Ostmark.

9 Offer Germany the Marshall Plan to rebuild the country - the US needs trading partners or it will not survive; the financial arrangements for Germany and Austria are different from the rest of zgerman-pillaged Europe.

10. The German perpetrators Nuremberg trials take place.

11. Have the Allies sign onto a policy that makes rape of a civlian woman or girls an offense punishable by death

If these minimal conditions are not met and agreed tp by the Germans, the war continues. I would give the Germans about a week, maybe more, to come to a decision.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
14,369
SoCal
#78
§

Sounds like a pipe dream to me. If I were ordered to come up with terms and conditions that would be acceptable to the Allies they would be:

1. On the day of surrender, Germans military units lay down all arms
1.1. Immediate withdrawal of all German forces from every country it legally invaded and occupied

2. Large weapon systems will be destroyed

3 Allied search teams - Operation Paperclip/ The Monuments en, etc - would be allowed to compete to get whatever scientific information, hardware, rockets, secret aircraft, nuclear piles ad take them to Britain, the US, France and Russia.

4. Immediate evacuation of Poland by both the Nazis and the Russians (the latter might not be happy about this.)

5 Immediate evacuation of Danzig, Memel, restoration of Czechoslovakian

6 Immediate erasure of the province of Prussia

7 Alsace-Lorraine remains part of France

8 Austria goes back to being Austria instead of the “land” of Ostmark.

9 Offer Germany the Marshall Plan to rebuild the country - the US needs trading partners or it will not survive; the financial arrangements for Germany and Austria are different from the rest of zgerman-pillaged Europe.

10. The German perpetrators Nuremberg trials take place.

11. Have the Allies sign onto a policy that makes rape of a civlian woman or girls an offense punishable by death

If these minimal conditions are not met and agreed tp by the Germans, the war continues. I would give the Germans about a week, maybe more, to come to a decision.
What about stripping Germany of East Prussia, Pomerania, and Silesia?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
14,369
SoCal
#80
4. Immediate evacuation of Poland by both the Nazis and the Russians (the latter might not be happy about this.)
The Russian part probably isn't a good idea since the Ukrainian territories that Poland lost ended up being the most pro-Western Ukrainian territories. After the Soviet breakup several decades later, Ukraine needed those territories in order to have enough pro-Western voters to avoid falling back into Russia's orbit.