Could Nazi Germany Have Won the War of Attrition?

Horten_H_XVIIIInterestingly enough, it could have. Not necessarily would have (even if they had made the right decisions), but definitely could have.

In mid-December 1941, after the failure of blitzkrieg in Russia and entry of the USA into the war in Europe (declaring war on the USA was a colossal blunder on Hitler’s part), it became evident that Nazi Germany was now fighting an entirely different kind of war – the war of attrition.

Enemies of Axis powers (the Allied nations) possessed far superior amounts of resources – natural, human, industrial capacity, etc. Resources that were mostly protected from destruction by German Luftwaffe because the latter simply did not have aircraft (let alone in sufficient quantity) capable of reaching and bombing these resources.

And the capability of the Allied merchant fleet to deliver goods to Britain and the Soviet Union exceeded the ability of Kriegsmarine (U-boats and surface raiders) to intercept and sink cargo ships by at least an order of magnitude (probably by two orders of magnitude).

Axis powers not only had far fewer resources at their disposal, but these resources were well within the reach of Allied heavy bombers (which British and American air produced by the thousands). Bombers that could attack these resources basically around the clock (after Americans began to mass produce highly capable long-range escort fighters).

Consequently, the Axis powers could hope to win this war of attrition only by radically changing the playing field. Which they could have done only by developing and putting into operation the Wunderwaffe – the “Miracle Weapons”.

Weapons which will achieve sufficient battlefield superiority for Germany not to win the war (that was already impossible) but to force the Allies to sue for peace. Which at that time was basically the same thing.

Adolf Hitler and other top Nazis realized the vital need for the development of the Wunderwaffe probably at the beginning of 1942 and definitely after the disaster at Stalingrad a year later. Unfortunately for them, they chose a totally wrong approach to achieving this objective.

Nazis began development of a vast array of very different weapons (from tanks to aircraft and ballistic missiles) none of which provided (and would have provided) a decisive advantage in war. These weapons only consumed enormous amount of precious resources which ultimately led to the defeat of Germany in World War II and to the demise of the Third Reich.

Instead of trying to develop and put into operation literally dozens or new weapons (no matter how revolutionary), Nazi leaders should have concentrated on just three.

A nuclear bomb (obviously); its delivery system (long-range high-altitude jet bomber capable of reaching the United States at least on a one-way “suicide mission”) and a cheap surface-to-air guided missile that could have been produced in tens of thousands and deployed in just about every industrial city in Germany, Romania, etc.

Had the Nazis started this work in January 1942 and put all their resources (in excess of the bare minimum needed to stall the Soviet offensives on the Eastern front), by mid-1944 they could have developed and deployed all three components. Not necessarily would have, but could have.

A Horten 229 – type jet bomber flying at 1,000 km/hour at 15,000 meters with low visibility to radar (thus being untouchable by any air defense at that time) and carrying a five-ton 20-kiloton plutonium bomb (“the German Fat Man”) was exactly the kind of Wunderwaffe that would have forced the Allies to sue for peace after the destruction of London, Moscow and Washington DC.

Especially given their total inability to retaliate given the absence of an atomic bomb of their own and tens of thousands of surface-to-air-missiles (of the Enzian, Schmetterling or Rheintochter type) guarding the skies over German cities.

Fortunately to the abovementioned capitals, it did not happen. Due to their inability to focus on the crucially important projects, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi leaders wasted their precious resources on too many Wunderwaffe projects (and on thoroughly insane – from the military perspective endeavors such as Ahnenerbe, the Holocaust, etc.).

Which ultimately led to the defeat in the Second World War and to the demise of the Third Reich.


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