The “1941 Plot” or a Bit of Alternate History (1)

Operation-BarbarossaFrom the very next day after the unconditional surrender of Germany, tThe anti-Nazi propaganda (sorry, “mainstream history”) keeps preaching that the Allied victory (and thus the defeat of the Third Reich) was by far the best outcome of the Second World War for the human civilization.

IMHO, not necessarily. The way I see it (and I have facts, logic and just good old common sense to back it up), it all depended of how the events of two last months of 1941 would have played out.

Obviously, I must begin my analysis with providing an answer to a crucial (and very much related question): Could Nazi Germany have won the Second World War on both Western and Eastern fronts?

To answer this question, we must first define what exactly we understand by the victory on each of these fronts. Victory can be achieved in one of the three ways – you either (1) physically annihilate your enemies (possibly enslaving some of them) – this is how the overwhelming majority of wars ended prior to the 20th century; force it to unconditionally surrender; or (3) force it to sign peace treaty on your terms.

The latter was exactly how the World War I ended – on the Eastern Front Russia (by that time already Soviet Russia) was forced to sign a humiliating Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and on the Western Front Germany was forced to sign even more humiliating Treaty of Versailles.

For different reasons (Britain was protected by a massive body of water and the Soviet Union was just too damn big) neither the first nor the second options were possible for the Nazi Germany.

Hence, the only way to win the war was to force the Soviet Union and Great Britain to sign peace treaties on German terms. In exactly this order, because as long the Soviet cannon fodder and mountains of Soviet military hardware were fighting Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front, Churchill’s government would have never ever agreed to a peace treaty with Germany. On any terms except the unconditional surrender of the Third Reich.

Could Hitler forced Stalin (or the successor of the latter) sign the “Brest-Litovsk II” treaty (possibly even in the same city) with Nazi Germany? The answer is an unequivocal “Yes” – if Adolf Hitler made a different military decision in July of 1941, focusing all his efforts squarely on capturing Moscow and Leningrad (the two critically important Soviet citizens – both functionally and emotionally).

It is no secret that in June-November of 1941 the Red Army (more precisely, its First Strategic Echelon) suffered the worst military defeat in human history. It lost over 6 million men (the whole invasion army ready to attack Europe on June 23rd, 1941), almost all tanks it had on June 22nd (20,500 of them) and all aircraft (18,500) that it had on the invasion day. Plus 3,000 aircraft produced during that time period.

The overwhelming majority of these aircraft were abandoned by their crews (who panicked and ran using any ground transportation available) on airfields, captured and destroyed on the ground by the German Army.

This overwhelming catastrophe happened despite the irrefutable fact that the Red Army had an overwhelming advantage over its adversary – 5:1 in personnel, 4:1 in tanks and aircraft, 8:1 in artillery pieces and mortars.

In addition, the Soviets had a qualitative advantage in tanks – at Wehrmacht did not have any hardware even remotely comparable to the Soviet T-34-76 and KV-1 tanks (let alone KV-2 monsters) which were all but invulnerable to just about all German anti-tank weapons.

There were several reasons for such a colossal defeat and destruction, but the primary one was panic. Panic that inevitably led to a total loss of control by military commanders over their troops (at all levels) and to an all but total loss of the will to fight among the rank-and-file.

The first led to an all but total disintegration of the command and control structure of the armed forces (and of the civilian government at all levels) and the second to a massive surrender (by the hundreds of thousands) of Soviet troops.

By the end of 1941, about 3,000,000 (half of the Soviet losses) men surrendered to the victorious Germans. Which was a really bad decision because two out of three of them (at least) died in German POW camps due to either intentional mistreatment or (mostly) criminal neglect.

Using mostly draconian measures (inevitable under the circumstances), the Soviet High Command managed to make this panic substantially subside by mid-October of 1941.

And then the Great Panic of Moscow hit – big time and will full force.

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