The “1941 Plot” or a Bit of Alternate History (4)

Operation Typhoon

Now imagine that the Wehrmacht launched Operation Typhoon one month earlier – on August 31st, 1941. Actually, it could have started a month earlier – at the end of July, had Franz Halder (Chief of the Army General Staff), Fedor von Bock (commander of Army Group Center – AGC) and Heinz Guderian (commander of the 2nd Panzer Group – a key component of AGC) convinced Hitler to focus all efforts and resources on capturing two key Soviet cities – its capital Moscow (first and foremost) and Leningrad (previously St. Petersburg – the capital of the Russian Empire).

Had that happened (and it very well could), Stalin, the Soviet government (military and civilian) and the whole population of the USSR (first and foremost, of its two capitals) would have faced the abovementioned disaster in mid-September of 1941 (of not at the beginning of that month).

However, in this case, Wehrmacht would not have halted its offensive – because it had sufficient supplies of everything it needed to press on; there would have been no mud on the infamously bad Soviet roads to stop the German armor and there would have been no blizzards to ground the murderously efficient Luftwaffe.

A little known fact is that about half of the heavy and medium tanks used by the Red Army (light tanks were all but useless against German Panzers) during its Moscow counteroffensive in December of 1941, were British.

Deliveries were made in October in November meaning that in September of 1941, the Red Army would have had no tanks to fight the Panzerwaffe (had Operation Typhoon began in August – let alone in July).

Also, Murmansk – the Soviet port through which just about all lend-lease deliveries were made, was protected by Hawker Hurricanes which began to arrive in early October. Had Operation Typhoon began in July, there would have been no Hurricanes to protect the convoys – and hence no lend-lease deliveries to the USSR.

Consequently, in this case the Wehrmacht would have entered Moscow practically unopposed at the end of September at the latest. Two to three weeks earlier the panic (which would have been way more powerful – irresistible, actually) would have engulfed both the military and civilian government (as it did in every large city attacked by the Wehrmacht previously).

Consequently, instead of defending the city, both the military and the civilian militia (the Soviet equivalent of Volkssturm) would have simply left the city (again, it happened before pretty much everywhere). In short, the Moscow defense would have collapsed allowing the Wehrmacht to capture the city in a matter of a few days (if not hours).

By that time Leningrad was already surrounded by the German troops (it has been all but completely encircled since September the 8th). The fall of Moscow would have made the position of the besieged city totally and utterly hopeless.

Which, in turn would have led to a wholesale exodus of both the military and the civilians from the city – with no will to fight left and a complete collapse of the defense system everyone will have only one option – run. Making Leningrad essentially and open city which will be occupied by the Wehrmacht in a matter of a few hours (a day at the most).

After the fall of Moscow and Leningrad, the Southern and Southwestern fronts of the Red Army would have surrendered in a few days at most – which would have taken care of the “Kiev problem”.

Although they still presented a formidable force (even after taking a severe beating from the Germans), their commanders were incompetent at counterattacking (to put it mildly). So keeping them at bay during the whole Operation Typhoon would not have been a major problem. In fact, not a problem at all.

In the abovementioned scenario, Stalin would have found himself in a situation similar to Hitler’s in late April of 1945. True, Napoleon has taken Moscow and still lost the war, but at the time it was but a provincial town (though the largest) – the capital was St. Petersburg which was completely out of reach for the French.

Besides, it was the logistics problems that led to the defeat of Napoleon’s Great Army – but he did not have trucks, trains and cargo aircraft. Wehrmacht did not have this problem – at least not in September – or even in October of 1941.

Unlike Hitler in late April of 1945, Stalin could have left the capital (for Kuybyshev), but it made no difference whatsoever. After the complete collapse of the Red Army and the Soviet State (inevitable after the fall of Moscow and Leningrad due to their critical functional, emotional and even spiritual value), German Panzers would have entered Kuybyshev in no time.

Like Hitler, Stalin was addicted to his messianic idea (at least as powerfully, as an addict to a hard drug). For Hitler, it was making Germany #1 global superpower and acquisition of the Lebensraum in the East necessary for complete self-sufficiency in foodstuffs and key natural resources.

For Stalin it was the territorial expansion of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics until the “last republic” is accepted and integrated (or annexed) into this global Communist state.

Under this scenario, it would have been obvious to Stalin in September of 1941 (as it was for Hitler in April of 1945) that his chances of ever making his messianic dream a reality were reduced to precisely zero by his victorious enemies.

Faced with a very similar situation, Adolf Hitler predictably chose to commit suicide (although he did have numerous opportunities to escape Berlin and go into hiding) as he had nothing left to live for. Consequently, it would be fair and reasonable to conclude that Stalin would have done exactly the same thing.

It would also be reasonable and realistic to construe that he would have been succeeded with Lavrentiy Beria – the “Soviet Himmler”. Like his German counterpart, he was a head of the country’s security service – NKVD (a rough equivalent of the German RSHA).

Actually, he was even better suited for running the country as (unlike Himmler) he already had an experience of managing the whole Soviet republic (a rough equivalent to the German federal state – Land).

Besides, he was a ruthless pragmatist (a technocrat even) who – as he proved beyond the reasonable doubt after Stalin’s death in 1953 – did not care much about Communist ideology. Or any ideology for that matter.

Hence there is little (if any) doubt the after Stalin’s suicide (inevitable under the abovementioned scenario), Beria would have signed a Brest-Litovsk-style treaty with the victorious Third Reich.

Would have Adolf Hitler signed it? IMHO, yes he would. Despite the collapse of the Red Army and the Soviet State, the USSR was still a gargantuan country that Germany simply did not have the resources to control.

Besides the Civil War (that ended only 20 years ago) made the Soviets extremely adept at guerilla warfare – which would have decimated Wehrmacht in no time (a nationwide uprising was something the Germans simply could not afford).

And Russia has already proven beyond the reasonable doubt its capability of rebuilding itself – after suffering almost complete collapse of the Army and a State (and a humiliating defeat in the Great War). Which was something that the Germans did not want at all.

Consequently, the Nazis (most likely, convinced by the generals) would have almost certainly developed and signed Brest-Litovsk II (possibly a hybrid with the “reversed Versailles treaty” as well).

The only reason Great Britain kept fighting the Third Reich in 1940-41 (after the fall of France) was the deep-seated belief of its leaders (first and foremost, Winston Churchill) that (1) the war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was inevitable; and (2) that due to its enormous superiority in population and other resources the Soviet Union will win.

After the defeat of the USSR and signing of the “Brest-Litovsk II”, these hopes would have been dashed. The war with the Third Reich would have been hopeless and even suicidal for the UK – as now nothing prevented the Germans from destroying the British Air Force, then the Navy and then crossing the English Channel and landing on the British Isles. And for the British Empire – as the war with Germany would have left Britain with insufficient resources to protect its Asian part from the Japanese.

Hence, there is little (if any) doubt that Winston Churchill or (more likely) the one who would have replaced him, would have had no choice but to sign a peace treaty with the victorious Third Reich (most likely, with not territorial or other losses suffered by the British Empire).

The interesting question is: what would have happened in the Far East? Would the Imperial Japan have attacked British colonies? Probably not, because after Britain signed a peace treaty with Nazi Germany, all of its Army, Navy and Air Force were available for protecting the Far Eastern colonies. Which would have undoubtedly shifted the odds in British favor.

However, Japan would have certainly grabbed oil-rich Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) – there is little doubt that the peace treaty with Germany would have prevented Britain from going to war with Japan over the territory that belonged to German-occupied Netherlands.

Would the United States have gone to war with Japan over the Dutch East Indies? Not if Japan had not attacked the United States. Which it would most certainly had not done as it would have solved its oil problems (and problems with other resources) by colonizing what is now Indonesia. Hence the American oil embargo would not have been such a big deal.

It is also quite possible (very likely, actually) that the terms of the peace treaty with the Third Reich would have required Great Britain to supply Japan with all natural resources that it needed, ignoring its atrocities in China.

Hence, under this scenario there would have been no war in the Pacific at all. Except the colonial war in China, of course which rather sooner than later would have resulted in the Japanese victory (it is unlikely that in this global configuration the USA – or the Soviet Union for that matter – would have supported the Chinese for a long time).

However, it is far more interesting what kind of impact the victory in the Second Great War would have made on Germany, the Nazi regime and on Adolf Hitler personally

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s