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Thread: What if we didn't ally with USSR in 1941?

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    What if we didn't ally with USSR in 1941?

    Was it possible to only help UK and France but not USSR? Let the Nazis and commies annihilate each other.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    I think the problem with not helping the USSR is that Germany had just steamrolled through most of Europe, and the Red Army had just undergone massive purges and reorganizations. From the standpoint of the United States, the possibility that German forces would quickly bulldoze their way to Moscow and force a surrender had to be a serious consideration.

    When Napoleon took Moscow he expected a delegation and an offer of capitulation from the Tzar. Instead he found a largely deserted city that had been stripped of food and supplies, while saboteurs burned 4/5th of the city the night he arrived. In hindsight, Hitler would probably have gotten a very similar reception if the Germans had taken Moscow. In 1941 however, all people saw was a weak looking USSR still reeling from revolutions, a Red Army in disarray from purges, and a German juggernaut that had crushed most of Europe.

    I think that the primary reason the landings at Normandy even became a possibility is because the majority of German forces were tied up fighting the USSR. In hindsight we know that Stalin was willing to burn his own cities and countryside while sending untrained, underequipped men to their deaths by the tens of thousands just to slow the German advance. On the other hand, if the USSR had offered a quick capitulation (as many suspected it might) and the Germans had 3 years to consolidate their gains, Normandy would never have happened. The Atlantic Wall would have been fully manned, with armored reserves and garrisons of troops close enough move in and repulse any attempts to force a landing.

    We needed the Germans to be fighting a two front war as much as Stalin did.

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    Senior Contributor Stitch's Avatar
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    This was possible, but not probable; IIRC, Roosevelt actually had to do some political arm-twisting to get Congress to go along with the Lend-Lease program vis-a-vis the Soviets. You have to remember, we had just spent some treasure (and lives) supporting the "white" Russians in their war with the "reds" in the 1920's; IMHO, we would have been better off, in many respects, NOT including the Soviets in our Lend-Lease program of the '40's.

    In the long run, we actually gave them a head-start on the (eventual) Cold War; they ended up reverse-engineering several platforms that they would not otherwise have had access to. Yes, WWII might've been a few months longer; but in the long-term, I think Lend-Lease actually hurt us vis-a-vis the Soviets.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    Was it possible to only help UK and France but not USSR? Let the Nazis and commies annihilate each other.
    Yes it was possible and with hindsight may have been a better strategic move. It would have likely meant Soviet exhaustion somewhere in Belarus/Ukraine leaving the US/UK free to defeat Germany and liberate Eastern Europe.

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    gunnut,

    Was it possible to only help UK and France but not USSR?
    well, by 1941...France was already done.

    z,

    Yes it was possible and with hindsight may have been a better strategic move. It would have likely meant Soviet exhaustion somewhere in Belarus/Ukraine leaving the US/UK free to defeat Germany and liberate Eastern Europe.
    but only in complete hindsight.

    in 1941 it looked to any rational observer that the USSR was about to collapse, leaving at best a siberian rump state and Germany in control of Europe/European Russia at the minimum.

    another year after that and the nazis would scoop up the Middle East. perhaps one more year after that, they'd be at the gates of India with Japan hammering on the other side.

    prior to dec 7, 1941, the isolationists-- IE the vast majority of the US-- thought that Churchill or no, Great Britain would then go under and sue for terms, if they hadn't done so already.

    in any case, even with complete hindsight this would be a very difficult sell to the US public. how many more GIs would have died just at normandy if the germans had a bigger strategic reserve? how about the taking of berlin? of course the Western Allies wouldn't have taken even a third of the casualties that the USSR did in their desperate drive, but you're talking anywhere from another 250-300K casualties for the US alone, at least.

    recall for operation olympic the US was bracing itself for some 400-500K casualties. those perspective casualties were enough to daunt the Allied high command, even given the post-pearl harbor US desire for blood vengeance, verging on race war.
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    Stitch,

    In the long run, we actually gave them a head-start on the (eventual) Cold War; they ended up reverse-engineering several platforms that they would not otherwise have had access to. Yes, WWII might've been a few months longer; but in the long-term, I think Lend-Lease actually hurt us vis-a-vis the Soviets.
    i'd say from a non-hindsight perspective Lend-Lease to the USSR from 1941-1943 were fully justifiable. by 1943 Stalin was already making ominous notes that if more aid or a second front wasn't opened up, he might very well ask hitler for status quo ante bellum. decision makers at the time were -fairly- certain Stalin wouldn't, but he had made surprising deals with hitler before.

    by mid-1944 it was becoming pretty clear that the USSR really didn't need Lend-Lease anymore, but by this time the Allies were also preparing to ask for Soviet assistance against Japan.

    in short, most of the decisionmakers weren't willing to trade the lives of hundreds of thousands of troops for Eastern Europe.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    There was no way in hell we would not ally with Russia. We had to follow our Allies. After all, Churchill said about Russia:

    "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."
    Last edited by Albany Rifles; 20 Jun 14, at 14:04.
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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    gunnut,

    well, by 1941...France was already done.
    The Free French government in exile in London continued to fight. Plus there was substantial colonial holdings under the banner of Free French government.

    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    z,

    but only in complete hindsight.

    in 1941 it looked to any rational observer that the USSR was about to collapse, leaving at best a siberian rump state and Germany in control of Europe/European Russia at the minimum.

    another year after that and the nazis would scoop up the Middle East. perhaps one more year after that, they'd be at the gates of India with Japan hammering on the other side.

    prior to dec 7, 1941, the isolationists-- IE the vast majority of the US-- thought that Churchill or no, Great Britain would then go under and sue for terms, if they hadn't done so already.

    in any case, even with complete hindsight this would be a very difficult sell to the US public. how many more GIs would have died just at normandy if the germans had a bigger strategic reserve? how about the taking of berlin? of course the Western Allies wouldn't have taken even a third of the casualties that the USSR did in their desperate drive, but you're talking anywhere from another 250-300K casualties for the US alone, at least.

    recall for operation olympic the US was bracing itself for some 400-500K casualties. those perspective casualties were enough to daunt the Allied high command, even given the post-pearl harbor US desire for blood vengeance, verging on race war.
    I thought about the scenario some more and came to a slightly different conclusion.

    If we only helped UK and Free French, but not USSR, then the Soviets probably would have fought Germany to a stalemate on the eastern front, somewhere around the Ukraine area. Soviets would have had a hard time pushing Germany back without Lend Lease. Germany and USSR might sigh a cease fire like what we did in Korea. Soviets get a breather and Germans can consolidate their holdings.

    Assuming Japan still attacks Pearl, US would crush Japan with the full might of US military in 1944. But without the A-bombs, the land invasion could cost US 400k dead and maybe 2 million wounded.

    The world might settle down to a 3-party cold war with US/UK vs. the Third Reich in Europe vs. USSR.

    The tricky part is China. Would there be enough US military in Asia (from fighting Japan first) to prevent a complete collapse of the Nationalists in China? Or would that have been inevitable, resulting in USSR/China bloc being the 3rd participant in the 3 way cold war?
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post

    z,



    but only in complete hindsight.

    in 1941 it looked to any rational observer that the USSR was about to collapse, leaving at best a siberian rump state and Germany in control of Europe/European Russia at the minimum.

    another year after that and the nazis would scoop up the Middle East. perhaps one more year after that, they'd be at the gates of India with Japan hammering on the other side.

    prior to dec 7, 1941, the isolationists-- IE the vast majority of the US-- thought that Churchill or no, Great Britain would then go under and sue for terms, if they hadn't done so already.

    in any case, even with complete hindsight this would be a very difficult sell to the US public. how many more GIs would have died just at normandy if the germans had a bigger strategic reserve? how about the taking of berlin? of course the Western Allies wouldn't have taken even a third of the casualties that the USSR did in their desperate drive, but you're talking anywhere from another 250-300K casualties for the US alone, at least.

    recall for operation olympic the US was bracing itself for some 400-500K casualties. those perspective casualties were enough to daunt the Allied high command, even given the post-pearl harbor US desire for blood vengeance, verging on race war.
    With complete Hindsight I think over casualties may have been lower since we would know to go after Nazi fuel production and transport nets without mercy. When we finally figured out that the key to strategic bombing of Germany was to concentrate on electrical production, oil refining and transport nets the war was already all but won. Nothing the Germans can do from 1944 on is going to save their transport net. The transportation and fuel limits are going to put a cap on how many divisions Hitler can throw West no matter how much he wants to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    The Free French government in exile in London continued to fight. Plus there was substantial colonial holdings under the banner of Free French government.



    I thought about the scenario some more and came to a slightly different conclusion.

    If we only helped UK and Free French, but not USSR, then the Soviets probably would have fought Germany to a stalemate on the eastern front, somewhere around the Ukraine area. Soviets would have had a hard time pushing Germany back without Lend Lease. Germany and USSR might sigh a cease fire like what we did in Korea. Soviets get a breather and Germans can consolidate their holdings.

    Assuming Japan still attacks Pearl, US would crush Japan with the full might of US military in 1944. But without the A-bombs, the land invasion could cost US 400k dead and maybe 2 million wounded.

    The world might settle down to a 3-party cold war with US/UK vs. the Third Reich in Europe vs. USSR.

    The tricky part is China. Would there be enough US military in Asia (from fighting Japan first) to prevent a complete collapse of the Nationalists in China? Or would that have been inevitable, resulting in USSR/China bloc being the 3rd participant in the 3 way cold war?
    Without the A-bomb, Japan would be starving and facing mass famine before the first American boot lands on the Home Islands. I'm not sure Japan would not have come hat in hand to the Allies anyway within just a few weeks of the A-Bomb/ Soviet Invasion. The Submarine offensive and mining operations created a very real promise of mass famine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Without the A-bomb, Japan would be starving and facing mass famine before the first American boot lands on the Home Islands. I'm not sure Japan would not have come hat in hand to the Allies anyway within just a few weeks of the A-Bomb/ Soviet Invasion. The Submarine offensive and mining operations created a very real promise of mass famine.
    I agree. After a couple of months of a blockade by the US Navy the Japanese would be out of fuel and out of food. Soon winter would be upon them and existence in that country would be extremely hard. However, crushing the Japanese for Pearl Harbor no doubt held a certain appeal for some so why wait for them. Not faulting the use of the A-bomb since my Dad was waiting around for the invasion but still think a blockade, while less satisfying, would have achieved surrender also.

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    Hm. If China is the only sphere of influence left to the US government, who knows? To prevent Mao's victory, however, would require a gigantic amount of materiel and direct intervention with US troops.
    Last edited by Triple C; 20 Jun 14, at 10:05.
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    Before Fat Man and Little Boy were dropped Japan HAD been starved into a stupor.

    The US Pacific Fleet Submarine Force had seen to that.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    Was it possible to only help UK and France but not USSR? Let the Nazis and commies annihilate each other.
    How many America lives is it worth to you?

    As others have pointed out, it is only with complete hindsight that we understand the point at which Hitler shot his bolt. Until Stalingrad fell the result seemed unclear from the outside, and even then there was no way to know how long it would take to defeat Hitler. You need to understand just how unbeatable the Nazi war machine looked in 1941. it had brushed aside the army considered the best in the world in a few months, had taken most of continental Europe & had virtually destroyed the largest army in the world. To assume at that point that the Russians would recover and eventually win would be an act of the greatest optimism.

    Had a stalemate developed on the Eastern front there is simply no telling what the war in the west might have looked like. Perhaps Germany doesn't lose as many troops & as much equipment by the time the Western Allies land in Europe. Perhaps the Nazis are able to inflict heavier casualties. Perhaps Stalin, realising he is being hung out to dry, cuts a deal with Hitler Brest-Litovsk style & allows the Nazis to turn on the Western Allies in far greater numbers.

    Further, any US President had to consider that Russia might be a valuable ally against Japan. That remained a firm hope right up until the end. While that turned out to be a bust in the end, it held out the prospect of saving thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of US lives. Remember that until that first A-bomb flattened Hiroshima there was still no guarantee it would work. If you believe the Colonel that eventual Russian invasion of Manchurian was as much a part of Japan's decision to surrender as the A-bombs, Every day of war cost more US lives even without an invasion of Japan. Had it been necessary to invade Japan there were orders to massacre Allied POWs & prisoners - several hundred thousand of them.

    No responsible US President could afford to ignore supporting the one power with the resources & position to crush the German Army without the Western Allies expending hundreds of thousands more lives. It would have been an act of criminal irresponsibility.


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    gunnut,

    The Free French government in exile in London continued to fight. Plus there was substantial colonial holdings under the banner of Free French government.
    eh, vichy france did more for the nazis than the Free French ever did for us.

    If we only helped UK and Free French, but not USSR, then the Soviets probably would have fought Germany to a stalemate on the eastern front, somewhere around the Ukraine area. Soviets would have had a hard time pushing Germany back without Lend Lease. Germany and USSR might sigh a cease fire like what we did in Korea. Soviets get a breather and Germans can consolidate their holdings.
    that's the most likely scenario. i'd say actually closer to 1939 borders, though.

    Assuming Japan still attacks Pearl, US would crush Japan with the full might of US military in 1944. But without the A-bombs, the land invasion could cost US 400k dead and maybe 2 million wounded.
    probably 1945 vice 1944, i think. given the japanese defense system where you had to dig them out of islands to get closer to the mainland, numbers had limited utility.

    operation downfall was scheduled to last until either late '46 or early '47 IIRC (horrifying if you think about it), with multiple smaller operations built in if japan didn't surrender.

    The tricky part is China. Would there be enough US military in Asia (from fighting Japan first) to prevent a complete collapse of the Nationalists in China? Or would that have been inevitable, resulting in USSR/China bloc being the 3rd participant in the 3 way cold war?
    well after such a bloodbath on japan i'm not sure how interested the average american would be in China. we did a LOT of stuff for the nationalists in 1945-1946; huge airlifts of Nationalist soldiers to accept Japanese surrenders, a bunch of weapons/tanks turned over. if Japan fought to the end there probably wouldn't be as much interest.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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