Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germany?

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LagunaofGalbadia
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Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germany?

Postby LagunaofGalbadia » Sun Jun 26, 2011 5:35 pm UTC

Which battle during World War II do you believe was more instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany, D-Day or Operation Barbarossa? I'm an American and I'm hesitant to say that either side was more instrumental. On one side the Americans liberated France and on the other side the Soviets pushed back the Germans. Arguably, the Soviets reached Berlin first, but if it wasn't for the American-led invasion in Western Europe, the Germans could have focused all of their attention on the Soviet Union and possibly launched a successful counter-offensive. But without Operation Barbarossa, the Soviet Union would have been severely weakened, and possibly even defeated. Which battle do you think was more instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany?

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Pseudonymoniae » Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:03 am UTC

LagunaofGalbadia wrote:Which battle during World War II do you believe was more instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany, D-Day or Operation Barbarossa? I'm an American and I'm hesitant to say that either side was more instrumental. On one side the Americans liberated France and on the other side the Soviets pushed back the Germans. Arguably, the Soviets reached Berlin first, but if it wasn't for the American-led invasion in Western Europe, the Germans could have focused all of their attention on the Soviet Union and possibly launched a successful counter-offensive. But without Operation Barbarossa, the Soviet Union would have been severely weakened, and possibly even defeated. Which battle do you think was more instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany?


My understanding is that Nazi war effort was already doomed prior to either attack. If neither push had occurred, the Nazis would still have been defeated, just at a later date. What about the invasions of Africa and Italy in 1942 and 1943? Or simply the Soviet resistance to the Nazis throughout the war? Or the failure of the Nazis to invade England in 1940?

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:43 am UTC

Pseudonymoniae wrote:
LagunaofGalbadia wrote:Which battle during World War II do you believe was more instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany, D-Day or Operation Barbarossa? I'm an American and I'm hesitant to say that either side was more instrumental. On one side the Americans liberated France and on the other side the Soviets pushed back the Germans. Arguably, the Soviets reached Berlin first, but if it wasn't for the American-led invasion in Western Europe, the Germans could have focused all of their attention on the Soviet Union and possibly launched a successful counter-offensive. But without Operation Barbarossa, the Soviet Union would have been severely weakened, and possibly even defeated. Which battle do you think was more instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany?


My understanding is that Nazi war effort was already doomed prior to either attack. If neither push had occurred, the Nazis would still have been defeated, just at a later date. What about the invasions of Africa and Italy in 1942 and 1943? Or simply the Soviet resistance to the Nazis throughout the war? Or the failure of the Nazis to invade England in 1940?


I think you're mistaken about the timeline a bit. Operation Barbarossa marked the beginning of the German invasion into Russia (1941), not the Russian counteroffense. I think a good argument could be made that Barbarossa was probably the most significant turning point in the war, since Germany marshalled a huge amount of resources and manpower into the Eastern front (and also opened an entirely new theatre of war), that were then unavailable for deployment against the Allies later. Had the Nazis not broken the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, it's entirely possible that they could have maintained a sufficient stronghold in Europe that the war would have lasted until nuclear weapons were deployed in the continent (or, conceivably, in the United States or the UK if the Germans got them first).

[edit]Quick fact check: operation Operation Bagration was the Russian counterattack that eventually forced the Nazis all the way back to Berlin.
Last edited by LaserGuy on Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:47 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Beardhammer » Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:44 am UTC

I was under the impression one of the major contributors to Axis losing the war was Hitler pulling a Napoleon and getting stuck in a Russian winter with inadequate supplies.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby JonoEPD » Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:15 am UTC

Barbarossa. Resources are everything in wars like these (that is until Nuclear Weapons show up!), and Russia switching sides was equivalent to two Russian nations added to the Allied side. It's difficult to say that the allies wouldn't have come out ahead anyways, considering the very superior US resource position and eventual nukes, but it definitely made things much more pleasant.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Wodashin » Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:39 am UTC

Operation Barbarossa wasn't a battle though.

The operation was almost successful, but luckily the Italians were falling apart and distracted the Nazis for long enough that, once the operation was put into place, they wouldn't be able to take Russia before winter. That was the biggest fault.

Operation Barbarossa, because of the large losses incurred, in money and men and morale, was much more important. If it were successful, who knows how long the war could have went on. It wouldn't be a two-front war anymore. But, because they thinned out their troops and resources so much, it obviously had the larger impact. Hitler befell the exact same problems that everyone else who has tried to invade Russia has experienced.

D-Day, while important in getting France back under Allied control, was much smaller in the grand scheme of things. Even if that had not been successful, the excursion into Russia had already sealed Germany's fate. Germany was forced to retreat in the east and with far fewer troops and resources than they had started with, as well as a broken army. By the time Russia got to Berlin they were fighting boys and the elderly. Operation Barbarossa blew up in Germany's face. Russia was barreling straight for the capital after that, and it didn't look like they were going to be stopped, D-Day or not.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Eowiel » Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:07 am UTC

JonoEPD wrote:Barbarossa. Resources are everything in wars like these (that is until Nuclear Weapons show up!), and Russia switching sides was equivalent to two Russian nations added to the Allied side. It's difficult to say that the allies wouldn't have come out ahead anyways, considering the very superior US resource position and eventual nukes, but it definitely made things much more pleasant.


Russia didn't switch sides, they didn't have an alliance with Germany.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Wodashin » Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:11 am UTC

They had a pact not to attack each other. Which Germany broke, thus turning Russia against them. They didn't switch side per se, but went from not having one to having one.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Eowiel » Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:18 am UTC

I know, but the idea that Russia entering the war was equivalent to two nations joining the allies side is only true if they were first helping Germany, which they were not.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby folkhero » Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:44 am UTC

Germany not invading The Soviet Union, wasn't really much of an option. By 1941, it was clear that British naval power was too strong to expand overseas, and the failure of the bombing of Brittan meant that Germany only had one direction to expand to. Given Nazi ideology, not expanding wasn't really an option, and the mutual hatred between Nazism and communism made their treaty all the more precarious. Hitler knew he was going to betray the Soviets and Stalin knew that he was going to betray the Soviets. "What if Germany never attacked the Soviet union," isn't really a valid historical question; the only question was a matter of timing. Stalin was convinced that they wouldn't be attacked so soon, partially because, while he had intelligence reports telling him the German army was mobilizing, they weren't being supplied with winter gear. The Germans weren't preparing for winter because they expected a quick victory, making them a continental empire similar to the United States. (their plans on what to do with the people already living there was also partially based on the US model.) It's easy to sit here 70 years later and say it's moronic to try a land war against Russia, but at the time the Wehrmacht's invasion on the continent were outstandingly successful, and Napoleon never had panzers after all. The Soviet Union was still, primarily, a peasant state, despite the brutal modernizations and it was a state that had severe troubles even feeding it's own people. At the time it wasn't at all clear that they would be able to successfully resist the most modern and successful military on the planet.

Of course, the Soviets did stall the Germans, and by the time winter rolled around, the Nazi dream of a continental empire was lost. Their days were numbered no matter what happened on in Western Europe. If Barbarossa had succeeded as planned, Germany would have the oil fields in the Caucasus region, a huge amount of slave labor and the agricultural output of the Ukraine and some working room to put all that to use without having to worry about a standing army on the eastern front. It's hard to imagine what the world might look like with the US and UK fighting a continental power and Japan at the same time, but I think it's safe to say that the failure of Barbarossa was the single most important reason for Allied victory in the war.

P.S. The Soviet Union did help Germany by helping them carve up Poland.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Wodashin » Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:46 am UTC

Speaking of the bombings of England by the Germans, it really seems like Germany did not take long term goals into account when doing things. If they had not ceased their bombings of Britain's industry in order to bomb cities, the western front would have been much bleaker for the Allies.

Depending on how you count things as important, Italy's failure to secure their front could have been the deciding factor in Operation Barbarossa's failure. It caused time to be wasted protecting Italy, and could be seen as the thing that set up the thing that set up the end of the Third Reich. Extrapolating that gets you nowhere, and that kind of thinking devolves into simplistic and silly things, so probably best to just stick with Operation Barbarossa.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby aoeu » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:29 pm UTC

From the way history was taught to me I got the impression a major motivation behind D-Day was to stop the Soviets from conquering too much of Europe. Wikipedia says Operation Unthinkable was initially dropped because it was "militarily unfeasible", but it doesn't mention what happened after the US got the bomb.

Wodashin wrote:Speaking of the bombings of England by the Germans, it really seems like Germany did not take long term goals into account when doing things. If they had not ceased their bombings of Britain's industry in order to bomb cities, the western front would have been much bleaker for the Allies.


The Allies put much less effort into trying to assassinate Hitler than Hitler's own officers.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:11 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:Germany not invading The Soviet Union, wasn't really much of an option. By 1941, it was clear that British naval power was too strong to expand overseas, and the failure of the bombing of Brittan meant that Germany only had one direction to expand to. Given Nazi ideology, not expanding wasn't really an option, and the mutual hatred between Nazism and communism made their treaty all the more precarious. Hitler knew he was going to betray the Soviets and Stalin knew that he was going to betray the Soviets. "What if Germany never attacked the Soviet union," isn't really a valid historical question; the only question was a matter of timing.


Well, maybe. The Soviets and "the West" glared at each other angrily for fifty years without ever coming to full-scale warfare (despite fighting numerous proxy wars, naturally). Particularly if both countries came into possession of nuclear arms at similar times, I can see it as a possibility that they might not have gone to war, yes.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Rainsborough » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:20 am UTC

In my admittedly inexpert opinion, the German invasion of Russia in 1941 was the Nazi's biggest mistake. It was massively premature and just straight up underestimated the tenacity, adaptability and sheer scale of the Soviet Union, the racial ideology of the Nazis was a major factor in this.

If instead of opening up a second front the Germans had instead focused on securing Fortress Europe, Germanizing conquered peoples and further developing their industry then in 15 or 20 years they may have been in a position to invade the Soviet Union, all of this would be reliant on them also staying out of the Pacific War and letting the US and Japan fight among themselves. Though I am loath to admit it, Great Britain alone was not a severe threat to German Occupied Europe, though we could, I am convinced, defended our Island whatever the cost may have been. I think it is helpful to view Nazi Expansion as skin to an accelerated Roman empire it just got too large too fast with the Military and Industrial Resources of the empire becoming inadequate to deal with a defence of all fronts at once.

If you asking about a single Battle that made German defeat tactically inevitable then I have to plump for the Battle of the Kursk Salient in 1943, the largest tank battle in history with nearly 3 million men dead. After that the military power of Germany was destroyed and they were pretty much reduced to "old men and boys".
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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Zamfir » Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:09 pm UTC

Rainsborough wrote:If instead of opening up a second front the Germans had instead focused on securing Fortress Europe, Germanizing conquered peoples and further developing their industry then in 15 or 20 years they may have been in a position to invade the Soviet Union,

It's far from clear this was possible, even if the Nazi leadership had wanted to (which they didn't I guess). As folkhero notes, war was the centre of the Nazi ideology, they asked the people of Germany to sacrifice a lot, to turn the entire society over to Nazi goals, all because the war was so important. In the first years they won, which made it easy to support them. Then they immediately started losing, and the country united even more in defense.

But had they stopped and tried to consolidate, they would have faced a troublesome half war, half peace hybrid. With the people at home wondering why their husbands/sons/factory workers were still abroad, now the war was won.

And at the same time they were cut off from resources, oil in particular. Their goal was a roughly self-sufficient zone of power, like the US had. Conquering large parts of Russia was a critical part of that plan. During the war, Germany was eating its reserves and those of its occupied countries. They could keep that up for few years, but not indefinitely. Not from a military POV, but also not for the home economy. How to explain that winning the great war for Lebensraum had made the German people poorer?

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Deep_Thought » Wed Jun 29, 2011 2:03 pm UTC

aoeu wrote:The Allies put much less effort into trying to assassinate Hitler than Hitler's own officers.

I am under the impression that this probably worked out for the best. Hitler made several monumentally stupid strategic decisions during the war that likely shortened its duration. Removing him may have resulted in a more competent leader coming to the fore. Or it may have triggered a power struggle that ripped the Nazi party apart from the inside. Who knows?

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Eowiel » Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:42 pm UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:
aoeu wrote:The Allies put much less effort into trying to assassinate Hitler than Hitler's own officers.

I am under the impression that this probably worked out for the best. Hitler made several monumentally stupid strategic decisions during the war that likely shortened its duration. Removing him may have resulted in a more competent leader coming to the fore. Or it may have triggered a power struggle that ripped the Nazi party apart from the inside. Who knows?


Most (all?) officers that plotted against Hitler were favourable to stopping or not beginning the war. Some even tried to start separate negotiations to negotiatie the conditions of Germany's surrender with the allies during the war. So if any of the assassination plans would have succeeded there would have been a big chance that the second world war wouldn't even have started or at least would have been shorter.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Deep_Thought » Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:45 pm UTC

I was talking more about the Allied attempts than the internal plotters. How would the allies, or indeed Staffenberg et al ensure than an anti-war person replaced Hitler?

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Eowiel » Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:22 pm UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:I was talking more about the Allied attempts than the internal plotters. How would the allies, or indeed Staffenberg et al ensure than an anti-war person replaced Hitler?


For the allies I have no idea, I guess they couldn't really. Most German plots were broader than just killing Hitler, most also envisioned a coup d 'état. Ofcourse, it's not because they would have managed to kill Hitler that they surely would have been able to overthrow the regime.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Soralin » Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:30 pm UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:I was talking more about the Allied attempts than the internal plotters. How would the allies, or indeed Staffenberg et al ensure than an anti-war person replaced Hitler?

Keep assassinating until you end up with someone who is? :) Certainly beats killing millions on a battlefield.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby aoeu » Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:45 pm UTC

Another plan for Germany would have been to get its Lebensraum from Russia and hope everybody allies up with them against the Soviet Union. Saint Petersburg is a beautiful city. Germany could have gone ahead and attacked Russia through Norway or the Baltic Sea, and everybody in Eastern Europe would have been forced to pick sides. The Brits would probably not have cared, and it would have been insane for France to go alone against Germany in Western Europe.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Deep_Thought » Thu Jun 30, 2011 6:59 am UTC

Soralin wrote:Keep assassinating until you end up with someone who is? :) Certainly beats killing millions on a battlefield.

True, but assassinating the head of a foreign country is pretty difficult. Just look at the trouble we're having with Quaddaffi in Libya at the moment, and that's since the invention of precision guided weapons. Every special forces unit the Allies dedicated to killing Hitler was one they weren't dedicating to doing something that had a higher probability of working.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby JonoEPD » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:10 am UTC

Eowiel wrote:I know, but the idea that Russia entering the war was equivalent to two nations joining the allies side is only true if they were first helping Germany, which they were not.


Uh...you're thinking too unilaterally in terms of official alliances.

Before: Russia was supplying Germany with resources and military help in Eastern Europe (especially oil! 4 million barrels!).
After: No moar helps + warz

Though I've been looking around, and it seems that Russia may have been planning to attack Germany itself in order to conquer Europe for its own purposes. Hitler figured this out and pretty much owned Russia at the start of his attack.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby BattleMoose » Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:57 pm UTC

The war was fought and won and lost, depending on your perspective, in the Soviet Union.

War between Germany and the Soviet Union was probably inevitable, at some point, the ideologies were far too much in conflict with each other, both bread hatred for each other and while Germany was already very militarized the Soviet Union was preparing for war. Invading in the spring of 1941, probably gave Germany the best chance of victory against the Soviet Union, assuming war was inevitable.

Germany invaded the Soviet Union with over 4 and a half million men! Which is just astounding. The invasion started incredibly successfully, by the end of the first week, about 600 000 Soviet soldiers were either killed, captured or wounded. This is an attempt to briefly give a perspective to the scale of the fighting. And much has been said about the Russian winter, and while it gave the inadequately prepared Germans no end of difficulty, it is very important to note that after 3 winters, the Germans were still in the Soviet Union.

It is a discredit to the Soviet peoples of the time to give credit to the German defeat to the weather and not to, well, the Soviet people.

The allies invaded Normandy in June of 1944, at this stage, Germany and the Soviet Union were fighting a completely total war for over three years, by this stage the German army was largely spent. They couldn't even contest air superiority over the invasion beaches, the answer, three years of fighting in the Soviet Union.

Clearly the Allied invasion aided the war effort, in speeding the defeat of the Germany, but by that stage, the war in the East was lost and it was only a matter of time before the Soviets occupied Berlin. It can also be argued that Germany had to position soldiers to man the Atlantic war and fortify it, which again is true. The most important contribution that the USA made to speeding Germanys defeat, if not enabling it, was the supplies that it gave to the Soviet Union, which included over 15 million pairs of boots[1], and trucks and jeeps which gave the Soviet Armies a logistic chain, something the Soviet military tended to neglect.

It is argued that the battle of Gettysburg was lost for a lack of boots, causing about 20 000 soldiers in Lee's army to fall out of the march on the way, which could have very likely caused an alternate outcome. These boots had a very real impact. There are stories of russian corpses, beating heated up, so that their boots could be removed, and used by German soldiers, such was the need.

As far as climatic battles go, the major turning point would have to be Stalingrad, where the German 6th Army was annihilated and between 500 - 850k Axis soldiers were lost, killed wounded or captured and the Red Army suffered over a million casualties.

While Kursk was certainly a larger battle, the outcome was almost a foregone conclusion, the Germans at that point being outproduced and outnumbered, and bizarrely elected to attack very prepared defensive positions. However, while it is desirable to locate a 'turning point' , no such pure concept exists, even after Stalingrad the Germans were able to win some very major victories, including the Third battle of Kharkov, which cost the Russians 52 divisions, again, to try and give a sense of scale to the fighting on the Eastern Front.

Many errors on both sides can be identified on fighting for such a long period of time, and many things could have been done differently to bring about a better outcome. To focus on a particular aspect would just be incorrect, there were many difficulties and many mistakes. Something not yet mentioned was the different railway gauges between Europe and Soviet Union, meaning, all trains going from Germany, had to be loaded onto European trains and, where the gauge changed, be unloaded and then loaded onto captured Russian trains. This was a serious difficulty.

Again, I want to emphasize that the Germany Army invaded the Soviet Union with over 4.5 million soldiers, the Red Army, being able to resist this monumental invasion has to be credited with the lions share, by a very large margin, for bringing about the defeat of Nazi Germany. The largest battle that the USA was involved in, for comparison, was the battle of the Bulge, in which they faced between 200 and 500k German soldiers, who, had been fighting at that point for more than 3 years in the Soviet Union.

This is not an attempt to discredit the courage and bravery of allied servicemen, whose efforts need to be remembered.

Also, in reference to the OP, Operation Barbarossa was launched with Germany's complete focus, the USA at which wasn't even in the war at that point. And the United Kingdom posed no threat to continental Europe whatsoever, it would be some time even before the Allied bombing offensive began to take shape.

Note: Most of the figures here I have taken from wikipedia and a lot of the thoughts and ideas I have presented here are a result of a lot of reading on WWII and also personal opinion and thought and those to which I have been exposed. Including D-Day by Antony Beever, also, I am a South African living in Australia.


1. http://www.russia.by/russia.by/print.ph ... m=&ucat=9&

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby bmonk » Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:07 pm UTC

I'd say Barbarossa was the turning point--invading the Soviet Union turned a reluctantly non-aggressive neighbor into an implacable enemy.

As the invasion was about to begin, Soviet grain trains were still crossing the border into German territory. Stalin, to that point, oddly trusted Hitler to keep his word.

As for the decisive moment in the campaign, I'd say it was when Guderian’s Second Panzer Group was diverted south from Smolensk to assist Kleist's First Panzer Group in a great encirclement battle around Kiev during August 1941. Although the encirclement at Kiev resulted in the capture of 650,000 prisoners, the operation caused a two-month delay in the resumption of the drive on Moscow, which proved critical in November and December. The whole point of opening a second front before Britain was defeated was so that Russia could be quickly occupied and defeated in one campaign, before the West could mobilize enough to attack. And Hitler removed that possibility.
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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby StevenR » Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:55 pm UTC

I'd say the monumental turning point of the war happened back in 1939 and had nothing to do with Germany.

At the same time Germany and the Soviets were raping Poland, the Soviets and Japanese were fighting a brutal border war in Manchuria. The Khalkan Gol (or Nomonhan depending on source used) campaign not only had the largest armored battles in history up to that point, but was the training ground for Zhukov, who would go on to use the experience in using tanks to great effect on the Eastern Front a few years later.

Anyway, the Japanese get their clocks cleaned by the Soviets. It was as lopsided a beating as when the Soviets invaded Finland a year later, only this time the Reds won. This has two significant outcomes:

1) The Japanese are terrified of Soviet military might in the far east. They want absolutely nothing to do with tangling with Stalin after this 9and they weren't all that excited about fighting the Russians anyways due to the Russo-Japanese war in 1905.

2) They still need expansion for their empire but since northern conquests are now out of the question, they turn their sights to Indochina and the Philippines and on a collision course with the USA.

So Hitler invades the Soviet Union and asks the Japanese to invade Russia from the East to take pressure off the Eastern Front. The Japanese said, "ain't gonna happen." This allows the Russians to pull troops out of the far east to reinforce the Moscow front in late '41 (10 divisions or so if memory serves) keeping the Germans out of Moscow and the Russian front from collapsing.

So the battle for Russia was lost two years before Hitler invaded. There's a great book on the subject by Alvin Coox called "Nomonhan: Japan against Russia, 1939" that you can get from amazon.com, but it is about 1200 pages (including a gajillion notes) and is fairly dense material, but it does great justice to the overlooked campaign and the monumentla effects it had.

ADDED: Germany simply could not win a war of attrition when the Soviets were able to throw human waves against German positions while being armed by the Arsenal of Democracy and fighting in North Africa/Italy and France. Imagine if the Soviets weren't fighting a one front war and had to defend against Japanese campaigns in the far east. And if there is no Pearl Harbor because Japan never set its eye on the resources in French Indochina because its needs were sated in Asia, there would have been no American pressure on Japan. Could Hitler have forced the Soviets east of the Urals if the reinforcement divisions from Asia couldn't be sent west because they were tied up with Japanese troops in 1941? Would there have been a Cold War if the UK/French/US troops (assuming FDR found a reason to get the US involved) had invaded while Soviet troops were still in Russia proper?

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby jaredsyn1 » Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:14 am UTC

Its good to see people wanting to learn more about WWII, it shaped the world we live in like nothing else before or since.

To me the war's greatest battle was not on land but at sea. It has been hinted at, but needs to be elaborated. The Battle of the North Atlantic was pivotable for the Allies, and that includes Russia. With Russia having to move thier industry east away from the Germans and taking time to gear up, and England's industry being inefficient for attacking Germany alone (and that was before Germany started bombing), the US became the Allies' industrial base.

Russia got the bulk of trucks, jeeps, gasoline, ammunition and tanks with some planes and other gear thrown in. Britain got the same things but also bombers and some ships mainly old destroyers. But all of this even the planes, had to be shipped overseas (though eventually bombers were flown to England). Thru Hitler's U boats.

Hitler's U boats populated the North Atlantic by the hundreds. The Battle of the North Atlantic lasted nearly the entire war, but early on the rate of Allied shipping being sunk was catastrophic, which is one reason the invasion of Normandy took so long. Its one thing to have war materials sent to the ocean deep, but having troopships sunk on a regular basis would have sunk the moral of the American people, for sure.

After the US declared war HItler even sent his U boats to the east coast of the US, where they used the lights from the coast to identify and then sink cargo ships, right in sight of land. Some even surfaced to finish off ships with canon fire while people on the coast watched.

Eventually the British and Americans were able to fly specially built planes and developed sonar and refined thier Anti Sub Warfare naval tactics to the point where German subs were being sunk faster then Allied Cargo ships were and soon, with the manpower and eventual material and industrial difficulties in Germany, the U boats were largly rendered ineffective, enough so that the US Army started shipping troops overseas.

If you want to read more about WWII, I would suggest getting a copy of Herman Wouk's two books, "Winds of War" and the sequel, "War and Remembrance". If you run thru or totally ignore the romantic parts involving the main character Pug Henry and his wife, its a pretty good read about everything involved in World War II from the political, economic and 'war at home' point of view. There are a few battle sequences or events but not enough to call it an action story. If you want more battle oriented reading, Jeff Shaara is doing a fine job recounting WWII events.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:43 pm UTC

jaredsyn1 wrote:Its good to see people wanting to learn more about WWII, it shaped the world we live in like nothing else before or since.


Just, curious, but why do say that? Look at a map of the World before and after WWII + Cold War. Even by that meagre analysis alone we see a relatively unchanged map. We need only do the same with the First World War for contrast. WWII was if anything just the resolution of much of the events dictated by the WWI and the actions taken in the 20s by the major powers. WWI was a war that reforged the world from one dominated by European Empires, Britain in particular, to one thoroughly on the decline. A century of peace and free trade was ended and a new protectionist one was born. Indeed, in Britain's decision to fight WWI was the decision to cede global hegemony to the U.S. - a position that, for the rest of the century 'till now, has gone unchanged.
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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby jaredsyn1 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:02 am UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:
jaredsyn1 wrote:Its good to see people wanting to learn more about WWII, it shaped the world we live in like nothing else before or since.


Just, curious, but why do say that? Look at a map of the World before and after WWII + Cold War. Even by that meagre analysis alone we see a relatively unchanged map. We need only do the same with the First World War for contrast. WWII was if anything just the resolution of much of the events dictated by the WWI and the actions taken in the 20s by the major powers. WWI was a war that reforged the world from one dominated by European Empires, Britain in particular, to one thoroughly on the decline. A century of peace and free trade was ended and a new protectionist one was born. Indeed, in Britain's decision to fight WWI was the decision to cede global hegemony to the U.S. - a position that, for the rest of the century 'till now, has gone unchanged.


I typed up a very long answer to show you what I mean, however for some reason the site asked my, again, for my password...and its all gone. :(

I will answer you just not right now ok, that was a lot of typing down the tubes.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Deep_Thought » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:13 am UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:A century of peace and free trade was ended and a new protectionist one was born. Indeed, in Britain's decision to fight WWI was the decision to cede global hegemony to the U.S. - a position that, for the rest of the century 'till now, has gone unchanged.

I've more commonly heard it argued that it was Britain's decision to fight WW2 that forced us to, in essence, mortgage the Empire to the US and hence cede global dominance. The UK was no where near as broke after WW1 than WW2, after all the fighting in WW1 barely touched mainland Britain or the productive parts of the Empire. In contrast WW2 impoverished us so much that we only finished paying off the last war loan only a few years ago*. World War 2 also established American precedence in the Pacific, something which has been just as important to the world order over the last 60 years as anything in Europe. This was definitely helped by the establishment of naval/air bases on British colonies, such as Diego Garcia.

I'm quite happy with the idea that the First World War signalled the start of the decline of the British Empire. I'd just argue it wasn't a foregone conclusion up until the Second.

@jaredsyn: The forum does that to me on occasion as well. I try to always Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C before posting now. Makes it easy to repost if necessary.

*Fun fact - the UK government still has loans outstanding from the Napoleonic wars because the interest is so low it never makes any real sense to pay them off.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby JamesP » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:25 pm UTC

On this train of thought-

Winston Churchill is a quite a nice metaphor for the latter years of the British Empire. A respected and quite powerful leader and politician with glories from the late 1800s to what seemed like his heyday from 1910-1925. However liberalism and pacifism dissolved the popular support for his brand of imperialism/ colonialism and he, like the Empire became less popular and important to the common man. WW2 was a last hurrah- the Empire and Churchill expended their last reserves of will and strength in uniting to batter the Bosch. Then, once the immediate danger was passed, they were both cast aside unthinkingly by a flitting public of short attention span.

Ok, not perfect, but there's some truth in there. No?

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Thesh » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:31 pm UTC

While I don't doubt the Soviets could have pushed the Germans back into Germany on their own, I believe that if it wasn't for the allied invasion at Normandy, the bombing campaign in Western Europe, and the Africa and Italy campaigns, the Soviets wouldn't have been able to take Germany. By the time the Normandy invasion was underway, the allies had pretty much decimated the Luftwaffe which would have been very useful in repelling the Soviets. If the Germans had been successful in the Battle of Britain, then I think an invasion of Britain by the Germans would have been successful and Western Europe would have remained in the control of the Germans for some time to come.

I also don't believe the Allies could have taken west Germany if it wasn't for the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The millions of troops sent into the Soviet Union would have been likely to stop the allies if they were dedicated to the Western Front.
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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Deep_Thought » Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:14 am UTC

JamesP wrote:Ok, not perfect, but there's some truth in there. No?

I can buy it as a first approximation, especially given that Churchill's money came mostly from his mother, who was American. There's the slight problem of that second stint as PM in the fifties, but we can ignore that ;)

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Deskibel » Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:31 am UTC

In response to the OP, there are some slight problems. The title refers to battles, but if you consider D-Day as the campaign - Overlord etc. neither Overlord or Barbarossa were battles.

If we consider Barbarossa to mean the whole of the eastern war, then it was undoubtedly the eastern war rather than the invasion of Normandy. The turning point was the battle of Stalingrad, because that was where the Soviets finally stopped the Nazi advance. However, that was just the turning point. After Stalingrad the Russians then had to take back what they had lost. It was this ensuing counterattack campaign that the war was won. It was generally accepted amongst both the Russians and the Germans following the battle of Kursk in the Summer of '43 that the outcome of the war had been determined.

There is a Soviet cartoon which sums up D-Day to the Soviets.. it shows a Nazi rat - it's just been slain by the Soviets, but the person representing the Allies is eagerly chopping off the rat's tail.

However, it's not particularly constructive to apply particular attention to singular events. There are two important aspects of the campaign in the east during 1943. The first is that by Kursk the Red Army was almost entirely mechanised... using North American materiel provided through lend-lease. In order to get that materiel; to the Eastern Front, the Battle of the Atlantic had to be won. Although, according to an American army officer who was in Russia during this time this materiel was not critical for the Russians to win, but it certainly helped. The second aspect is the lack of German airpower during that campaign - this is attributed to the Strategic Bomber Offensive, which in addition to bombing the aircraft factories, also redirected a million men (and the fearsome Falk 88) and aircraft to defend the cities that could have been fighting the Russians.

My example is by no means comprehensive. There are many, many other factors, such as the loss of North Africa and the Middle East meant Germany was running out of oil, and the German's preference for quality over quantity - the German tanks were by far the best, but as Stalin said (and this applies to both the Allied and Russian military forces) 'quantity has a quality all of its own'. Each factor cannot be considered in isolation from all the others as they are all interconnected.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby JamesP » Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:47 am UTC

No.

- Az

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby LtNOWIS » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:01 am UTC

jaredsyn1 wrote:
I typed up a very long answer to show you what I mean, however for some reason the site asked my, again, for my password...and its all gone. :(

I will answer you just not right now ok, that was a lot of typing down the tubes.

Notepad is your friend when typing long forum posts. Or the Mac-equivalent, I guess.

But yeah, Nazi Germany was pretty much doomed from the start, regardless of any battle or even any major operation. There's a saying that goes "Tactics win battles, strategies win campaigns, but logistics win wars." The US, or specifically the Roosevelt administration, was unwilling to let Hitler dominate Europe. The US did everything short of declaring war to help Britain before the Japanese attacked and Germany declared war. And there was no way for the Germans to ever beat Britain with the US backing them up.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Marauder_Pilot » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:14 am UTC

One could argue that there are points where Nazi Germany could have...well, not won, but established a sizable empire in Europe that, had they not gone on the offensive against the Soviet Union, could have withstood a potential later Soviet invasion and/or created a sort of three-way Cold War between the Soviet Union, Nazi Europe and the USA.

In my opinion, the defense of Britain was more important than either of those battles. Here's why:

Had Rommel taken the opportunity to chase the British Expeditionary Force all the way to the boats at Dunkirk, he could have essentially taken the entire British army hostage-or just outright killed them. With the manufacturing might of North America on your side (While the USA is definitely the manufacturing powerhouse here, most of the replacement British material prior to 1941 came from Canada, and, in terms of relative size, Canada out-fought and out-built virtually everybody), replacing guns and trucks and planes really isn't that hard, especially when you're not fighting a continual offensive. But replacing what was basically the majority of Britain's fighting men, including the bulk of the experienced officer core? There's no way they could have recovered from that.

In turn, the RAF would have lost the Battle of Britain-there just wouldn't have been enough men to fly, even with the contributions from Canada, American ex-patriots and volunteers, Australians, Polish, and so forth.

This in turn would have given Germany air superiority over Britain and, more importantly, the English Channel.

That would have allowed the Luftwaffe free reign to decimate the British Navy, ruin the coastal defenses and such.

With the defenses gone, Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of Britain, would have been able to go through.

With a decimated military, the Wehrmacht would have easily been able to occupy Britain.

Without Britain as a staging point, it would have been nearly impossible for the US Army to effectively invade 'Fortress Europe'-a LEGITIMATE Fortress Europe. Germany could have never invaded North America either, so there'd be a stalemate. They would have been reluctant to come to the sole aid of the Soviet Union, assuming a war between Germany and Russia happened at the same time. They might not have gone at all-maybe some material transfer, but not on the same scale.

But, how does this affect the war with the Soviet Union? Well, look at the timeline-Britain was Hitler's would-have-been crown jewel. He wanted it like a fat kid wants cake, and essentially threw everything he could at it-submarines blockading it, everything with wings attacking it, he even had a breakthrough in rocket technology, the V-series rockets, developed just so he could bomb it better. And it didn't work, they rocket's didn't scare the populace, the ships still got through and the RAF And Friends kicked the Luftwaffe in the face.

So, after losing a third of his air force and a quarter of his navy at Britain, which basically just got the Commonwealth good and pissed and the American's all inspired about a war, he gets sick of it and attacks Russia instead. And while his back is turned, metaphorically the Western Allies punch him in the back of the head.

However, had Britain fallen, there would have been a few key differences when it came to Russia:

-The Luftwaffe wouldn't have been missing its best planes and pilots. Air power decided Kursk and Stalingrad-a stronger Luftwaffe would have made all the difference here.
-Hitler may have not invaded Russia at all-he may have been satisfied (briefly) and not attacked Russia at all, preferring to consolidate-and a proper consolidation along the border may have held off a Soviet attack.
-The Western Allies would have basically come to the conclusion 'Whelp, it's Europe's problem now, we'll just wait for the Fascists and the Communists to kill each other.' No Western Allied invasion.

Of course, most of this relies on Hitler not having been a complete retard when it came to military strategy. But the things that made him such an effective political leader were what made him a horrible military leader, and without those qualities, he would have never risen to power in the first place.

So, basically, we owe modern geopolitical history to the fact that Hitler was a lucky, cocky fuckwaffle.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby bmonk » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:45 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:While I don't doubt the Soviets could have pushed the Germans back into Germany on their own, I believe that if it wasn't for the allied invasion at Normandy, the bombing campaign in Western Europe, and the Africa and Italy campaigns, the Soviets wouldn't have been able to take Germany. By the time the Normandy invasion was underway, the allies had pretty much decimated the Luftwaffe which would have been very useful in repelling the Soviets. If the Germans had been successful in the Battle of Britain, then I think an invasion of Britain by the Germans would have been successful and Western Europe would have remained in the control of the Germans for some time to come.

I also don't believe the Allies could have taken west Germany if it wasn't for the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The millions of troops sent into the Soviet Union would have been likely to stop the allies if they were dedicated to the Western Front.


On the other hand, the Soviets stopped a German attack cold at Kursk in 1943, the year before D-Day, and destroyed Army Group Center in 1944 (22 June to 19 August 1944), and, given only two months between D-Day and then end of Operation Bagration, I doubt that enough units could be transferred East to make much of a difference. The truth is that by 1943, and even more 1944, the Wehrmacht was largely used up, with it's primary units simply too weak to offer effective resistance against fresh units with full logistic support.

One might argue that the 250,000+ troops lost in North Africa were more critical, or the need to take over the fighting in Italy.
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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby Mambo4 » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:34 pm UTC

I used to think D-day was the turning point of WWII Europe until I looked at these stats:

Casualties at battle of stalingrad:
Axis: 841,000
Allied: 1,129,619

Casualties on the western front 44-45:
Axis: 836,606
Allies: 783,860

In other words, more were lost in the single battle of Stalingrad than on the entire western front since D-day.

Not to diminish the bravery and sacrificed of our grandparents, but the scale and brutality of the eastern front absolutely dwarfed anything the western allies encountered.

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Re: Which WW2 battle was more instrumental in defeating Germ

Postby a_toddler » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:07 am UTC

Mambo4 wrote:Not to diminish the bravery and sacrificed of our grandparents, but the scale and brutality of the eastern front absolutely dwarfed anything the western allies encountered.


There were simply more soldiers in the eastern front.

Also, a huge battle is not necessarily more brutal than a smaller one.


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