How likely is it that Nazi Germany could have knocked out the Soviet Union sans American intervention?

Nazi Germany vs Soviet Union: who emerges from the bloodbath, sans US intervention?

  • The Soviets inevitably win - the Nazis have about as much chance as Vatican against Italy, w/o US

    Votes: 35 10.5%
  • The Soviets probably win - Nazis could win, but Soviets have rather better chances even w/o US

    Votes: 142 42.6%
  • About a tie - without US, roughly 50/50 (or near enough) for either one to emerge as the victor

    Votes: 83 24.9%
  • The Germans probably win -Soviets could win, but Nazis have rather better chances w/o US

    Votes: 64 19.2%
  • The Nazis inevitably win - w/o US tying up Western front, smack Soviets like taking candy from baby

    Votes: 9 2.7%

  • Total voters
    333
The Nazis could win, and if they don’t, it’s likely that they grind the Soviets to a halt.
How can they win? LL in 1941 didn't make a difference, there was little of it, so no change there. In 1942 the Soviets can easily buy what they need, so not much change there, I'm not sure anyway if LL was decisive in 1942. So first chance of change is in 1943, I'm looking at Kursk here. Don't see the Germans winning there, even without LL the soviet defense should be solid. After Kursk the German capacity to attack is gone, so they're not advancing anymore. Their chance of a decisive win is gone forever.

This is assuming the UK is still in the mix, and North Africa goes roughly as OTL, which should be possible without the US in the war (most notable difference there would be Torch, which either wouldn't be launched, in which case the Germans probably don't take Tunis, or further east, in which case Tunis goes differently). Meanwhile the UK of course is providing weapons to the USSR.
 
So then could Germany find itself in a kind of stalemate where maybe they get a bit further but Soviet manpower keeps them from simply taking over?
no for a stalemate us should supply soviets but should not intervene militarily and also handwave diversion of luftwaffe by torch during stalingrad
 
How can they win? LL in 1941 didn't make a difference, there was little of it, so no change there. In 1942 the Soviets can easily buy what they need, so not much change there, I'm not sure anyway if LL was decisive in 1942. So first chance of change is in 1943, I'm looking at Kursk here. Don't see the Germans winning there, even without LL the soviet defense should be solid. After Kursk the German capacity to attack is gone, so they're not advancing anymore. Their chance of a decisive win is gone forever.

This is assuming the UK is still in the mix, and North Africa goes roughly as OTL, which should be possible without the US in the war (most notable difference there would be Torch, which either wouldn't be launched, in which case the Germans probably don't take Tunis, or further east, in which case Tunis goes differently). Meanwhile the UK of course is providing weapons to the USSR.
LL DID make a difference before 1943. People seriously underestimate how close the USSR was to the brink in 1942.

At any rate we‘re talking about what is possible, not an exact carbon copy of our timeline minus the USA being in the war.
 
LL DID make a difference before 1943. People seriously underestimate how close the USSR was to the brink in 1942.

At any rate we‘re talking about what is possible, not an exact carbon copy of our timeline minus the USA being in the war.
True. I guess I just wonder how far Germany could stretch themselves.
 
How can they win? LL in 1941 didn't make a difference, there was little of it, so no change there. In 1942 the Soviets can easily buy what they need, so not much change there, I'm not sure anyway if LL was decisive in 1942. So first chance of change is in 1943, I'm looking at Kursk here. Don't see the Germans winning there, even without LL the soviet defense should be solid. After Kursk the German capacity to attack is gone, so they're not advancing anymore. Their chance of a decisive win is gone forever.

This is assuming the UK is still in the mix, and North Africa goes roughly as OTL, which should be possible without the US in the war (most notable difference there would be Torch, which either wouldn't be launched, in which case the Germans probably don't take Tunis, or further east, in which case Tunis goes differently). Meanwhile the UK of course is providing weapons to the USSR.
Likely the Germans hold after this failed Kursk, likely they get ground back slower than OTL to along the OTL Panther line, the fearsome USSR 1944 offensive machine has been blunted with less USA aid, the Germans have more reserves with Italy in the war. If no invasion of France is expected, then the Germans keep the two SS panzer corps west.
 
LL DID make a difference before 1943. People seriously underestimate how close the USSR was to the brink in 1942.

At any rate we‘re talking about what is possible, not an exact carbon copy of our timeline minus the USA being in the war.
why is USSR often portrayed as unbeatable
 
Likely the Germans hold after this failed Kursk, likely they get ground back slower than OTL to along the OTL Panther line, the fearsome USSR 1944 offensive machine has been blunted with less USA aid, the Germans have more reserves with Italy in the war. If no invasion of France is expected, then the Germans keep the two SS panzer corps west.
Neither of which makes the Germans win. To win they have too (at least) take Staingrad(/Caucusus) and Moscow.
 
Another unclear aspect of the OP is what becomes of Japan. USSR's worst outcome is a super-passive USA - very very neutral, but with Japan still belligerent. In *that* (unlikely) case, USSR must still keep more troops in far east (or even get attacked by Japan).

But if we take both Japan and USA off the table, and it's just a war between Germany + Italy vs. UK + USSR (with some minor allies for each), and USSR can ~ignore Japan, then I think USSR likely still wins (though with more pain) so long as they sustain their willpower.
 
Another unclear aspect of the OP is what becomes of Japan. USSR's worst outcome is a super-passive USA - very very neutral, but with Japan still belligerent. In *that* (unlikely) case, USSR must still keep more troops in far east (or even get attacked by Japan).

But if we take both Japan and USA off the table, and it's just a war between Germany + Italy vs. UK + USSR (with some minor allies for each), and USSR can ~ignore Japan, then I think USSR likely still wins (though with more pain) so long as they sustain their willpower.
What is the use of the Far East anyway? Without Any trade with America can the soviet afford to lose Vladivostok if it means relocating troops west? It’s not like the Japanese can logistically get far there
 
What is the use of the Far East anyway? Without Any trade with America can the soviet afford to lose Vladivostok if it means relocating troops west? It’s not like the Japanese can logistically get far there
Prestige, trade, leverage on China, keeping Mongolia down. Just giving it up would be politically traumatic, in the sense of your political rivals potentially getting leverage to kill you.
 
Japan attacking in the East is very unlikely to have much effect on the war to the west once the initial shock and and anger has worn off. Their equipment and armour is no better than in 1939 when they were found wanting, and the soviet forces don't have to win but only to hold on. The Japanese supply situation in terms of national respurces and local supply is even worse than the soviet's as arelatively minor front. Even reaching Vladivostok is hard with fuel shortage unless somehow the IJN launches a naval attack.
In the absence of Torch, it's still possible for Libya to fall to the British and Free French, which would be a big blow to Mussolini's prestige and trigger more questions about why Italy is fighting.
An important question is whether it's no US intervention in the eastern front (through Lend Lease) which looks like 1941 more or less OTL but with axis stalling a bit further east in 1942 and higher cost for the soviets, followed by a slower expulsion and defeat, but meanwhile LL to Britain and western allies carries on so Torch, Sicily, DDay etc proceed, or is and possibly even better supplied than OT; or is it no US military involvement (supporting Britain and keeping Spain and Vichy quiet with only food and supplies), no military imports (only food, medical, civilian goods), or no US involvement at all.
Supplying aid - military or otherwise - implies shipping loss to UBoats, which draws in the US military, and no intevention at all has all sorts of implications, and lkely leads to the US losing much of its world trade which has its own downside.
 

thaddeus

Donor
while not the most likely scenario it is possible Germany could concentrate their naval forces in the North Sea and the Med, that greatly lessens the chances the US enters the war over any naval incident.

If the Germans concentrate in the North Sea, then British shipping will do much better as they will be using the western ports as OTL but without the Atlantic attacks. I wonder if a tighter blockade of Murmansk convoy routes would actually cause cancellation, or just reduce frequency so they could be escorted more strongly.
German forces in the Med are essentially on a one-way trip as the passage past Gibraltar is full of strong currents and much easier to enter than to leave. It causes allied problems there but not so much for trade in general.

there is much more benefit to the German side in keeping the US out of the war, if under this scenario that appears a plausible outcome.

we know the effects of having just the Tirpitz as a fleet in being, not impossible for it to be decided the entire surface fleet kept to defend against invasion, what with the German army about to be occupied in the East
 
Another unclear aspect of the OP is what becomes of Japan. USSR's worst outcome is a super-passive USA - very very neutral, but with Japan still belligerent. In *that* (unlikely) case, USSR must still keep more troops in far east (or even get attacked by Japan).

But if we take both Japan and USA off the table, and it's just a war between Germany + Italy vs. UK + USSR (with some minor allies for each), and USSR can ~ignore Japan, then I think USSR likely still wins (though with more pain) so long as they sustain their willpower.
japanese army was a joke by european standards
 
Thing is the realisation didn't suddenly all happen at once and with 100% appreciation of the true scale of the fuck up.

If you look at the reports coming back from the German front commanders after the initial month of two you basically get:

"how are they still fighting, and where are these news guys coming from, eh so Ok they have few more than we thought still they can't have that much more, another week and we'll get it done"

and variations on that theme.

hell even in 1942 and the planning of the new offensives there was still the assumption that 'OK surely now the Bolsheviks must be running on empty, one more big push gets it done'. and so on

add in sunk cost fallacy and ideological assumptions, and an increasingly divorced from reality high command.

On the march to Moscow you also had another factor. As I mentioned in another post during the planning stages of Barbarossa it had at times been suggested as a way to achieve victory (the whole wide front vs. narrow front etc, etc). So when plan A is failing you can see why Plan B gets dusted off as a way to achieve victory in 1941*. And for all the reasons I gave in my last post there are a lot of reasons to chase a victory in 1941.

Basically institutional inertia is a bitch, especially when it means some very high up the ladder accepting they had made mistakes



*especially by those who at various points during the planning process had favored conveniently forgetting that they had just as happily ditched it in favor of the wide front destroy the red army that had won out cough Franz Halder cough (being wise after the event become quite contagious in OKH and OKW command 1942 onwards, as well as certain book writing Panzer commanders)

Sure, institutional inertia and wishful thinking would have made such realizations less likely. But it's not like it's a certainty, as it would not have required more than just one general somehow managing to convince Hitler about the situation. Such strokes of luck had happened before, IIRC Fall Gelb was initially basically just one guy's plan, who then managed to do a successful pitch to Hitler.

If similar stroke of luck happens in October, and the Germans halt the general offensive, and focus on consolidating and taking what is easy, it would certainly improve their situation, and might very well be the key to winning the war in this scenario.
 
Sure, institutional inertia and wishful thinking would have made such realizations less likely. But it's not like it's a certainty,

OK but I've list out several reason why it's not likely just saying any change is still chance isn't much of an argument


as it would not have required more than just one general somehow managing to convince Hitler about the situation. Such strokes of luck had happened before, IIRC Fall Gelb was initially basically just one guy's plan, who then managed to do a successful pitch to Hitler.
Fall Gelb is rather different to the context we're talking about. It still basically this clever way to win quickly and deliver a knock out blow before France really gets going and avoids a head to head slug fest i.e it what they want to do anyway it not some sudden realization away from what they want. (it also changed a plan none one was really happy with which again is the case here people were fine with Barbarossa), plus again the irony is the sucess of case yellow is kind of why they think they are invincible in Barbarossa



If similar stroke of luck happens in October, and the Germans halt the general offensive, and focus on consolidating and taking what is easy, it would certainly improve their situation, and might very well be the key to winning the war in this scenario.
I don't think the gain made by not pushing for a few more weeks in Oct/Nov will be significant because none of the underpinning issues have been resolved all you've really done is reduced some casualties from attrition (for both sides) adn given teh Socivet more time and that helps them more then it helps the Germans. That's not nothing but it not going to win the war here. The problem is all these ideas are based on the concept that the war in the east is on a knife edge and a small change can trigger a change in the results. Now that might make for compelling story telling but the reality is that once the USSR weathers the first couple of month and decide to fully commit to fighting its just not on a knife edge but rather a long slog that favors the Soviets and disfavors the Germans. Basically once past the first couple of months for Barbarossa all the German ultimate objectives just become so hard for them to achieve and the operating environment so corrosive to their efforts.

I personally think that any German victory in the east has to come from some radical change with the Soviets not with the Germans, who on the whole did about as well as they could. That said that doesn't mean the OTL total victory for the Soviet is the only other possible result especially not in the OP scenario
 
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I don't think the gain made by not pushing for a few more weeks in Oct/Nov will be significant because none of the underpinning issues have been resolved all you've really done is reduced some casualties from attrition (for both sides) adn given teh Socivet more time and that helps them more then it helps the Germans. That's not nothing but it not going to win the war here.

The thing is that the best units of Germans were having that attrition, while Soviets were basically throwing away fresh conscripts. That's not a good trade, especially as German resources were more limited than the Soviet ones.

Also, how is not attacking beyond culmination point going to help the Soviets more? By definition, at that point the defenders have the advantage, and as you have said, the Germans had numerical disadvantage. As such, they had to have as good kill ratio as possible.

The problem is all these ideas are based on the concept that the war in the east is on a knife edge and a small change can trigger a change in the results. Now that might make for compelling story telling but the reality is that once the USSR weathers the first couple of month and decide to fully commit to fighting its just not on a knife edge but rather a long slog that favors the Soviets and disfavors the Germans. Basically once past the first couple of months for Barbarossa all the German ultimate objectives just become so hard for them to achieve and the operating environment so corrosive to their efforts.

I personally think that any German victory in the east has to come from some radical change with the Soviets not with the Germans, who on the whole did about as well as they could. That said that doesn't mean the OTL total victory for the Soviet is the only other possible result especially not in the OP scenario

I wouldn't say that the war was on a knife's edge, as the Soviets could make huge blunders and still win the war. The Germans made big blunders as well, but unlike Soviets, they couldn't afford them. So especially with the US not in the fight, I think they have a shot if they manage to avoid those big blunders. But the thing is that a quick victory was a pipedream, and they were forced to the long slog anyways, so they would have had to be really careful not to make costly mistakes.

I mean, it's not like the Germans couldn't advance in 1942, after stopping the Soviet counterattacks in the winter which bled the Soviet army white. It took Stalingrad to finally break their back.
 
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The thing is that the best units of Germans were having that attrition, while Soviets were basically throwing away fresh conscripts. That's not a good trade, especially as German resources were more limited than the Soviet ones.

Thing is that's always going to happen because that was an inherent side effects when this German army didn't win quickly. It's pretty much unavoidable so all you really doing is pausing it for a bit. And they know this its one of the driver of the whole go in in quick win quick before you get attrited to death. Which again is all part of the whole German fear of being caught in a long war that they know that can't win and not wanting to get caught in static WW1 type war again. and Honestly even earlier this has been the underpinning of German warfare (or their idealized version of it) since 1871 and what they tried to do in WW1 but failed.

Also, how is not attacking beyond culmination point going to help the Soviets more? By definition, at that point the defenders have the advantage, and as you have said, the Germans had numerical disadvantage. As such, they had to have as good kill ratio as possible.

1). the mistake is think the culmination point is one single point in campaign of this size, it's not the Germans were basically doing it many times throughout the Eastern front (and not just them you see the red army do it during some of their counter attacks as well). That's my point the war is not going to be overturned by one single instance of the German holding off one culmination point for a couple of weeks in Oct 1941

2). any respite in 1941 allows the Soviet to bring up newly mobilized troops and resources, increase defenses and basely recover from the initial shock of Barbarossa that helps them. The Germans know this it why the plan for Barbarossa is what it was

This is trap the Germans find themselves in, continuation past the culmination point too often is costly (and yes probably too costly), but if they dont win quick they lose slow anyway because again time helps the Soviets not the Germans.

War is always calculated risk, the problem is the Germans were using the wrong starting numbers so no matter how good their calculations = "rubbish in - rubbish out"


I wouldn't say that the war was on a knife's edge, as the Soviets could make huge blunders and still win the war. The thing is that the Germans made big blunders as well, but unlike Soviets, they couldn't afford them. So especially with the US not in the fight, I think they have a shot if they manage to avoid those big blunders. But the thing is that a quick victory was a pipedream, and they were forced to the long slog anyways, so they would have had to be really careful not to make costly mistakes.
The thing is the Germany's biggest blunders are made before they even set foot in the USSR and again it's all about the Soviets not the Germans (estimation of strength, will to fight, ability to mobilize, and ability move industry) once they are made they can't be undone once there by the kind of hindsight driven tweaks that come up in these threads.

Another point fog of war is thing assuming anyone is going to run perfect campaign with no errors is unrealistic, and frankly most of the decisions made by the Germans during Barbarossa that often get pointed at were usually made for some good reason even if it goes against our theories for a hinge of war and how they could have won.

And you are right consequently a quick victory is likely a pipe dream, but that still doesn't stop it being their only chance of victory. Which again is why IMO the only way to really change the outcome is with changes with the Soviets not the Germans.

I mean, it's not like the Germans couldn't advance in 1942, after stopping the Soviet counterattacks in the winter which bled the Soviet army white. It took Stalingrad to finally break their back.
The thing is 1942 is still basically more of the same 1941 beat the red army where you find it, try and grab stuff on teh way on the assumption that doing both will cause the soviets to collapse. Only what's the outcome?

The victories are less stunning (but still plenty of soviet casualties) because attrition and difficulty of supply form 1941 - Spring 1942 has had it's effect. And through out the 1942 attacks German forces get weaker and the soviets get stronger, because as above the same underpinning errors are still in effect and time only helps the soviets. Because how do the Germans actaully lose at Stalingrad? Zhukov needs the force there to hold on long enough to buy him time to mass a counter attack large enough to surround and then take 6th army.

Also the 1941-42 winter attacks didn't bleed the Soviet white either? They were costly and poorly executed but the red army is increasing in mobilized size between 1941-1942 (the reach 6.5m in mid 1942 and pretty much stay there for the rest of the war)
 
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Thing is that's always going to happen because that was an inherent side effects when this German army didn't win quickly. It's pretty much unavoidable so all you really doing is pausing it for a bit. And they know this its one of the driver of the whole go in in quick win quick before you get attrited to death. Which again is all part of the whole German fear of being caught in a long war that they know that can't win and not wanting to get caught in static WW1 type war again. and Honestly even earlier this has been the underpinning of German warfare (or their idealized version of it) since 1871 and what they tried to do in WW1 but failed.

This smells a bit like inevitabilism, especially with the US out of the war. OTL the Germans were shifting resources to aircraft production in anticipation of the coming air war over Central Europe. Here they don't have to do that, and as such they can produce more stuff for their land army in Soviet Union.

The thing is 1942 is still basically more of the same 1941 beat the red army where you find it, try and grab stuff on teh way on the assumption that doing both will cause the soviets to collapse. Only what's the outcome?

The victories are less stunning (but still plenty of soviet casualties) because attrition and difficulty of supply form 1941 - Spring 1942 has had it's effect. And through out the 1942 attacks German forces get weaker and the soviets get stronger, because as above the same underpinning errors are still in effect and time only helps the soviets. Because how do the Germans actaully lose at Stalingrad? Zhukov needs the force there to hold on long enough to buy him time to mass a counter attack large enough to surround and then take 6th army.

Also the 1941-42 winter attacks didn't bleed the Soviet white either? They were costly and poorly executed but the red army is increasing in mobilized size between 1941-1942 (the reach 6.5m in mid 1942 and pretty much stay there for the rest of the war)

It's not like the Soviets had infinite manpower. As has been said in this thread, OTL they came pretty close to scraping the bottom of the barrel, and the combination of no lend-lease, Germans not overextending in 1941 (heck, probably they should have consolidated in September) and more German reinforcements for their land army just *might* be able to make the Soviets buckle.

You are also probably underestimating the importance of the quality of the troops rather than raw numbers. Loss of their highly trained troops in 1941 hampered the Germans much more than the loss of fresh conscripts the Soviets had due to Germans continuing to press the attack.
 
This smells a bit like inevitabilism, especially with the US out of the war. OTL the Germans were shifting resources to aircraft production in anticipation of the coming air war over Central Europe. Here they don't have to do that, and as such they can produce more stuff for their land army in Soviet Union.

It not so much inevitabilism but recognizing that Germany either wins quickly or it loses slowly in the east (for all the reasons I have already given so won't repeat here). And that there are also issues with Germany trying to win quickly as well (again for all the reasons I have already given so won't repeat here) but these are separate issues and the existence of either doesn't make the other go away I.e. one doesn't negate the other and together they do make the whole situation worse.

But again as I already posted I don't think it's inevitable but I don't think the change can likley come from the Germans after they invade, it has to be with the Soviets (but I don't think lack of LL is enough)




It's not like the Soviets had infinite manpower. As has been said in this thread, OTL they came pretty close to scraping the bottom of the barrel, and the combination of no lend-lease, Germans not overextending in 1941 (heck, probably they should have consolidated in September) and more German reinforcements for their land army just *might* be able to make the Soviets buckle.

1). they don't really come close to scrapping the bottom of the barrel. This get's into a whole thing about cadres etc but some take it as an accepted fact but it's not really true. If nothing else look at the mobilized numbers right up until the end, and the fact that the red army was able to turn on dime and steam roll Manchuria

2). even by the usual argument that that they were they certainly weren't until some theoretical post 1945 delay, and teh German were scrapping a lot harder sooner than that

3). There also the point that there's significant a middle ground between the Red Army taking Berlin in May 1945 and Germany winning in the USSR, even if the Red army doesn't feel it has enough to press all the way as quickly as it did.




You are also probably underestimating the importance of the quality of the troops rather than raw numbers. Loss of their highly trained troops in 1941 hampered the Germans much more than the loss of fresh conscripts the Soviets had due to Germans continuing to press the attack.
I'm not underestimating it in fact I usually make the same exact point about the reality of the advances in 1941 & 1942. I'm making the point that just pausing for a few weeks in Oct/Nov 1941 won't magically solve the problem because inevitably when you go back to attacking and don't magically win your going to suffer those loses which is exactly what happened. And as I also said the only way for Germany not to suffer those hard to replace loses is to win quickly. or swap to static war which it doesn't want to do for the reasons I also already gave. Hence the dilemma go all out high tempo and try to win quick or go slow to conserve and get nibbled to death by attrition anyway.

And so yes you are exactly right the German army can afford it's loses far less than the Red army can, but the only way teh German army wins it to defeat the Red army and the longer the red army is undefeated the stronger and bigger it gets and the longer the German army operates in the USSR the weaker it gets.
 
It's not like the Soviets had infinite manpower. As has been said in this thread, OTL they came pretty close to scraping the bottom of the barrel, and the combination of no lend-lease, Germans not overextending in 1941 (heck, probably they should have consolidated in September) and more German reinforcements for their land army just *might* be able to make the Soviets buckle.
The Germans were not only scraping the barrel, they went right through the bottom. In 1944 and 1945 they need to conscript children under 14 and seniors over 45. The USSR didn't need to do this.
 
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