How much of our modern consensus of the inevitability of Allied victory in WWII is due to information after the fact?

By 1943 the Political Bureau was capable of observing that victory was not a matter of possibility, but of cost. Interesting that's about when the Soviet Union goes into ensuring a best-possible outcome.

By 1943 the War Cabinet was capable of observing that victory was not a matter of possibility, but of costs. Interestingly 1943 is when the UK War Cabinet stops manoeuvering for optimal outcomes, but basically gives in to interservice rivalry demands.

I don't know enough about US labrynthine bureaucracy to be reminded of the babe.

Mid to late 1942, when several items had come together. War legislation gave the Federal government firm control over production, which among other things resulted in a clearer understanding of the true US production capability. Fundamental questions about priorities for military mobilization were answered and a practical plan for full army/navy mobilization was implemented. Through 1941 the military mobilization had been difficult with competing political factions fighting for control. Again War legislation executed in early 1942 & Roosevelt coming down hard for some clear basic planning clarified things wonderfully as 1942 progressed. There were still some uncertainties into 1943, but those revolved more are the definition of what 'winning' or the end state might be. Roosevelts declaration of the Unconditional Surrender policy is a key indicator for the US leadership. That was not a spurious impulse. The President had been discussing the options for end state of the war during most of 1942, & policy papers like the Plan DOG memo of 1941, the RAINBOW Plan of the same year, and decisions for rearmament & mobilization as far back as 1938 required some thought about the desired goals or end state. Roosevelt had thought though the Unconditional Surrender policy for at least six months and went to the SYMBOL Conference at Casablanca in January 1943 confident Unconditional Surrender could be enforced in less than five years.

For Germany it was 1943. Since a teen ager I've been stumbling across German literature; autobiographies, historical references to the German leaders thoughts, fiction written by those who survived the war. Its evident any thinking German saw at some point in 1943 the war was lost. & not simply a negotiated peace leaving a viable nazi Third Reich. That is seeing the destruction of the current German state inevitable. Even if there were some sort of negotiated peace, Germany would still be occupied and the treaty imposed would make the Treaty of Versailles look fair and reasonable. What the nazi leaders & the senior marshals and Generals all thought is another matter. Some indicated in 1943 they saw the war as catastrophically lost. Others did not appear to admit this until 1944 or later. ie: Rommels papers and verbal statements recorded by others indicate he accepted the war as lost in the spring of 1944, when he joined the conspiracy.
 
What the nazi leaders & the senior marshals and Generals all thought is another matter. Some indicated in 1943 they saw the war as catastrophically lost. Others did not appear to admit this until 1944 or later. ie: Rommels papers and verbal statements recorded by others indicate he accepted the war as lost in the spring of 1944, when he joined the conspiracy.
For what its worth, Nicolaus von Below (Hitler's adjutant) reported at the end of December 1944 that Hitler told him that he knew that the war was lost due to the enemy's superiority being far too great, though afterwards stating that he would rather commit suicide than surrender. Of course, this appears to be untypical for Hitler since, even in April 1945, he believed that if he won the Battle of Berlin (which he believed it was possible to do until April 28), the enemy coalition would collapse and Britain and America would ally with the Nazis against the Soviets.
 
Witnesses describe how when Hitler heard that Roosevelt died he spent that day & the next ranting about how the US Army would now pack up & go home leaving the demoralized Reds & Brits hanging.
 
For another, the Ukrainians HATED Stalin and initially treated the Nazis as liberators. If he had handed out rifles, they would have attacked the Red Army.
This would have required ASB to replace the Nazis with Notzis. Neither Generalplan Ost or the more immediately relevant Hunger Plan left any room for the conquered people of the east to get any level of political independence. It's why Rosenberg's Ministry of Chaos... err Ministry of Eastern Occupied Territories was such a powerless joke since he seems to have thought he could create vassal states in the east, but the rest of the Third Reich decision makers were only interested in arguing what would be the proportion between those who would be exterminated and those who would end up as slaves or helots.
 
Data point: USN RAdm Dan Gallery (then a captain) was appointed US Naval Attaché in Britain in early 1941. In his memoir he wrote that his assignment tacitly included learning everything possible about Nazi Germany so that the US could deal effectively with Germany after Britain collapsed.

Data point: After the huge German victory at Vyazma in early October 1941, some Soviet leaders expected Moscow to fall. Beria openly said so, urging Stalin to leave, rather than be trapped and killed. Stalin agreed at one point: Kremlin staff were ordered to report to the train station for the evacuation, and Stalin's personal armored train was loaded with documents and equipment. However, Stalin changed his mind, and ordered the NKVD to quell the incipient "Moscow Panic" by any means necessary.

Data point: as of May 1940, the Allied leaders were sure they had the war under control. Germany had not dared to attack France for 8 months after the fall of Poland, the Allied blockade of Germany remained tight, and the Allies were outbuilding Germany in war equipment. Two months later, France was crushed and Britain routed. For a long time after that, hardly anybody thought they knew anything.
 
The notion that Germany had time and money on their side is just painfully wrong and if you need to have it explained in detail then I suggest you read Adam Tooze's 'The Wages of Destruction' which lays out the myriad issues with the Nazi war economy in far greater detail than I can offer. Also nothing you've suggested is exactly new ideas, if you do some searching on the site you can find plenty of prior discussion that go into great detail. That I choose not to rehash some very tired arguments does not make me wrong or you correct.
And I suggest you read 1940: Myth and Reality by Clive Pointing that shows how weak, desperate and broke Britain and its economy was and how the myth of supposed British heroism constructed after the war have distorted these facts. Churchill gambled - partially because he was desperate and had no other choice - and he got lucky. He could however have become very unlucky as well. Or have decided that the gamble was not worth it - or never have become PM if Halifax had wanted the position. Without US material and funds Britain is toast. Without US shipbuilding - Britain is toast. These are the undeniable facts. No one in 1939-1943 could have predicted all of this. Things could have gone a thousand other ways - therefore the inevitability claim is 100% based on hindsight constucted after the war.
 
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These are the undeniable facts. No one in 1939-1943 could have predicted all of this. Things could have gone a thousand other ways - therefore the inevitability claim is 100% based on hindsight constucted after the war.
Ignoring your previous statement since I’m unfamiliar with the source and I expect others can handle it better, I’ve always been puzzled by statements like these. Why does it matter that we trust what they thought possible? Basing a premise off of hindsight is not inherently bad unless we are trying to claim that they believed it as well. The saying is that hindsight is 20/20 and we actually have access to statistics of economy from all major players and can at least semi-accurately predict, compare output, and weigh odds in a comprehensive way. A person in 1940 had access to none of it. We can expect many predictions of theirs to be based on old analogies (First World War), fear or heightened emotion, lack of the full picture, or just plain misunderstanding of the newer innovations of war. Hell, propaganda or not, Time magazine was telling the American public that an Axis invasion of the continental United States supported by an internal fifth column was possible. The upper echelons of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union believed a Nazi-backed spy ring led by Red Army generals was going to decapitate the Soviet Union. Some Nazi generals believed they could quickly defeat the Red Army at the border regions and watch the whole state fall apart. This was all utterly bullshit as we now know.

So it doesn’t really matter at all what a person from ‘39 - ‘43 could predict because they had an overwhelmingly less complete picture of the situation than we do. Their judgement isn’t inherently worth more because it’s “authentic” and overall it’s probably far worse than ours is today. The only mistake with hindsight would be us today declaring that the British public in 1940 knew it would inevitably win, which it absolutely did not. But numbers don’t tend to lie, perceptions at the time notwithstanding.
 
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Basically the question is: in the darkest days of the war (June 1940-mid 1943) do the various countries of the allied powers actually know the true data of both themselves and the axis powers? I'm asking this question due to one of the usual attacks on any axis victory timeline (the self styled more realistic ones) is that the economic/resource/manpower/whatever disparity between the axis and allies meant that an axis defeat was almost preordained. Of course, while the data (that we have in today) is for the most part is not in doubt, the question is does the decision makers at the time have anything similar? (and for the democratic nations, the voting populace at large). Since if the allied leaders (and sometimes voters) at the time doesn't necessarily know that, then the actual factors that were there might not be used to its potential, or the countries themselves throwing the towel early (which is usually the POD of most axis victory timelines).

The point in time you've picked was one where different historical paths were possible, and more importantly, the path taken was more under the control of the Axis than the Allies. But, in all cases there would be common factors, such as that in all possible outcomes, the United States would be stronger than Germany, Japan and Italy combined and that air power would be the most important element of military power.

Generally speaking, if the number of possible outcomes to the war were many, I think the subset where the Axis powers are not defeated would be in the minority, and that there would be basically no outcomes where the USA would be defeated. In the cases where the Axis are not defeated, a common feature would be that either Germany does not invade the USSR, or any war between the two would not be a total one. The possibility that I think leads in the wrong direction for us would be where Germany, Japan and the USSR had partitioned the British Empire before the US had powered up its armed forces. In this case, the US probably just cuts the British Empire loose and concentrates on the security of Britain and Australia.

A case where a lack of this "meta knowledge" screwed over the allies was basically Munich: we now know that if the UK & France draw the line there that they could have crushed Germany, but the thing was that the leaders of UK & France didn't have that knowledge, and that led them to cave in when they shouldn't have (due to hindsight, which they did not have of course).

Lotta revisionist opinions of this period, mostly to the purpose of vilifying Chamberlain and pretending that some poorly thought out option or other was the ticket to a quick war. The argument is exaggerated. The time to take to march to Berlin and arrest the Nazis and restore German democracy was 1934-35, and for some reason the West did not want to do it.

The French army in 1938 was doctrinally deeply flawed and capable of spectacular collapse far more than it was capable of offensive warfare. The Polish army was a glass jawed mess that would have to fight on two fronts, and could be shattered with one powerful blow. Hitler was pressuring hard for territorial concessions at the expense of the Czechs, but in the end had the option to postpone a decision into the next spring. To sum up, at the grand strategic level the general danger for the West in this period would be that the Soviet Union winds up on the same side as Germany.
 
The French army in 1938 was doctrinally deeply flawed and capable of spectacular collapse far more than it was capable of offensive warfare. The Polish army was a glass jawed mess that would have to fight on two fronts, and could be shattered with one powerful blow. Hitler was pressuring hard for territorial concessions at the expense of the Czechs, but in the end had the option to postpone a decision into the next spring. To sum up, at the grand strategic level the general danger for the West in this period would be that the Soviet Union winds up on the same side as Germany.

What would have been the second front for Poland in 1938? I know the Poles were resistant to letting Soviet troops pass through their territory to assist the Czechs but it's hard to imagine the Poles fighting both the Germans and the Soviets at the same time as the Soviets, Czechs and the French were also fighting the Germans.
 
Not sure what exactly you are arguing for or against. My response was to the thread title. 100% of supposed inevitability was constructed through hindsight. The BEF could have been captured at Dunkirk leading to a British compromise. Churchill could never have become PM and Halifax could have made a deal. Roosevelt could have died earlier leading to far less US support for Britain than OTL. Hitler could not have declared war on the US. The Soviets could have collapsed in late 41. These things were all possible and it was impossible to tell the outcome during the 39-42 period. One could make an educated guess but thats it. Therefore the narrative is built upon the data and real events but couldnt not have been predicted during the events and the events could have gone otherwise as well.
 
Not sure what exactly you are arguing for or against. My response was to the thread title. 100% of supposed inevitability was constructed through hindsight. The BEF could have been captured at Dunkirk leading to a British compromise. Churchill could never have become PM and Halifax could have made a deal. Roosevelt could have died earlier leading to far less US support for Britain than OTL. Hitler could not have declared war on the US. The Soviets could have collapsed in late 41. These things were all possible and it was impossible to tell the outcome during the 39-42 period. One could make an educated guess but thats it. Therefore the narrative is built upon the data and real events but couldnt not have been predicted during the events and the events could have gone otherwise as well.

Britain was preparing to carry on the war without the BEF. That so many escaped was, to put it mildly, a pleasant surprise. And if Halifax is going to be Prime Minister, he'll need to prosecute the war, or lose support of Parliament, which was still wanting to fight on.
 
Britain was preparing to carry on the war without the BEF. That so many escaped was, to put it mildly, a pleasant surprise. And if Halifax is going to be Prime Minister, he'll need to prosecute the war, or lose support of Parliament, which was still wanting to fight on.
Again all of this is based on the power of hindsight. Britain planned to carry on the war without the BEF - but plans are often destroyed by reality or completely rewritten according to the situation. Would it have done so if some 150 000+ British soldiers would have been captured there? Based on hindsight we claim yes - but for the the actors of the time that could not see into the future the answer might have been a no.
 
Not sure what exactly you are arguing for or against. My response was to the thread title. 100% of supposed inevitability was constructed through hindsight. The BEF could have been captured at Dunkirk leading to a British compromise. Churchill could never have become PM and Halifax could have made a deal. Roosevelt could have died earlier leading to far less US support for Britain than OTL. Hitler could not have declared war on the US. The Soviets could have collapsed in late 41. These things were all possible and it was impossible to tell the outcome during the 39-42 period. One could make an educated guess but thats it. Therefore the narrative is built upon the data and real events but couldnt not have been predicted during the events and the events could have gone otherwise as well.
Yeah I am arguing against your point that observation through hindsight means it’s “a narrative” that is completely equal to contemporary analysis rather than an reasonable prediction through access to data and primary sources and having a full picture. They aren’t the same thing.

For instance, the idea that the Soviets could have capitulated to the Wehrmacht in 1941, while not ASB, has been shown to be incredibly unlikely due to a number of structural factors. It isn’t simply a narrative built just from hindsight. It is based on research done on the ultimate capabilities of both armies and how far German logistics could realistically go. I am arguing that it doesn’t matter at all that people thought the Wehrmacht was going to knock out the Soviets in 1941 because just as our “narratives” are supposedly built on hindsight, their narratives were built on incomplete data, fear or triumphalism, false analogies to previous wars, not understanding logistics, etc etc.

I am disagreeing with you and responding to the question that the OP is posing. Hindsight isn’t the definitive reason that it is generally believed the Axis couldn’t win the war. Things having played out how they did might be a single factor, but there are many very data-based arguments that they simply could not have done it or it would be very unlikely. That isn’t discounting random PoDs like Stalin randomly dropping dead in 1941 of course, but that isn’t usually the type of thing most people discuss when it comes to Axis vs Allied capabilities.
 
rather than an reasonable prediction through access to data and primary sources and having a full picture.
Last summer the best US intelligence agencies estimated that Kabul might fall in 3 months? It fell within 3 days? So much for "reasonable predictions". There is nothing humans are worse at than predicting the future based on "reasonable predictions" - history is proof of that.
the idea that the Soviets could have capitulated to the Wehrmacht in 1941, while not ASB, has been shown to be incredibly unlikely due to a number of structural factors. It isn’t simply a narrative built just from hindsight. It is based on research done on the ultimate capabilities of both armies and how far German logistics could realistically go
It is based on reasearch done after the event and therefore hindsight. Stalin might have shot himself from fear in his Dacha when the Politbureau members arrived - the October Panic might have swept up the entire country. The Germans might have concentrated on Moscow instead of Kiev in August/September. What you call "structural factors" are allways in flux - and only after the event - with hindsight at our disposal - can they be interpreted.
I am disagreeing with you and responding to the question that the OP is posing. Hindsight isn’t the definitive reason that it is generally believed the Axis couldn’t win the war. Things having played out how they did might be a single factor, but there are many very data-based arguments that they simply could not have done it or it would be very unlikely.
This assesment is arrived at through hindsight though. "By 1943 the economic and military capabilities of the Allies were so overwhelming that the Axis could not win the war. Therefore they couldnt have won the war since the beginning". This is a fallacy and ignores that a thousand things between 39-42 could have gone different which would have changed the balance in 1943-1945. I recommend the book: Everything is Obvious: Once you know the Answer by Duncan J Watts.
 
Last summer the best US intelligence agencies estimated that Kabul might fall in 3 months? It fell within 3 days? So much for "reasonable predictions". There is nothing humans are worse at than predicting the future based on "reasonable predictions" - history is proof of that.
Yes that is literally my point. I fail to see how this supports your argument at all. I’m arguing for studying things in hindsight with full access to data and how history went. I believe you’re arguing for trusting contemporary accounts on the ground during the war. It is only with hindsight that we can tell that the Taliban was stronger than estimates by faulty US intelligence. The exact same thing applies to the Second World War. British intelligence at the time predicted the Soviets would fall in weeks.. with historical research we know this was completely faulty and it would be ASB for the Red Army to utterly fold in less than three months. But from what you’ve argued, this is a narrative and we need to trust what people thought was possible at the time.

It is based on reasearch done after the event and therefore hindsight.
I have to admit, I’m sort of baffled by this. If you held this viewpoint, then what’s the point of historical research at all?? Why is research done after the fact automatically tainted? If all post-facto research only serves to vindicate the one thing that actually happened, that would be ridiculous. It’s literally impossible to do such in-depth research while something is happening. Of course, you can point to contingent events like random heart attacks or mass panics but that should be evenly considered with what we know from research. It isn’t one or the other.
 
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This is a fallacy and ignores that a thousand things between 39-42 could have gone different which would have changed the balance in 1943-1945.
I’m fairly sure that it’s implicitly understood that when such statements are made, they are discounting things like the entire American cabinet spontaneously combusting and then the new President withdrawing from the war. Sure it could happen sometime somewhere somehow technically, but the odds are overwhelmingly against it. Should we just completely ignore research and books when discussing alternate history because technically anything is possible?
 
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What would have been the second front for Poland in 1938? I know the Poles were resistant to letting Soviet troops pass through their territory to assist the Czechs but it's hard to imagine the Poles fighting both the Germans and the Soviets at the same time as the Soviets, Czechs and the French were also fighting the Germans.

The Poles probably did not want to fight the Soviets and Germans at the same time, but the Soviets will have had a different opinion of the situation, and more imporantly, the luxury of making the choice. Normally, in discussions of the Munich situation it is taken as given that the Soviet Union would cooperate in the defense of Prague. My belief is that Stalin's actual intention was to use the Czechs as a stalking horse to go after Poland. Hence, the demand to transit across Polish territory, which the Soviets must have known could not be accepted in Warsaw.
 
Britain was preparing to carry on the war without the BEF. That so many escaped was, to put it mildly, a pleasant surprise. And if Halifax is going to be Prime Minister, he'll need to prosecute the war, or lose support of Parliament, which was still wanting to fight on.

If the BEF was destroyed on the continent, Sealion probably goes in, even without air superiority. Regardless of the outcome to that, the war goes down a different path.
 
I am disagreeing with you and responding to the question that the OP is posing. Hindsight isn’t the definitive reason that it is generally believed the Axis couldn’t win the war. Things having played out how they did might be a single factor, but there are many very data-based arguments that they simply could not have done it or it would be very unlikely. That isn’t discounting random PoDs like Stalin randomly dropping dead in 1941 of course, but that isn’t usually the type of thing most people discuss when it comes to Axis vs Allied capabilities.

Arguments to the effect of inevitable Allied victory assume a Soviet-German war. Yet, this was not inevitable until Hitler himself made it so.
 
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