Nazi Germany Won The Battle Of France Of 1940, Because It Was Desperate

The original Aufmarschanweisung N°1, Fall Gelb (Campaign Instruction No 1, Case Yellow), was a German army plan to push the Allied forces back through central Belgium to the Somme river, in northern France, with similarities to the 1914 campaign of the First World War.

It had to be disregarded, after a plane with the plan crash landed in (neutral) Belgium.

It was thoroughly anticipated by the French High Command, and the French six million man army was ready for it.

The French had 3,000 serious tanks, including heavy tanks the Nazis didn’t have, and couldn’t destroy. The tanks were dispersed in various elite divisions, but also concentrated in seven divisions equivalent to Panzer divisions, plus three super heavy divisions without equivalent on the Nazi side. 

The Nazis had 1,000 German made tanks, mostly light and medium. Plus 1,000 captured Czek tanks. They had ten Panzer divisions. 

British aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean, August 10,1942. The Nazis didn’t plan to have one single carrier in action before 1945…

On paper, the French plus British had much more planes than the Nazis. But half of the French air force was deployed far away, and the British kept much of their force in reserve in May-June 1940. It was estimated that, by mid-June the French air force could have recovered air supremacy over France (by recalling modern planes from far away). It threw the towel for other reason (the army couldn’t insure the safety of the air bases; so hundreds of brand new, high quality planes were flown to North Africa).

The British Navy was more than many times the Nazi Navy, and had several carriers (one of them lethally hobbled the Bismarck, which was hit by 3 or 4 torpedoes, one of which crippled its rudder). The Germans had no aircraft carrier, and just two serious battleships under construction. The French Navy was more than the Nazi Navy. It had one carrier, and was building more. Its fast battleships could handle the Bismarck class. It had large submarines.

France and Britain knew that they would have become overwhelmingly stronger than Nazi Germany within months… while staying connected to the world, including their crazy US child. Many US companies were starting to help France and Britain. Out of Franco-British airplane requirements and a contract with a US company, came the P47, the Mustang, a long range fighter which the US ended up ordering… and which was a game changer (as it escorted bomber fleets). France a six million, 110 divisions army. Britain had only a 300,000 man professional army…. but ready to train millions, after a draft. Germany had 150 divisions.

Britain, all by itself, even after France ceased fire, was able to completely embargo Nazi Germany… Disastrously for the Nazis. That meant no more oil from the USA. Germany could only get oil from the Soviet Union! After Germany attacked the USSR, it ran out of oil: it had no more in 1942, hence the mad dash towards the massive oil fields of the Caucasus, and, thus, to Stalingrad (to protect the side of the oil thrust)…. That was called Operation Edelweiss….

By the time they got to Stalingrad, then the German tanks were run down, their machinery used up, failing. And they were out of oil. And out of all too many qualified soldiers, with 50,000 of the elite fanatics killed in France, and the Nazi paratroops pretty much annihilated in a very costly victory in Crete… And then the disastrous defeat at Moscow in December 1941, in view of the golden bulbs of the Kremlin… The Nazis had lost the war, and some German officers knew it.

All of this was so obviously predictable that the desperate gamble of stealthily sneaking through south Belgium’s Ardennes most of the Nazi army became the only ray of hope Nazi generals could entertain….If the Nazi army had been detected in a timely manner, the Nazi armed forces would have been decapitated. But what else could they have done? Like the Japs at Pearl Harbor, all their options were as many avenues towards oblivion. The question was not whether they would be defeated, but how soon.

Because of a succession of (Nazi) miracles, the desperate Nazi plan of May 1940, worked…Most of the German army and air force attacked a single French reserve division in a hyper concentrated assault at Sedan… Just as in 1870 and 1914… Suicide charges by dedicated Nazi engineers had to be used to defeat French fortifications. The British Second Armored division which was supposed to be behind the French B division, had not been deployed. Had it been there, with its Mathilda tanks, superior to the German ones, the Nazi assault would have turned into a rout.

***

Paradoxically, the Nazi victory of May-June 1940 insured than an already bad world war was going to get way worse. First the British had kept enough air force in reserve to defend Britain… while the Nazi air force had suffered grievous losses in 6 weeks of aerial fighting over France. So the “Battle of Britain” of August 1940 was promptly lost. Then, because Britain couldn’t be defeated, so the USSR had to be attacked… But, as it turned out, not only was Britain undefeated, but it started to bomb Berlin significantly, and then the British ruled the Mediterranean (most of it, most of the time), hence forcing a very costly intervention in Crete, weeks before the attack on the USSR, which had to be delayed). 

 

This shows that the fortunes of serious wars are full of twists and turns. On the face of it, though, the Germans should have thought five minutes about it in the 1930s: they couldn’t win another repeat of 1914. This time, the French and the British had overwhelming force. But, well, the Germans, in a feat of collective hypnosis, persuaded themselves they lost because of the Jews and the Communists, stabbing them in the back… Actually, by 1918, German explosive production had collapsed (it was perhaps 10% of France’s), and the French led offensive in the Balkans condemned Germany to starvation…

A frontal assault on the French army in 1940, as the original Nazi plan had it, would have been costly: on August 22, 1914, in furious counterattacks, the French army suffered 27,000 soldiers killed in action at the Battle of Charleroi. In one single day. That drove the aggressors mad: they engaged in a frenzy of war crimes. The initial frontal attack planned in 1940 would have brought the same sort of action, namely extremely violent French reactions… At Bir Hakeim, in May-June 1942, 3,000 French soldiers held for many days, the entire Afrika Korps and the Italian army… preventing the annihilation of the British Eight army… and the only chance for the Nazis to get to Iraqi oil.

There had been a stalemate in 1914–1916, helped by the breaking of the Franco-British blockade of fascist Germany by US plutocrats bringing crucial war supplies through the officially “neutral” Netherlands. But how can one be “neutral” when one is helping fascist invaders? The same thing was not going to happen in 1940, as Hitler invaded “neutral” countries. Thus the prognostic of the war launched by the Nazis was grim. Ludwig Beck, chief of the German general staff, said that Germany was in a much less favorable position in 1939 than in 1914. That’s why he resigned.

So why the senseless war? Just to lose it, same as somebody jumping from a tall building: it’s not done to win. An erroneous picture of Germany and fate had to come crashing to earth first.

If one wants to win a war, one better be at peace with oneself… First.

Patrice Ayme

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