Posts Tagged ‘Battle of France’

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

November 14, 2019

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.

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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

Warning: War Can Be Very Surprising. The Case of the Battle Of France, May-June 1940

August 27, 2019

This is my answer to the following question: “Why didn’t Britain and France throw their full force at the western German pincer instead of evacuating at Dunkirk?”

At first sight, on paper, the French army had plenty enough power to cut the Von Manstein/Guderian “Sickle Cut” (an expression invented later by Churchill, apparently), just after it happened. It was tried and nearly worked (from the north, and from the south).

However, the nine French armored division north of the Sickle Cut couldn’t move (their supply lines were cut, inter alia). Actually they couldn’t move enough: they attempted to move from the north, but a British failure prevented them to go all the way. Immediately north of the Cut the formidable Third Heavy Armored French division had its fuel cut off.

French Tank B Which Held the fortress at Dunkirk. Nazi picture

One of the reasons the Nazis succeeded to pierce at Sedan is that only one, just one, French Reserve infantry B division faced four elite Nazi formations, including three Panzer Divisions and the superlative Gross Deutschland regiment. Plus the entire Luftwaffe. Weirdly (Guderian marvelled), long range guns from the Maginot line south didn’t engage. Worse: the Second Armored British division was supposed to be there, behind the French B division, but was not. Overall strategy assumed it was there… but it was not. Had it been there, with its superior Mathilda tanks, the Sickle Cut would not have happened.

The other reason, of course was surprise, Pearl Harbor style. A high German officer with the earlier German attack plan was in a plane that landed in Belgium (which was secret and implicit ally to France and Britain, but not officially so). He tried to burn the plan. The captured documents confirmed the correctness of the French strategy. However, the Nazi High Command, supposing (correctly) that the plans had been captured, was then forced into preparing a completely different plan, which was highly unlikely.

The Belgians had evacuated the Ardennes to the point they barely opposed any resistance, so little resistance that the extent of the enormous size of the Nazi attack through the Ardennes went undetected for several days. The French had assumed the Belgians could and would, have told them, had an enormous thrust happen through the Ardennes. The Belgians didn’t. “Neutral” small powers such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, were crucially helpful to the Nazis in various ways: the Belgian and Luxembourgian incapacity to detect two-third of the German army passing through their territory or their unwillingness to warn the French High Command of the presence of millions of Germans, and dozens of thousands of vehicles in southern Belgium, was a necessary condition for the Nazi victory of May-June 1940.

At Sedan in 1940, ONE French B Reserve Division got attacked by the Second, First and Tenth Panzer (left to right), plus other elite formations and the entire Luftwaffe… An enormous, nearly unbelievable concentration of force. The Nazis were fighting with the energy of despair, because they felt that, barring a miracle, they had already lost the war. In contrast, the French and British fought with the over-confidence of those who are sure to win: they didn’t bother looking fot the worst possible case.

When Commander in Chief Maurice Gamelin decided to send general Henri Girauld’s mobile reserve of seven armored divisions (7th army) to the Netherlands, north of Nazi general Bock’s army groups pushing through Belgium (!), Gamelin’s adjoint, and second in command of the French army, general Alphonse Georges, vigorously protested as he pointed out to Gamelin that this exposed the entire French defense system to exactly what happened: a Sickle Cut out of Sedan. Maybe Gamelin thought there would be time to react, he was not just an arrogant idiot full of himself. Nobody thought an entire army, let alone a motorized one, could sneak through the Ardennes. As the entire Nazi army went undetected (except by one Spitfire pilot, who was not believed), for many days, the surprise was total, and it was not all Gamelin’s fault.

Next, the Nazis, full of amphetamines, didn’t sleep for ten days or so. surprising Gamelin with what he called “torrents of tanks, which had to be stopped”.

At some point heavy French tanks, in the night, arrived well within shooting distance of the top Nazi generals (including Guderian, who was heading the entire armored thrust, on the battlefield)… but they didn’t detect them.

Had the French kept the mobile reserve in reserve, by the Maginot line, the “Sickle Cut would have turned into a crushing defeat for the Nazis and probably a coup against Hitler…

Nazi Panzer Korps invading France, 1940

But just one man, general Gamelin, took all the foolhardy decisions… And one man can be very wrong. As soon as Nazi engineers made successful kamikaze charges, exploding themselves against French fortifications at Sedan, the Battle of France was lost, because of the disposition of the French (and British) armored formations.

The ceasefire occurred at the end of June because France had little taste for waging war further against Japan, Germany, Italy, the USSR and, implicitly, the USA. (The gigantic losses of World War One, when France fought Germany basically alone for a year, were fresh in memory).

Roosevelt was first to recognize the Vichy Coup and sent his right hand man, four star admiral Leahy as ambassador. In Roosevelt’s view, dismantling the French empire and making (say) New Caledonia into a new Hawai’i, was Hitler’s main function… The rest was details. 

Conscious that the White House and the US Deep State had instrumentalized Hitler,to wrestle their empires from the Europeans, the US press stayed mum about the Holocaust of Poles and Jews which the Nazis had started, in 1939… for all to see. Shocking truth, but truth nevertheless. A (still) uncomprehending New York Times (they should read me more!) now bemoans that fact: that they knew, and didn’t tell.

If it had been told to the American people that an holocaust was ongoing, and the president was willing (he was not, as he only obsessed about new Caledonia), the US would have engaged in the war early in 1940, and the war would have turned against the Nazis right away… Also France would have kept fighting. France ceased fire at the end of June 1940, mostly because the US refused to open fireFrance refused to play the little US game leveraging Hitler, any longer, now that it was so clear. (That decision may have been subconscious, but it’s what happened, because, in retrospect, it was the most obvious reason on which to act…) 

Had France persisted to fight into July 1940, it could have held North Africa indefinitely… As it turned out, French Africa was back in the war, two years later. The French victory at Bir Hakeim, a modern Thermopylae on a grander scale May-June 1942) , crucially saved the British Eighth Army from annihilation, said Churchill, and evidence shows. Had the Eighth been annihilated, all the Jews in Israel, and all the oil in Iraq, would have been in Nazi hands…

A Nazi victory in 1940 was extremely unlikely, hence the overconfidence of the French and British High Command, and thus, paradoxically, their inattention to detail, or low probability, but extremely dangerous events… And overlooked the despair of the Nazi High Command, which led it to desperate, risky innovation. Thus the fact it was so unlikely for all to see, made it more probable, in the end.

The Sickle Cut through the Ardennes should have failed… And would have, had the British Second Armor Division been there, or the French Reserve been in reserve, or had simply the 200 kilometers of jammed Nazi troops and armor on three little roads been detected.

The one advantage the Nazis had on the French and British is that they had waged war for more than three years in Spain. So crucial little details worked perfectly on the Nazi side in 1940, like radios in tanks and ground to planes communications. Although the French and British and the Foreign Legion had just beaten elite Nazi units in Norway, that was not involving armored thrusts… The French and British learned, in a week, but by then the battle of France was lost. It was the most crucial battle of WW2, as it made the Nazi occupation of Europe possible: roughly 200,000 killed, including 50,000 elite Nazis, never to be seen again, 4,000 planes destroyed, half of them Nazis (and sorely missed during the air Battle of Britain, a few weeks later…[1]

In a drawn out war, the Franco-British naval blockade would have made Nazi Germany even more dependent upon Stalin than it already was…

Fighting a war is rolling the dice. The most unlikely events can occur. They did, in May 1940, when God was Nazi… And Roosevelt smiling. The USA just had to bark in 1940, to stop the Nazi charade, but didn’t. While the Canadians courageously landed in Brittany to stop the Nazi tide, the US, propagandized, dominated and perfused by base plutocrats, refused to help France, its parent…

The defeat of France in 1940 was nearly as surprising as if Russia and China pulled off a successful surprise attack on the USA, right now. Yes, French hubris played a role, as did Nazi despair. One may want to keep this in mind

Not to repeat history the same way, one should learn it, right. But be careful what you learn. The most significant history is not the history of art, or pretty princesses. The most significant history is that of military history, and holocausts. It’s surprising how much it repeats itself helped by astounding twists and turns in what initially looked like details.

Patrice Ayme

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[1] Far from being a walk in the park, the Battle of France cost the Luftwaffe 36 percent of its front line strength, some 1,236–1,428 aircraft were destroyed. A further 323–488 were damaged. Luftwaffe casualties amounted to 6,653 men, including 4,417 aircrew (1,129 were killed and 1,930 were reported missing). No wonder the Luftwaffe lost next the (aerial) Battle of Britain, over Britain…

85,000 French soldiers died in combat (in 6 weeks; considering the size of the populations concerned, that would be as if 700,000 US soldiers died in combat in 6 weeks, nowadays). 3,000 Senegalese Tirailleurs were murdered after being taken prisoner (as the racial Nazis viewed them as dangerous half apes)… Britain had fewer than 10,000 killed in action (extending the atrocities visited even on some French officers, not just French troops, the Nazis cold blooded assassinated dozens of British prisoners who had surrendered)

 


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