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Subject: Mysteries of WW2
Thomas    8/5/2006 7:56:09 PM
I don't know where to put this general topic so let have it here. 1. Why did Italy enter WW2. Personal ambition of a dictator is a nice sweeping reason; but generally it is not sufficient. What could lead to the assumption that there was any benefit to Italy in that scenario? Plunder? (I'm grateful to S-2 for his contribution up to now) 2. Why did Germany have about 200.000 troops in Norway for most of the war - 2 divisions were plenty to hold Denmark. The explanation I've read (but not quite bought) was that Hitler thought the final decision would fall in Norway. MY comment: Get real: The East front bleeding, the submarines operating from France, The major surface units holed up in the fiords - not very likely. Any ideas???
 
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Carl S    RE:Mysteries of WW2 Italy   8/6/2006 8:06:08 AM
The Italy thing has oft been discussed. Without getting to deep into the details...war hawks like Mussolini wanted to conquor something. Some actually believed there would be a economic benefit from a war against its neighbors. Pro Germans amoung the Italian population wanted to get into the fight. Not sure how many of these were really serious. Pressure from Britian. Italy was an important trade partner with Germany, and acted as a conduit for goods from outside Europe. Britian steadily increased pressure on Italy as part of its blockade program. I dont know what th real econmic effects of this were, but it anoyed the Italians greatly. I agree in the long run going to war made little sense. But in the context of 1940 the Italian leaders thought the war was nearly over and Britian would soon negotiate at least a armistice. In our hindsight we can see: Better had Italy sat out the fighting and made a little spare change selling stuff to the Germans.
 
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Carl S    RE:Mysteries of WW2 Norway   8/6/2006 8:16:48 AM
Norways stratigic position was it covered Germanys northern flank. Bombers based in Norway would have a some advantage reaching Germanys interior. Submarines, aircraft & surface raiders would become anoying in the Baltic. The Swedish Iron ore would be threatened if Allied soldiers were in Norway. Plus if Allied soldierrs moved into Sweden the problems of Allied air & naval forces in the Baltic could go from anoying to serious. All these problems were cut off by holding Norway. Norway also served as a useful base for naval & air operations in the Northern Seas. 200,000 soldiers does sound a bit large. Tho Norway was being used as a rest camp for depleted units one would think it more practical to use Germany or France. Perhaps Allied deception had something to do with this? The German spies the British turned were feeding all sorts of bad information to the Germans. Perhaps there was a 'plan Norway' amoungst that?
 
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Thomas    RE:Mysteries of WW2 Italy   8/8/2006 10:02:11 PM
That is the best explanation I've heard so far. 1. The flawed logic that a colonial empire was in itself a profitable proporsition - There was certainly a lot of that around. In fact only Britain profited from their colonies - France about broke even - all the rest lost (exept Denmark we flogged them on other colonial powers). 2. A blockade would have been effective in that periods defective economic system, and Germany couldn't be given up as Italian exports would have to be cleared with imports from Germany.
 
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Thomas    RE:Mysteries of WW2 Norway   8/8/2006 10:28:55 PM
There was early in the war a rather large commando raid, btn size, on Bodø AFAIR. The ore explanation (Kiruna fields) has some merit; but 200000. Don't think so. Especially as I believe that in the autoum of 1944 there was next to nothing to stop the allies in North Western Germany. Montgomery has been critisised by Liddell Hart for not pressing on - this could indicate it was a worry that nagged Montgomery: A Corps appearing out of nowhere (sorry Norway) in his back. As for resting area: Denmark was far better for a number of reason: 1. Food supply was infinitely better. Resupply to Norway was a real bitch. The RAF did quite a lot of work against it especially at the end of the war. 2. Rail was better. As it was, there had to be an accomodation with Sweden for the leave trains to pass Swedish territory. 3. An invasion in Norway would be about the most stupid place to do it - as nothing would be achieved if successfull. In fact the allied were exceptionally well aware of the composition of forces (I imagine in Norway); but certainly in Denmark as the Danish military intelligence continued the work: "Now under management". But that doesn't explain why. The matter is of particular interest to me, as I think the threat of transfer of troops to North Germany via Denmark was the issue that secured recognistion of Denmark as an allied nation (AFAIR march 1945). The railsabotage in the spring of 1944 had shown that the movements of 2 German division would not be hindered appreciably - just. And by default: Anything more than to divisions could be brought to a screatching halt - fast. This could have been the clincher at the negotiation 4th May 1945 for the surrender of German troops in Holland, North Western Germany and Denmark - Norway followed later! Dönitz would have been confronted with the fact that his possible counterattack would have turned into a carnage up and down Danish railroads/roads. The sugar coating was that the freed from that worry the brits could push further east, thus limiting the Soviet advance and later occupation. But this hypotothesis demands need a rationel explanation as to why the Germans were in Norway in that number.
 
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Carl S    RE:Mysteries of WW2 Norway   8/9/2006 11:23:02 PM
I expect bureied somewhere in the vast trove of German documents in the US archives there are some papers that give the logic of this. Better yet I suspect that some obscure historians has researched these & published his interpetation somewhere. Unfortunatly I have never pursued this & have no clue who to look for.
 
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Thomas    RE:Mysteries of WW2 Norway   8/10/2006 4:07:07 AM
Yes I'm stumped as well. Don't expect Danish historians to enter that field, they are more concerned about the internal bickering in the resistance movement. Considering the bickering of the other resistance movements the Danish were positively docile.
 
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Seeker    RE:Mysteries of WW2 Norway   8/11/2006 12:10:20 AM
Germans had 350,000 troops in Norway in late war out of a total of 9.5 million for a country that accounted for atmost 10% of the occupied territories. That included Uboat and SBoot bases along with many of the remaining warships. On top of this a large number of Luftwaffe squadrons operated out of Norway interdicting Convoys to Russia. Finally there was a considerable string of coastal gun batteries and coastal survaillance flottilas to be staffed. These forces made considerable impact in the early years but Hitler restricted there usage after 1942/43...making them a 'fleet in being' to tie down considerable allied efforts.
 
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Thomas    RE:Mysteries of WW2 Norway   8/11/2006 2:17:22 PM
The problem is that these troops could have been put to greater use on the east front. 100.000 troops would have been more than sufficient. The Luftwaffe in Denmark had to cover the main approach route to Berlin. The counter invasion force was around 2 division - except in the last months of the war when it was greater. AND invasion in Denmark would by all measures have been a damned sight more probable than Norway. I have factored in what is said about capital ships and U-boats.
 
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CJH    RE:Mysteries of WW2   8/12/2006 1:59:55 PM
"1. Why did Italy enter WW2." A good question I suppose. Il Duce's hold on power probably depended on delivering to or at least being perceived to deliver to the Italian people. He was what they used to call an adventurer. He had to have it appear that Italy's big score was always just around the corner. His WWII propects he probably saw as deriving from his association with Hitler as an ambitious junior partner. The Italian attack on an already defeated France is an example of exploiting German successes. "2. Why did Germany have about 200.000 troops in Norway for most of the war - 2 divisions were plenty to hold Denmark." IIRC, Germany had originally invaded Norway to forestall a successful Allied invasion. Allied interest in Norway had been based on Germany's dependence on Swedish iron ore. The ore was loaded in ships at the Norwegian port of Narvik and shipped south to German ports. The Germans also depended on, I think it was chronium, from Petsamo in Finland. Finland was a German ally and was reachable overland from Norway. Norway also bordered directly on the USSR on the Arctic coast and there was at least one German invasion of the territory of the USSR across the Norwegian border. All this plus Norway's accessibility from the sea made Norway a potential Achilles heal for Germany.
 
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Thomas    RE:Mysteries of WW2 - CJH   8/12/2006 4:15:15 PM
"Norway a potential Achilles heal for Germany" Norway is next to impossible to travel from north to south - all sensible people sail or fly these days. But I'm not surprised to see You stomped the way I am: There is no explanation, where You entirely buy it. It is frustrating to have a very central issue to your country's history, where there isn't any central explanation: You just have to accept that it was so. Kind of an american historian that will have to accept that the South just seceeded - just to be ornery!
 
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