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Subject: Should the British have fought on in 1940
Nemesis1    10/26/2004 5:16:16 PM
In a recent seminar an interesting point was raised by my tutor. He argued that the British should have fought on in 1940. Now with hindsight the answer is obvious but AT THE TIME was it sensible? His point was that in 1940 the British should have made peace with Nazi Germany. The Germans offered a number of peace deals and guarantees to Britain and her empire but they were refused. The position though for Britain seemed hopeless at the time. Germany was in control of nearly all of continental Europe, France had been defeated and Britain stood alone. The United States was pursuing an isolationist position and it was unlikely that the Soviet Union would become an ally as it had a non-aggression pact with the Germans. Britain was fighting on alone against Germany and Italy who controlled practically all of the continent of Europe in what seemed to be a hopeless war. Britain he argued had the ability to build an atomic bomb but not the resources while at war. He argued we could have made peace and developed the bomb with the resources we would then have and then would have been able to challenge the Nazis whatever their continental strength. His point was that it was not in Britain’s interest to continue the war at that time based on the knowledge at the time. Now he was only arguing from one perspective, I’m not sure if it was his view but I’m just interested as to your views Nemesis
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Worcester    RE:Should the British have fought on in 1940 - WINDING YOU UP?   10/26/2004 6:46:28 PM
Tutors like to generate thought. This though is revisionist rubbish. Some counterpoints:- "The Germans offered a number of peace deals and guarantees to Britain and her empire but they were refused." What even Halifax called the "thorny olive branch". Guarantees like they offered to Austria, Czecholslovakia, Poland? Guarantees like to Vichy France which in 1940 suffered the same calculated disarmament humiliation as suffered by Germany after Versailles in 1918; and all for nothing since Vichy was stripped of what little authority was left in 1943. You really think you could do a deal with Hitler? Oh of course Hitler "never wanted war with Britain", etc. etc., he would have much preferred a peace treaty. Of course he would. And all the world and Britian would know it was a FORCED peace in which he dictated terms. And I am sure Hitler would have been delighted to visit Buckingham Palace, whether or not the tenants had been changed with just sufficient of the British army left to provide a mounted escort up The Mall. After all, he enjoyed visiting Paris too, but London would make his decade! "Britain had the ability to build an atomic bomb." Yes. Splitting the atom was done at the Cavendish Laboratories in Cambridge; and the first trigger mechanism (gun type) and wiring loom was developed at the Frequency Laboratory in Cambridge, both in the mid 1930's. "But not the resources while at war." Why not? The uranium/ plutonium would probably be from Australia, (perhaps Canada), ditto the testing site would have been Woomera in Western Australia (used by britain in the 1950s-60s for bombs and missiles) or Alberta in Canada. If you could move millions of tons of troops, guns, aircraft and food from these places, why not bomb components? What's difficult about this? "He argued we could have made peace and developed the bomb" You think the Nazis would have allowed this? Nazi sympathisers would have been in the ascendency. When a nation has "peace" imposed under these conditions, everything changes; it is not a pause, but a near revolution. Did any invaded nation keep its government? No! You think Churchill would have been around? How about a more compliant Prime Minister like Halifax? Would Churchill have suffered the same trial for "treason" by a british Vichy; the same handed out to French Prime Minister Reynaud by Vichy France (they sentenced de Gaulle to death in absentia for "treason"). Or would Churchill have made it to Canada? Or just "disappeared". The whole European resistance to Hitler would have perished, for all the exiled Crowned heads and governments resided in London: Norway, Netherlands, Polish and Czech, all the legitimacy of an occupied Europe. Where would they go? Canada? To do what? And if Canada as part of the Empire joined the Axis, what of the resistance then? "with the resources we would then have" No different than before. "then able to challenge the Nazis no matter what their continental strength" You did that in the Battle of Britain. And you won, inflicting the first defeat and strategic reverse on Hitler. Before the BoB everything worked for Hitler, after it everything went wrong. "it was not in Britain's interest to continue the war at that time." History proves him wrong. What is the alternative? Make peace, make an atomic bomb and then threaten to use it? What if Hitler's friends didn't let you make a bomb? What if Hitler said "so what"? What if the Nazis got heir own bomb first Unlikely, but at the time, as your prof would say, no one knew for certain. If not 1940 then, when? 1936, 7, 8 were all too early. Aircraft production alone wasn't up to the job. But 1940 was just adequate enough. If Britain (Churchill casting the deciding vote in a divided cabinet) had not pursued war in 1940 Britain would have become part of the Axis under a new British government, a new P.M. and possibly including a restored King Edward and Queen Wallis, both very serious admirers of Hitler. European legitimate resistance would have collapsed and resistance from Canada is in doubt, even if Canada had not joined the Axis - why wouldn't they if Britain did? Why wouldn't Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaya as part of an Anglo-Japanese Asian settlement. The Brit naval bases in Halifax, Bermuda and Jamaica covered our east coast and the Panama Canal. Vancouver in the Pacific plus whatever the Japanese agreed Britain could keep such as Singapore covered the Pacific and India Oceans....and left the Japanese free to act. So, 18 months later, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in december 1941 and Hitler declared war on us, we in the US would have been completely alone, our options seriously narrowed. To where would General MacArthur have retreated when he left the Philippines? Not Australia! We might have had naval success at Midway still against Japan, but not against a combined Sino-British fleet and with New Guinea and Australia as
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fall out    RE:Should the British have fought on in 1940   10/26/2004 8:13:46 PM
interesting isn't it. i disagree with worcester on a few things but. had britain made peace after the fall of france, the Germans would almost certainly have taken moscow come late '41 as there was no north africa, no greece, crete, etc, and taking moscow b4 pearl habour may well tip japan towards trying to take some of russia due to their weakened stance. had this happened, Stalin would've been kicked out and Russia would've been cut down to a 3rd rate power with a Vichy-style govt. now had this happened Germany could conentrate on North Africa and the Mid-East (Turkey would've sided with the Axis by now), by mainly pressuring Britain to allow Germany, Italy and Turkey to annex certain areas. With a similar population of the US with vast raw materials, Nazi Germany would have concentrated then on much of Hitler's secret weapons and on building up their navy to invade Britain and/or defeat any US navy coming across the lake. Come '44-45 they were already working on u-boats undetectable on sonar, jet fighters, jet bombers, long range bombers capable of hitting mainland US and not to mention their nuke program which i would bet would be completed b4 Britain completed their's. But bottom line, had the poms gave in in '40, the world would be talking German and learning Japanese history. :/
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Nemesis1    RE:Should the British have fought on in 1940   10/27/2004 9:59:42 AM
I agree like fall out with most of your points Worcester. The most important reason i believe is from past experience we could not trust Hitler to keep his promises. Also any nation capable of guaranteeing the Empire is capable of conquering it. Surrendering to Germany would have left us almost inevitably at war in the future with an even stronger Germany Nemesis
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bigfella    RE:Should the British have fought on in 1940   10/27/2004 10:04:01 AM
No, Britain should have surrendered to the germans, set up a collaborationist regime and turned over all its colonies....must....fight.... French...taking...over...mind. OK, the real answer is YES. The detailed answer is F**K YES!!
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Worcester    RE:Should the British have fought on in 1940 - Fall Out   10/27/2004 8:10:19 PM
Agree on the destruction of Russia. Disagree on nukes. The Brits were very advanced in nuke PRACTICAL technology in the 1930s and up to 1940, well ahead of Germany, and gave it all to us for the Manhattan Project. In 1945 the western Allies were surprised when the Red Army overran the western suburbs of Berlin and then withdrew to their agreed positions. The reason? The Russians sent a psecialized NKVD unit to loot the German nuke laboratories; they took everything moveable but got nothing from the experience since the Germans had not been able to design even an enrichment process (their centrifuges left embedded in the floor didn't work welll) or a firing loom or trigger and were years away from a workable prototype. You must not underestimate the British scientific achievements in the 1930s and up to 1940. The first real jet engine (as opposed to a ramjet) and aircraft "Meteor"; the first USE of radar and EW; the first USE of a "thinking machine" for code breaking. Ditto nuclear. In both original invention and practical application the Brits were absolutely first class. By comparison, we in the US simply borrowed or copied their Merlin engines, jet engines, computers and radar - if only our navy had paid attention to the (British) radar on Diamond Head on December 5, 1941. Thank heavens the Brits fought on. The idea of the Nazis getting all that technology instead of us is just too scary.
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fall out    RE:Should the British have fought on in 1940 - Fall Out   11/1/2004 7:49:53 AM
fair enough on the nukes, but as we both agree on russia being mauled to death by the Germans, i think it's fair to say that after that Hitler wouldn't have sat on his bum and let Britain construct some nukes. that's not saying Germany would've beaten Britain to it, but that im sure Hitler would've pumped even more money and resources into his little pet projects (type XXVI u-boat, jet fighters/bombers, etc, etc), not to mention the whole Wermacht (as by this stage you would imagine that German production would be peaking) and between the luftwaffe and the kriegsmarine (esp the u-boat fleet) Britain may very well have been forced to offer some pretty harsh peace terms, or at least be strangled considerably b4 an attempted invasion by the world's most powerful army. seeing as though the US/Britain/Western Allies didnt get the bomb till 45 and even then only produced 3 and didnt produce any more for 2 (i think?) more years despite a real threat of war between the west and the ussr, i would imagine that Britain would not be able to get the bomb until somehwere around 47-50, which by that time i would bet would be too late. as you said, very scary as to what the nazis would've done had they won!!
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Ehran    RE:Should the British have fought on in 1940 - WINDING YOU UP?   11/3/2004 12:16:54 AM
i am fairly sure worchester that the uranium used in the american bomb program came from chalk river in ontario.
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Ehran    RE:Should the British have fought on in 1940 - Fall Out   11/3/2004 12:28:04 AM
even with all the extra resources and time the germans never got with the idea that More is Better. entirely too much handwork and many models seriously sabotaged their production totals to an amazing extent. had they adopted a more production line approach and rationalized their vehicle models they could have produced 3-5x as many not quite as good tanks and fighters. simplifying their logistics would have allowed many vehicles to be field repaired instead of being shipped back to germany. ugly thought that. it would also pay not to underestimate the industrial might of the empire. canada for instance went from a backwater with minimal industrial capacity to a highly respectable industrial base in 4 years. now imagine if the english had been able to mobilize india in that fashion. not a pretty picture at all for the germans if they had to deal with 6 to 10 times the output of canada being added to the british warchest. not to mention how many indian division s could have been raised. there were also numerous african colonies who could have been far more heavily mobilized. zulu's with enfields hehe.
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gf0012-aust    RE:Should the British have fought on in 1940 - Fall Out   11/3/2004 12:59:23 AM
fallout, "empire" capacity was huge. Canada and Australia had the 4th and 5th largest airforces in the world, they had a production capability that wasn't even at full chug and was making huge strides for the brits. germany OTOH was full of inventions that were mistimed, misunderstood and used inappropriately when pushed forward. In Germanies case Speer was a genius at production - not a genius at identifying platform suitability etc...
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fall out    RE:Should the British have fought on in 1940 - Fall Out   11/3/2004 1:58:58 AM
when did i mention about the effectiveness of the "empire"?? Australia at the end of the war had the 4th largest airforce, considerable navy and ditto for army (overall close to 1m personal, which for a country of 7m isn't too bad!), and Canada were right up there too, BUT it's all a moot point had the Germans closed Britain's supply line in the Atlantic, had Australia sent over her entire fleet and combined it with the Canadians, it wouldn't have come close to breaking the Kriegsmarine stranglehold. Yes the RN were no.1 around '40 but alot of their navy were geared towards Capital ships rather than ASW warfare. Why? Cos nobody in the right places rated subs as a real threat, even Roeder and Hitler for a while didnt. Had the poms made peace after the fall of france, the Germans would have hardly used their subs which would mean the RN would still be geared against capital ships, not subs, which would mean the Germans could not only build a more powerful surface fleet to be able to challenge the RN home fleet, but also have a bigger and better u-boat fleet that, without US interference, could choke Britain and help force a harsh peace treaty and/or help in any invasion (lack of supplies, etc). even the US were very slow in reacting to the u-boat threat, the 2nd "happy time" for the u-boats occured when the US entered the war but failed to black out their coastal cities, as a result the subs were having a field day and sunk millions of tons of supplies, i doubt that the poms would've reacted to any arising sub threat when it took them a while to in real life and in this time line, faced no real threat from the subs. as far as India and any African colonies, India was "mobilised" and did provide many troops to various theaters, they may have had hundreds of millions of people but they didnt have nearly enough factories, skilled workers, money, supplies, raw materials, etc, etc. and as per the africans, well, as you said "zulu'w with enfields hehe", wouldn't exactly make a difference to the poms inventory. gf - by '44 albert speers was able to lift germans production by a massive amount despite day and night bombing raids by the allies and despite the continual interference of many various and complex platforms, just think if they did that in '40 when the poms started 2! plus, had the poms made peace in '40, as just about everybody agrees, moscow at the very least would have fallen come '41 and you would imagine the Caucusus too, thus enabling to choke the Russians of not just oil and fuel but raw materials and food esp from the Ukraine, plus any war with the poms later on, the middle east one would imagine would have been taken with the help of the Turks which would surely by in the Axis bed by now......... Just an opinion. :))
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