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WHAT IF: Rommel replaced Hitler??
TreadHead
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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2002 - 12:05 PM UTC
staff_Jim
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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2002 - 12:44 PM UTC
Interesting question. But a qualification would be "When" does he replace Hitler? From the beginning? Hitler never comes to power?

Jim
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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2002 - 10:08 PM UTC
A great tactician does not necessarily mean a great national leader. Look at Gen Patton, he would have been scary as a president or Supreme Allied Commander.

Rommel would not have allowed the tanks to be held in reserve for so long during D-Day; however, he probably would have had them positioned closer to the coast where they would have fallen prey to mass bomber formations.

The same tactic that makes them effective on the ground makes them easier to spot/kill from the air.
staff_Jim
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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2002 - 10:49 PM UTC
Rob,
I agree. For the Germans to have had any chance to repel the D-day invasion, they would have needed to control the skies over Europe. As much as I appriciate the history of the ground-war, this was a war that was won by allied air power. Ack...Tanker Sacrilege!

Now if Rommel had not commited so many of Germany's best pilots to the Battle over Britain where they died rather fruitless deaths...

Jim
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Posted: Monday, January 21, 2002 - 12:23 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Now if Rommel had not commited so many of Germany's best pilots to the Battle over Britain were they died rather fruitless deaths...



Agreed, WWII showed the power of the airplane to effect the outcome of battles (in PTO and ETO); however, it also showed that to control the skies is not the same as controlling the ground. If it weren't for partisans (people the Germans PO'd), life would have been as nasty for US flyers in WWII Europe as it was in Vietnam.

Germany was doomed to lose the air war over Britain because of the resupply of aircraft with pilots who flew over friendly territory. Everytime the Germans lost a plane, they lost a pilot. Not so for the British who had the capability to reuse pilots (and some salvageable aircraft parts).
TreadHead
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Posted: Monday, January 21, 2002 - 12:23 PM UTC
Howdy All,

First allow me to address these responses one at a time, (all that my mind can handle with the
learned crowd I am facing here in these Forums )

1) Jim's question about 'when' Rommel would replace der Furher.

Answer) Precisely after Hitler slows his blitzkreig style of war, and certainly before he starts
the second fatal front with Russia.

2) Sabot's point (or one of them) regarding the "aerial bombardment" of the Panzer divisions
if they were positioned closer to the beaches as certainly Rommel would have wanted them.

Qoute: (from 'D-Day June 6, 1944: The climactic battle of WWII' by Stephen E. Ambrose, Chapter
'The Attackers', page # 42 says; " In World War I, all frontal attacks had been preceded by
tremendous artillery bombardments, sometimes a week or more long. Thanks to their enormous
fleet, the Allies had the firepower to duplicate such artillery preparation. But the Allied planners
decided that surprise was more important than a lengthy bombardment, so they limited the
pre-assault bombardment to a half hour or so, in order to ensure surprise."

This said, I believe if Rommel's Panzer divisions were in proper placement before the invasion
the outcome of the assault would be somewhat different than history has had the luck report.
Please don't get me wrong, I am very happy with the outcome of that particular engagement.
I am British by birth, and American by choice, but that doesn't mean I am blind to the lessons
that history is so gratious to give the open-minded. Even though it may be hard to swallow,
America's biggest plus in that war was the fact that Germany had as it's leader a megalomaniac
suffering from 'Napoleonic Syndrome'.

Sabot, I respect your input, your responses in these forums are both informative and invaluable,
so go ahead, let me have it...you too Jim :-)
Meanwhile I'll just...

my two cents.

TreadHead

P.S. Go ahead Kencelot, your input would be excellent too! There's nothing like a really good
friendly argument about a subject you thoroughly enjoy.
Kencelot
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Posted: Monday, January 21, 2002 - 08:51 PM UTC
Where was Gerd von Rundstedt?? Because he was the commander in the west before Rommel was sent there. And like Hitler he too wanted to keep the tanks "in reserve". Lets not forget operation Ultra, which deceived the Germans in where the landings would take place. IF, Rommel had his way, and deployed the tanks, I think most would have been in Pas-de-Calais. Even still, the Germans possesed little of an air force, and no naval support. And the Panzers that were let go, of the 21st Panzer Div. on D-Day were repelled by fiece resistance from British and Canadian forces at Sword and Juno.
I think the landings would have been slowed, and certainly not doomed. Rommel was'nt even there on the 6th, he was at home!
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Posted: Monday, January 21, 2002 - 10:29 PM UTC
Tread,
If Rommel were in command from 1941 and there was no Russian front? I seriously doubt a military planner like him would have taken on the Russians. Or if he did he would have waited until consolodating his power in mainland Europe. No Russian enemy? Hmmm.... we would have had an enormously more difficult time with a Normandy landing (or any other invasion including Italy). If it were me btw I think I would have had a highly mobile force based in France ready to repulse any invasion with 1-2 days. That would have been key. That and the air power scenario I spoke of earlier.

Jim
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Posted: Monday, January 21, 2002 - 10:31 PM UTC
Captain Kencelot,
Congrats on your promotion Sir!

:-)

Jim
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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 09:37 AM UTC
I still think people tend to forget the impact of the phantom invasion fleet and Patton's phantom army. I know if I was up against the US, I'd be looking for where they were going to shove their star player and not the junior varsity (my apologies to the 29th ID).

Any German leader would have hesitated until they were sure they *knew* where the actual main force would be. I also think at this time the partisans were in full gear sending intell on the armor's whereabouts. It would only be a matter of time before that large mass of tanks was located, fixed and destroyed or at the very least, had roads cut and bridges blown hampering their advance.
Kencelot
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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 10:20 AM UTC
Rob, that phantom invasion fleet and army were part of the Ultra operation, right? Or was it just for the decryption of German transmissions? In any event, I agree, it played a HUGE part in the Germans decision making!
Man, change just one pixel and the entire picture changes so to force many other "what ifs".
TreadHead
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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 11:01 AM UTC
Gentlemen,

Everytime I open the forum section here I am reminded just how informed a group you have
assembled here on your web site Jim...great stuff!

OK, taking a chance at being severely 'put in my place'

First, Jim, I agree for the most part with Sabot. As far as the 'ground war' vs. the 'air war' goes,
we have no further to look than some of todays conflicts to see the impact that occurs.
Sure air power is impressive and quite often overwelming, but NO true real estate has been
bought strictly with aerial currency.

Second, I don't believe Rommel commited any german pilots to the Battle of Britian, I think it
was the fat guy in the baby blue posh frock :-)

Now, Kencelot, (thx for responding), Von Rundstedt was an 'old school' aristocrat officer who
just happened to be at the time Field Marshal/Commander in Chief West. He was 69 years old,
(too old to be a battle commander) and quite comfortable living in the comparative lapof luxury
at the Hotel George V in Paris, many, many miles from the front. The most recent, and major
responsibility he was given was the construction of the Atlantic Wall. A 'farce' and a military
'bluff' as far as Rommel was concerned after his inspection and review of the Wall was complete.
(Rommel's first order of battle when he arrived).
Now, Rommel knew that Allied air superiority would prevent the proper movement of german
reinforcements to the invasion area, so the only possible chance the germans had to repel the
Allied invasion would be on the beaches. This is where Von Rundstedt & Rommel vehemently
and critically disagreed. Von Rundstedt wanted to let the Allies advance inland and then
engage them there, in the hedgerows. Which is one of the reasons why the hedgerows were
so excellently fortified, why mortars were already 'zero'd, trenches dug, and artillery positioned.

Essentially, Rommel knew that the beach was everything.

Oh, the one thing Rommel and Rundstedt did agree on was that the invasion would most likely
come at Pas-de-Calais.

The above scribbled madness is only my humble opinion gathered from the writings of much
smarter men than I. It's funny really, I used to remember so much more before the cobwebs
started But let's keep the debate goin', it's clearin' some of them away.

my two cents.

TreadHead

TreadHead
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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 11:12 AM UTC
Oh, almost forgot.......Tennnnnn-HUT!

Congratulations Captain Kencelot.

Here's 'snappin' one on ya!

Tread.
Kencelot
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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 11:20 AM UTC
Okay, lets take von Rundstedt out of the picture. Rommel has his way of course (which is the debate here anyway). The mass of armor is at Pas-de-Calais awaiting the invasion.
Like Sabot said the partisans would have let the allies know of their positions. Allies would have landed at Sword, Juno, Gold, etc... . Rommel now not fully knowing if it was the TRUE invasion or a diversion. Even if he did redirect them, it would have taken time for them to reach their objectives.
Time is on the allied side now.
A little more time goes on and Rommel releases the armor, which the allies pick off by way of air because they would have known their locations prior to the landings. Heck the allies may even have set up counter measures for this inevitable event.
Sabot
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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 11:25 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Rob, that phantom invasion fleet and army were part of the Ultra operation, right? Or was it just for the decryption of German transmissions?



It was actually part of Operation Bodyguard, the deception plan to fool the Germans into thinking the invasion fleet was hundreds of miles away. Along with Patton's phantom army was the phantom fleet (few small ships putting out radio signals equivalent to an invasion fleet), the dummy paratroops (little GI Joe dolls) as well as the spies captured immediately in Britain and used as double agents.

Ultra was the deception/interception of the German Enigma device transmissions.

BTW, Ken's right, it was Air Marshal Gehring who was next in succession to Hitler and did succeed as Fuhrer after his suicide. Rommel was long dead by this time (about a yr when Gehring took over) and was a popular but relatively junior commander. Sort of like asking what if Patton took over from Roosevelt.

And I've stated in other threads that air power can't take the ground, but I did say, "make life nasty". It would take the Army divisions to breakout of the hedgerows (supported by the medium bombers of the 8th AF).
staff_Jim
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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 11:35 AM UTC
I tink I have been misunderstood.

That's ok, my wife never understands me either.

Actually the reason I think the war was "primarily" won from the air is the crucial damage we did to the Axis by way of bombing their petrol and oil supplies and their factories (especially them thar' ball-bearing plants!). Hehe...a little Hogan's Heroes humor.

Not to blow an "atomic" sized hole in your argument there Tread, but in fact we did win the PTO by sheer force of air-power. Of course you include the carrier-based planes in that equation and not count them as "naval" forces.

This is funny actually. Here I am more interested in the ground aspect of the war, my father and step-father served in the navy in WWII, and I am arguing the case for the Air Force (which of course tecnically didn't exist yet). :::sigh:::

Oh...one other historical irony. Is it not poetic justice that we (the mostly Anglo US-British forces) landed at Normany to free France from the Germans, when in 1066? William the Conquerer invaded and took over England from his holdings in Normandy? History in reverse almost.

Jim

TreadHead
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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 11:39 AM UTC
Actually the original point of debate was "WHAT IF: Rommel replaced Hitler". It was my fault
to let the discussion become narrow focused on the invasion. I wanted the premise to focus on
the bigger picture.
What if Rommel got all the supplies and fuel he needed
What if Rommel avoided the second front and entered into an agreement with Russia
" " " stopped at European domination and conquered only as much land as he
could defend
" " " was allowed to release the 1000 ME-262's along with pilots to fly them.
" " " he never.......wait a minute, I'm beating this point to death aren't I?

Like Emily Latela said, " never mind".

Tread.