How the Allies Could have Prevented the Rise of Hitler and the Jewish Holocaust Part 3

This is Part 3 of a 4 series. Part 2 can be accessed here.

Hitler and the Nazis Never Come to Power

It is universally acknowledged that the single most important by-product of the much-hated Versailles Treaty was the ascension to power of a certain Bavarian corporal named Adolf Hitler. Herr Hitler once remarked that he had only to mention the Treaty of Versailles in all of his public speeches to rally tens of thousands more German citizens to his cause since they had suffered so extensively because of it.

However, if the Treaty of Versailles had been a negotiated compromise peace along the lines of Wilson’s ‘Fourteen Points’ and generally included the terms delineated in the first two parts of this essay including self-determination and unity for the ethnically German territories of the German Reich, the humiliation of Germany stemming from the peace Treaty ending World War One would have been far less severe. Hitler would not likely have been able to use the Treaty as an effective rallying cry to achieve political support for his National Socialist Workers’ (Nazi) Party. In fact, he might have even supported the Treaty had it allowed for the fulfillment of his top demand, which was the Anschluss between Germany and his native Austria including the German Sudetenland, which German Austria had voted for in November 2018. His Nazi Party would not likely have ever been able to win more than five to ten percent of the vote in Reichstag elections, thus effectively eliminating any hope he ever had of becoming the Fuhrer of the Germany. The best he could have hoped for would be that he would have been offered a ministerial position as a minor partner in a grand coalition government led by one or more of Germany’s right-of-center political parties such as the German People’s Party, German National People’s Party or its offshoot–the Conservative People’s Party. However, even when Hitler was offered the position of Vice Chancellor, he refused, insisting on nothing less than the position of Chancellor itself. Accordingly, the chances of him accepting a lowly ministerial position would have been essentially non-existent, effectively locking him out of power for good.

It goes without saying that a Germany where the Nazis never comes to power would ensure there never would have been a Jewish Holocaust. The German National People’s Party was a predominantly Christian party that supported traditional moral values and came out strongly against violence against German Jews but nevertheless supported discrimination against Jews in terms of employment. Had the Treaty of Versailles been perceived as just by Germany, then German political leaders likely have been much less anti-Semitic since the primary reason for the wave of anti-Semitism that swept interwar Germany was the Jewish-led Bolshevik revolutions which brought Germany to her knees in November 1918-1919 and knocked her out of the war. Furthermore, all of the other right-wing parties would likely have been more moderate in terms of their positions and principles as well.

Rather than transforming defeated Germany into a revisionist power trying to regain lost territories as was the case in actual history, Germany, once again, would have reverted to its 1914 status as a satisfied power–independent, confident, united and free. In fact, the motto of the Weimar republic was “Unity, Justice and Freedom.” It would be sufficiently strong enough to defend its own territory against future threats, but without a Navy capable of challenging the British Royal Navy or colonies to give it hopes of ever becoming more than a continental power. It also would have likely produced a Germany that was much more democratically-oriented and peaceful, focused more on economic and industrial rather than military pursuits. With the possible exception of Poland, Germany would have had a series of friendly states in eastern Europe with which to do business to help allay its sense of encirclement by their enemies which had led to its ill-fated pre-emptive attack against France in 1914 in a failed attempt to avert a two-front war, which transformed the Austro-Serbian war of July 1914 from a regional war into a world war.

Had Hitler and the Nazis never come to power and started World War II, Winston Churchill likely never would have become Prime Minister as he was not well-liked by members of his Conservative Party due to his past record of political disloyalty and backbiting, among other reasons. More likely, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who died in 1940, would have been replaced by Lord Halifax who may have been less hesitant to challenge Soviet aggression than was Churchill. In actual history, Churchill became enamored with the idea of a Grand Alliance between the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union against Germany in 1937 not long after Germany’s reoccupation of the Rhineland. However, had the Treaty of Versailles never mandated total German disarmament in the first place it is likely both he and France would have sought to align with the Soviet Union against Germany far earlier, perhaps in the mid-1920’s.

World War II Starts with Soviet, Not German, Aggression

A strong, yet peaceful, democratically-led Germany would have certainly avoided war with the Western Allies and would have likely served as an arsenal for freedom and liberation against Communism. In actual history, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin never gave up his goal to Communize most, if not all, of continental Europe from Poland to France. The Soviets first attempted to do so in 1920 when they employed the Red Army to invade Poland as a precursor to occupying Germany and Hungary to ensure the Communist revolutions which had taken place there from 1918-1919 would be successful long-term. Vladimir Lenin, believed that the key to the Communization of Europe lay with Germany and Stalin likely agreed. In accordance with this goal, the Soviets mass produced tens of thousands of tanks and tens of thousands of combat aircraft during the Interwar Period and from 1938-June 1941 more than tripled the number of deployed army troops from 1.5 million to over 5 million men and increased the number of their tank divisions by 61.

As part of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, they divided Eastern Europe with Nazi Germany, starting with their September 1939 invasion of Poland, followed by their invasion of Finland later that year and their occupation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania along with the Romanian provinces of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina the following summer. Thus by summer 1940, the Soviet Union had invaded six countries without even the most minimal military response from the Allies. According to a number of respected military historians, drawing on recently declassified Soviet archives, most notably Vladimir Rezun, a former Soviet GRU officer writing under the pseudonym, Viktor Suvorov, Stalin was preparing to invade Germany, western Poland and Romania in July 1941 and was only prevented from doing so by the earlier German military offensive Operation Barbarossa which began on June 22, 1941 and effectively served to pre-empt the planned Soviet offensive. The German invasion was successful in capturing millions of Red Army troops near the border, which had made no serious defensive preparations, despite the fact the Soviets had seven times more tanks and over five times as many aircraft as the Germans. However, a Germany that was not banned from developing tanks and combat aircraft would not have provided the Soviets with critically important military industrial assistance in the 1920’s and 1930’s under the Treaty of Rapallo likely inhibiting their ability to mass produce as many tanks and planes.

Even in the absence of the Hitler-Stalin Pact dividing East Europe into spheres of influence, Stalin most likely would have engaged in an invasion of Poland, Finland, Romania and the Baltic in an attempt to achieve the same territorial gains he did in actual history from 1939-1940. Assuming they invaded Poland in September 1939 as in actual history, the Red Army, with overwhelming superiority in numbers of troops, tanks and aircraft, likely would have overrun the Baltic States fairly quickly cutting off Poland from British and French military assistance, which would likely have led to guaranteed Polish defeat without German military intervention. Stalin might have offered Germany a return to its 1914 borders in exchange for it remaining neutral in the ensuing conflict and allowing a Soviet annexation of the rest of Poland.

Following a Polish military collapse and a Soviet capture of Warsaw, the Germans might have accepted Polish pleas to declare war on the Soviets instead and help liberate Poland, fearing imminent Sovietization of all of Poland in return for a border adjustment which returned some or all of Germany’s eastern territories lost under the Treaty of Versailles. The Poles, realizing they had no choice, would likely have reluctantly agreed. Had the Polish Corridor not been retained by Germany in the Treaty of Versailles than the price of German intervention might have been limited to the return of the Polish Corridor. Just as in actual history, German forces likely would have employed Blitzkrieg tactics to encircle and capture millions of Soviet troops, nearly all of which might have opted to join German-organized Russian and Ukrainian Liberation Armies (making them much larger than actual history), particularly if they were treated well and promised freedom under a Russo-Ukrainian government-in-exile which Germany and its allies could have set up to govern captured Soviet territory. However, German forces likely would have started any war with the USSR with a substantial number of obsolescent World War I era weapons and equipment, which may have inhibited their offensive potential early in the war before they had a chance to mass produce more modern weaponry.

Such Soviet aggression would have likely led to the replacement of a German center-left government with a center-right nationalist coalition-led government in the federal 1940 elections dedicated to rebuilding Germany’s military strength to repel Soviet aggression. The most likely candidates for Chancellor in a right-wing led government would have been German National People’s Party leaders Alfred Hugenberg, Kuno von Westarp or actual history Hitler coup plotters Carl Friedrich Goerdeler or Ulrich von Hassel, both of whom were executed by Hitler following the tragically unsuccessful July 20, 1944 coup against him. Of these, Hugenberg would likely have been too objectionable to Centrist Party leaders to serve as Reichskanzler making von Westarp, who was considerably more moderate, the next logical choice.

If the German monarchy had been formally abolished in 1919 as in actual history, a new conservative-led government might have attempted to revert to Germany’s previous 1918 constitution and elevate one of the Hohenzollern princes to serve as a new German Kaiser. In accordance with its 1918 constitution, any new Kaiser would have served as a largely ceremonial head of state similar to the British monarch. However, it is unclear whether they would have succeeded in obtaining the support of two-thirds of the German Reichstag and the President in making such a constitutional change of government.

Britain and France Ally with Germany Against Soviet Union

A number of conservative leaders in both Britain and France had advocated for direct military aid to Finland to defend against Soviet invasion in actual history and some even lobbied for an Allied declaration of war against the Soviets. In fact, French Prime Minister Daladier was forced to resign in March 1940, specifically due to his failure to send French troops to fight the Soviet aggressors in Finland. However, given that they were already at war with Nazi Germany, such a declaration of war, was seen as impractical and the idea was swiftly abandoned. On the other hand, had Germany been a peaceful republic fighting against Soviet aggression, the chances of a Anglo-French military intervention on behalf of Finland and likely Poland as well as a declaration of war on the Soviet Union, would have been far higher, particularly if Winston Churchill were not serving as British Prime Minister. This would have created a situation where British, French and German forces were all fighting alongside one another against Soviet aggression, thus increasing the chances of closer ties between the former enemy nations.

Under these circumstances, Britain and France likely would have sent expeditionary forces, consisting of a few to several divisions each, as well as naval and air forces to help defend Finland and then Poland once the Germans had liberated Lithuania from Red Army control. Then they would have joined the German Navy in blockading western Soviet ports in the Barents Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea/Mediterranean Sea. British and French forces might then have manned the northernmost frontline against the Soviets in the Baltic States under their own separate command structure rather than subordinate their forces to a German High Command.

Had the Treaty of Versailles remained unjust, German rearmament and a resumption of conscription by the mid-1930’s would likely have been necessary to avoid Germany from being Sovietized along with Poland after being invaded by the Red Army in the 1939-1940 timeframe. That would have likely required the election of a right-wing government in the 1932 or, at the very latest, the 1936 German federal elections, which given the Nazi Party’s strong showing in 1932, would have been a strong possibility. In actual history, Hitler waited until March 1935 to begin re-arming Germany and reintroducing conscription, but began working to prepare German industries to build large quantities of modern arms a couple years earlier. It took four and a half years before Germany was close to being ready for fight a major war and even then its tanks were woefully under-gunned due to delays getting their industries re-accustomed to building heavy weapons after being banned from doing so for sixteen years. This was due to the fact that Hitler had not anticipated the outbreak of war prior to 1943 or 1941 at the earliest and thus German rearmament was far from complete as Hitler was caught by complete surprise by the British and French declarations of war in September 1939, even though he should have been anticipated them. However, if Germany had waited until late 1936 or 1937 to begin the long process of rearmament, then the Soviets would have most likely defeated and Sovietized Germany had they attacked Germany in fall 1939 without full-scale Anglo-French intervention on her behalf.

Western Allies Defeat Soviet Aggressors in World War II

On the other hand, had the Treaty been just, a German military defeat in the war would have been an unlikely outcome providing that the Germans conserved their limited military strength by fighting a mostly defensive war along the Riga-Odessa line or one farther to the west, especially with likely British and French military intervention against the Soviets on behalf of Poland, at least until they had rebuilt their military strength and were ready to advance further. If Germany had moved immediately to mass production, which Hitler failed to do until 1943, then they could have much more rapidly increased production to approximately 1,000 modern 25-ton Panzer IV and 35-ton Daimler Benz Panther medium tanks with high velocity 75mm guns (enough to equip three Panzer divisions) a month, greatly increasing the ability of the German Army to conduct mobile warfare against the Red Army. Additionally, Soviet forces would have been much less mobile given the fact that they would not be receiving the 23,000 tanks, 18,000 combat aircraft and 430,000 trucks the U.S. and U.K. provided them to fight the Germans in actual history. They also would have lacked access to Enigma intelligence provided by Britain as well as traitorous revelations of German offensive plans by Chief of German military intelligence, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, in actual history leaving them unable to accurately predict future German military operations. German forces in turn would have been greatly advantaged to be led by the proven, capable German Army General Staff rather than Adolf Hitler with his foolish demands to engage in suicidal offensives that expended massive amounts of German military strength and issuance of no-retreat orders that resulted in entire German armies being surrounded, captured and annihilated.

In actual history, after making a similar peace offer shortly after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, Stalin offered Hitler what amounted to a second Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in May 1942 offering to cede the Baltics, Belarus and Ukraine to German military occupation in exchange for an end to the war, an offer which Hitler stupidly refused. Accordingly, we know that Stalin would have been willing to cede those territories if he felt it was necessary as he might deem it to be in order to conclude a separate peace to allow him to focus on defeating Imperial Japan, had Japanese leaders decided to take advantage of the war between the Soviets and the Allies to satisfy its territorial ambitions in the east at Soviet expense. If Turkey had entered the war, he very well might have been willing to give up control of the Soviet republics of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia as well in exchange for an armistice agreement just as the Soviets did as part of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Such an agreement would have reduced Russia to its modern-day western borders, except with regards to Finland which would have retained its 1939 border with the Soviet Union, modern-day Kaliningrad which would have remained German and the Kurile Islands and northern half of Sakhalin Island which would have remained Japanese.

If the Germans had been able to deploy a force of at least 10,000 operational tanks and 10,000 half-tracks in 30-35 Panzer divisions (about three times more armored vehicles than they deployed on the Eastern front in actual history) and if they had motorized a substantially higher number of their infantry divisions, then they could likely have captured Moscow in a spring 1941 or more likely a spring 1942 offensive, particularly if they had attacked along a broad front including Turkey and Finland. Such a production level was well within the capability of German military industries which produced nearly 50,000 armored fighting vehicles in actual history including nearly 19,000 in 1944 alone (at the height of the Allied strategic bombing campaign) along with over 44,000 half-tracks.

If Germany and her allies had captured Moscow and succeeded in holding it, Stalin would likely have sought a temporary armistice giving up all Russian territory west of the Archangel-Volga-Astrakhan line, which Hitler had stated was his final objective. However, since this outcome is more speculative, I believe the most likely outcome of the war would be along the lines of a second Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as Stalin offered Hitler in actual history.

Please see Part 4 of this essay to see how the outcome of this war might have changed the world for the better.

© David T. Pyne 2019

David T. Pyne, Esq. is a former U.S. Army combat arms and H.Q. staff officer with a M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He currently serves as a Vice President of the Association of the United States Army’s Utah Chapter and as Utah Director of the EMP Caucus on National and Homeland Security. He can be reached at [email protected]

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