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  •  The Bomber Will Always Get Through (6+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately, the bomber pioneers had thoroughly spooked the Allies leaders in the mid-1930s.  Everybody had images of cities in ruins after one strike with 1930s technologies.  It did lead the Allies to make some truly awful decisions.

    Chamberlain's decision to negotiate with Hitler over the Sudetenland ranks right up there with the worst.  Hitler's generals were very chary about going to war in 1938.  They knew the Wehrmacht was unprepared, comparing very poorly with the army its own officers had known in 1914.  Worse, they had real concerns about the Czech fortifications they'd have to defeat, which they tested after the Czech capitulation and found to be as dfficult as they feared.  The Czechs didn't have a "blitzkrieg" operational doctrine the way the Wehrmact did, but Czech tanks were pretty damned good.  So good, in fact, that they made up three or four Panzer divisison which invaded France in 1940, equipped the Panzertruppen when they invaded Russia in 1941 and were adapted to become the best self-propelled anti-tank gun for the Wehrmacht, the Hetzer.  The Czech army had good rifles and good light machine guns and was about two-thirds the size of the Wehrmacht in 1938.  The Czech's problem was staying power because the German population was larger and economy was bigger.  Britain's decision to look the other way and the French decision to default on a treaty obligation (that pesky Little Entente) really sealed the deal.  Czechoslovakia likely would have fallen in 1938, certainly no faster than the Polish collapse in 1939, with the advantage that the Luftwaffe was not as well prepared as they were in 1939.  Had the British and French ultimately rallied to the Czech's side, even Uncle Joe would have gone along to help, but that was even more anathema for Chamberlain than allowing Hitler to run rampant for a while.  Only Hitler's lies finally persuaded Chamberlain that he couldn't be trusted, since it can't be forgotten that Britain and France did declare war on Germany, not the other way round.

    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

    by PrahaPartizan on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:51:44 AM PST

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    •  The game of historians (5+ / 0-)

      Playing what-ifs with toy soldiers :)  I say that as a proud owner of my history degree, of course.  

      I think if the French had kept their treaty obligations in '38, and Hitler had forced a war against his generals advice, it would have been disastrous for the Germans.  Reducing the Czech fortifications would have taken precious time and lots of troops - meanwhile, the French, with a determined push, could have smashed through the German paper defenses in the west.  I wouldn't be surprised in that scenario to see an opportunistic Poland make a move on Germany's eastern front.  As you mentioned, the Luftwaffe was not as prepared in 38, and the German army was simply not mechanized or large enough to fight on two or even three fronts at once.  

      Of course, in that scenario, I don't think you'd see any appetite for a total war - France would probably be happy with retaking the Saar, Poland would gain some territory, and the German war machine would be defeated, but not dismantled.  It's a guessing game whether Hitler retains power, but who could have feasibly overthrown him, even in a defeated Germany?

    •  The Czechs (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jay C, PrahaPartizan, devtob

      The Czechs were put in an nearly hopeless position by Hitler's annexation of Austria. They were surrounded by Germany on three sides; Silesia and Saxony in the north, Bavaria in the west, and Austria in the south. And the Czech border regions, where the fortifications were, were in German-speaking Sudetenland.

      The Czech army was, as you say, capable, well-trained and modern, but its military position was untenable due to simple geography.

      The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

      by Korkenzieher on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 09:54:10 AM PST

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