Was Germany's defeat in World War II inevitable? World War II (1939–45) Was Japan's defeat by the USA inevitable? This question was posted...

Was Germany's defeat in World War II inevitable?

World War II (1939–45)

Was Japan's defeat by the USA inevitable?

This question was posted today July 27, 2012 by dinebeans. It led me to wonder whether the same question might be asked about Germany. Once Germany surrendered, the defeat of Japan was inevitable--but what if Germany had conquered the USSR? They came pretty close!

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Japan started the war by attacking Pearl Harbor. German had a pact with Japan. That was why Hitler declared war on the U.S.

I can't agree with #20 that the turning point was when Britain held out against the German Blitz. Hitler turned on the U.S.S.R. and came close to beating them. Neither Britain nor the U.S. could offer the U.S.S.R. much in aid because of the huge geographical problems. Germany held Norway and had land-based bombers all along that coastline to attack convoys. If Germany had beaten the U.S.S.R. they could have dominated the entire land mass of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and much of Africa. Then there would have been a long period of consolidation outlasting Hitler's lifetime. Germany would have doubled or tripled its territory and its population. France would have remained a satellite. The British Empire and the British navy would have withered on the vine--which is what they have done anyway, in spite of being on the winning side. The U.S. would have had to accept Germany as a major world power, just as it is presently accepting China and Russia. It all hinged on Germany conquering the U.S.S.R. I think Napoleon was faced with the same problem when he decided he couldn't invade Britain.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are people who maintain that everything that has ever happened since the Big Bang occurred some thirteen and a half billion years ago has been inevitable, since every effect must have a preceding cause and all the causes and effects could conceivably be traceable back to the Big Bang. Therefore, looking backward it would be impossible for Germany to win the war. Their defeat was predetermined in the Big Bang, as was every incident in the war and every incident in their entire history. From this point of view everything that will ever happen in the world down to the smallest detail is already predetermined--as is everything that will happen to us for the rest of our lives. Looking backward, it was inevitable that Britain would refuse to surrender, that Hitler would invade the USSR, that the Soviets would use geography and weather against his forces, that the Americans would get involved, and that everything would unroll exactly as it did, right up to the point where Hitler stuck a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Is this possible?

johngault eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hitler's initial plan for Lebensraum which he layed out in the early '20's stated that he would continue German re-militarization until at least the late 40's, if not into the '50's.  Had he followed his plan and not deviated due to his own mental instability, I believe that there is no question that Germany might have been successful, especially if he had ensured American ostensible neutrality.  The German industrial infrastructure was capable of a sustained regional, or European war.  However, British technological advances which only emerged late in the Battle of Britain would certainly have mitigated Hitler's significant advantage in the air.  The British navy, that historic bulwark of protection from invasion, continued to maintain dominance of the seas, in spite of German U-Boat hegemony.  Essentially, had German war aims been directed by a more lucid leader, there is much to support a German victory in the war.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some commentators think that Hitler could have stopped and consolidated his holdings after defeating France. But what would he have gained economically? He wanted territorial expansion and access to more natural resources, among other things. Furthermore, he would have been left with two potential enemies, Britain and the U.S.S.R., who would both be able to build up their armaments and train their men. In just one year the U.S.S.R. would have been much better able to sustain a German invasion, and the British would have been able to build thousands of Spitfires and train the pilots to fly them. Hitler's big advantage had been that he had attacked nations that were inadequately prepared to defend themselves. Even the U.S.A. was heavily involved in rearming for "defense" and probably would have been brought into the European conflict sooner or later. It would be like a repeat of World War I. Hitler had plenty of problems.

markchambers1966 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Defeat was not inevitable until he decided to attack Russia whilst Britain was still undefeated. With this decision he opened up a two front war and in reality the lack of preparation for the Russian winter, the lack of defensive lines and reserve lines etc were fatal. even the invasion of Russia was badly handled. The peoples of the Ukraine and the Balkan states all hated Stalin and would have happily fought for Hitler to be rid of Stalin had he treated them better and tried to bring them on board. Had he never invaded Russia and strengthened his hold on what he had, possibly expanding to the deserts of North Africa only then at the very least his defeat would have taken a lot longer to occur. It is doubtful Britain would have had to power to dislodge Hitler and America would not have entered the war without Japan intervening!
stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and there is, practically speaking, no way of being certain that all the other actions would have had the same results if only one condition was changed.

However, it seems to me that Germany had no chance of winning. Hitler had seriously overextended his ability to support and resupply his troops, the Allies had much greater resources to replace people and equipment, and the mental and emotional commitment and support of the public was much stronger on the Allied home fronts than in the Axis countries. While this last may not have been as immediate and direct a factor as the earlier ones mentioned, I think it was a significant part of the resolution to continue the fight as long as needed.

jrwilliams4321 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would like to believe that nothing in human history was "inevitable"; however, the odds were certainly stacked against Germany.  Many historians seem to wonder if different decisions had been made (to not invade the Soviet Union, or to invade Britain with ground forces following Dunkirk) that things may have been different.  But, I would submit that geography alone may have eventually defeated Germany anyway... being situated in the middle of Europe has always been a militaristic thorn in Germany's side... I believe that regardless of outcome, they would ultimately have been spread too thin over Europe and would have crumbled... same as the Mongols, same as the Romans, too much territory with not enough force.

kyleanderson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We must consider the impact of the emphasis on the Holocaust on Germany's ability to make and sustain war.  While Hitler was interested in world domination, his priority was ensuring that the "parasites within Germany" were eliminated first... otherwise (in his mind), he could never have built a strong Germany.  Hitler's obsession compelled him to order trains carrying Holocaust victims to have priority passage even before trains carrying troops.  He had his best scientists working on experiments on Holocaust victims, not on the technology.  Some of the best scientific minds in Germany before the war emigrated to escape the Holocaust.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like the question about Japan, there are no such things as inevitabilities. Many things could have happened to change the course of the war in Europe. Germany not only came close to defeating the USSR, they also came close to surrounding and completely destroying the British force in France. They also nearly broke the back of the Allied advance in the Battle of the Bulge. So while I agree that fighting a two-front war against the combined might of the Allies placed Germany at an extreme disadvantage, victory was likely, but not inevitable. 

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think his defeat was inevitable once he decided to attack the USSR and expose himself to a war on two fronts.  I personally think the Axis powers could have maintained power throughout their holdings in continental Europe before Operation Barbarossa.  It is unlikely the Soviet Union would have launched an offensive, and with the Germans focusing all their defenses to the west the US and Great Britain would have had a much more difficult time liberating western Europe.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think Hitler's "irrationality" was to blame for Germany's defeat.  Hitler bucked his generals time and again before the war and early in it.  At that time, his plans worked and he was a genius.  Later on, they didn't and he was "irrational."  I think that Germany really was doomed because of the huge material advantages enjoyed by the Allies, particularly given that they had their unsinkable supply and operations base (Britain) so near the French coast.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not think that Germany had a sustainable plan, especially on the Eastern Front.  Toward the end of the war, Germany was running out of soldiers and the Allies were gaining ground.  Morale was down both amongst the civilians and the army.  People were losing faith in Hitler as be became to seem more deranged and they were beginning to feel the effects of constant war.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say yes, their eventual defeat was inevitable because, by most accounts, Hitler had become irrational.  He was no longer making decisions that worked militarily for Germany. Perhaps, if he had been deposed and somebody else had taken over, Germany might have been more successful.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Evidently, Adolph Hitler did not read thoroughly the history of Napoleon Bonaparte.  Russian winters always defeat the enemy and meglomania is self-defeating.

haabet | Student

Germany's defeat had two basic 'turning points' in my view: -- (1) when they failed to defeat Britain during the Battle of Britain and their 'blitzkrieg' and (2) when the United States then eventually also entered the War.

It was Hitler who declared the U.S. war. Who but Hitler would do this?

haabet | Student

Was Germany's defeat in World War II inevitable?

No/Yes. The problem is that Hitler would go for more, the more he won. There is no chance to win if you do not stop at what is possible. But if Hitler had died early enough so that everything was possible.

perniciousness | Student

It's historical proven that there has never been one power that was able to fully control all of Europe. This was just another of these incidents. Of course, entry of the USA into the war and foreign factors played a significant role however the end result was the same. It is still evidenced today by the numberous, big and small European countries. Today, it is even more true because unwarranted attacks and buildup of excessive weaponry is condemned by the entire global community. All fear encirclement of power by any one country at any given time.

rizj | Student

I agree with the above post No 20, the USA's entry and Britain's holding out stretched Germany to its limits and Russia, backed by Western Allied resources, was the 'last straw' that broke its back.

iklan100 | Student

Germany's defeat had two basic 'turning points' in my view: -- (1) when they failed to defeat Britain during the Battle of Britain and their 'blitzkrieg' and (2) when the United States then eventually also entered the War.

Technically, nothing is history is "inevitable": the laws of chance tell us, for example, that every single bullet fired at a German soldier during the conflict might have missed, which would have lead to a Nazi victory. As unlikely as this scenario is, counterfactual history as a sub-discipline makes revealing points about the effects of chance and random events on history. A Nazi victory in WW2, however, would require an incredible amount of tweaking the odds and most historians would say that it is implausible. Fundamentally, fascism as an ideology is conflict driven (for 3/4 nations: Germany, Italy and Japan but not Spain) and the same societal cohesion that allowed for early Nazi success doomed Hitler's Germany in the long run. The NSDAP was able to unify the Germans around rabid anticommunism and nationalism; it could hardly not go to war.

And from a purely military stand point, there is just no way once the bullets started flying the Nazis could have won. Winning wars, it could be argued, boils down to logistics: how much stuff can your nation make, how fast can it make it, and how fast can it get it to where it needs to be. The USSR alone could totally outclass Germany in a conventional war in this sphere, and Anglo-American support and resistance movements in occupied territory were only icing on the cake.

etotheeyepi | Student

The allies had greater resources. They could build more guns, planes, ships, and tanks. The allies had the atomic bomb. So I think Germany had little chance as long as the allies had the grit to do it.

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