Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 08 Jan 2022 08:51

Hi ljadw,

You post, "Jackson is contradicting himself :he said that the ML was build in service of a defensive strategy and that France was preparing for the offensive which would ultimately win the war .
And the second part of this sentence is not correct .
"

No. The medium term French plan was to wait behind the Maginot Line until the British had mobilized. This would give them numerical parity at least and give time for their greater imperial resources to begin the bear. This was expected to take about two years, as in WWI. Thereafter the Allies could go over to the longer term strategic offensive. The Dyle Plan was a shorter term tactical fix if the Germans attacked through Belgium in the meantime. (The French had intended to extend the Maginot Line to the Channel, but has to divert the necessary resources to build the Alpine Line opposite Italy instead and never got round to it - hence the Dyle Plan).

The guarantee to Poland potentially disrupted this leisurely approach because it put pressure on France to attack almost immediately, for which they had not made preparations and which they proved unable to improvise beyond the token Saar offensive.

Cheers,

Sid.

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wm
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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by wm » 08 Jan 2022 14:20

The guarantee was mere deterrence; it actually didn't guarantee anything.
It was just "all support in their power" without any timetable of the support.
Britain wasn't capable of any relieving offensives, France only after months if not years of preparations.
Halifax and Chamberlain both hoped that the guarantee would deter Hitler, as they expected that a rational statesman, even one as extreme as Hitler, would avoid a two-front war.
If this deterrent failed, then the guarantee created a second front on which the entire conception of British strategic planning was based.

Halifax had illusions neither about the possibility of Anglo-French aid to Poland nor about Poland's ability to resist. His calculation was simple; even a decisively defeated Poland would still seriously weaken the German war effort.
The Wehrmacht would not be able to reduce its forces in Poland, as it would need to leave behind both occupation forces and a very large garrison to defend the new frontier with the Soviet Union.
Britain's Guarantee to Poland, March 1939 by G. Bruce Strang

ljadw
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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by ljadw » 11 Jan 2022 14:38

Sid Guttridge wrote:
08 Jan 2022 08:51
Hi ljadw,

You post, "Jackson is contradicting himself :he said that the ML was build in service of a defensive strategy and that France was preparing for the offensive which would ultimately win the war .
And the second part of this sentence is not correct .
"

No. The medium term French plan was to wait behind the Maginot Line until the British had mobilized. This would give them numerical parity at least and give time for their greater imperial resources to begin the bear. This was expected to take about two years, as in WWI. Thereafter the Allies could go over to the longer term strategic offensive. The Dyle Plan was a shorter term tactical fix if the Germans attacked through Belgium in the meantime. (The French had intended to extend the Maginot Line to the Channel, but has to divert the necessary resources to build the Alpine Line opposite Italy instead and never got round to it - hence the Dyle Plan).

The guarantee to Poland potentially disrupted this leisurely approach because it put pressure on France to attack almost immediately, for which they had not made preparations and which they proved unable to improvise beyond the token Saar offensive.


Cheers,

Sid.
I disagree with the sentence : ''Thereafter the Allies could go over to the longer term strategic offensive'' because France could not afford a strategic offensive,neither could Britain:''no new Somme,no new Passchendaele '':this was deciding the allied strategy .After two ,or one tear,the German economy would collapse,because of the allied blockade, the regime would also collapse,and the Allies would have won the war,with very small losses .
And this defensive strategy was already decided in 1930 when the French decided to build the Maginot Line,which had several advantages
1 it saved French troops
2 it made French immune for a German offensive
3 it prevented French from starting a big offensive :that was one of the reasons why everyone opposed De Gaulle's proposal for a professional army (vers l'Armée de Metier) : France had not he manpower for a strong professional army, it had not the money for a professional army and the Maginot Line, it could not afford the human losses which would result from an offensive by a professional army.
De Gaulle wanted in September 1939 an offensive by a small professional army : the military establishment, the political parties and the public opinion were hostile to this .And they were right and De Gaulle was wrong .

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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by pukovnik7 » 17 Jan 2022 17:22

ljadw wrote:
11 Jan 2022 14:38
Sid Guttridge wrote:
08 Jan 2022 08:51
Hi ljadw,

You post, "Jackson is contradicting himself :he said that the ML was build in service of a defensive strategy and that France was preparing for the offensive which would ultimately win the war .
And the second part of this sentence is not correct .
"

No. The medium term French plan was to wait behind the Maginot Line until the British had mobilized. This would give them numerical parity at least and give time for their greater imperial resources to begin the bear. This was expected to take about two years, as in WWI. Thereafter the Allies could go over to the longer term strategic offensive. The Dyle Plan was a shorter term tactical fix if the Germans attacked through Belgium in the meantime. (The French had intended to extend the Maginot Line to the Channel, but has to divert the necessary resources to build the Alpine Line opposite Italy instead and never got round to it - hence the Dyle Plan).

The guarantee to Poland potentially disrupted this leisurely approach because it put pressure on France to attack almost immediately, for which they had not made preparations and which they proved unable to improvise beyond the token Saar offensive.


Cheers,

Sid.
I disagree with the sentence : ''Thereafter the Allies could go over to the longer term strategic offensive'' because France could not afford a strategic offensive,neither could Britain:''no new Somme,no new Passchendaele '':this was deciding the allied strategy .After two ,or one tear,the German economy would collapse,because of the allied blockade, the regime would also collapse,and the Allies would have won the war,with very small losses .
And this defensive strategy was already decided in 1930 when the French decided to build the Maginot Line,which had several advantages
1 it saved French troops
2 it made French immune for a German offensive
3 it prevented French from starting a big offensive :that was one of the reasons why everyone opposed De Gaulle's proposal for a professional army (vers l'Armée de Metier) : France had not he manpower for a strong professional army, it had not the money for a professional army and the Maginot Line, it could not afford the human losses which would result from an offensive by a professional army.
De Gaulle wanted in September 1939 an offensive by a small professional army : the military establishment, the political parties and the public opinion were hostile to this .And they were right and De Gaulle was wrong .
Actually, Maginot Line IIRC also was intended to channel the German Army into the Low Countries. As for the offensive, didn't French IIRC launch a limited offensive against the Siegfried Line but then quickly withdrew?

ljadw
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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by ljadw » 22 Jan 2022 17:23

Do you have a proof that the INTENTION of the builders of the ML in 1930 was to channel the German Army into the Low Countries ?
And,about the Saar offensive,are there proofs that the aim was the Siegfried Line ?

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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by pukovnik7 » 22 Jan 2022 20:21

ljadw wrote:
22 Jan 2022 17:23
Do you have a proof that the INTENTION of the builders of the ML in 1930 was to channel the German Army into the Low Countries ?
And,about the Saar offensive,are there proofs that the aim was the Siegfried Line ?
I don't. It is something I remember reading, but it does make sense: French knew from experience that Germans might try invading through Belgium and Low Countries in general, yet Maginot Line did not cover the French-Belgian border. Granted, that was partly politics - not building any defenses on French-Belgian border basically forced France to commit to defense of Belgium - but the end result was same in any case. Germans had to go through Low Countries if they wanted to avoid the Maginot Line, and French had to deploy their mobile forces there.

As for the source, I think it was mentioned in Kaufmann, J. E.; Kaufmann, H. W. (2006) - Fortress France: The Maginot Line and French Defenses in World War II, but don't quote me on that.

Saar offensive, I have no idea, that is why I am asking.

ljadw
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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by ljadw » 22 Jan 2022 20:32

The Saar offensive was the limited French offensive of September 1939 .
The ML covered only a small part of the French-German border,because France had not the means for a longer ML ,neither did it have the means to defend the border with Belgium.It is also not so that all French mobile divisions were committed on the border with Belgium,a lot were kept in reserve.

ljadw
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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by ljadw » 22 Jan 2022 20:49

One should also not exaggerate the strength of the French mobile forces : Giraud (7th army ) had 6 divisions : 1 armored, 2 motorized and 3 infantry divisions .
And the tanks and heavy artillery were going to Breda by train .

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wm
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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by wm » 22 Jan 2022 22:54

In at least one regard, the Maginot Line proved to be an unqualified strategic success.
The French created it with several major objectives in mind, such as channeling the Wehrmacht's initial thrust into Belgium, thus keeping initial fighting off French soil.
The Line achieved this goal, though the French lacked the mobile armored forces necessary to exploit it and deal a knockout blow to the German advance.
The Maginot Line: The History of the Fortifications that Failed to Protect France from Nazi Germany During World War II

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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by pukovnik7 » 23 Jan 2022 00:13

wm wrote:
22 Jan 2022 22:54
In at least one regard, the Maginot Line proved to be an unqualified strategic success.
The French created it with several major objectives in mind, such as channeling the Wehrmacht's initial thrust into Belgium, thus keeping initial fighting off French soil.
The Line achieved this goal, though the French lacked the mobile armored forces necessary to exploit it and deal a knockout blow to the German advance.
The Maginot Line: The History of the Fortifications that Failed to Protect France from Nazi Germany During World War II
Yeah, that is the one. Thanks.

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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by ljadw » 23 Jan 2022 15:41

I am still not convinced that it was the intention of the French to channel the German thrust to Belgium,as the situation in the North was not better than in the South : it is the opposite : there was no Maginot Line in the North and the French were there more vulnerable than in the South .
In the South there were fortifications with behind them fortress divisions and a few mobile divisions.
In the North there were NO fortifications but only ID and a few mobile divisions .
The big problem for the French was that their ID were to weak and needed fortifications and mobile units as support .
Fortifications in the North were impossible,that's why they were built in the South .

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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by pukovnik7 » 23 Jan 2022 16:56

ljadw wrote:
23 Jan 2022 15:41
I am still not convinced that it was the intention of the French to channel the German thrust to Belgium,as the situation in the North was not better than in the South : it is the opposite : there was no Maginot Line in the North and the French were there more vulnerable than in the South .
In the South there were fortifications with behind them fortress divisions and a few mobile divisions.
In the North there were NO fortifications but only ID and a few mobile divisions .
The big problem for the French was that their ID were to weak and needed fortifications and mobile units as support .
Fortifications in the North were impossible,that's why they were built in the South .
Why would they have been impossible? Rather, more likely explanation was that France did not want to be seen as abandoning Belgium, and thus relied on Belgian fortifications. Or, alternatively, the idea was to fight a mobile battle in Belgium so as to avoid devastation of French territory. Or maybe both; I think I have found both of these explanations in different places.

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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by ljadw » 23 Jan 2022 19:12

To fortify the border with Belgium (ML number two ) was out of the question,because
a this would mean that France abandoned Belgium
b the border was too long (463 km )
c France had not the resources to fortify this border and to protect the fortifications .
d even if the border could be fortified and the fortifications could be protected, military logic demanded an advance in Belgium (NOT to the Albert canal ) ,as the Dyle line ( which was not fortified ) was much shorter than the Belgian border .
Last point :France would not fight a mobile battle because
a it had only a few mobile divisions
b there was nothing behind the (non existent ) Dyle line :if the Dyle line was broken , the Germans could advance to Paris .
Conclusion :even if it was possible to fortify the border with Belgium, France would not do it, as this would mean to defend 460 km with 37 divisions,while,if they went to the Dyle line, they had to defend some 100 km with 57 divisions ( 37 French and 20 Belgian ).
All choices were hazardous ,but the French had to choose one and I do not see that with another choice,the result would have been different .

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wm
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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by wm » 23 Jan 2022 21:34

The French Army went to battle in 1939 with a strategy designed to fight a long defensive war in which its superior national mobilization would compensate for Germany's economic and demographic advantages.

The plan was to fight deep in Belgium, maximizing the Belgian contribution and shielding France's industrial north. To reach defensible lines in Belgium in advance of the German Army, French leaders prepared a highly mobile army for a reflexive northern deployment in response to any German initiative.

A German thrust anywhere else than into Belgium would undermine the premises of the French plan, but behind the whole scheme lay a defensive doctrine promising success even should the bulk of the Wehrmacht strike the lightly manned regions shielded by the Maginot Line and the Ardennes forest.
The program was designed to guarantee France the greatest chance of surviving an un-wanted war from which it had nothing to gain. Not a formula for decisive victory, it was meant to be proof against catastrophic failure.
Arming Against Hitler: France and the Limits of Military Planning by Eugenia C. Kiesling

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Re: Was Hitler really surprised when England and France followed thru and declared war?

Post by ljadw » 24 Jan 2022 09:57

'' a highly mobile army ''is a big exaggeration :Giraud had only 3 mobile divisions and it took him 2 days to advance 170 km and then he saw that the Germans were already there .
The possibility of the 1st Army Group to advance to the Dyle/Scheldt line and to start to fortify them,depended on the possibility of the Belgian army to slow down the German advance.Something which did not happen .
It is also not correct to say that the ML was lightly manned .The same for the Ardennes forest .

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