biggest mistake that lost the axis the war?

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by themanikin, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. themanikin

    themanikin New Member

    what do you think is the single biggest mistake that cost the axis the war? for me i believe it is a mistake made by the japanese during the bombing of pearl harbor. on the island there was a huge fuel storage facility that the japanese missed and if it would have been hit it would have set america back at least a year if japan had a year unimpeded in the pacific it could have changed the war entirely. what do you think?
  2. Protager

    Protager New Member

    I was thinking a little bigger scale. For example, Japan could have made their presence felt in the western part of the Pacific without attacking the US at Pearl. Also, Hitler was too aggressive with the blitzkrieg and by conquering so much territory so quickly he overstretched his resources both military and political. This would be especially true in the case of the invasion of the USSR, especially the Battle of Stalingrad. It might have might have been more effective to back up the Italians to help stave off invasions from the south.

    In the end, the two worst mistakes were drawing the Americans into the war with the Japanese attack on Pearl and Hitler's attack of the USSR causing a two front war. But then again, this all fits with the aggression and hubris of the fascist mindset. Using the military aggressively and continuously will put a strain on any country or empire, just ask the Romans, or maybe even the Americans.
  3. johnofmelb

    johnofmelb New Member

    Rommel not taking Tobruk.

    It would have given him a deep water port five hundred miles closer to the front, with the extra material he could have taken Egypt, that would have given him the Suez, and Germany access to the oilfields of the Middle East and the natural resources (like rubber) of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. With those resources, the Wehrmacht would have been unstoppable.

    Hitler could not access the vast amounts of natural resources to effectively supply his war machine, the best source of those resources was the Suez, he couldn't take the Suez without first taking Egypt, he couldn't take Egypt without first taking Tobruk.
  4. Protager

    Protager New Member

    Access to resources like Middle East oil would have definitely changed the character of the war. Then the strategy of the Allies might have focused less on the invasion of Southern Europe and more on cutting off German access to oil reserves.
  5. Protager

    Protager New Member

    Of this actually happened prior to the Germans accessing the Suez and the oil, with Rommel's stalemate and defeat in the First and Second Battles of El Alamein by the Allies.
  6. johnofmelb

    johnofmelb New Member

    Yep, Rommel was defeated at El Alamein.

    Every piece of equipment he had came by truck all the way from Tunisia, every litre of fuel for his Panzers, every cartridge for his soldiers weapons, every artillery shell, every replacement pair of boots. All along the way his supply convoys were ripped up by the desert air force, if it wasn't the desert air force it was units like the LRDG playing merry hell.

    Tobruk would have given him a deep water port about a thousand miles miles closer to the front.
  7. johnofmelb

    johnofmelb New Member

  8. JimmyMadness

    JimmyMadness New Member

    I think it was the invasion of Stalingrad. Eliminating most of the German army gave the allies the feeling that we could win. With high morale I think the allies were able to win. Another one is not taking the oil fields!
  9. Agrippa

    Agrippa New Member

    For Germany - Hitler's order 'to fight to the death' in Stalingrad. Almost half a million soldiers could have been redeployed either to the western front or the Italian front if he allowed a retreat. Then, finally, the failure of intelligence regarding D-Day - information they had on location, date, time, trajectory of attack were all wrong.
    For Japan - attacking the USA too soon. Recall that the USA joined the war only AFTER Pearl Harbor. Having aligned with the Axis, Japan could have seized Malaya and Borneo from Britain for its rubber and oil, Dutch Batavia (Indonesia) from Holland for its oil, Indochina (Vietnam and Cambodia) from the French for its wood and metals with nary a peep from the international community. Just bypass the Philippine Islands until it was ready to take on the USA.

    Well, thank God they made these and many more mistakes. Can't imagine the world we would be living in if they didn't.
  10. Protager

    Protager New Member

    No doubt it was a good thing that the Axis made critical strategic errors. This kind of discussion is one of the reasons I love history.

    Students of history need to constantly reevaluate and reassess history and apply the ideas generated to current events. This would be particularly important for policy makers and military strategists. Is seems like common sense, but sometimes I wonder how much ideology and internal politics gets in the way of good decision making.
  11. Agrippa

    Agrippa New Member

    I'd say the leaders' personalities got in the way of military strategy. Case in point - Hitler. His total military experience was as an enlisted man in the Austrian Army. He never commanded troops and was never was schooled in military tactics. Yet, as the Supreme Leader of the 3rd Reich, we dictated military operation, to the chagrin of the professional soldiers under him. Of course admirals and field marshals had their own agenda (primarily to stay alive!) and just allowed Hitler to have his way.
  12. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Some of you all think Japan's mistake was to hit Pearl Harbor, but in fact they had no choice.

    The U.S. placed embargo on Japan. Japan was already short on supplies after years of war with China. They had only half a year of fuel left, and they didn't have enough steel.

    The embargo would have made Japan lost the war without the U.S. direct intervention. Japan then was forced to eye the resource rich Southeast Asia including Philippines, they needed these resources especially the oil badly. They know they can't get these resources without sneak attack the U.S. Pacific fleet first. That's how they were thinking, and they were right.

    Once they hit the U.S. pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. could not challenge Japan in west Pacific for more than a year. It enabled Japan to take over all the southeast Asia countries.

    However, I think Japan made terrible mistakes on they did not finish the U.S. Pacific fleet. With their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, they could even launch a landing at Hawaii and take it for themselves as naval base. It would be them who are on the offensive against the U.S. instead of them trying to build a defensive rings in west Pacific and it was just the matter of time before the U.S. recover. If they had taken over Hawaii right after hit Pearl Harbor, they could be in position to hit U.S. mainland, damaging factories, destroying cities, disrupt economy. Yes, they would have less fleet at their disposal in Asia, but UK was in no position to make any move there, and there was no Asian country having any naval force to challenge Japan.
  13. Protager

    Protager New Member

    As Americans we need to stop using the phrase "sneak attack" when refering to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. There are two reasons for this. First, American military strategists during the early years of WWII should have anticipated how the oil embargo on Japan would have caused them to react.

    Japan had two choices, one build up their defenses in South East Asia and throw everything they had at controlling Indonesia and the oil resources located there. Second, they could have and did attack the US fleet at Pearl to keep the Americans from interferring with choice one, as you have pointed out.

    American military strategists should have anticipated these choices and the extreme likelihood of choice two. Calling the attack at Pearl a "sneak attack" just makes us look unattentive at best and stupid at worst.

    The second reason to stop calling the attack on Pearl Harbor a sneak attack is because all military attacks are planned as "sneak" or "undetected" attacks. Only a fool would annouce or show their hand before a major military offensive. Once again, calling foul on this just makes us look like stupid fools who couldn't anticipate the implications of forcing Japan's hand with an oil embargo. Roosevelt and his advisors correctly anticipated that the embargo would cause the Japanese to attact Indonesia.

    By the way, Japan did have a lot of iron and coal from their acquistion of Manchuria. What Japan did not have a choice to do was attack Indonesia for the oil resources. If this would have caused the USA to attack them in the western Pacific, we only need to consider how difficult it was for the USA to defeat Japan in the ensuing battles of the Pacific war, and to speculate when, where and if the US would have actually attacked Japan in response.

    I still say it was a mistake to attack the USA at Pearl and galvinize the American nation against the Japanese people as evil, sneaky aggressors. Maybe it was strategically an inevitable choice, but in retrospect, it was a major mistake.
  14. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    I call it sneak attack because Japan always strike without declaring the war first. They always love this tactics. It is not like two nations are already fighting. Sure the United States had it coming when embargo was placed on Japan, but I am sure Pearl Harbor was not what the U.S. intended. The whole embargo was trying to keep Japanese aggression in check. With the embargo, the Japanese war machine could not last, and they could have chose stop the aggression, but of course that was a wishful thinking as far as you consider the Japan's plan to "take over the world". They decide to gamble it by grabbing what they need in order to continue the war, and they were also having the wishful thinking of the U.S. might just negotiate after the Pacific fleet is crippled. Neither wishful thinking had happened. So we have the U.S. directly involved in the war.

    Yes, Japan had lots of iron and coal in northern China what was called Manchuria, but those were just coal mines and iron ore mines. They did not have the production capacity to sustain the war they were having with China. Their steel production were only 4 million tons per year (today, China's steel production is 500 million tons per year...just for comparison to see how little Japan produced), and most of it were used to build their naval ships. They were buying lots of steel from the U.S. In fact they were even directly buying weapons from the U.S. for years during the early years of Sino-Japanese war.
  15. Agrippa

    Agrippa New Member

    In my post above, I said that Japan's strategic mistake was attacking the USA too early. They would have to attack American interests, eventually. But, had they attacked and captured Malaya and Dutch Indonesia in early 1941, when the US was still dilly-dallying about joining the war or not, they would have secured the oil and rubber they needed. They could have gone all the way to Australia and still not get a response from the US.

    However, once Malaya and Indonesia were attacked, the US would have realized the gravity of Japan's intentions and marshal and stage naval assets for deployment to the Far East. That's exactly what the battleships were doing in Hawaii. That was the time time to attack Pearl Harbor and the Philippine Island and Alaska.

    There was no point in capturing and holding Hawaii. It would have been another strategic mistake as it would have taken Japan's eyes from its intended prize - Asia. Hawaii held not resources. The captured Asian territories had the resources, the manufacturing facilities and the manpower.
  16. Protager

    Protager New Member

    I totally agree with the too early part, it might be equivalent to moving your queen out too early on the chess board and then getting her trapped and losing her. Bolstering the Japanese arsenal and defenses would have made more sense than a premature power thrust at Pearl.

    Also, the Coral Sea and Midway battles support the argument that the Japanese underestimated the military capabilities of the US. The United States proved that they were capable of meeting the Japanese mano e mano and following up with massive US industrial production eventually proved too much for Japan to stave off.
  17. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Sure, Hawaii had no resources, but its strategic importance is too great. Wonder why the U.S. even had the Pearl Harbor there in the first place? If Japan had captured it and use it as their own naval base, they could have used it to project power at all directions in Pacific...including to attack the U.S. mainland. Correct me if I am wrong. There is no more barrier between Hawaii and the U.S. west coast. Once Hawaii is gone, the U.S. cities would be exposed to Japanese bombing. It would have affected the U.S. industrial production.

    Remember, one of the greatest advantages the U.S. enjoyed throughout the WWII was that its homeland was never attacked beside a couple Japanese hot balloon bombs, which mostly flew off the course and only killed 2 people. This enabled the U.S. productivity proceed uninterrupted. On the other hand, Germans wouldn't have lost the war so easily if their industrial centers were not bombarded constantly. If Japan could have had Hawaii as a base of operation to attack the U.S. mainland, (keep in mind that it would have happened after the U.S. Pacific fleet is crippled), the U.S. would have had nothing to stop the Japanese from attacking its west coast cities. It could have not only affected the U.S. military production greatly, but it could also affect the U.S. ability to support UK, since its own homeland is under threat from the other side.

    Japan on the other hand, could still take the rest of southeast Asian countries easily at the same time. As the matter of fact, they did. They attacked Hong Kong, and the foreign controlled areas in Shanghai, as well as in multiple places in Southeast Asia at the exactly same time they hit Pearl Harbor. There was nobody there to challenge them besides a few UK ships. Hong Kong fell in just 18 days if I remember correctly. UK also didn't put up a fight in Singapore. There was nothing anyone could do to stop Japanese from taking over Southeast Asia even without their combined fleet that stroke Hawaii.

    Unless someone can come up with some facts that the Japanese Combined Fleet were unable to continue after the second wave of bombing at Pearl Harbor, or if they were desperately needed elsewhere immediately, I stand with my point that Japan should have continued the attack on Pearl Harbor, and proceed to take over entire Hawaii as their naval base and destroy entire U.S. pacific fleet or capture a few of what's left over.
  18. Protager

    Protager New Member

    I have certainly enjoyed this conversation, and like me, I assume those participating are doing their homework on this subject, so let me interject a few more facts.

    First, the US was in many ways between a rock and a hardplace. The Great Depression was continuing to plague the US economy and this was obviously a reason why the US continued to sell Japan oil, weapons and other critical war materials up to 1940 and the invasion of Indochina. Also, the US felt an embargo on those materials, especially oil (1941), would be seen by Japan as an aggressive act and might force a confrontation (which it did).

    Second, the US did not think that Japan would attack Pearl but instead the Phillipines, where the US had 40,000 troops. Also, the US felt Japan was incapable of mounting naval operations in two parts of the Pacific simultaneously. As a result, they weren't as "on guard" at Pearl as they should have been, but mainly because they underestimated Japanese naval capabilities. FDR moved the fleet to Pearl in early 1941 in an attempt to discourage Japanese aggression in the Far East, and without realizing it, set in motion the Japanese plan to attack the fleet there.

    Finally, Japan's plan to attack Pearl did not include invading and controlling Hawaii. The attack had three objectives: first, destroy or severely cripple the US fleet to buy time to control and defend the Far East Pacific region, especially Indonesia; second, to undermine US morale; and third, it was a strategic reaction to the Vinson-Walsh Act, also known as the Two-Ocean Navy Act, which mandated a 70% increase in the US Fleet.

    When all is said and done, the US and Japan were in a chess match that required reactions on both sides. The true causes of this match were created with the development of Japanese fascism and US capitalist expansionism. In short, both countries wanted to expand their influence and power on the world stage, but for different reasons.
  19. Jeff

    Jeff Member

    I think that the biggest mistake made in the European theatre of the war was Hitler spreading his troops so thin and not giving them the proper supplies they needed and instead sending much needed supplies to the deathcamps. Invading the Soviet Union also should have not been done.
  20. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Yes, every military strategist would have avoided fighting two fronts.
    However, Hitler had his point of view, it in fact made some sense.
    Here is why.
    1. The Russians troops had outdated equipments, but Starlin had realized that and was making rapid modernization. The longer Hitler wait, the harder it will be for Germans to take on the Russians due to Russian upgrades and modernization at rapid speed during that time.

    2. Because the Germans were still fighting UK on the west front, there was no more land fighting. Thus, Germany was not under any pressure on the west front. Still, everyone would not suspect Hitler would make any other dramatic move because after all Germany was already at war. So no one would have predicted the invasion of USSR by Hitler. The invasion would be a huge surprise to the entire world, and thus caught the Russians completely off-guard.

    Hitler was correct on these thinking. Germans indeed surprised the Russians and destroyed bulk of their troops in the very first a few weeks. They also wiped out the "World's largest air force" mostly while they were still on their airfields.

    The problem was even the Germans were able to deliver huge blow to USSR, they were not able to completely disable them. Which gave USSR time to recover and counter-attack with more troops than Germans could come up with. Japanese didn't make any move or bluffing along Manchuria border wasn't helping either. It enabled the Russians to transfer 40 highly trained divisions from Far East. They were directly used in Battle of Moscow for counter-attack.

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