Enigma....

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Lucky13, Jul 4, 2009.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Any ideas for how much longer the war would have continued, if they hadn't cracked the Enigma? Would it gone on for another 6 months, 12, 18 months or even longer? Or wouldn't it have made any difference at all?
     
  2. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Really good question and I've often wondered how the war effort would have been had they not cracked the Enigma code. Like the Normandy landings, or other major offenses for example.

    Same goes for the U.S. breaking the Japanese code, which was an invaluable tool in the war in the Pacific.
     
  3. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    I believe the outcome was inevitable, given Hitler's penchant for micromanagement and slippery grasp of reality. However, if we were not reading Axis mail, I believe the war would have dragged on a bit longer. A year or two, possibly. Sheer attrition would have counted heavily in our favor, as due to the US's industrial contributions and isolation, we could quickly replace manpower and equipment that Germany could not. But it would have been a VERY costly victory for all involved.
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The breaking of Enigma was critical in enabling the British victory in the battle of the Atlantic. Had the U boats prevailed Britain might have been starved into submission and the war in Europe lost before any meaningful involvement of the United States. A year after the attack on Pearl Harbour the outcome of the battle of the Atlantic was more or less decided, although this was not known at the time and German efforts continued well into 1943. Had the British been forced into some deal with Nazi Germany the eventual outcome of the war in Europe may well have been an Iron Curtain far further west,assuming an eventual Soviet victory. Of course had Germany prevailed in the East......
    At the time Americans were told that Nazi Germany was a real threat to them (as well as the Japanese Empire) but would they have maintained that position with Britain out of the conflict. How much support would they have given to the Soviet Union?
    What ifs are good fun,and noone really knows.
    Steve
     
  5. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    As Churchill said of all the campaigns the battle of the Atlantic worried him the most, enigma busting helped massively in keeping the UK supply line going, and the Britsh Isles not being overrun made the events that happened in western europe possible.
    No base close to europe = no invasion for years, and who knows what effect that would have had on the eastern front
     
  6. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The loss of the British Isles would have been a huge setback, for sure.

    The only way in, would have been through the Med or Russia. Even trying to fly missions in by way of the Greenland/Iceland route would have been difficult.
     
  7. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Churchill and Roosevelt had offices already set up and ready to go for a British government-in-exile in New York. They were preparing for the eventuality of having to liberate England before crossing the Channel, and even had booklets and training centers planned out to train civilians in guerilla tactics. My personal opinion, though, is that if the US had kept sending the convoys over, with escorts and submarines, that the Battle for the Atlantic would have continued for a year or so longer...Britain would have had to tighten its belts a bit more....but the supplies would have continued coming in.

    Now...had England lost the Battle of Britain, and/or the Battle of the Atlantic, then the modern map of Europe would look vastly different than it does today. But that's another thread.
     
  8. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Breaking the Enigma code was crucial to the Allied success, without it the war would've dragged on for much longer, and it could've possibly ended with the Soviet Union getting defeated and the supply lines to Britain being cut completely in the Atlantic.

    Had the Soviets for example not known about Operation Citade in 1943, then they could've been forced on a long retreat back towards Moscow. The Normandy landings would've also been doomed without the breaking of the Enigma code.
     
  9. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #9 Juha, Jul 5, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009
    IIRC Hinsley in his History of British Intelligence noted that Enigma didn't help in Kursk case. Much of the info to east went by land cables and the highest level Heer system wasn't broken at that time by British.

    Also the German attack plan wasn't one that maximized surprise and with large partisan forces surveying German trail traffic and unit movements it was not too difficult for Soviet high command to guess where Germans planned to attack, it’s timing was more difficult to guess, IIRC in that Enigma had some role, if only because a German deception plan was to give an impression that their next major attack would began in July. Problem was that because of constant delays the real attack day in the end also moved to early July.

    Enigma had most influence in Battle of Atlantic and in the battle on Rommel’s supply convoys. Sometimes it was even dangerous, Enigma gave some hints of OKW’s desire to limit DAK only to back up Italians defence in Africa and OKW’s instructions to Rommel wait until most of his forces were arrived before any offensive moves. When Rommel attacked earlier than OKW hoped he surprised British “pants down”. Later when Rommel constantly asked where his supply ships were he unwillingly helped Allies effort to sink just those ships.

    But Enigma wasn't the only way to track the U-boats. Germans didn't realise that British had succeeded to make their HF direction finders so small than they could put them on escort vessels. That and Dönitz insistance of frequent radio reports enabled british to pinpoint many subs even if U-boats used burst type transmissions. And also HufffDuff allowed British to pinpoint shadowing U-boats and at least force them to dive and so often loose the contact to convoys.

    Juha
     
  10. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    The cracking of enigma was important. I don't think it shortened the war by a significant amount of time. The British learned how to defend the convoys effectively with better convoy grouping, larger convoys and the addition of corvettes and frigates to the convoys for cheap but effective protection. The USN began to actively hunt u-boats with the CVE's and Hunter-Killer groups. The RN and USN approach complemented each other very well ensuring that the Atlantic would eventually be made safe for allied shipping.
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Can't disagree with much above but the battle of the Atlantic was a close run thing and the breaking of enigma may well have tipped the balance. Despite plans for a government in exile, the Royal Navy heading for Canada,and so on I wonder if the political will would have existed in the United States to carry on the war in europe with Britain out of the fight.Most americans had been distinctly unwilling to become embroiled in another european war anyway. There is no point in being dewy eyed about special relationships and common languages when surely the war in the Pacific would have seemed far more important. The United States may well have found it expedient to come to some arrangement with Germany in order to disengage from the european conflict altogether.
    Am I the only one here who seriously doubts the German ability to invade Britain,in 1940, with some converted Rhine barges and rowing boats?
    A change of government and surrender,maybe but an invasion?
    Aaah,what if...
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  12. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Heh. Yeah, the joys of the good ole "what-if" scenarios. Its easy to see the validity of multiple options, and I don't think there's any one right or wrong answer. I love reading what others think might have been!
     
  13. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    That subject has been discussed a few times on this site Stona as you say it wasnt going to happen but starving the country out was a real possibility enigma was vital although it took lots of pieces to fill the puzzle
    The threat of starvation and loss of vital logistics did not abate really until april 1943 when the losses of U Boats became unsurstainable for the Kriegsmarine and the mid atlantic hole had been sealed perminantly.

    In the end Britain became one huge staging post and aircraft carrier for the invasion and persuance of the logistic and military assault on Germany from the western. Without that I would add at least 4, maybe many more years before the defeat of Germany. The Russians even if they could hold the front in the East did minimal damage to the German industrial centers and without the bombing campaign and not much happening in the west the German war machine would have not been forced onto the back foot as it ended up lacking raw materials and industrial output.
     
  14. Soren

    Soren Banned

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  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Going off on a slight tangent,it must be likely that the Soviets would finally have prevailed in the East.Despite allied bombing German war production actually increased under Speer well into 1944 (sorry to be vague but I'm not at home!). The Soviets,having used their ability to trade space for time ,were already on the front foot by then.I am not trying to diminish the heroic and costly effort made by the allied bombing forces,but its effects were somewhat mitigated by Speer's belated efforts to really move the German economy onto a longtime war footing.The relatively easy nazi victories of the early war and the nature of the regime had prevented this happening earlier.
    It is interesting that through the war years domestic service as a carreer,particularly for women,virtually disappeared in Britain as women were moved into employment related to war production. In Germany it actually increased with the "importation" of women from conquered territories!
    I read in one of Speer's biographies that some Gauleiters were appalled when he demanded raw materials destined for the cosmetics industry be diverted to war production.
    I once visited the army museum in Leningrad (when it was still Leningrad). There was a large map showing the fronts in late 1944. In the top left corner was a blue line representing the front held by the Western allies - about 300 miles long. Running accross the middle of the map was a red line representing the Eastern front(s) - ten times as long. Some Soviet naval cadets were very keen to point this out to me (as well as a model of a somewhat unfortunate dog wearing an explosive jacket,trained to dive under and destroy German tanks!)
    Of course as someone, else has said, these are all what ifs and we'll never really know.
    All the best
    Steve
     
  16. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    good point steve I dont think there was fighting along the whole front anywhere at the same time even in the ww1 it was much more localised battles that pushed the fronts in eithers direction.
     
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