I need a history lesson

Discussion in 'Old Threads' started by Thorlifter, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Ok, maybe it's just me, but every once in a while there a very simple question or an in depth question and I just can't remember the answer. So, I thought I'd post one and maybe others can follow.

    Why was Germany concerned with Africa? Was it to eliminate the British and guard the "back door"? Oil? Gold? Artifacts? Hitler liked sand?
     
  2. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Maybe he wanted to corner the world camel-train market?

    Haven't really read the why's and wherefores of most battles, more interested in the hardware, but I guess he didn't want to have to defend a southern flank aswell, better to defend a nice long west flank instead.
     
  3. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    North Africa was important because it was the only theatre where Germany could fight Britain on the land. It was also important to Germany (and Italy) because Alexandria was a vital port for British control of the Med, without Alexandria the Royal Navy could not hold on to the Med which would allow the Italian fleet to operate freely and even expand operations into the Atlantic or Indian Ocean. Cutting out North Africa from the British Empire would cut the Empire in two and also leave the Middle-East wide open to conquest. The Middle-East had/has many oil fields and is also an overland route to India; a possible meeting point for the axis forces.

    The German forces came to the aid of the Italians who were seeking an African empire. The aim of the German forces was to conquer Eygpt and cut off the Suez canal - greatly restricting British movements.
     
  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Plan D has most of it. The Germans didn't go to Africa of their own free choice but to bail out the Italians who were in backed up against the wall by a smaller but far more aggressive British force. The original Africa Corp consisted of only two divisions (plus usual support units). It was the British Army's bad luck that it happened to be commanded by an ambitious, out of the box thinker like Rommel.
     
  5. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    And to add to it a good portion of the Africa Corps were Italian troops with italian equipment.
     
  6. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Also North Africa provided a staging area for the invasion of Italy..


    The importance of the Suez canal cannot be understated. IMO, the Germans would have been better off if they captured and fortified Alexandria and the Suez Canal before they invaded Russia.

    Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq could have been major battlefields.



    Assuming Stalin didn't invade first!
     
  7. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Comis, if you had been managing things for Hitler the war would have turned out completely differently. Barborossa was an immense mistake and concentrating on N. Africa and taking the Suez Canal would have been a good move and probably successful if the Soviet Union were not in the picture. The only question was would the USSR have held in place.
     
  8. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

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    IIRC, the long-range plan/thinking on the German side was to, eventually, go after Russia with a two-pronged attack, one from the west (Barbarossa), and one from the south (Afrika Korps); the Italians needing help because of their botched invasion of Egypt was an excuse for Germany to get involved in the North Afrikan Campaign. Germany was also interested (originally) in capturing the oil-rich lands of the Middle East and the Caucasus/Ukraine region, and they thought they could do this by using a "pincer movement" on a vast scale: the Afrika Korps from the south, and Army Group South from the west. Unfortunately for the Germans, Hitler changed his priorities halfway through the invasion, and decided instead to try and acheive a psychological victory by capturing Moscow in the north; many post-War analysts feel he would have been better off by concentrating his forces in the south, and capturing Stalingrad and the strategically important oilfields in the Ukraine and the Caucasus, instead.
     
  9. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    It seems to me that the Germans were relying on the Italian Navy to provide security for the German supply lines. Even if the Germans focused heavily on North Africa instead of Barbarossa, did they have the Naval power to secure the supply lines?

    If they succeeded in capturing and holding the Suez, would the RN eventually isolate and starve them anyway? Or would they just plunder local economies indefinitely and build ME-109 factories in Egypt? :)
     
  10. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    and Rommel wasn't even head honcho in NA, he had to answer to Italian Generals first.

    I think Hitler actually envisioned a pincer move onto the oil fields in the ME and Crimea - if Stalingrad could be pushed aside.

    Hitler had to bail out Mussolini after he got his arse kicked almost across the whole width of NA by the UK in 1940.

    It was quicksand for the Wehrmacht (Afrika Korps).
     
  11. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Good question Comiso. The attack on "Taranto" in late 1940 changed the whole dynamice of the Naval war. Also the Axis didn't have adequate ASW capabilities to deal with the British subs
     
  12. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    If the Germans had concentrated on N. Africa and weren't engaged in the USSR, they probably could have taken Malta and having that as an air base severely hampered the RN. I have a book, quite ancient, called "The Decisive Battles of the Western World" written by JFC Fuller, one of these Brits with all those initials after his name and he makes a startling assertion. He says that Churchill and Roosevelt were both myopic about Stalin and the Soviet threat and that the US should have never entered the war and Britain should have rested easy and let Hitler dispose of the USSR. He further states that Hitler cared little about conquering Britain and that the continent dominated by Germany with Britain still in possession of her Empire would have been a much safer place. Food for thought even today!
     
  13. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Malta certainly could have been an unsinkable aircraft carrier but Sicily is only 60 miles away anyway. I think the value of malta for the Germans would not so much be and additional airbase but denying it from the brits... Gibraltar is a long way away!.. awesome port too!

    Perhaps if the Germans didnt dedicate so many resources to Norway, the med could have been secured.

    Imagine the tirpitz and bismark stationed at Malta.
     
  14. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

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    Yes, the Germans probably would've "owned" the Med; between their capital ships and das untersee-boots, they would've had the Med locked-down.
     
  15. telsono

    telsono New Member

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    Hitler was pulling Mussolini's chestnuts out of the fire. If Mussolini would have concentrated his forces better and also equipped them better then the need to send German troops to North Africa would not have been evident. Because of the bungled Greek Campaign, Barbarossa was delayed until the Balkans were settled. Envision attacking Moscow a month or two earlier not in the snows. Mussolini actually sent more troops to Russia than were in North Africa.
    Ironically, if the Italian geologists had done more exploration in Libya they would have found the oil fields discovered there after the war. That would have been a startegic war material that could have helped barter with the Germans for better equipment and therefore put more pressure on the British assets in the Middle East.

    Mike T.
     
  16. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    200,000 Italians were in Libya with the invasion of Eygpt (Sidi Barrani being the initial goal ) the threat to the suez canal and the major port of Alexandria was great. Defended by General Wavell's 36,000 troops some urgent action on Wavell's part was needed, The Italians where pushed out of Eygpt and by the beginning of February had not only lost around 9 divisions including 400 tanks and over 100,000 prisoners taken , the ports of Bardia and Tobruk had also been captured. By the 12th Rommel was on the scene to stop the rot, and from then on the too and fro campaign that epitomised the desert really began. So IMO it was Adolf assisting his Italian partners and protecting his southern front that was the major reason for the middle east conflict. However had the suez canal been available to the allies and not made unusable it would have made supplying the far east campaign vastly more easy than the trip around the cape. and lets not totally discount the oil fields as a very useful resource.
     
  17. Karl Sitts

    Karl Sitts Member

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    Thorlifter,Don't take this answer to the bank.... I believe Germany had colonies in Africa before WW I which were taken away to help pay the cost of the war to France and England.To Hitler, I believe it was injured pride. -Karl
     
  18. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    The main reason was to bail Italy out as well as to try and control the Meditarranian region. You get Egypt you get the Suez Canal.
     
  19. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Very interesting topic and like its been said. The main reason why the Germans got involved with North Africa was to bail out the Italians. Hitler was more concerned about taking Russia. On a side note if they would have concentrated more effort in the Med it would have saved them a lot of time and materials with Malta.

    If the Germans took control of the Straits of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal they would have simple cut off all aid to Malta and would control the Mediteranian area.

    I just got a book on After the Battle "Gibraltar" and take a look a this picture. One of many in the book. Note all the C-47's, a B-17 and B-24. Upper right hand corner all the spitfire's. Gibraltar had its own airfield and coastal defense systems. Basically another Island fortress.
     

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  20. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Let's not forget the link up with the Eastern front forces for the oil. I believe that only became apparent after Rommel disobeyed orders when he arrived and started pushing the British back.
     
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