What if Germany used chemical weapons?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Civettone, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Messages:
    1,821
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Student
    Location:
    London, UK
    Home Page:
    When things were going against the Germans, what would have happened if they had started using chemical weapons?

    The scenario I have in mind is using them in Kursk or on the beaches of Normandy or Anzio. I believe it would result in a temporary tactical success as the Allies would not be fully prepared for these defences, especially the Soviets, and be taken by surprise. Possibly the Germans could have used their new nerve agents, but maybe initially conventional gases would suffice.

    Of course the Allies had more chemical weapons, could produce more and had the ability to saturate German cities with these bombs. Germany had superior chemical weapons, but believed the Allies had them as well. But let us assume that they find out that the Allies don't have them and also set aside Hitler's (alleged) reluctance to use chems.

    My hypothesis is twofold:
    -1- on the battlefield - after initial German success - not much would change. Both sides would gas each other but both sides would have been able to withstand these attacks. In fact, it would give Germany a relative advantage, as more chemical weapons also meant less explosive ordnance. They would be hit less hard than with conventional weapons. Chemical weapons are also excellent to stall an enemy attack as they would need to pause and put on gas masks.
    -2- on German cities and industries. Similar story. I believe the Allies would have been able to bomb German cities and factories and infrastructure with these chemical weapons, but it would also mean less conventional bombs. Chemical weapons are effective in the sense that they neutralize areas. They can contaminate factories or the access roads towards it in such a way that they cannot be used for days, although somewhat mitigated by German sanitation facilities. Also the German population would have to hide in bunkers much longer. Although again, they did have good ventilation and could have been equipped with gas filters, if they weren't already. But again, similar story: more chemical weapons means less conventional weapons, which means that German factories, cities and industry would suffer less permanent damage. A combination of weapons would be good, but would make it easier for German sanitation services to clean up the chemicals.

    Your thoughts on this??

    Kris
     
  2. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,482
    Likes Received:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    With just a little training you can put that gas mask on in 10 seconds, or less. Thats not going to stall a attack.
    But running, walking, any physical activity becomes more difficult because the filters usually restricts your breathing ability.
    Plus your vision is restricted, ability to use the rifle sights, etc. Then there's always somebody who can't get his mask on quick enough, or whose mask isn't airtight.
    Gas restricts your fighting ability, slows you down.
     
  3. pattle

    pattle Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    You could just as easily ask would Britain have used chemical weapons in 1940 if the Germans had invaded. I don't know whether the British would of used them in 1940 because it was never put to the test of course, but I have heard a lot of talk about it. I think the answer to both these questions are the same in as much as nobody used them because the other side would have used them.
    The Germans couldn't really have used chemical weapons on D Day because they never had the weapons to hand or a means of delivering them.
    I think if the Germans had used chemical weapons against Russian troops alone then the western Allies would not have retaliated by using chemical weapons against the Germans, but I feel the Russians would have responded in kind by using whatever nasty stuff that they had without regard to any possible consequences. As much as I dislike Hitler for all that he did I don't honestly believe Stalin was much better and perhaps if both sides had done a better job of destroying one another on the eastern front then maybe this would have saved the innocent Polish a lot of pain post war, but then of course it would have been people like the poor Polish who would of had the worse experience of chemical weapons if used.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I would not expect that to happen.

    What could have happened.
    10 May 1940. Churchill become PM of Great Britain.
    On the same day he signed an order authorizing RAF Bomber Command to intentionally attack civilians. This order is in clear violation of Hague Convention.

    A day or two later Germany could reply (via Sweden) that if RAF Bomber Command targets German civilians the Luftwaffe will reply in kind. If forced to resort to such barbarous methods of warfare Germany won't pull any punches.

    Germany responds to the next RAF fire bomb attack on civilians by dropping GA nerve agent on London.

    Just when you thought WWII couldn't get any worse....:cry:
     
  5. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Messages:
    1,090
    Likes Received:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Japan
    #5 Jabberwocky, Jun 10, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013
    Nevermind
     
  6. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    12,162
    Likes Received:
    123
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    The back of beyond
    If something I read once is correct, then Hitler would never have considered using chemical weapons, his experience of being gased in WW I apparently putting him dead against such weapons (- with the notable exception of the nuclear bomb, which was to be developed as a V-weapon in event of invasion.... we owe ALOT to the Norwegian resistance for destroying the heavy water!!! )
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    If Hitler was willing to spend massive amounts of money on V2 rockets for use against British civilians then he was perfectly capable of using aircraft delivered Tabun as a vengeance weapon. And it could have happened during July 1940 when Germany had hundreds of bombers in France for the purpose of attacking Britain.

    IMO PM Churchill took a huge gamble with British lives by attacking German civilians starting during May 1940.
     
  8. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,482
    Likes Received:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    What are you talking about Dave ??

    Hitler DID spend a huge amount of money on the V2 program, and inaccurate as they were, it would have been a excellant way for them to reduce their stock of Tabun gassing empty British contryside.
     
  9. pattle

    pattle Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Well for whatever reason Hitler decided not to release a gas attack on the UK, maybe Hitler did disapprove of using gas because of his World War One experiences we will never really know but he did of course gas millions in concentration camps and he wasn't known for having a strict moral code that's for sure. I wonder if the Americans would have nuked Japan if the Japanese were able to nuke them back, I don't think they would have done and that's why gas wasn't used in Europe by any side. I still wonder if Churchill would have used gas to stop a German invasion as a last resort, there has been talk of this and the thing that makes me think he may well have done was that he understood that if the UK was occupied we would all have been butchered anyway, so nothing to lose.
     
  10. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Messages:
    1,821
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Student
    Location:
    London, UK
    Home Page:
    I think that is what Dave was saying.

    I think there is some truth in Hitler's personal aversion against gas warfare. However, I do not believe this was a decisive reason not to use it. He had a meeting about chemical weapons, during which a chemical expert told him that the Allies probably had the same nerve gases as they did. As such, Hitler did not see any point in using gas or any other weapon if it did not give him the technological edge over his adversaries.

    Hitler strongly believed in 'wonder weapons', but this is an often misunderstood term. What he meant, is a weapon which is technologically FAR superior to the enemy. So instead of building tanks, guns or aircraft which are superior to those of the enemy, he wanted weapons which would have a decisive edge over the enemy, e.g. indestructable tanks, unsinkable battleships and un-interceptable jet bombers.

    But we are drifting away from the original question. What would have happened if the Germans had started to use chemical weapons?
    Kris
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,524
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    And you didn't get a bite.......not even a nibble lol.

    Steve
     
  12. dutchman

    dutchman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2013
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    I guess this could raise the question why didn't the Japanese use chemical weapons in the pacific more!! I've heard they used them against the Chinese in Manchuria, but I don't think they were used against us in the island hoping campaign. If they didn't have them I'm sure the Germans would consider sending them samples and formulas??
     
  13. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,676
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
     
  14. Hop

    Hop Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Messages:
    624
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    18
    The Germans relied on horse drawn transport much more than the allies did. You can get gas masks for horses but they don't work very well and horses don't respond well to them. Motor vehicles aren't affected by gas.

    The result of large scale use of chemical weapons would be similar for front line forces but would harm German logistics much worse than the allies.

    It's worth remembering the Germans did use poison gas to kill several million civilians during ww2, so Hitler's reluctance to use it in a military context can't have had anything to do with personal dislike of the effects.
     
  15. Hop

    Hop Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Messages:
    624
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    18
    #15 Hop, Aug 13, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
    Just to be clear, the first attack the RAF were authorised to make on a German city, rather than on a defined military target, was the 15 December 1940 attack on Mannheim. It was planned as a response to the bombing of Coventry and the blitz on other British cities, which had already killed 20,000 British civilians.

    Sadly all too many people believe this. German historians in particular have sough to portray the Luftwaffe as being engaged in a clean war, dragged in to bombing cities only by British provocation. The truth is different, of course, but just go and read wikipedia for an idea of how widespread that belief is.
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,524
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Oh no you've gone and bitten!
    I'm with you on this one and am well aware of the timelines, but some make what I can only politely call a different interpretation of the same facts.

    The only data from which we can extrapolate the potential effects of the use of chemical weapons in WW2 comes from WWI. The effects were rather less than most would expect.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  17. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Messages:
    1,821
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Student
    Location:
    London, UK
    Home Page:
    I think that is an excellent point. But, I do think that gas shells would be primarily dropped on the frontline, while the logistics are a bit more to the back.
    Also, all WW1 armies relied on horses, yet, I have never read that it affected their logistics.

    Of course, we could assume that the Allies in WW2 would drop more shells and also air-dropped bombs to the rear areas.


    Of course, I never held much belief in that claim. Hitler would have used it if he believed he had an advantage. His chemical expert told him the Allies must have had nerve gases as well.

    On the other hand, he could have used it as a last-resort in 1945. A bit of Gotterdammerung. But he did not. And my guess is that, on top os his belief of Allied retalation, he was also not convinced of their military value, as they proved undecisive in WW1.
    Kris
     
  18. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,676
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    Issues like bombing, use of NBC weapons ought not be the subject of moral judgements. Legal judgements, bad enough, but at least provable one or the other. Moral judgements, one side or the other are simply a matter of perspective. Which is why the pro-german apologists use it asll the time. no win means a win for them. Since the overwhelming majority of the world see the Germans as the "guilty party" in starting the war, and responsible for its rapid descent into barbarism, a stalemate in any "moral debate is a win for them.

    Personally i dont buy any of it. The rightness of any war should not be decided by its moral position. war should be terrible, so that we dont mess with it so lightly in the future. As far as culpability is concerned, I wont go to the moral judgement issue any more, or any further, just to the lawful and legal judgement. and that places germany firmly in the cross hairs of guilt with no p[ossibility of counterargument able to be mounted by that country's sympathisers.
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,524
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I think the reluctance of all sides to use such weapons during WW2 stems from the experiences that the men making the decisions in WW2 had undergone during WW1. Hitler himself was exposed to mustard gas during the first war.The reaction to chemical attack is very often out of proportion to the actual damage done, rather like a family abandoning a picnic because one wasp has arrived amongst the jam sandwiches

    Whether you are gassed, burnt, blown to bits or shot you still end up dead. I don't see any validity in a moral argument about how we go about killing each other. The modern argument against chemical weapons (and others like mines) is not that they cause death and injury to soldiers but that by their indiscriminate nature they do the same to so called non combatants. That is a fine moral line in the context of many modern conflicts.
    All weapons can be indiscriminate, if not by nature. Our smart, expensive missiles and bombs cause plenty of what we euphemistically call collateral damage.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  20. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Messages:
    14,631
    Likes Received:
    421
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Head chef
    Location:
    billingham nr middlesbrough uk
    thought about it but didnt bother, not worth the effort !
     
Loading...

Share This Page