How did Germany, being a tiny nation in comparison with its enemies, became a big threat in the World War?

Mudassir Ali
Jan 21, 2020 03:58 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Jan 21, 2020 03:58 PM

The German population at the time was around 87 million, with the French (114 million), the British empire (550 million including colonies), Soviet Union (170 million) and the USA (147 million) far exceeding that by a large margin.

What made Germany such an effective fighting force for the initial years of the conflict were:

Military tradition that extended back to the Prussian’s in the early to late 19th century.

Introduction of armoured/ mechanised warfare and effective tactics to use them.

Complete modern rearmament and training

Remodelling of command structure to suit the modern way of thinking about war

Most importantly, a desire to initiate conflict were others were still reeling from the nightmares of WW1.

That last comment cannot be understated. The actions Germany took up until and including the beginning of World War 2 were all huge gambles that greatly benefitted Germany whilst weakening the Allies. Taking the Rhineland without opposition, the Anschluss of Austria, the occupation of the Sudetenland and consequent invasion of Checkoslavakia were all met with only political condemnation and no real military reaction. Even when German forces poured into Poland and the British and French declared war there was no real reaction to speak off. An expedtionary force of 200,00 French soldiers attempted a half hearted sally into German territory but were repulsed easily by a force a fraction of their size. The ‘Phoney War’ as it was called were the allies biggest mistake in the opening stages of the war as it set the tone for the Germans to try their new war machine against (a historically under appreciated) Poland. This inaction also showed Stalin who was calling the shots leading to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

After taking Poland (and then Denmark) the German’s were able to reorganise and attack France without having to hurry (to much). The Manstein Plan through the Ardenes was bold and effective, completely cutting off the cream of the French and British forces in Belgium and taking out German’s biggest threat in a matter of weeks with only 25,000 casualties (Hitler had planned for over a million).

Again in Russia, Germany’s battle hardened troops stormed through the unorganised Russian lines deep into the Ukraine. It’s here however a lot of myths about the ineffectiveness of Soviet Troops can be found. The Soviets had planned for a completely different attack focus from Germany and had their forces focused in the wrong direction (the South) where German focus was directed toward Moscow in the middle. It was after the Winter of 1941 that Russian T-34s and IL 2-Stucknovs (both outclassing Germany tanks, until the Panther, and planes) were rolled onto the battlefield and Germany was finally matched and never really had major success again.

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