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cdubs
July 3rd, 2009, 06:13 PM
It's been more then a week since I made a history thread, so I figured I was overdue to make another.

I would like to propose another question relating to WWII, this time on the war in Europe.

I would like to discuss the possibility of a direct German attack on the French Maginot Line, but I must first establish an argument that will form my foundation.

Blitzkrieg- Blitzkrieg, usually associated with tanks alone, was really an all-arms assault that placed a massive premium on maintaining the strategic and local initiative. The idea was unprecedented numbers of tanks, with an unprecedented amount of close air support ( primarily the stuka), focused on a small sector of the enemy line/area. After achieving a breakthrough, it became imperative that they maintain the integrity of the advance, and continue "blitzing" into the enemy's rear echelons, where they could wreak havoc on the enemy's command and control capabilities, and their logistics structure. To maintain the speedy advance, the Panzers would bypass enemy hardpoints, or areas where the fighting might bog them down. The slower infantry and artillery would mop up anything the Panzers had ignored, which would have been made easier by the fact that these pockets of resistance would have been cut off from supply and updates from their commanders.

Now, I will explain why I believe it was within the realm of plausibility that Hitler might have directly attacked the French line, and would have been defeated, ending his 1000 Year Reich after just 7 years.

The Wehrmacht never had to contend with the Maginot Line ( with the exception of one fort which was neutralized by German Spec.Ops.)(1), because they flanked it to the north through the Ardennes. Had they tried a frontal assault their tactics of Blitzkrieg would not have worked, because:
1. Air Superiority- The Germans would not have been able to make use of their excellently coordinated close ground support becase the Maginot Line would have a very high concentration of AA guns, and because the pillboxes and tunnels that comprised the line were built to withstand WWI type mass artillery attacks.
2. Sheer depth- The Maginot Line would have withstood the initial fury of the blitz with sheer depth, as it was 20 to 25 kilos in depth. (2)
3. Mobilization of France- One of the primary reasons why the line was built was so that France would not be caught off guard as it was early in WWI. The French army would have been able to be fully mobilized in about 2 or 3 weeks (3), and with the French field army in addition to the garrison of the Line, a German advance would have been even more difficult.
4. The Germans could not have bypassed hardpoints because the entire thing was one massive hardpoint.

Yes, I understand that Hitler had the sense not to do this, but what if his arrogance and blind belief in German racial superiority had led him to challenge a line that was thought to be impregnable?

Would the war have ended within months? Would the French and British have mounted a devastating war-ending counter attack? Would the Germans have retreated into the Siegfried and waited for the Allied counterattack? Is it possible that German arms and design would have prevailed?






1.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Eben-Emael


2. Although the name "Maginot Line" suggests a rather thin linear fortification, the Line was quite deep, varying in depth from between 20 to 25 kilometers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maginot_line

3. http://maginot-line.com/ " Purposes of the Line"

Comtesse
July 3rd, 2009, 08:26 PM
Ehh...so let me get this straight. What would have happened if Germany had attacked the Maginot Line?

Well, firstly:

1. Hitler didn't need to face the line, He just flanked it. French mistake. Pretty simple.
2. No, the war would not have ended because he was not stupid.
3. However, the Germans did indeed attack the line at the strongest point after some time. The French/Belguim were defeated in 2 days at Fort Eban - Emanuel. Therefore, the line was not impregnable and he succeded to break through it.
4. Also, he would not have used Blitzkrieg at the time due to the fact he was low on oil reserves.

Squatch347
July 3rd, 2009, 09:45 PM
I hate to throw a monkey wrench into the debate, but the Germans actually did attack the line itself as part of their offensive. Briefly described here; http://www.history.com/content/militaryblunders/maginot-line it is much better described in Von Mellenthin's book, Panzer Battles. The Germans sent several light infantry regiments into the line as a feint, but the German infantry found that the heavy guns were not good at picking up the new infantry tactics in use, further the dead zones that had developed and a lack of proper coordination allowed the german regiments to take significant portions of the line within a week.

It is somewhat unclear how the battle would have turned out as a large scale conflict, but elite german units could have taken critical parts early on and allowed a mechanized breakthrough relatively quickly.

cdubs
July 4th, 2009, 04:08 AM
1. Hitler didn't need to face the line, He just flanked it. French mistake. Pretty simple.
Covered in the OP. And are you really going to call my thread out on being historically improbable? I hope not, especially not after the Operation Sea Lion thread debacle.http://www.onlinedebate.net/forums/showthread.php?t=18274

2. No, the war would not have ended because he was not stupid.
We are talking about the man who sent his armies into one of the coldest countries on Earth without winter gear, not out of stupidity, but out of sheer arrogance.

3. However, the Germans did indeed attack the line at the strongest point after some time. The French/Belguim were defeated in 2 days at Fort Eban - Emanuel. Therefore, the line was not impregnable and he succeded to break through it.
Covered in the OP. The fort was taken by German Special forces, and had it been directly attacked by regular forces it would have provided a much tougher test.

4. Also, he would not have used Blitzkrieg at the time due to the fact he was low on oil reserves.
Reminder: My hypothetical thread takes place at the same time as the real attack on France would have taken place. And in real life he had enough fuel to blitz across France in weeks, so I'm afraid I don't know where you got that notion.

Comtesse
July 4th, 2009, 07:46 AM
Why? Because of the Poland operation. In case you don't remember and call me an incompetent twit, the Invasion of Poland was 1939 as well. The Maginot Line was finished in 1939.

And it is improbable. Why would Hitler attack it straight on when he found a way around? Common sense.

And I have no idea why you're relating to my past thread, which made more sense than this one. As you put it, what are we debating? I don't see much to discuss here.

cdubs
July 6th, 2009, 01:23 PM
I'd very much like to have a poll and ask which "makes more sense"

Hitler attacking the Maginot Line
or
Hitler attacking the United States


Why? Because of the Poland operation. In case you don't remember and call me an incompetent twit, the Invasion of Poland was 1939 as well. The Maginot Line was finished in 1939.
I didn't change any dates, I am saying instead of his attack via the Low Lands what if he had attacked directly. Yes, as you pointed out that would be folly, but Adolf Hitler wasn't renowned for his practicality.

Examples of Hitler doing stupid things because of his pride
1. Not properly equipping the Wehrmacht for winter fighting in Russia because he was convinced they would have Moscow captured before winter.
2. Investing insane amounts of resources into the Battle of Stalingrad, because he wanted to captured Stalin's namesake. (1)
3. He didn't let the Wehrmacht destroy the British at Dunkirk, he wanted the Luftwaffe to do it, because the Luftwaffe was the creation of the Nazis, while the army was not. (2)



1. http://www.ask.com/bar?q=why+did+hitler+attack+stalingrad%3F&page=1&qsrc=2417&ab=0&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.2worldwar2.com%2Fstalingrad.htm "Once his forces entered the city named after Stalin, the Soviet dictator and Hitler's arch enemy, Hitler became obsessed with occupying Stalingrad, and remained obsessed with it despite everything, until the large German force in and near Stalingrad was destroyed to the last man. "
2. http://www.ask.com/bar?q=why+didn%27t+the+germans+end+the+war+at+dunk irk&page=1&qsrc=2417&ab=5&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailymail.co.uk%2Fhome%2Fbooks% 2Farticle-1024718%2FHow-Hitler-helped-win-war.html

Ecks
July 6th, 2009, 02:31 PM
It's been more then a week since I made a history thread, so I figured I was overdue to make another.

I would like to propose another question relating to WWII, this time on the war in Europe.

I would like to discuss the possibility of a direct German attack on the French Maginot Line, but I must first establish an argument that will form my foundation.


I have a slightly different question. Why did the French build the Maginot line there. I mean, I know hindsight is wonderful and all that, but the famous Von Schliffen plan (early 1900s cant be bothered to look) detailed how Germany could knock out France by invading Belgium, successfully put to the test in WWI. Why then did the French ignore the entire Belgian front when building the Maginot line, only for Hitler to employ the Von Schliffen plan a second time and completely bypass the French defence.

Comtesse
July 6th, 2009, 05:02 PM
Hitler's 'probable insanity' does not cause grounds for the calling of my insanity.

And it would have been less probable because he found a way around it.

Don't see how this is so hard to understand. He may have been prideful but not stupid. There's a fine line, you see.

cdubs
July 6th, 2009, 05:27 PM
Hitler's 'probable insanity' does not cause grounds for the calling of my insanity.

And it would have been less probable because he found a way around it.

Don't see how this is so hard to understand. He may have been prideful but not stupid. There's a fine line, you see.

hahaha when did this become about you being insane?
Your initial response to my thread was a jab at its historical probability, to which I responded that you made a thread that was considerably less probable. By that I meant you shouldn't throw stones, not that you are insane.

Did you not see my list of things Hitler did out of his arrogance? Had he been convinced not to do any one of those three things, WWII would have played out much differently, and it is by no means out of the question that Hitler might have won the war.

mog
July 17th, 2009, 11:12 PM
I reckon the Germans could have taken the Maginot line head-on. After all, there were many successful frontal assaults on dug-in positions during the war that must have had a higher concentration of defenders. Once an initial breach had been made the rest of the line could be isolated and rendered useless, just like the Germans actually did by going around it.

cdubs
July 18th, 2009, 06:34 AM
I reckon the Germans could have taken the Maginot line head-on. After all, there were many successful frontal assaults on dug-in positions during the war that must have had a higher concentration of defenders. Once an initial breach had been made the rest of the line could be isolated and rendered useless, just like the Germans actually did by going around it.
Dug in positions as in dug in over a period of weeks and made usually out of just earth? The Maginot Line was built over several years and the French government spared no expense in its construction, and it was infinetely more complex and better protected then your average breastwork thrown together by army engineers within a week's or less notice. Examples of fortifications in WWII include Iwo Jima and Okinawa, where the crack US Marines suffered a combined 61000+ casualties.

Squatch347
July 20th, 2009, 09:57 AM
Dug in positions as in dug in over a period of weeks and made usually out of just earth? The Maginot Line was built over several years and the French government spared no expense in its construction, and it was infinetely more complex and better protected then your average breastwork thrown together by army engineers within a week's or less notice. Examples of fortifications in WWII include Iwo Jima and Okinawa, where the crack US Marines suffered a combined 61000+ casualties.

Please see my above post, the Germans did infact crack the nut head on. The problem with more static defenses is that overtime the develop "dead spots" and other cover that can be utilized during an attack. Further, as with any defensive stance the offensive force has the advantage of picking when/where/how the battle will develop.

cdubs
July 20th, 2009, 01:38 PM
Please see my above post, the Germans did infact crack the nut head on.
The link in the post you made doesn't support your claim that the Germans defeated the Line head on.


Further, as with any defensive stance the offensive force has the advantage of picking when/where/how the battle will develop.
This is true, but there are still countless of examples of superior forces being wasted by fixed defenses throughout history, even in recent portions of the modern era.

Comtesse
July 22nd, 2009, 06:54 PM
The link in the post you made doesn't support your claim that the Germans defeated the Line head on.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maginot_Line#German_invasion_in_World_War_II

Credible. There you go. The claim/article is that the Germans kicked it right in the middle, and here it is.


This is true, but there are still countless of examples of superior forces being wasted by fixed defenses throughout history, even in recent portions of the modern era.

However, this wasn't the case....

Squatch347
July 23rd, 2009, 08:36 AM
This is true, but there are still countless of examples of superior forces being wasted by fixed defenses throughout history, even in recent portions of the modern era.
Which is why I didn't state that it provides a definitive advantage, only an advantage. The case that usually arises when forces are wasted on fixed positions is when those positions are relatively new and unscouted. The Maginot line was well understood by the Germans and its weaknesses.

cdubs
July 23rd, 2009, 09:42 AM
On June 14, 1940, the day Paris fell, the German 1st Army went over to the offensive in "Operation Tiger" and attacked the Maginot Line

The main body of the German army was already 200 miles west of the Maginot Line, and the garrison on the line would have been a skeleton crew, if even.

Squatch347
July 23rd, 2009, 12:11 PM
On June 14, 1940, the day Paris fell, the German 1st Army went over to the offensive in "Operation Tiger" and attacked the Maginot Line

The main body of the German army was already 200 miles west of the Maginot Line, and the garrison on the line would have been a skeleton crew, if even.Neither link nor any history I've read indicates that the Maginot line was evacuated then. Further, it was not the 1st Army Division that I was referring to. The Op mentioned above was the clean up operation after the allies were all but defeated, I was referring to the fixing attack that happened at the same time as the Blitzkrieg as mentioned in Von Mellenthin's "Panzer Battles" and above.

cdubs
July 23rd, 2009, 01:12 PM
Neither link nor any history I've read indicates that the Maginot line was evacuated then
What does your logic tell you? With the capital occupied and the BEF scrambling to escape back to Britain do you think the garrison of the Maginot Line would just sit tight and wait for it all to blow over?

The post you quoted was a response to Comtesse.

Squatch347
July 23rd, 2009, 01:23 PM
What does your logic tell you? With the capital occupied and the BEF scrambling to escape back to Britain do you think the garrison of the Maginot Line would just sit tight and wait for it all to blow over?

The post you quoted was a response to Comtesse.My logic tells me that the germans would have counterattacked at Normandy too, they didn't.

cdubs
July 23rd, 2009, 01:52 PM
My logic tells me that the germans would have counterattacked at Normandy too, they didn't.
The Germans were convinced that the attack would come under Patton at Calaise, ( both because they had the utmost respect for Patton and because the Allies conducted a very aggresive misinformation campaign to reinforce the Germans' views) and that anything else was just a diversion.

Squatch347
July 24th, 2009, 06:49 AM
The Germans were convinced that the attack would come under Patton at Calaise, ( both because they had the utmost respect for Patton and because the Allies conducted a very aggresive misinformation campaign to reinforce the Germans' views) and that anything else was just a diversion.
German High command was convinced, Rommel was not. Regardless, the French High Command was similarly convinced that the Germans wouldn't violate Belgian sovereignty.

cdubs
July 28th, 2009, 06:36 PM
German High command was convinced, Rommel was not
Am I experiencing deja vu or have we had this exact conversation before?

Squatch347
July 29th, 2009, 09:11 AM
Am I experiencing deja vu or have we had this exact conversation before?

Not that I recall. Either way, I don't see any evidence of your claim.

cdubs
July 29th, 2009, 11:41 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdubs
I still don't quite agree with you, but you've made an excellent argument.

This kept him out of Africa, out of the Eastern Front and when D-Day happened it kept him from acting decisively, which very well could have stopped the allied invasion.
I think the reasons why Rommel was unable to act decisively on D-Day ( anniversary today actually) was because a.) The Germans were absolutely convinced that the invasion would come under Patton at Calaise, and that anything else was a diversion. b.) Rommel had disobeyed German high command on several occasions, and had even jumped over them and gone directly to Hitler with requests, which gained him resentment from his conservative superiors. Their personal squables may have made them discount Rommel's opinions.

I agree with this largely, though Rommel and his staff were not convinced. They had supported the view that Patton was too junior to lead the invasion.

Hitler himself recalled Rommel to Germany just before the invasion and personally forbade him from responding in Normandy for the reasons you outlined above.
Post #33 in the thread on which was the most important battle of wwii.

cdubs
July 29th, 2009, 11:48 AM
Support for my claim that the Line was woefully undermanned, and its performance during the late stages of the German Blitz cannot be relied on to determine how it might have performed under the circumstances it was built for.


Employment in Battle

" The Maginot fortifications not intended to fight in isolation. Not only were the forts and casemates weapons mutually supporting, but the main fortification line was integrated with reinforcing interval troops and artillery. In theory, an attacking German force would have to fight the Maginot Line as an integrated system, not as individual forts and casemates. In reality, as the campaign in the West unfolded and the German Army advanced into France, the French High Command ordered the withdrawal of interval troops and artillery for employment elsewhere. This decision stripped the Line of important firepower and infantry reserves. Thus, when the Germans attacked, they did not fight the Line as envisaged by its designers. The withdrawal of the interval forces is an important consideration to any study of the Maginot Line’s combat performance. "
http://mysite.verizon.net/vzev1mpx/maginotlineatwar/id2.html

This link also proves, as I stated, that the line as it was was not meant to win the war single handedly, but was also meant to delay the German invaders long enough for the French army to be assembled and garrisoned in and around the line en masse.

Squatch347
August 1st, 2009, 11:33 AM
Post #33 in the thread on which was the most important battle of wwii.Wow I guess we have.


Support for my claim that the Line was woefully undermanned, and its performance during the late stages of the German Blitz cannot be relied on to determine how it might have performed under the circumstances it was built for.


My problem with the link is that is some guy's site and doesn't actually cite where he got that info from. A primary source would be helpful.