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Operation Martin 1944

sillygoose

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It might have worked.

Hitler was swimming in a witches brew but FDR was submerged in a cauldron of his own, desperately ill and tapping on death's door on a plethora of highly experimental drugs for diabetes and poliomyelitis while slipping quite badly mentally. He was mostly lucid but he suffered frequent diabetic comas and periods of confusion. Sometimes he could be out of it for days, clearly unfit to serve. He was protected and the problem concealed from Congress and Vice President Truman by Chief of Staff George Marshall and his palace guard. They were running policy with Churchill around FDR and saw no reason to follow the law and turn over National Command Authority, maybe mess the grand plan up, as there were many with actual authority that had great reservations. This was much the same as a similar group did at a crucial phase of the aftermath of WW1 for Wilson, after his stroke if that's really what it was, a move that probably lead the world directly to WW2.

If the Germans had pulled off a last ditch operation Martin that could possibly extend the war in Europe to 1946, FDR would have been forced by political necessity to come out of his cocoon of protection and show himself in order to hold his party. If he had slipped, had a spell and Congress or Truman suspected how soft in the head he was getting, FDR would have been set aside as unfit and Harry S. Truman would have become acting president.

This could definitely have caused a policy change. Truman, a WW1 combat veteran that had been there and done that and got elected by veterans hated the idea of throwing men away. He had no love at all for the Soviets or their pawns infiltrating the west, a problem of which he was well aware. He had not been briefed on anything that wasn't in the newspapers by Marshall's Palace Guard and walked into the job absolutely cold in OTL, inheriting a policy and team that barely deigned to talk to him at all or do anything but present him with papers to sign for one fait accompli after another, a group that he couldn't rid himself of in victory.

George Marshall was also quite old, ill and within a few years of death, possibly losing the thread himself given his later failures in China and being propped up by his own staff. He was, according to Dean Atchenson, 'under performing like a four engine bomber on one engine.'

FDR, Marshall and Co. never had a problem showing their disdain for non-aristocrat outsider Truman, who with his Confederate roots had never been rich, had ties with the Pendergast Machine and had actually worked for a living. Truman got to his position by chance, hard work and with the support of the veterans of his old US Volunteer artillery unit, a politically powerful group in Missouri that held their former elected commander in very high regard.

The old-money group that had accreted itself around FDR would have been placed directly under Truman's thumb at a time when Truman could easily have chisled them free, replaced them and changed US policy.
Not sure that is entirely accurate. Morgenthau, Eleanor, and his daughter had much more of a role in the last 12 months of FDR's life than Marshall and the rest of the cabinet. If you want sources for that I have several books on the internal politics of the administration. The media also covered for him heavily as well.

Marshall was if anything more a figurehead for the public by the end of the war than a political powerbroker as far as I can tell.

Given how sick FDR was I wonder if the shock of the defeat would actually speed up his OTL fatal stroke in April 1945. BTW Stalin himself suffered a stroke in May 1945 and a major heart attack in late 1945 as a result of heavy smoking and drinking (much like FDR and Churchill). Since Truman was way in over his head when he first got in office I do wonder if it would be too much to cope with if FDR dies in say January or February in the aftermath of the biggest military defeat in US history (it would be equivalent to Stalingrad from August 1942 to the surrender of the pocket in terms of casualties just in the German offensive period, not counting the Aachen-Hurtgen fighting).

As to FDR-Truman, that was probably more a function of the party bosses forcing FDR to dump Wallace as his VP in 1944 rather than any particular problem FDR had with Truman. FDR wanted his guy, but wasn't able to fight the way he could before by 1944, so that probably colored relations (or the lack thereof since they only met once privately before FDR's death) much more than anything. As to Truman he was more independent than you think after WW2; he did after all fire Morgenthau, Roosevelt's buddy with an iron grip on Treasury, in June 1945 over demands that Morgenthau was making on Truman's administration (he apparently thought he could bully Truman and found out the Missourian was no pushover).

Though I do agree with you that Truman taking office earlier after a discredited FDR either dies or is pushed aside would have much more freedom to do as he pleased to clean up the mess.
 

Sixgun McGurk

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I have never heard anything good at all about Morgenthau, but yes, Elanor was trying to hide FDR's problems from scrutiny. Marshall was in theory running the war and the staff around FDR were working around him without much difficulty. He wasn't quite gaga, but close enough not to politically survive a major setback if he couldn't step out and fight politically.

I don't believe that the Germans could have won WW2 in any meaningful fashion no matter what happened by that point. Perhaps they could survive as an independent nation after a political settlement with the west with Hitler dead and the Party sent to the front, but Truman could easily see fit to settle for the liberation of France, dig in, fight Japan, relentlessly build up the army and navy as the Germans and Soviets bled each other for another year or so and then finish off the loser.

Truman was not interested in losing men and far more worried about Communists like Wallace burrowing in than Hitler's heroes. After all, people can't be turned into Germans but they can be turned into Communist traitors. He was also absolutely against the economic order that Morgenthau and his friends were setting up.
 

sillygoose

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I have never heard anything good at all about Morgenthau, but yes, Elanor was trying to hide FDR's problems from scrutiny. Marshall was in theory running the war and the staff around FDR were working around him without much difficulty. He wasn't quite gaga, but close enough not to politically survive a major setback if he couldn't step out and fight politically.

I don't believe that the Germans could have won WW2 in any meaningful fashion no matter what happened by that point. Perhaps they could survive as an independent nation after a political settlement with the west with Hitler dead and the Party sent to the front, but Truman could easily see fit to settle for the liberation of France, dig in, fight Japan, relentlessly build up the army and navy as the Germans and Soviets bled each other for another year or so and then finish off the loser.

Truman was not interested in losing men and far more worried about Communists like Wallace burrowing in than Hitler's heroes. After all, people can't be turned into Germans but they can be turned into Communist traitors. He was also absolutely against the economic order that Morgenthau and his friends were setting up.
FDR's cabinet was an infighting mess. FDR ran the government much the way Hitler did with competing power centers so he could be the one who decided what was going to be the ultimate decision. Really FDR was the core of this admin and it started to go off the rails a fair bit towards the end because of FDR's declining faculties and inability to work much. FDR's inner circle was trying to take over policy from him by the end too.

Otherwise though I do agree that if FDR couldn't publicly defend himself after a military disaster he'd likely be finished politically.

Interestingly I do think Eisenhower would get the chop too as fallout from all of this and Monty might even get to take over as supreme commander, since he was the next in line...which would be a political nightmare and could be more than enough to breakup the alliance given that any number of US generals would quit if he got the job.

What to you mean by 'win in a meaningful fashion'? I think a negotiated peace deal that left Hitler in power and Germany unoccupied was possible if Stalin's forces were substantially defeated too as a result of better strategy. There is no way the US public would want to fight it out after losing two entire armies and having at least 500,000 PoWs in Hitler's hands. Same with the Brits, losing XXX corps would mean they have lost any meaningful offensive abilities even if they strip out Italy of any forces they could spare and Churchill wanted to negotiate anyway, but wasn't allowed to thanks to FDR and his demand for unconditional surrender (which would probably leave with him).

Truman might have wanted to continue fighting, but the US public would not make the sacrifices necessary to do so and it would take at least 6-12 months to build back up offensive capacities in Europe. No way the public would be willing to wait that long especially with the blood bath in the Pacific in 1945. Remember, losing 700,000-800k men in a few weeks is more than were lost in all of WW2 in all theaters (dead+missing+pows), so losing that amount that quickly would be much to much to bear, especially with the bulk of those being PoWs. Not only that, but the losses would be among the very best US divisions, including the 1st and 2nd infantry divisions and 3rd armored. And it gives Hitler's forces an enormous amount of equipment and supplies captured from 1st and 9th armies and their supply depots in Liege-Spa-Verviers, which had enough built up for the campaign to clear the west bank of the Rhine and jump the river.

I agree with your read of Truman in terms of his views on the Soviets and not wanting to waste more American lives; to placate the public he probably will have to cut a deal to get the PoWs back, as that is a LOT of families who will be demanding the return of their loved ones.
 

Sixgun McGurk

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Germany couldn't knock the Soviets out of the war. The best that they could hope for would be a stalemate, with enough arable land to feed themselves and a prayer for the big counterrevolution.

France would not trade with them and the truth was that the Western Allies were capable of rendering Germany completely uninhabitable for centuries even without the bomb. Hitler knew about Anthrax Island and feared the US first strike as his planes couldn't retaliate in kind.

So their future was slow starvation and endless blockade until the stalemate broke.

Truman would want to switch to a 'Japan First' strategy while cutting the Soviets off anyway.

I can also say that there is no chance that Truman would tolerate the political crapulance and poor leadership that FDR ignored or even actively encouraged. His thing was not to get people killed, to find ways to win without destroying American lives. That business of FDR choosing between Nimitz and MacArthur's plans was just political showmanship and I think that Truman would send them back to the drawing board with a copy of the 'Anaconda Plan' for inspirition.

Truman had pulled trigger, had killed men in war and in peace, had struggled and schemed to survive under grossly incompetent superiors both military and political and had been elevated to a largely ceremonial office or VP for his success. He would look at the bigger picture and see past the Germans.
 
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ATP

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And if Truman could disband FDR gang and war last till 1946,he would simply mass produce A bombs and turn Germany into radioactive ruins.He would not need soviet then,too.
 

sillygoose

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And if Truman could disband FDR gang and war last till 1946,he would simply mass produce A bombs and turn Germany into radioactive ruins.He would not need soviet then,too.
No way the war goes into 1946 given the financial situation in 1945 and the need to massively mobilize workers if the US loses two entire armies.
 

ATP

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No way the war goes into 1946 given the financial situation in 1945 and the need to massively mobilize workers if the US loses two entire armies.
Then they just mass produce A bomb faster.There is no way for Hitler for agree on any decent peace with USA,and USA would not bow to him if they could burn germany instead.And they could.
 

sillygoose

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Then they just mass produce A bomb faster.There is no way for Hitler for agree on any decent peace with USA,and USA would not bow to him if they could burn germany instead.And they could.
You can't rush that. Nor could they just ignore public will or the Germans spreading US pows out among German cities to deter bombing.
 

ATP

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You can't rush that. Nor could they just ignore public will or the Germans spreading US pows out among German cities to deter bombing.
Which,with Hitler as leader,still made peace impossible.Unless you magically made him sane genocider,like Stalin.Or kill and replace with Himmler.
 

Stormaktstiden

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Which,with Hitler as leader,still made peace impossible.Unless you magically made him sane genocider,like Stalin.Or kill and replace with Himmler.
Stalin and Himmler, "sane" isn't how I would describe them, now, I'd think someone like Rommel would be much better for your point? Hitler wanted peace with the West so he could focus on the East, he wasn't sane, but no in way does that mean he was a idiot, he understood his precarious position, he only needs Truman and Churchill to agree to favourable terms.

Although, wouldn't Churchill and Truman wish to continue the war, Churchill had fought the Germans for six years now, and really wanted Poland to be independent, and would the public really be able to force Truman to seek peace?
 

Husky_Khan

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Plus I don't think in all honesty that the American Public would force Peace even if there was a more serious turnback in December of 1944. There was a Gallup Poll taken right after the Ardennes Offensive when the US was reeling from the 70-80,000 casualties it did incur. Plus it's not just the President, he'd have to do it against not just divided public opinion but also what I'm assuming is still strong Government support in Congress for continued prosecution of the War until Hitler is defeated. Defeats like this, I'm assuming, would still ultimately be temporary, as painful as it might be, and that would reflect in the public opinion as well.

Washington Post said:
There was a poll taken by Gallup from Dec. 31, 1944, to Jan. 4, 1945 - three years into that war and right in the middle of the bloody Battle of the Bulge, where U.S. casualties were estimated between 70,000 and 80,000. It found that 73 percent of Americans would refuse to make peace with Adolf Hitler if he offered it and that 86 percent thought there was no chance that we would lose the war in Europe.

The question was: "If Hitler offered to make peace now and would give up all land he has conquered, should we try to work out a peace or should we go on fighting until the German army is completely defeated?"

For whatever reason I couldn't find the infinite more relevant poll of the first question, but I did find a scan of the second question taken soonafter.

 

sillygoose

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Plus I don't think in all honesty that the American Public would force Peace even if there was a more serious turnback in December of 1944. There was a Gallup Poll taken right after the Ardennes Offensive when the US was reeling from the 70-80,000 casualties it did incur. Plus it's not just the President, he'd have to do it against not just divided public opinion but also what I'm assuming is still strong Government support in Congress for continued prosecution of the War until Hitler is defeated. Defeats like this, I'm assuming, would still ultimately be temporary, as painful as it might be, and that would reflect in the public opinion as well.




For whatever reason I couldn't find the infinite more relevant poll of the first question, but I did find a scan of the second question taken soonafter.

You mean a poll taken after the Allies won the Battle of the Bulge and Nordwind? And took 10% of the casualties were talking about for this ATL, spread out over 5 weeks instead of 800% more in a matter of about 2?

Notice too nearly 90% of the respondents thought there was no chance the US would lose at that point.

Losing 80k men and not losing a single entire division and winning is VERY different from losing two entire field armies, including the oldest and best infantry divisions, and their supply dumps.

Of course as we've seen with modern polling, using vastly better methods, they're still not all that accurate. Plus we're talking about a very different situation ITTL.
 
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Husky_Khan

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You mean a poll taken after the Allies won the Battle of the Bulge and Nordwind? And took 10% of the casualties were talking about for this ATL, spread out over 5 weeks instead of 800% more in a matter of about 2?

Losing 80k men and not losing a single entire division and winning is VERY different from losing two entire field armies, including the oldest and best infantry divisions, and their supply dumps.

Notice nearly 90% of the respondents thought there was no chance the US would lose at that point.

Of course as we've seen with modern polling, using vastly better methods, they're still not all that accurate. Plus we're talking about a very different situation ITTL.
Was not an earlier poll citing a 40% public wanting a peace deal with Germany?

I didn't realize the OP was the Americans lost 640 thousand casualties instead of 80,000. I'll bow out.
 

sillygoose

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Was not an earlier poll citing a 40% public wanting a peace deal with Germany?
38% wanted peace with the German army, not Hitler, but that was at the height of the battle and US casualties, though at that point it was clear that the Allies were going to win the battle.

I didn't realize the OP was the Americans lost 640 thousand casualties instead of 80,000. I'll bow out.
No worries. Yeah the POD here is a different Ardennes offensive and I was presuming a successful pinching off of the Aachen bulge, which would mean somewhere around 800,000 casualties, mostly PoWs when supplies rapidly ran out, since the pinching out would overrun all the US army supply dumps for both the 1st and 9th army.

I'm up for a debate though if you did feel you could make an argument against my position.
 
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