Originally Posted by Red Hessian
Very interesting indeed. But I have a question: With Hitler dead, wouldn't Göring or Himmler be named as his successor? And wouldn't that be more detrimental to the war effort because Göring, and especially Himmler, didn't have much experience when it came to tactics and war, and were just as megalomaniacal and obstinate as Hitler? For example, If Göring came to power, all of the funding and the resources would go to the Luftwaffe, and in Himmler's case probably to the SS.
That is why the timing was important, and I let Christos set that. You see, as I pointed out in the introduction, Hess as Deputy Fuher was his chosen successor. While a 'man behind the scenes' to most during the war, he had as much authority as the other better known leaders. In fact his attempt at reconciliation with England was because while he adored Hitler more than most (Which is saying something) people would not even know his name half the time. Hitler had named Goring as the next man in charge after Germany invaded Poland in fact because Goring had military experience that Hess lacked.
When he made his trip to England in May of 1941, Hitler abolished the post, and the post of Head of the Party Chancellery was created, with Martin Bormann taking the office.
Your argument has some merit, but Goring, while megalomaniacal was not the spellbinder Hitler was and knew even less about Naval or Army operations. The Navy was already ticked off at him for his refusal to allow the Navy it's own air arm. The Army didn't like him because he was so busy trumpeting how great the Luftwaffe was in comparison to the other services, yet he'd lost a lot of support as a 'great leader' due to the failure of the Blitz and the bombing of German cities by the British.
Supporting Hitler when he said 'Now for Russia' was one thing, but saying it himself and expecting enthusiastic support was another. The army would not have supported Goring. After all what he knew about ground warfare could have been written on the inside cover of a book of matches with a laundry marker, and there was already too much being spent (In the Navy and Army's minds) on new planes that so far had proven less than perfect.
Himmler while a powerful man was also a lackluster one. He restricted his speeches to the SS meetings because he was not a great motivational speaker. Also he never aspired to more authority, as being in charge of the secret police was more than enough. He also would have admitted that he had no knowledge of strategy, so he would have been asking advice from those military commanders more often than either Hitler or Goring would.
Picture it as if it were the Death of Stalin back in the 60s, but compressed because while every one knew Stalin was ill, no one knew who would take over, and the death by assassination of Hitler would be unexpected. There'd be a press blackout as the Nazi leaders fought out the succession. The additional troops for Rommel I mentioned initially were what the German army wanted to do, but Hitler had been focused on Russia. So without someone to tell them no, OKW (The High command) would have been free to send them.
As much as people credit Hitler with the early victories in Poland France and Greece, it had been plans laid out by the OKW that won them with Luftwaffe support. France was the ancient enemy of the German army, and the plans used in 1940, with the exception of going through Belgium and Holland, were the same ones used under Friederick the Great in the Franco Prussian War.
The same is true in Greece, because the attack by Greece into Albania and the Central Power's reposte matched the one used in 1915. This time however, with Hitler's permission, the German Army didn't stop.
After all, Hitler left the service as a corporal, unlike Napoleon, who had at least been a Colonel.
With Hess still nominally in charge, it would have come down to the General Staff, Goring claiming authority, Goebels trying to maintain his position, with Himmler and Martin Bormann sitting in the wings quietly, waiting for the dust to settle.
I expect the Nazis would have left Hess in the position because they wouldn't have wanted to let one of the others have it at least in the interim.
What I envision is Hess in charge, but mainly a figurehead, with the actual control of the nation a little further down; Goebels, Ribbentrop and Speer, none of whom would have been willing to ram unnecessary orders down military throats. The military would have supported that. Hess, like the British queen would smile and wave and be the visible portion of the government.
Goring, Raeder and Jodl would have been next in charge, and without Hitler to unilaterally say 'He's right, do it that way' it would have been a hectic fight for supremacy. Only Goring would be in it for the power at that point; Jodl would want to run his own shop rather than have people without a clue giving the orders. He'd dealt with that with Hitler already.
Raeder is included for several reasons. First, the Nazis built a navy because a 'modern nation' had to have a navy. With Raeder as it's architect, it was (except for the older light cruisers and two WWI battleships) the most modern navy in the world. Hitler had originally planned to begin the war in 1947, so the fleet had to be built and ready by then.
As envisioned under Plan Z, the fleet was to be:
Scharnhorst, Gniesenau, Bismarck Tripitz, and 9 new design battleships and battlecruisers. To see what they could have had, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-class_battleships
4 aircraft carriers
15 armored ships (Panzerschiffe) In addition to the three already built, the remainder of the newer M class.
5 heavy cruisers
60 light cruisers
158 destroyers and torpedo boats
Of course with the war starting in 1939 instead, only three of the H class, and three of the M (Pocket Battleship) along with two carriers were laid down, and only one carrier was launched (Graf Zeppelin) though never completed.
You see, Hitler had never had a clue as to how to use a navy, and it showed. Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of England (where anyone would expect the navy to take a major role) assumed the navy would be the taxi service shuttling troops across with a few destroyers and light cruiser guarding them, no more. In other words, an infantry man's view of such an invasion. Part of this of course was Goring's contention that the Luftwaffe could replace those big nasty battleships (Two WWI battleships were still in the German inventory).
When the battle of Britain failed, that left the navy with little to do, and too little to do it well, and the loss of Graf Spee didn't help. While ordering single raiders to avoid action when possible, Raeder had always envisioned the fleet as taking those risks. He had protested renaming the Lutzow because it made the German Navy look like cowards. As John Paul Jones said (And Raeder no doubt knew) 'It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win'.
Goring had even less of a clue what a Navy could do, and without Hitler to come down on his side of the argument, would have been ignored. Saying the Luftwaffe was supreme was fine, until you got more than 1000 kilometers from the coast. With Britain kicked out of North Africa as described, and Japan pulling the the teeth of the US, Raeder could have at least had a chance to shoiw what his navy could do. After all, U Boats had to move in packs to take on convoys, while major combatants (Battleships, battlecruisers and heavy cruisers) would not
He had rammed through Operation Berlin (The cruise of Scharnhorst and Gniesenau) in December 1940, though it didn't actually occur until January-March of 1941. But the greater success they could have achieved had been hamstrung by Hitler's refusal to risk the ships, which meant that two convoys escorted by old battleships (Ramilles and Malaya respectively) were bypassed. Yet as I found in checking the ballistics and capabilities of the different guns, Lutjens could have taken either one of those ships with two modern battlecruisers, just as Graf Spee was forced to flee after fighting one heavy and two light cruisers.
Using GNBNA, I took out Malaya (Which was one of those escorting battleships escorting convoys) using Graf Spee by merely trailing the convoy until dusk, running in, firing a couple of quick salvos, then running until I was out of visual range, but still within radar range. A few days later I took out another battleship (HMS Renown) in daylight. After that I did have to return due to damage, but picture the propoganda victory; two battle ships sunk by what the Germans had defined as an armored cruiser! By using two of them together (Lutzow and Scheer on the next voyage) I was picking off convoys on a regular basis regardless of their escort after sinking those warships, and when I ran Scharnhorst and Gniesenau back out before the British could damage Gniesenau the destruction included modern battleships as well.
More embarassing for the Brits, using two heavy cruisers (Prinz Eugen and Hipper again with rader) and again attacking at dusk, I had Prinz Eugen fire and lead HMS Warspite away by playing tag from beyond visual range and had Hipper tear up the convoy left unprotected. Yet compared to even a destroyer commander, I have no actual tactical experience. Raeder could have done better.
Also three French battleships of the Richelieu class were still free of Allied hands; Richelieu herself in Dakar, Clemenceaus captured before she could be completed., and Jean Bart which had been rushed to Casablanca also uncompleted. The old battleship Provence and The Dunkerque class battlecruisers Dunkerque and Strasbourg were in Mers-el-Kébir, in Algeria when the British attacked them on 3 July 1940. Dunkerque was disabled and later went to Toulon. Provence, Richelieu Strasbourg and Dunkerque were moved to Toulon France where they sat out the war until scuttled on 27 November 1942. However the scuttling did not occur until after the Torch landings.
If the US had not officially entered the war (Again what reasoning could Roosevelt use to convince the US to enter it?) they would have merely sat there.