What If Nazi Germany Had Invaded America?

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Strasser: Are you one of those people who cannot imagine the Germans in their beloved Paris?

Rick: It’s not particularly my beloved Paris.

Heinz: Can you imagine us in London?

Rick: When you get there, ask me!

Renault: Hmmh! Diplomatist!

Strasser: How about New York?

Rick: Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.

Well this is a surprise.  Something worth reading in Slate.

 

And even if the Germans had landed a sizable force here, how where they going to be resupplied? Any such force would have been trapped here until it was defeated, destroyed, or retreated. The U.S. could play at the U-boat game, and the Germans would have needed open logistics lines to keep themselves supplied. Assuming that they were somehow able to move further inland, they still would need a corridor or corridors open to the ocean for supplies and retreat. Not seeing how that could have happened.

Go here to read the rest.  An invasion of the US by Nazi Germany was always a fantasy, unless Hitler’s “supermen” gained the ability to walk on water.  At no time did the Nazis develop a navy that could have controlled the Atlantic.  Even Operation Sea Lion, requiring control of the British Channel, was far beyond the grasp of the Third Reich.  Only the US and the British had the naval power to transport huge armies across oceans and keep them supplied.

If the Nazis had managed the feat of transporting and sustaining an army to the US they would have found themselves confronting, in the words of a British officer during the American Revolution, “a people numerous and armed”.  The American Revolution and the Civil War amply demonstrate how hard Americans will fight when confronted on their home ground.  Against a foe like Nazi Germany it would have been war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt, and my money would have been on a  hundred and thirty-three million enraged Americans against a Nazi army trying to conquer the huge expanses of the US.  Lincoln nailed it long ago:

 

Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.

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26 Comments

  1. Nazi Germany could not invade the United States. Nazi Germany could not even develop an effective long range bomber to attack US cities. Nazi Germany could not develop a Navy capable of challenging the might of the Royal Navy or controlling any of the oceans of the world. The success of the U-boats was akin to guerrella warfare. The enigma codes were broken, radar was developed and the industrial might and manpower advantage of the United States ensured the defeat of Nazi Germany.

    Yes, the USSR lost 25 million people. They didn’t lose 25 million men under arms and Stalin didn’t care how many citizens of the USSR died in order to defeat his former ally. The USSR needed help and got it from the United States. Stalin got whatever he wanted from FDR and then some (including Poland east of the Curzon Line).

    Japan never made it to the West Coast. Japan’s Navy was far superior to Nazi Germany and the US still whipped them.

    People of many nations fought, bled, suffered and died to ensure the defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan but it would not have occurred without the raw materials, finances, industry and manpower of the USA.

  2. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Yamamoto or somebody else in the Japanese high command believed that an invasion of the West Coast was feasible, but that they’d never get over the Sierra Nevadas, and thus it wasn’t worth attempting.

  3. ” The American Revolution and the Civil War amply demonstrate how hard Americans will fight when confronted on their home ground. ”
    Is that still true?

  4. “No such restrictions.” That’s a nice way of saying that there were wars with hostile tribes in living memory, and folks even had the guns their grandparents had bought for that….. Plus all the WWI vets. My godfather lost his father to an Indian raid in California, was too young for WWI, and was too old for WWII; he was still going strong in the 70s and 80s. I don’t think there would’ve been enough left to bury if somehow German soldiers had shown up in the valley….

    America even today also has a lot of nice, open land where we could bomb anybody coming through without hitting much of our own stuff.

  5. I understand there is an interview of a Japanese official who said much the same thing about American gun ownership and their prospects for invasion of California: “We were not crazy”.

  6. Probably the worst outcome of a Nazi victory over Britain for the U.S. would have been an attempt to take Iceland and Greenland by air invasion and to infiltrate Quebec a la Casablanca. It would be highly likely that the U.S. would have prodded Canada to resist infiltration, which would not have been too difficult.

    And what would have caused a British capitulation? A total loss at Dunkirk, plus Spain joining the Axis and taking Gibraltar, plus what else? There were elements that wanted to heave Churchill after Dunkirk – what if the evacuation had failed and the entire British Army were captured? Could Britain have panicked and sued for peace? It is possible, but how likely? In any case it is unlikely the Battle of Britain would have turned out any other way, so any revisionism would have to change history before that point. Franco was a Catholic who distrusted the atheistic views of Hitler and Mussolini despite their political affinities (plus the Brits bribed him well), so it is unlikely that Spain would have joined the Axis. Yes, the idea of German power projection into North America was a long shot.

    BTW, the various War Plans Black determined that Germany could invade and hold either Long island or the Delmarva Peninsula, but not for more than a month or two. So the U.S. military of the time agreed with our guesswork.

  7. “Is that still true?”

    Where I live in Central Illinois, yes I think it is. Most people I have encountered over the past half century plus here have been polite and good natured, even most people I have sued, and I know it is the rare family where several fire arms are not owned. These people would fight hard against an invading army coming across our green and pleasant land.

  8. Churchill, a half American, understood his mother’s country, as he demonstrated by this quote after Pearl Harbor:

    “Silly people — and there were many, not only in enemy countries — might discount the force of the United States. Some said they were soft, others that they would never be united. They would fool around at a distance. They would never come to grips. They would never stand blood-letting. Their democracy and system of recurrent elections would paralyze their war effort. They would be just a vague blur on the horizon to friend or foe. Now we should see the weakness of this numerous but remote, wealthy, and talkative people. But I had studied the American Civil War, fought out to the last desperate inch. American blood flowed in my veins. I thought of a remark which Edward Grey had made to me more than thirty years before — that the United States is like “a gigantic boiler. Once the fire is lighted under it there is no limit to the power it can generate.” Being saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.””

  9. I have a monster-sized wargame called “SS Amerika” which tries to posit a realistic scenario under which the Axis could invade North America. Doesn’t quite convince.

    Essentially, the Nazis would need a Britain right off our coast and completely sweep the seas of the USN, RN and RCN. Can’t picture it–there’d at least be swarms of submarines to give the Germans “Battle of the Atlantic” nightmares.

    And what’s the Britain–Newfoundland? PEI? One of the other Maritimes? Hard to see how they would be secure bases. Essentially, they’d need to subvert several nations in the Western Hemisphere, and by that point, the Bomb would force a Cold War stasis of sorts.

  10. “Where I live in Central Illinois, yes I think it is.”… (true that we would fight for our Faith and our Country — like in the vendee of France. If they attacked NY / east coast first and those folks capitulated already what would happen to the ‘The Grand Catholic Army of the Vendée’

  11. Rather like Lord St Vincent’s famous quip: “I don’t say the French can’t come – only they can’t come by sea.”

    Without fighter cover (which they didn’t have) a German invasion fleet would have been blown outof the water as soon as it came within bomber range.

  12. Essentially, the Nazis would need a Britain right off our coast and completely sweep the seas of the USN, RN and RCN.

    How about “Hitler doesn’t get stupid and the USSR sticks with their side”?
    That would give them a better route to the west coast, and more manpower. (It’s also hindsight-appealing.)

  13. ‘Rather like Lord St Vincent’s famous quip: “I don’t say the French can’t come – only they can’t come by sea.”’
    The Brits WERE a bit frightened by a 1940 study that showed how the Germans could have dug a tunnel under the Channel with enough slave labor. The idea was feasible. So the Brits decided to keep an eye on the Calais area for the massive construction of the camps necessary for the slaves, and planned to bomb and kill them if the camps appeared. We know of course that no such thing happened, the Germans never got the idea into their head.

  14. “I have a monster-sized wargame called “SS Amerika” which tries to posit a realistic scenario under which the Axis could invade North America. Doesn’t quite convince.”

    Indeed. Probably the reason why I sold off my copy long ago, along with my copy of World in Flames America. However I do still have as a prized possession Invasion America: Death Throes of the Superpower by SPI, along with their companion game Objective Moscow.

  15. How about “Hitler doesn’t get stupid and the USSR sticks with their side”?
    That would give them a better route to the west coast, and more manpower.

    Foxlier, that doesn’t work well.

    During the Vietnam War the North Vietnamese were amazed at how much easier it was for the U.S. to move materiel across the Pacific than it was for them to move materiel down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Seaborne transport is and always will be the most efficient means of transport for military materiel. A compliant USSR could have provided only 2-3 months of access to the Northeast Passage for Germany, and in any case it would have been subject to air interdiction from Alaska. The Trans-Siberian Railroad could not have carried the necessary traffic (recall that an amphibious invasion requires more forces than a land invasion, so North America is a much harder reach than Manchuria to support this way). Even with the Japanese navy on their side and invasion would still have been a though nut.
    Still, it would make for an interesting war game, much more interesting than an Atlantic crossing.

  16. Don:

    Yep–I still have Invasion: America and Objective: Moscow. I don’t have a playing space for the latter. I would need a Pentagon-like map room for it. Ah, for the days of Dunnigan and his mega-games.

    Interestingly, SS Amerika was originally going to be an SPI game, too–but there was a flood of (stupid) criticism suggesting it glorified Nazism, so it was shelved. When Ty Bomba and 3W acquired the rights to SPI’s catalogue, they finished it up and issued it.

  17. “How about ‘Hitler doesn’t get stupid and the USSR sticks with their side’?
    That would give them a better route to the west coast, and more manpower. (It’s also hindsight-appealing.)”

    Yeah, that would work, but it would require Hitler to not be Hitler. His hatred for the Soviets was all-consuming. He could work tactically and briefly with them, but to expect him to co-exist for decades is way too much.

    And, more to the point: Eastern Siberia poses its own logistical problems: the Nazi-Soviet alliance would have to build a massive infrastructure to support an invasion, one well-within the reach of American bombers and usable only half the year. There was some brief fighting in the Aleutians in 1942, and it was difficult for both sides, though easier for us because we were closer to our bases. Doesn’t seem feasible, even with dogged determination.

  18. If I may add, it should be pointed out that in 1941 the closest forces the U.S. had to Japan were in Alaska. Conceivably the U.S. could have invaded the Kuril Islands and then invaded Hokkaido, a different version of island hopping. Putting aside the fact that naval supremacy was not gained until 1944, the main problem is the weather there did not permit the U.S. to take full advantage of its air assets. Just another way of stating that Dale Price is quite correct.

  19. Yep–I still have Invasion: America and Objective: Moscow. I don’t have a playing space for the latter. I would need a Pentagon-like map room for it. Ah, for the days of Dunnigan and his mega-games.

    Two of the chaps in Diner get lost in Maryland horse country and one says to the other, “Do you have the feeling there’s a lot of stuff going on we don’t know about?”.

  20. Ernst Shreiber wrote, “Yamamoto or somebody else in the Japanese high command believed that an invasion of the West Coast was feasible, but that they’d never get over the Sierra Nevadas,”
    And, supposing they succeeded, they would then have to cross the barren interior – over two thousand miles of tundra, steppe or desert – before encountering the defensive wall of the Appalachians, which by that time would have been heavily fortified.

  21. “have to cross the barren interior”

    Traveled much in the US MPS? Quite a bit of it would not be barren, at least after the West was crossed. Of course the people who lived in what snotty elites now refer to as “fly-over country”, including my family in Illinois, would have ensured that any Japanese army moving east had received a warm reception indeed.
    Admiral Yamamoto, who had studied in the US and served as military attaché here, at considerable risk to his own life from extreme Japanese nationalists publicly opposed every war like step taken by Japan in the thirties and early forties, reckoning that any war between the US and Japan would end in defeat for Japan. As he told a hostile correspondent:

    “Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.”

  22. Donald R McClarey asked, “Traveled much in the US MPS?”

    I have visited the US only once. That was in the summer of 1966, when I accompanied a party from Oxford, who were making recordings of dialects. We spent some six weeks in the mountainous areas of Northern Arkansas, Northern Oklahoma and South Kansas. My friends especially wanted to record people who had grown up without radio or television, which at that time included everyone over 50 – Something impossible today. We had native guides and recorded many songs, stories and conversations. Their speech contains many traces of the Scots dialects.

    A charming, hospitable people, as rooted to the soil as the French peasantry and who could recite their pedigrees for five generations like Highlanders. We were often invited into their homes and, however humble the meal, no one sat down to table without remembering the Giver.

  23. Lincoln nailed it long ago

    So long ago that it no longer applies. The US Lincoln referred to is now inhabited by a completely different species. And, quite frankly, I am not sure that some wouldn’t see the invaders as liberators.

  24. “I am not sure that some wouldn’t see the invaders as liberators.”

    Nazis as liberators? Only the brain damaged. The US is still inhabited by Americans. People who use the American past to condemn the American present, often lack a familiarity with the pathologies of the past among Americans and view the past in a rosy glow. I note no diminution in the fighting prowess of American troops and I think the American people would give the same good account of themselves as they have against all armed invaders.

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