The Allies won the 2nd World War, not because they were that much stronger, but because Hitler was one of the worst strategist ever. The Führer took so many disastrous decisions that the US and British generals have called him their most loyal ally. Here is a list of 10 blunders Hitler made during the war.
Hitler said that the invasion of the Soviet Union would lead to a victory within, oh boy, was wrong.
“We just need to kick in the door. Then the whole building will collapse,” said Hitler before the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The neighbor had indeed a bigger army, but the Germans were better organized and had more experienced officers. Hitler thought he could defeat the Russians within a few months.
Initially, it seemed to happen: the Soviet Union was completely overwhelmed and in lost five armies and 2000 planes in one week. But the German advanced so rapidly that the tanks still had to wait for the infantry. After four weeks, the Wehrmacht was also through its inventory and the German Blitz got to a complete stop. In the meanwhile, Hitler got the advised by his generals to deploy the troops directly into Moscow, but he didn’t listen to them. He insisted on sending a lot of soldiers to the oilfields of the Caucasus and the Ukraine and the Baltic countries instead.
The Germans also reached Moscow in December, when the Russian winter was at it’s worst. The Wehrmacht was not prepared for a winter and didn’t have winter uniforms. Citizens were asked to send their fur coats to the front, and the soldiers stole uniforms and boots of dead Russian soldiers to withstand temperatures as low as -30 °C/-22 °F.
His underestimation of the Red Army – and the Russian winter – killed Hitler’s plan. After the defeat against the Soviet Union, there was no hope left.
Severity of the error: 5/5. If Hitler had listened to his generals, the Soviet Union was probably defeated before 1942.
The day after the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Ambassador Hiroshi Oshima did his best to persuade the German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop to declare war to the USA. But the minister thought it would be suicidal for Germany to engage in the fight the USA.
Hitler did not agree. He saw Japan as an invincible ally – and once the Japanese Empire had defeated the US, it would focus on the Soviet Union. Stalin would have to fight on two fronts, and the Germans could easily conquer Moscow.
Three days later, Hitler declared war to the USA. He expected that the USAwould send troops to Asia, but to his surprise, President Roosevelt sent the bulk of his army to Europe.
This was a strong setback for Hitler. The troops Stalin had set aside for a war against Japan were now used against the Wehrmacht.
Severity of the error: 5/5. Without a declaration of war, Hitler could delay a confrontation with the USA for two to three years.
In May 1940, German tanks rumbled into the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. In just ten days, Hitler’s troops managed to reach the Channel, and at Dunkerque, the British were like rats in a trap. German General Ewald von Kleist stood a few kilometers away from the British troops, with his tanks and two infantry divisions, and thought they could conquer Dunkerque in less than a day.
But out of the blue Hitler ordered for unclear reasons that the march had to be stopped, on which the British launch a large-scale evasion: within nine days 365.000 soldiers crossed the English Channel. Therefore, the Führer missed a chance at destroying the bulk of the British army.
Severity of the error: 5/5. Without troops who invaded Dunkerque, the British had probably lost the war.
On June 6, 1944, early in the morning, the Allies bombed the German defenses in Normandy, after tens of thousands of soldiers went ashore. While it was one of the biggest invasion in the history of the world, Hitler was still asleep until 14:00 sleep in his stay in Bavaria (people were afraid of waking him) – although he knew for months that an invasion was coming.
When he heard the news, he was convinced that it was only a diversion, and for weeks, he refused to send reinforcements to Normandy in anticipation of the actual invasion. The rest is history.
Severity of the error: 4/5. Because Hitler had his generals in an iron grip, the first couple of days of the invasion could not be repulsed.
German generals Hitler begged to be allowed to retreat, but Hitler wouldn’t do such a thing.
In December 1941 was the German offensive in the USSR jammed and Hitler was afraid of a repeat of the defeat of Napoleon in Moscow in 1812. To put things in order, he made himself commander in chief.
A few days later, Hitler ordered that the German troops were not allowed to step aside, although his generals had repeatedly shown him that it sometimes pays to take your tactical loss if the enemy is stronger. Such retreat was usually turned into a counter-attack when the enemy is in hot pursuit and his supply lines became too long.
Hitler order to hold ground even though it cost 10.000 German soldiers their life, but Hitler was convinced that his troops could achieve victory through willpower. Six months later, Hitler had learned nothing from his mistakes, and he forbade another withdrawal when the German 6th Army tried to conquer the Russian city of Stalingrad.
The situation was extremely dire, but Hitler refused to listen to his generals. This meant the 6th Army was the first German army that was surrounded and completely wiped out. In the battle for Stalingrad, more than 180,000 German soldiers were killed.
Severity of the error: 5/5. Hitler’s misguided command to maintain the mobility of the German army abrogated.
In the first year of the war (after the annexation of Austria, the occupation of Czechoslovakia, the conquest of Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium and the surrender of France) Hitler thought that he was a strategic genius mastermind and had a better understanding of it than his military staff, which were much too careful.
Encouraged by his many successes – which were mainly due to indecision and poor preparation by the counterparty – Hitler stopped the continued development of new weapons. His opinion was that the war could be won with the current weapons. But in two years time, the Allies had caught up and the German guns were outdated.
Hitler hastily blew new life into weapons innovation, but there were two wasted years and many engineers were already killed. Although the Germans were able to build a number of revolutionary weapons, there were not enough weapons produced in order to win the war. Next to that they also had to contend with all sorts of technical problems.
Severity of the error: 4/5. If the weapon development had continued, the Germans had more grip on the course of the battle.
During the night of 30 May 1942, the British sent about 1,000 bombers to Germany. In the dark, the German AA could do little, and the RAF destroyed 13.000 buildings in Cologne just that single night.
For months, the British used this successful tactic, until German fighters were lurking for the British airstrips and bombers who they attacked during the landing. This worked fine, but Hitler helped out the British: he wanted every enemy plane that flew over Germany was shot down. Hitler thought the sight of the wrecks would boost the morale of the population.
Severity of the error: 3/5. Thanks to Hitler’s bizarre command the British could continue throughout the war by bombing.
While plants in the US and Britain were manned by millions of women, Hitler thought women didn’t belong in the industry. They had to look after the children and do the household. This conservatism led to an enormous shortage of labor in German factories because the men were in the military.
Hitler kept the industry going with forced laborers which represented only 20 percent of the workforce. In the course of the war, when the situation became increasingly more serious, some women could make a contribution, such as a switchboard operator, nurse or secretary. Some joined the SS and became a guard in a concentration camp.
Severity of the error:3/5. With some more emancipation, Germany had not yielded the victory but delayed the capitulation.
In June 1940, Hitler gave the order for an air attack over England in preparation for an invasion of the British Isles. The German Luftwaffe has told to destroy the Royal Air Force (RAF). With a series of effective attacks, the Germans bombed command stations, fuel depots, airfields and aircraft factories. In August 1940 appeared to succeed the intention – to Hitler interfered against it.
During a German attack on a British factory nine civilians were killed. The British responded with bombing German cities, and that was something Hitler could not handle. He commanded the Luftwaffe to bomb British civilian targets, leaving the RAF regain strength and sovereignty and regaining the sky above England.
Severity of the error: 3/5. The Battle of Britain was Hitler’s first defeat and gave the British hopes of a victory.
The jet Messerschmitt Me 262 was a fine hunter, but despite protests from experts Hitler used it as a bomber.
The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the first fighter in the world with a jet engine and was ahead of its time. With a length of only 10.6 meters/ about 35 feet and had a top speed of 900 km/h /560 mph he flew circles around the best Allied fighter planes. Thus, the Me 262 was a godsend for the Luftwaffe in 1943 and the chances of a victory began to grow for the Germans. Hitler was impressed by the performance of its engineers and had to take the high-speed device in production – as a bomber.
The builders were furious that their miracle machine would only be used for dropping bombs, but Hitler insisted, with disastrous consequences. Even under optimal conditions, the pilots dropped their bombs about 1 kilometer past the target, for the Me 262 was simply too fast to accurately determine the place of impact.
When Hitler, in 1944, finally used the Me 262 as a fighter jet it was too late, the war was in fact already lost.
Severity of the error: 2/5. If the Me 262 was used as a fighter, the Germans would have been masters in of the sky.