Adolph Hitler is the most overrated historical figure today. To explain, we portray Hitler as an evil genius when reality shows he was a dangerous fool.
Hitler’s conduct of World War II was a carnival of errors that doomed the Third Reich and almost destroyed Europe. In the process, Hitler discredited his ideologies; racism, fascism, Nazism, socialism, nationalism, and eugenics.
The Nazis lost World War II because most of the decisions Hitler made were wrong. Far from being an evil genius, the real Hitler was a stupid and arrogant fool and a terrible strategist.
Some of Hitler’s Greatest Mistakes in World War II Include:
1. Declaring War on the United States
From a strategic and military point of view Hitler’s worst decision was declaring war upon the United States on 11 December 1941.
It is hard to imagine either of Nazi Germany’s active enemies in December 1941; the British Empire and the Soviet Union defeating the Third Reich without American help. The United Kingdom; for instance, lacked both the manpower and the industry to defeat Nazi Germany. In contrast, the Soviets had the manpower and technology to defeat the Nazis but not the industry.
The British needed American help to defeat the Germans in North Africa, for instance. Later the British needed American help to invade both Italy and France, and defeat German armies in Europe.
The Russians could defeat German armies but they lacked the technology to overcome German air power. The Red Army only won impressive victories over the Germans in 1943, 1944, and 1945 because the Americans and British diverted and destroyed the Luftwaffe.
Had there been no US Army Air Force in Europe in 1943 and 1944, the Luftwaffe could have been free to blast the Red Army’s tanks into scrap metal. Moreover, Hitler could have thrown all the forces fighting in North Africa, Italy and France against the Russians.
Plus, the Germans could have been free to use all the troops defending areas; such as Norway, on the Russian Front. To explain, the Germans deployed thousands of troops to Norway to keep the Allies from invading that country.
Hitler’s declaration of war on the United States was stupid because Nazi Germany was under no obligation to declare war. Hitler declared war because his ally Japan had attacked the United States.
Consequently, Russia’s Siberian Armies were free to protect Moscow from the Germans in December 1941. Thus, Hitler went to war for an ally that failed him and sealed his doom in the process.
Had the Japanese attacked Russia’s Maritime Provinces in 1941, the Germans could have overrun an undefended Moscow in December 1941. Instead, the Russians launched a successful counteroffensive with the armies from Siberia and the Maritime Provinces and drove the Germans back.
Had Hitler refused to declare war upon the United States in 1941. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York) could not have convinced Congress to declare war on Germany or divert forces from the war on Japan.
A probable outcome is Congress would have diverted the aid going to Britain and the Soviet Union to America’s war on Japan. Hence, Britain and the Soviet Union would have lacked the resources they needed to wage war. See mistake number three for America’s contribution to the Russian victory in World War II.
If Hitler had been a true evil genius, he could have declared war on Japan on 8 December 1941. That could have obligated the United States to end all its aid to Britain and Russia and ensured German victory.
Without American intervention, the Nazis could have won in North Africa and Russia. Moreover, German air power, U-boats, and rockets could have knocked the British out of the war by 1944. Likewise German control over the air could have made a Soviet victory impossible.
Finally, an Allied landing in Europe without American help was impossible. The British lacked the manpower to invade Europe without American help.
Therefore, Hitler’s sense of honor and obligation to Japan doomed his empire. Hence, the modern American belief that Hitler was a white supremacist is false. Hitler sacrificed his chance for victory because of a dubious obligation to an Asian ally.
2. Not Invading England
Bizarrely, Hitler’s second greatest mistake was rooted in the delusion he could make peace with the United Kingdom.
In 1940 and 1941, Hitler deluded himself into thinking the British were about to make peace. In reality, the British refused to consider the idea of peace with Nazi Germany.
For instance, Hitler refused to let German tanks attack the British Armies retreating to the port of Dunkirk in 1940. That allowed over 338,000 British and French soldiers to escape to fight again.
Second, Hitler ignored history and based his decisions on the belief the British would sue for peace. His Majesty Government’s refused to quit even after 886,000 British deaths in World War One. Additionally, the British fought Napoleon I for over a decade, even after that dictator conquered all of Europe and destroyed every army capable of resisting Imperial France.
Yet Hitler expected a quick British surrender after the Fall of France. Therefore, the idea that Hitler understood history is false.
Hitler refused to believe in the British refusal to surrender. Even though the British replaced with their timid Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Tellingly, the British chose Winston Spencer Churchill; a leader of the hard line World War One British government, as their new prime minister in 1940. Churchill’s policy was simple, it was destroy Germany.
In Summer 1940, the Germans made some half-hearted preparations to invade England. Yet Hitler abandoned those preparations after defeat in the Battle of Britain.
Instead of rebuilding his Air Force and invading in 1941 or 1942, Hitler redirected his armies against the Soviet Union. Germany had the industrial forces to build a new Air Force and the landing craft needed for an invasion fast.
Not invading England in 1940 or 1941, proved a fatal mistake for the Nazis. First, the United Kingdom was the ideal base for air attacks on Germany and German forces in Europe. Allied air raids killed 410,000 German civilians between 1940 and 1945. Most of those raids were made by bombers based in the United Kingdom.
Furthermore, the Germans moved hundreds of artillery pieces, most of their fighter planes, and thousands of soldiers off the Russian front to protect German cities from air attack. After 1944, American and British P-51 Mustang fighter planes based in England shot down most of the Luftwaffe.
The Allied Air Forces failed to suppress German industrial production; which actually increased between 1942 and 1944, as the bombing escalated. However, British, American, and Canadian bombers inflicted vast amounts of damage on the Third Reich.
For instance, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) set the German rocket program back with heavy bombing of the rocket base at Peenemünde. Historians believe the attack, Operation Hydra set the German V-weapon program back several months. They based the Operation Hydra bombers in England.
Consequently, the Germans did not start firing the V-2 rockets; against which the British had no defense, until after D-Day. Thus the V-2s were not available to disrupt the Allied invasion forces assembling in England. The V-2 attacks ended in Fall 1944 because British forces overran their bases.
Second, the 1944 D-Day invasion of France was impossible without England as a base. The invasion armies assembled in England, and sailed from English ports. The planes that supported the invasion were based at British bases.
Thus, Hitler gave his enemies a perfect base to attack both Germany and France from. By late 1942, Hitler decided the British government must be destroyed.
However, by then a German invasion of Britain was impossible because of American and British air and naval power. That forced the Germans to rely on the vengeance or V-Weapons. In particular, the V-1 flying bombs (Drones) and V-2 rockets. The vengeance weapons failed leaving Germany helpless before Allied fire power.
Hitler’s unwillingness to invade the United Kingdom doomed his cause. By 1945, the British troops Hitler had refused to kill at Dunkirk in 1940 were invading Germany. Hitler’s failure to understand history and geography gave the Allies countless bases a few hundred miles from Germany.
3. Invading Russia
Perhaps Hitler’s stupidest move was to stage an all-out attack on his best ally, Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union.
Between June 1939 and June 1941, the Soviet Union was Nazi Germany’s best ally. For example, Stalin sold Nazi Germany 597.9 million Reichsmarks worth of oil, grain, and other raw materials.
In fact, Stalin sold the Germans 900,000 tons of oil, 1.6 million tons of grain, 300,000 tons of iron, 200,000 tons of cotton, 500,000 tons of iron ore, 200,000 phosphates. and 140,000 tons of manganese ore. Thus, Stalin provided the fuel that powered the Nazi Blitzkrieg in 1940 and the food the German troops ate.
Even the uniforms Nazi soldiers wore were made from Soviet cotton. Additionally, Stalin even provided the raw materials for the explosives the Germans fired, the phosphates. Hence, Hitler’s invasion of France, could have been impossible without Stalin’s “help.”
In exchange for raw materials, the Nazis sold the Soviets diesel engines, machine tools, locomotives, generators, turbines, and samples of tanks, artillery, explosives, and military equipment. Moreover, Hitler gave Stalin half of Poland and supported the Soviet invasions of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Finland.
Thus, Hitler gave Stalin many of the tools, the USSR used to destroy Nazi armies. Additionally, Stalin provided the food, fuel, and iron that made the June 1941 Nazi invasion of Russia possible. In fact, Russia’s aid to Germany was so critical the British were planning to attack the Soviet Union in 1940.
Hitler repaid Stalin by invading Russia on 22 June 1941 in Operation Barbarossa. Germany lost 4.37 million soldiers in Russia in World War II. In fact, most of the German soldiers killed in World War II died in Russia.
Ultimately, Hitler killed 4.37 million Germans by waging a needless war on his best ally. By attacking Russia, Hitler tied down his armies in a needless conflict and cut Germany off from his main source of raw materials.
Adolph compounded the error by declaring war on the world’s greatest industrial power; the United States. The USA gave the Russians $1 billion in credit, 14,000 airplanes, 44,000 Jeeps, 375,883 cargo trucks, 8,071 tractors, and 12,700 tanks during World War II.
In fact, even the boots the Red Army’s soldiers wore were “Made in the USA.” America shipped Russia 15.417 million pairs of Army boots during World War II. Thus, Hitler sowed the seeds of his destruction with his declaration of war on America, his failure to invade Britain, and his invasion of Russia.
Hence, Hitler turned his best ally into his worst enemy and ensured defeat. Had Hitler kept his alliance with Stalin, he could have had enough troops to conquer England, and hold North Africa against American assault. Additionally, Hitler could have had the Red Army fighting on his side and access to Soviet intelligence about American and British actions.
4. Allying himself with Benito Mussolini
After betraying his best Ally, Stalin, for meaningless ideological reasons. Hitler sacrificed heavily to help to a completely worthless ally Benito Mussolini for ideological reasons.
After the fall of France in 1940, Mussolini joined the winning team by attacking France, Greece (a neutral country), and the British Empire. Mussolini’s fascist armies proved to be incompetent and helpless. The Italian Empire survived in Greece and North Africa because German forces came to its aid.
In a similarity to his arrangement with Japan, Hitler got nothing from his alliance with Italy but liabilities. For example, 21 British biplanes sank most of the Italian Fleet at Taranto on 11 November 1940. Thus, the Germans received no naval help from Mussolini.
The British defeated Italian land forces in Libya, and an Italian invasion of Greece became bogged down. Hitler had to invade the Balkans and alter his plans for Barbabosa to prevent an Italian defeat in Greece.
Some historians think Operation Barbarosa failed because Hitler delayed it to invade the Balkans. The theory is that the Germans could have overrun Moscow and destroyed Stalin’s regime had they launched Barbarosa earlier.
Furthermore, Hitler had to divert tens of thousands of troops and one of his best generals; Rommel from Russia to defend Mussolini’s empire from the British. In 1942, Mussolini became a greater liability when the Americans and British overran North Africa.
The German forces who could have been invading Britain were dying for empty desert and Mussolini by 1941. Hitler wasted the resources needed to invade Britain; transport planes, paratroopers, landing craft etc., in his efforts to help Mussolini.
By 1943 German troops were defending Italy itself from British and American invasion. After 1943, Italy became a bloody battlefield where tens of thousands of troops desperately needed in Russia became bogged down fighting both the Allies and the Italians who had turned on Hitler.
Therefore, Hitler sacrificed heavily for an ally; Italy, that betrayed him as soon as the tide of war changed. In fact, the Germans had to send commandos to rescue Mussolini from imprisonment by his own government.
The Italians eventually lynched Mussolini in 1945 as the German armies in Italy surrendered. Hitler; fearing he could share his friend Mussolini’s fate, shot himself soon after. By then the Red Army was overrunning Berlin.
History proves Hitler was no evil genius. Amazingly, Hitler figured out how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory several times. Fortunately for humanity, the Fuhrer was a stupid and incompetent fool who engineered his own destruction.