I understand that Hitler declared war on the US because Japan had attacked us. My question is: Was it possible for Hitler to NOT declare war? If he hadn’t then Roosevelt wouldn’t have been able to declare war on Germany and send troops to Europe. We’d have been restricted to a war in the Pacific only.
Relations with Germany were already pretty sour prior to Pearl Harbor. Submarine warfare in the Atlantic and Germany’s aggression were obviously damaging U.S.-German relations. So was the U.S. curbing Nazi activities at home through the Smith Act and the Dies Committee (you might know it from a different name: HUAC).
There was hostile action from the Germans (as well as the Japanese) against the United States (and vice versa) prior to Pearl Harbor.
I posted an article about one of those incidents months ago.
Yes there were those incidents, but even despite them a vast majority of the american public didn’t want war with europe and wasn’t remotely as enthusiastic about it as it was about war on the japanese after Pearl.
Throughout the entire war they always cared a lot more about defeating Japan and Germany was more of a side theater that had provoked a war America didn’t really want.
This is at least how Max Hastings presented it in his book “All Hell Let Loose” in the chapter 8, America Embattled.
So, according to the Pearl Harbor miniseries Hitler mainly declared war on the US to be able to more aggressively intercept convoys in the Atlantic, and because he thought that Japan would win in the Pacific. Was he really this naive about it, or were there other reasons on top of these?
The claim that Japan would win was especially confusing to me as, also according to Hastings in chapter 7, Hitler did realize that the war in Russia wasn’t winnable anymore after the failed Operation Typhoon and only tried to extend the war until the Cold War would kick in.
I can’t really accept him being bound by the tripartite pact either, since he already ignored several treaties throughout the thirties, invaded the USSR despite the Molotov-Ribbentrop-Pact and Japan didn’t follow their obligations in the Anticomintern-pact to attack the USSR either.
Didn’t he realize Japan was running into a very similar fate, or was he just too mentally ill/crazy at this point to see this danger anymore?
Gerhard Weinberg who also published Zweites Buch and is a major TG source wrote an excellent article on this.
Thanks for this article, i really didn’t think of the german leaders actually believing the stab-in-the-back-legend and therefore completely discarded US industry as the warchanging factor it became, considering the strong japanese navy at the start of the pacific war being somewhat superior to the US navy.
That belief in a legend instead of acknowledging the facts your intelligence bureaus might give you actually makes a major difference in how dangerous of a foe the US was perceived.
I also think that in dec. 1941 US was not a military power that could scare many. So, on the short timeline it made things simpler for Germany and the only hope to beat US was a short all in battle and then a peace agreement. I dont think anybody at that time could have forseen the real capacity in production of all kinds of materials. Even it hindsight the production numbers are hard to imagne. so I think Hitler had a kind of naive / insane short term approach. Just look at af map of Russia . if that cant scare you, you have some kind of psychological issue.
Totally agree an I was about to the US, in WW1 the build up was slow, but now under the operations genius Marshall, bombing-free factories and a truly enraged population the US produced unbelievably past and converted from cars and sports planes to war stuff. And sent tons of spare parts and upgrade kits across the whole planet.
The situation at the end of 1941 was dire an many predicted that the war would last until 1948. That it was over in just 3 years and 9 months is also because of the Brilliant production and training strategy. Compared to how long projects take today it still is very impressive
Besides most the of the fascist books of the time described Americans as lazy, complacent ,
and hated their movies/music . Especially “all quiet on the Western Front” .
So I agree to the great point that the logistical brilliance was not to be expected. In my view a lot of historians without a business/operations background don’t see how difficult a task this was.
Yeahh - they allready got the research infrastructure, windtunnels, knowledge of large scale production, logistic systems and a civil production system that could be reset. The keels of the New Jersey class was allready laid so this in combination with Marshall and highly motivated population provednto be the arsenal of democracy. Source for this: a speak I heard at a conference in Pearl Harbor in 2001.