Was really germany more ready to war in 1938 than 1939 ? And what would have happened if germany asked for right to pass to poland il order to go directly attacking USSR without making france and uk declare war on them?

Was really germany more ready to war in 1938 than 1939 ? And what would have happened if germany asked for right to pass to poland il order to go directly attacking USSR without making france and uk declare war on them ?


No, I don’t think they were readier in 1938; in 1938 there were only 40 infantry divisions in the Army. (“First wave” divisions). Certainly they would have had no chance against the Soviet Union in 1938. In September 1939, the Germans had 94 divisions, but many were quite new (including 14 of the “Fourth Wave” - which in October were declared to be in need of more training)). There were also 5 panzer divisions (1938/1939), and a scattering of “light” brigades.

The “heaviest” German tank In 1938 was the Pzkw-2, with its fearsome 20mm gun. The Germans would have had fewer and less effective aircraft. The military capability of Germany grew explosively between 1938 and 1939.

So I’d say going to war in 1938 would have been a pretty bad idea.

As far as the Poles allowing the Germans free passage though to attack the USSR, it just wasn’t in the cards. Hitler wanted Poland, and was intent on not antagonizing the Russians in 1939, and so gave them Eastern Poland. The Poles themselves would not have trusted Hitler (already spouting “untermeschen/ubermenschen” stuff) to not ‘accidentally’ conquer Poland. And demanding free passage through Poland would have kind of telegraphed what was going to happen to Stalin.

Having grabbed Poland, HItler knew he wasn’t ready to have at the Russians; he had other fish to fry - in France.

Let’s remember that Hitler was not alone among Germans lusting to ‘avenge’ the loss of WWI, in a myth very popular at the time, the “Never defeated on the battlefield”/“Stabbed in the Back” that absolved the Army of any blame for losing the war. (Very popular in upper Army circles, for obvious reasons.). Hitler didn’t really need an excuse to invade France, any more than he needed to have one for Poland.

So in sum, I think Germany would have been less ready for war in 1938; and that trying to finesse things as you describe would need Hitler be much more deft in his handling of war and peace than he was.

Hope this helps!


@xfilesfc thank you very much bro for this precise and complete answer !


To add onto what was already said, remember Germany had annexed Czechoslovakia and the Allies were pretty mad at Germany.


One question. Which nation prepared for war better between 1938 and 1939? Germany or Britain? I have heard it said that Britains Air Force improved dramatically in that year.

I would say this, in 1938 the Czechs were ready for a fight, had prepared defenses and probably would have put up a stiff fight. They really did kind of get screwed over.


I think you’re right - the Czecs were perhaps the best prepared - they had better tanks than the Germans, excellent defensive terrain, and would, in my opinion, have fought the Germans to a standstill in 1938. And yes, they got hosed by Britain and France - who were desperate to avoid a new general war.

I’m not sure any of the major powers was ready for war in 1938. Even the Russians, who had a huge military, would prove themselves to be incompetently led in 1938 (as shown in the Russo-Finnish war of 1939 - the “Winter War.”). The RAF definitely grew in 1938-9, especially in fighters. The “bomber will get through” boys were all for building only bombers, but the Chamberlain government overruled them.

I’ve heard it put forward that Chamberlain was intent on appeasing Hitler, because he could see what was coming as much as anybody, but needed time to get sufficient fighters built (the first 200 spitfires went into service between August 1938 and June 1939), and about 10 times that many Hurricanes over the time period.).

I’m not so sure about that, but certainly Churchill and his partisans have made sure Chamberlain is portrayed a much lesser figure than “in the wilderness” Churchill. At the time, Chamberlain was hailed (in Britain) as a brilliant statesman, keeping Hitler from dragging the world into a new Great War, and Churchill seen as a bellicose idiot, intent on the opposite. When Hitler crossed everybody and attacked Poland, Chamberlain certainly did not flinch about declaring war.

The French might have been the best prepared, except in one category - morale. The French desperately did not want another War; WWI had seen their northern lands devastated and filled with explosive death (some of which is still found from time to time today.). Having been out-thought by the Germans, their military instantly collapsed in 1940.

Hope that helps!


Let us say the czechs did decide to defend their land… how long could they have held out?


It could be argued that Germany wasn’t ready for major war when it invaded Poland in 1939.
Germany wasn’t organized for war and the success in France in 1940 needed a lot of luck. Yes, they were well organized and were able to exploit it when the dice rolled their way; but it could easily have gone pear shaped.


I would say Britain made the best use of the 12 months leading to September 1939. Germany didn’t make huge changes in the period while Britain prepared it’s economy to go on a war footing, it had started in the mid thirties. So it was able to move to war production, introduce shipping convoys and implement rationing very rapidly.
This allowed Britain to roughly match German aircraft production in 1939 and exceed it for each of the following three years.
In August 1938 fighter command had less than 100 monoplane fighters and radar had only just become operational.
By August 1939 they had over 300 monoplane fighters and production was over 100 a month. Radar covered the East and South coast and Dowding had implemented an integrated battle space management system.


Who has argued that Germany was ready for a war against France and The Brittish Empire in 1939?


I think the only one who argued they were ready was Hitler. The question is did anyone believe it? Everyone knew it was a bluff but everyone had reasons to avoid war at all costs so the bluff worked.

How long could Czechoslovakia have held out is one of the great what if questions. Xfilesfc thinks they could have fought Germany to a standstill and this might have been true. They certainly could have done as well as Poland but probably better. Question is what would have her Ally’s do?

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Which Ally’s? Neither France or UK had been able to support them. Great what if questions are not great, but just fantasy for people who do not care much about history. Today the Ukrainian people have not fighting allied troops on their side, but a “Lend Lease” coalition never seen before.

Hi "oulfalaymoun,

Great question and a very heartfelt welcome to the forum. Please let me or other team members know should there be any comments and or queries, and thanks again for joining.:pray:


No comment, but some questions are statements of ignorance.

No Germany would not have been as prepared in 1938 for war as they were in 1939 but there’s two sides to this. In 1938 they still would have been more prepared than the west was for war, but as I pointed out on a question/topic I posted months ago, Germany would still not have been as prepared as they could have been because of their failure to realize they would need an all-out total or mass production economy for this war. And to the second question you ask I don’t believe asking the west for “permission” to pass through or take Poland on it’s way to invading the USSR was possible. The west had "guaranteed Polish sovereignty and Hitler was never going to want to just pass through Poland. He wanted to obliterate Poland to say the least. And even if somehow Nazi Germany invaded the USSR in 1939, Russia would have had talks with the west for a partnership and the Allies would have had Russia on board even earlier. Nazi Germany benefited early in the war by having the Non-Aggression Pact with Russia in place. Not only was the Germany military and its tactics better than western forces, but the west was never gonna make a move on Russia as long as it was allied with Germany.

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“ Definition of ignorance

: the state or fact of being ignorant : lack of knowledge, education, or awareness

No one here has all the knowledge and I learned a lot of new stuff here from countless people and I am trying to learn more. Eg my last question on Inuit because I have some of their art at home yet know way too little about the Russian inuit.

So we totally welcome questions from new users who like all of us weren’t born with a History degree. We all started “ignorant”. Let us just be courteous and encourage queries.


I accept your point. But please, do not praise questions as “great” when they are a bit on the innocent ignorant side. False praise is a insult.

Well my answer to this is that I think it was a great question and it is ok here in my view to praise questions and thank people for participating. After the stern warning you received regarding your blatantly false statements on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre ( Zuroff) it is I think not fitting to criticize the quality of other people. And maybe it is a case of “I didn’t know this” or misreading sources I don’t know.

As to “False praise” is an insult. If you are accusing me of false praise? You cannot mind read me. And frankly whether you believe or not is your prerogative!

By the way in a lot of cultures it is OK to give people compliments, Just judging people and is that not seen as false praise. This is a global forum with lots of people posting from different cultures. That is what I really like!

And if you don’t like me welcoming new users and offering help well please skip my posts.

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I’m not sure; certainly the Czecs would have been better motivated than the Germans. The Czecs had the great Skoda works to keep grinding out tanks and equipment; the Czecs had a respectable (but outnumbered by the Germans) air force.

Then there are wild-cards. What if France and England decide to make an invasion a reason for war, and WWII starts in… 1938? What if Russia decides to intervene on behalf of “fellow slavs”? (The Nazi-Soviet pact is a year away.)

One thing I didn’t know was that the Czecs bought 60 Russian bombers (Tu-SB’s) because they knew they couldn’t build their own fast enough.


You know if you have nothing to add to a question other than criticism, it is reasonable to sit the question out. The statement that someone asks a what if question does not care about history is condescending in the extreme. You don’t know the answer about this person so being dismissive of them is totally non constructive. And yes I said it was a great question. Don’t like it? You are not the moderator.

As for your comment, what Ally’s? Britain did not have a defensive pact but France and Russia did. Russia was willing to send aid but was denied access.