September 8 - What if Gernany had to face a second front in 1939?

What would happen if the Allies had attacked Germany in September 1939?
We've seen that all the operational capacity of the Wermacht was used in Poland. This is explained because, on one hand, the German Army was still small to endure 2 fronts at the same time. No general mobilization had been called so there was no way Hitler could hold a quick war in Poland and, at the same time, leave a good portion of high level divisions in the West. One of the great fears of the German High Command in the first days of war was that France and Britain would attack in the West. The few divisions behind the defensive lines (the famous Siegfried Line) in the German-French border were poorly armed and trained. Most had not yet achieved full operational status and had been stripped of equipment to be used in Poland. More, there were no reserves to face any additional movement or breach in the frontline.

So an offensive in the first days of war probably would have forced Germany to move some forces from Poland, easing the pressure and enduring operations for a few more weeks…

However, on the other side of the border an offensive in September or October would have been almost impossible. France had armies, tanks and operational potential to move into Germany. Great Britain still had no armies in France (the first units of the BEF - British Expeditionary Force would arrive on the 10th of September).

The problem was that the whole philosophy of the French Army was defensive! After the huge losses of lives in the First World War and predicting that the next war would be conducted on the same way, the French built The Maginot Line. This formidable system of defensive lines, bunkers, anti-tank barriers, underground installations was almost inexpugnable. It stretched from Switzerland to the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, covering the entire direct border between France and Germany. Nevertheless, the construction had stopped midway to the sea so it could be avoided.

And more important it completely influenced the French military thinking. The whole army was built around the myth of The Maginot Line, so the capacity to attack and to have mobility was absent. Even if they wanted to attack, the French would not know how or would be very afraid to leave behind their defensive barriers.

That’s why it would be very improbable that an offensive in the West could be launched in 1939 and, once again, Hitler won the bluff over the Allies. In the coming months, after Poland was conquered, a massive army would be gathered in the West. Protected by the pact with Stalin and leaving nothing but a few divisions in the East, Germany was able to, once more, concentrate all her potential against the enemies of the West…


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