Italy, Japan and Germany formed the core of Axis Powers during World War 2, blundered throughout their warring campaign, eventually paying for its overambitious dictators. Among a hoards of follies, certain were plainly farcical and miscalculations, coupled with lack of foresight.
The list is compiled in a chronological manner, narrowing down biblical blunders eventually sealing the fate of these dictators, opening its citizens to decades of humiliation, registering a defeat in history and catastrophic future ramifications.
1. Invasion of Greece by Italy during World War 2
Mussolini being a subject of professional jealousy against Hitler decided to invade Greece to prove his point, whereas Germany had invaded France with roaring success. According to his brother in law, Adolf Hitler deemed Mussolini as a fait accompli. He decided to return the favor by blitzkrieg(ing) Greece for illustrating his military prowess (or lack of).
Italy invaded Greece in 1940, heralding a forceful counteroffensive by Greek forces. 530,000-Italian troops failed to defeat an unpredictable Greece. In 1940, Italy launched another invasion on Greece, which was abysmally failing. Amazingly, Hitler rescued a humiliated Mussolini from Greek’s retaliation against Italy, resulting in total annihilation of Greece in 1941 (a blunder on Hitler’s behest).
As aforementioned, Germany diverted its army to help the damsel in distress when its own quagmire was much bigger in proportion. A 5-week postponement in its warring campaign against Russia predominantly sealed its fate as Germany was inept in combating Russian forces in its lethal winter. Hitler, too arrogant to put the onus on himself blamed Mussolini for the failed Russian invasion due to his abysmal campaign in Greece, culminating in Axis Power’s conclusion of its delusional aspirations.
2. Russian Invasion by Germany
Hailed as Operation Barbarossa, analogous to Japan, Fuhrer decided to poke the bear at his end for sealing German dominance in the East. Desiring annexation of Russian territories, Fuhrer desired to flush Russian and Jewish race down the toilet once and for all. Overriding the intelligence agency’s warnings, he envisioned a German victory as simplistic as his recent invasions in Poland and France. The crushing defeat of Russians at the hands of Finland was a window of opportunity Hitler saw timely to embark on a chain of of catastrophic blunders, putting nails in his coffin.
Germany’s Half a Chance at Defying Odds
The largest military confrontation in recorded history commenced in 1941, spreading over a distance of 1,000 miles. Let’s marvel at the numbers here:
- 3-million Axis soldiers
- 7,184-artillery guns
- 132-Russian army divisions
- 34-armored divisions
Man Proposes, Soviet Disposes
German invasion began with considerable success, capturing 300,000 Russians. In a monumental misplay, Hitler rerouted his foot soldiers towards Kiev. The invasion on Moscow stalled for five weeks, proving fatal for German troops. More so, ill-prepared to combat in history’s nastiest Russian winter, Wehrmacht was outnumbered in sustaining pressure on Moscow. Eventually, it retraced its steps from Russian sectors, outnumbered and outplayed.
Historians are still mixed regarding Russian invasion by Germany. Neglecting Hitler’s moronic military decisions, Germany stood a plausible chance of overpowering Russia. It’s one what if historians are intrigued for over generations.
3. Attack on Pearl Harbor
The Pandora Box
Being as overambitious as The Third Reich, the Japanese Empire was trapped in a similar quagmire. Due to its impractical hyper-expansionist strategies along Southeast Asia and South Pacific, its warring capability had greatly been truncated. Furthering its descend into an eventually crushing defeat was economic sanctions imposed by UK, USA (ceased oil exports) and Netherlands. Japan was waging war at multiple fronts (sounds familiar?). American aid backed China in its on-going war against Japan.
Japan was faced with 2-options:
- Strategic pullout from its newly acquired territories
- Headhunt for raw materials in Southeast Asian colonies
Sounds a rehash of The Third Reich, right? According to projections, if USA entered World War 2, it would be curtains for Japans. Japanese focused on attaining oil and rubber from invading the Southeast Asian colonies and stall the Americans by attacking Pearl Harbor. Its short-term strategy was to weaken American fleets, regroup and launch a fresh offensive on the Americans.
Thou Shall Make a Great Blunder
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, it merely poked the bear as Americans launched counterattack 6-months later in Battle of Midway. America had officially entered the war with its astronomical production rates and larger-than-life technological prowess unmatched by a Japan on life-support.
Yes, children. It’s debatable whether American entry was triggered due to Japan’s limited blitzkrieg. Japan repeated history itself 2-years later when it suffered from another humiliating defeat in Guadalcanal in 1943. From this perspective, The Third Reich and Japan showcased strategic incompetence.
4. Hitler vs. USA
When Nerds Takes the Bully
Originally, US had no intention of warring alongside Britain in World War 2. Given that it had declared war against Japan, it simply purveyed military supplies to UK in its war campaign. However, Germany had the gall to declare war against United States, poking the bear (let the sleeping dog lie) yet again. As per Tripartite Pact, Germany was under no obligation to declare war on US, only promised to assist Japan in case of a calamity.
The German foreign minister Von Ribbentrop stalled as pressure increased by Japan to follow its lead. Germany would be trapped in a barrel. Hitler foreboding a war against US planned to weaken the Americans, carried out his sense of obligation to Japanese, professing a joint war against Russia, as per the plan. The American entry into WWII proved fatal for Japan as events are etched in history of mankind. It provided Allied indomitable strength, additional firepower and military prowess to ward-off puny Axis Powers.
5. Weapon’s Research Program
Germany is well known to invent hoards of wondrous gadgets during period of World War 2, except what mattered, the nuclear bomb. United States, United Kingdom and Canada collaborated in developing atomic bomb in its Manhattan Project netting $2-billion (costing $26 billion today) in its entirety at the time. Germany’s nuclear project failed miserably and discarded later.
Hitler’s newfound obsession with Wonder Weapons, namely V1 and V2 rockets (ballistic missiles), latest jet fighters and Panzer tanks won him over. Hitler demanded massive tanks to defeat the enemy combatants. The narrow minded Nazis failed to respect the marvels of Jewish science or theoretical physics for that matter.
Piling Portfolio of Failures
It strained the Germany production industry as raw materials slackened during production of ginormous tanks. Inspired by Russian tank battalions (KV tanks and JS1 and JS2), he ordered production of mega-tanks. However, these tanks were just abysmal junks of metal, moving at a snail’s pace of 3-km and featured no protection of small arms. On the other hand, the Russian tanks were fully functional tanks, fast on battlefield and armed anti-infantry protection as well.
6. Hitler Misjudgment of Sea Strength
The German Navy detested The Third Reich as much as Hitler detested the navy as a sub-human military force. Germany Navy was second fiddle, headed by Karl Doenitz, the Nazi admiral Kriegsmarine was least respected and revered, preceded by Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe. Being an army veteran for entirety of his career, he advocated wolf-pack tactics and U-boats, yet failed at many things among which included grasping the importance of sea superiority.
While allocating budget for world’s largest stadium, Hitler opined that compared to a Bismarck, this structure will stand for centuries, whereas an armored ship is destroyed or if survives; just becomes scrap metal.
On the other hand, seemingly a dominant force on land, its sea strength was feeble for invading attack via sea. As a result, Hitler failed to anticipate Royal British Navy as a concrete threat. The Allied sea strength salvaged the situation during the concluding war period.
In essence, the World War 2 was a war of logistics. It’s intriguing to ponder over the extent of German success, had it taken strategic and time sensitive decisions. Had Germany Navy allocated considerable budget, what would be its success ratio?
7. White Supremacist Ideology
Red Army and Wehrmacht fought tooth and nail on the Eastern Front (comprising of Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Baltic states), the civilian populace perceived Germany army as liberators from hostile occupants. Stalin being a cruel tyrant, had already starved 12-million Ukrainian farmers to death, registered in history as mankind’s biggest atrocities in 1930s.
Spirit of Age
However, defenseless civilians were simply being replaced by one oppressive tyrant by another. Deeming slavish population as untermensch/ sub-humans, Nazi ideology was racist, surpassed common sense and practicality. Just as with Jewish population, Hitler decided to uproot slavish populace from their homeland in sheer disgust.
At the conclusion of war, Germany had already murdered 9.3-million civilians deemed as sub-humans in totality. The subjection of harsh treatment of minorities is well-recorded, and broadcasted in modern times as an indicator of fascist ideology.
8. Turkish/ Spanish Cold Feet
Spain’s Smart Alec
During World War 2, Spain was an affiliate of Axis yet it refrained from officially entering the war militarily. Francisco Franco, a fascist dictator, remained committed to rise to the occasion. The Spanish civil war fresh in mind, in addition to compromising its oil imports from America, Spain simply saw the war as a lose-lose situation.
Playing it wisely with the Fuhrer, he demanded his inclusion in World War 2 for massive amount of military supplies, including armed vehicles, grain, fuel, aircrafts and armaments. Leaving a bad taste in Hitler’s memory, he famously said to remove his own teeth as opposed to conversing with that individual again.
Turkey Goes Gandhi
Turkey had originally signed a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1941 as World War 2 commenced. It feared an invasion by the Soviet Union. Peace ensued until Turkey declared war on Germany in 1944 (convenient timing?).