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Alternate History

The Mediterranean Strategy

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Rommel 1

Soldiers of the German Afrika Korps on the move in North Africa.

 

With the fall of France in June of 1940, a very unique situation was presented to Germany. It now had the ability to cement its supremacy upon the face of Europe. With the commencement of an air campaign to neutralize defenses on the British Isles, it would only be a matter of time before Great Britain was brought to its knees with the full might of the Third Reich now turned on them. That all changed when Hitler declared to his generals his "resolve to bring about the destruction of the vitality of Russia in the spring of 1941."

Due to the stubbornness of Hitler and his refusal to change his mind about the Russian situation, Germany focused its energy, thoughts and power on the destruction of Russia. This left Great Britain and its potential ally the United States as threats in the west. The decision to concentrate primarily on Russia and allow the British to continue resisting them in the west eventually forced the Germans to fight a two-front war, a war they never did win.

But what if top army generals, along with their staffs, amassed arguments to convince Hitler to neutralize Britain before turning on Russia? With the possibility of striking across the channel not possible given the amount of time that had passed since the fall of France, the Mediterranean offered the best arena to defeat Britain. None saw this better than the German navy commander, Erich Raeder, and the chief of operations for the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW), Alfred Jodl. Only Raeder was open to the possibility of a Mediterranean strategy against the British with Jodl being less forceful on the matter and never bringing it up to Hitler. But what if Jodl was in fact very forceful for the adoption of a strategy in the Mediterranean? What if this were the final push Hitler needed to at least postpone the attack on Russia and focus instead on the neutralization of the British? This alternate timeline explores the possibility of the Germans postponing the invasion of Soviet Russia and instead pursuing a campaign in the Mediterranean to defeat the British.

This is The Mediterranean Strategy.

The Move to the South

When Adolf Hitler announced in July of 1940 his intentions to wage war on Russia, the matter worried many senior officers within Germany. Few officers though, were more concerned about the implications of a war with Russia
Hitler planning his strategy

Hitler going over the plans for the Mediterranean Campaign.

while the British front was still open more so than Grand Admiral Erich Raeder of the German navy. He determined that Great Britain must be dealt with first before dealing with Soviet Russia. While it was clear that nearly all military officers agreed with him in his observations, none wished to join Raeder in confronting Hitler about the matter. They had seen Hitler show little interest in any other topic except the preparations for the invasion of Russia. The Führer would often ignore generals and their staffs that attempted to divert his attention elsewhere. Raeder knew full well that Hitler might do that and reject his plan outright. This is why the Admiral sought allies for when he approached the Führer about a change in strategy. After searching fruitlessly for many days, he found his greatest ally in the form of the chief of operations for the Oberkommando der Wehermacht, Major General Alfred Jodl. Readers logic was so overwhelming to Jodl he pledged his complete support in the upcoming meetings with Hitler.

Since the rest of the army generals had been unable to sway the Führer to carry out a Mediterranean strategy, Admiral Raeder and Major General Jodl presented the plan to Hitler at two conferences in September of 1940. At the first conference, the Führer didn't pay close attention to the strategy presented by the two men and instead focused primarily on the Russian campaign. At the second conference however, things significantly improved. The two officers confronted Hitler alone and showed him step by step how Germany could defeat Britain elsewhere than over the English Channel. Doing so they said, would put Germany in a commanding position against the Soviets.

Finally, the sheer logic of the plan came through to Hitler. He expressed an interest in the details of the operation and wished to pursue the matter further. Never before had this occurred in any similar meetings. Over the next week, Raeder and Jodl explained in detail to the Führer the execution of the Mediterranean strategy and what the campaign would consist of. With input from other well known military officers like Field Marshal Erich von Manstein and General Heinz Guderian to back up their claims, Hitlers mind was made up quickly. In a conference later in October, the Führer declared that the invasion of Russia would be postponed until the British where dealt with in the west. The full might of the German war machine was once again turned against Great Britain and this time, Germany would not relent until they where defeated.

Opening Advances South

The first phase of the Mediterranean campaign focused on the destruction of the British army in Egypt and seizure of the vital Suez Canal. An agreement was reached with Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy and ally of the Third Reich, to allow German military forces passage through Italian occupied Libya. On the 8th of November, 1940, the first German units arrived in the Libyan capitol of Tripoli.

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