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Operation Unthinkable (Churchills Plan for War with the Soviet Union)

Posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:50 PM PST by tonycavanagh

Within days of the defeat of Germany in World War II, Winston Churchill ordered his war cabinet to draw up contingency plans for an offensive against Stalin that would lead to ``the elimination of Russia'', according to top secret British documents.

The resulting battle plan included the use of up to 100,000 German troops to back up half a million British and American soldiers attacking through northern Germany. It assumed that Stalin would invade Turkey, Greece, Norway and the oilfields of Iraq and Iran in retaliation and launch extensive sabotage operations in France and the Low Countries.

A 29-page report, codenamed Operation Unthinkable, was presented to the Prime Minister on 22 May 1945, 14 days after the end of the war in Europe.

It assumed that the Third World War would start on 1 July 1945, probably with a surprise attack by 47 British and American divisions between Dresden and the Baltic.

The war cabinet plan ruled out ``total war'' against the Red Army, which outnumbered the Allies by more than two to one, adding that there was no reason why an Anglo-American invasion of Russia would fare any better than Hitler's Operation Barbarossa.

Historians had long believed that the tense period immediately after the meeting of the armies of West and East led to plans of this sort, but today's publication is the first proof of their existence.

Professor D.C. Watt, the eminent historian who has written the official history of the British cabinet office in wartime, said it was the first time the papers had been read by anyone other than the principals.

``Nobody has ever seen this kind of thing before,'' he said, ``but we have had strong suspicions that they must have been written.''

The Unthinkable plan was eventually rejected by Churchill on the advice of the Chiefs of Staff and replaced with a defensive scheme to guard against invasion by the Red Army..


TOPICS: Germany; Miscellaneous; Russia; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: germany; greece; iran; iraq; norway; russia; sovietunion; stalin; turkey; winstonchurchill; worldwar2; worldwarii
A bit of what might have been History to chew over for all the armchair strategists out there.

I count myself amongst this lot.

Tony

1 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:50 PM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: jjbrouwer; MadIvan; vooch; Voronin; Travis McGee; Pericles
What might have been.

Tony

2 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:50 PM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: Clive
Any views could it of succeeded
3 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:50 PM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: tonycavanagh
After WWII, the pacifist mathematician, Bertrand Russell, advocated using the atomic bomb against Russia before they obtained it.
4 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:50 PM PST by Nogbad
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To: tonycavanagh
great finding thanks.
5 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:50 PM PST by green team 1999
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To: Serge
What do you think Serge could Russia of taken on a combined American British army.

Tony

6 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:51 PM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: tonycavanagh
The resulting battle plan included the use of up to 100,000 German troops to back up half a million British and American soldiers attacking through northern Germany.

Well, the Germans attacked Russia with over a million men and it did not turn out so well. On the other hand, I am sure American forces would also be coming WEST right after they finished up with Japan

7 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:51 PM PST by 2banana
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To: green team 1999; Nogbad
I hought it would make a change from all the Harry Potter Threads.

I wonder if it has ever been wargamed.

Tony

8 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:51 PM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: tonycavanagh
Maybe it could, maybe not. Don't forget. By this time, our State Department was infiltrated with lots of sympathizers. It could have succeeded if we used the A bomb. At that time, in 1945, we - the United States - was the only one who had it. Russia, with the rest of the world, was in shatters. We could have taken a plane right over Moscow and wiped it out. No more Stalin, etc. Maybe if Harry Truman could have been given a glimpse of the future to come he might have ordered it. Korea, Vietnam, Greece, China, an out of control CIA, JFK, Cuban Missile Crisis, Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, terrorists, the Iran hostage crisis, etc. Most of this happened due to Communism.
9 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:51 PM PST by 7thson
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To: tonycavanagh
There go you Brits trying to steal George Patton's idea.

Whoever thought of it, it was a brilliant plan. It would have saved a lot of global agony all these years.

10 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:51 PM PST by OK
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To: tonycavanagh
Source please?
11 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:51 PM PST by Captain Kirk
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To: tonycavanagh
Patton would have loved this.
12 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:52 PM PST by Campion
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To: tonycavanagh
Tony,

As a wargamer, I can say that this, and just about any other scenario like it has been wargamed.

GLC

13 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:52 PM PST by GreenLanternCorps
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To: tonycavanagh
I think such an attack was strategically possible, but probably not politically survivable. I just don't see how the U. S. or British public would back another war so soon on the heels of defeating Germany.

Assuming political unity, I think the men and material resources of the U. S. and Britain would have been more than a match for the Soviet Union. U. S. and British industry were outproducing the Soviets by far. We would have easily gained and held sea and air supremacy. And remember, we had the bomb by that point. Stalin wouldn't for many more years.

14 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:52 PM PST by Snuffington
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To: GreenLanternCorps
re : As a wargamer, I can say that this, and just about any other scenario like it has been wargamed.

What was the result or results.

Tony

15 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:52 PM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: tonycavanagh
The Alllies plus the Germans from the west. The US plus the Japanese from the east. The atomic bomb who knows?
16 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:53 PM PST by SgtSki
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To: Snuffington
re : but probably not politically survivable. I just don't see how the U. S. or British public would back another war so soon on the heels of defeating Germany.

That is how I read it, the Soviet Union was an ally, there was still Japan to beat, and with Germany and Japan beaten the people would want their boys home.

Tony

17 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:53 PM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: Snuffington
I have to agree. The US was certainly sick of war and would have been hard pressed to justify a "preventitive" attack on a former ally. Americans wanted to come home and resume normal lives and I suspect the Brits did too.
18 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:54 PM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Captain Kirk
Hi Captain Kirk forgot to post a URL, but if you put Operation Unthinkable into your search engine you will get a lot of information on this plan.

Tony

19 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:54 PM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: tonycavanagh
It would have worked for two reasons:

Two million Soviet and Eastern Europeans found themselves on our side of the line when WWII ended. We shipped them back to imprisonment and death under Stalin. Many committed suicide rather than return. We could have used them to invade the Soviet Union.

We had a monopoly on the A-Bomb for 4 years.

The reason we did not push on to Moscow was not because it was impractical. It was because of traitors in both the US and British governments.

20 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:54 PM PST by LarryLied
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To: tonycavanagh
Yes, this one kicks Harry Potter into touch. Just as I hope Lennox Lewis will do with the lucky Yank in Vegas tomorrow night.
21 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:54 PM PST by jjbrouwer
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To: SgtSki
re : The US plus the Japanese from the east.

The German High command were willing to put German troops at the disposal of the Western allies to use against the Soviets, but I think Japan would of been a different matter.

Would the American public agree to Americans fighting along side Japanese soldiers.

I don’t think the British public would agree and I think the reports of the holocaust would have had a major effect on any American, British German alliance .

Tony

22 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:54 PM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: tonycavanagh
Perhaps Churchill and Truman should have precipitated an attack on the Soviets in July 1945. The Russians were hundreds of miles into hostile territory (East Germany and Poland). The United States had the atomic bomb, which would have levelled Minsk, Leningrad, or Kiev, not to mention Soviet troop concentrations. There were hundreds of thousands of Wehrmacht troops who would have been very willing to fight on the Anglo-American side against the Soviet rapists and looters. The anti-Communist Poles would have risen against the Russians, as would have the Baltic states. The Soviets could have been pushed back to their 1939 borders in a few months. The Anglo-American monopoly on the atom bomb, plus support for nationalist uprisings in Ukraine, Central Asia, etc., would have forced the Russians to sue for peace, under a Brest-Litovsk type treaty.

The Soviets could have threatened Turkey, Greece, etc., but with heavy Anglo-American pressure on their forces in Central Europe and the possibility that the United States, after forcing the Japanese to an unconditional surrender, could have opened a second front in the Vladivostok area in short order, they would have been fools to do so.

In mid-1945, the U.S. leadership, including Harry Truman, could never have been persuaded to join the British in such a surprise attack. Remember that at the time, President Truman was making favorable remarks about "Unlce Joe" Stalin. Reportedly, Truman was angered at Winston Churchill's remarks, made in the President's home state of Missouri, about an "iron curtain" descending upon Europe. There were, in addition, highly placed Soviet agents in the U.S. State Department, of whom Alger Hiss was the most notorious. After Stalin had effectively communized most of Eastern Europe, Truman, Dean Acheson, et. al., turned anti-Communist. But by that point, any Allied military offensive in Europe was untenable.

The anti-anti-Communist mindset of the American leadership in 1945 was the probable reason that Churchill rejected the operation.

23 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:55 PM PST by Wallace T.
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To: tonycavanagh
Funnily enough I have a boxed wargame called 'Red Star Falling' based on just such a scenario.

Never had chance to play it, but I can email you extracts if you like!!

24 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:56 PM PST by Da_Shrimp
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To: Da_Shrimp
The Polish missus says she would definitely have been in favour of that happening! Would have saved her country years of suffering, to her mind.
25 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:56 PM PST by Da_Shrimp
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To: LarryLied
We shipped them back to imprisonment and death under Stalin

An act of cold-blooded obscenity I have never understood.

26 posted on 11/16/2001 1:23:57 PM PST by Dan De Quille
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To: Dan De Quille
Hard to imagine this happening today. I think the war was over and the boys were ready to come home and forget about Europe.
27 posted on 11/16/2001 1:24:00 PM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Dan De Quille
We shipped them back to imprisonment and death under Stalin An act of cold-blooded obscenity I have never understood.

Absolutely! This fact is the first thing I think of whenever Truman is praised.

28 posted on 11/16/2001 1:24:02 PM PST by muleboy
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To: Dan De Quille
Operation Keel Haul is rarely mentioned. Probably because liberals don't want to tarnish Truman or FDR. Russians at Ft. Dix NJ were marched under guard to a ship waiting to take them back to the Soviet Union. When they tried to sabotage the vessel, our government drugged them. And people today are worried about military tribunals for foreigners. Bet those Russians were not given even a modicum of due process.
29 posted on 11/16/2001 1:24:11 PM PST by LarryLied
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To: tonycavanagh
I'll bet American staffers developed a similar plan. The deployment of the A-bomb eliminated any need for implementing any of such plans.

Very few reporters understand that it is the job of military planners to come up with plans to do anything that might be conceivably required. The development of such plans has very little to do with what the intentions of their governments might be.

30 posted on 11/16/2001 1:24:18 PM PST by Restorer
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To: tonycavanagh
All of this unclassifed stuff is coming out after 50 years of secrecy.
31 posted on 11/16/2001 1:24:20 PM PST by codebreaker
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To: tonycavanagh
We had the leadership, we had the men, we had the equipment, if we only had the foresight and the motivation.
32 posted on 11/16/2001 1:24:21 PM PST by oyez
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Comment #33 Removed by Moderator

Comment #34 Removed by Moderator

To: Serge
I think the discovery of the death camps, took out whatever wind was in the sails of this plan. How can you march with people who massacred millions, including thousands of our own boys? I don't believe the people of Britain or the U.S. would have stood for it.
35 posted on 11/16/2001 1:24:58 PM PST by FiddlePig
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To: Serge
The USSR did not successfully test an atomic bomb until 1949. Granted, the Soviets could have released radiological, chemical, and biological weapons, but the Anglo-Americans could have responded in kind, with equal or superior delivery technology. Hitler did not cross the threshold into these weapons even when the Third Reich was in extremis; there is no reason to believe Stalin, more rational than the German Fuhrer, would have done otherwise.

In July 1945, Japan was virtually prostrate, with their military forces pushed back to their home islands, Korea, and Manchuria. Allied bombing had, by mid-1945, greatly curtailed Japanese industrial might. There are those who believe that the Japanese government was suing for peace before the atomic bombings and that said bombings were unnecessary. Without discussing whether the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were necessary, suffice it to say Japan was in no condition to be of much assistance to the USSR.

As for the Germans, remember that the Red Army took merciless vengance upon their nation. An important Soviet general bragged that "the blond hag (Germany) was in for a hard time." Soviet troops raped several million German women, from eight to 80 years of age. Most items of any value that were not hidden were stolen by the Russians. Unspeakable atrocities were inflicted on German POWs in Soviet camps. Machinery and factories would be boxed en masse back to the USSR, and over a million Germans died on a "Trail of Tears" from areas that had been German for centuries, like Silesia and the Sudetenland, to what would later become West Germany.

It is no wonder that German refugees fled from the Soviet enemy lines on the east to the Anglo-American lines on the west and why the German military fought the Soviets fiercely on a two year retreat from Russia back to Berlin, while fighting the Americans and British far less intensely. It is extremely unlikely that German soldiers would shoulder arms with such mortal enemies. On the other hand, they would have welcomed the chance to avenge their wives, girlfriends, mothers, and sisters, under the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes.

As for the Poles, the main resistance before the Soviet takeover was from the anti-Communist Polish Home Army that was more or less intact in mid-1945. The Baltic States, victims of mass exile by Stalin and too-willing collaborators with Hitler, were also an area that would have risen if given an opportunity. Don't forget, too, that guerilla warfare against the Soviet state continued in Ukraine until the early 1950s.

On top of all this, Stalin was a consummate realist who also believed in the inevitable victory of Communism. As a result, he would have retreated to the 1939 boundaries and await the next opportunity to advance the Communist cause. Furthermore, the British had no desire to recreate Operation Barbarossa. Thus, it would appear that had the British and the Americans took on the Soviets in mid-1945, the Red Tide would have retreated at least from the future East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the Baltic States.

36 posted on 11/16/2001 1:27:04 PM PST by Wallace T.
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Comment #38 Removed by Moderator

To: 7thson
Well, Truman knew about Communists in his government and he did nothing. See the published accounts of the Verona intercepts. He let a known-Communist head up the World Bank. Admitting the infiltration would have hurt his election chances. So I cannot Truman dropping a bomb on Moscow.
39 posted on 11/16/2001 1:32:39 PM PST by Chemnitz
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To: Serge
There was a strong anti-Communist element in the Polish population. Remember that in late 1944, the nationalist Polish Home Army rebelled in Warsaw against the Nazis. The Red Army waited outside of Warsaw and let the Wehrmacht do the dirty work of defeating the anti-Communists before they pushed the Germans out. Hundreds of thousands of anti-Communist Poles never returned from service with the Western Allies. A British-American move against the Soviets would have triggered civil war in Poland, and possibly, in western Ukraine. The Baltic States were also restive; the resentment against the Soviet occupiers ran deep. In the early 1990s, it was this area that led the way to the breakup of the USSR.

Additionally, I believe that even if the Soviets courted the old Nazi leadership, the German armed forces, especially the Wehrmacht, would have supported a renewed Third Reich. Both the officers and the troops would have been happy to fight, even in American or British uniforms, to free their land from the Soviet yoke. The hard core Nazi group was so connected to Hitler that the fall of the Third Reich discredited them. Look how rapidly the West Germans adapted to democracy and free market economics after 12 years of Naziism and three years of Allied military occupation.

In short, the Red Army would have been facing Anglo-American forces, armed with nuclear weapons, in the unfriendly climes of East Germany and Poland. BTW, I believe the U.S. could have built numerous atomic bombs in short order, as the nation's industrial and scientific bases was at full steam in 1945.

40 posted on 11/16/2001 8:24:59 PM PST by Wallace T.
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To: tonycavanagh
--my guess is the plans were aborted because they knew they had soviet sleepers in their midst, and in fdr's establishment, and that stalin had a copy of the plans within a day or two of them being written. They also new they would be starting such a campaign 100% infiltrated by communist sympathisers in all the liberated countries they were based in at that time of the end of the war. In short, it would have been a very bad play militarily, they stood a good chance of losing heavily. Quite a bit of the maqui, and the other resistance movements were all pro soviet, and they had literally millions of sympathisers in areas just saturated with modern weapons that had been abandoned all over recently. It would have been the mother of all behind the lines guerrilla wars almost instantly with the first advance against the soviets.
41 posted on 11/16/2001 8:39:56 PM PST by zog
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Comment #42 Removed by Moderator

To: Serge
If the Red Army and the Wehrmacht united against the British and American armies, the English speaking nations would have been defeated soundly if they attacked the Soviets, especially with the active French Communist maquis in the Anglo-American rear. However, if you subscribe to the theory that the "Germans are always Germans," that is, conquerors, the victims of German conquests were the Slavic nations to the East. By Nazi racial mythology, the British, mainly of Germanic and Celtic origin, were more "Aryan" than the Slavs, who were regarded as Untermenschen. While the United States is more heterogeneous, in the 1940s, a majority of the U.S. population was of Northwestern European origin, as were almost all American political and military leaders. Thus, whether Nazi or not, the Germans would have been more inclined to side with the Anglo-Americans in a fight with the Soviets. Given these factors and accounting for German animosity toward the Soviets in light of their atrocities in eastern Germany, it is inconceivable that the Red Army and the Wehrmacht could have teamed up.

The following is a summary account of events in East Prussia at the end of the war (from Eastern Documentation Section of the German Federal Archives at Koblenz):

"In East Prussian villages within the triangle Gumbinnen-Goldap-Ebenrode the same scenes were witnessed, old men and boys being castrated and their eyes gouged out before being killed or burned alive. In nearby Metgethen, a suburb of Königsberg, recaptured by the German 5th Panzer Division, around 60 women were found in a demented state in a large villa. They had been raped on average 60 to 70 times a day. In nearly every home, the bodies of women and children were found raped and murdered. The bodies of two young women were found, their legs had been tied, one limb each between two trucks, and then torn apart when the trucks were driven away in opposite directions. At Metgethen railway station, a refugee train from Konigsberg, consisting of seven passenger coaches, was found and in each compartment seven to nine bestially mutilated bodies were discovered. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, an ex captain in the Soviet Army, recalls, 'All of us knew very well that if girls were German they could be raped and then shot. This was almost a combat distinction.'"

A German-Russian alliance in 1945 would have been as inconceivable as a Nazi-Zionist one.

43 posted on 11/17/2001 7:20:38 AM PST by Wallace T.
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

To: Da_Shrimp
re : Never had chance to play it, but I can email you extracts if you like!!.

Where can I buy this game.

Tony

45 posted on 11/19/2001 1:50:15 AM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: Serge; oyez; Wallace T.
I think that it would of been a very hit and miss operation, with limited benefits

Rear area security would of been a problem for both the Western Allies and Russia, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish nationalists on one side and Communist resistance on the other side.

Both sides would of been able to recruit German Troops, the Western allies could of used the remnants of the Russian Liberation Army to build a Russian army to fight on the Western side.

I cant see the Population of the West supporting another European war so soon after the defeat of Germany, and with the details of the holocaust coming out there would of been a revulsion at the thought of dealing with the Germans as allies.

Britain could of lost the Empire a lot quicker as troops ear marked for empire duties in the Middle East far East and Africa, would instead be needed on the new Front. The NKVD and SMERSH forerunners of the KGB and GRU would of been used to formant wars of revelation and liberation across the globe.

Also such a war would of further bankrupt Europe as money that was earmarked for national reconstruction such as the Marshal plan would instead be needed to maintain the armies needed to fight.

I think it was too much of a risk.

Even if we had beaten Russia what then there would still of been wars to fight in Africa, the Middle East and far East, Europe would be in a worse shape than after the Second World war. And with communism gone you would still get liberation movements accept they would be nationalist or religious

Tony

46 posted on 11/19/2001 2:07:19 AM PST by tonycavanagh
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To: tonycavanagh
Did Churchill veto the proposal because of the potential difficulties or because Washington would not have cooperated? British intelligence was likely aware of Communist infiltration in the State Department; President Truman and his advisors were not anti-Soviet at this time. Remember that British and American troops were constrained from advancing eastward into Berlin, Vienna, and Prague in order to let the Soviets claim the honor of taking these capitals. Had Patton taken Prague and Montgomery captured Berlin, Germany would not have been divided, and at least Bohemia would have escaped the Communist clutches. Because of the treason of bureaucrats like Alger Hiss and the naivete of leaders like Harry Truman and Dean Acheson, I suspect Churchill realized that this Operation Impossible was indeed impossible.
47 posted on 11/20/2001 4:49:21 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: Wallace T.
I think it was more case of the factors I listed in reply 46.

With the end of the Second World war Britain was broke, and the Empire was in trouble local liberation movements were popping up all over the empire, troops were needed, troops that could not be spared to fight the Russians.

Tony

48 posted on 11/20/2001 5:13:26 AM PST by tonycavanagh
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 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks tonycavanagh.

Note: this topic is from 11/16/2001.

Blast from the Past.

Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


49 posted on 02/18/2012 8:44:43 AM PST by SunkenCiv (FReep this FReepathon!)
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To: SunkenCiv

Isn’t it too old of a thread?:))


50 posted on 02/18/2012 8:47:30 PM PST by cunning_fish
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