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JoyousDiversion t1_j92m2df wrote

If Germany had not invaded Poland and stuck with what they had on August 31st 1939, would they have been able to beat America to the atomic bomb, and therefore been in a stronger position to win what would eventually have been WWII?

I don’t know how far along their atomic research was at that point, nor America for that matter, but I do know the invasion of Poland and subsequent actions created an urgency in the Americans weapons programme.

I know it’s a “what if” but I’m talking specifically about where both programmes were on August 31st 1939.


TheGreatOneSea t1_j92ngxo wrote

Germany, by its own estimates, wouldn't have had a nuke before 1947 at best, which is why the program was shelved; and if Germany doesn't invade the USSR by the start of 1942, there isn't a World War 2 at all, as Germany would start to run out of oil for its military machine, and thus, be in no position to win an offensive war.

Whatever such a conflict would look like, it would be a different beast than WW2, and the Germans still aren't getting a nuke first if Japan still attacks the US.


Luke90210 t1_j94vdzq wrote

Even having a nuclear weapon might not mean much without a delivery system. Nazi Germany never had a heavy bomber like the US. The Luftwaffe surprisingly didn't even have fuel drop tanks to maximize the range of its planes.


JoyousDiversion t1_j92plcw wrote

Fair enough. I had always assumed they had been further along given how it has been described at times as a kind of “atomic race” with the Manhattan Project.


Elmcroft1096 t1_j945arb wrote

I can't remember where I read it, but Hitler sought a 10 year long war, figuring that it would take 10 years of warfare to achieve all of his goals and have a nuke so figure with that idea he would want to or have to fight from 1939 until 1949 and just as the other poster pointed out I also read that the Nazi's own assessment was they wouldn't have a nuke until 1947 meaning that with Hitler thinking he needed 10 years, and his high command figuring that they wouldn't have a nuke until 1947, that even after getting the nuke they would still need some 18-24 more months of war for Hitler to achieve all his goals.


SherbertEquivalent66 t1_j96s2wk wrote

WWII was on once Germany invaded Poland in 1939. But, they wiped out French and British forces in France quickly. IMO, invading the USSR was the beginning of the end for them because it stretched out their supply lines and put them in a two front war once the US attacked them from the south and then the west (and bombed out their factories).


elmonoenano t1_j93jcyh wrote

There's a researcher named Alex Wellerstein who studies nuclear weapons history. He's done some AMAs here and posts on /r/askhistorians occasionally. He keeps a blog called Restricted Data. If you search around on it, there's lots of cool stuff. This post gets a little into your question.

Also, there's a BBC podcast called The Bomb. I don't think it was great, but there's enough useful info on it to make it worth listening to. But a few of the episodes address your question.


Luke90210 t1_j94vopz wrote

Germany was in dire shortage of much required for nuclear weapons. Nazi Germany had no uranium mines while the US could import what it needed from as far away as Australia.