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It's hard to believe this hasn't been turned into a crappy Harry Turtledove book

Operation Unthinkable was a code-name of two related plans of a conflict between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. Both were ordered by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1945 and developed by the British Armed Forces' Joint Planning Staff at the end of World War II in Europe.

The first of the two assumed a surprise attack on the Soviet forces stationed in Germany in order to "impose the will of the Western Allies" on the Soviets and force Joseph Stalin to honour the agreements in regards to the future of Central Europe.

The Chiefs of Staff were concerned that given the enormous size of Soviet forces deployed in Europe at the end of the war, and the perception that the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was unreliable, there existed a Soviet threat to Western Europe. The Soviet numerical superiority was roughly 4:1 in men and 2:1 in tanks at the end of hostilities in Europe.[...] The Soviet Union had yet to launch its attack on Japan, and so one assumption in the report was that the Soviet Union would instead ally with Japan if the Western Allies commenced hostilities.

The hypothetical date for the start of the Allied invasion of Soviet-held Europe was scheduled for 1 July 1945.[...] The plan assumed a surprise attack by up to 47 British and American divisions in the area of Dresden, in the middle of Soviet lines.[...] This represented almost a half of roughly 100 divisions (ca. 2.5 million men) available to the British, American and Canadian headquarters at that time.[...]

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The NZ Division spent VE Day staring down the communists in Trieste - scary times.

Well it was supposed to have been on the 1st of July 1945, but Churchill kept stalin...

Give this man a trophy.

There are people out there who are deeply disappointed that the Western Allies never did anything like this.

Well arguably it would have been the right thing to do. There already were reports of the atrocities the Soviets were commiting in the conquered territories.

Which part of "The Soviet numerical superiority was roughly 4:1 in men and 2:1 in tanks at the end of hostilities in Europe." did you not read?

Basically Churchill was planning to do to the Soviets what Hitler had tried to achieve with Operation Barbarossa a few years earlier, with less of an element of surprise, a devastated Europe short on everything lying behind them and with the Soviet military production lines still going full blast safe behind the Caucasus mountains. Kicking off this invasion in July would have meant fighting through the winter in western Russia, assuming they got anywhere to start with. Now who else made that mistake? Hmmm let me see..

And folks wonder why the Soviets positioned so many troops in Eastern Europe after the war.

(Deleted comment)
"The right thing to do" in the sense of giving the Soviets even more of Europe to control after the exhausted Anglo-American forces collapse against overwhelming force? And if your answer is, "use nukes," it's unlikely the bombs available would've made a difference, and not using them against Japan while not having sufficient forces present to implement Downfall would ensure the continued existence of Imperial Japan.

So, yeah, great premise for a dystopian alt-history.

More interesting would be a utopian alt-history based on that premise -- no Cold War with treasure spent on defending the Rodina from the Western capitalists and their millions of troops poised to invade Eastern Europe and no need to clamp down on the Warsaw Pact satellites quite so hard could have led to the Triumph of Socialism originating in some hotbed of left-wing idealism like Paris or Rome. Mack Reynolds played with this idea in a few stories as I recall.

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Damn good reason to deny anonymity

James, do you think this poster would have posted this had it had to put its own identification to the statement?

"It's hard to believe this hasn't been turned into a crappy Harry Turtledove book"

Ooops - he heard you. "The War That Came Early" series does have Allied troops invading the USSR.

Different branch point, though. Well, two: the war starts early and then, the people of the 1940s realizing a truncated war could cost Turtledove $$, the Brits and French change sides.

And then they switch sides again in the next book. Chutzpah, he's got.

It would seem less implausible for America to change sides. The British had good reason not to want the Germans very close, but before the war both nations had American sympathizers. This could not actually happen, as having America and Germany on the same side would have cost Turtledove even more money.

Winston Churchill, military genius. This is even worse than his obsession with the "soft underbelly of Europe." It would make the Dardanelles look like a mishap in a sandbox. (Happy belated Anzac Day, y'all!)

Plan for everything, that's the rule (Canada had a plan for invading the US in the 1930s which has been described as "nothing if not ambitious").

I take it from the above that one plan was defensive, and that is the plan more likely to be of use. It would not suprise me if the other was intended to be leaked to Soviet intelligence for some arcane reason. Stalin would certainly have expected us to use German troops against him, (though it would cause a virtual revolution in the UK if we did), and as the plan does not seem to involve those he might guess at the deception, and wonder what France would have to say and ... I have a headache.

William Hyde

There's no way the U.S. would have gone along with such a plan with the war in the Pacific still going on, and without the U.S. the British could not have attacked the Soviets on their own. I just see this as Churchill indulging in planning for the sake of planning, because the Soviet Union had suffered horrific loss of life and destruction, and much of the rest of Europe was in similarly dire straits. It was Hitler's war and no one wanted to take it up after he was gone.

I find that the destruction of WWII is somewhat exaggerated when it comes to my country: my grandma for example tells me that Bulgaria had not suffered much damage, we saved our Jews, and you just had to cover your windows with books to distract bombers. But I think Bulgaria was an exception, like Denmark. It's what came later that was the problem.

Bulgaris was lucky not to have been in a direct line between Moscow and Berlin and it had leaders sensible enough to ally with Germany without actually getting too involded in the war.

Speaking purely of literature though, every Harry Turtledove book avoided = success.

I don't know, some of his earlier stuff wasn't too bad. Any NEW Turtledove book avoided, sure.

I find it strange that I have read this blog for years, yet this post has made me comment most.

I'm glad you commented. I appreciated the history lessons, both the ones you offered, and the ones that were hurled in your direction, and your comment is good starting point for the question: "What more could the West have done to help Eastern Europe?"

So, thanks.

Edited at 2013-04-29 03:57 am (UTC)

I belive Robert Conroy has gone to this well once or twice, so at least an off-brand crappy Harry Turtledove book exists...

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