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Old 02-14-2023, 09:31 AM
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Question Questions for our German members

In a late Cold War scenario, pre-German reunification, in which the Soviets employed tactical nuclear weapons in an attack on West Germany from the DDR, would the West German government have authorized NATO to retaliate in kind against targets on East German soil?

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Old 02-14-2023, 02:09 PM
Ursus Maior Ursus Maior is offline
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That would not have been a decision, in theory, to have been made by the German government. The defense of Germany was fully integrated into warplanes of NATO and that included the use of nuclear weapons. All of this was controlled by NATO and the armed forces or states that had (some or all) of their nuclear-armed weapons assigned to NATO. So, it would have been NATO's military component that would have ordered the use of nuclear weapons, but of course a political process would have taken place before that decision would have been made. That political process would have taken place in NATO's political structure.

There were two important exception to this rule concerning your question, though. First, France had left the integrated military command during the 1960s, but had remained a fully committed member of NATO on the political level. Second, Germany, under the Bonn–Paris conventions had regained "the full authority of a sovereign state" in 1955, but that sovereignty was in fact somewhat limited and revocable by the Western Allies. And while all armed forces in Europe were fully integrated into NATO (sans the French forces during peace time), Germany had somewhat lesser rights. Also, Germany retained the Territorialheer, its territorial army, distinct from the Feldheer, the regular army. The Territorialheer was not part of NATO's integration (in theory), but only Feldheer units were to be equipped with nuclear weapons from US-German joint depots in wartime.

The Feldheer was structured up to corps level (plus a slim national command structure during peacetime), with all higher command functions being part of NATO. This was how NATO worked. Should NATO consider the use of nuclear weapons, the first question would be "what's the context"? E. g. nuclear weapons could already have been used strategically and by one or both sides. Second, nuclear weapons could be used first by NATO on a tactical level to destroy breaking through Pact (likely Soviet) forces. Third, Soviet forces could have already used nuclear weapons on a tactical level, disrupting - amongst other effects - communications with parts of NATO's leadership.

Most likely, NATO's intelligence apparatus and those of its members would have seen the use of nuclear weapons coming. Taking nukes out of their shelters, priming them, readying them etc. shows up on satellites and other intelligence sources. In that case, talks would have been held. What happens, if they fire first? What if the German leadership or indeed NATO's political leadership is killed off or disrupted and cannot decide in time to retaliate etc.

In the end, plans would have been made in advance, to make sure they can be played out when necessary. Improvising during wartime is bad, improvising nuclear war is just suicide. And the plan during the 80s was always: nuclear weapons are an actual option for various scenarios. So, if push comes to shove, would Bundeskanzler Helmus Kohl have ordered it? On West German ground: probably, but depending on the "where" maybe not. Chancellor Kohl was from Rhineland-Palatinate. He might have hesitated to nuke Frankfurt and the rest of Hessia. I'm not sure, he would have spared Bavaria, save for Munich maybe. But glazing some small towns in the great northern flatlands? I'm convinced, he would have done it.

On East German ground? Absolutely, yes! Until 1989 reunification was a distant, abstract goal. The Cold War was a total war of two systems. West Germany wanted to build a nuclear repository (the final resting place ouf our burnt out nuclear waste) right next to the Inner German Border, well aware that it might seep into East German ground water. Politically, no quaters were given and if it would come to the point of "us or them?", raining death onto a concentration of Soviet divisions, about to pour into Hamburg? Sure thing. He might have hesitated to do the same to East German divisions, given the option to "either 3 Soviet division or 3 East German ones", but again: total systematic opposition. The right-wing of Germany, including Kohl's party CDU, was famous for its battlecry of "dead before read" ("lieber tot als rot"), meaning they would have chosen to die, before submitting to communist rule.
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Old 02-15-2023, 03:15 AM
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Hi there,
a while ago we had a discussion on the Bundeswehr in the eighties:

forum.juhlin.com/showthread.php?t=6410

Ursus' answer is correct (in the sense of: that was the situation during that time.).

The whole situation after Russias invasion of the Ukraine showed us, that the German government (and society) is able to change opinions.
I think, depending on the way of a war, everything is/was possible.

Hm, that is not a very helpful answer. But, honestly, I am very uncertain, in which way the existing "laws" might have been altered.

Take care, everybody!
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Old 03-22-2023, 09:31 AM
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Danke schoen.

Here's another question, this one pertaining to an alternative branch to the v1 timeline.

In this branch, a military coup overthrows the Gorbachev government in 1989 and the Soviet military in Eastern Europe cracks down hard on pro-democracy demonstrations, including those in East Berlin, ultimately crushing them. The West is horrified but takes no direct action save diplomatic condemnation and economic sanctions. The Soviet action preserves the Warsaw Pact and increases tensions with the West.

The Soviet Union still attacks China, as per v1 canon, and, when the offensive stalls out due to stronger-than-anticipated Chinese resistance, a couple of select DDR units are mobilized to be sent east.

Some high up in the DDR military are not happy about this and begin secret negotiations with their counterparts in the Bundeswehr...

Under these circumstances, could you see the West Germans unilaterally (or with secret tacit US approval) attempting reunification by force?

Really, the only difference between this scenario and v1 canon is the coup and the violent crack down on peaceful pro-democracy protests. I know from previous discussions here that some of you consider the v1 timeline re Germany to be highly implausible, but I'm wondering if a new wrinkle- East German civilians being shot down in the streets by Soviet troops- might lessen that implausibility at all. (I hope it doesn't add to it.)

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Old 03-24-2023, 04:00 AM
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Hi Rae,

I've been thinking about your question for some days.
I'm not too familiar with V.1 and I don't have my books at hand, right now.

Maybe I sound repetative and/or annoying, but once again it comes down to the legal situation in Germany.
Obviously there were no 2+4 negotiations, therefore the governments of both German states were not completely free in their decisions. Both states were still occupied, at least from a legal point of view.

If any (re-)unification by force, that would only happen, if backed up by the Western allies.
I can't imagine that - whatever party is the leading one in the Westgerman government - any military actions would be begun by Western German units.

On other levels, I can see negotiations or consultations with organisations in Eastern Germany. As far as I know, there have always been contacts between the two German states on a non-official base. Maybe some actions would be ignited from the intelligence organisations of the two German states?

Short answer: I can't see any violent actions without the support of the western allies.

Hope his is of any value.

Take care, everybody.
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Old 03-24-2023, 10:05 AM
Ursus Maior Ursus Maior is offline
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I fully concur with B.T.

Germany and German politics just didn't operate that way. There was no way to move troops at brigade level and above without NATO knowing and approving. Also, there was a strong sense of "never again" in the sense of never again showing aggression or use force as the first party. It's not only a cultural thing, but also a thing of political and military doctrine and actual law (it's in the constitution!).

So, bottom line is: If the Bundeswehr moves, its moves are sanctioned by the Western allies. I would even add: it would never move alone. First of all, Bundeswehr logistics and force posture wasn't made for large scale operations withouth NATO support, most certainly no into an Easterly direction (aka "offensive"). And besides this technical point, German leadership would simply refuse to order their troops to act in such a manner, unless their allies would move with them.

Three reasons for that: 1) It looks aggressive on a political scale, both on the international scale and in domestic politics. As established, Germans wanted never again to look like or be the aggressor. This went so far as for active duty soldiers to resign or refuse orders in all major deployments since Desert Storm. The German populace would immediately begin large scale demonstrations.

2) Such a move is high risk on a strategical scale. Breaking the Inner German Border means de facto attacking Soviet forces. Without nuclear cover - aka "going solo" - that's tantamount to sacrificing troops to Soviet nuclear strikes, at least in theory.

3) This means risking full nuclear war. Why would the allies support a move, but not follow through with it themselves and thus increase the threat of nuclear war.
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Old 03-15-2024, 11:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ursus Maior View Post
Germany and German politics just didn't operate that way. There was no way to move troops at brigade level and above without NATO knowing and approving. So, bottom line is: If the Bundeswehr moves, its moves are sanctioned by the Western allies. I would even add: it would never move alone. And besides this technical point, German leadership would simply refuse to order their troops to act in such a manner, unless their allies would move with them.
Did West Germany ever conduct any unilateral military exercises during the Cold War?

Is the "German leadership" that you're referring to military or civilian (or both)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ursus Maior View Post
Such a move is high risk on a strategical scale. Breaking the Inner German Border means de facto attacking Soviet forces. Without nuclear cover - aka "going solo" - that's tantamount to sacrificing troops to Soviet nuclear strikes, at least in theory. This means risking full nuclear war. Why would the allies support a move, but not follow through with it themselves and thus increase the threat of nuclear war.
In theory, yes. Would the Soviets use nuclear weapons on its ally, East Germany's soil? I imagine that some West German military planners would conclude that Moscow wouldn't go that far (as long as the Bundeswehr stopped short of the Polish border).

I really appreciate your insight and expertise, Ursus and BT. I don't doubt your conclusions, but I must ask, are you taking into account the context of v1's reunification narrative, or looking at it solely through the lens of real history?

Since we're examining an alternate universe, I think we should try to look at things through the lens of that fictional history where it diverges from our own before concluding that the events described therein are impossible (or not). I'm not suggesting we ignore reality, or simply accept the fiction without question. I'm trying to reconcile the two, as best I can. To that end, there are a couple of important differences between what actually happened IRL and v1 canon that I think need to be taken into consideration before reaching any final conclusions.

Firstly, in the Twilight War narrative, the Soviet Union is involved in a major war of its own making in the Far East. After initial success, Chinese resistance stiffens, Soviet advances slow, and attrition rates climb dramatically. Moscow is preoccupied with its war China. Second, Moscow is demanding the direct involvement of DDR forces in combat operations in said Asian theater (IIRC, in T2k canon, some DDR units have already been committed to the meat grinder in China). Third, elements in the DDR government and military are opposed to sending additional forces off to fight the PRC.

Certainly, NATO intelligence services would become aware of this reticence, and some elements thereof would perhaps seek to exploit it.

Was there a sense of solidarity between West and East Germans during the Cold War? Or was the idea of ein volk considered dangerously reactionary? It certainly seemed like it was more the former to the teenaged me who watched TV coverage of the jubilant protests in both halves of Berlin as the wall came down in 1989.

What I'm wondering is, in the v1 timeline, would West Germans, upon learning of their DDR cousins being sent off, in many cases against their will, to die in the USSR's East Asian adventurism, sympathize with their plight? Would there be widespread desire to do something on their behalf? Obviously, there would be various diplomatic objections. On the popular level, at the very least, I can imagine anti-Soviet street demonstrations in West Germany, and even a renewed sense of pan-German nationalism.

If high ranking DDR officials reached out to high-ranking West German military officers and suggested- or even invited- some sort of reunification gambit, would they be turned down out of hand? In my reading of v1 canon, at least some DDR military units turned coats and actively supported the West German reunification forces; others refused to fight the Bundeswehr.

I don't see the v1 reunification scenario as one where West German launches a war of aggression or territorial conquest against its eastern neighbor. The way I look at it, it's more of a rescue operation, to liberate East Germany from Soviet oppression- to prevent the slaughter of East Germany's young men on the battlefields of Manchuria. Moscow's focus is to the east, and its forces in Europe are weaker than they've been in decades. There might not be a better opportunity to liberate East Germany in the foreseeable future.

Back to factuals, during the later Cold War period, was there any sort of liaison between high ranking military officers of the West and East German militaries?

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https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...nia-Sourcebook
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Last edited by Raellus; 03-16-2024 at 04:18 PM.
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Old 03-16-2024, 03:47 PM
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In my reading of v1 canon, at least some DDR military units turned coats and actively supported the West German reunification forces; others refused to fight the Bundeswehr.
Yep. The NATO Vehicle Guide's West German OOB makes it pretty explicit that some East German units sided with West/Reunified Germany immediately. 27th and 29th Panzer Divisions and 21st, 24th, and 211th Panzergrenadier Divisions are all former East German formations that turned on the Soviets in October-November 1996. (28th PzGren is also ex-East German but the unit history doesn't mention whether it flipped immediately.)

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Old 03-18-2024, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Tegyrius View Post
Yep. The NATO Vehicle Guide's West German OOB makes it pretty explicit that some East German units sided with West/Reunified Germany immediately. 27th and 29th Panzer Divisions and 21st, 24th, and 211th Panzergrenadier Divisions are all former East German formations that turned on the Soviets in October-November 1996. (28th PzGren is also ex-East German but the unit history doesn't mention whether it flipped immediately.)

- C.

v1 says:

"In September, a third call for troops from Eastern Europe was
made, to be ready for movement by mid-October whether their
equipment and training were complete or not. On October 7th,
1996, the Bundeswehr crossed the frontier between East and
West Germany and began attacking Soviet garrison units still in
the country. The army of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) remained quietly in barracks."

...

"By the end of November, the Bundeswehr was in serious trouble.
Soviet Frontal Aviation had left their most modern aircraft in the
west; these were qualitatively a match for the Luftwaffe and
quantitatively more than a match. As the Bundeswehr lines began
to crumble, high ranking officers of the East German Army made
their move. In a bloodless coup, the civilian leaders of the country
were deposed and replaced with a military junta. Two days later
the new government ordered the army into the field against the
Pact forces in the country and formally requested intervention on
their behalf by NATO."

So there's a month and a half between the kick-off (Oct 7) and the fold in of East German forces into combat against the Russians.

One of the big problems with the 2 month West Germany goes alone scenario is a lot of FRG bases were shared NATO bases. I can't imagine the USSR/WP forces fighting a purely defensive war and not striking FRG bases with conventional ballistic missiles and air strikes and thus inflicting casualties on US / British forces.
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