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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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https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...--Rooks-Gambit
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...ula-Sourcebook
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...nia-Sourcebook
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...liate_id=61048
https://preview.drivethrurpg.com/en/...-waters-module
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  #5  
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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