Thursday, July 17, 2014

The trump card was dealt 69 years ago yesterday

I subscribe to a few World War II-related Facebook groups and every now and then someone posits a scenario they think could have altered the outcome of the war in Europe and let the Germans win.

Sometimes it’s the failure of the D-Day invasion, or a German victory in the Battle of the Bulge or some other pivotal battle. More frequently it involves the earlier appearance of the Me 262 jet fighter in greater numbers, countering the Allied air offensive.

None of these would have prevented an Allied victory.

Want to know why?

It involves something that happened 69 years ago yesterday. The detonation of the world’s first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert.

Depending on who you believe, the Germans failed to appreciate the potential of an atom bomb and devoted insufficient resources to it or – more improbably, reached the point of a couple of nuclear tests but were far behind us in developing an operational nuclear weapon.

Either way, as of July 16, 1945 the United States held the trump card that could defeat any enemy on earth almost instantly.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were designated as potential atomic bomb targets in advance, but I have never read of any such designation for German cities. Maybe that’s because British Bomber Command did such a thorough job of flattening German cities that by May, 1945, they were out of significant targets.

But my point is that, given the Manhattan Project and the absence of Axis nuclear weapons, Allied victory was assured no matter what the Germans and Japanese did.

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