Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (7 November 2017, 17 Heshbon, 5778)
What decision cost Germany World War II?
I found the answers of Leif Jerram and Roland Bartetzko enlightening.
In my opinion the Germans lost not because of a single decision but rather because of their attitude. The Germans placed their War Aims ahead of the interest of self-preservation.
The War Aims of the German Armies under Hitler were :
(1) To Kill Jews.
(2) Fight Battles and kill for its own sake.
(3) Decimate Certain Eastern Europeans (e.g. Poles, Ukrainians, Russians) to make room for future German settlements.
(4) Enrich Nazi leaders and their German lackeys.
(5) Establish a New Order of civilization based on German civilization.
(6) Gain Control of Raw materials sources.
(7) Win the War
If War Aim no. 7 had become no. 1 they may have had a chance.
The Invasion of North Africa and the subsequent loss of supplies and trained manpower was probably the main cause of the Germans losing.
North African Campaign
16,000 killed, wounded or captured
53,000 Killed, Wounded, or Captured
101,784 + captured
950,000 total casualties
8,000 aircraft destroyed or captured
6,200 guns destroyed or captured
2,500 tanks destroyed or captured
The one person to whom the most credit is due would therefore be Richard O'Connor.
In two months, the XIII Corps/Western Desert Force had advanced over 800 miles (1,300 km), destroyed an entire Italian army of ten divisions, taken over 130,000 prisoners, 400 tanks and 1,292 guns at the cost of 500 killed and 1,373 wounded.
Not only O'Connor but Churchill and Hitler also contributed to the German defeat. Churchill did his share by causing a defeat that led to victory. Hitler by getting cold feet due to losses in a battle he had won.
Let us explain:
The victories of O'Connor over the Italians in North Africa led Hitler to commit German armies to the fray. This led the Germans to be weakened in Russia and unable to deliver the final knockout.
In North Africa after his victory O'Connor had wanted to keep going and take down all the Italians forces that still remained. Churchill stopped him because he wanted to use the available armies to defend Greece. Subsequently, the Germans conquered Greece and drove the British out of Crete. The time the Germans lost in doing this meant they got caught in Russia by the winter. Also the losses of paratroopers the Germans suffered in taking Crete frightened Hitler from losing them again in such a war. This meant that the British from Malta were later able to bleed German attempts to keep Rommel in North Africa supplied. This helped win the war.
Other points that may have changed the picture include: The British almost went to War with Russia over Finland. At that time Russia was considered a virtual ally of Germany. This was before the Germans invaded Russia. The British waging war against both Germany and Russia together may have made matters more difficult than they already were.
Both Spain and Turkey almost joined the Axis. If they had have done the situation may have been more complicated.