One of the favorite topics of alternative history (and one of the scenarios endlessly replayed in war games such as Axis & Allies and 3rd Reich) is what if Germany had attempted Operation Sea Lion. Assuming a Luftwaffe victory over the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain was Sea Lion feasible in other respects? Could Hitler have knocked the United Kingdom out of the war in the summer of 1940 or would the attempt have led to his first major defeat?
As we celebrate yet another anniversary of the tremendous Allied victory of June 6, 1944, or D-Day, let us take a closer look at the role played by German command decisions as one element in enabling the Allied establishment of a lodgment in France. From the beginning, Germany's approach to defending against an Allied liberation of Western Europe was overshadowed by the war waged in Eastern Europe. In particular an early focus of the Wehrmacht's defensive efforts revolved around preventing special operations conducted primarily by the British.
Initially Germany approached the problems inherent in defending occupied France as largely one of preventing special operations conducted by the British. Such a German approach was understandable given Britain's best units remained tied down in North Africa during 1941-43. Nonetheless, Hitler's declaration of war on the United States, coupled with Barbarossa's defeat and the Soviet Union's resilience meant it was only a matter of time before the Anglo-American armies struck Nazi occupied Western Europe.