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Thread: Hitler's Mistakes in WWII

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    Hitler's biggest blunders or not?

    Modern history tries to teach us that Hitler screwed up WW2 for Germany.
    After the war numerous German military leaders blamed everything on Hitler.
    So let's take a closer look at the accusations and examine the righteousness of the claims.
    What is to blame on Hitler, what not?

    I would like you to comment on my text and add more situations which I forgot (that should be numerous).
    ____________________________________

    Not to blame on Hitler:


    - Battle of Britain

    Hitler was very knowledgable in infantry tactics, nothing else.
    So he had to rely on his advisors in other field of expertise, namely air and naval-warfare.
    He was ill-advised by Goering as we know now, he couldn't know that though.
    Goering was a highly decorated fighter ace of WW1 and a formidable organizer of both industry (after Hjalmar Schacht he was responsible for the war machinery) and air-force. He succeeded in building up the best air-force of its time (which is before 1941).

    Goering screwed Sealion up by diverting from tactical to strategical bombing.
    The RAF was all but defeated when Goering switched his strategy to terror bombardement which gave the RAF a much needed rest.
    When finally switched back to tactical bombings, the RAF was ready and fend off all German efforts.
    Was not Hitler's mistake though.
    Would you blame Churchill and Roosevelt for not intervening and instead let the airforce decide?


    - Stalingrad

    The eventual sacrifice of the 6th army was necessary for two reasons:
    1. In December it wasn't able to break out anymore (any attempt before can be discussed).
    2. An earlier surrender (thus saving lifes at first; only 10% surviving Russian captivity questions this option in the long-run) would have sacrificed the Caucasus-army, around 1 million soldiers (who barely escaped in early 1943 by a narrow margin).
    Contemporary history (in Germany) tries to convince us that Hitler let the 6th army rot in Stalingrad for no reason. Well, the Caucasus army was the best reason one can have.

    You might add the diversion of Herman Hoth's panzer corps south to assist the Caucasus-army. This left the 6th army without any armoured support and thus sealed its fate.

    ____________________
    ___________________________

    To blame on Hitler:


    - Kursk (Citadel)

    Manstein wanted to attack months earlier (which would have succeeded btw.), Hitler postponing the campaign until the latest tank models were ready caused the defeat.
    So, yes it was Hitler's mistake. No, it was not a tactical error, it was a timing error. He underestimated the importance of field fortifications (maybe because of the easy assault of Eben Emael and the Maginot).


    - Dunkerque

    Hitler's biggest mistake was Dunkerque, there is no doubt about that.
    With the capture of 300.000 allied prisoners he could have gallantly ended the war diplomatically (release the perfectly treated prisoner in exchange for peace and return of all conquests in the west). Who could have turned down that offer?
    He did not because of his memories of WW1 of the difficult terrain of Flanders and the serious condition of his armoured forces.
    So he trusted Goering and saved his tanks for the conquest of France...


    - Moscow and Leningrad

    In July 1941 Leningrad was an almost undefended and unfortified city.
    The first arriving German troops wanted to capture it, but Hitler refused.
    Why didn't he just trust the commanding officers who had a much better picture of the situation???

    Moscow presented a similarly easy target in late July. He completely underestimated the significance of Russia's capital:
    1. There are few examples in military history where a nation continues war once its capital is captured.
    2. Moscow was the infrastructural centre of Russia. It was like the centre of a spider's web. Everything had to pass Moscow. Capture it and you immobilize Russia.
    Not to speak of the psychological and political consequences of Stalin fleeing the capital.


    - Barbarossa as annihilation instead of liberation

    Alfred Rosenberg had the masterplan ready which would have convinced everyone but Hitler.
    Promise the Russian populations indepence. Act as liberators of Ukranians, Byelorussians, Baltics etc.
    Ergo: no partisans, free expeditionary forces, mass desertions of the Red Army, morale boost to the honorable members of the Wehrmacht.

    Once Russia is defeated, you can still break your word and destroy those puppets one by one.
    The question is not one of moral, but of efficiency. I guess someone who had no problems extermination Russians, would have moralic problems with Rosenberg's proposal.
    Thusly it was a grand mistake from Hitler.

    If you want to go for humanity then adopt the Schulenburg-Ribbentrop plan to really liberate all minorities as allies.


    - ME-262

    That was the best interceptor of its time, plain and simple. It wasted its advantage (speed) as a blitz-bomber, so Hitler blew it again.


    - Static Defence instead of an elastic one

    Von Manstein wrote in "Lost Victories" that the war could have still be won by 1943 by means of elastic defence, which was perfectly suited for the vast Russian territory.
    Instead Hitler didn't learn from the attritional static defence side-effects from WW1 and chose to slug it out with the Russians.

    Elastic defence always prevails when you have a mobile force and are able to give up large amounts of territory. Both cases applied for the Wehrmacht.
    The Red Army's main flaw was in its lower and middle command structure which was unqualified and slow.
    All perfect settings for an elastic defence, give up ground, outflank the enemy, envelope, encircle, destroy, repeat.
    "We were never more free than under the German occupation!"

    - Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Re: Hitler's biggest blunders or not?

    Not to blame on Hitler

    Winter 1941/1942


    Because of Hitler the front stayed where it was and dint broke down.Some generals have said that if the front would been broken then,situation would then been impossible to solve.


    Fall of France



    Was Mansteins and Hitlers greal plan what worked.





    To blame on Hitler:


    Not to take suez canal.

    That would have totally cut off british lifeline.Hitler would have had to focus on one campaign at the time.Rommel would then have been capable retaking whole area what was holdable just in couple of more divisions in 1941 and destroy british totally what would have then ended to occupation of Britain.


    Trusting Göring


    He might have been great and funny fellow but he wasnt best what could have get.Example Rudel or Galland would have done much better job instead of him.



    Not to cut murmansk line/Not to concentrate Murmansk area enough.


    Just adding couple of more divisions in north Hitler would have conquered Murmansk and then the whole kola peninsula what would have helped very much both finns and germans.

    http://alenos.piranho.de/regionen/murmansk.jpg





    Did not start barbarossa in spring 1940 (like original plans were)

    This was great mistake from Hitler.Though this would have supposed that Battle of Britain would been over and it was just beginning and this means that Germany would have had to start agressively campaign against Britain right after the fall of France then situation could might have been better.




    Not to be able to take Spain for its ally

    Big loss



    Was Italys big ally


    Great mistake.Hitler should have invade the country in the start of the war and use its commodities.But he respected Mussolini too much.



    Declaring war against USA


    This was useless and Hitler did this only to beeing loyal to his ally,Japan.Japanese didnt give much response to germans though they too were against USA(what a traitors).Japan had approximately promised to attack against USSR but this didnt happen.They fooled Hitler big time.

    Though that you must remeber that Germany and USA were practically in war in the sea.And maybe it was just matter of time when USA would had declared war against Germany.



    Starting barbarossa when Battle of Britain was still on


    Hitler thought that SU will crash when he will just kick it cause it was "loose barn".And he thought that when he crashes SU,Britain will be crashed with it too and or when Hitler destroys Britain,SU will crash along with it.

    Hitler was a gambler.



    Missing the total war plan(started too late)

    Total war plan should have started right in 1939.Though it would had been harder to german civilians, it would then be much more productive to Wehrmacht and its whole plans.





    This has been depated many times and many decades

    Hitlers turn to caucasus instead of Moscow

    In summer 1942 when summer offensive was just starting again,Hitler,despite of all generals advices turned to caucasus instead of Moscow.Hitler argued his plans for taking the "essential" oilfields and very important plantations what were the biggest in the whole SU.

    Though many soviet generals have said that Hitler made the right move cause Moscow was "invincible" in their minds.

    He wanted to get to the volga and that was the most important in his mind.Cutting the volga that russians would lost their maintenance route.Hitler thinked that when in Stalingrad, he would take the city just by small stormtroops in delay battles but how wrong he was on that point.

    The whole 6. army was finally destroyed.


    Kursk


    He gambled too much in Kursk and lost.



    Refused to built protectionzone to east front when things started to go bad.



    Refused to listen generals


    They sure had some good advices too.

    Barbarossa as annihilation instead of liberation

    Agree


    Dunkerque


    Agree

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    Re: Hitler's biggest blunders or not?

    Hitlers biggest blunder was to declare war on the United States!
    If he would not have done that the US would probably never got into a european conflict until it was to late.

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    Re: Hitler's biggest blunders or not?

    You are obviously very well-read on these issues, Drömmarnas Stig.
    I believe it would help many people outside of skadi and kith, to gain a clearer picture of the inherent difficulties with the decision-making that went on, and how common mistakes are in all military engagements as well as diplomatic adventures, if the word "blunder" itself were clearly defined.

    If, driving an automobile, I stray too close to the lane-line, that is a mistake. I might get a traffic citation for it. But if I drive that same auto off a cliff, that would be considered a blunder. Maybe blunders are acts of sheer stupidity?, rather than a considered miscalculation? Blunders must be as rare as acts of genuine genius (as opposed to merely clever, wise, or sound decisions) on the battlefield and in diplomacy.

    I can't offer replies to all your several well-offered points. One thing that recurs, usually with little or no substantiation, is the accusation that declaring war on the U.S. was a blunder. I'm not sure it was a blunder. It certainly had to have been a difficult decision. I believe Hitler wanted to declare war on the United States even less than he wanted to battle Britain (was his first offer of peace to Britain in 1941?). Perhaps holding back from attacking Dunkirk was a hope that Britain would realize Germany had no ambition to attack or defeat England, but wished England to be an ally rather than an occupier of Germany.

    And if he had not declared war, wouldn't people be saying now that his failure to do so is more evidence of his willingness to break treaty obligations and abandon his allies in their time of need? Yet, having maintained his honor on that point, who credits him for it?

    Some have suggested he might have wanted to invade Spain. I have found nothing so far to convince me that he entertained such a desire. He wanted the German citizens within Spain to be safe. He allowed Germans to fight in Spain, and he allowed Spanish volunteers to fight with the German Wehrmacht. He was patient and friendly with Generalissimo Franco. That Spain did not fully throw itself into the war following its own decimating Civil War is not a reflection on Hitler's ability, but on Spain having been drained; it's a wonder and a testimony of Spain's desire that they were able to raise the Blue Division.

    Tactics. I hope you will suggest to me sources for evidence of Hitler's capability in tactics. I should think he were better at strategic analysis than tactical.

    One of Hitler's biggest mistakes was believing that the western European powers, even the ones who abhorred Bolshevism and distrusted Bolshevists, would join in a crusade/jihad/war/campaign (there, now who haven't I 'offended') against Communism. His mistake was believing that the Britains, who generally seem to have admired his accomplishments up until about 1938 or 1939, would be an ally. They would have, of course, were there no one like the German-despising Churchill to manipulate public opinion -- and the perceptions of other governments (e.g., the U.S.). That mistake was not based on his own ignorance, but on the duplicity and stupidity /sic/ or gullibility of other governments' leaders in the face of superior Soviet propaganda and diplomatic efforts.

    Time was a fatal Enemy. Isn't it always? A reincorporation of German populations every couple of years might not have been so aggravating to some. Also, ignoring the plight of Germans being discriminated against outside of Germany might have reduced the official and government-level hostility against Germany. Also, an equal if not greater enemy was the continuing Animosity against Germany harbored by her smaller, weaker, less forceful neighbors. World War II in Europe was not separate from World War I in Europe. They were the same war connected by a cease fire known as the Treaty of Versailles.

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    Hitler had reasons to declare war on the U.S.

    Im not going to say it was one of the smartest decisions Hitler ever made; or say that the reasons he choose to declare war on the U.S. were justifiable for that matter. For people that make the argument that, "well Germany declared war on US" (the U.S.A.), Germany (and Hitler) still had legitimate reasons to do so. Hitler did not just wake up one day and say... 'i think i'll have breakfast, then kill a couple million jews, and then i think ill declare war on the U.S.-- because its in the best interest for the people.'
    People must understand and realize that since the conflict (WW2) started the U.S. was supplying MOST of Germanys enemys. There was the gift of 500 Sherman tanks to Britain in early 1941, as well as aircraft and other instruments of war. The entire lend-lease act which arguably might have saved the U.S.S.R. from certain destruction....it certainly saved millions of Russians, and provided them with materials (at the time badly needed) to fight the Germans.

    The United States, under the Roosevelt administration, supllied 'terrorist' groups throughout the war, funding the groups and providing them with weapons to carry out acts of violents agains the Germans. Take the French resistance for one example, they plauged Germanys effort to fight the war, while killing many German soldiers as well. Tito's guerilla partisan groups, which were NOT nice people by the way. They brutally murdered any suspected collaborators, regardless of whether they assisted the Germans or not [what makes me mad is hollywood makes these people out to be heroes and angles, in movies like Harrison Fords, Guns of Navarone]. Do people realize how many German Red Cross workers were murdered or caught in the crossfire of these people...getting off topic here, the Geneva Convention said that it is Illegal for a country that has formally surrendered on paper, to take up arms against its occupants. So is the U.S. not guilty here for supplying/funding resistance groups all over europe? Germany was only going to take so much. After all it is a well known fact that the Roosevelt administration wanted to get drawn into this conflict for some time.

    Alot of these things can be traced back to the first world war, when the U.S. was shihpping supplies over to the U.K. Germany was not blind to this and eventualy said they'd had enough and sunk an american ship. Well the public jumped all over this incident which undoubtedly helped spark the U.S. involvment in the first world war. So in a way Germany was provoked into doing somthing so America could enter the war at the last minute and save the day.

    There are plenty of modern day examples of matters such as this. Take Iraq for a small one: the Bush admininstration said Saddam was both harboring terrorist groups and producing weapons of mass destruction, which Bush thought gave him the right to invade.
    Take alot of the conflicts all over the world, and in the Middle East for example...is Iran only going to take so much of the U.S. supporting Israel and trying to limmit thier nuclear ambitions that they would eventualy make a declaration of war. Note: Not that they ever would or could but its just an example.

    Although militarily it might have been a bad choice, where Hitler underestimated the United States ability to mass produce arms; decide for yourself whether or not Germany should have, or had the right to declcare war on the United States.

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    Re: Hitler's biggest blunders or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mannerheim View Post
    Not to blame on Hitler

    Winter 1941/1942


    Because of Hitler the front stayed where it was and dint broke down.Some generals have said that if the front would been broken then,situation would then been impossible to solve.

    Holding that front where it was came at a very high cost in lives

    Fall of France



    Was Mansteins and Hitlers greal plan what worked.


    I agree


    To blame on Hitler:


    Not to take suez canal.

    That would have totally cut off british lifeline.Hitler would have had to focus on one campaign at the time.Rommel would then have been capable retaking whole area what was holdable just in couple of more divisions in 1941 and destroy british totally what would have then ended to occupation of Britain.


    Trusting Göring


    He might have been great and funny fellow but he wasnt best what could have get.Example Rudel or Galland would have done much better job instead of him.

    Definatley, Goring never had his plans straight.

    Not to cut murmansk line/Not to concentrate Murmansk area enough.


    Just adding couple of more divisions in north Hitler would have conquered Murmansk and then the whole kola peninsula what would have helped very much both finns and germans.

    http://alenos.piranho.de/regionen/murmansk.jpg

    stratiegicaly that seems to be the case.



    Did not start barbarossa in spring 1940 (like original plans were)

    This was great mistake from Hitler.Though this would have supposed that Battle of Britain would been over and it was just beginning and this means that Germany would have had to start agressively campaign against Britain right after the fall of France then situation could might have been better.

    I doubt if the German army had the recources to start Barbarossa in the spring of 1940.



    Not to be able to take Spain for its ally

    Big loss

    Franco and Hitler didnt get along to well, however Spain was still weak from civil war to (in my opinion) make much of a difference against the Soviet Union. Although the Blue Division fought well.

    Was Italys big ally


    Great mistake.Hitler should have invade the country in the start of the war and use its commodities.But he respected Mussolini too much.

    I dont think that would have held up German-Italian relations to well.

    Declaring war against USA


    This was useless and Hitler did this only to beeing loyal to his ally,Japan.Japanese didnt give much response to germans though they too were against USA(what a traitors).Japan had approximately promised to attack against USSR but this didnt happen.They fooled Hitler big time.

    Though that you must remeber that Germany and USA were practically in war in the sea.And maybe it was just matter of time when USA would had declared war against Germany.

    My opinion: See Above.

    Starting barbarossa when Battle of Britain was still on


    Hitler thought that SU will crash when he will just kick it cause it was "loose barn".And he thought that when he crashes SU,Britain will be crashed with it too and or when Hitler destroys Britain,SU will crash along with it.

    Hitler was a gambler.

    I know Manstein truly belived that SU might attack when they massed troops along polish boarder, so it was arguably a preemptive strike.

    Missing the total war plan(started too late)

    Total war plan should have started right in 1939.Though it would had been harder to german civilians, it would then be much more productive to Wehrmacht and its whole plans.

    Debatable.



    This has been depated many times and many decades

    Hitlers turn to caucasus instead of Moscow

    In summer 1942 when summer offensive was just starting again,Hitler,despite of all generals advices turned to caucasus instead of Moscow.Hitler argued his plans for taking the "essential" oilfields and very important plantations what were the biggest in the whole SU.

    Though many soviet generals have said that Hitler made the right move cause Moscow was "invincible" in their minds.

    He wanted to get to the volga and that was the most important in his mind.Cutting the volga that russians would lost their maintenance route.Hitler thinked that when in Stalingrad, he would take the city just by small stormtroops in delay battles but how wrong he was on that point.

    The whole 6. army was finally destroyed.

    Well more specificaly i would say Stalingrad as a whole was a blunder. too many elite German infantry lives were wasted taking different sections of that god forsaken place.

    Kursk


    He gambled too much in Kursk and lost.

    Well victory at Kursk was very much alive when Hitler Cannabalized the Eastern front by diverting good Divisions to Sicily in a panic.

    Refused to built protectionzone to east front when things started to go bad.



    Refused to listen generals

    Definatley, bottom line is he should have not put panzer forces directly under his command, and like Stalin he shouldn't have held onto the idea of the blood for soil policy, and fought a moving action like Manstein proposed.

    They sure had some good advices too.

    Barbarossa as annihilation instead of liberation

    Agree

    This topic is debatable in a number ways but yes i agree

    Dunkerque

    was a bad act of goodwill

    Agree

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    Re: Hitler's biggest blunders or not?

    A very interesting thread Drömmarnas Stig started here.

    I personaly believe that Hitler biggest problem was the Axis alliance never worked properly. Let me try to explain myself; When Germany attacked and invaded France Italy declared war week later, after France being almost defeated, however, Italy launched an offensive against Greece without warning Hitler and the italian lousy performance compeled Hitler to help Mussolini, wasting time and manpower in the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece. I could also mention the japonese attack to Pearl Harbour and the declaration of war against the US, which Hitler signed immediately, but never have that same support from japonese government in the war against USSR, which in fact could have change the course of the war.
    Let's say, Hitler was loyal to his fellow Axis allies, but never got reciprocity from them.

    However, I believe there are many other things to consider. We still dont know if the attack against USSR was a preventive war or a deliberated agression, something very important to take in consideration since it would change the whole scenary.

    Dunkerque and the batttle of England were tainted with some idealistic and sentimental feelings the führer had for the british people, since it is well know today that Hitler allowed the massive running of the 300 000 british soldiers as a gesture of good will, showing England he did not wished that war. In fact Hitler offered peace at least three times to Great Britain, which the fat Churchill bastard never accepted.

    Well, we could go on in discussing what went wrong and what were Hitler mistakes, but what I do know is that we should not allow ourselves to fell in another brothers or even allow resentements against towards european brothers.

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    Hitler's Mistakes in WWII

    [Staff note: discussion split from this thread.]

    Quote Originally Posted by Valkyrie View Post
    Hitler should have really stopped after these events! We had all what we needed from my point of view. Germany was united and strong again. England, the USA and others had respect for Germany. Especially Chamberlain wasn´t looking for war with Germany, and the USA was following it´s "USA first!" doctrine back then. The declaration of war against Poland was unneeded even if Poland provoked a reaction. This was the small line he shouldn´t have broke at all.
    Hmm, I disagree about this. I think sooner or later there would have been a pretext for one of the European powers to declare war to Germany. Like World War I, it was a continuous competition for hegemony in Europe. Do you think World War I really started because of Franz Ferdinand's murder by Gavrilo Princip? In my view, that was a pretext. The arms race, ethnic rivalries, expanisonism, militarism, nationalism, made a war imminent. I'm a little doubtful that Britian and France cared so much about Poland's integrity. because they also could have defended Czechia's, but they didn't. So they woke up only with Poland? In my view, it was just like in World War I, a matter of pretext. Sooner or later Germany would have broken another Versailled obligation and war would have been imminent in my view.

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    Valky - I will deal with your post in a post of its own, and deal with Hauke Haien's opinion here ... both are different enough to warrant being split into two posts instead of one long never-ending sausage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hauke Haien View Post
    Another idea is that Hitler must have been mentally deranged to order the attack on a Soviet Union that was widely believed to be weak because of its dismal performance in the Winter War against Finland, mostly attributed to the Great Purge and the failure of Soviet policies.
    I suggest reading Viktor Suworow on that matter.

    If you only take a look at the forces available to the Germans in comparison to those of the Soviets, then one must conclude that it was not a war-of-attack but a pre-emptive, preventive, strike. The amount of soldiers, tanks etc. vastly outnumbered that of the Germans, and were of at least equal, if not better technological standards. In the light of such, Hitler - a decorated war veteran himself - would not have had the folly to attack the Soviet Union.

    One can conjecture that Stalin had intended to go West - so the historians are still not unanimous about whether Hitler prevented a Communist Europe till the Atlantic (leaving the US and possibly the UK as its only opponents) or whether Stalin prevented a National Socialist Europe till the Ural. Probably a bit of both, be that for the better or the worse.

    Though I tend to agree that it was for the worse: Earlier or later, all the nations Hitler had conquered would likely have seen their sovereignity reinstated, as it would have been impossible to keep preaching about the Volk whilst keeping other peoples as a puppet state, not after he wrote in Mein Kampf that multi-culturalism with a German minority was what had brought the Austro-Hungarian Empire to its knees.

    And whether or not a National Socialist Europe would have been the ideal situation - I will not go there and open that can of worms, because it could turn into another one of those "whose ideology is most Germanic" discussions. What we will all agree on though is that it would have certainly been preferable to today's quagmire, with which likely none of us are really happy - even those who will claim that "liberty was surpressed" will admit that at least there would have been some policies to the positive which are clearly to the negative in this day and age (immigration or family matters, for one).



    If the West had known the strength of the Soviet Union, they would have allied with Hitler before turning on him instead of giving Stalin that doubtful honor.
    And you are of the opinion that Rudolf Heß flew to Scotland because he liked parachuting, I presume? Or you simply believe the old rumour that he was a nutcase?

    That is exactly what Germany tried, Hitler had never wanted war with a nation he considered racially and culturally as brothers. Could quote sources for that, but it's self-evident, well-known and the list would not be exhaustive.

    The success or failure of the Heß flight IMO is probably the central event / turning point in 20th century world history, my interpretation of the consequences of peace proceedings having taken place have already been posted coherently back in December in this post.
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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