The more time that I spend in the Star Wars universe, the more time I find myself coming to one conclusion about the Civil War and the fall of the Empire: The war was lost by the creation of the Death Stars.
Obviously there were other key points as well, such as Vader killing the Emperor, but I think the Death Stars were key to the Rebellion’s victory and I wanted to look into why that is the case.
The Death Star is a massive project and takes a huge focus for any projects. Thrawn’s TIE Defenders looked to be a real danger for a Rebellion that had not yet entered open war and the Imperial fleet had its greatest success against the Rebellion in the period between the 1st and 2nd Death Star. However, with the construction of the Death Star, all resources were diverted towards these projects and others that could have swarmed over the Rebellion were put to the side for a single weapon that was much easier to destroy than anyone could have imagined.
Uniting the Rebellion
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Rebels show that the Rebellion is still just a group of cells not ready to enter open war… until they find out that the Death Star is real. Jyn Erso’s attempts to steal the plans from Scarif end up uniting the Rebel Alliance into one big army ready to enter the war. Further to that, it is the presence of the Death Star that leads to Leia being sent to bring Obi-Wan Kenobi back into the fold, leading to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo joining the Rebellion… people who have a key impact on the war.
As such key installations, the destruction of each Death Star led to the loss of many of the best Imperials. Wilhuff Tarkin and Wullf Yularen, along with the majority of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were killed in the destruction of the 1st Death Star, while Tiaan Jerjerrod was among the officers killed aboard the 2nd Death Star. Such was the hubris of the Empire, it is highly likely that the Emperor and Vader would have died in the destruction regardless of whether Vader was redeemed as they probably wouldn’t have believed the Rebels capable of destroying the station.
The loss of so many of the best officers in the Empire meant that the remnants were led often by the dregs of the officers, with the Aftermath trilogy showing that Rae Sloane is one of the few decent officers to be left following the Battle of Endor and making it easier for the Rebels to win the war.
Hearts and minds
Tarkin mentions in A New Hope that fear of the Death Star will keep the people in line, but that does not necessarily prove the case. The destruction of Alderaan will have been the moment that showed many people that the Empire was evil and willing to commit genocide, leading to many of them being more willing to join the Rebellion to fight against an evil regime, especially as the Rebels manage to destroy the planet killer, making them clear heroes.
Lost Stars sees Ciena Ree rationalise that the 1st Death Star was created as a deterrent and that its use on Alderaan was a last hope to keep the peace, so its failure would never lead to it being created again. Therefore, the reveal that a second Death Star was created will have proved to many that the Empire intended to use it as they saw fit and will have led to them abandoning the Empire and turning to help the Rebellion.
Had these people not come to the Rebellion, it is highly likely that the Alliance would have struggled to get the numbers required to continue the war and for that reason, the Death Stars helped seal their own doom and the doom of the Empire.
Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you!