Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US?

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Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US?

Post by Futurist » 24 Nov 2019 01:02

#1
If Germany would have somehow managed to quickly (or at least relatively quickly) knock out France during WWI, could it have been possible for Germany to subsequently lose WWI to a Russian-Britain-US alliance like in WWII? Basically, I was wondering if it was actually possible for the geopolitical and military situation in WWI to become similar to what it was in WWII in real life. In real life, in WWI, Germany eventually managed to knock out Russia with the help of Bolshevik subversives only to subsequently lose WWI in the West. However, I was wondering if the reverse would have been possible in WWI--with Germany knocking out France and subsequently failing to knock Russia out, followed by an Anglo-American liberation of France and a total defeat for Germany. For the record, you would get bonus points in this scenario if Italy would have joined the German side in WWI in this scenario (just like in WWII in real life) and if Britain and the US would have actually been able to liberate France during WWI in this scenario through an amphibious naval invasion (like D-Day and Operation Dragoon were during WWII in real life).

Anyway, is this actually doable and realistic? Any thoughts on this?

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 24 Nov 2019 01:47

I don't see how Germany could have won WWI at all, even if they capitulated France. Great Britain would continue to blockade them. Germany was not at all prepared for the British blockade in WWI - there were no autarky preparations like there were before WW2. And even as late as WW2, Germany lacked any practical means of transporting food from the Ukraine back to Germany in sufficient quantities, and it was even worse given the state of infrastructure in WWI.

In retrospect, Britain might have preferred if France had fallen quickly in WWI so Britain could sit back and blockade the continent like they did with Napoleon 100 years earlier, rather than send their young men to die in the trenches.

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by maltesefalcon » 25 Nov 2019 21:00

Since you have basically described the situation as it transpired IRL WWII, it should be possible given the right circumstances.

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by History Learner » 06 Dec 2019 10:26

No, France was too vital for the war effort of the UK and Russia.

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Terry Duncan
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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by Terry Duncan » 06 Dec 2019 11:09

The Germans GGS concluded that it would be possible to come to a negotiated peace with Russia in a war where France was knocked out, hence the decision to attack France as hard as possible as soon as the war began. However, they also concluded they had no way to force Britain to make peace or to knock her out of a war if Britain decided to continue the war. They were strong enough to defeat one other Great Power but not strong enough to defeat two that refused to come to terms, and no way to knock out a fully mobilised Great Britain, yet alone the US too.

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by maltesefalcon » 07 Dec 2019 16:59

Germany defeated France in 1940, along with the BEF and the armies of Holland and Belgium. They also had Japan and Italy on their side. Yet they lost the war to USA, UK plus Commonwealth, and USSR.

A generation earlier, Italy and Japan are on the Allied side, which is not materially offset by the Ottomans as a friend to Germany.

So I am still convinced that the scenerio laid out in the title could take place given the right circumstances.

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by Terry Duncan » 07 Dec 2019 17:30

maltesefalcon wrote:
07 Dec 2019 16:59
Germany defeated France in 1940, along with the BEF and the armies of Holland and Belgium. They also had Japan and Italy on their side. Yet they lost the war to USA, UK plus Commonwealth, and USSR.

A generation earlier, Italy and Japan are on the Allied side, which is not materially offset by the Ottomans as a friend to Germany.

So I am still convinced that the scenerio laid out in the title could take place given the right circumstances.
The French army of 1914 was vastly superior to the army of 1939, and France was less divided too. In 1914 Germany had to be lucky to get as far as they did, not much more could realistically be expected of them. In the words of Moltke 'we are not superior to the French'. In 1940 the Germans had the massive advantage mortorised units.

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by T. A. Gardner » 07 Dec 2019 19:03

For whatever reason, if the French collapse as they did in the 1870 Franco-Prussian war, Russia is doomed. The Germans are going to stomp them into the ground. Britain can blockade the continent, but this is little more than sour grapes. Once Russia goes down, it would be time to negotiate a peace. Britain can't win on the continent alone. They'd have no major land power to turn to for an alliance. France and Russia would have little choice but to accept terms.

The upside to this scenario is that the Communists probably don't take power in Russia, but rather a creaky social-democrat one modeled after Western European ones does. The Germans would retain their overseas colonies meaning Japan doesn't expand in the Pacific. China? Yea, the Japanese would probably still manage to get into there. Economically, such a war wouldn't have bankrupted all of Europe either.

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by Terry Duncan » 07 Dec 2019 20:19

Have you ever looked at the war of 1870-71? The professional army got itself surrounded or trapped in fortresses and the German armies found themselves outside Paris with no real plan for taking it, and a guerilla war going on all over the country. By 1871 the Germans were glad to be leaving and had never forced the French forces in the field to surrender despite mostly being little more than patriotic amateurs, hence the worry in 1914 over 'franc-tireurs' that had so deeply impacted on the German leadership.

Russia was very much struggling when the Germans put out a peace offer to the Tzar in 1915(iirc), and he refused it because he refused to make peace alone. Why should we expect different in other scenarios? Remember, the Germans had not advanced too far until after the home front collapsed in Russia, and there are not sufficient German troops to both hold France, build infrastructure in Russia, and fight the Russians. Just add up the numbers of Entente and Central Powers manpower reserves, as well as the German lack of strategic resources like rubber, and it is pretty safe to conclude 'there are not enough Germans for the task they have chosen to undertake!' as Schlieffen concluded after two decades of studying the problems.

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by Loïc » 07 Dec 2019 20:39

indeed I didn't understand the comparison with 1870
if the collapse was "as in 1870" so remain largely unoccupied France with still Paris unconquered throughout the war and Flanders resisting, larges French Armies still mobilised from the Loire to Burgundy, around one million of soldiers under arms despite they were mainly reservists, National Guard and the Francs-Tireurs able to prolonge the war and even some Garibaldi's redshirts and International Brigades avant la lettre, all that cost more losses to the German Armies than the French

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 07 Dec 2019 21:19

T. A. Gardner wrote:
07 Dec 2019 19:03
For whatever reason, if the French collapse as they did in the 1870 Franco-Prussian war, Russia is doomed. The Germans are going to stomp them into the ground.
Where have we heard that before ...
Britain can blockade the continent, but this is little more than sour grapes.
You mean the German people won't have anything to eat besides sour grapes.
Once Russia goes down, it would be time to negotiate a peace. Britain can't win on the continent alone. They'd have no major land power to turn to for an alliance. France and Russia would have little choice but to accept terms.
Britain held out alone against Napoleon 100 years earlier and ended up winning. The continent can't feed itself while the British are blockading it. This is Britain's preferred method of warfare: sit back and starve the enemy to death rather than throw away your men in needless land battles. As long as Britain controls the seas, the continent can rot.

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by Loïc » 07 Dec 2019 22:09

Britain won against Napoleonic France certainly not alone and only because UK's best weapon was the Saint Georges Cavalry and having the real winners as allied Austria Russia Prussia who were able to mobilise millions of men from 1792 to 1815 and not a small army never exceeding 48 000 men on a totally peripheric secondary peninsular theater of operations totally overestimated in the anglo-saxon world very far to the main continental key military events of that period where the british were not presents

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by maltesefalcon » 07 Dec 2019 23:58

In order to have a different result one would need some altered circumstances.

What if the Russian capability was somewhat downplayed and Germany sent most of its divisions originally earmarked for Russia into France instead?

Also what if Italy started combat vs Austria Hungary in August 1914, instead of May 1915?

These two factors would take some pressure off Russia, while adding more to France. Perhaps France would collapse by fall 1914 and Russia would have had the extra weeks needed to mobilize properly.
Last edited by maltesefalcon on 08 Dec 2019 04:34, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 08 Dec 2019 02:44

Loïc wrote:
07 Dec 2019 22:09
Britain won against Napoleonic France certainly not alone and only because UK's best weapon was the Saint Georges Cavalry and having the real winners as allied Austria Russia Prussia who were able to mobilise millions of men from 1792 to 1815 and not a small army never exceeding 48 000 men on a totally peripheric secondary peninsular theater of operations totally overestimated in the anglo-saxon world very far to the main continental key military events of that period where the british were not presents
Napoleon had conquered or allied every other power on the continent as of November 1806. The results were the same for Napoleon as they were for Hitler.

Britain is good at this. Would-be continental dictators are not.

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Re: Is it possible for Germany to knock out France during WWI only to subsequently lose WWI to Russia, Britain, & the US

Post by Futurist » 29 Dec 2019 03:47

maltesefalcon wrote:
25 Nov 2019 21:00
Since you have basically described the situation as it transpired IRL WWII, it should be possible given the right circumstances.
The balance-of-power was different during WWII than during WWI, no?

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