You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by Futurist » 25 Apr 2016 01:44

Tim Smith wrote:
Futurist wrote: Couldn't 1908 already be too late for Germany to successfully reduce tensions with Britain by 1914, though?
Possibly, but what I'm thinking is, Germany makes a naval agreement with Britain in 1909, which agrees that the British fleet should always outnumber the German fleet by at least 2 to 1. Germany stops laying down new dreadnaughts and battlecruisers after 1909, limiting the German construction program to 8 dreadnoughts and 3 battlecruisers. Britain is not required to stop her own naval construction until after she has passed the 2 to 1 ratio.

By mid-1911, Britain will have laid down a total of 18 dreadnoughts and 6 battlecruisers. Once these are all completed (by late 1913), the German fleet will no longer be such a serious threat to Britain.
OK. Indeed, there certainly appears to be some merit to this idea. :) Also, though, there might be a risk that Germany will restart the naval arms race with Britain at some future point in time. However, this agreement and these goodwill gestures on your part might cause Britain to conclude that Germany is a trustworthy partner and that thus Germany is unlikely to restart the naval arms race with Britain at some future point in time. :)

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by Futurist » 25 Apr 2016 01:45

Also, though, are you going to completely scrap the Schlieffen Plan and avoid having Germany invade Belgium during World War I (if World War I will still eventually break out in this scenario, that is)? After all, a German invasion of Belgium during World War I in this scenario might still anger Britain a lot.

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by glenn239 » 27 Apr 2016 17:04

Germany was unwilling to scrap the western offensive without a declaration of British neutrality and Britain was unwilling to ever make such a declaration, naval treaty or no.

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by BDV » 27 Apr 2016 21:16

glenn239 wrote:Germany was unwilling to scrap the western offensive without a declaration of British neutrality and Britain was unwilling to ever make such a declaration, naval treaty or no.

From the vantage point of 1888, 1914 is a point far, far away.

Großer Ostaufmarsch-Plan was not scrapped (by bureaucrats) until 1913.

Once the bureaucrats got to that kind of power (also, see faceless Russian bureaucrats sponsoring the Sarajevo Assassination), tho, the road to the disaster was short.
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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 28 Apr 2016 00:25

I do suggest Robert Massie's book "Dreadnought" and his subsequent work "Castles of Steel" about Germany and Britain's pre-WWI issues in regards to the Naval Arms buildup, spheres' of interest and trade, and also the British slant of various diplomatic affairs and naval arm's treaties pre-WWI.

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by BDV » 28 Apr 2016 16:19

ChristopherPerrien wrote:I do suggest Robert Massie's book "Dreadnought" and his subsequent work "Castles of Steel" about Germany and Britain's pre-WWI issues in regards to the Naval Arms buildup, spheres' of interest and trade, and also the British slant of various diplomatic affairs and naval arm's treaties pre-WWI.
I think these issues (while interesting in their own right) are a bit like discussing the arrangement of the engine pistons on the Titanic.

Once bureaucrats got to usurping power from the monarchs and elected politicians, the road to ruin was set.
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by Futurist » 26 Aug 2020 06:37

stg 44 wrote:
26 Feb 2016 04:25
Futurist wrote: OK. However, what about if France and/or Russia insist on sparking a war with Germany at some future point in time? Indeed, couldn't this possibility compel you to try sparking a general European war sooner rather than later?
No, not with hindsight. Without hindsight sure, but we know that Britain was falling out with the Entente and wouldn't tolerate them starting the war so would probably come on Germany's side to stop them. Russian military build up scared Britain too, not just Germany. Also its unlikely France would accept a war of aggression from Russia, their alliance was defensive; Germany not starting a war likely means Russia goes it alone and it would not win that sort of war, especially with a hostile Britain against Russia and keeping France of Germany's back.
stg44, I have a question for you--if World War I was delayed for sufficiently long or even outright prevented, could we eventually see these specific alliance combinations emerge? :

Central Powers: Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire
Entente: France, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro

In such a scenario, Italy, Romania, and Japan are initially going to be neutral in any alt-WWI but could swing in either direction or, alternatively, remain neutral depending on how exactly this alt-WWI is going.

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by stg 44 » 26 Aug 2020 15:17

Futurist wrote:
26 Aug 2020 06:37
stg 44 wrote:
26 Feb 2016 04:25
Futurist wrote: OK. However, what about if France and/or Russia insist on sparking a war with Germany at some future point in time? Indeed, couldn't this possibility compel you to try sparking a general European war sooner rather than later?
No, not with hindsight. Without hindsight sure, but we know that Britain was falling out with the Entente and wouldn't tolerate them starting the war so would probably come on Germany's side to stop them. Russian military build up scared Britain too, not just Germany. Also its unlikely France would accept a war of aggression from Russia, their alliance was defensive; Germany not starting a war likely means Russia goes it alone and it would not win that sort of war, especially with a hostile Britain against Russia and keeping France of Germany's back.
stg44, I have a question for you--if World War I was delayed for sufficiently long or even outright prevented, could we eventually see these specific alliance combinations emerge? :

Central Powers: Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire
Entente: France, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro

In such a scenario, Italy, Romania, and Japan are initially going to be neutral in any alt-WWI but could swing in either direction or, alternatively, remain neutral depending on how exactly this alt-WWI is going.
Its possible. Britain wouldn't likely formally ally with anyone, but might be more favorably inclined to the 'underdog' so long as Grey isn't in office.

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by Futurist » 26 Aug 2020 15:37

stg 44 wrote:
26 Aug 2020 15:17
Futurist wrote:
26 Aug 2020 06:37
stg 44 wrote:
26 Feb 2016 04:25
Futurist wrote: OK. However, what about if France and/or Russia insist on sparking a war with Germany at some future point in time? Indeed, couldn't this possibility compel you to try sparking a general European war sooner rather than later?
No, not with hindsight. Without hindsight sure, but we know that Britain was falling out with the Entente and wouldn't tolerate them starting the war so would probably come on Germany's side to stop them. Russian military build up scared Britain too, not just Germany. Also its unlikely France would accept a war of aggression from Russia, their alliance was defensive; Germany not starting a war likely means Russia goes it alone and it would not win that sort of war, especially with a hostile Britain against Russia and keeping France of Germany's back.
stg44, I have a question for you--if World War I was delayed for sufficiently long or even outright prevented, could we eventually see these specific alliance combinations emerge? :

Central Powers: Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire
Entente: France, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro

In such a scenario, Italy, Romania, and Japan are initially going to be neutral in any alt-WWI but could swing in either direction or, alternatively, remain neutral depending on how exactly this alt-WWI is going.
Its possible. Britain wouldn't likely formally ally with anyone, but might be more favorably inclined to the 'underdog' so long as Grey isn't in office.
That makes sense. Also, I'm assuming that as long as Grey remains in office Britain will be neutral but pro-Entente, correct?

In addition, could the Entente in this scenario bring the US into the war through USW? Or do you believe that this is something that Germany was capable of doing but France wasn't?

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by glenn239 » 26 Aug 2020 18:04

If Grey is Foreign Minister then Britain is not neutral.

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by Futurist » 26 Aug 2020 23:00

glenn239 wrote:
26 Aug 2020 18:04
If Grey is Foreign Minister then Britain is not neutral.
How long will Grey remain in office without World War I?

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by The Ibis » 26 Aug 2020 23:56

Futurist wrote:
26 Aug 2020 23:00
glenn239 wrote:
26 Aug 2020 18:04
If Grey is Foreign Minister then Britain is not neutral.
How long will Grey remain in office without World War I?
To quote a certain American from Queens, NY (no, not that one), you cannot be serious!

You might as well ask how soon would a man or woman walk on the moon if not for the war.
"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided." - Casey Stengel

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by Futurist » 27 Aug 2020 04:10

Well, I don't know what effects a lack of WWI or, alternatively, a delayed WWI would actually have on British politics, so it wasn't an unreasonable question.

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by Terry Duncan » 27 Aug 2020 11:08

Futurist wrote:
26 Aug 2020 23:00
glenn239 wrote:
26 Aug 2020 18:04
If Grey is Foreign Minister then Britain is not neutral.
How long will Grey remain in office without World War I?
My guess would be until his deteriorating eyesight made it impossible to continue. He was due to travel to Germany to see the top expert in the field shortly after the point war broke out, but his eyes were probably good enough for a few more years from 1914 still. He enjoyed great cross-party support and there was nobody else who actually wanted that ministry in the Liberal government at the time.

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Re: You Are (Hypotheticaly) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888: What Exactly Do You Do?

Post by Terry Duncan » 27 Aug 2020 12:15

glenn239 wrote:
26 Aug 2020 18:04
If Grey is Foreign Minister then Britain is not neutral.
Seriously? This nonsense again? Grey was probably as neutral as anyone would have been, if anything actually talking to Lichnowsky far more than would have been likely from most other ministers at the time. He gave constant good advice as far as the political situation allowed him to, and he was not a dictator thus having to work within the consensus cabinet opinion. His policy was inherited from the previous government when the Liberals took office almost ten years earlier, whilst that policy itself can be traced back in one form or another to at least the 16thC consistently, and sporadically back to the 13thC. Lets say that a different foreign policy was unlikely as national interest was never in seeing the rise of a continental hegemon arise, let alone one fairly hostile openly towards Britain.

Then we have the thorny problem of who would possibly take over from Grey?

First of all, maybe Asquith would take on another ministry as he had when Seely departed after the Curragh Mutiny but that is unlikely, as would be a return of Seely - though as the only cabinet minister to go to war at the outset and still be at the front when the war ended as well as being a rather committed military man we can be pretty sure he would be rather more anti-German than anything Grey is accused of!

Next in seniority, we have Haldane. Despite pro-German leanings in many respects, he is also the man who did most to ensure the army was prepared when war came, and after 'The Haldane Mission' was not entirely likely to trust the German government.

Morely is next, a man with little political support personally and whilst opposed to a war on almost any condition would be unlikely to be able to take many others with him, leaving his position just as subject to the cabinet and house whims. He did not enjoy support from the Conservative and Unionists, so not the most likely person to be appointed.

Next in seniority, though effectively in an honourary position we have Lord Privy Seal, the Marquis of Crewe. So far I cannot say I have ever seen even his opinion on the July Crisis as it happened, either under his titles or name (Crewe-Milnes) other than to say he tended toward moderation over war but also was slightly in favour of intervention over France by 31st July.

Now we are getting into the realms of where a minister might well be moved from one office to another, and first on that list is the Chancellor, David Lloyd-George. What can be said here? He was certainly one who could be willing to make decisions on his own, but in the event historically would wait to decide in order to see what the most popular line would be, and there is very little chance of him being honest let alone open with Lichnowsky as it was not really in his character!

Then we have Harcourt, one of the 'I will resign' people who when the time came tended to sideline himself. Not exactly the most pleasant person in recent British history he still was pro-war over the Belgian question. How he would have acted in Grey's place can only be guessed at, but he would again not have any obvious cabinet opinion to work with until very late in the crisis.

Next, we do have another minister who was willing to act on his own initiative, Churchill. Very much in favour of war over France and rather blunt. Do you see him as a suitable neutral replacement for Grey

Finally, we have Charles Masterman, who again tended to side with war over France in the July Crisis. I know little of him but it would seem he was generally pro-war and anti-German.


I would also like to hear why Grey is somehow 'not neutral'? Where did he either invent policy himself or mislead anyone? If anything he was rather bland, tending to operate the policy of the government as a neutral arbiter without any personal input, and avoided making commital statements either way whenever possible. This is why he had general cross-party support for a decade. He was willing to take on what was seen as a rather thankless role that few had any interest in and safely administer it for the country. He was probably as good as it gets for the post at the time from a German point of view, and the claims of bias against him seem to stem from some strange personal antipathy that he really does not deserve. He made the decisions, but only when he had the support of the government, and he maintained a very open path all through the years he was in place. Critically he was able to divorce his personal beliefs from policy and was open about both to Lichnowsky.

Blaming Grey for things is rather unfair as he was not as powerful as some seem to think, he needed support from parliament. It is also rather like crediting Churchill for rearmament in the 1930s or the decision to go to war just because he is the famous wartime PM. It will be fun to discuss this again and rehash our knowledge on events maybe. He did not prevent war, but he did not have the power to direct cabinet personally and certainly did not have the power to stop Germany doing something really stupid let alone to stop Austria once it thought it had German support!

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