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 » 13 Nov 2021 01:21

Tim Smith wrote:
24 Apr 2016 20:25
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.
That seems like a great idea, actually!
T. A. Gardner wrote:
15 Apr 2016 23:17
While this might start a little earlier, I think one thing Wilhelm could have done was take overseas colonization seriously.

Starting in the 1870’s Germany began to have serious overseas colonial possessions. Rather than focusing on Europe Wilhelm sees there is great potential for Germany to build serious basing and industry overseas to supply the homeland as well as defend it against enemies. He begins building a fleet to challenge British and French sea power. This was something that happened anyway, but here the intent isn't so much as a direct challenge to the Royal Navy or French as for power projection worldwide. That means more cruisers and fewer battleships, more merchant shipping too.

In the Pacific and Asia, Tsingtao is pushed to rival Hong Kong as a port of trade. It is initially important because it can supply other Asian possessions with raw and finished materials. The Germans would industrialize the city and expand its borders as necessary to do it.

The German holdings in New Guinea and the Northern Solomon islands are seen as both a potential source of goods and as the beginnings of a major base of operations for a German Pacific Fleet. The natural harbor at Rabaul is chosen to be expanded into a naval base and military installation.
In their typical systematic fashion the Germans go about finding and cataloging natural resources in the area that can be exploited. For example, Narau becomes a goldmine for phosphates.

Wilhelm does something other colonial powers didn’t. He starts to put the means of production at those colonies in affect turning them into satellite states of Germany. To make this possible they also encourage immigration to them from Germany with things like “free” land and the like. At the time, Germans were immigrating to the US. Now they get an alternative that gives them land and retains their German citizenship.

The objective of this would be to create new German states in Africa and Asia to relieve population pressure in Europe and to build industrialized colonial holdings that can support Germany at home and provide a stable trade alternative to dealing with France, Britain, or the US, for example. It breaks Germany out of being nearly land locked in Europe.
Wouldn't having Germans immigrate to these colonies mean having these Germans move to the middle of nowhere, though?

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

Post by Futurist » 13 Nov 2021 01:25

Futurist wrote:
24 Feb 2016 23:03
Here is an interesting Alternate History scenario:

Imagine that you are Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888, shortly after coming to power there (and Yes, unfortunately you still have a crippled arm). Your goal in this scenario is to try hard to pursue policies which will benefit Germany (morality be damned!) during the 50+ years of life which you have remaining at that point in time. What exactly would you do?
Looking back at this thread over five years later:
As for me, I would:

*Postpone my father Frederick III's plans to implement greater democracy in Germany for the time being in order to significantly decrease the odds of a conservative coup occurring against me.
*Immediately seek a limited rapprochement with France for the time being, with an eventual full rapprochement in France (which might very well include giving some or all of Alsace-Lorraine back to France) when the time for this will be appropriate (if ever, that is).
*Renew the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia in 1890 and possibly beyond as well.
*Subtly encourage some/many French and/or Russian Jews to immigrate to Germany in the hope that many of these Jews and/or their descendants will eventually help Germany.
*Approve some naval expansion for prestige reasons, but not nearly as much as in real life to avoid antagonizing Britain and to ensure that Germany would have more money to spend on its army, and later, on its air force as well.
*Seek an alliance with Britain (and, if possible, with the Ottoman Empire and/or Japan as well) and be willing to wait for a couple of decades if necessary.
*Avoid being a blundering and/or confrontational buffoon.
*Try encouraging the German military to focus a lot on strategic planning instead of only on tactics (I seriously doubt that I will be very successful in this regard, though) and to make preparations for a long war as well, rather than only for a short war.
Good.
*Spark a war with Russia (and, if necessary, with France as well) sooner rather than later in order to increase the odds of a German victory in this war. After all, without a war, Russia is eventually going to significantly dominate Europe; thus, Germany needs to "take Russia downa notch" beforehand as well as to acquire some living space in the Baltics (after all, I certainly want to increase Germany's population carrying capacity). :) Plus, this war can be portrayed as being a war in favor of national self-determination due to the fact that Germany will seek to free many non-Russian peoples from Russian rule. :)
The war with Russia would have to be sparked after the development and commercialization of the Haber-Bosch process. And living space, whether in the Baltics or anywhere, shouldn't be too much of a priority, to be honest. Germany was already rapidly urbanizing and moving west during this time, after all.
*Try very hard to prevent Hindenburg and/or Ludendorff from ever taking too much power into their own hands during this TL's WWI.
*Frequently visit the German troops on the front lines during this TL's WWI in an effort to boost morale and to keep my own reputation high.
*After this TL's WWI, if Germany is victorious in it, then offer to help the German Social Democrats establish a British-style constitutional monarchy in Germany in exchange for having the Social Democrats agree to keep most of Germany's territorial gains in this TL's WWI after/if they succeed in modifying Germany's political system. This will probably cause German conservatives to (eventually) try launching a coup against me; thus, I myself will need to take great preparations to try my best to ensure that such a coup will not be successful.
Good.
*Early 1940s: Once I (as Kaiser Wilhelm II) will die, I will hopefully be remembered by many/most Germans as one of the best German leaders ever.

Thoughts on all of this?
Also, ally together with Polish nationalist Intermarium proponents and treat the Poles in the German Empire much better, perhaps even by aiming to give outright home rule to Posen and of course by eliminating all anti-Polish discrimination in the German Empire. Home rule for Alsace-Lorraine is another great idea, of course. And Mitteleuropa is essentially Intermarium but with Germany added on to it.

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

Post by Futurist » 13 Nov 2021 01:29

stg 44 wrote:
26 Feb 2016 04:25
Futurist wrote: OK. Also, though, what about German naval expansion? Would you support that but do it in a less provocative way? Or would you completely oppose that?
It was too much of a popular public program to have any influence on; the naval league lobbied the Reichstag to make it happen, so it was just something you have to sit back and allow and try and manage the political fallout.
Futurist wrote: What exactly would you replace the Schlieffen Plan with, though? Moltke the Elder's plan for a defensive position in the West and a limited offensive (presumably followed by a defensive position) in the East?
Yeah probably. I'd go with the proposed plan to build up the engineer and artillery corps and create a West Wall in A-L. The Kaiser was for it until his personal military adviser talked him out of it in 1903 (or so, I forget the right date). IIRC it was von der Goltz's plan. Actually I'd listen to von der Goltz about a lot of stuff from 1900 on because it was right about tons of stuff.
Futurist wrote: OK. Also, though, here is what I would be concerned about--if war doesn't come in 1914, then could it come (due to French and/or Russian actions) at a later point in time when a war will be less favorable for Germany (such as in 1917, in 1925, or in 1935)? If so, then wouldn't it make sense for you to discreetly try sparking a general European war sooner rather than later (which, for the record, is essentially what Germany did in 1914 in real life)?
Well I am armed with the knowledge that the Anglo-Russia treaty would likely not be renewed in 1915 and if the Franco-Russians start a war Britain would join Germany after that because Russia was a bigger threat than Germany in that case. Even with Russian military expansion Germany can't lose with Britain onside because they'd keep the US out, bring their navy and finances to the table, and blockade France. I'd focus on building up the air force and army, especially truck production because of how critical that was given that horse transport was pretty much topped out. I'd also push agricultural tractor production to replace farm labor and work toward breaking up big plantations in favor of a Flurbereinigung style plan.
Futurist wrote: Care to please elaborate on this part? :)
Apparently the Czar was looking out the window and Wlly thought it would be funny to smack his ass. The Czar was not happy, Willy refused to apologize, and the Czar went home and cancelled the military contract with Krupp, which was part of a military diplomacy effort, and worked out a deal with Schneider in France instead and set back relations with Germany quite a bit. Had that not happened Bulgaria might have been drawn to the CPs and joined in in 1914 to invade Serbia instead of over 1 year later. If there was no war then having Bulgaria as a potential ally against Serbia and Romania would be pretty helpful.

Futurist wrote: Couldn't a surviving Franz Ferdinand ironically lead to more problems, though? After all, couldn't the Ausgleich collapse in 1916 or 1917 and thus result in a general European war occurring during this time?
Probably not; they had Plan U to coup the Hungarian Parliament if they resisted the new monarch; last time the Magyar nobles got uppity they threatened to unleash the plan and they backed down immediately. If they get too confident they'd find out that the Honved wouldn't save them. In fact that let's FF reform the Hungarian consititution and breaks the power of the Maygar nobles, which means many of the military funding problems go away and Hungary gets a lot more politically free to spend on building up their economy and working with Austria when the nobles weren't calling the shots and using the entire country as their playground (they leveed taxes on peasants that even in 1914 were required to be paid in unpaid labor working on projects the parliament wanted, which generally benefited the nobility. There is a reason there was a successful communist revolution in 1918).
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.
FWIW, after thinking about it more, I'm suspecting that the risk would be not so much in the Russians supporting the Hungarians here as much as in the Russians supporting Serbia, Romania, and/or Italy in their attempts to trigger separatist uprisings in Austria-Hungary at the same time that a civil war is going on in Austria-Hungary. As for the socialists who will be prominent in the French parliament, while they might not like aggressive war, they might also be fans of national self-determination, at least for white European people. So, I actually could see France giving reluctant support to Russia, Serbia, Romania, and/or Italy in regards to this, even at a risk of war. But I also expect France to try reaching some sort of negotiated compromise to this dispute with Britain and Germany through arbitration. But this negotiated compromise will likely have to involve Austria-Hungary giving up some of its territory to Serbia, Romania, and/or Italy in exchange for future security guarantees. Whether Franz Ferdinand would actually be willing to accept that, well, I don't know. Though he did STRONGLY fear a war with Russia, so ...

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

Post by T. A. Gardner » 13 Nov 2021 03:17

Futurist wrote:
13 Nov 2021 01:21
Wouldn't having Germans immigrate to these colonies mean having these Germans move to the middle of nowhere, though?
So? They'd remain German citizens and be paying into the German treasury rather than emigrating to the US like they historically did. Germany ends up with much stronger overseas colonies as a result.

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

Post by Futurist » 13 Nov 2021 04:16

T. A. Gardner wrote:
13 Nov 2021 03:17
Futurist wrote:
13 Nov 2021 01:21
Wouldn't having Germans immigrate to these colonies mean having these Germans move to the middle of nowhere, though?
So? They'd remain German citizens and be paying into the German treasury rather than emigrating to the US like they historically did. Germany ends up with much stronger overseas colonies as a result.
Yeah, fair point. I wonder if Germans could set up their own large cities in places such as Tanzania and Namibia, though. Namibia's desert and harsh climate makes sustaining a large population difficult, but what about Tanzania? Its current population is around 60 million people and rapidly growing, after all. In the pre-World War I era, was there a lot of good land there for German settlement--both for German farmers and for German urban/industrial workers?

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

Post by Futurist » 13 Nov 2021 04:18

Tanzania's population density map is interesting:

https://gfc.ucdavis.edu/profiles/_images/TZA_popd-1.png

Image

A lot of its people live in the interior. But there is also a huge population concentration on the coast in Dar-es-Salaam. Might Germans be interested in moving to this city in large numbers in the pre-World War I era?

Dar-es-Salaam also looks like it might be a good location for a German Indian Ocean port, no?

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

Post by T. A. Gardner » 13 Nov 2021 05:50

Futurist wrote:
13 Nov 2021 04:16
T. A. Gardner wrote:
13 Nov 2021 03:17
Futurist wrote:
13 Nov 2021 01:21
Wouldn't having Germans immigrate to these colonies mean having these Germans move to the middle of nowhere, though?
So? They'd remain German citizens and be paying into the German treasury rather than emigrating to the US like they historically did. Germany ends up with much stronger overseas colonies as a result.
Yeah, fair point. I wonder if Germans could set up their own large cities in places such as Tanzania and Namibia, though. Namibia's desert and harsh climate makes sustaining a large population difficult, but what about Tanzania? Its current population is around 60 million people and rapidly growing, after all. In the pre-World War I era, was there a lot of good land there for German settlement--both for German farmers and for German urban/industrial workers?
As it was, the Germans built a number of towns and small cities in their African colonies. This is a shot of some of the surviving buildings in Nambia.

Image

So, you get farmers and miners to move to these areas and develop export goods that would improve the economy of the colony.

In the Pacific, the Germans could do nitrate mining, coca and other export farming, and with a bit of imagination turn Rabaul into their Pacific naval base. Send a few obsolescent pre-dreadnoughts along with stationing their Pacific squadron (with a few reinforcements) out of it. Bring in Chinese labor from Tsingtao their Chinese colony to provide more labor...

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Dec 2021 17:29

I'd have taken a larger & more aggressive colonial/foreign investment policy. Specifically aimed at the residual Spanish empire. Aside from greater investment in Spain & Spanish colonies I'd work the political side through intermarriage with the Spanish aristocracy. Encouraging Spanish guest workers for Germany, skilled Germans to Spain, and 'German' school branches in Spain & its colonies. The object would be to so throughly intertwine the two empires they'd began to become a single entity in international politics. Outright purchase of the Spanish colonies was considered, but had its limits.

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

Post by nuyt » 12 Dec 2021 20:45

Why the Spanish Empire? I'd take on the Portuguese one, much weaker and also in the sights of the British at the time. These were looking to prevent the Portuguese from linking up their east and west African possessions (now Angola and Mozambique) through present day Zambia. The Brits threatened Lisbon with war: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1890_British_Ultimatum and the Portuguese never forgot.

Also the Portuguese possessions were adjacent to the German ones, so the latter could move into northern Mozambique from Tanzania and into Southern Angola from Namibia. And if the Germans take over the port Lourenço Marques, where the Dutch were building the Nederlands Zuidafrikaansche Spoorweg Maatschappij (or to make things easier for you NZASM) to create more trading options for landlocked Transvaal, they could even make the Boers their allies and arm them with even more Krupp guns as in OTL :)

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

Post by T. A. Gardner » 12 Dec 2021 21:47

That is an interesting point. The Germans, with an aggressive migration policy for German citizens into their colonies, couples this with offering a similar deal to disaffected groups in other nation's colonies like the Boer. Come to German East Africa and you can have free farmland... Doing that would make S. Africa less stable while syphoning off the Boer farmers and other workers with skills into the German camp.

In the short-run, don't bother with buying or trying to expand into other nation's colonies, but rather strip them of their intellectual and skilled population by encouraging them to move to German states. At the same time put money into building up your own colonies so they are more self-sufficient rather than follow the usual model of making them simply exporters of goods and wealth to the motherland.

One object of this is to make these colonies capable of seriously defending themselves if war comes. The advantage for Germany in that is it divides the attention of the (in particular) British between Europe and elsewhere. It also gives Germany a series of bases from which to conduct a guerre de course of maritime raiding that would greatly impact Britain while the British have less ability to return the favor on Germany. Against France or the US (and yes, war with the US was a possibility in the 1880's - 90's), having strong colonial possessions could help Germany against either in a war significantly.

It would also require a different model for the High Seas Fleet where they've built more light cruisers and other ships suitable for colonial operations. The existing obsolescent and even obsolete ships German possesses like old battleships are sent to these colonies if for no other purpose than to become the source of coast defense weapons.

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

Post by glenn239 » 14 Dec 2021 00:44

Futurist wrote:
24 Feb 2016 23:03
Your goal in this scenario is to try hard to pursue policies which will benefit Germany (morality be damned!) during the 50+ years of life which you have remaining at that point in time. What exactly would you do?
I would start a tradition to always immediately appoint as Chancellor the majority leader in the Reichtag. This simple step would reduce the power of the crown, but make the government (and monarchy) stronger overall.

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

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 Jan 2022 06:11

Futurist wrote:
24 Feb 2016 23:03
Here is an interesting Alternate History scenario:

Imagine that you are Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1888, shortly after coming to power there (and Yes, unfortunately you still have a crippled arm). Your goal in this scenario is to try hard to pursue policies which will benefit Germany (morality be damned!) during the 50+ years of life which you have remaining at that point in time. What exactly would you do?
Abdicate, and live out the life of a dissolute hedonist on the French Riviera.

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