The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

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The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by Futurist » 12 Apr 2021 19:34

What would the post-World War I peace settlement have looked like after a short and quick World War I? Let's say that--SOMEHOW--Germany is able to achieve the giant Cannae-equivalent in the West that Schlieffen apparently envisioned--or at least hoped for--and is thus able to quickly knock France out of World War I and to subsequently put the overwhelming majority of its military forces onto the Eastern Front. In such a scenario, I suspect that it's only a matter of time before Russia likewise sues for peace, especially considering that even with British help, I just don't think that Tsarist Russia would actually be able to hold out indefinitely against Imperial Germany in an essentially one-on-one fight.

So, what exactly do the post-World War I peace terms look like in this scenario? In the West, I could imagine Germany stripping France of iron ore-rich Briey and Longwy. Perhaps even Nancy and the rest of Lorraine if Germany was REALLY ambitious. Germany might also outright annex Luxembourg. I don't know if Germany would actually be willing to make any territorial changes at Belgium's expense, especially if preserving Belgium's territorial integrity would be a useful bargaining chip for Germany to get Britain to make peace after France falls. As for the Eastern Front, at the very least, Germany will strip Russia of Poland, Lithuania, and Courland--and also Romania almost certainly joins the Central Powers side in World War I in this TL and thus acquires Bessarabia from Russia at the end of the war. The crucial question, of course, is whether Germany would have actually wanted to go farther than this, especially if it was clear that it was clearly and decisively winning its war against Russia after the defeat of France. If so, I could also see Germany stripping Russia of Livonia and Estonia. Ukraine is more interesting because AFAIK Ukrainian separatist sentiments didn't actually reach a critical mass in Russia in 1914-1916, so I don't know if Germany could actually rally mass Ukrainian support in favor of the creation of an independent Ukrainian state. What Germany could do, however, would be to annex additional western Ukrainian territories such as Volhynia, Podolia, and MAYBE even Kiev to Austria-Hungary, with Germany making the case that the Ukrainians in these territories would be better off under Austro-Hungarian rule than under Russian rule. Having Austria-Hungary annex ALL OF Ukraine might be too much for it to swallow, though.

As for Serbia, it might very well experience some kind of regime change, with it losing Macedonia to Bulgaria and Kosovo to Albania. Austria-Hungary might also strip Serbia of its part of the Sandjak. Italy I suspect would have remained neutral throughout the entirety of World War I in this TL, though it might also get Trentino (but not South Tyrol, Trieste, Istria, or Fiume) as a "Thank you!" present (for its neutrality during World War I) from Germany and Austria-Hungary either during or after the end of World War I in this TL.

Anyway, any thoughts on all of this? @History Learner and others?

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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by Hoplophile » 31 Jul 2021 00:58

A quick German victory in the west in 1914 would have required that the French armies in the field make an even larger number of blunders than they did in our time line. It would also have required that the Germans both recognize those blunders and take the risks necessary to exploit them. (One of the cases I have in mind concerns the French Fourth Army, which reacted to the loss of two divisions on 22 August 1914 by withdrawing from the Ardennes. Had it not withdrawn, and had the German Fourth Army pressed its advantage, the German "frontal victory of an ordinary kind" in the Battle of the Ardennes of our time line would have become a proper Cannae.)

If a peace settlement follows hard on the heels of a decisive German victory in the west, the transfer of French and Belgian territory to Germany is likely to have been minimal. The reason for this, quite simply, is the German desire to avoid the troubles attendant upon rule over non-German Europeans, particularly those who speak French.

One thing that the Germans might do is attempt to break up Belgium, giving the Flemish-speaking part to the Netherlands. This would have the effect of making the Netherlands an accessory-after-the-fact of the German invasion of Belgium, and thus reduce the long-term diplomatic cost of that bit of treachery. If, moreover, the Germans could convince the French to accept Wallonia as a consolation prize, the only folks left to complain about German perfidy would be the sort of people who were still sore about Bismarck's dismantling of the Kingdom of Hanover in 1866.

Alternatively, Belgium, which was already ruled by a royal family of recent German origin, might have been "Finlandized." (Please forgive the anachronism.) That is, in all matters related to defense and foreign policy, the decisions of its government would be subject to a German veto.

If we assume no changes to events in the east, then the Christmas Peace (as I like to imagine it) would have taken place soon after the German victory at Łódź (6 December 1914) and the consequent occupation by German forces of a relatively thin slice of Russian territory along the eastern frontier of East Prussia. As had been the case in the west, the Germans of 1914 would have been loathe to incorporate a large number of non-German Europeans into the German Empire. (In those days, talk of Lebensraum was still largely confined to clubs full of socially awkward people who issued wordy manifestos, the drafts of which had been written in green ink.)

To put things briefly, the shorter the war, the more modest the changes to frontiers.

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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by pugsville » 31 Jul 2021 01:45

Well this is what the Germans were thinking in sept 1914. Hardly limited or modest,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septemberprogramm

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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by historygeek2021 » 31 Jul 2021 04:38

Britain would keep blockading Germany. They would never allow a single country to dominate the European continent. They successfully defeated Napoleon through long-term blockade, and they would defeat the Kaiser the same way (and they would have defeated Hitler the same way if it had come to it).

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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 01 Aug 2021 01:06

historygeek2021 wrote:
31 Jul 2021 04:38
Britain would keep blockading Germany. They would never allow a single country to dominate the European continent. They successfully defeated Napoleon through long-term blockade, and they would defeat the Kaiser the same way (and they would have defeated Hitler the same way if it had come to it).
You're skipping blithely from Britain never wanting a continental hegemon to never allowing one. Power and desire are different things. With no continental land power in the field, Britain is a European non-factor but for blockade - which bites but doesn't kill. Food production would be sufficient after most of the armies returned to fields from the field.

Britian would have a choice of accommodation with the continental hegemon or perpetual war against it. It has no means of reaching Berlin or Vienna. In such a war it no longer has allies (US is neutral) while German/Austrian/Italian fleets are going to be a problem (Italy certainly not Allied after France defeated, joins CP if UK tries to blockade all Europe). Germany's larger economy switches to naval and it alone may outstrip RN within a few years.

The Napoleonic analogy is anachrony/misplaced: 1. Russia not an option. 2. Total war not indefinitely sustainable a la 1804.

The Kaiser wasn't Hitler; something saner than perpetual war would have been agreed.
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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by historygeek2021 » 01 Aug 2021 02:48

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
01 Aug 2021 01:06
Food production would be sufficient after most of the armies returned to fields from the field.
Gonna need some cites for that given that Germany was literally starving to death in the OTL (despite conquering the Ukraine).
Britian would have a choice of accommodation with the continental hegemon or perpetual war against it.
Britain's choice is a blockaded continental hegemon struggling to maintain hegemony over countless different countries and eventually failing, or allowing a hegemon free access to the world's resources so that it can become a true hegemon in the future. The choice for the Brits was obvious, and they always made the same choice throughout history: blockade, blockade, blockade.
It has no means of reaching Berlin or Vienna. In such a war it no longer has allies (US is neutral) while German/Austrian/Italian fleets are going to be a problem (Italy certainly not Allied after France defeated, joins CP if UK tries to blockade all Europe).
Britain has no desire of reaching Berlin or Vienna. It can sit back, sip tea, blockade Europe, and enjoy unfettered access to the world's colonies. The U.S.A. was always aligned with Britain, and Germany's retaliatory U-boat warfare would push the U.S.A. into a de facto or real alliance. Meanwhile Germany is struggling to control the various peoples of Europe while its people go hungry, grumble and overthrow the Kaiser.
Germany's larger economy switches to naval and it alone may outstrip RN within a few years.
Nonsense. Germany tried for decades to "outstrip the RN" and never came close.
The Napoleonic analogy is anachrony/misplaced: 1. Russia not an option. 2. Total war not indefinitely sustainable a la 1804.
When the same thing keeps happening in history century after century, it's probably a good indication of where the true power really lay.
The Kaiser wasn't Hitler; something saner than perpetual war would have been agreed.
The British don't care who's in charge. It doesn't matter. A lunatic could come to power tomorrow. They're not going to let a giant military power swallow up continental Europe, because that inevitably means Britain would be swallowed up. Britain will nip it in the bud with blockade and subversion.

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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 01 Aug 2021 08:58

historygeek2021 wrote:Gonna need some cites
First things first: Your contention is Britain could have alone won WW1 via blockade. If anything needs cites (and a chain of logically connected premises supported by those cites), it's that contention.
historygeek2021 wrote:Gonna need some cites for that given that Germany was literally starving to death in the OTL (despite conquering the Ukraine).
Are you asking for a citation supporting the proposition that more men in agriculture (versus armies) increases food production? (plus nitrogen in soil rather than shells). I feel it would be patronizing to give such a cite; I'd rather you concede the point and we actually ask what ATL European food balance looks like rather than assuming blockade starves out the continent. You are of course free to argue that ATL food balance would cause mass starvation, you're just not free to assume that outcome in a reasoned dialogue with me (you're of course free to assume the outcome otherwise than in reasoned dialogue with me).
historygeek2021 wrote:The choice for the Brits was obvious, and they always made the same choice throughout history: blockade, blockade, blockade.
Repeating yourself doesn't get you from goal, goal, goal to power, power, power.
historygeek2021 wrote:Nonsense. Germany tried for decades to "outstrip the RN" and never came close.
I'll just note that you'd give me an etiquette lecture and expect an apology if I said "nonsense." I'm learning to oblige your sensitivities, don't really mind. Manners are manners; when in Rome... So I'm not objecting per se, just banking this example to request we focus more on substance and less on manners next time sharp elbows emerge. ;)

On the substance - obviously Germany had more on its hands when trying to outstrip RN in 1905-1914: France and Russia. Both are defeated in this ATL; Germany focuses its larger economy on the KM. More resources always equals victory, right?
historygeek2021 wrote:When the same thing keeps happening in history century after century, it's probably a good indication of where the true power really lay.
Tell that to the Battle of Hastings, Qing Dynasty, Commanche, Roman Empire, Aztecs, horse-breeders, diviners-of-entrails, dinosaurs... Shall we really argue over whether history changes? Shall we really argue over whether there's a fundamental difference between Total War and things that came before? Do we really need to argue about whether Russia was out of the picture in 1806 (as is it is in this ATL)?
historygeek2021 wrote:The British don't care who's in charge. It doesn't matter. A lunatic could come to power tomorrow.
Applies anywhere, has no practical meaning. Nobody stays indefinitely at Total War because someday something bad might happen. Britain tolerated* America's rise to hegemony despite the risk we might once have a ruler who rejected NATO and thought aggressive Russian nationalism was to his political benefit.

*They sold out the biggest redeeming virtue of the British Empire - outlawing the slave trade - by supporting the Confederacy in the American Civil War. But in the end, of course, they made accommodation with power.

----------------------------

Anyway... It's an interesting question. If HG21 is willing to concede that manpower in cornfields and battlefields are tradeoffs, we could have an interesting/enlightening discussion. If anyone else would like to discuss a 1915-???? British blockade of Europe that doesn't assume mass starvation (and doesn't rule it out), that could be fun.
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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by HP » 01 Aug 2021 17:47

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
01 Aug 2021 08:58
First things first: Your contention is Britain could have alone won WW1 via blockade. If anything needs cites (and a chain of logically connected premises supported by those cites), it's that contention.
I do not think "historygeek2021" needs to source claims he has not made. Below is a claim that he made about the blockade:
historygeek2021 wrote:Britain has no desire of reaching Berlin or Vienna. It can sit back, sip tea, blockade Europe, and enjoy unfettered access to the world's colonies. The U.S.A. was always aligned with Britain, and Germany's retaliatory U-boat warfare would push the U.S.A. into a de facto or real alliance. Meanwhile Germany is struggling to control the various peoples of Europe while its people go hungry, grumble and overthrow the Kaiser

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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by historygeek2021 » 02 Aug 2021 18:34

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
01 Aug 2021 08:58


Are you asking for a citation supporting the proposition that more men in agriculture (versus armies) increases food production? (plus nitrogen in soil rather than shells). I feel it would be patronizing to give such a cite; I'd rather you concede the point and we actually ask what ATL European food balance looks like rather than assuming blockade starves out the continent. You are of course free to argue that ATL food balance would cause mass starvation, you're just not free to assume that outcome in a reasoned dialogue with me (you're of course free to assume the outcome otherwise than in reasoned dialogue with me).
Starvation in Germany continued after the armistice due to the continuing blockade, despite Germany demobilizing its military and the soldiers being free to work the fields. Germany was dependent on food imports prior to WWI. If you have evidence showing that Germany could have achieved food self-sufficiency by demobilizing a certain number of soldiers, please provide it.

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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 02 Aug 2021 21:34

historygeek2021 wrote:Starvation in Germany continued after the armistice due to the continuing blockade, despite Germany demobilizing its military and the soldiers being free to work the fields.
There was no planting/harvest cycle between Armistice Day and the blockade's end in July 1919.
historygeek2021 wrote: If you have evidence showing that Germany could have achieved food self-sufficiency by demobilizing a certain number of soldiers, please provide it.
If you have evidence that blockading all of Europe would have worked the same as OTL, please provide it.

What I will provide is an economic/conceptual framework entirely lacking from this discussion. From The Economics of World War One (Harrison and Broadberry eds.):

wartime mobilisation began by taking resources away from farming,
particularly young men and horses
for the army. Once in the army these young men and horses still needed to
be fed, of course, which implied a diversion of food supplies from rural
households to government purchasers. But at the same time the motivation
for farmers in the countryside to sell food was greatly reduced. These
subsistence farmers who grew food partly for their own consumption;
what they sold, they took to the market primarily to buy the
manufactured commodities, such as textiles and metal goods, that they
needed for their families. But war dried up the supply of manufactures to
the countryside. The small industrial sectors of the poorer countries were
soon wholly concentrated on supplying the army with weapons and
equipment, uniforms and rations. There was no capacity left to supply
the countryside, which faced a steep decline in supplies. Consequently,
peasant farmers retreated into subsistence activities. As the market supply
of food dried up, in the towns food prices soared.
The economy began literally to disintegrate: there might still be plenty
of food, but it was in the wrong place. The farmers preferred to eat it
themselves than sell it for a low return. The government had to feed the
army at all costs for a simple reason: hungry soldiers will not fight.
Between the army and the peasantry the urban workers were now caught
in a double squeeze.
...so it's not simply the absence of farm workers and horses, it's a more complicated story that caused the food-producing peasantry to "secede" from their economies, refusing to provide food to cities and armies.

Properly to analyze blockade under ATL conditions would also require analyzing whether OTL conditions that caused the peasants "secession" would hold. That is at least far from certain. Quick victory over France and Russia would mean much lower (economic and manpower) mobilization in, say, 1916, which would enable CP governments probably to avert the spiral of demanding more food for less.

From the same source (p.46) we see that German agricultural production dropped by 30% between 1915 and 1916. So the economy-deranging impact of war was not instantaneous. If Germany can maintain its 1915 food supply it can probably fight indefinitely. It is not difficult to imagine Germany doing so if it beats France and Russia by 1915's end.

--------------------------------

Another problem HG21 ignores entirely is whether France, Italy, and Russia are fine being blockaded by Britain or whether they decide to cooperate with the CP in a limited naval alliance to force the blockade's end. Hard to imagine the RN defeating all those navies, even harder to imagine Britain risking a catastrophic defeat at sea against them.

-------------------------------

Again, happy to discuss this issue but not under terms of "I can ignore every ATL factor and argument and make easy, sweeping pronouncements while you must put in the work to find evidence."

When I say, basically, "it's more complicated than that," I think I'm entitled from my record here at least to being credited with an argument that should be considered.
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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by historygeek2021 » 02 Aug 2021 22:25

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
02 Aug 2021 21:34


Another problem HG21 ignores entirely is whether France, Italy, and Russia are fine being blockaded by Britain or whether they decide to cooperate with the CP in a limited naval alliance to force the blockade's end. Hard to imagine the RN defeating all those navies, even harder to imagine Britain risking a catastrophic defeat at sea against them.

-------------------------------

Again, happy to discuss this issue but not under terms of "I can ignore every ATL factor and argument and make easy, sweeping pronouncements while you must put in the work to find evidence."

When I say, basically, "it's more complicated than that," I think I'm entitled from my record here at least to being credited with an argument that should be considered.

For the last time, can you just discuss history and not go off on these tangents where you ridicule the other person? I am this close to saying goodbye to this place completely if the tone does not improve.

Here's a trick: write posts without using the word "you" or referring to another poster's name. In fact, don't refer to other posters at all.

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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 02 Aug 2021 22:30

historygeek2021 wrote:
02 Aug 2021 22:25

For the last time, can you just discuss history and not go off on these tangents where you ridicule the other person? I am this close to saying goodbye to this place completely if the tone does not improve.

Here's a trick: write posts without using the word "you" or referring to another poster's name. In fact, don't refer to other posters at all.
I'll try your trick but try to abide those standards as well:
historygeek2021 wrote:
01 Aug 2021 02:48

Nonsense. Germany tried for decades to "outstrip the RN" and never came close.
I don't super-appreciate "nonsense" as descriptors of my thoughts.
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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 02 Aug 2021 22:35

historygeek2021 wrote:can you just discuss history
What do we think would be the German food supply situation in 1916-????, had she defeated France and Russia and demobilized most of her armies, while Britain maintained its blockade. Reference:
Economics of WW1 - German food supply.png
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
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Re: The post-World War I peace settlement after a short and quick World War I

Post by pugsville » 02 Aug 2021 22:59

historygeek2021 wrote:
02 Aug 2021 18:34
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
01 Aug 2021 08:58


Are you asking for a citation supporting the proposition that more men in agriculture (versus armies) increases food production? (plus nitrogen in soil rather than shells). I feel it would be patronizing to give such a cite; I'd rather you concede the point and we actually ask what ATL European food balance looks like rather than assuming blockade starves out the continent. You are of course free to argue that ATL food balance would cause mass starvation, you're just not free to assume that outcome in a reasoned dialogue with me (you're of course free to assume the outcome otherwise than in reasoned dialogue with me).
Starvation in Germany continued after the armistice due to the continuing blockade, despite Germany demobilizing its military and the soldiers being free to work the fields. Germany was dependent on food imports prior to WWI. If you have evidence showing that Germany could have achieved food self-sufficiency by demobilizing a certain number of soldiers, please provide it.
There was no blockade of food after the armistice, Food shipments relief started in March (Hoover). INityail the Germans denied they needed food then they were unwilling to use their own merchant ships (they feared they would be seized( the French were up in arms as they though Germany would spendd their gold reserves. There was a fair amount of chaos and all sorts of demands. But food support was inp lace 12 weeks after the armistice.

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