Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

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Blackadder2000
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Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby Blackadder2000 » 15 Jul 2017 08:57

Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Some historians enjoy the intellectual exercise of engaging in counter-factual history, i.e., positing the opposite outcome of a particular historical even such as: England winning the American Revolutionary War, the Confederacy winning the Civil War or Napoleon winning in Russia. Reversing the results in history and speculating about the subsequent course of history is one way to illuminate the full significance of what did occur.

In the spirit of intellectual fun and given that the Western World is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, one might assert the following proposition: The entry of the United States on the side of the allies — England, France, Russia, Italy and Japan, which was critical in the defeat of the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey) — was the biggest diplomatic blunder of the entire 20th century. Within the context of this proposition, the world and the course of history would have been better off had we remained in isolation and Germany had won the war.

***

One could make this assertion largely because of the results of WWI, all of which were extremely important.

First, four great empires in Central and Eastern Europe experienced the overthrow of the government that led the country into the war: Russia, Turkey, Austria-Hungary and Germany. Turkey became a secular Muslim state, Austria-Hungary disappeared, Germany slowly evolved into a Nazi-Hitlerian state, and Russia brought Communism to the world.

Another result of the war was that France emerged as the dominant power on the continent. However, France was a weakened power as a result of the war and was totally overwhelmed by the emergence of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Germany’s desire, especially that of Hitler and the Nazis, to abrogate the Treaty of Versailles produced World War II in Europe, which also produced the horrors of the Holocaust.

Another major consequence of WWI was the Bolshevik/Communist Revolution in Russia, which led to a 70-year struggle between the Soviets and the West. Communism has been a disaster for the people of Russia and also China.

Ignoring in this instance the tragic history of China, consider, that in the first 30 years of the Soviet Union more than 27 million people were imprisoned or perished: From 1918 to 1920, 4 million died in the civil war and a typhus epidemic; 5 million died from famine in 1921-22 while 10 million died or were imprisoned in the collectivization of agriculture, 1928-33, as were 8 million in the purges 1935-38. This does not take into consideration the 29 million Soviets who perished in WWII.

Thus, the allied victory in the Great War, in making possible the Soviet Union, World War II, the Holocaust, the Cold War and the wars in Korea and Vietnam, proved to be a disaster.

***

In suspending disbelief, one might ask what would have been the results of WWI had the United States not intervened in the fratricidal war in Europe?

I think the majority of scholars would argue that without American intervention, the Central Powers would have won, and Germany would have been the dominant power in Europe.

Granted, Germany would have inflicted a severe treaty on the Allies; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, signed by Russia and Germany after Russia’s defeat, is indicative. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk took huge areas from Russia, including Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine, all as independent states but protectorates under Germany.

In 1916, Germany’s war aims in the West called for Belgium to remain independent, but be a protectorate, and for a few small but significant border adjustments in France. Austria was to become dominant in the Balkans, and colonial territories in Africa would be partitioned in Germany’s favor.

Germany also planned to create a European customs union that would be dominated by the Germany economy. And finally, there would be some sort of reparations. Europe would have been dominated by Germany.

***

While a German-dominated Europe might not have been an optimal result, consider what events almost certainly would have been avoided: First, there would not have been a Second World War because France did not have the power to even attempt to overturn a German victory.

Second, while there was an anti-Semitic component to German society, the conservative nature of a Wilhemine government would never have allowed Nazi thugs to assume power. There would have been no call to abrogate a “Treaty of Versailles,” no serious threat of a Communist takeover of the government, and no great inflation as occurred in 1923, all of which were used as justifications for the assumption of power by the Nazis. With no Nazis, there would have been no Holocaust.

Lastly, the Germans, after the war in the West ended, would have crushed the Bolsheviks in Russia and some sort of “White” regime would have emerged victorious, and Russia would have avoided the pain and suffering of Soviet rule, not to mention the dire consequences of the Cold War, and the spread of Communism into Eastern Europe, China, Vietnam, and Cuba. A German-dominated Europe, but no World War II, no Holocaust, and very likely no Communism — not a bad trade-off for a German victory in WWI.

In the early 20th century, the Allied powers, especially Great Britain, participated in WWI to prevent German domination of Europe. It is arguable that Europe and the world would have been better off had Germany been the victor in WWI. The irony of history is that at the end of the 20th century, Germany had emerged as the dominant power in Europe and the leader of the European Union , essentially a customs union similar to that conceived by the Germans in their war aims during WWI.

James Y. Simms Jr. is emeritus professor of Russian and modern European history and director of the National Security Studies Program at the Wilson Center at Hampden-Sydney College.

http://www.richmond.com/opinion/their-o ... d9938.html

Food for thought...

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby Terry Duncan » 15 Jul 2017 14:18

Blackadder2000 wrote:Food for thought...


'Where to start' is the phrase that comes to mind whenever reading things like this as they are all too often composed of hindsight and wishful thinking, but ignore reality in order to reach a 'good' result.

Blackadder2000 wrote:First, four great empires in Central and Eastern Europe experienced the overthrow of the government that led the country into the war: Russia, Turkey, Austria-Hungary and Germany. Turkey became a secular Muslim state, Austria-Hungary disappeared, Germany slowly evolved into a Nazi-Hitlerian state, and Russia brought Communism to the world.


Three of the four were crumbling or undergoing a long-drawn-out process of internal change/revolution. Austria-Hungary was slowly falling apart due to the inequal distribution of power that kept the majority almost powerless. The Ottoman Empire was falling apart too, it had long been the 'sick man of Europe' and its demise was awaited by both Russia and Austria as they hoped to benefit when it finally did break up. Russia had a revolution in 1905, and had not really addressed any of the problems that led to the 1917 revolutions, but it was unlikely to have persisted in its present form for more than a decade or two even without war.

Blackadder2000 wrote:Another major consequence of WWI was the Bolshevik/Communist Revolution in Russia, which led to a 70-year struggle between the Soviets and the West.


Revolution was the only way Germany could force Russia out of the war. Once the genie had been released it also infected German troops, leading to the situation inside Germany in 1918.

Blackadder2000 wrote:Thus, the allied victory in the Great War, in making possible the Soviet Union, World War II, the Holocaust, the Cold War and the wars in Korea and Vietnam, proved to be a disaster.


But it was Germany in the process of losing that made possible the USSR, not 'Allied victory.

Blackadder2000 wrote:I think the majority of scholars would argue that without American intervention, the Central Powers would have won, and Germany would have been the dominant power in Europe.


It is hard to see why anyone would conclude the Central Powers would have won if the US had not intervened. Germany was falling apard because of the blockade that they had no answer to, it was running out of men too. At most you would likely see a negotiated peace based on the status quo anti, Germany cannot force a win by 1917, the USW campaign was based on faulty figures and the Germans had considered that their only hope.

Blackadder2000 wrote:Granted, Germany would have inflicted a severe treaty on the Allies; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, signed by Russia and Germany after Russia’s defeat, is indicative. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk took huge areas from Russia, including Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine, all as independent states but protectorates under Germany.


You need to the power to inflict such treaties, Germany lacked the power to inflict such settlements in the east and west.

Blackadder2000 wrote:While a German-dominated Europe might not have been an optimal result, consider what events almost certainly would have been avoided: First, there would not have been a Second World War because France did not have the power to even attempt to overturn a German victory.


A Wilhelmine German dominated Europe ruled by one man and his personal appointees was not likely to last long. A second war would almost certainly have taken place as it is a long held European tradition to 'try again' and overthrow a despised treaty, just as France had done since 1871. The idea a German victory would somehow remove the desire for other nations to overturn the result is facile and ignores reality. You have just created the very situation of it to be possible too, a mass of small, weak states in the east, a Russia desiring revenge/or to spread its revolution, and a Britain and France that do not want to be dominated by Germany. The idea France could not return to war in support of Britain and or Russia is just silly.

Blackadder2000 wrote:Second, while there was an anti-Semitic component to German society, the conservative nature of a Wilhemine government would never have allowed Nazi thugs to assume power. There would have been no call to abrogate a “Treaty of Versailles,” no serious threat of a Communist takeover of the government, and no great inflation as occurred in 1923, all of which were used as justifications for the assumption of power by the Nazis. With no Nazis, there would have been no Holocaust.


Wishful thinking. How do we know a 'Nazi'esque' party would not arise in France or Britain in this post war scenario? How do we know that the internal situation of Germany would not have led to drastic solutions to maintain its hold on European hedgemony? It was the Kaiser who proposed driving 50,000 Russian POW's only a coastal spit where they could be isolated and left to starve to death, and the Ottomans who committed genocide on the Armenians! How do we know that this scenario would not have led to a second war with nuclear weapons?

Blackadder2000 wrote:Lastly, the Germans, after the war in the West ended, would have crushed the Bolsheviks in Russia


Because as we all know, in 'alternate history' scenarios, there is no limit to the number of Germans. After the war ended Germany would be in no position to crush the Bolsheviks, there is no reason to suppose they would do any better than the Allies did, Russia is a large place, Germany is already using the last of her manpower, and the Russians do not want German rulers.

Blackadder2000 wrote:The irony of history is that at the end of the 20th century, Germany had emerged as the dominant power in Europe and the leader of the European Union , essentially a customs union similar to that conceived by the Germans in their war aims during WWI.


The modern German state is nothing like the Wilhelmine Germany, Max Hastings has talked at length on this, as has Niall Ferguson, and most people tend to side with Hastings. There are debates on YouTube if people are interested. Today we only need to see what people in Greece, Spain, Italy, Eire, Portugal think about having their futures dictated from Germany.

At best Germany would be looking at something like the present map of Europe but with a governmental structure ill-suited to manage it, at worst a series of exhausted nations that would take decades to recover but all harbour a desire for revenge. A German imposed Versailles is going to be no more or less popular than the actual Allied imposed one, and Germany would be just as powerless to make others stick to the terms as time went on.

All we can really say for certain is that if the Central Powers had won, things would have been different.

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby Blackadder2000 » 16 Jul 2017 10:27

Thank you Terry for your interesting reply. I agree with what you wrote.

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby South » 16 Jul 2017 18:31

Good afternoon Black adder 2,000,

This entire theme is governed by Archimedes' "Give me a fulcrum and I shall.....". Meanwhile, he didn't get one and conjecture is the best to work with.

Sidebar; "Food for thought" and "richmond.com" ......Relates more to Syrum of Ipecac, a first aid remedy to induce vomiting. I concede this paper is better than Wash Post.

Preface; "The world" can not offer a unified opinion in re a WWI German victory.

Some misc but important points:

Yes, Brest-Litovsk, 3 Mar 18, took the Soviet Union and Germany out of the war. It was the Rapallo treaty, 16 April 22, whereas the USSR agreed not to seek reparations in exchange for Germany's diplomatic recognition of the new USSR. It was a Rapallo secret sidebar that allowed German aviators and tankers to secretly train in the USSR in derogation of Versailles. Thus my above Sidebar and Preface.

The author/professor neglected to mention the opening of the Panama Canal by the US and the obvious implications.

The author / professor neglected to mention the new US Central Bank (Federal Reserve System) and its Section 202.2 re Bankers Acceptances or Bills of Exchange that, in effect, shifted finance from London to New York City. El money governs; not maximum effective range of some artillery tube.

The US was entering the world arena as a Great Power and President Wilson was not the qualified leader to run a large nation with conflicting interests such as colonial empires that could challenge domestic US interests (eg agricultural commodities from the Philippines and Territory of Hawaii challenging US farmers.)

Meanwhile, Germany was outproducing the UK in steel production - and this happened on a short time line. The implications.....this gets briefed at the White House well prior to the Generals and Admirals request to present their reports.

Too many specifics presented for my Sunday ramblings.........

~ Bob
eastern Virginia

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby Terry Duncan » 17 Jul 2017 02:28

Blackadder2000 wrote:Thank you Terry for your interesting reply. I agree with what you wrote.


Thanks. My reply is an attempt to point out just how much wishful thinking and hindsight is used to justify an outcome other than the historical one. Mostly I was dealing with a late 1917 and 1918 end of the war with a punitive peace imposed. There are quite a few alternatives though, so I thought I would post a brief outline of them as well as one of two of the main stumbling blocks to such a peace occurring.]

A German victory in the following years;

1914. IF, and it a very big 'IF' at that, the German army managed to defeat the French in a significant way within the opening period as outlined in the Schlieffen/Moltke Plan, there would be a push from the Germans to effectively annex Belgium and put a puppet government in place, but this would be opposed by Britain, who the Germans have no real way of defeating and would thus have to moderate their demands to get a settlement. The German theory was that Russia would negotiate if France was defeated, so it is likely that some of the Galician salient could be annexed to allow favourable defensive positions to be taken up in the case of a future war. Britain is unlikely to accept Germany taking the French overseas colonies, especially where a good harbour would exist, as well as never accepting the German desire to reduce France to a second rank power. The German would likely try to gain Toul and Verdun as part of a settlement, and if they held them when the war ended it would be hard to dislodge them. However, the British blockade is a massive bargaining chip, so it would be hard for Germany to take too much from France.

1915. The loss of life by this point is so high that it is going to be difficult for any government to agree to peace terms that could be viewed as accepting a defeat. It would be possible for the Central Powers to demand small border changes in their favour in order to get a settlement, but a sticking point is going to be Belgium with Britain insisting on her being returned to the pre-war borders. The only likely Central Powers victory in 1915 would come from a serious defeat for Russia, so annexing parts of the Galician salient is once again likely, but Germany and Austria are not really in a position to advance too far into Russia due to logistic problems, so they are unlikely to be sitting on too much of Russia. Would Russia object to losing Warsaw, and many Poles who desire their own nation that Germany would support, but it is unlikely to appeal to the Austrians. Overall it's hard to say but would likely depend on how much Austria had contributed to the victory.

1916. By this point, the blockade is hitting hard, and Austria has been negotiating with France to end the war anyhow, whilst the Entente has finally managed to coordinate its attacks to maximise their effectiveness. In this situation, the Central Powers will want some form of advantage from a peace settlement but are ill-disposed to enforce one, so some sort of settlement based on the status quo ante-Bellum is most likely in the west, whilst Russia would likely lose Galicia to some sort of new Polish state created as a buffer and German ally.

1917. The Central Powers are probably sitting on as much Entente land as they can hope to occupy, but shortages of critical materials and manpower mean the victory is likely to come from inciting the Russian troops to mutiny and for an internal revolution. This is all too likely in Russia due to the ineptitude of the Tzarist regime, but of course, the cost is that the same 'revolutionary' line of thought will also spread to the German and Austria troops too. With the French army mutinies, it could have been possible that a major defeat for the French armies took place, though there are some who believe a similar situation existed within the German army too. This could allow border annexations in favour of Germany, but probably little else. Austria might be able to annex Serbia, but quite what they do with it, and how much Hungary objects to more Slavs within the empire is very much a sticking point.

1918. A peace settlement either before the Kaiserschlacht or after its initial gains may well look to be the best bet, but the US involvement by now makes getting any punitive peace settlement most unlikely, so again we are looking at a peace settlement based on the pre-war situation. In the east, Germany may well want to see the new satellite states she has created left in place as she has set them up, but it is also likely that the Entente will not agree to any great enlargement of Germany or Austria, and the Central Powers really no longer have the manpower to enforce anything too harsh.

Throughout the war the limiting factors for the Central Powers are manpower and access to the world markets for essential materials, both are insurmountable unless we start to depart from reality and allow for a victory so unlikely, the Central Powers are always pushed to gain too much at a peace settlement. Geography has also contributed to these difficulties, as there is no real way to put Britain or the US out of the war, end the blockade, or even enforce many gains in colonies world wide. The best possible scenario for Germany is to not fight at all, there is far too much to lose and little chance of an overall victory. For Austria, it is hard to see what to do with Serbia, and internal problems could still see civil war or disintegration entirely.

These are some basic thoughts of mine as to what might be possible and when, obviously there is no way to know for sure, but I do try to consider what was possible rather than what was desirable. I certainly do not give any consideration to avoiding things like the rise of the Nazis, as there are simply too many variables involved by then, and to argue as Ferguson does, that Britain should not have got involved as Wilhelmine Germany was better than Nazi Germany and that Grey should have conducted British policy in 1914 with that in mind, is entirely divorced from reality.

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby Blackadder2000 » 17 Jul 2017 07:04

Again, an interesting read.

One thing though. I read somewhere that Germany could have won if they didn't attack France in 1914, but attacked Russia instead.

I have found a video about that theory:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCLNbGdXXK0

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby The Ibis » 17 Jul 2017 20:30

Lots of theories floating around the interwebs, Blackadder. Anything is possible. What-ifs can be fun. Inevitably they fall apart due to second order effects.
"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: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby ljadw » 18 Jul 2017 06:53

Blackadder2000 wrote:Again, an interesting read.

One thing though. I read somewhere that Germany could have won if they didn't attack France in 1914, but attacked Russia instead.

I have found a video about that theory:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCLNbGdXXK0



This theory is wrong :

The conviction of the Germans was that it would take them several years to defeat Russia and that such a victory would not help them in their conquest of Europe .

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby Terry Duncan » 18 Jul 2017 19:47

Blackadder2000 wrote:Again, an interesting read.

One thing though. I read somewhere that Germany could have won if they didn't attack France in 1914, but attacked Russia instead.

I have found a video about that theory:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCLNbGdXXK0


As The Ibis has said, there are a lot of possibilities, and the 'Drang Nacht Osten' theme probably offers the most promising options if attempting to consider German options in the Wilhelmine period. However, as ljadw has noted, this did not really fit the 'victory' the Germans felt they needed or could envisage. However, I disagree with the idea such a war, and its possible gains are not furthering the goal of conquest of Europe (if indeed this is what Germany wanted).

The idea stems from the German attempts to drive eastwards from the Middle Ages onward, but by the time of Moltke the Elder was deemed impossible to keep as a war objective. The German leadership in the 1870's initiated the line of thought that was still in place in 1914, that a political agreement or negotiated peace was always going to be possible with the Russians because there was really little ideologically that divided Germany and Russia, unlike with France and Germany. France was viewed very differently, however, it was felt it would never be possible to get a negotiated peace and any war would be a fight until one side was utterly defeated. This left the result that either east or west options left a scenario for Germany where she would still be at war in the west no matter what happened in the east, whereas a victory in the west would see Russia soon come to terms in the east. Moltke the Elder proposed a limited strategic offensive in the east where the lines would be held on limited gains in order to inflict a series of tactical defeats on the Russians until Russia lost the will to continue. In the west he proposed a tactical and strategic defensive, just allowing France to batter its forces against the German frontier until it became too exhausted to continue. From 1890 onward we see the Schlieffen/Moltke plan as the prefered option, but if you do have Germany abandon this in 1913/14 then it really all depends on how you see international relations playing out, and exactly what Germany is trying to achieve in Russia.

How do you see the international response to war breaking out, and what do you think Germany could achieve in the east?

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby ljadw » 19 Jul 2017 06:45

Aufmarsch Ost was abandoned,because militarily it could not result in a quick victory ,but only in a long war,which Germany could not afford financially (it would ruin Germany ),politically (it would hasten the democratisation of German society) and it would replace the czaristic regime by a democratic one and it would result in the end of AH .The economic gains would be negligible .

And ,most important : it would not weak France .

Reality was that in 1914 France was the strongest and most dangerous opponent .Not Russia .

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby Sheldrake » 19 Jul 2017 08:03

The short answer is no one knows. Counter factual history is just speculation b ut fuin.

What would a "German victory" look like?

Would it have been an armistice in 1914? Suppose the successful execution of the Schlieffen plan brings the fall of Paris and the destruction of the BEF as a variant of 1870. The Germans might moderate territorial gains in Europe (say Luxembourg and a slice of Belgium ) for the return of overseas colonies occupied in 1914.

Or is this a Dec 1916 armistice with the forces in position, and the Central powers retaining their territorial gains?

Or a 1918 final victory with the Germans on the Channel coast and Russia in revolution?

There is no automatic reason for the Austro Hungarian Empire to collapse.

Of course all of these scenarios could be portrayed as a victory for the "War against Terror" as the Serbs will have paid a heavy price for supporting the assassination that triggered the war.

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby Terry Duncan » 19 Jul 2017 12:01

ljadw wrote:Aufmarsch Ost was abandoned,because militarily it could not result in a quick victory ,but only in a long war,which Germany could not afford financially (it would ruin Germany ),politically (it would hasten the democratisation of German society)


A quick victory no, but it is quite possible for one to be achieved in a timeframe occupied by the historical war, especially if limited aims are in place. Financially the war was supposedly entirely unaffordable beyond the first three months according to experts, but it appears no power was forced out of the war by financial considerations. The costs would be huge, but when you expect to be able to make the enemy pay at least part of your costs, if not all, then cost matters less. Political change in Germany was inevitable, the form it took would be variable though depending on the result of a war.

ljadw wrote:and it would replace the czaristic regime by a democratic one and it would result in the end of AH .The economic gains would be negligible .


The Tzarist regime and Austria-Hungary were both unlikely to survive much more than a further decade in their present form anyhow. The economic gains were never likely to cover the cost of the war in even a medium term scenario no matter which way Germany turned. It didnt deter war for anyone.

ljadw wrote:And ,most important : it would not weak France .

Reality was that in 1914 France was the strongest and most dangerous opponent .Not Russia .


France was the strongest, but certainly not the most dangerous due to the limited ability to get at Germany with the common border being entirely fortified by both sides. Unless there was a competition for giving each other a very hard stare there is unlikely to be any serious danger in the west short term unless one side decides to leave it very undrestrength. Russia is certainly getting stronger though as the pessimism shown by the Germans over The Great Program illustrates, and has both manpower and space on its side.

I really cannot see how you can conclude that a victorious war in the east will not weaken France, as the loss of Russia as an ally makes it impossible for France to do very much at all against Germany, it only being the Franco-Russian alliance that allowed France to do anything but hope to defend against Germany, as was said at the time, 'the problem with the German people is that there are twenty million too many of them'.

If Germany can manage to keep Britain neutral in the Ostaufsmarsch scenario, many of her problems are greatly reduced, and a negotiated peace becomes more likely. How likely this is will be open to each persons own interpretation, but it is certainly an option the British were willing to hold out in 1914 when Grey proposed such a situation to Lichnowsky.

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby Terry Duncan » 19 Jul 2017 12:28

Sheldrake wrote:Would it have been an armistice in 1914? Suppose the successful execution of the Schlieffen plan brings the fall of Paris and the destruction of the BEF as a variant of 1870. The Germans might moderate territorial gains in Europe (say Luxembourg and a slice of Belgium ) for the return of overseas colonies occupied in 1914.


We know the 'shopping list' Bethmann came up with when he thought this likely in 1914, The September Program, and it was something that nobody would have agreed to. France knew from 1871 that the occupation/encircling of Paris got Germany nothing special, and by the time the peace was settled the Prussians/Germans were only too glad to be out of a war they were having great difficulty in closing down. Britain certainly wouldn't worry overly about losing the BEF, it would be a huge loss but get Germany no closer to knocking Britain out of the war as quite how to do this was a problem the GGS had never solved, and still had not done so in its 'rump' state in 1940.

Sheldrake wrote:Or is this a Dec 1916 armistice with the forces in position, and the Central powers retaining their territorial gains?


The reason this didn't happen historically was that nobody would agree to what the other side considered reasonable, and all sides had lost too much to be able to end the war on anything less than what they had promised their populations.

Sheldrake wrote:Or a 1918 final victory with the Germans on the Channel coast and Russia in revolution?


A lot of people go for this scenario, but there is no way to force Britain or the US out of the war, and not enough Germans to take prisoner all the Allied forces in France! At best you have a situation where a military victory sees the British pull back to the channel ports, the US forces prop up a French line South of Paris, and then in the winter, Germany falls apart internally due to revolutions over a desire to end the war and lack of food due to the blockade.

Sheldrake wrote:There is no automatic reason for the Austro Hungarian Empire to collapse.


I believe the mention is in Clark's 'The Sleepwalkers' but cannot be certain, where it is cited that Franz-Ferdinand consulted with Conrad over deploying the army internally to crush Hungary in order to impose a new settlement allowing for reforming the present situation which he felt gave the Magyars far too much say in what was possible. This is very much indicative of a state ready to fall apart, as is the panic over Serbia enlarging her territory, having access to the sea and so on.

Sheldrake wrote:Of course all of these scenarios could be portrayed as a victory for the "War against Terror" as the Serbs will have paid a heavy price for supporting the assassination that triggered the war.


There is very little to suggest the Serbian government did support the assassination, and far too much to support that the last thing Serbia needed in 1914 was another war. That the Austrians used the assassination as a pretext to implement a long desired policy is fairly evident, otherwise, there was no reason to avoid all forms of talks even in the face of a general war.

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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby ljadw » 19 Jul 2017 17:11

Terry Duncan wrote:
ljadw wrote:Aufmarsch Ost was abandoned,because militarily it could not result in a quick victory ,but only in a long war,which Germany could not afford financially (it would ruin Germany ),politically (it would hasten the democratisation of German society)


A quick victory no, but it is quite possible for one to be achieved in a timeframe occupied by the historical war, especially if limited aims are in place. Financially the war was supposedly entirely unaffordable beyond the first three months according to experts, but it appears no power was forced out of the war by financial considerations. The costs would be huge, but when you expect to be able to make the enemy pay at least part of your costs, if not all, then cost matters less. Political change in Germany was inevitable, the form it took would be variable though depending on the result of a war.

ljadw wrote:and it would replace the czaristic regime by a democratic one and it would result in the end of AH .The economic gains would be negligible .


The Tzarist regime and Austria-Hungary were both unlikely to survive much more than a further decade in their present form anyhow. The economic gains were never likely to cover the cost of the war in even a medium term scenario no matter which way Germany turned. It didnt deter war for anyone.

ljadw wrote:And ,most important : it would not weak France .

Reality was that in 1914 France was the strongest and most dangerous opponent .Not Russia .


France was the strongest, but certainly not the most dangerous due to the limited ability to get at Germany with the common border being entirely fortified by both sides. Unless there was a competition for giving each other a very hard stare there is unlikely to be any serious danger in the west short term unless one side decides to leave it very undrestrength. Russia is certainly getting stronger though as the pessimism shown by the Germans over The Great Program illustrates, and has both manpower and space on its side.

I really cannot see how you can conclude that a victorious war in the east will not weaken France, as the loss of Russia as an ally makes it impossible for France to do very much at all against Germany, it only being the Franco-Russian alliance that allowed France to do anything but hope to defend against Germany, as was said at the time, 'the problem with the German people is that there are twenty million too many of them'.

If Germany can manage to keep Britain neutral in the Ostaufsmarsch scenario, many of her problems are greatly reduced, and a negotiated peace becomes more likely. How likely this is will be open to each persons own interpretation, but it is certainly an option the British were willing to hold out in 1914 when Grey proposed such a situation to Lichnowsky.

Russia was a millstone around the neck of France : France had to give Russia a lot of money (Russian loans ) and what did it get for it ? Nothing ; when there was a crisis between France and Germany, Russia abandoned France(France did the same ).

A victorious war in the east would weaken Germany, not France . X casualties and Y occupation forces would mean that there would not enough forces to invade France .

A long war against Russia would cost a lot of money which Russia could not pay (what the Germans obtained at Brest-Litowsk was not enough to compensate for what they had lost in this war .) But FRANCE was rich :in 1871 it had paid 5 billion gold francs,a sum Russia never could pay .

And, a war against Russia was assumed to be a long war,while a war against France would last a few months :neither Russia neither Germany could pay for this war : the Reichstag would prevent an increase of taxes on the workers and Prussia would oppose an increase of taxes for the Junkers . Only France was rich enough,and France would only pay when France was defeated, not when Russia was defeated .

In the OTL Germany financed the war mostly with domestic loans (100 billion of RM ),hoping that after victory, France would pay for them .

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The Ibis
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Re: Would the world be better if Germany won WWI?

Postby The Ibis » 20 Jul 2017 23:13

Terry Duncan wrote:
Sheldrake wrote:Would it have been an armistice in 1914? Suppose the successful execution of the Schlieffen plan brings the fall of Paris and the destruction of the BEF as a variant of 1870. The Germans might moderate territorial gains in Europe (say Luxembourg and a slice of Belgium ) for the return of overseas colonies occupied in 1914.


We know the 'shopping list' Bethmann came up with when he thought this likely in 1914, The September Program, and it was something that nobody would have agreed to. France knew from 1871 that the occupation/encircling of Paris got Germany nothing special, and by the time the peace was settled the Prussians/Germans were only too glad to be out of a war they were having great difficulty in closing down. Britain certainly wouldn't worry overly about losing the BEF, it would be a huge loss but get Germany no closer to knocking Britain out of the war as quite how to do this was a problem the GGS had never solved, and still had not done so in its 'rump' state in 1940.

Sheldrake wrote:Or is this a Dec 1916 armistice with the forces in position, and the Central powers retaining their territorial gains?


The reason this didn't happen historically was that nobody would agree to what the other side considered reasonable, and all sides had lost too much to be able to end the war on anything less than what they had promised their populations.

Sheldrake wrote:Or a 1918 final victory with the Germans on the Channel coast and Russia in revolution?


A lot of people go for this scenario, but there is no way to force Britain or the US out of the war, and not enough Germans to take prisoner all the Allied forces in France! At best you have a situation where a military victory sees the British pull back to the channel ports, the US forces prop up a French line South of Paris, and then in the winter, Germany falls apart internally due to revolutions over a desire to end the war and lack of food due to the blockade.


I can only see one possible scenario and even then its too fraught with uncertainty to do anything with it. In early 1917, the Allies were at the end of the road in terms of borrowing capacity in the US. Notwithstanding the 'too big to fail' arguments people made after the fact to support the notion that the US and its banks would have continued to extend credit, there is no guarantee that was the case. Its just as likely that Wilson might have used the Allies inability to obtain additional US finance to his own ends (whatever those might have been - he didn't like the Germans so he wouldn't force the Allies to give up, but he might have conditioned future borrowing on concessions the Allies might not have been willing to otherwise accede to). This issue went away after the announcement of unrestricted submarine warfare and the resulting US DOW. But the Allies' financial difficulties were very real and the outcome of the inability to continue to borrow raises tons of possibilities.

[I know, most people would rather speculate about giving the Germans a star ship or something :lol: ]

Sheldrake wrote:There is no automatic reason for the Austro Hungarian Empire to collapse.


I believe the mention is in Clark's 'The Sleepwalkers' but cannot be certain, where it is cited that Franz-Ferdinand consulted with Conrad over deploying the army internally to crush Hungary in order to impose a new settlement allowing for reforming the present situation which he felt gave the Magyars far too much say in what was possible. This is very much indicative of a state ready to fall apart, as is the panic over Serbia enlarging her territory, having access to the sea and so on.


That isn't a state falling apart. Its a coup. :lol:
Last edited by The Ibis on 20 Jul 2017 23:43, edited 1 time in total.
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