Imperial Germany would have been top dog anyway?

Discussions on all aspects of Imperial Germany not covered in the other sections.
User avatar
Lord Gort
Member
Posts: 2014
Joined: 07 Apr 2002 14:44
Location: United Kingdom: The Land of Hope and Glory

Imperial Germany would have been top dog anyway?

Post by Lord Gort » 28 Aug 2002 17:06

Many Germans felt that in 1914 that they should have kept out of a war claming afterwards that Germany would eventually become more powerful than any other nation through sheer economic might.

Considering that ww1 was essentially an Anglo-German dual between Great Britian and Germany then this theory seems to make sense.

Gwynn Compton
Member
Posts: 2840
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 22:46
Location: United Kingdom

Post by Gwynn Compton » 29 Aug 2002 00:03

I consider WW1 to be more than just an Anglo-German conflict. There were so many tensions between the various countries of Europe that it is a too simplistic view to say that WW1 was simply one thing. It also involved conflicts that stretched beyond Anglo-German rivaliries. Whilst these rivalires did play a substantial part, one can not play down the significance of other factors in contributing to war in 1914.

As for Germany becoming a dominant economic player, I agree that Germany probably would have become the dominant European player, but it would be challenged by the United States on the World Market.

User avatar
Wolfsrudel
Member
Posts: 7
Joined: 19 Aug 2002 10:00
Location: Germany

Re: Imperial Germany would have been top dog anyway?

Post by Wolfsrudel » 29 Aug 2002 10:23

Would Wilhelm II would have begun WWI if he had known that the economic might of th United States was in this time as high as all european great powers together?

Apart from this the major tensions were between Germany and France. Although Great Britain was the major enemy for Germany in WWI and II there was never a hostility between those countries like between Germany and France. It was more a competition.

Gwynn Compton
Member
Posts: 2840
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 22:46
Location: United Kingdom

Post by Gwynn Compton » 30 Aug 2002 01:08

Germany also felt compelled to go to war alongside the Austro-Hungarian Empire due to the fact that they were Germany's only allies in Europe (the Italians proving not to be very substantial allies in 1914). It would have been difficult for Germany to avoid war, and still be top dog, when she would have been isolated in central Europe, even more so given the likely hood of Austria-Hungary to fall apart during a war with Serbia and Russia.

Gwynn

User avatar
sylvieK4
Member
Posts: 3089
Joined: 13 Mar 2002 17:29

Post by sylvieK4 » 30 Aug 2002 01:49

I wonder what Bismarck would have done in 1914.

Events of that year probably would have been very different, as Bismarck probably would never have allowed the treaties with Russia to lapse. No Franco-Russian alliance, etc. Germany might have stayed out of the fray entirely, except to serve as an arbitrator as it had in the past under Bismarck's direction.

If Bismarck were Chancellor during that period, however, and were faced with the same conditions of 1914 as they actually happened, what do you think that statesman would have done? Do you think he would have been able to avoid war?

User avatar
Lord Gort
Member
Posts: 2014
Joined: 07 Apr 2002 14:44
Location: United Kingdom: The Land of Hope and Glory

Post by Lord Gort » 30 Aug 2002 21:20

Bismarck always tried to juggle between Russias and Austrias Friendship. If he had control over half of the events he claimed to have control over then he should ultimatley be blamed for ww1.


However Gwynn you say about Germnay competing on the world market. It mya suprise you to know that Great Britian was the largest trading nation still by far in 1914. The reason for this was that although americas industry and production was massive (able to eclipse europe) the simple fact is that many american manufactures were absorbed by her home market meaning that few European nation truly understood the power to which the US would enter the war.


As for it being an Anglo-German dual this is confirmed when in 1916 and 17 the german propaganda machine siwtched the 'hymm of hate' towards Britian. She understood that France and Italy were both being sustained by British money. Just as Germanies allies were sustained by German money and troops, so it was with Britians allies. Because the north of Italy was partially overrrun with Germans and Austrians and because the French had lost there industrial region aswell the British had to suatin there allies with not just cash but raw materials, especially coal.


regards,

Anthony EJW
Member
Posts: 157
Joined: 31 Aug 2002 22:52
Location: Great Britain

Post by Anthony EJW » 01 Sep 2002 17:43

Lord Gort wrote:Many Germans felt that in 1914 that they should have kept out of a war claming afterwards that Germany would eventually become more powerful than any other nation through sheer economic might.


Disagree. Germany had reached her economic high point. By 1914 both the economic and military balance was begining to tilt towards the Allies- which is one of the reasons the war started. I think the biggest economic factor was that Russia was turning into an industrial superpower.

Russian industrial production was increasing faster than Germanys - much faster. Coal output grew from 6 million tons in 1890 to 36
million in 1914, and steel from 2.2 to 4.8 million tons in the same period. It was the worlds second largest oil producer and the sixth largest trading nation. It produced more cotton than Austria or France. It's rail system grew by 15,000 miles between 1900 and 1914. By 1914, Russia was the worlds 4th largest industrial power. Between 1860 and 1913, Russia's industrial output grew on average at 5% (in the 1890s it was nearer 8%), which is pretty impressive. In population, it was four times larger than Britain, and three times larger than Germany.

By 1914, Russia's output in the heavy industrial sector (coal, iron, steel, engineering) had grown past that of France, and given a continuation of current trends would have exceeded Germany's sometime in the 1920's.

Considering that ww1 was essentially an Anglo-German dual between Great Britian and Germany then this theory seems to make sense.


I don't think the Russians, the Serbians, the Austria-Hungarians, the Belgians or the French would agree that it was a duel between Great Britain and Germany. At the outbreak of war in 1914 the British army could be organised - in a stretch- into 11 infantry divisions and 3 cavalry divisions. The Expeditionary force actually sent to Europe in August could not mount more than 6 divisions of infantry and 1.5 of cavalry.

For comparison; Belgium mustered 6 infantry divisions and 1 of cavalry. Serbia mustered 11 infantry divisions and one cavalry division. France mobilized 62 infantry divisions and 10 cavalry divisions.

mike m
Member
Posts: 13
Joined: 20 Aug 2002 06:01
Location: southeast US

As in regards to Bismarck

Post by mike m » 03 Sep 2002 05:07

I don't think Bismarck was one of the many root causes of WW1, if he had stayed in power he might have prevented it. Bismarck was a ruthless diplomat if here ever was one and constantly juggled treaties and stayed abreast of power shifts. After all his 'Rule Of Three' kept Germany afloat and France isolated during the heyday of colonialism.

It was only after his dissmissal that the arms race between Great Britain and Germany heated up as a egotistical Kaiser, counseled by weak administrators and goaded by Tirpitz, made one blunder after another, first in the Times scandal, then later in the Moroccan crises. All the while Great Britain made closer ties with France and Russia, who had been a strong ally of Germany during the Bismarck years.

The real problem, in my opinion,was that after Bismarck's dissmissal the Kaiser got what he truly wanted, which was domination of his court, and hence began to surround himself with weaker personalities which he could dominate. So, by 1914 there simply wasn't a fail safe in the form of a strong Chancellor to counteract the Kaiser. And the rest is history..

Mike

User avatar
Tim Smith
Member
Posts: 6177
Joined: 19 Aug 2002 12:15
Location: UK

Post by Tim Smith » 13 Sep 2002 11:16

Had there been no war, Germany would have been economically superior to any other country in Europe except Britain, and later, Russia.

But it was military power, not economic power, which the Germans were concerned about. And France and Russia together were clearly stronger than Germany and a declining Austria-Hungary. Even when Turkey or Italy is added to the Central Powers side, the Entente were still superior.

You may be surprised to hear that Russia was the fastest-developing economy in 1914. French investment was having a tremendous modernising effect. She was rapidly expanding her rail network, and railways mean faster mobilisation of the enormous Russian army. So the Entente were not only stronger than the Central Powers, the gap between them and the Central Powers was growing wider every year, because the steady increase in German power was negated by Austria-Hungary's decline.

That was why the German High Command wanted a war, because they believed it was inevitable and the longer they waited, the worse their position would become relative to their potential enemies.

Gwynn Compton
Member
Posts: 2840
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 22:46
Location: United Kingdom

Post by Gwynn Compton » 14 Sep 2002 11:21

Sounds similiar to one line of thinking concerning Hitler's decision to invade the Soviet Union in 1941. Note the last two digits of the year as well, swap them around and you have 1914...

Gwynn

User avatar
NewXieland
Member
Posts: 26
Joined: 30 Sep 2002 12:45
Location: Sydney

War gave Germany the oppertunity to become top dog...

Post by NewXieland » 03 Oct 2002 15:47

Although Germany had impressive and modern industries it had a rather pathetic and paltry Imperial Empire compared to that of the British and the French... a few odd colonies in Africa and that about it. Russia had a far greater resource pool to draw from and thus potentially was also better than Germany.

I think really WW1 gave Germany the oppertunity to become top dog. Initially they had a very good chance of winning it. Their army was the most highly trained and equipped in Europe and had Moltke stuck to the original doctrines of the Schlieffen Plan than it was quite possible that French would of been knocked out of the war within 6 wks, giving Germany a thorough and absolute advantage for the rest of the war...

Gwynn Compton
Member
Posts: 2840
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 22:46
Location: United Kingdom

Post by Gwynn Compton » 03 Oct 2002 22:52

Well I don't know if the Schlieffen plan would have worked regardless of whether Molke stuck to it. Nobody was expecting the static warfare that did develop, and neither did they expect the Russians to mobilise as quickly as they did.

Certainly, had the mobile warfare that dominated the first few weeks of the offensive pesisted, then it could have worked. But given that it was only a matter of time until the French & British dug in, the fate of the offensive would hang in the balance.

Another critical mistake I see was Kluck's decision to cut inside of Paris, leaving a large fortress on his flank from which the French could assemble and attack from.

Gwynn

User avatar
NewXieland
Member
Posts: 26
Joined: 30 Sep 2002 12:45
Location: Sydney

Post by NewXieland » 04 Oct 2002 01:38

It was the failure of the Schlieffen plan that triggered the stalemate in Europe. I do agree that once both sides dug in then Germany's efforts would be serverely hampered since the Allies could fight a war of attrition that Germany was ill prepared for. Germany was also badly exposed over imports of especially raw material...

Still... those mistakes ie von Kluck's failure to enciricle Paris leading to the defeat at the battle of Marne wouldn't of occured had the strict doctrines of the plan been adhered to.

User avatar
Tim Smith
Member
Posts: 6177
Joined: 19 Aug 2002 12:15
Location: UK

Post by Tim Smith » 06 Oct 2002 10:13

Correct. Three factors killed the Schlieffen plan, two of them Moltke's fault, one not. One was the cancellation of the invasion of the Netherlands - this caused the German army to become clogged up in Belgium. Including the Netherlands in the invasion gives the Germans more routes of advance. Two was the weakening of the German right hook through Belgium to reinforce the French front and the force holding East Prussia. The right hook should have been 90% of the German army, instead it was given only 60%. Those extra troops would have made Kluck's decision to go either east or west of Paris unnecessary.

OK, the French offensive would have penetrated deeper into Germany, all the way to the Rhine and Moselle rivers at least, but the French would only have to fall back again once the Belgians collapsed. The Germans could have given up East Prussia temporarily to the Russians to ensure success in the West.

The third mistake was lack of cooperation with Austria-Hungary. To faciliate the German victory in the West, Austria should have remained on the defensive against both Serbia and Russia to begin with, absorbing most of the Russian effort, until the Germans could reinforce them.



NewXieland wrote:It was the failure of the Schlieffen plan that triggered the stalemate in Europe. I do agree that once both sides dug in then Germany's efforts would be serverely hampered since the Allies could fight a war of attrition that Germany was ill prepared for. Germany was also badly exposed over imports of especially raw material...

Still... those mistakes ie von Kluck's failure to enciricle Paris leading to the defeat at the battle of Marne wouldn't of occured had the strict doctrines of the plan been adhered to.

William Wagner
Member
Posts: 63
Joined: 29 Sep 2002 04:39
Location: USA

Post by William Wagner » 11 Oct 2002 00:05

Germany was the most powerful nation in the Europe at tyhe timeif you look at her armies. However England was the most powerful in the world at the time due to her maritime might, land controled 1/4 the world and her industrial capibility. France and Russia were powerful in there own right on the ground. Austria was a weak dying empire but not as bad a Turkey. (Germany always had a bad taste in allies). The reason the stalemate occured is really to germanies credit. First off it was a 3 on one fightand Germany was isolated from the world. Germany managed to beat Russia into surrender (napoleon and Hitler could not do that.) And manage to aggresivly occupy and hold a huge chunk of Russian territory. Germany held off the two largest Empires in the world and drove both to near bankruptsy. Hand the US entered the war 6 months later, it would have been over due to the freed up troops from Russia. The Germans really bit off more than they could chew.

Return to “Imperial Germany”