Imperial Germany would have been top dog anyway?

Discussions on all aspects of Imperial Germany not covered in the other sections.
Anthony EJW
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Post by Anthony EJW » 11 Oct 2002 00:13

William Wagner wrote:The reason the stalemate occured is really to germanies credit.


Germany's army was indeed very good, but the Entente's advantage at the start of WW1 was not great at all. Infact, if you look at men actually available at the front (Ellis and Cox, in their World War I Databook) the Central Powers had a manpower advantage. It takes time to apply economical advantages, as seen during the American Civil War.

First off it was a 3 on one fightand Germany was isolated from the world.


I seem to recall that German had some allies, like Austria Hungary.

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.


Indeed- with the help of Lenin.

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.


Disagree- the Kaiser Battles were stopped largely by by French and British troops- the US played a very small part during those battles. The Kaiser battles were, infact, about the best that Germany could have expected- if Lloyd George hadn't withheld British reinforcements, then in all likely hold the German offensive would have been stopped in its tracks.

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NewXieland
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Post by NewXieland » 11 Oct 2002 01:27

The Germans really bit off more than they could chew.


I disagree. I still believe that Germany could of won the war, but during the courses of the war the German High Command made some pretty bad mistakes that exacerbated the already difficult conditions. Apart from the initial Schlieffen Plan blunder, the unrestricted U Boat warfare that resulted in the sinking of American ships (Lustria) pushed the Americans into the Entente.

Germany managed to beat Russia into surrender


Well one needs to consider that by 1917 the Tsarist Empire was on the brink of capitualtion anyway. Its army was poorly supplied and maintained. I think there was one rifle for every four soldier while also lacking in ammunition and artiliery. Massive desertion occured during the latter stages while sending Lenin back in an armoured train also helped. Isn't it ironic that Hitler spent five whole years trying to destroy the Soviet regime that his predesscors had helped set up :lol:

Germany was badly exposed over imports, especially the import of raw materials need for the wareffort. When the war broke out, it needed to be a quick and short war.

The reason the stalemate occured is really to germanies credit.


It may of been to Germany' credit, but it certainly didnt't do Germany any favours.

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 11 Oct 2002 11:47

U-boat warfare was very successful in terms of sinking per boat in WWI, and was the only way Germany could drive Britain out of the war. So unrestricted submarine warfare did make sense.

Although the U-boats could have been ordered to leave large passenger liners alone (although that doesn't stop mines.)

Germany would have won the war had the Schleiffen Plan succeeded, but that plan was always risky - it asked a lot of unmotorised troops to move that fast and fight as well.

I think Germany was unwise to risk war with Britain. It was also a pity that the Germans didn't realise that the defensive had the advantage in warfare at that time, and just prepared for a defensive war against France and Russia instead of opting for a quick but risky offensive solution.

It was also unwise for Britain to go to war with Germany - ruined the British economy. Saving Belgium and France wasn't worth the price we British paid, neutrality and a German victory would have been more to our own national advantage than the Pyhrric victory of 1918.

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Post by Gwynn Compton » 14 Oct 2002 03:24

Germany going on the defensive in 1914 would have only been successful had it resulted in the British and French being so shocked at their failure, that they sued for peace instead, which I believe would have been unlikely, and thus resulted in economic starvation anyway, thus why the Germans settled on trying to knock France out of the war so quickly.

Gwynn

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 16 Oct 2002 11:37

I wouldn't really agree that WWI can be seen as an Anglo-German duel, I would rather describe as a general European conflagration.

And I would agree with Lord Gort that German interests would have been better served by avoiding such a conflagration. She was the strongest state in Europe, and there was no good fundamental reason for Germany to embark on war, unlike in 1866 or 1870.

On the other hand, given the specific situation in 1914, it is hard to see how Germany could have kept out of a general war without losing all credibility as an ally, and thus being left in complete isolation. There is also the case that if there was going to be a general war, 1914 was a good time for it from the German perspective. The Russians were still only beginningto recover from their 1905 debacle, but was in the midst of a huge rearmament programme that would have left them much stronger a few years on. The French and the British were also expanding their forces. Germany had recently finished a large expansion of the army, and was thus in a better relative military position than she had been and shortly would be.

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 16 Oct 2002 13:11

When I said 'planning for a defensive war', I didn't mean that Germany would aggressively declare war and then sit back on the defensive. I meant that Germany would only declare war if she or Austria-Hungary were actually invaded, and then stay on the defensive until the Entente wore themselves out.

Since Austria was clearly the aggressor in 1914, Germany should have refused to back Austria. That would have caused the Austrians to back down - without German support, they didn't stand a chance against Russia and Serbia alone.

Of course, if Russia then invaded Austria-Hungary anyway, Germany would have to intervene, even if it's on the Russian side, in order to grab as much Austrian territory for herself as possible before the Russians get it.


Gwynn Compton wrote:Germany going on the defensive in 1914 would have only been successful had it resulted in the British and French being so shocked at their failure, that they sued for peace instead, which I believe would have been unlikely, and thus resulted in economic starvation anyway, thus why the Germans settled on trying to knock France out of the war so quickly.

Gwynn

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 16 Oct 2002 13:26

It was Britain's entry that turned a European war into a world war, because the British Empire was a truly global power, not just a European one.

Germany would have been better off making a reconciliation with Britain and adopting a non-aggressive stance, even if that means making colonial concessions and ending dreadnought production. Without German aggression Britain would have no excuse to declare war on her. Yes, this might mean ending the alliance with Austria-Hungary, but that was more a liability than an asset anyway, as the events of the war proved.

Suppose Germany sided with Russia in 1914 and demanded that Austria leave Serbia alone? Italy would have joined Germany since she had claims on Austrian territory. What could the Austrians do then? Nothing but back down or be annihilated.

What could the French do, if they still wanted war with Germany? Back Austria against Germany and Russia, and forgo British support? I don't think so! Would Russia support France in this situation by doing a complete policy U-turn and back Austria against Serbia, and thus France against Germany? No, absolutely not, never.




Qvist wrote:I wouldn't really agree that WWI can be seen as an Anglo-German duel, I would rather describe as a general European conflagration.

And I would agree with Lord Gort that German interests would have been better served by avoiding such a conflagration. She was the strongest state in Europe, and there was no good fundamental reason for Germany to embark on war, unlike in 1866 or 1870.

On the other hand, given the specific situation in 1914, it is hard to see how Germany could have kept out of a general war without losing all credibility as an ally, and thus being left in complete isolation. There is also the case that if there was going to be a general war, 1914 was a good time for it from the German perspective. The Russians were still only beginningto recover from their 1905 debacle, but was in the midst of a huge rearmament programme that would have left them much stronger a few years on. The French and the British were also expanding their forces. Germany had recently finished a large expansion of the army, and was thus in a better relative military position than she had been and shortly would be.

cheers

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Post by Dobrin » 17 Oct 2002 17:09

Tim Smith wrote:It was also unwise for Britain to go to war with Germany - ruined the British economy. Saving Belgium and France wasn't worth the price we British paid, neutrality and a German victory would have been more to our own national advantage than the Pyhrric victory of 1918.


Going into war is an unwise thing anyway.
But I think Britain was obliged to do so. Of course, I'm not British, maybe a British would think otherwise. But Tim, don't you think it's a little dishonorable to look after your own interests (commercial or economic) and let your allies perish?
Yes I'm not right to be emotional on such matters as dying and trade.
Someone better acquainted than me with trade relations before the Great War could say what would have Britain lost if she had let France be destroyed.
When I read something about British diplomacy there is always the phrase "balance of powers". The result in the 1930s was the policy of appeasement with its height at Munich, 1938. Naturally, saving Czechoslovakia wasn't worth the price you, the British, could be forced to pay.
Do you think so, Tim? I don't and I don't believe you do

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Post by Anthony EJW » 17 Oct 2002 23:59

Tim Smith wrote:It was Britain's entry that turned a European war into a world war, because the British Empire was a truly global power, not just a European one.


It was already a world war when Britain joined. While there were many theatres outside of Europe, they were pailed beside the fighting going on in France and in the East.

Germany would have been better off making a reconciliation with Britain and adopting a non-aggressive stance, even if that means making colonial concessions and ending dreadnought production. Without German aggression Britain would have no excuse to declare war on her. Yes, this might mean ending the alliance with Austria-Hungary, but that was more a liability than an asset anyway, as the events of the war proved.


Very true, but in this case there would have been no World War One- most likely Russia beating the hell out of Austria Hungary.

Suppose Germany sided with Russia in 1914 and demanded that Austria leave Serbia alone? Italy would have joined Germany since she had claims on Austrian territory. What could the Austrians do then? Nothing but back down or be annihilated.


It's very likely that Austria Hungary issued her harsh ultimatium in the first place without Germany's "blank check" and absolute approval.

What could the French do, if they still wanted war with Germany? Back Austria against Germany and Russia, and forgo British support? I don't think so! Would Russia support France in this situation by doing a complete policy U-turn and back Austria against Serbia, and thus France against Germany? No, absolutely not, never.


France was very much aware of their inferiority vrs Germany- if Russia wasn't going to side with them, I doubt they would pick a fight.

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Post by Anthony EJW » 18 Oct 2002 00:04

Going into war is an unwise thing anyway.


Sometimes, just sometimes, the alternative is worse.

But I think Britain was obliged to do so. Of course, I'm not British, maybe a British would think otherwise. But Tim, don't you think it's a little dishonorable to look after your own interests (commercial or economic) and let your allies perish?


Britain was looking after her own interests. The defence of the low countries in modern times have always been a British priority, because their control makes it much easier for any attempted control of Britain's surrounding water lanes- or Britain itself.

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 18 Oct 2002 08:49

Germany would have been better off making a reconciliation with Britain and adopting a non-aggressive stance, even if that means making colonial concessions and ending dreadnought production. Without German aggression Britain would have no excuse to declare war on her. Yes, this might mean ending the alliance with Austria-Hungary, but that was more a liability than an asset anyway, as the events of the war proved.


I don't think it would have required colonial concessions to placate Britain, but the naval issue if of course something else. I think few would disagree with you that German-British enmity could have been avoided, and that the Germans were foolish in not avoiding it. It would hardly have required ending the alliance with Austria-Hungary either.

Suppose Germany sided with Russia in 1914 and demanded that Austria leave Serbia alone? Italy would have joined Germany since she had claims on Austrian territory. What could the Austrians do then? Nothing but back down or be annihilated.

What could the French do, if they still wanted war with Germany? Back Austria against Germany and Russia, and forgo British support? I don't think so! Would Russia support France in this situation by doing a complete policy U-turn and back Austria against Serbia, and thus France against Germany? No, absolutely not, never.


But this is the summer of 1914, and while the solution you propose might have been a nifty move in a game of diplomacy, it ignores too many factors in the real world. Supposing Germany embark on that course of action:

Firstly, it presupposes a Germany that were above all preoccupied with avoiding that particular crisis (just one of many similar crisis of the period) escalating into a general war, more so than the other states. If this had been the German mentality, German policy in the preceding 20 years would have been very different from what it was. Secondly, the first - and only certain - consequence of it would have been the utter destruction of Germany's credibility as an ally, and would have left Germany in a position of complete isolation in Europe. Furthermore, it would not have voided the Franco-Russian alliance, nor would it have won Russia's friendship. The Russian position was one of choice between France and Germany, she could not have both. I somewhat doubt if Russia had chosen to abandon an alliance painstakingly built through decades, for no better reason than that Germany had unexpectedly and inexplicably completely abandoned her only reliable ally. It would almost certainly have warded off the Serbian crisis. But for a state to single-handedly ward off a crisis by completely forfeiting a major ally - that is something no European major power would ever do. Remember, crisis like this were fairly frequent occurences. If I had been an Imperial Foreign minister not blessed with the gift of precognition, and you had come to me suggesting such a scheme, I would have declared you mad. The basic architecture of the European balance simply could not have been reconstructed within a few weeks in the midst of a political crisis.

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