For better or for worse: German Victory in the Great War

Discussions on all aspects of Imperial Germany not covered in the other sections.
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Lawrence
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For better or for worse: German Victory in the Great War

Post by Lawrence » 04 Oct 2002 18:29

Hello, lets play alternate history here for a minute. Say the Germans were able to negotiate a peace with Britain and France before the Americans were able to mass their troops. Would the world have been a better place with Imperial Germany still around. While it is impossible to spectulate what the affects of this would have on today's world, what would Europe be like in the immediate years after? Would it be better or worse if Germany was not defeated? An obvious answer to the 'better' side would be that Hitler would never have come around. Curious to hear what anyone has to say about this. Regards!

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 11 Oct 2002 19:27

Imperial Germany would have found it very difficult to negotiate a peace treaty without winning a major victory first. France wanted revenge for her defeat in the 1870 war, and wanted to end German hegemony in Central Europe. With Russia and Britain on her side, France was certain that she would win the war.

So for France to accept a compromise peace, Germany has to defeat either France, Russia or Britain badly enough to force them out of the war. Defeating Serbia and Rumania wasn't enough to force the Allies to the peace table, and even defeating Italy wouldn't have been enough either.

The best chance for a peace treaty favourable to Germany was obviously beating France in 1914. But France held Germany off at the Marne, and ruined the Schleiffen Plan.

Germany aimed her main effort against Russia in 1915, but then tried to defeat France at Verdun in 1916. The latter was a mistake, Germany should have stayed on the defensive against the Allies, and kept the pressure on the Russians. If she had, Russia might have been defeated in 1916!

If Russia had sued for peace in November 1916, before America entered the war, Britain and France might have been reluctant to face the entire German army by themselves. A compromise peace may have been possible then - if the Germans had the sense to ask for it. But it is more likely that Hindenburg would have tried for a total victory in France first.

After America enters the war in April 1917, a compromise peace was impossible. The Allies, buoyed up by the knowledge that American help was on the way, were not willing to accept a peace settlement favourable to Germany - they were hell-bent on victory after that.

The Americans themselves were divided - President Wilson was a peacemaker who wanted to treat Germany fairly, but the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, General Pershing, was a MacArthur-like gung-ho character who was opposed to a truce in November 1918, because he wanted to invade Germany in 1919 and go all the way to Berlin!

If Imperial Germany had survived the war intact, and pulled off a peace treaty with the Allies, while still maintaining control over Poland, the Baltics, White Russia and part of the Ukraine after defeating Russia, then the Germans would have been satisfied, prosperous and peaceful after the war. It would have been a Central and Eastern European bloc dominated by Germany. Hitler would never have come to power in this Germany - but might have made his mark in Austria instead as a pan-German politician. The Austro-Hungarian empire would have disintegrated in the 1920's or 1930's even if it had won the war - after which Austria would have wanted, and got, union with Germany.

If Imperial Germany had survived the war with her army, territory and honour intact, after a fair peace treaty, but lost most of the conquered Russian territories and most of her colonies, then the German people would still consider that a defeat. Reforms would have been demanded. The Kaiser would either have been overthrown or forced to become a constitutional monarch with very little power in a democratic Germany. In this Germany Hitler would have risen up as a radical politician, but without the sting of the Versailles Treaty the Germans would have been less aggrieved, and thus less likely to listen to Communists or Nazis. This democratic Germany would have been successful, and largely peaceful - perhaps a Weimar Republic that worked.

Either of the above two scenarios are obviously far preferable to what actually happened, which was an unjust peace and soon an aggressive Nazi Germany under a psychopathic megolamaniac named Adolf Hitler.

To conclude, yes, if there had to be a Great War, I wish that Imperial Germany had won it, and most of all, I wish that Britain had stayed neutral in 1914, which would have resulted in a relatively swift German victory with the minimum loss of life.

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