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  #1  
Old 08-31-2009, 04:05 AM
Lantern Lantern is offline
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If Britain had stayed out of WW1?

Bertrand Russell and others have argued that Britain should have stayed out of WW1 which would probably have led to a German victory but would have avoided the horrendous bloodshed of the war as well as the rise of Communism and Nazism and the second world war.

It seems to me that this argument assumes a dichotomy: either accept German domination or the horrendous consequences which resulted from the world war. The issue is whether those consequences were inevitable or whether there were smarter policies which would have defeated Germany in a much less costly way.

Some questions:
1) What would be the long-run implications of German domination of Continental Europe. Would Germany have tried to annex the rest of the continent or would it have been satisfied with a position of political and economic dominance?
2) Could the war have been fought more intelligently reducing its duration and cost?
3) Given the reality of the war as it happened could the Allies have done more to prevent the rise of Communism and defeat the Reds in the Russian civil war?
4) Could they have prevented the rise of the Nazis or at least contained them through robust military action in the 30's?
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  #2  
Old 08-31-2009, 04:49 AM
wmfellows wmfellows is offline
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Originally Posted by Lantern View Post
Bertrand Russell and others have argued that Britain should have stayed out of WW1 which would probably have led to a German victory but would have avoided the horrendous bloodshed of the war as well as the rise of Communism and Nazism and the second world war.

It seems to me that this argument assumes a dichotomy: either accept German domination or the horrendous consequences which resulted from the world war. The issue is whether those consequences were inevitable or whether there were smarter policies which would have defeated Germany in a much less costly way.
Well, Imperial German hegemony in Central Europe (perhaps in this direction, possible fusion with the Austro-Hungarian Empire) was something already emerging.

Quote:
1) What would be the long-run implications of German domination of Continental Europe. Would Germany have tried to annex the rest of the continent or would it have been satisfied with a position of political and economic dominance?
What do you mean by Annex the Rest of the Continent?

Annex France? Belgium? Netherlands? Fusion with A-H Empire?

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2) Could the war have been fought more intelligently reducing its duration and cost?
With the benefit of the lessons of the war itself, yes, but given the actual leaders of the time, I do not believe the sheer enormity of technological change and what it meant for war could really be imagined.

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3) Given the reality of the war as it happened could the Allies have done more to prevent the rise of Communism and defeat the Reds in the Russian civil war?
I doubt it, although perhaps the Mensheviks could have been strengthened, if support of the old system had been thrown out the window.

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4) Could they have prevented the rise of the Nazis or at least contained them through robust military action in the 30's?
This is unclear, do you mean by a victorious set of Allies in 1918? Avoidance of the most punitive and humiliating measures imposed on the Weimar regime, such as war reparations, an engagement by France and Britain to help build a democratic regime in Germany (sort of an earlier version of post-WWII policy) would have, I think, certainly avoided the Nazis as such. Would it have avoided a collapse of the Weimar regime and the rise of some anti-democratic movement inspired by rightist authoritarianism, maybe not (see Italian example, which was an Allied Power, but saw the emergence of Mussolini).

As such, I think Nazism qua Nazism was avoidable. Rightist Authoritarianism or the worst option, Left Dictatorship, much harder to avoid.
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:16 AM
Lantern Lantern is offline
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Originally Posted by wmfellows View Post
What do you mean by Annex the Rest of the Continent?
Annex France? Belgium? Netherlands? Fusion with A-H Empire?
Yes. Basically the issue is how bad German domination would have been for the rest of Europe. Germany domination which allowed other European countries to govern themselves for the most part would obviously be preferable to a German empire which annexed other countries and ruled them. I don't believe the latter was part of the German plan in 1914 but that might have been the long-run outcome of prolonged German domination of Europe without any counter-weight.

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This is unclear, do you mean by a victorious set of Allies in 1918?
Yes.

You seem to be arguing that the rise of the Nazis could have been reasonably prevented but not the rise of the Communists or the enormous costs of the war. In that case was WW1 really worth fighting from the pov. of Britain? Of course they couldn't have known all this at the time but in hindsight?

I suppose it all depends on how much a threat a German-dominated Europe would have been to Britain. Given the vast industrial power available to Germany they could probably have built a significantly bigger navy than Britain in which case Britain would have been dependent on a US alliance to defend itself.
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  #4  
Old 08-31-2009, 05:21 AM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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Without the UK's entry into the war, it would have been just another 19th-century conflict - the Franco-Prussian War, redux. France would not have been annexed, but it probably would have been forced to cede some colonies, most likely in North and West Africa.

The UK would clash with Germany eventually, of course - a rich, victorious German Empire would accelerate its fleet-building to expand its global presence. Remember, it was the High Sea Fleet that really brought the UK into the war. Britain would never let another power rule the waves.

Another thing that no-one has noted - British neutrality would leave the Ottoman Empire intact. Setting aside the impact this would have on my country's history, would the Turks have succeeded in keeping hold of the Middle East, with its increasingly valuable oil deposits? Or would they collapse later on their own?

Last edited by Alessan; 08-31-2009 at 05:22 AM..
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:21 AM
AK84 AK84 is online now
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For Britain to stay out well she would have to stop being Britain. Since around 1500, it has been the policy of England/Great Britain/ United Kingdom, that there cannot be one power on the continent, England/Great Britain/United Kingdom have all gone to war over that. It would require a fundamental rethink of centuries of policy.
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:37 AM
Latro Latro is offline
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Originally Posted by Lantern View Post
You seem to be arguing that the rise of the Nazis could have been reasonably prevented but not the rise of the Communists or the enormous costs of the war. In that case was WW1 really worth fighting from the pov. of Britain? Of course they couldn't have known all this at the time but in hindsight?

I suppose it all depends on how much a threat a German-dominated Europe would have been to Britain. Given the vast industrial power available to Germany they could probably have built a significantly bigger navy than Britain in which case Britain would have been dependent on a US alliance to defend itself.
Well, one of the main reasons behind WWI was Britain trying to curtail Germany's economic growth. Espescially the rise of the german navy and Germany's foothold in Africa were something the Empire would not tolerate.

So was it all worth it from the pov of the British Empire?

What empire?

Would the empire still exist today if Britain had refrained from escalating the conflict to a World War?

Hard to say. A clash between Britain and Germany seems pretty much unavoidable, as Germany was seen encroaching on terrain Britain saw as hers.
But a private German-Britain war would probably not have resulted in the actual loss of the Empire. IMHO

Also, regarding Nazism and the Sovjets. If not for WWI the 'modern' movements of communism and the offsprings socialism and fascism would hardly have been as virulent, I think.
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:17 AM
Latro Latro is offline
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Another thing that no-one has noted - British neutrality would leave the Ottoman Empire intact. Setting aside the impact this would have on my country's history, would the Turks have succeeded in keeping hold of the Middle East, with its increasingly valuable oil deposits? Or would they collapse later on their own?
Interresting point.
One would have to take the 1911 freedom struggles of the Balkans into consideration, I think. As the Ottomans were unable to prevent them seceding.
How would they have fared against the British and/or French trying to get hold of some oil rich territories? It would seem inevitable that they would try something in that direction.

So a 'Turkish War' would seem very likely. It would perhaps also play out the way it did, only later. Who knows, maybe even a Jewish state would not be totaly unlikely.
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Old 08-31-2009, 08:08 AM
RickJay RickJay is online now
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A totally different World War I essentially re-rolls the dice that determined the world's ffate after 1918. I really don't believe we can even begin to guess how history would have unfolded.
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  #9  
Old 08-31-2009, 08:59 AM
villa villa is offline
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Originally Posted by Lantern View Post
2) Could the war have been fought more intelligently reducing its duration and cost?
I don't really have anything on the first question, but my answer on this is pretty much no. Unless you massively change things beforehand. The technology for much of a different type of war simply didn't exist. In the end, Germany had to be bled white. Given that they could fight a defensive war, and had chosen the terrain, that was going to be bloody and long. Especially as more and more of the burden moved to the British, who didn't have sufficient trained NCOs to make other tactics feasible.

Without a mass standing British Army in 1914, or significantly different results for the French in the first few months of the war, the path of the war was pretty much set. While technology was very suggestive of a static attrition war in 1914, it is amazing how fast it developed. Things like the creeping barrage were unimaginable at the start of the war, and would have saved a lot of lives had they come earlier.

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Originally Posted by Lantern View Post
3) Given the reality of the war as it happened could the Allies have done more to prevent the rise of Communism and defeat the Reds in the Russian civil war?
Tough one. I don't see either as working. Intervention was massively unpopular and actually pushed Britain pretty close to the edge with regard to worker discontent. I seem to remember there being a docker's strike refusing to load munitions, and even a police strike over the matter. Full scale intervention, which is what it would have taken to save the (corrupt, incompetent, and not very pleasant) White army would have led to social breakdown back home, I think without doubt a General Strike, and mutinies in the army, who weren't that keen on fighting any more.

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4) Could they have prevented the rise of the Nazis or at least contained them through robust military action in the 30's?
Two choices I think might have worked. One is the common idea that Versailles was too harsh. Trouble is, being nice to Germany wasn't going to be popular back home, and a politician would have gotten his balls nailed to the wall for suggesting it.

The other option is that Versailles was significantly too light on Germany. While it was bad enough to humiliate, it left Germany as a country. Unification wasn't set in stone by 1919, and there was still rivalries between the individual states. Splitting everyone else off from Prussia, stamping on Prussia heavily, and treating the others noticeably better might have been an interesting way to deal with it. But I have no idea what the long term effects would have been.
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Old 08-31-2009, 09:17 AM
strqwert44 strqwert44 is offline
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This is pure speculation....but a WWI German victory would probably have been a lot like the German 1871 victory v. France......except that France would have probably paid lots of reparation like Germany after WWI.

Ironically/fatalistically, fascism might have arose in an economically wrecked France in the 1930s especially as the far left and far right were significant influences in French politics in the 30s.
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  #11  
Old 08-31-2009, 09:34 AM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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In terms of what the Germans wanted in the east, we can look at what happened at Brest-Litovsk. As for the rest of their plans, there's always Bethmann-Hollweg's September Program, which laid out German war aims. Their goals:

1. Dismantling of French border fortifications, annexation of Briey and possibly the western Vosages, reparations high enough to keep France from rearming for at least 20 years, and a commercial treaty making the French economy dependent on Germany.

2. Annexastion of Liege, Verviers, and the frontier of Belgian Luxemburg. Possibly of Antwerp. If Belgium is to exist as a state, it should be a vassal of Germany and allow German occupation and use of its coasts and military ports. French Flanders (Dunkirk, Calais, Boulogne) to Belgium.

3. Annexation of Luxemburg as a new German state.

4. A central European Economic Zone, consisting of Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Austria Hungary and possibly Italy, Sweden, and Norway, all of which have nominally equal power, which is, in reality, dominated by Germany.

5. Colonial acquisitions in Africa, to be figured out later.

6. Economic treaties signed with France and Belgium.

7. The Netherlands to be brought under closer German control and made dependent on Germany, but carefully, so as not to offend them. Maybe an alliance or a customs union? Maybe offer them Antwerp in exchange for the right to station troops in a fortress around there?

Last edited by Captain Amazing; 08-31-2009 at 09:35 AM..
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  #12  
Old 08-31-2009, 09:48 AM
Jerseyman Jerseyman is offline
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Nazi policies on Lebensraum and anti-semitism did not arise with them. In fact, though it existed, anti-semitism was far less significant in Germany than in Austria. The treaties of Brest-Litovsk gave huge amounts of the western Russian Empire to Germany though they came to nothing with Versailles. That might have been too harsh in the wrong way (mainly due to France) and not harsh enough in the right way so that it left Germans feeling betrayed (since they were not getting the full facts). We see WW1 very much as the 1916 stagnation and courtesy of Oh what a lovely war but once the German resistance broke it was a rout that might have done better to demand unconditional surrender. If Germany had kept fighting, Germans would have had no doubt that they had lost and not been betrayed and very likely gone the same way as Russia though whether the victors would have allowed a more Socialist government than Weimar's is a different matter. There would be nothing Germans could do about it.

If Britain had kept out then France would probably not have lasted for long or might never have got in and the result would be an east European conflict tied up with Balkan independence which Germany and Turkey would probably have won but quite possibly ended up fighting each other over the Balkans or bogged down in independence uprisings throughout eastern Europe. The Ottoman Empire was fairly sound at its core but the Austrian was not. It would have been faced with independence uprisings from Bohemia south and quite possibly so would a successful Germany be faced with Bavarian and other independence moves.
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Old 08-31-2009, 09:57 AM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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. . . and quite possibly so would a successful Germany be faced with Bavarian and other independence moves.
Would it? There was a secession movement in Bavaria after World War I, but was there any active Bavarian secession movement before the war?
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:07 AM
Regallag_The_Axe Regallag_The_Axe is offline
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Ironically/fatalistically, fascism might have arose in an economically wrecked France in the 1930s especially as the far left and far right were significant influences in French politics in the 30s.
That's what I was thinking. Captain Amazing's link reinforces this thinking. There was plenty of antisemitism in France (remember the Dreyfus Affair?). Odd to think of, but might have seen Charles de Gaulle, Le Chef de la 3rd Empire Francais.
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Old 08-31-2009, 02:12 PM
Pleonast Pleonast is offline
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Originally Posted by villa View Post
The other option is that Versailles was significantly too light on Germany. While it was bad enough to humiliate, it left Germany as a country. Unification wasn't set in stone by 1919, and there was still rivalries between the individual states. Splitting everyone else off from Prussia, stamping on Prussia heavily, and treating the others noticeably better might have been an interesting way to deal with it. But I have no idea what the long term effects would have been.
Why did the Allies keep Germany intact? They broke up the Austria-Hungary empire, after all.
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Old 08-31-2009, 02:51 PM
villa villa is offline
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I don't know the answer to that. I believe the French talked about splitting Germany up.

Part of the problem was, I imagine, that the German Army wasn't fully broken, unlike in 1945. Reversing unification would, I guess, have required occupation of Prussia, and that level of occupation would have taxed the treasury and manpower of Britain and France too much.
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Old 08-31-2009, 03:17 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Well, they did split Germany up. Almost all of West Prussia and Posen became part of Poland, Danzig, the Memel territory and the Saarland became Liege of Nations protectorates, Alsace and German Lorraine became part of France, Northern Schleiswig became part of Denmark, and there was additional territory given to Belgium and Czechoslovakia. This is all in addition to the loss of their colonial territories. Germany lost about 25,000 square miles and 7 million people from territorial concessions.
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:06 PM
villa villa is offline
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Well yes and no. By split up, I meant dismember. Reverse unification. Return to the days of Saxony, of Bavaria, and in particular of Prussia. Then work on destroying the power of the Junker class in Prussia.

I need to dig a book out to see what areas the Nazis ever achieved a majority in.
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:27 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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I need to dig a book out to see what areas the Nazis ever achieved a majority in.
If you scroll down on this board you'll see a map showing how the various parties did in the Reichstag elections, as well as the two presidential elections.

The areas where Hitler beat Hindenburg in the 1932 presidential election were Brandenburg, Thuringia, Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein.
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Old 09-01-2009, 12:40 PM
Latro Latro is offline
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In terms of what the Germans wanted in the east, we can look at what happened at Brest-Litovsk. As for the rest of their plans, there's always Bethmann-Hollweg's September Program, which laid out German war aims. Their goals:

......


7. The Netherlands to be brought under closer German control and made dependent on Germany, but carefully, so as not to offend them. Maybe an alliance or a customs union? Maybe offer them Antwerp in exchange for the right to station troops in a fortress around there?

I could live with that..:-)

Hmm, these Germans aren't so bad.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:42 PM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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Well yes and no. By split up, I meant dismember. Reverse unification. Return to the days of Saxony, of Bavaria, and in particular of Prussia. Then work on destroying the power of the Junker class in Prussia.
It probably wouldn't have worked. Without invading the country (which would have been bloody and pointless), Germans weren't going to roll over on that issue. They'd spent a couple centuries trying to achieve unification and finally had it through Bismark. They'd have simply ignored it.
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:13 AM
villa villa is offline
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It probably wouldn't have worked. Without invading the country (which would have been bloody and pointless), Germans weren't going to roll over on that issue. They'd spent a couple centuries trying to achieve unification and finally had it through Bismark. They'd have simply ignored it.
I don't disagree it would have required invasion. Which would, in turn, have required US acquiescence, which probably would not have come. Might have stopped the counterproductive intervention in the Russian Civil War had it happened, but then we are getting way off topic...

Splitting Bavaria off might have been possible. Weren't there quasi-separatist uprisings in other areas in 1919 as well?
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  #23  
Old 09-02-2009, 03:56 PM
Deeg Deeg is offline
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If Britain had stayed out of WW I the French would be driving better cars.
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Old 09-02-2009, 10:30 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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But eating worse food.
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Old 09-02-2009, 10:59 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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The Brits would NEVER allow another major power access to the Mediterranean. After Napoleon, and especially after the construction of the Suez Canal, the RN viewed the Mediterranean as "a British lake." Had Hitler branched southward he would have triggered a response that, in 1940, he was not prepared to counter the British fleet, even (especially? considering he had none of his own ships in-theater, and couldn't get them past Gibraltar) with what he added from the French and Italian fleets.
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  #26  
Old 09-02-2009, 11:48 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
The UK would clash with Germany eventually, of course - a rich, victorious German Empire would accelerate its fleet-building to expand its global presence. Remember, it was the High Sea Fleet that really brought the UK into the war. Britain would never let another power rule the waves.
Right, it had little to do with German Imperialism, and mostly to do with that idiot Wilhelm II wanting to build his toy fleet, and challenge the British Navy. If he had stuck to KruzerKreig as Bismark said, he would have come out OK.
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Old 09-03-2009, 03:08 AM
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Right, it had little to do with German Imperialism, and mostly to do with that idiot Wilhelm II wanting to build his toy fleet, and challenge the British Navy. If he had stuck to KruzerKreig as Bismark said, he would have come out OK.
This brilliantly exemplifies the Imperialist thinking.
If someone else wants a navy too, it is automatically a challenge.
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Old 09-03-2009, 09:40 AM
MarcusF MarcusF is offline
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This brilliantly exemplifies the Imperialist thinking.
If someone else wants a navy too, it is automatically a challenge.
But it was a 'challenge' in the thinking of the time and seen as such in both Britain and Germany.

Personally I think the basis of the OP is mistaken. The assumption is that Britain staying out leads to a German victory without the blood letting that actually occurred but this does not seem the most likely scenario to me. Whatever we Brits like to think the size of the BEF in 1914 was tiny compared to the German and French armies and its impact on the course of the first year of the war was limited.

The Schlieffen plan (even as modified by von Moltke) was fundementally flawed and was very unlikely to take France out of the war in the same way as the 1940 Blitzkreig did. There is every chance that, even without the BEF, the Miricle of the Marne would still have repulsed the German right with their overextended supply lines and the result would have same. A race to the sea and a continuous trench line from Switzerland to the Channel with the same 'horrendous bloodshed' as seen in the OTL.

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Originally posted by Alessan:
Without the UK's entry into the war, it would have been just another 19th-century conflict - the Franco-Prussian War, redux. France would not have been annexed, but it probably would have been forced to cede some colonies, most likely in North and West Africa.
I don't think so. It not have been a "world" war but it would not have been a replay of the Franco-Prussian war. This ignores the involvement of Russia.

The logic of German war plans was that France had to be crushed so that it presented no threat to the rear while German defeated Russia. This necessarily meant that France had to be disarmed and the industrial north-east occupied. Assuming that without Britain in the war France had been defeated, the settlement terms would have been harsh.
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Old 09-03-2009, 10:07 AM
villa villa is offline
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But it was a 'challenge' in the thinking of the time and seen as such in both Britain and Germany.
No question it was a challenge. It was seen as one and it was intended to be one. And look at the crap Germany ended up with as colonies...

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Personally I think the basis of the OP is mistaken. The assumption is that Britain staying out leads to a German victory without the blood letting that actually occurred but this does not seem the most likely scenario to me. Whatever we Brits like to think the size of the BEF in 1914 was tiny compared to the German and French armies and its impact on the course of the first year of the war was limited.
Not sure I agree with you here. The BEF and Belgian armies contribued in pretty important ways in the early going. While it was still a war of movement, the superior training of the BEF was of great use, and sufficiently slowed the Germans down. I don't think the war would have ended without major blood letting, but without the British, I think France would have collapsed in 1916 or 1917. The French Army was shot away, rife with mutinies, and only managed to survive because of offensive launched (agaisnt the wishes of other commanders often) by the Russians and the British to relieve pressure. Take that safety valve off, and Verdun gets one hell of a lot worse for the French. Moreover, France simply couldn't have held the line - from 1916 onwards in particular the British were taking on much more yardage. Remove the German casualties sustained in Ypres, and add that part of the line onto the French defense requirements, also remove the contribution of British industry and finance, and France is in a world of hurt. Also take away the British naval blockade (and presumably Britain remains as a trading partner of the Germans) and the picture for France gets even worse.


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The Schlieffen plan (even as modified by von Moltke) was fundementally flawed and was very unlikely to take France out of the war in the same way as the 1940 Blitzkreig did. There is every chance that, even without the BEF, the Miricle of the Marne would still have repulsed the German right with their overextended supply lines and the result would have same. A race to the sea and a continuous trench line from Switzerland to the Channel with the same 'horrendous bloodshed' as seen in the OTL.
I don't know here. The Germans came bloody close, even with the BEF and the Belgians knocking them 2-3 days of schedule (and, given the railroad system of the time, schedules were everything to military planners), and had they not pulled east of Paris contrary to the original plan I don't know what the outcome might have been. Paris goes, France capitulates.

Even if you are right, and a race to the sea occurs, there is still a lot of bloodshed, but France loses. They didn't have the men, the industry or the money to take on Germany in that kind of war. My guess is total French collapse in late 1916 or early 1917, if they made it out of 1914.

Last edited by villa; 09-03-2009 at 10:08 AM..
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  #30  
Old 09-03-2009, 11:25 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Personally I think the basis of the OP is mistaken. The assumption is that Britain staying out leads to a German victory without the blood letting that actually occurred but this does not seem the most likely scenario to me. Whatever we Brits like to think the size of the BEF in 1914 was tiny compared to the German and French armies and its impact on the course of the first year of the war was limited.

The Schlieffen plan (even as modified by von Moltke) was fundementally flawed and was very unlikely to take France out of the war in the same way as the 1940 Blitzkreig did. There is every chance that, even without the BEF, the Miricle of the Marne would still have repulsed the German right with their overextended supply lines and the result would have same. A race to the sea and a continuous trench line from Switzerland to the Channel with the same 'horrendous bloodshed' as seen in the OTL.
Oh sure, that could have happened. But the war was lengthened by Britain starving out Germany with the British navy. On that note, the German High Seas Fleet could have squashed the French fleet easily, allowing the Germans to raid or invade the French coast.

But in any case, without the British Navy, the French would have lost in a year or two.
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Old 09-03-2009, 04:43 PM
MarcusF MarcusF is offline
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Oh, I agree there is a good chance France would have lost - I'm just doubting that the war would have been over by Christmas. The BEF did contribute to slowing down the German advance but without the BEF coming into the line the French could - and would have - have moved more troops from their right to their left wing.

Who knows, if they had not had the British arriving they might not have launched Plan XVII, their attack into Lorraine, not suffered heavy losses, and been left with more troops to drive back the Germans from Paris.
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  #32  
Old 09-07-2009, 04:48 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Europe Avoided WWII?

I think a WWI without the UK would have been much less bloody, and would have actually moderated German imperialism. My reasoning: France would probably have lost. The Germans would force harsh reparations upon Frane; and there would have been so much resentment, that Germany would realize the folly of a european empire. As for a naval conflict with the UK, the Kaiser did not want that (he was an admiral in the Royal Navy). Instead, the germans would have gone whole hog into Africa (annexing the former French colonies). They would have gotten into imperialism, just as it (imperialism) was starting to cost money- that would have tamed the german desire for empire real soon.
The UK and Germany were big trading partners-and war between them made little sense. Ironically, the Germans were building faster and better-armed ships (than the British) by 1914. A reply of Jutland in 1920, would probably have been a big debacle for the Royal Navy.
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  #33  
Old 09-08-2009, 05:13 AM
Latro Latro is offline
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Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Ironically, the Germans were building faster and better-armed ships (than the British) by 1914. A replay of Jutland in 1920, would probably have been a big debacle for the Royal Navy.
Uhmmm....yes..Which is exactly why the British would rather have the war in 1914 than in 1920.

It's Britannia rules the waves! Can't have uppity nations building warships, excuse me, "toy fleets".
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  #34  
Old 08-05-2014, 10:55 AM
georgie georgie is offline
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If Britain stayed out of WW1

If Britain had not entered WW1 a century ago today, Germany would have undoubtably defeated France, Russia and their other allies. Then Germany would have dominated the Continent for possibly 50 years. That is the bad part, but there are many good outcomes of this alternative history. The war would have been short, sparing Europe the devastation and killing of two world wars, because WW2 only happened because Germany didn't win WW1.The USA would not have entered the war. Communism would not have risen, the Berlin controllers would have seen to that! The Cold War would not have happened, including the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.
But there would have been a kind of cold war between the German Empire and the British Empire, Germany could never have invaded the British Isles, considering the Royal Navy was the most powerful in the world, backed up with a strengthened British Army. The two empires would have co-existed and possibly gone on an arms race in the same way the United States and The Soviet Union did after WW2. This would not have left much room for the United States to expand, which would have continued it's isolationist policy. It would have taken the United States much longer to become the top world power.
The world a century after WW1 wouldn't have been much different to today's world. The United States would have recently become the top world power, Germany would have been top European power, as it is, and Russia would have been a secondary power under the influence of Germany. China and Japan would have been much as they are now, after a war between Japan, China and the USA in 1941, which the USA won. Britain, and Europe as a whole, would have been strong, not the weakened, divided, 'living in the past' continent we see now.
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  #35  
Old 08-05-2014, 11:27 AM
notquitekarpov notquitekarpov is offline
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Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
The UK and Germany were big trading partners-and war between them made little sense. Ironically, the Germans were building faster and better-armed ships (than the British) by 1914. A reply of Jutland in 1920, would probably have been a big debacle for the Royal Navy.
There is a problem with your theory. The sort of Navy the Germans were building was specifically designed for defeating the Royal Navy in home waters - generally short ranged, heavy armoured and armed ships designed to turn the North Sea into a German Lake.

The Royal Navy was built for Imperial Defence - fast long range ships that had to shed armoured plate to achieve that. Not worse ships - just all-rounders.

It was a direct, deliberate and obvious challenge to the Royal Navy - and an act that guaranteed that we would be on opposite sides in any coming War. And quite correctly so.

Last edited by notquitekarpov; 08-05-2014 at 11:28 AM..
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  #36  
Old 08-05-2014, 02:42 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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My speculation is that if Britain had remained neutral, Germany probably would have won the war. The main question is whether the British absence would have been a decisive factor in the early weeks of the war and allowed a quick German victory in 1914 or if the British absence would have been a long-term factor that would have tipped the war of attrition in Germany's favor and allowed a German victory in 1918.

But either way here's my predictions:

1. Germany would have wanted colonies. The French and the Dutch would have had to surrender some colonies to Germany. Colonies were a sign of prestige in that era and Germany would have wanted trophies.

2. Russia would have become a German ally. The alliance between France and Russia was always difficult. They were the most liberal and the most conservative great powers in Europe. The only thing that held the alliance together was the belief that it was necessary. If it had failed, it would have fallen apart. Russia was politically much closer to Germany and had been allied with Germany in the past. A German victory would have caused a realignment and Russia would have moved back on to the German side. But in this case, it would be the junior partner to Germany, as Austria-Hungary was.

3. Germany would get bogged down in Eastern Europe. With political alliances with the governments of Austria, Russia, and Turkey, Germany would be committed to propping up those governments. And all three of these governments had problems. The results of a German victory in a world war would have been German troops constantly being dispatched to suppress uprisings in its allies.

4. France would go fascist. France would be facing the same situation Germany historically faced after its defeat. Military defeat, political isolation, and a sense of having been betrayed. Some French analog of the Nazis would have ended up taking power.

5. Nobody would like the British. Germany would see Britain as its one remaining rival. France would see Britain as the country that had abandoned it in its hour of need.
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  #37  
Old 08-05-2014, 02:55 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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I am not sure if France would have "lost". The war would have dragged on. it's quite possible that France & Germany would have been brought to Peace talks by GB or the USA, and basically neither "losing". Germany would have had to give up Netherlands and Belgium, but they certainly could have insisted they be demilitarized. Germany would have had huge gains in the east and might have settled for that. Italy would have had to concede a little to AH.

Between AH & Germany the Communist revolution would be localized, with Russia being balkanized. No Nazis.

Actually it might have been for the best. The USA might not have become such a super-power early.
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  #38  
Old 08-05-2014, 03:19 PM
shiftless shiftless is offline
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An excellent question since I believe that war rarely settles any problems except maybe overpopulation. I think the Germans would have eventually won out - without the Brits I doubt the USA would have gotten involved either. France would have had to give up some territory and hang their heads in shame for a while. Basically, as someone else said, Frano-Prussian war, part deux (or part Neuf). Russia would have collapsed on cue, so I doubt much would have changed there.

In the end, the major question would not have been answered though: Who's in charge, Germany or Britain? Around 1935 or so they would need to have another war to settle that.
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  #39  
Old 08-05-2014, 03:38 PM
Malden Capell Malden Capell is offline
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I don't know if France would have been explicitly fascist, but I reckon a deeply conservative monarchical restoration would have taken place. The Third Republic was in fact an accident; the Crown was offered to the Legitimist Heir, Henri, Comte de Chambord, who declined it, so the leaders of France at the time opted to wait for him to die so they could offer the Crown to his more liberal heir, Louis-Philippe, Comte de Paris. Unfortunately, Henri lived to 1883, so the 'temporary' republic ended up accepted as default.
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  #40  
Old 08-05-2014, 04:20 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Peter O'Toole wouldn't have nominated for an Oscar for Lawrence of Arabia.

Alessan touched upon the issue of the Ottoman's continuing existence. How does this change the world we see today? One thing is we don't have France and England carving up the Middle-East, so these borders may well be completely different. Perhaps this makes more warfare, perhaps less. Do we have the Zionist Movement in the Levant under the Ottoman's? Israel's very existence may not have occurred, and there might not have been a need.

Another point about the United States, without England getting involved, then it may well be unlikely the USA gets involved. Our isolationist tradition would be intact moving through the twentieth century. Even if Europe erupted in war again, we'd have that fight here and delay our entry into such a war, if we entered at all. If Europe doesn't get embroiled in a second Great War, then their economies aren't shattered completely ... maybe the USA is still a second or third rate power "over there".

War between the Hapsburgs and the Tzars is probably unavoidable, that brings France and Germany to blows yet again.

Extra credit question: Did England join the right side in WWI?
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  #41  
Old 08-05-2014, 05:08 PM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is online now
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Lord Bertie couldn't prove 1 + 1 = 2 unless you let him beg the question, and took 3 volumes to come to that conclusion. We don't know what would have happened if the UK didn't get into the war. The suggestion that history would have been peach pie ignores the universal law of history: history is just one damned thing after another.
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  #42  
Old 08-05-2014, 05:20 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Originally Posted by watchwolf49 View Post
Another point about the United States, without England getting involved, then it may well be unlikely the USA gets involved. Our isolationist tradition would be intact moving through the twentieth century. Even if Europe erupted in war again, we'd have that fight here and delay our entry into such a war, if we entered at all. If Europe doesn't get embroiled in a second Great War, then their economies aren't shattered completely ... maybe the USA is still a second or third rate power "over there".?
Right, good point. Yes, the USA would likely never have entered, it was the Submarine War and British propaganda which brought us in, not to mention fumbling German diplomacy.
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  #43  
Old 08-05-2014, 06:42 PM
Rick Kitchen Rick Kitchen is online now
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The US and Japan would inevitably have gone to war, regardless of what happened in WWI. Would Japan have attacked British interests in the Far East? What would have happened to French possessions in the Far East and the Pacific? Would there have been a Far East World War, with or without Russia/with or without Germany?
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  #44  
Old 08-05-2014, 11:00 PM
Stringbean Stringbean is offline
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Germany would have defeated the French. Where history flows from there no one can say.
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  #45  
Old 08-06-2014, 12:10 AM
Wallaby Wallaby is offline
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There was a young man from the UK who was killed in the early months of 1915. If England hadn't entered the war, he would have survived.

He was an intense, charismatic son of a noble family who would have used his connections to enter parliament. Once there, he would have orchestrated moving the British Parliament and the British public to accepting communism, leading to close brotherly ties and an alliance with Russia. Following the successful war which defeated Germany in the 1930s, all of Europe became communist (under the leadership of the UK/USSR faction), leading to a massive war of annihilation with the US, which was won by the Japanese using the tactic of prudently staying out of it.

Well, it's as likely as Germany being controlled by a homeless street painter with no skills and a fanatical nationalism, leading the country into more and more wars until eventually they HAD to lose, while killing millions of otherwise harmless civilians because they didn't fit his crackpot master plan.

That's what people forget when they say 'If only Hitler had been killed in WW!' - well, maybe someone worse (hard to imagine) was.
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  #46  
Old 08-06-2014, 08:11 AM
tagos tagos is offline
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I'm reading the Guns of august and have been reading a few other histories. The strong impression I get is that this was Germany was fully intent on dealing with France once and for all. It was not going to be like the Franco-Prussian War. That outcome was a mistake to be corrected.
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  #47  
Old 08-06-2014, 08:21 AM
tagos tagos is offline
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Originally Posted by MarcusF View Post
Oh, I agree there is a good chance France would have lost - I'm just doubting that the war would have been over by Christmas. The BEF did contribute to slowing down the German advance but without the BEF coming into the line the French could - and would have - have moved more troops from their right to their left wing.

Who knows, if they had not had the British arriving they might not have launched Plan XVII, their attack into Lorraine, not suffered heavy losses, and been left with more troops to drive back the Germans from Paris.
The French had no plans for moving troops.

Their entire war plan was based on an offensive thrust into Germany that would cut off the german right thrust. Their military doctrine was entirely built on taking the offensive through the centre in the event of war.

France did not believe the Germans would come through Belgium because they did not believe Germany had enough divisions. Despite all the warnings they simply did not believe Germany would use reserve forces in a main attack.
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  #48  
Old 08-06-2014, 08:27 AM
Namkcalb Namkcalb is offline
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Originally Posted by Wallaby View Post
Following the successful war which defeated Germany in the 1930s, all of Europe became communist (under the leadership of the UK/USSR faction), leading to a massive war of annihilation with the US,
still better than Thatcher
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  #49  
Old 08-06-2014, 09:18 AM
Freddy the Pig Freddy the Pig is offline
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The problem with alternate histories is that we know the specific bad things that followed WWI--the Russian Revolution, which led to Stalin, and the crushing German defeat, which led to Hitler.

We don't know, and we'll never know, the bad things that would have followed a German victory. But, we can be pretty sure they would have been there.

The Junkers, militarists, and ultra-nationalists who ran prewar Germany were not nice people. As victors they would not have gotten any nicer. They would have had to prop up the embalmed corpse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, guaranteeing continued ethnic rebellion among the Empire's minorities. They planned to set up puppet monarchies with petty German princelings in Poland, Finland, and the Baltics, and we can only imagine how much fun that would have been.

Quite possibly much of Europe would have been in flames with ethnic/guerrilla conflict, overlain with industrial conflict in any country which managed to retain heavy industry. Who knows what leaders might have emerged from such a world?

If that had happened, we might be saying, "Why didn't the British and Americans do something while they had a chance?"
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  #50  
Old 08-06-2014, 09:48 AM
tagos tagos is offline
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Freddy is right. The German rulers were not nice people. It's somewhat shocking from our perspective to realize how people thought in those days, particularly concerning racial types. German rulers really, really hated the 'slavic race' (as did the austrians) and they pretty much hated France for a whole bunch of reasons.

Plus war was not a last resort tool. Germany in particular pretty much intended to have a war with France and Russia at some point. Preferably not at the same time but they weren't too bothered if it turned out that way because they were totally confident they were racially and militarily superior. Which in the latter case, they were.

There was always going to be a war. Germany wanted one. Austria-Hungary wanted one. France wanted one. Russia wanted one. none of them wanted the one they got. They all wanted the one in their heads - the one where they win easily in a matter of months.

The only ones that come out looking half-way sane are the befuddled and reluctant British and the overly quixotic Belgians. At least those 2 countries didn't want a war.

Germany, France, A-H and Russia were just spoiling for a fight.
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