Just to clarify this point, Germany did indeed lose more territory after 1945 than it did in 1918. But much of that was land that had already been lost in 1918 and was subsequently reclaimed by Germany after 1938 when they were briefly in ascendancy. The extra bit was mostly East Prussia, which Germany had kept after 1918 as a disjunct enclave, but was taken after 1945 and divided between the USSR and Poland.
In total Germany today is about 2/3 the size it was during the heyday of the German Empire.
Versailles was much more brutal that the Treaty of Frankfurt. France wasn’t occupied by Germany in WW1, the Germans got maybe 50 miles in. Of course the trench line was destroyed, but that was by Artillery from both sides.
I live outside the USA and that’s not true. Yes, obviously the US missed the worst of the war and Germany was likely doomed regardless but no effect on the outcome? Ridiculous. Their entry made Germany’s defeat undeniably inevitable and likely saved thousands of lives because of it.
*"Constant shelling left the area of the (Western) front so scarred that craters and trench lines can still be seen in the French countryside to this day. Towns that were swept over by the front were obliterated. This was exacerbated by a German scorched-earth policy. When the German army pulled back to the Hindenburg Line after the battle of the Somme, engineer companies systematically pulled down buildings, cut trees, poisoned wells and set booby traps in the areas being evacuated…the German invasion and occupation was needlessly destructive in many ways.
Based on their experience invading France in 1870-71, the German Army was terrified of guerrilla snipers. Officers followed a policy of severe reprisals, putting suspects before firing squads and burning down houses or whole villages in retaliation for alleged shots fired at soldiers. On August 25th, 1914, German soldiers killed 248 residents of the Belgian city of Leuven, expelled the remaining 10,000 citizens, and burned the town, including the university library containing 300,000 irreplaceable medieval manuscripts…
Belgium and northern France were a heavily industrial area, and German occupation forces set about stripping the area of resources, leading to massive food and fuel shortages. Many factories were dismantled and shipped to Germany. Individual towns and cities were assigned indemnities to be collected from civilians’ savings and turned over to the occupation authorities. During July 1915 an indemnity of one million marks was levied on Sedan while the residents of Lille were ordered to pay three million. Basic household goods were extracted from the civilian population—linens, cooking pots, china, and furniture—and civilians were required to quarter soldiers in their homes.
German soldiers killed 248 residents of Leuven, expelled the remaining 10,000 citizens, and burned the town, including the university library containing 300,000 irreplaceable medieval manuscripts.
In addition to requisitions of material goods, German occupation authorities increasingly requisitioned the time and labor of the occupied population. A common punishment for minor infractions was being shipped to Germany to perform forced labor. Young men of military age were drafted into labor battalions and assigned work, including repairing trenches and burying the dead at the front. Sometimes this forced labor was combined with additional humiliations. When 20,000 women and girls were shipped out of Lille in April 1916, they were all forced to undergo the same gynecological examination by German army doctors usually inflicted on registered army prostitutes…
Given all this, the demand for some degree of reparations becomes more understandable. The Allied commitment to help rebuild Germany after World War II wasn’t just the result of less anger towards Germany than in the prior war. It was a realistic response to the fact that German cities and the German economy had been utterly destroyed. In World War I, it was France and Belgium which had suffered that level of destruction, while Germany had benefitted from stripping away their resources during four years of occupation. Reparations were simply a way to try to right the injustices of the occupation and help the more injured party recover from the war."*
Germans knew well the value of reparations - after defeating France in 1870, Prussians hoped to subjugate the losers indefinitely.
“When Prussia defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, it appropriated Alsace-Lorraine and imposed war reparations of five billion gold francs to be paid within five years. German troops continued to occupy French territory until the indemnity was paid in full, with the result that France paid off the entire sum early.”
Certainly France hoped later to regain Alsace-Lorraine, but they didn’t force hostilities in order to do so.
Remember also what Germany did to Russia in WWI.
“When the Soviets toppled the Tsarist government in Russia and sought a separate peace with Germany, territorial acquisitions and reparations in both cash and commodities were at the top of the German list of demands. Russia lost 90 percent of its coal, 50 percent of its industry and 30 percent of its population. The Central Powers took possession of Ukraine’s grain reserves: one million rail cars of grain destined for Austria alone. They also imposed cash reparations to the tune of nine billion gold marks. With the British naval blockade causing severe shortages of basic commodities in Germany, stripping its defeated adversaries of resources was essential to the war effort.”
Spare me the nonsense about what meanies the Allies were at Versailles.
Per Wikipedia, they occupied a bit less than 4% of France (the 4% that included much of the country’s industrial base). The equivalent for the US would be occupying New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware (actually, that’s lowballing it a little by area (those states together are a little less than 3% of the total US area)
Good. Now that people understand the statement, we can go back to where I started.
(1) Like everything else, the idea that America won WWI for the allies is arguable.
(2) Every country that was involved has a similar belief.
(3) The colonial/commonwealth forces that spearheaded the Western Front breakthroughs that triggered the armistice weren’t exhausted or defeated or broken or near collapse.
(4) The strategic significance of the American involvement was that they didn’t come in on the German side.
No doubt at all that the Arrival of the Americans on the French side had a strong effect on the moral of the French and the moral of the Germans. Of course, it wasn’t the vast French or vast English conscript armies that spearheaded the Western Front breakthroughs, And in the event, the German army did /not/ collapse: they suffered military defeat.
The Germans considered the entry of the US into the war a game changer. Not just in terms of fresh troops but with supplies being sent to Europe on US ships with naval protection.
The whole point of the German Spring Offensive was to deliver a knockout blow before the US could make a direct impact on the war.
It failed. They lost experienced troops they couldn’t replace. The result was the collapse during the ensuing Hundred Days Offensive.
Sure, the number of US troops that actually fought in the war was small. But there’s a lot more to warfare than that. No person knowledgeable about war would dismiss this.
If the Germans had not done the Spring Offensive and just waited it out a bit they could have negotiated a more favorable peace treaty when the internal issues got out of hand. It was the US entry that derailed this.
Amateurs talk tactics, professionals logistics. Having said that, I acknowledge the Allies had endured four years of agony, the US eighteen months, and a considerable part of that was spent ramping up.
Yes, the United States was ramping up. The United States did not single-handedly win the war. But they were getting ready to launch major offensives. And Germany realized it no longer had the resources to withstand those offenses. So Germany asked for an armistice.
If the United States had remained neutral, France, Britain, and the other allied powers no longer had the resources after four years of fighting to threaten to launch the same kind of offense that America could have launched. So without the United States, the stalemate on the battlefield would have dragged on and Germany probably could have held on for another year or two.
I still think Germany would have lost in the end, even without American intervention. Due to the naval blockade, Germany’s economy was in worse shape than Britain’s or France’s. So I think the German economy would have collapsed first.
I see no mention of the material support made by the US, whilst the engaged manpower may well have been a minority on the front, the material support was almost certainly a deciding factor, hard to see how Germany could have continued in the face of such resource supply.
You’re comparing apples and oranges there. The surrender and post-war treatment of Germany was MUCH milder than Versailles- the Allies rebuilt the Germanies for the most part, rebuilt their economies, and reintegrated them into the world community (more or less; the Russians weren’t so nice with East Germany). It’s you know, like we learned a lesson from the Treaty of Versailles or something.
What you’re doing is confusing the effects of the war and the demand for unconditional surrender with the post-war treatment of the country, and they’re two very different things.
But the Franco-Prussian war treaty was from decades before under a completely different set of leadership, while treaty of Brest-Livstok was considered reasonable by the exact same people who got the Treaty of Versailles. I’ll say it again, Versailles was significantly more mild than the major treaty that Germany’s OWN GOVERNMENT during WWI considered perfectly reasonable to push on a defeated enemy. All of the postwar whining and blame shifting doesn’t change that simple fact.