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WWI Centennial

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Old
02-14-2014, 05:21 PM
  #101
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Originally Posted by MM425 View Post
By the accounts I've read, it seems that Britain lending experienced and skilled military to France early on in August 1914 could very well have been the difference between a short war and a long one.

Germany would have likely crushed France into a surrender, and probably could have negotiated relatively reasonable terms. All parties involved were shocked at how bloody the war already was in such a short amount of time.

Germany then could have turned their full attention to the East and likely would have helped Austria-Hungary stomp out the Serbians and Russians, but again, probably could have negotiated reasonable (in hindsight). The Serbs were a ferocious army and giving Austria Hungary hell, and Czarist Russia was already crumbling anyways.

You would have eventually had a German dominated continental Europe, which might have not been a bad thing. The Kaiser was a political lightweight and Germany was already a modern democratic industrial power that supported the ideas freedom, equality, and all that good stuff.

You would definitely NOT have had the Nazis.

I personally think you would have had an infinitely more peaceful Europe and world in the 20th century had the Germans won, but we'll never know of course.
Of course by 1914 German-English relations were a thoroughly crapped bed thanks to the Naval Race, colonial headbutting and the Schliefen Plan being an open secret.

During the First Moroccan Crisis (1905-06) there was some sentiment in German leadership that they should go at it then while Russia was still reeling from the Russo-Japanese War and the 1905 Revolution and the UK wasn't in the Entente as yet.

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02-14-2014, 05:23 PM
  #102
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Saw a show on PBS called "The Last Day of World War I." Hosted by Michael Palin, it told of the fighting still ongoing on that last morning. They try to find who was the last man killed in the war, as well as the last man killed in each army. Quite interesting.
Yeah I had that on my DVR for a couple years.

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02-15-2014, 12:22 AM
  #103
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My grandfather fought for the Austrians too. Got captured early on somewhere on the Eastern Front and spent four years in a Siberian prison camp. Apparently it was so cold they used to put their chairs up on a table in the winter because the heat would rise to the top of the room. In 1920 he was released, took the train to Vladivostock (discovering on the way there that his best friend had been a prisoner the entire time and was on the same train home). Then took a ship back to Triest and by the time he got home to his village north of Vienna, his mother asked him if he had any news of her son, because she didn't recognize him.

Then at the end of WWII the Nazis conscripted him into the Volkssturm. Fun times.
Why did he take a train to Vladivostok and a boat trip around the whole world when he could have just gone straight to Vienna from Serbia?

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02-15-2014, 03:10 AM
  #104
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Why did he take a train to Vladivostok and a boat trip around the whole world when he could have just gone straight to Vienna from Serbia?
Russian Civil War probably.

That's the same route the Czech Legion had to take out.

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02-15-2014, 07:09 PM
  #105
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really good book on the leadup to WW1
http://www.amazon.com/The-War-That-E.../dp/140006855X

same person also wrote this
http://www.amazon.com/Paris-1919-Mon...2509345&sr=1-2

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02-16-2014, 03:20 AM
  #106
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Why did he take a train to Vladivostok and a boat trip around the whole world when he could have just gone straight to Vienna from Serbia?
He was a POW in Siberia.

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02-16-2014, 09:21 AM
  #107
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Originally Posted by top_gun36 View Post
I'm listening to The War That Ended the Peace right now. I like that McMillan dedicated attention to the build up in areas outside of France, England, Germany and Russia. Her chronology on the crises is also great (I'm up to the 2nd Moroccan Crisis).

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02-16-2014, 10:30 AM
  #108
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I loved the book about the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. It explained so much.

I've read some about the lead up to the war but hope to read her book on the subject sometime in the near future.

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02-16-2014, 10:41 AM
  #109
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My grandfather fought for the Austrians too. Got captured early on somewhere on the Eastern Front and spent four years in a Siberian prison camp. Apparently it was so cold they used to put their chairs up on a table in the winter because the heat would rise to the top of the room. In 1920 he was released, took the train to Vladivostock (discovering on the way there that his best friend had been a prisoner the entire time and was on the same train home). Then took a ship back to Triest and by the time he got home to his village north of Vienna, his mother asked him if he had any news of her son, because she didn't recognize him.

Then at the end of WWII the Nazis conscripted him into the Volkssturm. Fun times.
I can only imagine the amazing stories your grandfather would have had. Such a tragedy that he also got conscripted into the Volkssturm. Did the communists treat him any better?

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02-16-2014, 11:50 AM
  #110
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Originally Posted by MM425 View Post
By the accounts I've read, it seems that Britain lending experienced and skilled military to France early on in August 1914 could very well have been the difference between a short war and a long one.

Germany would have likely crushed France into a surrender, and probably could have negotiated relatively reasonable terms. All parties involved were shocked at how bloody the war already was in such a short amount of time.

Germany then could have turned their full attention to the East and likely would have helped Austria-Hungary stomp out the Serbians and Russians, but again, probably could have negotiated reasonable (in hindsight). The Serbs were a ferocious army and giving Austria Hungary hell, and Czarist Russia was already crumbling anyways.

You would have eventually had a German dominated continental Europe, which might have not been a bad thing. The Kaiser was a political lightweight and Germany was already a modern democratic industrial power that supported the ideas freedom, equality, and all that good stuff.

You would definitely NOT have had the Nazis.

I personally think you would have had an infinitely more peaceful Europe and world in the 20th century had the Germans won, but we'll never know of course.
If you were German.

The only power that offered any semblance of freedom was Austria-Hungary, perhaps because the Empire itself was by very definition, a multi-ethnic state. Compare the freedom that one had in Austrian Krakow or Lwow versus Russian Warsaw or Wilno versus German Poznan or Gdansk and it isn't close.

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02-16-2014, 03:26 PM
  #111
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I can only imagine the amazing stories your grandfather would have had. Such a tragedy that he also got conscripted into the Volkssturm. Did the communists treat him any better?
He died in 1974, a year before I was born, so I never got any stories from him directly, unfortunately. From what I understand he wasn't treated badly. Matter of fact, I was even told he wasn't even held against his will in Siberia... just that they had no way of setting all the POWs home before 1920. Not sure if that makes any sense, but that's what I was told. I get the feeling it was a much different situation than for German POWs after WWII.

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02-16-2014, 04:19 PM
  #112
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Originally Posted by htpwn View Post
If you were German.

The only power that offered any semblance of freedom was Austria-Hungary, perhaps because the Empire itself was by very definition, a multi-ethnic state. Compare the freedom that one had in Austrian Krakow or Lwow versus Russian Warsaw or Wilno versus German Poznan or Gdansk and it isn't close.
It depends on what you define as freedom.

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02-16-2014, 07:12 PM
  #113
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Originally Posted by MM425 View Post
By the accounts I've read, it seems that Britain lending experienced and skilled military to France early on in August 1914 could very well have been the difference between a short war and a long one.

Germany would have likely crushed France into a surrender, and probably could have negotiated relatively reasonable terms. All parties involved were shocked at how bloody the war already was in such a short amount of time.

Germany then could have turned their full attention to the East and likely would have helped Austria-Hungary stomp out the Serbians and Russians, but again, probably could have negotiated reasonable (in hindsight). The Serbs were a ferocious army and giving Austria Hungary hell, and Czarist Russia was already crumbling anyways.

You would have eventually had a German dominated continental Europe, which might have not been a bad thing. The Kaiser was a political lightweight and Germany was already a modern democratic industrial power that supported the ideas freedom, equality, and all that good stuff.

You would definitely NOT have had the Nazis.

I personally think you would have had an infinitely more peaceful Europe and world in the 20th century had the Germans won, but we'll never know of course.
Britain joined to lend military support to Belgium, just as much as it did to lend support to France. If Germany doesn't go through Belgium, they avoid war with Britain (this is an optimistic scenario for Germany, contingent on the British failing to rally public opinion in the absence of a Belgian sovereignty issue), but also narrow the front against France, which will still prolong the war. Germany would probably defeat Russia first (again), and defeat France thereafter, claim some French colonial possessions and reparation payments as compensation, and in another fifty years you'd have another Franco-German war over the same disputed border region.

And yeah, you may not have Nazi Germany, but you don't do much to prevent Imperial Russia from crumbling and being replaced by the Soviet Union. Moreover, victory for Germany in Europe does nothing to prevent Imperial Japan's rise in the Far East.

And who the hell knows how France responds politically to defeat. Perhaps they form their own fascist parties and become an alternate Nazi Germany.

It's, in my opinion, naive to believe the world is much more peaceful if Germany wins WWI.

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02-16-2014, 11:46 PM
  #114
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Originally Posted by Ugmo View Post
He died in 1974, a year before I was born, so I never got any stories from him directly, unfortunately. From what I understand he wasn't treated badly. Matter of fact, I was even told he wasn't even held against his will in Siberia... just that they had no way of setting all the POWs home before 1920. Not sure if that makes any sense, but that's what I was told. I get the feeling it was a much different situation than for German POWs after WWII.
As they say, Siberia is your prison. All 13 million sq km of inhospitable, sparsely populated terrain.

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It depends on what you define as freedom.
How about being able to speak your own language in your own lands?

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02-16-2014, 11:53 PM
  #115
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As they say, Siberia is your prison.

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02-17-2014, 05:50 AM
  #116
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Originally Posted by CanadianHockey View Post
Britain joined to lend military support to Belgium, just as much as it did to lend support to France. If Germany doesn't go through Belgium, they avoid war with Britain (this is an optimistic scenario for Germany, contingent on the British failing to rally public opinion in the absence of a Belgian sovereignty issue), but also narrow the front against France, which will still prolong the war. Germany would probably defeat Russia first (again), and defeat France thereafter, claim some French colonial possessions and reparation payments as compensation, and in another fifty years you'd have another Franco-German war over the same disputed border region.

And yeah, you may not have Nazi Germany, but you don't do much to prevent Imperial Russia from crumbling and being replaced by the Soviet Union. Moreover, victory for Germany in Europe does nothing to prevent Imperial Japan's rise in the Far East.

And who the hell knows how France responds politically to defeat. Perhaps they form their own fascist parties and become an alternate Nazi Germany.

It's, in my opinion, naive to believe the world is much more peaceful if Germany wins WWI.
Belgium was rather irrelevant and merely an excuse to join the war, Britain would have joined anyway. It's funny how those kind of treaties were entirely ignored by Britain in other cases (and no such warning was given to France, which also contemplated moving through Belgium in case of war with Germany), or how Britain didn't mind ignoring the neutrality of other countries when it suited them (Greece and Chile come to mind).

It's always impossible to judge alternative history, there is no guarentee that a German victory in WWI makes the world more peaceful. Who knows, having the Nazis run rampant might actually have been "good" for mankind, if the alternative would have been an all out nuclear war later on.

That being said, I can't really see how a German victory would have led to a war of similar size to WW2 in the near aftermath. Even if France would turn into a fascist state that wanted revenge, in such a case they already got their ass handed to them by Germany twice before and would be weakened by any peace-treaty. If Germany wins WWI, they keep their full sized military, unlike in reality, and France couldn't possibly win against such a full-strength unified Germany on its own.

The only options I see, are France and Russia both going communist, in which case Great Britain would probably (and reluctantly) side with Germany, or France and Italy being both fascist while Austria-Hungary collapses. The first would be a weaker repeat of WWI, while the second would be even less of a danger. Neither is quite the threat that you end up with the same mayhem in Europe as happened in reality.

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02-17-2014, 06:54 AM
  #117
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It's a mistake to think that Communist states would automatically side with each other.

After the war Russia and China had a falling out and a subsequent border war which sent China over to the US side. Yugoslavia under Tito broke with Russia and Albania under Hoxha broke with both of them. China fought Vietnam. Vietnam deposed Pol Pot.

Stalin was content enough to make deals with ideological opposites Nazi Germany and then the US when it suited him and the only Communist Alliance with any cohesion was the Warsaw Pact which consisted of countries under Russian domination. Even then the Russia and to smack a member back in line every decade: Germany in '48, Hungary in '56, Czechoslovakia in '69, Poland in '80.

The Entente is another example of this as the French were by far the most ideologically Left Country before the war and the Russians the most Conservative. The other two Imperial Regimes Germany and Austria never could get the Three Emperors' League up and running again. Meanwhile, you had French diplomats feted with La Marseillaise during state visits to Saint Petersburg, when it was otherwise a banned song in Russia as revolutionary.

Post-War Fascist dictatorships had far more magnetism than the Communists would in the Cold War, with Germany, Italy, Hungary and Romania joining the Axis or assisting Franco.

There's also the possibility that absent a three year war that eroded the faith in the Romanovs either by avoiding war or a quick loss that the Whites won out in any subsequent Civil War I think they'd either form a military dictatorship like Kornilov tried to establish or a new Royal regime. This was already a country with some experience with repression and Anti-Semitic violence. Which would put a potential right-wing bloc with Germany.


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02-17-2014, 07:23 AM
  #118
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My interest in the Ottoman Empire often leads me to WWI.
A whole empire based on putting your feet up! What's the deal with that?

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02-17-2014, 12:26 PM
  #119
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And yeah, you may not have Nazi Germany, but you don't do much to prevent Imperial Russia from crumbling and being replaced by the Soviet Union. Moreover, victory for Germany in Europe does nothing to prevent Imperial Japan's rise in the Far East.

And who the hell knows how France responds politically to defeat. Perhaps they form their own fascist parties and become an alternate Nazi Germany.

It's, in my opinion, naive to believe the world is much more peaceful if Germany wins WWI.
The early part of the century was politically volatile, no doubt. There would have been plenty of blood shed in an alternate scenario.

But if we're talking about August 1914 as a fork in the road that set the path for the rest of the 20th century, we went down the road that saw human suffering on an unimaginable scale when you consider the totality of WW1 and WW2.

It was such a horrible path that you have to imagine a world where the Germans win WW1 quickly would have been more peaceful relatively speaking.

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02-17-2014, 03:03 PM
  #120
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really good book on the leadup to WW1
http://www.amazon.com/The-War-That-E.../dp/140006855X
Am about halfway through this book now. Splendid stuff, and thorough.

As someone who's been out of school and less likely to think about such things for some years, it catches me off guard when reading how different the world was just 100 years ago.

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02-17-2014, 07:08 PM
  #121
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Belgium was rather irrelevant and merely an excuse to join the war, Britain would have joined anyway. It's funny how those kind of treaties were entirely ignored by Britain in other cases (and no such warning was given to France, which also contemplated moving through Belgium in case of war with Germany), or how Britain didn't mind ignoring the neutrality of other countries when it suited them (Greece and Chile come to mind).
My point was, more or less, that it is very unlikely that Britain ignores Germany's attack through Belgium, although I agree that the British would have helped the French regardless.

If the Germans did ignore Belgium, and the British somehow stayed out of the war, the front against France is much shorter, and the concentration of French artillery and trenches could very easily result in a war of attrition that prolongs war and prevents a 'quick German victory'.

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It's always impossible to judge alternative history, there is no guarentee that a German victory in WWI makes the world more peaceful. Who knows, having the Nazis run rampant might actually have been "good" for mankind, if the alternative would have been an all out nuclear war later on.
Agreed, it's hard to judge alternatives.

With that said, I hardly feel comfortable saying Nazism was 'good' compared to a hypothetical alternative of nuclear war. Both are horrific scenarios.

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That being said, I can't really see how a German victory would have led to a war of similar size to WW2 in the near aftermath. Even if France would turn into a fascist state that wanted revenge, in such a case they already got their ass handed to them by Germany twice before and would be weakened by any peace-treaty. If Germany wins WWI, they keep their full sized military, unlike in reality, and France couldn't possibly win against such a full-strength unified Germany on its own.
I imagine most Western Europeans were dismissive of Germany's ability to defeat a fully militarized France after WWI. Appeasement could very well captivate Germany as it did France and Britain.

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The only options I see, are France and Russia both going communist, in which case Great Britain would probably (and reluctantly) side with Germany, or France and Italy being both fascist while Austria-Hungary collapses. The first would be a weaker repeat of WWI, while the second would be even less of a danger. Neither is quite the threat that you end up with the same mayhem in Europe as happened in reality.
Fair point - it is possible France goes communist, rather than fascist. Either way, you can't guarantee peace between the two countries with a German victory.

More generally, I don't think a quick German victory would change the broader picture.

In both of your scenarios, the Soviet Union still exists, it still has its domestic purges and famines. France goes fascist, get defeated reasonably quickly, which paves the way for an even bigger war between the West and the East. If France goes communist, it is hard to say when war breaks out and how intense it is. Again, either way, you still have a pretty destructive war and massive internal violence in the Soviet Union.

Equally importantly, and perhaps I didn't stress it enough, is that Japanese Imperialism remains unchanged. You still have war between Japan and China, and the atrocities committed en masse in that war still occur. You still have an inevitable conflict between Japanese ambitions and US/European colonial assets in the area. If France goes against Britain, British access to the Far East is made even more difficult, which may give the Japanese time to reach India. That means Japanese mistreatment of PoWs and abuses against civilians intensify. A more peaceful Europe may very well come at the expense of greater destruction in Asia.

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The early part of the century was politically volatile, no doubt. There would have been plenty of blood shed in an alternate scenario.

But if we're talking about August 1914 as a fork in the road that set the path for the rest of the 20th century, we went down the road that saw human suffering on an unimaginable scale when you consider the totality of WW1 and WW2.

It was such a horrible path that you have to imagine a world where the Germans win WW1 quickly would have been more peaceful relatively speaking.
The 20th C would still have been marked by human suffering on an unimaginable scale. A quick German victory is highly improbable, but even if it is acheived, it does nothing to change events in Asia or the Soviet Union. It likely turns the ideological Cold War between capitalism and communism into a 'hot' war on a global scale similar to WWII.

I don't think it's fair to say such a scenario is significantly more peaceful.

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02-18-2014, 02:43 AM
  #122
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He was a POW in Siberia.
Lol, I read that as Serbia for some reason

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02-18-2014, 06:53 PM
  #123
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03-07-2014, 12:04 PM
  #124
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On the eve of war Moltke wondered aloud if the US could be enticed on to Germany's side with the promise of Canada.

No way Wilson would have gone for it. There was also some weird timing with his presidency and events of WWI. During the July crisis his first wife was on her death bed, not that he would have made a huge difference. While the 1916 election was in doubt over a close California race the revelation of the Zimmerman Telegram scuttled any hopes of Wilson being a neutral mediator.

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03-07-2014, 02:31 PM
  #125
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A whole empire based on putting your feet up! What's the deal with that?
Don't get me started on the airline food empire!

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