Jump to content

Extremely interesting article! What if....?


 Share

Recommended Posts

Extremely curious, but hardly interesting. I completely disagree with the idea that pure speculation on "what if Germany" had won helps us understand the war better. At best it's an under-handed method of trying to justify the war fought by the allies was a "just" war and that the "cost" was worth it...

And why does he think Germany would have been a repressive Prussian state that didn't seek crippling reparations? He never says. Those ideas seem to be contradictory. Of course, since we are speculating, why can't we imagine Germany being a benevolent and effective "leader" of Europe? (Oh, because it doesn't fit the hidden agenda of blaming World War I all on Germany.)

This article is worse than a "parlor game." It's a sad diversion from the real issues, which is that EVERY ruling elite wanted war "sooner or later." EVERY capital should take blame. And in four years, EVERY capital should accept the negative "effects" of seeking revenge, spoils, and ego at Versailles. How does imagining Germany as a victor get us past that idea?

And while we're at it, I'm sure there are a few arguments that today's Britain has, in fact, become a "modest little north European social democratic" country...with a queen. And that Germany is in fact, the "leader" of Europe.

Any other "counterfactual" (where did that word come from?) sludge to slide down the slippery slope?

Edited by IrishGunner
Link to comment
Share on other sites

well, the War time governments had very definete war aims. By the end of 1917 Germany planned to Balkanize France and Russia with German Princes ruling Junkerish estates in Independent Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Ukraine etc.. Poland was to be partially absorbed into the Reich and the Kaiser demanded as many colonies as he could persuade the British to surrender. Had France collapsed in 1918 and the US not had many troops in Europe yet, the UK might still have done a Dunkirk and withdrawn behind the wall of the channel and her and the Allied navies. It would've been a different world.

German internal politics was sharply divided between the worlds largest and second most militant Labour/Socialist movement and an aristocratic elite that believed they were a new master race, at least culturally and socially. These were violently different political world views and after the war, the Kaisers' party would have ruled for a generation easily, just like in 1871, buoyed by reparations, nationalism and Weltmacht pride. But odds are around 1940-50 democratic political concessions would have been bitterly demanded and fought over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I completely disagree with the idea that pure speculation on "what if Germany" had won helps us understand the war better. At best it's an under-handed method of trying to justify the war fought by the allies was a "just" war and that the "cost" was worth it..."

This I find to be confusing... especially as the article did not assume the stance of "It would all have been terrible"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"This article is worse than a "parlor game." It's a sad diversion from the real issues, which is that EVERY ruling elite wanted war "sooner or later." EVERY capital should take blame."

Indeed, there was blame to go around, but it is ridiculous to assume that it needed to be the same amount for all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"And in four years, EVERY capital should accept the negative "effects" of seeking revenge, spoils, and ego at Versailles."

Many had already.... like vast swathes of Belgium, France, Russia etc.... Germany had not suffered at all... only war dead... and everyone had those....

There is nothing like having a war fought in your country, and destroying large parts of it, to give one the feeling that you want some payback...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Of course, since we are speculating, why can't we imagine Germany being a benevolent and effective "leader" of Europe? (Oh, because it doesn't fit the hidden agenda of blaming World War I all on Germany.)"

I have never seen anyone on the forum blaming it all on Germany? But I am firmly in the camp that Germany has one of the biggest pieces of blame pie.

Imagining that Germany could have been an effective and BENEVOLENT leader in a conquered Europe falls into the Rumsfeldian trance that an invading army will be welcomed...

IM (as always humble)O... WW1 Germany was not a Nazi state by any means... but if it had occupied Europe it could have been driven to similar excesses... (I hear you!...."There he is blaming them again!!")....

My reasoning.... Germans liked order and discipline... they dont excel at "Flair"...

Example... Germany was disgusted and frustrated by Franctireur in 1870... all over Southern Europe, North Africa, Middle and far east you have similar things... but it does not fit the ordered mindset. (Which is fine, different strokes for different folks... If Germans dont like Unconventional warfare they were the masters of things like Panzers warfare)

In 1914 in Belgium (allied propaganda aside) they kiiled hundreds of innocent civilians in Reprisals for attacks on German soldiers, even when it was attacks from the soldiers of the Neutral country they were invading. Orders were given to take and kill hostages when war material was sagotaged.... We have all read how the Herero were exterminated because they did not toe the line... Even the crazy Belgian king of the Congo did not go thatfar... it was the result of the same fury at being disobeyed.

So lets assume Germany had won... and did occupy parts of France etc.... The French are very different... They may suck at Panzerbattles... but they on the other hand like unconventional warfare.

(Example... If you look at "Private contracters" today... there are waaaay more French than Germans, simply because the French thrive on the Chaotic and unconventional.)

So jump to 1920... Germans maybe not occupying the whole of Europe, but are at least present eveywhere.... How long would it take until someone whose family was shot by the Germans, or village was destroyed, .. takes a knife and kills one coming out of a bar...

And then what would have happened?.. There is no way to become a benevolant ruler of a population that hates you...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"the negative "effects" of seeking revenge, spoils, and ego at Versailles."

I have very little belief that Versailles was the root cause of Nazi Germany. It is IM(as always humble)O a cop out.

The treaty was signed in June 1919..... in germany the die were already cast by then... it may have added extra fuel to the fire, but Germany was already imploding by January 1919.

To blame WW2 on the Allies and Versailles is as limited as the people who blame WW1 just on the Germans (and I dont think they are here on the forum)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure if it is worth posting in this thread, since it may already be derailed, but I will anyway.

The topic itself is interesting to me, as I have an interest in speculative fiction anyway. I myself have worked on a "what if" where the Austrian/Hannoverian/South German alliance defeated the Prussians in 1866.

But the Guardian article is really bad. In asking one question - what if Germany won the war - it begs so many other questions to be an exercise in logical fallacies. It assumes some sort of contrast between "conservative, repressive" Prussians and the German labour movement (which was also predominantly Prussian, by the way), conveniently ignoring, because it does not fit the post-1945 mythos, that some of the worst repressions of the mid-20th century, Soviet Communism and Italian and German Fascism, arose out of so-called workers' parties. And if Bismarck created German military power, he also created German social democracy, albeit to undercut Socialists. One of the big assumptions of a lot of speculation about a different end to World War I is that fascism would not have arose except out of the ashes of that war, but there is no reason to accept that assumption. Indeed, while there is good reason to connect the rise of fascism in Germany to Germany's defeat, that ignores that Italian fascism arose in a country that was on the victorious Allied side.

Also, the author marks no clear departure point. He asks at one point what if Britain simply stayed out in 1914, but then really goes on to speculate about a German victory in the Ludendorff offensives. But then he mentions America's entry into the war being preempted by a German victory, which makes no sense since the US entered the war a year before the Spring 1918 offensives. It may have preempted most American power from reaching the continent, but it would still have involved making the US an enemy. While the majority of the US's involvement in combat came between June and November 1818, there were already nine US divisions in France in April 1918, and nine more arrived in May.

And I love his assumption that FDR would have solved America's domestic economic problems in the 1930s, which ignores (1) whether the Great Depression would have even happened in his scenario, since the 1920s boom which busted in 1929 was itself partly an outcome of the war, and since the globalization of the 1929 US bust was partly a result of tariffs and treaties which also arose out of the war, and (2) the very real debate over whether the New Deal really "solved" the Depresion, or whether it was World War II itself that played the major role.

He also seems to assume that a German victory equals a victory for the other Central Powers. Germany winning in the fields of France in 1918 would do nothing to solve the long-term problems of Austria-Hungary's multiethnic empire which were the proximate cause of the war in the first place, and there is even less reason to assume that the Arabs, for example, would not continue to fight against the Sultan. German victory would not have cured the "Sick Man of Europe" of his many illnesses, and a defeated Britain might have actually strengthened its interests in the Middle East and elsewhere as it turned away from the German-dominated European continent. Who knows what might have actually happened?

The other elephant in the room, if you assume a 1918 victory, is the Bolshevik Revolution, which also already happened. The Germany with its eastern satrapies that Ulsterman notes might have been victorious in the West, but mired in a resurgent and much longer war in the East.* No Allied support to the Whites in the Russian Civil War, and instead a series of brutal wars between the Soviets and the Germans in the Baltic region and Ukraine? No independent Poland halting the Soviet drive westward in 1921, but instead Soviet support for a Polish uprising against the Germans and Austrians? An Anglo-German reconciliation as both conservative monarchies recognize the common threat of Communism?

A serious "what if" about different outcomes to World War I might make for an interesting story. Mr. Kettle has not provided us one.

----------------------------------------------------

* Indeed, this is part of the premise of the post-World War II alternative fiction Fatherland, which the author mentioned, where Greater Germany is mired in guerrilla warfare with the Soviet Union and Hitler is hoping the upcoming 1964 summit with President Joseph Kennedy, Sr. will lead to a detente that will help the German war effort against the Soviets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Blog Comments

    • As a theology student my professor, a much published former Naval chaplain, set us an essay, saying that if we could answer that successfully we would be guaranteed  a good degree "Which of the gospel writers was the biggest liar, discuss."   I got a good mark, but  don't want to be burned for heresy.   P
    • As my father used to say: "Tain't so much Pappy's a liar - he just remembers big."  
    • Brian: First, let me say that I always enjoy reading your blog and your "spot on" comments.  Another fine topic with such a broad expansion into so many different facets.  I had watched this a week or two ago and when reading your blog, it reminded me of this great quote.   There is a great video on the origins of "Who was Murphy in Murphy's Law"   Anyway, about mid way through this video, there is this great quote and I think it sums it up quite well to your statem
    • I've received word from the Curator that she has permission to re-open this summer.   We're already making plans for a November event at the Museum.   Michael
    • I recall I did the same on hot days at Old Fort York back in 1973-74 - wool uniforms, and at 90F they would let you take your backpack off.   Michael
×
×
  • Create New...