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Forum LockedCould the Germans have Won the WWI?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Aug-2008 at 04:19
Originally posted by deadkenny deadkenny wrote:

Where does that put the Germans in 1918?
 
I would think there are two possible outcomes. The outcome would be completely dependent on the willpower of Britain and France.
 
Possibility one: Almost equally exhausted Britain and France are unwilling to force total victory agaisnt the still viable German army. Peace agreement leads to fofeiture of German colonies, Alsace and Lorainne, and limited reperations
 
Possibility two:  Allies maintain naval blockade, use their greater industrial capability and advantage in manuver weapons to launch limited but effective offensives. German army is still viable, but cant make the same jump to manuver warfare. Fighting lasts until spring 1919, but industrial  production / manpower / food mathematics slowly strangle Germany.  Vindictive Britain and France then dictate almost the same terms as Versailles.  
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Where I disagree with your scenarios are
 
1.  The Germans would not have paid reparations if not 'defeated'.  The colonies were lost already, so that would be nothing but formal acceptance of the fact.  Alsace-Lorraine, problematical.
 
2.  With a defeated Italy and vast eastern territories to draw on for much longer, I don't see that Germany would be 'strangled' by as early as 1919.  The British were already balking at the cost in lives by 1918.  Germany could start to limit their losses by practicing a 'scortched earth' retreat policy in the occupied territories in the west.  Let the west 'liberate' Picardy, Belgium and even Alsace-Lorraine, but at a much higher cost than the Germans suffer as the Germans are not automatically counterattacking to retake their trenches after they're lost.  The Austrians only have one front left to fight on (Balkans) and the Germans can afford to reinforce them.  I just don't see France and Britain imposing their will on Germany in that scenario.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Challenger2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Aug-2008 at 13:19
Originally posted by deadkenny deadkenny wrote:

 
 As an historical alternative I propose Germany following up in 1916 on the eastern front and forgoing the Verdun Offensive.  
 
The flaw in this hypothesis is that it depends on the Western allies remaining supine while the Germans crushed the Russians. The British and French were already planning their major offensive in 1916, but Verdun put the spanner into French participation. The Somme offensive came close to breaking through as it was, now imagine full french participation as originally planned with no Verdun battle to distract them, against depleted German defences.   


Edited by Challenger2 - 06-Aug-2008 at 13:20
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Originally posted by Challenger2 Challenger2 wrote:

Originally posted by deadkenny deadkenny wrote:

 
 As an historical alternative I propose Germany following up in 1916 on the eastern front and forgoing the Verdun Offensive.  
 
The flaw in this hypothesis is that it depends on the Western allies remaining supine while the Germans crushed the Russians. The British and French were already planning their major offensive in 1916, but Verdun put the spanner into French participation. The Somme offensive came close to breaking through as it was, now imagine full french participation as originally planned with no Verdun battle to distract them, against depleted German defences.   
 
I've not assumed that the French and British would remain inactive on the western front.  The British would have presumably gone ahead with their historical offensive, the French presumably would have launched their planned offensive in 1916 if not, as you say, 'distracted' by the German Verdun offensive.  However, the Germans were capable, at that point in the war, of holding off the French and British in the west while maintaining an offensive in the east.  There is no reason to believe that a French offensive in 1916 in this scenario would have been any more successful than the Somme Offensive was historically.  If anything perhaps even less so.  Furthermore, if the Germans had been willing to give up some ground, rather than 'automatically' counterattacking to retake their trenches when captured by the Allies, they might have managed to increase the margin of losses between themselves and the Allies.  That is the strategic alternative I'm proposing.  There's nothing in it really that wasn't thought of or proposed by someone at the time.  It is simply that different choices were made.  The German refusal to give up any ground until 1917 was based on the view that it was necessary to capture Paris and knock out France in order to 'win' the war.  So the Germans did eventually do something along the lines of what I'm suggesting, in 1917, with the withdrawal to the 'Hindenburg Line'.  They just wasted a year in the futile attritional battle of Verdun before doing it. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Aug-2008 at 17:10
Originally posted by deadkenny deadkenny wrote:

The British were already balking at the cost in lives by 1918. 
True, but I think the British army, though exhausted was in better shape than the Germans. This was partially due to Britain's ability to recruit Commonwealth troops. In addition, Germany had far more real social unrest than Britain. The naval mutiny and following leftist Sparticist Rebellion showed that Germany was fraying at the seams.  Then factor in a long 1918/1919 winter with little food.  In the end, Germans were facing very harsh mathematics. They were being out produced by two exhausted though dedicated opponents who had access to reinforcements from their empires. The only way ot was increasingly unlikely strategic victories against France and Britain.
 
Originally posted by deadkenny deadkenny wrote:

With a defeated Italy and vast eastern territories to draw on for much longer, I don't see that Germany would be 'strangled' by as early as 1919.  
I dont think the Germans would be getting much recesources (food) from their eastern territories due to the combination of four years of war, primitive infrastructure, and a resistant population.
Originally posted by deadkenny deadkenny wrote:

Let the west 'liberate' Picardy, Belgium and even Alsace-Lorraine, but at a much higher cost than the Germans suffer as the Germans are not automatically counterattacking to retake their trenches after they're lost. 
Trenches were becoming obsolete by late 1918.  Any allied offensives would be manuver warfare based. Germany simply could not match allied capabilities in this area and would therefore gradually lose the ability to contain the offensives. 
 
 
 


Edited by Cryptic - 06-Aug-2008 at 17:27
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote deadkenny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Aug-2008 at 18:21
Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

Originally posted by deadkenny deadkenny wrote:

The British were already balking at the cost in lives by 1918. 
True, but I think the British army, though exhausted was in better shape than the Germans. This was partially due to Britain's ability to recruit Commonwealth troops. In addition, Germany had far more real social unrest than Britain. The naval mutiny and following leftist Sparticist Rebellion showed that Germany was fraying at the seams.  Then factor in a long 1918/1919 winter with little food.  In the end, Germans were facing very harsh mathematics. They were being out produced by two exhausted though dedicated opponents who had access to reinforcements from their empires. The only way ot was increasingly unlikely strategic victories against France and Britain.  
 
True, that then again that is the historical situation, arrived at as a consequence of the historical decisions.  I am proposing alternatives.  Until the withdrawal to the 'Hindenburg Line' in 1917, the Germans usually counterattacked to give up as little ground as possible.  Part of the motivation for that was the thinking that the decision would be reached in the west and thus the Germans wanted to maintain a 'springboard' to Paris.  Having failed in 1916 with the Verdun Offensive, they THEN changed their approach, gave up ground in the west in order to maintain offensive pressure in the east.  So for the most part I'm suggesting that the Germans eliminate the time lost and massive casualties from Verdun in 1916 and instead pursue more productive avenues.
 
Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

Originally posted by deadkenny deadkenny wrote:

With a defeated Italy and vast eastern territories to draw on for much longer, I don't see that Germany would be 'strangled' by as early as 1919.  
I dont think the Germans would be getting much recesources (food) from their eastern territories due to the combination of four years of war, primitive infrastructure, and a resistant population. 
 
Maybe.  Hard to nail down exactly what 'would have' happened in such a scenario.  As it was the Ukraine was 'separated' from the Russian Empire too late to save the situation and Ludendorff 'broke' his own army in the west before it mattered anyway.
 
 
Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

Trenches were becoming obsolete by late 1918.  Any allied offensives would be manuver warfare based. Germany simply could not match allied capabilities in this area and would therefore gradually lose the ability to contain the offensives.  
 
Sorry, I don't 'get' this part.  Manoeuvre warfare only entered into the picture again as the troop density dropped and each side found ways to 'break' the targetted front.  I'm not suggesting that the Germans would have had any 'techniques' earlier, nor would the Allies.  So the situation is that Russia and Italy are both defeated by 1917.  The Allies have gained more ground in the west than historically, but have suffered much higher losses than the Germans.  The only 2 active fronts are France and the Balkans.  The Austrians are in much better shape, since the Germans didn't leave them to suffer the mauling that they did historically in 1916 against the Russians (Brusilov Offensive).  I just don't see how this 'manoeuvre' warfare suddenly appears in 1918 in that scenario.  Sure, the British have tanks.  But minus the Americans, plus alot of German units in better condition, and tanks alone aren't gonna get the job done.  The 'using up' of Germany's last reserves in Ludendorff's offensive on the western front, and the failure of that offensive, plus fresh American troops had alot to do with the defeat of the Germans in 1918.  Germany slowly giving ground in the west while inflicting heavy losses on the French and British (alone), all the while calling for a 'peace' based on a return to the status quo in the west would be a powerful combination for sapping the will of the west to continue the war. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Aug-2008 at 20:26
Hi, the reintroduction of manover caused casualties to skyrocket. The losses suffered by the Germans in in Operation Michael (800,000 men) was greater than the BRitish losses at both Somme and Paschendale. While US losses at Muese-Arogonne were 250,000 the highest proprotion (for about 30 divs) of the entire war except the First Marne. The Germans had a chance in spring 1918. Ludendorff blew it, by continually changing the axis of the attack. He destroyed any reserves the Germans could use to win the war.
 
 
If you mean wether on Nov 11 1918, the Germans still had the ability tom resist and cause horrendous casualties to the allies, then I'll say; yes. The Rhine would have been a formidable barrier to breach esp Metz (as it was in WWII).
 
The Germans also take vacations in Paris; especially during the periods they call "blitzkrieg".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Aug-2008 at 21:36

Didn't the french soldiers strike in 1917 for nearly a month, why I am not surprised?, and the Germans had the way to Paris wide open? I think If they took that chance the allied would have definitely sued for peace..

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Aug-2008 at 22:08
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Didn't the french soldiers strike in 1917 for nearly a month, why I am not surprised?, and the Germans had the way to Paris wide open?
Yes and no.  Following a series of failed human wave assaults, many French Divisions refused to make further attacks using wave tactics.  The "mutinous" divisions, however, were still willing to defend against German attacks. Also, not all soldiers in affected divisions were refusing orders.
 
What the French lacked was the famous British Regimental System.  Unlike the extremely local and tight knit British system, French conscripts were far more likely to be assigned to "cookie cutter" regiments (121,122, 123...), be commanded by temporarily assigned officers, serve with men they had little in common with, and in some cases, serve with men speaking regional dialects that they could not understand. French officers considered all regiments with numbers above 100 to be "fake".  
  
Even little factors made a huge psychological difference. Newly raised British Regiments were issued distinctive unit badges. In contrast, newly formed French regiments had an often meaningless number sown on their collars.  


Edited by Cryptic - 06-Aug-2008 at 22:41
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Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Didn't the french soldiers strike in 1917 for nearly a month, why I am not surprised?, and the Germans had the way to Paris wide open?
 
Yes and no.  Following a series of failed human wave assaults, many French Divisions refused to make further attacks using wave tactics.  The "mutinous" divisions, however, were still willing to defend against German attacks. Also, not all soldiers in affected divisions were refusing orders....
 
The failure of the 'Nivelle Offensive' in particular was the catalyst.  It wasn't conceived of as simply 'human wave' attacks.  In fact it was a rather 'clever' (for the time) attempt to 'solve' the problem posed by the strong positions the Germans had taken up and their effective defensive system.  The problem was that the communications simply didn't exist to allow for effective 'adjustments' to be made when faced with the inevitable setbacks and delays that occur in practice.  So everything had to go exactly according to plan in order to work, and when it didn't, the offensive in effect devolved into costly 'human wave attacks'.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Aug-2008 at 02:34
Originally posted by Sparten Sparten wrote:

The Germans had a chance in spring 1918. Ludendorff blew it, by continually changing the axis of the attack. He destroyed any reserves the Germans could use to win the war.
 
Thats because some or perhaps many German divisions were no longer willing to press attacks against actively defended "hard" targets. Other divisions were suffering mass discipline problems (looting) and were slow to exploit local victories. Ludendoff had two choices A. Call off the offensive B. Try to find "soft" targets and hope that successful attacks generated momentum.
 
Deadkenney, Sparten
 
I think we have fundamentaly different conceptions of the state of the German military and German people during late WWI. In my opinion, the only thing that was going to save Germany from inevitable defeat due to strategic mathematics would be the near impossibility of strategic victories against France and Britain. 
 
 


Edited by Cryptic - 07-Aug-2008 at 02:46
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Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

Deadkenney, Sparten
 
I think we have fundamentaly different conceptions of the state of the German military and German people during late WWI. In my opinion, the only thing that was going to save Germany from inevitable defeat due to strategic mathematics would be the near impossibility of strategic victories against France and Britain. 
 
I'm sure we do have differing conceptions to some extent.  However, I do agree that Germany was in a very difficult position historically by 1918.  However, where I see some apparent disagreement is in the relative importance of direct American involvement, which had a huge psychological impact on both sides, as well as a material impact 'on the ground'.  The massive American build up put 'time pressure' on the Germans to 'do something' before it was 'too late'.  It 'rallied' the French and British, to whom it represented new hope and it 'demoralized' the Germans who saw their last hope for 'victory' receding before them.  Then there was the German strategy for 1916, relieving pressure on Russia and leaving Austria to 'fend for themselves' to a significant extent while launching the failed Verdun Offensive in the west.  Although that offensive did weaken the French, it also weakened the Germans themselves, and whereas the French had allies they could 'lean on', the Germans were having to 'prop up' their allies. 
 
Most of what I have been discussing recently in this thread is an alternative history scenario where Germany skips the Verdun Offensive and continues to pressure Russia in 1916, following up on their highly successful 1915 offensive in the east and furthermore avoids direct American involvement in the war.  So I am presuming that Russia drops out of the war earlier, and Italy might very well have been knocked out.  That all would have put Germany in a much more powerful position in 1918.  In the historical situation, I tend to agree that Germany needed a 'miraculous' victory in the west.  However, IMHO, Ludendorff gave up any such chance (to the extent that it was ever there to begin with) by starting off against the British and then shifting away from them.  It was too costly, even with 'infiltration tactics' to 'break' the enemy front and once it was achieved it was necessary to keep the momentum in that direction and not start over again on a 'fresh' front.


Edited by deadkenny - 07-Aug-2008 at 13:00
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Aug-2008 at 14:37
Originally posted by Sparten Sparten wrote:

The Rhine would have been a formidable barrier to breach esp Metz (as it was in WWII).
 
 
? Metz is on the Moselle (Mosel I guess in those days, when they pronounced it 'Mets' and not 'Messe' Smile).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Aug-2008 at 15:10
True, but the German defences were going to be on the Rhine with a forward spur at Metz.
The Germans also take vacations in Paris; especially during the periods they call "blitzkrieg".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aristilus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Aug-2008 at 16:23
 They lost the initiative when they invaded the USSR. They should also have had a co - ordinated strategy with the Japanese. ie. If Rommel had been given more resources and had won the war in Libya and Egypt, he could have gone on through the near east and threatened India from the west and weakened British resistance in Burma.
 Ok. I know its a bit ambitous, but, you never know.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aristilus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Aug-2008 at 16:25
Sorry people I misread the topic. Old age I think.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Aug-2008 at 16:30
Hello Aritilus
 
We are talking about WWI here.
 
I really don't think that germany had any chance of victory after 1917 for the simple reason that they were just too tired and exhausted. Already they have lost 2 million killed, their allies have been negotiating for peace to no avail for some months. People were revolting and striking daily and the offensive of 1918 cost them over on million soldiers who, unlike the allies, were irreplacible. The US already had 2 million by summer and another 4 on the way while Germany's allies were collapsing. Even if they succeeded and took Paris they would still lose the war.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Aug-2008 at 22:16
why are you talkign about 1918? due to the blockade at sea a German victory was only possible if won fast (like 1940) or a victory at sea, preferably both.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Donasin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Aug-2008 at 01:15
I think everyone is cutting the German navy far too short. If they had won one or two more Coronels then the Royal Navy would have been almost crippled. That would also allow more effective use of U-boats as they would have more of a free hand so to speak.

Don't forget the German and British naval arms race had been going on for quite some time. The German fleet was no laughing matter. The fear of losing it was the reason for its inaction which proved to be a huge mistake.


Edited by Donasin - 08-Aug-2008 at 01:16
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peteratwar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Aug-2008 at 08:44
One or two more Coronels ? That was fought with old battleships (GB) vs new (german). A miniscule part of the British Fleet. Bad comparison I fear
 
How about one or two more Falklands ?


Edited by Peteratwar - 08-Aug-2008 at 08:45
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