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Belgium accepts the ultimatum in 1914

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  • Belgium accepts the ultimatum in 1914

    One of the nice features of alternate history fora is that there are standard answers given to most suggested divergences. For example, any suggestion that the Schlieffen Plan might be successful gets the answer logistics and if necessary the problems of German reservists marching all the way to Paris might also be mentioned.

    However, what if Belgium had accepted Germany's ultimatum? Then the Schlieffen Plan starts from the Franco-Belgian frontier and both German problems are significantly eased.

    Of course, this opens the question of why should Belgium accept. I have two suggestions: Firstly that Leopold II had lived longer in good health and had bitterly resented the mostly British campaign against his rule of the Congo Free State; Secondly that one or more of the critical decision makers in 1914 had been in Russia in 1905 and believed that Russia would collapse in revolution as soon as a war started. If you believe that Russia will collapse, you may well believe that the Central Powers will win, which makes opposing them rather less attractive.

  • #2
    Belgium lies back and lets Germany p*ss all over her. I don't think so.

    You have a hostile army that wants to move through your country, but promises to be nice about it - like the guy sticking a gun in your ear and promising not to pull the trigger.

    Even if official permission had been given (unlikely) one false move on either side would've triggered a retaliation from which there would've been no return.

    So you not only have the Belgian King growing feathers, but every man in the German army behaving with perfect courtesy and every Belgian simply smiling and waving as they strut through - can you see the flaw in this ?
    Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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    • #3
      ...Firstly that Leopold II had lived longer in good health and had bitterly resented the mostly British campaign...
      He gets dragged through the streets by an angry mob and torn to pieces by his subjects.
      They didn't let the Germans pass in 1940, they damn sure would not stand for it in 1914.

      Today... hmmm, who knows, eh?

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      • #4
        Today... hmmm, who knows, eh?
        First they will need to find the border. Second, they will neeed an army to cross it.

        http://rt.com/news/merkel-geography-berlin-russia-205/
        Last edited by Emtos; 09 Sep 12, 15:08.
        There are no Nazis in Ukraine. © Idiots

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        • #5
          Originally posted by the ace View Post
          Belgium lies back and lets Germany p*ss all over her. I don't think so.

          You have a hostile army that wants to move through your country, but promises to be nice about it - like the guy sticking a gun in your ear and promising not to pull the trigger.

          Even if official permission had been given (unlikely) one false move on either side would've triggered a retaliation from which there would've been no return.

          So you not only have the Belgian King growing feathers, but every man in the German army behaving with perfect courtesy and every Belgian simply smiling and waving as they strut through - can you see the flaw in this ?
          Open the pubs and convenient stores to sell beer to the Germans and everything will run smoothly. Locals will make money and the Germans will be happy.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Doktor View Post
            Open the pubs and convenient stores to sell beer to the Germans and everything will run smoothly. Locals will make money and the Germans will be happy.
            Right up to the moment a drunken soldier doesn't want to pay and raises his rifle.
            Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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            • #7
              All that with the Belgians not appreciating the business opportunity is true, but lest snif a bit of fairy dust & let the brave German lads through.

              Originally posted by Mostlyharmless View Post
              However, what if Belgium had accepted Germany's ultimatum? Then the Schlieffen Plan starts from the Franco-Belgian frontier and both German problems are significantly eased.
              The Schlieffen Plan does not start on the Franco Belgian border. Aside from that the Germans were not executing Schlieffens old plan, but a much varied decendant, the French were aware of what was up to the north & would send the Fourth & Fifth armies north to meet them much as historically. There would be differences in timing, directions of marches, and place of encounter but ultimately the French left finds way to many Germans across the Meuse river & withdraws.

              With a somewhat cooperative Belgium the German logistics situation is simplified at first, but once the fighting starts with the French army the problems of ammunition consumption and high energy grain for the horses rise. Eventually the Germans are exhausted and over extended & recoil north wards under French pressure.

              Ultimately the Allied lines connect to the sea further south and west and the small Belgian army faces southwest instead of NW and accepts German equipment rather than French or English.

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              • #8
                Firstly, I am sorry if it was misleading to use the “Schlieffen Plan” as a shorthand for the version of the Schlieffen – Moltke plan to be executed. Clearly, in this timeline the plan will be significantly tweaked so that it is not exactly the OTL plan.

                Apart from the difficulty of keeping the German armies supplied and the sore feet of the German reservists mentioned above, the Germans deployed their reservists from the start while the French committed theirs as the campaign continued, which is another reason that the OTL outcome was likely.

                However, the effect of this POD is that the clash involving the French 4th and 5th Armies will occur not too far from the OTL encounter but about a week earlier. I am not sure if the BEF will already be deployed to help them. The encounter should occur more or less at the same time as French 1st and 2nd Armies attack in Lorraine.

                The French 4th and 5th Armies will advance north during the second week of August and will probably brush aside some rather unenthusiastic Belgian forces before encountering the German 1st, 2nd and 3rd Armies. The German forces may be slightly stronger than OTL as there will be no German forces screening Antwerp or besieging other fortresses. The Germans also have more freedom to deploy their soldiers to anywhere in Belgium with a railway station. Thus the rightmost soldier may want to dip his sleeve in the Channel. It is thus possible that French 5th Army (and all or part of the BEF) may be faced with a quite significant numerical disparity and that the Germans may be able to partially envelope some of the French left wing.

                If the left wing retreats, the German pursuit will tend to be slightly faster than OTL. I am not sure how the battles on the French left occurring a week earlier will change the French Ardennes offensive or the issue of whether troops are sent by Moltke to East Prussia and from where.

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                • #9
                  What allies, in original timeline UK used Belgium's neutrality as pretext for joining war.?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tiberius Duval View Post
                    What allies, in original timeline UK used Belgium's neutrality as pretext for joining war.?
                    Good point, so if the BEF never shows up or even hesitates for any period of time the Germans will overwhelm the French left and roll it up within a few weeks time.
                    "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                    -Omar Bradley
                    "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                    -Anonymous US Army logistician

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Doktor View Post
                      Open the pubs and convenient stores to sell beer to the Germans and everything will run smoothly. Locals will make money and the Germans will be happy.
                      There's actually a story from WWII of a young girl standing in a grocery store during the german invasion 1940.

                      While she's ordering her supplies two german scouts on a motorcycle arrive and enter the shop, presumably to ask for directions.

                      Instead of bursting in they politely wait in line for their turn, whereupon the girl offers them her place with the words:

                      "Serve these gentlemen first Jennie, they still have to go to Paris"
                      Lambert of Montaigu - Crusader.

                      Bolgios - Mercenary Game.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tiberius Duval View Post
                        What allies, in original timeline UK used Belgium's neutrality as pretext for joining war.?
                        That was it on the political side. On the military side the question was the size of the German forces moving through Belgium. A few corps, amounting to one or two armies was not seen as serious. The French were prepared to deploy two armies on short notice on their left to cover this flank. One of those armies was mobilized near its starting point for deployment in that direction.

                        How the French leaders would react on learning of a Belgian capitulation to German armies coming through I'm unsure. A lot would depend on knowing quickly the size of the German left wing & its direction of march.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Mostlyharmless View Post
                          Firstly that Leopold II had lived longer in good health and had bitterly resented the mostly British campaign against his rule of the Congo Free State;
                          History had shown that a European country getting involved in a global war against Britain had a good chance of losing colonies. Would Leopold II have risked the Congo against a British ultimatum?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Aber View Post
                            History had shown that a European country getting involved in a global war against Britain had a good chance of losing colonies. Would Leopold II have risked the Congo against a British ultimatum?
                            No belgian parlaiment would have ever agreed with allowing the Germans free passage - short of assuming absolute rule there's really nothing the king could do.

                            He may have ruled absolute in Congo, at home he had no authority to make such decisions - Leopold III was made to abdicate by street protests precisely because he was considered to have collaborated and he actually fought them as best he could.

                            In addition the french-belgian relations were much too tight in 1914, only the experiences of WWI increased the mutual animosity.
                            Lambert of Montaigu - Crusader.

                            Bolgios - Mercenary Game.

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                            • #15
                              Any experts here on the 19th Century politIcs of the Low Countries? I'm wondering if the break up of the 1830s was inevitable? A single larger state here would complicate or simplify the German/French/British problems how?

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