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in WW I Germany does not invade Belgium and diverts fewer troops to the east

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  • in WW I Germany does not invade Belgium and diverts fewer troops to the east

    Britain offered to stay out of the conflict, provided Germany respected Belgian neutrality. Germany had defeated France in 1870 without invading Belgium and was in a much better position to do so in 1914 with Alsace-Lorraine under its control. Most importantly, Belgium provided extremely efficient resistance and caused the Germans to arrive in France later (allowing the French and British time to mobilize), exhausted and with little artillery ammunition.
    Moreover, although the modified Schlieffen plan specified invading Belgium with almost all the force to defeat the French, after forcing Belgium into the war the Kaiser sent 3 army corps and a cavalry division destined for the west to Luddendorf in the east (who didn't need or want them) to face the Russians, who had rushed inexperienced and ill supplied troops into East Prussia and German Poland, precisely in order to save France by forcing the removal of German forces from the west.

    Had Germany invaded only France and left Luddendorf with minimal force, Germany would not have lost invaluable time, troops, cavalry and ammunition in Belgium and French soldiers would have started dying from the beginning. In contrast, no Germans would have fallen to either Belgians or British troops. Most importantly, without time to mobilize and the British expeditionary force, French defenses would have collapsed and Paris soon fallen.

  • #2
    The meat-grinder from hell.
    Take a look at Verdun, for practically all of 1916.

    Belguim was invaded because of simple math; the armies were so much bigger than in 1870 that they needed room to maneuver, more than the Franco-German border allowed for.
    Add machine-guns to the mix and you have something incredible in terms of slaughter.

    And in hindsight, sure, not sending those 2 corps east would be fine, but prior to Tannenberg, when they were committed, who could really be sure that they were "not positively needed"?
    "Why is the Rum gone?"

    -Captain Jack

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Draco View Post
      Britain offered to stay out of the conflict, provided Germany respected Belgian neutrality. Germany had defeated France in 1870 without invading Belgium and was in a much better position to do so in 1914 with Alsace-Lorraine under its control. Most importantly, Belgium provided extremely efficient resistance and caused the Germans to arrive in France later (allowing the French and British time to mobilize), exhausted and with little artillery ammunition.
      Moreover, although the modified Schlieffen plan specified invading Belgium with almost all the force to defeat the French, after forcing Belgium into the war the Kaiser sent 3 army corps and a cavalry division destined for the west to Luddendorf in the east (who didn't need or want them) to face the Russians, who had rushed inexperienced and ill supplied troops into East Prussia and German Poland, precisely in order to save France by forcing the removal of German forces from the west.

      Had Germany invaded only France and left Luddendorf with minimal force, Germany would not have lost invaluable time, troops, cavalry and ammunition in Belgium and French soldiers would have started dying from the beginning. In contrast, no Germans would have fallen to either Belgians or British troops. Most importantly, without time to mobilize and the British expeditionary force, French defenses would have collapsed and Paris soon fallen.
      Actually, I think that it's a fair point, but don't you mean diverting more troops to the East ?

      Any strategic restriction incurred by not invading Belgium would have been a small price to pay if it ensured British neutrality.

      Looking at it with pure 20/20 hindsight ,it would then have made sense to stand on the defensive in the West and allow the French to exhaust themselves in attacking through Alsace-Lorraine- which happened anyway.
      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
      Samuel Johnson.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
        Actually, I think that it's a fair point, but don't you mean diverting more troops to the East ?

        Any strategic restriction incurred by not invading Belgium would have been a small price to pay if it ensured British neutrality.

        Looking at it with pure 20/20 hindsight ,it would then have made sense to stand on the defensive in the West and allow the French to exhaust themselves in attacking through Alsace-Lorraine- which happened anyway.
        Agree with that. Keep a defensive amount in the West and defeat Russia while it's still slooowly mobilizing.

        But even so, you might reach a stalemate in the West later on, even after moving all your army to the West again.

        Furthermore, if you are dishonorable enough to decide you'll treat your international commitments as scraps of paper, and violate Belgium's neutrality, you'll expect that the other side is as untrustworthy as you are. i.e. that the French will attack through Belgium while you're committed in the East, and outflank your scanty troops defending the French-German border.
        Michele

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        • #5
          ^ But its easy to defeat russians if they are on the offensive.How can the german army make deep inroads in russia to defeat them in depth ? it would be a repeat of 1812 every generals nightmare.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by nastle View Post
            ^ But its easy to defeat russians if they are on the offensive.How can the german army make deep inroads in russia to defeat them in depth ? it would be a repeat of 1812 every generals nightmare.
            QFT, Bismarck's policy should have been followed and Russia should not have been made an enemy-or at least fight defensively against them while knocking out France which might have been without Britain's assistance.

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            • #7
              Russia had extremely poor logistics and troop training and had to attack both Austria-Hungary and Germany. So I think that it was brilliant of Germany not to put up initially any resistance to it in the east. Austria made 2 huge mistakes: Attacking Serbia first and not forcing the Germans to extend their supply lines more.

              Attacking Belgium did not gain Germany any time, but forced Britian into the war, which eventually brough Italy and Romania into the war against the Central powers, so it was catastrophic.

              Advancing on French territory along the French-Belgian border and at the same time from western Lorraine and repulsing the French in the east would have resulted in a much more rapid withdrawal of the French army than that achieved by exhausted German troops short of shells and facing British troops after invading Belgium.
              A rapid German advance with British neutrality may have induced Italy (which hated France) to honor its alliance with A-H (which technically forced Italy to declare war on Russia when it invaded A-H). Italy could have benefitted considerably by invading Corsica, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco in 1914, which in turn would have made war much more difficult for France and induced it to sue for peace before losing more territory. Tunisia is much closer to Sicily and Sardinia than is Tripoli and Algeria was far more productive than Libya. It would have been much easier for Italy to transport supplies and troops to Tunisia than for France to do the same to Algeria during the war.
              Without Britain and with Italy in the war and with France in deep trouble, Turkey and Bulgaria may have also joined the fight against Russia earlier in the war. Perhaps even Romania may have joined the central powers, hoping to gain territory in the Ukraine.
              Last edited by Draco; 12 Oct 12, 16:37.

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              • #8
                I apologize, in the post above I meant Attacking Serbia first and not forcing the Russians to extend their supply lines more.

                Without Britain in the war, Turkey would have concentrated completely on fighting Russia, for which its army was much better prepared.

                Without Britain in the war, it is unlikely that Japan would have joined the French. Seeing Russia rapidly bleeding in the west, Japan may have invaded Russia again, taking Port Arthrur, Kamchatka, etc, for good.

                Russia would have soon collapsed if it had to fight Germany, A-H, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Japan and was not receiving any help from a struggling France and a neutral Brtain and without access to the Pacific ocean and Baltic and Black seas. Moreover, the communists and the separatists would have been very effective in undermining the countries ability to fight a hopeless war. Finland and the Baltic states perhaps being the first to achieve independence with German and Swedish help.

                Without Britain in the war, Norway would not have worked against Germany and Germany would have been able to import everything it needed by ship and the German, Austrian, Turkish, Japanese and Italian fleets would have concentrated only on French and Russian vessels, inflicting catastrophic losses.

                Instead of ruining it economy, Britain would have thrived exporting armament, ammo and consumer goods, while the other European nations produced only armament and ammo.

                The huge, obsolete Russian empire would have vanished and Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Japan, Germany, etc, would have gained invaluable resources and territory to relieve demographic pressure. Russia would be reduced to about 40% of its former territory and 60% of its former population and present a minor threat to European stability.
                France would lose its north African colonies and Italy would control the western Med. Britain and Turkey would control the eastern Med.
                Powerful British, German, A-H, Italian and Turkish empires would ensure stability.
                Last edited by Draco; 14 Oct 12, 12:06.

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                • #9
                  I think that if Germany had invaded through Alscas-Lorreine instead of through Belgium yes it could have defeated France with ease and kept Britain out of the war but it could have also meant that Germany would have been able to extract more trade concessions from the British as they would have probably demanded land from Northern France. I think that it would also have meant that once the Russians had realised that their slow mobalisation had put them into a terrible position in Europe, they would have sued for peace and given Germany and A-H land concessions in the west.

                  I also think the Ottoman Empire would have invaded Russia from the south meaning that they could have claimed lost lands such as the Crimea and could have forced a very one-sided treaty on Russia which would have given the Ottomans back their lost pride from the past half a century. The Ottomans could have also reclaimed lands in the Balkans with a 50-50 share with A-H and might have even made Greece a vassel state.

                  In my opinion the Italians might have sided with the Central Powers and invaded France form the South which would have meant that France would be a seriouslly weakened state. The Italians might have also taken Northern Africa from the French by force or with treaties and that would have meant the Italians might have invaded Abyssinia in the 1920's instead of the 1930's.

                  I also think the Japanese would have probably invaded the East of the Russian Empire and taken Kamchatka for good. This would have meant the Japanese would have been in a good position to invade China and could have started the invasion sooner.

                  I think that because of this Belgium and Luxembourg would have probably become vassel states and Frances oversea empire would have been divided between the Central Powers. I also think that the Balkans would have been divided between A-H and the Ottoman Empire with Greece as a vassel state.

                  I am not sure about what Britain would have done but if it had decided to side with the Central Powers it could have added Indochina and other colonies. I think that the British Empire would have survived for longer than it did because it would not have lost so many soldiers and money in the war and it could have dealt with the 'Irish problem' more efficiently.

                  This is my first post so if anyone has any ideas on how I could improve it or if I have done anything wrong I would be happy to see them.

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                  • #10
                    Welcome ELM,
                    You're doing fine.
                    However, Belgium would not have become a vassal state, because Britain guaranteed its neutrality and soverainty, which is precisely why Germany should have avoided invading it.

                    Also Russia mobilized quite quickly, much more so than Germany expected. Having 6 million men, the Tzar was over confident and eager to save France. It was Germany which advanced much slower than expected in the Schlieffen plan, in great part owing to Belgium's heroic resistance. One can say that Belgium cost the central powers the war by slowing down Germany and bringng Britain into the war, which then brought Italy, Portugal, Japan and Romania into the war on the allies' side.
                    The surprising fact is that in real life Turkey did join the central powers, despite knowing that the British navy and industry were formidable enemies.
                    Last edited by Draco; 14 Oct 12, 14:21.

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                    • #11
                      Ok thank you

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                      • #12
                        With all the oil in its territory, Turkey would have done quite well in the 20's and 30's and Italy in the 40s.
                        With the Kaisers ruling Germany and A-H and with a powerful Romania and Turkey, communism would not have been allowed to thrive in defeated Russia (the Kaiser would not have had to sneak Lenin into Russia).

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ELM97 View Post
                          I think that if Germany had invaded through Alscas-Lorreine instead of through Belgium yes it could have defeated France with ease and kept Britain out of the war but it could have also meant that Germany would have been able to extract more trade concessions from the British as they would have probably demanded land from Northern France. I think that it would also have meant that once the Russians had realised that their slow mobalisation had put them into a terrible position in Europe, they would have sued for peace and given Germany and A-H land concessions in the west.

                          I also think the Ottoman Empire would have invaded Russia from the south meaning that they could have claimed lost lands such as the Crimea and could have forced a very one-sided treaty on Russia which would have given the Ottomans back their lost pride from the past half a century. The Ottomans could have also reclaimed lands in the Balkans with a 50-50 share with A-H and might have even made Greece a vassel state.

                          In my opinion the Italians might have sided with the Central Powers and invaded France form the South which would have meant that France would be a seriouslly weakened state. The Italians might have also taken Northern Africa from the French by force or with treaties and that would have meant the Italians might have invaded Abyssinia in the 1920's instead of the 1930's.

                          I also think the Japanese would have probably invaded the East of the Russian Empire and taken Kamchatka for good. This would have meant the Japanese would have been in a good position to invade China and could have started the invasion sooner.

                          I think that because of this Belgium and Luxembourg would have probably become vassel states and Frances oversea empire would have been divided between the Central Powers. I also think that the Balkans would have been divided between A-H and the Ottoman Empire with Greece as a vassel state.

                          I am not sure about what Britain would have done but if it had decided to side with the Central Powers it could have added Indochina and other colonies. I think that the British Empire would have survived for longer than it did because it would not have lost so many soldiers and money in the war and it could have dealt with the 'Irish problem' more efficiently.

                          This is my first post so if anyone has any ideas on how I could improve it or if I have done anything wrong I would be happy to see them.
                          Interesting stuff:- keep it up.

                          I've a few reservations though. I don't think it at all follows that,had Britain remained out of the war, France would have been defeated "with ease". Further,Russia too, had absorbed invasions in the past (1812?) and emerged triumphant.

                          You mention Germany extracting trade concessions from Britain, but free trade was British policy anyway. Germany could, and did, trade throughout the world without restriction.

                          I really don't think that the Ottoman Empire was in any position to invade regain the Crimea, or anywhere in the Caucasus ,regardless of any military reverses that Russia may have suffered elsewhere. Still, assuming that France had been defeated -by no means a "Done Deal"- Italy certainly might have been tempted to remain with the Triple Alliance and may have received Nice, Corsica and Tunisia for her troubles.
                          "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                          Samuel Johnson.

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                          • #14
                            It was ELM who talked about concessions.

                            It's not only the fact the Britain is not helping France, it's the fact that Belgium is not wearing and slowing down the Germans, providing critical time for the French to mobilize and the fact that the forces sent to the east were considerable.
                            Those Belgian and British divisions combined and the relocation of powerful German forces to the east proved decisive in 1914 and the blockade and millions of British forces later in the war made the difference.
                            There is no way France alone could have withstood the German war machine in 1914, much less if Italy joined the central powers.
                            With German advisors and armament the Ottomans fought quite well in Gallipoli, etc, I think they could have captured Azerbaijan and helped the Romanians and Bulgarians in the eastern Ukraine.

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                            • #15
                              Italy was very proud of its navy but extremely affraid of the RN (which is one of the reasons why it joined the allies). Italy also ruined its economy and lost too many men fighting A-H. Had Britain remained out of the war, it would have been far more profitable for Italy to attack the valuable French colonies, since France was already drowning. By controlling Morocco, Italy could have prevented French ships from accessing the Med, making the movement of goods and supplies more difficult for France.

                              Had Germany respected Belgium, it could have also bought food and supplies from it (as it did from Holland, which made fortunes), instead of wrecking the country and then having to bring food that was badly needed in Germany because of the blockade.
                              Germany would have also saved the occupation troops it had to keep in Belgium and the very bad press it got in Holland, Britain and the US from invading and occupying it.
                              Last edited by Draco; 14 Oct 12, 23:36.

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