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The French Get Their Way After the Armistice 1918

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  • The French Get Their Way After the Armistice 1918

    We know that the French wanted to establish control over German territory west of the Rhine and return the Reich to its pre-1866 constituent kingdoms. Assuming this was practicable, what would have happened in the years following the end of WW1? Would France have regained its former position as the Continent's pre-eminent power? Would the economic dislocation have led to an even greater financial catastrophe than historically? Would Bolshevism have spread across Central Europe? Or would there have been a long and prosperous peace in Europe? Or something else?
    Signing out.

  • #2
    To me it would like the 'World of 1815 restored', 'Europe after Waterloo':
    France strong in the West, no single dominant power in Central Europe and an enigmatic and messianic Russia/USSR that might be emerging in the East. In 1815 this was the Holy Alliance of the Tsar, in 1918 Lenin's Communism. In both instances it was unclear whether it would spread over Europe or remain confined to Russia.


    France would regain it's old (pre-1870) position of mistress of Europe.
    Economic dislocation leading to financial crises? Many imponderabilia, but I would say it was not inevitable in this scenario.
    Bolshevism would not have spread over Europe because there was no united Germany as it was stopped by the Poles at the 'miracle of the Weichsel'.

    Given the above I would say, the French plan, in effect creating a situation similar to 1815, would have been preferable. The the Vienna system gave Europe decades of Peace, the historical Versailles was an cease fire of twenty years.
    Really remarkable foresight by Foch
    BoRG

    You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by captainsennef View Post
      Bolshevism would not have spread over Europe because there was no united Germany as it was stopped by the Poles at the 'miracle of the Weichsel'.
      Specific to this point, and to clarify what I was suggesting on thus issue, we know that there were a number of Communist uprisings in Germany in the chaotic months following the Armistice, the most famous being that in Berlin led by Rosa Luxembourg and the (arguably) most successful being the one that resulted in Bavaria seceding for a short time. In a fragmented Germany I would consider that one of these may have succeeded or, failing that, the strong left-wing element that already existed in pre-WW1 Germany may have risen to power in one of the kingdoms in the inter-war period. Just musing on this issue really.
      Signing out.

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      • #4
        It is not quite right to say France wanted a revision to the pre 1867 borders of the various Germen Staes. For example they did not want the Rhineland (that is the land west of the Rhine) to be retained by Prussia but to be an independant state.

        Had they succeeded in breaking up Germany, it would not have been a success, the sentiment of Germen Nationism was by this time greater much greater than of any loyality to the old Germen princely states. So a reunioncation movement would have quickly gathered leading to a strongly nationalist Germen State, which is much happened anyway.

        So the rise of Nazism and the Second World War would have occured anyway.
        War is less costly than servitude

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        • #5
          Originally posted by kendrick View Post
          It is not quite right to say France wanted a revision to the pre 1867 borders of the various Germen Staes. For example they did not want the Rhineland (that is the land west of the Rhine) to be retained by Prussia but to be an independant state.
          Well I did say that the French sought to control the area West of the Rhine so leaving it in Prussian hands would obviously not be an option.

          Had they succeeded in breaking up Germany, it would not have been a success, the sentiment of Germen Nationism was by this time greater much greater than of any loyality to the old Germen princely states. So a reunioncation movement would have quickly gathered leading to a strongly nationalist Germen State, which is much happened anyway.
          A treaty clause forbidding reunion and a stronger French state with the Rhine under their control (even if not part of France) might prevent this. I don't doubt that a strong nationalist political movement would emerge though and it would require the French to act decisively. If the French grew complacent and/or were dissuaded from action by a Britain sympathetic to the injustices done to Germany at Versailles then your scenario could well come to be.

          So the rise of Nazism and the Second World War would have occured anyway.
          I have to say that I don't see Nazism as being inevitable, even looking at the historical timeline the number of chance encounters and poor (in hindsight) political decisions suggest that the party could have stayed a part of the lunatic fringe indefinitely.
          Signing out.

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