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What if French/German fighting in 1905?

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  • What if French/German fighting in 1905?

    What would have happened if fighting broke out in 1905 between France and Germany during the First Moroccan Crisis? I can see this happening during one of the sides conducting cross-border reconnaissance and a skirmish starting. Assume fighting continues, the armies start to mobilize, Britain Russia and Austria-Hungary start to mobilize. In Russia unrest grows during the Revolution and the czar's reign is threatened. The public in all countries, especially those not involved, are horrified. With the help of the US, a truce is signed and forces return to their original lines. How does History progress from here?

    Some things I think:

    1. Germany does not focus on Naval Power much

    2. Belgium considers siding with the Entente

    3. The US becomes more isolationist

    4. Based upon the results of the war, weapons such as tanks, poison gas, etc. start to be developed in 1905.

    5. Japan takes over German islands in the Pacific
    Last edited by lakechampainer; 22 Aug 09, 06:47.

  • #2
    With the Russian Revolution of 1905 extending all year, I don't see it getting involved at all. Austria being concerned with the Balkans, and Germany not especially interested in it sans a factor like Archduke Ferdinand killing The Dual Monarchy should stay out, Britain's involvement is doubtful, so probably a short war with Germany getting minor gains. Even more French resentment and Russian and Serb worry as a consequence so probably little change in the historical events. But.....if Britain involved then Japan might make a grab for German colonies/stations, and if a status quo ante in Europe then a most interesting German-Japanese war could result.

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    • #3
      Didn't this almost happen?

      There was an incident in Morocco, involving a German Gunboat named Panther... I think...

      With Russia not involved, and no plans for British troops in France worked out yet, it looks like an easy win for Germany.
      "Why is the Rum gone?"

      -Captain Jack

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      • #4
        I assume the fighting did not involve Belgium. I assume the fighting was only on the Franco-German border, that skirmishes broke out there and grew into a larger scale conflict. The powers never fully mobilized before the settlement, so Germany did not have the time or troops to implement the Schlieffen plan. So I see in this instance that the French forts and the French troops average distance to the front being shorter, that the fighting was essentially a standoff. I assume there were large casualties, due to charges against machine guns, artillery from the forts, etc. I think this will lead both sides to start working on tanks, on planes, on combined arms techniques, etc.

        I also assume the skirmishing that broke out into full-scale fighting broke out in December, 1905 so it would be hard for an offensive to gather momentum and gain ground.

        I also think that this situation would cause the Germans to look east towards the already teetering Russia, and start thinking about provoking a war with Russia.
        Last edited by lakechampainer; 23 Aug 09, 12:20.

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        • #5
          Panther Incident

          The Panther gunboat incident took place in 1911, the second Moroccan crisis.

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          • #6
            I'd assume that because Germany is not threatened on two fronts, Russia staying out of it, the very young Schlieffen Plan would not have been attempted.

            Germany versus France on a limited front? Germany makes tactical gains but a strategic victory would be atleast a year away, assuming no nation comes to France's aid. I don't think the significantly more narrow front helps the French enough to actually repel Germany.
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            • #7
              Actually, A Franco-German conflict in 1905 (without Belgium) could end in a French victory *if* the French stay on the defensive and prevent the Germans from getting into open country. The French are not as demographically challenged in 1905 as they would be later so the narrow front and rough parity in troops would give the advantage to the defence.
              The Purist

              Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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              • #8
                I'm starting from the assumption that there was an outbreak of fighting in December in 1905, which was inconclusive and ended as describe. The winter weather had a lot to do with this.

                ALTERNATIVE 1914 EVENTS


                I assume the ArchDuke was assassinated on the same day he actually was. I assume the major countries involved have progressed differently since the 1905 fighting.

                Germany, shocked by the fact they did not easily defeat France, does a major examination of its military strategy. It does not do a major capital ship buildup, conceding command of the seas to Britain and the US. but does still develop U-boats. They also conclude they were too tied in to war plans, change their whole ground strategy to be more flexible. They develop a strategy to fight a two front war in which they have an option two strike west first, east first, or both at the same time. They also start working on troop carriers and then light tanks, as do other countries, but Germany puts the most resources into developing the equipment and a new doctrine.

                France grows complacent as they feel they have stood up to Germans, and that the gallant French soldier's elan will always lead to their being able to beat Germany. The French also develop early troop carriers and tanks, but unlike the Germans, they disperse them along the front, attached to infantry units. Given that their artillery was the key to their performance in 1905, they focus on artillery.

                Britain does not develop as close a relationship with France as it actually did, as it is not threatened by a fleet challenging the British fleet. Britain tries to stay out the growing conflict, but keeps in mind it does not want to see Germany or any power dominate the continent, especially the low countries.

                Russia continues to move toward revolution. Russia develops pretty much as before.

                Austria-Hungary is shocked that its stronger ally could not beat the French. They remain allied to Germany, but they try to get their own house in order. The Emperor goes along with the Archduke's plan to form a United States of Central Europe, which gives the nationalities more autonomy, especially Czechoslovakia. The Hungarian ruling class is not happy with this situation.

                Italy is supposedly allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but keeps its options open.

                Japan bides it time, waiting for the chance to strike where the going is easiest. Its ultimate goal is the resources of Manchuria and maybe even the Russian Far East.

                OUTBREAK OF WAR

                Diplomatic events occur at the beginning of the crisis as before. The crucial point occurs when the General staff comes to the Kaiser with the plan to throw the bulk of their forces at the Russians, defeat them, and then colonize/control much of Eastern Russia. There are plans to do this, after the changes that were made after 1905. The Germans in particular and the Austro-Hungarians defeat the Russians, while the Austro-Hungarians defeat Serbia, with some help from the Germans. The Germans penetrate deep in Russia quickly with their motorized transport and air reconnaissance. The Russians give up territory much as they actually did at Brest-Litovsk. The French actually make some gains into Alsace-Lorraine, and gain some ground. The Germans cede most of Alsace-Lorraine to France, which the Germans don't mind too much, since many of them feel like Bismark that it presents a problem having so many unhappy people in the empire.


                So the result of the war is that Germany dominates Europe, and Japan starts to move into Manchuria from Korea. The US is alarmed by Germany's power, especially its industrial potential, and builds up its Navy and particularly its Air Force, which becomes an independent service.
                Last edited by lakechampainer; 26 Aug 09, 14:36.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                  Actually, A Franco-German conflict in 1905 (without Belgium) could end in a French victory *if* the French stay on the defensive and prevent the Germans from getting into open country. The French are not as demographically challenged in 1905 as they would be later so the narrow front and rough parity in troops would give the advantage to the defence.
                  I agree, with no Belgium France has a small front to defend and defending was always favorable over attacking back then. But who's to say the French wouldn't go on the offensive. A lot of French died in pointless offensives during WW1, who's to say France's idiot generals wont order offensives during this war.
                  A wild liberal appears! Conservative uses logical reasoning and empirical evidence! It's super effective! Wild liberal faints.

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                  • #10
                    Krupp learning from fighting

                    Krupp, the weapons manufacturer would have learned a lot of lessons from the 1905 fighting, and would have been a big part of why Germany would be in a position to blitzkrieg Russia. They would probably have built a lot more smaller caliber weapons, and weapons to be mounted on vehicles. Krupp was always looking for new weapons, both for Germany and to sell abroad.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
                      I assume the fighting did not involve Belgium. I assume the fighting was only on the Franco-German border, that skirmishes broke out there and grew into a larger scale conflict.
                      My comment may be a little late, but I don't think you can't assume that, IMHO. The German war plan does require an invasion of Belgium. Look at what happened in 1914, when the Kaiser had an anxiety attack over a possible British intervention. Von Möltke didn't budge and said it was the only way the war could be won, at which point Kaiser Willi caved in.

                      Oddly enough, the same thing happened in St Petersburg where the Russian Chief of Staff, as soon as he obtained the Czar's green light for a full mobilization, ordered all phones linking the palace to the headquarters to be disconnected.

                      The problem in WW1 is that the political leaders had precious little control over their general officers, and dared not object much...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Atlantic Friend View Post
                        My comment may be a little late, but I don't think you can't assume that, IMHO. The German war plan does require an invasion of Belgium. Look at what happened in 1914, when the Kaiser had an anxiety attack over a possible British intervention. Von Möltke didn't budge and said it was the only way the war could be won, at which point Kaiser Willi caved in.

                        Oddly enough, the same thing happened in St Petersburg where the Russian Chief of Staff, as soon as he obtained the Czar's green light for a full mobilization, ordered all phones linking the palace to the headquarters to be disconnected.

                        The problem in WW1 is that the political leaders had precious little control over their general officers, and dared not object much...
                        Thanks for the comment, Atlantic Friend. I don't think comments are ever late, they are always welcome. I think you are probably right that if a war had started in 1905, the military would more or less been calling the shots, as they were in 1914.

                        I do think, though, that Germany would have had a harder time advancing through Belgium in the winter of 1905 than the had in the summer of 1914 because of the weather. Also, I don't think- but I may be wrong -that the Germans had changed the readiness level of their reserves yet, so they would not have had as much as a relative manpower advantage as they would have in 1914. Also, I think that their formations were not as artillery intensive as they were by 1914, I don't think Krupp had yet built the giant howitzers which played such a key role in demolishing the Belgian forts.

                        If the Germans had tried to go through Belgium, I think the British would have had a strong naval response. The German Navy was still several years from its rough parity with the British in 1905. I think the British would have launched some raids on the West side of Denmark, and maybe even sent their Home Fleet east of Denmark to challenge the German Home Fleet.

                        I still think the war would have ended inconclusively, and there would have been a rematch.
                        Last edited by lakechampainer; 08 Sep 09, 17:13.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
                          Thanks for the comment, Atlantic Friend. I don't think comments are ever late, they are always welcome. I think you are probably right that if a war had started in 1905, the military would more or less been calling the shots, as they were in 1914.

                          I do think, though, that Germany would have had a harder time advancing through Belgium in the winter of 1905 than the had in the summer of 1914 because of the weather. Also, I don't think- but I may be wrong -that the Germans had changed the readiness level of their reserves yet, so they would not have had as much as a relative manpower advantage as they would have in 1914. Also, I think that their formations were not as artillery intensive as they were by 1914, I don't think Krupp had yet built the giant howitzers which played such a key role in demolishing the Belgian forts.

                          If the Germans had tried to go through Belgium, I think the British would have had a strong naval response. The German Navy was still several years from its rough parity with the British in 1905. I think the British would have launched some raids on the West side of Denmark, and maybe even sent their Home Fleet east of Denmark to challenge the German Home Fleet.

                          I still think the war would have ended inconclusively, and there would have been a rematch.
                          My "pet peeve" was more about the fact the headquarters of every nation had a grand plan that in 1914 they stuck to no matter what. As an example, you have France's Plan XVII relying on relentless offensives into Alsace-Lorraine (not taking into account the impact of machine-guns) or the German plan von Moltke devised (which was implemented even though key units for its success had been redeployed elsewhere).

                          But really, my comment really is a bit late, and I now need to focus on your later posts, as they open up intriguing possibilities. I particularly agree on your take about German possession of Alsace-Lorraine. Bismarck lamented the annexation, saying it would ensure continued French hostility. So a difficult campaign there, would give more weight to his 1870 warning, and perhaps would have further influence over the young Kaiser who used to chafe under the old Prussian's overbearing presence.
                          Last edited by Atlantic Friend; 09 Sep 09, 11:15.

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                          • #14
                            And as an afterthought, I think Western Europe might see a Franco-German entente of some kind in the 1920s in this ATL. With Alsace-Lorraine back in French hands (particularly if Strasbourg and Metz are), there's no longer any obstacle for closer cooperation between the two nations. French politicians like Caillaux, who were in favor of an "extended hand" policy with Germany, might gain traction. Germany might go from a "two-front nation" to a "no front nation".

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by AtlanticFriend
                              With Alsace-Lorraine back in French hands (particularly if Strasbourg and Metz are), there's no longer any obstacle for closer cooperation between the two nations.
                              Such a scenario would have echoes of Egypt/Israel after 1973, where
                              the Egyptian face-saving temporarily successful attack in Gaza
                              seemed to be the sine qua non for peace negotiations with Israel, with return of the Sinai necessary for peace between them.

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