WI:No Miracle of the Marne in 1914

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Jim Smitty, May 15, 2012.

  1. Jim Smitty Lost in my mind

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    I'm looking at the possible that the Germans in 1914 were able to take Paris in the fall of 1914. And with the fall of Paris, the French sue for peace.

    What would this peace treaty with Germany look like, and with the Germans being able to shift their army to the east, how long before Russia would cut a deal with the Germans and Austians?
     
  2. Catspoke Member

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    Most people will argue in this forum that Paris couldn't fall in 1914, the Germans might do better than OTL, win the race to the sea, but taking the Paris fortified zone wasn't going to happen based on the strength of forces available to each side. Unlike in 1940 as long as both Russia and Britain were still in, the French might stay in anyway, even if Paris falls.

    But if your TL happens somehow and peace happens this early, I look for the Germans to try and pick up a fortress or two in the west (Liege, Verdun etc...) but no major changes.
    German might want to expand her west African colonies at French expense.

    I can't see Russia fighting on if France surrenders and Germany gives reasonable terms (i.e. Russian acceptance of the new Serbian status, i.e Germany and Austria have a free hand in the Balkans). A smart Germany would give Russia a peace like Austria was given in 1866, why create a permament enemy you can't really beat.

    England would come to peace eventually if the the channel coast wasn't occupied by Germany, and France was left in reasonable shape. She just needs her security.
     
  3. Jim Smitty Lost in my mind

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    Well my POD I was planning on was in 1912 as part as a larger TL(maybe a book IDK yet) I'm currently working on.

    I was thinking Belgium allows the Germans to use their nation as a road into France, given the Germans nine more days(one day to cross Belgium) and a few more corps for the German push into France. And I'm looking for a very short European war in 1914.
     
  4. Geon Well-Known Member

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    Improbable?

    Why do so many here say the fall of France in 1914 was impossible? From what little I've heard and read-and I will willingly confess that World War I is not my area of expertise-most historians claim that Paris almost fell, that the commital of French reserves was the only thing that stopped the Germans from taking the city. How hard would it be to have the reserves delayed in getting to the front by a fluke of bad weather? If Paris falls the French may or may not surrender but the pressure to negotiate a peace treaty with Germany will be greater.

    Geon
     
  5. Simreeve Differently-Sane Scientist

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    Agreed. And for that matter, the Germans' original plan had been changed by shifting several divisions from the main striking force to the army holding Alsace-Lorraine: If they'd been used as previously planned instead then that might have given the striking force enough added strength to take Paris and trigger a French collapse.
    And with France out of the war, and Britain -- even if we didn't seek terms too -- sitting back behind the Channel, most of the Germans' best divsions would then have headed east as planned to try and smash Russia: Something along the line of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, giving them all of that extra lebensraum in the east, was what they'd actually been aiming at when they agreed to support Austria-Hungary against Serbia in the expectation that this would lead to war against Russia...
     
  6. sendô Well-Known Member

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    In all honestly the Germans taking Paris and forcing an early end to the war might be the best thing for all concerned given how The Great War panned out IOTL.

    None of the major powers entered into that war with clear and specific war aims and just ended up sacrificing millions of soldiers for very little gain. Even the nominal victors in Britain and France were left exhausted both militarily and financially and it was this war that hastened the end of the British Empire.

    If the Germans take Paris, a negotiated peace from the French is likely, although what would be negotiated is anyone's guess. It could well be that Britain, Russia, Germany and A-H carry on as before. Italy might even come in on the side of the Central Powers if France decided to fight on.
     
  7. keedaman Well-Known Member

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    Having just completed reading The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman's book about the first month of WW1, I think there are a few obvious PoDs. The most obvious one is for the BEF to not take part. OTL, Sir John French as well as Murray, his chief of staff had both refused to join Joffre's battle plan. It was only thanks to a last minute personal visit and emotional plea from Joffre that Sir John was convinced to fight. Without the BEF holding a crucial part of the line between the French Vth and Paris Armies, there would have been a giant hole throw which the Germans could have easily gotten through and outflanked the French.

    Another obvious one is for von Moltke to stick rigidly to the Schlieffen Plan and to obey his dying words i.e. ' Only make the right wing strong'. To do this, Prince Ruprecht's Southern counter-offensive would have to be cut short and his men would have to be sent to reinforce the German right wing after the Battle of the Frontiers. This would also mean no last minute transfer of resources to the Eastern front to face down the Russian armies that would have been deal with at Tannenberg. No weakened right flank might mean a German Army with enough of a numerical advantage to resist the Allied counter offensive and keep marching on.

    But my favorite PoD, although it relates to an earlier battle, is for General Lanrezac, who was commanding the French Vth army that was sent into Belgium, to stick to his hyper-offensive theories and not withdraw during the Battle of Charleroi. This would have ended in a Sedan-like encirclement and surrender for the outnumbered French. With no support on either flank, the BEF would probably have made a bee-line for the Channel while the rest of the French Army would have been completely surrounded as Schlieffen originally intended.
     
  8. Geon Well-Known Member

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    Possible Terms

    A while back I speculated about what an early CP peace would likely look like.

    I will readily admit that earlier view has been modified. Here are my thoughts on how an early peace would look assuming Paris fell in 1914 and France and Britain sought a negotiated settlement.

    • France does not lose any territory but she must reaffirm that Alsace-Lorrain belongs to Germany and desist from any further efforts to reclaim it.
    • France must keep her troops a set distance away from the German border to avoid future "misunderstandings."
    • Belgium becomes a "protectorate" of the greater German Empire for the forseeable future.
    As to the rest of the war-The Ottoman Empire joins as in OTL in order to grab land from Russia. The Russians still lose badly and end up having all of what is now Poland and the Ukraine ceded to Germany. The Austria-Hungarian Empire was already on its last legs when the war started. Win or lose I think the empire will not survive the war. As a result Germany absorbs most of Austria and what would become Czechoslovokia into the Greater German Reich. The Balkans will be a powder keg for many years to come as various nations there fight over disputed borders. The Ottoman Empire gains a few years by its victories in Russia but will still collapse in the next few decades. Russia still becomes a communist nation, but far weaker and is unlikely to become a threat for the forseeable future.

    In the end you have a super German state (the dream of Bismarck come true!) dominating central and most of eastern Europe along with the great powers of France and Britain. The U.S. remains neutral and continues to stay out of foreign entanglements. However the seeds are probably sown for another war very soon with Germany.

    Two good things come from this. No Austrian corporeal comes to power in Germany, and no genocide sweeps the continent.

    Geon
     
  9. Zmflavius Cheeky Little Shit

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    To answer the OP's actual question, the German terms are actually fairly well-laid out. Germany's primary war goals at the start of war were the annexation of Belgium and Luxembourg, the Belgian Congo, as well as Briey-Longwy (roughly the northern half of the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle). They also wanted to disable France, force it to pay indemnities, the usual deal. Oh yeah, and end British hegemony over the globe, though they didn't actually have the means to do this.

    There's a wikipedia article on this, actually.
     
  10. Geon Well-Known Member

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    Political Pressure

    One point however, the wikipedia article also indicates parts or all of the plan was unlikely to be used given political pressure by military factions within Germany. The plan outlined was for discussion purposes only.

    Geon
     
  11. Snake Featherston Banned

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    The Miracle of the Marne is inevitable no matter what happens from dreary ol' logistics. Germany had no more power to bull their way into a victory in one go in a modern war than any other state did.
     
  12. Jim Smitty Lost in my mind

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    I don't see that working for what I have in mind, because I want both France in Britian to exit the war fairly quickly, And that hard of peace wouldn't be taken by either the French or British. I see Briey and other areas near Alsace-Lorrain behind handed over to Germany, with medium size war repariations, and maybe part of French Colonial Africa.

    Beligum would be left around, to get the British to agree.

    As to Russia, I was thinking Poland and the Baltic costal being handed over to Germany. With Russia falling into a Civil War after the peace treaty.
     
  13. Catspoke Member

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    The argument is the German plan was doomed to fail because the number of corps that the Germans could supply over the limited and damaged communication lines through Belgium would mean the Germans wouldn't be able to deliver enough firepower to beat the French armies in a battle in front of Paris.

    There was a Marne without Moltke TL on here that was a kind of best case Germany TL that had the Germans do better, tie at the Marne and win the race to the sea.

    Now a TL where Belgium lets the Germans in would ease supply issues but I can't see why a Belgian goverment would ever sign up willingly to then live in a German dominated world.

    Regardless, Paris would be a tough thing to take, its a fortress and a big one, if would take 5 or 6 corps to just surround it..
     
  14. Catspoke Member

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    France, Britain and Russia of 1914, not on the brink of revolution would continue to fight rather than live in a german dominated world where they are guaranteed to lose when another war starts.. The peace would have to be like 1866 Austria for them to agree. Giving up Briey is pretty harsh for France.
     
  15. Jim Smitty Lost in my mind

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    I know the Germans winning would set up a stage for another larger war in the 1930s.

    But the way I see things France would have to give up some of their holding in both Europe and Africa as part of the peace treaty with Germany.

    Britian and France may not be on the brink but Russia is. Two stenning defetes within 9 years? And Nicholas II is not the type of leader I see leading his nation in the aftermath of a second lost in a deceade.
     
  16. Snake Featherston Banned

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    Because the entire German plan in 1914 was as poorly thought out as Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Germany did not have the capability to initiate and win a major war in one strike on its own steam. No modern power did or does.
     
  17. miketr Member

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    Germans plan wasn't to storm Paris but to use it to lure the French field army out in the open where they could get at it.

    The German plans fault were they were asking a huge amount of their logistics, IE more than they could provide. Also they weakened their forces in Belgium by sending troops east to help 8th Army.

    Myself I put the German's chances as poor to pull their victory off. It depends in effect on France coming to terms after loosing the big battles, which they didn't do in 1870. Still the French were in a panic and preparing to move the government out of Paris. To have a shot at the Germans need some luck to break their way. Like the attempt to take the Belgian fortress by surprise works. So the German rate of advance is a bit faster. Perhaps something like French 4th Army is pocketed and destroyed during the fighting, it could have occurred. You then need the French to collapse after loosing east of Paris. A chain of very unlikely breaks, possible but taken collectively very unlikely.

    Michael
     
  18. Snake Featherston Banned

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    The German plan of 1914 like that of 1941 was a very lousy one. It required first an enemy willing to co-operate nicely with its own destruction, an assumption that does not pay as a basic starting point in a war, if anything the kind of "assumption" that creates the direct conditions for a self-inflicted apocalypse. Second, it required nothing to go wrong logistically, a dubious assumption when choosing to invade territory that is very vital to the enemy's ability to sustain himself. It might be that the enemy would be Saddam Hussein and just sit there and do nothing, but that is a very risky assumption to take for granted. Then you factor in that to propel the German army it required both a far larger army consistently supplied *and* a guaranteed intact captured rail system.........

    Now, add in to this that the offensive over the Belgian plain was never secret, so the guarantee of any kind of surprise is in actual fact an impossibility. The Allies knew the Germans were going to strike through Belgium. If you gamble on a direct act of aggression, you should make damn sure that doing so as a precondition to a defeat of any sort is an impossibility. In a 1914 context this is impossible for any Great Power in a general European war to do outside Crack!TLs.
     
  19. MattII Well-Known Member

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    Well I wouldn't say inevitable, but yes, the German logistics were just about at their limit by this time, so Paris is more-or-less impossible, although the might be able, if they were willing to forgo that, to push closer to the coast.
     
  20. Snake Featherston Banned

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    Germany's faults were threefold and graver than that: 1) The two variants of the German invasion of France through Belgium lacked any kind of genuine logistical basis whatsoever, compounded in this even by lacking an army remotely as powerful as that mandated by the plan. In this sense 1914 replicates 1941: gamble everything on one swift blow which never had any of the basic strategic requirements for success. 2) Germany did not factor in the killing power of both rifles and machine guns. The German army of 1914 had a lot of conscripts hurled straight into mass firepower in pure Napoloenic fashion, this is how for instance the BEF inflicted the critical losses at Mons, while the Germans likewise failed to account for the need to detach forces during an offensive to mask and/or neutralize remaining pockets of enemy resistance, such as Maubeuge, Antwerp, and so on. 3) Like in 1918 and 1941 the Germans weren't even able to execute their dubious plans for past the first, short phase displaying both an inability to plan well *and* an inability to execute plans.