Alternate Battle of Lorraine 1914

How will TTL battle of Lorraine end?

  • Germany wins and then invades France.

    Votes: 48 42.9%
  • Stalemate along more or less the existing border.

    Votes: 45 40.2%
  • France wins and advances to the Rhineland.

    Votes: 19 17.0%

  • Total voters
    112
August 6th rolls around and the French are at war. Do the British demand limited war aims out of Germany??? Its hard to imagine the British standing by while the Germans crush Russia. Sometime about mid September at the latest, after the French stall, and the Russians are driven out of Poland. it seems the British are going to say, alright you Austria can occupy Belgrade, flip the Austrian government to something more friendly to you. But this needs to settle up and end or we have to come in.

According to this source, the relationship with Russia was not very good:
The coming into being of the entente did not necessarily fix a permanent division into two opposing power blocs, the situation remained flexible.[21] The alignment of the Russian Empire with Europe's two largest power centers was controversial on both sides. Many Russian conservatives mistrusted the secular French and recalled British past diplomatic maneuvers to block Russian influence in the Near East. In turn, prominent French and British journalists, academics, and parliamentarians found the reactionary tsarist regime distasteful. Mistrust persisted even during wartime, with British and French politicians expressing relief when Tsar Nicholas II abdicated and was replaced by the Russian Provisional Government after the February Revolution in 1917. An offer of political asylum for the Romanovs was even withdrawn by the British king for fear of popular reaction.[22] Also, France never brought up the subject of asylum with the deposed tsar.

So why will Britain declare war on Germany while Germany is liberating the Poles from the Tsar's distasteful regime?
 
1) German occupation of Luxembourg. Even if we make the rather dubious assumption that Britain stays neutral in an invasion of Russia, there is little doubt that an invasion of Luxembourg will bring Britain in. Harcourt notes in his diary that the peach MPs were in such disarray that they couldn't meet on August 1 because so many wanted to declare war over Luxembourg

In the end, however, the Cabinet made *Belgium* the trigger in the Sunday, August 3 meetings, not Luxembourg.

I just don't see Luxembourg being enough to bring about British belligerency.
 
1) German occupation of Luxembourg. Even if we make the rather dubious assumption that Britain stays neutral in an invasion of Russia, there is little doubt that an invasion of Luxembourg will bring Britain in. Harcourt notes in his diary that the peach MPs were in such disarray that they couldn't meet on August 1 because so many wanted to declare war over Luxembourg

I have a source that says something different about Luxembourg:
The neutrality of Luxembourg had been guaranteed by the Powers in the Treaty of London of 1867. The prime minister immediately protested the violation at Berlin, Paris, London, and Brussels. When Paul Cambon received the news in London at 7.42 a.m. he requested a meeting with Sir Edward Grey. The French ambassador brought with him a copy of the 1867 treaty – but Grey took the position that the treaty was a ‘collective instrument’, meaning that if Germany chose to violate it, Britain was released from any obligation to uphold it. Disgusted, Cambon declared that the word ‘honour’ might have ‘to be struck out of the British vocabulary’.

I expect Germany to occupy Luxembourg only to prevent the French from bypassing the fortresses at Diedenhofen via Luxembourg.
 
I have a source that says something different about Luxembourg:


I expect Germany to occupy Luxembourg only to prevent the French from bypassing the fortresses at Diedenhofen via Luxembourg.
"The French ambassador brought with him a copy of the 1867 treaty – but Grey took the position that the treaty was a ‘collective instrument’, meaning that if Germany chose to violate it, Britain was released from any obligation to uphold it."

Yeah, if you can't get Edward Grey onside, you might as well give up.
 
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It sounds like we are thinking the British will stay out. I know this has been argued for days on this board if that happens or not.

That is certainly true, opinions are divided. Broadly speaking, there are three possibilities:
  1. Conditional neutrality (no German navy in the Channel and southern North Sea, no invasion of Belgium, ...)
  2. Naval War only (blockade of Germany and capture of colonies)
  3. Full entry into the war (which point 2 will also lead to)

Can I add another poll?
Personally I lean towards point 1, but that won't be a surprise.
 
Other than the Treaty with Russia that both should attack ASAP.
Germany going in, or standing fast on the Belgian border does not change the timing for the French advance into A-L
And what treaty would that be? The French and Russian general staffs held talks as to how to handle what they correctly considered the most likely scenario-. A German thrust through Belgium.

That Russia also had case G which called for a rearward deployment puts your argument in the trash can. Russia kept her options open untill M9 and wouldn't leave her forward bases until M15. At anytime, the Tsar could change the orders.

Only Germany considered mobilization to mean war because her strategy alone depended on speed.
 
And what treaty would that be? The French and Russian general staffs held talks as to how to handle what they correctly considered the most likely scenario-. A German thrust through Belgium.

That Russia also had case G which called for a rearward deployment puts your argument in the trash can. Russia kept her options open untill M9 and wouldn't leave her forward bases until M15. At anytime, the Tsar could change the orders.

Only Germany considered mobilization to mean war because her strategy alone depended on speed.
Speed was on the minds of others
1634183818428.png

1634183923596.png

From _Guns of August_
 
And what treaty would that be? The French and Russian general staffs held talks as to how to handle what they correctly considered the most likely scenario-. A German thrust through Belgium.

That Russia also had case G which called for a rearward deployment puts your argument in the trash can. Russia kept her options open untill M9 and wouldn't leave her forward bases until M15. At anytime, the Tsar could change the orders.

Only Germany considered mobilization to mean war because her strategy alone depended on speed.
Adding that besides the plan being to attack ASAP if the french adopted the course you propose the russians would surely take kindly to France sitting back and waiting while they are being destroyed by the germans in Poland.
 
I am puzzled by the German decision to invade Luxembourg. If they were going to violate Belgian neutrality by invading them invading Luxembourg makes sense as part of that decision. Here, where Belgian neutrality is respected, invading Luxembourg adds little to that situation but carries a real chance of Britain entering the war. Perhaps the more knowledgable could enlighten me?
 
I am puzzled by the German decision to invade Luxembourg. If they were going to violate Belgian neutrality by invading them invading Luxembourg makes sense as part of that decision. Here, where Belgian neutrality is respected, invading Luxembourg adds little to that situation but carries a real chance of Britain entering the war. Perhaps the more knowledgable could enlighten me?

Germany assumed that while France might not violate Belgian neutrality (Bc of the consequences re: Britain) it would not have qualms about violating Luxembourg’s neutrality. So it intended to occupy the country preemptively to secure the various bridges before any French advance guards/cavalry could.
 
And what treaty would that be? The French and Russian general staffs held talks as to how to handle what they correctly considered the most likely scenario-. A German thrust through Belgium.

That Russia also had case G which called for a rearward deployment puts your argument in the trash can. Russia kept her options open untill M9 and wouldn't leave her forward bases until M15. At anytime, the Tsar could change the orders.

Only Germany considered mobilization to mean war because her strategy alone depended on speed.

Adding that besides the plan being to attack ASAP if the french adopted the course you propose the russians would surely take kindly to France sitting back and waiting while they are being destroyed by the germans in Poland.

On this point, the main problem with the German “Grosser Ostaufmarsch” (Which Moltke understood at the time) was how underdeveloped the Eastern railway networks were. There was only one useable high capacity double track line running across the Vistula (Marienburg-Koenigsburg). The other line running through Goßlershausen (Now Jabłonowo Pomorskie) wouldn’t have been used because it ran too close to the border, while the single track lines were far too underdeveloped to be of help.

This meant that that the deployment of 40+ divisions to East Prussia would depend on a railway line capable of maximum 72 trains a day (3 trains an hour) assuming it ran 24/7 without stopping. Which of course isn’t how Germany ran its railways, so real capacity was less than the theoretical maximum.

Per Das deutsche Feldeisenbahnwesen, a regular corps needed 140 trains, a reserve corps 85 trains, and a cavalry division 30 trains. Germany would deploy 20 corps across the Vistula (I Corps was already in East Prussia), so for 12 regular, 8 reserve corps, and 7 cavalry divisions Germany would need 2,570 train movements minimum crossing the Vistula. At the maximum possible rate of movement that’s 35 days to fully deploy in East Prussia, which still excludes miscellaneous, Army HQs, supplies, etc which add a few extra days.

Moltke was well aware that the Eastern deployment plan would take too long, especially with the modernization of Russia’s rail network. Several alternatives were discussed but ultimately dropped in favor of focusing on France. The 1912 Aufmarsch II East acknowledges that 4th Army (Guards, Guards Reserve Corps, X, III Reserve Corps, Guards
Cavalry Division, and 4th Cavalry Division) at minimum will deploy late before/during the start of hostilities.

Other proposals suggested deploying 1-2 armies (1st and/or 2nd) on the German right wing West of the Vistula and having them march into position, which would still be slow and wear out the troops as they deployed. Alternatively, forces in East Prussia could be cut down to 3 armies with a German army attacking from Silesia instead.

So regardless, the minimum acceptable deployment by rail would be the German left wing (Which couldn’t march into position). That’s 4 regular corps, 5 reserve corps, and 4 cavalry divisions, 1,105 trains total. Working at max capacity that would cut deployment time down to 15 days minimum, but this isn’t logistically feasible and still doesn’t include other transportation so we’re probably looking at a completed deployment closer to M+25 days (August 26).

That’s a substantial improvement, but still carries all kinds of risks. If the Russians launched a spoiling attack while the German left is still deploying (Which they could do while still having much longer to mobilize than IOTL), it would throw the entire German plan into chaos and court disaster, particularly if they used all of 1st and 2nd Army rather than splitting them. 18 Russian divisions + 1 brigade and 11 second line divisions with extra prep time attacking 8 regular and 10 reserve German divisions still in the process of deploying would be a nail biter of a battle!

You can see why the offensively-minded Germans decided to forego such a plan rather than risk inviting a serious early reverse.

Anyway, the conclusion is that if the Russians remain on the defensive until the Germans advance as the Russian Plan G proposed they likely won’t be in combat until August 25-30 minimum. So the French have plenty of time to deploy and think about their options compared to OTL.
 
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Anyway, the conclusion is that if the Russians remain on the defensive until the Germans advance as the Russian Plan G proposed the
But per _Guns of August_ above, an attack on M+15 had been planned for years to match the French move into A-L.
Are you saying that without a German move into Belgium, Joffre will sit on his hands, and let the Russians get to Berlin first?
Not likely
 
But per _Guns of August_ above, an attack on M+15 had been planned for years to match the French move into A-L.
Are you saying that without a German move into Belgium, Joffre will sit on his hands, and let the Russians get to Berlin first?
Not likely

Tuchman is a wonderful writer but outdated and not always accurate. Too focused on seeing the prewar deployment plans as “war by timetable” rather than flexible arrangements of forces with multiple possible ways to be implemented depending on likely and unlikely circumstances.

Anyway, in this case you’re missing the context of the Russo-French Staff agreement to attack at M+15. This was predicated on the knowledge that Germany would attack France first, and very quickly, via a flanking attack through Belgium using its well developed rail network. This was universally understood to be the German war plan by the Entente and their prewar commitments focused on prepping for that scenario. A Russo-French spoiling attack was seen as the best way to counter Germany’s overwhelming commitment of strength against France.

If Germany instead embarks on an unexpected East-focused mobilization splitting its strength 50-50, all prewar planning and commitments go out the window. There’s no risk of Germany delivering a knockout blow against Russia as there was with France.
 
You are quoting the 'aufmarsch II ost' plan from 1913? As discussed earlier, I'm still missing the 8th army command here ;) I assume it will be available in 1914. But I did put 20 army corps (40 divisions) on the map in the OP, so we're basically in agreement.

I think the one for 1912-13 only includes 7 armies, with 1 army HQ remaining inactive. If I had to guess it’d be eventually used to form an army command around the corps in Mulhouse and Alsace.
Which fortresses do you mean exactly? The 17th century fortress of Longwy was no longer in use in 1914 AFAIK.

Longwy, Manonviller, etc. had basic earthworks and artillery which would’ve served as a jumping-off and rally point for French forces. IOTL they didn’t serve much purpose because the Germans had overwhelming strength/firepower so no attempt was made to hold along the border. But if the French were just given a bloody nose in Luxembourg they’re a natural point to regroup in front of.
 
If Germany instead embarks on an unexpected East-focused mobilization splitting its strength 50-50, all prewar planning and commitments go out the window
I'm not seeing that. Both French and Russians plans were to go on offense when Mobilization had completed its initial stage, not wait and see what the Germans were up to.
Early in the start of the War, French were still advancing into A-L when the reports of the Germans going thru Belgium quickly began to get back to Paris.
 

NoMommsen

Donor
P.S. Great find there, Helmuth. I had not come across this anecdote before.
... strange ... I'm rather sure at some point(s) in the past I cited on some occasions to - obviously futile - derail the myth that if not for Belgium Britain would have come in for Luxemburg document 487 of
"British Documents on the Oringins of the War 1989-1914, Vol. XI"
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F, Bertie​
Foreign Office, August 2, 1914​
Tel. (No. 303.)
After the cabinet this morning ...
Mister Cambon asked me about the violation of Luxemnburg. I told him the doctrine on that point laid down by Lord Gerby and Lord Clarendon in 1867. ... "

For this doctrine :
Derby-Stanly-Clarendon doctrine on Luxemburg.jpg
 
I'm not seeing that. Both French and Russians plans were to go on offense when Mobilization had completed its initial stage, not wait and see what the Germans were up to.

Again, that was the general concept because they had good intelligence indicating that Germany’s plan would be a massive offensive against France with 90% of its strength. They also knew Germany had the rail infrastructure for a very quick mobilization in the West, necessitating their own rapid response. Attacking hard to throw Germany off balance was seen as the best solution.

Both the Russians and French were monitoring Germany movements and division counts in early August 1914 to get a sense of what they were doing. If the Russians see a much higher level of activity in the East while the French see much less activity than expected in the West (Coupled with no German moves against Belgium) and they’re going to respond very differently.

Early in the start of the War, French were still advancing into A-L when the reports of the Germans going thru Belgium quickly began to get back to Paris.

Joffre in fact did change his plans substantially in August 1914, shifting his center of gravity to his Center-Left. His plan was now to throw the Germans off balance with a quick blow with 2nd and most of 1st Army in Lorraine while 3rd and 4th Army would strike what he believed to be the German center-right in the Ardennes. 5th Army and the BEF would secure the French left and turn the German right if possible.

Joffre knew Germany would mostly likely strike through Belgium (Which is why Plan XVII kept 3 armies ready to meet just such a move!), but erred in not realizing sooner exactly how far the German right hook extended and how strong it was. But he consistently responded rationally to what his intelligence was telling him and turned to meet the German outflanking maneuver the moment it was detected.
 
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