Austrian and Serbian plausibility and fact-checking

Deleted member 94680

I'm after board expert's views on a few points I'm considering for a possible TL.
  • If Marshal Putnik isn't released by the Austrians in 1914, who takes command of the Serbian Army?
  • With an alternate to Putnik, what plans will they likely implement?
  • If Potiorek dies in Sarajevo, who leads the Austrian campaign?
  • Would a different Austrian C-in-C mean a different invasion route for the Austrians?
Finally, and I appreciate this one might be unleashing a flock of butterflies:
  • If the Germans never give the Austrians their "blank cheque", how does this affect the Austrian's War Plans and their deployments against Serbia and Russia?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions and information.
 
If Putnik is not released, his position will be taken by General Zivojin Misic. The plans for mobilization and initial deployment stay the same - the impact on later events is not easy to predict.
It's worth noting that the Austrians were almost right when they chose to release Putnik into Serbia as an unwitting trojan horse. In November 1914 he was overcome with pessimism and defeatism, but managed to snap out of it and oversee a crushing blow to the third Austrian invasion. Misic, on the other hand, leaned towards optimism - usually cautious and well-placed optimism, but sometimes a misplaced optimism as well.

Not sure who Potiorek might be replaced by. As for the impact...without the influence of the unique rivalry between Potiorek and Conrad, it's likely that Conrad's plan for Serbia will be implemented. And his was a rather stupid plan, too, just in different ways than Potiorek's; it was built on
1) The assumption that the Serbs didn't know about the Second Army's planned transfer to the Eastern Front (they did);
2) Conrad's usual fantasies, in which a screaming bayonet charge represents the pinnacle of human achievement.
If that's the case, the Austrian Fifth Army is sent on a suicide mission much like in OTL; the first invasion of Serbia bogs down and the Austro-Hungarian army withdraws in shame. The next issue is whether Potiorek's replacement will take away any new lessons from this, and if so - which lessons...
 
I would argue that A-H wouldn't have declared war without the blank cheque. While opposition to the war was not as loud as the hawks, it was fairly significant and Prime Minister Tisza wouldn't have given in as per OTL. Without support from half the Empire, there's no way they'd go to war. After all, I'm pretty sure the Emperor was used to Hötzendorf's repeated calls for war against Serbia.

I think Archduke Eugen would be a good replacement for Potiorek and if we go with wiking's timeline from a few years ago (https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...-austro-hungarian-eastern-front-v-2-0.265417/), then the old man might knock some senses into Hötzendork.
 

Deleted member 94680

Thanks for the replies so far.

@Halagaz - I see Misic was standing in for Putnik, so having him stay in place makes sense. How would his relations with the other Serbian generals go, do you know? IOTL Putnik was already a Field Marshall, would having Misic at the same rank ad the others cause any friction in the command chain? Plenty of strong characters kicking around in the Serbian upper echelons, after all! Agreed that the final blow in 1914 was Putnik's baby, would a different C-in-C see a "grand retreat" in 1914 as opposed to 1915? I do note that Misic was in favour of standing and attacking in 1915, so it's possible he'd want the same in a '14 retreat.

@Magyarország - Archduke Eugene with an experienced Chief of Staff was my initial idea, something similar to OTL arrangement on the Italian front. OTL von Frank seemed good and suggested the better invasion route as well.


Would the lack of German assurance see a more restrained Austrian response? An occupation of Belgrade whilst the Serbians satisfy the demands of the Austrian Ultimatum maybe?
 
I see Misic was standing in for Putnik, so having him stay in place makes sense. How would his relations with the other Serbian generals go, do you know? IOTL Putnik was already a Field Marshall, would having Misic at the same rank ad the others cause any friction in the command chain? Plenty of strong characters kicking around in the Serbian upper echelons, after all! Agreed that the final blow in 1914 was Putnik's baby, would a different C-in-C see a "grand retreat" in 1914 as opposed to 1915? I do note that Misic was in favour of standing and attacking in 1915, so it's possible he'd want the same in a '14 retreat.

The rank itself shouldn't cause any friction. As for personal relations...Misic had a strong antipathy with General Bozanovic (OTL: commander of the Uzice detachment), since Bozanovic once pinned the blame on Misic to save his own career; and a minor, harmless rivalry with general Bojovic (OTL: commander of the 1st Army). He had good relations with General Stepanovic (2nd Army), General Paul Sturm (3rd Army), and most other generals.

I don't think Misic would see a "great retreat" in 1914 (assuming everything else stays more or less the same); his ideas in November 1914 were ultimately the same as Putnik's, only more consistently optimistic. If he does make a mistake, I imagine it will be the opposite kind of mistake: refusing to retreat even when "grand retreat" becomes the only sensible option, in 1915 (or whenever).
 

Deleted member 94680

So with Misic as C-in-C there's a chance the 1914 retreat that Putnik turned around (OTL) wouldn't happen and the Serbs would stand and fight, possibly to greater destruction?

"Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914: The Outbreak of the Great War" by James Lyon (which I've just finished and inspired this thread) makes great store of the invasion route used by the Austrians. Would a more logical man (and without the survivor's guilt or desire for revenge) than Potiorek use the more obvious routes, balancing the Serbian counters to their route with better use of greater artillery?

 
Misic agreed with Putnik's limited withdrawal of 1914, so the chances for a different outcome there don't seem high. What he had trouble accepting was the 1915 total retreat towards Greece - it's not hard to imagine him aborting that retreat and engaging the Central Powers in an unwinnable battle. Which would deal some damage to the invading armies, and create yet more headaches for Austria and Bulgaria down the line - but it would also weaken the Entente's Thessaloniki Front, and maybe butterfly away the front's entire existence.
 
Would the lack of German assurance see a more restrained Austrian response? An occupation of Belgrade whilst the Serbians satisfy the demands of the Austrian Ultimatum maybe?

A more restrained Austrian response would have toned down the ultimatum - it was written to be unacceptable and provide a justification for war. Following a Serbian reply, a Great Power conference would have been set up, and so no immediate war.
 

Deleted member 94680

I think I remember reading somewhere that Grey was accepting of the idea of Austrian occupation of Belgrade? On a temporary basis, as an indemnity, whilst the Serbians start to satisfy the Ultimatum. Would this happen alongside a Great Power Conference do you think?
 
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