Best case scenario for the German Empire

Like the title says, what would be the best cast scenario for the German Empire to survive into the modern world?

The German monarchy lost prominence and abdicated after World War 1 and then the revolution. However, this event is one of the main precedents to Nazism and World War 2.
 
Germany needs to continue following Bismark's policy of international pragmatism/avoid overly-antagonizing the established powers and avoid diplomatic isolation through the early 1900's. If you can get them to avoid being on the losing side of a death struggle war, in all likelihood the monarchy can survive (though it would need to reform to a more legislature-empowered model over time) through the 20th century.
 
have the Schlieffen plan never occur, resulting in Britain never joining WW1 leading to a central power victory. Also, have said monarchy remain in power during the Cold war assuming the USSR still exists in this scenario.
 
have the Schlieffen plan never occur, resulting in Britain never joining WW1 leading to a central power victory. Also, have said monarchy remain in power during the Cold war assuming the USSR still exists in this scenario.
By 1900, Imperial Germany has some ingrained problems that make long-term survival of the monarchy doubtful.

To wit:

- Kaiser Wllhelm II, arrogant, militaristic, authoritarian, obsessively jealous of Britain. For a European monarchy to survive in the 1900s, its holders had to be modest sorts, willing to let the politicians run things, even to policies the monarch doesn't like. And he lived till 1940, so the Empire has to survive forty more years of his rule.

- The militaristic culture, which predisposed Germany to initiate general war, which as OTL showed could bring down the monarchy.

- Alsace-Lorraine, which poisoned relations with France and also domestic politics How does a democratic country rule a province that was incorporated by force and whose people want out?

If pre-1900 divergence is allowed, then I would have Kaiser Wilhelm I die 10 years sooner (1878, age 81) and Friedrich III live 20 years longer (1908, age 77). It's widely believed that "Fritz" would have demilitarized and democratized the Empire, and not picked any quarrels with Britain, and IMO 30 years of Fritz's tutelage would have taught Willy some badly needed lessons. Of course there is the question of how much Fritz would have deferred to Bismarck. But if he succeeded in 1878, it would greatly reduce the period of Bismarck's unchallenged dominance.
 
While removing Willy from the scene would be a help I think the German Empire could survive him living until 1940. What the Kaiserreich really needs is to avoid being on the losing side of a World War or ideally no World War at all. The best bet for that isn't no Schlieffen, regardless of whether Britain was right to think so in 1914 Britain is not going to let Germany smash France and Russia. But if you delay until 1920 when Russia is considerably scarier but still has feet of clay then you may well get Britain to stay out but still have a hard fought German victory and I think in the aftermath of such a war you could well get the sort of democratic reforms needed to make the Kaiserreich sustainable in the long run.
 
Avoid loosing the world war. Thats it.

Germany was not on the verge of collapse or even an instable state before WWI. It had its problems for sure but it was on a good road. There were minority issues but it was also a nationstate with more than 90 percent of the populace as germans - so no problems like in Austria or Russia. Without loosing WWI I think it would have endured. The worst Wicky can do is getting himself replaced or in worst case the dynasty removed but the latter is unlikely.
 
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- Kaiser Wllhelm II, arrogant, militaristic, authoritarian, obsessively jealous of Britain. For a European monarchy to survive in the 1900s, its holders had to be modest sorts, willing to let the politicians run things, even to policies the monarch doesn't like. And he lived till 1940, so the Empire has to survive forty more years of his rule.
Of all the Monarchs (with the possible exception of FJ) the Kaiser demonstrated the least inclination for a wider general war in 1914. Before the war Germany was the leading scientific power as measured by literacy and the number of Nobel Laureates. Wilhelm was a key proponent of scientific advancement as evidenced by the Kaiser Wilhelm Socieity and the founding of various institutes thereafter.

- The militaristic culture, which predisposed Germany to initiate general war, which as OTL showed could bring down the monarchy.
As evidenced by the 40 years peace in western europe, including 20 years of peace under Wilhelm's benevelent leadership?

- Alsace-Lorraine, which poisoned relations with France and also domestic politics How does a democratic country rule a province that was incorporated by force and whose people want out?
German rule of Alscace-Lorraine was extraordinarly liberal, if compared to the French republican policies following 1918...
 

Anchises

Banned
Of all the Monarchs (with the possible exception of FJ) the Kaiser demonstrated the least inclination for a wider general war in 1914. Before the war Germany was the leading scientific power as measured by literacy and the number of Nobel Laureates. Wilhelm was a key proponent of scientific advancement as evidenced by the Kaiser Wilhelm Socieity and the founding of various institutes thereafter.

As evidenced by the 40 years peace in western europe, including 20 years of peace under Wilhelm's benevelent leadership?

German rule of Alscace-Lorraine was extraordinarly liberal, if compared to the French republican policies following 1918...
Fully agreed.

The Kaiserreich is often portrayed as a tyrannical authoritarian place but there were several very promising developments.

I can savely speak from my area of expertise, I study law and we often talk about Reichsgericht rulings. In a lot of ways the judicative was progressive and friendly to working class interests.

The Reich wasn't Russia and portraying it as a militaristic hellhole with inherent fatal flaws imho is ridiculous.

The authoritarian nature would have mellowed over time, Britain in 1914 also was fairly undemocratic. Why wouldn't Germany have experienced a similar development?

That just gets you super power Russia right at the border throwing its 500 million weight around as if it's the 1850s, after all states only got cautious after having learned lessons during the World Wars.
I am not a friend of the "surviving Tsarist Russia would have been a superpower" trope. Imho neither the military nor the economic trajectory would have supported Russia in acting like it is 1850. The massive growth of the economy wouldn't have lasted because Russia actually was a authoritarian shithole. I don't see them "keeping up with the times" (in an economic sense).

And militarily the failed developments prior to WW1 show deep systemic problems in the Tsarist military. Just because you throw a lot of money at your military, that doesn't mean you have the officer corps, industrial base or the conscripts to have a first rate army.
 
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I am not a friend of the "surviving Tsarist Russia would have been a superpower" trope. Imho neither the military nor the economic trajectory would have supported Russia in acting like it is 1850. The massive growth of the economy wouldn't have lasted because Russia actually was a authoritarian shithole. I don't see them "keeping up with the times" (in an economic sense).

And militarily the failed developments prior to WW1 show deep sxstemic problems in the Tsarist military. Just because you throw a lot of money at your military, that doesn't mean you have the officer corps, industrial base or the conscripts to havw a first rate army.
Soviets did fine military and influence wise despite staying an authoritarian shithole never keeping up with the times. The historical GDP/capita ratio of Russia to the USA is 0.4 for most of the 19th/20th century and the population is growing fast while in Germany it's slowing down. Germany 1914 is at the relative top of its historical power compared to the rest, there's no further growth but the ceiling is so much higher for Russia that it's not even worth the comparison.
1914 - At 65 million Germans vs 150 million Russians the Germans have an advantage.
1930 - At 70 million Germans vs 200 million Russians they'd be fighting at equal footing but one has 1000 kilometers of room to fight in while the other only has 150.
1960 - At 75 million Germans vs 300 million Russians it's only a question of how far the Russians advance until the other countries panic.

And i'm lowballing the Russian population, there's plenty of threads here with estimates, some going as far as 1.5 billion by the year 2000.

The Germans themselves saw 1917 as the latest date where it was possible to lead a successful war against Russia.
 

Anchises

Banned
Soviets did fine military and influence wise despite staying an authoritarian shithole never keeping up with the times. The historical GDP/capita ratio of Russia to the USA is 0.4 for most of the 19th/20th century and the population is growing fast while in Germany it's slowing down. Germany 1914 is at the relative top of its historical power compared to the rest, there's no further growth but the ceiling is so much higher for Russia that it's not even worth the comparison.
1914 - At 65 million Germans vs 150 million Russians the Germans have an advantage.
1930 - At 70 million Germans vs 200 million Russians they'd be fighting at equal footing but one has 1000 kilometers of room to fight in while the other only has 150.
1960 - At 75 million Germans vs 300 million Russians it's only a question of how far the Russians advance until the other countries panic.

And i'm lowballing the Russian population, there's plenty of threads here with estimates, some going as far as 1.5 billion by the year 2000.

The Germans themselves saw 1917 as the latest date where it was possible to lead a successful war against Russia.
That is a naive fallacy. You can't just compare populations sizes and assume that economic and demographic developments will happen the way you imagine them. The German estimate that 1917 was the latest date where a successful war against Russia was possible, was disproved by history itself.

Why has Germany reached its ceiling in 1914 ? Sure, Germany won't have another population boom but economically and militarily the German ceiling is still a LONG way to go. IOTL 1960 West Germany was well on its way to become an economic Great Power again.

Without the devastation of 2 World Wars, without the loss of so much scientific and economic expertise. Think about what a German Reich without 2 wars would have reached in 1960.

a) How many of your alleged 300 Million Russians in 1960 are actually happy to be citizens of the Russian Empire? I am sure millions of Poles and Central Asian Muslims will in no way cause trouble. I am sure in case of a war they would all fight happily instead of throwing their gun away at the first opportunity.

Multi-ethnic Empires held together by anachronistic ideas of monarchism surely wouldn't suffer from Nationalism, Republicanism and Islamism....

b) Even if we assume that your 0.4 gdp ratio is true (brave given the elephant sized butterflies of TTL), how much of the military budget would be spent on internal security?

And what about other geo-strategical conflicts? Japan and/or China surely would be serious competitors in Asia...

And the Great Game? Afghanistan?

c) Russia and the Soviet Union both were limited economically by their dependence on oil exports. Do you have any reasons to assume that Tsarist Russia wouldn't suffer from the same limitations? Even if it has 1.5 billion (!!!) citizens, would they be able to contribute in an economy structured around oil exports?

d) You completely ignore that Germany would have around 110-130 million inhabitants and even better technological base than IOTL.

e) In 1960 the Kaiserliche Raketenkommando would probably glass Moscow.

f) Russia ITTL is large. And the areas at the edge of the Empire are mostly hostile. Good luck havinmg stable supply lines in a rebellious Russia...
 
1930 - At 70 million Germans vs 200 million Russians they'd be fighting at equal footing but one has 1000 kilometers of room to fight in while the other only has 150.
I really think you need to relook at fertility rates of the agrarian Russian society of 7.2 prior to WWI & the impact of your assumed sudden Russian economic prosperity. The fact is, as a country becomes more industrialized and population becomes urbanized the fertility rate will dramatically decline to 2.0 or less. There is no way you can get to 1.5 billion Russian's unless they open their doors to massive immigration (which did happen in the 1800's in Ukraine/Belarus from Western European countries).

I recommend relooking at the Russian population and seeing that many of the numbers you are counting are from Ethnic groups that want their own established countries (e.g., Finland, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and not to mention the entire Southern portion of Russia).

But back to the question, don't fight the wars and stop poking at the UK's fleet.
 
That is a naive fallacy. You can't just compare populations sizes and assume that economic and demographic developments will happen the way you imagine them. The German estimate that 1917 was the latest date where a successful war against Russia was possible, was disproved by history itself.

Why has Germany reached its ceiling in 1914 ? Sure, Germany won't have another population boom but economically and militarily the German ceiling is still a LONG way to go. IOTL 1960 West Germany was well on its way to become an economic Great Power again.

Without the devastation of 2 World Wars, without the loss of so much scientific and economic expertise. Think about what a German Reich without 2 wars would have reached in 1960.

a) How many of your alleged 300 Million Russians in 1960 are actually happy to be citizens of the Russian Empire? I am sure millions of Poles and Central Asian Muslims will in no way cause trouble. I am sure in case of a war they would all fight happily instead of throwing their gun away at the first opportunity.

Multi-ethnic Empires held together by anachronistic ideas of monarchism surely wouldn't suffer from Nationalism, Republicanism and Islamism....

b) Even if we assume that your 0.4 gdp ratio is true (brave given the elephant sized butterflies of TTL), how much of the military budget would be spent on internal security?

And what about other geo-strategical conflicts? Japan and/or China surely would be serious competitors in Asia...

And the Great Game? Afghanistan?

c) Russia and the Soviet Union both were limited economically by their dependence on oil exports. Do you have any reasons to assume that Tsarist Russia wouldn't suffer from the same limitations? Even if it has 1.5 billion (!!!) citizens, would they be able to contribute in an economy structured around oil exports?

d) You completely ignore that Germany would have around 110-130 million inhabitants and even better technological base than IOTL.

e) In 1960 the Kaiserliche Raketenkommando would probably glass Moscow.

f) Russia ITTL is large. And the areas at the edge of the Empire are mostly hostile. Good luck havinmg stable supply lines in a rebellious Russia...
This picture is often quoted and posted: Things go well, then there's war, afterwards things return to normal, at 0.4 GDP ratio to the USA.


Without the losses of WW1 and the revolution, the civil war, the collectivization and dekulakization think about how much scientific and economic loss Russia would have avoided. The wars damaged Russia far more than they did Germany, to return to the threads theme... i'm of the opinion that OTL is the best case for Germany - the geopolitical competition is gone, Germany is a near flawless democracy, it's rich, the internal political conflicts have ended and Germany is undeniably Europes top dog with secure borders and France tightly bound to it.

a: The disadvantage of being a multiethnic empire is imo overrated, it's the most normal thing outside of Europe and inside of Europe catastrophic war is needed to end it.
b: Usually around 5 % of GDP was spent on military matters in Europe, significantly more during war times. Russia too has its secret services, and they're quite good at what they do - every Bolshevik worth his money ended up in one of their gulags at one point or another - Stalin himself got arrested 7 times and exiled 6 times.
b2: On geopolitics there's most likely another war with Japan coming but this time the railway is available and makes things a lot easier.
c: Who knows, the more citizens there are the less of an impact oil exports have because less oil is exported, instead it's used internally. Without Lenin they're sure as hell not shooting the investing and innovating middle class.
d: It's still no comparison, in my own estimate based on pre war birth/death/emigration rates and a gradual decrease of the birth rate (a bit smaller due to not having the wars) and a gradual increase of the death rate they never hit 130 million even with colonial migration to Germany (I've done some excel scenarios for a few countries out of boredom, using publicly available demographic data, i dont claim it's perfect but the German population increase had sunk to 0.7 % before the war, even continuing that gives you only 80 million people by 1940).
e: Probably not, large, hugely expensive government directed programs like the Manhattan project were only possible during wartime and the resulting competition, it was WW1 which opened up the governments to higher taxation and spending, before that taxation was usually around 10 % overall tax for the big states with 1/3 to 1/2 going to the military.
f: Why would it be any more rebellious than for the Soviets? Or why would rebellions have any more impact on it? Especially if nothing's actually broken and money keeps flowing into the security services and forces. The Soviets did just fine and their situation was a whole lot harder than for the empire.

I really think you need to relook at fertility rates of the agrarian Russian society of 7.2 prior to WWI & the impact of your assumed sudden Russian economic prosperity. The fact is, as a country becomes more industrialized and population becomes urbanized the fertility rate will dramatically decline to 2.0 or less. There is no way you can get to 1.5 billion Russian's unless they open their doors to massive immigration (which did happen in the 1800's in Ukraine/Belarus from Western European countries).

I recommend relooking at the Russian population and seeing that many of the numbers you are counting are from Ethnic groups that want their own established countries (e.g., Finland, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and not to mention the entire Southern portion of Russia).

But back to the question, don't fight the wars and stop poking at the UK's fleet.
Indeed, i'm more in favor of "only" 500 million. Even with urbanization and industrialization the Soviet Union somehow managed to keep large population growth right untill its collapse.

Unlike the Soviets though the empire retains its religiosity for longer, they're not going to put women into factories so soon, they're not going to make abortion available so soon, they'll not legalize the pill so soon. Overall this is a huge boost to population because compared to the Western world women will be forced into traditional roles for longer like it happened in avery other Eastern state.
 
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Without the losses of WW1 and the revolution, the civil war, the collectivization and dekulakization think about how much scientific and economic loss Russia would have avoided. The wars damaged Russia far more than they did Germany, to return to the threads theme...
Most of this has validity, but taking the 1905 revolution into consideration, plus the lack of lasting reforms following it, I don't think we can rule out additional political turmoil. Actually, I'm certain we can't, because I'm pretty sure someone around here has pointed out that riots in the Empire were worsening steadily between 1905 and 1914, with pre-July Crisis 1914 being on track to be the worst year yet. Far from being necessary for revolution, the war may in fact have delayed it. More generally, I find it beyond naive to assume that without WWI Russia would simply see smooth sailing forever. Hell, you can't make that case either, since you previously suggested that this stronger Russia will be more belligerent abroad. Even if you think the country would be invincible had they waited a few more years, a later war would still be costly in the extreme.

i'm of the opinion that OTL is the best case for Germany - the geopolitical competition is gone, Germany is a near flawless democracy, it's rich, the internal political conflicts have ended and Germany is undeniably Europes top dog with secure borders and France tightly bound to it.
Well, with the Putin-phobia we're looking at in the West right now, it actually seems like geopolitical competition is coming back. And with the rise of the AFD, which has only been forestalled by a really unpopular grand coalition, I take issue with the characterization of Germany as "flawlessly democratic" and free of internal conflict. More to the point, you can only call OTL the best-case for them if you subscribe to a really cold-blooded preoccupation with relative rather than absolute power. Call me a hippie or something, but I think a Germany that avoided losing large tracts of territory, including all of historical Prussia, along with millions of people would be better than OTL, even if it meant being weaker relative to Russia specifically.

a: The disadvantage of being a multiethnic empire is imo overrated, it's the most normal thing outside of Europe and inside of Europe catastrophic war is needed to end it.
b: Usually around 5 % of GDP was spent on military matters in Europe, significantly more during war times. Russia too has its secret services, and they're quite good at what they do - every Bolshevik worth his money ended up in one of their gulags at one point or another - Stalin himself got arrested 7 times and exiled 6 times.
b2: On geopolitics there's most likely another war with Japan coming but this time the railway is available and makes things a lot easier.
c: Who knows, the more citizens there are the less of an impact oil exports have because less oil is exported, instead it's used internally. Without Lenin they're sure as hell not shooting the investing and innovating middle class.
d: It's still no comparison, in my own estimate based on pre war birth/death/emigration rates and a gradual decrease of the birth rate (a bit smaller due to not having the wars) and a gradual increase of the death rate they never hit 130 million even with colonial migration to Germany (I've done some excel scenarios for a few countries out of boredom, using publicly available demographic data, i dont claim it's perfect but the German population increase had sunk to 0.7 % before the war, even continuing that gives you only 80 million people by 1940).
e: Probably not, large, hugely expensive government directed programs like the Manhattan project were only possible during wartime and the resulting competition, it was WW1 which opened up the governments to higher taxation and spending, before that taxation was usually around 10 % overall tax for the big states with 1/3 to 1/2 going to the military.
f: Why would it be any more rebellious than for the Soviets? Or why would rebellions have any more impact on it? Especially if nothing's actually broken and money keeps flowing into the security services and forces. The Soviets did just fine and their situation was a whole lot harder than for the empire.
A: This may be true, but Russia had other stability concerns besides ethnicity. Hence the most repressive police state on the planet as of 1914.
B: Military or internal security, it's still a drag on the economy relative to those monies being spent on most anything else. And they still weren't enough to quell unrest, merely mitigate it.
D: This may give Russia a stronger economy than Germany, but that still depends on political stability that pre-war Russia lacked. Also, GDP and population don't perfectly correlate to military strength. China beat Great Britain on both measures during the Opium War. Hell, even military strength doesn't always correlate to military victory. The alliance system wouldn't go away, and may have turned against Russia in the long run. Again, especially if, as you suggested yourself, they returned to "1850's" levels of saber-rattling.
E: Strange. I can think of ten countries that developed nuclear programs IOTL. Only one did so in wartime.
F: Because it was IOTL? Internal revolt was how we got Soviets in the first place.


Indeed, i'm more in favor of "only" 500 million. Even with urbanization and industrialization the Soviet Union somehow managed to keep large population growth right until its collapse.

Unlike the Soviets though the empire retains its religiosity for longer, they're not going to put women into factories so soon, they're not going to make abortion available so soon, they'll not legalize the pill so soon. Overall this is a huge boost to population because compared to the Western world women will be forced into traditional roles for longer like it happened in avery other Eastern state.
That might be a population boost, but it also cuts your potential workforce in half, if you keep women at home. That probably cancels out the benefits of the population growth. Certainly would by now, when women are near-universally employed.
 
Most of this has validity, but taking the 1905 revolution into consideration, plus the lack of lasting reforms following it, I don't think we can rule out additional political turmoil. Actually, I'm certain we can't, because I'm pretty sure someone around here has pointed out that riots in the Empire were worsening steadily between 1905 and 1914, with pre-July Crisis 1914 being on track to be the worst year yet. Far from being necessary for revolution, the war may in fact have delayed it. More generally, I find it beyond naive to assume that without WWI Russia would simply see smooth sailing forever. Hell, you can't make that case either, since you previously suggested that this stronger Russia will be more belligerent abroad. Even if you think the country would be invincible had they waited a few more years, a later war would still be costly in the extreme.
There's no smooth sailing for anyone at all, but not having the war, revolution, civil war, kollectivization is a very smooth ride even if you repeat the 1905 revolution every 5 years. Scale does matter imo, while 1905 was bad it was nowhere near a final strike to the regime, by 1914 it was back in business, the military weakness after the lost war against Japan was behind it. I consider large states by default to be more belligerent than smaller ones, power calls for more power. Specifically in Russias case we have the Great Game in Central Asia, the eternal push to the straits, the war against Japan, the Balkans ambitions etc, Russia is moving in all directions.

Well, with the Putin-phobia we're looking at in the West right now, it actually seems like geopolitical competition is coming back. And with the rise of the AFD, which has only been forestalled by a really unpopular grand coalition, I take issue with the characterization of Germany as "flawlessly democratic" and free of internal conflict. More to the point, you can only call OTL the best-case for them if you subscribe to a really cold-blooded preoccupation with relative rather than absolute power. Call me a hippie or something, but I think a Germany that avoided losing large tracts of territory, including all of historical Prussia, along with millions of people would be better than OTL, even if it meant being weaker relative to Russia specifically.
Near flawless democratic imo, after all they still have FPTP for half the seats. By comparison to even other European countries Germany has come to peace with itself, just 50 kilometers further from Berlin they're using the constitution as toilet paper. Not having all the losses of OTL would be preferable but as you said, i'm focused on relative power, thus the relative situation of Germany would be worse - France wouldnt bind itself to Germany without the wars, the colonial empires wouldnt dissolve as fast or as totally as they did, Eastern Europe wouldnt break away from Russia the way it did etc. It's just that militarily they're not at the place in the peckig order they used to be in, but that's of their own chosing.

A: This may be true, but Russia had other stability concerns besides ethnicity. Hence the most repressive police state on the planet as of 1914.
B: Military or internal security, it's still a drag on the economy relative to those monies being spent on most anything else. And they still weren't enough to quell unrest, merely mitigate it.
Pretty much everone of the big states was spending that way, except the USA which prefered a lean state, Austria-Hungary which spent the money on other things and China which had unbelievably low tax income to spend on anything. It was normal at that time.
D: This may give Russia a stronger economy than Germany, but that still depends on political stability that pre-war Russia lacked. Also, GDP and population don't perfectly correlate to military strength. China beat Great Britain on both measures during the Opium War. Hell, even military strength doesn't always correlate to military victory. The alliance system wouldn't go away, and may have turned against Russia in the long run. Again, especially if, as you suggested yourself, they returned to "1850's" levels of saber-rattling.
The Russian system was European enough to compare it with them, China raised little taxes and spent little on the military despite having a huge economy. I too would expect others to turn against Russia, except France who need Russia against Germany and will keep on financing them as long as they keep being anti Germany and anti A-H.
E: Strange. I can think of ten countries that developed nuclear programs IOTL. Only one did so in wartime.
Their programs can be traced back to the initial American program one way or another, and they're after the wars, after large taxation and spending became acceptable. The picture below shows what i mean. Without any larger war the ruling classes wont consent to higher taxation, and thus spending as fast as they did.
F: Because it was IOTL? Internal revolt was how we got Soviets in the first place.
That happened after lots of the security apparatus had ceased functioning though.

That might be a population boost, but it also cuts your potential workforce in half, if you keep women at home. That probably cancels out the benefits of the population growth. Certainly would by now, when women are near-universally employed.
Indeed, there's positives and negatives for everything, while there's less workers available there would be less problems with daycare for children, or so the religious folk keep telling me :rolleyes:
Answers in red, also here's a picture (source: www.deutschland-in-daten.de) that shows tax income as a share of GDP, it's similar in other countries. You can see how it goes up during wars and stays higher than before it.
07-abb-4.png
 
I think the best case for the German Empire would be as enablers for Weltmacht following victory in (an almost as long as OTL) WW1. German possessions in Africa and the Pacific would give them physical presence to back up their global trading interests, bases for their navy to support and protect their shipping routes and to develop air routes after the war. While the possessions themselves might not make much or any money they will help to support the government and civilian infrastructure which will pay dividends elsewhere.
 
That just gets you super power Russia right at the border throwing its 500 million weight around as if it's the 1850s, after all states only got cautious after having learned lessons during the World Wars.
So your best case scenario for Imperial Germany is the mad chauffer somehow getting to the bottom of the mountain with Imperial Russia entirely intact?

Soviets did fine military and influence wise despite staying an authoritarian shithole never keeping up with the times. The historical GDP/capita ratio of Russia to the USA is 0.4 for most of the 19th/20th century and the population is growing fast while in Germany it's slowing down. Germany 1914 is at the relative top of its historical power compared to the rest, there's no further growth but the ceiling is so much higher for Russia that it's not even worth the comparison.
1914 - At 65 million Germans vs 150 million Russians the Germans have an advantage.
1930 - At 70 million Germans vs 200 million Russians they'd be fighting at equal footing but one has 1000 kilometers of room to fight in while the other only has 150.
1960 - At 75 million Germans vs 300 million Russians it's only a question of how far the Russians advance until the other countries panic.

And i'm lowballing the Russian population, there's plenty of threads here with estimates, some going as far as 1.5 billion by the year 2000.
I suspect your doing a lot worse to the German population.

At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the population of Germany had reached about 68 million. A major demographic catastrophe, the war claimed 2.8 million lives and caused a steep decline in the birth rate. In addition, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles awarded territories containing approximately 7 million German inhabitants to the victors and to newly independent or reconstituted countries in Eastern Europe.

In the 1930s, during the regime of Adolf Hitler, a period of expansion added both territory and population to the Third Reich. Following the annexation of Austria in 1938 and the Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia) in 1939, German territory and population encompassed 586,126 square kilometers and 79.7 million people, according to the 1939 census. The census found that women still outnumbered men (40.4 million to 38.7 million), despite a leveling trend in the interwar period.

http://countrystudies.us/germany/84.htm

The Germans themselves saw 1917 as the latest date where it was possible to lead a successful war against Russia.
Yeah-nah.

The Russians had focused on a prolonged buildup since 1908, but by 1914 increasing proportions of the military budget were projected to be dedicated to naval matters. The armies of Imperial Russia in 1917 would have had an improved state of readiness and more heavy artillery, but otherwise would have suffered the same systemic problems it had in 1914.

In contrast, the CP continental armies had only started their buildup from 1912. With superior economy, industry and a greater pool of skilled labour, Germany had greater scope to greater improve its military advantages over Imperial Russia. A-H had increased it's budget from a very low base and had to prioritise increasing the size of its military ahead of modernizing its artillery or indoctrination of its new recruits. In 1914 most A-H medium and heavy artillery was woefully obsolete. Imperial Russia in 1917 would have struggled against A-H alone.

The OTL military weakness of Imperial Russia was accurately assessed in German pre-war intelligence. The Russian armies posed a threat to the Germany, in the same way the German navy posed a threat to Britain - i.e. not at all.
 

Anchises

Banned
This picture is often quoted and posted: Things go well, then there's war, afterwards things return to normal, at 0.4 GDP ratio to the USA.


Without the losses of WW1 and the revolution, the civil war, the collectivization and dekulakization think about how much scientific and economic loss Russia would have avoided. The wars damaged Russia far more than they did Germany, to return to the threads theme... i'm of the opinion that OTL is the best case for Germany - the geopolitical competition is gone, Germany is a near flawless democracy, it's rich, the internal political conflicts have ended and Germany is undeniably Europes top dog with secure borders and France tightly bound to it.

a: The disadvantage of being a multiethnic empire is imo overrated, it's the most normal thing outside of Europe and inside of Europe catastrophic war is needed to end it.
b: Usually around 5 % of GDP was spent on military matters in Europe, significantly more during war times. Russia too has its secret services, and they're quite good at what they do - every Bolshevik worth his money ended up in one of their gulags at one point or another - Stalin himself got arrested 7 times and exiled 6 times.
b2: On geopolitics there's most likely another war with Japan coming but this time the railway is available and makes things a lot easier.
c: Who knows, the more citizens there are the less of an impact oil exports have because less oil is exported, instead it's used internally. Without Lenin they're sure as hell not shooting the investing and innovating middle class.
d: It's still no comparison, in my own estimate based on pre war birth/death/emigration rates and a gradual decrease of the birth rate (a bit smaller due to not having the wars) and a gradual increase of the death rate they never hit 130 million even with colonial migration to Germany (I've done some excel scenarios for a few countries out of boredom, using publicly available demographic data, i dont claim it's perfect but the German population increase had sunk to 0.7 % before the war, even continuing that gives you only 80 million people by 1940).
e: Probably not, large, hugely expensive government directed programs like the Manhattan project were only possible during wartime and the resulting competition, it was WW1 which opened up the governments to higher taxation and spending, before that taxation was usually around 10 % overall tax for the big states with 1/3 to 1/2 going to the military.
f: Why would it be any more rebellious than for the Soviets? Or why would rebellions have any more impact on it? Especially if nothing's actually broken and money keeps flowing into the security services and forces. The Soviets did just fine and their situation was a whole lot harder than for the empire.
No, OTL certainly isn't the best case for Germany. The losses of both World Wars were tremendous, you overestimate the German position in Europe and you assume that Germany wouldn't be a democracy without both World Wars. I think Germany would most likely be a democracy, so I don't see how they would be worse off ITTL.


a) Not really. Being a multiethnic empire has tangible and very real drawbacks. Especially if your rebellious populations are not intermixed with your core population and instead have their own outlying territories far away from your centers of power.

I mean if you assume that the Ukrainians, Poles, the Central Asian population groups, the Finnish people and the Baltic population groups wouldn't be unhappy and unruly we don't need to have this discussion but I really doubt that.

For me this unrest has to be dealt with in some ways:

1) "The Saudi way": Buy them off. A massive net of social benefits and tax gifts. It is expensive and seriously impacts the budget. Sure, if the oil price is high you might be able to afford it. With the crazy population growth you assume however the Russian Empire would imho quickly run into fiscal problems.

2) "The Soviet way": The Soviets (especially under Stalin) often used genocidal ways or at least authoritarian suppression too keep unruly populations in line. If the Tsarist Empire chooses this way we might see an equivalent to the Holdomor or other nasty stuff.

3) "Federalism, Cookies and Happiness": Yeah no, the Tsar is way to autocratic for that.

b) Funny. The Okhrana is generally seen as mediocre in my experience. It wasn't as ruthless as the Cheka and it couldn't rely on the massive network of informants that the Gestapo had. I really don't think that Russia could cut it with some mediocre investments into a mediocre secret police. If you want Tsarist Russia to survive into the 60s you need real money invested into oppression.

The byzantine network of militias, special police units and militarized secret service units of the Russian Federation is something we should look at in terms of cost and manpower drain.

b2) Funny. And what about A-H, with enough time they might get their shit together too. I mean you assume that multiethnic Empires can work. This would lengthen the front considerably. And a war with Japan might be very costly. you can't just brush that away with a half sentence about railroads. 1905 the Tsar nearly lost his throne.

c) Oh come on. Sure, there was a middle class but even Tsarist Russia was a bureaucratic oligarchy in the making. Germany had a culture of liberal capitalism, Russia had a suffocating bureaucracy and several well connected oligarchs.

d) I think Boonz already made this point. And lets not forget Austria and the rest of Cisleithania. Either A-H collapses and some (if not most) of these countries join the German Empire, or Russia is faced with two Great Powers.

e) You can be damn sure that taxation eventually would have reached similar levels to OTL even without world wars. And Germany and Russia both might be very well involved in other smaller wars.

And please, the Manhattan project is just not the right comparison. The costs could have been drastically lowered with a slower and more methodical approach, I have read that with a less rushed approach costs might have been 1/3 of what they were.

Also the Großer Generalstab surely would have quickly realized the immense strategic and tactical value of a nuclear arsenal. If, like you say, this immensely populated Russia you postulate starts sabre rattling, you can be damn sure that the Germans would invest into a comprehensive nuclear program. And if all the Scientists stay in Germany, that fled the Nazis IOTL, Germany will be at the cutting edge of nuclear weapons development.

And take the pre-WW1 arms race into account. If two or three other arms races are happening between 1914 and 1960 nuclear weapons and mid range rockets are bound to be a thing. Especially fora Prussian military paranoid about the Russian steamroller.

f) Because the Empire neither would have a modern and attractive ideology, nor would it have a victory against genocidal maniacs under its belt. And I doubt that the Empire would be as effective in suppressing dissent, as a totalitarian (later highly authoritarian) socialist country.
 
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