British don't use concentration camps to end the Boer War

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Jerry Kraus, May 14, 2018.

  1. Marius Member Donor

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    I don't know, even in OTL SA had a fairly influential Labour Party, especially in the 1920s. It was a coalition between the National Party and Labour which ousted Smuts and the South African Party in 1924. So, in an ATL with a less bitter Boer War it is quite possible that a Labour Party emerges, drawing support from blue collar Afrikaners and English speakers and, in time, from black and coloured people too.

    EDIT: Read a bit about Walter Madeley, a prominent figure in the Labour Party in the first half of the 20th century. Apparently he represented my hometown of Benoni in Parliament from 1915 to 1945. Not too surprising, Benoni is an old mining town, with lots of English emigrants, so makes sense that an English-speaking left-winger would get support.
     
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  2. Karelian Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps he referred to his unit? Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders saw a lot of action East of Suez during those decades.
     
  3. Ramontxo Believes San Mames is Heaven Donor

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    Maybe it was the tactical name for an opertions area
     
  4. Jerry Kraus Banned

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    So, your point is that the Boer war itself showed the British had feet of clay, with, or without the Camps. Sure, I'm sure that's true. Still, I think the starvation of beautiful little blonde girls would have been the icing on the cake, as it were. And, remember, the Kaiser was an emotional man, probably a sentimental one, in his way. One shouldn't underestimate the importance of psychology in human history, it's not all about obvious practicalities. Napoleon's defeat in Russia didn't just reduce his manpower, it showed that he was capable of being a total fool and making a complete mess of things, hence, he lost all his allies. They didn't trust him anymore. Similarly, the starvation of beautiful little blonde girls may have given the Kaiser a rather similar impression of the British. They were immoral, and faithless. Why would such people help Belgium, or France? And, I suspect the German general staff, and German people would also have had the same impression. It's always dangerous for great powers to lose their moral authority. It's at least as important as actual power on the ground, which varies almost day to day.
     
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  5. jsb Well-Known Member

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    I'm simply saying that,

    1- GB and Germany where always likely to be on the opposit side as GB will side against the largest power in europe.

    2- Germany was planning a short war knocking out France quickly to avoid a two front war with Russia.

    3- GB army is small and 1/2 is in India a long way away, so they are not a big threat in a short war.

    What the British do in Africa a dacade earlier will not have changed any of the above calculations in 1914.

    (note Perfidious Albion was always regarded as immoral and faithless its after all a very successful great power.... with all that entails)
     
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  6. Jerry Kraus Banned

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    Actually, relations between Britain and most of the German States had tended to be rather good, certainly up until the establishment of the German Empire. After all, the British Royal Family is the House of Hanover, originally. It's name wasn't changed to the House of Windsor until the First World War, for obvious public relations purposes. And, the British were effectively neutral during the Franco-Prussian War. It wasn't really until the late 1890's, with the increasing confrontation between the Boers and the British in South Africa, and escalating naval rivalries between Germany, and Britain, that relations really started to deteriorate.

    While the Germans might have been able to defeat France rather quickly in a War, in 1914, they certainly couldn't have defeated both France and Russia quickly, and they knew they'd be facing both. And, Britain was itself allied with both France, and Russia. And, how does one land a "knockout blow" against France, with insufficient forces to occupy the country, while attempting to defeat Russia? So, I really don't think the Germans could have expected quick victory and no British involvement at all, in 1914. I suspect, however, they thought Britain was a Paper Tiger by this stage, largely because of their actions during the Boer War. And, they thought that they could eventually handle both France, and Russia, given time.
     
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  7. Analytical Engine Monarchist Collectivist Federalist

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    Nit pick - it was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha by this time.
     
  8. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    Not exactly. Having unrest on the isolated colonial peripheries was something any colonial power could understand. Did the fact the French couldn't stomp out the Tuareg nomads in the Sahara mean they weren't a land power? Did the fact Czarist Russia had to more or less burn Chechnya's forests to the ground to stomp out the insurgency there mean nobody respected their military capacity?
     
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  9. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Donor Monthly Donor

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    And?

    I love the way when the British royal family is discussed this little nugget often finds its way into the conversation. What is it meant to have to do with the price of fish? That the family of the Constitutional Monarch’s Great-great-great-great-great-Grandfather was German?

    Also, Hanover was conquered by Prussia in 1866 - so if it did have any effect on Anglo-German relations, being from the House of Hanover (which they weren’t) would likely be a cause of enmity as opposed to amity.
     
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  10. Jerry Kraus Banned

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    True. But, that's why I'm emphasizing this rather unique, and rather unnecessary starving to death of pretty little blonde girls by the British, at the end of the Boer War. I realize the notion that something so utterly trivial, in the context of all of world history, could have had a major psychological effect on the German leadership is extremely counter-intuitive, but, on the other hand, why exactly did the German leadership essentially ignore the possibility of major British involvement when they went to war with France and Russia, in 1914? Just wishful thinking?
     
  11. GDIS Pathe Well-Known Member

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    Because they didn't expect the BEF which numbered less than a quarter of million men to be able to influence the German lunge towards Paris the German leadership didn't ignore or discount the possibility they just didn't expect it to matter in the end
     
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  12. jsb Well-Known Member

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    Exactly......,
    As soon as Germany overtake the French in size and power the British swapped sides.
     
  13. Jerry Kraus Banned

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    It wouldn't have mattered, if that was all the British had done. As it was, they committed millions of men, and suffered millions of casualties. Also, the starvation blockade inflicted by the Royal Navy was crippling to the German war economy, and, that's also something the Germans weren't expecting. Why didn't they expect any of this, exactly? Possibly, because the British had behaved like silly, immoral weaklings during the Boer War.

    By the way, one of the reasons given for the Germans underestimating the Americans, as well, was because of Black Jack Pershing's rather unsuccessful incursion after Pancho Villa, into Mexico, in 1916. A rather similar effect, I'd say. If a great power is unable to handle a simple guerrilla incursion from a backward nation, people tend not to take that great power seriously, anymore.
     
  14. Aber Well-Known Member

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    Presumably the Germans would have been more ruthless?

    Not correct.
     
  15. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    I'm as British as Queen Victoria...
     
  16. fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    There are no forum posts that cannot be improved without a bit of Blackadder.
     
  17. jsb Well-Known Member

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    Germany was planning on a short war, defeating France in a year or less and then turning east to deal with Russia. GB only becomes important in a long war that Germany thought it would lose anyway due to two fronts and Russian manpower.
     
  18. IamtheEmps Well-Known Member

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    Okay so first things first. I am actually a Boer, with half my family coming from the north and the other half the south. This means that I have several family members involved in the conflict, all on the Boere side. So with that bit of bias out of the way, on to the point.

    The Camps, were merely a symptom of the wider British policy of Scorched Earth. This was basically a system of establishing Blockhouses and cordoning off parts of the Veld. They would then enter the area and clear out anyone suspected of Collaboration with the Commandos, remember at this point the government has officially annexed the republics, and all major towns have surrendered de jure. In this sense, they weren't really war crimes, so much as crimes of the British state against British Citizens. The procedure after the clearing out was to send anyone taken to the Camps. The idea then was that by removing the basis of support for the Commandos, i.e. denying the Commandos resupply, would break them, it did. However, as we now know it was partially for a different reason, namely the fear that someone's spouse had died.

    Fundamentally, removing the camps would likely make the situation worse, due to the fact that it would leave a large population of women and children homeless, and without a way to support themselves. If you remove the entire policy, you won't defeat the Commandos, simple as. This is for a multitude of reasons, the Transvaal and Free State, are hilly, but rather flat, they are generally not super suited to Guerilla warfare, unlike Vietnam, Afghanistan, Yemen, or Spain. This meant that unlike in those situations it was possible for the Brits to break the farms, and as such the Commandos, compared to the strategic villages, or the ring road, which are/were total failures. If this didn't happen however, the entire countryside would remain opposed to British rule, and the city's too a large extent as well, remember most Uitlanders, were Irish or Scottish, hardly friends of the English. This would likely result in a very long running military occupation, and would arguably make the situation worse, due to it will over time become easier for the Commandos to move south, and operate inside the Cape and Natal Colonies, were there are/were, large Boere minorities.

    Finally, in terms of long term effects. The rise of the South African National Party, who implemented apartheid, was on the basis of a large minority of so called "poor whites". Many of these were poor due to the loss of farms, following the Boer War. Depending on what happens this effect will be more or less pronounced. Should, the scorched earth remain in effect, without camps, it is likely that they would be elected sooner, this would probably mean South Africa would support the Nazis, during WW2, or at least stay neutral. Comparatively, if no Scorched Earth happens, you could see a situation were a long running insurgency racks the north. This would likely keep large numbers of South African Politicians out of power, for example Jan Smuts was a Commando. In the long run this would promote sectarian politics, due to the fact that those in power would be the most pro-British, and from the Cape, while this would likely prevent the start of Apartheid, it would increasingly radicalise a disaffected white poor, due to the white poor being the largest supporters of Apartheid. This could potentially lead to a situation where SA is largely ungovernable, especially if the Boer Commandos turn to political violence and assassinations, of collaborators and the like.
     
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  19. Glyndwr01 Well-Known Member

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    What the British did was a lot less brutal than what the Americans did to their native population.
     
  20. Marius Member Donor

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    Are you South African?