Es Geloybte Aretz Continuation Thread

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by carlton_bach, Aug 3, 2018.

  1. Kvasir We shall overcome #EU

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  2. carlton_bach Member

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    No. I suck at graphics software
     
  3. carlton_bach Member

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    La Guerre des Savants

    In retrospect it may seem surprising, but German military planners were in fact supremely unconcerned about Russia during the years of the treaty restrictions. Fear of a revanchist attack was sometimes deployed as a political tool, but the Generalstab did not share it. Their main worry was France, and this view was increasingly shared across the Rhine. Following a few heady years of celebration at the end of the dreaded 'demographic superiority' of their eastern neighbour, France's generals were forced to face up to a painful reality: the German army, though smaller both in establishment strength and potential than it would have been without the losses of 1906-08, outclassed theirs in too many respects. This was exacerbated by years during which the Clemenceau government had told the public the threat from Berlin had been vanquished and poured money into countering British supremacy at sea. Something had to be done.

    The most obvious solution – a three-year conscription mooted before 1906 – was politically impossible. The voting public would not have accepted it, and the French economy suffered unreasonably. Instead, the government decided to invest heavily in technological solutions, trying to duplicate the relative success of its naval programme on land. French soldiers would deter or defeat a German assault not through the weight of their numbers or their Gallic élan, but through the superior firepower of their artillery, the range of their bombing aeroplanes, and the omniscience of their intelligence services. Science – ingenious, cutting-edge technology - was what France did best. It might not match Britain in global reach, Germany in industrial weight, or America in sheer wealth, but it dared challenge all comers in the realm of brainpower.

    The result was what later generations would refer to as an arms race, though the term was not then in common use. German intelligence was alarmed by reports of French advances and significant funds were made available to counter them. The resulting game of espionage and counterintelligence, guesswork, and secret research defined a political era and in its white-hot phase produced weapons technology that would have made an actual war possibly the deadliest conflict ever fought in human history.

    Technological competition began and was most intense in artillery. The French and German armies differed in doctrine more than technological advancement; the backbone of Germany's force was the 10cm howitzer while that of the French army was its innovative 75mm field gun designed for mobility and rapid fire. What the French excelled in and the Germans only imperfectly copied were highly effective fire control systems. Field telephone and later radio networks, sophisticated calculators and rigorous training functioned as a force multiplier that allowed French artillery to concentrate fire in smaller areas and shorter timespans than any other military on earth. The vaunted German supremacy in heavy siege guns never made up for this, though their efforts to duplicate it would prove effective enough on the Russian front.

    Germany enjoyed an early lead in chemical weaponry, but this quickly evaporated as both militaries established arsenals of standard lachrymant gases, phosgene, 1410, chloroarsenic and urticants. The development of nerve agents by German scientists in the early 1930s was intended to break the stalemate, but merely moved it to a higher level as French intelligence acquired the formulae. Ultimately neither side ever dared deploy these gases for fear of their uncontrollable impact as much as of retaliation.

    France, outclassed in airships by the Zeppelin AG, concentrated heavily on defensive weapons to deny the German Luftmacht its airspace. Aeroplanes and artillery were the backbone of this effort, and France's lead in heavier-than-air flight became more significant as the technology matured. A secondary outcome of this race was rocketry, a technology that did not fulfil initial expectations of deterring aerial attacks, but would cement French leadership in ballistic missile and aerospace technology for a generation.

    Beyond these grand arenas, technological rivalry extended into hundreds of smaller issues, from optical equipment to diving gear, smallarms (the semiautomatic fusil 38 was a triumph of engineering that outclassed its German rival in every regard), pharmaceuticals and electronics. The usefulness of many inventions is in doubt – whether the French chain of listening and ranging posts along the frontier would have achieved anything against a concerted air offensive may be questioned, and Germany's submersible torpedo boats, constructed at great cost, would have fallen prey to French echolocation quickly. But altogether, the epoch produced advances that were rarely rivalled in human history and civilian technology from computers to bacteriocides to turbine engines and, of course, the eventual world-changing reality of the atomic bomb.
     
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  4. avernite Well-Known Member

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    Sounds a bit like a French slant there, because the recent remarks on German science (and the duplications of labs because Einstein and... was it Leibniz? couldn't be nice to eachother) said all the same things about the brilliance of the German scientific system.

    Of course being as it was an arms RACE they probably were both up there.
     
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  5. GOU Limiting Factor Demilitarized

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    Yeah, OTL, wasn't the reason that France fell out of the early nuclear arms race mainly educational? Is TTL positing educational reforms in France, or just assuming that X percentage of this is brute-forced by dodging the human and capital losses of OTL's 1914-1918?

    (I'm going to poke a nuclear-historian friend about this because there's a high chance I just talked straight out of my ass.)

    French rocketry I don't know much about in this era - I know of Esnault-Pelterie and Barré but not much else - but I would assume at the very least that they'd manage a significant lead over OTL with a decent official push, since most of the basics are easy enough applied science problems for any First World nation of the era.
     
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  6. carlton_bach Member

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    Lots of publications, especially in ITTL America, are biased in favour of France. But then, many Germans are biased strongly against, seeing France as some kind of pathetic also-ran never having fought a real modern war. In fact, France was a very impressive player, building a powerful military, a strong economy with a massive capital surplus it used to gain global influence, and running a successful balancing policy that kept both Britain and Germany on their toes enough to deter attack despite being a direct competitor.

    The arms race with Germany was one between equally impressive opponents, which tends to be forgotten only because Germany produced nuclear fission. French laboratories gave the world functioning jet engines, liquid-fuel rockets, antibiotics, sonar, and television.
     
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  7. GOU Limiting Factor Demilitarized

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  8. Fifty-One-Fifty Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, advances in French rocketry, a colonial presence in French Guiana and the Congo, and a strong desire to one-up the German Empire without participating in a major modern war? Are the French here angling to be first in Space?
     
  9. carlton_bach Member

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    Their engineers are. The government is much more interested in the ability to put ten tons of things that go boom in the middle of Berlin.
     
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  10. HanEmpire Delicious

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    @carlton_bach what does the Franco-German border look like TTL? I can't imagine how it'd look given that the two nations must be each other's biggest trade partners. Do the two nations have parallel Maginot Lines staring at each other, regularly broken with bottlenecked chokepoints full of transportation infrastructure?
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019 at 3:46 AM
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  11. Grinner Well-Known Member

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    That's quite understandable, I'm useless with such things too.
     
  12. carlton_bach Member

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    Fortification is mainly 'in depth' with defensive points intended to anchor a battle line or support an advance, not a solid line along the border- It's mainly a matter of fortifications defending chokepoints and major assets, at all levels from concrete bunkers built on rural crossroads to vast fortresses around railyards and main river crossings. Roads and railways are open for business, and both sides want it like that. They have the ability to quickly close all cross-border traffic quickly, but a road and rail network that can take them to the border quickly along many routes is an advantage if it comes to a real conflict. No need to curtail any of that in peacetime.

    Of course the border crossings are guarded by customs officers. All traffic is checked and registered. But it's a trivial thing, farmers from Alsace-Lorraine routinely cross into France to sell their produce (and bring back items that may happen to be subject to higher taxes in Germany, purely for their own family's use, wouldn't DREAM of selling that)
     
  13. Richter von Manthofen Gnome Fighter Ace

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    Never would do sell that Herr Zollinspektor. Ist just a present for my wife - to wear at nighttime - OH yes she routinely gains and loses weight Herr Zollinspector thats why I have different size. OH, and she likes to change her perfume with her moodswings . No Herr Zollinspektor, thats all for my personal use.