Ghastly Victories: The United States in the World Wars

Part 2-31
  • #82 The Battle of the Eastern Approaches, May 15th through 16th 1919


    …With the war well and truly lost and not prospect of the victors allowing a retention of the High Seas fleet Admiral Reinhard Scheer decided that he had nothing to lose. If that was the case, then far better for the HSF to go out like the Ottoman Fleet, than suffer the ignominy of mutiny in port like the Hapsburg Fleet. Scheer knew that Admiral Franz Von Hipper, who replaced him in command of the HSF agreed, as did a number of senior admirals and most of the senior officers. He was certain that Kaiser Wilhelm did not agree with this, along with the majority of the enlisted.

    With regards to the former, it was decided to better ask forgiveness than permission, if nothing else his personal honor could be sacrificed for that of the fleet. For the latter a ruse was necessary. While the worst of the troublemakers had been transferred to the Baltic or shore positions, the crews of the HSF would not accept a suicide mission. However they were not yet at the point of mutiny, and would likely go along with a low risk mission.

    On the morning of May 13th Scheer personally contacted Hipper and gave the orders to prepare for a sortie. Hipper was to tell his officers that they were going to make a sortie along the Danish coast in order to provide a distraction for an Army line straightening withdrawal. The officers were told to keep this secret, but it was expected that it would get out. Indeed by the end of the day rumors of the planned Danish sortie were all over Wilhelmshaven and had reached the ears of several British intelligence operatives.

    That night Hipper gathered with several of his absolutely most trusted subordinates to discuss the planned operation. Here he revealed the true plan, once the fleet was clear of the Jade Bight they would turn West, skirt the Frisian islands and cut through Dutch territorial waters to arrive off Flanders. Then the fleet would split, the Battlecruisers would cover the entry of a force of light cruisers into the Thames Estuary to hunt merchant shipping, while the battleships would engage the monitors and old battleships conducting fire support for the British in Flanders. The major elements would then converge and sail to a position off the Dutch coast to better engage the British as they arrived during the night and early morning.

    In a perfect world the British would be strung out by an overwhelming need to respond as fast as possible, and thus each squadron could be faced and destroyed in turn, with an actual possibility of a victory. Neither Hipper nor Scheer saw that as at all realistic, they merely hoped to give the Grand Fleet a fight it would remember so that the Honor of the High Seas Fleet remained unstained. If they were lucky they could perhaps do enough damage to hurt the British position at the negotiating table in favor of the American one, or reduce the gap the Germans would have to close when they could throw off whatever constraints were imposed at the peace treaty. In order to prevent the operation form being a complete suicide mission a pair of minelayers were attached, who would lay minefields off the Dutch coast. These along with U-Boats were meant to provide enough hazards that the HSF would have a chance to escape, though expectations were that the majority would not.

    Whatever Hipper and Scheer thought, when the HSF finally began to slip its moorings on the night of the 14th, the British were well aware of the supposed plan. A total of 21 Dreadnought battleships, 4 with 38cm guns, 13 with 30.5cm guns and 4 with 28cm guns and 7 battlecruisers, 2 with 35cm guns, 3 with 30.5 and 2 with 28cm guns sortied supported by 20 light cruisers, 71 torpedo boats and 2 minelayers. 30 U-Boats were either sortieing ahead of them or called from stations in the North Sea, there having been no time to preposition them.

    As before the British left their moorings just before the Germans did and headed East, hoping to intercept the Germans before they turned for home. This would be the last chance to get at the HSF, a final chance for glory and justifying their place in the postwar budgetary environment, a final chance to wipe away the stain of Cleaver Bank. The Grand Fleet brought 30 Dreadnought Battleships, 8 with 15” guns, 4 with 14” guns, 10 with 13.5” guns and 8 with 12” guns, screened by 19 light cruisers and 61 destroyers with 3 crude aircraft carriers for scouting. The Battlecruiser force added 7 Battlecruisers, 2 15”, 2 13.5” and 3 12”, along with 3 Large Light Cruisers with 15” guns, 13 Light Cruisers and 33 Destroyers.

    As the British continued to speed East, at about 3:00 in the morning and just north of Heligoland the HSF turned West-South-West. It was not immediately noticeable to most of the crews that they did so, but over the course of hours rumors spread from the bridge to the rest of the ship. However the die was cast, it was too late for any mutineers to organize themselves between ships. Even onboard ships communications and coordination was difficult for prospective mutineers. Furthermore there was an innate fear that while the coming battle may lead to death, mutiny might make that more likely. Apart from a few isolated events, the sailors of the HSF did their duties.

    Around 8:00 in the morning the first British and Dutch patrols sighted the HSF west of Terschelling. However this information took time to disseminate and did not reach Admiral Sturdee, who had succeeded Jellicoe in command of the Grand Fleet, until around noon, when they had passed Ijmuiden. At this point both the Battlecruisers and Grand Fleet were at Fisher Bank, 3000 nautical miles north-north-east of the Germans, the closest forces being the American squadron which had fallen behind due to their less reliable engines. It would take them almost 16 hours to arrive at their best sustained speed, the battlecrusiers could get there faster, but still not in time to save the monitors at Flanders or the merchants in the Thames. Rather than risk defeat in detail Sturdee took the time to consolidate his forces and to advance south to cut oof and destroy the Germans at first light the next day.

    At noon the German forces split into their planned detachments, a force to lay mines to cover their rear, the battlecruisers to the Thames and the Battleships to go to Flanders. Both detachments arrived at their destinations around six, with about two hours of daylight left.

    The first force to engage was the Battlecrusier led group. Opposing them were the six light cruisers of Harwich force that were available along with 20 destroyers. Heavily outgunned the cruisers of Harwich force did an excellent job over the course of 45 minutes of distracting the German heavies while the destroyers entered range, with four being sunk and two grounded in the process. By that point the British destroyers entered range and launched their torpedoes. The German screen was able to keep them at a distance, but two light cruisers and two torpedo boats were sunk, with another cruiser crippled, and four torpedo boats were crippled by gunfire, in exchange for the destruction of ten British destroyers.

    With darkness approaching the Battlecruisers turned to make their rendezvous while four light cruisers detached to hunt British merchantmen in the darkness. For a brief period they reaped a dreadful toll, sinking 13 merchantmen of various size before eight thirty. Then the Thames other defender arrived. Assigned as part of the anti-aircraft force protecting London, HMS Dreadnought was the first of her kind, and considered almost obsolete, hence her posting at Sheerness. However she was still a battleship, and late as she was her appearance was decisive. Within half an hour of point-blank range fighting she drove off the German cruisers, sinking two and crippling a third so that the minesweeper destroyers from Immingham could finish her.

    To the south the main body of the High Seas fleet had made contact with the destroyers of the Dover patrol at just after six o clock. The ten available destroyers had sortied to provide what cover they could for the monitors, painfully slow as they were, with the fastest capable of 11 knots, and the slowest a mere five. The Dover Patrol did their best but evaporated under the guns of 20 battleships before they could enter torpedo range.

    They did however force the German battleships to deploy into line and bought valuable time for the monitors to flee further. While in theory possessing the firepower to hurt the German battleships with guns of 12”, 14”, 15” and even 18”, they had neither the number of barrels for effective salvo fire nor the sophisticated range finding and fire control systems to make use of them against moving targets. Despite this 2 14”, 3 15” and 1 18” round managed to strike, doing minor damage to four German Battleships. However in return, by the time darkness fell seven monitors had been destroyed and two more damaged.

    With their task done the German Battleships turned to rendezvous with the battlecruisers and the light cruisers that had screened the minelayers, which now empty were heading for home. The force would rendezvous at midnight and would be prepared for action just before first light.

    To the North the British continued to slowly close the distance, slowed by the presence of the American squadron with their less reliable machinery. Despite this they were well on track to intercept the Germans across their line of retreat by daybreak. Even the torpedoing of HMS Warspite by a lucky U-Boat did not slow down the fleet, the unlucky battleship was sent to limp home for repairs with a minor escort as the fleet continued on.

    Just after daybreak HMS New Zealand struck a freshly laid set of mines. The explosion was clearly heard aboard the outer members of Hipper’s screen and the last great naval battle of WWI had truly begun…



    -Excerpt from 101 Great Naval Battles, American Youth Press, New York 2010





    Okay this had to be split up into two pieces, rest should be next week. Yeah I know it stretches plausibility
     
    Part 2-32
  • …Sturdee’s Grand fleet was forming up in the orthodox manner as it transitioned from column to line, the battlecruisers and large light cruisers were out in front, followed by the fast battleships then the 15”, 13.5” and 12” battleships of the Royal Navy with the six slower American Battleships at the rear. His plan was also fairly simply, have the battleships sail alongside in line of battle formation to pound their German counterparts in the line while the battlecrusiers hooked ahead to engage the German van from two sides.

    Hipper already had his ships in line formation and had since two o clock when he started sailing for him. His ships were laid out his formation in the opposite manner of the BRitish. His oldest and slowest battleships were at the front, with his newest and fastest behind them and his battlecruisers were taking up the rear. The reasoning was that the faster ships had a better chance of keeping up if they suffered an engineering casualty, being able to keep power in reserve, while the slow ships would have no chance of doing so without slowing down the fleet, which was not something Hipper could afford if he was to have any hope of getting home. By placing the slow ships to the front, they would have a chance to regain power and rejoin the line as it passed to port at a later point.

    Tactically Hipper however had few options but to allow Sturdee to close. If he attempted to disrupt Sturdee’s formation with torpedo boats at this point, Sturdee would simply increase his lead on the German force as he was already between them and home. If Hipper could survive until he reached Vlieland, then he might have options. That however was hours away, until then he had no choice but to take whatever the British threw at him.

    Fortunately his mines had bought time. With the loss of New Zealand and a pair of destroyers trying to chart the minefield, Sturdee had ordered his fleet to turn to the west briefly before diverting around the mines to the Northeast. This bought Hipper almost an hour, in which he made a further 16 nautical miles towards his goal.

    Around 10:00 the two battle lines entered sight of each other and at about 10:30 the lead elements of the British force opened fire at extreme range. Fifteen minutes later the Germans began returning fire and the mismatch rapidly became apparent. Under attack by both the battlecruiser fleet and the fast battleships with their 15” and 14” guns the first generation Nassau class were proving inadequate with their 28cm guns and proportional protection. Heavy damage had begun to mount by 11:00 and at 11:15 Nassau exploded as a 14” shell from Eagle reached her magazines.

    It was now apparent to Hipper that something had to be done to prevent his position from totally unravelling, and he ordered half his torpedo boats to make an attack on the British van. It was a massacre, with eleven lost and twelve heavily damaged in exchange for a British light cruiser and destroyer sunk and four destroyers heavily damaged. It did however force the British capital ships to turn away and bought his line an hours reprieve.

    Hipper used the reprieve well, the crippled Rheinland was ordered to beach, or if possible intern herself, while Westfalen was to leave the line while she attempted to restore power. Damage control was done, ready ammunition replenished and tired gunners given a brief break.

    After the German torpedo boats were driven off the British fleet turned back. Here they made their first major mistake of the battle. Admiral Phillmore in command of the Battlecruiser Fleet made the decision to extend his line in order to start engaging the German fleet earlier. This necessitated the large light cruisers, which had hitherto been hiding behind the battlecrusiers and engaging with indirect fire, take a place in line behind Repulse and Renown.

    The folly of this was not immediately apparent as Posen was very quickly forced to pull out of line as the forces reengaged, with Helgoland set aflame soon after. However just after 12:30 one of Posen’s parting shots struck Glorious and punched clear through her inadequate armor into her magazines. Her loss forced Courageous to make a hard turn she was unprepared for to avoid striking her flaming wreck and ended with a collision between Courageous and Furious.

    With his most fragile remaining ships crippled and helpless Phillmore ordered his battlecrusiers to close the range and distract the Germans as they withdrew. They were joined in this by the fast battleships under admiral Leveson. In the chaotic action that followed Helgoland, Oldenburg and the recovered Westfalen were lost as Ostfriesland was forced to pull out of line and beach. However heavy damage was done as the British closed the range and Repulse had to flood her magazines while HMS Malaya was hit by a torpedo from a torpedo boat aiding Oldenburg as she strayed too close.

    It was here that the Second Major British mistake was made as Sturdee ordered that the fleet withdraw to prevent the sort of carnage to the detached force as seen at Fisher Bank. This prevented them from taking advantage of the disruption that was breaking out among the German line as damage accumulated among the ships further back, and gave Hipper a chance to reorganize after Kronprinz lost steering and had to be beached.

    At 2:00 the fleets engaged once again. This time there would be no reprieve for the Germans. Under the cover of the battle line guns Sturdee ordered a massed destroyer attack on the German line. The outnumbered German screen did what they could but were too heavily outnumbered. Bayern, Seydlitz, Hindenburg,and Prinzregent Luitpold were lost and Lutzow, Sachsen and Wurttemburg forced to beach while Mackensen, Koenig, Thuringen and Markgraf were crippled. However Vanguard and Ramilles were hit by stray torpedoes launched into the melee, the former sunk outright, while the latter had her rudder jammed full starboard and forced to circle right into the melee where she was torpedoed again and lost.

    The torpedo attack effectively broke the German line due to the need to dodge torpedoes and flaming wrecks. Realizing that any chance of getting the majority of his fleet home was lost, Hipper ordered that the remaining undamaged Battlecruisers, light cruisers and torpedo boats head for home as his battleships covered them. Anything not capable of making at least 24 knots was to make for Dutch waters, to be interned whether afloat or on the beach.

    The chaotic action took time, during which Thuringen and Kaiserin were lost as Koenig was forced to beach. However the battlecruisers were able to punch a hole in the British destroyers and cruisers screening the front of the German line, at a cost of a torpedo hit on Graf Spee that would ultimately doom her. The British battlecruisers gave chase and Moltke was crippled early on and forced to beach. Later on as the chase continued Derfflinger was hit and lost half her boilers. In order to give her companions a chance to escape the Kaiser’s Iron Bitch charged the British line and inflicted heavy damage before being put down. By the time darkness fell only Graf Spee, five cruisers and eleven torpedo boats remained, by which point they had reached close enough to German waters for their pursuers to turn back. However that would not save Graf Spee as the torpedo hit she had taken earlier caused progressive flooding, as her rushed wartime construction meant many of her watertight seals weren’t. She would finally be beached off Wangerooge, barely twenty nautical miles from home. Her smaller consorts would join the two minelayers as the only escaped German surface units.

    Behind the escaping light units the battle continued. Now bereft of their escorts, it was only the previous expenditure of torpedoes that saved Hipper’s force from being delivered the coup de grace by the British screen. Instead it would fall to the guns of the battle line, with Koenig Albert and Mackensen falling in short succession, taking Hercules with them. It was then that Baden’s bridge took a hit that killed Admiral Hipper. Command then transferred to Friedrich der Grosse and Vice Admiral Nordmann.

    Nordmann, recognizing the hopeless situation ordered his ships to strike their colors and surrendered the six remaining battleships of the High Seas Fleet, all greatly damaged, to Sturdee. The surface portion of the battle was over.

    However the funeral pyres of so many ships proved a beacon to U-Boats. St. Vincent was torpedoed and sunk as she headed for home. Furious and Malaya were hit by the same U-Boat shortly afterwards, with Furious sunk outright, and Malaya exploding after ninety minutes, taking with her Renown who had pulled alongside to aide her. Finally Monarch had her bow blown off by a third U-Boat early the next morning in the last action of the battle.

    In total the HSF had effectively ceased to exist. Six battleships were surrendered to the Grand Fleet, two of which would sink before making port of their own accord. Four more were beached along the Dutch coastline and a fifth interned in a Dutch port with the other ten lost. Of the battlecruisers four had been sunk and three beached, one of which was in German waters, the other two in Dutch. 11 light cruisers had been lost, two had beached and two interned themselves in the Netherlands while five escaped. Of the torpedo boats 3 had been captured by the British, 45 had been destroyed, 5 had beached, 7 interned themselves in the Netherlands and 11 escaped to join the pair of minelayers. Three U-Boats had also been lost over the course of the operation, alongside countless lives.

    However they had reaped a deadly toll. Two of the most modern Royal Navy battleships had been lost, along with one of their newest battlecruisers. Three older battleships and a battlecruiser joined them, along with two large light cruisers, seven monitors, nine light cruisers, twenty-nine destroyers sunk and two beached in the Netherlands, thirteen merchantmen lost and one British and one American submarine mistaken for U-Boats. Most of the remaining capital ships were damaged to greater or lesser degrees, with only two of the American battleships having escaped unscathed…

    -Excerpt from 101 Great Naval Battles, American Youth Press, New York 2010



    …From one perspective the Battles of the Eastern Approaches were a senseless waste of lives. Germany was going to lose the war no matter what happened. There was no significant effect on the Peace Treaty that came of the battle.

    However from another perspective it was quite successful. Ignoring unquantifiable arguments about honor, from a material perspective it was a success. The HSF could have been considered lost already, it being expended in combat lost Germany nothing in terms of ships it would retain after the war. From a personnel perspective, many trained officers and sailors were lost, however callous it may sound they were expendable as the German Navy would have had to severely downsize and lose their expertise in any case, so it could be argued from personnel perspective again nothing was lost here.

    In contrast the British took losses they would feel for decades. In terms of battleships the British had 33 Dreadnought battleships before the battle, afterwards they had 28. Two of those would have to be returned to Chile after the war, and two more that were not built to RN specs, leaving 24 for the post war world. Of these 7 were 12” armed units that were obsolescent if not obsolete, 11 were 13.5” ships that were acceptable for the next decade and barely passable for the 30’s, and 6 were 15” ships that could serve into the 40’s. The loss of 2 15” ships in the battle thus reduced the number of second line battleships available in the 40’s by 25%.

    In battlecruisers it was a similar story. Before the Battle they had 8 battlecruisers, with 4 more building, afterwards it was 6. Of those the 4 building were the excellent 15” armed Admirals, 1 was Repulse with 15” guns, 2 had 13.5” guns, and 2 12”, one of which was actually owned by Australia. The story with the Battlecruisers was similar to the battleships, except the need for fast capital ships to chase raiders was even greater than slow battleships for convoy escort and shore bombardment and a 15% reduction there was felt even more keenly.

    The biggest loss may actually have been the large light cruisers. While marginal as surface combatants even when used properly, they had already been identified as excellent candidates for conversion to aircraft carriers. The loss of Glorious and Furious, and severe damage to Courageous that made conversion uneconomical, thus proved to be an expensive one. The RN took longer to start learning carrier operations than otherwise and had to build her flawed first generation carriers from scratch.

    Losses in lighter units and personnel, while agonizing did not have that sort of material effect. The loss of potential coastal guns and turrets with the monitors was felt, as was the loss of the most modern light cruisers and destroyers, but these were minor compared to those of the larger units. Personnel losses while tragic did not materially affect the RN, given the size of the postwar cutbacks in end strength.

    In total however the RN was put at a noticeable disadvantage compared to where it could have been. Thus one can make the argument that Scheer was correct, the last sortie of the HSF did make the position of the German navy better when it would again clash with the Royal Navy…

    -Excerpt from Naval History Between the Wars, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2007



    Okay update here, still not the most plausible. Somewhat delayed due to school work and totally not work on an SI that well never see the light of AH.com I swear
     
    Last edited:
    Part 2-33
  • …On May 9th the Italians resumed the offensive. The floods had mostly ended and they were ready to cross the Tagliamento. As usual parties of boatmen and Arditi infiltrated under the cover of a firewall and gas attack. Lodgments were made and pontoon bridges were thrown up. Unlike previous assaults there was not even an attempt at a major counterattack. Small local forces attempted attacks, but nothing larger than a battalion did so. The Austrian Army had been shattered in the previous offensive and its remnants could not effectively resist.

    The front collapsed within 24 hours, with 20,000 prisoners taken and the Italians securing no less than six beachheads over the river. The only real hope the Austrians had to break the Italian offensive was the mountains surrounding the Venetian plain. Therefore the Austrians ordered a retreat while they tried some to establish some semblance of a defensive line on the alpine foothills. Italian pursuit was vigorous, but limited by the exhaustion of their air and motorized units, that had still not made good the losses from the earlier campaign. Despite that another 100,000 prisoners were taken before the Austrians reached the foothills on the 16th.

    However that front was only one of their worries, Italian forces out of Albania had already liberated Montenegro on the 30th and captured Ragusa on the 8th. There were no forces available to stop them from heading inland to take Sarajevo where this all started or even to press on into Serbia and liberate that country. However given the relative distances involved and the infrastructure of the areas in question this front was of lesser importance, it could not threaten Austria. It could threaten Hungary, but already high command and the Kaiser were concerned about the loyalty of the Hungarians, and the logistics of attacking Hungary through Albania were difficult.

    In any case the Italians had no interest in moving inland, they wanted to capture territory that was promised to them, not territory that would belong to Yugoslavia. Hence, they moved on to take Spoleto on the 13th, and Zara on the 18th, with naval elements moving to secure the islands behind them. Sarajevo was captured on the 19th as much for reasons of personal glory on the part of several mid-ranking officers than any real strategy.

    In the north however the situation had turned critical. The Italians continued their pursuit even as the Austrians reached the foothills, with the ramshackle defense line that had been established not even being noticed by the advancing Italians. By the 18th it was clear that even the forces in the Alps were beginning to buckle, and the invasion of Austria proper was only days away.

    Help was requested from Germany; however the Germans were in poor shape themselves. The Germans offered the transfer of the remaining Austrian forces on the Western front, however a half dozen heavily understrength divisions were not enough to turn the tide, even if they could be delivered quickly, which was no sure thing. There were German reserves in Bavaria that could potentially be enough to stop the Italians in concert with the Austrian troops from the Western front. However the Germans made it clear that one or the other would happen, but not both.

    Without a promise of German help there would be no halting the Italian momentum. Things would only get worse from a perspective of their negotiating strength. Therefore on May 20th the Kaiser sent a request for an armistice to the Italians.

    The Italians took almost 72 hours to respond to this message. Partially this was due to the internal political matters, but mostly in order to organize the occupation of the city of Trieste and the islands of Veglia, Cherso and Arbe by naval forces. On May 23rd the guns fell silent between Austria and Italy. Germany now stood alone.

    -Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004



    Short but the end is nigh
     
    Part 2-34
  • …The German high command had resolved that an armistice would be necessary as early as May 13th, contrary to what many of them would later write. However they did not want to be the ones to deliver the armistice, as was traditionally the case. Instead they insisted that role go to the civilian government, most particularly to the more liberal parties of the Reichstag. To lead this new government Georg von Hertling would resign and Wilhelm Solf would become chancellor, being someone the Kaiser was willing to appoint, unconnected to the military and acceptable to the Reichstag.

    Von Hertling resigned on the 16th and Solf took over as Chancellor and Minister President of Prussia, presiding over a coalition of the SDP, Centre Part and FVP. Negotiations began with the Entente for an Armistice immediately…

    …The sticking point for the negotiations soon proved to be the Kaiser. President Marshall insisted on the abdication of the Kaiser as a condition for an armistice. In part this was out of loyalty to Wilson, who had said such before, indicating the Kaiser as the supreme threat to peace. In part this was also due to American public opinion, the Kaiser had been painted as the enemy by propaganda and Marshall thought that maintaining him would not be acceptable.

    However, for the German Army and certain members of the German government the abdication of the Kaiser was unacceptable. Rather it was hoped that changing the German Constitution into something closely resembling the British system would be enough to mollify Marshall and the Entente…

    …The decision of Austria to exit the war on the 20th changed the German situation enormously. German troops in Austria, a mix of detachments that had been supporting the Austrians, and those evacuated from the other members of the Central Powers as they left the war, were forced to withdraw into Germany. However there was no plan for a rapid withdrawal, and they were ordered to withdraw on their own at their best speed.

    During this withdrawal the officers lost control of the men. Morale was at its weakest in these units, having been exposed to defeatist and revolutionary rhetoric in Austria and not subject to the tight information control of the troops on the Western front. When many of these troops arrived in Munich on the 22nd, and when the local military leadership attempted to reorganize them into provisional formations to secure the southern flank, mutiny broke out.

    Local military command focused primarily on preventing the spread of the mutiny to the reserve forces gathered elsewhere in Bavaria, rather than attempting to immediately crush the mutiny. As such the mutineers were able to send delegations to the factories and industrial areas of Munich, and inspired by the events in Russia, formed workers and soldier’s councils. These councils, with the support of the railway workers sent delegations to the other cities of Germany. By the 27th the revolution had reached Berlin.

    With this the situation of the government was truly desperate. Seeing no other option to prevent revolution from totally overtaking the country, on the 28th Solf, after consultation with the rest of the government and other prominent politicians and civil servants, announced both the abdication of the Kaiser, and his own resignation as Chancellor and Minister President in favor of Friedrich Ebert of the SPD…

    …The Kaiser had not been consulted on his abdication, being at Army headquarters in Spa, Belgium. At first, he intended to play for time and return at the head of the army when an armistice was signed. After being convinced by Hindenburg that would not work, he attempted to abdicate only as Kaiser and remain the King of Prussia in order to steer the country that way, however that was constitutionally impossible. Eventually he was convinced to abdicate, in mid-June long after it had become an accomplished fact…

    …Solf’s resignation and replacement with Ebert was what Marshall had been waiting for. On the 30th he approved an armistice to go into effect at noon on June 1st. At 12:00 on the fateful day the guns of WWI fell silent. The War was over.

    Or was it?

    There were still an enormous number of sticking points and issues that remained to be dealt with before the war could truly be called over…

    …Ebert’s replacement of Solf gave the German Army High Command exactly what they wanted. It would be Ebert and the SPD who would be associated with the peace agreement and the end of the war, not them. It would be Ebert and the SPD who would be associated with the current chaos in Germany, not them. And it would be Ebert and the SPD who would be discredited from the aftermath of the war, and not them…

    -Excerpt from The Loss of Innocence: America in the Great War, Harper & Brothers, New York 2014
     
    Part 2-35
  • He’s a coming home to Mother, the old man gently said, he’s coming home in a casket sir, he’s coming to us dead-Gussie L. Davis, The Express Office



    …World War I was arguably the most deadly war so far fought. Depending on the estimates involved the Taiping Rebellion, Qing conquest of China, and the Mongol Conquests may have been larger. However of these the Mongol Conquests were not a single war and took place over two centuries, by the same standards one would have to count the World Wars as a whole. The Taiping Rebellion lasted 14 years and the Qing conquest 65, whereas the first World War lasted less than 5. That the margin for error in the death toll estimates place all three in the same rough numerical bracket shows that the First World War was if nothing else fought with unprecedented intensity…

    …WWI is notable as the first major war where the majority of deaths were by combat, rather than disease. Despite the outbreak of the Spanish flu pandemic approximately two thirds of the war’s death toll was directly attributable to death in action…

    …Casualty figures outside the United States, British Commonwealth and Japan are difficult to calculate due to subsequent destruction of records belonging to the belligerents. Older estimates using flawed methodology from the 20’s and 30’s must therefore be used…

    …Russia unquestionably suffered the most deaths of any of the Great Powers engaged in the conflict, not counting colonial losses. However it is difficult to provide an accurate estimate for two very major reasons, the first is that the Russian Civil War muddled many of the figures, making demographic estimates inviable as it is impossible to separate the dead from the latter. The second is that there has been no access to the Russian records of the conflict by reputable scholars, what Russian sources one has are what was chosen to be released by the Soviet government and must therefore be considered unreliable. Estimation must therefore be done from secondary sources…

    …We therefore conclude that Russia suffered 1.3 million dead in combat, 600,000 dead from illness, accidents and wounds, 250,000 missing and presumed dead and 250,000 POWs dead in captivity out of a total of 3 million POWs. This is a total of approximately 2.4 million military dead, with a further 1.6 million crippled. To this one adds approximately 1.7 million estimated civilian dead, for an estimated total death toll of 4.1 million or 2.34% of the prewar population…

    …Of the great powers France can suffered among the highest proportional losses. France lost 800,000 killed in combat, 225,000 dead of disease and accident, 300,000 dead of wounds, 200,000 missing and presumed dead, and 50,000 POWs dead of 500,000 total. This is a total of approximately 1.575 million military dead and 1 million military crippled. Added to this are 675,000 civilian dead, calculated at roughly 60% from wartime privation and 40% from disease. This is a total of 2.25 million dead or 5.75% of the prewar population. This figure may be slightly high as the death from French Colonial Troops and the French Foreign Legion are included, however civilian deaths in the French colonies are not…

    …Italy suffered very heavily proportionally as well. Italy lost 475,000 dead in combat or of wounds during the war, 100,000 dead of wounds after the war, 225,000 due to disease and 150,000 POW dead of 750,000 taken. This produces a total of 950,000 military dead and 600,000 military crippled. 1.2 million civilians are estimated to have died in the war, 700,000 due to wartime privation and 500,000 due to the Spanish flu, though there are arguments that this is an overcounting. This is a total of 2.15 million dead or 6.04% of the population dead…

    …Britain suffered less proportionately than her continental allies. Approximately 975,000 military dead are listed of all causes, including combat deaths, deaths form disease and wounds, deaths of POWs, of which 325,000 were taken, and other causes, along with 675,000 crippled. Despite better records the most accessible sources of data did not break down deaths by cause. This figure also includes deaths of colonial, but not dominion troops. To this are added 350,000 civilian deaths, 150,000 due to wartime privation and 200,000 due to the Spanish flu. This is a total of 1.325 million dead or 2.94% of the prewar population.

    This does not count deaths of foreign wartime laborers under the British aegis, of whom at least 150,000 died….

    …The Dominions of Canada and Newfoundland suffered a combined 90,000 dead of all causes. Another 55,000 were crippled, and 40,000 were taken prisoner at some point or other. 937 Civilians of both Dominions died of various wartime causes. This totals to about 91,000 dead or 1.23% of the prewar population. The dead were disproportionately Anglophone, as Francophones volunteered at a much lower rate and conscripts only reached the front in numbers in the last five months of the war…

    …Australia and New Zealand suffered a combined 93,000 military dead and 53,000 crippled. Approximately 6,000 soldiers from both countries were taken as POWs at some point or another. Neither suffered significant civilian deaths, outside of those lost due to the Spanish flu. This translates to a loss of 1.52% of the population…

    …South Africa suffered about 10,000 dead of all causes, with an unknown number crippled. Approximately 2,000 POWs were captured. Outside of the Spanish flu no significant number of civilian deaths occurred. While only a loss of .17% of the prewar population, it is notable that these deaths were almost exclusively from the white population, as only two of 26 infantry and cavalry battalions and two labor units were open to black individuals…

    …British India suffered roughly 85,000 military dead of all causes. This number includes 3,000 members of the British Army assigned to the Indian Army, resulting in an adjusted total of 82,000 war dead. 12,000 members of the Indian Army were taken as prisoners, including 400 British. No significant civilian deaths occurred outside the Spanish flu and the number of military dead is insignificant relative to the Indian population. This said the Indian Army recruited disproportionately from certain ethnic groups who suffered at a higher rate…

    …Japan suffered 5243 military dead during the war, however most of these deaths cannot be attributed to the war, but rather peacetime attrition. 561 actual deaths from combat or wounds sustained in combat were recorded, along with 5 Prisoners and missing presumed dead. This is the lowest butchers bill of any of the great powers, and a key component of the argument that Japan was the only real winner of the war…

    …Serbia and Montenegro are among the more difficult countries to estimate casualties for due to the complete occupation of their countries. Furthermore the internal violence within the militaries in exile in 1917 contributed to the difficulty in estimating losses. That said estimates are 450,000 military deaths on the part of both countries due to all causes. Included in this are the 50,000 POWs of 150,000 who died in captivity. Added to this are the estimated 500,000 civilians who perished during the occupation of both countries due to war related causes. This makes the two sone of the few countries to suffer more civilian than military deaths. The total of 950,000 dead is approximately 19% of the prewar population, making them the worse sufferers…

    …Belgium lost about 75,000 military dead of all causes, though this includes 20,000 African porters who will be subtracted. The actual dead break down to 30,000 dead in combat or of wounds and 25,000 of disease, missing or POWs in captivity, of which 15,000 were taken. About 150,000 civilians died in Belgium, 100,000 from wartime privation and 50,000 from the Spanish flu. The total dead of 205,000 comes out to 2.77% of the population…

    …Greece during WWI itself came off fairly lightly. About 4,000 soldiers were killed or missing of all causes during their brief involvement in the war itself. They did suffer about 20,000 civilian dead due to the Entente blockade and occupation of certain parts of the country. Still only .5% of the population was lost….

    …Portugal lost 15,000 military dead roughly half due to combat, wounds and disease, and the other half missing or dead among the 15,000 prisoners. It is estimated 90,000 civilians in Portugal died due to wartime privation and 160,000 due to the Spanish flu for a total of 250,000. The total 265,000 dead add up to 4.41% of the population, however this is almost two thirds due to the Spanish flu and there are indications that the wartime privation may have been over estimated…

    …Approximately 125,000 Americans died in direct combat and a further 90,000 died of wounds received in combat. 95,000 soldiers are estimated to have died of the Spanish flu and 25,000 of other diseases and about 25,000 were missing, dead as POWs, of which 25,000 were taken, or died due to accident. This is a total of 360,000 dead and 255,000 crippled. Outside of the Spanish flu about 1,000 civilian casualties occurred, mainly due to U-Boats. This adds up to about .39% of the population dead in the war, excluding the Spanish flu deaths during the war…

    …Figures for the Central Powers are notably complicated in that two of them no longer existed after the war. This complicates record keeping and assigning the casualties…

    …A further issue is that due to the interethnic nature of conflict in the Balkans and Ottoman Empire a number of those dead who were fighting against the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires are included in the death toll of those states due to matters of geography…

    …Germany suffered an estimated 2.3 million military dead due to all causes during the war, inclusive of colonial troops. About 1.1 million German POWs were captured over the course of the war and an estimated 1.5 million Germans were crippled. This figure, in addition to colonial troops, includes troops from areas that would be detached from Germany after the war, and includes concripts from Luxembourg in Germany’s total. An estimated 600,000 German civilians died due to the war, 350,000 from wartime privation and 250,000 from the Spanish flu. The total of 2.9 million dead is about 4.47% of the German population…

    …Austria-Hungary lost about 1.7 million military dead. Of this about 1.1 million died in combat or of wounds suffered thereof. About 400,000 died of disease and 200,000 of the 1 million prisoners taken died. Added to this are about 600,000 civilians dead of wartime privation and military activity. This 2.3 million dead is about 4.48% of the population of the prewar realm…

    …Romania is estimated to have suffered 75,000 military dead due to all causes during its involvement in the war. To this is added an estimated 130,000 civilian dead due to wartime privation. The total of 205,000 dead is about 2.73% of the prewar population…

    …Bulgaria lost about 65,000 military dead due to all causes during the war. Added to this are an estimated 100,000 civilian dead due to wartime privation for a total of 165,000 or 3.67% of the prewar population…

    …The Ottomans undoubtably suffered the worst of the Central Powers. About 1 million soldiers are estimated to have died, 125,000 in combat, 65,000 of wounds, 550,000 of disease, 150,000 of 750,000 POWs dead in captivity and 110,000 missing or lost due to causes unknown. This estimate is perhaps the least accurate of the belligerent powers. Added to this are an estimated 4 million civilian deaths, 1.5 million due to wartime privation and 2.5 million due to genocides and ethnic cleansing conducted by the Ottomans. The total of 5 million dead is about 23.47% of the prewar population, but this has a large margin of error and may have overcounted the dead severely and undercounted population…

    …In total the Central powers lost about 10.6 million dead, the Entente 12.1 million. To this can be added at least 2 million Persians due to wartime famines, and 1 million Africans due to famine, disease and overwork of porters. The total of dead is thus here estimated at 25.7 million, with errors more likely on the side of too high than too low, comparable with the standard estimate of 24-26 million. Outlying estimates by other historians as low as 18 million and as high as 45 million exist, but the majority of other estimates range from 21 million to 27 million…

    -Excerpt from The Butcher’s Bill: An Incomplete History of Wartime Casualties, New American Press, Chicago, 1996



    Okay so here's the second most depressing thing I wrote today, enjoy
     
    Part 2-36
  • …The end of the First World War saw the Entente victorious in Italy, in the West and the Middle East. However their victory was slight, none of the three continental Entente powers could maintain a full scale war past the end of 1920 and they knew it, France would start having trouble by the end of summer and Italy would not be far behind. Of the others Japan had no interest in Europe, they had taken the German colonies in East Asia and events in Europe were of no concern with them. Only the United States had both an interest in the European status quo and the ability to enforce it, yet they had no desire to do so.

    The departure from the traditional American aloofness from Europe had cost more than every one of their foreign wars put together for issues that were all together minor. The American public wanted the war to be over, they wanted their sons to come home, an end to wartime restrictions and a return to normalcy. Fighting to impose the will of Britain, France and Italy on Europe was not something the American populace would even consider and the politicians were aware of that fact.

    This left the options of the Entente at the peace table as quite limited. The Bulgarians and Romanians were undefeated in the field, and there was no viable way to compel them with force. The future Poland was completely occupied by troops from Germany and those pledging loyalty to a newly organized Hungarian Government in Budapest. Finland and the Baltic states had organized themselves into Constitutional Monarchies with German Monarchs and wanted the German troops in country to stay right where they were. And there was the elephant in the room, for while the Provisional Government of Russia was still recognized by the Entente, it was increasingly losing ground to the Soviet Union.

    Other problems were taking up Entente energy as well. Britain had a revolt in Ireland and a border war Afghanistan that had just broken out. France and Italy had revolts in their North African colonies that had taken large parts of the countryside there that needed to be put down. Troops and money were needed to deal with these as well. The ability of the Entente to impose terms was thus further limited.

    However while the ability was limited, the desire was not. France in particular was vengeful for all the damage that had been done and proposals to completely dismember Germany were taken seriously there. Britain was not as angered but suffered enough loss they wished to ensure Germany could never do the same again and for Germany to repay what had been done to Britain. Italy, arguably even more damaged than France, wanted all that had been promised to her in the early days of 1915, despite British and French second thoughts. The populations demanded a great deal of their politicians, even if there was not the ability to carry them out

    And of course there was also Germany to consider. As far as she was concerned, she had asked for an armistice, but that did not mean she had surrendered and she expected to be involved in the determination of her fate, as France had after Napoleon. This was something the Entente powers were not about to give her and arguably the root of the Second World War…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007


    …PODs in the latter half of WWI are rarer than those in the earlier half. Most American writers of counterfactuals desire to avoid American entry completely, while non-American writers generally want a much shorter war. However they are common enough to analyze.

    In general Central Powers victory through a purely tactical POD is possible through to Mid-Summer of 1918 given the nearness of complete collapse by the Entente at a number of points. However such a victory would be pyrrhic, arguably more so than the Entente victory in the Original Timeline. Germany has already suffered enormous casualties, lost almost all of their colonies, and had to take economically difficult actions to sustain the war effort, the Hapsburgs have suffered enormous strain and the Ottomans have basically lost their Arab territories. Germany would be better off than France or Italy, but rather worse off than Britain.

    The perception that Germany could break the Entente lines in Spring or early to midsummer 1918, would lead to the Central Powers being able to dictate to the Entente like Versailles in reverse, or even to a greater degree is pure fantasy. There was no real way for them to force Britain to agree to massively unfavorable demands, much less the United States and Japan, not with Britain an island, the complete naval superiority of the Entente and the general ineffectiveness of the submarine war. Germany might actually be forced to lose colonies or Alsace-Lorraine in order to preserve her massive gains in the East, and Austria would have minor gains at best while the Ottoman Empire would be shorn of her Arab territories.

    Less looked at is the possibility of a faster Entente victory. While the chance for the Entente to defeat the Central Powers before the end of 1918 was probably gone by American entry into the war, a quicker and less costly Entente victory could have been won. Arguably the results of this are harder to predict than a Central Power victory, because the changes are narrow rather than broad, and thus the prediction has to be more specific.

    Other significant changes include not altering the length of the war, but simply events during it. The Death Ride of the High Seas Fleet is probably the most talked about, while it did not effect the length of the war, it certainly effected the interwar era…

    …The most common motivation for a late WWI POD is of course to avoid WWII the far greater horrors that followed, without making the entire world completely unrecognizable. The most common POD for that is of course ensuring that a particular scar-faced madman does not manage to live through the last days of the war and lead the world into the abyss for a second time…

    -Excerpt from Sideways: An Examination of Common Divergences in Counterfactual History, Gate Publishing, Atlanta, 2016


    This Concludes Part II of Ghastly Victories: The United States in the World Wars


    Part III: Upon Both of Your Houses will begin shortly




    Okay so I am going to continue this for now, rather than try something else
     
    Part 3-1
  • Ghastly Victories: The United States in the World Wars

    A TL by RamscoopRaider

    Part III: Upon Both of Your Houses



    A Plague o’ both the houses!-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet Act III Scene i

    It must be a Peace without victory…Only a peace between equals can last. Only a peace the very principle of which is equality and a common participation to a common benefit-Woodrow Wilson, January 22nd 1917

    Even War is better than a wretched peace-Tacitus, Annales

    A peace may be so wretched as not to be ill exchanged for war-Tacitus, Annales

    It was rather a cessation of war than a beginning of peace-Tacitus, Annales

    A severe war lurks under the show of peace-Claudianus, De Sexto Consulatu Honorii Augusti Panegyris

    This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years-Ferdinand Foch

    Why can’t they both lose?-Anonymous




    …It is popular in mainstream histories to speak of a postwar disconnect between the United States and the other victors of the First World War. The narrative of having won the war the idealistic United States immediately finding itself clashing with the cynical power grabbing of the other victors has a powerful attraction. It places the blame for the Second World War squarely on the shoulders of the European nations for having not learned their lessons from the First World War like the United States had.

    This view is however unnuanced and as will be shown in this paper is a product of events of the sixth, seventh and eighth decades of the twentieth century. At the close of the First World War the American public, and especially the political elites, were in agreement with their counterparts in Britain and France on most matters. They too blamed Germany for the war and wanted them to be punished. What differences there were between the two were primarily matters of form, degree, severity and priority, rather than of substance. Had the United States truly been as opposed to the other Great Powers as is popularly believed, then the Second World War would have likely been averted, however that is not how it was.

    That is not to say that there were not severe points of contention and friction between the United States and the other Entente powers. And certainly there were very heated arguments over even minor points. However as a whole the United States, at least in the immediate post First World War era, was in large part in agreement with the other Entente powers…

    -Excerpt from Revisionist Viewpoints in History Volume XX, University of California Press: Berkley, 2010


    …The Seeds of the Second World War, it is said, were planted in Paris. Beginning on June 28th 1919 delegates from 27 nations met to discuss the end of the First World War. Of these however only five, arguably four or even only three actually mattered, with the majority merely able to listen to what was decided by the important members and providing suggestions to the subcommittees that wrote most of the treaty provisions. The Big Five were the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Japan. Japan was excluded on many matters, leaving the remainder as the Big Four. The occasional absence of the Italians left the United States, France and Britain as the Big Three who decided the most important issues…

    …The United States delegation was led by Secretary of State Robert Lansing. Along with Lansing four senators, Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts (Rep.), Hiram Johnson of California (Rep.), Gilbert Hitchcock of Nebraska (Dem.), and James Reed of Missouri (Dem.), representing both the internationalist and isolationist wings of both parties. The delegation was under instruction from President Marshall to seek a peace treaty under the guidance of Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Lansing however had reservations about the elements of the Fourteen Points, and with the presence of the senatorial delegation was inclined to take a more pragmatic view of things…

    …In general the objective of the US delegation was to achieve stability and self determination in the post war world, without either infringing on American Sovereignty or at the risk of embroiling the United States in another War in Europe…

    …The British delegation was led by Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Their goal was the maintenance of the interests of the British Empire. However, George had made a list of specific goals in order of priority. First was ensuring the security of France as an ally on the European continent. Second was removing Germany as a naval threat to Britain and weakening the ability of other powers to replace her. Third was settling the territorial disputes created by the war so that they would not cause another. Fourth was supporting the creation and maintenance of a League of Nations…

    …Lloyd George’s position was complicated by the matter of the Dominions. They had not been given separate invitations, but rather had been expected to send representatives as part of the British delegation. This was unacceptable to the Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden, who demanded that Canada receive separate representation, a position supported by Australian prime Minister William Hughes. This was opposed by George, who saw it as undermining his authority, and by Lansing who saw the Dominions receiving separate delegations as Britain receiving extra votes. In order to preserve harmony within the British Empire Lloyd George conceded to the Dominions receiving separate representation, and convinced Lansing to accept it in a secret agreement brokered by Clemenceau to keep their representatives off the important sub committees…

    …Lloyd George had another issue in his delegation. Namely the presence of Lords Sumner and Cunliffe. Sent by the cabinet in order to exclude the Treasury’s chosen representative, John Maynard Keynes, they were there for the sole purpose of extracting as much as possible in reparations from Germany. Lloyd George, who wanted German finances intact so that she could continue to be a valuable trading partner could not remove them due to their influence with the newly elected MPs in Parliament that were baying for blood…

    …The French delegation was led by Georges Clemenceau. Clemenceau had seen the Germans attack France twice in forty years and had no intention of allowing the Germans to be in a position to do the same. He wanted to weaken Germany militarily, strategically, industrially and economically. Among his goals was moving the Franco-German border to the Rhine, to give France a natural barrier similar to the one the Channel provided Britain and to absorb important mining and industrial areas. Furthermore he wanted the creation of strong states bordering Germany in Poland and Czechoslovakia, detachment of as much territory as possible and prevention of an Anschluss between Germany and Austria as was already being proposed in Berlin and Vienna.

    Clemenceau also supported the League of Nations, however he felt that was not enough for France’s security. As such he wanted more formalized defense treaties with Britain and the United States to go along with that…

    …Clemenceau however had a second plan in the works in case the first failed. In case the first failed he sent a diplomat, Rene Massagli to Berlin to conduct secret meetings with the Germans. Massagli was to leak details of the negotiations and offer revision in favor of Germany. In exchange he would ask for practical Franco-German cooperation against the Anglo-Saxon powers that the French government claimed were the primary threat to both countries…

    …Italy’s delegation was led by Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando. His goal was simple, implementation of the Treaty of London in full. Beyond that he was under pressure to wring out whatever additional concessions could be managed from the other powers, as was demanded by his constituency…

    …Japan’s delegation was led by former prime Minister Saionji Kinmochi. The Japanese had little interest in European Affairs so voluntarily abrogated their role in the Big Five for most of the conference. However they were active in pursuing two goals, acquisition of the formerly German territories in the Pacific, and ensuring that a Racial Equality Clause entered the League of Nations Covenant…

    …The former Central Powers were pointedly not present at the Conference as it begun and conducted its work. They would be invited when the relevant treaties were completed and ready to be signed. That would be their only contribution to the Conference, which was something that sat well with none of them…

    …Also excluded from the Conference were many delegations that showed up uninvited. Delegations from Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltics, the Caucuses and Finland were rebuffed, as the Entente continued to recognize the provisional government in Omsk as the sole authority for Russia. Similar occurred with delegations from Lebanon and Arabia, who were excluded as the French and British had already decided the fate of the Middle East. Also excluded were representatives from Korea and Vietnam, which were recognized as belonging to Japan and France respectively…

    …Along with national representatives, meeting in Paris were the 1st Pan African Congress, the Inter-Allied Women’s Congress and the World Zionist Organization. The groups intended to use their meeting to bring their issues to the attention of the Conference members…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

     
    Part 3-2
  • …The most prominent question to be discussed at the Paris Peace Conference was that of territory, namely what territories would Germany lose. The Japanese excluded themselves from most of these talks, having no interest in European borders or African colonies. The Italians spent a greater degree of time, but primarily the matter was settled between the big three…

    …Georges Clemenceau at the opening of the conference presented a plan to partition Germany into between 4 and 7 states in order to ensure it could never threaten the European order again. The other members of the Big Five refused to even consider the proposal and it was quickly forgotten…

    …The easiest questions to settle on was that of Alsace-Lorraine. All the big three agreed that it was legitimately French territory that had been taken by Prussia in 1871. Furthermore under the terms of the ceasefire it had already been occupied, with administration turned over to the French military, who suppressed the few outbursts of communist revolt in the area. The local Landtag, supported by members of the Reichstag from the region, voted for incorporation of the territory into France. The matter was effectively an established fact that merely needed official recognition.

    This alone of the European territorial concessions involving Germany evoked no great dissatisfaction in Germany. The area had long been part of France and many did not see it as really German. The territory had only been annexed to simplify the defense of the Reich by putting the entire Franco-German border area under direct control of Berlin, rather than having to delegate most of it to Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, and the French produced documents from Bismarck and . Its loss was considered a reasonable price to pay for losing the war…

    …The Big Three were in agreement that Belgium should have some territorial compensation for its devastation during the German occupation. This agreement was almost derailed by Belgian demands that the compensation should include territory from the neutral Netherlands, demands that were solidly rebuffed by Lansing and George. However there was enough public support for detaching territory from Germany, that they agreed with Clemenceau that the area of the districts of Eupen and Malmedy, along with formerly neutral Moresnet, should be awarded to Belgium. At Lansing’s insistence on the principal of self determination this would be conditional on a plebiscite voting for union with Belgium.

    Clemenceau further proposed that Belgium enter union with Luxembourg, as the larger state would be better able to resist German aggression. There was not any interest in that matter in Luxembourg or Belgium and it was quietly dropped…

    …The plebiscite in Eupen-Malmedy was probably the most peaceful of all the Paris Plebiscites, even if it was no more representative. It was conducted under direct supervision of the Belgian Army, with public ballots and required no voters to publicly register their objections with Belgian authorities. As such an area which was considered foreign by most Belgians was accepted into the union with a mere 1% voting no…

    …Clemenceau presented a case that France needed a natural border against German aggression, and that the Rhine was the only possible solution. Lansing refused to consider the matter, the territory was indisputably German and doing so would violate all principals of self-determination. Lloyd George was more sympathetic, but still saw it as a step too far that would force them to wage further war on Germany at an unacceptable cost.

    A suggestion of an independent Rhenish state was likewise shot down, as Lansing had intelligence from American occupation troops that there was no prospect of such a state working out.

    Clemenceau was however adamant that France get something and in the interest of French security it was agreed that the Rhineland would be demilitarized. Furthermore Britain and the United States would sign treaties to defend France if she was attacked by Germany again. In the event this did not happen however, France would be allowed to occupy the country for 15 years as a guarantee of good behavior on the part of Germany…

    …Failing to secure the Rhine Clemenceau at the very least tried to secure the Saar, as compensation for the damage to French coalfields by German occupiers. Lansing quipped that this was not 1813 and that ship had sailed, viewing the territory as undoubtably German. The two men almost reached a loggerheads, until Llyod George came up with a compromise, France would be allowed to occupy the territory for 15 years under the auspices of the League of Nations and receive the output of the Saar coal mines as additional reparations. At the end of 15 years there would be a plebiscite on whether to return to Germany, stay an independent territory, or join France. This was acceptable to both parties…

    …Clemenceau suggested that the territories of Schleswig-Holstein be given to Denmark. Despite the personal sympathies of the Danish King towards the Entente feelers to Denmark were rejected. The Danish government had no interest in potentially getting on Germany’s bad side, and the public sympathy was with Germany, after all it was not the Germans who starved their children….

    …During the conference word came of attempts by the new governments in Berlin and Vienna to unify. While Lansing was ambivalent on the matter, being something he viewed as a matter of self determination, the other members of the big 4 were not. France was doing their best to weaken Germany, and the admission of Austria would more than reverse all that they did. Britain likewise saw it as a potentially destabilizing factor. As for Italy, they were promised territory from Austria, and felt that had a much better chance of keeping that territory if it was a small Austria that had the claims to it, rather than a larger Germany. Outvoted 3 to 1 Lansing agreed on adding a prohibition on an Austro-German unification to the Treaty…

    …It was agreed by the Big Three that a Polish State should be created. They were able to twist the arms of the Provisional Government in Omsk to cede the area known as Congress Poland as the basis of the new State, something that had already de facto happened with a German puppet government. However that was not viable as a state on its own, and the Big Three demanded more.

    The end of the war saw an uprising of oppressed Poles begin. With the armistice forcing Germany to withdraw troops outside areas immediately threatened by the Soviets, Polish insurgents were able to take over large chunks of the Province of Posen. Based on this it was decided that 90% of the territory, with 93% of the population would go to Poland.

    However the French did not think this was viable, they wanted a large powerful Poland as a counterbalance to Germany. They wanted to transfer most of West Prussia and a large chunk of East Prussia, along with Upper Silesia to the new state to make it viable and give it sea access. Lansing however wanted nothing to do with this, fearing it could draw the United States into having to fight Germany to force it to accept this. Instead he proposed plebiscites, which he was well aware would mostly go to Germany.

    The two delegations remained at loggerheads for quite some time until Lloyd George proposed a compromise. Poland would receive a corridor to the sea from Pomerelia, though smaller than France intended and based on the 1772 borders. Furthermore the city of Danzig would be under LoN control as an independent Free City, and Germany would receive and extraterritorial highway to connect with the disconnected territory. Prussia’s southern border would also be based on that of 1772, with minor modifications to allow for giving the Polish access to rail lines necessary for the polish state. Upper Silesia and other parts of Prussia would be subject to Plebiscates.

    George’s compromise would be the basis for the treaty based borders of Poland…

    …The Prussian plebiscites were completely rigged by German authorities and none voted in favor of Poland. The Plebiscite in Silesia turned into a small scale irregular war, which eventually resulted into matters going to the League of Nations. Based on the lines at the end of the fighting, about 80% of Upper Silesia remained German, while 18% went to Poland and 2% had been seized by Czechoslovakia…

    …The German colonies were easier to dispose of. All were classed as League of Nations Mandates. After minor negotiation Belgium received the Districts of Ruanda-Urundi from German East Africa while Britain received the rest. South Africa was to receive German West Africa. German Togo and Cameroon were divided between France and Britain, with France receiving the larger share of both.

    In the Pacific Britain received Nauru, Australia German New Guinea, New Zealand German Samoa and the Carolines, Marianas and Marshall Islands to Japan. This proved somewhat thorny as Japan had secretly been promised more by Britain, however the Dominions were insistent…

    …Most thorny of the German colonies was the German concession at Tsingtao, which went to Japan. China fervently protested, backed by the United States, however Japan had conquered the territory and was occupying it, and had the support of Britain and France. China and the United States were forced to concede the issue, but they would not forget…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

    …Many of Clemenceau’s more infamous demands, taken as a sign of the disconnect between France and America were not actually his own. Rather he was pressured by advisers and elements in the French Parliament to make harsh demands. Clemenceau recognized that a France allied with America and Britain was in a better place than an isolated France with borders on the Rhine. However he had to press for the latter or failing that a Rhenish buffer state. Likewise he had to present a partition plan, even though he thought such a thing was foolish. It is a similar story behind many of his decisions at the negotiating table…

    -Excerpt from Revisionist Viewpoints in History Volume XX, University of California Press: Berkley, 2010




    Okay just to warn you no update next two weeks, will be updating my other TL as I have to cover on Friday for the guy in Ecuador and that one is higher priority
     
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