Politics of the Central Powers After an Early Entente Victory?

I'm in the planning stages of my first Post-1900 timeline, and I've decided to focus it on the aftermath of an early Entente victory in WW1. I'm considering PODs like Plan XVII being rejected or the British Expeditionary Force advancing between the German 1st and 2nd Armies. Would either of these PODs be enough for an earlier Entente victory?

My real interest though, is the political ramifications of an early Entente victory, especially regarding Germany. I'd assume that an Entente victory in 1915 or 1916 would be much less dramatic peace. The German and Austro-Hungarian monarchs would still reign as would the Russian (likely not for long with Nicholas II at the helm). Would Socialist parties in the Reichstag be blamed for the defeat, or would their fortunes improve?

Regarding the Austro-Hungarian Empire, what kind of politics would Otto pursue in the aftermath of defeat??

I'm honestly thinking that Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire might well decide to sit the war out, though I'm less certain on the Ottoman Empire.

Anyone have any thoughts?
 
In all probability, a swift Entente victory would lead to a general feeling - certainly on the CP side - that this was end of round 1.

No-one has been horrified by the colossal cost in blood and gold of modern war, few lessons learned, and nothing much would change in the peace agreement. Alsace Lorraine goes back to France, a few borders get moved slightly, but other than that, not a great deal.

In all countries, the elite remains isolated from the bulk of the people. Reading through journals of British, French, and German participants on the Western Front, it's clear just how much the officers from the ruling classes hadn't realised what the rank and file were like.
 
In all probability, a swift Entente victory would lead to a general feeling - certainly on the CP side - that this was end of round 1.

No-one has been horrified by the colossal cost in blood and gold of modern war, few lessons learned, and nothing much would change in the peace agreement. Alsace Lorraine goes back to France, a few borders get moved slightly, but other than that, not a great deal.

In all countries, the elite remains isolated from the bulk of the people. Reading through journals of British, French, and German participants on the Western Front, it's clear just how much the officers from the ruling classes hadn't realised what the rank and file were like.
Who would the Central Powers, particularly Germany look to for Allies for a prospective round 2? Would they try to get Italy back onside perhaps? I know France and Germany were both aiding the Ottoman Empire, so I'm honestly not sure who would win out in the aftermath of a Central Powers defeat.
 
It depends. Their first objective is likely to be to separate one of the British French Russian alliance.

But one can argue for many options. How successful will depend on how the diplomatic moves play out.


Edit: If this is an area you're interested in, one can see one way things might develop in the Building Jerusalem series, written by one David Flin. It's fiction rather than looking at the history; it unashamedly looks at things from the point of view of a small group of ordinary (or not-so ordinary) soldiers, so you don't get the view of strategic thinkers, merely the view of the end result in a very specific place; it takes as the start point the premise that WWI never quite starts rather than it being a swift victory; and, as mentioned, it is written as a novel rather than as a history, so you'll look in vain for the big names - Lloyd George, Churchill, Wilhelm, Joffre, and so on are all notable by their absence.

But, if you're looking for the feel and concerns of society, what culture and technology might look like in a 1920 where WWI never starts, that's my take on it.

The first book in the series, Green and Pleasant Land, is available in paperback.

My apologies for this unashamed bit of self-publicity, but it seemed so on point as to be worth mentioning.
 
Last edited:

Riain

Banned
I'm in the planning stages of my first Post-1900 timeline, and I've decided to focus it on the aftermath of an early Entente victory in WW1. I'm considering PODs like Plan XVII being rejected or the British Expeditionary Force advancing between the German 1st and 2nd Armies. Would either of these PODs be enough for an earlier Entente victory?

Sadly no, not with the balance of forces as arrayed in 1914.

The devil is in the details but the result if that the Germany Army was simply better than it's opponents at the time and for a long period afterward. The Entente had the strategic and political strength, but this takes time to bring to bear so as a result a quick victory against a tactically and operationally superior opponent is highly unlikely if not impossible.

A quicker victory is possible I'd think, but we're talking 1917 rather than 1915.
 
Sadly no, not with the balance of forces as arrayed in 1914.

The devil is in the details but the result if that the Germany Army was simply better than it's opponents at the time and for a long period afterward. The Entente had the strategic and political strength, but this takes time to bring to bear so as a result a quick victory against a tactically and operationally superior opponent is highly unlikely if not impossible.

A quicker victory is possible I'd think, but we're talking 1917 rather than 1915.

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, nonsense.

If the BEF had advanced as requested by the French during the start of the race to the sea, it would have got into the gap between the German first and second armies. If that had happened, then the German first army would have been isolated and in a race with three French armies.

Meanwhile, the German second and subsequent armies would have had to plough through the BEF without artillery support (far out of position on the race), without preparation, and into troops in a strong defensive position. That will take time and blood. Or it can try and go around, taking a long detour. That will take time.

The Entente win the race to the sea, swing around, and get onto the supply lines of the German armies.

Even the mighty German Army would find it difficult to fight effectively without bullets and shells.

All over by Christmas.

Likely? Of course not. Possible? Eminently.

Certainly more likely than a German victory.
 

Riain

Banned
This is, not to put too fine a point on it, nonsense.

If the BEF had advanced as requested by the French during the start of the race to the sea, it would have got into the gap between the German first and second armies. If that had happened, then the German first army would have been isolated and in a race with three French armies.

Meanwhile, the German second and subsequent armies would have had to plough through the BEF without artillery support (far out of position on the race), without preparation, and into troops in a strong defensive position. That will take time and blood. Or it can try and go around, taking a long detour. That will take time.

The Entente win the race to the sea, swing around, and get onto the supply lines of the German armies.

Even the mighty German Army would find it difficult to fight effectively without bullets and shells.

All over by Christmas.

Likely? Of course not. Possible? Eminently.

Certainly more likely than a German victory.

What did the French ask the BEF to do? It sounds like you're suggesting that the 6 division BEF march so much faster on the than the 12 division Germans on the retreat that they get in behind them?

I have no doubt that the Entente could win the Race to the Sea, but they'd need to be running unchecked in the Ruhr to for the Germans to sue for peace in 1914.
 
What did the French ask the BEF to do? It sounds like you're suggesting that the 6 division BEF march so much faster on the than the 12 division Germans on the retreat that they get in behind them?

On 4 September, the First and Second Armies had started to separate, and there was also a gap developing between the Second and Third Armies. The Second Army was pulling towards the Third to close the gap between these two, opening the gap between First and Second in the process.

Late on 4 September, Joffre ordered the French Fifth Army to attack towards the German Second Army at Chateau Thierry, with the intention of fixing it in place, and asked French (confusing, I know) to advance the BEF to get between the German First and Second Armies, while the French Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Armies rolled up the German First Army - the Sixth pinning it in place, the Seventh getting around the flank, and the Eighth supporting whichever needed it.

This leaves the Germans with few options, none of them good. If the First Army stands to fight the Sixth, the Seventh gets around its flank and there is nothing between the Seventh Army and the German lines of supply. If the First Army continues to head to the sea, it gets isolated in the open and facing three armies. If it pulls back, it leaves the flank of the German Second Army hanging in the breeze, with nothing protecting their lines of supply.

Kluck, commanding the German First Army, began preparatory moves to pull back (exposing the Second Army).

Confused fighting continued for a week, with the gap between the First and Second Armies growing until by 11 September, there was 40 miles between them. Joffre pleaded with French to advance the BEF, but French didn't. An opportunity was lost.

Had the BEF advanced, the German First Army would have been isolated; the BEF would have taken very heavy casualties, along with the German Second and Third Armies. If the BEF is in the way, then the German Second to Seventh Armies have to pull back or risk the French getting onto their lines of supply. The French 6th-8th armies can isolate and eliminate the German First Army and then advance unchecked in an arc around the now open flank, or simply pin the First Army in place with the Sixth Army, and the Seventh Army has nothing between it and the line of the Aisne.

Hard fighting, to be sure. Certain outcome? No. Possible? Absolutely.

It does involve General French getting a personality transplant (or alternatively, elements of the BEF advancing and the rest following more or less without French's instructions). It involves Joffre trusting the intelligence he was getting. It involves the Germans sticking to their plan even as events start to unravel (which, given the circumstances, seems reasonable). It involves the BEF being prepared to sustain heavy casualties holding the German Second Army up (quite likely - once in place, it is the Germans who have to shift them). Lots of conditionals, so therefore by no means a given or, indeed, a high probability outcome.

But, once the French Seventh and Eighth Armies have got around the flank of the German First Army, then the Germans either have to retreat all the way back to their start lines, or lose the Armies that stay put.

Marne.png

Map from Wikimedia, additional notation by D Flin. Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/df/Battle_of_the_Marne_-_Map.jpg

The black arrow represents the position and planned movement of the French Seventh Army. As you can see, if that movement takes place, the German Second to Fifth Armies are, to use a technical phrase, completely screwed.

In all probability, the German Second to Fifth Armies pull back, probably to the Meuse. If they delay, they get cut off.

Likely? No. Possible? Yes.

And if yes, then with five armies blown away, the Germans are in desperate straits and are likely to sue for peace to prevent the now overwhelming numbers and position of the French and British forces making their position even worse.
 
No-one has been horrified by the colossal cost in blood and gold of modern war, few lessons learned, and nothing much would change in the peace agreement. Alsace Lorraine goes back to France, a few borders get moved slightly, but other than that, not a great deal.

In all countries, the elite remains isolated from the bulk of the people. Reading through journals of British, French, and German participants on the Western Front, it's clear just how much the officers from the ruling classes hadn't realised what the rank and file were like.
This might not seem like a lot to us who can compare it against the extreme change that WW1 wrought on the world, but in the eyes of those who were there it would still seem like a plenty large war. It would effectively be a larger, more widespread and more deadly version of 1870 but with a reversed final result reversed. This would be a very significant event in European History, even if the Allies are able to give the Germans a bloody nose in 1914 and finish up the war in 1915/1916.

On 4 September, the First and Second Armies had started to separate, and there was also a gap developing between the Second and Third Armies. The Second Army was pulling towards the Third to close the gap between these two, opening the gap between First and Second in the process.
I was once told that an advantage of the German Army in 1914 is that each general was trained to work independently. That is probably true but in 1914 they also didn't have a lot of choice. The German communication chart looks a lot like a pitchfork. Every communication from the individual armies was expected to go back through the General Staff. There was basically no provision for communication or coordination between armies apart from that performed by the General Staff. In the case of First Army, they were focused on achieving their own mission and seemed not to care that a gap had opened between them and Second Army.
 
I think it depends on how early is 'early'. A peace in say 1916 would be very different then one at the end of 1914. Both of course would be very different the knock-out, drag out war we got, but there is difference in degree. The biggest change, of course, would be no Russian Revolution. That was a total game changer.
 
I think it depends on how early is 'early'. A peace in say 1916 would be very different then one at the end of 1914. Both of course would be very different the knock-out, drag out war we got, but there is difference in degree. The biggest change, of course, would be no Russian Revolution. That was a total game changer.
Oh I was mostly thinking about a 1915-1916 peace treaty! Long enough to not be "over by Christmas" but over quickly enough for the Central Powers to not collapse politically.
 
This might not seem like a lot to us who can compare it against the extreme change that WW1 wrought on the world, but in the eyes of those who were there it would still seem like a plenty large war. It would effectively be a larger, more widespread and more deadly version of 1870 but with a reversed final result reversed. This would be a very significant event in European History, even if the Allies are able to give the Germans a bloody nose in 1914 and finish up the war in 1915/1916.


I was once told that an advantage of the German Army in 1914 is that each general was trained to work independently. That is probably true but in 1914 they also didn't have a lot of choice. The German communication chart looks a lot like a pitchfork. Every communication from the individual armies was expected to go back through the General Staff. There was basically no provision for communication or coordination between armies apart from that performed by the General Staff. In the case of First Army, they were focused on achieving their own mission and seemed not to care that a gap had opened between them and Second Army.
How would the German army be viewed by the general public? Could there be a version of the "Stab in the Back" myth to avoid damaging the army's reputation?
 
This might not seem like a lot to us who can compare it against the extreme change that WW1 wrought on the world, but in the eyes of those who were there it would still seem like a plenty large war. It would effectively be a larger, more widespread and more deadly version of 1870 but with a reversed final result reversed. This would be a very significant event in European History, even if the Allies are able to give the Germans a bloody nose in 1914 and finish up the war in 1915/1916.

A hard fought but brief war was what was expected. The cost and size of it might have surprised people, but it was within the bounds of expectation. More significant than 1870 certainly, but not the game changer that 1914-1918 was OTL.

The big social change is that a quick war sidesteps a number of factors that resulted in major social change. For example, on the British side, you don't get the mixing of classes within the trenches. Harold MacMillan wrote in his diary at the time that he'd never before had occasion to talk to the working class, and previously, he'd assumed that they were almost a different breed of human. He wrote that he was surprised and his eyes opened to find that they were real people with real emotions and real concerns that he could identify with. This shaped his political views significantly, transforming him from an aloof Conservative to a One Nation Tory. This experience was repeated many, many times. Without it, the power structure of Britain remains on a slow change, rather than the accelerated change it got OTL.

In France, we have the Jewish experience. Previously, as the Dreyfus affair showed, conservative elements of the French hierarchy had strong anti-semitic feelings, and there was something of a view that it was almost impossible to be both Jewish and truly French. Come WWI, and the need for bodies for the Army, and Jews volunteered in their thousands, with many specifically requesting the dangerous appointment to the infantry, precisely and specifically to prove that they were both Jewish and French. That did not go unnoticed, and for a couple of decades, they made their point. (And then Vichy France came along and undid all of that, but that's a story for another day).

In Germany, you've got the factor that the Army has been outfought and there is no disguising that. No Turnip Winter, no failure of support, no slow and gentle collapse. They simply had their arses handed to them in battle, big time, and there's no-one to blame but the Army for that. Lord knows how that plays out.

In Russia, the losses of the war have been manageable and Revolution is probably staved off for a few years. Not for long, obviously. There was trouble brewing, but this will start later than OTL, and will doubtless take a different form.

Austria-Hungary retains its complicated structure, and nationalist unrest will remain a problem.

The Ottomans have stayed out of things, and French and British investment will continue apace. France had been investing heavily in what is now Lebanon, and Britain in the Gulf. This will continue and probably accelerate. Whether Germany will go with the Berlin-Baghdad railway under these conditions is a moot point.

Ireland gets Home Rule. Quite how this plays out is anybody's guess. With no Easter Rising, there is no ridiculous over-response by the British, and hence no martyrs for The Cause. There will still be problems in Ireland - that's a given regardless of how things turn out.

India is an interesting question. OTL, civil servants in the 1910-1914 era going out assumed that they would see transfer of power to Indians and Indian independence in their term of service. WWI complicated this, and most Whitehall sources suggest that it caused a delay in granting Independence. How this would have turned out, your guess is as good as mine.

The USA hasn't got involved in Europe, and probably turns its eyes towards the Pacific rather more than OTL. Quite what this means for the Britain-Japan agreement, that's right, anybody's guess. I can see America moving further down the Isolationist road, with whatever consequences that might have.

Technology hasn't had the transformation it did in OTL. On the one hand, the rapid development in aircraft hasn't happened. Which means that there is a bigger niche for airships. Not able to carry the same load as ships, but faster than ships. Not as fast as aircraft, but able to carry much more and much further. One might see development of the planned London-Sydney airship route, with several wayside stops. IIRC, Malta, Persia, India, Singapore and Sydney were the planned stations along the route, with another branch coming from Persia down to Cape Town. Developments in the cinema had been delayed by the war OTL, so we might see an earlier introduction of Talkies, and - with luck - colour.

The drive to improve production efficiency hasn't happened, so industry will remain at lower levels of production, probably giving rise to greater differentials between those countries that invest and those that don't.

Other than that, not much will change.
 
How would the German army be viewed by the general public? Could there be a version of the "Stab in the Back" myth to avoid damaging the army's reputation?
I don't think that there is much opportunity for that here. On the other hand, there is less shame for the whole nation in TTL. My guess would be that the response is much as the French from 1870. Specifically, a revamp of both of the diplomatic and Military structure to ensure that another such conflict would go differently.

A hard fought but brief war was what was expected. The cost and size of it might have surprised people, but it was within the bounds of expectation. More significant than 1870 certainly, but not the game changer that 1914-1918 was OTL.

The big social change is that a quick war sidesteps a number of factors that resulted in major social change. For example, on the British side, you don't get the mixing of classes within the trenches. Harold MacMillan wrote in his diary at the time that he'd never before had occasion to talk to the working class, and previously, he'd assumed that they were almost a different breed of human. He wrote that he was surprised and his eyes opened to find that they were real people with real emotions and real concerns that he could identify with. This shaped his political views significantly, transforming him from an aloof Conservative to a One Nation Tory. This experience was repeated many, many times. Without it, the power structure of Britain remains on a slow change, rather than the accelerated change it got OTL.
In a two year war, the British pre-war regulars are still going to be rendered inert for some time. There is still going to be time for the Territorial Divisions to be deployed and the New Army Divisions to start to enter the line. Though it might be to a lesser extent, what you describe will still be happening a lot.

In France, we have the Jewish experience. Previously, as the Dreyfus affair showed, conservative elements of the French hierarchy had strong anti-semitic feelings, and there was something of a view that it was almost impossible to be both Jewish and truly French. Come WWI, and the need for bodies for the Army, and Jews volunteered in their thousands, with many specifically requesting the dangerous appointment to the infantry, precisely and specifically to prove that they were both Jewish and French. That did not go unnoticed, and for a couple of decades, they made their point. (And then Vichy France came along and undid all of that, but that's a story for another day).
Again, two years with the kind of casualties that the French were having gives a lot of opportunity for the same thing to happen. The amount, and perhaps the effect of it, would be reduced but it is not likely to be gone.

In Germany, you've got the factor that the Army has been outfought and there is no disguising that. No Turnip Winter, no failure of support, no slow and gentle collapse. They simply had their arses handed to them in battle, big time, and there's no-one to blame but the Army for that. Lord knows how that plays out.
I would guess a sincere study on military and diplomatic grounds that assures those in power that the next time a major war occurs and Germany is involved it will go differently. The level of the changes involved probably depends on how much, if any, of Germany that the Entente has to go into to end the war.

In Russia, the losses of the war have been manageable and Revolution is probably staved off for a few years. Not for long, obviously. There was trouble brewing, but this will start later than OTL, and will doubtless take a different form.
It did take an awful lot for the Russian people to remove the Tsar, but its true the Russian situation is likely to continue to deteriorate for the foreseeable future. However, I expect it will be some time before a revolution is able to remove the Romanov's.

Austria-Hungary retains its complicated structure, and nationalist unrest will remain a problem.
Agreed, but the change in leadership from Franz Joseph to Karl and the shake up that the loss of such a war will likely bring will probably change the political landscape in A-H.

The Ottomans have stayed out of things, and French and British investment will continue apace. France had been investing heavily in what is now Lebanon, and Britain in the Gulf. This will continue and probably accelerate. Whether Germany will go with the Berlin-Baghdad railway under these conditions is a moot point.
The Ottomans could still end up in it. Its possible that they stay out, but not guaranteed.

Ireland gets Home Rule. Quite how this plays out is anybody's guess. With no Easter Rising, there is no ridiculous over-response by the British, and hence no martyrs for The Cause. There will still be problems in Ireland - that's a given regardless of how things turn out.
Hard to say how this will play out. It depends on who is in charge in London. My guess would be that a compromise with a 4 county opt out will be achieved at some point. But it could go differently.

India is an interesting question. OTL, civil servants in the 1910-1914 era going out assumed that they would see transfer of power to Indians and Indian independence in their term of service. WWI complicated this, and most Whitehall sources suggest that it caused a delay in granting Independence. How this would have turned out, your guess is as good as mine.
Likewise I am not sure. Depends who is in what position, I suppose.

The USA hasn't got involved in Europe, and probably turns its eyes towards the Pacific rather more than OTL. Quite what this means for the Britain-Japan agreement, that's right, anybody's guess. I can see America moving further down the Isolationist road, with whatever consequences that might have.
Well, even a two year war would have helped to reverse the debt issues that the US was suffering prior to the war, and helped stimulate its industry and its financial sector. It has also given time for American Merchants to gain some market share from their British competitors. But it probably has not yet moved the Global centre of Finance from London to New York. And The Entente Powers debt is much reduced, with Russia also still around to pay on debt to London and Paris. Overall, the US would have a much less free hand in the Interwar period.

In the Pacific Russia is still around. If the British see them as a threat the alliance with Japan may remain, regardless of American wishes. Though it is possible that Britain would still see the US as a better bet for an alliance, with more Naval powers in the running, the OTL WNT seems unlikely to me.

Technology hasn't had the transformation it did in OTL. On the one hand, the rapid development in aircraft hasn't happened. Which means that there is a bigger niche for airships. Not able to carry the same load as ships, but faster than ships. Not as fast as aircraft, but able to carry much more and much further. One might see development of the planned London-Sydney airship route, with several wayside stops. IIRC, Malta, Persia, India, Singapore and Sydney were the planned stations along the route, with another branch coming from Persia down to Cape Town. Developments in the cinema had been delayed by the war OTL, so we might see an earlier introduction of Talkies, and - with luck - colour.
Aircraft were showing their potential even prior to the war and had really started showing what they could do by 1916. The late war push for higher powered engines may be slower ITTL but it will be there. The limitations of Airships have also been shown. I doubt you would delay things by more than 3-4 years.

The drive to improve production efficiency hasn't happened, so industry will remain at lower levels of production, probably giving rise to greater differentials between those countries that invest and those that don't.
The Massive expansion in the amount of shells, guns and material produced has already shown the limitations of the industry. By 1916 the British production system had already hit its stride and the French one had been there for some time.
 
A lot of the British commonwealth countries came of their own in the Great War, reflected in the modern day annual memorials they hold of their participation and sacrifice in it. Guess that consciousness is delayed in this world. On one specific note, plucky little Newfoundland doesn't lose a bunch of their youth.
 
A lot of the British commonwealth countries came of their own in the Great War, reflected in the modern day annual memorials they hold of their participation and sacrifice in it. Guess that consciousness is delayed in this world. On one specific note, plucky little Newfoundland doesn't lose a bunch of their youth.
How long do you think that consciousness would be delayed? I definitely agree on Newfoundland, though even without the Somme they might suffer somewhat heavy casualties.
 
A hard fought but brief war was what was expected. The cost and size of it might have surprised people, but it was within the bounds of expectation. More significant than 1870 certainly, but not the game changer that 1914-1918 was OTL.

The big social change is that a quick war sidesteps a number of factors that resulted in major social change. For example, on the British side, you don't get the mixing of classes within the trenches. Harold MacMillan wrote in his diary at the time that he'd never before had occasion to talk to the working class, and previously, he'd assumed that they were almost a different breed of human. He wrote that he was surprised and his eyes opened to find that they were real people with real emotions and real concerns that he could identify with. This shaped his political views significantly, transforming him from an aloof Conservative to a One Nation Tory. This experience was repeated many, many times. Without it, the power structure of Britain remains on a slow change, rather than the accelerated change it got OTL.

In France, we have the Jewish experience. Previously, as the Dreyfus affair showed, conservative elements of the French hierarchy had strong anti-semitic feelings, and there was something of a view that it was almost impossible to be both Jewish and truly French. Come WWI, and the need for bodies for the Army, and Jews volunteered in their thousands, with many specifically requesting the dangerous appointment to the infantry, precisely and specifically to prove that they were both Jewish and French. That did not go unnoticed, and for a couple of decades, they made their point. (And then Vichy France came along and undid all of that, but that's a story for another day).

In Germany, you've got the factor that the Army has been outfought and there is no disguising that. No Turnip Winter, no failure of support, no slow and gentle collapse. They simply had their arses handed to them in battle, big time, and there's no-one to blame but the Army for that. Lord knows how that plays out.

In Russia, the losses of the war have been manageable and Revolution is probably staved off for a few years. Not for long, obviously. There was trouble brewing, but this will start later than OTL, and will doubtless take a different form.

Austria-Hungary retains its complicated structure, and nationalist unrest will remain a problem.

The Ottomans have stayed out of things, and French and British investment will continue apace. France had been investing heavily in what is now Lebanon, and Britain in the Gulf. This will continue and probably accelerate. Whether Germany will go with the Berlin-Baghdad railway under these conditions is a moot point.

Ireland gets Home Rule. Quite how this plays out is anybody's guess. With no Easter Rising, there is no ridiculous over-response by the British, and hence no martyrs for The Cause. There will still be problems in Ireland - that's a given regardless of how things turn out.

India is an interesting question. OTL, civil servants in the 1910-1914 era going out assumed that they would see transfer of power to Indians and Indian independence in their term of service. WWI complicated this, and most Whitehall sources suggest that it caused a delay in granting Independence. How this would have turned out, your guess is as good as mine.

The USA hasn't got involved in Europe, and probably turns its eyes towards the Pacific rather more than OTL. Quite what this means for the Britain-Japan agreement, that's right, anybody's guess. I can see America moving further down the Isolationist road, with whatever consequences that might have.

Technology hasn't had the transformation it did in OTL. On the one hand, the rapid development in aircraft hasn't happened. Which means that there is a bigger niche for airships. Not able to carry the same load as ships, but faster than ships. Not as fast as aircraft, but able to carry much more and much further. One might see development of the planned London-Sydney airship route, with several wayside stops. IIRC, Malta, Persia, India, Singapore and Sydney were the planned stations along the route, with another branch coming from Persia down to Cape Town. Developments in the cinema had been delayed by the war OTL, so we might see an earlier introduction of Talkies, and - with luck - colour.

The drive to improve production efficiency hasn't happened, so industry will remain at lower levels of production, probably giving rise to greater differentials between those countries that invest and those that don't.

Other than that, not much will change.
In regards to the German army, would a loss end the power of the aristocratic class in the army's higher echelons? I know that OTL their power wasn't broken, but they had someone else to blame then.
 
In regards to the German army, would a loss end the power of the aristocratic class in the army's higher echelons? I know that OTL their power wasn't broken, but they had someone else to blame then.

If the war is one that is over by Christmas, this would be one in which the German Government had undergone a crisis of confidence brought about by the dismal failure of their plan and the loss of five armies (I can't see any way that the race to the sea could trap the others). The combination of inept strategic plan, which had been forced through by the aristocratic military leaders, and its failure, and the collective collapse of nerve would, in my judgement, need someone to blame and punish, and there's only one obvious target.

If, on the other hand, the Germans continue a pointless fight for another year or two before throwing in the towel, then doubtless the blame will shift to those who didn't fight hard enough, those who had been against the war in the first place. Which will push the blame onto the socialists.

The third option is that the Germans fight on for a year or two before weight of numbers tell and the German military is clearly defeated. Then convenient scapegoats will be found, because obviously the senior leaders couldn't be at fault for the failure.

In my judgement, anyway. Those are the likely options, but likely does not equal certain. Things may pan out differently.
 
It depends. Their first objective is likely to be to separate one of the British French Russian alliance.

But one can argue for many options. How successful will depend on how the diplomatic moves play out.


Edit: If this is an area you're interested in, one can see one way things might develop in the Building Jerusalem series, written by one David Flin. It's fiction rather than looking at the history; it unashamedly looks at things from the point of view of a small group of ordinary (or not-so ordinary) soldiers, so you don't get the view of strategic thinkers, merely the view of the end result in a very specific place; it takes as the start point the premise that WWI never quite starts rather than it being a swift victory; and, as mentioned, it is written as a novel rather than as a history, so you'll look in vain for the big names - Lloyd George, Churchill, Wilhelm, Joffre, and so on are all notable by their absence.

But, if you're looking for the feel and concerns of society, what culture and technology might look like in a 1920 where WWI never starts, that's my take on it.

The first book in the series, Green and Pleasant Land, is available in paperback.

My apologies for this unashamed bit of self-publicity, but it seemed so on point as to be worth mentioning.
I'll definitely have to give those a look as well! I've always enjoyed historical fiction anyway.
 
An obvious addition to a big Marne win which would help lead to a swift victory is a heavier Russian concentration at 4th/5th Army in Galicia, allowing them to plough the Austrian 1st Army away from the San. Combine that with a more aggressive push by 3rd Army and the Austrian 4th Army could find itself enveloped and destroyed trying to beat up the Russian 5th Army. Overall, an even more crippling Austrian defeat IOTL combined with the destruction of a major German army and the loss of much of the French territory they had conquered.

A successful East Prussian campaign and the destruction of a few German corps later in the year as nearly happened at Łódź in November IOTL puts the German army shoved across its borders with heavy losses, Austria on the verge of collapse, and the war looking close to lost. The Ottomans will likely sit out the conflict, leaving Russia able to import munitions, while Greece, Romania, and Italy might all be convinced to declare for the Entente in 1915.

Under these conditions, I could see Germany and Austria start looking for a way out with as little embarrassment as possible in Winter 1914-15. If Russia and France both look unbeatable, it’s hard to justify any optimism. TTL Gorlice-Tarnow is launched against France to try and score a decisive blow and ends in a bloodbath, or fails vs Russia as they have more plentiful munitions. Austria drops out of the war and Germany soon follows. End result is a negotiated peace which loses Austria Galicia and Bosnia, Germany parts of Alsace/Lorraine, some colonies and maybe slivers of Poland.
 
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