To the Victor, Go the Spoils (Redux): A Plausible Central Powers Victory

Huh, this site stopped showing notifications to me, and I was quite worried about that, good job AH.com, good job:p
anyway, I would not be AT ALL surprised if by 2022 of this TTL, the world is bit worst off, I think the eastern Europeans are inclined to agree with me
As Ukrainian, I would take my country being a Skoropadsky's Ukrainian State thousand times more over than being in a USSR.
OTL was the one of the worst timelines for Ukraine in this period around WW1
 
I was more talking about Poland, which will be marginally worse
Eh the Nazi and later Soviet occupation were still devastating enough that avoiding them I feel arguably results in less people dying, like Poland was in ruins by the end of WW2, and might be better off though polish history isn't my strong suit.
 
Eh the Nazi and later Soviet occupation were still devastating enough that avoiding them I feel arguably results in less people dying, like Poland was in ruins by the end of WW2, and might be better off though polish history isn't my strong suit.
OTOH, we don't know if and how Austria-Hungary will collapse as for all we know, it could end in a civil war with all that entails.
 
Winning the Peace: A Battle at Silver Pit? (29th October - 2nd September 1918)
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Winning the Peace
A Battle at Silver Pit?
29th September - 2nd October 1918


Brief Disclaimer: I am not an expert in the internal mechanics of the Kaiserliche Marine (Something I shall endeavour to read more into), so please forgive any implausible interactions or decision making processes here. After analysing the various contributions here and reading further into the mutinies/naval strategy of the Kaiserliche Marine during the war, this is what I've concluded with. It won't be changed - so if it's not perfect, it's staying nontheless.

The German negotiating position in Europe was vulnerable on account of their economic and resource starvation by Britain that had been ongoing since the war began. Unable to easily import food and ‘pinned’ by a much larger British fleet ever since 1916, the German High Command had last truly fought the British at Jutland in 1916 in an ultimately failed attempt at killing a section of the Grand Fleet without fighting against the entire fleet.

This disparity between Hochseeflotte and Grand Fleet strength, with the British fielding 30 dreadnought battleships and 11 battlecruisers to the German 18 and 5 respectively, plus a further three British Carriers and nearly three times more destroyers, meant that Germany was stuck eternally incapable of escaping it’s blockade.

This left Germany forced into making haste with negotiations, and forced her to accept limited terms in order to satisfy the British into agreeing a later truce, and the Americans into agreeing to whatever terms Germany imposed on France.

Thus for Germany the single action that could resolve virtually all of its woes was the defeat of the Royal Navy in a decisive fleet battle. In doing so they could break the blockade, dispatch ships into the Atlantic and force the British to focus naval forces there rather than the north sea. In doing that, they could demand the maximum war aims desired by Hindenberg, Bauer and Ludendorff, and in doing that they would economically dominate the continent. Or at least so the OHL were convinced.

In practice it wasn't that simple. This was of course something the Naval command knew, but something that the OHL were not overly willing to accept. For example, while one could blow open the blockade into Germany, the Foreign and Trade ministries had no idea who would even ship in food to aid them. Not to mention, British cruisers and trade interdiction convoys were deployed globally, not just in the north sea, and thus ships from far flung places would fare poorly in their efforts to make it to Germany’s hungry ports.

Further, the Kaiserliche Marine had little interest in a sally forth to confront the British. Sure, they had made changes to their fleet since Jutland and even replaced their losses - but Britain had done that and then some. Britain’s fleet strength was now considerably greater than at Jutland - though primarily in light vessels where they held a three to one advantage over the Hochseeflotte. The one advantage that the Germans had, was that due to the terms of the truce the United States had detached its naval squadron from the Grand Fleet. While still ready to deploy from the Firth, the US Navy would not join any British sortie to confront the High Seas Fleet. This narrowly improved the odds and left the Germans mildly optimistic.

Chief of the Naval Staff Scheer, an aggressive commander but hardly a foolish one, had accepted the German doctrine that a living fleet was better than a dead one, and thus was broadly opposed to the plan to sally out. While publicly he would never deny that Germany stood a chance against the British, he knew that in the balance of probabilities his force would more likely be obliterated than succeed in their narrow operational aims.

The Kaiser too had doubts about the prospects of the engagement, but equally was aware that Germany had now broken the French - but had not won the war. In fact the one state he particularly despised, the British, were still denying Germany it’s domination of the continent. Thus, while he gave the Kaiserliche Marine complete planning autonomy, he ultimately did concur with Hindenburg and Ludendorff that a sortie could potentially improve the chance of a total German victory over the French.

Scheer could not be ordered to give battle by the OHL, but nonetheless when it was demanded he would be forced to at least consider the plan. They may not be his superior officers, but by 1918 the OHL undeniably had significant influence over state administration and to reject their advances would no doubt trigger consequences after the war eventually wound to a close.

Thus, Scheer prepared for such an operation. German naval strategy hinged on pitching a battle in a specific place at a specific time. Outnumbered, their best hope was to fight a section of the Grand Fleet, eliminate it entirely, and then flee back to Germany to repair. In this, they would be able to reduce the force strength of the Royal Navy without great losses on their own part. They also aimed to whittle down British ships with U-Boat attacks and mine traps.

This had been the aim of the Battle of Jutland too, but when it came down to it the German trap had failed. Here, Scheer would make an effort to at least do some, any damage to the British before heading home at pace.

German Preparations
While Scheer was willing to placate the OGL’s demand to at least consider an attack on the British fleet, Hipper was unconvinced. Still the commander of the Hochseeflotte, Hipper was ordered to prepare for operations as early as July with the surrender of France, but neglected to do so on any significant scale.

Hipper was a realist. An aggressive realist and a proud German fleet Admiral, but a realist nonetheless. He knew that an attack on the Grand Fleet would be suicide, and he was unwilling to see the fleet annihilated for the sake of an unconvincing attempt to try and blunt British negotiating strength in the future. After all, surely if Germany were to be a convincing global power after the war, she would need to have a fleet that she could deploy to counter British threats - or else whenever Britain felt affronted, she could just yet again impose a blockade.

Scheer was himself very aware of this fact, but had become convinced nonetheless that a battle could achieve results. This was because he remained convinced that a German fleet action, if well executed, could attack specific elements of the Grand Fleet, cripple them, and then retreat. This might, he reasoned, deliver enough of a blow to the Grand Fleet that their sailors may later be less willing to engage with the Germans, and Germany therefore might be able to break the blockade later in January or February.

Provided losses were kept at a minimum, primarily through the aid of U-Boats and torpedo salvos, Scheer wagered that he could satisfy the requests of the OHL while not annihilating his surfare fleet. He need only slightly dent the British, and they might see the conflict was fruitless and bow out sooner rather than later.

To say Scheer was overly confident of success though would be a lie. Still holding reservations, Scheer confided in Hipper in August that any such attack still carried grave risk, and thus the pair concluded that the best course of action would be a highly limited sally with specific objectives.

The plan thus would be as follows: The High Seas Fleet would deploy in strength at the start of October. Over the preceding weeks a large fleet of U-Boats would be deployed in specific locations across the North Sea, thus allowing for attritional attacks on the Grand Fleet prior to any engagement. Hipper would then dispatch raiders towards the mouth of the Thames. This would be an intentional target aimed at drawing the Grand Fleet south, creating an impression that the Hochseeflotte had moved south along the coast of Holland.

The High Seas Fleet though in reality would move north over Dogger Bank and aim to engage the Grand Fleet from its rear near Silver Pit. This was an intentional choice by Hipper, who aimed to launch an aggressive assault on the fleet before immediately breaking off and moving to return back to port.

In doing so, Hipper hoped to be able to outmanoeuvre the large and untested Grand Fleet which had until now not yet engaged in conflict in its current size and structure.

British Preparations
The British were, unbeknownst to the Germans, completely prepared for a major German action. On high alert for several weeks, an operation to try and force Britain out of the conflict had been clearly on the cards since the loss of Amiens back in March, and Room 40 had perfectly identified the buildup of the German fleet at Schillig Roads on the evening of 29 September.

So accurate in fact was British intelligence, that Vice Admiral Sydney Fremantle, the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, had even informed Beatty that the Germans intended to sail on October 1st. Beatty had accordingly positioned the Grand Fleet at high Steam pressure in the Firth of Forth in preparation for action, and his men seemed motivated. News of the Ottoman armistice had buoyed their morale, and while the Americans would not join their sortie, the Grand Fleet still held a massive advantage over the Germans.

Capable of leaving harbour and being at full sail from the Firth within four hours, the Grand Fleet had no clear idea where the Germans intended to go, but standing orders would see the Fleet head directly towards the centre of the North Sea - this maximising the chance of intercept and preventing a return of the fleet back to Germany. Following pre-established paths of known German mine laying formations and submarine forces, the fleet assumed that the Germans would sail towards either the British south coast, or towards Dogger Bank.

Early Issues
By October 30th the High Seas Fleet had been successfully assembled off the Schillig Roads in Wilhelmshaven Harbour. The assembly had, however, seen some difficulties. Several vessels, notably the two battleships SMS Thüringen and SMS Helgoland, had seen crews refuse to weigh anchor in the early hours of October 1st.

This happened for a few reasons. First, due to the absence of any intended deployments of the High Seas Fleet since Jutland in 1916 many of the valuable and reliable sailors and officers had been transferred to the submarine service and other frontline fleet services. Poor rations and mundane orders between 1917-1918 left the sailors bored numb and frustrated at their living conditions, prompting the formation of some sailors councils aboard several of the Fleet’s major vessels.

German sailors plainly did not want to leave port on a risky mission against an enemy they now knew to be stronger than their own force. Having experienced the extremely indecisive battle of Jutland, and aware of the British expansion in naval capacity since 1916, German sailors had been overjoyed by victory over France and it had left them confident that they would not again be asked to engage the Grand Fleet.

Why, after all, would they be asked to fight a superior enemy when peace with such an enemy was surely just a matter of time. Many of the sailors too had been inspired by socialist slogans and the efforts of President Wilson in advocating a peace aimed at providing peoples with their national independence and self determination. Thus, for many sailors the idea that Germany ought to send forth it’s fleet in order to compel France into surrendering French speaking territories seemed both illogical and unnecessarily imperialistic.

Many sailors therefore rejected the plans, but some, motivated by the prospect of securing a victory at sea for the Empire and having gained some faith in German chances in the war, gave credit to the naval high command and reluctantly accepted the planned sortie.

The Thüringen and Helgoland’s mutinies thus came as a surprise to naval officers, who quickly brought the vessels into firing range of torpedoes and threatened the ships with destruction. The sailors promptly surrendered, were led off their vessel, and reservists ordered into service. The fleet were stood down for 24 hours during this process, but German officers nonetheless remained confident that the morale of the remainder of the fleet would be good enough to continue the operation.

The Sortie
Setting off on October 2nd, the fleet dispatched its strike forces at 0700 hours, with the main body of the fleet set to follow an hour later. Within two hours, British naval intelligence and maritime patrols indicated that the High Seas Fleet had been put to sea, and signals were dispatched to the Grand Fleet to deploy - which they did shortly after.

Yet the report was misleading. The initial assault formations had indeed put to sea - the main body of the fleet though had not.

Upon being ordered to weigh anchor and move out to sea, the initially small mutiny had spread to numerous other vessels. Refusing to deploy, the Battleships Baden, Bayern and Markgraf were so vital to the operation that it was immediately cancelled by Hipper who was himself hesitant to deploy.

The initial strike forces were then recalled back to Wilhelmshaven, and almost as quickly as it had started the operation was at an end.

The Grand Fleet meanwhile would be recalled by 1300 hours after it became evident that the German sortie had failed. Having correctly estimated the positions of German U-Boats, no incidents of mine strikes or U-Boat torpedo attacks were reported. British commanders, perplexed by the incident, correctly attributed the failed sortie to a mutiny, and thus concluded Germany now had no willing Naval force.

Aftermath
The failed sortie German leadership concluded several things. Firstly, the navy would have to be reformed to prevent similar incidents happening in the future. Secondly, a Naval Sortie under current conditions would not be a viable operation. Finally, that Britain was far better prepared for a naval engagement that Scheer had immediately assumed.

The speed at which the Grand Fleet put to sea proved to the Germans that while their fleet might have been able to execute the planned operation successfully, in practice the most likely outcome would have been that the fleet would have been identified by the Grand Fleet and, with such low morale, likely destroyed. While the mutiny never amounted to a wider political revolt against German leadership, the fleet would never again be deployed against the British throughout what remained of the conflict.

This broke the resolve of the Kaiserlichte Marine, who now resolved to firmly reject any plans for a sortie and instructed the German Government under von Hertling that it should seek an accommodation with Britain. The British Government, for their part, were greatly emboldened by the failed sortie and concluded that Germany could now be effectively pressered into a position where they would accept British terms for a conclusion to trhe conflict. For Prime Minister Bonar Law this was the ideal outcome as it allowed an end to the conflict, and thus the opportunity for recovery, along with justifying his continuation of the war - now being able to sell himself as the man who forced a victorious Germany into terms.

The OHL, accepting the new reality, thus moderated their approach to peace terms with the French - but would not have the chance to negotiate with Britain.


If you want to see how a real fleet engagement may have turned out in 1918, I highly recommend the following video:
 
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I feel this is very fitting for this, and for what is to come.


The British may be able to push their own terms and winning war aims here, and there like in the Middle East, but how much is to actually matter in the short, or long run is another question. The UK may end up looking like Italy here, just cracking apart below and above the surface. They still don't have any men on the field, or able to actually fight the CP in Europe.

I'm really seeing a 'Peace with Honor' that both sides are pissed at. Bonar Law is not going to look his future, or that of the Empire.
 
I like the chapter, the idea that a somewhat victorious Germany may try to push a naval battle, but with forces in the navy generally being against it, is probably no matter how much the Grand Fleet outclasses the Kassiermarine.

The fact that it ended with Germans giving up before it really started is probably a good way of showing this.
 
I like the chapter, the idea that a somewhat victorious Germany may try to push a naval battle, but with forces in the navy generally being against it, is probably no matter how much the Grand Fleet outclasses the Kassiermarine.

The fact that it ended with Germans giving up before it really started is probably a good way of showing this.

Everyone just what the damn war to end already. Germany overplayed their hand at sea, and will pay the costs, but everyone is just exhausted, and whats the Great War to be over with, and the boys to come home alive, and not buried far from home. Still a somewhat victorious Germany on the mainland at least.

Granted, the UK will also still find itself not the 'land fit for heroes' as some claimed in OTL, and will still claim which is a lie.
 
Bravo Zulu My understanding is that the KM plans OTL was for the engagement to take place off Terschelling but I could see Hipper changing those plans given the different dynamics of this TL. Yes some degree of mutiny is the probable outcome.

At some you need to give some consideration to what is going on in Ireland.
 
At some you need to give some consideration to what is going on in Ireland.
All in good time.

Will say I do consider things way ahead, so like i'll write about six months at the same time, so it's not like I plan an event without consideration of elsewhere etc or OTL events that happen that I dont mention.
 
If you wanted the KM to sail out, this was a good way of doing it. I think also the army may consider if this is a good time to reengage.
Well played. Now the Germans may try to be reasonable, but let’s see if the British get overconfident.
 
Well, kudos to the German sailors on being some of the few men in the past few years to avoid a meaningless death in the war! Guess Germany will have to hope for their own Talleyrand to help get the run-around on the Anglo bloc, because the not-so-wooden wall ain't going away...
 
I really really hate that Britain is going to steal victory from the jaws of defeat here. Germany earned their victory over France, and now Britain is going to force Germany into a mutilated peace.

I guarantee that'll be the historical narrative in Germany, at the very least.

EDIT: As I made clear before,, this is about me being a partisan of Germany the historical character in WWI TLs, not a demand the author change anything or anything like that. If I hated the TL itself, I wouldn't be reading it at all.
 
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I really really hate that Britain is going to steal victory from the jaws of defeat here. Germany earned their victory over France, and now Britain is going to force Germany into a mutilated peace.

I guarantee that'll be the historical narrative in Germany, at the very least.

EDIT: As I made clear before,, this is about me being a partisan of Germany the historical character in WWI TLs, not a demand the author change anything or anything like that. If I hated the TL itself, I wouldn't be reading it at all.
Its actually an interesting and scary prospect you outline. A strong and victorious Germany which is out for revenge.
 
Its not Britain seizing victory from the jaws of defeat so much as Britain has yet to be defeated. Sure the BEF has been wrecked but it's not like they are in a France situation.

And Germany having the Italian dolchstosslegende ITTL would be interesting, although then again Britain can do very little in Eastern Europe where Germany has acquired colonies actually worth having...
 
I really really hate that Britain is going to steal victory from the jaws of defeat here. Germany earned their victory over France, and now Britain is going to force Germany into a mutilated peace.

I guarantee that'll be the historical narrative in Germany, at the very least.

EDIT: As I made clear before,, this is about me being a partisan of Germany the historical character in WWI TLs, not a demand the author change anything or anything like that. If I hated the TL itself, I wouldn't be reading it at all.

Its actually an interesting and scary prospect you outline. A strong and victorious Germany which is out for revenge.

Its not Britain seizing victory from the jaws of defeat so much as Britain has yet to be defeated. Sure the BEF has been wrecked but it's not like they are in a France situation.

And Germany having the Italian dolchstosslegende ITTL would be interesting, although then again Britain can do very little in Eastern Europe where Germany has acquired colonies actually worth having...


If it helps, even the British can only go so far with their demands. It not the same as the Fourteen Points, or Wilsonianism, but they are limits.

As said, they very little the British could do in Eastern Europe, that's the Kaiser's playground. Same for total lack of allies in Europe itself with the rest of the Entente folds one another the other.

Same for a embitter France that may blame the UK, and America for failing to win the war while Frenchmen died in No Man's Man just as they blame Germany itself.
 
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My worry for the initial plan was not that the Germans wouldn't order it but that the crews would be unlikely to go for it. Having it start but essentially collapse before it went anywhere due to crew unrest and quick British maneuvering seems a logical outcome to me.
 
Its not Britain seizing victory from the jaws of defeat so much as Britain has yet to be defeated. Sure the BEF has been wrecked but it's not like they are in a France situation.

And Germany having the Italian dolchstosslegende ITTL would be interesting, although then again Britain can do very little in Eastern Europe where Germany has acquired colonies actually worth having...
Germany isn't going to be able to get almost any of their war aims in the West now, so it will be a mutilated peace for Germany in France/Belgium. Not unless Britain trades those for Germany's colonies, and Britain may just decide to keep those anyway because what is the Kaisar gonna do about it?
 
Germany isn't going to be able to get almost any of their war aims in the West now, so it will be a mutilated peace for Germany in France/Belgium. Not unless Britain trades those for Germany's colonies, and Britain may just decide to keep those anyway because what is the Kaisar gonna do about it?

Honestly losing the African Colonies would not be the worst thing for Germany. Germany can still pushed at least some of their goals in France and Belgium. The British won at sea, but even they'll what peace.
 
I really really hate that Britain is going to steal victory from the jaws of defeat here. Germany earned their victory over France, and now Britain is going to force Germany into a mutilated peace.

I guarantee that'll be the historical narrative in Germany, at the very least.

EDIT: As I made clear before,, this is about me being a partisan of Germany the historical character in WWI TLs, not a demand the author change anything or anything like that. If I hated the TL itself, I wouldn't be reading it at all.
A Germany with "a mutilated victory", rather than "a stab in the back" opens up a lot of interesting possibilities. We could have a narrative arise in which everybody in Germany gave their all to winning the war, only for the illegal British blockade to invalidate their sacrifices. Germany may have won on the battlefield, but had lost the peace in the West due to British underhandedness. Such a narrative could create a Germany that, in regards to domestic policy, is less focused on rooting out "subversive elements" to ensure a loyal population and more focused on internal improvement to mitigate the effects of another British blockade.
 
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