What should the United States, Britain, and France, have done differently regarding Germany, and Europe, at the End of World War One?

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Everyone agrees that the Peace that came at the End of World War One, specifically the Treaty of Versailles, was flawed from almost the beginning and set the stage for World War II and the rise of Nazi Germany.

So what should the United States, Britain, and France have done differently regarding Germany at the End of World War One? Should they have pushed the Germans back into Germany, and take the fight to Berlin? What about the Russian Civil War?
They should have demanded unconditional surrender and marched on Berlin. This would be followed by a period of full occupation where the country would be reorganised.

The leaders could have been sent off to live in exile.

This would kill any chance of the stabbed in the back myth. The new government and constitution would be agreed amongst the Entente powers with the borders of Europe being similar to what they were IOTL.

The biggest issue is reparations though and I don't think there is a good answer although the Germans bore the war guilt.
 

Garrison

Donor
Just no.

Had herr Hitler been the only one that wanted revenge for what had been done to Germany post WWI, he wouldn't have ever had the chance to rise to power. The historical forces were not just because of one guy, but widespread throughout Germany and it's population.
The historical forces came down to Hitler and the Nazis deciding on war simple as that, there was no appetite for one among the German people even in 1939. The ToV did not cause WWII, Hitler and the Nazis did.
 
The historical forces came down to Hitler and the Nazis deciding on war simple as that, there was no appetite for one among the German people even in 1939. The ToV did not cause WWII, Hitler and the Nazis did.
How did the Nazi's gain votes again? The German people wanted payback.

We'll just have to agree to disagree I'm afraid, as I don't doubt that the treatment Germany received post WWI indeed played a major role in there being a WWII.
 

NedStark

Kicked
Foch himself said it would be impossible to justify shedding more blood if the Entente could achieve their war aims by signing the Armistice. Only if the Germans adopted a fight to the death attitude, which is going to be a stretch since the country was falling apart in the Autumn of 1918, would the Entente fight their way to Berlin. Only other option would be the Germans committing some further atrocity, perhaps dropping poison gas over Paris? That might stoke the desire to drive on to Berlin. But honestly given the situation by the time the Armistice was signed I can't really see a fight to the finish.
If the Allies decide to leak a fake peace proposal that involves splitting up Germany in say, July or August 1918, it would harden Germany's resolve and prevent the German Revolution. The outcome would be an invasion of Germany in 1919-1920.

They should have demanded unconditional surrender and marched on Berlin. This would be followed by a period of full occupation where the country would be reorganised.

The leaders could have been sent off to live in exile.

This would kill any chance of the stabbed in the back myth. The new government and constitution would be agreed amongst the Entente powers with the borders of Europe being similar to what they were IOTL.

The biggest issue is reparations though and I don't think there is a good answer although the Germans bore the war guilt.
Agree. Plus, the Germans' expectation of how they would have been treated would have totally changed.
 
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There is no precedent for a losing power gaining more lands that it even asked for. Every single Greater Germany Versailles scenario is ASB, I repeat, ASB.


Just about all the suggestion that have been put forward here seem to be ASB for one reason or another.

That's the trouble, It's a hellishly difficult thing to change in any useful way.
 

Garrison

Donor
How did the Nazi's gain votes again? The German people wanted payback.

We'll just have to agree to disagree I'm afraid, as I don't doubt that the treatment Germany received post WWI indeed played a major role in there being a WWII.
Well you are pretty much wrong on all counts, including the idea of agreeing to disagree, which is frankly only for subjective questions like 'what's the best ice cream flavour?' not subjects where we have plenty of objective evidence to disprove an idea.

So lets take it point by point. Firstly even the minimum realistic terms handed down by the Entente in 1918 are not going to be popular with the Germans. They are going to be expected to pay in some manner to rebuild everything they looted and destroyed in France and Belgium. The latter often being overlooked in these discussions. A neutral country that the Germans nonetheless invaded and proceeded to loot over the course of the war. Even if reparations are dialed back they are still going to exist and they are still going to be burden to a broken Germany economy in the 1920s. Likewise even if the ToV avoids wholesale redrawing of borders Alsace-Lorraine is going back to the French and the Japanese are not giving back the German colonies in the Pacific. The British are going to insist on the dismantlement of the High Seas Fleet and all parties are going to insist on severe restrictions on the German army. Yes this is definitely a case of a victors peace, which is where the problem starts because the Germans progressively buy into the myth that they didn't really lose and thus the treaty was perceived as being far worse than it actually was, certainly if compared to something like Brest-Litovsk. Thus almost regardless of how generous the terms are its still going to be regarded as unjust by the Germans.

Now obviously you can ameliorate that over the years and as I suggested at the beginning of the thread driving home the point that the Germans lost might tip the balance against the rise of the Nazis and the outbreak of WWII, but honestly there's a good chance it won't because the thing that set the Nazi's on the road to power wasn't the ToV, it was the Great Depression. Prior to the collapse of the German economy the Nazis were a relatively marginal party and it was only the movement of the voters to the extremes that saw them make such huge electoral advances. Their vote share went up dramatically, but so did that of the Communists. Weimar was discredited and the economic prescription being pursued to address the economic situation, deflation, was inflicting huge pain on the German people. Politicians offering someone to blame and simplistic solutions that would make the lives of the ordinary citizens better gain votes in such troubled times. Undoing the ToV was only of interest to the voters if it helped them find jobs and put food on the table for their families. By 1932 the shine was wearing off the Nazis already and their vote share was declining, never having gotten close to a plurality. Hitler gets brought into government not because of the ToV or his promises of revenge but because the establishment is terrified of the Communists and thinks the Nazis are an essential component in holding off the threat of revolution. They also think they can keep Hitler under their thumb, which is a costly error.

Throughout the 1930s Hitler certainly engages in a number of actions designed to reverse the ToV and reverse the outcome of WWI, but this does not mean there's any appetite for war among the German people, revanchism is only a serious goal for a tiny minority. The military are willing to support it, up to point, because it means that they get lavished with resources to allow them to rebuild and in the process Hitler tears up key parts of the ToV without an immediate consequences. The former Entente doesn't even begin their own rearmament until well after the Germans, and this is arguably another major error on their part. A major factor in Hitler going to war in 1939 was his perception that with British and French rearmament finally kicking into high gear the advantages the Wehrmacht had built up over the latter half of the 1930s would soon be erased, Germany went to war in 1939 because Hitler saw it as his last chance to do so with any prospect of winning. This was even with many in the Nazi ranks having called for a period of consolidation after Munich, focusing on growing the civilian economy and dialing back military spending.

When the Germans entered Prague in 1939 that was the moment when it became plain to everyone else that Hitler was just another conqueror and all the talk of unravelling the ToV was just a small part of his grandiose ambitions. It had all been laid out in Mein Kampf but no one thought that any European leader would actually plunge Europe into another ruinous war.

TL-DR version. Doesn't matter how generous the ToV is because it had little or nothing to do with Hitler coming to power and once he did there was going to be war unless the rest of Europe was basically willing to let him establish German hegemony over the continent.
 
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Just about all the suggestion that have been put forward here seem to be ASB for one reason or another.

That's the trouble, It's a hellishly difficult thing to change in any useful way.
I wouldn't say ASB, but I agree implausible, mine included. The issue with mine is that marching on Berlin doesn't take into account the Entente Powers had gone through years of slaughter and wanted the war done as much as the Germans and people don't act with hindsight.
 
TL-DR version. Doesn't matter how generous the ToV is because it had little or nothing to do with Hitler coming to power and once he did there was going to be war unless the rest of Europe was basically willing to let him establish German hegemony over the continent.

So basically, if democracy could have resolved those things before the Nazis came to power there would have been less revanchism, more buy in with the German people for the Versailles regime and the Weimar republic, and less open goals for the Nazis to collect?
It's almost like if the idiotic parts of Versailles hadn't been implemented, or eased before, the Nazis would have had a much harder time getting into power and more importantly, staying in power?
I have said it before, but no German regime was going to let Austria, Danzig, and the Sudeten be - Nor should they in accordance with the principles of national self-determination as espoused by the Versailles order. And since they were patently unjust positions, nobody was going to stop them.
But instead of letting them be victories of democracy and the very order you are trying to uphold, you instead let them be victories of fascists who seek to undermine said order.
 
Everyone agrees that the Peace that came at the End of World War One, specifically the Treaty of Versailles, was flawed from almost the beginning and set the stage for World War II and the rise of Nazi Germany.

So what should the United States, Britain, and France have done differently regarding Germany at the End of World War One? Should they have pushed the Germans back into Germany, and take the fight to Berlin? What about the Russian Civil War?
It is largely too late by then. Not because they couldn't do it, they absolutely could in countless ways, but because none of the three nations were really thinking about it. And worse what they were thinking about contradicted each other. In essence these were the positions of the three nations by the end of WW1.
  • France: Holy fuck this sucked we can't go through this again, so Britain and US you guys should definitely commit to prevent a repeat of this.
  • Britain: We won I guess, just gotta convince the population the cost was worth it, and then we move on since this is all finished now.
  • US: VICTORY LAP! Also this Europe thingy just isn't worth the trouble.
So it is really hard to see a coherent treaty emerging in this context, would need a different war for that. If the Great Depression never happened WW2 would have been delayed significantly, enough other factors might have meant it never happened at all, but since the Great Depression was a result of WW1 that just goes back to it.

The most depressing part of the world wars -especially the second- and the consequences thereof is how they didn't have to happen at all, yet they are so hard to avert because the cause was the aggregate choices of a lot of people so that is not something easily diverted.
 

Garrison

Donor
So basically, if democracy could have resolved those things before the Nazis came to power there would have been less revanchism, more buy in with the German people for the Versailles regime and the Weimar republic, and less open goals for the Nazis to collect?
It's almost like if the idiotic parts of Versailles hadn't been implemented, or eased before, the Nazis would have had a much harder time getting into power and more importantly, staying in power?
I have said it before, but no German regime was going to let Austria, Danzig, and the Sudeten be - Nor should they in accordance with the principles of national self-determination as espoused by the Versailles order. And since they were patently unjust positions, nobody was going to stop them.
But instead of letting them be victories of democracy and the very order you are trying to uphold, you instead let them be victories of fascists who seek to undermine said order.
I don't know how you got that from what I wrote. My point was that the economic catastrophe of the Great Depression that made the Nazi ascent possible and the war happened because of Hitler's ambitions and twisted world view. The actual content of the ToV was all but irrelevant.
 
Well you are pretty much wrong on all counts, including the idea of agreeing to disagree,
Well, you are of course welcome to your opinion (as am I), but when you make such a statement, telling me I am wrong and that you are right, I hope you can back that up, because I also feel that I am right, and you are wrong, and rather than do a nock-down-drag-out argument over it, I tried to allow for respect for your opinion, but you felt that I was wrong to do that, as well.

So be it.
which is frankly only for subjective questions like 'what's the best ice cream flavour?' not subjects where we have plenty of objective evidence to disprove an idea.
So, thrill me with your evidence that the ToV (and to be honest, all the other 'treaties' that were imposed upon Germany post WWI), were somehow NOT a cause/contributing factor in us going from WWI to WWII? I look forwards to your making a spirited attempt at this...
So let's take it point by point. Firstly even the minimum realistic terms handed down by the Entente in 1918 are not going to be popular with the Germans.
So, ok.

First, I'll freely admit that any peace terms that take things away from Germany won't be popular with the German people, and to be fair, I never said anything of the kind. Now, you throw a qualifier into your statement, namely "Minimum Realistic Terms". If you throw in this qualifier, and then try to use it to justify an unworkable peace, then you completely subvert the whole point of the thread, assuming of course that the purpose of this thread is to achieve a "Just and lasting Peace", rather than, more of the same mistakes made historically, which led as we know to a 2nd world war.
They are going to be expected to pay in some manner to rebuild everything they looted and destroyed in France and Belgium.
Granted, and this sounds fair, but remember, the British Blockade is also going to have to be answered for.
The latter often being overlooked in these discussions.
I already mentioned this very point upthread, but because of my poor writing (so-called) skills, I doubt that most folks even realized it.
A neutral country that the Germans nonetheless invaded and proceeded to loot over the course of the war.
Yep, we both agree o this one.
Even if reparations are dialed back they are still going to exist and they are still going to be burden to a broken Germany economy in the 1920s.
I actually didn't call for the Reparations to be scaled back, but then again, I wasn't thinking in terms of total desired reparations as opposed to the A and B ones. In fact, I did try to make the point that Demilitarized & Occupied zones should have been created and maintained, while the war ravaged areas were rebuilt, but once the damage was repaired, the occupation zones would be withdrawn. Note that this isn't tying the Reparations package to occupied territory, just the rebuilding parts damaged/destroyed during the war. So my idea was to get that down ASAP, and after that, the foreign troops are off German soil, and then the reparations continue to be paid until cleared.
Likewise even if the ToV avoids wholesale redrawing of borders Alsace-Lorraine is going back to the French and the Japanese are not giving back the German colonies in the Pacific.
I'm not going into the issue with the loss of the German colonial empire, which as I understand it, was (with one exception) costing Germany more than they were making them. However, when we do look at what was done, it will come into play when deciding if the Entente went to far (which the certainly did) in making Germany pay.
The British are going to insist on the dismantlement of the High Seas Fleet
And right there, we have the first untenable demand. So what if the Germans have a big navy? What actual good did it do them during the war, other than the submarine arm, and if we cannot agree the Germans have the right to fight back with the only means at their disposal against a food blockade imposed by her enemies, we might just as well abandon any discussion of a just and lasting peace. The British committed a crime against humanity with their food blockade, and then want to cry about unrestricted submarine warfare taken as a retaliatory measure, and then want the other guy to be forbidden any submarines at all, and all without being forced to acknowledge their own crime, and paying reparations for them, and being forced to acknowledge that such is a crime, and can never be done again?

Just no.

So then we see that any naval disarmament needs to be done by both sides, and codes of conduct need to be implemented and enforced that prevent the attempt to starve an entire population into submission. Would the Germans have abandoned their early war efforts to fight a gentlemanly war had the UK not started using their merchantmen aggressively? I think not, myself, but that is an unknowable thing. Was the British blockade of foodstuffs a problem for the German (and other nations) sure, was food supposed to be excluded, NO, but the UK broke the rules, and forced Germany's hand.

So naval disarmament, imposed upon Germany, and without any obligation on the part of Britain to acknowledge and be legally bound to never try again, just a no brainer.
and all parties are going to insist on severe restrictions on the German army.
And why should these desires be satisfied? We will come back to this later, because this come down to the really basic stuff that led to WWI, and will lead to WWII.
Yes this is definitely a case of a victor's peace, which is where the problem starts because the Germans progressively buy into the myth that they didn't really lose and thus the treaty was perceived as being far worse than it actually was, certainly if compared to something like Brest-Litovsk. Thus almost regardless of how generous the terms are its still going to be regarded as unjust by the Germans.
Wow. Just wow, are you really saying that the Germans were treated generously is some fashion? Did you really just make a comparison between what was done to Germany and what was done to the Russian Empire with the treaty of B/L? And somehow come to the conclusion that B/L was a harsher treaty?!?!

Much to much work for this post to cover and stay on topic, will try to get to that sometime, but not right now.
TL-DR version. Doesn't matter how generous the ToV is because it had little or nothing to do with Hitler coming to power and once he did there was going to be war unless the rest of Europe was basically willing to let him establish German hegemony over the continent.
There is that phrase again, "how generous the ToV", the ToV was NOT generous, far from it. I want to go on in depth about the the true causes for WWI, and the desire for Germany to be broken at the end of it, and it has nothing to do with maintaining peace, so much as preserving the power and wealth of Britain and France.

You'll have to excuse me for a bit, my health isn't good and I'm too tired to continue this right now, sorry and I'll try to get back to this sometime today, Sunday, Nov 19th, 2023.
 
They should have demanded unconditional surrender and marched on Berlin. This would be followed by a period of full occupation where the country would be reorganised.

The leaders could have been sent off to live in exile.

This would kill any chance of the stabbed in the back myth. The new government and constitution would be agreed amongst the Entente powers with the borders of Europe being similar to what they were IOTL.

The biggest issue is reparations though and I don't think there is a good answer although the Germans bore the war guilt.
Ok and how would they be able to simply do a "lmao, just conquer Berlin."?
And how do you plan to get any money out of Germany if the Allies basically have to destroy all of Germany west of the Elbe to finally reach Berlin?

Also what do you mean with "The Germans bore the war guilt."? I can accept it being the last surviving Central Power member which bore part of the war guilt, but saying "Germany caused all of the Great War by itself." is straight up not true.
 
Ok and how would they be able to simply do a "lmao, just conquer Berlin."?
And how do you plan to get any money out of Germany if the Allies basically have to destroy all of Germany west of the Elbe to finally reach Berlin?
Germany was collapsing in November 1918 through the effects of the Royal Navy blockade. American troops were pouring into Europe and the Hindenburg Line had been smashed by the 100 days offensive and Germany was falling behind both tactically and technologically. The war had effectively been won, however conquering Germany would have cost many more Entente lives. The armistice ended the war without the human cost.

With the benefit of hindsight, the option of unconditional surrender would remove the myth of the German military not losing the war. This would reduce the amount of the population within Germany who saw the future of the nation in a militaristic sense. It would unequivocally remove the stabbed in the back myth. There is a chance it could have destroyed German militarism.
Also what do you mean with "The Germans bore the war guilt."? I can accept it being the last surviving Central Power member which bore part of the war guilt, but saying "Germany caused all of the Great War by itself." is straight up not true.
I was talking in the context of an unconditional German surrender. Do you think this wouldn't be one of the conditions the Entente set in the event of the occupation of Berlin?

Of course, I could have said the war guilt of the Central Powers, however it was clear I was talking of Germany in the period at the end of the Great War.

To go further, I made a further post later on saying it wasn't the most plausible ending to the Great War as in the moment, it would have cost tens of thousands of Entente lives, but it would have been the most desirable ending.
 
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Germany was collapsing in November 1918 through the effects of the Royal Navy blockade. American troops were pouring into Europe and the Hindenburg Line had been smashed by the 100 days offensive and Germany was falling behind both tactically and technologically. The war had effectively been won, however conquering Germany would have cost many more Entente lives. The armistice ended the war without the human cost.

With the benefit of hindsight, the option of unconditional surrender would remove the myth of the German military not losing the war. This would reduce the amount of the population within Germany who saw the future of the nation in a militaristic sense. It would unequivocally remove the stabbed in the back myth. There is a chance it could have destroyed German militarism.
Ok, so you meant breaking the German army before peace, not literally marching their asses till the Brandenburg gate. That's way more plausible.

Well, they don't really have the hindsight, do they? Unlike us they don't see a reason to fight longer if Germany already asked for an armistice.

Destroy the myth? Most certainly. But I have high doubts that it would have destroyed the love for the military.
 
As a bit of a historical recap and reason the French Empire hated and wanted revenge on the German Empire:
I'm pretty sure that the French weren't really anywhere close to wanting revenge like the Nazis did. Their foreign policy wasn't perfect, but they were less belligerent in 1871-1914 than the Germans (especially after 1900) were.
 
I don't know how you got that from what I wrote. My point was that the economic catastrophe of the Great Depression that made the Nazi ascent possible and the war happened because of Hitler's ambitions and twisted world view. The actual content of the ToV was all but irrelevant.
Except it wasn't.
Everyone regarded parts of the ToV as patently unjust, solely put there to placate French paranoia.
And since everyone regarded those parts of the ToV as patently unjust, they were completely uninterested in enforcing them.
Again, any German regime would have sought it's revision.
 
I'm pretty sure that the French weren't really anywhere close to wanting revenge like the Nazis did. Their foreign policy wasn't perfect, but they were less belligerent in 1871-1914 than the Germans (especially after 1900) were.
Their foreign policy literally consisted of two things: One seek allies against Germany, Two, seek war with Germany.
Look at their conscription laws -
 

DougM

Donor
Random observations.

1). No one said you could ”realistically” get France and GB &Co. to accept a peace treaty that is likely to establish a lasting peace. There is a goid reason we got the treaty we go. But the whole point of this topic is that we are looking at alternative treaties. If you want to point out they are “unrealistic” so be it go ahead but there is no point in picking on those of us responding to the Topic as it is called out. Do we on this topic want “realistic” or do we want ”alternative”. Because realistic alternatives would have to be worse as GB and France and co realistically wont except any treaty much “softer” on Germany.

2). Just because the Nazis road the Great Depression into power does not mean that the treaty was not used by them to help them achieve their goals. No one has to go the route of the Nazis just because they road the Great Depression into power. For all intents thhe Democrates and FDR did as well and before you argue that Hitler was a dictator for life let’s me point out FDR was “President for Life“ and we would have been electing him until the 60 (or longer) if he had not died. The difference is that FDR was not ut insane and Hitler was.

3) the ToV was not a good treaty. It was designed to A) punish Germany B) be a cop out that allo France and GB and everyone else to not have to share the blame for starting the deadliest most expensive war in history something that almost ever country involved in had a hand in starting. If ANY of the Major powers had been more reasonable (including Germany for that matter) then the war could have possibly been avoided or at least minimized. C) it was designed to reward countries that had joined the winning side. E) it was designed to try and get back the money that the winning side had spent on it (much of which they couldn’t afford) F) it was designed to ensure GB was unchallenged on the oceans G) it was designed to get back what France had lost in a previous war…. Etc etc etc.
Note that NONE of those points mentioned creating a stable Europe that would help prevent future wars.

4). Just because the treaty may not have been THE LEADING cause in the Rise of the. Nazis and the start of the war dies not mean that it was not a contributing factor. In fact the Nazis used it as a hell of a goods propaganda point.

5) some economists argue that the way the treaty helped to keep Germany from creating a stable economy was in fact a contr factor to the Great Depression being as bad as it was. Others argue the war itself destabilized many economies and that even the US who greatly profited from the war ultimately was adversely affected by it as it created a false economy that could not be sustained long term.

6) Even if the C class payments were not intended to be paid off unless you tell the public this fact it is beside the point. Your average person in Germany had no idea that Germany could get away without paying them. So this often repeated point on this thread 1000% irrelevant. Like the doomsday device in Dr Strange it is utterly useless if kept secret.

As I said earlier… this type of topic needs a clearly stated goal or everyone posting to it end up working from different and often diametrically opposed Ideas. For example the (reasonable) view that most of these suggested changes to the treaty are “unrealistic “ in that France and GB would not accept them. A valid point but perhaps irrelevant if you are working from the assumption that the OPs suggested topic of discussing alternative treaties. You cant really do that if you start from the (admittedly realistic) point of view that one side won’t accept anything short of what we got.
 
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