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

  • Thread starter Deleted member 145219
  • Start date

NedStark

Kicked
Do you want to destroy Germany? Then divide it up and sit back and watch about half of Europe turn into a quagmire like the Balkans historically have been.
France would be actually okay with a Balkanized Germany. In fact it would be their wet dream. Only Britain would be worried.

Oh wait, we actually divide up Germany after WW2.

I'm not sure where you get the idea that this would be remotely just, nor why the victorious Entente would offer such ludicrously generous terms to Germany.
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.

I mean, this is only AH scenario in which the idea of a losing power gaining more lands is a thing.
 
France would be actually okay with a Balkanized Germany. In fact it would be their wet dream. Only Britain would be worried.

Oh wait, we actually divide up Germany after WW2.
True, but I don't think Balkanizing Germany is realistic.
The only "labile" Germanic parts of the Kaiserreich are Bavaria and Alsace-Moselle.
The first has a strong regionalist identity that could be incentivised into independence, the latter straight up refuses German identity... and has achieved a compromise deal with Paris to rejoin France in November 1918.
However, that doesn't mean that, if you accept some level of German revanchism is going to happen, you can't break off a Rhenish Republic under allied occupation who would only be allowed to rejoin Germany conditional on proper reparations payment, or hand East Prussia over to the Poles.
 

Garrison

Donor
If the Allies were worried about Austria joining Germany, then they should not have been in a hurry to bury the Austrian Empire.
Well, since they didn't allow Austria to join Germany after WWI I'm not sure what your point is supposed to be? The Austro-Hungarian Empire was done by the end of WWI and no one would have been able to save it at that point even if they had wanted to. Perhaps AH shouldn't have been quite so eager to plunge itself into war in 1914?
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.

I mean, this is only AH scenario in which the idea of a losing power gaining more lands is a thing.
There does seem to be some sort of odd assumption that an armistice meant that the fighting was basically a draw with both sides withdrawing to their respective 'corners' and the Germans were somehow tricked into signing an unfair peace at Versailles.
 
Well, since they didn't allow Austria to join Germany after WWI I'm not sure what your point is supposed to be? The Austro-Hungarian Empire was done by the end of WWI and no one would have been able to save it at that point even if they had wanted to. Perhaps AH shouldn't have been quite so eager to plunge itself into war in 1914?

Thanks for the chuckle that the Allies safeguarded against a German annexation of Austria because they "didn't allow" it in the peace treaty. Here, I was under the impression all these decades that if Hitler had stopped with the annexing of Austria he'd have died in bed of natural causes.

Anyways, the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated because the Allies had already decided and announced that this would be its fate months before the Austrian empire fell. An alternative, more intelligent decision by the Allies would have been to do the opposite and declare that the Austro-Hungarian Empire would be preserved into the post-war period, (less the territory detached for greater Serbia) with its fate to be decided by the Allies later. Italian troops, and the Austrian army of Italy under Boroevic operating under Italian supervision, would be tasked to occupy the Empire's territory and ensure the continuation of its government. The payoff to this would be that the Allies would be able to more seriously study their options, and the French in particular would have an opportunity to work with the Italians and the Austrians for a military alliance far more credible than the Little Entente and other completely useless paper agreements of this period.
 

NedStark

Kicked
Anyways, the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated because the Allies had already decided and announced that this would be its fate months before the Austrian empire fell. An alternative, more intelligent decision by the Allies would have been to do the opposite and declare that the Austro-Hungarian Empire would be preserved into the post-war period, (less the territory detached for greater Serbia) with its fate to be decided by the Allies later. Italian troops, and the Austrian army of Italy under Boroevic operating under Italian supervision, would be tasked to occupy the Empire's territory and ensure the continuation of its government. The payoff to this would be that the Allies would be able to more seriously study their options, and the French in particular would have an opportunity to work with the Italians and the Austrians for a military alliance far more credible than the Little Entente and other completely useless paper agreements of this period.
Austria-Hungary was already a German puppet by the end of 1916 with a large share of officers (like 40%) coming from Germany. The Empire was frankly doomed by when its last attempt for a separate peace in early 1918 failed.
 
Probably a terrible idea, but what about separating Germany into the North German Confederation and the South German Confederation. And join Austria to the South German Confederation.
Hopefully that would weaken Germany enough to lower there threat, but not make them too weak. The South German confederation will hopefully be strong enough to resist and hopefully independent enough to want to resist.
What do you think. It is a little rewarding Austria, but sort undoing the last war too.
 

Garrison

Donor
Thanks for the chuckle that the Allies safeguarded against a German annexation of Austria because they "didn't allow" it in the peace treaty. Here, I was under the impression all these decades that if Hitler had stopped with the annexing of Austria he'd have died in bed of natural causes.
And that has nothing to do with what the Entente should have done in 1918.
 

DougM

Donor
Yes I am sure France would LOVE a Balkanized Germany and the would happily take territory back and a bit more as well. They could finally take up the the Rhine I suppose. But a Balkanized Germany is NOT stable in any way nor is it good for Europe and just creates a mess that is liable cause a tone of problems in the Future.
This is a classic example of what France may want is not necessarily what is best for France.
And GB will have a fit has a Balkanized Germany make France more of less the powerhouse of all Europe and France will come to dominate unless somehow Italy gets its act together.

Thus why I said we need to decide what the “goal” is to this. Do we want yo avoid WW2? Do we want the most stable Europe? Do we want to punish Germany more? Do we want to Make France more powerful? Etc.
There is a lot you can do with a revised treaty but you have to set a goal or we are all discussing different things.
This is like saying “how can we best change the 2022 NFL season”. Without saying best for which team.
We sea a lot of topics like this, With so many different goals that it is hard to find two people with the swim aim. And thus we are all arg different things because we all want to achieve something different. Poster A says one thing with one goal and then poster B disagrees with A bec B wants something different. It is not that A is wrong it is just A’s end goal is different then B so what B wants does not work with what A suggests.
So we don’t have a discussion we have a bunch of random folks randomly saying different things.
 
Really the treaty was not the fault. The reparations are overstated, it was a lack of will, not inability to pay, excluding C class it was proportionately lower than France's after Franco-Prussian War. It was a German attitude problem, not the actual peace being anything too dramatic (Germany got off pretty light compared to other powers Allied and Central forced to surrender in WWI). Really you need to rub German noses in their defeat. The German army was fighting ferociously up until Armistice Day, but simple attrition would have broken them utterly by spring. Either that or just be firmer with Hitler! Like Hitler was planning to withdraw from the Rhineland if the French resisted that, but they didn't! The allies just had a lack of will which made things unenforceable, but the thing is I don't think any realistic treaty would have prevented German saltiness and then you get back to the willpower issue.

Also as noted what happened had at least as much to do with the Great Depression as anything relating directly to WWI and its end. Germans were certainly salty, but the pre-Nazi establishment had a far more cautious temperament and a lot of them were essentially biting their nails with Hitlers early geopolitical actions. They were the kind of people to want to do Hitler's border revisions without having the temerity to do it. Hitler earned himself a lot of legitimacy from 1936-41, not just with the German people but elites and the military.
 
Last edited:
Thus why I said we need to decide what the “goal” is to this. Do we want yo avoid WW2? Do we want the most stable Europe? Do we want to punish Germany more? Do we want to Make France more powerful? Etc.
We need to start off with no disarmament of Germany.

France can want all that it wants, but starting off with that sets limits that might just prevent WWII. France won't be happy, but a happy France leads to WWII, so...

As a bit of a historical recap and reason the French Empire hated and wanted revenge on the German Empire:
When the Franco-Prussian war started (by France declaring war), the Germans decisively defeated the army of the French second empire and captured the French Emperor Napoleon III, and were ready to end it, but the French were not, and decided to drag things out.

The French mobilized, then the Germans did as well.
The French invaded German territory on Aug 2nd, and the Germans invaded NE France on Aug 4th.
The siege of Metz (Aug 19 - Oct 27, 1870) was the major battle of the opening of this war, and should really have been the end of it as well, as during this seige,
The Battle of Sedan (Sep 1-2, 1870) led to the crushing of the French army of 130,000, by 104,000 surrendering and being taken as prisoners of war by the Germans, as well as the French Emperor himself. Now at this point in the war, the French Army of Chalons (130,000 men) were trying to rescue the Army of the Rhine (154,000 men), after they had been defeated and retreated to Metz and were besieged there. With the defeat of this 2nd, relieving army, the fate of the bigger but trapped army was sealed, but they held off surrendering until Oct 27th.

So, as a brief recap, the war starts on July 19, 1870, and by Oct 27, 2 french armies have been lost, and the war could (and really should) have ended right then and there, and the total cost would have been for fighting just over a 3 month war.

Most sane folks, with their armies defeated (with ~260,00 dead or captured), their leader captured, and no clear path to victory remaining, would just admit defeat, and ask for terms, right? But oh no, not France, so what did they do? They decided to raise a new army, and continue fighting a lost cause.

It must be in this context that we look at WWI, and decide if France should be allowed to 'break' Germany.

Germany lost the war, but France did not conquer Germany, rather, they managed, with lots of help, to not get conquered by Germany, and given the populations and industrial output of the two nations, any peace treaty should not include German disarmament.

Had France crushed Germany, one-on-one, then sure, but when France only survived because of some ~20,000,000 million allied troops keeping her from falling, I see no reason to entertain any thoughts that Germany needs to be broken, so that France can pretend to not only be Germany's equal, but her better, that is just nuts, and any such peace will lead to another war.
 
Really the treaty was not the fault.
Sorry, but I have to beg to differ.
The reparations are overstated, it was a lack of will, not inability to pay, excluding C class it was proportionately lower than France's after Franco-Prussian War.
You have a point, if and only if the worst part of the ToV was concerning reparations. As the ToV went far beyond that, you are missing the major part of why the treaty was indeed at fault for causing WWII.
It was a German attitude problem,
So, to debunk this statement, and point out why this is wrong, let me ask you, if you are attempting to say that after the F/P war, the terms imposed on France were harsher than those imposed on Germany post WWI, then please present the terms imposed upon France regarding limits on her navy? What about limits on her army? Limits on her armaments industry? Limits on her "General Staff"? I could go on, but really there isn't any way a sane and well informed person can possibly claim that Germany got off easy, so I have to assume that you were not thinking in terms other than financial, else your post is blatantly false.
not the actual peace being anything too dramatic (Germany got off pretty light compared to other powers
No, Germany didn't "get off light". Not in any way, shape or form did Germany get off lightly, and in no way was the French treatment after their failure in the F/P war in any way comparable (let alone worse) than Germany's .
 
IMO the biggest problem is not so much the concrete territorial changes, reparations or occupations, but rather how final the treaty pretended to be. A lot of the consequences of the treaty were just written as permanent, and they were unenforceable. For example, how could the allies have kept Austria from joining Germany long term? Permanent occupation aside, it would be extremely hard to do.
I haven't seen anyone touching on this issue, so i might as well do. Vienna didn't want to be part of Germany after the war. They presented their own proposal for the postwar settlement but were rejected with the famous "the rest is Austria". That was the first push towards joining Germany as the new state was seen as unviable politically and economically, but it subsided until the 30s again until the depression which caused large unemployment and that convinced the public that it indeed was unviable. And even then the conservatives who errected a church flavored dictatorship to keep order therew themselves into Italys arms, a country with which they had bitter battles in the mountains just 20 years ago.
So the solution is to not screw over Austria in the settlement and/or later to not push Italy into Germanys waiting arms.
 
Austria-Hungary was already a German puppet by the end of 1916 with a large share of officers (like 40%) coming from Germany. The Empire was frankly doomed by when its last attempt for a separate peace in early 1918 failed.

The Austrian Empire could have survived into 1919 if the Allies had supported its survival.
 
The Austrian Empire could have survived into 1919 if the Allies had supported its survival.
Why the allies need to use resources (that by the time are scarce) and time to prop up a nation that really nobody want in? Sorry but all this talking of A-H surving the defeat if only the Entente treacherous nation will have supported her look a lot like wishfull thinking.
Not only A-H need to survive the political, economic and social consequences of the biggest conflict know to man till that moment, there are also the growing national sentiment of many group, the fact that honestly magyarization hardly won hearts and minds of anybody not hungarian and the fact that the empire was already a german puppet long before the end of the conflict further deligitimizing the imperial enstablishment
 

Garrison

Donor
You have a point, if and only if the worst part of the ToV was concerning reparations. As the ToV went far beyond that, you are missing the major part of why the treaty was indeed at fault for causing WWII.
Just no. There was exactly one reason WWII started and that was because Adolf Hitler wanted a war. By the mid 1930s most of the terms of the ToV had been undone either by agreement or the unwillingness of the British and French unwillingness to enforce them. There was zero threat to Germany from the former Entente nations in 1939.
 

NedStark

Kicked
I haven't seen anyone touching on this issue, so i might as well do. Vienna didn't want to be part of Germany after the war. They presented their own proposal for the postwar settlement but were rejected with the famous "the rest is Austria". That was the first push towards joining Germany as the new state was seen as unviable politically and economically, but it subsided until the 30s again until the depression which caused large unemployment and that convinced the public that it indeed was unviable. And even then the conservatives who errected a church flavored dictatorship to keep order therew themselves into Italys arms, a country with which they had bitter battles in the mountains just 20 years ago.
So the solution is to not screw over Austria in the settlement and/or later to not push Italy into Germanys waiting arms.
And Germany itself did not even asked for Austria and Sudetenland.
 
Just no. There was exactly one reason WWII started and that was because Adolf Hitler wanted a war. By the mid 1930s most of the terms of the ToV had been undone either by agreement or the unwillingness of the British and French unwillingness to enforce them. There was zero threat to Germany from the former Entente nations in 1939.
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.
 
Top