WI: All border changes after WWI decided only by plebiscites

Let's consider a scenario where an eventual stalemate at the end of WWI leads to a softer treaty of peace where all the belligerent nations accept that all the proposed border changes would be approved only by plebiscite, and not imposed by any kind of treaty, thus strictly implementing the self-determination principles advocated by Wilson.

This proposal would apply for eventual annexations (i.e. German Austria to Germany), creation of new states (i.e. Poland or Czechoslovakia), border adjustments etc. and the geographic units of decision would be as smallest as reasonably possible. Multiple choices could have been allowed in the same vote (i.e. a South Tyrolese voter could have been able to vote in favour of remaining in Austria, but at the same time to vote against of Austria joining Germany).

Which could have been the result of such process?

- Could Alsace-Lorraine vote in favour of remaining in Germany, or maybe just some districts (i.e. Metz returning to France, but Haguenau remaining in Germany)?
- Would Germany keep the Danzig corridor?
- Could Czechoslovakia or the Polish Republic formed as IOTL? And Yugoslavia?
- Which could have been the partition of Transylvania?
 
What resolution? On a house by house basis? Per village? Per county?

Either way many more enclaves
 
Does this count for all border changes between Germany and Poland, for instance. In which case, West Prussia is going to be complicated.

Germany and Hungary are going to keep more territory compared to OTL.
 
What resolution? On a house by house basis? Per village? Per county?

Either way many more enclaves
I think they could define some reasonably-sized districts like they did for the plebiscites that already were performed in Southern Jutland or South Carinthia IOTL.
 
In a thread last year, I mention two problems with self-determination.

The first is that it may result in states that ae not strategically viable:

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Czechoslovakia is crushed well before it was in OTL, being surrounded on three sides by the unified German state of Germany, German-Austria, and the Sudetenland.

The theoretical implementation of the principle of self-determination for all peoples will mean the practical end of independence for peoples put in a bad strategic position by that implementation--as indeed happened a few months after Munich in OTL. https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/what-if-self-determination-is-actually-taken-seriously-at-versailles.454808/#post-17805717

***

There's also the question of what you do with ethnic "islands." There were some Hungarian-speaking areas in Romania separated from the Magyar heartland by a good deal of Romanian-speaking territory. There were cities where Poles outnumbered Ukrainians --but which were surrounded by Ukrainian-speaking countryside. (And to make things more complicated, some of the cities in the Polish-Ukrainian or Polish-Belarusian or Polish-Lithuanian borderlands were more Jewish than Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, or Belarusian.) https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/what-if-self-determination-is-actually-taken-seriously-at-versailles.454808/#post-17805758
 
In a thread last year, I mention two problems with self-determination.

The first is that it may result in states that ae not strategically viable:
I would not expect people to vote just on their ethnicity/language basis. IOTL we have the example of the plebiscites in Masuria, where many ethinic Pole/Masurians voted in favour of remaining in Germany and not transferred to Poland. Why? Because many of them feared that joining Poland could expose them to the ongoing conflict between the militias of the former Congress Poland and the Soviet Union's army.

If Czechs would have perceived that creating a rump Czech state without the Sudetenland would be a pretty bad idea, maybe they have supported an alternate solution like creating a Bohemian-Moravian free state associated to Germany-Austria.
 
First, ISTM this requires an early "white peace" which preserves the Russian Empire, There is no chance of the Bolsheviks agreeing to or abiding by any such plan.

Second, would the plan only apply border changes between existing countries?

OTL's post-war "border changes" included the creation of twelve new countries, including six formed entirely or primarily from territory of Allied countries - victorious or at least undefeated.

Third, would there be plebiscites in the Middle East? In Hejaz, Trans-Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Iraq? What about the Armenians and the Kurds?

IMO, the OP should be that any border changes agreed to by treaty should be executed by plebiscite - not quite the same thing. Also, note that any attempt to follow ethnic boundaries will conflict pretty hard with following established political boundaries, some of them very long-established.
 
- Could Alsace-Lorraine vote in favour of remaining in Germany, or maybe just some districts (i.e. Metz returning to France, but Haguenau remaining in Germany)?
Pretty sure that Elsass-Lothringen would vote to stay German. It might be a close call (the Zabern affair might still be in people's mind even after 4 years of war), but I don't see the German majority voting to rejoin France.
 
Pretty sure that Elsass-Lothringen would vote to stay German. It might be a close call (the Zabern affair might still be in people's mind even after 4 years of war), but I don't see the German majority voting to rejoin France.
There is a French-majority in the Moselle area, though, and, IIRC, in the very south of Alsace. So, assuming the vote breaks down along ethnic grounds, Germany won't keep all of Alsace-Lorraine.
 
It would be hard to do since the longer the war dragged on the more concessions would need to be demanded. The first months of the war were also particularly bloody which would make a white peace hard to do.

Though if you could do it without the paranoia of the Bolsheviks pervading every facet of the Pars Peace Talks it could make for an interesting Europe. Isolated enclaves which would presumably need to be in confederation with the surrounding territory
 
Pretty sure that Elsass-Lothringen would vote to stay German. It might be a close call (the Zabern affair might still be in people's mind even after 4 years of war), but I don't see the German majority voting to rejoin France.
You're assuming that people vote according to language. Yet the history of Alsace-Lorraine does not bear this out. From 1874 to 1890, in almost every election, Alsace-Lorraine voted for Reichstag delegations unanimously and irreconcilably opposed to German rule. This started to change after the Dreyfus affair--in Germany the Kulturkampf was over, while France was becoming increasingly anticlerical. So the clerical party, the largest in Alsace-Lorraine, came out for autonomy within the German Reich. However, an irreconcilable party remained, and was strengthened by such things as the "Zabern (or Saverne) Affair" of 1913. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zabern_Affair

So in1919 in OTL, you have (1) a France where anticlericalism had been much weakened by the War ("French Catholic priests fought valiantly in the war; 33,000 priests joined the army, of whom 4600 were killed, and over 10,000 were awarded medals for bravery. Much of the religious fear and distrust were dissolved by the camaraderie of the trenches, never to reappear in politics." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Catholic_Church_in_France#World_War_I (2) the fear of disorder and possible Bolshevism in Germany, and (3) the knowledge that France was after all one of the winners of the war while Germany was one of the losers and would have to pay reparations, etc. All these things would likely lead to support of France even by Alsatian-speakers.

Admittedly, the OP does not posit the situation of "OTL but with a plebisicite" but one in which the war has been a stalemate. The problem with this is that the Germans would never agree to plebiscites over Alsace-Lorraine or Posen or elsewhere unless they were actually losing the war. They would have absolutely nothing to gain and a lot to lose.
 
. . . This started to change after the Dreyfus affair--in Germany the Kulturkampf was over, while France was becoming increasingly anticlerical. So the clerical party, the largest in Alsace-Lorraine, came out for autonomy within the German Reich. However, an irreconcilable party remained, and was strengthened by such things as the "Zabern (or Saverne) Affair" of 1913. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zabern_Affair
. . .
This is very disappointing.

That what motivates people are juicy scandals. And not good middle-of-the-road policy for example.

I guess, knowing human nature, too much to expect otherwise.
 

This is another way to handle disputed territories!

Yes, the optical illusion looked at one way is a bird, and the other way is a rabbit.

Try to put together a coalition government. Instead of one side losing everything and the other side getting everything, see that citizens with both ethnic backgrounds are respected. And the disputed territory maybe even elects some amount of representatives to both national assemblies.

* analogy from philosopher Jonathan Glover
 
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Pretty sure that Elsass-Lothringen would vote to stay German. It might be a close call (the Zabern affair might still be in people's mind even after 4 years of war), but I don't see the German majority voting to rejoin France.
Depends on the electoral body, I'd say, especially if you include, or not, German-speaking people who settled after 1871, which France would have probably not accepted as a factor of settlement through plebiscite. While a sizeble part of Alsatians proper (and in fewer numbers Mosellans) had lost some of their enthusiasm for France during the 1920's, especially for religious issues, the German administration was not popular in 1918, and the war period in Alsace-Moselle did no good, to say the least, in this regard.
 
Let's consider a scenario where an eventual stalemate at the end of WWI leads to a softer treaty of peace where all the belligerent nations accept that all the proposed border changes would be approved only by plebiscite, and not imposed by any kind of treaty, thus strictly implementing the self-determination principles advocated by Wilson.

This proposal would apply for eventual annexations (i.e. German Austria to Germany), creation of new states (i.e. Poland or Czechoslovakia), border adjustments etc. and the geographic units of decision would be as smallest as reasonably possible. Multiple choices could have been allowed in the same vote (i.e. a South Tyrolese voter could have been able to vote in favour of remaining in Austria, but at the same time to vote against of Austria joining Germany).

Which could have been the result of such process?

- Could Alsace-Lorraine vote in favour of remaining in Germany, or maybe just some districts (i.e. Metz returning to France, but Haguenau remaining in Germany)?
- Would Germany keep the Danzig corridor?
- Could Czechoslovakia or the Polish Republic formed as IOTL? And Yugoslavia?
- Which could have been the partition of Transylvania?
A good bit of it depends on how the regions of the plebiscites are drawn up. IIRC in the Polish Corridor the counties had polish majorities, but within them there were areas (some contiguous right from Germany to East Prussia) that were majority German.
 
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