WI: German conscript army from Versailles

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Bad@logic, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. Bad@logic Well-Known Member

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    At the Treaty of Versailles there was a significant debate between the French and the Anglo-Americans over what sort of army the Germans should have. The French thought that a conscript army should be utilized by the Germans to constrain them, as a conscript army would preclude them from having enough professional trained soldiers to be a real threat. The Anglo-Americans conversely thought that a conscript army would greatly enhance German power by having large amounts of trained reservists. France proposed a 200,000 man conscript army, while ultimately the Anglo-Americans forced a 100,000 man professional army.

    What if the French proposal was adopted instead? Could it harm the Nazi German military build up by denying them the huge corp of highly elite and well trained de-facto NCOs/officers that they built into the Reichswehr? Or would it still enable the Germans to build their military forces, but along diametrically different lines as they have a large reservist pool, but a relative lack of highly trained soldiers they used to expand their army with so quickly under Nazi Germany OTL?
     
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  2. wiking Well-Known Member

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    What was the period of conscription and how many standing army soldiers would they have to train up the new cohorts of recruits? It would seem actually that having a larger pool of recruits would create a larger army when the time came, rather than a smaller, less well trained one (the army that invaded Poland was pretty poorly trained on average and required a massive 9 month retraining effort prior to the invasion of France).
     
  3. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

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    You will also, due to the larger pool of militarily trained men, enhance the fighting ability of left-wing/Communist groups that may reisit the Nazis. Although post-War Germany was awash with former soliders, due to the conservative nature of the Heer, many of them were opposed to Weimar or the left-leaning groups that arose in the run up to the Nazi seizure of power.

    By introducing conscription and therefore training whole swathes of the population interwar, you have the chance of producing “democratic soldiers” that may put more steel into Weimar’s attempts to clamp down on the Nazis, the Friekorps and the various other rightist groups.
     
  4. Bad@logic Well-Known Member

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    One year conscripts with career professional leaders was the Foch plan. More reservists of course, but very poorly trained, and with a hugely smaller pool of NCOs and officers.
     
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  5. wiking Well-Known Member

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    Or indoctrinate a whole new group of youths with military values.

    How many 'career professional leaders'?
    https://books.google.com/books?id=M...epage&q=foch plan german conscription&f=false
    Clemenceau was against Foch's plan too because he feared it would mean a huge pool of trained German manpower.
     
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  6. Bad@logic Well-Known Member

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    That's a rather technical question, I mean, I doubt that Foch proposed regulating exactly how many officers the Germans could have. I'd presume Foch meant that the Germans would be allowed a conscript army like France or its pre-war one, but with the limitation being on size.
     
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  7. wiking Well-Known Member

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    https://books.google.com/books?id=M...epage&q=foch plan german conscription&f=false

    Its an important question, because if they have 50,000 professionals and 150,000 conscripts per year, they could train up a large manpower pool, especially with clandestine continued training for reservists.
     
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  8. Bad@logic Well-Known Member

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    Its also a question which is impossible to answer because the proposal was never adopted, and so hence there wasn't enough technical planning which went into it to manage to give a full response on the matter.

    150,000 1 year conscripts per year isn't particularly useful, given that the original German 2 year conscripts required such lengthy retraining. At best they're armed militia suitable for defending a static position until worked up. 50,000 long term professionals is less than the 100,000 they had de facto historically anyway.

    If reparations became the primary battlefield, disarmament was the secondary
    front.67 The Allies agreed the losers would be disarmed at once, whereas
    the victors would follow suit later, as happened in part.68 At Paris, the German
    army’s future was settled with relative dispatch. Clemenceau was not greatly
    interested, deeming its restriction necessary but not adequate for French security
    and agreeing with president Raymond Poincaré and Marshal Ferdinand
    Foch that in a powerful industrial state, such restriction was unlikely to be permanent.
    69 Foch would allow Germany an army of 200,000 if its officers were career
    professionals on long enlistments and its men one-year conscripts. Wilson
    and Lloyd George blanched at peacetime conscription, unknown in their nations.
    Overriding Foch and Poincaré, Clemenceau bowed to the Anglo-Saxons
    in hope of concessions elsewhere but limited the army to 100,000, whose enlisted
    ranks would be twelve-year volunteers. Foch deemed this the cadre for
    expansion to a larger army later on.70
    The army limits were resented in Germany and evaded in varying degrees.
    Enforcement required German cooperation, which was not forthcoming. Some
    critics echo German plaints. In fact, the German army was ample to maintain internal
    order and defend against all neighbors except—in the early years—a disheartened
    France, which went no further than a 1923 encirclement of the Ruhr
    basin and occupation of Essen in an effort to salvage the treaty. As Germany
    knew, those actions could not be repeated after the 1924–25 settlements.71 These
    critics do not say to what end Weimar needed a larger army, nor do they explain
    why states that had spent four years defeating one German effort to conquer
    the continent should enable another.
     
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  9. wiking Well-Known Member

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    Given the work arounds in terms of unofficial or reservist training that 1 year of training and reserve status can be leveraged into greater training, especially over say 20 years as Clemenceau said. Any army was going to be the nucleus for another army, 100k long service professionals made it harder to train up a new army quickly; having a large mass of conscripts gave a large reservist army to say defend the borders and allow for any number of other activities banned under the ToV later on.
     
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  10. Bad@logic Well-Known Member

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    Well yes of course, it isn't like I'm claiming that this means that the Germans are incapable of ever building an army again. I'm interested in what the technical changes that result, doctrinal impact, and what the impact is on the expansion of German forces. Naturally the Germans can develop work-arounds, but they'll have to work within the basic framework of such a limitation as they did originally even if they push and violate it as much as they can, and a completely different army structure has to produce some long term changes for how the German army develops in the 1930s, presuming that political impacts are not involved in the 1920s.
     
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  11. wiking Well-Known Member

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    A lot depends on what they do with the NCO corps. If that is wiped out every cycle that could cause problems.
     
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  12. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    I think there are some assumptions here that labeling training 'reserve' automatically makes it inferior. A large chunk of my military service was training reservists & I can say it is possible to turn out a army cadre with a reserve system.

    First the conscription pool can be screen for the best material to train as officers & NCOs. The advantage here is you are not dependant on volunteers, but can pick from a much larger population.

    Second, the initial training term can be two or more years. The is no law of nature that limits it to 12 or 18 months.

    Neither is there any natural law that limits follow on training to a few hours a month. Or year. The reserve system I was in had a minimum of 42 days per year. As a officer It was not unusual for me to 60+ days per year.
     
  13. Bad@logic Well-Known Member

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    I was mostly thinking of the French interwar model in relation to Foch's 1-year army, which had rather limited reserve training from my recollection of Seeds of Disaster. Most of the papers and books I had read about the French Army in that time period had stressed heavily the French belief that reservists were inherently inflexible and mostly useful for holding defensive positions, so I had assumed that that had universal applicability. A German army's differing system might be able to have a differing performance of these reservists.
     
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  14. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

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    It world be in France’s interest to inflict the least efficient system on Germany, though.

    If they can implement the conscript idea onto Germany, over American and British objections (or gained their approval), why would they allow Germany to have a system that benefits them?
     
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  15. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn't there be the obvious end run around this by having tens of thousands of men "re-conscripted" each year?
     
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  16. Bad@logic Well-Known Member

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    Well yes, but the Germans have their own agency. Just like originally with the historical imposed professional army in the treaty, they found ways to circumvent and use to their advantage the army they were allowed : everybody was trained to a ridiculous level and that made expansion very easy. Even without active cheating, the French and Germans had very different visions of how a mass army should be utilized and employed : the French focused on a single, unified army that was homogenous, and the Germans were more willing to have separate units, with fast elite breakthrough divisions and following up motley conscripts to hold the line. The German system might achieve different results than the French system, even with limitations of 1-year in place.

    I don't know concerning the legality of that, but then they have a reduced number of recruits they're training every year... in effective, it just brings them back to the professional army, with shorter service lengths than it, but slightly larger size.
     
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  17. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    No, I mean like keep the 100,000 man trained cadre of OTL, with the other 100,000 of the 200,000 limit actual conscripts; In the long term, they could just disperse the 100,000 professionals among the trained troops in the event of a war. As far as legality goes, that's no issue; Weimar was violating the Treaty terms almost from the start.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2017
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  18. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    It really varies widely. In the 1930s the French reduced reserve training drastically to shift funds to keeping up weapons production, and to keep up R & D of new weapons. The plan was post mobilization training would remediate the training gaps. That worked for the first and second echelon units that did receive training, but the 3rd echelon or Serie' B units were not scheduled to start until after April 1940. Conversely the Germans, wo were not constrained by tax revenue or budget considerations increased their initial reserve training from 24 to 36 months, and increased intern training.

    The reserve units I served with (USMC) were considerably different. The initial training was usually less than a year, 5-10 months depending on the specialty. The regular follow on training amounted a minimum of 42 days a year, but as I wrote for NCOs & officers it was more. A second factor was about 20% of the reserve units were typically former active service, with 3-4 years service with a regular Fleet Marine unit, or similar. Very very few officers were commissioned directly into reserve service. I had 5.5 years active service, most had 3.5 to 4 years. A high portion of NCOs had 2-4 years active service. A third point is was we were very well paid. In 1987 as a First Lt I could walk away at the end of a weekend drill with $300 after taxes. A junior sergeant was paid around $150 for the two days, senior NCO did as well or better than a Lt. This attracted above average people. Typically 10-15% of the enlisted reservists were enrolled in college or graduates. Most of those who stuck with it were employed in skilled professions, had a small business, or were management in the civilian employment.

    Were the Germans to use a model emphasizing cherry picking the pool for the best quality conscripts, compensating the successful men very well, extending training time as far as practical, and keep their eye on training leaders and technicians vs cannon fodder it will pay off better than the smaller volunteer force which had no legal reserve.
     
  19. longsword14 Communism: This time, we will get it right!

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    Remember the aftermath of Jena-Auerstadt? The Prussians just kept training in secret. You can bet that it was in their memory.
    There will not be a large effect because there is no way to actually force the conditions on them. They can easily pick the army they had in OTL under the same rules.
     
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  20. ObssesedNuker Commander of 10 million men

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    The OTL 100,000 professional army a with service term of 25 years (running off of my memory) meant that by the time Hitler came to power, every single German soldier had so much training they could all be qualified to be a general staff officer. It provided the nucleus around which the early-WW2 Heer was built and they wouldn't be burned out until the end of 1941. What I would have done is have a 100,000 conscript army on a 1-year rotation, plus a professional officer corps. While a conscript army on a 1-year rotation would impart Germany with a lot more men with some training in infantry skills, it would mean a lot fewer men who were highly trained in both infantry and officer skills. Basic infantry skills can be taught in a couple of months and are extremely perishable if not frequently practiced. Advanced officer skills are also highly perishable, but can take years to develop by comparison in peacetime.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
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