WI: Imperial Germany does not attempt to compete with Royal Navy

RousseauX

Donor
One of Kaiser Wilhelm II's more problematic policies was building a High Seas Fleet which was suppose to be 2/3 of the Royal Navy. While the initial buildup did not alarm the British it did once the Imperial navy became the obvious next-biggest Navy in Europe with new Dreadnoughts still planned. The naval building competition was eventually lost by Germany anyway as they ran out of money to keep up the arms race. But the naval race was key in pushing the British into the anti-German camp leading up to WWI.

What if Germany simply builds up to parity with the French navy (they would actually have the advantage at parity since the France had way more seas to defend) and then just leave it at that? Does the UK still side against Germany in WWI?
 
Yes, the Brits will side against Germany.

The HSF was an excuse, invasion of Belgium was an excuse, the Brits are against anyone that could be a continental hegemon.


In 1914, continental Europe was dominated by Germany, so naturally the Brits were against the Germans,

Just as they were against the French, the Dutch, the Austrians, the Spanish,... when those countries dominated continental Europe.
It is the one and only constant in British foreign policy since the middle ages : they oppose whoever is the dominant power in Europe
 
If Germany builds to parity with France it is vulnerable to Russia when Russia recovers from the losses of 1905, which was more or less by 1912-14. If Germany builds to parity with France and Russia, or a touch over parity to give a chance of victory, Britain will see this as a naval threat.

Despite having a huge naval lead over Germany Britain decided back in 1911 to reorganise the Army along Continental lines and deploy it alongside the French, long before the Germans invaded Belgium.
 
That is an interesting and controversial question.
While the HSF was an integral part of what concerned British planers to a degree it was far from the only part of the puzzle.

Remember that Germany was bigger, more populous and had a bigger industry then Britain. So these are also factors to keep in mind.
Other things that influenced British thinking were the actions / reactions of France and Russia either on their own or as the treaties demanded. Add that these two and Germany also influenced each other...

Other points to keep in mind at this point in time are the fast changeing maritime technology and the aliance systems that are in flux. Mostly becasue of the Balkans and colonial disputes (Persia and Africa).

So pushing the narative that the HSF was a singular point of contention is Imo reducing it to the British narative somewhat. Sure Germany was offensive and egoistical in many matters, but if one takes the actions of all sides into account, Imo it can be said that all sides acted more or less the same. But as history is influenced more by the victor (and here WWII is a massive stone around Germanies neck) it is easy to find this kind. Not helped by the prevelance of english language sources in the internet. Again this is my opinion and can vary.

So would a changed building policy on Germanies part change something? It could certainly do so. But it Imo could also play out nearly the same as OTL as the RN was also looking for an "enemy" to justefy the cost for fleet.
 
One of Kaiser Wilhelm II's more problematic policies was building a High Seas Fleet which was suppose to be 2/3 of the Royal Navy. While the initial buildup did not alarm the British it did once the Imperial navy became the obvious next-biggest Navy in Europe with new Dreadnoughts still planned. The naval building competition was eventually lost by Germany anyway as they ran out of money to keep up the arms race. But the naval race was key in pushing the British into the anti-German camp leading up to WWI.

What if Germany simply builds up to parity with the French navy (they would actually have the advantage at parity since the France had way more seas to defend) and then just leave it at that? Does the UK still side against Germany in WWI?
Essentially no matter what Germany did to appease the British empire was pointless as long as they were the strongest military power on the continent
Not trying to absolve the Kaiser here of any blame for ww1 either
 
If Germany builds to parity with France it is vulnerable to Russia when Russia recovers from the losses of 1905, which was more or less by 1912-14. If Germany builds to parity with France and Russia, or a touch over parity to give a chance of victory, Britain will see this as a naval threat.

Despite having a huge naval lead over Germany Britain decided back in 1911 to reorganise the Army along Continental lines and deploy it alongside the French, long before the Germans invaded Belgium.
Does the Kiel canal gives German navy a chance to defeat both Russia and France ?
 
That is an interesting and controversial question.
While the HSF was an integral part of what concerned British planers to a degree it was far from the only part of the puzzle.

Remember that Germany was bigger, more populous and had a bigger industry then Britain. So these are also factors to keep in mind.
Other things that influenced British thinking were the actions / reactions of France and Russia either on their own or as the treaties demanded. Add that these two and Germany also influenced each other...

Other points to keep in mind at this point in time are the fast changeing maritime technology and the aliance systems that are in flux. Mostly becasue of the Balkans and colonial disputes (Persia and Africa).

So pushing the narative that the HSF was a singular point of contention is Imo reducing it to the British narative somewhat. Sure Germany was offensive and egoistical in many matters, but if one takes the actions of all sides into account, Imo it can be said that all sides acted more or less the same. But as history is influenced more by the victor (and here WWII is a massive stone around Germanies neck) it is easy to find this kind. Not helped by the prevelance of english language sources in the internet. Again this is my opinion and can vary.

So would a changed building policy on Germanies part change something? It could certainly do so. But it Imo could also play out nearly the same as OTL as the RN was also looking for an "enemy" to justefy the cost for fleet.

Good points. Britain set the 2 power standard in 1889 as a way to fund shipbuilding over multiple financial years, it was a cheap and efficient way to fund construction of the Navy rather than year to year, stop-start funding. It was until mid 1912 that Britain changed this policy to that of being 60% stronger than Germany, and this is just as likely because with the rise of the USN and rebuilding of Russia the 2 power standard was now unaffordable.

Germany was not only bigger and more self sufficient it was ahead in newer industries such as electronics and chemicals and was equipped with newer industrial plant as it had industrialised later. This was a major economic threat to Britain.

WW2 is a MASSIVE problem when trying to look objectively at German WW1 history, they get a lot of backward projection from the Nazi era.
 
If Germany was going to go for a Two Power standard, She would have just needed four Dreadnoughts, as that's all France had in 1914, and zero for the Russians.
But those two nations had 15 combined on the building slips.
Germany had 15, with 5 building.
So a race with the Royal Navy could have been avoided, just by a slower build rate.
BTW, at the time, the RN had 22, with 13 building, and USA with 10, 4 building.
Even with the UK resetting the count to 'one' in 1906, there was no way for the HSF to get close to RN numbers in a building race, and foolish to even tried to make it look like a race.
 
And a second thing, Germany should have made their ships long ranged, with crew space set to house the crew, rather than dockside accommodations, with the ships hardly livable for long periods of time.
This avoids the optics that the HSF was only able to project power in the North Sea from short endurance.
 
All the resources and manpower used to construct the High Seas Fleet would be redirected elsewhere
In 1914 that would give the Germans more artillery and machine guns
Taking Paris in 1914 is a distinct possibility
The war would drag into a stalemate that would favor the Germans
 
All the resources and manpower used to construct the High Seas Fleet would be redirected elsewhere
In 1914 that would give the Germans more artillery and machine guns
Taking Paris in 1914 is a distinct possibility
The war would drag into a stalemate that would favor the Germans
IIRC the main issue was the hard limitation among officers corps, even opening up to commoners cause the issue still need a literal army of officer if the army is expanded too
 
IIRC the main issue was the hard limitation among officers corps, even opening up to commoners cause the issue still need a literal army of officer if the army is expanded too
There would be a lot of officer material available to the army due to men not enlisting in the Navy to crew nonexistent warships
 

RousseauX

Donor
In 1914, continental Europe was dominated by Germany, so naturally the Brits were against the Germans,
That's not very obviously true in 1914: by 1914 the "Russian steamroller" narrative was real (it was just turned out to be wrong, but perceptions is what we are talking about).

Germany was not viewed as the continental hegemon in the way say France was in 1811.

In fact if you look at Lord Grey/British Cabinet in their decision to go to war in 1914: they viewed the German-Austrian alliance as fairly equal to that of Russia-France
 

RousseauX

Donor
Essentially no matter what Germany did to appease the British empire was pointless as long as they were the strongest military power on the continent
Not trying to absolve the Kaiser here of any blame for ww1 either
The primary fear of Britain was Russia until very soon before WWI.

It was -not- obvious that Germany was the strongest continental military power (at least in context of alliance system) in 1914.
 
The primary fear of Britain was Russia until very soon before WWI.

It was -not- obvious that Germany was the strongest continental military power (at least in context of alliance system) in 1914.
And by 1917 it would have been again, with Britain moving to stop France stabbing Germany in the back in the event of a war.
 

raharris1973

Gone Fishin'
Donor
Monthly Donor
Just as they were against the French, the Dutch, the Austrians, the Spanish,... when those countries dominated continental Europe.

I don't think the Dutch ever dominated continental Europe. That was all about commercial competition, pure and simple.
 
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