WI: The First World War ended in 1919

A war to end all wars? Here, in my first post on this board, I would like to discuss this alternate timeline: the First World War ended in 1919 instead of 1918. This is a double “what if”: what if war in Europe and Middle East continued for one more year and what if the White Armies (anti-communist) had all the Western support during Russian Civil War (because they wanted to re-establish an Eastern Front against Germany). The two issues are interconnected.

Point of Divergence is in september 1918: the Entente offensive in the Balkans failed. Why this POD in a secondary front? Because, until september 1918, Germany and Austria-Hungary were exhausted, but they resisted to Entente pressure: Germans retreat in France and Belgium was well orchestrated and they could have hold the new defensive Mose-Antwerp line. Austria-Hungarian armies could have contained a new Italian offensive. Ottoman Empire could have resisted in Anatolia (where the Young Turks prepared a defence in depth) after the losses of Syria and Mesopotamia. In 1918 Enver Pasha was planning a new offensive in Central Asia. Internal disorders in Germany and Austro-Hungary were under control until october 1918 and they broke out seriously only after the beginning of peace negotiations. Well, only in the end of september, after the fall of Bulgaria, Ludendorff lost all his hopes (and his mental stability) and asked for peace. From october to november Central Powers fell like a cardboard castle.
Let’s imagine this new timeline starting from september 1918:

September – December 1918: the new stalemate

Bulgaria and German forces on Southern Front stopped the Entente advance. Austria-Hungarian western forces preceded the Italian move against Piave river and evacuated Veneto. They succeeded in re-establishing the old Isonzo line. On 30 October, Germany launched her greatest naval attack against the Thames and the Flanders coast. This attack resulted in a severe defeat for the German High Sea Fleet: intercepted by the Grand Fleet near Terschelling Island, German fleet didn’t repeat the “miracle” of Jutland and lost most of its best modern ships (almost all the battlecruisers, the Bayern class dreadnoughts and many other capital ships). But the German action close to London resulted in an unprecedented shock for British people. The naval attack pesuaded London, Paris and Washington to continue the war until the unconditional surrender of Central Powers. British naval aviation attacks Wilhelmshaven naval base on November, inflicting other serious damages to German’s capital ships. American and British bombers conducted the first air raid over Berlin on December. This bombardment induces German civilians to continue the war to the death.
Political divergencies of this period: the mid-term elections in Us gave the victory to Democrats, the president’s party. In Germany, the Kaiser gave generals Hindemburg and Ludendorff and admiral Scheer almost dictatorial power.

January – February 1919: the opposite plans

Central Power’s plan for the Fifth year of war is simple: resist in the Western and Southern fronts, launch a new lightening offensive in the East, continue with the unrestricted submarine warfare. Central Power’s high commands hope that mutinies, pro-communist rebellions and Spanish flu can undermine the Entente Power’s morale and induce them to a negotiated peace. The theater for the only offensive in the East is Central Asia: few Germans and Ottomans divisions, starting from the occupied Caucasus, have to occupy the Eastern coast of Caspian Sea, liberate German and Austrian prisoners and march into Russian Turkestan. The main goal is Afghan and Indian frontiers: joining it could provoke a rebellion of local peoples against the British.
Entente’s plan for the Fifth year of war means simply: an invasion of Germany from France and Belgium. The plans (based on Plan 1919 by JFC Fuller) prescribed: a large number of tanks, speed and an innovative use of the aviation as a tactical support for the troops. The Entente would launch secondary offensives against the other fronts: Italians led the offensive against AH line aiming at Trieste; a new Entente offensive against Bulgaria; an offensive against the heart of Ottoman defences in Anatolia; secondary operations in Northern and Eastern Russia to help White Armies against the Red Army and the Central Power’s occupation forces.
Political divergencies: a non-aggression pact was signed with the Bolshevic regime in Moscow. In the Middle East, on 3 January, Sionist leader Chaim Weizmann and Arabian prince Feisal Al Hashemi signed a mutual recognition agreement (like in the OTL) and they added a military protocol to it: the Jewish and Arabian Legions became co-belligerant units under the British command, to continue the war against the Ottoman Empire. They will form the nucleus of the two future national armies of a Jewish Palestine and an independent Arabian Kingdom in Syria. On January the elections in Great Britain resulted in a complete victory for Lloyd George. The Prime Minister choose Winston Churchill for the Ministry of War (as in the OTL). Churchill was determined to end the Bolshevik regime in Russia and create a Jewish Palestine in the Middle East. In February, Germany and Austria-Hungary signed a new added protocol to Brest-Litovsk treaty: non-aggression and cooperation between Central Powers and the Bolshevik regime in all Russian theater of operations. Entente (despite the harsh opposition of Woodrow Wilson) finally recognizes the Omsk government (led by adm. Kolchak) as the only legitimate Russian government.
Both sides take little action during winter, because of exhaustion, the lethal effects of Spanish flu (which decimated entire divisions on both sides) and cold weather. But the next spring the final clash begins.

To be continued…
Nope, that's when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The war ended with an armistice treaty November 11 1918.

I like the timeline so far :cool:. I do always love a good WWI timeline.
March – April 1919: the opening moves

Central Asia: the first move of the 1919 was the German-Ottoman offensive against Persia and former Russian Turkestan. A first Ottoman column occupied Enzeli, Resht and Kazvin (northern Persia) securing the southern cost of Caspian Sea. They defeated Persian kossaks supported by British light units (the “Dunsterforce”). The main German-Ottoman expeditionary force, supported by Bolshevik’s naval light units, occupied the harbour of Krasnovodsk, eastern coast of Caspian Sea. They advanced until Ashkabad encountering virtually no resistence. They liberated some 40.000 German and Austrians prisoners who join the advance.

Middle East: pressed by the events in the Central Asian front, British general Marshall (in Mosul) and Allenby (in Aleppo) decided a coordinated offensive aimed at Nisibin, southern Anatolia. General Marshall’s troops pushed the Ottoman VI Army to north; Allenby (whose forces comprise Jewish and Arabian Legions) advanced to Nisibin encountering virtually no resistence

Russian Front: Admiral Kolchak launched his great offensive on 2 March; from Siberia, Kolchak’s Army broke Bolshevik’s lines and advanced toward West with the support of American and Japanese divisions; in the end of April, his troops and Entente’s forces reached the line of Ural and Kama rivers; from Murmansk and Arkangelsk, American and British expeditionary corps attacked Red Army's positions aiming to join Kolchak’s advance; in the end of April, Ural kossaks and Bashkir troops (under the command of Alexandr Dutov) moved south to stop the German-Ottoman advance in Turkestan

Western Front: Heavy casualtis (provoked by Spanish flu) and bad weather oblige Entente and Germans to little activities along this front; Haig and Pershing (British and American commanders) wait for the new generations of tanks (Mark VIII “Liberty” and Medium C) before any new advance against the enemy’s fortified lines.

Italian Front: Italian army received and deployed its first tank unit (with French Ft-17) in January. On first days of April, general Armando Diaz launched his attack against Isonzo line, using the tanks against the Carso sector. The main effort was conducted by the Italian III Army which broke enemy lines during the first days: Austro-Hungarian VI Army (decimated during 1918 campaign and by Spanish flu… Austro-Hungarian losses were the highest during the pandemia) panicked and fell. In the end of April, Italians occupied Trieste, their main target since the beginning of the war.

Salonika Front: nothing relevant in this period

War on the sea: German submarines continued their attacks against Atlantic convoys; British anti-submarine units began to use extensively the first model of Sonar, with very lethal effects on the enemy; British aircraft carrier Hms Furious and land-based naval aviation launched a new attack against Wilhelmshaven, inflicting severe losses to the German High Seas Fleet.

Internal fronts: the Bolshevik-German pact began to produce its effects and anti-war/pro-communist uprisings broke out in France, Great Britain and Italy; German-Ottoman advance in Central Asia began to provoke minor uprisings in Afghanistan and India against British rule; minor nationalist uprisings were registered inside Autro-Hungarian army; in Germany the situation was under control.

To be continued…


Nope, that's when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The war ended with an armistice treaty November 11 1918.

I like the timeline so far :cool:. I do always love a good WWI timeline.

Well, actually he's right. Early war memorials are for the 1914-1919 war, since the Armistice was not actually a peace treaty but only an armistice.

An interesting timeline on a certain level. There are many more OTL events and processes you need to address for it to have any plausibility. You quite literally are going to need a bushel basket of PODs to keep the Central Powers in the war, adding another victory in the Balkans in 1918 isn't going to cut it because the Central Powers' OTL defeat of Romania in May of 1918 didn't amount to much.

Among the many problems I see:

The High Seas Fleet - Your proposed Thames attack is nonsense, just as was the similar OTL plan. Portions of the fleet were already in near mutiny by April of '18 when the HSF made it's last, pathetic sortie and that summer Hipper had privately reported to Scheer and H-L that the fleet should be kept "quarantined" due to the radical political beliefs sweeping the ranks. Success on the distant Balkans front is too little and too late to change what has already taken place in the HSF. A sortie in September is going to be thwarted in much the same manner the OTL's planned October sortie was.

The Submarine Campaign - Germany had already lost the 1st Battle of the Atlantic by September of 1918. With the diversion/production of assets in early 1917 that finally allowed a more comprehensive convoy system to be adopted, the u-boats found themselves on the wrong side of an equation as deadly as that which doomed their WW2 counterparts. Roughly 50 boats had been lost in the entire war up to early 1917. During the rest of that year alone another ~60 boats were lost with an additional ~60 boats were lost in 1918. Just as in WW2, Allied monthly tonnage losses stabilized and new tonnage construction exceeded those looses while Germany couldn't replace submarine losses due to material and labor constraints.

Ludendorff - His first mental collapse occurs on August 8th, 1918 over a month before your Balkans POD. He was already convinced by that date that Germany couldn't win, had already ordered that troops in the West simply hold their positions, had already called for negotiations, and had already sat down with a psychiatrist at his staff's insistence. Between August and late October, he either threatened or tried to resign multiple times with increasing frequency. His claims that Germany could have held out through the winter were also made well after the fact.

The "Spanish" flu - While the outbreak began in March of 1918, it's two deadly European peaks roughly occurred in November of 1918 and March of 1919, right in the middle of your continuing war. With an infection rate of over 50%, a death rate of up to 20% of the infected, and half of those deaths in the 20-40 age groups, the armies fighting your extended WW1 will find themselves respecting an armistice imposed by the disease even if one hasn't already been fashioned by man.

The Blockade of Germany - An early study commissioned by the Weimer Republic stated that the blockade won the war for the Entente. While historians have disputed that claim ever since, all agree that the blockade had a major effect. Current best estimates put German civilian deaths during the war at 750 to 800 thousand and the dying continued after the armistice because a modified blockade continued until Versailles was signed. The "breadbasket Ukraine" excuse usually trotted out in any discussion of a post-1918 blockade ignores the fact that any harvest from the lands gained at Brest-Litovsk isn't going to occur until late summer 1919, that Germany's transportation system is in a shambles due to fuel concerns, and that people were starving already.

Austria-Hungary - The empire began unraveling well before your POD and, with Wilson's sophomoric 14 Points glittering in every ethnic group's imagination, nothing short of ASB intervention was going to stop that process in 1918. The A-H was already starving by 1916, had began serious and secret negotiation with France in early 1917, and then lost any real control of it's own fate in April of '18 when Germany caught onto those talks thanks to Karl's personal letters to Clemenceau. Karl, by now little more than a German puppet, was still man enough to famously tell Wilhelm that Austria-Hungary could not "last another winter" in mid-1918. Well before the Lansing Note in October of '18, the various national councils were already acting like provisional governments. One of them, the Czechoslovak provisional government IIRC, even joined the Entente weeks before the armistice was announced.

Finally on a lesser note, HMS Furious was not a "real" carrier and carried roughly ten Sopwith fighters. Those aircraft aren't going to do a blessed thing against whatever HSF vessels remain from the timeline's Thames raid. The success of Furious' seven plane 1918 raid on the Tondern zeppelin base relied solely on the fact that her aircrafts' 25 pound bombs managed to ignite the gas bags of two hangared airships.

The less said about possible UK/US bombing raids on Berlin the better.

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This is very interesting. The establishment of a German-Ottoman front in Central Asia, and a larger scale war in the Middle East are particularly fascinating. The future political ramifications for the Royal Navy due to its successful defeat of the High Seas Fleet are also interesting.
to Bill Cameron

Dear Bill Cameron, thank you for your attention. I don't agree some of your analysis on 1918 conditions and here are some points:

Ludendorff's nerves: of course the first Ludendorff breakdown happened after the "Black Day" (8 August), but his morale was constantly up and down during august and september. Quoting his doctor, Hochheimer, he recovered in september and during a briefing in High Command, on 20 September, Ludendorff declared that "The situation is critical, but not desperate". Only the fall of Bulgaria provoked the last and terminal shock. Of course I can find many other Pods: for exemple a strategic retreat beyond the Mose-Antwerp line during september could have avoided Germans many losses. But this is the point: German army had no more chances of success after the summer of 1918, but it was actually able to fight for another year. The fall of Germany in november 1918 was decided by the Ohl and by the government, not by an irreparable defeat, nor by the revolution (which broke out only in the first day of november). Considering OHL's responsibility, it's possible to project an Alternative History for a fifth year of war: what if OHL opted for a resistence to the death, like Hitler in 1944? This AH could be interesting because of its political and military consequences.

High Seas Fleet: mutinies occurred also in 1917, but they were not so destabilizing. Also the mutinies of 30 october 1918 were very little: only 5 dreadnoughts over 27 were involved. The mutiny spread when the fleet came back to Kiel and when the sailors met with radical movements born after the beginning of peace negotiations. The causes of mutinies, before november, were not political: sailors protested against both hard discipline and inactivity.

Submarine warfare: after the Black Day OHL relied heavily on submarine warfare. On september 1918, admiral Scheer and industrial elites drew the "Scheer Plan" for 1919: the production of 175 new U-Boats; in the end of 1918, no less then 120 U-Boats were under construction. Submarine's sailors and officers were very loyal and mutinies didn't occur among them. In sum: the submarine warfare was not at all finished. It was terminated only because of the end of war.

Naval blockade: that was THE main cause of German's collapse. But the effects of naval blockade were very slow. Could it be possible another year of war? All Entente's intelligence services believed: yes.

Spanish Flu: I have very different data. I see that the peak of flu was September-October 1918 (and the war was going on). Spanish flu didn't stop the war in 1918, I don't thik it could stop it in 1919.
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About Hms Furious

Hms Furious was not a real aircraft carrier, of course. I'm not thinking to a 1919 version of Taranto's attack: it was simply impossible. An air raid against Hsf in Wilhelmshaven was planned in 1918, but I don't have read it. Considering the technology of 1918's Raf, the raid could have been conducted by land-based Handley-Page bombers. Hms Furious, with her Sopwith Pup fighters could have provided some support against German fighters during the raid.
This is frankly ASB, the Germans have no food, and no rubber and are in no state to prevent an advance in the west.

The war will be over by spring at most.
The biggest problem for the Central Powers is not just shortages of material, it is the revolutionnary groups that where allowed to fester and sabotate the war effort.
Unless they are dealth with, they will cause major troubles before 1919.
germany would starve to death in your scenario

you would need at minimum need them not to go ahead with the spring offensive and perhaps work out some kind of deal to get italy out of the war to reduce their committments. (maybe some territorial concessions and return of all prisoners (the germans had a lot of leverage in that regard after caporetto))
To be fair, there are a few statements being tossed around here like fact which are not.

Germany did not have to give up because they were starving. The German nation survived the extra months the Entente kept up the blockade, correct? It is slightly plausible that Germany could hold out to the autumn Ukraine harvest because

The Spanish flu is going to stop everyone's offensives in Spring 1919, possibly Summer as well. This helps the Germans more than the Allies.

The Germans are going to be in great shape to hold out against an Allied offensive from the west, as the line has been shortened dramatically as they get closer to Germany's western border by the presence of Holland on their right.

I think your biggest issue is keeping Austria-Hungary together, because when Austria goes a huge front opens up on Germany's south that can't be stopped up.

(An interesting TL, IMHO, would be one where A-H switches sides to the Entente as a result of those 1917 discussions. One of my sources indicates that in return for handing over Trieste and the Trentino, A-H was to be compensated with Silesia! :eek::cool:)
Germany did not have to give up because they were starving. The German nation survived the extra months the Entente kept up the blockade, correct? It is slightly plausible that Germany could hold out to the autumn Ukraine harvest

Barely,in IRKL men and horses go home, without this there will be less domestic food production. Germany wasn't a particularly large food produced, it was however very inefficient, requiring too much labour. This meant that food production fell dramatically on the mobilisation of that labour. autumn 1919 is a long way away, also extracting the Ukrainian harvest is easier said than done. The Tsarists tried and failed, the first time the communists tried there was mass famine and the peasants burnt the surplus. The Germans aren't even occupying the place.

The Germans are going to be in great shape to hold out against an Allied offensive from the west, as the line has been shortened dramatically as they get closer to Germany's western border by the presence of Holland on their right.

With no rubber how do you make gas masks? and how do you get supplies through? The German economy is really quite screwed by this stage and will be lucky to produce sufficient munitions.
Germany starved to death?

I don't think so. Entente's generals prepared a new campaign for 1919 because they were sure that Germany could have resisted and fought for another year. I think they weren't wrong at all. Revolution and sedition inside Germany were grossly overrated after the war by marxist historiography (for political purpose); during the '30s they were equally overrated by nazi historiography (again for political puropose, but for the opposite reason). War production in Germany was reduced but not annihilated. The decision to quit fighting was political, made by the High Command and by the new Max Von Baden government in the last months. It was a rational choice: it was too risky to continue the war to the death. Stopping war just in time could have brought favourable armistice conditions. (Try to imagine Hitler asking for peace in 1944 after Normady: the situation was very similar to 1918's Imperial Germany). OHL's choice resulted the wrong one, after the end of the war. Germany ceased resistence, but was punished like after an Allied invasion. My hipothesis here is: German OHL made the most irrational choice. They decided to resist to the death. In this case, the war could have been fought like the one described in this timeline.
(Of course this is Alternative History, a bit of fantasy is required. Those facts did not happened).
May – June 1919: Central Powers hope for revolution

Central Asia: the German-Ottoman advance reach the Persian city of Mashhad and provoked a huge rebellion into Afghanistan against British rule; the appeals for a Jihad, launched by Mehemet VI reached also Indian Muslim masses, who started a large rebellion against the British forces in Pakistan; the newly idependet khanates of Bukhara and Kiva declared war to Great Britain; the old Kitchener’s nightmare (a global Jihad against the Empire, as in the romance “Greenmantle”) almost became a reality; but British forces (with massive use of air raids) repressed the Afghan and Indian rebellions; in Mashhad, German-Ottoman forces were stopped and severly defeated in a large field battle by the British-Indian expeditionary force led by gen. Wilfred Malleson; the attack on Ashkabad led by Dutov’s Siberian and Bashkir kossacks broke the supply lines of the German-Ottoman columns, inflicting them a definitive defeat.

Middle East: Allenby and Marshall joined forces around Nisibin; Ottoman’s VI Army and other Turkish forces were catch between two fronts and surrendered after a desperate resistence; in the Mediterranean sector, British forces occupied Alexandretta.

Russian front: Kolchak’s White Army, supported by American, Japanese and Czech divisions, continued its advance in Siberia, seizing the cities of Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara and Saratov; in Tzaritzin (on Volga river), Kolchak’s Army joined its forces with Denikin’s White Army; along the Sukhona river, Kolchak’s army join forces with the Anglo-American arctic forces and Evgenij Miller’s White Army; in the end of June, White Armies were deployed along an uninterrupted front from Arctic to Black Sea. They occupied a large territory with 5 millions inhabitants, their forces doubled. And they were ready to advance to Moscow as a steamroller. Germany signed a new pact with Bolshevik regime to avoid its sudden collapse and the re-opening of an Eastern front. Two German Army Corps were transferred from Western to Eastern front. Central Powers occupation forces in Belarus, Baltics States and Ukraine were alerted and readied to fight side by side with the Red Army.

Western front: Entente’s forces began their preliminary offensives in the end of June; Belgians supported by British II Army (with tanks) broke German’s lines and liberated Antwerp; new tanks and the lessons of general J.F.C. Fuller (an armoured fist supported by tactical air raids) were applied for the first time with success; using similar tactics, American and French forces broke the German lines in Metz and occupied the city in few days.

Italian front: Italian III and VIII Armies (with 6 British and French divisions) push Austro-Hungarian VI Army troops inside the Istria Peninsula and completed a succesfull advance reaching Fiume in the end of June

Salonika front: General Franchet d’Esperey launch a new offensive in Makedonia in the end of June; the Entente’s “Eastern Army” broke the enemy lines (held by German and Bulgarian forces) on 30 June.

War on the sea: the almost complete destruction of the German fleet induced admiral David Beatty to penetrate the Baltic Sea (completely controlled by Germans since 1914); the Grand Fleet entered the Baltic in the end of June through the Grand Belt, losing few ships because of minefields; in the Atlantic ocean, British anti-submarine units, thanks to the sonar, wiped out German submarine forces; the German’s indiscriminate submarine campaign was virtually terminated in the end of June.

Internal fronts: the German-Bolshevik pact produced strange effects. In Germany the Spartakist movement began to support Hindemburg-Ludendorff's command. The OHL gave the Army and Navy units the possibility to form new Soviets, loyal to German's cause. The German military and political system remained the same. The rethoric and the ideology changed: the 1918 opposition was no more opposed to government. Where Entente's forces fought for national self-determination and democracy (since the proclamation of Wilson's 14 points), the Germans, after the German-Bolshevik pact, began to fight for Socialism (which was an integral part of German nationalism since the beginning of the war). In Moscow, Lenin and Trockj didn't appreciate this kind of National-Socialism. But they accepted it as a first step for the next European revolution. And because they need German's support. Inside Entente's continental powers, Bolshevik's propaganda was really strong in France, Britain and Italy. Little civil wars broke out inside those countries, barely contained by regular armies.

To be continued…
Germany did not have to give up because they were starving. The German nation survived the extra months the Entente kept up the blockade, correct?


Incorrect actually.

The blockade was greatly modified after the armistice. Among other things, Germany could import food provided they paid for it and it arrived in German hulls. So Germany all but exhausted it's gold reserves buying food and buying the ships needed.

A blockade continued after November 11, 1918, The blockade ceased after November 11, 1918.

It is slightly plausible that Germany could hold out to the autumn Ukraine harvest because.

The Weimer Republic didn't think so and, seeing as they lived through the period and had access to records you and I'll never see, I'll take their opinion over your's.

The Spanish flu is going to stop everyone's offensives in Spring 1919, possibly Summer as well. This helps the Germans more than the Allies.

If armies are still in the field in late 1918 and early 1919 instead of in camps, the Flu is going to kill many more soldiers on both sides. Seeing as Germany has fewer soldiers, their losses will effect them to a greater extent.

I think your biggest issue is keeping Austria-Hungary together, because when Austria goes a huge front opens up on Germany's south that can't be stopped up.

A-H is a huge problem in this scenario and it's rather telling that Giobastia as all but ignored the A-H in his timeline. As much as he can quibble over Ludendorff or the High Seas fleet, there's no way in hell he can propose a 1918 POD that saves the A-H and thus protects Germany's southern flank into 1919.

(An interesting TL, IMHO, would be one where A-H switches sides to the Entente as a result of those 1917 discussions. One of my sources indicates that in return for handing over Trieste and the Trentino, A-H was to be compensated with Silesia! :eek::cool:)

That trade is cool, but any attempt by the A-H to switch sides would be earlier version of Italy trying to switch sides in WW2. Germany has the A-H by the short and curlys, there's no other way to describe it.