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What If: Kaiser Willie Dies In 1909?


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There was at least one historian that claimed the Ottomans were if anything, more stable on the outbreak of war than they had been in years. I gather the industrialization bug had bitten them too. You have to wonder how the modern middle east would now look if we had sunk the Goeben....

 

Considering that Ottomans are responsible for the 90% of the shit in the middle east, probably worse.

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In 1909 the naval race with Britain was at a climax, but also where it should be clear to the Germans that they couldn't win that race. In that context anyone on the Throne just a little less fixed on new shiny battleships might have a chance to reach a naval agreement with Britain - ie. Britain needing a much bigger provocation to join the war.

 

 

Germany, as a land power, did not require victory in any naval race with Britain. Rather, it required a continental strategy which allowed it to defeat its enemies one by one until only the British remained. German naval power in any war was within that context - its navy was entirely expendable provided that in doing so it was following a strategy that wins the war on the continent.

A "no High Seas Fleet" timeline might also mean the advancement of various chemical inventions to replace overseas import, as there now is no chance of breaking a blockade.

 

 

In reading a bit, the United States appears to have maintained a strategic nitrates reserve (300,000 tons?) as a hedge against supplies being interdicted from Chile. High Seas Fleet or not, why Germany maintained no strategic oil, rubber or nitrates reserves is hard to understand outside the context of a fair degree of incompetence in German planning from the Kaiser on down.

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The Short War Illusion. Everybody had it. A few quick victories and then a general peace settlement. Nobody saw the likelihood of stalemate except for one man, a Polish banker named Bloch.

 

 

https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Portals/7/combat-studies-institute/csi-books/Future-of-War.pdf

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That is true, but it was also some burocratic infighting. Kind of a No War Illusion. Tirpitz and the navy would often use blockade and the need for resources as an argument for budget share, (the argument being that the navy could defend SLOC during war), but nobody actually devoted any of their budget to stockpiling. As if the vulnerability was recognised theoretically but not acted upon. Meanwhile, lower priority items (in terms of usefulness in a real war) such as the dreadnought fleet and horse cavalry divisions, these got scads of cash.

 

Germany failed to stockpile strategic resources (oil, nitrates, copper, etc.) and failed to build the fleet it needed to fight the war it was going to realistically face. Since in both these domains the navy was front and center, and it was the Kaiser that was the head of the navy and had deliberately allowed a confused and divided command structure, one assumes that a different Kaiser might perhaps have reformed this mess before the war and come up with something a little more streamlined?

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It was a war nobody wanted to fight and nobody expect a conflict to last years. Sadly that was overlooked when it came to finding a solution after the war, which then led to round 2.

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Well there was a couple of guys that got the long war theory. There was a French General, according to Tuchman, that told anyone that would listen it would take years. But he was ignored because reportedly he was slow to make a decision and not strong in command. Which was certainly true, but then JC Fuller was probably not a good battlefield commander either.

 

Then there was Lord Kitchener whom, if I remember rightly, was instrumental for keeping a division back from Europe to provide a nucleus for training the next generation of the British Army. If that had not been done, the British Army would probably have run out of recruits, or at the very least, capable recruits, in 1916.

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It was a war nobody wanted to fight and nobody expect a conflict to last years. Sadly that was overlooked when it came to finding a solution after the war, which then led to round 2.

 

The 'solution' was to assign blame to the losers, but with the wartime/postwar collapse of empires and governments, only one remained intact enough to so punish. The real rub, though, was that country's obligation to bear sole responsibility for starting the war, which was in no case the truth. Hence, as you put it leading to round two. That was not inevitable, but the economic collapse and the nature of a victor's peace invited some to take advantage of the instabilities at hand in the 1930s.

 

The failure of the major powers to fairly adjudicate the war's origins and conclusion reflected the same type of inept diplomats and political leaders that brought the war in the first place.

 

As a historian, I always had the notion that these were particular times [1929-89] and events that would not be repeated in the modern era. Sadly, they seem to be upon us again, still with inept diplomats and political leaders....

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It was a war nobody wanted to fight and nobody expect a conflict to last years. Sadly that was overlooked when it came to finding a solution after the war, which then led to round 2.

 

The 'solution' was to assign blame to the losers, but with the wartime/postwar collapse of empires and governments, only one remained intact enough to so punish. The real rub, though, was that country's obligation to bear sole responsibility for starting the war, which was in no case the truth. Hence, as you put it leading to round two. That was not inevitable, but the economic collapse and the nature of a victor's peace invited some to take advantage of the instabilities at hand in the 1930s.

 

The failure of the major powers to fairly adjudicate the war's origins and conclusion reflected the same type of inept diplomats and political leaders that brought the war in the first place.

 

As a historian, I always had the notion that these were particular times [1929-89] and events that would not be repeated in the modern era. Sadly, they seem to be upon us again, still with inept diplomats and political leaders....

 

 

It should be note that the post-war mistakes were only avoided in the previous European war (the Napoleonic ones) through the good offices of chancellor Metternich and the Congress of Vienna. No comparable statist was available post-WW1 and the blood bill was so huge that the defeated would never be able to repay the winners.

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The fact was that in 1914, the only place that conflict within Europe was even thought possible was ..... Ireland. There simply were no territorial disputes worthy of war among European powers.

Alsace Lorraine?

 

 

Anyway, a German Navy that overmatches the MN or the Russian Baltic Fleet(whichever is bigger) shouldn't alarm the British. Provided the Naval Laws are changed but that's just legislation.

 

However, unless the Schlieffen Plan doesn't get replaced things could easily go as IRL. Some crisis on the Balkans has a domino effect that ends with Britain declaring war because Belgium gets invaded.

Edited by Markus Becker
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There simply were no territorial disputes worthy of war among European powers.

 

That’s pretty much what the Germans were thinking when they gave Austria a blank cheque. Funny story. Turns out from the POV of both groupings the threat to their political stability inherent to any challenge, even something as trivial as a 3rd Balkans War, made worth the risk of war.

 

Markus Anyway, a German Navy that overmatches the MN or the Russian Baltic Fleet (whichever is bigger) shouldn't alarm the British. Provided the Naval Laws are changed but that's just legislation.

 

 

The big naval development that could alarm the British overly would be political alliance alterations. Napoleon’s threat to Britain in 1805 wasn’t just the French fleet, it was the union of the fleets of a number of continental powers. WRT to the Russian Baltic Fleet the main thing for the Admiralty was to make sure that if it met the High Seas Fleet in the Baltic, it would be with guns blazing rather than as an addition to it.

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The big naval development that could alarm the British overly would be political alliance alterations. Napoleons threat to Britain in 1805 wasnt just the French fleet, it was the union of the fleets of a number of continental powers. WRT to the Russian Baltic Fleet the main thing for the Admiralty was to make sure that if it met the High Seas Fleet in the Baltic, it would be with guns blazing rather than as an addition to it.

The Russian Navy was still recovering from Tushima and Russia was in an alliance with France, who had few modern battleships too.

 

The British need not have worried.

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Yes, they had quite a few modern BB and even BC under construction but split between the Baltic and the Black Sea fleets and the Gangut's had an obsolete armour scheme.

 

If the Germans had reduced their naval program to reasonable levels the British would have had nothing to worry about in 1914 and not much in the foreseeable future.

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Markus If the Germans had reduced their naval program to reasonable levels the British would have had nothing to worry about in 1914 and not much in the foreseeable future.

 

 

Provided that the Entente held together, yes. But if the Entente came apart after a naval treaty, the Germans could (like they did in the 1930's) break out of their treaty limits.

 

seahawk Being able to defeat the MN or the Baltic Fleet is not enough for Germany though, as the need would have to be to defeat the combined fleets

 

 

Impossible to defeat the French, on account of the British - that would be my guess.

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I was looking at Naval strength.

 

By 1914 the Germans had 15 battleships and were building 5, the French/Russians had only 4 but were building 15.

 

Battlecruisers / semi-dreadnoughts: Germany 4/3 France/Russia 6/4

pre-Dreadnoughts Germany 22 F/R 24

armoured cruisers: Germany 8 F/R 25

 

If you add the British, the German position was going to get weaker in the future and there build up actually was barely enough to keep their position of strength.

 

New add the strategic outlook. Germany had no chance to enforce a Naval blockade against either of the 3 countries, but all 3 countries were in a position to theoretically blockade Germany.

Edited by seahawk
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Being able to defeat the MN or the Baltic Fleet is not enough for Germany though, as the need would have to be to defeat the combined fleets.

 

Not exactly because the two fleets would have to combine first. Even at a reduced pace Germany would have had a dozen modern BB* and at least three BC by 1914 vs. 4+4. And last but not least the Batic is shallow and thus well suited for mine warfare. That would trying to break through the Danish narrows extra dangerous.

 

4*Nassau

4*Helgoland

2*Kaiser

2*König

 

 

New add the strategic outlook. Germany had no chance to enforce a Naval blockade against either of the 3 countries, but all 3 countries were in a position to theoretically blockade Germany.

 

 

Huh? I get how Britain did it and while France can close the Channel they could hardly close the GIUK gap. Russia even less so. They can't get out of the Baltic and Murmansk is even further awy from the gap than Brest. And even if the somehow pull it off it would have pointless unless Britain voluntarily subjects it's trade with Germany to this blockade.

Edited by Markus Becker
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Being able to defeat the MN or the Baltic Fleet is not enough for Germany though, as the need would have to be to defeat the combined fleets.

Not really. They can keep the French at bay with mines and torpedo boats and counter the Russians with coastal forces including coast defence battleships like other Baltic powers. They dont need to win fleet actions in the Baltic or North Sea. This was the basis of their 1890s fleet.

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Being able to defeat the MN or the Baltic Fleet is not enough for Germany though, as the need would have to be to defeat the combined fleets.

Not really. They can keep the French at bay with mines and torpedo boats and counter the Russians with coastal forces including coast defence battleships like other Baltic powers. They dont need to win fleet actions in the Baltic or North Sea. This was the basis of their 1890s fleet.

 

 

The French do not have to come to the north Sea to isolate German colonies from Germany.

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It does not change the fact, that going into the North Sea to face the German fleet was optional for the Entente, they still could seriously threaten shipping to and from Germany. One must not forget that the German fleet was always meant to get concessions from the Brits in the first place and be strong enough to cause serious hurt if needed. But by 1912 the focus on the fleet was dropped, as it was a war Germany could not win.

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It does not change the fact, that going into the North Sea to face the German fleet was optional for the Entente, they still could seriously threaten shipping to and from Germany. One must not forget that the German fleet was always meant to get concessions from the Brits in the first place and be strong enough to cause serious hurt if needed. But by 1912 the focus on the fleet was dropped, as it was a war Germany could not win.

If Entente means an alliance that includes Britain, yes absolutely.

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It does not change the fact, that going into the North Sea to face the German fleet was optional for the Entente, they still could seriously threaten shipping to and from Germany. One must not forget that the German fleet was always meant to get concessions from the Brits in the first place and be strong enough to cause serious hurt if needed. But by 1912 the focus on the fleet was dropped, as it was a war Germany could not win.

If Entente means an alliance that includes Britain, yes absolutely.

 

 

The French fleet could run German hulls off the world's oceans from behind the naval pledge of 2 August 1914. German trade would be completely defenseless to French anywhere outside the Baltic.

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