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Kensai
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11 Intriguing Ways World War I Could Have Turned Out Differently

Thu Oct 30, 2014 10:40 am

Interesting read [io9.com]. What's your favorite alternate reality scenario and why? :)
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clandini5
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Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:41 am

I would say Italy remaining as part of the Central Powers if for no other reason than it opens up a southern front against France, and allows Austria-Hungary to use 2 armies against the Balkans and Russia - with more complications possible further down the road.

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Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:32 pm

Niall Ferguson did an interesting video on the question of what if Great Britain had stayed out of the war. It would have been over a lot faster with far fewer casualties, but then the French would all be speaking German.... would the peace have lasted longer with a successful war for Germany? Would there have been a WW2 without Germany's humiliation in the Treaty of Versailles??
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Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:15 pm

Okay it's a nice sensational piece, but there are many incorrect things there.

For instance, "Germany would have likely defeated Russia given the sorry state of its military. Together with Austria-Hungary, the two nations would have ruled over a massive European empire."
While it is likely the Germans might have defeated Russia, I don't think they would actually conquer it and make it theirs. Maybe brake all of it down in puppet states etc., but it wouldn't be an empire.
After all, Germany itself was also left as a state and did not become Anglo-French territory.

Same for a victory over France. French wouldn't be speaking German by now - Like in 1870, it is more likely France would remain France but probably at a high cost. Loss of colonies, payment of damages etc. But the war aims of Germany were actually shockingly ill-defined but they were very keen on weakening their encircling neighbours.

And about Italy: they stepped out of the Alliance right before it all started, and they were pretty much already incorporated into a mobilization plan. So no sending to Russia or something, but they were to be added to the armies in the Rhine, so the German Right Wing could be made stronger. And that might have made a difference as we know.

I am completely stunned by the "Invasion in Normandy"-bit. The author of this piece writes "The British Navy maintained sea dominance during the war, and could have easily transported masses of men to the Normandy (or Callais) coast. The Germans, barring sufficient intelligence, would have been caught completely off guard."
Why? Normandy was well behind the front lines! I'd say France was invaded on a daily basis by English-speaking troops because these were the reinforcements from Great Britain and Canada!

"the Entente could have caused the Germans considerable problems by opening up a new theatre of operations in northern France" - completely ridiculous if you ask me.

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Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:25 pm

The Normandy part was silly indeed. But honestly, I really like that most of these "what if" scenarios can actually be played in the context of EAW. :w00t:
Italy is quite interesting when it stays with the Central Powers after the concessions, their armies set up properly in the Western border, albeit well enough after the beginning of the conflict. Nonetheless, the French need at least two armies to stop them before they overwhelm the Southern part of the country. Two armies that might have been stopping and putting plugs against the Germans in the North.
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Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:35 pm

We all understand that the Normandy thing was added as a wink to its historical counterpart :)
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Hofstadter's Law: "It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's law."

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Thu Oct 30, 2014 3:14 pm

Well in response to the Normandy thing, Gallipoli could have been far, far worse :p

Image

Image

That was the first two days. Then as the campaign continued.

Image

Image

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Then culminating in this...

Image

From the Paradox Interactive Mass Multiplayer PBEM :)
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Thu Oct 30, 2014 5:22 pm

You just love dragging that out at every opportunity, don't you? :p

I am glad I had nothing to do with that...

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Thu Oct 30, 2014 5:41 pm

Merlin wrote:You just love dragging that out at every opportunity, don't you? :p


Wouldn't you? :p
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Thu Oct 30, 2014 5:54 pm

Projekt Pasha wrote:Well in response to the Normandy thing, Gallipoli could have been far, far worse :p


From the Paradox Interactive Mass Multiplayer PBEM :)


OH MY GOODNESS!!!!
I'm about half way through the AAR's. Way behind this, but, that's some bloody bloody battles.

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Jinx
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Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:30 pm

In regards to the thread topic.
Although its unlisted in the 11 intriguing ways, I think the biggest game changer of WW1 was the Austria-Hungarian Compromise of 1867.

I know that's almost a full 50 years before WW1, but in my opinion, mostly because of that, Austria went from being one of the greater powers in Europe, to competing with the Ottomans for the title: "The Sick Man of Europe"
Hungary did nothing but choke out Austria and diminish it to insignificance. An excellent book on the topic is "The Mad Catastrophe"
I honestly think, if it wasn't for that, the Empire of Austria, though diminished probably in the Age of Nationalism, would have been a force to be considered. Would not have let Serbia begin empire building. Would have more then held its own against Russia, allowing Germany to focus almost exclusively on the Western Front. Probably been considered a more valued ally by Italy (even with historical ambitions in Austrian territories). And so on and so forth, I can probably list at least 10 more points.
Of course, going back 50 years to rewrite history is cheating, I can make any nation an empire if I can go back 50 years in its past and rewrite a small chapter of its history.
But if Mr. Franz Josef just didn't think it was a brilliant idea to form Austria-Hungarian empire, or alternatively, if the Emperor died after 1890's and let his successor Franz Ferdinand (a passionate anti-Hungarian) enact his War Plan H and march into Hungary, shutter their parliament at the least, and outright reform a Austrian Empire, I think even within those few years before 1914, Austria could have regained some of its former might.

Hehe! Anyways! I've been looking into this a bit, I've been researching in anticipation of writing a short story in an alternate WW1 :bonk:

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Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:40 pm

Projekt Pasha wrote:Wouldn't you? :p


I have class. :p

Jinx wrote:OH MY GOODNESS!!!!
I'm about half way through the AAR's. Way behind this, but, that's some bloody bloody battles.


ringhloth dropped the entire British army on top of one of Projekt's, which was also dug in. I thought he was going to land in the Salonika pocket, not Otto territory.

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Thu Oct 30, 2014 7:05 pm

Merlin wrote:I have class. :p



ringhloth dropped the entire British army on top of one of Projekt's, which was also dug in. I thought he was going to land in the Salonika pocket, not Otto territory.


So do I, it's just all mine are concentrated into three days :p

(For the benefit of the peanut gallery) Two armies of mine 2. Ordusu and 5. Ordusu actually, plus a spare Kolordu (two corps) each, which also happen to be the best two armies I have. Complete with engineers and a consistently decent or good set of generals (A rarity in the Ottoman Empire). By the last battle Enver Pasha had arrived in personal command of four corps, and the Bulgarians had sent some men to reinforce me as well. Due to promotions and stat boosts I have been able since then to form a 6. Ordusu out of the two spare Kolordu.
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Kensai
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Thu Oct 30, 2014 10:13 pm

Jinx wrote:In regards to the thread topic.
Although its unlisted in the 11 intriguing ways, I think the biggest game changer of WW1 was the Austria-Hungarian Compromise of 1867.

I know that's almost a full 50 years before WW1, but in my opinion, mostly because of that, Austria went from being one of the greater powers in Europe, to competing with the Ottomans for the title: "The Sick Man of Europe"
Hungary did nothing but choke out Austria and diminish it to insignificance. An excellent book on the topic is "The Mad Catastrophe"
I honestly think, if it wasn't for that, the Empire of Austria, though diminished probably in the Age of Nationalism, would have been a force to be considered. Would not have let Serbia begin empire building. Would have more then held its own against Russia, allowing Germany to focus almost exclusively on the Western Front. Probably been considered a more valued ally by Italy (even with historical ambitions in Austrian territories). And so on and so forth, I can probably list at least 10 more points.
Of course, going back 50 years to rewrite history is cheating, I can make any nation an empire if I can go back 50 years in its past and rewrite a small chapter of its history.
But if Mr. Franz Josef just didn't think it was a brilliant idea to form Austria-Hungarian empire, or alternatively, if the Emperor died after 1890's and let his successor Franz Ferdinand (a passionate anti-Hungarian) enact his War Plan H and march into Hungary, shutter their parliament at the least, and outright reform a Austrian Empire, I think even within those few years before 1914, Austria could have regained some of its former might.

Hehe! Anyways! I've been looking into this a bit, I've been researching in anticipation of writing a short story in an alternate WW1 :bonk:


But the compromise itself was a product of ruinous conflicts the preceding years. Both against a unifying Italy and Prussia. I believe the end of Austria was actually in the Napoleonic wars when it ended being the real powerhouse of Central Europe (premium country of the HRE). A-H might have even survived if Franz-Josef played his cards better instead of trampling the ethnic minorities of his empire.
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Fri Oct 31, 2014 3:28 am

My biggest 2 would be the Germans not using sub warfare and keeping the US out.

The other is somehow keeping the British out of the war, I haven't played the beta patch, but I do think it should be possible to stop the UK from entering the war if you leave Belgium alone.

Freddie_2
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Fri Oct 31, 2014 10:31 am

I miss the one where Princip didn't wack Franz F.

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Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:20 pm

One of the posters went back 50 years before the GREAT WAR, i would like to go back 15 years.
let's suppose in 1899, Wilhelm II miraculously develops a BRAIN (highly unlikely, but let's suppose) and listens keenly to Joseph Chamberlain (Papa of Neville and Austen- yes).
Grand Alliance of UK and Germany is proposed and accepted. Victoria is the reigning monarch and a whole German at heart and culture. Joseph is a Prussophile. Then if it does happen- a repeat of the SYW is definitely possible.
Even if all the powers combine, they can't defeat Germany allied with UK, now why??

1. They have already done this once with a far far smaller base- SYW
2. No Navy or limited Navy means-
Men equal to 2 Active Corps can be recruited also means-
Money equal to 2 Field Armies is free.

Now in such a War-
Italy and Austria will be neutral if not allied to Germany.
Turkey will be benevolently neutral.
The Balkans also neutral except Serbia maybe and if Serbia comes, Austria will support Germany. (Why? Romania, Bulgaria and Greece all had German Monarchs and also needed English Money Markets).

Result-
France + Russia vs UK + Germany or
France + Russia + Serbia vs UK + Germany + Austria

Will be a repeat of Franco-Prussian War on Western Front (Remember no BEF for French and minimum of 2 and maybe even 5 extra Active Corps plus several Reserve corps extra for Germany from the money saved and also the money sent by UK for the War)

Russia will be crushed later.

What will happen-
French or Russian won't speak German but
Most of Central Europe will be in the Zollverin.
Baltics and Poland and Ukraine and Finland will be independent (Quasi-Independent) with German Monarchs.
The low countries will also join the Zollverin.
France will become very less important in Europe and Russia will look to the Far-East and China for easy Pickings (Germany will install some other Prince if chances of Revolution and never allow Lenin to create USSR in this alternate reality).
No WW2 will occur as no power will be strong.
British Empire will survive and will be strong worldwide.

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Fri Oct 31, 2014 10:07 pm

Totally OT, but

I remember watching a program about how WW1 almost started in 1911 or 1912, when Russia and Austria-Hungary started moving around troops on there borders.
Think it was over a Balkans civil war, but could be wrong??
Anyone else remembers watching or reading about it?

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Fri Oct 31, 2014 10:51 pm

Aaron_red wrote:Totally OT, but

I remember watching a program about how WW1 almost started in 1911 or 1912, when Russia and Austria-Hungary started moving around troops on there borders.
Think it was over a Balkans civil war, but could be wrong??
Anyone else remembers watching or reading about it?


Probably something regarding the first Balkan war.

The thing a lot of people miss today when discussing alternate histories is that the Great War was an inevitability. It wasn't a question of if but when. That was a huge factor in Germany's military deciding to fight in 1914, knowing that there would be a war eventually and that by 1918 or so Imperial Russia would be able to match Germany's railway network (and thus mobilize just as fast) it decided it was better to fight when the odds were even then hope for peace and be forced to fight when Russia could roll over Germany and Austria-Hungary like they weren't even there.
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Fri Oct 31, 2014 11:05 pm

Projekt Pasha wrote:The thing a lot of people miss today when discussing alternate histories is that the Great War was an inevitability. It wasn't a question of if but when. That was a huge factor in Germany's military deciding to fight in 1914, knowing that there would be a war eventually and that by 1918 or so Imperial Russia would be able to match Germany's railway network (and thus mobilize just as fast) it decided it was better to fight when the odds were even then hope for peace and be forced to fight when Russia could roll over Germany and Austria-Hungary like they weren't even there.


I always feel like saying it was inevitable is way too deterministic. It was likely, yes, but inevitable? Absolutely not! When I read how WW1 started, I would say it was a result of unfortunate circumstances and many wrong decisions from some, surpringly few, people. None of the Great Powers was really wanting to fight a war so badly that it could not have been prevented.

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Sat Nov 01, 2014 12:09 am

bob. wrote:I always feel like saying it was inevitable is way too deterministic. It was likely, yes, but inevitable? Absolutely not! When I read how WW1 started, I would say it was a result of unfortunate circumstances and many wrong decisions from some, surpringly few, people. None of the Great Powers was really wanting to fight a war so badly that it could not have been prevented.


Most of the Government's didn't really want a fight no, except for maybe Serbia, France, and Austria-Hungary, but a whole lot of the militaries did. One thing you see in 1914 is the German government, which absolutely did not want a war, totally losing control of its military as it both wanted to fight then rather than later and knew the results of inaction could be disastrous if war broke out anyway.

France for one was absolutely dead set on regaining the territory lost to Germany in 1871, on the parts of the population, government, and military. Germany's military considered it to be absolutely essential to weaken France and Russia so they wouldn't destroy it in a decades time. The Austro-Hungarian military and state saw war with Serbia as a necessity to neutralize the detrimental effect it was having on the stability of the Hapsburg Empire. Russia had back Serbia unconditionally both in the july crises (and had war been averted) and crises in the immediate future for reasons of prestige after its spectacular losses to Japan and its near-revolution in 1905. You can be guaranteed that all of them would have gone to war at some point. Among those Great powers not absolutely certain to be involved they were likely to get into it too. Great Britain saw Germany as the biggest long-term threat to its global domination, and needed to weaken her somehow to prevent a german-dominated Europe. It could do this either diplomatically or martially, but it had to be done one way or the other. Italy faced massive public support for its territorial designs on Austria-Hungary, and would have been forced into war with them at one point inevitably as a function of the democratic process. The Ottoman Empire was led by a man who while a skilled politician was somewhat less then sane and reveled in fantasies of a Turkish Empire in the Caucasus or even central asia. Goals which could only be accomplished at the expense of Russia.

The war was the inevitable result of the decay of the concert system and the post-Napoleonic world order. Nearly all of the biggest states involved, except Great Britain and Russia who were largely status-quo actors, had become revisionist actors leading to the unsustainability of the system as a whole. One would see the same descent into conflict in the 1930's as the League system collapsed and again a number of the major players became revisionist actors. This is a recurring cycle of History and one very apparent to IR majors/scholars like me: Conflict->Post-Conflict Order Established->Norms, mechanisms, and rules of the order cease to serve one or more of the major states involved in the maintenance of the system->Powerful revisionist actors arise->Order disintegrates or becomes impotent->Conflict. By July 1914 Europe had already reached the stage where the post-conflict order (The Congress System) had become absolutely impotent. A conflict was inevitable at some point.
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Sat Nov 01, 2014 10:32 pm

Having read a lot of history of history writing, it is clear that there is an eternal discussion about "it was bound to happen" and individual choices and decisions.

Personally I am more the choices-type. Even though the concert of Europe was in decay, and the arms race went skyhigh, I think the war was down to personal choices.
If certain people didn't think and decide in a certain way, things would not have happened. To say it was bound to happen is something said with the power of hindsight. If the Soviets and USA went to war in, say, 1983 people would now say it was bound to happen. Only it didn't, but the atmosphere was definitely a very bellicose one.

Some people say WW2 was inevitable because WW1 happened, but is that true?

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Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:12 am

Kensai wrote:But the compromise itself was a product of ruinous conflicts the preceding years. Both against a unifying Italy and Prussia. I believe the end of Austria was actually in the Napoleonic wars when it ended being the real powerhouse of Central Europe (premium country of the HRE). A-H might have even survived if Franz-Josef played his cards better instead of trampling the ethnic minorities of his empire.


I agree that even before the Compromise of 1867, things where falling apart, but I believe they could have held better to their diminishing power a little better if Franz Josef wouldn't have formed the dual monarchy. Or, if was a necessity in 1867, maybe in 1880's Josef could have revoked the compromise! The Hungarian Army was not permitted artillery until the 1890's for just such a reason, in case Austria would have to march into Hungary to quell some secessionist rebellion.
Either ways, once he singled out the Hungarians in his efforts to stabilize a fracturing nation in 1867, then the Czechs, Poles, Serbs and the rest, all wondered why THEY (even though a smaller demographic) where not "special" too! Which did little to stabilize anything!
I doubt Austria could have ever regained its former might, the whole foundation was built on bits and pieces of nations, but it is my personal layman opinion that they could have probably slowed its decline, possibly re consolidated a little like the "Young Turk" movement in the Ottoman Empire, and maybe not been such a drag in the wheels of the smooth, well oiled, Prussian war machine! :-)
Ah! Either ways, its just my own pet personal opinion. :-)

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Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:31 am

I agree with you @ Jinx, the Empire partly; but do understand that the empire was not Austrian or Austro-Hungarian it was Hapsburg. Why do i say this- Germany without the Hohenzollern Monarchy is and never will be and never may have been a monarchy but there was a chance for a Saxon or Hanoverian to become the Monarch, maybe even a Bavarian.
Russia and the Balkans had imported (Read :German) Monarchs, Scandinavia, Iberian Peninsula and even the UK went that way but France was always Valois/Bourbon, once that was gone it needed a strongman like Napoleon or De Gaulle to remain FRANCE and not devolve into france. (Certain National characteristics, will be too long a post to describe mass psychology here).
Austria and the surroundings had the Hapsburg and they were always there (even if Maria Theresa was the technical last one), they had outlasted the Valois, the Plantanegets, the Ottomans, the Hohenstaufens, almost everyone. The Empire was Hapsburg and a strong but conciliatory ruler was needed. Maybe, a Maria Theresa II, but all they got was archaic 'status quo' dinosaur Franz Josef II.

BTW- Franz Ferdinand was saying something similar to your words- why should Magyar Nobility be first among the others, why not Serbo-Croat and Czech and Polish Szlachta and maybe even the Jews be their equals (of course, the Hapsburg above them all). Had he succeeded i think Central Europe and the Balkans may have been a far better place today.
Maybe some individuals may be feeling irredentist thoughts but overall it may have been much better.

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