Overestimation of Germany in WW1

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justlearning1469
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I want to clear up this overestimation of Germany in WW1 by debunking the main myths about that.

Myth 1: The Schlieffen Plan could've worked.
Truth: The Germans had extreme logistical issues by the time they barely even reached the Marne, they were at the end of their rope and couldn't advance further. Additionally even before that the troops were already exhausted, how were they supposed to go further?

Myth 2: If Paris was captured by the Germans, the French would surrender.
Truth: Paris is a crucial city but there are various other crucial cities as well, the industrial centres weren't that concentrated on Paris, along with resources etc.. The Germans would've had to take everything north of the Loire to even attempt to force a surrender.

Myth 3: If Paris was captured by the Germans, the French wouldn't be able to move their armies easily.
Truth: There are numerous other railroads that the French could've used sans Paris, not to mention the French developing other railroads if there was a German attack on Paris anyway.

Myth 4: If Germany had only went against the Russians, the British and French wouldn't have declared war.
Truth: Britain would've declared war anyway because it wouldn't be in her interests to have someone dominating Europe, and the French too.

Myth 5: Focusing on the Russians was the better option.
Truth: The railroads and roads in the Russian Empire were insanely lousy, logistics would've prevented it anyway even if the Russians were weak. Plus the French and British would've declared war anyway to save the Russians.

Myth 6: Austria-Hungary was a tough nation.
Truth: Numerous ethnic conflicts, boatloads of unrest, weak economy, weak army, that's not a tough nation. OTL it almost got knocked out by the Russians in 1914.

Myth 7: Had the Germans veered southwest instead of south after going through Belgium, they would've taken Paris.
Truth: They simply didn't have the troops nor the logistics to do so.

Myth 8: The Russians couldn't have knocked out Austria-Hungary in '14.
Truth: If the Russians used proper procedures, only pinned the Germans down while focusing everything on Austria-Hungary, they might've gotten to the Hungarian plain and taken Budapest, which would've seriously mauled the Austro-Hungarians.

It might not have knocked them out but still.

Myth 9: The colonies did nothing for the Germans.
Truth: German East Africa did tie down a decent few Allies.

Myth 10: The Hindenburg Line was exceptionally tough.
Truth: So tough that the British almost managed to breakthrough at Cambrai, and maybe on one or two other occasions in 1917.

Myth 11: The Battle of the Somme was just a waste of lives for the British.
Truth: It compelled the Germans to retreat to the Hindenburg line, along with the failed assault of Verdun.

Myth 12: Verdun could've succeeded.
Truth: The French were simply too tough there. And they're smart enough to not launch suicidal counterattacks.

Myth 13: Brusilov Offensive was already a resounding success which couldn't be made too much more successful.
Truth: Had the proper techniques been used, for all armies, Pinsk should've been taken along with a few places in the north, pinning some of the German army.
Plus, Evert should've attacked more to pin down the Germans.
Additionally, if the Russians had thrown more to the Austrians, along with less attacking in the Pripyet Marshes, Kowel, Lemberg, Stanislau and Czernovitz would've been taken. Then the Russians could've anchored their southern flank on the Carpathians.
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by justlearning1469)
I want to clear up this overestimation of Germany in WW1 by debunking the main myths about that.

Myth 1: The Schlieffen Plan could've worked.
Truth: The Germans had extreme logistical issues by the time they barely even reached the Marne, they were at the end of their rope and couldn't advance further. Additionally even before that the troops were already exhausted, how were they supposed to go further?

Myth 2: If Paris was captured by the Germans, the French would surrender.
Truth: Paris is a crucial city but there are various other crucial cities as well, the industrial centres weren't that concentrated on Paris, along with resources etc.. The Germans would've had to take everything north of the Loire to even attempt to force a surrender.

Myth 3: If Paris was captured by the Germans, the French wouldn't be able to move their armies easily.
Truth: There are numerous other railroads that the French could've used sans Paris, not to mention the French developing other railroads if there was a German attack on Paris anyway.

Myth 4: If Germany had only went against the Russians, the British and French wouldn't have declared war.
Truth: Britain would've declared war anyway because it wouldn't be in her interests to have someone dominating Europe, and the French too.

Myth 5: Focusing on the Russians was the better option.
Truth: The railroads and roads in the Russian Empire were insanely lousy, logistics would've prevented it anyway even if the Russians were weak. Plus the French and British would've declared war anyway to save the Russians.

Myth 6: Austria-Hungary was a tough nation.
Truth: Numerous ethnic conflicts, boatloads of unrest, weak economy, weak army, that's not a tough nation. OTL it almost got knocked out by the Russians in 1914.

Myth 7: Had the Germans veered southwest instead of south after going through Belgium, they would've taken Paris.
Truth: They simply didn't have the troops nor the logistics to do so.

Myth 8: The Russians couldn't have knocked out Austria-Hungary in '14.
Truth: If the Russians used proper procedures, only pinned the Germans down while focusing everything on Austria-Hungary, they might've gotten to the Hungarian plain and taken Budapest, which would've seriously mauled the Austro-Hungarians.

It might not have knocked them out but still.

Myth 9: The colonies did nothing for the Germans.
Truth: German East Africa did tie down a decent few Allies.

Myth 10: The Hindenburg Line was exceptionally tough.
Truth: So tough that the British almost managed to breakthrough at Cambrai, and maybe on one or two other occasions in 1917.

Myth 11: The Battle of the Somme was just a waste of lives for the British.
Truth: It compelled the Germans to retreat to the Hindenburg line, along with the failed assault of Verdun.

Myth 12: Verdun could've succeeded.
Truth: The French were simply too tough there. And they're smart enough to not launch suicidal counterattacks.

Myth 13: Brusilov Offensive was already a resounding success which couldn't be made too much more successful.
Truth: Had the proper techniques been used, for all armies, Pinsk should've been taken along with a few places in the north, pinning some of the German army.
Plus, Evert should've attacked more to pin down the Germans.
Additionally, if the Russians had thrown more to the Austrians, along with less attacking in the Pripyet Marshes, Kowel, Lemberg, Stanislau and Czernovitz would've been taken. Then the Russians could've anchored their southern flank on the Carpathians.
This is a mixed bag of alleged "myths", not all of them about Germany. Which video did you get them from? Knowing your source will save time for people wanting to reply.

Btw, you only "clear" up issues if you're an expert...
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justlearning1469
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This is a mixed bag of alleged "myths", not all of them about Germany. Which video did you get them from? Knowing your source will save time for people wanting to reply.

Btw, you only "clear" up issues if you're an expert...
For myth 1:
"The rapidly advancing German troops far outran their supply lines once they entered France. They were soon up to 80 miles ahead of their nearest railhead, and horse-drawn transport could not adequately bridge the gap."
Source: https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/trans...irst-world-war
So basically even just in France, the Germans had already far overran their supplies. No wonder why the British and French managed to push the Germans back to the Aisne river.

And the source has a picture of part of the railways.
David Stahel wrote that the Clausewitzian culminating point of the German offensive had occurred before the Battle of the Marne. It's because the German right flank armies east of Paris were operating 100 km (62 mi) from the nearest rail-head, requiring week-long round-trips by underfed and exhausted supply horses, which led to a disastrous ammunition shortage for the right flank armies. Stahel additionally wrote that contemporary and subsequent German assessments of Moltke's implementation of Aufmarsch II West in 1914, did not criticise the planning and supply of the campaign, even though these were instrumental to its failure and that this failure of analysis had a disastrous sequel, when the German armies were pushed well beyond their limits in Operation Barbarossa, during 1941.
(Stahel 2010, pp. 445–446.)

For myth 2:
Don't have sources right now, but I heard that various historians justify their reasoning for Spring Offensive to hit the British as best because even if Paris was taken, the French might not have surrendered.

For myth 3:
Even if Paris was taken, there were various other railways that could be used to shuffle troops around.
Source: http://members.kos.net/sdgagnon/milb.html

Myth 4 can be answered by logic, it's in Britain's security interests to keep Europe divided, as we can see from history, that's why Britain decided to step into various European wars.

Myth 5, it's general knowledge that infrastructure in Russia was lousy.

Myth 6, not directly related but does show that Germany really couldn't rely on their allies.
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brjf
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List your sources, I’ll wait
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by justlearning1469)
x
Are you doing the others?

Did you compile this list yourself?
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As others have asked, where are your sources for these opinions? Or are they just that, your opinions after watching a youtube video?
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Myth 7:
David Stahel wrote that the Clausewitzian culminating point of the German offensive had occurred before the Battle of the Marne. It's because the German right flank armies east of Paris were operating 100 km (62 mi) from the nearest rail-head, requiring week-long round-trips by underfed and exhausted supply horses, which led to a disastrous ammunition shortage for the right flank armies. Stahel additionally wrote that contemporary and subsequent German assessments of Moltke's implementation of Aufmarsch II West in 1914, did not criticise the planning and supply of the campaign, even though these were instrumental to its failure and that this failure of analysis had a disastrous sequel, when the German armies were pushed well beyond their limits in Operation Barbarossa, during 1941. (Stahel 2010, pp. 445–446.)

If they were already at their limit before the Battle of the Marne while heading south from Belgium, what makes people think that the Germans could've sustained a southwestern attack on the left of Paris and Paris?

And also:
Shortly after the Battle of the Marne, Crown Prince Wilhelm told an American reporter; "We have lost the war. It will go on for a long time but lost it is already."
Horne, Alistair (1964). The Price of Glory (1993 ed.). Penguin. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-14-017041-2.
Various people have claimed that the Germans could still have won after 1914, but in reality it was only a matter of time before they lost.
The Allies had the monumental advantage in population, resources, industrial capacity, which the Germans and her ragtag team of allies simply couldn't match.

Myth 8:
In winter 1914-15, Russian and Austro-Hungarian armies continued to clash along the Carpathian Front. During this period, Przemysl fortress managed to hold out deep behind enemy lines, with the Russians bypassing it in order to attack the Austro-Hungarian troops further to the west. Although the Russians managed to cross the Carpathian Mountains in February and March 1915, the German relief helped the Austrians stop further Russian advances. In the meantime, the Siege of Przemysl ended in a defeat for the Austro-Hungarians.
Buttar, Prit (2017). Germany Ascendant, The Eastern Front 1915. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. pp. 57–77, 138–146. ISBN 9781472819376.
And that is despite the Russians not being ready at all. Had the Russians used better tactics, along with being more ready, with superior coordination, they might've taken the Hungarian plain and maybe knocked the Austro-Hungarians out of the war.
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Haraldje
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I think I read it in "The pity of war" from Niall Ferguson that the Schlieffen plan could have worked and that Germany could have crushed France, but the Germans veered off from the original Schlieffen plan in two ways and that proved fatal for Germany.

First the Schlieffen plan called for two more division than the Germans had available. And that's because the Social Democrats in the German parliament did not approve of the necessary expenditures.

Second the Schlieffen plan calculated that the Russians will invade Germany and that some parts of Eastern Germany would have to be left temporarily under Russian occupation and reconquered later. This was regarded as not a real big problem because East Germany was mainly a poor and rural area and not very important for the German war machine. But the big farm-owners in Eastern Prussia had great influence in Berlin and when the Russians attacked they lobbied to bring German troops directly to the Eastern Front. So the Germans moved some divisions from the Western front to the Eastern front which further weakened their position in the West.

Had the Germany sticked to the original Schlieffen plan, so Ferguson's theory, then Germany would have won WWI.

But ofc there are always a lot of IFs and no one knows what would really have happened.
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justlearning1469
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(Original post by Haraldje)
I think I read it in "The pity of war" from Niall Ferguson that the Schlieffen plan could have worked and that Germany could have crushed France, but the Germans veered off from the original Schlieffen plan in two ways and that proved fatal for Germany.

First the Schlieffen plan called for two more division than the Germans had available. And that's because the Social Democrats in the German parliament did not approve of the necessary expenditures.

Second the Schlieffen plan calculated that the Russians will invade Germany and that some parts of Eastern Germany would have to be left temporarily under Russian occupation and reconquered later. This was regarded as not a real big problem because East Germany was mainly a poor and rural area and not very important for the German war machine. But the big farm-owners in Eastern Prussia had great influence in Berlin and when the Russians attacked they lobbied to bring German troops directly to the Eastern Front. So the Germans moved some divisions from the Western front to the Eastern front which further weakened their position in the West.

Had the Germany sticked to the original Schlieffen plan, so Ferguson's theory, then Germany would have won WWI.

But ofc there are always a lot of IFs and no one knows what would really have happened.
Yes, two divisions were sent to the Eastern front.

But Stahel wrote that the offensive had already reached its culminating point even before the greatest extent.
And this was with the troops available.

Adding divisions to the Western Front will only worsen the supply situation as divisions require supplies.
The German flank armies already were critically short of supplies, some more troops might've made the whole thing collapse.

Additionally, I don't think two divisions would be enough to launch the swinging attack to outflank Paris from the left.
The German army already was stretched to its limit trying to unsuccessfully pin down the French.
When the BEF and French 6th Army joined in, of course the Germans had to retreat.

'Second the Schlieffen plan calculated that the Russians will invade Germany and that some parts of Eastern Germany would have to be left temporarily under Russian occupation and reconquered later.'
East Prussia would've been conquered by the Russians if 1st and 2nd Russian armies were even a smidge more competent. Tannenburg was only a victory because the Russians messed up big time. If the Russians were actually somewhat competent then the Germans would have more of a beating.

'So the Germans moved some divisions from the Western front to the Eastern front which further weakened their position in the West.'
Arguably the divisions moved eased the already monumental logistics burden, so it's fewer divisions but more adequately supplied.
You can have as many divisions as you like but if they have no way of getting supplies they're pieces of rubbish.

'Had the Germany sticked to the original Schlieffen plan, so Ferguson's theory, then Germany would have won WWI.'
I disagree, the Germans simply didn't have the logistics. But I agree that Schlieffen plan was the best course of action, and that it could be improved at least slightly.

To me, the best performance of the Schlieffen plan could be anchoring at the Aisne and the Marne instead of pushed back from the Aisne, holding on to Soissons and Reims, Compiegne, Roye, Chaules and maybe anchoring on the Lys, taking Dixmunde and Nieuport.

The whole German army in the West was for pinning down the French. After the Germans got pushed back, they had to scramble to prevent the Allies from outflanking the entire German army.
Even then, they narrowly managed it.

I could easily see the Allies forcing the outstretched and exhausted Germans even further.
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(Original post by justlearning1469)
Adding divisions to the Western Front will only worsen the supply situation as divisions require supplies.
The German flank armies already were critically short of supplies, some more troops might've made the whole thing collapse.
Logistics and supplies are indeed a crucial factor. This is also illustrated in WWII when at the end of the war the Germans had more than 1.000 ME262 jet fighters available, but no fuel and no experienced pilots to fly them. So the most modern fighter jets of its time were nothing more than scrap.

But I suppose IF the Germans would have set up two additional divisions they would also have provided for the additional logistics and supplies needed. That's maybe the reason why the Social Democrats opposed this move. The overall costs for effectively deploying these division in combat are much higher than the costs for the divisions alone. And all this would have meant a considerable burden on the German taxpayer, who already had to pay a lot for the build-up of the Navy. It was a classical offset between having a strong army and having a high standard of living.
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Most of these aren't “myths” in the sense that they are both widely held and false. Most of them are simply points of contention in which there is room for debate among a relatively small pool of WWI historians and students.

1. Could the Schlieffen plan have worked?
For a start, are you talking about the plan originally conceived by Schlieffen in 1905 or the amended version put into action by Moltke in 1914? Schlieffen's concept called for vastly greater force (48.5 army corps) than was available then or later (Moltke deployed 34) and has been viewed not as a concrete plan of attack but a “what if?” exercise. It was also based originally on not having to fight in the East, though the 'Aufmarsch II' variant took a two-front war into account.

You seem to have a very mechanistic view of warfare, that certain things such as the success of the German offensive in 1914 being impossible. It's not as simple as that, as the elder Moltke knew well when he pointed out that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”.

Take his triumph, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. It is often held up as an example of Prussian military efficiency (even a “genius for war”) and equally an example of French military incompetence. Surely there could only have been one result??? Yet if you look in detail at the initial battles – Spicheren, Froehschwiller, Vionville-Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte-St Privat – you can see that in each case the Prussian/German forces came within a hairsbreadth of being defeated. Only at Sedan was the issue beyond doubt. Had any of the French generals made a single good decision during the other battles the result of the war could have been very different.

It's the same with the 1914 invasion. What would have happened if Joffre and Galleni had not recognised that the Germans had exposed their flank and organised a new French army to attack it? Or if a reluctant French had not agreed to join the offensive? No-one really knows, therefore you cannot say that the invasion plan, based as it was on Schlieffen's original concept, could not have succeeded.

The ironic thing is that in general I agree with you. I don't think that the Germans had the numbers – and yes, the logistics – to bring it off except if events had played more completely in their favour. But sometimes things work out unexpectedly, as the elder Moltke knew.

Other points...

In posts #8-10 you and @Haraldje discuss the importance of the younger Moltke transfering 2 divisions to the east in 1914. It wasn't 2 divisions, It was 2 corps – twice the numbers.

Also, I'm not sure which vote by the SPD is being referred to. More pertinently, perhaps, is that the Kaiser and Tirpitz pushed naval expansion so hard in the years up to 1912 that there was little money for the army. It was only in 1913 that Germany gave up on the naval race with Britain and started expanding its army again. If that decision had been made earlier, the Germans would not only have had more troops, but possibly there wouldn't have been a BEF to contend with in the initial battles.

Oh, and don't think I don't realise what you're doing with some of your sources. When you cite Stahel, for example, you summarise his argument well and even give page references. However, you haven't read this book; you've just lifted the info from Wiki, which is at least better than some of the videos you think are good source material!

2. If Paris was captured by the Germans, the French would surrender
A 'non-myth' to my mind. The French government had already started to move out when the situation looked bleak and was conducting business from elsewhere. The only way the fall of Paris would have prompted a final surrender would have been similar to 1871, I.e. the total defeat of French forces - plus in this case - the failure of their Russian and British allies to rescue them.

3. If Paris was captured by the Germans, the French wouldn't be able to move their armies easily
I have no opinion on or knowledge of this, but it's an example of you promoting an interesting detail of military history to the grandeur of a 'myth'.

4. If Germany had only went [sic] against the Russians, the British and French wouldn't have declared war
The French were bound by the treaty of 1892 to support Russia with all force of arms in the event of attack by Germany. So who on earth is suggesting that they wouldn't? You (or some random video author) are creating a straw man simply so you can glorify it as a myth and knock it down. That's very poor historical practice.

The British case is more complicated, but I don't see any way that Britain could have declared war in 1914 if Germany had invaded only Russia, and certainly not in August. If you forget what you call “logic” and examine what actually happened in the decision-making process in London you would see that the Cabinet was very divided about what to do in the event of war. While Asquith, Haldane and Churchill were more bellicose in general, even the latter was not convinced initially of the need to fight if the Germans “only go a little way into Belgium”. On the other hand, other senior ministers such as Morley and Simon were radically opposed to war. The decision was so much in the balance that the French ambassador was on the verge of collapse on August 1st because he feared that Britain would leave France and Russia in the lurch. The situation changed on August 2nd and some of the anti-war faction resigned from the Cabinet.

Yes, I agree that Britain's foreign policy was generally to try to prevent one power becoming dominant in Europe, but if the decision about Belgium and Britain's Entente obligations to France was so difficult there wasn't a chance in hell that the Cabinet could have declared war simply to aid Russia. Admittedly, the war would have been expanded when France in turn was drawn in, but there clearly would have been no stomach in the Cabinet to support offensive French action. Later on, perhaps the situation would have changed as Realpolitik overtook principle, but that's conjecture.

5. Focusing on the Russians was the better option
It was never seriously considered so why bring it up? Plans to strike in the east were dropped finally in 1913, but had been on the back burner for some time. France would still have been brought into the fight, was burning for revenge for 1870-71 and was a greater military threat than Russia.

6. Austria-Hungary was a tough nation
This is honestly the worst of all your examples. There wasn't a general or statesman around who thought that A-H was in the class of Germany, France, Britain or Russia. While Turkey might have been the 'sick man of Europe' A-H was widely considered to be heading to the hospital next. Even the Austrians themselves didn't regard themselves as being among the front rank of European powers, which is a) why they felt threatened by the growth of Serbia, and b) why they had to go to Germany to get what was effectively permission to punish the Serbs.

7. Had the Germans veered southwest instead of south after going through Belgium, they would've taken Paris
Meh. A myth that has kept me awake at night for decades (not). See above response to the Schlieffen Plan.

When you return to this in post #7 you appear to put up yet another a straw man. Who are the “various people” who “have claimed the Germans could still have won after 1914”? Yes, there were some dicey moments such as the French strikes in 1917 and the huge advances of the final German offensive in Spring 1918 but that's about all I can think of. Yes, I know about the Crown Prince. Moltke said virtually the same thing before he had a nervous breakdown and got shuffled off into retirement.

8. The Russians couldn't have knocked out Austria-Hungary in '14
Yet another example of a pointless straw man, presumably raised to make you (or the person who came up with this alternate history) look good. The central point is that Russian military planning was based on the alliance with the French and the need to attack Germany before that country knocked out France. What's the point in pontificating about this type of hypothetical? Why is it a 'myth' when basically no-one has even heard of the suggestion???

9. The colonies did nothing for the Germans
Ok, so maybe Lettow-Vorbeck did tie down more Allied resources than he expended but again this is hardly worth dignifying as a 'myth', is it?

10. The Hindenburg Line was exceptionally tough
The massed tank attack at Cambrai did achieve success initially and there had been inroads made earlier in the year. Ultimately Allied attacks in the area failed dismally, including a very successful German counter-attack at Cambrai. Ok, so “tough” if not “exceptionally tough”? (As most linear defences tend to be...)

11. The Battle of the Somme was just a waste of lives for the British
We're in limited agreement here, not just on the topic but the fact that it's a myth. The Somme certainly helped grind down the Germans (who had more limited manpower throughout the war) and helped relieve the pressure on Verdun. Otoh, the battle cost more Allied lives than German and didn't succeed in Haig's objective of stopping the Germans switching forces to other important areas.

12. Verdun could've succeeded
Again, I'm not sure why this is classed as a myth? Who says that victory was possible? Falkenhayn's aim was to inflict enough casualties to make France sue for peace. I agree: no chance.

13. [The] Brusilov Offensive was already a resounding success which couldn't be made too much more successful
Ok, so...? It would be a lot easier if you provided links to where you get this stuff from because they're clearly not your own ideas.
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justlearning1469
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(Original post by Haraldje)
Logistics and supplies are indeed a crucial factor. This is also illustrated in WWII when at the end of the war the Germans had more than 1.000 ME262 jet fighters available, but no fuel and no experienced pilots to fly them. So the most modern fighter jets of its time were nothing more than scrap.

But I suppose IF the Germans would have set up two additional divisions they would also have provided for the additional logistics and supplies needed. That's maybe the reason why the Social Democrats opposed this move. The overall costs for effectively deploying these division in combat are much higher than the costs for the divisions alone. And all this would have meant a considerable burden on the German taxpayer, who already had to pay a lot for the build-up of the Navy. It was a classical offset between having a strong army and having a high standard of living.
'But I suppose IF the Germans would have set up two additional divisions they would also have provided for the additional logistics and supplies needed.'
Even if the Germans had the transport capabilities, what about in Belgium and France?
You can have all the supplies in the world but it's nothing if you can't transport them.

'That's maybe the reason why the Social Democrats opposed this move. The overall costs for effectively deploying these division in combat are much higher than the costs for the divisions alone.'
That is true.
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(Original post by ageshallnot)
Most of these aren't “myths” in the sense that they are both widely held and false. Most of them are simply points of contention in which there is room for debate among a relatively small pool of WWI historians and students.

1. Could the Schlieffen plan have worked?
For a start, are you talking about the plan originally conceived by Schlieffen in 1905 or the amended version put into action by Moltke in 1914? Schlieffen's concept called for vastly greater force (48.5 army corps) than was available then or later (Moltke deployed 34) and has been viewed not as a concrete plan of attack but a “what if?” exercise. It was also based originally on not having to fight in the East, though the 'Aufmarsch II' variant took a two-front war into account.

You seem to have a very mechanistic view of warfare, that certain things such as the success of the German offensive in 1914 being impossible. It's not as simple as that, as the elder Moltke knew well when he pointed out that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”.

Take his triumph, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. It is often held up as an example of Prussian military efficiency (even a “genius for war”) and equally an example of French military incompetence. Surely there could only have been one result??? Yet if you look in detail at the initial battles – Spicheren, Froehschwiller, Vionville-Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte-St Privat – you can see that in each case the Prussian/German forces came within a hairsbreadth of being defeated. Only at Sedan was the issue beyond doubt. Had any of the French generals made a single good decision during the other battles the result of the war could have been very different.

It's the same with the 1914 invasion. What would have happened if Joffre and Galleni had not recognised that the Germans had exposed their flank and organised a new French army to attack it? Or if a reluctant French had not agreed to join the offensive? No-one really knows, therefore you cannot say that the invasion plan, based as it was on Schlieffen's original concept, could not have succeeded.

The ironic thing is that in general I agree with you. I don't think that the Germans had the numbers – and yes, the logistics – to bring it off except if events had played more completely in their favour. But sometimes things work out unexpectedly, as the elder Moltke knew.

Other points...

In posts #8-10 you and @Haraldje discuss the importance of the younger Moltke transfering 2 divisions to the east in 1914. It wasn't 2 divisions, It was 2 corps – twice the numbers.

Also, I'm not sure which vote by the SPD is being referred to. More pertinently, perhaps, is that the Kaiser and Tirpitz pushed naval expansion so hard in the years up to 1912 that there was little money for the army. It was only in 1913 that Germany gave up on the naval race with Britain and started expanding its army again. If that decision had been made earlier, the Germans would not only have had more troops, but possibly there wouldn't have been a BEF to contend with in the initial battles.

Oh, and don't think I don't realise what you're doing with some of your sources. When you cite Stahel, for example, you summarise his argument well and even give page references. However, you haven't read this book; you've just lifted the info from Wiki, which is at least better than some of the videos you think are good source material!

2. If Paris was captured by the Germans, the French would surrender
A 'non-myth' to my mind. The French government had already started to move out when the situation looked bleak and was conducting business from elsewhere. The only way the fall of Paris would have prompted a final surrender would have been similar to 1871, I.e. the total defeat of French forces - plus in this case - the failure of their Russian and British allies to rescue them.

3. If Paris was captured by the Germans, the French wouldn't be able to move their armies easily
I have no opinion on or knowledge of this, but it's an example of you promoting an interesting detail of military history to the grandeur of a 'myth'.

4. If Germany had only went [sic] against the Russians, the British and French wouldn't have declared war
The French were bound by the treaty of 1892 to support Russia with all force of arms in the event of attack by Germany. So who on earth is suggesting that they wouldn't? You (or some random video author) are creating a straw man simply so you can glorify it as a myth and knock it down. That's very poor historical practice.

The British case is more complicated, but I don't see any way that Britain could have declared war in 1914 if Germany had invaded only Russia, and certainly not in August. If you forget what you call “logic” and examine what actually happened in the decision-making process in London you would see that the Cabinet was very divided about what to do in the event of war. While Asquith, Haldane and Churchill were more bellicose in general, even the latter was not convinced initially of the need to fight if the Germans “only go a little way into Belgium”. On the other hand, other senior ministers such as Morley and Simon were radically opposed to war. The decision was so much in the balance that the French ambassador was on the verge of collapse on August 1st because he feared that Britain would leave France and Russia in the lurch. The situation changed on August 2nd and some of the anti-war faction resigned from the Cabinet.

Yes, I agree that Britain's foreign policy was generally to try to prevent one power becoming dominant in Europe, but if the decision about Belgium and Britain's Entente obligations to France was so difficult there wasn't a chance in hell that the Cabinet could have declared war simply to aid Russia. Admittedly, the war would have been expanded when France in turn was drawn in, but there clearly would have been no stomach in the Cabinet to support offensive French action. Later on, perhaps the situation would have changed as Realpolitik overtook principle, but that's conjecture.

5. Focusing on the Russians was the better option
It was never seriously considered so why bring it up? Plans to strike in the east were dropped finally in 1913, but had been on the back burner for some time. France would still have been brought into the fight, was burning for revenge for 1870-71 and was a greater military threat than Russia.

6. Austria-Hungary was a tough nation
This is honestly the worst of all your examples. There wasn't a general or statesman around who thought that A-H was in the class of Germany, France, Britain or Russia. While Turkey might have been the 'sick man of Europe' A-H was widely considered to be heading to the hospital next. Even the Austrians themselves didn't regard themselves as being among the front rank of European powers, which is a) why they felt threatened by the growth of Serbia, and b) why they had to go to Germany to get what was effectively permission to punish the Serbs.

7. Had the Germans veered southwest instead of south after going through Belgium, they would've taken Paris
Meh. A myth that has kept me awake at night for decades (not). See above response to the Schlieffen Plan.

When you return to this in post #7 you appear to put up yet another a straw man. Who are the “various people” who “have claimed the Germans could still have won after 1914”? Yes, there were some dicey moments such as the French strikes in 1917 and the huge advances of the final German offensive in Spring 1918 but that's about all I can think of. Yes, I know about the Crown Prince. Moltke said virtually the same thing before he had a nervous breakdown and got shuffled off into retirement.

8. The Russians couldn't have knocked out Austria-Hungary in '14
Yet another example of a pointless straw man, presumably raised to make you (or the person who came up with this alternate history) look good. The central point is that Russian military planning was based on the alliance with the French and the need to attack Germany before that country knocked out France. What's the point in pontificating about this type of hypothetical? Why is it a 'myth' when basically no-one has even heard of the suggestion???

9. The colonies did nothing for the Germans
Ok, so maybe Lettow-Vorbeck did tie down more Allied resources than he expended but again this is hardly worth dignifying as a 'myth', is it?

10. The Hindenburg Line was exceptionally tough
The massed tank attack at Cambrai did achieve success initially and there had been inroads made earlier in the year. Ultimately Allied attacks in the area failed dismally, including a very successful German counter-attack at Cambrai. Ok, so “tough” if not “exceptionally tough”? (As most linear defences tend to be...)

11. The Battle of the Somme was just a waste of lives for the British
We're in limited agreement here, not just on the topic but the fact that it's a myth. The Somme certainly helped grind down the Germans (who had more limited manpower throughout the war) and helped relieve the pressure on Verdun. Otoh, the battle cost more Allied lives than German and didn't succeed in Haig's objective of stopping the Germans switching forces to other important areas.

12. Verdun could've succeeded
Again, I'm not sure why this is classed as a myth? Who says that victory was possible? Falkenhayn's aim was to inflict enough casualties to make France sue for peace. I agree: no chance.

13. [The] Brusilov Offensive was already a resounding success which couldn't be made too much more successful
Ok, so...? It would be a lot easier if you provided links to where you get this stuff from because they're clearly not your own ideas.
'For a start, are you talking about the plan originally conceived by Schlieffen in 1905 or the amended version put into action by Moltke in 1914?'
Both plans.

'You seem to have a very mechanistic view of warfare, that certain things such as the success of the German offensive in 1914 being impossible.'
When even charging south from Belgium fails, how would a southwestern charge to Paris succeed?

'Take his triumph, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. It is often held up as an example of Prussian military efficiency (even a “genius for war”) and equally an example of French military incompetence. Surely there could only have been one result??? Yet if you look in detail at the initial battles – Spicheren, Froehschwiller, Vionville-Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte-St Privat – you can see that in each case the Prussian/German forces came within a hairsbreadth of being defeated. Only at Sedan was the issue beyond doubt. Had any of the French generals made a single good decision during the other battles the result of the war could have been very different.'
So basically the Germans won only because the French tied themselves into a noose several times.

But I mean relying on your enemy to make several fatal mistakes isn't a plan to rely on.
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(Original post by justlearning1469)
'For a start, are you talking about the plan originally conceived by Schlieffen in 1905 or the amended version put into action by Moltke in 1914?'
Both plans.

'You seem to have a very mechanistic view of warfare, that certain things such as the success of the German offensive in 1914 being impossible.'
When even charging south from Belgium fails, how would a southwestern charge to Paris succeed?

'Take his triumph, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. It is often held up as an example of Prussian military efficiency (even a “genius for war”) and equally an example of French military incompetence. Surely there could only have been one result??? Yet if you look in detail at the initial battles – Spicheren, Froehschwiller, Vionville-Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte-St Privat – you can see that in each case the Prussian/German forces came within a hairsbreadth of being defeated. Only at Sedan was the issue beyond doubt. Had any of the French generals made a single good decision during the other battles the result of the war could have been very different.'
So basically the Germans won only because the French tied themselves into a noose several times.

But I mean relying on your enemy to make several fatal mistakes isn't a plan to rely on.
"Both plans"
But the original (theoretically) employed vastly more troops and was a single-front war. Apples aren't oranges.

"When even charging south from Belgium fails, how would a southwestern charge to Paris succeed?"
Where did I say it would? It's really very sly of you to claim I said something when I didn't.

"So basically the Germans won only because the French tied themselves into a noose several times.
But I mean relying on your enemy to make several fatal mistakes isn't a plan to rely on."

No, that's very simplistic of you. The Prussians won because of vastly superior artillery, planning, logistics and generalship. The point I'm trying to make, but you don't seem to grasp, is that the result in war isn't always a given. As I pointed out above the result in the FPW could have been different if the French generals had taken advantage of the many opportunities offered to them. Similarly, if Joffre had been more pessimistic and ordered his 6th army to defend Paris rather than counter-attack then the Marne would not have happened and the German offensive would have taken a different course. I'm not saying that there would have been a resounding victory on the lines of 1870, not least because of the logistics problems that you point out, but it wasn't impossible. I thought you liked alternate history???
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(Original post by ageshallnot)
Most of these aren't “myths” in the sense that they are both widely held and false. Most of them are simply points of contention in which there is room for debate among a relatively small pool of WWI historians and students.

1. Could the Schlieffen plan have worked?
For a start, are you talking about the plan originally conceived by Schlieffen in 1905 or the amended version put into action by Moltke in 1914? Schlieffen's concept called for vastly greater force (48.5 army corps) than was available then or later (Moltke deployed 34) and has been viewed not as a concrete plan of attack but a “what if?” exercise. It was also based originally on not having to fight in the East, though the 'Aufmarsch II' variant took a two-front war into account.

You seem to have a very mechanistic view of warfare, that certain things such as the success of the German offensive in 1914 being impossible. It's not as simple as that, as the elder Moltke knew well when he pointed out that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”.

Take his triumph, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. It is often held up as an example of Prussian military efficiency (even a “genius for war”) and equally an example of French military incompetence. Surely there could only have been one result??? Yet if you look in detail at the initial battles – Spicheren, Froehschwiller, Vionville-Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte-St Privat – you can see that in each case the Prussian/German forces came within a hairsbreadth of being defeated. Only at Sedan was the issue beyond doubt. Had any of the French generals made a single good decision during the other battles the result of the war could have been very different.

It's the same with the 1914 invasion. What would have happened if Joffre and Galleni had not recognised that the Germans had exposed their flank and organised a new French army to attack it? Or if a reluctant French had not agreed to join the offensive? No-one really knows, therefore you cannot say that the invasion plan, based as it was on Schlieffen's original concept, could not have succeeded.

The ironic thing is that in general I agree with you. I don't think that the Germans had the numbers – and yes, the logistics – to bring it off except if events had played more completely in their favour. But sometimes things work out unexpectedly, as the elder Moltke knew.

Other points...

In posts #8-10 you and @Haraldje discuss the importance of the younger Moltke transfering 2 divisions to the east in 1914. It wasn't 2 divisions, It was 2 corps – twice the numbers.

Also, I'm not sure which vote by the SPD is being referred to. More pertinently, perhaps, is that the Kaiser and Tirpitz pushed naval expansion so hard in the years up to 1912 that there was little money for the army. It was only in 1913 that Germany gave up on the naval race with Britain and started expanding its army again. If that decision had been made earlier, the Germans would not only have had more troops, but possibly there wouldn't have been a BEF to contend with in the initial battles.

Oh, and don't think I don't realise what you're doing with some of your sources. When you cite Stahel, for example, you summarise his argument well and even give page references. However, you haven't read this book; you've just lifted the info from Wiki, which is at least better than some of the videos you think are good source material!

2. If Paris was captured by the Germans, the French would surrender
A 'non-myth' to my mind. The French government had already started to move out when the situation looked bleak and was conducting business from elsewhere. The only way the fall of Paris would have prompted a final surrender would have been similar to 1871, I.e. the total defeat of French forces - plus in this case - the failure of their Russian and British allies to rescue them.

3. If Paris was captured by the Germans, the French wouldn't be able to move their armies easily
I have no opinion on or knowledge of this, but it's an example of you promoting an interesting detail of military history to the grandeur of a 'myth'.

4. If Germany had only went [sic] against the Russians, the British and French wouldn't have declared war
The French were bound by the treaty of 1892 to support Russia with all force of arms in the event of attack by Germany. So who on earth is suggesting that they wouldn't? You (or some random video author) are creating a straw man simply so you can glorify it as a myth and knock it down. That's very poor historical practice.

The British case is more complicated, but I don't see any way that Britain could have declared war in 1914 if Germany had invaded only Russia, and certainly not in August. If you forget what you call “logic” and examine what actually happened in the decision-making process in London you would see that the Cabinet was very divided about what to do in the event of war. While Asquith, Haldane and Churchill were more bellicose in general, even the latter was not convinced initially of the need to fight if the Germans “only go a little way into Belgium”. On the other hand, other senior ministers such as Morley and Simon were radically opposed to war. The decision was so much in the balance that the French ambassador was on the verge of collapse on August 1st because he feared that Britain would leave France and Russia in the lurch. The situation changed on August 2nd and some of the anti-war faction resigned from the Cabinet.

Yes, I agree that Britain's foreign policy was generally to try to prevent one power becoming dominant in Europe, but if the decision about Belgium and Britain's Entente obligations to France was so difficult there wasn't a chance in hell that the Cabinet could have declared war simply to aid Russia. Admittedly, the war would have been expanded when France in turn was drawn in, but there clearly would have been no stomach in the Cabinet to support offensive French action. Later on, perhaps the situation would have changed as Realpolitik overtook principle, but that's conjecture.

5. Focusing on the Russians was the better option
It was never seriously considered so why bring it up? Plans to strike in the east were dropped finally in 1913, but had been on the back burner for some time. France would still have been brought into the fight, was burning for revenge for 1870-71 and was a greater military threat than Russia.

6. Austria-Hungary was a tough nation
This is honestly the worst of all your examples. There wasn't a general or statesman around who thought that A-H was in the class of Germany, France, Britain or Russia. While Turkey might have been the 'sick man of Europe' A-H was widely considered to be heading to the hospital next. Even the Austrians themselves didn't regard themselves as being among the front rank of European powers, which is a) why they felt threatened by the growth of Serbia, and b) why they had to go to Germany to get what was effectively permission to punish the Serbs.

7. Had the Germans veered southwest instead of south after going through Belgium, they would've taken Paris
Meh. A myth that has kept me awake at night for decades (not). See above response to the Schlieffen Plan.

When you return to this in post #7 you appear to put up yet another a straw man. Who are the “various people” who “have claimed the Germans could still have won after 1914”? Yes, there were some dicey moments such as the French strikes in 1917 and the huge advances of the final German offensive in Spring 1918 but that's about all I can think of. Yes, I know about the Crown Prince. Moltke said virtually the same thing before he had a nervous breakdown and got shuffled off into retirement.

8. The Russians couldn't have knocked out Austria-Hungary in '14
Yet another example of a pointless straw man, presumably raised to make you (or the person who came up with this alternate history) look good. The central point is that Russian military planning was based on the alliance with the French and the need to attack Germany before that country knocked out France. What's the point in pontificating about this type of hypothetical? Why is it a 'myth' when basically no-one has even heard of the suggestion???

9. The colonies did nothing for the Germans
Ok, so maybe Lettow-Vorbeck did tie down more Allied resources than he expended but again this is hardly worth dignifying as a 'myth', is it?

10. The Hindenburg Line was exceptionally tough
The massed tank attack at Cambrai did achieve success initially and there had been inroads made earlier in the year. Ultimately Allied attacks in the area failed dismally, including a very successful German counter-attack at Cambrai. Ok, so “tough” if not “exceptionally tough”? (As most linear defences tend to be...)

11. The Battle of the Somme was just a waste of lives for the British
We're in limited agreement here, not just on the topic but the fact that it's a myth. The Somme certainly helped grind down the Germans (who had more limited manpower throughout the war) and helped relieve the pressure on Verdun. Otoh, the battle cost more Allied lives than German and didn't succeed in Haig's objective of stopping the Germans switching forces to other important areas.

12. Verdun could've succeeded
Again, I'm not sure why this is classed as a myth? Who says that victory was possible? Falkenhayn's aim was to inflict enough casualties to make France sue for peace. I agree: no chance.

13. [The] Brusilov Offensive was already a resounding success which couldn't be made too much more successful
Ok, so...? It would be a lot easier if you provided links to where you get this stuff from because they're clearly not your own ideas.
'In posts #8-10 you and @Haraldje discuss the importance of the younger Moltke transfering 2 divisions to the east in 1914. It wasn't 2 divisions, It was 2 corps – twice the numbers.'
Ah, my mistake.


'A 'non-myth' to my mind. The French government had already started to move out when the situation looked bleak and was conducting business from elsewhere. The only way the fall of Paris would have prompted a final surrender would have been similar to 1871, I.e. the total defeat of French forces - plus in this case - the failure of their Russian and British allies to rescue them.'
The French were tougher than expected.
I think it'll take the whole northern half of France to fall for the French to contemplate surrender.

'While Asquith, Haldane and Churchill were more bellicose in general, even the latter was not convinced initially of the need to fight if the Germans “only go a little way into Belgium”. On the other hand, other senior ministers such as Morley and Simon were radically opposed to war. The decision was so much in the balance that the French ambassador was on the verge of collapse on August 1st because he feared that Britain would leave France and Russia in the lurch. The situation changed on August 2nd and some of the anti-war faction resigned from the Cabinet.'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqO5CnnKLtA
This video is someone explaining why Britain shouldn't have joined the First World War.
Devil's advocate, maybe the points do explain the British ambiguity.

'Yes, there were some dicey moments such as the French strikes in 1917'
It wasn't dangerous, strikes weren't in the whole army, it was fixed quickly.
Meanwhile only one year later the Germans were drowning in near-revolution.
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'and the huge advances of the final German offensive in Spring 1918'
The reason why the Germans launched an all-out attack with their remaining strength was because they knew they couldn't go any further.
Ludendorff's strategic aim was to knocking out the British then forcing the French to seek peace.
But the Germans were on their last legs, the French were strengthening, the British planned to launch an offensive in Flanders, and the Americans were flooding in monumentally.
It was impossible.

@ageshallnot I've heard that some historians think that Operation Georg should've been the main attack instead of Michael.
But what these historians 'forget' is that even if Hazebrouck was taken, despite the much stronger British forces in Flanders than the vulnerable Somme junction, the French would simply reinforce Amiens because Amiens would become the obvious next target.

Michael succeeded as much as it did due to unusual fog, the British reorganising, as well as plain Allied incompetence tying themselves into a noose.
Even then, none of the objectives were reached, not even the vital railway hub of Amiens, the Germans couldn't even take Villers-Bretonneux.
The Germans attacked in the Amiens area again in late April but failed because by then, the surprise factor was totally lost, and the Allies learnt from their prior experiences.

Although I have to admit that Ludendorff certainly could've prepared Operation Michael better.

First, he shouldn't have launched Operation Mars.
Second, the weight of the main offensive should've gone slightly south, to the vulnerable 5th Army.
Additionally, 17th Army should merely be a flank guard, guarding on the Ancre instead of attacking forward, and using Albert as a hinge.
Furthermore, 6th Army should've been used more of a diversion to fool the British into thinking that the attack would come in Flanders.
Moreover, 2nd Army should've charged to Amiens directly.
Also, Amiens should've been the final target.
And 18th Army should've used the Avre and La Petite Riviere as defence.

Even then, Amiens might not be taken.
And Amiens had to be taken so that the Germans could significantly split the British and French, as well as force them to use Abbeville.
Only then could the Germans have any chance of any follow-up successes.
Otherwise the French would simply aid the British or vice versa, and any offensive would grind to a halt.

Let's say Ludendorff almost perfectly does everything right for Operation Michael.
Focusing on one target will also mean the British, French and Americans will react quicker.
But it might pull more reserves from other sectors, making follow-up attacks easier.

To me, the best Operation Michael could've done was (barely) take Amiens.
And the Germans would be at the end of a very long salient.
Plus the French and British could simply counterattack.
That would prevent the Germans from ever taking Amiens again.

Michael had to start on March 21 because it was most favourable for the Germans.
And Georgette had to start quickly, otherwise the British could recover and fight back the Germans.

Even if Germany threw all of its strength against Britain, the British would only be crippled.
And in the very unlikely case that the BEF was forced back to the Channel Ports, the French and Americans would still be in the fight and they'd be totally willing to avenge their ally.
The Americans would rearm much quicker because of the situation.
And the German home front would be very unstable.

Therefore my conclusion is that Germany was doomed in World War One, unless the Schlieffen Plan worked.
Even if America wasn't involved, the home situation would collapse Germany.
And even if the home situation was stable enough, Russia collapsed in a civil war, the Bolsheviks would've resumed attacking Germany anyway.

Butterflying all of these monumental issues, bringing Germany to a secure-ish place via divine intervention, the German allies would've caved in, and that would've opened a massive flank for Germany.
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April 1917, the Americans had declared war, and were quite supportive of their British, French, Russian as well as other allies.
By the end of 1917, their presence was already being felt.
March 1918, the Americans already were holding back the Germans.
May 1918, the Americans arrive in significant numbers.
July 1918, the Americans were already punching back the Germans.
August 1918, the Americans, French and British plowing through German resistance like a hot knife through butter.

The Americans significantly increased their pace once Spring Offensive was underway.
Therefore an early Spring Offensive would probably backfire.
March 21 was about the most ideal time.

The Germans couldn't knock the British army out because of various factors, including time, logistics, numbers and equipment.
But they had a decent chance of crippling the British.
It was unlikely for the Germans to pin the British to the Channel Ports.
It's a pipe dream for Germany to knock out the British Army. Even in the minuscule chance the Germans achieved what was extremely unlikely, it would just be a temporary and technical knockout, with the BEF redeploying to France in less than a year.

The Americans, British, French, Italians, Belgians etc. wouldn't have backed down easily.
The Entente, Americans etc. were prepared to see the war to the very end, to Berlin.
That was unless they can't go any further, for instance running out of manpower.

To complicate the Spring Offensive execution, if the Germans fail to reach their targets, they're in a much worse position.
The Germans can only make good their losses by meeting their targets.

This is how screwed the Germans were.
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(Original post by justlearning1469)
'and the huge advances of the final German offensive in Spring 1918'
The reason why the Germans launched an all-out attack with their remaining strength was because they knew they couldn't go any further.
Ludendorff's strategic aim was to knocking out the British then forcing the French to seek peace.
But the Germans were on their last legs, the French were strengthening, the British planned to launch an offensive in Flanders, and the Americans were flooding in monumentally.
It was impossible.

@ageshallnot I've heard that some historians think that Operation Georg should've been the main attack instead of Michael.
But what these historians 'forget' is that even if Hazebrouck was taken, despite the much stronger British forces in Flanders than the vulnerable Somme junction, the French would simply reinforce Amiens because Amiens would become the obvious next target.

Michael succeeded as much as it did due to unusual fog, the British reorganising, as well as plain Allied incompetence tying themselves into a noose.
Even then, none of the objectives were reached, not even the vital railway hub of Amiens, the Germans couldn't even take Villers-Bretonneux.
The Germans attacked in the Amiens area again in late April but failed because by then, the surprise factor was totally lost, and the Allies learnt from their prior experiences.

Although I have to admit that Ludendorff certainly could've prepared Operation Michael better.

First, he shouldn't have launched Operation Mars.
Second, the weight of the main offensive should've gone slightly south, to the vulnerable 5th Army.
Additionally, 17th Army should merely be a flank guard, guarding on the Ancre instead of attacking forward, and using Albert as a hinge.
Furthermore, 6th Army should've been used more of a diversion to fool the British into thinking that the attack would come in Flanders.
Moreover, 2nd Army should've charged to Amiens directly.
Also, Amiens should've been the final target.
And 18th Army should've used the Avre and La Petite Riviere as defence.

Even then, Amiens might not be taken.
And Amiens had to be taken so that the Germans could significantly split the British and French, as well as force them to use Abbeville.
Only then could the Germans have any chance of any follow-up successes.
Otherwise the French would simply aid the British or vice versa, and any offensive would grind to a halt.

Let's say Ludendorff almost perfectly does everything right for Operation Michael.
Focusing on one target will also mean the British, French and Americans will react quicker.
But it might pull more reserves from other sectors, making follow-up attacks easier.

To me, the best Operation Michael could've done was (barely) take Amiens.
And the Germans would be at the end of a very long salient.
Plus the French and British could simply counterattack.
That would prevent the Germans from ever taking Amiens again.

Michael had to start on March 21 because it was most favourable for the Germans.
And Georgette had to start quickly, otherwise the British could recover and fight back the Germans.

Even if Germany threw all of its strength against Britain, the British would only be crippled.
And in the very unlikely case that the BEF was forced back to the Channel Ports, the French and Americans would still be in the fight and they'd be totally willing to avenge their ally.
The Americans would rearm much quicker because of the situation.
And the German home front would be very unstable.

Therefore my conclusion is that Germany was doomed in World War One, unless the Schlieffen Plan worked.
Even if America wasn't involved, the home situation would collapse Germany.
And even if the home situation was stable enough, Russia collapsed in a civil war, the Bolsheviks would've resumed attacking Germany anyway.

Butterflying all of these monumental issues, bringing Germany to a secure-ish place via divine intervention, the German allies would've caved in, and that would've opened a massive flank for Germany.
You still respond to my posts by putting up walls of text only tangentially relevant to my arguments.

So where did you get that lot from? It would be a lot simpler if you just linked to the video so I could check it out. Language such as "butterflying" clearly is a word you've used directly from your source.
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(Original post by ageshallnot)
"Both plans"
But the original (theoretically) employed vastly more troops and was a single-front war. Apples aren't oranges.

"When even charging south from Belgium fails, how would a southwestern charge to Paris succeed?"
Where did I say it would? It's really very sly of you to claim I said something when I didn't.

"So basically the Germans won only because the French tied themselves into a noose several times.
But I mean relying on your enemy to make several fatal mistakes isn't a plan to rely on."

No, that's very simplistic of you. The Prussians won because of vastly superior artillery, planning, logistics and generalship. The point I'm trying to make, but you don't seem to grasp, is that the result in war isn't always a given. As I pointed out above the result in the FPW could have been different if the French generals had taken advantage of the many opportunities offered to them. Similarly, if Joffre had been more pessimistic and ordered his 6th army to defend Paris rather than counter-attack then the Marne would not have happened and the German offensive would have taken a different course. I'm not saying that there would have been a resounding victory on the lines of 1870, not least because of the logistics problems that you point out, but it wasn't impossible. I thought you liked alternate history???
'But the original (theoretically) employed vastly more troops and was a single-front war. Apples aren't oranges.'
Sure, you can quickly deploy vastly more troops, but you can't quickly deploy numerous more railways.

'The point I'm trying to make, but you don't seem to grasp, is that the result in war isn't always a given.'
Fair enough.

'As I pointed out above the result in the FPW could have been different if the French generals had taken advantage of the many opportunities offered to them.'
Very true.
Though I mean the result of total Prussian victory was probably a fluke considering the circumstances.

'Similarly, if Joffre had been more pessimistic and ordered his 6th army to defend Paris rather than counter-attack then the Marne would not have happened and the German offensive would have taken a different course.'
Quite true. If 6th army was more defensive, I'd say that the Germans would end up 50 kilometres from Paris.
But even if 6th was defensive in nature, the other armies would've pushed the Germans to the Marne.
Or the Germans would have to make a retreat themselves due to logistical issues.

I'd imagine ATL the Germans would be very close to Amiens, and Bethune coal fields would be pretty close to Germany.
But the Germans would be more overextended than before and the Allies might have a more successful time attacking.

'I'm not saying that there would have been a resounding victory on the lines of 1870, not least because of the logistics problems that you point out, but it wasn't impossible.'
Well, 50 kilometres from Paris isn't that far, and considering Germany on the Marne, it would pose a threat to Paris.
But Paris was extremely heavily fortified, it would take a huge cost for the Germans to even get within artillery range (15 km) of Paris to start besieging the city.
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ageshallnot
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"Though I mean the result of total Prussian victory was probably a fluke considering the circumstances."

The scale of the victory was off the charts. Most "experts" at the time rated the French superior. The Prussians had beaten the Austrians 4 years before but their performance was far from flawless. It's a fascinating war, well documented.

As for the rest, good grief! We're pretty much on the same page! 😆😲😆😲😆
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