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If the First World War had not ended in an Armistice?

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If the First World War had not ended in an Armistice?

Old 11th Nov 2018, 01:46
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If the First World War had not ended in an Armistice?

Given how much we have heard about the First World War, maybe some of PPRuNe's historians can enlighten me? I have never really grasped what each participating country had as its desired outcome from the war.

What did the Allies and the Central Powers each hope to achieve had they received an unconditional surrender from their enemy? As the war progressed, and the constituents of each side changed, presumably this must have affected the ultimate goals?

Breaking it down, what was each country's goal in the event of an unconditional surrender at each of these points?:
  • Germany at 4th August 1914
  • Britain & France at 4th August 1914
  • Russians until the revolution
  • Germany after the abdication of the Kaiser
  • Britain & France after the Americans joined the war on 6 April 1917
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 02:26
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Britain & France after the Americans joined the war on 6 April 1917
My conjecture, with only a little evidence:

I don't think the US had a "goal" when they entered in 1917, other than defeating the Germans. Most that I've read don't think the US made much difference to the strategic goals of the War, but the mere presence of a whole lot of arriving troops and the unlimited American industrial potential buoyed Britain and France. and sealed Germany's fate,as all three were clapped out by that time. Once the US entered the negotiations, however, that balance shifted.

France had different goals than Britain, and could never overcome their desire for revenge and reparation, no matter how understandable that was.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 03:43
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If the First World War had not ended in an Armistice?

There would not have been a second world war
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 05:05
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Originally Posted by lomapaseo View Post
If the First World War had not ended in an Armistice?

There would not have been a second world war

Given the Soviet world view plus Japanese and Italian imperial ambitions of the time, a major conflagration was on the way, one way or another.

But point taken, the Treaty of Versailles did lead directly to what ultimately came to pass.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 05:11
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You might just as well ask "what was the desired outcome" of a fight that begins with one guy paying too much attention to another guy's girl in a bar, which results in insults, then a fist fight, then someone pulls a knife, and someone else pulls a bigger knife, then someone pulls a gun, and it all ends in a quadruple slaying. Because really, WW1 made just about as much sense.

One could say that:
• Germany didn't trust France, because it knew France still held resentment from the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the loss of Alsace and Lorraine
• Britain was wary of Germany's colonial aspirations (Germany was a bit late to the "Empire Party" of the 19th century) - however at the end of their "battleship arms race" in 1912, had engaged in a detente with Germany trying to cool tensions (The UK having doubts about Russia as an ally).
• France did indeed resent Germany's taking of A & L and wanted revenge and the reacquisition of A&L.
• Russia was wary of expansion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire eastward into the Balkans, particularly as it involved slavic Serbia (see also the 1990s war in the Balkans) and of Germany, who had sent a officer to lead one of Turkey's armies (encirclement).
• There were another dozen or so minor "irritations" - regarding Morocco, the Italo-Turkish wars, etc. And a general worry by France and Britain about Bismarck's unification of Germany and what that meant for the balance of power between European powers.

You could say those tensions were the powder in the kegs. But what really lead to the rapid escalation of the war were the alliances that dragged Germany and Italy into a conflict supporting Austria-Hungary (A-H) (The Triple Alliance) and England and France into a conflict supporting Russia (The Triple Entente). Which each acted like three intertwined fuses - light one, and all three burst into flame. Of note, in about 1912, France accepted that Serbia was indeed a security matter for Russia, mkaing an attack on Serbia an attack on Russia, and thus an attack on the Triple Entente.

A Serb assassinates the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Ferdinand. A-H decides to crack down on Serbia, and issues an ultimatum and mobilizes troops. Russia mobilizes in defence of Serbia. Serbia rejects the A-H ultimatum. A-H breaks off diplomatic relations and declares war on Serbia. Russia mobilizes further (while still trying to negotiate something with Germany). Germany mobilizes and declares war on Russia (Aug. 1). France mobilizes. Germany declares war against France. Germany demands that Belgium allow free passage of German troops against France. Britain demands that Belgian neutrality be respected - France agrees, Germany declines. Germany begins its advance, and Britian declares war on Germany (Aug. 4). A-H declares war on Russia (Aug. 5).

In that sequence, the only "outcomes desired" thus far (Aug. 5) are: A-H desires an end to Serbian opposition; Russia desires an end to A-H aggression against Serbia; Britain and France desire that Belgian neutrality be respected. Everything else is just a domino-effect of the Alliances. "The enemy of my ally is my enemy!"

Once war was under way - then minds turned to the desired outcomes. Which likely shifted around somewhat.

Speaking specifically of Britain's war aims, we can find a speech summarizing their history by David Lloyd George in retrospect in 1918:

"We may begin by clearing away some misunderstandings and stating what we are not fighting for. We are not fighting a war of aggression against the German people. Their leaders have persuaded them that they are fighting a war of self-defence against a league of rival nations bent on the destruction of Germany. That is not so. The destruction or disruption of Germany or the German people has never been a war aim with us from the first day of this war to this day. Most reluctantly, and indeed quite unprepared for the dreadful ordeal, we were forced to join in this war in self-defence. In defence of the violated public law of Europe, and in vindication of the most solemn treaty obligation on which the public system of Europe rested, and on which Germany had ruthlessly trampled in her invasion of Belgium, we had to join in the struggle or stand aside and see Europe go under and brute force triumph over public right and international justice. It was only the realization of that dreadful alternative that forced the British people into the war.

"And from that original attitude they have never swerved. They have never aimed at the break-up of the German peoples or the disintegration of their state or country. Germany has occupied a great position in the world. It is not our wish or intention to question or destroy that position for the future, but rather to turn her aside from hopes and schemes of military dornination, and to see her devote all her strength to the great beneficent tasks of the world. Nor are we fighting to destroy Austria-Hungary or to deprive Turkey of its capital, or of the rich and renowned lands of Asia Minor and Thrace, which are predominantly Turkish in race.

"Nor did we enter this war merely to alter or destroy the imperial constitution of Germany, much as we consider that military, autocratic constitution a dangerous anachronism in the Twentieth Century. Our point of view is that the adoption of a really democratic constitution by Germany would be the most convincing evidence that in her the old spirit of military domination had indeed died in this war, and would make it much easier for us to conclude a broad democratic peace with her. But, after all, that is a question for the Gerrnan people to decide."
Ahh, the irony of now clicking the "Post Quick Reply" button....
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 09:18
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They were all spoiling for a fight and got what they wanted. Naive self- determination principles deficient of local understanding and French bitterness towards the loser set up round two, and the nations were too exhausted to pay proper attention to the Russian civil war. Populations still convinced by national myths provided willing troops.
Well, thats my take on it for what it is worth.
Not a fan of annual celebrations.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 09:32
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Originally Posted by Mr Optimistic View Post
They were all spoiling for a fight and got what they wanted. Naive self- determination principles deficient of local understanding and French bitterness towards the loser set up round two, and the nations were too exhausted to pay proper attention to the Russian civil war. Populations still convinced by national myths provided willing troops.
Well, thats my take on it for what it is worth.
Not a fan of annual celebrations.
I believe the PC term is commemorations.

That said, this year has more the feeling of a propaganda exercise aimed at bringing the nation together at time when it has rarely been more divided.

I'm totally in favour of understanding the history and learning from the many errors that were made on all sides, but from what I can see in the USA, the UK, Hungary and Poland, and to a lesser extent in countries such as Germany, The Netherlands and France I really don't think we have studied well enough, and understood the perils of petty nationalism.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 10:00
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Originally Posted by ATNotts View Post
That said, this year has more the feeling of a propaganda exercise aimed at bringing the nation together at time when it has rarely been more divided.
Or alternatively - it is a 'Biggie' - 100th Anniversary of the Armistice !
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 11:48
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There were no good guys in that war, at least at the beginning. A bunch of Colonial powers all equally as capable of committing horrendous acts against those in nations they occupied by force who had been knocking the s*** out of each other for centuries. Nobody benefitted, except maybe those colonies who managed to throw off their shackles as a result of the inpoverishing of the Colonial powers which resulted from the war, and even then their working class men had been fodder for the guns, just like those of the Colonial powers themselves.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 13:05
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Great thread - really informative and some fascinating contributions. I’ve learnt a lot more about WW1and the multiple layers of politics etc that led up to it. Thank you all.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 13:32
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A-H messed up in issuing an ultimatum. A better course of action would have been just to mourn, send troops and sort it out quietly with little fanfare. Treat it as a police action rather than a demand to curb dissent.

Once an ultimatum issued then nations see it as a line in the sand and respond accordingly, the dominos then start to fall as moving back from an ultimatum will be seen as a sign of weakness. Leaders of various countrys being related added fuel to the fire as nobody wants their relatives to be seen as being better than themselve.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 13:43
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Originally Posted by lomapaseo View Post
If the First World War had not ended in an Armistice?

There would not have been a second world war
That is a really interesting point of view. As many have said, there were a number of European countries spoiling for a war in order to sort out old scores and rise up the pecking order.

As for specific objectives, once the war had started, we like some others were simply reacting to fast moving events.

As you quite rightly say, it was the end of war objectives that, in part resulted in WW2. I say in part because it is likely that the German Nazi party would have eventually forced a war in Europe anyway but the reparations gave him the amunition to persuade the German people to move forward with plans to dominate Europe.

In the same way, the division of Germany after WW2 could so easily have led to WW3.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 13:51
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It is 'accepted ' that Versailles set the scene for WW2 with such severe reparations that the Germans could not pay. Had absolute surrender been pursued then it could have started much as post-WW2 started but without the Soviet threat. Unlike WW2 there would have been no Marshall Plan. The US would have returned to isolation. The weakened French would have been the only power left to pick up the peace in Europe as Britain would have sought rebuild Empire. The new Soviet Republic might still have been encircled by the European powers with the US. Without an effective occupation of Germany the Soviet might have been able to create its western buffer zone once it defeated the Allied attempts to crush the revolution.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 14:53
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I often wonder why we give special significance to anniversaries ending in a zero. Seems natural but I dont quite see why, as there is no logic to it.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 14:57
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Originally Posted by Mr Optimistic View Post
I often wonder why we give special significance to anniversaries ending in a zero. Seems natural but I dont quite see why, as there is no logic to it.
Or in this case two zeroes.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 15:15
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Originally Posted by Mr Optimistic View Post
I often wonder why we give special significance to anniversaries ending in a zero. Seems natural but I dont quite see why, as there is no logic to it.
Because humans learned to count with ten fingers.
____________
I agree with obgraham that from the US perspective, our aim once we entered was mostly to put an end to the war's stalemate. And "Make the World safe for Democracy" with "A war to end all Wars."

The irony is that Pres. Wilson had won re-election in 1916 with the slogan "He kept us out of War." But the loss of American lives on the Lusitania, the Zimmermann Telegram (revealing an attempt by Germany to have Mexico ally with them in the event we did enter the war) and the onset of U-boat activity against US "neutral" merchant shipping, hardened anti-German sentiment, both among the government and the people.

Last edited by pattern_is_full; 11th Nov 2018 at 15:30.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 15:16
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The reason for "Commemorations" is exactly for times like here and now.

Perhaps we can put aside our petty complaints and nastiness just long enough to remember those thousands of tombstones. British, French, and their allies. Americans so far from home. Yes, even Germans, who all were somebody's family favorite.

We all know the names of the places. We need to think always about the young people who made those places notorious.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 18:54
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We commemorate the anniversary of the Armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month as the actual time when it came into force. What happens in France since they went over to Berlin time in 1940.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 19:16
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A visit to any war cemetery or memorial does show the scale of the human cost in any conflict. Me and Mrs C visited the Philippine / American memorial (Fort Bonifacio) in Manila in May this year. It was a very moving experience for both as her father was a survivor of the Baatan death march after being captured at Corredigor when the Japanese invaded. The memorial itself is a fitting and solumn reminder of the war in the Pacific. The lines of crosses and the lists of names made a big impression and it was slightly un-nerving to know that her father would have served alongside some of those names.
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Old 11th Nov 2018, 19:21
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Originally Posted by pattern_is_full View Post
Because humans learned to count with ten fingers.
Which is why, when Tom Lehrer says "base eight is the same as base ten ... ... ... if you're missing two fingers", I don't get why the audience laughs. I thought everybody knew that.
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