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Old July 12th, 2011, 08:23 AM   #11

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Ok . Don't accuse me of not giving evidence when you are not giving source either
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Old July 12th, 2011, 05:23 PM   #12

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I gave plenty of evidence to support my theory. I quoted England's known foreign policy of "Balance of Power" which culminated in the Entente Cordiale. I explained England's continental strategy and gave a example of precedent in the Napoleonic Wars. I could have shown the same strategy was at work in the Dardenelles Campaign. As to the Kaiser's naval ambitions I doubt there is a book on WWI that does not allude to it. As to the inevitabilty I refer you to A.J. P Taylor's work 'War by Timetable".
Where's your evidence?
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Old July 13th, 2011, 12:39 PM   #13

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If the Germans had won the Battle of the Marne it almost certainly would have saved the British a few years of heartache and bloodletting. My opinion has to be that the French would have given up whilst the British would have escaped with their dignity intact. Germany's war against both would almost certainly have been over.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 10:26 PM   #14

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A constant mistake running through the comments in this thread is that had there been a German victory at the Marne then there would have been a repeat of 1939. Sorry but that is totally wrong.
My theory and it is also one held by a few other historians is that the conflict between England, France and Germany was one that stretched from 1870 to 1945.
!870 Paris fell. This was a massive blow to French pride. They believed the French army was the best in the world, based on it's Napoleonic history. So the defeat was a mistake. Worse still was the loss of Alsace Lorraine. They were looking for a chance to wipe that stain out.
I mentioned the concept of England and balance of power and the Entente Cordiale. An emerging Germany had to be contained. The Kaiser's naval ambitions were a worry. This was highlighted in the Agadir Crisis where Germany really flexed it's muscles.
Russia was concerned too because the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Prussian lands bordered Russia and the strength of that combination made Russia seek allies. Remember where the war actually started.
With such a weave of treaties all countries were ready for war. The awful inevitability I mentioned earlier.
The thing that clouds most of the thinking in this thread is to ignore that the First World War changed society and it's thinking. One cannot even say that Germany wanted war, only the Nazis did so. This is why the wave of appeasement coloured responses in 1938. These were not evident in 1914. England would not have left the continent while some form of resistance remained in France and the French were not going to let the war be a repeat of 1870.
The Taxis of the Marne illustrate that determination. It is more than a great story. It is an indication that in 1914 every French man woman and child was ready to resist.
In England it was also evident in the overwhelming numbers of volunteers.
So forget any belief that the English would have retreated. Knowing English strategy, the worst that would have happened is they would have clung to the Channel coast. The English do not often use marines ashore as an infantry unit but there is a precedent to that in the Boer War when a naval brigade was deployed ashore.
IN WWI the RFC was reinforced by the RNAS which showed there was maximum effort to stay.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 11:16 PM   #15
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The French mentality and leadership in 1914 was radically different from 1940. Clemenceau for example was hardly going to roll over.I think there was little chance of a immediate suing for peace just because Paris fell. It would take more than that.

The British I'm less sure, French (the BEF commander) wanted to fall back and regroup on the coast before Marne, faced with a french defeat on the Marne he would have almost certainly fell back to the coast (regardless on what the french were doing). The British Cabinet are harder to predict, they may have withdrawn the BEF if things went badly (Kitchener would not have).

If the a large fraction of the french army was surrounded as a result of losing Marne, the BEF withdrawn, and the war continued badly , I could see a possible peace offer from the french early 1915, but from what I have read the German demands were unlikely to be light, and if they were heavy demands (more french territory on top of Alsace Lorraine ) I could see the french fighting on much like 1870.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 11:39 PM   #16

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Viscount French felt unsure of his strategic position from the start and did contemplate a withdrawal to the coast. His second in command Smith-Dorrien was opposed to it and was supported by Kitchener. As French was replaced with Haig very early on, it shows British intent was to stay.
Looking at the situation with a 1914 mindset, the French would never have surrendered even if they had lost at the Marne. But as I said earlier, the Marne was the pivotal point. I used the term that was later used at Verdun, ils ne passeront pas, because that was how the French saw the situation. It's why I mentioned the cairn to the small detachment of colonial troops. They fought to the very last man against overwhelming odds.

Last edited by viking; July 13th, 2011 at 11:46 PM.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 06:10 AM   #17

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If the Germans "won" on the Marne in 1914 they would have still faced serious difficulties unless such a victory resulted in the complete annihilation of the French armies opposing them, which would have been highly unlikely. The attack plan had already gone wrong with the hook passing the wrong side of a heavily garrisoned Paris. Their supplies were stretched to breaking point and a victory would have created a huge bulge between Paris and Verdun. Fighting in the Vosges had already demonstrated the extreme difficulties faced by an attacker so the French could have stripped some of their manpower there to replace/reinforce the "defeated" Marne armies who would have dug in.

This left a huge swathe of territory between Paris and the sea unguarded or lightly garrisoned. Unless the Germans were prepared to fight a decisive naval battle in the Channel in 1914, Britain could have brought over the K reserves and Imperial Corps from India and Canada effectively behind the German front. How effective the K divisions would have been in 1914 is almost irrelevant, since the Germans would not be able to ignore them if they started to rampage in their rear areas. A retreat would become inevitable.

Win lose or draw, the Marne was the high watermark of the German advance. The German army was defeated long before the Marne battles; it was defeated as soon as their communications and support/supply systems started to fall apart under the stress of operations. Capturing Paris might have ended the war, but as the French Government had vacated Paris and set up in Bordeaux this again is unlikely.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 05:21 PM   #18

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Belisarius, your's was an excellent summation. The problem of adequate supply lines was of course vital to the situation. In 1939 the situation was the same underneath but rapid deployment against a demoralised French was the key to that success. The French will had been sapped by WWI and so a different situation evolved. I know reference to WWII is OT but I mention it briefly to reinforce my earlier comment that 1914 and 1939 were totally different societies with totally different viewpoints.
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