Countries that had the most and least to gain from WWI

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
20,198
SoCal
#1
Which countries had the most and least to gain from World War I, in your honest opinion?

Personally, I'd rank them like this--from countries that had the most to gain to countries that had the least to gain:

(I am excluding countries that were created or recreated as a result of WWI here--such as Poland and the Baltic countries--due to the fact that they would obviously be at the top here. Basically, I want to limit my list here to countries that had already existed back in 1914.)

1. Romania: Its entry into WWI on the Allied side allowed it to acquire the eastern Banat, Transylvania, Bukovina, and--after Russia's collapse--Bessarabia and the Budjak. This caused Romania to massively increase in size and even though Romania ultimately lost the Budjak, Bessarabia, and northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union in the 1940s, it was nevertheless able to keep southern Bukovina, the eastern Banat, and especially Transylvania (which is the real treasure in that area) up to the present-day.

2. Serbia: Its participation in WWI allowed it to create Yugoslavia after the end of the war--albeit with this war costing Serbia a huge percentage of its total population. However, Serbia ended up losing most of its territorial gains from WWI as a result of the collapse of Yugoslavia. Thus, while Serbia was able to become a much larger power for several decades as a result of WWI, it also eventually ended up losing the lion's share of its post-WWI territorial gains--with the exception being Vojvodina.

3. Germany: Had the Central Powers (CPs) actually won WWI, Germany could have had an informal empire that would have stretched from at least Alsace-Lorraine in the West all of the way up to Helsinki and the Donbass in the East. This could have eventually set the stage for the creation of a proto-EU under German dominance (and to a much greater extent than in real life given that the Latin European countries probably wouldn't have joined this proto-EU in this scenario). Germany ultimately lost the war, but had it won, it could have been dreaming big.

4. The Ottoman Empire: Had the CPs won WWI, they might have been able to acquire oil-rich Baku and also perhaps to reacquire at least some of their Arab territories in a negotiated pro-CP peace (in exchange for CP concessions elsewhere).

5. France: As a result of winning WWI, it was able to reacquire Alsace-Lorraine with all of its natural resources as well as a few colonies (colonies that might have paled in comparison to what Germany would have acquired in Eastern Europe as a result of a CP victory in WWI, but oh well!).

6. Italy: Was able to acquire the Italian-majority parts of Austria-Hungary that it was dreaming about for decades as a result of its entry into WWI on the Allied side. It was also able to acquire South Tyrol and some Slovene-majority territories in the East.

7. Denmark: Got northern Schleswig back, and was extremely lucky in the sense that it didn't actually have to fight in order to achieve this. Thus, maybe Denmark should be higher on this list--though I was focusing on the territorial gains here rather than on the price/cost of these territorial gains.

8. Bulgaria: Could have acquired Macedonia and the Dobruja. It's not much, but at least the Dobruja has a nice, long coastline and Macedonia would have allowed the Bulgarian national unification project to be completed.

9. Russia: A large part of the territorial gains that it would have acquired as a result of a WWI victory would not have been worth it. For instance, the Poles in the eastern German Empire and the Ukrainian nationalists in Galicia. The only territorial gain of value that Russia could have acquired as a result of winning WWI would have been Ottoman Armenia and the coast north of it (Trebizond, Samsun, et cetera); however, even this territorial gain could have probably been achieved at a much lower cost in the mid-1890s during the Hamidian massacres. If Russia refused to take advantage of an easy opportunity to acquire this territory in the mid-1890s, why exactly should millions of Russian men and boys have died in a World War in order to acquire this territory?

10. Japan: Acquired a few German Asian and Pacific colonies at very little cost to itself.

11. Got Eupen and Malmedy as a result of WWI. It's a paltry reward for four years of German occupation, though.

12. Austria-Hungary: It would have been able to deal with the threat from Serbia had the CPs won WWI but it wouldn't have actually acquired much, if any, territory. Plus, even in a CP victory scenario, Austria-Hungary could have eventually become something similar to a German satellite state.

13. Britain: Got a few colonies as a result of its fight in WWI, but it certainly wasn't worth fighting a World War for.

14. The US: Didn't actually get anything as a result of its fight in WWI but it did help the Allies defeat Germany--which ironically ended up hurting the US later on since it paved the way for the rise of Hitler. (Plus, this is not to mention the very real possibility that US entry into WWI might have discouraged Russia from making a separate peace with Germany before the Bolsheviks were able to come to power in Russia. Had this been done, then maybe, just maybe the Bolshevik coup and its horrendous consequences in Russia and elsewhere could have been prevented.)

Anyway, what are your thoughts on this list of mine?
 
Mar 2016
1,210
Australia
#3
The US made a lot of money from WW1,
it broke the British supremacy in finance and established the US as a geopolitical giant
The Americans were really the only ones that left the war stronger than they were when they entered it. Britain's economy was in the gutter and they could barely support their new colonies, and France had an entire generation of young men wiped out. They were definitely Pyrrhic victories for them, but the Americans finally took their place as the king-makers and king-breakers of Europe.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
20,198
SoCal
#6
The Americans were really the only ones that left the war stronger than they were when they entered it. Britain's economy was in the gutter and they could barely support their new colonies, and France had an entire generation of young men wiped out. They were definitely Pyrrhic victories for them, but the Americans finally took their place as the king-makers and king-breakers of Europe.
Wouldn't the US have been even stronger by not fighting, though?
 
Likes: Rodger
Mar 2016
1,210
Australia
#7
Wouldn't the US have been even stronger by not fighting, though?
No. Their losses in terms of manpower were very minimal compared to every other power in the war, they succeeded in de-stabilizing and overthrowing several Old World empires (Wilson's goal all along), and they ended up bankrolling Britain and France, giving them considerable influence financially. The US had emerged onto the world-stage in a decisive and highly efficient manner at very low risk. It was by all accounts a very successful venture.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
20,198
SoCal
#8
No. Their losses in terms of manpower were very minimal compared to every other power in the war, they succeeded in de-stabilizing and overthrowing several Old World empires (Wilson's goal all along), and they ended up bankrolling Britain and France, giving them considerable influence financially. The US had emerged onto the world-stage in a decisive and highly efficient manner at very low risk. It was by all accounts a very successful venture.
Good points, but please keep in mind that the US's entry into the war might have ensured that it would have to fight again later on due to the rise of Nazi Germany as well as the rise of Communism in Russia and elsewhere.
 
Mar 2016
1,210
Australia
#9
Good points, but please keep in mind that the US's entry into the war might have ensured that it would have to fight again later on due to the rise of Nazi Germany as well as the rise of Communism in Russia and elsewhere.
There was strong opposition to joining World War II even two years into it, and even when they did join it was mostly because of a) the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, something entirely unrelated to Nazi Germany, and b) Roosevelt's persistence and enormous popularity. There was definitely no guarantee the US would enter WWII, as much as Churchill desperately wanted that to happen. There was enough backlash against joining WWI as it was.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,571
Portugal
#10
Well, let me mention Portugal: As a result of WWI the country gains were minimal, from the 36 German and Austrian ships on Portuguese ports in 1916, after UK’s request, Portugal merely maintained half of them (talking here by memory), the other were delivered to the allies. And this was the act that led Germany to declare war to Portugal, even if in Africa the war was already going on.

One of the main Portuguese objectives was the legitimacy of the Republic, implemented in 1910, and badly seen by the main major powers (France excluded), and that was partially accomplished. Furthermore at the end of the war the Germans were finally expelled from a tiny part of Mozambique that they had occupied in the previous century.

The losses and the economic burden were significant for the Portuguese weak economy. The ships that were sunk were superior to the ones take. There were no new colonial acquisitions, but at least the shadow of the Anglo-German agreement was gone (it would also be gone with a neutrality). There was hunger in the country and something between 10000 and 20000 dead and missing in the war.

Basically Portugal was on the loosing side of the war. That surely influenced the countries approach on WWII.