Countries that had the most and least to gain from WWI

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,701
SoCal
It seems I'm not dreaming.

In the 1870 treaty warranting Belgium's neutrality, Prussia/Germany declared itself a warrant of the neutrality.

It engaged itself in protecting Belgium's neutrality!

Giving an ultimatum (because it was an ultimatum) to Belgium was breaking it's own engagement in the 1870.

Asking Belgium to let German troops passing through was asking Belgium to break itself the neutrality treaty.

As for Your "moral" concerns on Belgian lives: if Germany really needed to pick up a fight with those Frenchies, it could very well do it directly.

Germany and France did have a long common border, remember?
To be fair, though, that long common border was full of fortifications on the French side. As for having Germany trying to take these fortifications, well, it wouldn't have exactly been easy--just look at Verdun in real life.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,701
SoCal
While Bismarck's anti Catholic laws didn't help and just justified the very behavior he was trying to fight, it made sense for the Germans to not acquire more Catholic citizens after unification and taking in the Catholic Kingdoms of South Germany. Catholics largely voted for the Centre Party and along with the Socialists were a disruptive force in the government whose goal was to shut it down. If the Catholics and Socialists had gotten a majority, well the Reichstag could grind to a halt. By WWI these had been the two largest parties for decades and were getting dangerously close to that point, causing a crisis. So while Socialists are not a set percentage of the population, Catholics were about a third(and the Centre Party got 2/3's to 3/4's of these) so adding more Catholic territory threatened the political balance of the Reichstag. While both the Socialists and Centre Party ended up undergoing a transformation from anarchists to establishment in the aftermath of WWI by this point of course Germany wasn't in a position to acquire more Catholic land(and if they'd won then they wouldn't have made the 180 degree change). This is why Brest-Litovsk would be unlikely to yield much directly annexed territory outside of the Protestant areas on the Baltic because it would disrupt the political balance of Germany and could shut off the government's funding. On the other hand this land going to Catholic dominated Austria-Hungary would have made perfect sense so I believe most of that land would have been either puppet states or ceded to Austria-Hungary.

This is part of the reason the Germany and Austria-Hungary alliance worked(in terms of trust that is), the Austrians knew Bismarck would never try acquiring any of their remaining territory after the Austro-Prussian war.
I get your point here, but I nevertheless wonder if in the event that the socialists + Zentrum would have gotten a majority in the German Reichstag, the German Kaiser and/or Chancellor could have nevertheless tried to negotiate with them in order to reach some sort of compromise on various issues. In other words, try to persuade them to support their side. For instance, I don't think that the socialists + Zentrum were hostile towards the German naval construction program, were they?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,701
SoCal
Germany invaded Russia after beating the Russian offensive back, they did invade Russia and went considerably deep into Russian territory. Brest-Litovsk was one of their goals, to create a buffer zone of satellites with Russia. Also, the treaty took away a great chunk of Russia and a considerable amount of its European territory but because it didn't reach Russia proper it's alright? Hmmm....
Technically speaking, if Russia's post-Brest-Litovsk borders were so intolerable, then wouldn't that justify post-1991 Russian revanchism?
 
Oct 2013
14,265
Europix
To be fair, though, that long common border was full of fortifications on the French side. As for having Germany trying to take these fortifications, well, it wouldn't have exactly been easy--just look at Verdun in real life.
To be fair...

if You don't have the guts to pickup a fight with Frenchies directly, at least don't say that it's Belgians fault cause You decided to march over them for taking those pesky Frenchies from behind.

Don't You think?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,701
SoCal
To be fair...

if You don't have the guts to pickup a fight with Frenchies directly, at least don't say that it's Belgians fault cause You decided to march over them for taking those pesky Frenchies from behind.

Don't You think?
Yeah, that makes sense. That said, though, Germany preferred to save its own soldiers' lives rather than to preserve Belgian neutrality. Still, this is a conscious choice that the Germans made and they should acknowledge that.
 
To be fair, though, that long common border was full of fortifications on the French side. As for having Germany trying to take these fortifications, well, it wouldn't have exactly been easy--just look at Verdun in real life.
Right, but this doesn't justify Germany going through Belgium now does it?

Technically speaking, if Russia's post-Brest-Litovsk borders were so intolerable, then wouldn't that justify post-1991 Russian revanchism?
This is a bit more complicated and a lot of it dips into current geopolitics and I admit that I'm not too well-versed in this. The Brest-Litovsk borders were a buffer for Germany between Russia proper and Central Europe. This territory could also act as a buffer for Russia to protect its core around Moscow, add to that the historic and economic significance of the Ukraine and Belarus, as well as the Geographic significance of Finland and the Baltic states (Pushing the border away from St. Petersburg and having a better Baltic coastline.) and it shows that the Brest-Litovsk borders are quite unfavorable to Russia and very useful for Germany.

Yeah, that makes sense. That said, though, Germany preferred to save its own soldiers' lives rather than to preserve Belgian neutrality. Still, this is a conscious choice that the Germans made and they should acknowledge that.
It makes sense for Germany. But why are we looking at their perspective? It also made sense for France to destroy the German Army in Alsace-Lorraine with Plan 17, is it Germany's fault for not playing into France's plan and getting destroyed quickly.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jun 2017
2,879
Connecticut
I get your point here, but I nevertheless wonder if in the event that the socialists + Zentrum would have gotten a majority in the German Reichstag, the German Kaiser and/or Chancellor could have nevertheless tried to negotiate with them in order to reach some sort of compromise on various issues. In other words, try to persuade them to support their side. For instance, I don't think that the socialists + Zentrum were hostile towards the German naval construction program, were they?
I'm very skeptical of this. It wasn't about the merit of individual budget items, it was a more general thing. Am just reciting what my vague memories from a freshman lecture on this were though. Even if you right imagine doing this to get money for every single thing? Having a majority gives you veto power over everything and if you just want to shut down the government, well you just did then.

That being said the naval program made no sense even from a war hawks perspective and I can see a lot of socialists being hostile to it.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jun 2017
2,879
Connecticut
To be fair to Germany, though, wasn't Bismarck trying to juggle something like five balls at once while his successor Caprivi felt that juggling two balls at once was enough?

Also, for what it's worth, I certainly do think that Germany had more to gain from allying with Russia than with A-H. Germany and Russia could have dismembered A-H and partitioned it between them, Romania, Serbia, and Italy. Germany could have acquired German Austria, the Sudetenland, Bohemia, Moravia, and maybe South Tyrol and/or Slovenia (plus Fiume) as well. If Germany wasn't so allergic to the idea of more Catholics, this could have been a huge win for Germany--much more than some gains in the Baltics. Ironically, on this specific issue, Hitler had the right approach in the sense that he tried to include both Catholics and Protestants within a Pan-German identity. Too bad that this identity wasn't wide enough in his opinion for it to also include Jews, though. :(
Caprivi would have been right if he'd chosen different balls to juggle.

I don't think it's fair to call Hitler inclusive by any means but it's worth noting that as a dictator(albeit whose dictatorship was technically democratically sanctioned 4 years at a time) he didn't have to worry about the composition of the Reichstag. He also came from said Catholic land and had personal motivations to acquire it. While the Centre Party were the Imperial Germans greatest or second greatest domestic foe, the Centre Party will always have the dishonor of being the only German party(and it's probably the party my ancestors voted for:()to consent to the creation of Nazi Germany(in exchange for religious concessions).
 
Likes: Futurist