Germany lets France keep Alsace-Lorraine in 1871

Dec 2017
262
Regnum Teutonicum
#32
Germany letting France keep all of Alsace and Lorraine is as likely as the USA letting Canada keep all of New York and Pennsylvania after a war.


53:18 - 57:15
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,749
SoCal
#33
Germany letting France keep all of Alsace and Lorraine is as likely as the USA letting Canada keep all of New York and Pennsylvania after a war.


53:18 - 57:15
Alsace-Lorraine was French for a couple of centuries by 1871 whereas New York and Pennsylvania were never Canadian, though.
 
Dec 2017
262
Regnum Teutonicum
#34
The fact that New York and Pennsylvania never were canadian, is why it fits so perfectly. Canada and the USA have their origin in the same entity: the British Empire. France and Germany also have their origin in the same entity: the Empire of the Franks. Both pairs of countries had fixed their borders early on and had a very friendly relationship. In the case of France and Germany it was done with the treaties of Verdun, Prüm, Meersen and Ribemont. So since 880 with the Treaty of Ribemont the borders were fixed. No border changes for hundreds of years between the two (sure, it may have been better to exchange french-speaking Burgundy [including Franche-Comte] and Mömpelgard (Montbeliard) with german-speaking Flanders, but that is another topic). So if Canada used the American Civil War to declare war on the USA and annex some towns in New York, including New York City and in the next 200 years ate all of New York and Pennsylvania and started to try to expand to the Mississippi, because the Mississippi is the natural border of Canada, would you say "New York-Pennsylvania is canadian for a couple of centuries"? That is what happened starting with the Thirty Years War.

By the way did you listen the video from 53:18 to 57:15? There this topic is discussed by the director of the British Museum.
 
May 2015
1,018
The Netherlands
#35
What if Germany would have let France keep Alsace-Lorraine in 1871 in exchange for having Alsace-Lorraine be permanently demilitarized?

Would France have been much less hostile to Germany in the late 19th and early 20th century in this scenario? Or would France--in spite of it keeping Alsace-Lorraine--still dream about further expansion to the east? (Historically, France's goal was to advance all of the way to the Rhine.) Also, would a France which wasn't as humiliated in 1871 have been less eager to engage in large-scale colonial expansion afterwards?

If France would have been less hostile to Germany, would France have still allied with Russia and Britain or might France have been receptive to the idea of a Franco-German alliance? Also, without a hostile France, are the odds of World War I ever breaking out going to go way down?

Any thoughts on all of this?
France was expansionist regardless of Alsace-Lorraine. It was still looking for territorial expansion towards the Rhine at the time of the Austro-Prussian War. On the other hand, France probably would have accepted the new reality of a powerful Germany soon enough had it not been so humilitated during and after the Franco-Prussian War. Not annexing Alsace-Lorraine as spoils of war would have mattered greatly as an absent focal point for French enmity and would have ensured that French-German relations were no longer beyond repair. Napoleon III could always be bribed by offering him compensation elsewhere, as shown by the Luxemburg Crisis. Bismarck's strategy of supporting French colonial expansion and distracting France from Europe might actually work in this context if later German leaders don't screw it up, such as in Morocco.

Without deep-seated French-German enmity, we would see a much-less bipolar Europe and I'm confident that the Concert of Europe would have been able to keep the peace. There would still be a Leage of Three Emperors to suppress nationalism and liberalism in Eastern Europe and keep a balance of power between Russia and Austria-Hungary, and defensive pacts between individual countries, but no grand alliance system to isolate one of the European powers. Historically, France and Russia only allied with each other out of necessity. They were diametrically opposed in almost every field, but both feld isolated and simply had no other alternative. In this context there would have been less of an incentive for such an alliance, although Russia's inevitable support for pan-Slavism might isolate it from the other Great Powers. This could be off-set by improved French-German relations developed by that time. Once the Ottoman Empire starts unravelling in Europe, I expect a more concerted effort to uphold the status quo on the Balkans against the revisionism of Austria, Russia and the minor powers.
 
Sep 2016
804
Georgia
#36
France and Germany also have their origin in the same entity: the Empire of the Franks. Both pairs of countries had fixed their borders early on and had a very friendly relationship. In the case of France and Germany it was done with the treaties of Verdun, Prüm, Meersen and Ribemont. So since 880 with the Treaty of Ribemont the borders were fixed. No border changes for hundreds of years between the two (sure, it may have been better to exchange french-speaking Burgundy [including Franche-Comte] and Mömpelgard (Montbeliard) with german-speaking Flanders, but that is another topic).
Do you know about the War for Burgundian Succession in 1477 - 1482 ? Do you also know about treaties in 1482 and 1493 ?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,749
SoCal
#37
France was expansionist regardless of Alsace-Lorraine. It was still looking for territorial expansion towards the Rhine at the time of the Austro-Prussian War. On the other hand, France probably would have accepted the new reality of a powerful Germany soon enough had it not been so humilitated during and after the Franco-Prussian War. Not annexing Alsace-Lorraine as spoils of war would have mattered greatly as an absent focal point for French enmity and would have ensured that French-German relations were no longer beyond repair.
I agree with all of this.

Napoleon III could always be bribed by offering him compensation elsewhere, as shown by the Luxemburg Crisis.
Are you suggesting that Prussia should not have waged war against France?

Also, wasn't it Prussia who blocked the French sale of Luxembourg back in 1867?

In addition, the best place for France to acquire compensation for the loss of Alsace-Lorraine would have been in Wallonia. At least Wallonia was ethnically French whereas Luxembourg (and most of Alsace-Lorraine as well) was ethnically German. Still, having France invade Belgium in order to capture Wallonia might have triggered a Franco-British war--something that France would probably not have had the appetite for.

IMHO, Bismarck should not have blocked the French purchase of Luxembourg. However, without a war with France, would the south German states have actually been willing to sign up for Bismarck's German nation-building project?

Also, what about the idea of--instead of taking Alsace-Lorraine--stripping France of Algeria and giving it to the Ottoman Empire? After all, Algeria was Ottoman until 1830 and giving Algeria to the Ottomans could secure a lot of goodwill towards Germany among the Ottomans.

Bismarck's strategy of supporting French colonial expansion and distracting France from Europe might actually work in this context if later German leaders don't screw it up, such as in Morocco.
That's a good point--though I ultimately wonder just how valuable a bunch of territories in other continents would have been for France relative to Alsace-Lorraine. I mean, the Alsatians and Lorrainers were considered full members of the French nation whereas the Tunisians, Moroccans, Senegalese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, et cetera were not.

Without deep-seated French-German enmity, we would see a much-less bipolar Europe and I'm confident that the Concert of Europe would have been able to keep the peace. There would still be a Leage of Three Emperors to suppress nationalism and liberalism in Eastern Europe and keep a balance of power between Russia and Austria-Hungary, and defensive pacts between individual countries, but no grand alliance system to isolate one of the European powers. Historically, France and Russia only allied with each other out of necessity. They were diametrically opposed in almost every field, but both feld isolated and simply had no other alternative. In this context there would have been less of an incentive for such an alliance, although Russia's inevitable support for pan-Slavism might isolate it from the other Great Powers. This could be off-set by improved French-German relations developed by that time. Once the Ottoman Empire starts unravelling in Europe, I expect a more concerted effort to uphold the status quo on the Balkans against the revisionism of Austria, Russia and the minor powers.
Some questions and thoughts:

-Does the Three Emperors' League still eventually break down in this scenario? Or is Russia more determined to keep this league/alliance intact in this scenario since it knows that it really doesn't have any other viable options? (Isolation isn't really a viable option for Russia.)

-If the TEL (Three Emperors' League) survives, this would mean that Russia would be much less proactive in regards to its support of Pan-Slavism and its desire to dismember the Ottoman Empire, correct? Also, would Austria actually want to weaken the Ottomans further? I mean, wouldn't the Ottomans be a good ally for Austria and Germany in the event that relations with Russia would have deteriorated?

-Even with improved relations with Germany, I don't think that France is actually going to be an active part of any anti-Russian coalition since it simply doesn't appear to have that much to gain. Indeed, one can argue that France's participation in the Crimean War was against France's own interests. Thus, IMHO, you should expect France to maintain good ties with Germany but also to maintain a position of neutrality in any German-Russian confrontation or conflict.

Also, as a side note, is there anywhere near as much French investment in Russia in this scenario as there was in real life?

-The real wildcard, IMHO, is what Russia is going to do once it becomes sufficiently strong (or at least feels this way). Specifically, I am thinking something like 1950 assuming that nukes aren't developed yet. By that point in time, Russia might feel sufficiently strong to take on numerous European powers in warfare by itself. Thus, is Russia actually going to try starting some kind of war at that point in time if it has not done so already?

Anyway, what are your thoughts on all of this, GJC?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,749
SoCal
#38
Also, one more thing--if Russia still eventually leaves the Three Emperors' League, might it actually ally with Britain if Germany still tries to start a naval arms race with Britain? After all, in such a scenario, both Russia and Britain are probably going to have a significant fear of Germany.