Why exactly didn't Germany try getting a more-or-less status quo ante peace in 1914?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
20,941
SoCal
#1
Why exactly didn't Germany seriously try getting a more-or-less status quo ante bellum peace after its defeat at the First Battle of the Marne in 1914? Did Germany's decisive victory against the so-called "Russian steamroller" at Tannenberg (and slightly later, Germany's less decisive victory against Russia at the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes) cause Germany's leadership to believe that Germany might still be able to at least win World War I in the East (which, in fact, it actually ended up doing in early 1918 with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk)? Was there another reason for this? Was it a combination of several reasons?

The reason that I am asking this question is because, as far as I know, Germany expected to quickly defeat France before shifting its focus on Russia; however, a quick German defeat of France became extremely unlikely after the German loss at the First Battle of the Marne, and I think that even Germany's leadership during this time was aware of this fact even right after they found out about the German defeat at the First Battle of the Marne (for instance, Moltke the Younger got fired and had a nervous breakdown or something along those lines when he found out about the outcome of this battle).

Thoughts on this?
 
Last edited:
Apr 2012
106
#2
From what I was told Germany should have listened more to Austria-Hungary. Weren't they the diplomatic ones?
In both "World Wars", Germans fought a very aggressive war.
 
Jan 2013
954
Toronto, Canada
#3
The German General Staff had become obsessed with the idea of a military victory that would solve their political problems and they weren't going to let reality get in the way of that plan.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
20,941
SoCal
#4
The German General Staff had become obsessed with the idea of a military victory that would solve their political problems and they weren't going to let reality get in the way of that plan.
By "political problems," do you mean the rise of the SPD?
 
Dec 2011
4,857
Iowa USA
#5
The war was sold to the German public in large part based on a dehumanization of the Slavs, and so long as Russia was not going to agree to a separate peace an armistice was a non-starter. National honor was important to both alliances. Of course the Entente dehumanized the Germanic nations as well.

There was some merit to the Germans' confidence that their organization and cultural discipline could not be matched. In another subforum today you will find praise for Prof. Herwig's (a professor in Canada) writings, his single volume on the war titled "The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary" is a good reference to read concerning the reaction to First Marne by the Kaiser.
 
Jan 2013
954
Toronto, Canada
#6
By "political problems," do you mean the rise of the SPD?
That was just one of their problems:

* the German government was running out of money because of an archaic tax system
* the growing size of the Germany Army was forcing the General Staff to appoint officers who weren't Junkers (gasp)
* Junkers were losing their economic clout to the new middle class
* Incompetent German diplomacy had made the Empire militarily and diplomatically dependent on Austria-Hungary

Basically, the Junkers wanted to pretend it was still 1788 and they became more and more agitated when people refused to let them.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,169
US
#7
The Germans likely thought they could secure a real victory. They likely could never have conceived of U.S. intervention and probably didn't expect Italy to join the war either (not that they did much). Perhaps they expected to decisively defeat Russia with the help of Austria Hungary, as they were typically more interested in expanding eastward, rather than westward.
 

funakison

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,381
Between a rock and a hard place
#8
German war aims such as they were had not been realised. A-H had proved itself incapable of chastising the Serbs and to suggest a peace settlement on the status quo of August 1914 would hasten the break up of the dual monarchy and leave Germany friendless and surrounded by enemies.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,784
At present SD, USA
#9
The Germans likely thought they could secure a real victory.
Maybe immediately after the Battle of the Marne... not by the end of the Race to the Sea... at that point the line in the West stabilized and both sides had to face new realities of trench warfare... and Germany was equally saddled with the fact that they had to rescue the Austrians in the East.

They likely could never have conceived of U.S. intervention and probably didn't expect Italy to join the war either (not that they did much).
I'm not sure on Italy, but as the events of the war unfolded, the Germans knew full well the possibility of America's entry into WWI. American public outcry over the U-boat war and eventually the Zimmerman Note in 1917 was heard in Germany... and in fact when the Zimmerman Note was sent, it was a deliberate provocation on the part of the Germans to hope that America would become so embroiled in a war against Mexico and possibly Japan that they couldn't come to Britain and France's aid...

Now, they may not have conceived it in 1914... but at the same time, when the Germans entered the war, they expected to rapidly win and be home before the leaves fall... Their failures in 1914 and the resulting British blockade that would last until even after the war ended would change things though...

Perhaps they expected to decisively defeat Russia with the help of Austria Hungary, as they were typically more interested in expanding eastward, rather than westward.
In WWI it is questionable as to whether or not the Germans wanted to expand at all...

And as for expecting help from the Austrians... while the Germans marched through Belgium and then lost on the Marne... the Austrians were defeated by the Serbs and by the Russians which would then fuel the redeployment of troops East for the battles at Gorlice-Tarnow in 1915 among other places where the Austrians had been beaten...
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
20,941
SoCal
#10
German war aims such as they were had not been realised. A-H had proved itself incapable of chastising the Serbs and to suggest a peace settlement on the status quo of August 1914 would hasten the break up of the dual monarchy and leave Germany friendless and surrounded by enemies.
This specific explanation appears to make a lot of sense (not sarcasm).