WW1: Germany allies with Russia

Jun 2017
3,027
Connecticut
Would have made a ton of sense, at least the Germany and Russia part. Bismarck tried to balance a three way alliance with them but at the end of the day the Russians and Austrians main opponents were each other as were Austria and Italy and you couldn't have an alliance with Austria while promising the Russians to remain neutral because promises were largely contradictory. Wilhem had to choose one or the other and he made the clearly inferior choice in Austria-Hungary not just power wise but diplomacy wise, Austria simply was just the main threat to all the countries in Germany's potential ally pool except the UK(which the Germans alienated later on with their naval program) and served as diplomatic repellent.

Germany and Russia would have not alienated the Italians and the Central Powers given how things played out almost certainly would have won. Germany would simply need to hold off France a little while the Russians, Balkan states, Italians and part of the German Army quickly defeated Austria-Hungary. Two front war wouldn't have been as big an issue because the Central Powers would have had the numbers and once Austria was beaten would have been able to overwhelm the French with no second front. They could have also done it the other way around. Germany moving away from Russia also pushed them into the arms of the French who Bismarck had successfully isolated up until this point. An alliance with Russia would have been a great move.
 
Jun 2017
3,027
Connecticut
Bismark had tried to make that work with his Reinsurance Treaty. Over the long run it proved unsustainable. Russia and Austria-Hungary could never be allies. They had too many competing interests.


Hitler also tried it with his non-aggression pact, but it, too, also failed in the long run for the same reason - too many competing interests. When Hitler annexed Austria Germany took over Austria's old ambitions in the Balkans.


Then there's the whole 'lebensraum in the east' issue which was not new under Hitler. It had also been an issue pre-WW1.
I mean I think Hitler had every intent of his non aggression pact failing for obvious reasons. Hitler also barely touched the Balkans at least as far as straight annexations go, Italy seemed more interested in conquering that part of the world.

Your last sentence is not true. Hitler's ideology didn't apply to the German Empire, the German Empire was not expansionist it had achieved it's aim's after Franco-Prussia and it's policy was trying very much to maintain those aims against surrounding powers. Can you probably find a source or two to say otherwise? Yeah, maybe you'll find a general or two with their own personal beliefs on what should happen going forward(wouldn't be surprised if a Ludendorff said something like this) but it wasn't government policy to take populated land, empty the land and repopulate it with Germans. Brest-Litovsk was the consequence of a successful war that (would have)neutralized Russia as a threat. It also didn't conquer Russia nor eliminate it's government. Germany's desire for food in the face of German blockade more than anything is enough motive to seize so much. Hitler wasn't attacked by the Russians(the Germans were) and even had a non aggression pact the Soviets were clearly respecting (part of why Barbarossa was so successful)Hitler had no motives beyond his homicidal ideology.
 

Decembrist

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
2,702
the Nile to the Euphrates
In Russia, the opinion that Russia should have better joined the Triple Alliance, rather than the Entente, is quite popular among Monarchists.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
6,113
Wouldn't Germany's main purpose in a war exclusively for Russia's interests be to provide financial and technological support to Russia as opposed to directly fighting on Russia's behalf?

I mean, Germany would certainly directly fight if, say, Germany and Russia decided to jointly partition Austria-Hungary. However, if it's a war over, say, the Ottoman Empire, or Persia, or Afghanistan, or Mongolia, or Xinjiang, or Manchuria, why exactly should Germany have to fight?
Oh sure, it will work fine, if the British and French can be intimidated enough for them to do nothing.

All the proposed scenarios aren't equal. Border revision with China in the Far East is hardly material for a real conflict.

If Russia however takes out the Ottomans, that puts them close to the Suez eventually. Russia taking out Persia, and acquiring ports on the Indian Ocean has much the same effect. Both brings it a potentially dangerous step closer to India for the British. For the French it means scrapping their designs on Syria (ongoing since the mid-19th c.).

What will be seen in both London and Paris, is that the Berlin-Moscow link-up in those cases is also intended to dissuade the French and British from stepping in to aid the Ottoman — as was done a couple of times in the 19th c. Same thing in the case of Persia though that one would directly be about the security of the British empire, and less about France.

But if done right, and if the British and French are successfully intimidated, then Germany need not fight of course. I find that improbable though.

Historically Germany's ploy was to intimidate, this way it just won't be Russia.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,012
Dispargum
Why the strong opinion about competing interests?

I'm very interested in whether that opinion is about rise of nationalism, which actually becomes a tangible thing AFTER the breach between Wilhelm II's regime and Alexander 3.

It seems that personalities, the "characters" which both Wilhelm II and Alexander presented in their monarchies, were decisive.

The Habsburgs and the Romanovs were the last major houses to claim to rule by Divine Right. That was a key common interest of the two empires.

AH and Russia were already competing over the Balkans in 1878, if not earlier. AH was a major push behind the Treaty of Berlin that limited Russia's gains againt Turkey in the just completed war between Russia and Turkey. Niether Wilhelm II nor Alexander III were ruling that early.
 
May 2015
1,067
The Netherlands
Diplomatic attempts were made to court Russia, France and Britain when Germany's growing isolation became painfully apparent at the start of the century. One envisioned scheme was forming a continental block together with Russia and France against Britain and non-European powers. It wasn't so much that the Germans didn't want an understanding with Russia, but more that Russia rebuffed them. By 1905 the France-Russia alliance was firmly in place and belligerent German generals began pushing for pre-emptive war to take advantage of Russia's temporary weakness in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War and end the encirclement of Germany.

I can't really see an alliance happening unless Germany was willing to throw Austria-Hungary under the bus. It's good to keep in mind that foreign policy in Wilhelmine Germany was motivated by a deepseated fear for pan-Slavism. This is also apparent in the choice for allies: Austria, Hungary and Romania; anyone who could help contain the Slav masses.

I can agree with some of the objections re Austria Hungary and Russia competing interests... but in that case, would not Russia be a better ally from the german perspective than A-H... After all german unification had happened on the back of Austria and long term german desires included the incorporation of Austria and some other pieces of A-H into the german empire .....
Apart from the king of Bavaria and some fringe groups in Germany, there were no real desires to incorporate parts of Austria-Hungary. Not even the German areas of Austria.
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,787
UK
It would have made the Middle East/India interesting. Surely the Russians woud have invaded, or at least pressured Briitsh India. It could then mean hat the French bore more of the brunt on the Western Front, as the British had to secure India and possibly Suez since the Russians and Ottomans would be allies.
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,303
What fascinates me with this scenario is that it seems both to

1- Be easy (all it takes is for 2 heads of state to come to agreement)
and
2- Completely change the history of Europe and the world for the past 100 years

Although WW1 would probably still have happened as France and Germany almost went at it over Morocco, I can't see the germans losing in that case (and Russia does not lose either)... So its likely a repeat of 1870 with some french colonies being handed over to Germany (and Japan NOT getting those german islands in the Pacific) or at the very least a stalemate

Hence no nazi and no bolshevik state...Stalin sticks to robbing banks and Hitler to being a loser trying to make a living in Vienna.... Thus probably no WW2 ... although a separate war might still happen between Japan and the US (with Japan in a worse position as the brits are not distracted and the french and the dutch are at full strength + no free ride in French Indo China for the japanese)....... the chinese communists either dont exist or get no support... so no communist China as a result
No holocaust and probably no Israel
And of course many tens of millions of lives (mostly European and Chinese) spared....

Continental Europe is dominated by the germano - russian alliance (and their allies)...

So this actually seems to be a decision point with very far reaching consequences probably unlike any other in history.... Unless of course it can be demonstrated that such an alliance simply could not happen
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,102
Iowa USA
AH and Russia were already competing over the Balkans in 1878, if not earlier. AH was a major push behind the Treaty of Berlin that limited Russia's gains againt Turkey in the just completed war between Russia and Turkey. Niether Wilhelm II nor Alexander III were ruling that early.
Yet... Ferdinand the ultimate choice as Tsar of Bulgaria was rabidly pro-Habsburg actually. The Berlin treaty wasn't perceived as a major setback in St Petersburg. If anything, it is was a loss of face for the UK, certainly not a major issue for the Russians. The prime, important urban places in Bulgaria were still in the new State, Varna, Sofia, Plovdiv.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
23,705
SoCal
I can't really see an alliance happening unless Germany was willing to throw Austria-Hungary under the bus. It's good to keep in mind that foreign policy in Wilhelmine Germany was motivated by a deepseated fear for pan-Slavism. This is also apparent in the choice for allies: Austria, Hungary and Romania; anyone who could help contain the Slav masses.
You forgot to mention the Ottoman Empire.

Apart from the king of Bavaria and some fringe groups in Germany, there were no real desires to incorporate parts of Austria-Hungary. Not even the German areas of Austria.
You know, I'm curious if there would have been more support among German Catholics for annexing German Austria. After all, Catholic political power in Germany in such a scenario would have significantly increased.