Offworlder wrote:Also the Schlieffen plan did not take into account the diplomatic changes that had taken place since its inception. Like all the other plans made prior to WWI, they were also faulty in the sense that each antagonist thought that they were going to fight a war close to the Franco-Prussian war. But it is hard to see what the Germans could otherwise do if they really wanted to knock out France in the first place. Schlieffen's (and his successors) main fault is that they did not have an alternative plan(s), something that the elder Moltke would not have allowed to happen.
It is interesting to note that the last European war(s), the Balkan Wars were relatively mobile and therefore misleading as to the real nature of future warfare. Though General Staffs took note of the Russo-Japanese war, they arrived at the wrong conclusions - that morale would triumph over steel. Most praised the Japanese resolve in attacking en masse, despite the fact that very often they ended getting shredded. Yet, they won the war...
It is interesting to consider why the Germans went for the British in 1918 instead of trying to sieze Paris outright.....diverting resources out to the east of Paris might not have been the best option....of course it is a game.....but an interesting "ponder point" all the same.......might it have worked in reality?....not so sure...the British were chosen because they seemed the weaker and more worn out of the allies.....but if one considers what might have happened to French morale had Paris fallen ...it offers a tantalizing prospect!
Cavalryman wrote:I think it is also true to say that the Germans were a little suprised at the scope of their success...a slightly more optimistic approach in the planning cycle at the start of March 1918 might have given them the option of going for Paris at the start of the offensive....
Cavalryman wrote:.granted that the presence of the Oise, Aisne and Marne would have certainly complicated matters for the advance..
Cavalryman wrote:.and those Yankee Johnnies forming up and trying to get themselves into some sort of fighting shape without killing off all those Mid-Western farm boys might have had a thing or two to say about it all don't you know!....
Cavalryman wrote:damnably interesting nevertheless old chap!...so glad you even cared to comment...feel awfully privileged!
Thomas Niksa wrote:An interesting question, and one I've spent much thought on. What always stands out for me is the Central Powers' failure to properly smooze Italy in the years running up to the war, to the point the alliance with Rome was pretty much a dead letter by August 1914 regardless of how hostilities started. Had things been different, valuable French troops would have been drawn off that were railroaded up before the Marne; and even if France had fought on, the Austro-Hungarians would have had more troops to quell Serbia or deploy against Russia.
06 Maestro wrote:The German High Command knew that they could not break through the French lines unless the French reserves were deployed in the wrong area. The whole March offensive was about drawing off the French Reserves to set up the situation for the renewed (ploy) drive on Paris-it worked brilliantly-except the ploy turned into the full offense-a big mistake on the German side.
If the Germans had stuck to the original plan instead of seizing what appeared to be a opportunity for victory (see how it goes?:bonk , they would have come much closer to victory than what transpired.
Cavalryman wrote:I think it is also true to say that the Germans were a little suprised at the scope of their success...a slightly more optimistic approach in the planning cycle at the start of March 1918 might have given them the option of going for Paris at the start of the offensive.....and several commentators have said as much including some of the post war memoires on the German side...the French were still recovering from the issues of 1917....
..the French were far from invincible in 1918....
Finally, a victory at sea by the High Sea Fleet, while unlikely, would have ended de facto the English blockade.
Random wrote:This is one of the great myths of the Great War, repeated endlessly until it has become unassailable dogma. The battleships of the High Seas Fleet could have sunk every dreadnought Britain possessed and it would have made no significant difference to the effectiveness of the blockade. Consider this; a distant blockade ensured that the boarding steamers and AMC's enforcing the blockade were out of easy reach of German raiders, even the aggressive anti-convoy operations of 1917 demonstrated this. The Kaiser's capital ships lacked the endurance to operate off Britain's west coast and had to transit several choke points crammed with RN submarines if they tried. Time and again RN submarines laying off the Helgoland Bight torpedoed German battleships at the start of a sortie. Mines took a continual toll in damage as well and with the tempo of operations necessary to maintain sufficient naval presence in the eastern Atlantic the attrition would have quickly eliminated any perceived German superiority. Every time they sailed they would have had to run multiple barriers of mines and submarines in both directions and in these operations events proved that the battleship was tremendously disadvantaged.
Narwhal wrote:Would a German naval victory stopped the British convoy of supplies to the Russian Empire, though ?
Random wrote:That's a good question but I suspect not. There were no convoys to Russia as there were to be in WW2 so probably a naval victory in the southern North Sea was unlikely to impact trade with north Russia, at least initially. The farthest that the High Seas Fleet ever ventured was to the latitude of Stavanger, Norway on 24 April 1918 with Scheer attempting to intercept one of the weekly Norwegian convoys from Scotland. That sortie was a fiasco; demonstrating the material decline of the Fleet and accomplishing nothing positive for the war effort.
Historian Norman Stone in The Eastern Front 1914-17 spends a fair bit of space discussing aid to Russia and my understanding is that the Russians were largely incapable of moving the supplies that were sent via the Barents Sea ports, Persia and Vladivostok. It's possible that disruption of deliveries might just have allowed them to clear the huge transportation backlogs.
British firms also defaulted on a number of lucrative contracts after receiving payment from the Russian government, generally using gold currency, and frequently invoked the delivery problems as the reason.
Curiously despite being a vastly inferior force the Russian Baltic Fleet was able to repeatedly interfere with Swedish-German trade, forcing the Germans to run convoys and extracting a steady attrition due to mines and (mostly British) submarines. Because big ships were seldom involved and the Bolsheviks were not inclined to praise the war efforts of the former regime, the actions of the Russian navy in WW1 are mostly ignored in English language histories. It's an instructive campaign to study as it demonstrates the impact of geography and technology on machine-age naval operations and I think shows why the Kaiser's fleet could never defeat Britain.
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