Donald, I buy your scenario in the West (Germans go home, keeping
Alsace-Lorraine) but I think Steve is right that your take on German
war aims in the East was too benign. What we’d have been looking at here
is a continuation of the Age of Imperialism, which in our history was
finished off by the exhaustion of the victors after WWI and WWII.
The situation in 1915 Europe would have been 1942 all over again,
but with one important difference: The United States would never have
gotten involved, never mobilized, and never had the opportunity to get
used to the idea of acting like a Great Power.
Right enough. Let’s carry this forward. As Donald has pointed
out, the drive on Paris revealed serious problems in Germany’s C3 and
infrastructure. There would have been a pause of, I think, about six
to eight years while the Germans consolidated their gains and built up
their road and rail net. Their most serious internal problem in the
short term would have been sporadic anti-German revolts in the eastern
Meanwhile, after the defeat of the Allies, isolationist sentiment
in the U.S. would have become stronger in the U.S. than it was
in our history. The Wilsonian “War Party” and anyone associated with
them would be completely discredited. American ethnic Germans who in our
history were finished off as a coherent political force by WWII, would
have gained more clout. President Lindbergh, maybe?
With the U.S. neutralized, the big fault line in geopolitics would
have been the British Empire versus the German Reich. One important
thing that would probably *not* have changed would have been the
development of Italian Fascism — but it wouldn’t have taken root in
Germany without the post-Versailles disaster.
The Tsarist regime in Russia was on its last legs. But Germany,
as victory, would have been in a position to turn on its agent
Lenin and back the White Russians just enough to keep Kerensky’s
govenment in power (but not enough for them to actually end the
simmering civil war).
About 1922 or so, the line-up might have looked like this: The
British Empire and a weakened, fractious Russia against a more
powerful Imperial Germany allied with Italy, Austria-Hungary, and the
Ottomans. But there’s something wrong with this picture; it ignores
geopolitical rivalries within the Central Powers themselves. So,
remembering the British grand strategy of sea control and alliances of
convenience with land powers, I’m going to suggest that England’s
course would be to snuggle up to the Ottomans and pry them loose from
the Axis. This would have made sense to the Ottomans, too; they
would want to constrain the rising power of Germany and Austria,
and I can imagine the British Foreign Office handing them back
southern Persia as a sweetener.
So the next confrontation would open with an Anglo-Russian-Turkish
alliance against a Germano-Austro-Italian one. France, even more seriously
mired in defeatism than in our history, would hardly be a player. The
U.S. would be neutral, possibly with a slight pro-German tilt.
Before general war broke out there would probably have been a
pattern of escalating friction on the imperial margins. Germany
would probably have flexed its muscles in Africa, first. Another
leading indicator would be the size of the German fleet. With no
Treaty of Washington in 1921, a serious naval arms race among
Germany, England and Japan would have been pretty much inevitable.
Imperial Japan would have been in a much stronger position than
historically, as well. With Russia weaker and the U.S. isolationist,
her main rival for influence in the Pacific would be the British. So
she would likely wind up on the Axis side, expanding onto the Asian
mainland even more agressively than in our timeline.
So the eequivalent of World War Two would have have been a bigger
and bloodier clash of empires.
UPDATE: Somebody commenting on VodkaPundit’s blog said:
Take your scenario a little further. With France as the
crippled defeated party, internal French politics mirror what
historically happened in Germany. I think you get the rise of French
fascists, who in turn blame French Jews for a “stab in the back”
(Dreyfus redux). The Holocaust has a Gallic flavor. Instead of
Teutonic efficiency, you get spontaneous mass killings by “citizen’s
commitees”. Horrendous to ponder, but anti-semitism is not an
exclusively German trait.
Very plausible. I can take this further still: on their way to
power the French Fascists have an ugly, low-level civil war with
conservative royalists that resembles the Spanish Civil War in our
timeline, except in this one Germany backs the royalists. The Spanish
Civil War itself happens more or less on schedule, but plays out
completely differently, too. Kerensky’s Russians would have had
neither the means nor the motivation to intervene that Stalin did, but
the Germans might very well have still backed Franco in restoring the
Spanish monarchy against the anarchists. So the likely outcome there
was Franco taking power sooner, probably as a generalissimo under a
weak Spanish king in Germany’s orbit, glaring across the Pyrenees
Where this is leading is that in Great War II, the France that
joins the allies is Fascist…
FURTHER UPDATE: With Bolshevism dead in Russia, the beau ideal of
the world’s anti-monarchist left becomes not “scientific socialism”
but anarcho-syndicalism on the Spanish model. At the extreme end this
movement fuses with what’s left of 19th-century romantic nihilism. As
a result, terrorism becomes an important tool of the fringe left
decades before the analogous development in our 1960s.
The British Labor Party turns increasingly syndicalist; in reaction,
British Tories increasingly link arms with French and other fascist
movements, which in this timeline are often genuinely reactionary
rather than being Marxism with a nationalist/racialist paint job.
In the U.S., trade unions also increasingly turn syndicalist and
anti-German. American conservatives tend to line up with the Bund and
the Kaiser; when Great War II breaks out in 1923. American industrialists
sell weapons to the German Empire. After a bitterly-fought election
in 1924 U.S. policy begins to tilt pro-British, but the change is
slow because many Americans are revolted by Fascist France.