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"What if France lost the First World war but won the second?" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2020 9:25 p.m. PST

"Supposing the US never gets itself involved, Paris is captured, the British get off relatively easy as Germany the new leader of Europe wants to eventually have a cordial relationship again, a few colonies here and there, an agreement not to get involved in the affairs of the continent, a few token reparations.

France however feels the full might of German revanchism for daring to challenge them twice after they'd already slapped then down once.

The Germans annex the rest of Lorraine, and strip the country of every single colony including Algeria which involves a nasty ethic cleansing of it's French population, Corsica is set up as an "independent" state under German influence…"
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Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 3:03 a.m. PST

This seems based on the myth that the US somehow won WW1.

Not so. link

If the US hadn't sent its green troops in, the war would probably have ended in a negotiated peace: no victors, no losers. Maybe no WW2.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 4:34 a.m. PST

Well, Ochoin, from the article you link to:

"But in an important sense the Americans did win the war. By 1918 the Allied armies were tired and depleted; the Germans could reasonably have hoped for a negotiated peace that would give them parts of France and Belgium. The unexpected arrival of two million fresh, eager American soldiers stunned the Kaiser's generals—they realized they could never prevail. No matter how many Americans they killed, there would always be millions more. An armistice on the Allies' terms was their only option. The United States could claim much credit for ending the war. But its victory took place as much in the minds of the German generals as on the battlefield."

But as for the original poster's question, it's hard to see how France, with only a fraction of Germany's population and industry, could possibly come back to win a rematch.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 4:48 a.m. PST

Yes, Scott, I read it. Hence, my conclusion that the war would have been a stalemate.

Not that I'm saying the slaughter of Pershing's boys didn't convince the Germans they couldn't win. But the myth that the AEF somehow defeated the Kaiser's Germans militarily is not true.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 6:19 a.m. PST

Kinda like the NVA never defeated the U.S. military forces in Vietnam. What was the quote?

"That is true but it is also irrelevant".

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 7:39 a.m. PST

The actual quote was by "That may be true, but it is also irrelevant."

Legion 417 Mar 2020 8:20 a.m. PST

Without a doubt the US getting involved in WWI was a game changer on the Western Front. You certainly could say the same about WWII. On the Western Front and with Lead Lease in the East.

But in both wars it was an Allied effort. And in WWI, the Germans had an entirely new "fresh" Army to deal with when the "Yanks" got involved. All the rest of the combatants had been fighting and losing thousands upon thousands since 1914.

In WWII, the Russians took out about 70-75% of the German and their Allies forces in the East. And yes, Lead Lease from both the US AND UK certainly helped. But in the long run, I'd think WWII was "won" in the East. Even though on the Western Front the US, UK, etc., certainly destroyed and forced the Nazis to use forces there and not all in the East, etc.

Of course the Nazis in many cases were their own worse enemy. E.g. Using assets with the "Final Solution", concentration/ death camps, etc., wasting troops, trains, etc. That would have been better used to actually fight the war.

And in turn committing one of the most heinous acts in the 20th Century. So yes they were not only evil but strategically "stupid" in the big picture.

The actual quote was by "That may be true, but it is also irrelevant."
Yes IIRC seeing US Army COL Harry Summers interviewed in a documentary on the History Channel. Who was at the Paris Talks. And that line was said to him by one of the North Vietnamese reps at those talks. When the COL said to him, you never beat us on the battlefield.

Bill N17 Mar 2020 9:03 a.m. PST

If France loses the Great War big, how is it remotely possible that France would be able to come back and win another one 20 years later without massive assistance from an anti-German coalition?

Also given the German successes in 1914 and on other fronts afterwards, a military stalemate in the west means a German victory in the war. When the German spring offensive came to a halt Germany and its allies controlled almost all of Belgium, eastern France, northeast Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and much of the western part of the former Russian empire. Under the historical scenario, even after the setbacks of July and August, German military leadership was unwilling to consider peace terms which did not leave Germany with control of Belgium and territory in the east. That was with American troops pouring into France. Why would the German military have considered more favorable terms if they were stopped on the western front and the U.S. wasn't in the war?

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 12:55 p.m. PST

Kinda like the NVA never defeated the U.S. military forces in Vietnam

You would have thought there was no real link between WW1 & the Vietnam war….but there is. Both the Kaiser's Germans & the US had great difficulty in accepting their defeat.

Other than that….not really any connection.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 1:03 p.m. PST

As you said:

"But the myth that the AEF somehow defeated the Kaiser's Germans militarily is not true."

You left out the quote "That may be true, but it is also irrelevant."

To put it in simple terms. You do not need to defeat the enemy military to win A war.

RudyNelson17 Mar 2020 9:46 p.m. PST

Nice speculation exercise. Based on initial premise, I disagree about the acquisition of French colonies. The Arab Middle East would have remain Turkish. Algeria and Morocco may have been given to the Turks as well. It is in lower Africa where the Germans would have gathered new colonies. The Belgian Congo and the French Senegal would have become German as would Madagascar. Iffy about Portuguese Mozambique since they were an Ally. Germany keeps their Asian territories and may get Portugal's Macau in China and French Indo-China. Plenty for Germany to gain in a negotiated peace.
The affect on an alternate WW2 would be a serious conflict with Japan since the Germans sold many weapons to China and Japan would covet Indo-China and the Asian islands. Germany would have an alliance with a stronger Turkey which would bring them into conflict with Italy. Italy would still want more African land.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 10:52 p.m. PST

You do not need to defeat the enemy military to win A war.

But in The Great War, the Germans were defeated militarily by Britain & its Empire.

Battle of Amiens.


Legion 418 Mar 2020 11:46 a.m. PST

Amiens was very much one of the first examples of combined arms warfare. On a very large scale.

But overall both world wars were won by allied nations fighting along each other to defeat Germany, etc.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2020 4:07 p.m. PST

Ralph, I am not – of course – denying the important role played by the US. It was a part of the ultimate victory if clearly not the most significant part.

Indeed, the RN's blockade of Germany may well have been nearly as significant as Amiens and the subsequent 100 Day's Offensive.

arealdeadone18 Mar 2020 4:31 p.m. PST

The French economy was never as industrialised as the German one (and still isn't today).

Stripped of colonies and whatever industrial capacity it had in 1918, I suspect it would never have been able to accomplish what Germany did in 1933-39 in terms of rearmament.

Bear in mind the French won the war, yet a deep malaise afflicted the country that hampered it in WWII. Their military also learnt all the wrong lessons.

I suspect a defeated France would have gone down the path of Spain – terminal decline into a third rate power.

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