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Occupation of Germany after WWI

Discussion in 'World History' started by KingBishop, Apr 5, 2004.

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  1. KingBishop

    KingBishop Chieftain

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    Why did the allies not occupy Germany after its defeat in WWI? A colleague of mine used this as an example of why the U.S. SHOULD have invaded Iraq and he why he belived it was a good idea to be there. I don't exaclt want to argue that point right now, but I am curious as to why you guys think the allies did not occupy Germany in 1919.
     
  2. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    Because the Germans surrendered before Allied forces entered Germany IIRC, and negotiated the peace. The Western Allies were having problems of their own, due to the war, so the deal was Germany would pay reparations for peace and for giving up the 'Polish Corridor' to Poland. It's a result of the peace negotiations.

    WW2 was different as the Allies were expressedly going for unconditional surrender - a non-repeat of of how WW1 was ended.
     
  3. KingBishop

    KingBishop Chieftain

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    Well we see what happened with the whole Polish thing. Surely there had to be some nations that wanted to occupy Germany weren't there? Couldn't the U.S have used that land to establish some sort of presence in Europe?
     
  4. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    The Americans were in the hurry to leave the European mess behind, and turned isolationist.

    The thing is all the combatant nations were exhausted by the war - even the victors. They had not the will, or strength to do anything more. Millions of their people had died.

    The only clear victor was America - who had participated the least and became the world's great creditor nation.

    'Sides, Russia had fallen to Communism and I'm not sure if the Western Allies would want to weaken Germany so much that they would fall too. Russia was now a very chaotic place, with all the fighting going on.
     
  5. MarineCorps

    MarineCorps Explosion!

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    I just did in school a mock versi (sp?) treay and got a good look at how each nation felt. Italy, America and even Britian to a certain extent wanted to leave Germany as was, Italy wanted Germany to be a check on Yogloslvia, America I forget same with Britian. France wanted Germany dead so to speak as they had suffered the most from the war.

    Sadly that is true. Wilson had different feelings then the people and wanted the US to join the LoN, the fact that America didn't join was one of the reasons it failed to do anything other then talk.
     
  6. KingBishop

    KingBishop Chieftain

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    Did the Buslshevicks (sp?) even want to come to negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles? I mean, seeing as how they were headed for Communism and everyone else was headed for some form of democracy. wanted they choose not to participate?
     
  7. Steph

    Steph Multi Many Tasks man Retired Moderator

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    WWII is not a result of the allies not occupying Germany at the end of WWI, but of very harsh peace conditions imposed on Germany, creating a thirst for revenge.
    It was accentuated by the 29 crises, that has a terrible effect on German economy.

    On the other hand, after WWII, Germany became a peacefull nation not because of Allies occupation, but because of the Marshalll plan. The Allies occupation prevented the spreading of communism. The Marshall Plan helped the countries recover for the war, so people were not willing to seek revenge : they felt better after the war than before.

    To me, it is not an example of why the US should have invaded Iraq, but a good example that winning the war is just the first step, you have to win the peace then.
     
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  8. tossi

    tossi Der kleine Prinz

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    The "Loosers" Germany, Austria, The Ottomans and the Russians weren´t invited.

    They were called later and had to sign the treaty in some small villages.
     
  9. fastspawn

    fastspawn Chieftain

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    germany didn't lose WWI. they sued for peace. the fact that they didn't lose the war, yet agreed to such outrageous demands at versaille, led to much anger towards the government in power and hitler's rise.
     
  10. joycem10

    joycem10 Deity

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  11. Archer 007

    Archer 007 Rebirth

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    They lost. Otherwise, they would have pushed forward.
     
  12. fastspawn

    fastspawn Chieftain

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    depends on how you view losing. WWII it was unconditional surrender. Germany was partitioned.

    An analogy would be like when playing CIV and you take 3 of the AI's cities and he sues for peace, and you lay down terms as the "victor". That would probably be what Versaille was like. However in WWII, the Russians managed to push all the way into Berlin and plant their flag on top of the reichstag, that analogically would be the same as conquering all the AI's cities.
     
  13. Vrylakas

    Vrylakas The Verbose Lord

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    @Kingbishop: The Allies did occupy the German Rheinland until 1925 I believe. In 1923 Germany defaulted on its reparations payments, provoking France and Belgium to occupy the Ruhr and start seizing coal mines. This led to a brilliantly-played diplomatic move by the German kancelar Stresemann, who allowed passive resistance to the French-Belgian occupation to organize but also leading to the collapse of the Weimar economy (with massive inflation, etc.), spooking New York financiers and the U.S. State Department which looked at the Versailles Treaty as a disaster. The U.S. (starting w/ American banker Charles Dawes) kicked off a decade-long effort whereby the U.S. underwrote Germany's reparations payments, to the extent that Germany actually made money of the reparations payments, rather than being punished by them. Stresemann played the economic card brilliantly, although he did so on the backs of German workers who bore the brunt of the massive inflation.

    The Allies never committed to a full occupation of Germany in 1918 - though they should have - because, as XIII mentioned, they were too drained of men, material and financial resources to do it. After nearly 5 years of the worst war in human history, they simply did not have the means nor the will to occupy a large country like Germany. The U.S., the only power capable of occupying Germany in 1918, wanted to disengage itself from Europe as fast as possible.

    @Fastspawn: Germany did lose World War I. It was militarily defeated. After the failure of Operation Michael in Spring 1918 (which was the last ditch effort by the Germans to defeat the Allies before significant numbers of new American troops could be sent to the front), the Reichswehr began to crumble as the British and French (later joined by the Americans, although some American units had been fighting all along under Anglo-French command) launched their counter-offensive that summer. 08. August is seen as the traditional turning point, where the Reichswehr finally cracked and started to unravel. In early September, Ludendorf reported to the Kaiser that the war was lost. He regained his composure and insisted on fighting to the end for most of September but in October he lost his last two allies (Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria) and the Reichswehr was in a full-headed retreat into Germany. By early November when the Germans requested an armistice discussion, Foch was able to dictate the terms to the German delegation because it was common knowledge that whole units of the Reichswehr were melting away and the Allies could easily continue pressing into Germany. Had the Allies decided to press onto Berlin, there was little doubt they would be there by early 1919, perhaps even by Christmas 1918.

    In fact, the German delegation used this situation to their advantage, telling the Allies that they needed to conclude an armistice quick because the Reichswehr - what was left of it - was desperately needed at home to forestall a Bolshevik revolution in Germany.

    The Dolchstosslegende that surfaced after the war was pure fantasy, invented by German nationalists who wanted to pretend that the German militrary was undefeated, that it was the politicians and the Jews who had undermined a Reichswehr victory. I personally think a complete occupation of Germany in 1918 might have better convinced Germans that they had indeed lost the war. As it was, the average German (outside of the Rheinland) only experianced the side-effects of the defeat, without ever directly coming into contact with evidence of that defeat.
     
  14. Stefan Haertel

    Stefan Haertel Title

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    Good thing that you brought in the Dolschstosslegende, Vrylakas. If the Allies would have occupied Germany, maybe that wouldn't have popped up, and, as you said, the Germans would've been convinced that they lost this war. This way, I see two possibilities of what could have happened:

    -The Germans could have been convinced that their cause was the wrong one and they would have cooperated with the Allies. This would have been the reasonable thing.
    OR
    -The Germans would have had their defeat engraved into their collective conciousness and would have sought for the day of revenge. This sounds much more "German" to me, and perhaps would have speedened up up such right-winged streamings as national socialism.

    In any case, I think that the Dolchstosslegende made it much easier for the nazis to gain ground in Germany. If it wouldn't have existed, the nazis would have had it much harder to convince the militarist and conservative fractions in Germany of their 'cause' (convincing the masses is never hard, but to gain control of them, you need the intellectuals on your side).
     
  15. KingBishop

    KingBishop Chieftain

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    This goes to the point I was getting at. I personally think it would have sealed the deal. Germany would have been focused on establishing itself rather than trying to assert world dominance. I honestly think that would have prevented WWII.
     
  16. Hitro

    Hitro Feistus Raclettus

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    The second would have happened. We shouldn't forget the world situation at the time. France and Britain were the main colonial powers in the world, at the peak of their Imperialism. A full occupation of Germany would have led to massive resistance, and it wouldn't have been passive. Furthermore it is very questionable if the new government that sued for peace would have done so if an occupation would have been part of the negotiations. They might well have fought on. And although they would have lost (as the war was indeed lost) that would inevitably have led to alot of allied casualties as well.
    The Dolchstoßlegende is a just a legend in saying that the army was "undefeated" (implying the war could still have been won) but it was obviously correct in stating that there were no enemy forces on German soil. And they would still have had to get there.

    In 1944 the war was also already lost and if someone would have negotiated a peace then (assuming the allies would have accepted for the sake of argument) that might also have led to a similar legend. But occupying the country still cost the live of many thousands of allied soldiers, especially Soviets. In 1918 nobody was willing to do that, especially as the aggression going out from Germany was nowhere comparable to WW2.
     
  17. fastspawn

    fastspawn Chieftain

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    Again, i point out that it really depends on what one means by losing a war. German Empire surrendered during WWI, but unlike WWII, whereby Berlin was taken by the Soviets, WWI left the Germans still intact.

    I don't really agree that the German People felt they had been defeated because if so nationalists wouldn't have been able to manipulate the populace into a militaristic fervor barely a decade and a half later.
     
  18. tossi

    tossi Der kleine Prinz

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    Just imagine progapanda posters like this: Germany - A new english colony. Thats perfect for every extremist party like the NSDAP.
     
  19. Adler17

    Adler17 Prussian Feldmarschall

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    The German chancellor Scheidemann (SPD) retreated before signing the Peace treaty. The German National assembly, which was in Weimar making a new constitution, did only accept the terms of Versailles because the generals said there was no way to prevent the occupation of Germany. So they accepted the peace treaty. A wrong treaty and right dictate peace which caused much more pain than heal it. But if the Allies already said we occupy Germany, the Germans would have fought. This means loosing more and more troops. The US would, if they invaded, which is unrealistic, have been the first to retret their forces. Britain was aware of France. France should be kept in distance, so a British invasion is also not very likely. And France alone? Well although the Germans were weakened by the war a French invasion would have been impossible to be successful. France was out of power. They could have come a few kilometers into Germany but would then stiopped and repushed.
    To Versailles much is said on this forum. But indeed it was too weak to destroy Germany, which was unrealistic and would have only caused new liberation/ unification wars. But it was too harsh for an existing Germany.
    THIS is the lection of Versailles. You can win a war, but loose the peace. Today in Iraq there is happening something similar and different: The war was evitable and against the law. WW1 might be also evitable, but much more an accident. This is the difference. The same: If Germany was occupied 1919 they would do like the Iraqis today.

    Adler
     
  20. rilnator

    rilnator Emperor

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    Even if the allies had of occupied German they couldn't have done it for ever. They would have had to hang around until the country regained stability, which didn't really happened until 1934. Hitler was viewed favourably prior to ww2 by a lot of foriegners.
     
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