What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

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What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by Cheydinal on Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:10 am

As the long title says, my plan would have been to knock Russia out of the war first, then helping Austria-Hungary out in Serbia and only then attacking France. Probably their quick success would have even kept Italy on their side, putting the power balance 3:1, 3 against France.

"So", you might ask, "why didn't they do it in our timeline? We all know that was because they knew from Napoleon that you can't invade Russia because of the Russian winter". Well, but Napoleons problem wasn't actually simply the Russian winter, was it? It was that the Russians did a scortched earth strategy, and destroyed the French local food supply and harrassed their supply lines. With an all-out German invasion, that wouldn't have been the case: The Germans' supply lines wouldn't have been harrassed, as Napoleons thin invasion route had been, that Russian cavalry could easily assault at will, retreating back to unoccupied lands whenever needed.

Thus the Germans supply would have been safe, as it had been in our timeline for the territory they eventually occupied. The only problem could have potentially been the Russian winter, but let's be honest: Germans can produce warm cloths in factories, too. The real reason why they didn't invade further was that they had to concentrate more on the Western Front, where they faced an enemy at least twice as strong, so they thought they'd rather try to break the enemy in the West first, by keeping to try to conquer Paris, and thus couldn't spare resources for a commited push east.


But what if they hadn't attacked France at all, not stretching the front line to more than 3x the length, and had only been defensive on the Western Front at first, which would have enabled them to commit even more forces to the Eastern Front? Especially with Ottoman and Bulgarian help, they could have easily beaten Serbia in the first months of the war, and forced Russia back beyond St. Petersburg, Moscow and Volgograd (later Stalingrad), forcing them to the negotiating table.

With Russia and Serbia out of the war, Italy doesn't switch sides, as it doesn't find an "allied" (there are no Allies, France stands alone) victory impossible, so it joins the Germans and Austrians in an attack against France, through the German-French and Italian-French borders. France is beaten over the next year in a war of attrition, or perhaps there is even an early breakthrough, but either way: France loses the war. If Britain should intervene anyway, their morale will be low, as would be public support. But even with high morale, they would inevitably lose in a war of attrition against Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire combined, one of which fought FOR them in our timeline, and the other two of which didn't have any spare troops to send to the Western Front. So whatever happens, France and maybe Britain lose the war, giving the Central Powers everything they wanted in our timeline, except for control of Belgium, for obvious reasons.
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by Brusilov on Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:15 pm

RIP Srbija, RIP Russia, RIP France
German Empire = Maintains OG title

But, good and well thought out scenario OP
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by Kim Jong-un on Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:59 pm

This might actually work. In our timeline the failed Schlieffen Plan allowed Russia time to mobilize their armies and get ready to defend against a German advance. In your scenario, Russia might just be caught by surprise and their capitulation might have come a lot sooner. Fortunately, the Bolsheviks would likely not be a party to the negotiations since their popular platform promised a relief from the exhausting, protracted conflict (which in your scenario would have been much less so). Without Russia to back Serbia, she and Montenegro would have to surrender. At that point it's very likely Italy might have switched sides.

The problem with this is that France's frontier defenses would have been greatly fortified from all the time they would have had to themselves, making a subsequent Kaiserschlacht very difficult. A surprise attack through Belgium would also be difficult since the UK would likely be in military standby mode by now. Fortunately Italy would (hopefully) be available to keep some of France's troops occupied in the South and cut off France's access to the Mediterranean. Hopefully they'd be able to subdue France and isolate Britain. At the time Germany still had superior naval and aerial technology, so Britain probably wouldn't gain much by resisting and she might be coerced into an armistice.

To be honest, though, this is a very unpredictable scenario; we don't have much historical evidence to tell us how this might have played out because the powers of the time never gave much thought to such a strategy.
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by Mr Trolldemort on Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:33 pm

I think it could have worked out early on, because we know from our timeline Russia was horribly prepared for the war and fell easily. I think if Germany went all out on Russia first, a Russia revolution similar to our timeline would occur, as the people were already on the verge of revolution and the war would just serve as a catalyst for it

However, this means France would be able to attack Germany from the west easily and quickly with Germany focused on Russia. Even with Italy as a distraction, they were hardly a threat towards France. I would still think a western Front similar to our timeline would occur in Western Germany instead of Eastern France and the war would still take some time to end, but if we're assuming all of Germany's allies are there to help and France has none, they should easily beat France and France would most likely have to pay a ton of reparations and lose a lot of their colonies in Asia and Africa.
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by Cold War Communist on Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:39 pm

I think the French would have waited a short time to see how the war progressed and to gather their momentum to push into Southern Germany. They would have been bogged down in much the same way as Germany was when it came through Northern France, but the trenches would be in the South Rhine and past Baden.

The French would probably wager it foolish to wait. I expect that Belgium would be dragged into the coflict eventually all the same.
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by NearWolf58 on Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:04 pm

Well thought out scenario, but I definitely agree with Cold War Communist
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by DavidlVofGeorgia on Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:43 pm

Any French attack would have been suicide. By the begining of the war they still wore bright blue uniforms. They would have been mowed down as they marched in formation.
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by _Dewey on Thu Jul 27, 2017 5:41 pm

ignore this, it won't let me delete it for some reason.


Last edited by _Dewey on Sat Jul 29, 2017 4:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by _Dewey on Sat Jul 29, 2017 4:37 pm

Cheydinal wrote:As the long title says, my plan would have been to knock Russia out of the war first, then helping Austria-Hungary out in Serbia and only then attacking France. Probably their quick success would have even kept Italy on their side, putting the power balance 3:1, 3 against France.

"So", you might ask, "why didn't they do it in our timeline? We all know that was because they knew from Napoleon that you can't invade Russia because of the Russian winter". Well, but Napoleons problem wasn't actually simply the Russian winter, was it? It was that the Russians did a scortched earth strategy, and destroyed the French local food supply and harrassed their supply lines. With an all-out German invasion, that wouldn't have been the case: The Germans' supply lines wouldn't have been harrassed, as Napoleons thin invasion route had been, that Russian cavalry could easily assault at will, retreating back to unoccupied lands whenever needed.

Thus the Germans supply would have been safe, as it had been in our timeline for the territory they eventually occupied. The only problem could have potentially been the Russian winter, but let's be honest: Germans can produce warm cloths in factories, too. The real reason why they didn't invade further was that they had to concentrate more on the Western Front, where they faced an enemy at least twice as strong, so they thought they'd rather try to break the enemy in the West first, by keeping to try to conquer Paris, and thus couldn't spare resources for a commited push east.


But what if they hadn't attacked France at all, not stretching the front line to more than 3x the length, and had only been defensive on the Western Front at first, which would have enabled them to commit even more forces to the Eastern Front? Especially with Ottoman and Bulgarian help, they could have easily beaten Serbia in the first months of the war, and forced Russia back beyond St. Petersburg, Moscow and Volgograd (later Stalingrad), forcing them to the negotiating table.

With Russia and Serbia out of the war, Italy doesn't switch sides, as it doesn't find an "allied" (there are no Allies, France stands alone) victory impossible, so it joins the Germans and Austrians in an attack against France, through the German-French and Italian-French borders. France is beaten over the next year in a war of attrition, or perhaps there is even an early breakthrough, but either way: France loses the war. If Britain should intervene anyway, their morale will be low, as would be public support. But even with high morale, they would inevitably lose in a war of attrition against Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire combined, one of which fought FOR them in our timeline, and the other two of which didn't have any spare troops to send to the Western Front. So whatever happens, France and maybe Britain lose the war, giving the Central Powers everything they wanted in our timeline, except for control of Belgium, for obvious reasons.

There is a lot wrong with this, the reason Germany didn't attack Russia was because of how fast France could mobilize its forces, not just in the French mainland but colonies as well. Not because of the attrition or the winter, but because of the fact if they sent most of their forces to the east, the western part would be undefended and occupied by France. Plus, the political state of Russia in 1914 wasn't like the state in 1916 and 17. They hadn't been dealt huge blows yet, and it was at least unified. This plan would achieve what the Germans didn't want, a two front war. The original Schlieffen plan attempted to avoid this by knocking out the quickly mobilized France before the Russians had mobilized their troops, making it a fair or advantageous war for Germany. Hell, July would have been an optimal time to attack Russia, the mud from the Spring would have been dried out by the sun, the Russians wouldn't have had much of an advantage against the Germans other than maybe the defensive, and them fighting on their own ground. But the reason Germany didn't was France, the two front thing is what shaped their whole strategy, but it seems like your'e just glossing over the main thing that shaped their plan.

And Italy wouldn't have joined anyway, the reason they didn't join in the first place is because the triple alliance was technically a defensive alliance. The Austrians and Germans didn't get along when they declined, I doubt they would have joined, or been able to join the war after they had soured relations with Germany and Austria Hungary.
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by Hashem on Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:17 am

Remember but, the Italians did not have advanced technology, remember the Austro Hungarians took a lot of their land in the beginning of the war, and remember Austro Hungary was arguably the worst army in the war, and then again Spain might have had a threat to them if Italy joined the war on the Central powers, so Spain might have joined the allies, and if they attacked Russia and Serbia first, then France would have had a chance to attack Germany, and France could have done more damage, and without Germany going in through Belgium then the western front couldn't have been formed, so then maybe the trenches would not have been formed, this would be a huge difference in the war, and it might have also saw Great Britain not joining the war, since Germany would not have went in through Belgium. Britain may have joined later.

Very speculative situation.
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by Cold War Communist on Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:11 am

The trenches were coming whether armies liked it or not. WWI was infantry to the maximum, before any other form of warfare started to play a serious role in the battlefield. So as far as the western front goes, Belgium or no Belgium, Russia first or not, trenches were coming.

I agree that the U.K. and Belgium would have entered the war later, though.
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by Mr Trolldemort on Sat Aug 05, 2017 1:52 pm

Cold War Communist wrote:The trenches were coming whether armies liked it or not. WWI was infantry to the maximum, before any other form of warfare started to play a serious role in the battlefield. So as far as the western front goes, Belgium or no Belgium, Russia first or not, trenches were coming.

I agree that the U.K. and Belgium would have entered the war later, though.

Just out of curiosity, why would Belgium want to join the war. They officially proclaimed neutrality in our timeline and I doubt they would want to join the war against one of 2 much larger and powerful countries than themselves. Totally agree with the rest of your post though.
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

Post by Cold War Communist on Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:00 pm

Mr Trolldemort wrote:
Cold War Communist wrote:The trenches were coming whether armies liked it or not. WWI was infantry to the maximum, before any other form of warfare started to play a serious role in the battlefield. So as far as the western front goes, Belgium or no Belgium, Russia first or not, trenches were coming.

I agree that the U.K. and Belgium would have entered the war later, though.

Just out of curiosity, why would Belgium want to join the war.  They officially proclaimed neutrality in our timeline and I doubt they would want to join the war against one of 2 much larger and powerful countries than themselves.  Totally agree with the rest of your post though.

I am assuming that neither France nor Germany could avoid moving through Belgian territory for long. There is too much benefit to be had to moving North in a flanking maneuver. Either the U.K. and Belgium would give France permission to prevent a German invasion, or Germany would try to outflank France once the front bogged down.
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Re: What if Germany had done the Schlieffenplan in reverse, attacking Russia & Serbia first, thus getting Italy on their side, and not attacking Belgium?

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