Battle of Paris Begins
by Jeff Provine
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Day in Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this
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By September 9th 1914,
the opening battles of the World War had been sweeping victories for the
German offensive. As they pressed past the Marne in early September, the
British Expeditionary Force and the French Army fell back in covered
retreats. Several of the German army commanders began to swerve to the
southeast in pursuit of the Allies, but Chief of Staff Hulmuth von Moltke
pushed them to aim directly for the war's goal: Paris.
"The Americans would have hustled earlier than
1917, the war would certainly be more of a legacy at least for the
Americans than a mere forgotten war, and perhaps Germany's attention would
have been focused more on political unity post WWI." - reader's commentKeeping
lines tight, the Germans held the Eastern Flank and pressed west. The
Allies launched a massive counter-attack on September 6 directly for
General von Kluck's First Army. For two days, the Germans held and
slaughtered oncoming Allied troops. On the 9th, the tide of battle turned,
and von Kluck led fresh reinforcements in the press into Paris.
"Hmm...maybe this could have been 'the war to end
all wars', at least in Europe. Unless Hitler somehow reunites Germany in
the 30s or 40s. " - reader's commentThe week-long battle of Paris
would lead to hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides with
bloody and unpredictable urban warfare. The French government would flee
along with many of the civilians to Orleans, protected by French soldiers
ferried by the famous Parisian taxicabs as they had been since the days of
the Marne. Once Paris was taken on the 17th, the Germans assumed the
French would call for armistice as they had in the Franco-Prussian War.
However, seeing German troops in Paris only caused French nationalism to
soar and thousands new soldiers to surge to the battlefield.
"Talk about "Be careful what you wish for..."" -
reader's commentAs the German advance ended, a Race to the Sea
began with battles and trenches moving northward through France until
reaching Amiens and then following the Somme to the English Channel. By
winter, the Germans had secured Belgium and both sides sat down for a
stalemate. While the Allies calculated their moves in the spring, the
Kaiser pondered the fact that the French had not surrendered as he had
anticipated. Battles had been extremely costly on both sides, and he did
not want to see Germany weakened by years of fruitless warfare. When
consulting Moltke, the Chief of Staff told Wilhelm, "Your Majesty, this
war cannot be won".
Wilhelm flew into a rage and fired Moltke for his lack of faith in
Germany. He charged his replacement, von Falkenhayn, with determining a
way to win the war. Falkenhayn battled with Generals Hindenburg and
Ludendorff, eventually concocting a plan for a war of attrition. Recalling
Moltke's warnings, Wilhelm rejected the plan.
"I've often wondered why the Allies let Germany
stay in one piece in 1918...the German Empire was very new then and quite
a few people remembered when large chunks of it had been independent
countries, like Bavaria" - reader's commentThe new German plan
called for a defense in the West, using the new notions of trench warfare
to keep the French and British at bay as well as combating numerous
amphibious assaults on Belgian beaches. Falkenhayn conceded to the idea of
pushing east, and the majority of the offense would be against Russia in
1915. Suffering terrible casualties, Russia would erupt into revolution
and drop out of the war in 1916. Now turning back to focus on the Western
Front, the Germans worked to break the British blockade, but their actions
would only result in attacks upon American citizens, drawing the United
States into the war.
In a massive Allied landing, Belgian liberation began and many of the
German lines found themselves surrounded. The war turned against the
Germans quickly, and American and British troops marched onto German soil
while the French held much of their army in the trenches. Reeling, the
German empire collapsed. At the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, the Allies
would break up Germany into small states like they broke up the Austrian
and Ottoman Empires.
says in reality, in the First and Second Armies of Germany did swing
southeast, allowing the Allies to launch a successful push in the Battle of
the Marne. Von Kluck moved the First army in a swinging defense, but the
action formed a massive gap that the British Expeditionary Force and the
French exploited. Moltke saw the disaster and broke down, retiring from the
army and dying of ill health just two years later. Wilhelm believed the war
was still winnable (even declaring victory in 1916), and his commander
Falkenhayn began the battle plans for a war of attrition that would
ultimately end with the surrender of Germany.
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Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
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