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Thread: Austro-Prussian war

  1. #21
    About the idea of ditching A-H in favor for Russia: Since france was expected to be fought and hostile a couple of years down the road, antagonizing A-H would have put germany in russia´s pocket (sort of like ditching russia had later put germany into austria´s pocket, IRL). And since unified small germany (sans austria) was all bismarck aimed for, he had nothing he wanted to gain, by getting closer to russia and ditching austria. After the unification has been completed, maintaining the status quo was all bismarck´s germany wanted. Ditching any of the two eastern powers would have made that close to impossible, as this would a) give revanchist france an ally in germany´s back, and b) made an attempt by the remaining eastern friend to tip the balance between the three in his favor with german aid much more likely.

    All this is actually demonstrated by the events after Bismarck´s retirement. After the treaty with russia expired, austria tried to improve its position on the balcans and russia promptly allied with france. Since austria was germany´s last ally, it had little choice but to back them (or so they thought). So especially in retrospective, Bismarck´s move not to crush ausria must seem a good one.

    Speculative course of events, had Bismarck crushed and more or less dissolved austria: Totally dependant on russian friendship, the empire would be forced to let pan-slavism go rampant on the balcans, under constant russian threat to slip of into france´s hand, should the germans oppose. Wether germany would have been able to draw its head out of this noose in time by allying with maybe turkey and italy is an open question. Once russia would have everything they wanted, they´d still ally with france, to remove the german threat of revisioning their gains, possibly ending (back to particularism) the empire in the war to come.
    Last edited by Jazumir; 30-03-2012 at 11:40.

  2. #22
    Steady hand in uncertain times Demi Moderator RedRalphWiggum's Avatar

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    Just a follow-up though: what if Bismarck had applied this same principle to france, and not taken Alsace Lorraine? Maybe taken some colonies instead? Could the mutual hostility that existed for the next 70-odd years have been prevented?

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathan07 View Post
    60 years later though, the Poles considered it important enough to make common cause with Hitler, issuing Czechoslovakia with a 24-hour ultimatum demanding the cession of Teschen (then: Cieszyn / Těšín) two days after the Czechs signed the Munich accords.
    The Czechs did the same in 1920 when Poland was facing Bolshevik invasion.The whole area was to be subjected to a plebiscite and Czechs were fully aware that they would lose it.
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  4. #24
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    REading the comment, one has the impression that the Prussian campaign was a walk in a park. It was not.. While Prussia was obviously clearly leading, Austria was not in so bad a situation that a long, long continuation of the war was not a threat for Prussia. It is likely that the threat of a crippling peace (like taking Bohemia) would have pushed Austria into resisting until the end.

    Moreover, the longer the conflict, the more chance France and Russia would get involved in the peace negotiation, especially if Prussia threatened to take a large chunk of Austrian territory, thus disrupting heavily the balance of power.

    On the side of Prussia, in addition to what was already mentionned, Prussia wanted to keep Austria fairly strong (well, not TOO weak) in order to keep Russia in check in the Balkans.

    Finally, Bismark did not want to tale Alsace-Lorraine from France, but the issue was forced by Moltke (among others), who felt they had been cheated in the Austrian peace treaty.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narwhal View Post
    REading the comment, one has the impression that the Prussian campaign was a walk in a park. It was not.. While Prussia was obviously clearly leading, Austria was not in so bad a situation that a long, long continuation of the war was not a threat for Prussia. It is likely that the threat of a crippling peace (like taking Bohemia) would have pushed Austria into resisting until the end.

    Moreover, the longer the conflict, the more chance France and Russia would get involved in the peace negotiation, especially if Prussia threatened to take a large chunk of Austrian territory, thus disrupting heavily the balance of power.

    On the side of Prussia, in addition to what was already mentionned, Prussia wanted to keep Austria fairly strong (well, not TOO weak) in order to keep Russia in check in the Balkans.

    Finally, Bismark did not want to tale Alsace-Lorraine from France, but the issue was forced by Moltke (among others), who felt they had been cheated in the Austrian peace treaty.
    The war was certainly not a walk in the park, the Prussians suffered heavy casualties too. But they won the war very quickly. The Prussians had destroyed (not just beaten) the armies of almost all of Austria's allies, and the Austrian army itself was totally shattered. The road to Vienna was open - had King Wilhelm gotten his way, he would have been in Vienna maybe three weeks after the Königgrätz battle.

    The Austrians might have tried to rally forces on the western and eastern flanks of the Prussian advance, but those forces would have little in the way of a base of operations, and would themselves come into danger of being pinned down and destroyed, should the Prussians rearrange their armies in central Germany to advance across the Bavarian or Thuringian border into Bohemia. The Austrians might hold Prague and Linz, but what use is that when the Prussians are marching down the main highway from Brno to Vienna? There were no forces to the east of the Prussian road of advance, that could have threatened them before they reached Vienna.

    The Austrians had piled pretty much their entire available army into Königgrätz, and been beaten soundly. Their Italian army had been victorious against the Piedmontese, but they would likely not be able to wheel around and save Vienna, especially since the Piedmontese were, despite being beaten in battle, still in the war, and would have tried to press another offensive. The Austrians would be forced to scrape up whatever rural militias they could find or form on short notice, to bolster their beaten regiments, if they wanted to give another battle before yielding Vienna. That last reserve would likely also be beaten by the Prussians, who would have numerical superiority and better organisation, not to mention that their army would still be intact, while the Austrian army would be a hodgepodge of scattered forces and inadequate militias.

    Austria was quite literally on the edge of an abyss... if the Prussians seized Vienna, that would be an enormous blow to the Habsburg monarchy. They could raise any sort of unrest in the Hungarian lands, which still chafed under Austrian repression. The monarchy itself would be in danger, if the war was to continue. I doubt they would choose resistance until the end, if the Prussians offered them a choice of surrendering Bohemia or continued war. Sure, they could beg Napoleon III for help, but what sort of concessions would he demand? And if the French declared war, what would the suddenly hard-pressed Prussians do to quickly end the Austrian front? They'd likely arm the Hungarian rebels, and hope they finish off the Habsburg monarchy once and for all, so the Prussian armies can wheel around and defend the Rhine.

  6. #26
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    Yup, Hungary is an often ignored playser in such hypothetical situations. Remember, before the entry of the russians, the 1848-49 war looked at least as a WP stalemate for Hungary.


    Which brinhgs us to the biggest wild card: Russia. How would Russia react to the de facto dismemberment of Austria? Would the huge open filed of the Balkans offset losing one of the stabilising forces of the region?

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbert West View Post
    Yup, Hungary is an often ignored playser in such hypothetical situations. Remember, before the entry of the russians, the 1848-49 war looked at least as a WP stalemate for Hungary.


    Which brinhgs us to the biggest wild card: Russia. How would Russia react to the de facto dismemberment of Austria? Would the huge open filed of the Balkans offset losing one of the stabilising forces of the region?
    I can't say with any authority, but I would imagine they would have been happy enough. Austrians gone would leave them in a pre-eminent position in the Balkans.

  8. #28
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    OTOH, the fall of Austria might just open up the balkan powderkeg a few years prior. Just imagine, all those pesky little nationalities with lands under russian/ottoman frule getting now free acess to austrian arms (and whoever gets to be their ney lord). Not a pretty sight.

  9. #29
    On a related note, was the "Greater Germany" of a united Germany under the Austrian leadership ever even a remote possibility, or it was a crazy idea with no chances of coming true? When I was reading about it, it was presented as the alternative to a Prussia-centered "Small Germany", but I really have troubles picturing Austria annexing Prussia, and other powers allowing a gigantical blob from the North sea to the Balkans to form.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbert West View Post
    OTOH, the fall of Austria might just open up the balkan powderkeg a few years prior. Just imagine, all those pesky little nationalities with lands under russian/ottoman frule getting now free acess to austrian arms (and whoever gets to be their ney lord). Not a pretty sight.
    well I assume in this situaiton the Russians would have had an easier time dismantling the OE; though I suppose there could have been a more generalised fear of nationalism among the GPs. I would expect Serbia to have done well out of the whole thing though along with Romania.

  11. #31
    The only factor that gave Russians a hard time dismantling the OE was called "United Kingdom". Austrian role has never been really determining.

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amallric View Post
    The only factor that gave Russians a hard time dismantling the OE was called "United Kingdom". Austrian role has never been really determining.
    what I mean is that with the Balkans already collapsing, I doubt the UK would have been able to simultaneously deal with the fallout of Austria collapsing and stop Russia taking their share.

  13. #33
    In fact the one to deal with the fallout of Austria collapsing would primarily be Russia, facing one of its primary neighbours being transformed in a chaotic, nationalist hell full of Prussian soldiers, armed revolutionaries, and unclear perspectives. Randomly attacking a bystanding OE to grab lands in this situation makes no sense. Something like this would only happen if some kind of full-scale european war was triggered by the collapse.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbert West View Post
    Which brinhgs us to the biggest wild card: Russia. How would Russia react to the de facto dismemberment of Austria? Would the huge open filed of the Balkans offset losing one of the stabilising forces of the region?
    In Russia there was a huge resentment towards Austria for its stance during the Crimean War. I find it hard to believe that Russia would once again commit its forces to save such an ungrateful neighbor.
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    The Russians would, however, be uneasy at the thought of seeing an ancient monarchy be overthrown, and liberalism / Jacobinism spreading across the multinational Balkan lands. They were running their country based on pretty much the same principles, and wouldn't want that liberalism / Jacobinism wave to extend to Russia proper.

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRalphWiggum View Post
    Just a follow-up though: what if Bismarck had applied this same principle to france, and not taken Alsace Lorraine? Maybe taken some colonies instead? Could the mutual hostility that existed for the next 70-odd years have been prevented?
    There had been little love between France and Prussia between the seven years war and 1871. Wacht am Rhein was written, and there was quite a bit of hostility towards France in Germany. That, combined with economic and demographic weight would have meant that unless some unlikely rapprochement took place, Franco-German relations would have been poor.

    Off course, France, Britain and Russia had poor relations at the time too, but Nappy III had worked to improve Franco-British relations (Crimean war, opium wars, start of the mexican expedition, and the previous Anglo-Franco-Greek war against the turks) to some extent, and there was also some convergence in terms of the political system. It could have impacted on the need for a Franco-Russian alliance, I guess. Though the German weltpolitik was to put it on a collision course with Britain, in any case.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathan07 View Post
    Sure, they could beg Napoleon III for help, but what sort of concessions would he demand? And if the French declared war, what would the suddenly hard-pressed Prussians do to quickly end the Austrian front? They'd likely arm the Hungarian rebels, and hope they finish off the Habsburg monarchy once and for all, so the Prussian armies can wheel around and defend the Rhine.
    When I did my essay on Bismarck's International policy for one of my university courses, I read that Napoleon III, by the time of the war, was already strongly considering invading Prussia. Unfortunately for him, he was caught off-guard by how quickly the Prussians defeated the Austrian coalition and sued for peace.

    His original plan was to let the war drag on, bleed Prussians, Germans and Austrians together, and once the war had dragged long enough, he was going to attack Prussia (Possibly with the intention of taking the Rheinland) and restoring balance in Germany. With that context, if the Habsburgs started making overt diplomatic moves requesting French assistance, then Napoleon would force the Austrians to accept and acquiesce the French conquest of a part of the German Confederation and the fundamental alteration of the German politics with France's entry into the Rheinland, in exchange for French help. So internationally, France would be seen as the saviour of Austria and the guaranteer of the balance of powers in Germany.

    It would have been a tremendous diplomatic and military victory for France if Austria dragged out the war.
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  18. #38
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    I wonder would Germany ever have been unified in that event.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRalphWiggum View Post
    I wonder would Germany ever have been unified in that event.
    As already mentioned, there was longstanding hatred of France throughout Germany, and there is no way that French intervention in German affairs would be regarded positively. French annexation of parts of the Rhineland would drive the German states and their populations absolutely nuts, and be a continuing mobilizing issue for revolutionary movements, public associations and ambitious politicians while it lasts. When coupled with the German lands' exploding population and overall economy overtaking France (which is going to happen anyway), this would most probably just set things up for a second "War of Liberation" against Napoleonic France and eventual unification within a couple of decades.

    The main shift though is that the Germany which is set up may very well be less Prussocentric and a lot more populist and national liberally-orientated than that which was formed historically in 1871.

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRalphWiggum View Post
    It was an uncommonly far-sighted move. I find him fascinating and am about to start his biography. Now that's my type of conservative
    Tying yourself to dead country that dragged you into world war? I'm not sure that's far-sighted.

    (not entirely serious, but still...)
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