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  1. #61
    In my opinion, the German Army was the best fighting machine of the First World War, at least in the beginning. At 1914, the German Army made it's business being the best army it could possibly be. Even though every other country did the same, Germany was arguably the most successful.

    At the start of the war, (I.E. The Summer of 1914) the German Army had the best equipment--The most machine guns , lorries, hand grenades, etc etc. Even the German uniform was superior to some it's counterparts--Especially the French (whom still insisted on wearing bright red trousers and blue coats to battle.) With the obvious exception of Russia, the German Army was also the largest at the start of the war. Being able to call up about 6,000,000 million soldiers; which was more than any other individual power could muster (Again, with the obvious exception of Russia.)

    Still, Germany's success in the first phases of the First World War was it's tactics, not just it's equipment. Although every country expected war, only Germany had the best concrete plan (Even the French Plan XVII was rudimental at best.) Germany's early strategy was not just the success of the Schifield Plan which brought them just before Paris, but logistics. Germany's railways, especially those built after 1870, were designed with the idea in mind that they will be used for future mobilization. Even the majority of German army garrisons were stationed on the West per the Schifield plan.

    Still, The British B.E.F. was a formidable force. But I honestly favor the Germans because of their better strategy. Pulling the "German strategy card" may be a little cliche. But it's true. The poor British strategies in the Somme, Flanders, the Dardanelles and even it's blunders in Africa come to mind. Britain's real superiority came through with it's navy, who managed to keep the German navy in port for almost the entirety of war.

    Unfortunately, World War One was a slaughter fest. Being the best army in such an era wasn't much of an achievement--It should be obvious why. "As good as the Germans were" or anyone else for that matter, World War One in the Western Front was a bloody stalemate until the very last months. Because of this, the top 3 or 4 armies in the time periods were able to stave each other off because of trenches, poor tactics and machine guns. So, in my opinion, it isn't really "who was the best" but "who was the worst" which becomes a better question.

    But I digress. Again and in summary, my beliefs that the German Imperial Army was the best because of equipment, tactics and logistics.
    Last edited by Dooped; 09-24-2011 at 06:37 PM.
    I came here for the music.



  2. #62
    Quote Originally Posted by Dooped View Post
    In my opinion, the German Army was the best fighting machine of the First World War, at least in the beginning. At 1914, the German Army made it's business being the best army it could possibly be. Even though every other country did the same, Germany was arguably the most successful.

    At the start of the war, (I.E. The Summer of 1914) the German Army had the best equipment--The most machine guns , lorries, hand grenades, etc etc. Even the German uniform was superior to some it's counterparts--Especially the French (whom still insisted on wearing bright red trousers and blue coats to battle.) With the obvious exception of Russia, the German Army was also the largest at the start of the war. Being able to call up about 6,000,000 million soldiers; which was more than any other individual power could muster (Again, with the obvious exception of Russia.)

    Still, Germany's success in the first phases of the First World War was it's tactics, not just it's equipment. Although every country expected war, only Germany had the best concrete plan (Even the French Plan XVII was rudimental at best.) Germany's early strategy was not just the success of the Schifield Plan which brought them just before Paris, but logistics. Germany's railways, especially those built after 1870, were designed with the idea in mind that they will be used for future mobilization. Even the majority of German army garrisons were stationed on the West per the Schifield plan.

    Still, The British B.E.F. was a formidable force. But I honestly favor the Germans because of their better strategy. Pulling the "German strategy card" may be a little cliche. But it's true. The poor British strategies in the Somme, Flanders, the Dardanelles and even it's blunders in Africa come to mind. Britain's real superiority came through with it's navy, who managed to keep the German navy in port for almost the entirety of war.

    Unfortunately, World War One was a slaughter fest. Being the best army in such an era wasn't much of an achievement--It should be obvious why. "As good as the Germans were" or anyone else for that matter, World War One in the Western Front was a bloody stalemate until the very last months. Because of this, the top 3 or 4 armies in the time periods were able to stave each other off because of trenches, poor tactics and machine guns. So, in my opinion, it isn't really "who was the best" but "who was the worst" which becomes a better question.

    But I digress. Again and in summary, my beliefs that the German Imperial Army was the best because of equipment, tactics and logistics.
    A long post that I read, and enjoyed. Awesomesauce
    BlAcK hOlEs

    Quote Originally Posted by Baron von Münchhausen View Post
    Sithere is correct


  3. #63
    German strategy at the start of WW1 was terrible, and went from bad to worse. The Schliefen plan was hopeless, both in military and political terms. I disagree with practically everything Dooped says above, which is pretty much the "cartoon" version of WW1. Things ebbed and flowed in terms of capability. I'd rate the BEF as the best, man for man, but it was small and didn't last. By the end of the war, the British and French were unbeatable, having learned their lessons, and the Germans were a shambles.

  4. #64
    Quote Originally Posted by vathek View Post
    German strategy at the start of WW1 was terrible, and went from bad to worse. The Schliefen plan was hopeless, both in military and political terms. I disagree with practically everything Dooped says above, which is pretty much the "cartoon" version of WW1. Things ebbed and flowed in terms of capability. I'd rate the BEF as the best, man for man, but it was small and didn't last. By the end of the war, the British and French were unbeatable, having learned their lessons, and the Germans were a shambles.
    I can appreciate your opinion, especially given the nature of the war. (My own opinion comes from many of the books in which I read on the subject, all which point to German tactical superiority. )

    Still, I believe German strategy was pretty solid. At least, it was probably the best given their position. Germany was virtually alone in the first world war, especially the Western Front. Thus, their first strategy was to knock out France before Britain could reasonably get involved and then move to the Russians. Enter the Schifiled Plan, which outline the swiftest way to achieve this goal. At any rate, if Germany were to win the First World War, they would've have to win it in 1914 or by mid 1915. They didn't. And so, they lost the war of attrition. Finally, Germany did not "learn their lessons" any slower than the British + French. German tactics in the spring 1918 offensive were impressive and they made smart implentations of infiltration.

    If anything the British and French learned from the Germans. The final pushes of the allies in 1918 were because of creeping barrages and infiltration--Tactics developed by the Germans and in particular, General Hutier.

    Even if you disagree about Germany's ability, you at least have to admire how long they hold off the Entente and inflicted superior losses against their enemy.

    I hope to hear more of your opinion, Vathek. No debate thread is fun with everyone agreeing with one another.
    Last edited by Dooped; 09-25-2011 at 01:00 AM.
    I came here for the music.



  5. #65
    Cool, I like a good argument too

    The problem with the Schliefen is that it didn't - and couldn't work. The German high command at start knew that, which is why Moltke was a nervous wreck. By whacking Belgium, it guaranteed British (and therefore, eventually, US) entry. With no quick knock-out, Germany was basically doomed, as you say. Germany throughout the war made smart-arse tactical choices (other being submarines, gas, Russia) which just led to strategic defeat. The Spring 1918 tactics were just one of many such bad short-term choices. Ludendorf was out of his depth, and God only knows what his strategic plan was. The German army capability was flattered by being on the defensive in the west. But while they were sitting in their bunkers, the Allies were developing techniques like microphone ranging and, indeed, tanks. I will say nothing about the almost totally lamentable German efforts at naval warfare or diplomacy.

    Check out David Stevenson, who has done an excellent short history http://www.amazon.co.uk/1914-1918-Hi...tt_at_ep_dpt_1
    Last edited by vathek; 09-25-2011 at 02:12 AM.

  6. #66
    Indeed, Germany fought a doomed war past 1914. I am under the opinion that the Schifield could've worked, but it didn't work because of multiple reasons (such as the Belgian forts holding longer than they, theoretically, should've.) Submarine warfare was a doomed race to starve Britain before the US got involved and the idea of bleeding France "White" was not the smartest of strategies.

    But still, when you compare it to the strategies and plans of their enemies? And then compare their fighting ideology?

    The British Generals were more often than not, hopeslessly romantic. Expecting sheer numbers and artillery fire to grant victory. (The Somme comes to mind.) Generals like Douglas Haig made sure that WW1 remained a living hell for the UK. The failure at Gallipoli, too, makes me wonder how that was ever approved.

    The French, with their outdated rifles and ideology, expected to fight a war on the offensive. At all times. The French believed in the offensive spirit until the end of the war, even though they were fighting a--theoretical--defensive war. The French often walked gladly into German traps (Verdun) hoping for a good fight.

    The Russians, Italians, Turks and Austro-Hungarians aren't really contenders for the top spot. So I hope you don't mind if I skip them.

    Germany's tactics, although goofy by today's standards, were the best for their situation and more often than not, superior than their enemy; even if slight. Add in their logistical cabability, numbers and equipment and you have the most superior individual army of the first world war.

    (And on a diplomatic note, Germany sought a white peace in 1916, which was shot down by the allies. Granted there is little on this note, so I will give you that I don't know how serious this was.)

    And thanks for the book suggestion. I'll take a look.
    I came here for the music.



  7. #67
    I did


    "The evolution of the Communist. Notice the regression of the facial hair. It is a little known fact that Joe Stalin was an early advocate of fake tanning processes."

  8. #68
    I would agree that Germany didn't have much chance after 1914. The problem with the Schliefen was primarily logistical. It wasn't physically possible to cover the distance and keep the troops supplied before the French reserves were able to get into action and counter-attack. And circumstances were about as favourable as possible, with the French wasting much of their strength in futile attacks in the south.

    It is fashionable to make fun of British generals, but the problem was the nature of warfare during most of 1914-18, rather than unusually low quality generalship. Moltke, Falkenhayn and Ludendorf on the German side were also failure. And if Haig gets the blame for the Somme and Ypres, he should also get credit for the highly successful 100 Days offensive that ended the war in cooperation with the French.

    I would say that the biggest German advantage was population base and birthrate. German training and doctrine were good at the lower levels, and staff-work was high quality, but artillery knows not the quality of its target. And I would say that by 1917 the French and British training and doctrine had caught up with, and in some ways surpassed, that of the Germans; meanwhile the Americans were still stuck with the outdated ideas of 1914.

    So I would put the German army as a military tool a little ahead of the British in the early and mid war, with the French a little behind, the Russians and Austro-Hungarians significantly less capable, and the Turks and Italians and other odds and sods well down at the bottom. By 1917, I think the British and French were at least as capable as the Germans, and by 1918 they were better.

    The various German peace initiatives were deeply insincere, and all required keeping large territorial gains. Indeed even after the Armistice the German delegation to the peace conference was still deluding itself it could keep captured lands. Not unreasonably, the British and French saw little merit in accepting this sort of deal. Margaret MacMillan's 'The Peacemakers' is good on this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Peacemakers-.../dp/0719562376

  9. #69
    mmmmm

    germany ....but we know

    france and england have a many Colonies
    i think that give him the Preference
    victory or fighting to the end

  10. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by samincosh View Post
    mmmmm

    germany ....but we know

    france and england have a many Colonies
    i think that give him the Preference
    The German Empire was not without colonies either, they had impressive holdings in Africa and Asia. Although Britain and France had more colonies and protectorates, their economical benefits were still not impressive enough to warrant any real economic advantage of the German Empire. The German Empire was a much larger economic power than France, and only Britain remained a close second to Germany in many production areas and infrastructure (Germany had more railways than Britain and France individually, produced more Iron, etc). (The US naturally dwarfed all the above.)

    Admittedly, I do not know much about colonial soldiers. Still, I imagine the logistical, ethical and language barriers prevented France and Britain from pulling serious numbers of colonial soldiers. These colonial soldiers were likely also reduced to non-combat, reserves and trench digging roles given the unfortunate prejudices of the time. At any rate, given the stalemate nature of the war it is clear that these colonial soldiers gave no clear advantage.

    Britain vs Germany is a noteworthy discussion and is a clear theme in this thread. Thus, I will not elaborate more to prevent redundancy.

    France, however, is a honest goofy suggestion to be more powerful that the German Empire or any other power in any practical means.

    Ever since the fall of Napoleon III and France's humiliating defeat at the Franco-Prussian War, France's prestige and status declined considerably and continued such a path until (if you ask me) the end of WW2. But to point, France declined considerably until the eve of the First World War, where it's Great Power Status was (like many other powers) was almost more of tradition then any real strength.

    Sticking solely to the military (as per thread theme), France's military was sub par to the other powers. Certainly, it was much better off then let's say, Italy or Austria-Hungary; but was weak compared to Britain, France or even Russia. France's Army was crippled by decades of disarray and political embarrassments, such as the Dreyfus Affairs and the affaire des fisches. On top of this, the French Government had little idea of what to even do with their army in the grand scheme of things (Paris even debated copying the Swiss militia philosophy). The French paraded into battle with bright red and blue uniforms, outdated rifles, inferior artillery and the idea that the way to win a battle was with the bayonet.

    Now it can be argued that this was the case with most of the Great Powers in 1914, but in comparison the British and Germans (As they are the only real contenders in the Western Front and per topic) France managed to take it to a new level. Germany had definitely more foresight than the French and better weaponry/tactics (There is a reason Germany managed to capture most of France's populated and industrial regions within weeks). Britain, too, had more experience (The Boer War), better weaponry and an outstanding navy.

    Truly, France did eventually WW1 but probably on the backs of the British navy and the great distraction that was Russia. But to be fair, France held off the Germans and their enemy long enough to win the war and had probably the most impressive fighting spirit.
    I came here for the music.



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