What if Germany lost World War I.

Historian Jörg Friedrich on the First World War and why Germany lost it

100 years after the First World War, everyone seems to know what happened in 1914-1918: The Russian Revolution saved Germany from defeat in the East! There was no chance of a compromise peace!

FALSE, says the Berlin historian and book author * Jörg Friedrich (69).

In the BILD interview, he clears up big mistakes about the First World War.

BILD: Mr. Friedrich, you deny that Germany stood out more than others in the First World War through particular atrocities. But what about the gas grenades in the trenches? This terrible weapon was used by Germans - or was it just a mistake?
Friedrich: “It's true, Germany has thrown gas - just like the Allies! The gas war with all its terrible consequences was a kind of desperate act in the deadlocked trench warfare, which, however, caused the fewest deaths compared to artillery and machine guns, not least due to the spread of gas masks. What remains to be said is that all opponents of the war used gas. On the other hand, the British hunger blockade was unique ... "

... the sea blockade in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, during which British ships interrupted all food deliveries to Germany?
Friedrich: “Yes, the entire European continent has been cut off from supplies. This led to civil extermination through starvation with unbelievable consequences: probably more than 1 million starvation deaths in Germany, Austria, Turkey. The average number of calories per day that a German civilian had available in 1917 fell to 1000. "

Less than half what it takes to survive!
Friedrich: “The lack of protein, vitamins and fats hit the weakest of the weak: old people, children, the sick. There was no soap, no medication, no bandages in the hospitals. Tuberculosis and dysentery spread dramatically. The British called their hunger blockade their most effective weapon. The Germans then used them against Leningrad in 1941-43. These are eyesores of civilization. "

Interview with Jörg Friedrich, part 1

Prejudice number 5: The Russian Revolution saved Germany from defeat in the east?
Friedrich: “No, on the contrary! The Russian defeat was sealed at the end of 1916 by the failed offensives of Tsar General Brusilov. 1.5 million Russian soldiers fell or were captured. This defeat triggered the overthrow of the Russian tsar and culminated in the Bolshevik revolution.

The Allies were horrified: Germany had held out a four-front war for almost three years: against the Russians, against Romania, Serbia, Greece and Italy in the south, against England and France by land and sea - and now the longest broke out for them Front away in the east. It would be the ideal time for Germany to reach a compromise peace. Because the Americans were not yet ready for action. "

Yet in 1917 the French and Germans refused to find peace.
Friedrich: “At first the Allies refused to enter into any compromise talks for three years. But in the autumn of 1917 a window opened in France, bled and shaken by mutinies. The French would have left the war if Germany had renounced Alsace-Lorraine, which was conquered by Bismarck in 1871 - from the German point of view a retreat behind old borders and won fronts. "

The emperor couldn't bring himself to that?
Friedrich: “No, despite - or perhaps because of - 700,000 fallen soldiers on both sides. They couldn't have died in vain. So Germany's Kaiser reached for the great victory. And overlooked the fact that he had achieved something where even Napoleon had failed before him: to beat Russia, the largest empire on earth!

The German Reich could have savored this historically unique victory. Wilhelm would only have had to do without a narrow strip of land in the west and would have become the greatest power in Eurasia from the Rhine to the Urals and Siberia. But it's like in football: afterwards, in slow motion, everyone sees the chance to score. Wilhelm did not recognize her. And reaped the very big defeat ... "

The result: the Versailles Peace Treaty, which was to weaken and humiliate Germany for decades. Was that the victor's just vengeance?
Friedrich: “No, mistake number 6! It was just stupid revenge and proved the inability to make a lasting peace. France's Commander-in-Chief Marshal Foch himself admitted that the Versailles Treaty was not a peace, but only an "armistice for 30 years". "

The fearful opponent Germany should economically, financially, milibleeding in a tary manner?
Friedrich: “Yes, but the winners made the fatal mistake of not bringing Russia to the negotiating table.

What came out was only a 20 year truce. And a blueprint for Hitler's war of revenge: Hitler used the treaty as a template to ally himself with neighboring Russia and to mercilessly pursue his goals - the murder of the Jews, war of extermination, world domination. It was not until 1941 when the West and Russia both pinned Hitler's Germany together that the German troops were checkmated. "

In this respect, World War I is not that far away, and therefore without consequences for the world today - mistake number 7?
Friedrich: "Yes. First of all, the war left a Russia in revolutionary fever that is still anti-Western today. Second: a former Austria-Hungarians, whose peoples - Serbs, Croats, Bosnians - are spider enemies to this day. And in the end the war created a Germany that was actually more uncontrollable than before 1914 because it was able to ally itself with Russia. "

Hitler and Stalin took advantage of this opportunity.
Friedrich: "Correct. Without their Hitler-Stalin pact, which sealed the attack on Poland from two sides, World War II would not have been possible from 1939 onwards. In this respect, the fatal shot from Sarajevo went straight through the 20th century, through Stalingrad and Auschwitz, through the conquest of Berlin through the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union ...

And the bullet has not stopped to this day: There is rumbling everywhere in the territories of the opponents of the war at the time: in the Balkans, in the Ottoman Empire between Jews and Arabs, in Russia and its peripheral states up to today's Ukraine.

It all began in 1914, when quite clever statesmen were unable to see into the future and to foresee doom. "

More about the First World War

Suffering and death: These pictures show a completely malnourished girl (8) in Vienna and Italian soldiers killed in the trenches.

Photo: Piper Verlag. Brigitte Hamann The First World War. Truth and lies in pictures and text