Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

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Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by Futurist » 19 Oct 2020 03:26

Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh? This isn't an alternate history question, just a regular question for discussion.

The Communist rule in East Germany should not have occurred, but short of preventing the Soviet Union from occupying a part of Germany, this wasn't going to get avoided. There was the Stalin Note in 1952, but that would have meant getting 3/4ths of Germany to exit the Western orbit--and I don't think that Westerners, possibly including pro-Western Germans, actually wanted that.

The post-WWII territorial losses for Germany were certainly severe, but at the same time, the current Polish-German border actually makes sense due to it being based on a river and thus being great for defense and also due to the fact that it eliminated the East Prussian, Pomeranian, and Silesian salients and thus made the borders between Germany, Poland, and Czechia much smoother. Nowadays Poland has a long border with Czechia whereas the continued existence of a hypothetical German Silesian salient would have made the Polish-Czech border much shorter--which isn't exactly great for having the Poles and Czechs coordinate defense in the extremely unlikely event that Germany will ever actually decide to go rogue again and go on another conquering spree.

Anyway, what do you personally think about this topic and about my question here?

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by Futurist » 19 Oct 2020 03:31

Just take a look at the very neat borders in that part of the world right now:

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Rai ... _335692890

Image

Versus 1938:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... AL_MAP.svg

Image

The German-Polish border was much longer back then and also Silesia largely separated Poland from the Czech part of Czechoslovakia back then. Not an ideal solution for either the Poles or the Czechs!

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by Futurist » 03 Nov 2020 01:30

@wm @gebhk @Steve: Any thoughts on this?

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by Sheldrake » 03 Nov 2020 12:42

I'll bite.

Too harsh? German aggression triggered WW2 costing tens of millions of lives in Europe. The settlement after the last blood letting - also triggered, for my country, by the German invasion of Neutral Belgium did not end well.

The settlement was dictated by several factors

#1 The desire by all on the UN side to prevent the Germans doing it again.

#2 The political/military reality that the USSR was not going to withdraw and that the US and British had no appetite for a war with the USSR in 1945. It was too soon to turn the electorates from seeing the Red army as the chaps who had done all the fighting under Uncle Joe to the Red Menace.

#3 looking the other way to widespread ethnic cleansing to put the Germans in Germany and Poles in Poland.

It was a drastic solution but seems to have worked. There hasn't been a European war between states for 75 years. Prussian militarism has gone. Germany is still the strongest economy in Europe, but within a peaceful framework of shared sovereignty.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by OpanaPointer » 03 Nov 2020 13:22

I think they're lucky to be speaking German right now. (I've been to Germany many times, usually in October for some unknown reason.)
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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by wm » 03 Nov 2020 20:34

Futurist wrote:
19 Oct 2020 03:26
The post-WWII territorial losses for Germany were certainly severe, but at the same time, the current Polish-German border actually makes sense due to it being based on a river and thus being great for defense and also due to the fact that it eliminated the East Prussian, Pomeranian, and Silesian salients and thus made the borders between Germany, Poland, and Czechia much smoother.
That's rather irrelevant. If their GDP is 5 times higher and they spend your entire GDP on armaments, they will destroy you despite a river and nice borders. You can't stop so overwhelming advantage with rivers.

But if you're strong the salients become their weaknesses. Similarly, Czechoslovakia was called a dagger thrust into Germany's heart. The map shows why.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by gebhk » 04 Nov 2020 12:21

But if you're strong the salients become their weaknesses. Similarly, Czechoslovakia was called a dagger thrust into Germany's heart. The map shows why.
You have hit the nub of the matter on the head - and the map also indicates why a Polish-Czechoslovak alliance was so important. The 'German corridor' between the two countries poses exactly the same dilemma to German planning in such a scenario as the Polish corridor did to the Poles in reality.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by Futurist » 04 Nov 2020 23:25

wm wrote:
03 Nov 2020 20:34
Futurist wrote:
19 Oct 2020 03:26
The post-WWII territorial losses for Germany were certainly severe, but at the same time, the current Polish-German border actually makes sense due to it being based on a river and thus being great for defense and also due to the fact that it eliminated the East Prussian, Pomeranian, and Silesian salients and thus made the borders between Germany, Poland, and Czechia much smoother.
That's rather irrelevant. If their GDP is 5 times higher and they spend your entire GDP on armaments, they will destroy you despite a river and nice borders. You can't stop so overwhelming advantage with rivers.

But if you're strong the salients become their weaknesses. Similarly, Czechoslovakia was called a dagger thrust into Germany's heart. The map shows why.
Just how much offensive capacity did Czechoslovakia actually have in 1938, though? I thought that Czechoslovakia had great defensive borders but not very good offensive capacity?

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by Futurist » 04 Nov 2020 23:26

gebhk wrote:
04 Nov 2020 12:21
But if you're strong the salients become their weaknesses. Similarly, Czechoslovakia was called a dagger thrust into Germany's heart. The map shows why.
You have hit the nub of the matter on the head - and the map also indicates why a Polish-Czechoslovak alliance was so important. The 'German corridor' between the two countries poses exactly the same dilemma to German planning in such a scenario as the Polish corridor did to the Poles in reality.
Except that it would be much easier for the Germans to liquidate the Polish Corridor through conquest than it would be for a Czechoslovak-Polish alliance to liquidate the Silesian Corridor through conquest, no?

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by Futurist » 04 Nov 2020 23:27

OpanaPointer wrote:
03 Nov 2020 13:22
I think they're lucky to be speaking German right now. (I've been to Germany many times, usually in October for some unknown reason.)
Oktoberfest? ;)

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by gebhk » 05 Nov 2020 03:29

Except that it would be much easier for the Germans to liquidate the Polish Corridor through conquest than it would be for a Czechoslovak-Polish alliance to liquidate the Silesian Corridor through conquest, no?
Yes and no. The German corridor is, for sure, the bigger gamble. If you choose to defend it and loose, you have a hell of a lot more troops up the creek and with a lot further to go to escape the trap.

Furthermore, in defence of the Polish corridor, the Poles would be able to put great pressure on the Eastern jaw of the German envelopment (East Prussia) while the Germans would be less able to do so at the other end... In any war with Germany, a primary aim of Polish strategy would have been to annihilate East Prussia and this was, on balance, I think do-able.

If there had been a Polish-Czechoslovak alliance, then I suspect it would not have allowed the Anschluss and gone to war over the issue. An interesting scenario, even more so if you assume both countries had the sense to combine their resources from the outset. In many ways, militarily, the two countries complemented each other very well.

Why do you think the Czechoslovak army had a low offensive capability?

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by OpanaPointer » 05 Nov 2020 03:56

Futurist wrote:
04 Nov 2020 23:27
OpanaPointer wrote:
03 Nov 2020 13:22
I think they're lucky to be speaking German right now. (I've been to Germany many times, usually in October for some unknown reason.)
Oktoberfest? ;)
Incidentally. I was the US representative on the Special Services Tour Bus for a few years. Counted head off and heads back on. If the tally didn't match I called the appropriate number on a list I carried.
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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by wm » 05 Nov 2020 10:05

Futurist wrote:
04 Nov 2020 23:26
Except that it would be much easier for the Germans to liquidate the Polish Corridor through conquest than it would be for a Czechoslovak-Polish alliance to liquidate the Silesian Corridor through conquest, no?
Poland didn't intend to defend the corridor (similarly Czechoslovakia didn't intend to defend Czechia) so that's not a problem.

In modern war you maneuver, you attack - pure defense is your last, desperate resort.
Last edited by wm on 05 Nov 2020 10:11, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by wm » 05 Nov 2020 10:10

OpanaPointer wrote:
05 Nov 2020 03:56
Incidentally. I was the US representative on the Special Services Tour Bus for a few years. Counted head off and heads back on. If the tally didn't match I called the appropriate number on a list I carried.
That's the reason all armies, seen from the outside, seems to be so perfect.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by OpanaPointer » 05 Nov 2020 13:40

"Then there was reville, when the sounds of snoring were replaced by farting, groaning, and low volume cursing." (From memory, no clue where the original was.)
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