Consider the following scenario: you are sent back in time some number of years before the beginning of WWI, with the goal of preventing the war. This includes preventing similar wars that happen slightly earlier or slightly later - you are aiming for a peaceful, stable coexistence between the European powers. Unsophisticated strategies like warning The Archduke against going to Sarajevo may simply result in another similar casus belli happening.

To prevent silly strategies, minor details of the world you are sent to will be changed, so dates and names may differ very slightly, but the overall WWI path will unfold almost exactly as it did in our timeline.

Furthermore, you carry some evidence of extraordinary status that is credible to the leaders of WWI nations. They will grant you an audience, but they will not blindly trust you. You may lie to them or tell them the truth.

You don't have detailed designs for post-1914 technology, but you have an ordinary informed layman's understanding of actual history. So you can tell them that nuclear bombs will be invented, but not exactly how, and they may or may not believe you.

Please answer with your strategy for saving Europe from World War I, and why you think it would work (including in the face of likely reactions from the major players)!

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Not the full solution, but some random thoughts:

  • Get in touch with some famous writers, tell them everything, let them write.
  • Tell the leaders that when you bomb cities, the morale of enemy population goes up, not down. (IIRC there were hopes that if you bomb cities enough, people in them will demand that their state surrender to end the war)
  • Does game theory count as "post-1914 technology"?
  • Oh, and you need to stabilise and empower Russia somehow, so that the idea "attack Russia and just defend youself on all other fronts" does not look promising for Central Powers.

Telling the leaders anything like "war will be long and bloody" will not work. They will not believe you, and you have no proof.

The only way I see is to let either side to win without world war, by breaking either Entente or Triple Alliance. Like, if British king or Russan tsar is killed by some French radicals.

Tell the truth about the devastation caused, if possible also to the public.

Germany ought to be more reluctant to attack with the knowledge that they lost hard in another timeline.

Tell them how much better EU-style cooperation is.

Suggest a NATO-style alliance.

If a Great War is started, promise to help the defenders by telling them everything.

My best path for a yes is through the mechanism of Great Britain being very explicit with Germany about their intent to abide by the 1839 Treaty of London.

For context, this is the one where the signatories promise to declare war on whoever invades Belgium, and was Britain's entry point into the war. There were at least some high ranking military officers who believed that had Britain said specifically that they would go to war if Belgium were invaded, Germany would have chosen not to invade.

OK, but if I am roleplaying the German side, I might choose to still start WWI but just not attack through Belgium. I will hold the Western Front with France and attack Russia.

3ryan_b3mo
Indeed you might - in fact I suggested attacking through the French border directly in the other question where we aid Germany/Austria rather than try to prevent the war. The idea of defending against France is an interesting one - the invasion plans called for knocking out France first and Russia second based on the speed with which they expected each country to mobilize, and Russia is much slower to conquer just based on how far everyone has to walk. Do you estimate choosing to face an invasion from France would be worth whatever they gain from Russia, in the thinking of German command? I genuinely don't know anything about Germany's plans for Russia post invasion in the WW1 case, so I cannot tell.
7Roko3mo
Well, it turned out that attacking on The Western Front in WWI was basically impossible. The front barely moved over 4 years, and that was with far more opposing soldiers over a much wider front. So the best strategy for Germany would have been to dig in really deep and just wait for France to exhaust itself. At least that's my take as something of an amateur.
3Lalartu3mo
This is based on assumption that defense is much easier than offense. This is not true, in fact in WWI attacker's and defender's losses were usually close (for example, ~140k vs ~160k KIA at Verdun).
2ryan_b3mo
I like the reasoning on the front, but I disagree. The reason I don't think it holds is because the Western Front as we understand it is what happened after the British Expeditionary Force managed to disrupt the German offensive into France, and the defenses that were deployed were based on the field conditions as they existed. What I am proposing is that initial invasion go directly into the teeth of the untested defenses which were built for the imagined future war (which was over a period of 40 years or so before actual war broke out). I reason these defenses contained all of the mistaken assumptions which the field armies made and learned from in the opening months of the war in our history, but built-in and having no time or flexibility to correct in the face of a general invasion. Even if Britain eventually enters the war, I strongly expect there would be no surprise attack by the expeditionary force during Germany's initial invasion, and so predict the Germans take Paris. That being said, my reasoning does work in reverse and so supports your proposed plan: if we are able to persuade Germany of the historically proven defenses and update them about the true logistical burden, they absolutely could greet the French with a Western Front-grade of defenses on their side of the border. This provides more than enough time to subjugate Russia before mobilization, or perhaps drive them to surrender outright with confirmation that their chief ally is useless. The less aggressive option with France makes the British and US entries into the war even less likely, I'd wager. Frankly, conquering France isn't even a real win condition, it was just what I expected because that's where the invasion went historically. This makes the whole affair look simpler, where Germany and Austria-Hungary are able to prosecute a war on just the Russian and Balkan fronts, it stops being a world war and reduces to a large European war, and they get to exploit the territorial gains going f