What if the First World War ended in a stalemate?
While the Central Powers were caught in the two-front war on the main European arena, the war began to take on global dimensions: the colonial interests of the great powers came to the fore. Above all, this affected the vital interests of the British Empire, which - unlike the other warring parties - had made no territorial claims in Europe itself.
One of Britain's war goals was to curb Germany's colonial aspirations. London planned to take over the German colonies in Africa. Furthermore, territories of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East came into the British perspective, as the United Kingdom wanted to strengthen its position on the Suez Canal. The Turkish sultan was an ally of the Central Powers and traditionally was on good terms with Vienna and Berlin. Both provided arms aid in the conflicts with Great Britain in Palestine and Mesopotamia, with varying degrees of success.
Another area of the front opened up with the naval war between the German and British navies. It escalated here when the Central Powers declared unlimited submarine warfare on February 1, 1917. All merchant ships in the North Atlantic - regardless of whether they are on a military or civilian mission - have been declared the target of German submarine associations. The intention behind this was to paralyze shipping in the Atlantic and to isolate Great Britain economically by cutting off the almost inexhaustible supplies from overseas. This meant a provocation for the USA, which responded in April 1917 by declaring war on Berlin.
Even before it actively intervened in the conflict, the United States made arms and material deliveries for the Western powers, which led to an enormous boost in the American economy. The entry of the war on the part of the Entente powers was based on a fundamental agreement of the war aims and was supported by the appeal to common values of democracy.
When the USA entered the war with its enormous resources, the war in the spring of 1917 took a clear turn in favor of the Western powers.
The decision of the German army command for naval warfare also showed the powerlessness of Emperor Charles I, because his massive objections to this went unheeded. When Karl announced his disapproval of the German plans at an audience in Vienna at the end of January 1917 and refused to approve the German Grand Admiral von Holtzendorf, the answer he received was that this was not necessary because the submarine war was already a decided matter. For Karl this was a humiliating experience that revealed his powerlessness.
Bihl, Wolfdieter: The First World War 1914–1918. Chronicle - data - facts, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2010
Hamann, Brigitte: The First World War. Truth and Lies in Pictures and Texts, 2nd edition, Munich 2009
Hanisch, Ernst: The long shadow of the state. Austrian history of society in the 20th century [Austrian history 1890–1990, ed. by Herwig Wolfram], Vienna 2005
Hirschfeld, Gerhard / Krumeich, Gerd / Renz, Irina (eds.): Encyclopedia First World War. Updated and expanded study edition, Paderborn / Vienna [among others] 2009
Leidinger Hannes / Moritz, Verena: The First World War, Vienna [among others] 2011
Rauchsteiner, Manfried: The First World War and the end of the Habsburg Monarchy 1914–1918, Vienna and others. 2013
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