The treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918)

Discussion in 'History' started by Undecided, Feb 5, 2004.

  1. Undecided Banned Banned

    I want to start a discussion on the treaty that never was. Just some background, the Czarist Russian Empire was by far the largest power in the world at the time of wars start. In 1913 the Russian empire had a population 156 million people, with a economy that was worth $134 billion*, in comparison to Germany's $237 billion* economy. Russia was at the time not an industrial giant per se, she was mainly a agrarian economy by that time. France had very large interests in Russia since she was the countries largest investor, and they had an alliance btwn the two. By summer 1914 the situation was dire to say the least, the Assignation of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, and with the almost relentless advance of declarations of war prompted WWI. The Russians at first scored victories against the Germans in Prussia, but by the end of Russian involvement of the war the Germans had gone so far as to the Sea of Azov in the South, and Estonia in the north. When the Czar was overthrown, and there was the interim period of political instability, Lenin and the gang declared that they were going to sue for peace with Germany. For Germany this was excellent news, with about a million men on the Eastern front being freed up so they could concentrate of the Western front, and re-vitalize advances against the Franco-Anglo alliance. The Germans, Austro-Hungarians, Ottomans, and Bulgarians were on what was called the "Quadruple Alliance” and Russia a defeated power in the midst of a civil war on the other. What interested me were the territorial concessions of the Russians to the Germans, and Austrio-Hungarians:

    Which I found to be very interesting, let's look at this within contest. Here is a map of the lands that were supposed to secceded to the Alliance:


    The area in the light orange would be annexed to the alliance powers. Now let's deal with the area in Europe first:

    For a time after the war ended, and the after the treaty of Versailles the Ukraine was an independent state, and many states in the Caucasus as well. They were re-absorbed back into the new USSR, but it does indicate to me that there was at least some seriousness behind this. Now the first part of the quote speaks of the Ukraine, I personally believe that Germany would not respect Ukraine’s right to be independent. Rather you would have seen one of three things imo:

    i) A totally absorbed Ukraine into Germany, and Austria-Hungary.
    ii) Partial absorption.
    iii) Ukraine imperialized into a customs union with Germany.

    Germany could not have given up on such a prize that was the Ukraine, a large able workforce, on the most productive land in Europe. The Ukraine would have easily supplied Germany with most if not all of its basic grain needs, and even exportation of grains for income. Also Germany would gain vital Black Sea ports, which would challenge any Russian influence left there, and block British attempts to secure trade in that region, it would have made Romania either collapse, or would make Romania into a part of the Austrian empire, or part of the custom union. It would have allowed Bulgaria to imperialize parts of Romania, and would have given Bulgaria the impetus to take over Macedonia. With the Austrian forces all but defeated at the time, if the treaty lasted long enough, possibly a re-invigorated offence in the Balkans could have stifled Serbia, and Greece.

    - About the Baltic States, the Germans IMO would no doubt absorb those states into Germany. They would simply be the extension of Prussia, allowing Germany to finally end the Russian naval menace in the Baltic, allowing very easily blocking the Gulf of Finland, and could easily starve Petrograd into submission, in any future military action.

    - Finland it would seem would be spared from German domination, but it would still be subject to a German customs union. It would serve as a front to check Russian influence on the Baltic, and Scandinavia.

    As seen in this portion of the treaty the Germans wanted the Russians to become inept in terms of her naval power. Russia's naval power was not a big aspect of her involvement in either WWI, or II. But still Russia's potential naval strength, combined with British would have seriously hampered German hegemony. In order to secure safe trade and the customs union Germany would have had to secure the Baltic and the Black seas. Also it had to secure that her allies, principally the Ottomans would be safe from further Russian aggression in the future. It is obvious that the Germans were interested in one major thing, trade and commerce.

    Outside Europe Russia also had to concede more land:

    The Ottomans would be freed from Russian forces in her Western flank which was at the time collapsing. Also it seems by the map presented that the Southern Caucasus' would have been annexed to the Ottoman Empire. This would only further secure the Alliances power, and security.

    Also Russia's zones of influence which she shared with the British since 1907 in both Persia (Iran) and Afghanistan would be given up.

    The treaty if implemented would have made Germany the preeminent world power that would easily crush the French and Italian forces. It would have saved the fledging Ottoman and Austrian empires that were in deadly need of a face saving victory. Germany would have a solid customs union in the centre of Europe which would allow Germany a great amount sway. Russia would be tamed into a corner, and would have lost its great power status. I but it is possible that the Soviet economy would have benefited from a huge industrial power who would have still needed to import large amounts of minerals and other natural resources. The problem would arise on the minority populations of Eastern Europe, would they still allow themselves to live under Germanic rule? In the Ottoman Empire, by this time the war was lost to the Arabs and the Ottoman Empire couldn't really wage a counter-offensive against the Arab-British advance. Although at the end it is still questionable if the Germans could have won in the Western Front, but this is assuming that the West would somehow been pacified in Germany's favour. There are theories on what would happen on Germany's Western Front, but that's another thread.

    The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, a treaty that never was.

    *million 1990 International Geary-Khamis dollars

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