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The Contender
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Germany Could Have Won World War I

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 7/17/2016 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 723 times Debate No: 93370
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (23)
Votes (2)




Full Resolution

Germany could have won WWI.

Debate Type

This is meant to be a historical war debate. As such, the following rules apply:

1. The only weapons that may be used are weapons made before the time under consideration. If a weapon was developed in the middle of the war in question, it may not be used until the time it was created.
2. While war is extremely complicated to analyze, debaters must make the best attempt possible at recreating all of the conditions. This means that all decisions must take into account morale, supplies, transportation time, cost, etc...
3. The capability of the generals and influence of politicians is incredibly important. As such, no decision can be made that would obviously never happen because of either of these two factors.

Since it is likely that at least a few rules are missing from this list, one final rule, at least for the time being, is that no obvious absurdities outside the scope of the above three rules can be argued for. What constitutes an absurdity can be debated if and when the time comes.


1. No forfeiting.
2. No semantics or trolling.
3. All arguments must be visible inside this debate and character limits cannot be broken. Sources may be posted in the comments or in an outside link.
4. This debate's resolution, rules, and structure can only be debated before you accept this debate. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate.

Voters, in the case of the breaking of any of these rules by either debater, all seven points in voting should be given to the other person.

Debate Structure

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Initial arguments by pro and refutation by con
Round 3: Defense by both sides
Round 4: Defense by both sides


I accept. I want to thank my opponent for being willing to help understand the universe we live in one debate at a time. In particular here with a blast from the past.

Eagerly awaiting my opponent's initial strategy.

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank 42lifeuniverseverything for accepting this debate.

I. A Curtailment of U-Boat Warfare

As is well known, Germany pursued a policy of aggressive U-boat warfare, targeting any merchant ship that sailed within waters it deemed restricted, due to the potential for such ships to trade with its enemies. This was most famously seen in the sinking of the Lusitania, but many other ships were also targeted as a result of such a policy. It became particularly apparent in late 1916 and early 1917, when Germany adopted a policy of unrestricted U-boat warfare, which sunk even more neutral shipping.

The U.S. did not enter the war due to Germany’s first infractions in this manner. It was only when Germany adopted its policy of unrestricted U-boat warfare that the U.S. entered the war. For, as a result of Germany’s new policy, the U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Germany in an attempt to get them to double down. However, Germany refused, and even sent Mexico the Zimmerman telegram, suggesting that Mexico could attack the U.S. with Germany’s support if the U.S. chose to enter WWI. Germany’s refusal to change their U-boat policy and the Zimmerman telegram together all but forced the U.S. to enter WWI on the side of the Triple Entente.[1][2]

But Germany’s policy of unrestricted U-boat warfare did have its benefits. In fact, had the U.S. not entered the war, it is more than possible that the Germans could have caused the British to capitulate as a result. However, due to the U.S’s entry with its vast amount of destroyers and huge production power, German U-boat quickly became a significantly less formidable threat. It obviously failed to cause Britain to surrender. Thus, while unrestricted U-boat warfare was effective against the Triple Entente itself, the introduction of the U.S., as a result of such a policy, prevented it from being effective.[3]

Therefore, one of the things I would have done differently is not adopt a policy of unrestricted U-boat warfare, and the U-boat attacks that would happen would abide by America’s demands that safeguarded its own interests. This would have likely persuaded the U.S. to not enter the war. Sure, this would have destroyed a lot less British shipping, but, as I mentioned, unrestricted U-boat warfare could never have lasted long.

II. The Second Battle of the Marne

As a result of the Russian Revolution, the newly formed Soviet Union withdrew from WWI, causing one entire front for the Germans to be closed, allowing millions of German troops to be stationed to the west. At that time, the Western Front was at a stalemate, and, as a result of the Battles of the Somme and Verdun (which caused over a million German casualties), the stalemate was turning into an advantage for the British and French. These fresh German troops threw the advantage into the hands of the Germans.

The Second Battle of the Marne turned out to be Germany’s last offensive of the war. However, the Germans didn’t know that, and with many fresh troops with high morale, the odds looked to be in Germany’s favor. The battle started off well, as the German’s brushed aside the French forces, but with a combined counteroffensive of British, Italian, and particularly American forces, Germany’s initial successes were reversed, and they finished right back where they started.[4][5]

The American forces were particularly decisive in the battle. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Division was even known as the “Rock of the Marne” afterwards as a result of their stalwart defense of their position. The British and reverse French forces that joined them, while more experienced, were also very exhausted as a result of over three years of continuous warfare, and two days of particularly intense battle beforehand. The American forces, however, were new and untested, and thus had much greater strength and morale. And truth be told, their presence proved decisive in pushing back the Germans.[4][5]

Considering that, under my grand strategy, the U.S. would not have entered the war, it seems likely that my strategy would give the Germans a decisive victory here. Even though none of the Germans’ direct objectives at the Second Battle of the Marne were the capitulation of France, a German victory at the Second Battle of the Marne would certainly have gone a long way towards precipitating such a result.

III. Later German Offensives

After the Second Battle of the Marne, the British and French would hardly have been in a position to launch a counteroffensive, and would be hard pressed at best to put together a defensive line to protect Paris. While the specific tactics here are obviously nearly impossible to put together, it is likely that, after the Second Battle of the Marne, the Germans would have been able to capture Paris, causing the surrender of France. And with France knocked out, the Germans could make short work of the British forces remaining on the field, and would be in a position to make negotiations with the British that would favor them greatly.


Thus, with the simple change of a great reduction in the use of U-boats, particularly against neutral shipping, the Germans would have been able to persuade the U.S. to not enter the war, which, when coupled with Russia’s surrender, would have put the Germans in a position to defeat the British and French forces on the Western front as a result of their inevitable victory at the Battle of the Marne coupled with additional offensives afterwards. Thus, with all of its enemies out of the way, the Germans could claim victory.

There are doubtless other, more grandiose strategies that may have made shorter and easier work of the Triple Entente, but these must be much more detailed in explaining, given that they’d require a significant revision of the course of WWI. My strategy works just as well at giving Germany the victory as any of these alternate strategies.




So sorry for this being so late. I have company over and thus must keep my argument brief. However I will do more expansion in the next two rounds.

First I want to thank Subutai for this debate. I think this will be interesting. I also think that this debate will be a good history refresher.

Argument 1: Germany could not have won the war this particular way.

When the resolution is worded, "Germany Could Have Won World War I" most if not all would assume that this means Con must prove decisively that Germany never could have won the war. I am going to as Con say that is unreasonable. Under numerous different circumstances, Germany may have won the war. But I as Con only have to prove that Pro's specific alternative strategy would be unsuccessful. I want to clear up now that I am arguing a U-Boat change could not have feasibly helped Germany win the war. I will not be arguing that Germany never could have won the war. Because I am not required to.

That being said, let's dive into some surface deep observations of this strategy. First I find the focus to be quite narrow by Pro and avoiding the consideration of factor's such as weapons in development, extended periods of time, attrition, political diplomats dying, and others. The only factors that Pro seems to consider are U-Boats, American power, and the Second Marne battle. These factors simply do not provide enough explanation. What if the Triple Entente in this alternate universe was able to win the Second Marne? Would Pro's strategy work? What if Austria-Hungary turned on Germany midway through from suffering unsustainable losses? Would Germany have lost? Most certainly.

Argument 2: US Involvement.

My opponent's argument clearly hinges upon whether the US joins the war or not. I will attempt to decisively prove that the US would enter the war, no matter what. I will also explain why a curtailed U-Boat policy would be highly detrimental to Germany.

When the US voted at presidential ballots in 1912 they voted for a pacifist president. That being Woodrow Wilson. Specifically, they were highly isolationist and even though they saw a war brewing in Europe, did not see it as their national problem. However, as time went on, the US began to take advantage of the war to make a profit in shipping aid to the Triple Entente which hurt Germany. According to this website: The US obviously was shipping against Germany's policy.

"Nevertheless there was a growing sentiment
favoring Great Britain and France. Both countries were significant trading partners. The German policy (February 1, 1917) placed all neutral shipping at risk. American ships were fair game to German submarines.

On February 3, the American freighter, Housatanic was sunk. On April 1, the Aztec was sunk with 28 Americans lost.

Between those two hostile events, the German Ambassador to Mexico, Zimmerman, in a coded telegram (March 1), promised Mexico financial support and return of lost territories if they would declare war against the United States. British intelligence had decoded the message and passed it to the Americans. The note was published in the United States and public opinion immediately pressed the administration for a war against Germany. President Wilson was about to make a 180 degree turn. While the war raged on three continents, Wilson intentionally had maintained a small army of just over 100,000 men. This was his way of dampening the calls for intervention. Circumstances now called for a new principle. Wilson had preached, during his first term, a principle that kept Americans safe from a foreign war. The new policy required American intervention to keep the world "safe for democracy".

President Wilson sent a war request to Congress (April 2, 1917) which was overwhelmingly adopted."

Now there are several important things to note here. Germany was attritiously being fought in a supply war by US public sentiments and shipping. So the US was already dangerously on the edge. If Germany ignored the shipping then Germany would have lost the war due to Britain and France being outsupplied. But even if they managed to overcome that, because the Zimmerman note existed that showed Germany was being aggressive toward the US to the point of making Mexico declare war, the US would enter the war.

Because my opponent never said the Zimmerman telegram would not have been sent, it must be considered sent in this debate.

Argument 3: US involvement meant doom for Germany.

This argument can be summed up simply by saying that the Zimmerman telegram gets the US involved. Which then introduces tanks which crush the Maginot Line resistance, which then allow for a triple offensive which breaks Germany's back, makes Austro-Hungaria desert, and makes the Axis be destroyed.

Numerous US techs caused Germany pain, such as tanks, machine guns, and the fact that US troops were simply well fed and trained. Therefore Germany never stood a chance with a US that would always have been in the war.


What I am saying is that without a complete wiping of all German aggressiveness on the US, could the US public sentiment be kept in isolation. But because the Germans continually targeted British ships with Americans on them

{(an inicident on several occasions)(specifically the Lusitania was a British ship and thus was a liable target under my opponent's policy the RMS Lusitania section, first line)}

and the fact that Germany tried to start a proxy war to keep America busy. Meant that the US would always be in the war. Since my opponent conceded the US was the difference Germany loses the war under my opponent's plan.

With this I rest my case, and I am sorry the argument is not longer.


Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank 42lifeuniverseverything for presenting his arguments.

Argument I

I agree with how my opponent defines his burden. This debate was set up in a specific way, namely that pro presents some strategy for a German victory, and con must refute or poke holes in it. It is indeed unfair to force con to refute every single strategy that could conceivably have led to a German victory, as he has neither the time nor space. And such clarification here is con’s burden.

My alternate strategy is indeed limited in scope. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is true that there are many other things I could have considered, but setting all of those other things equal to historical reality and concentrating on one particular thing that I deem to be extremely important in determining the outcome of the war is a simple yet effective argument. And, if my argument holds, it shows that Germany could have won WWI by utilizing that strategy. If my opponent wants to bring up how other factors would have been influenced by a change in German U-boat policy, that’s fine, but my opponent’s argument here in no way affects my own.

As for his hypotheticals, I have shown how it is very likely that the Germans would have won the Second Battle of the Marne if the Americans had not been involved. My opponent puts forth no counter to my arguments there, so, at least at this point, this question is settled. And it’s very unlikely that Austria-Hungary would ever have turned on Germany before the Second Battle of the Marne, particularly given that, around that time, Russia had just been knocked out of the war, removing the only invader of Austria-Hungary, which boosted its morale and its put its alliance with Germany in good standing. Again, my opponent provides no argument for this hypothetical, so, given my argument, this question is also settled.

Argument II

My opponent makes two distinct arguments here. The first is that the American shipments of supplies to England and France, shipments which were significantly affected by Germany’s U-boat campaign, would have turned the tide in favor of the Triple Entente had Germany not started such a campaign. However, my opponent fails to directly argue how such additional supplies could have helped the English and French troops turn the tide at the Second Battle of the Marne without manpower support from the Americans.

For one thing, the French and British were in no position to counter the German attack by themselves. The German offensive was two pronged. The British were pinned defending against one of the prongs, meaning that the exhausted French troops would have been forced to counter the second prong all by itself. It was because the French troops were in such poor shape that the Americans were called upon in the first place. It is unlikely that the French troops, regardless of their supply level, and given the position they were in, would have been able to counter the Germans without some kind of additional support.[1]

For another, neither the British not French lacked much in resources. Every soldier had a rifle with enough ammunition, and they had plenty of artillery pieces (including ammunition), tanks, airplanes, poison gas cartridges, and other WWI essentials even with the German U-boat campaign sinking many of the supply ships. In addition, the supplies that America provided to Britain and France after entering the war dramatically increased compared to the numbers before it. So encouraging America to enter the war would have been counterintuitive in this area.

The second argument my opponent makes is that the Zimmerman telegram, and not Germany’s policy of U-boat warfare was the principal reason America entered the war. However, the Zimmerman telegram was only sent because America was on the verge of entering WWI as a result of Germany’s updated U-boat policy compared to before. Had the Germans not enacted such a policy, there would have been no reason to send the Zimmerman telegram.[2]

Argument III

This argument is irrelevant because I have countered my opponent’s argument that America’s entry into WWI was inevitable. I’ve shown how, had Germany adopted a more restrictive U-boat policy, America would never had entered the war, and thus its manpower and tech would never have been accessible to the Triple Entente.




I unfortunately must concede this debate.

Things that I have not anticipated have piled on me as of late and would prevent me from making timely arguments. As such I must concede this debate. Though I feel both of us made great arguments and I would love to debate something similar like this in the future, for the sake of my opponent's effort they have put in, I will declare Subutai the winner of the debate.

My deepest apologies to those who hoped for closure on this topic.

As a side note I leave for college in 3 weeks so expect me to disappear off DDO around that time to not re-emerge until summer.

Debate Round No. 3


I understand. I'm currently in the process of moving myself, and only put together weak arguments one hour before the deadline each of the last two rounds. I hope we can revisit this debate at a later date, one where my arguments are better and where both of us have more time.


Many thanks to Pro for being understanding and willing to accept an end to the debate! I hope that Pro is successful in moving and wish Pro the best. I would love to revisit this at a later date.

Debate Round No. 4
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by 42lifeuniverseverything 2 months ago
Thanks ThinkBig! I appreciate the offer and would love to read your feedback.

Posted by ThinkBig 2 months ago
Sorry to see the debate has ended in a concession. I feel that con could possibly have won this debate. Would you guys like me to give you feedback on the arguments so far?
Posted by 42lifeuniverseverything 2 months ago
I'm really sorry about this and feel it is a blow to my reputation of zero intentioned forfeits up until now. But life is more important than an online debate site, and I respect that you (Subutai) may have time constraints as well. I just didn't want to weigh you down and I felt I was weighed down and mentally unable to make arguments when I needed too. Just not a good time for me I guess.

Posted by 42lifeuniverseverything 2 months ago
Thanks for the clarification. My argument will be up soon, I have just been busy.

Posted by Subutai 2 months ago
See this quote - "On January 9th, 1917, Bethmann-Hollweg went to a meeting at Pless. He found the navy"s and army"s hierarchy against him " and they had already won over the Kaiser. The decision for unrestricted submarine warfare was made on that day and it started on February 1st 1917.

Wilson broke off diplomatic relations with Germany in an effort to bring Germany to its senses. He hoped that such an action would force Germany to go back on its decision. ***This did not happen and relations between America and Germany became very strained when British intelligence intercepted a message from Germany to Mexico whereby Germany offered her support to Mexico if America entered the war against Germany because of unrestricted submarine warfare.*** By March 21st, seven American merchant ships had been sunk by the Germans. Wilson summoned Congress and on April 6th 1917, America entered the war."

(The "***" emphasis added to indicate the key sentence) The source doesn't reference the Zimmerman telegram directly, but it's clear that's what they're talking about.
Posted by 42lifeuniverseverything 2 months ago
Why does your second source never say the word Zimmerman in it? Can I have an explanation? Specifically I mean this source:

Posted by 42lifeuniverseverything 3 months ago
Sorry for the font change. Sources tend to do that to me.
Posted by 42lifeuniverseverything 3 months ago
Japan wasn't until the second world war Vict0rian, but yeah you do have a point.

Posted by Vict0rian 3 months ago
No way... They had the entire world against them (except japan of course)
Posted by lord_megatron 3 months ago
Come on, pro can even argue that there "could" have been an Hydra organization that time with super tech to win the war. No one will accept this truism
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by famousdebater 2 months ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: I'd like to echo ThinkBig's words and wish both sides good luck with both Pro's move and Con's school work. This was a great debate until the unfortunate concession.
Vote Placed by ThinkBig 2 months ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: It is a shame that such a great debate was ended in a concession. Con conceded so pro wins. I must commend con for conceding the debate rather than forfeiting it. Pro, good luck with your move and con, good luck with school. I'm also headed off to school at the end of August so I'll probably disappear.