Axis and Allies 1914: Belgium

AA1914_BelgiumBelgium,
is one of Axis and Allies 1914 most critical lynchpin territory.  It is on Germany’s victory path to Paris.  It bridges London protected by Britain’s sea mines.  Germany is easily lured devoting resources trying to take and control.  The fate of the war rests in the fate of Belgium in World War 1.

Belgium, minor aligned power to France.
IPC value of 2
Adjacent to sea-zone 9.   Sea mines present from ally British Empire.
Borders Picardy, Lorraine, Alsace, Ruhr, and neutral Holland.

Historical background
Germany began deployment of World War I into Belgium.  As part of their Schlieffen Plan, Germany wanted to quickly capture Paris.   However, Belgium’s resistance surprised Germany who regarded any acts slowing their conquest as subversive, replying with severe punishment including executions and arson.  Eventually, Germany occupied 95% of Belgium.  Still, German’s believed Belgians were slowing their effort to take Paris through wide spread guerrilla warfare.

At the end of the war, King Albert of Belgium wanted to protect Belgium’s interest.  He came away with limited reparations, territory taken from Germany as a buffer zone, and a junior partner with France instead of a pledge of neutrality.

Axis and Axis 1914 strategy
“Belgium’s folly” is a plan Germany is easily duped into.  Like history, it is a path to Paris.  The lures to pave a road though Belgium are many-fold.

First, is speed.  The shortest paths to Paris from Berlin through northern Europe is always through Belgium.  (Another obscure path is through southern Europe and Switzerland.)

Second, is disrupting allied landings.  Belgium is too convenient a landing zone from London to leave unfettered.  The British naval mines may deter Germany from investing naval excursion, leaving them to invest a ground strategy.  With Picardy to the west, Germany feels compelled to sweep landing zones away.

Third, is coastal defense.  A column of artillery will repel Allied pretentious ideas of landing behind the front lines, especially in Ruhr.  If Berlin’s economy can afford it, they can prepare a “conveyor belt” coastal defense with replenishing reinforcements always moving westward.

Fourth, is simple vengeful politics.  France will no doubt enlist Belgium into the war effort anyway for their 3 infantry and an artillery unit.  A summit of French and British forces quickly makes a formidable outpost hindering the German strategy.

The folly comes with Germany’s time and effort trying to hammer through the Belgian line.  Austria-Hungary will be stretched thin with Russia to the east and Italy south.  Germany’s strategy may quickly descend from “conquer and advance” to “contest and hold” until victory anywhere else on the globe will afford them additional resources.  The Allied powers always have Picardy to fall back on and a favorite landing zone for the United States.  The benefits of Central Powers victory and Allied consequences are limited and visible.  As long as the Allied Powers hold Belgium, the firewall is two territories wide, Belgium and Lorraine.  If it falls, the firewall is three wide with; Picardy, Burgundy, and Marseilles.  That late in the war, its conceivable the Austrians are posed to flank France south of Switzerland.

Recommended reading (links 404 over time)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium_in_World_War_I
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlieffen_Plan

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