Alternate History

Operation Westschlag (French Trafalgar, British Waterloo)

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Operation Westschlag (or West Strike) was conceived by the Prussian General Staff in 1829-1830 as the plan that could force the The French Empire to surrender land to Prussia, mostly in the Duchy of Warsaw and the Confederation of the Rhine.


The plan called for a lightning strike into Austria-Hungarian Empire to force French soldiers to come to the aid of their ally, and another move into the Confederation, and such targets as Hamburg, Hanover and Kessel after the line in front of the Prussian armies was weakened. All told, the war should last three months, the General Staff believed. With the combination of a French Army that could not hope to match the superiority of the Grand Army of Napoleon I, as well as the newly crowned Emperor, Napoleon II, who was known to be rash and too quick to issue orders without long consideration. When Michel Ney was called out of retirement, they were certain that Napoleon II would most likely countermand many of his orders.

However, the plan itself was foiled by Marshal Ney, when he sensed a trap, and, after making sure Napoleon II would give him a free hand, instead allowed the Prussian Forces to drive into Austria-Hungary, with Italian and a handful of French reinforcements to hold a line south of Prague, and, soon after, driving them out of Bohemia and Moravia altogether.

A French supported rebellion in occupied Poland forced Frederich Wilhelm III to send forces to put it down, but the French used the opportunity to initiate their own attack, and drove the Prussian's from the Confederation-Prussian frontier. Another attack in Austria-Hungary with Italian and French Reinforcements linked up with the main French Army at Nuremberg, and a straight drive to Berlin through the winter was achieved with the minimum of casualties. In the end, the Kaiser had to surrender, and abdicate the throne to his son, and forced to sign the Treaty of Vienna.


Overall, the plan was considered daring, and, had Michel Ney not been in charge of the French Army, the plan "...would have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams..." said Hermann von Boyen afterwards. The major criticism that later generations would blame for its failure was the overstretching of the Prussian army in attacking and defeating Poland (which, however, was done quite easily), and then dividing up the exhausted army to attack both Austria-Hungary and the Confederation of the Rhine. The defeat at the Battle of Tirol was not simply due to the arrival of the Italian army, but also the utter exhaustion of the Prussian army at the end of a very long supply column. Considerations of possible "breathing periods", however, may have allowed the French or Austro-Hungarians the chance at a pre-emptive strike.

It is believed that, no matter what, the plan was too ambitious in a time without motor vehicles or tanks, and would not be possible until almost 100 years later.

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