Imagine this;

It was no secret that the French wanted some beef with the Prussians in 1840, as there was the Rhine Crisis, as France demanded the borders of 1806, where the Rhine was the territorial border between the two states. Before 1840 some politicians already had a very aggressive attitude towards Prussia because of the treaty in 1814 and the Congress in Vienna 1815.

This tension was suppressed by a new minister of foreign politics in 1841, escaping a possible war.

Imagine, this never happened. As both nations have created enormous patriotic tension towards the other state a war started and both armies fought so devastating, that the entire region west from the Rhine suffered mass murder and devastation, like in the 30-years war.

Would it be possible in the aftermath that both states agree on having peace but none want to take responsibility over this region? As building it up again would be too costly, none of the parties want to claim ownership now, as the civilians also have a very negative attitude towards them. So it becomes no mans land, and a faction of paramilitaries take over control, declaring independence, which is fine for for France and Prussia.

Is this a realistic scenario? What should/could I improve?


closed as too broad by Aify, Thucydides, Bellerophon, Hohmannfan, James Jan 3 '17 at 2:50

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ The French abstained for a while but in 1870 they decided to follow their ambition and declared war on Prussia. They lost, badly, and the newly formed German Empire took Alsace and Lorraine. I don't think that the Napoleon-less French would have fared any better in 1840. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 2 '17 at 17:18

No, sorry.

France has always wanted the Rhine as either part of them or a protectorate of them. France even wanted a French protectorate after World War 1 in our timeline!

enter image description here The above depiction is based on what the post WW2 Rhineland would look like by an alternate historian, I could not find the actual propossals

If the Rhine ever became independent I fail to see how it could not be at least heavily allied with France. The best you are going to get is the Rhine being a French Protectorate after your war, then decades later after World War 2, they vote to become independent and the vote passes.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, I guess that happens when I try to create something during my lunch break. Totally forgot about the economic significance of this area. Is there another area that would suit this scenaro stated above? (Between 1813 and 1850) $\endgroup$ – pguetschow Jan 2 '17 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ @TechTreeDev The Alsace, possibly, although it contains the gem Straßburg. WWI would never have happened if Germany had not also annexed the Lorraine in 1871. $\endgroup$ – Karl Jan 2 '17 at 18:36

This is actually a rather interesting idea. The strategic and economic worth of the Rhineland is too high for any nation to give up. Thus, the only cause of this would be a war.

Pick a time when Germany, the German Federation, or the North German Federation is weakest, distracted, and France is comparatively stronger. This time is clearly not the Franco-Prussian War or later, as the demographics will have moved against France.

In 1866, the German Federation collapsed as tensions mounted between Austria and the North German States, resulting in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War. Before this, the German Confederation is still a working entity, and therefore, would trigger retaliation from all German states in the former Holy Roman Empire.

If you want something based off the actual timeline, I think this is the only time for France to strike. From a demographic standpoint, you want the conflict to happen sooner rather than later, as Prussia gains more people relative to France every year, and you want Germany disunited. This is the only time to strike.

  • $\begingroup$ Hm, I need this scenario for a story project. We want to have a completely war-devasteded region, that became no-mans land, where the protagonist, that has his root in this region, comes back and triest to overthrow the current emperor of this statelesss region. Which region would have such a little importantance both states don't want to have it anymore after such a terrible war? $\endgroup$ – pguetschow Jan 2 '17 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ States, especially during 19th century imperialism, will always want to hold onto territory because holding onto it means that your enemies cannot hold onto it. The only territories which nobody wants to hold onto are (1) economically useless, (2) strategically useless, and (3) massive money sinks. I don't think the Rhineland would be any of these. $\endgroup$ – ifly6 Jan 2 '17 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ I know (after reading the answers) totally forgot about the imprtance, but what region would fulfill this criteria of being unimportant on the Prussian/French Border? Or maybe the complete Federation will break and returns to the state of the HHRDN? $\endgroup$ – pguetschow Jan 2 '17 at 17:56


In the age of industrialisation, nobody in his right mind would just have given up on the coal mines at Ruhr and Saar.

  • $\begingroup$ But Saar was given to France in our timeline for over a decade $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Jan 2 '17 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ The Saarland is a lot smaller than the Rhineland, per your own map. $\endgroup$ – ifly6 Jan 2 '17 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ @TinyTrEs-2b Whose timeline? After Napoleon I., todays Saarland was always German, except for two short episodes after the world wars, when France tried to annex it. $\endgroup$ – Karl Jan 2 '17 at 18:14

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.