A Shift in Priorities

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by rast, Dec 17, 2008.

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  1. rast Well-Known Member

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    Aug 22, 2008
    A Greater Germany?


    The request of the Austrian Germans for admission into the German Empire meant the fulfilment of the dreams of several generations of Germans and Austrians. But not everywhere was this request met with joy.

    The Germans already had severe problems with the 3.5 million Poles in Germany, they had no wish to add 6.2 million Czechs to the empire. Seperating Germans and Czechs in Bohemia and Moravia was almost impossible without committing acts of violence.

    The Austrian Germans were all catholic, they would turn the inner-German balance of confessions into a catholic preponderance.

    That also meant that the SPD would gain less voters than the Zentrum. Although the Austrian Social Democratic Worker’s Party, the equivalent of the SPD, had been the strongest parliamentary group in the Reichsrat, the equivalent of the German Reichstag, before the war it was clear to the SPD leaders that the Zentrum would attract more voters in the less industrialised Austro-German states.

    It was therefore with mixed feelings that Friedrich Ebert’s cabinet met on August 28th. The foreign minister was absent, signing the Treaty of Elsinore.
    As could be expected, vice chancellor Erzberger was completely in favour of accepting the request.
    But discussion soon reveiled that a solution would not be easy to be found.
    The SPD ministers were ready to accept that the Zentrum might gain more voters from the annexation. But the Czech problem had to solved.
    The FVP ministers were of the same opinion.
    Only Konstantin Fehrenbach, the minister for economy, and Felix Porsch, the post minster, the two other Zentrums representatives, backed Erzberger, although their enthusiasm was much reduced in comparison to Erzberger.
    Hermann von Eichhorn, the war minister, who did – like Richard von Kühlmann – not belong to one of the three ruling parties, had had his confidant Robert Katzenstein, a Jewish solicitor, examining the situation.
    “Traditionally, Czech was spoken by the countrymen, while the towns talked in German. This has changed since the mid of the last century. Today, Czech is spoken everywhere. There is a complete mix. The only solution that might be possible is autonomy for the Czechs within a German state. – But then, we would have to grant this to our Poles and French too, and to the Italians in Southern Tyrolia. – The other solution would be a Czech state with an autonomous German minority. But do we really want a Czech state in the midth of Germany?”

    After three hours of animated discussion, the cabinet parted without having reached a decision.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  2. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    The Storm calms down


    In Bohemia and Moravia, Conrad’s army was complete. Three divisions secured Budweis and advanced along the rail line to Prague, three more were around Brünn and controlled Moravia, while the two that had arrived at Eger had marched to Pilsen.
    Conrad had issued an order that forbade fighting and threatened everyone – except his soldiers – who carried a weapon to be court martialed. To everyone’s surprise, this order was observed.
    Karel Kramář’s government issued an appeal to the Czechs to follow the order, while the Germans were contend to obey Conrad.
    It took two days for the fighting to die down, but on Saturday, August 31st, 1918, it had stopped everywhere.

    Unbeknownst to the contemporaries, the “Fortnight of Revolution” was about to end.

    In Italy, Giolitti’s government merged with the socialists into a “Government of National Concentration”. There was no use in wasting effort with civil strife when the possibility arose to regain Venetia and perhaps even to liberate the compatriots in Tyrolia.

    At Laibach, a provisory Slovene National Committee had established itself. The Slovenes – for the first time in their history – had the chance to have their own state. But many saw also the risks of such a move. The idea of an common south Slav state was dead for the time being. Thus “Slovenia” would be sandwiched between Hungary, Italy and Germany. The Italians were known to have designs on the western part of the future Slovenia. Opposite Germany there would be large zones with mixed population inviting for border quarrels. The Hungarians had, as far as was known, no designs on Slovenia, but their Croat underlings might soon arrive at the idea to add it to their domain because there were Croats living in the Küstenland. Ending up in the Hungarian Empire was the least desirable alternative.
    There were only 2.5 million Slovenes, was this really enough for an independent nation?
    After seemingly endless debates the Slovene National Committee declared the foundation of an independent Slovenia, consisting of the former countries Carniola and Küstenland. For Styria and Carinthia, a referendum was demanded, that should allow the Slovenes living in the south of these countries to join Slovenia. The German population of the Gottschee area and the Croats and Italians living in the Küstenland were promised autonomous areas.

    At Rabaul, the capital of German New Guinea, situated on the island of New Pomerania, naval captain Joseph Kutzner supervised the hoisting of the German flag.
    He had been told not to invest too much effort, just show the flag and see that all Australians and English evacuate the real estate – before it is sold to the highest bidder…
     
  3. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    A Greater Germany


    On Monday, September 2nd, 1918, the Reichstag met in Berlin to debate and decide upon two proposals how to deal with the request of the Austrian Germans.

    Proposal 1, the Erzberger Proposal, foresaw the admission of the countries in the boundaries they had had in Austria-Hungary, regardless of ethnic distribution. Slovenia was to be recognised in the borders of Carniola and Küstenland.

    Proposal 2, the Scheidemann Proposal, recognised that ethnic distribution and national self-determination required referenda in various areas and demanded that new borders should be drawn observing the results of these referenda. Independence of Czechia and Slovenia would consequently be accepted, southern Tyrolia might join Italy. Those areas that declared for Germany would join the empire.

    The debate raged for two days. At 22:15 hours on September 3rd, the ballot was finally cast. With a narrow majority of 202 to 195, the Scheidemann Proposal was accepted.
    Poles, Elsaß-Lothringers and Danes had – for obvious reasons – reinforced the 185 deputies of SPD and FVP.

    This decision evoked different reactions in different countries. While Great Britain, Great Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria condemned it because it shook the “traditional” boundaries and threatened to open the nationality Box of Pandora in Europe, the reaction in France, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and the USA was very positive. Karel Kramář’s government voiced acceptance and proposed negotiations.

    The Poles, which until now had kept conspicuously quiet, took hope. Perhaps a Polish Rzeczpospolita could be forged that was not a German puppet and united all Poles in one state?
    In Lithuania, the decision was taken to declare the state a republic on September 5th.
     
  4. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Mixed Fortunes


    The Bolshevik offensive against the forces of Alekseev and Denikin that started on September 1st soon turned out to be a major disaster.
    Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, better known as Joseph Stalin, had convinced Lenin that he should be given command of the operations in the south, much to Trotsky’s chagrin.
    Stalin had been sent to Tsarytsin by Lenin in spring of 1918 in order to improve the food situation of the Bolshevik territories. In Tsarytsin he had befriended the local Red Army commander Semyon Budyonny and his commissar, Kliment Voroshilov.
    Budyonny’s 1st Cavalry Army, better known as “Konarmia”, became the principal force with which Alekseev and Denikin were to be defeated.

    Lieutenant General Anton Ivanovich Denikin, the commander of the Volunteer Army, had gotten early warning about the planned offensive. News didn’t travel into one direction only in Russia.
    With German help he had been able to arm his force with substantial numbers of machine guns and field howitzers. He also had assembled a sizeable fleet of armoured cars, mostly from Russian war time stocks, now kept running by a German motor transport repair unit.

    Consequently, the “surprise” attack of the Konarmia on the “unsuspecting” Volunteers ran into outclassing fire and became an epic massacre. The fleeing remainders of the horse army were chased to death by the armoured cars and Denikin’s cavalry.
    Desperately defending their headquarters at Elista, Budyonny, Stalin and Voroshilov died under the sabres of Ataman Pjotr Krasnov’s Cossacks. The Konarmia had ceased to exist.
    While Alekseev, the political head of the counterrevolutionaries, travelled to Germany for medical treatment of his ailing heart, Denikin ordered advance on Tsarytsin.

    In East Karelia the Finnish “Operation Viena” had also started on September 1st. It turned out to be successful beyond all expectations. The Bolsheviks offered only weak resistance and soon fell back. The Fins advanced along the railway lines, spearheaded by their armoured trains. After five days all lands north of Lakes Ladoga and Onega were in Finnish possession.

    In Estonia, for the moment free of all foreign forces, the Estonian majority again declared independence on September 3rd, thus spoiling the old German plans of the “Baltic Duchy” (which the Ebert government hadn’t persecuted anyway) and Bolshevik aspirations of creating a “Peoples Republic”. Elections for a national constituent assembly were scheduled for the end of the month. Finland and Sweden were asked for military assistance. Konstantin Päts again became the leader of the Estonian Provisional Government.

    The Czech Legion was still assembling east of Estonia. With the German decision of September 3rd, the need to liberate the compatriots in Czechia had suddenly vanished. There was no need for a fight with the Germans. The priority now was getting home.
    Subsequently, a delegation was sent to Tallinn. Did the Estonians need an army?
     
  5. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Transcaucasian Affairs

    At Baku, the Army of Islam had shown up in the meanwhile. Not much of an army, more like a weak division, expanded by hordes of shabby irregulars. General Maercker greeted Nuri Pasha outside of Baku – and told him to get lost...
    Maercker had received some reinforcement, especially artillery and engineers, and two additional infantry regiments, making his Kaukasus Division almost corps sized.
    A bunch of German diplomats had arrived as well, discussing treaty options with the Georgians and the Azeris. Maercker didn’t appreciate the fuzzy style of the diplomats, but his orders were clear: Support them, their wishes have priority. He understood that another bunch of diplomats had arrived at Yerevan and was talking with the Armenians. The idea was obviously to bring all three Transcaucasus states under a kind of German protectorate.
    Maercker doubted that the Turks would like that.
    On the other hand, the Armenians had little reason to like the Turks, as had the Georgians, both being christian nations. The Azeris were quite another affair, Turk speakers and muslims. But as Maercker soon had found out, not at all interested in being controlled by Istambul.
    The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the three people had problems to live in peace with each other. The Transcausus Federation of the three states had lasted something like two months in early 1918.
    There were territorial claims and unforgotten acts of mutual violence. For example, in March, the Armenians in Baku had helped the Bolsheviks to massacre the Azeris.
    When Nuri Pasha and his ragtag Azeri irregulars approached, the Armenians in Baku feared retaliation. But that had not been the reason for Maercker to turn around the Army of Islam and send them home. Arthur Zimmermann, the chief diplomat, had told him to get rid of the Turks.
    “No need for them to be here. They only will disturb our conversations with the Azeris. Tell’em to bugger off!”

    North of the Caucasus, there was another state, the Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus, recognised by Germany, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, one more unbelievable hodgepodge of ethnical groups. Zimmermann wanted him to move troops up there.
    So far, Maercker had resisted this wish. His force was just large enough to control Georgia and Azerbaijan. If Zimmermann wanted troops north of the Caucasus, he must cable to Berlin and ask for them.
    Now, with Denikin’s army in firm control of Tsarytsin, the Germans in the Ukraine were in a far better position to send an expedition to the north of the Caucasus. Maercker had no intention to scatter his force.
    The Turks were gone for the moment, they might come back soon – after Nuri had reported to his big brother... May be they would send someone more fit next time.

    Having been shooed away by the German general was extremely humilating to Nuri Pasha. But the German had appeared so coldly effective and determinative. And his men were so tidy and disciplined.
    Nuri knew that he had no real control over his army. His second in command, Mursal Pasha, had some command over the Turkish regiments, but nobody really controlled the irregulars. Recognising that no big looting party at Baku would happen, most of these brigands were about to disappear anyway.
    Nuri needed to talk to his brother Enver. He needed more men. More regular Turkish soldiers. Then he could make another advance on Baku.

    To Unteroffizier Adolf Hitler, serving with the Volunteer Bavarian Kaukasus Rifle Regiment, it had been a wonderful experience.
    General Maercker had crisply approached this pompous Turkish Pasha, had spoken some sharp and accentuated sentences to him, equally sharp and accentuated translated by the interpreter. Then the honour battalion, of which Hitler had been part, had executed some manoeuvres and handholds.
    That had been enough to scare away the Turks and their subhuman allies...
     
  6. Parma Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Please go on, the story become even better.
    Only I hope in this story that unter oficer Adolf H. remains what he is, just an unter officer.:rolleyes:
    Do you have some maps ? always nice!
     
  7. clifton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2007
    Location:
    unknown
    How far are you gonna take this TL? Keep the good work.
     
  8. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Unteroffizier Adolf H. has a glorious career before him. By the end of the TL, he may have been promoted to Vizefeldwebel, in recognition of his long service life, despite his lacking leadership qualities.
     
  9. Parma Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    :)Good to know he just remains a soldier:)
     
  10. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    The Man in the Red Brick House

    General der Infantry Erich Ludendorff was seriously irritated.
    Not enough that the Chief of the GGS had lost his direct report to the monarch (he really couldn’t complain about that, having himself advised the Kaiser to accept the demands of the parties), now he came under command and control of the war minister! Moltke Senior was due to rotate in his grave!
    Agreed, General Field Marshal von Eichhorn was an acceptable superior. Far more intellectual and active than von Hindenburg, Eichhorn was a strategic mind of the first order, a worthy Chief of the GGS himself. As a man he was honourable and very educated.
    But that Jew he had around him all the time, that Katzenstein! Was that an appropriate associate for a Prussian field marshal?
    And that he had dragged Groener with him to Berlin... Groener was a good general staff officer and an excellent organiser, but so prone to succumb to socialist ideas...

    The Ukraine was now managed by the duo Mackensen – Seeckt, that would work fine, they had no ounce of weakness in them. Von der Goltz in Finland and Maercker in the Transcaucasus were also doing fine.

    But in the Baltic Lands, things were going awry... – The grand idea of the Baltic Duchy seemed to be dead. Lithuania and Estonia were now – recognised by Germany! – democratic republics.
    Latvia was everything, a Democratic Republic for the Ulmanis government, a Baltic Duchy for the Landesrat and a Soviet Republic for the Bolsheviks – and a battleground for Yudenich’s forces and the Red Latvian Rifles.
    Denikin controlled southern Russia up to Voronezh and Saratov now. He would advance on Moscow the next spring, while Yudenich headed for Petrograd.
    The Czech Legion had just moved to Estonia, secured the country against the Bolsheviks – and begged to be transported home as soon as possible.
    Okay, when the Czechs paid for the expenses...

    Ludendorff had no proximity to former Austria-Hungaria, therefore the ongoing preparations for plebiscites down there didn’t really worry him. He wondered about the consequences this would have for Poland and the Prussian eastern provinces with their high percentage of Polish inhabitants.
    He needed someone to discuss these issues with... – Bauer, that was the one. Bauer always had a good explanation how things should be. He called his first adjutant.
    “Get a line to Colonel Bauer at Posen. I want him here as soon as possible. I need to talk to him. – Thank you. Dismissed.”

    The Ebert government might have strange ideas about national self-determination, but they really did not neglect the army. That Ludendorff had to grant. His proposal to expand the peace time army so that all healthy young men could serve in the forces had been received positively. The army was now – slowly of course, because funding was a severe problem – growing to a peace time strength of 40 army corps, thereof seven Bavarian, five Saxon and two Württemberg.
    The army was now no longer foreseen for use inside Germany against strikers or protesters. The individual states were creating riot police forces for that. Ludendorff had no problem to accept that.
    The Kanobil Force was also growing steadily. A new prototype with the cannon in a revolving turret was presently tested at Sennelager training ground. Major General von Wolf and his staff bustled with new ideas. And Major Rohr had some very good inputs about mechanised assault infantry.
    The only bad news was that the English had now discarted their hopeless rhomboid “Tanks” and were going to construct their own copy of the Kanobils – if they ever could spare enough money for that.

    General Conrad had done a great job in Bohemia and Moravia. General Field Marshal von Eichhorn had already agreed that Conrad would receive command of the one of armies that were to be created from the former Austrian lands.
    Yes, the little Austrian, who had so little general staff training in the Prussian sense at all, was an excellent commander.
    By the way, the addition of the Austrian Germans territories would provide another fifteen army corps as Ludendorff had had computed by his staff.

    Well, the future was not that bleak...
     
  11. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    The Man in the Grey Brick House

    If General Ludendorff in the GGS building near the Reichstag was irritated, Admiral Reinhard Scheer, Chief of the German Admiral Staff, in Navy’s office building at the Königin-Augusta-Straße in Berlin-Tiergarten, was outright unhappy.
    The army was getting all the funds that were available, the navy got almost nothing.
    The new government was of the opinion that Germany was a continental power and should concentrate on the army. They had no concept of “Weltgeltung” or “Weltmacht”.
    The High Seas Fleet was big enough, no more costly big ships were required.
    Some meagre funds were made availabe for research in U-Boats and aircraft carriers, but the battle fleet would only receive the two missing “Bayern”-Class battleships and the “Mackensen” and “Ersatz-Yorck” great cruisers, the construction of which had already started during the war, and that was to be it. End of the fleet building programme!

    Okay, Scheer was enough of a realist to recognise that Grand Admiral Tirpitz’ theory of the “Risk Fleet” had not worked at all. The High Seas Fleet never had been a fleet for the high seas, but only for the “Wet Triangle” of the North Sea. And even there, it had been caged by the Royal Navy.
    Yes, one had controlled the German Bight and had had the upper hand in the Baltic, all this necessary for the final victory, but one had never played the role Tirpitz and the Kaiser had had in mind when creating the fleet.

    Perhaps the government was right, not new ships were the answer, new ideas were needed. Scheer decided to get in contact with Albert Ballin of the HAPAG at Hamburg and Philipp Heineken of the Norddeutsche Lloyd at Bremen. They might contribute some useful ideas for the future.

    The second largest merchant navy of the world was not something to be forgotten. The HSF had never been able to protect it, a major shortcoming.
    But right now, it was at work again. As was the notorious German salesman all around the world, offering better quality for a better price.

    And as a fleet in being, the HSF had played its important role. No, Scheer would not resign.
     
  12. paxau Qa'pla

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    Sverige
    I've read all of this through during the past few days and i can just say that it's brilliant.
     
  13. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Supplementing one’s Income

    While Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal reported first cases of the American Flu in early October 1918, the German colonial minister, Gustav Noske (SPD), announced that on Wednesday, October 16th, German New Guinea and West Samoa would be auctioned off to the highest bidders in Berlin at the Reichskolonialamt. The real estate would be on offer in the following parcels:

    - Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land, starting-price 6 billion $
    - Neu Pommern and the isles west of it, starting-price 2 billion $
    - Neu Mecklenburg, Admiralitäts Inseln, Neu Hannover and Matthias Gruppe, starting-price 2 billion $
    - Bougainville, Buka and Nissan, starting-price 1 billion $
    - Savaii, starting-price 1 billion $
    - Upolu, starting-price 1 billion $.

    The number of interested parties was limited: Japan, the USA and Great Britain, represented by her dominions, the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand.
    The Australians were rather frustrated to have to buy territories they had conquered only some years ago. But, okay, that was the price of losing a war... – Nevertheless, they had no intention to welcome Japanese or North American neighbours on their home turf.
    New Zealand was ready to bid for Savaii and Upolu.

    The results of the auction made German minister of finance Matthias Erzberger a happy man.

    - Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land, sold for 10.8 billion $ to Australia
    - Neu Pommern and the isles west of it, sold for 5.4 billion to Australia
    - Neu Mecklenburg, Admiralitäts Inseln, Neu Hannover and Matthias Gruppe, sold for 6.3 billion $ to Australia
    - Bougainville, Buka and Nissan, sold for staggering 7.6 billion $ to Japan
    - Savia, sold for 6.4 billion $ to the US
    - Upolu, sold for 7.5 billion $ to the US

    That meant that one hundred percent of the German war bonds could be repayed immediately, pumping massively money into the pockets of the middle class, and that sufficient money remained for critical investments such as enlarging the peace time army and providing reparations to Belgium. One might even consider to buy Spanish Guinea in Africa from Spain...

    Erzberger was embarked on a reform of the German tax system, which had shown its limitations before and during the war. The financial administration would have to be completely restructured. Income tax would in future be deducted directly. More centralisation was required. And the wealthy and rich would have to pay more.
    Erzberger knew that the SPD would wholeheartedly agree to these changes.
    He did not mind that he had lost to SPD and FVP in the question of the new states and had no intention of looking for other political combinations.
    Working together with SPD and FVP was the best solution, until the Zentrum gathered sufficient voters to rule on its own...
     
  14. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Luckless Men

    One could call the month of October 1918 the month of the luckless men.

    Georges Clemenceau lost his office as French prime minister to Charles Maurras of the monarchist Action Française when the long awaited parliamentary elections in France brought a distinct shift to the right and ultra right parties and groups.

    Nestor Makhno, the leader of the Anarchist Black Army, which he had formed in September 1918, lost his life when he was publicly hanged in Kiev on October 19th. His army had been destroyed by the Hetmanate’s forces and their German “advisors” near Yekaterinoslav in mid October.

    Jukums Vācietis, commander of the Red Latvian Riflemen, lost his life and his unit in the Second Battle of Riga that lasted from 15th to 30th October and ended with a complete victory of the combined Yudenich-Landeswehr force.

    Millions of men around the globe lost their lifes due to the American Flu, which at the end of October reached its maximum of mortality.
    One of the approximately 7 million Indians that were killed by the pandemia was a certain Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a lawyer who had fought for the rights of the Indians in South Africa before the war and now was said to be preparing a nonviolent movement for Indian independence.

    Eleftherios Venizelos, leader of the Greek Republic based on Crete, lost his job when the Greek Royalist Army invaded the island on October 27th, discreetly supported by the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Squadron. Although Queen Sophia, still ruling in place of her convalescent husband, wanted him shot on the spot, Venizelos finally ended in jail, facing a trial for high treason.
    In appreciation of their cordial support, the British were invited to establish a naval base at Souda Bay.

    Wilhelm Friedrich Heinrich Prince of Wied and Prince of Albania and his familiy lost their lifes when their car crashed down a steep slope in the German Black Forest on October 30th. Police investigation soon revealed that the brakes of the Benz had been manipulated. It was widely believed that Albanian supporters of the late Essad Pasha were responsible for this murder.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  15. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Elections, Referenda and another Treaty


    Elections for the Prussian Landtag were held on Sunday, October 27th, 1918. It were the first elections in Prussia with equal vote, and the first elections in Germany where women were allowed to vote. Of a total of 402, the SPD won 154 seats, the Zentrum 95 and the FVP 26.
    The same coalition that ruled the German Empire would now also run the Prussian government. Paul Hirsch (SPD) was subsequently elected Prussian prime minister.
    The USPD, which had gained disappointing 24 seats only, now changed its name to Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD).
    Following the Prussian example, all German states would introduce universal suffrage until 1920.

    The referenda in Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia were held on Sunday, November 10th, 1918. In Austrian Silesia the German and Polish majority voted for joining Prussian Silesia. In Bohemia and Moravia the Czech majority in the core areas voted for an independent Czechia, while the German majorities on the fringes voted for joining Prussian Silesia, Saxony, Bavaria and Austria, depending which state was the direct neighbour of the voting area.
    According to the agreement between the German Empire and the Kramář government, the German enclaves around Brünn, Austerlitz, Budweis, Iglau-Deutsch Brod, Zwittau-Trübau and Deschna-Olmütz in the new Czech Republic would be granted autonomy with an own bi-lingual administration.

    On the same day, Vorarlberg, Tirol and Salzburg voted for joining the German Empire as Arch Duchy Tyrolia with Arch Duke Leopold Salvator as head of state. The Italian majority and the Ladines in southern Tyrolia opted for joining Italy.

    The referenda in Carniola, Küstenland, Styria and Carinthia for a Slovene Republic were held on Sunday, November 24th, 1918.
    Disappointingly, for the Slovene nationalists, many Slovenes in Styria and Carinthia voted for remaining with Austria, while the Italians and Friules in Küstenland opted for Italy. Only the Croats in Küstenland and the Germans in Carniola accepted autonomy within Slovenia.
    A special case was the city of Trieste, which – although mainly inhabited by Italian speakers – voted for remaining with Slovenia, which represented a major disappointment for the Italian irredentists.
    On November 26th, Germany recognised Czechia and Slovenia in the borders of the plebiscites. Until December 10th, most other nations around the globe followed.

    On Sunday, December 15th, 1918, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria and Carinthia voted for joining the German Empire as Arch Duchy Austria with Arch Duke Joseph Ferdinand Salvator as head of state.

    Galicia and Bukovina held their referenda on Sunday, December 29th, 1918.
    The Poles in Galicia opted for joining the Polish Kingdom. The Ruthenians in Galicia and Bukovina voted for joining the Ukraine, while the Rumanians in Bukovina went for Romania.

    Cisleithania, the Austrian part of the former dual monarchy had now ceased to exist. The Austro-Hungarian navy had been taken over by Great Hungary, a move that had been favoured by the facts that a Hungarian, Vice Admiral Miklós Horty, was fleet commander and that most of the ships were either stationed at Pola or Cattaro.

    On January 15th, 1919, the Treaty of Bozen between Italy and Germany, for all practical reasons, revoked the Treaty of Zürich.
    Italy became an ally of Germany, following the Belgian example. In exchange, the occupation of Venetia ended and southern Tyrolia and western Küstenland with their Italian majorities were allowed to join Italy. Germany warranted the coal supply of Italy and gained the right to undertain German naval detachments at La Spezia, Taranto and Palermo. Entry of Italians into Germany and vice versa was facilitated.
    After some diplomatic shuffle and bustle, Great Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire accepted this treaty. The Dodecanese Islands and Libya remained surrendered, as did the ships that Italy had extradited to Austria-Hungary, now in Hungarian possession, and Turkey.
    The Italian liberal-left-socialist government had found it easy to arrive at terms with the German centre-socialist-progressive government. The socialists all knew each other from before the war and were happy to work together again. And after all, the new Germany was destined to lead Europe, perhaps Italy this time might profit from choosing the right side?
     
  16. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Highflyers


    General Wilhelm Groener and Robert Katzenstein formed General Field Marshal von Eichhorn’s private think tank. He had found their discussions helpful already in Kiev, but here in Berlin they proved indispensable.
    Groener was an excellent general staff officer, a professional equivalent to Ludendorff, but with a much higher social competence. Katzenstein was a brilliant jurist and a man of sound judgement. Both had contacts to people in various strata and places of German society.
    Eichhorn had the difficult task to shape the German armed forces so that they could master a future conflict. This in the first place was aggravated by the fact that Germany had won the war. If you lose a war, every politician and general will understand that something went wrong and new ways might help to cure this. If you win a war, all went well, so why change it?
    That was of course nonsense, a lot of things hadn’t worked as they were supposed to. And the Kanobils that had had an important effect for winning the war were a product of happenstance. An engineer had made a proposal and Colonel Max Bauer, Ludendorff’s prompter, had grabbed it. Had the engineer made his proposal to any other officer, nothing at all would have happened.
    This Bauer was a remarkable fellow. Eichhorn had thought about adding him to his think tank. But he found the man so full of Pangermanist ideas and so linked to heavy industry interests that he finally had refrained from asking him. Not that Groener and Bauer would have harmonised either.

    As war minister, Eichhorn was now also responsible for the navy. The old Reichsmarineamt, Tirpitz’ power platform, had come under his authority.
    Tirpitz “risk theory” had not worked. The fleet had not deterred Britain from war with Germany. Nor had the fleet been able to prevent the British blockade.
    But as fleet “in being” the High Seas Fleet had kept the Royal Navy out of the German Bight and the Baltic. So, curiously, Tirpitz had been quite correct with his sixty percent estimate, as the corresponding number of modern capital ships in both navies demonstrated.
    As long as the Royal Navy kept its high number of dreadnoughts, the High Seas Fleet would also have to keep its big ships. This was clearly a waste of money but couldn’t be helped.

    Now, Groener and Katzenstein propagated the creation of a third service, the air force, to be called “Luftwaffe”.
    During the war there had been an army air service and a naval air service, both of which had been drastically reduced during demobilisation. Army and navy were to retain some air assets, but the majority of aircraft and the national air defence organisation should go to the new air force.
    Neither Eichhorn nor Groener or Katzenstein believed that strategic bombing could decide a war, but they were well aware that Britain had planned the creation of an “Independent Force” for strategic bombing of Germany in early 1918. Documents about it had been captured, also about the intended merging of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Navy Air Service. And in Italy, a character named Giulio Douhet made a lot of fuss about strategic bombing. It was certainly not advisable to discount such possibilities and neglect development.

    Groener also developed interesting ideas about a joint service general staff, replacing the army general staff and the admiral staff, both of which had never succeeded in working smoothly together – and in most cases hadn’t worked together at all. Eichhorn didn’t believe that the army general staff and the admiral staff should be replaced, he thought about placing a joint service general staff above the – then – three single service general staffs. And these staffs should already exist in time of peace. The GGS should permanently shift to OHL, the Admiral Staff zu SKL, and the new Luftwaffe general staff to LKL. Above these Eichhorn imagined the OKW – the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, the armed forces high command.

    He had already prevailed in making army staffs and army group staffs permanent. The old solution, to assemble them only upon mobilisation, was no longer applicable in modern warfare. Right now, Germany had ten permanent army staffs and three army group staffs.

    The next thing was to get rid of the horses. Eichhorn was a keen horseman, despite his serious riding accident before the war, but he realised that horses had no place in a war of fire, wire and mire. Railways, motorisation and mechanisation were the answers that the Great War had produced.
    For railways, Groener was the specialist. Eichhorn saw no need to get involved here.
    The old army had refrained from motor vehicles because they were strictly road bound, while the horse drawn forces could negotiate all terrain. But the machine gun and the modern artillery had shown that the horse drawn forces could go nowhere anymore. The British “Tanks” and the German “Kanobils” – even the French “Chars” – had provided the solution to cross country mobility.
    Officers should still learn to ride, Eichhorn supported this. It was an essential skill being able to direct an animal. But they also must learn to drive a motor vehicle.
    And the cavalry must be converted to a motorised and mechanised reconnaissance force. That would not be easy, the horsemen would fiercely resist.
     
  17. The Sandman Purveyor of Sky Cake Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2005
    Location:
    A twisty maze of passages, all alike
    The Japanese situation actually interests me. With the defeat of the Allies and the Central Powers too busy dealing with the costs of victory to care, what sort of stuff are they likely to pull in East Asia and elsewhere? Especially in Siberia, where they probably won't be willing to listen to the Americans in regards to pulling out of the region. And I can guarantee that under those circumstances they'd manage to keep Sakhalin, given the lack of a Russian Navy in the Pacific at this point. If you really want to stretch it, they might also manage to grab Kamchatka simply due to its isolation from the rest of Russia. As for the rest, they might by some miracle be able to hold the Red Army at the Amur, but I can't see them successfully keeping the Soviets out of the rest of the Transbaikal.

    And if they now own the Shandong Peninsula in all but name, the meddling in the disintegrating Chinese political situation will start much earlier. Maybe the Japanese try to buy Macau off of the Portugese to give them a window on southern China?

    And as long as they're on their little shopping spree, what about Timor? Would the Portugese be willing to sell, and would the Japanese want it?

    I would also wonder if Siam is likely to try to regain some of its Cambodian territories from France in this scenario.

    And what's up with Lettow-Vorbeck, everyone's favorite German general? If the German presence in Africa is expanded, he might have some interest in the proceedings.

    How is South Africa taking the news that it has to hand back Sudwestafrika, by the way?

    Finally, is there any chance that a US more willing to squeeze the British and French for repayment would try to finagle Caribbean or Pacific islands out of them? For example, it would be nice to see the Virgin Islands part of just one country instead of two...
     
  18. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    This TL has no Allied invention in Russia, as the CP victory happens rather early in 1918. That means, right now, the Czech Legion is either in Estonia or already (disarmed) in transit to Czechia, and the Bolsheviks own all of Siberia up to Vladivostok.
    Sakhalin may trigger a conflict between the Bolsheviks and the Japanese. Right at the moment, the Japanese still respect the Treaty of Portsmouth.

    Japanese activities in China might start earlier. And there's no League of Nations to which China can turn.

    Africa, so far, has seen little German activities. They have reestablished their former colonies to a minimum extend and not yet taken possession of the acquired extra ground. The South Africans were not really amused to relinquish German South-West again, but the German main argument were 1 million British and Dominions PoWs. Lettow-Vorbeck will appear in time. But not in Africa. Actually, the German government right now wonders what they should do with the African colonies.

    The US may soon try to get some real estate in lieu of war debts. Unfortunately neither the Tories nor the French right wing government are willing to give away any piece of ground.
     
  19. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    The Polish Question


    The Germans, and the Prussians in special, had had no problems with redistributing the former Austrian lands. But solving the Polish question gave them a thorough headache…
    Not only the old elites, also the new democratic government of Prussia did not favour the release of the former Polish lands to the new Polish Kingdom-without-king. Even conducting plebiscites was not considered a good solution.
    There had been 3.5 million Poles in Prussia, according to the 1910 language count. So, probably today it were 3.8 million.
    Thereof, the Posen Province had 1.3 million. Silesia had 1.2 million now. West Prussia had 0.6 million Poles and approximately 100,000 Kashubians. East Prussia had 160.00 Poles and 130,000 Mazurs, most people of both groups belonging to the protestant faith.
    The rest of the Poles lived all over Prussia, but primarily in the Ruhr area where 0.5 million had been counted in 1910.

    Silesia had been conquered by King Frederick the Great in 1740. The former owners had been the Austrian Hapsburgs who had owned the country in their role as Kings of Bohemia. It was unthinkable to give Silesia – or part of it – to the Polish Kingdom.
    West Prussia had been won in the first partition of Poland in 1772. It provided the long desired land bridge between East Prussia and the rest of the lands of the Hohenzollern. Although the territory had belonged to Poland, many inhabitants already then had been Germans. Today, the province had a German majority of two thirds.
    The Poles in East Prussia were the descendants of protestant Poles that had emigrated from catholic Poland, they had little interest to be re-joined with catholic Poland.
    The Posen Province had come to Prussia in the second partition in 1793. It was the only province in which the Poles formed the majority, according to the 1905 population census: 1.156 million Poles versus 0.829 million Germans, today believed to be 1.3 million versus 1 million.
    But even holding a referendum in Posen Province would only give a small part of the total Polish population in Germany to the Polish Kingdom, more than two million would remain anyway.
    So, why not keep also Posen Province? Giving it away would not stop Polish discontent.

    Like in the Czech case, the Germans did discount those politicians that had gone to the Entente and the US in order to influence them in favour of the Polish nation.
    So, like Masaryk and Beneš, neither Roman Dmowski nor Ignacy Paderewski had any influence on them. Jósef Piłsudski was still in jail at Magdeburg.
    There were a number of Polish politicians that were or had been members of the Reichstag or the Cisleithanian Parliament, these men formed the main contacts for the German government, as did the Regency Council in Warsaw and the prime minister of the Kingdom, Jan Steczkowski, and of course, the German Governor General, General Hans Hartwig von Beseler.
     
  20. rast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Nation, King and Church


    Charles Maurras had been the mastermind of the French royalists at least since he had taken over the Action Française, a newspaper, in 1908. He had succeeded in converting the political movement Action Française, which had been nationalist and royalist, into a movement for monarchic restoration.
    Now he was Prime Minster of the French 3rd Republic.

    Himself an agnostic, he firmly believed that France needed a King and the Catholic Church as state religion. He now stood before the task to remove that idiot Poincaré, who had led the nation into this stupid war, and replace him with Louis Philippe Robert d’Orléans, Duke of Orléans, who was to rule as King Philippe VIII.

    The lost war had polarised the French electorate. While the parties of the centre had suffered considerably in the elections, the socialists had gained 198 seats and the right wing parties 344, which gave them the majority in the 613 seats parliament. And – even to Maurras’ surprise – of these 344 right wing seats, the Action Française had gained 182, making her stronger than the Union Républicaine Démocratique, the other right wing parliamentary group, and the cluster of independent right wing deputies.

    Not that his coalition partners favoured monarchic restoration. But that didn’t bother Maurras. He now was in the position to meticulously prepare and execute a coup d’etat.

    Maurras hated and feared the Germans. He wanted to make France strong again. He also hated the Socialists, the Protestants, the Free Masons and the Jews, who in his opinion had done much to make France decadent and weak before and during the war.
    Maurras had already spoken with Marshal Pétain, the Inspector General of the Army, who had promised that the army would not intervene in case of a monarchic coup. Maurras had found Pétain rather receptive for monarchic and catholic ideas.

    First contacts with Britain had established that Prime Minister Bonar Law basically considered the Entente between Britain and France as still existing – and was interested in a close co-operation of the two nations.
    The accession to the throne of a French King would not handicap the Entente, quite on the contrary, two kingdoms might it find easier to co-operate. There certainly would be no obstruction like withholding the Duke of Orléans, who presently lived in England, when he travelled to France.
    Maurras, on the other hand, had asserted that France would not support the Irish rebels, even if they all were Catholics.

    Maurras avoided close contacts with the turncoats in Brussels and Rome and their German puppet masters in Berlin. He was deeply distrustful of German intentions. In his mind, their relatively mild peace conditions only signified that they intended to fall upon France again provided the next occasion.

    However, careful conversation with Wilhelm von Schoen, the German Ambassador, soon revealed that Germany would not oppose monarchic restoration either. On the contrary, the institution of a constitutional monarchy – now also established in the German Empire and most German States – would be seen as a positive and stabilising move.
    Von Schoen was the man who had handed over the German declaration of war to France in 1914. Maurras viewed it as a symbol of utter German arrogance that they had sent the same man again to Paris as ambassador.

    Relations with the USA remained detached. The French enthusiasm for the “Sammies” soon had cooled down when it became clear that they could not save France. And “La Grippe Américaine” had cost the lifes of almost half a million French citizens. The endless American claims to repay the war credits were not heard with pleasure in Paris either. And that strange “Giant of Democracy”, US President Woodrow Wilson, certainly would be no friend of a monarchic restoration.

    For January 20th, 1919, Maurras called a secret meeting with the leaders of the “Camelots du Roi”, his youth organisation. They would be his main instrument for the coup d’état.
     
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