Feeble Constitution - A Red-and-Green Russia 1917

November 1918 – Europe and the World after the Great War (a quick authorial overview)

Most prominently in Europe, but also in other parts of the world, the intense relief felt by the population after the Great War had finally ended on October 19th was slowly giving way to an atmosphere of confusion.

Late October and November 1918 was when the deadly second wave of the Spanish Flu washed over the continents, killing millions of people. It was also the time of other, much more ambiguous, and sometimes outright enthusiastic waves: universal suffrage was being legislated or applied for the first time in the United Kingdom [1], in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy [2], Poland [3], Romania (and Uruguay, even though remote from the events of the Great War). A first wave of soldiers returned home, scarred by their experiences in the Great War. Worker and peasant unrest rocked Germany and Yugoslavia – a phenomenon which would spread to other peoples in the months to come, as more and more demobilized soldiers returned into an economy hit by destructions, horrendous public debts, and in full conversion from war to peace production. Surging nationalism created tensions involving Germans and Poles, Poles and Lithuanians, Croats and Serbs, Hungarians, Slovaks, Serbs, and Romanians, Greeks and Turks, Estonians, Latvians and Baltic Germans, and many others.

Early in the month, in elections to the House of Representatives and the Senate, US President Woodrow Wilson’s Democratic Party narrowly lost control over both houses of Congress [like OTL]. Nevertheless, Wilson’s administration remained intensely engaged in preparing the ground for peace negotations, which were planned to begin in December in Paris, as well as in attempting to prevent the Europeans from jumping at each others’ throats again.

The latter was a gig+antic task indeed.

The newly established State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs, who sought unification with the Kingdom of Serbia, for example, was confronted with massive popular resistance against unification under the Djordjevic dynasty in parts of Croatia and Bosnia, where the rebels included armed and experienced men from the Green Cadres. The nascent SHS state was still weak, but to its luck, its opponents were plagued with internal divisions, too: a “Democratic Yugoslav Committee” under Stjepan Radić fought for a democratic and federal Yugoslavian republic, which would include at least Bulgaria, too, and possibly even Albania, while other rebel groups preferred an independent Croatia, with some of the latteri favouring a monarchy and others a republic. The rebellious peasantry sympathized with revolutionary Narodnik ideas about land repartition, while groups affiliated with the Catholic Church were much more conservative in nature and abhorred the idea of the “Russian virus” spreading to Southern Slavic lands. As a consequence, the forces loyal to the SHS National Council, aided by Serbian detachments and tacitly by the British and French units present in the region, too, began to gain the upper hand in the chaotic situation of violent streetfighting which haunted the larger towns of Croatia by the end of October. The anti-Pašić rebel coalition received far less foreign support – both the Union of Equals and the new Bulgarian Republic viewed the agrarian revolutionaries and socialists among them with great sympathy, but the geographical presence of Serbia between them and Slovenia-Croatia-Bosnia prevented them from providing any significant amount of concrete support which went beyond diplomatic protests against the “bloody oppression of democratic expressions of national self-determination”. The Italian government, on the other hand, began to quietly ship support to radical Catholic groups in Croatia in late October, but this was barely enough to prevent their total annihilation. Thus, the rebels were not defeated – they still controlled great parts of the countryside –, but they were driven into the mountains, from where they would continue their fight, from mid-November finally at least formally united in a counter-“Mostar government”. On the diplomatic stage, the Mostar government’s stance was not too promising, either: While the Union of Equals’ Foreign Commissioner Axelrod emphatically spoke out for the right of all South Slavs to determine the shape of their future state in a grassroots, bottom-up process of nation building, Britain and France insisted on the framework agreed upon in the Corfu Declaration, and while the US position was less determined yet and more of a vaguely pro-Yugoslavia stance, Secretary of State Robert Lansing had already made it clear that it would be unacceptable to the US if the defeated Central Power Bulgaria had a say in the process of its formation. Throughout November, Axelrod was forced to increasingly moderate his criticism, though, in order not to risk the loss of credibility of the UoE’s foreign policy with the pursuit of contradictory policies in the Yugoslav and the Polish Questions [see more below, or rather: tomorrow, when I’ll have finished the part on Poland].

Under these circumstances, the SHS National Council in Zagreb announced on November 28th that elections for a constituent assembly for a unified Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs, which would encompass the formerly Habsburg SHS territories as well as Serbia and, if things went well, Montenegro, would be held in late January. Two days later, the Mostar counter-government announced to hold rivalling elections to “Federative Republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina” (envisioned to become part of a greater Yugoslav federation one day) a week earlier.

These events represented the first foreign policy failure of the young Bulgarian Republic. Its governing coalition of the agrarian BANU and various Social Democratic parties, headed by the People’s Supreme Commissioner Alexander Stambolinsky, was more successful with its domestic reforms, though. Village committees were reformed to oversee and implement the agrarian reform which the revolutionary Commission had decreed, and workers’ councils were forming everywhere and endowed by the government with far-reaching powers to manage the conversion of the country’s wartime economy to peace production – a gigantic challenge which met, at every step, with protests and attempted obstructions. The dire state of food production and distribution as well as the overstrain of the country’s medical services faced with yet another pandemic wave further contributed to a general state of turmoil. The continued presence of UoE Republican Guards in the country helped calm the situation, though, and allowed Stambolisnky’s government, whose security forces were in a process of disintegration, to steer through the troubled revolutionary waters without being overthrown, slowly building up alternative security structures based on the agrarian and proletarian parties’ Orange and Red Guards. As the government reasserted its control over key public services and the danger of counter-revolution appeared to wane by the end of November, it became increasingly clear that the revolutionary coalition of the BANU, the Wider Socialists and the Narrower Socialists would not stay together for much longer. The divergences between Dimitar Blagoev’s Narrow Socialists, who hoped to unify all radical revolutionary socialist parties of the wider Balkan region, clamoured for widespread confiscations and immediate nationalization of all industries as well as for the formation of voluntary proletarian corps who would help the Western Yugoslav comrades in their struggle against Pašić’s oppression on the one hand, and the BANU and Broad Socialists, who sought to combat hunger, diseases and economic collapse with a more moderate agenda that could, they hoped, be supported by the bourgeois Democratic Party and members of the old administrative apparatus, too, and laid their trust with regards to foreign policy in the hands of their UoE patrons to represent their interests in Paris, could no longer be denied. The national elections, scheduled after the country’s Christmas celebrations in the first half of January, were the natural moment in which coalition partners could revert to being competitors. The open question was whether the coalition would last until then.

The slim prospects of Blagoev’s project of a unified radically revolutionary socialist party for all countries of the Balkans, who would overcome the divisions of the nation states as a preliminary step towards achieving worldwide socialist brotherhood, could be clearly observed by anyone paying attention to what happened on the Northern bank of the Danube. Cristian Rakovsky’s mission among Romania’s Social Democrats was failing miserably. While he did win over a few staunch internationalists, their numbers were negligible even in the context of a comparatively underdeveloped labour movement such as the Romanian one. Romania’s Social Democratic Party, which had been banned and persecuted by King Ferdinand’s government for their anti-war stance, was immensely relieved to be able to operate freely now – a move which Ion I. C. Brătianu’s government undertook only after their UoE allies applied significant pressure – and it rode on the wave of nationalist euphoria which came with the Romanian army’s advance into Transilvania and later Banat and, throughout November, the increasingly clear signs that both regions as well as Southern parts of the Bucovina would be able to join the Old Kingdom to form a Greater Romania. Brătianu had pushed through electoral and agrarian reform. The former gave Social Democrats and Ţărănişti (the Peasant Party) better chances in the scheduled March 1919 elections, and while Brătianu’s National Liberals hoped that agrarian reform would take away the latter party’s main raison d’ être, the Social Democrats were able to mobilise their support base with demands for the eight hour workday and legal recognition of the role of unions in collective bargaining, which Brătianu was not yet willing to concede. [4] Overall, Social Democrats both in the Old Kingdom and in Transilvania joined all other Romanian parties in supporting Unification – in their view, this was not a propitious moment for airy-fairy dreams of a Red Super-Balkan Federation; they needed to appear as good Romanian patriots now, leaders like Constantin Titel Petrescu and Mihai Gheorghiu Bujor thought, and ride the wave on which their primary source of protection (the UoE) and the royal Romanian government they fought against presently surfed together.

All was not well between Romania and the Union of Equals, though. They had fought and won against most Central Powers, yes, and in late October, they were able to chase away the Szeklers’ Legion from Transilvania in the Battle of Turda and coerce Count Karoly’s Hungarian government to acknowledge Transilvania’s secession from Hungary and its unification with Romania. But not only did Brătianu and the PNL resent the political pressure they felt themselves under to implement an agenda of social and political reform. The harmony was also disturbed by the Bessarabian Question. Brătianu, and with him the great majority of the old political elites, felt elated by the impending inclusion of Transilvania and Banat into Greater Romania, but to them, Greater Romania was not complete without those parts of Moldova which had been conquered by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. In the disputed region, a parliamentary assembly (“Sfatul Ţării”) had passed a much more radical land reform, and was urging Moscow to be allowed to constitute itself as the (ethnically, linguistically and religiously heterogenous) Bessarabian Federative Republic within the Union of Equals. As long as Romanian assistance in defending the front lines against the Central Powers had been essential, Moscow had held back on these plans. Now, with the war won, Bessarabia’s social democratic leaders Ion Inculeţ and Ecaterina Arbore, who were under internal pressure from Romanian nationalists, insistently called for official recognition of their socio-economically more radically transformative, multi-cultural republic and a guarantee against its absorption into an ethnically much more homogeneous, politically more conservative Kingdom of Romania. Throughout November, intense negotiations were conducted, thinly veiled threats exchanged… and quite a viable solution was found. Bessarabia would constitute itself as a Federative Republic of the Union of Equals (and participate in the UoE general elections in December as such), but there would be free movement of goods and persons between Romania and Bessarabia (and, by implication, the entire Union of Equals). Formerly Austrian Bucovina would be partitioned, with its Northern half joining the Ukrainian Federative Republic of the UoE and its Southern half being incorporated into the Kingdom of Romania.

While this was a respectable deal by all means, Brătianu nevertheless resigned from his position immediately after its conclusion, choosing to lead the PNL into the next elections on a nationalist platform which emphasized Romania’s political independence from the UoE and kept “the full completion of Romania’s unification” as a goal still to be reached by the party.

What to Romania was a triumphant national liberation was a bitter national humiliation to Hungary. Count Karoly’s left-liberal government, and especially his Minister for National Minorities, Oskar Jászi (Civic Radical Party), had invested great hope and whatever was available in resources into helping Transilvania and the Banat transforming into autonomous “cantons” of what he envisioned as a future Hungarian-led “Switzerland of the East”. While the Banat Republic, proclaimed in Temesvar as early as late September, remained committed to this project and was only dissolved when Romanian troops progressed Northwards on the Eastern bank of the Danube and Serbian troops on the river’s left bank, forcing the Banat autonomist administration (prominently among them many people of German or Hungarian language and/or Jewish heritage) to flee further Northwards, the Council of Transilvania, convened at Alba Iulia, with its majority of Romanian-speaking delegates from Hungary’s Social Democratic Party and the National Romanian Party of Transilvania, opted for unconditional unification with the Kingdom of Romania early enough for its population to be able to vote in 1919’s Romanian parliamentary elections.

Having lost Slovakia and Banat to military defeat and Transilvania to both military defeat and semi-democratic vote [the Council of Transilvania was not really elected, just like most other emerging National Councils weren’t, IOTL as ITTL], Count Karoly, who had initially refused to enter negotiations for an armistice, arguing that his republic, much like that of the Czechoslovaks or the Southern Slavs, had emerged from under the oppression of the Habsburg rule and was not to be blamed for the monarchy’s war, ultimately realized that he had no chance but to accept the terms which the Entente presented to him: to withdraw behind basically the same lines that Hungary would end up with as national boundaries IOTL in the Treaty of Trianon. Having suffered this humiliating defeat, Karoly’s government began to buckle under increasing domestic pressure both from the Left and the Right. While both Left and Right oppositions were internally divided, too – on the right, those who rejected the abolition of monarchy and the restoration of a national republic disagreed with emphatically anti-Habsburg nationalist groups, while on the left, the Social Democrats suffered from much the same internal divisions like anywhere else –, they were each threatening to become too strong for Karoly’s unpopular coalition government. On the right, especially the Hungarian National Defense Association (MOVE), who united many former k.u.k. army officers in their ranks, threatened to undermine the army’s loyalty to Karoly’s government. On the left, the Social Democrats were radicalizing and bolstered by a wave of strikes and protests caused by the utter economic collapse which Hungary suffered as winter came and the country was cut off from its traditional coal supplies in (now Czechoslovak) Bohemia. People not only shivered in their unheated homes; goods, too, were unable to be shipped across the country as railroad transportation ceased to function for lack of fuel.

As November turned into December, Karoly’s government, which had called parliamentary elections for February 1919, was barely holding on to power, but various members of his government were already extending feelers to the right or the left, preparing to jump ship soon if the moment would come in which Karoly’s liberal government would ultimately fall.

If Hungary’s borders were uncertain and its government threatened by a powerful opposition on both right and left, all of this applied to an even greater extent to Poland. At the moment of the conclusion of the Armistice of Absam, with the transition of power in Warsaw from Steczkowski to Pilsudski, commencing German withdrawal and cautious behavior initially displayed by the UoE’s military and political leaderships, it had appeared as if Poland was safely heading for independence, national unity and renewed strength. But even at that moment, this view would have ignored the great underlying (ideological as well as personal) political tensions in Polish politics as well as the complexity of the military situation in which Poland was caught. When Conservative Catholic groups in the Lithuanian Taryba called for Polish aid to wrest control over Vilnius from the radically leftist Commune, while the Naczelna Rada Ludowa in Poznan calls Dowbor-Musznicky’s Polish UoE Legions for help in its attempts to oust the German civil administration, too, from majority Polish-speaking regions in Prussia’s Posen province and beyond, those who were asked for help answered a call which revereberated deep within their respective formations, below ideological affiliations. Pilsudski, though nominally in the leadership of the Polish Socialist Party, crushed the Wilno Commune because he hoped that he could thus bring Poland and Lithuania back together again into a modern republic which could stand proudly on its own against the unenlightened and unpredictable Russian bear. The Polish UoE Legion helped the Nadek-dominated Poznan chapter of the POW to saw off a piece of Prussia-Germany because they saw the historical chance to revert a century-old aggressive wave of Germanic conquests which at times had come close to threaten to extinguish the Polish nation.

Both military formations not only found themselves in odd ideological company. They also soon discovered that their dual moves had brought them into a situation of irreconcilable rivalry – an awareness acutely helped by the frantic diplomatic negotiations undertaken among the Entente partners over how to respond to Friedrich Ebert’s German government’s bitter complaint over the POW’s forceful substitution of Prussian with Polish local administration. Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Arthur Balfour, politely reminded everyone of the terms of the Armistice of Absam, in which a German military withdrawal behind the Oder was demanded, while German civil government in what had been the pre-war Empire would not be affected. Axelrod as well as France’s Foreign Minister Stéphen Pichon, on the other hand, pointed at Wilson’s Thirteenth Point, which demanded an emergent Polish state to comprise all clearly Polish-speaking regions and include an access to the Baltic Sea. Just as Axelrod backed Pichon’s views regarding Poland and Germany, who mirrored the primary French aim to defang Germany and make any further German attempt against France unlikely in the foreseeable future, Pichon also backed Axelrod’s insistence that Pilsudski’s forces had nothing whatsoever to do in Vilnius – a view which Lansing shared, too.

Seeing himself isolated over the Polish Question, Balfour soon backpedaled. This was the last moment in which Pilsudski might have remained the universally acknowledged Marshall of the military forces of the nascent Polish Republic, had he withdrawn all and any of his forces from Lithuania. But this was no longer possible for him – not only had he propped up a weak faction around Jouzas Gabrys [5] in Lithuania and angered all the others, from the Christian Democrats to the socialists, and even the conservative Party of National Progress distanced themselves, so Pilsudski’s withdrawal would certainly have brought anti-Polish forces to power in Vilnius quickly. More importantly, though, Pilsudski’s invasion had mobilized thousands of ethnic Poles in Vilnius and the rest of Southern Lithuania, who had organized into their own section of the POW over the past few weeks. Pilsudski allegedly even did try to order a retreat already in a meeting with his “generals” on November 13th, but, some sources say, those representing the Wilno section of the POW flatly refused and even threatened to block their passage – after the intervention, many ethnic Poles feared violent retributions against them [6]. This may or may not be true – either way, Pilsudski hesitated and stayed in Vilnius too long. By November 16th, all important Entente nations had jointly declared to recognize the ND-dominated Naczelna Rada Ludowa in Poznan, instead of the PPS-dominated Provisional Polish Government in Warsaw, as the official representation of the Polish nation, which would also be invited to join the Peace Conference in Paris.

When Pilsudski did retreat from Vilnius on November 21st, it was too late, and he found himself faced with a communiqué which dismissed him from the position of Marshall of the Polish Republic. In his absence, the PPS split over the question of whether to remain loyal to Pilsudski and his Eastern focus or play by the Entente’s rules and integrate with the NRL. Ignacy Daszinsky, once a close friend and ally of Pilsudski’s, convinced the socialists from the former Austrian partition to go with the latter route – a betrayal Pilsudski would not forget. Jedrzej Moraczewski secured the acquiescence of most workers’ councils with the switch to a coalition government between the (larger faction) of the PPS and the right-wing NDs. Pilsudski’s loyalists, led by Tytus Filipowicz, left the PPS to found the Polish Revolutionary Socialist Party. Pilsudski refused to stand down – and by the end of November, Poland, while having secured military as well as political control over significant portions of formerly Prussian-controlled territory, was on the brink of a civil war.

When Pilsudski left Vilnius and another round of violence erupted in the city, the Second and Third Union Armies were both not too far away to intervene – but they abstained from such action, on political orders. Supreme Commissioner Kamkov was determined to honor the promise of independence his predecessor Chernov had given (and also not to risk unpopular deaths in a poorly structured quagmire only weeks before the general elections). Thus, he would not to send forces into Lithuania unless they were called by a democratically elected Lithuanian body.

Also, the Second as well as the First Union Army, along with ample Republican Guards and Latvian and Estonian forces, had their hands full in the Northern Baltic, where one of the darkest tragedies of the postwar months began to unfold. The Baltic German minority, descendants of the colonists who had come under the protection of the crusading Livonian Order, had coexisted peacefully for several centuries now with their Baltic-, Uralic- and Slavic-speaking neighbors. They made up a large part of the landowning nobility, but in total far more German speakers lived in the towns than in country manors by 1918. In 1917’s February Revolution, ethnic Germans in Riga and Reval (Tallinn) as well as in the empire’s military service had, for the largest part, supported the new liberal order as well as the budding movements for the autonomy of the Baltic lands.

But the course of the revolution in 1917 had worsened these relations, as the Latvian and Estonian peasantry began to press for expropriations of the Baltic German nobility, and the proletariat of the polyglot towns espoused increasingly radical socialist views. Thus, when the German Army occupied Latvia and Estonia, and especially after the fall of Petrograd, when they installed their puppet Provisional All-Russian Government, Markov’s puppet regime found above-average support and loyalty among the Baltic Germans, especially among the landowning and (former) military elites. Baltic German cooperation was so much smoother than anybody else’s in Markov’s little dictatorship that he vehemently objected to the OHL’s plans for the establishment of a separate United Baltic Duchy – which did not keep Ludendorff and Hoffmann from preparing such plans.

This cooperation with Markov’s extremist right-wing tyranny which squeezed as many resources out of the Baltics and occupied Russia as possible to feed the German war machine had made the privileged minority extremely unpopular, and when the tide had turned, they paid a horrible price. Already throughout August and September, upon the collapse of Markov’s regime, local and poorly coordinated acts of “revenge” had resulted in violent plunderings of Baltic German estates, which left over a hundred people dead. When Latvian and Estonian forces, Republican Guards and two Union Armies marched in to restore the two federative republics and disarm von Hutier’s encircled Eighth German Army, the situation was calmed in many places, where military units upheld law and order and stepped in against spontaneous pogroms. In other places, though, the incoming military forces began to engage in coordinated campaigns, which took the inter-ethnic violence to an entirely new level. Especially Jukums Vācietis’ Latvian forces, but also a number of Republican Guards of mixed background, engaged in brutal acts which amounted to a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Von Hutier’s Army was not spared, either. When it became evident that significant numbers of German soldiers had escaped into the woods to avoid UoE captivity, the commander of the First Union Army ordered to forcibly march the prisoners all the way to the few major towns, where they were packed onto overcrowded freight trains and sent on a long journey Eastwards, on which hundreds would perish.

Some of those who had escaped into the woods, often with as much equipment as they could carry, joined groups of German civilians who sought to defend themselves against the persecutions, forming – a phenomenon which sprung up across much of the continent like mushrooms – a Baltic version of “Heimatwehren”. But the emergence of organized resistance only made matters worse for the German-speaking population of the Baltics: it gave Vācietis et al. a military reason to ratchet up the ethnic cleansing. When the first Baltic German Heimatwehren appeared in the towns, too, all urban German speakers came under fire, too.

The People’s Commission was extremely dissatisfied with the reports they received from the Baltic coast, to say the least. Kamkov and Axelrod planned to exploit the Union of Equal’s status of maltreated victims of the German Empire’s atrocious warfare and disastrous occupation and the sympathy bonus they hoped this brought them to the Union’s best advantage – but news of UoE military units committing their own wave of atrocities against the Baltic Germans threatened to annihilate this bonus. Pavel Lazimir, the Voykom, increased the internal pressure to stop the excesses and to adopt a more cautious approach in combatting any German resistance; yet at the same time, he also held his powerful protecting hand over any military personnel with blood on their hands, preventing the imprisonment and indictment of even one of those who were responsible for the atrocities against the Germans until decades after the deeds.

While the restoration of the Latvian and Estonian Federative Republics came at a bloody price, the establishment of a new federative republic to their South-East proceeded extremely smoothly. Already days after the conclusion of the Armistice of Absam and the beginning withdrawal of German occupation troops, a Belorussian Rada convened in Minsk. Dominated by moderate socialists of various ethnic backgrounds, the Rada immediately pursued the goal of establishing a Belorussian Federative Republic – a goal which was achieved on November 26th with the conclusion of the Concord between the Belorussian Rada and the Constituent Assembly in Moscow, just in time to define the procedure under which the UoE general elections would be held in Belarus and under which circumstances it could send how many delegates into the electoral college which chose the Union’s next president.

After the USPD’s Leipzig Congress, in which the Spartakusbund left the party and gave the signal for all its members and allies to immediately rise against the old monarchical order, the military leadership, and the capitalist system of exploitation, Ebert’s imperial government was in panic. It was impossible for the authorities to gauge just how many USPD members would turn out to be Spartakists, and indeed the violent takeover of power in the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg and in the Silesian city of Breslau (where Rosa Luxemburg was liberated from prison) by Spartakus-dominated soldiers’ councils gave them reason to be very concerned. Ebert was loathe to grasp the extended hand of the moderate USPD leadership for negotiation, and his Minister for Defense, Gustav Noske, their coalition partners, the Kaiser and the military leadership were even more loathe to do so. But Ebert was a pragmatic, too. He knew that Polish rebels were about to wrestle control over Prussia’s Eastern provinces from the German civil authorities, he knew that thousands were dying of the flu every day and that more would starve if economic production could not be restored to normalcy. He saw that only the USPD could provide them with the necessary intelligence about impending revolts and the political capital to bring those parts of the proletariat who had been estranged from the SPD back onto legal terrain. Thus, phones were picked up…

On November 16th, when Hamburg was already restored to its old municipal government by the intervention of army units stationed at Altona, an alliance of Heimatwehren and returned regular troops had slaughtered enough Spartakists in Breslau to cause their control over the city to collapse, and other attempted Spartakist uprisings in Berlin and Stuttgart had been drowned in blood, too, Friedrich Ebert (as chancellor), Philipp Scheidemann (as chairman of the SPD and leader of its SPD Reichstag faction) and Hugo Haase (as chairman of the USPD and leader of its Reichstag faction) signed an agreement which sealed the extension of the coalition of SPD, FVP and Zentrum to include the USPD to form the “Front of National Salvation”. Under the terms of the agreement, all political prisoners who were not Spartakists or “anarchists” would be immediately released, a moratorium for political strikes for the rest of the year was agreed upon, and all involved parties committed themselves to endow the National Constituent Assembly as well as the constituent assemblies in all member states (except for Prussia) with the full freedom to decide the future forms of government democratically and unrestrained. (Although Gustav Stresemann had publicly repented in a Reichstag speech his enthusiastic support for expansionist policies in the early years of the war in order to facilitate his party’s entry into the Front of National Salvation coalition, too, a majority of his party’s Reichstag delegates rejected this idea when they realized that the above-mentioned agreement meant that the constituent assemblies could oust the Kaiser and any local monarchs, too.)

While the USPD’s entry into the coalition stabilized Germany internally, the situation on its borders caused a growing national panic. In the West, French, Belgian, British and US troops occupied the left bank of the Rhine and a number of bridgeheads on the right side of the Rhine, too, but kept German civil administration in place. In the East, though, the Polish Poznan RNL began to incorporate the towns and villages militarily controlled by the POW into its nascent administrative apparatus, making it perfectly clear that they expected all majority-Polish territories (under which they subsumed Kashubian-speaking groups, too) to be part of the Polish Republic henceforth. Combined with news of violence against Germans in Latvia and Estonia, this triggered a popular wave of enlistment in nationalist Heimatwehren, primarily but not exclusively in ethnically heterogeneous border regions. Noske’s ministry was increasingly counting on these inoffficial militia to circumvent the empire’s obligation to withdraw all military forces beyond the Oder, and worked with the military towards inofficial solutions in which military equipment, which had been agreed to be left behind for the Entente occupying forces to collect, would be handed over to local Heimatwehr units and hidden away. None of this must be allowed to become known – for officially, Ebert’s government was now playing the role of the persecuted innocence, lamenting anti-German excesses in the Baltics and at the hands of the Poles who violated the terms of the Armistice, while the Germans were faithfully implementing its provisions to the last letter.

This strategy was pompously subverted, though, when Kaiser Wilhelm II. held a speech before a large and angry crowd in Berlin on December 1st, though, in which he denounced Polish and “Russian” aggression and declared: “The German people has declared before all the world its unconditional desire for peace and laid down all arms to stop the great tragedy which has brought ruin over our continent. Now we are being raped by the victors. But we will not suffer all and any injustice and humiliation – there is a limit which must not be crossed. If we are pained beyond endurance, we cannot help it, we will lash out ultimately.” His speech, enthusiastically cheered by members of the nationalist Heimatwehren and met with furious boos and jeers by protesters with red banners, left Ebert’s government domestically and internationally embarrassed, and threatened to exert such centrifugal forces that the survival of the newly-forged coalition was immediately thrown into question as the USPD loudly demanded the Kaiser’s demission in the Reichstag once again, only to be decried by the restructuring far right as “traitors of the fatherland”.

Italy was one of the victorious nations of the Great War – yet this apparently did not calm the conflict-ridden country at all. If anything, tensions which had been suppressed during the immense effort of the war now seemed to come to the fore again.

First of all, there was the chaotic situation within the socialist movement. While undoubtedly a powerful force especially in the industrialised Northern half of the country, the socialists were undergoing a phase of great internal divisions, which had only been exacerbated by the PSI congress of September 1918.

A week after the attack on Turati, the police had apprehended a suspect for the attempted assassination: Cesare Rossi, an Independent Socialist and close associate of Benito Mussolini. Both rejected these accusations and the latter, in his first-page articles in the Quotidiano dei Combattenti Socialisti, publicly blamed Rome’s police prefecture of playing a political game at the behest of Orlando’s government by framing Rossi with the aim to discredit his movement.

Most socialists sided with the national coalition government on this question, not doubting a single second that indeed one of Mussolini’s men had been firing at Turati, and hurled furious accusations at the “Independent Socialists”, whose nationalism and militarism they abhorred anyway. One of the leading Maximalists, Giacinto Menotti Serrati, though, actually concurred, in an article for the PSI’s official newspaper Avanti!, with Mussolini’s accusation of manipulations. Only Serrati insinuated that the goal of the conspiracy had not been to discredit the Independent Socialists, but to shut down the PSI congress and prevent it from formulating a coherent transformational agenda for Italy.

Following Serrati’s front-page article, which almost coincided with the Armistice of Absam and thus came only weeks before the beginning of partial Italian demobilization (occupying Austria and parts of Yugoslavia and Albania took a lot of troops, but still considerably less than conducting offensive war operations), protest marches – the first of these in Milan – regularly turned into violent streetfights: Maximalist Socialists and anarchists against the police, internationalist Socialists against Independent Socialists, left-syndicalists against right-syndicalists, Independent Socialists against the police, too… In a number of provinces, curfews were ordered – some in the name of quarantine and the containment of the Spanish Flu pandemic, others openly aimed against the political violence. Once again, local police who had to enforce the curfew became the target of attacks – and sometimes their source, too, as in the case of the death of the 17-year-old syndicalist Daniele Fratelli [7] of Parma.

While the socialist opposition was divided, those moderate socialists who supported the “Unione Sacra” achieved important reforms: only weeks after the conclusion of the war, a reform of the Election Law replaced the old first-past-the-post system with proportional representation (with preferential voting within lists). The PSI Minister for Agriculture, Luigi Montemartini, spearheaded a “cereal offensive” in which hundreds of agricultural co-operatives across the country would be supported by the government in switching to new and improved varieties of wheat developed by Nazareno Strampelli, and the creation of new co-operatives was facilitated. The Ministers from the Reformist Socialist Party, who had split from the PSI in 1912 already, Ivanoe Bonomi (public works) and Leonida Bissolati continued with their largely successful work, too, the latter tasked with the increasingly dramatic challenge of providing aid to the wounded of the war and the returning veterans.

Italy had been awarded sizable occupation zones, mostly in the formerly Habsburg lands: much of Western Austria, parts of Slovenia, a large number of Dalmatian islands as well as half of Albania came under temporary Italian control. In Albania, which, US President Wilson insisted, should emerge as an undivided sovereign nation state, the Italian occupation zone bordered on those of the Serbian and the Greek military forces.

In Greece, the victorious ending of the Great War had strengthened the Venizelists, who were now preparing a national referendum on the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a Greek Republic. But more pressing was, for the moment, the challenge of taking care of more than a million refugees, who had fled the persecutions in the Ottoman Empire. Eleftherios Venizelos’ government had obtained the agreement of the other Entente powers to occupy the last European / Rumelian territory of the Ottomans except for Constantinople, which was jointly controlled by an Entente Council, as well as Smyrna and its environs in order to protect the Greek minority which still lived there. (Other Greek “islands” were under the control of other Entente members: the Pontic Greeks were “protected” in a zone occupied by the Union of Equals, while the Greeks in the South-East now lived in a region into which British and French forces were slowly filtering to estbablish a joint OETA zone. By late October, all projected Greek troops had arrived in Smyrna – but they did not calm the situation in the coastal city at all. Now, violent retributions against Smyrna’s Turks began to occur, and the Greek occupation not only turned a blind eye on them; Greek soldiers were also seen in many cases to have participated in plunderings. The Ottoman government in occupied Constantinople protested – but by late November, no action was taken to calm the situation in Smyrna. [This is basically OTL, except for the UoE occupation zone and, of course, the existence of a huge Armenian Federative Republic next to it.]

[1] If we’re turning a blind eye on the different voting ages for men and women…

[2] Well, only for men who had served in the army and not for women, but we’ll come to that. Still a massive expansion of the suffrage.

[3] Thought this is a complicated matter. More on that below.

[4] Unsurprisingly. The National Liberals were the major party of Romania’s old oligarchy and especially of its bourgeois wing, and while the Peasant Revolt of 1907 had demonstrated the need for a land reform even to the PNL, major concessions to the urban labour movement were not yet felt to be necessary (the strikes of 1920 or 1929 have not yet happened).

[5] He was among the few Lithuanian politicians actually involved in Pilsudski’s OTL coup which attempted to install a pro-Polish government in Kaunas.

[6] Given the amount of inter-ethnic violence occurring IOTL, this may not have been an unfounded anxiety.

[7] Don’t look him up, he’s just a youngster I made up.
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The flag of the Union of Equals

December 1918 - Avksentiev Elected
Washington D.C. (USA): The Washington Post, December 28th, 1918, p.1:



The electoral commission in Moscow has published the official results of the presidential elections: Nikolay Avksentiev, hitherto leader of the Socialist Revolutionary Party in the constituent assembly, will be the next president of the new Russian state which calls itself “the union of equals”. Mr Avksentiev will be formally elected by the electoral college on January 13th, where he has 291 votes on his side, while his three rival candidates together could only muster 270. In the popular vote, Avksentiev has clearly triumphed, too, obtaining 44.6 % of all votes cast, while the runner-up, Leon Trotsky of the Revolutionary Social Democrats [2], has scored only 31.2 %. Official publication of the results of the elections, which had already taken place two weeks ago, had been postponed after recounts had been ordered in nine electoral districts, of which three were then recounted again under the oversight of representatives from all four parties. Of the last three districts, the second recounts confirmed the results of the first round, namely Yaroslavl having voted for Mr Avksentiev with the narrow margin of 1,789 votes over Mr Trotsky’s, while Tula and Kostroma – the latter’s four electors having been awarded to Mr Avksentiev at first, both go to Mr Trotsky, whose margin over Mr Avksentiev was a mere 331 votes in Kostroma. The third- and fourth-placed candidates, Alimardan Topchubashov of the Tatar Moslems [3] and the moderate Georgian Social Democrat Noe Zhordania, have already conceded the results and congratulated Mr Avksentiev to his victory. It is expected that Mr Trotsky will now follow, too. He has won both Petrograd and Moscow, and his party had brought tens of thousands of its supporters onto the streets after the elections, which saw them locked out of the new coalition majority in Russia’s parliament, too. The radical protesters had demanded recounts and decried electoral fraud, but also protested against bread prices and even resorted to plundering shops and stores. After none of the allegations could be proven [4], David Ryazanov, an influential party figure who had only narrowly lost the nomination to Mr Trotsky, has already announced that the Revolutionary Social Democrats would take the struggle for their causes to the chamber of workers’ councils, where they deem the majority of delegates to be on their side.


In Paris, where the negotations for a worldwide order of peace and the settlement of the various problems caused by the Great War will soon recommence in earnest after the opening round and the Christmas break, diplomats are seeing the results of the elections and the personal change in the leadership of the Russian [5] delegation with mixed feelings. On the one hand, an election of Mr Trotsky would have caused much greater concern. Into this relief, though, regret is mixed about the departure of Tobias Axelrod who, in spite of his youthful idealism and broken English, had made a reputation for himself as a cool head, an accessible personality, and, not the least important, a friend of the United States. Mr Avksentiev’s shadow Foreign Minister, Alexander Kerensky, has not raised favourable expectations in Paris when, during the electoral campaign, he referred to the government of the defeated enemy power Bulgaria as “our dear friends and allies”, or when he demanded to “let the Germans bleed” for the horrible suffering they inflicted on Russia, “to the last drop, even if we have to pack every single engine in every single of their factories onto a train and bring it here.” More on page four.


In the various new member states, into which the Russian Empire has disintegrated, the situation is much less clear after parliamentary elections in accordance with the principle of proportional representation have left various acting or provisional government parties or alliances short of parliamentary majorities, but without awarding such a majority to the respective opposition, either, in veritably chaotic legislative chambers now often composed of more than a dozen parties. Among these parliaments is the important Russian Duma, where the governing Socialist Revolutionaries have defended their position as the strongest party, standing at 37.9 % in comparison to merely 28.2 % for their Revolutionary Social Democratic opponents, but where even the envisioned alliance with Mr Kerensky’s small progressive party [6] has remained short of majority. In the Ukraine, the situation is similarly complicated: here, too, the Socialist Revolutionaries have relegated both pro-Russian and Ukrainian nationalistic Social Democrats to the second and third ranks, but neither of the three appear willing to form a government together with each other or with the party of the Cossack minority, which has obtained a respectable fourth place. More on page five.

[1] It’s the Union of Equals, but the Post still goes for the familiar term in its front headline.
As with the NYT from those days, you should imagine all the smaller articles under their own headlines printed in four slender vertical columns beside each other.

[2] The party name is still International Revolutionary Social Democratic Labour Party (unification faction), but that’s obviously too much of a mouthful.

[3] His party is called Ittifaq al-Muslimin.

[4] Which we should not take to mean that everything went perfectly immaculate, only that nowhere had there been a combination of a blatant rigging and an institution willing and able to prove it.

[5] Read UoE

[6] He is speaking about the Popular Socialist Labour Party.

Overview and Statistics of the UoE Presidential Election of December 1918


Topchubashov obtained more electors than Zhordania, in spite of his lower popular vote, because votes for him are mostly concentrated in electoral districts of the South which he has also carried. Zhordania, who has won a number of federative republics (Georgia, Armenia, Bessarabia, and Finland), has scored a number of respectable second and third places in other electoral districts.

Here is the map of the electoral constituencies (sorry for the horrible shapes I’ve given to Finland and Armenia, and don’t look too closely on the borders of Belarus and Ukraine, this map is not intended to convey their boundaries exactly, just to show roughly who has their fiefs where.


Green is for Avksentiev, Red for Trotsky, Light Blue for Topchubashov and Pink for Zhordania.

For much of Russia, I went with the tendencies of the Russian Constituent Assembly election of 1917 IOTL – electoral districts where the SRs scored overwhelming majorities in spite of the elections being many weeks after the Leninist coup I have awarded to the SRs ITTL, too, those are predominantly rural ones. Districts carried by the Bolsheviks IOTL, the more industrialised ones, I have given to Trotsky ITTL – with a few variations where the race was close IOTL. In the federative republics, the voting patterns mostly follow the tendencies of their own political landscapes
Finnish Eduskunta Elections
Results of the Elections to the Eduskunta of the Finnish Federative Republic (December 1918)


Overall, the story of the December 1918 Eduskunta elections is one of the implosion of the Finnish Right, and the division of the Finnish Left.
As a result, the SDP lose the absolute majority they had gained in 1916, but they can continue their coalition with a now significantly strengthened Maalaisliitto.


The reason for the implosion of the Right is that basically all traditional bourgeois parties had partaken in the Vaasa Senate secession and lost that gamble spectaculary, with many traditional leaders of the Finnish Party and the Young Finns having fled into Swedish exile and still hiding there. The prevailing narrative in Finland, from deep within the centre to the fringes of the left, is one which blames them for an utterly unnecessary bloodshed and views them as unwilling to play the democratic game fairly. The bourgeois parties’ traditional milieus of support are disoriented and divided. A sane majority, which prioritises a return to law and order, is on the slow path towards understanding that the future is going to be social democracy and membership of the victorious Union of Equals and towards organizing a political representation for their own particular interests. Not all of them have travelled long along this path yet, though, some still radicalised and traumatized, many angry.

Those centrist bourgeois forces who are willing to participate in the new game are gathering in the Kansallinen Kokoomus/Samlingspartiet [1], a liberal, moderately nationalist party led by Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg. While they have not been able to absorb votes on the right fringe of the political system, they have nevertheless managed to reach a distant second place in the Eduskunta elections behind the Social Democrats, their main political message being that they are a solid party of legality, social and economic stability, who is decidedly non-socialist but has also parted with the old ways of Svinhufvud and his Vaasa secessionists.

To their right, there are only radicalised fringe parties, none of which have managed to win seats in the Eduskunta, probably also because a considerable amount of right-wing voters have decided to boycott the elections.

Overall, the governing coalition which had backed the Kuopio Senate, the SDP and Maalaisliitto, is popular; it has been victorious, it has delivered important reforms, and with the liberation of Petrograd and then the end of the war, the supply situation is improving, too. While the bad shape of overall Russian economy and destructions of the Civil War are making themselves felt, the general mood is “Things can only get better now!” and Matti Paasivuori of the SDP and Santeri Alkio of Maalaisliitto's progressive wing, which has come to dominate the agrarian party, are widely trusted to be the right leaders to make this happen.

But the two parties are faring differently. In the predominantly rural country which Finland still was in 1918, Maalaisliitto is profiting considerably from the new importance and prominence, and from the implementation of the agrarian reform, and also from being one of the few sane and solid, but also non-socialist electoral options, which is why they were able to gain considerably over their 1916 results.

The SDP, on the other hand, while having broken into new voter segments by steering the nation’s ship on a middle course between two extremes into the waters of national autonomy, must necessarily face an electoral decline from its absolute majority in 1916, because the Red rebels of the South won’t all have returned repentingly into the SDP – worker control over factories has been there for a few weeks or months, there was a short spring of socialist liberation (as viewed by some), and not all radicals are satisfying themselves with co-determination and the construction of a welfare state now.

Therefore, the SDP lost over 10 % of their share, but still remained the largest party with 37 % of the vote. Those voters who abandoned them towards the left mostly went to Kullervo Manner's Socialist Workers' Party of Finland. The IRSDLP(u) put up candidates of their own, too, but given that their presidential candidate was Trotsky, whom many radicals resented for having abandoned their revolution, their success was extremely limited.

The 1918 Eduskunta elections were also the only ones in which no separate representation of the Swedish minority took seats of their own. The Swedish Party, which had supported Svinhufvud's secession, has dissolved itself, and the minority is torn between those who support Ståhlberg and more radical voices, so no new party has been able to form yet.

Below the allocation of seats in the new Eduskunta:


[1] Not to be confused with OTL's monarchist party of the same name. Giving this name to a liberal progressive bourgeois party ITTL was @Karelian's idea.
Estonian Elections
Elections to the Estonian Maanõukogu (December 1918):


The outcome of the elections to the parliament of the Estonian Federative Republic, which took place less than two weeks after the last German soldiers had left Estonia and in the aftermath of a wave of ethnically and socially motivated violence, would be difficult to predict, everyone was aware of that. But the deadlock in which the new Maanõukogu found itself had not been anticipated by anyone.

Jüri Vilms of the newly fusioned Estonian Labour Party (a centre-left party which fused Narodnik elements with social liberalism, Estonian self-determinism and reformist social democracy) had led his coalition government, which also included the Estonian Democratic Party, the Estonian branch of the SRs, and the Estonian Social Democratic Workers’ Party for almost one-and-a-half year. Half of this time, though, his government had been exiled, first in Petrograd, then in Moscow. Estonia had suffered under German military occupation as well as under the dictatorship of Markov’s Provisional All-Russian Government. Large numbers of Estonians (well, at least compared to their total population size) had fled Eastwards before and even during the occupation period. When the tide of the war turned, they came back – some as angry or traumatised civilians, but a great number among them as volunteers in the Republican Guards who were now liberating their homeland together with comrades from all over the Union – and some of whom, just like some of those who had stayed home, were now taking their anger out on the Baltic Germans – and divvying up not only whatever they could find in manors of the gentry, but also forming improvised councils and repartitioning the land among themselves. The Vilms government had already brought a land reform through the first Maanõukogu, but under German military occupation and Markov’s rule, it had been reversed. Now, spontaneous expropriations went much further than the law had gone. The question of how to deal with this mob-driven repartitioning was tormenting the returning government and its coalition – while Vilms and his party were reluctantly willing to legalise what had been executed on the ground, Jaan Tõnisson kept his Democratic Party on a strict course against any such action and prevented it from becoming government policy by threatening to leave the coalition, which would, in that case, lack a parliamentary majority.

While Vilms’ government remained undecided, the IRSDLP(u) clamoured loudly for the legalization and extensions of the repartitioning onto all large estates including those whom the spontaneous popular fury had spared. In the old Maanõukogu, they held 5 out of 62 seats and were thus unable to provide the votes Vilms needed if he wanted to ditch Tõnisson’s Democrats – which Vilms actually didn’t anyway, since he saw the IRSDLP(u) as a tool of Russian domination and a threat to Estonian self-rule.

By the last months of 1918, political times had changed, though. Over a hundred thousand refugees returning from large, urban centres of the revolution in Russia, especially those who returned as members of the Republican Guards, came back uprooted, politicized, and full of anger against both the nobility and the Germans, and what could be worse than a combination of both? The Estonian Socialist Revolutionary Party, helplessly divided as it had been from the start over anything from the war over the autonomy statute to the question of whether or not to support Vilms’ initial land reform, which had not abolished property in land and promised compensation to the expropriated, was not in a good shape to absorb this wave.

But the IRSDLP(u) was. Its dynamic, aggressive, even ruthless leader was Jaan Anvelt. Together with Viktor Kingissepp, the only Estonian Bolshevik who sat in the Constituent Assembly, Anvelt had been instrumental in bringing about the November Realignment in Petrograd as well as in Tallinn. Anvelt, who seized the opportunity for an immensely popular, if morally repugnant, campaign at the expense of Estonia’s German minority, and his IRSDLP(u) massively gained popularity. Come December, they would become the largest party in the new Maanõukogu:


The situation was difficult, to say the least. Nobody was willing to form a coalition with Anvelt’s IRSDLP(u), and Vilms’ old coalition, rife with internal strife as it had been anyway, narrowly failed to defend its majority of seats. In other federative republics, the path of minority governments securing the support of minority representatives through targeted concessions and privileges was chosen. In Estonia, after the ethnic cleansing of the Baltic Germans, the Swedish minority remained skeptical, too, and Vilms’ centre-left agenda was not extremely popular with them anyway.


Therefore, as 1918 ended, no majority for any new Estonian government was yet in sight.

EDIT: Since I didn't mention it: The Rural League is not like the Finnish Maalaisliitto of TTL, it is a predominantly conservative rural force. It had been opposed to Vilms' repartition. Even though left out of the first coalition government of the autonomous republic, they did not collaborate with Markov, either, and so they have a somewhat spotless record by December 1918. This is the party which would be led by Konstantin Päts later IOTL. Needless to say that it's difficult to imagine it in a coalition with the Labourites, Social Democratic Workers or SRs...
Latvian Elections
Elections to the Saeima of the Latvian Federative Republic (December 1918):


While Latvia shared many characteristics with Estonia – it was a small Baltic federative republic which had embarked on a land reform under a leftist government in 1917, it had recently suffered under German occupation, it was faced with the return of a wave of refugees, and there had been violent excesses against the Baltic Germans, especially those who owned large agricultural estates – there was one important difference between the two countries: in Latvia, the socialist movement had never splintered. Having been stronger than their Estonian counterparts in 1905 already, Latvia’s Social Democracy had not suffered from a split between the RSDLP and nationalist social democrats. Like the entire RSDLP, it had been split between Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and many smaller splinters – but it had glued itself back together long before the November Realignment, in fact already in time for the Constituent Assembly elections. The core of Latvia’s Territorial Defense Forces, the former imperial Latvian Riflemen, had been staunchly socialist, too, by the time of the formation of the federative republic. Latvian autonomy had been achieved smoothly. As 1917 turned into 1918, the radical socialists in Latvia’s “Red” Territorial Defense Forces also saw less and less of a contradiction between being revolutionary internationalist Marxists and fighting against the Germans. Latvian forces had fought to defend their land, and after they had to retreat, they fought hard in every position in which they were inserted.

The government of the Latvian Federative Republic had controlled, for several months of 1918, only a tiny strip of its Easternmost territory. From its formation, it has been composed of members of the Latvian section of the IRSDLP(u) only and led by Pēteris Stučka. After Latvia’s liberation, Stučka’s government has returned to its agenda of radical reform at a breathtaking pace. Its opposition is splintered, weak, and – except for the representatives of what has remained of Latvia’s German minority, who blame Stučka’s government for not having protected them or even instigated the violence against them – mostly quiet: there is a multitude of agrarian parties, some progressive and others conservative, some Catholic and others Lutheran, each with their strongholds in different regions. There are two bourgeois liberal-conservative parties, both never having been as strong as, for example, their Finnish counterparts had been once. And then there are various lists representing the country’s minorities, not all of which share the Baltic Germans’ resentment of Stučka’s government. Among the Jewish parties represented in the Saeima, for example, two out of three lists more or less support the government’s general agenda. The see-sawing events of 1918, the occupation and the liberation, left the opposition in disarray and weaker than ever before, while they did not tarnish the ruling party’s record, at all.

Unsurprisingly, the IRSDLP(u) emerged from the Saeima elections with a solid majority, just like Leon Trotsky had gained Latvia’s nine electoral college votes in the UoE Presidential Election with a comfortable lead of 55.7 % over Avksentiev (24.4 %) and Zhordania (19.7 %).


With a comfortable majority in the new Saeima, Pēteris Stučka was looking forward to an unchallenged second term as the federative republic’s Minister-President:

Russian Duma Elections
Elections to the Duma of the Russian Federative Republic (December 1918)

As you will have already noted in the coverage of the elections of the other federative republics and of the Union Presidency, the UoE general elections of December 1918 are characterized by a very heavy overweight / hegemony of the Leftist side of the political spectrum. Now, “Left” and “Right” are not anthropological constants, of course, they are historical, and just as they emerged, they can also dissipate. The old Marxist (and Narodnik, too!) utopia of a classless society which has overcome its antagonisms is one such hypothetical state. Is this really what is happening here? Only time will tell. History has shown us countless examples of revolutions in which the Left dominated very much, bringing forth political landscapes which started out occupying only what is Left of Centre, but in the following years and decades, some parties shifted rightwards so that more of the spectrum typical for modern developed societies is occupied. (Portugal comes to mind: ever since the Carnation Revolution, the country’s political scene is divided between Social Democrats, Socialists and Communists. Only, the “Social Democrats” are by now economically neoliberal and socially conservative, thus by all means a conservative party, the Socialists are moderate, slightly left-of-centre Social Democrats, and the Communists have travelled the route over Eurocommunism to becoming the sort of separated left wing of social democracy which parties like the German Linke, the Dutch Socialists, the Spanish Unidos Podemos etc. also occupy.) So, is this what happens here? Will one of the parties shift to the right and restore the balance we are so familiar with? (If so, then it appears that the SRs are predestined for this course, given how they’re already perceived as the “moderates” with Avksentiev as their President-Elect, and the less class-antagonistic, more harmony-oriented ideological outlook of Narodnichestvo would facilitate this, too.) On the other hand, the balance we are familiar with is very much a child of the short 20th century, which ITTL is only just beginning. Before the Great War, with limited suffrage in many countries, the old bourgeois alternative between Liberals and Conservatives had been more prominent (while certainly already decaying), and the trends of our current century may point in other directions, too, what with the disintegration of the 20th century Left.

Only the continuation of this TL will tell if 1918 is going to be an exception or the new norm. I am very interested in your opinion on this matter, dear readers, of course!

But for the moment, it must be stated that this is clearly a trend from OTL which I could not have ignored if I had wanted to (which I didn’t *grin*). It would be wrong to say that Russia follows this trend – it is much more adequate to say that Russia has created this 1917-1918 trend. The federative republics we have covered so far have their own local histories, but in the large tilt to the Left, they are following something which has begun in many places, but certainly erupted first in Petrograd and took a number of escalating steps there.

Many others have written much more adequately about this trend than I could ever hope to. I will limit myself to pointing out where the divergences of TTL have picked up on OTL developments and where they deviated from them. By the time of the PoD, the massive dynamics had already been in full motion: the utter collapse of a delegitimized tsarism (and with it the entire discourse on “constitutional monarchy” vs “republicanism” etc.), the self-empowerment of the masses (embodied in the soviets), the exhaustion with regards to the war, the economic collapse (which was also a collapse of various economic policies which had dominated pre-war politics: market- and capital investment-oriented development of industry and large scale agriculture on the one hand side, militarized state dirigism on the other. If you’re looking at trends observable in the local duma elections of the summer of 1917 IOTL, and then in the Constituent Assembly elections of December 1917 OTL, the continuous leftward dynamics can’t be overseen, and the same goes for the implosion of the Russian Right. By the times of the CA election, the Kadets are the most right-wing option which is still at least barely visible – before the Great War, any ordinary educated Russian would clearly have placed the Kadets on the Centre-Left of Russia’s political landscape…

ITTL, the process is accelerated and channeled at once when Prince Lvov’s coalition (of Kadets, Octobrists, independents and one Trudovik: Kerensky) bluffs, their bluff is called, and the soviets take over power temporarily and with a good degree of political legitimacy, without a single shot being fired, and they call CA elections. The CA elections of TTL’s June 1917 thus already mirror OTL’s December 1917 outcome – with the exception of the absence of Menshevik and Right SR delegitimisation through support of a bourgeois-acting Provisional Government, an October Revolution and thus of Bolshevik hegemony over the country and over the RSDLP. Like IOTL, the SRs have inevitably been the largest party, and so they, who never led a government IOTL, have done so ITTL since July 1917. They deliver on their main promise – land reform – which secures their rural powerbase. Although attacks from the Left are no less fierce than IOTL, the SRs are in a solid-enough position to embrace those of their critics who are willing to be embraced in the November Realignment – and ruthlessly persecute the rest, both on the Right, which has discredited itself another time in August 1917 with its ties to the botched Kornilov Coup, and on the Left (remaining Bolsheviks and anarchists). Over the course of 1918, this very broad socialist coalition was faced with more military defeats, economic crisis, the need to relocate to Moscow, and ultimately the reversal of the war, having been able to triumph at the end, which still leaves the situation of the population quite as destitute as before, only now they no longer have to fear to get sent into trenches to die there. Divisions between SRs and SDs became more and more nuanced throughout 1918, and so the two parties face each other as the electoral giants of the new Republic – both on the Union level and on the Russian level. Given the conditions they had to work in, they were relatively successful together. This is not the only, and maybe not even the primary reason why they’re dominating the elections: the fact that the extreme Right is now tainted once again with its collaboration with Markov and the latter’s downfall, the fact that the Kadets are at a loss for how to adapt to the new situation, and not least the fact that the government, through the instrument of the VChK, has been oppressing and imprisoning any groups who are seen as “saboteurs” who want to overthrow the new system. (As has been noted, this is a specifically Russian situation, since the republics who had already enjoyed autonomy at the time of the November Realignment clearly objected to the VChK poking their noses into their republic’s affairs.)

Actually, this is probably the moment where I should describe how the Russian Federative Republic came into being and what its constitutional structures are. The Russian FR is an exceptional case indeed – it is the only federative republic whose constitution was not drafted by a national council or assembly of some sort or other, and whose “integration” into the Union of Equals did not require a Concordance, state contract or anything else of this sort. In some sense, this is logical, because the Russian Federative Republic, unlike all others, was not created by an autochtonous group seeking national self-determination. It was created after everyone else (well, before the Bessarabians and the Belorussians, but still) had got their own federative republic. It was created out of a desire for constitutional systematicity – the Union of Equals was to be composed of federative republics, and so “rest Russia” had to form one, too. (This is not to say that there had never been Russian nationalism. There certainly has been, but its objective had been different. In many cases, it had been directly opposed to what happened in 1917 and 1918 which ultimately led to the establishment of a Russian FR.)

The constitution of the Russian FR was drafted by the very same Constitutional Assembly in Petrograd (and later Moscow) which also drafted the constitution of the Union – only when the Russian constitution was discussed and voted on, the representatives of the already-autonomised republics were required to leave the plenary. (The Russian FR’s constitution has therefore been voted on by Northern Caucasian, Belorussian and Bessarabian delegates, too, because their federative republics were formed only later.) It stipulated that the Russian FR was to be a parliamentary socialist republic, where the Duma would vote on penal and civil laws, general taxes, education, infrastructure and the like, whilst local, regional and republic-wide soviets would set the rules of the economic game, provide social security and healthcare, administer common resources etc. The soviets would appoint a number of permanent committees to oversee day-to-day economic manamgement, whereas the Duma would elect a Prime Minister, who would appoint ministers to run the respective segments of the republican administration. When it was established in November 1917, it was determined that the elections to the next Duma (delegates to the soviets could be elected and recalled at will, without guaranteed terms, by those who delegated them) would be held on the same day on which Union-wide Presidential elections would also be held. In the meantime, Russian-only affairs would be handled by a sub-committee of the People’s Commission (popularly referred to as Roskom). Roskom, which over the course of 1918 had not been exactly very important since most decisions were still taken by the Commission at large, was officially chaired by a Bread Menshevik, Alexander Martynov (i.e. someone from the smallest and weakest group in the November Realignment coalition).

The effect of this late and involuntary “birth of a national republic” caused a lot of lack of popular knowledge in Russia about the exact differences between the Duma and the old Constituent Assembly, between the Russian Prime Minister and the President of the Union etc. This way, the Presidential election system, whose effect is that of a concentration on a handful, often only two, main contenders, heavily influenced electoral behavior in the Russian Duma elections, too, especially since people voted for both on the same day in the same voting booth.

The Russian Duma is elected in a mixed system of personalized proportional representation (like (West) Germany’s system after 1949) – but since the vast majority of Russian voters are not yet extremely familiar with the minutiae of the differences between Union Presidency, Federative Republican Duma and all that, there is a very strong tendency to vote for the Duma list of the same Party whose candidate they also voted for President. This, again, strengthens the IRSDLP(u) and the SRs at the detriment of smaller parties.

The abysmal performance of the Kadets and Trudoviks (there is nothing of any substance left standing to the Right of the Kadets at the moment) as well as of Bukharin’s remaining rump Bolsheviks (who renamed themselves into International Communist Party) and Julius Martov’s rump Mensheviks (who simply called themselves Russian Social Democratic Labour Party now that the name had been abandoned both by the ICP and the IRSDLP(u)) has other reasons, too:

The Kadets are still struggling to find their position in the new system. They oppose most of the socio-economic and political transformations which happened after Lvov’s demission, but for obvious reasons they also don’t rally for a counter-revolution. They did not want the new constitution and they objected heavily (but without any success) to the referendum held on it, but now they have no choice but to play by the new rules. They had not openly supported Kornilov’s coup, but also not credibly distanced themselves from it. They had not collaborated with Markov’s puppet regime, but the resistance against it had been formed and led by others. They had always supported the war effort, but now the radical Left, who had been full of defeatists, was basking in the glory of victory. Their economic policy agenda utterly unrealistic to be implemented under the soviet system, but the Kadets also knew they couldn’t take on the soviets single-handedly (no matter how strong they would become in the Duma – well, they would not become strong…). Their social powerbase had, in part, turned to the parties of the Left, or was turning away from politics, and to some degree was even emigrating, seeking better opportunities to pursue their happiness in North or South America. Pavel Milyukov’s days at the helm of the party were numbered, everyone knew that. Leading his party into defeat in the Duma elections would be his last “accomplishment” – even before the official results were announced, he resigned from his position.

The Popular Socialist Labour Party (or short: Trudoviks) was suffering from their lack of structures in the territory. In tsarist times, they had been the outermost leftist representatives tolerated in the toothless Duma, also serving as a mouthpiece for other, suppressed groups – their moment of glory had been the soviet interregnum in May 1917 when Alexander Kerensky had led the People’s Commission together with Victor Chernov and Fyodor Dan. But there had been little time to prepare for the elections to the Constituent Assembly in 1917, and the Trudoviks, who appeared soft now, had not been able to put a foot on the ground either in the countryside, where peasant councils formed, utterly dominated by the SRs, or in the industrialised cities, where workers councils were shifting ever leftwards within the framework of Russia’s Social Democracy. The November Realignment left them in the opposition, where they shared many of the problems described with regards to the Kadets above. There was one important difference, though: the Trudoviks would be represented in the new Union government, and they would stand at the SRs’ side in a new Duma coalition. The Trudoviks were not yet just a Kerensky election club – politicians like Alexander Zarudny had too much of a profile for that to happen. But they were a small faction.

Between the Kadets, Trudoviks, SRs and IRSLDP(u), there was really no political space left for the last Mensheviks who have not joined the IRSLDP(u). In the December 1918 elections, they were ultimately reduced to the status of a splinter party. After this humiliating failure, its more profiled and ambitious personnel would soon join leave and the party would ultimately dissolve – Irakli Tsereteli, for example, would remain affiliated with the Georgian (Menshevik) Social Democrats (who had founded the Federation of Independent Social Democrats) and represent Georgia in the Council of the Union (more on this institution in a later update); Alexander Potresov, Fyodor and Lydia Dan and many others joined the Trudoviks, while Julius Martov, for whom the Trudoviks were decidedly too un-internationalistic and theoretically under-sophisticated, would become one of the “independent” political thinkers of the next decade (and obtain a professorship at the Lomonosov).

Bukharin’s International Communists (=former Bolsheviks), on the other hand, had suffered from serious obstruction throughout the duration of the war. When the war ended, the situation became a little more relaxed and the ICP was not hindered to participate in the Duma elections – but it had been marginalized too long, suffered too many losses (to the IRSDLP(u) as well as to imprisonment) and been infiltrated too heavily by undercover VChK agents. Its showing at the booths was so weak that I lumped them (as well as the even less successful rump Mensheviks) in with the “Others” colour of Duma seats.


This has led to the situation in which, taken together, the representatives on lists of the ethnic minorities were stronger in the Duma than the nation-wide Russian opposition parties. I’ve lumped them together in the overview because they’re simply too many. A great deal of the remaining national minorities in the Russian FR are Muslims, but not all. Among the Muslim groups, Alimardan Topchubashov’s Presidential campaign has done wonders to revive the moribound Ittifaq al-Muslimin, who has nevertheless scored much less percent and seats in the Duma elections than in the Presidential ones because in the Duma elections, they had to contend against more aggressively secessionist Young Turkic / Turanist parties on the one hand and socialist Muslim election lists like the one led by Sultan-Galiev and Waxitov. The SR faction in the Duma has been contacting many of these minority representatives in an attempt to integrate them into their SR-PSLP coalition. Some of the minority parties are willing to play along – but that support is going to come with strings attached, and these strings have the word “autonomy” written all over them. The only group of minority lists which does not call for autonomy, or at least not universally, for this is one of their main bones of contention, is the group of Jewish lists. Some of them saw themselves as closely related to Social Democracy, others were ideologically more pluralist or vague or even conservative. They diverged from one another heavily in their views regarding Zionism, the idea of a Jewish federative republic, the idea of personal autonomy following Austro-Marxist ideas, and a rejection of any such separation; they disagreed on educational matters, they had disagreed on the war, and they continued to disagree over economic policies. As Vladimir Zenzinov, the Socialist Revolutionary candidate who tried to gather a majority in the Duma which would elect him as Prime Minister, would find out, negotiations with each of the Jewish lists separately would go rather well, but bringing more than one of them into the common team would prove nigh on impossible.

Here is an overview of the seats obtained by the various parties:


And so, as 1918 ends, Russia has a parliament of its own, but this parliament has not elected a Prime Minister yet. In the meantime, Martynov’s Roskom continues as the largest federative republic’s interim government…
Ukrainian Centralna Rada Elections
Elections for the Centralna Rada of the Ukrainian Federative Republic (December 1918)


In some respects, the political landscape of the Ukraine mirrors that of Russia to a great extent: Socialist Revolutionaries as the strongest force, the Ukrainian Social Democratic Labour Party as their main contender, then smaller parties: an anti-socialist one (the Ukrainian Democratic Agrarian Party), a social-liberal one (the Union of Socialists-Federalists), more social democratic splinters (primarily the IRSDLP(u), which also candidated against its nationalist and more moderate sister party). And lists of cultural or ethnic minorities.

In other respects, the elections in the Ukraine took place under very different and much more tense conditions. In contrast to Russia, which was undoubtedly full of armed people, too, but where almost all of them belonged to either the Union Armies or the Repulican Guards and awaited their demobilization, Ukraine was brimming with barely controllable armed groups of all sorts. And in contrast to Russia, state institutions were still comparatively weak.

The relative weakness of state institutions was a trait Ukraine shared with the Baltic and the Caucasian republics, where soviets did not step in on a large scale to supplement a deficient and politically no longer compatible administrative apparatus inherited from tsarist times. There were soviets – mostly peasant soviets, but also worker soviets e.g. in Odessa, Kharkiv, and Kiev – in the Ukraine, too, but not universally spread out and organized across the entire country, and they had not been integrated into the new Ukrainian constitution to quite the extent to which they had been integrated in Russia. (The reason for this being the opposition of the USDLP in the Centralna Rada coalition, who saw that the peasant soviets were becoming a pillar of USR power, while Kharkiv’s and Odessa’s worker soviets leaned much more radical than they were, towards Bolshevik, IRSDLP(u) or anarchist positions.) Additionally, parallel structures continued to exist in a number of regions, most prominently in those which had formed, for the time span of a whole year, Anton Denikin’s independent Cossack state.

The formerly independent Cossack regions along the Don were not the only place in Ukraine where sizable segments of the population were heavily armed in paramilitary structures. In the absence of formalized soviet rule, especially in the countryside peasant militia had armed themselves, and while a law on Agrarian Reform had finally passed the Centralna Rada in August 1918 (a whole year after the Rada had requested to be exempted from the version legislated in the Constituent Assembly of Petrograd), its implementation yet awaited the securing of the state monopoly of force in the territory, which only exacerbated tensions and caused various militia to attempt to take matters into their own hands. On average, SR-affiliated “Green Guards” were the most numerous and powerful throughout Ukraine, with the exception of the Cossack territories. But two rivalling strands of paramilitary groups, both of whom confusingly chose the colour black for their identification, competed seriously with them: anarchist groups on the one hand, and radically right-wing, anti-Semitic, reactionary groups, often sponsored by landlords who sought to protect themselves against a seditious peasantry with their help, on the other hand.

And then, there was the situation in Western Ukraine, or Eastern Galicia if you want it, the region around Lemberg which had once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and where Ukrainian-speakers formed a majority in the countryside, but towns like Lemberg exhibited Polish plurality. Here, Jozef Pilsudski had found a new task for himself. Being cajoled into abandoning Vilnius, and then finding himself officially deposed nonetheless by a coup against his marshalcy, Pilsudski soon heard of the boycott movement against the UoE general elections begun by a group of Polish nationalists in Lemberg/Lwiw/Lwow and Stanislawow [it’s called Ivano-Frankivsk today]. Pilsudski gathered a few thousand POW fighters loyal to him and joined his brethren in Eastern Galicia, organizing an insurgency there, which, by the end of the year, must be qualified as yet another failure in Pilsudski’s life, but which endangered and destabilized the situation in the region during the time frame in which the election was held to a great extent.

Now, this combination of weak statehood and strong rivalling paramilitary groups meant two things:

On the one hand, the elections most certainly did not proceed without irregularities in this federative republic. By the way, here are the official results:


On the other hand, it also had quite a different effect: The precarious situation would, over the course of December [contrary to what the Washington Post still knew a few days earlier] ultimately coagulate all the forces who supported a socially democratic Ukraine in the greater framework of the Union of Equals – and so, in spite of their differences, Vsevolod Holubovych’s Ukrainian Socialist Revolutionaries, the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party, where Symon Petlyura has taken over leadership from Vynnychenko, the Ukrainian section of the IRSLP(u) and the social-liberal Ukrainian Socialist Federalists of Serhiy Yefremov ultimately agreed to forming a majority coalition behind a new Ukrainian government:


(I forgot to write the names of the parties into this one, sorry. From left to right: IRSDLP(U), USRs, USDLP, USF, Cossack lists, Jewish lists, UADP, others.)
Federal Institutions of the Union of Equals:

There are three supreme institutions of the Union of Equals (representing the three powers: executive, legislative and judicial, respectively): the President (and his government), the Council of the Union, and the Supreme Court.

The President of the Union, directly elected as we have witnessed, serves a term of four years in office. In reflection of long-standing debates in North America, the UoE constitution defines that a Union President can only be re-elected once (three decades before OTL's 22nd Amendment in the US). He (or she) has mostly unrestricted powers over the executive branch of government on the Union level. The Union level only has full competencies in foreign and military policy. It is explicitly excluded from meddling into cultural, religious and education matters, which are the exclusive domain of the federative republics, and its powers are very marginal with regards to social security / welfare, policing, oversight of the justice system and inner security, taxation and fiscal administration, public infrastructure, labour and economic regulation, all of which mostly fall into the realm of the federative republics, too. (The exceptions being social insurance / provisions for Union Army and Republican Guard veterans and employees of the Union administration; what little there is in Federal jurisdiction and border policing; customs, Union loans and - here's a back door - any other tax destined to financing the Union's constitutional political tasks approved by the Council of the Union -; and a few aspects of infrastructure, including railroad regulation and coordination.) In these domains, though, the President can more or less act at will within the limits of Federal law (which to a great degree have yet to be written). He (or she) can appoint and dismiss ministers without having to consult the Council of the Union, he (or she) can appoint or dismiss the heads of all sorts of executive institutions (from army generals over presidents of the federal bank to ambassadors). The President is also the supreme commander of the Union Army and Republican Guards in peacetime, and when the Union is at war, he (or she) is also the supreme commander of all other military forces in the Union (i.e. the territorial defense forces of the various federative republics). Fiscally, his (or her) government is only accountable to him (or her), and while the President is required to disclose his budget (how much revenue came in, how the money was spent etc.) to the Council of the Union annually, the Council has no say in the matter, i.e. no budgetary veto right, as long as the President doesn't want to modify a Union tax or customs rate or demand a contribution by the federative republics. Thus, while the Federal levels' competencies are fairly limited, within these competencies, the President is by far the most important institution; the constitution grants him (or her) very large and almost unrestricted powers. One of the few rights a US president has which the UoE president does not have is the right to pardon - which makes sense given that there is very little federal law to indict people on. On the other hand, there is no way to impeach him (or her). If a President dies in office or becomes incapacitated, his (or her) vice-president, who has been elected alongside him (Avksentiev's vice-president is the left-leaning Ukrainian SR Alexander Shumsky), takes over; if the vice-president dies or becomes incapacitated, too, new elections must be held within six months; in the meantime, the Chairman of the Council of the Union (otherwise a mostly ceremonial office which is expected to rotate among the federative republics) takes over as acting President.

The Council of the Union is composed of (presently) 62 delegates for the various federative republics. The delegates do not serve fixed terms in office, they are picked and sent by the government of their federative republic with instructions on how to vote and act in a specific plenary session, of which there are four regular ones per year, but both the President of the Union and a majority in any federative republic's parliament can convoke extraordinary Council sessions. Under the current constitutional provisions, the government of the Russian FR sends a delegation of 24 voting members to the Council of the Union, the government of the Ukrainian FR sends ten, the Belorussian FR sends six, the Finnish and Armenien FR each send four, the Georgian, Bessarabian, Latvian and Northern Caucasian FRs each send three, while the government of the Estonian FR sends a delegation of only two voting members. Each delegation can only vote en bloc - the delegates are not endowed with a vote as individuals, as only the federative republics as whole entitites make up the Council of the Union. Only the Council may, with a two-thirds majority, pass new Union taxes, modify customs, ratify treaties with other countries (including, theoretically, also the adherence of a new federative republic). Also, with a two-thirds majority, the Council must consent if a federative republic wants to split into more federative republics, which also means that the Council must decide on a new make-up of Council seats, presidential electoral college seats and districts and the like. Other changes to the Constitution of the Union the Council can propose with a two-thirds majority, but they also require a majority of the total votes cast in a plebiscite (but without a participation quorum). The Council of the Union also appoints federal judges.

The Supreme Court is conceived of as dealing with constitutional questions, arbitration between different institutions of federal republics and the Union, and as ultimate court of appeal for cases pertaining to what little federal law there is. Its twelve members serve unlimited terms, like their US counterparts, but like their US counterparts, they can also be impeached in a complicated procedure by the Council of the Union.
Quick Notes on Economy

(Worldwide, the economic situation looks horrible, just like IOTL. Russia’s own chaos doesn’t really stand out.)

The private financial sector, which had been developing fast in the pre-revolutionary years, has more or less ceased to exist. Not because the banks were nationalized, like the Bolsheviks did IOTL. But the amount of industrial stoppages, land repartitionings, expropriation of buildings etc. caused so many people to default on their loans, so much collateral has gone up in smoke, that one private bank after the other has failed. The post-PoD governments couldn’t probably have bailed them all out even if they had tried. Which they didn’t because they, especially the Kamkov Commission and its commissioner Nogin, considered the bankruptcies to be inevitable symptoms of capitalism committing suicide – which is what they thought was happening. Especially since the few last surviving banks were all kind-of-socialist: the various co-operative banks in which rural smallholders and artisans had attempted to organize themselves long before the war, and which now boomed and expanded to include more and more new members, who had gained some land to base themselves on in the repartitions and sought to improve themselves now.

Very soon, it became evident, though, that without a functioning banking system, industry – which was in dire straits anyway, see below – could not recover, or even hope to hold its position. The grassroots answer to the failure of the financial system were the emergence of yet more credit co-operatives – often created in the collusion of various producers’ co-operatives who sought to widen their space of maneuvre with the establishment of a financial institution which was both molded after their own image and which they knew enjoyed the good will of the new political leadership (so that they might turn in a blind eye on the paucity of their principal, and other such petty problems…). By late 1917, a group of politicians in the new Kamkov commission and of delegates to the Supreme Soviet of Workers and Peasants, who had probably learned of 19th century experiments of Josaih Warren and Robert Owen, came up with an idea, and the new Trudkom Victor Nogin jumped at the opportunity to make himself a name, and so the grassroots practice was systematized (or usurped) by a new state-backed institution, the Inter-Soviet Office of Mutual Aid. What it does is provide a framework for the exchange and creation of credit without pecuniary backing, in the form of labour notes. But Nogin and his advisors were smarter than just to create a time bank. Labour notes don’t allow you to CREATE credit, only to exchange. In contrast to classical banks, a system based merely on the exchange of labour notes cannot go beyond its “principal”, and thus cannot facilitate growth. Here is where the role of the soviets and their new institution came into play: they assumed for themselves the role of predictors of future economic viability, and allowed themselves to inject new labour notes, beyond mutual backing, into projects they considered promising. (Or, as the political reality on the ground would soon demonstrate, projects which served powerful vested interests of those whom the Revolution had washed to the top of the pile.)

Still, even with the Inter-Soviet Office of Mutual Aid, the collapse of classical banking will make itself felt. There will be a few foreign institutions left, but they, too, will limit their activities in Russia to the safest minimum. (Which is probably lending to some government-owned enterprises, most probably war-related, for which they’d also get political brownie points at home for helping out an Entente ally.) What this means is that nobody, except perhaps for governments, can import foreign products on credit. This is a situation which wreaks yet more havoc on the already weakened industry.

Industry, which had also grown fast both pre-war and under the changed circumstances of wartime dirigisme, has suffered a partial breakdown even IOTL in 1917 before October – increased labour conflicts and insecurity meant that production was halted here and there, and the whole system began to stutter. ITTL, it is worse. Where radicals are strong, worker takeovers are legalized by local soviets early on, and this, together with the financial collapse, means more chaos and no investment. By the end of 1918, a lot more factories have passed into worker control than just where radicals were in control: whenever the financial collapse or some other economic mishap drove a private industrial enterprise into bankruptcy, workers would take over their factory instead of suffering it to be shut down and them losing their jobs. Local soviets, even where not controlled by radicals, would condone and legalise this in order to keep the wheels rolling. (All of this strengthens lots of people’s feeling that capitalism has finally come to its end and the hour of the proletariat has come to take over matters into their own hands…)

The newly worker-controlled enterprises face serious difficulties, though – even if they manage to obtain some sort of credit so they can buy supplies again and restart production and actually find someone (most frequently the government) to buy their products (often related to the war effort). The top layer of white collar workers (i.e. management) often isn’t really comfortable with the new situation, and while some people adapt fast, others won’t, and this means that new people have to learn very fast, in a very difficult environment, how to successfully manage an industrial enterprise (and at the same time garner the support of the workers’ committees or plenaries for all your management measures). People will make a lot of mistakes under such circumstances; they will want to share the responsibility (and blame) with lots of other people, so the threshold for informed decisions is raised even higher. This entire process is, I am sure, politically very electrifying and probably experienced as a great new age dawning by lots of politicized people, but it is also one which is prone to producing a lot of miscalculations and misallocations. (Which will make some electrified people disappointed and very angry.)

The situation is somewhat different in the various factories owned to a great degree by foreign investors. Here, even Nogin has treaded carefully, and while the unions are pushing for “equal standards” in such enterprises, THIS is among the things Avksentiev meant when he promised that he would put an end to soviets workerising factories at will. When foreign capital is concerned, he claims that his federal presidential prerogative of foreign policy is concerned. Whether this is truly the case is yet to be politically sorted out. The IRSDLP(u) and the unions view things differently, to put it mildly. While some on the left grumble, most SRs back Avksentiev’s position, though. The other federative republics’ heads, except for Latvia, don’t understand the whole fuss and back Avksentiev, too.

The great project in which the Supreme Soviet is heavily involved at the moment – while the rest of the political elite is turning their eyes towards Paris – is the great plan for the conversion of the war-geared, formerly capitalist production into socialist peacetime industrial structures. The fact that much of this happens in a centrally coordinated way can be a boon or a bane. This challenge is one with which all economies of the war participants are faced; it remains to be seen how the socialist mode of tackling it will develop and how it fares compared to the approaches of other countries. Some of the top priorities for the future is a restoration of railroad infrastructure and rolling materiel, increased production of machinery which helps farmers increase their productivity (including tractors produced in Petrograd in cooperation with Ford, since so many horses who have previously done the job have been killed in the war, or lorries produced in Moscow in cooperation with FIAT etc.)… and, well, I’m still pondering on the rest.

Smaller crafts and trades enterprises, while not directly affected by the great structural changes, are suffering indirectly from financial collapse and dropping industrial and agricultural production, too, of course. Wherever possible, they try to make a profit from high demand on things which are hard to come by, thus doing their Adam Smith-like best to stop some of the gaps which the war and the economic transformations are ripping up.

Agriculture, still Russia’s most important economic sector, would have recovered in 1918, what with the repartition being completed and safely enshrined, price caps being removed, new co-operatives emerging to ease the flows etc. But the devastations of the war in the West, the extortions of the German occupiers, and then the successive waves of the Spanish flu, which incapacitated large swathes of the agricultural labour force in seasonally sensitive moments, along with the destruction and deterioration of much of the rail infrastructure, have all colluded to cause 1918’s total marketed agricultural output across the UoE to be yet lower than that of 1917, which had already seen a sharp decline compared to 1916. At least here, with the return of conscripts to their newly owned plots of land, with the Flu finally ebbing off and more transportation capacities being freed for peacetime freights, it is widely expected that 1919 will see Russian and Union-wide agriculture rebound forcefully.
Georgian and Armenian Elections
Elections to the Sakhalkho Krebis of the Georgian Federative Republic (December 1918)


The two Transcaucasian federative republics were not only safe strongholds of the presidential campaign of Noe Zhordania, himself a Georgian Social Democrat. They shared various other characteristics: both viewed themselves under a sort of siege, being encircled by the Ottoman war enemies, who had just murdered many hundreds of thousands of their Christian subjects, by hostile ethnic groups on the Russian side who disputed the territorial borders agreed upon with Petrograd in the Concordances, and by restive Muslim minorities. Both looked back on dignified ancient traditions, most conspicuously represented in their two unique scripts and in the autocephaly of their two Eastern Christian churches, but both also had a lot to catch up in terms of industrialization, modern institutions and infrastructure.

But there were also important differences between Georgia and Armenia. While there had been a very militant Armenian resistance against the Ottomans, and Armenians were the main target of the CUP’s genocidal campaigns, which meant that Armenian politics was militant to a very extreme degree and its two major parties, the Dashnaks and the Hunchaks, had an entire pantheon of martyrs to inspire a new generation of voluntary fedayi fighters, Georgian politics was gradually less militarized and its political scene utterly dominated by the towering hegemony of its Social Democratic Party, which had always stood firmly on the Menshevik side in the decades of division, but which, being firmly rooted in its home country, had escaped the fate of Russia’s Mensheviks, who were crushed by the revolutionary process in two, with the larger group joining the IRSDLP(u) in two waves, while the smaller part had been reduced to meaninglessness by December 1918.

Evgeni Gegechkori’s Social Democratic government had strengthened various institutions which were central to Georgia’s national identity, it had legislated (through it was not yet fully implemented) a comprehensive land reform, it had created one of the world’s most progressive labour laws and enshrined the unions’ rights to strike and bargain collectively. While the former found universal acclaim by other Georgian parties, too, except for those who represented the interests of the various minorities, the social reforms were opposed in the Founding Aseembly (Dampudsnebeli Kreba) by the National Democrats and the so-called Socialist-Federalists (a centrist bourgeois party, see @galileo-034’s mentioning of Sinistrisme…) But Gegechkori’s Social Democrats also had to suppress secessionist movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and raise a territorial defense force from scratch. For the sake of these latter challenges, where the two main opposition parties supported Gegechkori, the opposition moderated itself to an amazing extent. In effect, Georgia’s autonomous politics were becoming almost synonymous with the Menshevik project. This was mirrored in the outcome of the December 1918 elections, in which the Social Democrats obtained a landslide victory. [1]


These results gave them a clear majority in the new Sakhalkho Krebis, where Gegechkori was looking forward to four more years of hopefully stable government.


[1] IOTL, the Mensheviks even obtained more than 80 % (!!) of the vote. This has always smelled a little fishy to me, and while I don’t know enough about OTL’s Georgian Democratic Republic to say whether this was genuine popular support for a beleaguered and ambitiously reformist national government or the result of less commendable circumstances, I thought it would be more realistic to scale back their electoral success to a level which is less out of the ordinary in democracies.

Elections to the Presidency and the Azgayin Zhoghov of the Armenian Federative Republic (December 1918)


As has been mentioned above, the political situation in Armenia was shaped to a much greater extent than that of any other entity of the former Russian Empire – well, a sizable part of its territory lay outside of the former Empire anyway… - by militarization. Armenian politics were dominated by the two great parties, the Hunchaks and Dashnaks, both of whom considered themselves socialist, and both of whom had maintained large underground rebel armies of fedayi since the 1900s.

While the partisan fedayi were officially merged into three combined army groups of the new Armenian Armed Forces, whose ranks were swelled by refugee voluntaries and conscripts, too, affiliation remained implicitly clear. The Dashnaks, who had emerged comparatively stronger than their Hunchak competitors from the horrors of Ottoman persecution, had led the government under Hovhannes Kajaznouni ever since the formation of the new Armenia, but Kajaznouni had integrated Hunchaks, too, forming a sort of Armenian Union Sacrée. The Hunchaks, who traditionally viewed themselves as the more universalist and less nationalist social democrats, were nevertheless no less eager defenders of Armenia’s autonomy and strength, which, almost every Armenian agreed these days, was the only safe way to prevent another Aghed [one of the Armenian names for the genocide, literally “catastrophe”] from happening.

It was these specific circumstances which forged a political system in Armenia which, while still somewhat democratic, differed considerably from that of its fellow federative republics. In Armenia, Dashnaks and Hunchaks had agreed among themselves on a constitution which created the greatest opportunities for the perpetuation of their political duopoly and which would keep minority parties – most of which were Muslim – as marginalized as possible. The federative republic was divided into forty electoral districts, each of which would send three delegates into the Azgayin Zhogov under the so-called “single transferrable vote” system (also called the “Tasmanian system”, for it has been in use on that Australian island for more than two decades by 1918). [2] In order to avoid “voter confusion”, a “splintered parliament” and “an unclear situation in times of emergency”, an additional 60 seats would be elected via nation-wide lists with an electoral threshold of 20 %. As if that had not been enough to make sure that either Dashnaks or Hunchaks could govern without paying much attention to the Muslim voters of Kars or Nakhichevan, the Armenian constitution also created the office of a President of the Federative Republic, whose control over executive powers included the supreme command over Armenia’s Armed Forces. The president would require an absolute majority in the popular vote; if no candidate obtained this in the first round, a second round would be held between the two candidates with the most votes.

On the one hand, this system worked out just like its Dashnak and Hunchak fathers (in the first Armenian National Council, there were no women; in the general elections of December 1918, though, women and men were both universally enfranchised) had envisioned it: while first parliamentary preferences and nation list votes as well as first round results were much more varied, the Azgayin Zhogov ended up almost completely dominated by a Dashnak majority and a powerful Hunchak opposition, while the Dashnak Hovhannes Kajaznouni gave over the office of Prime Minister to his party colleague Hamo Ohanjanyan after he triumphed in the second round of the presidential elections over his Hunchak competitor, Avetis Nazarbekian.



Although they had, so far, not been able to implement much of their competing programs for social reform – national defense against external and internal enemies had been the top and almost single priority, while taking care of the hundreds of thousands of Armenian refugees from other parts of the Ottoman Empire took a distant second place; agricultural, administrative, educational or labour reforms were postponed until “the ship of the nation would enter calmer waters” - , Dashnaks and Hunchaks had nevertheless been able to ensure that only they would battle with each other over the future of their country. (The battle would instantly begin, as the lack of palpable reform progress of the Dashnak government had been criticized by the Hunchaks during the electoral campaign already, and in the new parliament, they would go the whole nine yards to present themselves as the more proactively reformist alternative.)

On the other hand, the dirty deal was not working out quite as smoothly as the Armenian parties had wished. Politicised members of the minority groups understood the game that was being played at their expense here. Frustrated at the impossibility of fighting for their rights as equal citizens of the new republic, more and more groups from Erzurum to Ordubad went into the militant underground. Mass protests and riots during the election weeks had been only a glimpse of what Armenia would face in the near future, as new groups claimed the mantle of “fedayeen” now…
January 1919 - Paris Peace Conference
Brussels (Kingdom of Belgium): Vooruit [1], January 13th, 1919:


by August Balthazar

There are two very different kinds of echoes to the latest proposal concerning the nature of the League of Nations offered by the Thomas-Addams-Gorky [2] group. The populations of various European nations have demonstrated their enthusiastic support: millions have come out in favour of the “World Federation of Peace”, its charter of inalienable rights of men, women and children alike, its worldwide court of arbitration and justice, its peace corps to prevent aggression, its guarantee of universal suffrage and the democratic right to constitute one’s state freely and federate with others peacefully, worldwide labour and agriculture organizations to civilize the economy and provide relief against famine, protection of workers’ rights and a ban on child labour, prohibition of liquor and a world police to end the trafficking of women and drugs, unrestricted freedom of the seas, strict limitations on armament, freedom of commerce, the abolition of tariffs, and universal access to education. Demonstrations have filled the streets of Paris, Sevilla [3], Dublin, Torino [4], Vienna [5], Munich, Rotterdam [6] and Brussels, too, with red flags and banners in support of the proposal for global peace. The Internationale of Socialist and Labour Parties in Berne has endorsed the agenda with an overwhelming majority. The governments in Munich [7], Mostar [8], Sofia and Mexico City have declared immediately that they would sign such a treaty, and even in Berlin, Herr Ebert has announced that, if Germany were asked, they would not hesitate to join such a community of nations.

In the corridors of the Quai d’ Orsay, though, where the leaders of the governments of the six most powerful members of the Entente [9] have retreated in order to find a common position with regards to the terms of the peace and the framework of the future order, there appears to be absolute silence about the proposal. Present negotiations purportedly focus on the pressing questions of Poland, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and the question of reparation payments to be made by Germany. Only on the first topic, a common position appears to be within reach – but even here, it seems that none of the world’s leaders is inclined to officialise their agreement before the entire picture has been painted. It appears that it is not even clear to what extent Avksentiev himself supports the plan laid out by the Thomas-Addams-Gorky group.

This is most disappointing and regrettable. For all the reasons Meneer Avksentiev has to tread cautiously, the idea of the World Federation of Peace deserves more support. Much more so than the toothless, formal frameworks laid out by bourgeois reformers like Robert Cecil, or Jan Smuts, or Woodrow Wilson himself, it tackles the problems of our present age at their roots, and seeks to really eliminate, instead of just limiting, the scourge of war, which is the only way the vital interests of smaller nations like ours and of the working population of the entire world can be truly protected.

[1] A Belgian socialist newspaper.

[2] Albert Thomas was a French socialist who had supported the Union Sacrée but who strove hard to revive the Second International after the war. IOTL, he was one of the chairmen of the Berne International in February 1919, where he sought to mobilise social-democratic parties for the fight to shape the debate over what kind of League of Nations one wanted. Jane Addams was a progressive US suffragist, education reformer, and feminist peace activist, who IOTL organized a women’s conference in Washington calling for an international league of neutral nations for peace and disarmament, just days before the Paris Peace Conference. Maxim Gorky was a Russian writer who had lived in exile in France and the US and enjoyed international popularity before the February Revolution, who was as much a spiritualist as he was a socialist who IOTL supported the Bolsheviks and, while skeptical of the October Revolution, stayed on for more than three years, trying to convince Lenin et al. to stop the terror. There is no hint that he supported an international organization for the prevention of war or anything of the like IOTL. But he was enough of an idealist, I thought, to be likely to support such a cause ITTL where the UoE is one of the participating Great Powers in Paris. IOTL, Addams had to plead endlessly with Wilson before a short statement of the women’s assemblies would be read out on the Conference and a few modifications were actually undertaken in the draft for the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Socialist International was still trying to reconfigure and find itself and sort out its position vis-à-vis the October Revolution and did not exert a very massive influence on the Paris Peace Conference, even though the Covenant of the LoN also created the International Labour Organization (ILO). ITTL, I thought its presence would have to be more prominent. Including Gorky – whom Narodniks respected and revered as much as Marxists did, if not more – in the equation means he can serve as a door-opener; the UoE delegation can give a lot of space on the conference to the presentation and discussion of a draft which has been shaped at least to some extent by feminists and socialists.

[3] 1918/19 was a time of significant secessionist, or at least independentist, movements in Andalusia.

[4] Antonio Gramsci may mistrust former belligerents like Thomas, but he knows an internationalist project when he sees one, so he puts his rhetorical skills to good use to mobilise his local PSI section.

[5] Vienna was a social-democratic stronghold (it still is), and the noble idealist plan is something both radicals like Adler and moderates like Renner can agree on.

[6] No Bolshevik coup means no Red Week aka Vergissing van Troelstra, thus the Dutch SDAP is in a confident position.

[7] Bavaria has seceded under Kurt Eisner’s government. In Berlin, the USPD has been unable to pry the other democratic parties away from the monarchy even after Kaiser Wilhelm II’s embarrassing “defiance” speech, and they were asked, as a condition for their inclusion in the coalition of national salvation, to support the imperial and Prussian government’s policies of attempting to hoodwink the Entente and diverge arms of the divisions from the former Eastern Front, which were supposed to be handed over to the UoE, towards the Heimatwehren, who have begun open fighting against Polish forces on a wide scale across Prussia. That was too much even for the moderate leadership of the USPD, the party which had been founded in opposition against the Great War. Calling off the Revolution has not really paid for them, since after the USPD declared its defiance and publicly denounced the government’s secret plans, Berlin has drawn together forces against USPD strongholds. Under these hostile circumstances, Eisner has opted for Bavaria to secede. Bavaria is too strong for Berlin to take on – which is why the imperial leadership has decided to drown the revolution in Bremen, a much easier victim, in its own blood instead. Nevertheless, Eisner, who seeks a close partnership with his Austrian neighbour and Renner’s government there, also has internal opposition to take into account – and not only from monarchists and anti-socialists. Half of the Augsburg chapter of the USPD has followed Ernst Niekisch (yes, the guy was in the USPD indeed), who is organizing a “Volksheimatwehr”, a “red” but nevertheless fiercely nationalist version of a Heimatwehr, which opposes Bavaria’s secession and supports defiance against Polish incursions in the East and French attempts to interfere in civil administration on the left bank of the Rhine.

[8] The anti-Djordjevic, anti-Pašić forces are still holding out. Actual fighting has receded, with the various Entente nations who support the conflicting sides anxious to quell open military conflict in the zone, but a solution is still out of reach, see the following text.

[9] Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Avksentiev, Orlando, and Nobuaki.

Hre is the map with the borders of Poland (neon turquois) and a internationally controlled Danzig (purple) currently being discussed by the Big Six:

February 1919 - The Scourge of Chauvinist Reaction
Petrograd (Russian Federative Republic of the Union of Equals): Znamya Truda, February 7th, 1919, p.1:


by Vladimir Karelin

A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of chauvinistic reaction. All across the lands once ruled by the collapsed or collapsing militarist, murderous empires of the Central Powers, but not only there!, the old guard in the armies which had sworn to lay down their arms is coming together with ultra-nationalist agitators, anti-semitic poisoners, and scapegraces of the lowest sorts. Their attempts aim to derail the peace train, to subvert the social democratic transformation which is taking roots all over the continent, and to turn back the hands of time, to restore the imperial rule over nations who have struggled to liberate themselves, to restore the aristocratic rule over toilers who have escaped from under their yoke and joined their hands in the building of a free and fair society.

Today, these reactionary groups still operate separate from each other, each fighting for their own obsolete privileges and their own faded glory – and the revolutionary toiling masses show themselves still capable to defeat them in many countries.

In Hungary, the coup d´état, in which a self-proclaimed “Hungarian National Defense Association” [1] had removed Mihály Karoly’s government, has collapsed after only eight days thanks to a general strike and the refusal of ordinary soldiers to shoot their comrades and compatriots who fought to preserve their democratic rights and prevent a fatal flare-up of warfare with Hungary’s neighbors. The workers’ and soldiers’ council in Budapest has announced that the general elections, which the MOVE putschists [2] had cancelled, will be rescheduled and held in two weeks’ time. While they managed to oust Gyula Gömbös and his camarilla from Buda Castle and apprehend them, co-conspirers across the territory have merely hidden, and it remains to be seen which obstacles they will still be able to lay into the path of Hungary’s democratization.

In Turkey, the “national forces” of the generals Kâzim Karabekir and Mustafa Kemal are training large numbers of terrorists, determined to sacrifice their lives for the goal of uprooting order in the regions where international detachments are maintaining peace and protecting millions of men, women, and children whom the Young Turkic regime had targeted for annihilation. These generals, too, appeal to national chauvinistic sentiments, in the hope of recruiting more cannon fodder whom they can send into their doom in order to protect themselves and their cronies from losing their positions and being brought before international courts of justice for the atrocities committed during the war.

All across the lands of the Germans, from Carniola in the South to Klaipeda in the North, ultra-nationalist and rabidly anti-socialist groups have organized themselves under the leadership of imperial officers and fight, with weapons whose handover should have long been organized by these same officers in accordance with the Treaty which their commanders had committed themselves to, against Slavic people who have thrown off the imperial Austrian yoke or attempt to throw off Germany’s. Three days ago, these same clandestine forces, whose numbers we can barely fathom, have overthrown the government of the Free People’s State of Saxony and they are still engaged in the bloody oppression of resistance, which the workers of Leipzig and Chemnitz are valiantly putting up against the restoration of the old regime. It has ultimately become clear that most of these forces are coordinated by the Prussian Army Ministry.

As long as we can still deal with each of these threats one by one, we must urgently act, and act together. This is yet another reason why Leon Trotsky’s erratic collusion with Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams to throw the elections and our common institutions into doubt over the Lithuanian Question [3] is reckless political hazardry. If we act quickly and with determination, we can contain the wave of nationalistic chauvinism, and then dry out the swamp from which it arises – but if we pander and gamble, the Revolution may yet drown in it! Let us hope that we will not mourn the repealed Special Powers Act soon… [4] With our full support, the President must clarify now to our allies that the scourge of chauvinistic reaction is the greatest threat to worldwide peace at this fragile moment. It would be best if this threat were uprooted by a solid World Federation’s Peace Corps because this would knock the argument that all our conflicts are inevitable struggles of nation against nation straight out of our enemies’ hands. But if waiting for everyone’s agreement runs the risk of waiting too long, we must go ahead, both in Prussian, Austrian and Turkish lands, with a coalition of those who see the threat and are willing to tackle it [5] while the enemies still only have militia, and not yet whole armies again.

The sooner the treaties and the covenant for peace are concluded, the less space we provide for reactionary chauvinism to grow in the void which the imperialist war has torn open. There is no agreement on the sum of reparations? Here is a new proposal: why don’t we apprehend all the militaristic junkers, their Austrian and Hungarian equivalents, and the murderous Young Turkic officers, and put them to productive work for the first time in their lives in the rebuilding of the railroads, factories, houses and mines they have destroyed? Let those who led the millions into the meatgrinder pay for the damages they caused, instead of the working millions they have ruled over and still try to rule over?

This would also serve as a deterring example to those beyond the defeated aggressor states who, at the fringes of their societies, pursue like-minded, hateful agendas to the struggling reactionaries of the crumbling Central empires: the hordes in blue shirts who assault Italian workers and peasants [6], those who attempt to deny their Jewish fellow students entry to their universities in Bucharest and Iaşi [7], and everyone else who wants to destroy the peaceful and equitable new society which the war-weary peoples of the world are building together. It would show them that we mean business – we do not just demand peace, we are fighting for it, and those who want to fight against peace better think twice before they spread poison and malice!

[1] These guys.

[2] I’m not sure if that word was already in English use in 1919, but Karelin writes in Russian anyway, so let’s just say this is a modernized translation.

[3] Sometimes, when things look really hopeless for a certain group, a woman gets a chance at leadership, even under generally adverse socio-cultural circumstances. The Kadets are in such a position. Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams as Kadet leader embodies the party’s rightward shift, to the point where they (maybe) become the party in which most opponents of socialism assemble, or at least that is her strategy. The “Lithuanian Question” refers to the Kadets’ appeal against the December 1918 general elections before the Supreme Court of the Union, on the grounds that the Constituent Assembly allegedly had no right to decide not to hold elections in Lithuania, when the most recent history has clearly shown that Lithuanians want to be a part of the Union. (That is, a coalition of Christian Democrats and Socialists in the Taryba have decided to apply for admission in late January 1919, in the face of Pilsudski’s hordes and Dmowski’s claims, and President Avksentiev has signaled that negotiations can begin without delay (so far, no other federative republic has raised objections against Lithuania’s admission). In a move which surprised commenters in Moscow and elsewhere, Leon Trotsky has thrown his weight behind the cause, too, a few days ago, after his IRSDLP(u) had been shut out of the ruling majority of the Russian FR, too. (Zenzinov has managed to obtain a majority for his SR-Trudovik coalition cabinet by promising various minorities the establishment of new federative republics.) Trotsky claims that he is pursuing an internationalist cause, supporting the Revolution in Lithuania, which even after Pilsudski’s crushing of the Vilnius Commune has never died down, he says. Tyrkova-Williams, who, in order to rally the Russian anti-socialists, has taken to a Russian nationalist rhetoric which goes far beyond what Pyotr Struve had pulled off before the Great War, and Trotsky are strange bedfellows indeed. The only thing which brings them together is their opposition to the minority-tolerated Narodnik government.

[4] The repeal of the Special Powers Act restores habeas corpus and sane limits on what police forces may or may not do when faced with insurgency, terrorism, or unrest. It aims to transform the VChK into a more professional, outward-looking intelligence agency.

[5] France and Poland come to mind with regards to Prussia, France, Italy and Czechoslovakia as far as Austrian-German militia are concerned, and again France, Italy, and Greece when it comes to enforcing *Moudros in Turkey.

[6] And so the spiral of strikes and land occupations vs. hired gangs of strike-breakers and protest-dispersers has begun, as was inevitable.

[7] He is speaking of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu and his ilk in Romania, who rear their ugly heads a good year earlier (actually straight after they've begun uni after their military service, which may be a bit early in Codreanu's case, who is merely 19 years old right now, so maybe someone else is the loudest mouth in that crowd, whose ranks have swollen a little earlier given the PNL’s reckless campaigning on nationalist anti-UoE sentiments.
March 1919 - From Clemenceau's Memoirs
From the Mémoirs of Georges Clemenceau (entitled “Paix dans notre temps”, 1926), pp. 376ff.:


February turned into March. Outside, the first blossoms appeared after a particularly cold winter. In the Quai d’ Orsay, the atmosphere was frostier than ever. No compromise within reach. And the Chinese Affair proved beyond doubt how much internal divisons, the secret machinations of the past, and sheer, unfathomable corruption are to blame for much of this. Apparently, one of their delegation [1] had inserted a secret clause into the Cecil-House Proposal [2] according to which Germany’s and Austria-Hungary’s Shandong concessions were signed off to Japan, as a sort of payment for Japanese loans. With all that money, Duan Qirui had built up an army under his control which, contrary to its name, never participated in the war and which he planned to use against his rival fellow Chinese in the South [3]. Apparently, the rest of his delegation had no clue about any of it, until some American newspaper revealed the whole dirty business, [4] now all of China was in uproar for a whole week, until his fellow delegates had the traitor apprehended by embassy guards. The Japanese remained unfazed and adamant. With their silly power games, the Chinese had brought themselves and all of us into a situation where expecting signatures under any treaty by both Beijing and Tokyo had become utopian. [5]

As I mused on the Far Eastern conundrum, I asked myself whether the boy Kerensky [6] had it right: all the causes for the war had been European, so it made sense to look for a European solution first and foremost. [7] The question was only: could we trust the Russians and their little allies, and all the neutrality lovers who applauded Kerensky [8], to send their boys to Germany, to the Balkans, to Anatolia and wherever else international demilitarized zones have been proposed, when the streets of their capitals are crowded with millions of enraged pacifists? Would the Italians fully participate, like Orlando alluded, or would they backpedal to the partitioning scheme which Sonnino is was plotting around this time with his British friends? Balfour made me laugh when he painted the danger of an overreach of the old bear – what I was much more afraid of was the bear going into a long hibernation, moony and full of red dreams as he was. Avksentiev, who had so far appeared to me as the big non-committer, was one embodiment of this, and we know that there were worse of this kind around in Petrograd. [9] Whenever I had talked to the Russians, I never knew which face I would get to see: one day I thought we were doing business with cunning diplomats who play with the Dobrugea chip to influence the Romanian elections [10], and with the Thracian chip to keep both Bulgarians and Greek on their toes [11], who maybe even sacrifice their Croats to get the Italians on board [12]. The next day, it felt like I was negotiating with the Second International. And what if the Boche came again? Which mood would prevail among the Russians? Could we rely on anyone other than ourselves? If I had to sign this federation act – against the howling protests of the reactionary press, who clamoured for Syria, Lebanon and who knows what else as our new possessions [13] –, I would have to know beforehand if it would guarantee our protection beyond any doubt. Not just words – proof was needed. This is when I resolved to confront Avksentiev in private with the request to acknowledge Bavaria’s independence and send contingents to offer it the protection its government has asked from us. [14] If he would show action and determination, I resumed, then I would shrug off Lloyd George’s complaints, too, [15] particularly since the British delegation hasn’t been able to pursue anything constructive since that bean counter Keynes has threatened with his resignation.


[1] Cao Rulin, the Republic of China’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and influential pro-Japanese founding member of the Anfu club, the political wing of the Anhui clique in the Beiyang army.

[2] Wilson realizes that the Thomas-Addams-Gorky proposal and the follow-up drafts presented by the UoE (see below), all of which he categorically rejects, are dangerously popular among the crowds in the streets of many European cities. He has tasked Edward House to search, together with the British Robert Cecil, for common ground in the American and British proposals, which has resulted in a draft version for a Covenant of the League of Nations, which bears many similarities to OTL’s.

[3] Things have not yet escalated so far that they would use it directly against rivalling Beiyang factions. (This moment may not be far away, though.) IOTL, to justify its existence, appear like good patriots, and broaden their powerbase, and because their uneasy Zhili and Fengtian “allies” were against another, even more intense bloodletting battle with the Constitutional Protection Movement in the South, Duan Qirui attacked Mongolia. ITTL, this option has been removed from the table because Kerensky has concluded a treaty of friendship and assistance with the Mongolian Bogd Khan. This means, marching against the Southerners is the only available military option.

[4] We’re still in the golden age of the Muckrakers, the founding fathers and mothers of investigative journalism…

[5] It didn’t happen in OTL, either.

[6] Kerensky is 37, Clemenceau 77.

[7] Kerensky has brought an idea for a compromise into the discussion: the European allies could go ahead and form a “European Federation of Peace” along the Thomas-Addams-Gorky lines, but limited to Europe, with the right to democratic secession and federation, the requirement of arbitration, a European Peace Corps to stop aggression before it can spread, a bill of rights of men, women and children, and an international police to bring European war criminals before the International Court, while for the rest of the world, the much more loose League of Nations as envisioned by the Anglo-American proposal could be installed as an overarching framework. This was meant as a compromise because it would not question Britain’s and France’s colonial empires, nor Wilson’s or Billy Hughes’ or Jan Smuts’ reservations about racial equality. The British still don’t like it (see the following allusion about the dangerous bear), and Wilson considers the separate UoE initiative, in which they even included an American anti-war activist, as a betrayal of the Lansing-Axelrod Agreement and a personal offense anyway.

[8] “Neutrality lovers” refers to the Benelux, Switzerland, the Scandinavian countries and probably vaguely also refers to a lot of late joiners from Eastern Europe. Not all of them have expressed support for the European version of the T-A-G plan, but among the populations, it enjoys considerable popularity. (It certainly doesn’t refer to famously neutral Spain because the Spanish government has declared its unambiguous opposition to Kerensky’s idea.)

[9] While the Russian Duma and FR government have remained in Moscow, the Presidency and the Council of the Union have moved (back) to Petrograd after the armistice, thereby making Moscow the capital of the Russian FR, while Petrograd is the “Union Capital”.

[10] Avksentiev famously commented ITTL's Paris Peace Conference on the question of whether Dobrugea should be partitioned, come under Romanian rule entirely, or become a neutralised zone under international occupation, that "a lot depends on how deeply the Romanian population shall express their love of peace", which is taken to mean that a nationalist (PNL plus Conservatives) government would most certainly not get the UoE's consent to keep the entire Dobrugea, whereas a centre-left majority (Taranistii plus Socialists, at the most possibly plus the Transilvanian PNR) would stand much better chances.

[11] As with Romania and Bulgaria, both Bulgaria and Greece are the UoE's allies now, but the Thracian question cannot be solved to the satisfaction of both Stambolinsky and Venizelos. What Clemenceau perceives as cunning play here may just be helpless dithering and hiding behind the covers of "demilitarization", "international oversight" (which existed IOTL, too, for a while) and "building up democratic structures at the local level", postponing the ultimate decision with regard to the region's status or partitioning.

[12] Western Yugoslavia is still in a state of civil war. The Mostar government is increasingly divided between agrarian radicals leaning on the UoE, who want a Yugoslavia but not under a Serbian monarchy and who emphasise social change, and radical Catholic groups, who lean on Italy and don't want to be included in a predominantly Orthodox state at all. The political leaders of the Bosnian Muslims, who mostly come from landowning elites, in the meantime, are sitting between all chairs; they did not support any kind of independence-from-Habsburg rule movement at all, they don't want to be expropriated by the Peasantists, nor marginalised in a clerically-minded Catholic state, nor suffer retaliation for the collusion of many Muslims in the Schutzkorps who oppressed the Serbian population primarily in Bosnia, at the hands of a Serbian-controlled Yugoslav state. To Avksentiev, the pan-Yugoslavist idea is a political priority, but there are other, more Serbian-friendly and realistic groups in the UoE's diplomatic corps, and they have found a (ambiguous) mouthpiece in Kerensky, who is dropping vague hints that, perhaps, two, three or more separate solutions must be considered to safeguard the self-determination of Slovenes, Croats, Bosnians, Serbs, and Montenegrins.

[13] In the French public, there is the perception that going ahead with any version of the T-A-G plan precludes France’s acquisition of any new colonial territory, at the very least in the Levante, where the British would be more than happy not to have to obey to the Sykes-Picot Plan, which is – in contrast to OTL – not explicitly known to the wider public, since there hasn’t been anything like the Bolshevik disclosures.

[14] Bavaria is a difficult and dangerous case. Elections have been held, and the USPD, while obtaining respectable 13 % of the vote (when compared to OTL), has been defeated. Their political enemies, though, have not been able to form a government, either: the BVP wants to abolish the councils immediately, while the MSPD is afraid of the backlash and prefers to grant them a small role in the new Bavarian constitution; the MSPD wants to annul Bavaria’s secession, rejoin the empire and hold its National Assembly elections in Bavaria, too, while the BVP prefers to maintain independence; the BVP insists on an immediate restoration of the church’s full property and its control over the education system, while the MSPD supports the educational secularization begun by the USPD. Because no new government has been elected, Kurt Eisner’s government continues to serve as acting government – but on February 28th, Eisner has been shot and killed by a radical right-wing assassin, like IOTL. Hans Unterleitner has taken over the reigns of the acting government, but Bavaria is already descending into chaotic violence and turmoil. The army’s allegiance is in question, and many surmise – some hope for it, others fear it – that Berlin is going to send reliable detachments to “restore order” in Bavaria. Unterleitner has launched an international appeal to support “Bavaria’s self-determination and democratic order”. So far, in Paris, Italy, Czechoslovakia and the UoE have shown some degree of Bavarian sympathy, but nothing substantial has resulted from it yet.

[15] The British in particular oppose any bone-picking at the German corpse, for a long list of reasons.
March 1919 - Before Chantilly
Frankfurt am Main (German Empire): Frankfurter Zeitung [1], March 25th, 1919, p. 1:


by Rudolf Kircher

The die-hards are going at it again. As if farcically reenacting the tragic events of five years ago, chauvinistic stirrers are making new plans to drag our tormented nation into a war, nay, into disaster and utter destruction, while leftist shirkers are planning to trip them, and all of us with them, up with destructive strikes and fratricidal battles of barricades. But they should turn and look around: this time, the millions are not following them. The German nation has had enough of the lies of the militaristic clique, and it has had enough of fighting one another, too. We simply have no strength left, devoured by the hunger, the plagues, the lack of medicine and everything else, the collapse of our industries, the fear in which we have come to live.

In the most recent Reichstag debates, even members of those parties which had hitherto acted reasonably – von Papen from the Zentrum, the Social Democrat Scheidemann, and the Fortschrittler Naumann – played with fire in the discussion of what have been labelled “alternatives” to the signing of an expectedly harsh, cruel, even tyrannical treaty, which probably will soon be dictated upon our government like the other draft is currently being forced down the throats of Renner [2], Berinkey [3], and Stambolinsky [4]. [5]

But there are no reasonable alternatives. Duplicitous and hypocritical, unfair and crippling as the impositions of the victorious powers are probably going to be, we have absolutely nothing to set against them. The best of our youth have been led into the slaughterhouse, and those who got away with their bare lives, forever marked, will not be dragged back into new trenches, this time in our own homeland, our beloved Taunus and Westerwald, our Spessart, Odenwald and Black Forest, they are not going to shed their blood on Brandenburg’s sands. If the socialists, syndicalists, and anarchists stopped all their strikes tomorrow – which they are unlikely to do –, our factories could still not produce any of what would be required to effectively resist even for a single month, for most of the vital raw materials are lacking and cannot be acquired, even if our banks had not failed. We have turned over most of the weapons for whose production we had given our gold and our sweat, and those of our soldiers who have not been demobilized yet are starving on their feet, like all of us. It was the military dictatorship who criminally misjudged the situation and misled our emperor’s government, who continued the struggle way beyond the point at which we could have negotiated and credibly threatened with the resumption of hostilities when confronted with unbearable demands. They have betrayed, undermined, destroyed our national idea. It is utterly idiotic to hope for its revival now, now that Left and Right, Republicans and Monarchists are killing each other, and tribal disunity has returned. [6]

If the government refuses to sign whatever humiliation our enemies have in store for us, that will be our final ruin. Among the Heimatwehren, and now in Berlin, too, there is talk of the “Turkish path”. But the Turkish path is failing horribly, and it means the sacrifice of hundreds if not thousands of Turks every day! [7] Niekisch knows this very well, or why else would he bring up, as a plan B, the “Irish path”, which is even more futile and self-destructive? [8] The absurdity and impossibility of a renewed war are, it seems, not enough to prevent the hotheads from starting it against all reason. Rejecting the legitimacy of another government is always a step towards war – both Ebert and the Kaiser have taken this step when they denied the legitimacy of Unterleitner’s government in Bavaria. The reply has been given: Foch [9] has denied Ebert’s legitimacy, too, and cited the repeated postponement of Prussian and nation-wide elections [10] as an argument. This is a path we must not tread, for it can only lead to the annihilation of the German nation.

As bitter as the days ahead may be, it is of utmost importance now that reason shall prevail. We must avoid yet more devastation and loss of life, yet more fracturing and disintegration, yet more violence, suffering and barbarization. Whatever the price of peace, we must drink the bitter cup and pay it. When peace returns, and life returns into the veins of our economic body, we shall be able to convince our neighbours that we have left behind the fatal ways of old Prussia, and that it is in their own best interest to deal with us instead of bleeding us dry. Already, Wilson has distanced himself from the draft presented to Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria, and the British government seems uncertain about what to do. We must strengthen these voices of reason, feed their doubts, not fan the flames of their wrath. We must struggle to make a better impression, and ultimately to make friends again. This is the struggle we must prepare for now – the struggle for reason and against the stupidity and the hatred aimed at us, but also seated within and among us, the struggle for our future, for that of our children, and for the survival of our beloved fatherland.

[1] This is a bourgeois, liberal-conservative newspaper. IOTL, it was among the rare voices who openly lauded the German government for signing the Versailles Treaty.

[2] Elections in German Austria have yielded results similar to OTL’s. In the light of foreign occupation, the impending conditions of a peace treaty, widespread disease and starvation and industrial collapse, a national coalition government comprising all significant parties has been formed, headed by the Social Democrat Karl Renner, whose SDAP came in first place with a very narrow margin on the Christian Social Party.

[3] After the MOVE coup has been defeated more or less single-handedly by the Left and its council movement, the Social Democrats (who have not suffered the breakaway of a Communist Party) have only very narrowly missed an absolute majority in the March elections, but also formed a coalition with social liberals and the smallholders’ party.

[4] In Bulgaria, Stambolinsky and his BANU-Broad Socialist-Democrat coalition holds on to power in spite of considerable internal turmoil.

[5] This is the reason of the panic among Germany’s political elites: ITTL, St Germain, Trianon and Neuilly-sur-Seine are rolled into one big treaty to establish a new peace order in South-Eastern Europe and end the state of war with Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria, and at the same time – like the Versailles Treaty IOTL, which combined peace with Germany with the establishment of the League of Nations – establishing the European Federation of Peace (EFF). The draft (let’s call it, for if it is going to be signed, then it’ll be signed there: the Treaty of Chantilly) contains a large number of provisions which are very frightening to the German government:

a) massive territorial losses up to the complete dismantling of the former Central Powers (which only in detail differ from OTL, but which in a number of cases involve a sort of dissolution of central statehood in some regions temporarily designed at "EFF mandates", as opposed to the nation state principle which was, even if not consistently applied, a red thread of the Parisian suburb treaties – a reflection of the UoE’s involvement rather than Wilson’s influence: the US are not even considering to sign this treaty and already plan separate peace treaties with Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria –, and that is, of course, a great deal more frightening as it foreshadows that Bavaria may only be the beginning of Germany’s dismantling)

b) Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria are to have only ridiculously small armed forces (like OTL), and even parts of the Austrian und Hungarian rump states and of Bulgaria are to remain under EFF supervision for five, ten, or even 15 years, with the explicit aims of bringing all “war criminals” before the to-be-established International Court of War Crimes in the Hague (among which number many of the German military leadership fears they are going to be counted, too, when “their Chantilly” will be on the table) and of “completely removing” the danger posed by “chauvinistic paramilitaries and terrorists”

c) additional reparations are to be paid by the Austrians, Hungarians, and Bulgarians into a "War Recovery Fund" administered by the EFF (mostly by its big powers) and destined to fund the (re-)building of industrial infrastructure in Serbia, Romania, the UoE and possibly other places.

[6] He’s referring to Bavaria’s secession.

[7] TTL’s Turkish War of Independence happens under much worse circumstances. Not only do the UoE stand much farther West than the Armenians did IOTL at the time of the armistice; quite generally, there are considerably more Entente forces in the region, and the Armenians among the UoE are dead-serious about smoking out the Young Turkic menace once and for all. Also, in contrast to OTL, the French involvement is not half-hearted because France doesn’t want to use Turkey as a bulwark against Bolsheviks. In the West, the Greeks are doing more or less as they did IOTL (which was quite OK militarily until they overstretched), but in the East, nationalist forces of Mustafa Kemal et al. are suffering serious defeats.

[8] In Ireland, violent protests, wild strikes and occupations, and the takeover of parts of the military and police infrastructure by various secessionist and/or socialist forces takes a course similar to OTL, only ITTL, the British, who want to establish devolved Southern Irish and Northern Irish legislative assemblies in accordance with the modified Home Rule Act of 1914, are facing not one, but two enemy camps: Michael Collins’ Irish Republican Army on the one hand, and a council movement which seeks to imitate the model which is so en vogue on the continent. Overall, the secessionist camp is slightly weaker, and more divided. But that doesn’t mean there’s less bloodshed and chaos. Ernst Niekisch, who has founded a militant group named “Nationale Sozialdemokraten”, who have started a guerilla war against the Inter-Allied occupation in Bavaria, nevertheless sees the Irish path as an example to follow…

[9] As commander of the Allied forces, he’s currently in Bavaria. The French and Italians have sent troops there through Italian-controlled Tyrol, while a token Czechoslovak detachment and a UoE force which the international press has nicknamed “International Cossacks” (for the high number of professional soldiers of Cossack background among the UoE peace-keeping contingent) have arrived through Czechoslovakia.

[10] They are postponed because the French insist on separate countings for the Left Bank of the Rhine and the rest of the empire – which Ebert refuses because he, realistically, sees it as the preparation of amputating the Rhineland from Germany – and because no elections can be held in Polish-controlled Posen province and parts of Pommerania, Silesia, and East Prussia, against which Ebert’s government has sent note after note of protest.
Draft Version Treaty of Chantilly
Treaty of Chantilly (draft version, March 1919)

The treaty is at once the peace treaty with the Republic of German Austria, the Hungarian Republic and the Republic of Bulgaria, and the founding covenant of the European Federation of Peace. (Of course, its acronym should have been EFP, or for the French, FEP. The fact that it turns up on the map as “EFF” reflects my being a native speaker of German.)

Founding members of the EFP present in Paris are France, Italy, the Union of Equals, Greece, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, and Portugal [Thanks to @Ricardolindo for his advice on the Portuguese decision; he said that Portugal would probably sign it, but it would cause a lot of conservative protest.). The Polish government is still sitting on the fence, caused by its internal divergences of opinion over various issues ranging from territorial claims over policies towards Germany, minority protection, to economic questions. The governments of the Netherlands and Denmark are interested in joining, but are not present in Paris. Luxembourg is having an internal political crisis, like IOTL. Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria are explicitly not allowed to join for five years. In Sweden, Edén’s government is in favour but, given conservative resistance during a process of constitutional transformation, probably not among the founding members. Norway’s conservative government looks to Britain and stays outside for the time being. So does Spain, where the opposition of leftists of various stripes, republicans, and secessionist nationalists very much demands joining the EFP, though.

The EFP has a lot of features: a bill of human rights, a European Labour Organization, a European Health Organization, a European Organization for Education and the Welfare of Children… it anticipates what is also contained in the Anglo-American League of Nations draft, namely a more explicit ban on chemical weapons, but it also goes beyond the latter’s provisions in making it a requirement to seek arbitration by the International Court in the Hague before declaring war (or else one is to be considered an aggressor, against whom all other members must defend themselves together), a standing Peace Corps (staffed by the member states, at varying levels), an inter-parliamentary assembly, and a commitment to “promote unimpeded exchange of goods for the sake of mutual prosperity” (which is a weak statement, but there were some protectionistically minded governments, too, which prevented anything resembling OTL’s Treaties of Rome of the late 1950s). And it gets to administer, together, quite a bit of territory (see map below), with the explicit goal of “helping its peaceful democratic constitution and integration among the ranks of member nations” (I can’t really express the last term the way I want to in English, what I aim for is a phrase which leaves it open whether the territories in question join AS member nations or whether they join member nations). And it has the “War Recovery Fund” (WRF) under its thumb. The WRF has been a major strategic goal of the UoE, and if it becomes a reality, it is its biggest success. Reparation payments to individual countries were not very palatable to the leftist public to which Avksentiev and Kerensky must bow. Yet, after the end of the war, especially Russia experienced a drying up of foreign credit influx (especially US credit), which made its difficult economic transformation period even worse. Not only France and Belgium, but also the UoE (and Serbia and Romania, too) need cash infusions of some sort to be able to restore or build up from the ground the kind of industries which they need to survive as relevant actors in the 20th century, or to bring their budgets back into some semblance of a balance. Greece needs help, too. The War Recovery Fund has the explicit task of rebuilding what has been damaged by the war, but it is not strictly prohibited from providing help beyond that, too. It is a supranational financial institution, and the Treaty of Chantilly would give it quite a lot of collateral from among earmarked property of the defeated Central Powers, which, in case these governments are defaulting on their payment schemes, is going to be confiscated. While France or Belgium could get their loans elsewhere, too, for the UoE this tool is of vital importance to ensure hard cash comes into the country, while the Union and FR governments still get to control how it is being used in the wider context of infrastructural and industrial build-up.

Now to the individual defeated powers and territorial issues – I think it’s best to show this with a map (horrible, as always, I’m not good at making them):


The regions with double-coloured thin lines are where plebiscites will be held.

Chantilly is actually slightly kinder to Hungary and Bulgaria than Trianon and Neuilly-sur-Seine were IOTL – that’s because both countries have very left-leaning governments right now who look to the UoE for guidance and support and in whom the UoE sees present or at least potential future allies, in spite of having fought against them in the war. In some places, the borders reflect ethnolinguistic makeup slightly more accurate than their OTL counterparts did. In others, there will at least be plebiscites. IOTL, Versailles contained a lot of plebiscite clauses, while the other treaties didn’t really. I think that was the greater degree of influence Wilson had on the former as compared to the latter. ITTL, the UoE is more Wilsonian than Wilson with regards to self-determination, and its focus is on the East rather than the West. But just like Wilson IOTL, the UoE and the other powers who drafted the Treaty of Chantilly are not really consistent: Austria is crippled even worse than IOTL; in Styria and Carinthia, this can be explained on an ethnolinguistic basis, but in South Tyrol, Moravia and Bohemia, things are just like IOTL for very pragmatic political reasons: the Italians are stronger than ITTL and they want the secure border at the Brenner, and the Czechoslovaks are important allies who cannot be encircled by a strip of German-Austria (which contains much of the country’s treasures of the soil, too). (The tiny bit at the Western edge of Austria is Vorarlberg, where just like IOTL a plebiscite is held to join Switzerland. Like IOTL, a huge majority will vote YES. IOTL, the Swiss didn't want them to join, though. ITTL this decision is still open.

On the EFP Mandates

This is probably the biggest challenge if Chantilly is signed. On paper, the EFP mandates are supposed to "build up democratic structures from the ground", and they leave open the systemic question of how this should come about. Everything is theoretically possible - from the traditional "mayors and town halls" model over council system to the Austro-Marxist idea of personalised statehood. In practice, EFP forces must form in the first place - and then gain control over these lands.
The first challenge is substantial already - there is a lot of fatigue even among the not-yet-demobilised Entente armies, and very little should be expected from the little nations who are willing to join the EFP on this front. And if troops are scraped together, you'd still need to sort out questions of common command structures, their powers etc.
And the second challenge is not trivial, either. Albania is comparatively easy since it's already fully under Italian, Serbian, and Greek control, and Thrace is not very hard since the Bulgarians have pulled out of their part and Franco-Greek troops have moved in. But Western Yugoslavia / the SHS state, which is really why the whole idea has been set up to begin with, is still in a state of simmering civil war.

The biggest divergence from OTL, if we look at the map, is that there isn't a Yugoslavia. My reasoning here was that, at some point, Nikola Pasic's Serbian government simply becomes fed up with having their soldiers killed by various anti-Serbian groups in the West and abandons the whole Yugoslav project in exchange for getting a few Serbian-dominated strips of Bosnia, a bit of Eastern Croatia, a bit of the Sandchak for certain and the option of gobbling up more through plebiscites in the future. Because the Yugoslav project has died, they also pull out of Montenegro, where the Greens, supported by the Italians, have put up annoying resistance, too. Sacrificing Greater Yugoslavia was a tough price for the UoE to pay, but they got Italy on board for Chantilly and the EFP this way, and at least the "SHS state" leftover gets to become a laboratory for political experiments. Right now, though, there is still the SHS council in control of its Northern part, and rivalling factions in the South. There are a few French troops there, but it would need a lot more military power to pacify the region. Whether this is ever going to happen, remains to be seen.

If the treaty is signed at all...
April 1919 - A Revolution Betrayed
Petrograd (Russian Federative Republic of the Union of Equals): Prawda, April 6th, 1919, p. 1:


by Adolph Joffe

Around the world, soviets have become the means of the revolutionary working class in their struggle to reorganize society: Germany’s workers’ and soldiers’ councils have ended the Great War, Bulgarian soviets have thrown off the yoke of the tsar, and more lately, America’s striking workers organize themselves and their communities in councils [1], Scottish workers striking for the 40-hour-week form soviets [2], Hungary’s chauvinistic coup was brought down by nation-wide mobilization of the soviets, and as long as the imperialist governments of Britain and Spain are oppressing their right to self-determination, Irish and Catalan workers are organizing counter-structures and their own self-defense in councils, too [3]. And in our Russian motherland, where workers’ , peasants’ and soldiers’ soviets celebrated their first revolutionary success?

Here in Russia, the soviet movement has become corrupted, as the Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets has shown. Everywhere across the world, the working class knows it has three options at their disposal to attempt to improve its lot – two of them reformist and one revolutionary: it can form political parties, vote them into parliaments and attempt to bring about legal reform; or it can form trade unions, strike and attempt to negotiate better wages and working conditions with the capitalists. Or it can form soviets, resist the force of the capitalist state, and revolutionize society from the grassroots. Here in Russia, though, we carried out our revolution triumphantly and now we have workers and peasants electing trade unionists into the soviets – and these soviets are showing themselves to be managers of a reformed capitalism!

The clearest evidence of this capitalist corruption is the rejection of the Principle of Auto-Preference [4], which the Congress has adopted only in the limited domains of military and rail industries, both of which may prove toothless as these fall largely under Union legislation. In energy production, where the decision for Auto-Preference was taken with the narrowest of margins, the Narodnik-dominated Duma is certainly going to subvert the soviets’ decision by entrusting the planned new federative republics in the South with the task of overseeing petrol extraction, and one does not have to be a clairvoyant to predict how the economically and politically backwards Tatars and other nations of the steppe are going to behave when the American trusts knock at their doors. Rejecting Ryazanov’s proposal for Generalised Auto-Preference means that millions of workers, who have seen themselves as a vanguard merely a few steps ahead of their comrades when they took control of their means of production through the soviets that they formed, are now forced to co-operativise. But they have never wanted to form co-operatives and become worker-capitalists who compete on a capitalist market! They have wanted to bring about socialism, democratic control over the economy. The unions which claim to represent them now in the Supreme Soviet have rejected the hands which the workers had extended to them; they have made economic democracy a limping dwarf. They have declared for all of us that this is not the time for economic democracy (but when is?), that means, they have told the workers who took over bankrupted factories and proved that they can perfectly continue to operate, that they must see themselves as competitors with their comrades, and with powerful capitalist trusts and corporations from all over the world, now instead.

How could this development have happened? It was a most unfortunate historical coincidence that our socialist revolution had to happen in the midst of an inescapable war which threatened us all with annihilation. Resisting this annihilation has made compromises with less class-conscious forces necessary. Now we see the fatal consequences: just like the Duma, the soviets are almost dominated by green and blue “unions” [5]. They are not only pursuing their particular interests – which are going to cost us all dearly in the envisioned projects in the educational and health sectors! [6] –, they are also fundamentally alien to socialism and to the soviets as its instrument. They are abusing it, and they attempt to further transform it in their mould through the Direct Vote Proposal [7].

To save and restore our Revolution, it is not enough to reject subversive proposals like the Direct Vote. When the institutionalized soviets are failing us, we must seek new means of channeling the revolutionary impetus of the proletariat. If the Supreme Soviet wants to force workers to co-operativise, they should resist this coercion to conform into a reformed capitalism, and organize preferential agreements between soviets of the same level independently instead, without reliance on superior institutions [8]. The soviets may be lost, but socialism is not! The working class has seen that it can achieve any change if it is determined – and it will exert this newfound power again and again, whenever it sees itself locked out of power by usurping forces.

[1] The major divergence concerning the Seattle General Strike is a greater public presence of striking workers, protest rallies etc. given a less fearful general atmosphere at the start. This less fearful atmosphere has evaporated over the course of the strike, on the other hand, with mayor Ole Hansson holding much the same kind of speeches as he did IOTL. The strike is bound to end in a failure like IOTL because shipbuilding industries would inevitably experience drastic post-war cuts and the Seattle workers were too isolated, and when push came to shove, internal divisions between the radical IWW and the moderate AFL would prevent a really revolutionary development, but with more people on the streets, the strike is not “counter-organization in an eery silence”, it’ll probably end with a short violent confrontation, akin to the “Battle of George Square” IOTL in the Red Clydeside at around the same time period. By this point, political polarisation has inevitably occurred in the US, too, but for the more militant segments of the labour movement, Seattle is not a failure one had to admit to, it’s been “bloodily suppressed” in the end, creating its own set of martyr legends.

[2] The Red Clydeside is going to strike even harder than IOTL because their demand – shortening the work week to compensate for decreasing orders – not only was a solution which had some degree of plausibility, ITTL shorter and more humane working weeks and enough time for workers to participate in society, culture, and politics are also items on the list of things the ILO member states are committing themselves to. Lloyd George’s UK government has not joined the EFP and its ILO so far, but the strike wave probably spreads faster with this demand (together with the demand to join the EFP and sign Chantilly with its labour charter) on a national agenda, and Labour endorsing it wholesale. So probably the National Coalition gives more priority to defusing the matter and taking some of the wind out of the “Joiners” sails.

[3] Think of this happening on a greater scale in various Irish towns. In Catalonia, there was a wide popular movement for autonomy around the time (well, not just then!) IOTL and also a wave of general strikes later. Here, with “democratic self-determination”, the “Join the Federation” momentum, and labour mobilisations all overlapping to a very great degree, they may intertwine and coordinate to a greater degree, drawing on the popular council/soviet structure.

[4] We’re moving into utterly unchartered politico-economic territory here. Under the circumstances of some (regional or local) soviets having communalised / brought under their own control certain (or all) industries, and other soviets having adopted a more laissez-faire attitude, what Joffe refers to as the TTL-established term of the “Principle of Auto-Preference” means the idea that superior level soviets should, when setting more general frameworks for economic operations, automatically favour “their own” economic agents, i.e. communalised economic entities. The example of the railroads, where the Supreme Soviet / Congress of Soviets has decided to apply Auto-Preference, can illustrate this: Railroads are Union property, railroad construction and maintenance is a purely public task done by a Union agency whose members are appointed by the Supreme Soviet; railroad operation is purely public, too, and the Union railroads are also managed by a body consisting of delegated railroad workers and representatives elected by the Supreme Soviet. But what about the industrial production of the rolling stock? By early 1919, across the UoE, there are now both publicly owned and privately owned factories producing locomotives, waggons and parts thereof as well as other products vital to the construction, maintenance and operation of railroad traffic. The Supreme Soviet’s decision to apply the Principle of Auto-Preference here means that the network oversight board as well as the operations agency are obligated to procure their material from communally owned / sovietised providers and to co-ordinate with the respective soviets in order to meet the general goals and frameworks laid out by the Supreme Soviet for the oversight agencies to carry out. This practically means that private factories will be marginalised and, sooner or later, disappear in this industrial domain because their main customers are no longer buying from them – they can still try to sell to foreign operators, but that’s not a realistic option given their disadvantages vis-à-vis local competitors there. So either these private companies go bankrupt, or they sell their stuff to the communalised ones and take their money elsewhere, or local soviets try to pre-empt the latter development by communalising the factories in question, too, like other soviets elsewhere had done before them.

In short, the Principle of Auto-Preference would enforce socialist transformations from the top down, with already socialised parts of the economy exerting their pressure to socialise the rest. The Supreme Soviet has decided against applying this on a wider scale, and our Social Democratic author doesn’t like this.

[5] “Green” unions, which indeed make up a majority in the Supreme Soviet, are SR-affiliated unions, Most of them are peasant associations, but there are SR-aligned unions in the towns, too, who are very loyal to the new system. “Blue” unions are really the professional associations of old of non-working class groups like teachers, medics, engineers etc., who, after having been rather ill at ease with the entire new system, have begun to send delegates to the soviets, too, now. Joffe calls them “blue” in order to associate them with the Kadet Party, but in contrast to the latter, which is on a course of increasingly radical opposition to socialism, the so-called “blue union” members of the soviets show themselves to be willing to democratically integrate into the new order and to constructively shape it. The Supreme Soviet is certainly not dominated by them; they are a small minority.

[6] This refers to the Supreme Soviet defining new qualification standards for those who are supposed to work in the to-be-massively-enlarged education and healthcare systems. Especially with regards to teachers, the requirement of completed “pedagogical college” studies makes sense with regards to quality, but Joffe sees it as a (financially costly) way of preventing proletarian self-organsied self-education and feeding a new well-paid intellectual middle class instead.

[7] So far, workers and peasants gather in assemblies and elect representatives to local soviets, who elect representatives to regional soviets, who elect representatives to the Supreme Soviet. (An “indirect” structure.) Those whom Joffe labels the “blue unions” are indeed advocating the replacement of this system with one where employees and peasants elect representatives to all levels directly, under proportional representation. The reason is that the current system disadvantages them at all higher levels: in the countryside, peasant representatives outweigh them and only elect reprsentatives from among their number to the higher levels, while in industrial towns, factory workers outweigh them and do the same

[8] This is a vague instigation to form a syndicalist counter-structure.

On Economic Systems and Economic Thought

Whichever direction real systemic transformations take will depend a lot on concrete material as well as equally concrete party- and union-political developments than on systemic political economic thought, I suppose.

But political economic theory is going to be an indirect and very important (and exciting!) source of inspiration, too, of course.

I'm playing with the idea of the political system with its two main parties - the SRs and the SDs - mirroring itself in two emerging schools of economic thought, one at Petrograd University and the other at the Lomonosov in Moscow.

Petrograd is destined to be the more radical one (because the city was the most radically left-wing even in February 1917, and since then it has been ravaged and depopulated various times over in 1918 and at least its first wave of repopulation was led by Trotsky, with the following waves of returning refugees, soldiers, and sailors probably also being rather disproportionately imbued with revolutionary spirit), and the more Western-looking one, which both hint towards it becoming the place where Russia's Marxist school of economic thought gathers and develops. People like Stanislav Strumilin and Vladimir Groman come to mind, and of course, first and foremost - if his rump Bolsheviks return into the fold of the IRSDLP(u), which they well might, now that the war is over and the window for a second revolution seems to have closed and the IRSDLP(u) is radicalising itself in the opposition anyway - Nikolai Bukharin. The Petrograd School of Marxian Economics would certainly attract - even if its salaries might be meagre and general living conditions in Petrograd rather adverse at least in the first couple of years - Marxist-leaning economic thinkers from many other countries in the world. The economic thought which is maybe developed and taught here could, in turn, inspire lots of young students from across the world, especially since intellectual institutions associated with "the opposition" (even within Russia) are often imbued with a spirit of Bohemianism and counter-culture.

That leaves the Lomonosov in Moscow as the more "official" school of economic thought with more direct influence on Russian policies, at least in this phase. Grand old figures of Narodnik economic thought like Vasily Vorontsov are dying around this time, for them, all of this is coming too late. Probably at least Mikhail Tugan-Baranovsky lives longer if the overall health and food situation is improving instead of worsening over 1919, but even then, he's probably staying in Ukraine and inspiring things there. This institution, too, will probably actively seek input from thinkers from others parts of the world and maybe receive it - although I wasn't thinking so much about left-wing anarchists as about Georgists and populist-progressives like this man. Maybe they can help and shape a promising new generation of neo-Narodnik economic thinkers.
On Prohibition

Ever since the beginning of the Great War, restrictions on the sale of alcohol had been in place in Tsarist Russia. Although there were outspoken voices for prohibition in Tsarist Russia, too, this measure was taken top-down and meant to keep the army in fighting shape. One of its most relevant consequences, perhaps, was to eliminate a very important source of revenue for the imperial budget... At our TL's PoD, they are still in place.
Finnish Prohibition, IOTL and ITTL, went further. It didn't even allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants, nor even the production.
I think the most plausible course of events is that the Constituent Asssembly devolves regulations on alcohol and drugs, given the very diverging views on the matter across the vast country. That means, after the Concordance, the Finnish Federative Republic is free to pursue its own Prohibition policy, which means the Eduskunta's decision could be seen as retroactively self-sufficient, or the clock could start ticking from the moment of the law's publishing, which means a few months delay.
I think similar "dry laws" might become a reality in the Estonian and Latvian Federative Republics, too (there was a degree of correlation between confession and the stance towards Prohibition in the late Russian Empire, too: while there were plenty of Orthodox Prohibitionists, too, Protestants were most firmly in favour of Prohibition). On the other hand, given the great economic relevance which wine (and champagne) production had in Bessarabia and Georgia, I think it is safe to assume that these federative republics will turn "wet" as soon as they can, or maybe limit prohibition to hard liquor (but I don't think even that is a given, since wine-growing regions tend to distill their spirits from pomace, which can be used as animal fodder otherwise but really doesn't have the same competition with food production that cereals have, from which vodka is produced across Russia).

Regarding Ukraine and Russia, I think the case is difficult. The division between Prohibitionists and people who thought it was counter-productive (fiscally, administratively, and no fun at all, either) cuts across the political spectrum, with Social Democrats, Narodniks, and Kadets all having both "dry" and "wet" people in their ranks. What I am rather positive about is that the tsarist solution is going to be scrapped (booze only in restaurants is a solution that smacks of classist prejudice). But will it be simply repealed, or will liquor sale simply be prohibited everywhere? Or will Russia and Ukraine devolve it to their oblasts and okrugs? (In that case, expect the Crimea to continue to produce champagne...) I don't know. This was the heyday of Prohibition, on the other hand, the new federative republics don't have their own gold reserves and thus very little financial space for maneuvre, so fiscal considerations could be relevant arguments against it.

One problem with this decentralised system is that there is, constitutionally enshrined, freedom of movement of people and free trade of goods across the entire Union of Equals. For strict Prohibitionists like Finland (and maybe Estonia and Latvia, too), this means that they cannot simply stop booze from being carried across the country (which they weren't really able to IOTL, either, if I'm not much mistaken, but for practical reasons), which complicates matters further.

On Railroads

Russian rails are in a bad shape, mostly in the Western half.
I see politics at work here, though. There must be some degree of compromise between "red" and "green" unions in the Supreme Soviet, not just for majority decisions, but also because nobody wants to risk a prolonged railroad strike. And rail industries are, I've thought, one of the most logical choices for such a compromise. Not only do railroad workers have the highest unionization levels - and of a "red" union, too. But there are also rational, systemic arguments: there are few industrial sectors where central planning makes as much sense as here. If the state is everyone's single purchaser anyway, and the state makes its plans for years ahead as it must, and rolling stock and rails need to suit each other anyway, there are some valid arguments for centralising the whole thing. Yes, some factories producing rolling stock will probably have suffered (in Petrograd and Riga mostly), but there are many others on Kharkiv, Kiev, on the Upper Volga etc., and Petrograd's industrial infrastructure must be rebuilt anyway. Foreign capital would be nice for this reconstruction - but at this point in time, the Supreme Soviet, and not only they, still hope that they will receive plenty of money from the War Recovery Fund provided by reparation payments by the Central Powers. And rebuilding the rails themselves, well, that's a task Russia's communalised industries are certainly up to (this had been a state business anyway all the time).
Auto-preference for the railways may prove not to be wise. But I think it was plausible enough for the Supreme Soviet to adopt it nonetheless.

The Supreme Soviet's plan for the years up to 1925 envisions new construction work on the following routes: the Turkestan-Siberian railway (closing the long gap between Aulie-Ata and Semipalatinsk) and more railways connecting the oil fields of Turkestan with the Caspian Sea, also completion of Nizhny Novgorod-Kotelnich, Kazan-Sverdlovsk... (and I suppose a lot more which I'm happy if you suggest them). Other than that, much of the network needs heavy reconstruction works.

On Other Industries and ISOMA Priorities

Much of the Fifth Congress of Soviets had to deal with the conversion of wartime production to peace-time production. In some cases, this is easy and a real relief: Belarussian potash production no longer delivering its produce to the production of ammunition but to the production of fertilisers is comparatively easy and an immense help. In many other cases, where industrial production lines had been adjusted (e.g. the munitions factory in the example above), things are tougher. Here, the congress has combined outright planning in some sectors with directing credit allocation in others and with attempting to foster conditions in which foreign capitalists are induced to invest in others where nothing else was deemed to be realistic.

The heated controversy about whose jurisdiction foreign capital, international joint-ventures etc. were under (the soviets, because it's capital, or the Presidential cabinet and its Foreign Minister, because it's foreign?) has not exactly been resolved by the Fifth Soviet Congress, but a modus vivendi for the moment has been found: the supreme soviet upholds the claim of soviet authority over all economic activity in Russia, including any sorts of international co-operation, but it has generally approved of international co-operation, foreign direct investment etc. in all sectors not bound by Auto-Preference, and it has singled out a few sectors specifically where regional and local soviets are ordered not to undertake any measures which would threaten these co-operations (e.g. expropriating the investors).

Also, the Fifth Congress has busied itself with the Inter-Soviet Office of Mutual Aid (ISOMA), conducted a heated debate about alleged corruption and nepotism (the no. 1 explanation for misallocation, either because awareness of other factors is less present or because, even though people know there are other reasons, it is not politically expedient to discuss them as such when you can also simply find a scapegoat and blame them to have diverted funds for the benefit of their cronies, which is of course something that will always occur to some degree), and specified a new and stricter code for the ISOMA's dealings (who gets to decide about which applications, and more criteria for judging applications for credits.

Sometimes, these three policies (conversion of wartime production to peacetime needs; industrial sectors where foreign co-operation / investment is sought and specifically protected, and ISOMA credit policies) are all intertwined. One such example is the mechanisation of agriculture, which the Fifth Congress wants to stimulate. Focusing industrial development on the needs of agriculture is a politically logical choice in Russia at this moment. Many horses traditionally used in agriculture have perished in the Great War. The Putilov factory in Petrograd, which had some experience with producing motorised vehicles fit for agricultural purposes before the war, as well as the Russo-Balt factory in Riga, for which the same goes, had their production geared towards wartime needs after 1914. In 1918, both have suffered devastations by the Germans. Now, the Fifth Congress of Soviets has designated that politically pre-discussed joint-ventures, e.g. for re-building and outfitting (parts of) the Putilov plant with the US-based Ford corporation to produce tractors like this one (a Fordson-Putilovets):


shall fall under special protection clauses (so that Ford does not need to fear expropriation). At the same time, ISOMA managers have been elected and instructed with an agenda of providing loans for well-organised agricultural co-operatives so that they can acquire such tractors as the above-mentioned. Mechanising agriculture, so the plan, can free up land previously needed for grazing labour animals, and so increase agricultural output while requiring less worktime.

(In the Soviet Union of OTL, the tractors above became famous for breakdowns and malfunctions... but who could know that in 1919? And maybe the problems are fixed faster ITTL?)
April 1919 - Germany Does Not Sign
Wien (Republic of German Austria): Der Abend [1], April 25th, 1919, p.1:


by Bruno Frei

The whole continent waits with baited breath. Yesterday at noon, the ultimatum of the allied and associated powers for Germany’s signature under the peace treaty has expired. Germany has not signed. Instead, Emperor Wilhelm II. has dismissed Reichskanzler Friedrich Ebert (SPD) and replaced him with colonel general Hans von Seeckt.

Speculations abound. Was Ebert willing to sign at the last hour? Two weeks ago, Wilhelm declared before assembled guard regiments that “the hand of any German who should sign that shameful piece of toilet paper should foul”. Now he has appointed his colonel general, who has done his utmost to camouflage German non-withdrawal East of the Oder and is rumoured to be the grey eminence commanding the Heimatwehren at the Polish front. Honi soit qui mal y pense. [2] Foch and Brusilov have left no doubt as to how they see things: their states, and all their allies, are still at war with the German Empire, and the armistice has just expired. But what are the Kaiser and his general aiming at? So far, there have not been any reports about a resumption of hostilities. US President Wilson, who has just returned from Washington with doubts in his rucksack [3], has not yet commented on the situation.

How will the Reichstag react? Leaders have called their factions together urgently to discuss the situation. Will the Prussian military machine throw its subjects into one futile, bloody, last stand – to save the leaders who have driven it, and with it the whole continent, against the wall [4]? And what will these subjects do? For the sake of our German brethren and comrades, we must place our last hope in the councils now – may they mobilise fast and with determination! From over here, from the capital of our free state, we are calling at you: Comrades, stop all the wheels! Throw Brandenburg’s sand into the junkers’ and industrial barons’ machinery of war [5]! The Viennese workers’ council will convene over the weekend, too. Under the Damoclean sword of renewed war in Germany, the announced national march of the Heimatwehren [6] might turn into the beginning of a coup aimed at dragging our republic into this morass of blood, too. We must be watchful and defend the peace and what little we have achieved so far now, for else all may be lost.

Der Abend will keep you informed throughout the weekend with extra issues, should events take a dramatic turn. For the moment, we appeal to all our readers to be on their watch and to support the congress of the Viennese workers’ council.

[1] A socialist newspaper.

[2] He will have written: “Ein Schelm, wer Böses dabei denkt.”

[3] Like IOTL, dissent is brewing in Congress over the Covenant for the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles shoved under Germany's nose. Some info about Versailles in the next two footnotes; I'll follow up with more info on the text of the treaty in the new year. In principle, it commits the US to even less than the OTL Covenant did, but to Henry Cabot Lodge it's still too much, and he doesn't know OTL's text version to compare both.

[4] TTL's Versailles treaty demands the extradition of Wilhelm himself, and the entire upper echelon of the military, as well as a number of civic politicians, to the International Court in Hague to be tried for war crimes and atrocities. ITTL, Clemenceau is not the only one at the table of the big guys who can tell about German atrocities and their destruction of one's country. Avksentiev has a lot to say on this topic, too: about three years of Ober Ost exploitation and Markov's tyranny, about the poison gas attack on Petrograd, and about destroyed infrastructure far and wide when the Germans did retreat. Even in Britain, "Hang the Kaiser!" was a popular slogan at the time. How much more in the UoE! (Although the death penalty has been abolished there immediately after the February Revolution.)

[5] The industrial barons are mentioned, too, because TTL's Versailles contains a hefty sum of reparation demands, too. A heftier one than OTL even - given that it includes all kinds of damages caused in the East as well. More on the exact sum in January!

[6] The protest march of the Heimatwehren is aimed against Austria's government having signed the Treaty of Chantilly - just like Hungary's and Bulgaria's.
May 1919 - Germany's End
Germany’s End

Two days after the ultimatum expired, the Reichstag convened. With a somewhat solid majority (because, beyond the "Peace resolution coalition", Stresemann got more than half of the National Liberals behind it, too), the Reichstag passed a resolution which the international press would have labelled “Neither Peace, Nor War”, only that ITTL Trotsky never coined this phrase. There was no majority for a resolution of leftist liberals, a few SPD renegates, and USPD to sign the Versailles Treaty. Instead, the majority opted to deny von Seeckt’s government any authority and call Ebert’s replacement a “coup”, and for a call to all institutions not to obey any orders sent from the chancellory, and specifically not to engage in renewed military activity, not to sacrifice lives and risk the destruction of German infrastructure, but also not to “play the game” of the invaders. (What territorial bodies, institutions, units etc. were supposed to DO exactly was left unspoken.)

Three days after the ultimatum expired, French and Belgian troops began moving across the Rhine and swarming out from their Cologne bridgehead. Simultaneously, Polish and UoE forces crossed the Oder at Frankfurt, while Czechoslovak detachments overcame weak defenses in the Elbe gorge. In Gotha, Rosa Luxemburg (who escaped the crackdown on Breslau’s Spartakists in November 1918 and had been active clandestinely ever since) issues a declaration from the town hall, which a leftist group had stormed to many people’s surprise, in the name of “Internationale Revolutionäre Sozialdemokraten” (a name which clearly alludes to the IRSDLP(u)), in which she declared the beginning of the self-liberation of the proletariat which has no fatherland, and announced passive defense against any force which the reaction would send against them. She announced similar actions in the Ruhr, Silesia, Kassel, Frankfurt and Karlsruhe, and called on all proletarian organizations to support the revolution with a general strike and the takeover of local control on May Day.

In the following days, the only superficially demobilized Seventh Army commanded by Oskar von Watter began cutting railroad lines, destroying bridges, erecting defensive works in the wooded hills to the East of the Rhine Valley, re-drafting soldiers and integrating Heimatwehren, and restoring wartime command structures over the economy. Franco-Belgian advances into the Ruhr basin, and a smaller French advance into the Main basin, were not yet confronted. East of Berlin, though, the VIIth Prussian Army Corps and various other regular and irregular groups commanded by Kurt von dem Borne defied the onslaught and pushed back the Polish and UoE advance across the Oder, in turn capturing the right bank of the Oder and establishing a bridgehead. Hastily, works on a line of defense along the Oder are intensified.

In various industrial centres, most notably in the Ruhr region, general strikes have begun, “Vollzugsräte” are formed again, contact to each other and to the advancing foreign troops are sought. Although no coordination is possible as of yet, massive takekovers, like called for by Luxemburg, are prepared for May Day.

In the second week after the expiration of the armistice, von dem Borne’s success as well as Luxemburg’s energise the radical Right and Left, while some advancing forces celebrate successes. Across Tyrol, Heimatwehren sabotage the supply lines of the Italians who have sent 20,000 more men into Bavaria, with the aim of securing control there and then advancing North-Westward against Württemberg, where they hope they would meet with French forces advancing South-Eastwards. Tyrol, North and South, is in flames, as Italian arditi retaliate. South of Munich, the Heimatwehr-Corps Epp prepares several thousand defenders for their stand against the Italians or a march on Munich. In Munich, anarchists mobilise against them. In Elberfeld and Barmen, Hagen, Essen and other cities in the Ruhr region, socialist and syndicalist Vollzugsräte take control after hundreds of thousands protest on May Day. They pledge non-obstruction to the French, but don’t ally directly with them. Anti-socialist groups led by Heimatwehr corps Lichtschlag https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freikorps_Lichtschlag begin to attack them, supported by parts of the administration loyal to von Seeckt (under the leadership of Landeshauptmann von Renvers). The Czechoslovak Army captures Dresden, where the provisional administration (instituted by Berlin under imperial execution) gives in after Heimatwehren were defeated at Bad Schandau and socialists have erected barricades. South of Danzig, von Quast has drawn together an army over 50,000 men strong, but only lightly equipped, in order to throw back the Poles and UoE detachments, and farther to the East, at Bartenstein, von der Goltz has assembled another force only slightly smaller. Hindenburg visits them and exhorts them to remain steadfast. Loosely affiliated, Heimatwehren in the East unify under the command of the nationalistic Social Democrat (!) August Winning, and begin an unprecedented campaign of terrorism, sabotage, assassination attempts and other acts of guerilla warfare against Polish and UoE units. Like all other “loyalist” German forces, their rationale is ultimately, since they can’t effectively defend the country, to make its occupation as ineffective and costly to the occupiers as possible.) In Berlin, most members of the Reichstag has fled due to fears of being apprehended or even shot by von Seeckt’s men, who have begun committing atrocities against anti-war socialists.

The British and US governments are reluctant to intervene, but feel compelled to ultimately participate, too, and have set their flotillas in motion. Von Seeckt attempts to prevent their re-entrance into the war by offering to accept the reparations and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine as well as Posen Province, but not the demilitarization and occupation of Germany, the persecution of its politicians and militaries, and any further losses in East Prussia, Pommerania, Silesia, or left of the Rhine.

In the third week, full-scale civil war rages in Bavaria (where Epp marches on Munich and fighting endures without a clear outcome, while in the countryside, more Heimatwehren form, while the Gandorfer brothers Karl and Ludwig organize a revolutionary peasant militia in Lower Bavaria who defeat a Heimatwehr corps from Regensburg in the Battle of Schierling and prevent the latter’s march on Munich from the North. Both Unterleitner’s acting government and the majority factions in the Landtag decide to adopt a passive approach, which leads to a degree of rapprochement between the hostile camps of Bavarian politics. Full-scale civil war also rages on along Rhein and Ruhr, in Silesia, Pommerania, Posen, East Prussia, Tyrol… Under the inofficial leadership of Luxemburg, red militia liaise with the Czechoslovaks in Thuringia and Saxony and prepare the liberation of Berlin from the South. Meanwhile, UoE General Gutor decides not to attempt another assault across the Oder, and not to attack either von dem Borne’s, von der Goltz’ or von Quast's armies for the time being, and instead landing troops amphibiously (the Russian Baltic Fleet completely controls the Baltic Sea at this point) behind the new German defense line. They land West of Swinemünde and then defeat a small force which attempted to protect Anklam, from where they proceed Southward by train.

The British Navy went an even easier path. They negotiated with the Hamburg Senate that the city abjures von Seeckt’s command and welcomes and fully complies with British (and potentially US) military administration. After a small skirmish in Cuxhaven, marine units loyal to the Senate overcome their comrades who wanted to fight the British. They lower the defenses protecting the entrance to the Elbe River and help with the removal of floating mines. Hamburg is used to send more ships and troops upriver and via railways towards Berlin (and a few towards Hannover, where loyal Guard Regiments are preparing to crush the bourgeois-MSPD breakaway attempt of a Free State of Hannover. Left of the Rhine, the mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer (Zentrum) has formed a coalition of towns and Kreise (counties) who have negotiated non-resistance and a possible future political settlement with the French and Belgians and sends armed police units against Heimatwehren in the Eifel.

The fourth week finally sees imperial German resistance crumbling. The French defeat von Wetter’s army, whose defenses have been utterly in vain because of the tacit support of the Red Ruhr, in the Battle of Geseke, and while Northern Hesse, where MSPD and USPD cooperate, has decided to break away from under von Seeckt’s control, the French advance North-Westwards, where they converge with a British detachment. Braunschweig declares itself a free state. UoE units stare down Prussian defenders in the Schorfheide. Luxemburg’s Red Hundreds and the Czechoslovaks reach Dessau. The German Baltic Fleet moored at Riga is scuttled at nobody knows whose command – a clear admission of impending defeat. The Red Ruhr triumphs over Lichtschlag et al. After thousands of deaths, the Left and Internationals, relieved by Italian arrivals, restore control over Munich. Among the killed are not only many prominent leftists and anarchists, but also Heimatwehrler Adolf Hitler. Niekisch escapes before Augsburg is captured, and switches to terrorism from positions in the Allgäu. The Italians begin deporting German Tyroleans suspected of terrorism and insurgency to detainment facilities in Libya.

In the fifth week, the Empire finally dissolves. To avoid capture, Wilhelm II. flees to the Netherlands (but he doesn’t abdicate yet), while von Seeckt and his junker cabinet resigns and flees from Berlin (since the armies deployed to Germany are comparably light in numbers – massive deployments are politically unfeasible in 1919 –, there is no such thing as a stable front anywhere, and that includes Berlin, too, which has never been effectively encircled). Czechoslovaks, UoE and British race each other to Berlin; the UoE, who had the shortest route, succeeds after a triumph over demoralized defenders at Chorin, and Gutor triumphantly enters the city where streetfights are killing hundreds. (Karl Liebknecht has been liberated from his prison in Luckau in the meantime.) A conservative rump Reichstag – mostly composed of those forces who had not turned against von Seeckt – was confronted with the demand to ratify Versailles, and chose to dissolve itself instead. The Bundesrat, then, confronted with the same demand, did, without even the required quorum of present delegates (given Prussia’s and Saxony’s lack of a government and Bavaria’s declared secession) what some would later label the “Second Reichsdeputationshauptschluss”: it declared that, with the flight (which they equate with an abdication) of Wilhelm II. as Empreror of the Germans and King of Prussia, the usurpation of von Seeckt and his resignation, too, both as chancellor of the empire and as minister-president of Prussia, the dissolution of the Reichstag and now also the absence of a quorum in their own forum, that their union no longer functions and that the Empire in its form of 1871 has ceased to exist.

Reichstag and Bundesrat were, of course, not the only institutions or actors who vied for the mantle of representing Germany. Soon, an All-German Congress of Workers’ Councils would convene in Elberfeld, and declare to lead the country’s transformation into being a part of the worldwide socialist commune which they were sure was presently emerging worldwide. When they convened, the Great Powers are already severely at odds with each other about the future of Germany and Versailles and nobody even asked the German soviets if maybe they wanted to sign on the dotted line. In Frankfurt, dispersed former Reichstag members and other politicians of the established and a few new political parties formed a “Vorparlament” which, too, claimed that it would lead the process of Germany’s political rebirth, in this case in a bourgeois-democratic framework, by attempting to organize – together with the sovereign German states from Oldenburg to Austria and from Baden to Prussia, and with the occupying powers – a process of electing a constituent assembly. They, too, came too late to be asked to sign Versailles.

Who did sign something – albeit not the peace treaty designed in Paris – was Paul von Hindenburg. On May 30th, he signed an order to all German military units to desist any form of hostilities and let the occupying powers disarm and disband them. Three days later, on June 2nd, 1919, he committed suicide.

This is, quite unambiguously, a less than satisfying outcome for London and Washington, both of which wanted some centralised German government with a minimum of legitimacy and some degree of internal stability (ideally under their control) to sign the initial Versailles draft, which would have kept Germany together as a political and economic entity, able to acknowledge and also pay the hefty reparations heaped upon it, instead of a power vacuum in the process of transforming into a checkerboard of political non-entities mostly puppetised by the EFP powers and imbued with all flavours of socialism. But that’s what you get when you’re coming late to the party and then act half-heartedly. (France, Belgium, the UoE, the Poles and the Czechoslovaks all had the removal of the German threat as a top priority. Well, in Poland this policy was not uncontroversial, but in France, Czechoslovakia, and in the UoE, there was not much opposition against the intervention against a recalcitrant and restorationist Germany. In the UoE, no federative republic is opposed to it, and most major political forces – from the Marxist Social Democrats over the Narodniks to bourgeois nationalists – support it, too, if it doesn’t mean too many deployed soldiers and too many losses. In France, Clemenceau has the support both of the conservatives and the liberals, and the smoother French cooperation with the Red Ruhr went during the war, the more the Socialists saw the merit of the whole enterprise, too. But in the British government, while Wilhelm’s stubbornness and the restoration of a junker regime which defies the rules of the armistice is quite clearly unacceptable to everyone, forces sympathetic to the French and to a continental supranational solution for peace and democracy (one might be tempted to call them “pro-European”) were not quite strong, especially after the Conservative and Unionist landslide victory in the 1918 general elections, and France’s cosying up to the Red Ruhr was so repulsive to some that engaging its own forces in the region in the same theatre, following in the footsteps of the French, was out of the question. The same goes for Wilson, by the way, even though he would have worded his doubts differently than the British. Dismembering Germany was certainly not his aim, nor was leaving her in the hands of socialists… Both the UK and the US ultimately decided that NOT joining in would be even worse for their interests, but that was a bit late, given how fast German imperial government collapsed. As mentioned, geography also played against them. The UoE already had forces stationed along the Oder since winter, and its fleet controlled the Baltic Sea. From there, it’s a much shorter ride to Berlin.)

But the current state of affairs is not easy for the EFP powers, either. There is not only the fallout between the EFP powers and the Anglo-Americans over the future of Germany (and the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East, and, basically, everything). There are also more than 150,000 men under arms East of the Oder who have not been defeated yet, and not all of them are going to follow Hindenburg’s last order and lay down their arms. Elsewhere, too, armed guerilla resistance isn’t going to disappear overnight. The nationalist Right has a sort of covenant moment of its own, too – but it’s a clandestine one. Heimatwehr leaders, aristocratic officers of the defunct Prussian armies, nationalist politicians of various sorts and such like met at an aristocratic manor in Tannenberg (a place of almost mythical importance in the “Germanic fight against the Slavs”) in East Prussia to plan on their future strategies, too. This so-called “Vinetabund” was the largest, but not the last of a series of such clandestine conventions, in which frightened members of the old elites who felt their backs against the wall came together with young men who had been brutalized by the war, impressed by the esprit de corps, imbued with the nationalist spirit of an age, and who knew they could count on the support of people who would feel treaded upon and shoved to the side in this new age. Germany was no longer a vital threat – but controlling it would prove a mighty challenge to those who undertook it indeed.