Man-Made Hell: The History of the Great War and Beyond

Is this a good timeline?

  • Yes, it's great!

    Votes: 110 57.6%
  • Yes, it has a few flaws but is still good.

    Votes: 65 34.0%
  • No, it's very implausible.

    Votes: 10 5.2%
  • No, it's boring.

    Votes: 6 3.1%

  • Total voters
Btw, for the purposes of "research", I recomend reading H. G. Wells' "Things to come", where he describes a war starting in 1939... that keeps spreading and never stops...
I looked it up on Wikipedia and I have to say that Wells has some intriguing ideas. My current problem with keeping the Great War going on for thirty years is that the people of Europe would eventually be too demoralized to continue fighting. We saw this a bit in OTL in France, Russia, and Germany, so I plan on getting the people of the belligerents to hate each other so much that they will not rest until the enemy is defeated. It's suffice to say that once one side does defeat the other the post-war situation in Europe will not be pretty.

And thanks for the recommendation, I will be sure to further look into "Things to Come."
I looked it up on Wikipedia and I have to say that Wells has some intriguing ideas. My current problem with keeping the Great War going on for thirty years is that the people of Europe would eventually be too demoralized to continue fighting. We saw this a bit in OTL in France, Russia, and Germany, so I plan on getting the people of the belligerents to hate each other so much that they will not rest until the enemy is defeated. It's suffice to say that once one side does defeat the other the post-war situation in Europe will not be pretty.

And thanks for the recommendation, I will be sure to further look into "Things to Come."
Hate keep you going only up to a point; honestly 30 years of continuous ongoing real conflict WWI style in Europe it's not possible...hell in OTL by end of 1917 the UK had no mean to keep secure loan from the US and Italy (and France) were starving. As said earlier 3 decades can be obtained if you add at the final count period of fight (the OTL war) to period of effective ceasefire or very limited conmbat like the WWII phoney war, lasting some years and/or you add the immediate postwar conflict or you can go with this (basically consider WWI and WWII a single conflict)
Hate keep you going only up to a point; honestly 30 years of continuous ongoing real conflict WWI style in Europe it's not possible...hell in OTL by end of 1917 the UK had no mean to keep secure loan from the US and Italy (and France) were starving. As said earlier 3 decades can be obtained if you add at the final count period of fight (the OTL war) to period of effective ceasefire or very limited conmbat like the WWII phoney war, lasting some years and/or you add the immediate postwar conflict or you can go with this (basically consider WWI and WWII a single conflict)
The governments of the belligerents of Great War will radically change throughout the conflict. Imagine, coups, civil wars, etc throughout the three decades. My current goal is to reach a point where the people of the belligerents hate their opponents so much that they will not rest until the Great War is won and therefore are extremely motivated to continue the war effort. And I know that this is a really ambitious idea, but I'll try my best to make this as realistic as possible.
I just completed the first ever custom flag of Manmade Hell and thought you guys might want to check it out. I'm sure a lot of you will be able to figure out what movement this is a flag for, so I'll put it within a "spoiler" button if you want to go into Chapter Two completely blind.

Flag of Russian Democratic Federative Republic MMH.png

Otherwise, I'm happy to say that Chapter Two is going by pretty fast, so if we all cross our fingers it could possibly be out a bit before the end of October. Let's just hope that I don't get too much homework within the next week and I'll have a good amount of time to write. :)
The eagle itself looks somewhat Russian, and the tricolor's design is similar to that of France. I'm gonna guess it's something to do with the alt Russian revolution, maybe some sort of republican movement.
There is this one video game called Iron Storm that had a WWI of sorts being extended well into the 1960's due to Sternberg taking over Mongolia and Russia and fusing them together into this "Russo-Mongolic" Empire that finds itself in conflict with the Western Allies (oh and Imperial Japan fought on the side of R-M sometime in the 1940's); interesting concept setting wise, though I heard the gameplay's kind of a poor-man's Half Life (though it looked okay to me).
There is this one video game called Iron Storm that had a WWI of sorts being extended well into the 1960's due to Sternberg taking over Mongolia and Russia and fusing them together into this "Russo-Mongolic" Empire that finds itself in conflict with the Western Allies (oh and Imperial Japan fought on the side of R-M sometime in the 1940's); interesting concept setting wise, though I heard the gameplay's kind of a poor-man's Half Life (though it looked okay to me).
I've never heard of that, but it definitely sounds interesting. As of yet, I'm not sure what exactly I'll do with Sternberg, but it's a safe bet that he'll make an appearance sooner or later.
There is this one video game called Iron Storm that had a WWI of sorts being extended well into the 1960's due to Sternberg taking over Mongolia and Russia and fusing them together into this "Russo-Mongolic" Empire that finds itself in conflict with the Western Allies (oh and Imperial Japan fought on the side of R-M sometime in the 1940's); interesting concept setting wise, though I heard the gameplay's kind of a poor-man's Half Life (though it looked okay to me).
Good Ol' Iron Storm.

We can have Helicopters and 1980-level computers but tanks have barely crawled out of WWI.
Is everyone okay if I don't include Africa in Chapter Two? The chapter's already pretty long, so I plan on releasing an interlude about Africa after the next chapter is out.
Chapter Two: Peace For Our Time?
Chapter II: Peace For Our Time?

“One cannot make a revolution in white gloves.”

-Vladimir Lenin

Tsar Nicholas II and his family.

Upon going to war with Germany the Russian Empire was living on borrowed time. Regardless of its vast size, Russia was a backwater state in comparison to the might German Empire, the rising star of Europe. Even though the population of Russia dramatically exceeded that of Germany the armed forces of the Kaiserreich managed to be slightly larger than that of the Russians and the German Empire managed to fight a two-front war against the European pantheon and was so very close to absolute victory while the Russian Empire barely managed to secure a single front.

And Russia was not just fighting the Germans, mind you, but Germany’s fellow empires within the Central Powers bloc as well. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had stabilized its frontline against the Russians thanks to immense German aid and after the Treaty of Vienna the Kingdom of Italy would surely not be a problem anytime in the near future, so therefore there was no need to station units out west in defense against the neutral Italians when said units could be fighting the Russian Empire. In the Caucasus region Russia had to face yet another mighty foe when the Ottoman Empire entered the Great War near the very beginning of the conflict on behalf of the Kaiserreich.

By 1915 the Russian military was already in steady retreat against the Central Powers and the Russian populous had lost any hope that victory was in reach. Tsar Nicholas II’s plot to regain the prestige Russia had lost in the Russo-Japanese War failed spectacularly and the Tsar was to blame for this mess. The Great War crushed whatever little ounces of support Tsar Nicholas II had from the days of Rasputin and growing liberalism within Russia and a revolution appeared inevitable.

As discontent burned throughout the streets of the dying Russian Empire the days of Nicholas became numbered, for revolution was on the horizon.

As the Russian populous rioted back behind the trenches the military commanders fending off the brutality of the Central Powers became frustrated with the incompetent autocrat they called their ruler as well. Among these disgruntled commanders was General Aleksei Brusilov, who oversaw Russian regiments on the southwestern front in the face of Austro-Hungarian Empire. General Brusilov was a staunch critic of the Tsar’s incompetence and advocated for his abdication in favor of the coronation of Grand Duke Mikhail under the supervision of a council of regents.

Throughout 1916 Brusilov never achieved the great offensive into Galicia that he had dreamed of, however, became a highly respected commander within the Russian military nonetheless. After all, Aleksei Brusilov was in fact holding out against the Austro-Hungarians and successfully defending Russia, while other generals had already lost Poland to the Germans. Therefore, Brusilov was respected enough to actually potentially force the Tsar’s abdication and managed to gain powerful allies. Lavr Kornilov, a fellow combatant against Austria-Hungary, quickly became an especially good friend of Brusilov and agreed that the Tsar was too incompetent and must be disposed if the Russian Empire were to be preserved. Other commanders, such as Nikolai Dukhonin, became allies of Aleksei Brusilov as well, however, arguably Brusilov’s greatest alliance was with Grand Duke Mikhail himself, the very man who Brusilov envisioned as Nicholas II’s replacement. Mikhail had become disgruntled with his brother’s incompetence throughout the Great War and had a distaste in the aristocratic culture of Saint Petersburg, and therefore happily joined General Brusilov’s conspiracy to depose Tsar Nicholas II.

Aleksei Brusilov was always cautious and unsure about whether or not he would in fact stage a coup on the Russian Empire, however, finally concluded that he must overthrow Nicholas when at long last riots in Saint Petersburg reached a boiling point on International Women’s Day on March 8th, 1917 when a collection of feminist rallies quickly evolved into a political gathering of the angry peasants of Russia. Soon workers’ strikes began and soon enough Saint Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, was subject to riots in the name of deposing the Tsar. Nicholas II ordered local soldiers to quell the uprisings, but with most soldiers out fighting on the frontlines of the Great War the only guardians of the Emperor and Autocrat of All Russias was a handful of injured and untrained footsoldiers.

When Aleksei Brusilov heard of the crisis in Saint Petersburg he was well aware that the Tsar could not hold back the power of the masses and therefore concluded that if the Russian Empire was to survive a coup must be staged immediately. Brusilov knew that the Tsar would simply not let him leave his post and head to Saint Petersburg under the guise of containing revolts, however, perhaps Mikhail (who was also commanding units fighting the Central Powers), the Tsar’s very own brother could. And so, on March 11th, 1917 Grand Duke Mikhail left the war against the Germans with a handful of his most trusted men and arrived in Saint Petersburg, only to arrest Tsar Nicholas II and force the crown to be surrendered to Mikhail. Nicholas, whose own life was on the line, regretfully abdicated to his own brother and on the morning of March 12th it was announced in front of the people of Saint Petersburg that they were no longer dictated by Nicholas, but by Tsar Michael II.

Tsar Michael II of the Russian Empire.

General Aleksei Brusilov left for Saint Petersburg to consolidate power alongside the new Tsar a day after the abdication of Nicholas and arrived with several regiments to suppress the revolutionaries throughout the city while Lavr Kornilov was put in command of Brusilov’s remaining forces. Within a few days all of Saint Petersburg had successfully fallen under the iron fist of the Russian Empire and the world watched as the new and far more capable leaders of Russia consolidated power. Aleksei Brusilov became the new chairman of the State Duma, as well as the commander of the entire Russian military. As chairman Brusilov gave himself plenty of powers never before granted to anyone but the Tsar. Brusilov had the ability to replace any member of the Duma whenever he pleased and could order an election at any time. In order to keep such an ambitious man under check, Tsar Michael II made sure that the State Duma could not pass any laws without his own permission, however, with Aleksei Brusilov as the leader of the Russian armed forces the Tsar was little more than a rubber stamp and it was apparent to the world was the true head of Russia.

Chairman Aleksei Brusilov of the Russian Empire.


“Revolutions are always verbose.”

-Leon Trotsky

Within the Russian Empire itself the highest ranking officials of the military did not question the new regime in Saint Petersburg. Even if the coup against the Tsar was simply shocking, Nicholas II had never been a well-liked man within his own military and the new administration was viewed as far more competent at waging war against the Central Powers. Besides, the war effort was the priority of many commanders and if swearing loyalty to Tsar Michael II and Chairman Aleksei Brusilov was what was necessary to win the Great War then so be it.

The masses of Russia had a different opinion of their new leaders. While Tsar Michael II was substantially more popular and liberal than his brother, who had fallen under house arrest, the Russian people were not stupid and knew very well who their true leader was. And Chairman Brusilov was viewed not as a liberal bringing upon the democratization of Russia, but rather a reactionary who had suppressed the workers of Saint Petersburg upon defeating Nicholas II and would stop at nothing to preserve the Russian Empire and ensure victory over the Central Powers. Left-wing organizations were suppressed across the Russian Empire by Aleksei Brusilov’s military junta and both Russian Social Democratic Labour Parties (the communist Bolsheviks and less radical Mensheviks), as well as the Socialist Revolutionary Party, were forced out Saint Petersburg.

The communist Bolsheviks would reorganize to the south of Saint Petersburg and fell under the leadership of Nikolai Krylenko, a draft dodger who ensured that the reactionary bourgeois imperialists governing the Russian Empire would not oppress the proletariat. But Aleksei Brusilov did not fear Krylenko and his cabal of Marxists, and outlawed the Bolshevik RSDLP on March 15th, 1917. Of course, this would not wipe out the Russian communists and the Bolshevik movement remained united under Krylenko, however, the RSDLP was technically illegal, therefore making its very existence an act of treason against the Russian Empire. Aleksei Brusilov would order the military of Russia to arrest those who still pledged their loyalty to Bolsheviks and an army under the leadership of Anton Denikin was dispatched to capture Nikolai Krylenko and permanently dissolve the Bolshevik movement.

Krylenko would most certainly not sit idly by while the proletariat was under siege by the bourgeoisie. A militia was rapidly built up to defend Moscow with Krylenko himself as its commander and on March 16th the Bolsheviks seized control of Moscow via their militia, establishing the Moskva Soviet. Denikin would hop on board a train to Moscow the very day the Bolshevik RSDLP was outlawed, however, upon approaching his destination an army of Soviets blockaded the railroad and with the engine of Denikin’s train seized car after car fell under Bolshevik occupation. Anton Denikin set up a quick defense against the Bolsheviks, however, his units were disorganized and were forced to retreat within minutes as their communist opponents took control of their ride to Moscow and headed back to the Moskva Soviet.

Anton Denikin relocated in Zelenograd, but would soon be forced to evacuate as the Bolshevik military invaded the city on March 17th, 1917 and through merciless guerrilla tactics (as well as noticeable support from locals) kicked the Russian imperial forces out of yet another city. The seemingly weak Moskva Soviet was emerging victorious over the seemingly mighty Russian Empire and the revolution of the proletariat was practically guaranteed to spread. To rise up in northern Russia, which was strictly within the grip of the Imperial regime, was impossible as socialists were rooted out by the increasingly authoritarian Chairman Brusilov, however, in southern Russia the situation was drastically different. Brusilov had yet to cement authority there and it was therefore up to the people of Russia’s south to decide where their loyalties resided. And in a region where workers’ councils were becoming increasingly common and socialist revolutionaries forced out of Saint Petersburg found a new following it was obvious that southern Russia would rise up against Imperialist oppression and join their comrades in Moscow.

Bolshevik militia patrolling Kaluga circa March 1917.

Within a matter of days central Russia was dominated by communist revolutionaries, who administered their respective cities through workers’ councils (called soviets) or some other form of local governance, with communes and republics also existing as well. In the southernmost regions of Russia the red tide of communist revolution, while entirely possible due to northern riots preventing the Brusilov administration from deploying any soldiers there, had yet to arrive. Socialism and republicanism were popular in these regions and despised by Aleksei Brusilov, but these groups were substantially more moderate than the radical Bolsheviks and didn’t necessarily associate with Krylenko’s league of communists. Instead, the Socialist Revolutionary Party and their associates, such as the Menshevik faction of the former RSDLP, dominated Russia’s south and anxiously observed the revolution to their north from Saratov.

Eventually, however, the call for revolution could not be resisted by these moderates, who admitted that a socialist republic alongside the Bolsheviks was preferable to subjugation under Brusilov and on March 29th, 1917 the Socialist Revolutionary Party seized control of Saratov and the surrounding area, only for the Mensheviks and countless other republican movements to do the same in the following days. At long last, all of Russia west of the Urals was embroiled in grandest revolution the 20th Century had ever seen and it was hoped that soon peace would come to all Russians and the Tsardom would finally be disposed.

It was apparent to the world that the Russian Civil War had begun.

From his home in the neutral Switzerland one of Russia’s greatest communist revolutionaries, Vladimir Lenin, learned of the collapse of the Russian Empire and the uprising of Bolsheviks throughout the Russian interior. Lenin was excited that the revolution he had dreamed of achieving for years and finally come to fruition and celebrated the victory of the proletariat with fellow communist dissidents in Switzerland. But Vladimir Lenin was well aware of the extreme decentralization of the Bolsheviks, were were more or less an alliance of revolutionaries under the de facto command of Nikolai Krylenko and could potentially fall apart at any movement. Lenin was a strong advocate for the centralization of any Marxist state under a dictatorship of the proletariat, which forms the basis for the ideology of Marxist-Leninism, so the loose nature of Krylenko’s Bolshevik movement was simply unviable in the eyes of Lenin.

And so, Vladimir Lenin and his fellow exiled revolutionaries entered negotiations with the German government to return to Russia and fuel the flames of revolution in a nation that the Kaiserreich continued to fight, even when it was on the brink of collapse. Lenin would travel to Moscow on a sealed train across the German Empire and over the eastern front lines of the Great War before arriving in Moscow, the heart of the Bolshevik revolution, on April 8th 1917 and was met with a thunderous applause as the champion of the Russian worker had returned to finish what he had started all those years ago.

Vladimir Lenin speaking to a crowd of Bolsheviks upon returning from his exile in Switzerland, circa 1917.

Upon meeting Nikolai Krylenko the ambitious Vladimir Lenin made it clear that he seeked to seize control of the movement he had begun back before the world had fallen into the most brutal war ever inflicted. Krylenko was initially hesitant to hand over the revolution he had more or less started to Lenin, however, upon being assured that the founder of the Moskva Soviet would continue to be a prominent and powerful Bolshevik Nikolai Krylenko accepted Lenin’s proposal and on April 10th, 1917 Vladimir Lenin was proclaimed leader of the Moskva Soviet and Bolshevik RSDLP.

Lenin would order the governments of the numerous Bolshevik rebellions across Russia to come to Moscow and organize a unified government. Notably absent from the 7th Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, which pledged to unite the Russian communist movement, were the more moderate organizations, such as the Socialist Revolutionary Party and the Mensheviks. These groups did not consider themselves to be communist, however, were major affiliates of the Bolsheviks nonetheless and had anticipated that the communists would invite them to any unified Russian republican government. Lenin, however, knew that these organizations were substantially more popular than the Bolsheviks and therefore excluded them from the formation of his ideal communist state. On April 12th, 1917 a decision was reached and a new nation was declared. All Bolshevik organizations across Russia were to unite under a single regime led by Vladimir Lenin, a Marxist-Leninist state controlled by the RSDLP (renamed to the Russian Communist Party) that would bring the proletariat’s revolution to Saint Petersburg itself, and this nation was named the Russian Soviet Republic.

Flag of the Russian Soviet Republic, which was officially adopted in the August of 1917.

Leading the unified Soviet military, called the Red Guard (or more commonly, the Red Army), was none other than Nikolai Krylenko, who was tasked by Lenin to trek north against the army of Anton Denikin (called the White Army) and conquer Saint Petersburg. But soon enough other threats to the Russian Soviet Republic would emerge. Vladimir Lenin viewed the moderate socialists that did not align with communism as opponents to the Soviet Republic and therefore ordered the invasion of cities aligned with the Socialist Revolutionary Party and Mensheviks within Soviet-occupied territory shortly after the 7th Congress of the Bolsheviks and establishment of the RSR. The attack was completely unexpected by the moderates, who were under the impression that the Bolsheviks were their allies, and it took very little effort to seize the northernmost holdings of the moderates.

The south, however, was a different story. This territory was strictly within the jurisdiction of the moderates and it was here that the communists found themselves outnumbered. Upon hearing of Lenin’s invasion of their comrades to the north the Socialist Revolutionary Party, Mensheviks, and their allies were outraged by what was seen as an epic betrayal and immediately mobilized militias against the Soviet Republic. At Putyatino the Red Army lost its first battle against the moderates and were repelled on April 19th, 1917. The republicans had made their stand against their communist foe, but knew that if they were to win a war against Lenin’s horde of communists then they too would need to forge a unified government. And so, the moderates convened in Saratov to create a new government, one that would fight for democracy named the Russian Democratic Federative Republic, which was officially established on April 24th, 1917.

Flag of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic.

The RDFR was a parliamentary federal republic that seeked to not only represent the oblasts under its administration but to also establish autonomous oblasts for regional minorities, such as the Jews and Volga Germans. All elections for the All-Russian Congress, as well as local legislative branches, occurred on April 27th and the Socialist Revolutionary Party secured the majority of seats in Congress. The Constitutional Democratic Party, otherwise known as the Kadets, secured second place as the conservative party of the RDFR (although this was relative; the Kadets were very much a liberal organization) and the Mensheviks, who had renamed from the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party to the Menshevik Party to differentiate from the Bolsheviks, came in third place. Therefore, the leader of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, Viktor Chernov, was appointed as the first chairman of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic on April 27th, 1917 and quickly settled into his position as the Bolshevik onslaught crept ever closer.

President Viktor Chernov of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic.

Chernov immediately assembled a coalition of the Socialist Revolutionaries, Kadets, and Mensheviks in the All-Russian Congress nicknamed the Triumvirate to ensure that his government would not be divided in the war effort to defeat both the Soviets and Imperialists. The military, named the Federal Armed Forces (referred to as the Green Army by most outside forces in the same sense that their opponents were the Red Army and the White Army), was also put together under the command of Mikhail Alekseyev, who was supposed to push for Moscow and defeat Lenin’s Russian Soviet Republic before heading for Brusilov afterwards.

Therefore, the Russian Civil War had truly started. All three major belligerents were tasked with defeating the other two and the White, Red, and Green armies marched off to fight against their own fellow Russians that shocking spring.

But how did the rest of the world react?

What is to be Done?

““In the relations of a weak Government and a rebellious people there comes a time when every act of the authorities exasperates the masses, and every refusal to act excites their contempt.”

-Excerpt from John “Jack” Reed’s “The Revolution That Shook the World,” a firsthand account of Reed’s (at the time an American journalist) experience of the Russian Civil War whilst in the Soviet Republic.

The Russian Civil War shocked the world, especially the belligerents of the Great War. For the Entente, a crisis had struck. One of their strongest allies that has fended of the eastern German onslaught by itself, the Russian Empire, had descended into miserable warlordism and would inevitably lose the war against Germany. For the Central Powers, however, the collapse of Russia was tremendous news. Soon enough, the eastern front would fall silent and the Central Powers would emerge victorious. And the Russians would be in no position to negotiate terms with the Germans, so a merciless unconditional surrender could very well be enforced.

As Russian Imperial soldiers were called back from the frontlines of the Great War to fight on behalf of the White Army in the Russian Civil War the Central Powers exploited numerous openings. Lavr Kornilov continued to command the southwestern front against the Austro-Hungarian Empire, however, it was obvious that he was fighting a war that could not be won. Aleksey Brusilov, while still very much concerned about the war against the Central Powers, was more worried about the Red and Green armies, and therefore diverted more resources to the war effort within Russia itself. By the time the June of 1917 had begun very little resources were being delivered to the frontlines against the Central Powers and even less reinforcements were being sent. And the majority of these resources and spare regiments were sent to the war effort against Germany, not Austria-Hungary, and thus it was only a few days after June had set in when it was announced that no fresh manpower would be sent to the southwestern front.

It was clear to General Kornilov that his campaign had become ignored by Chairman Brusilov, the very man who had previously held his position before heading off to Saint Petersburg. Kornilov was a skilled commander and was capable of defending Russia from the Austro-Hungarians, however, it was apparent that he was slowly being pushed back by the Central Powers. Every single battle depleted Kornilov of more and more resources, resources that could not be recovered, while the Austrians replenished their units with supplies and extra regiments from both Austria-Hungary and Germany alike. On June 21st, 1917 Austrians under the leadership of Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf paraded through Ternopil after an awkward retreat led by Kornilov disorganized his men and left them vulnerable to an attack, and this proved that the war against Austria-Hungary was a lost cause.

After defenses at Ternopil collapsed Lavr Kornilov would write a handful of letters to Aleksei Brusilov that argued in favor of a peace treaty with the Central Powers. “It is obvious that the war in Galicia is, at least for the time being, a lost cause,” wrote Kornilov. “The continued war against Germany and Austria are little more than a waste of men and resources alike that could be used in the far more important crusade against the socialists within Russia’s own borders.” Chairman Brusilov did not heed to Kornilov’s advice and instead believed that any peace treaty with the Central Powers would cripple the Russian war effort, however, he did send relieve Kornilov of his duties on the southwestern front and sent him off to Bologoye to fight against the Soviets in accordance to a request from Kornilov himself. Lavr Kornilov’s position as the commander of the southwestern front was filled by Nikolay Dukhonin, who would prove to be less competent than Kornilov and was infamous amongst the White Army for his common retreats.

General Nikolay Dukhonin of the Russian Empire.

While Nikolay Dukhonin quickly proved to be amongst the most incompetent within the White Army Lavr Kornilov wasn’t having substantially better luck either. Once an ambitious commander known for reckless offenses, the Great War had turned Kornilov into a far more cautious leader, as opposed to Anton Denikin, who became famous for his merciless charges into Soviet-occupied territory. The two commanders regarded the other as incompetent and quickly formed a rivalry within the White Army’s high command as Denikin and Kornilov jockeyed for Chairman Brusilov’s endorsement. But Aleksei Brusilov regarded both men as valuable assets to the war effort and could not afford to lose either. Therefore, the two stayed around and more or less split the White Army in half.

For the Russian Soviet Republic, this was absolutely a blessing. Nikolai Krylenko’s centralized military easily swept through northern Russia and the Soviet industrial centers would pump out plenty of supplies. As the months flew by the Soviet Republic crept ever closer to Saint Petersburg while the combined offensive of the Central Powers in the west accelerated as defenses began to deteriorate. In the November of 1916 the German Empire concluded that its first puppet state must be carved out of Russia and representatives of the Kaiserreich would sit down with Polish nationalists in Warsaw to establish a new nation. The Central Powers primarily negotiated with nationalists under the leadership of Jozef Pilsudski, who was anticipated to become the first head of state of an independent Poland since 1795. On November 5th, 1916 an agreement was signed with Pilsudski that promised that an independent Polish state would be created and within the upcoming months the new government for Poland was outlined. Exactly one year later, under increasing pressure from Pilsudski, the Kingdom of Poland was declared an independent nation, although in reality it was little more than a German puppet regime.

Flag of the Kingdom of Poland.

At first Poland had no monarch, and would continue to not have a monarch for much of its initial history, however, a few days after Poland declared its independence the Polish parliament (called the Council of State) elected Jozef Pilsudski, as their first prime minister, who was independent of all political parties and temporarily seized many of the roles of the monarchy and claimed that the war effort against Russia was the priority of the Polish people for the time being. In many occasions, Pilsudski would resist German imperialism within Poland and was keen on keeping the Kaiser on his good side, however, made sure that the Kingdom of Poland was not completely reliant on Germany via the militarization of Poland and the establishment of an independent Polish economy.

Prime Minister Jozef Pilsudski of the Kingdom of Poland.

Following the declaration of Polish independence Russian separatist groups would flock to the Central Powers. It seemed as though Ukraine would be the next region to leave Russia due to demands for autonomy amongst local Ukrainian nationalist groups, as well as incursions into Ukraine by local communist militias that prevented the Ukrainians from allying with the Soviet Republic. It was within Chairman Brusilov’s best interest to keep the Russian Empire united and made it clear that any attempts to secede would result with an invasion by the White Army, however, Brusilov was also well aware that he had enough enemies as it was and was essentially powerless if any region in Russia did dare to leave the Empire.

Worse yet for Aleksei Brusilov, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the war against the Soviets was coming to an end and he would not win. After Poland became independent for the first time in over one hundred years General Krylenko captured Veliky Novgorod on November 27th, 1917 in a tremendous victory against Lavr Kornilov. On December 8th, 1917 Tsar Michael II abdicated, with the liberal monarch citing the authoritarianism of Aleksei Brusilov, such as purges within the Duma, as his motivation for leaving the Russian throne empty. However, while it was obvious that Michael II had always despised Brusilov’s iron first and had wanted the Russian Empire to democratize, Chairman Brusilov was under the impression that the Tsar had abdicated to protect himself from the oncoming Soviet onslaught and surely enough Michael and his family left Russia and celebrated the Christmas of 1917 in the countryside of New York. Within the December of 1917 Nicholas Romanov, the former Tsar of Russia, managed to negotiate the freedom of his family and immediately left for Great Britain where he lived under the protection of his brother, King George V of the United Kingdom.

Of course, with Tsar Michael II out of the way Chairman Aleksei Brusilov was the absolute head of state and government of the Russian Empire. No one stood in his way, but this would not last. The Soviet advance through December was long and deadly, however, Krylenko was inching ever so closer to Saint Petersburg. On January 19th, 1918 the siege of Saint Petersburg began. Day after day the capital of the once-mighty Russian Empire was bombarded and the city was transformed into rubble. On February 5th, 1918 the Soviets finally emerged victorious and the hammer and sickle waved over Brusilov’s fortress. Chairman Brusilov was discovered in the Winter Palace and would be executed by a firing squad a few minutes after meeting face to face with Nikolai Krylenko. With Aleksei Brusilov dead, the Russian Empire was no more. Yes, guerrillas continued to fight, however, they found themselves sandwiched between the Soviet Republic and Central Powers.

The Winter Palace was empty.

Days later, ambassadors of Moscow, Berlin, and Vienna all met in Brest-Litovsk to negotiate a peace treaty that would bring an end to hostilities on the eastern front of the Great War. The Russian Democratic Federative Republic was obviously absent from Brest-Litovsk, however, the Green Army did not occupy any territory that bordered the proposed German sphere of influence and therefore did not need to be present at the negotiation table. And President Chernov made it clear that he planned on recognizing any new states carved out of eastern Russia; to question the Kaiserreich was simply ignorant.

Obviously, Ukraine would become an independent nation. Representatives of Ukrainian Central Council were even present in Brest-Litovsk, and once the Central Powers agreed to the establishment of an independent Ukrainian state nationalistic militias allied with the Ukrainian Central Council were ordered to rise up and secure the territory Brest-Litovsk would cede to Ukraine. The declaration of Ukrainian secession was more or less met with little to no resistance. The Red and Green armies agreed to remove their presence from Ukraine and what remained of the White Army was disorganized and easily overshadowed by Ukrainian nationalists, who had been the true law of the land since the Battle of Saint Petersburg. The constitution of Ukraine was written up, and went by fairly quickly thanks to drafts already existing, and a parliamentary state named the Ukrainian Republic was declared an independent nation on February 13th, 1918.

Flag of the Ukrainian Republic.

Unlike Poland, which was easily under German control, the Ukrainian Republic was far more independent. The German Empire had never occupied Ukraine during the Great War, and therefore had no military presence there. Instead, the local Ukrainian militias that preceded the armed forces of Ukraine pushed the White Army out while Germany stood idly by, and assisted Ukraine following the completion of Brest-Litovsk. Therefore, Ukraine could not become a German puppet regime like Poland. Such enforcement could possibly be met with a war against the Ukrainians, or at the very least massive resistance from locals, and the last thing the Kaiser wanted was a continued war in the east when victory was so close in sight. Instead, the Ukrainian Republic was more or less entirely independent of the German Empire, and merely joined the German sphere of influence. Socialist sympathies in Ukraine would keep the young republic from becoming monarchist like the Germans had hoped, and the first president of the Ukrainian Republic was Mykhailo Hrushevsky, a socialist who went on to form the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Republicans (UPSR).

Of course, the Germans desired to carve other nations out of the Russian Empire’s corpse, however, without local nationalist regimes like the Central Council in Ukraine, said nations would have to be German puppets. On February 14th, 1918 it was agreed that the Baltics would be integrated into the German sphere of influence and within days the entire Baltic region had fallen under the military occupation of the Kaiserreich as the Red Army evacuated east. The declaration of an independent Lithuania was an obvious choice due to much Lithuanian territory being under German military occupation, and therefore in the same situation as Poland. At the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk a constitution for the Kingdom of Lithuania was conceived, and the Lithuanian king, Prince Friedrich Christian of Saxony, was also selected. The Lithuanian Parliament held a handful of powers, however, was incredibly weak compared to its Polish counterpart and King Friedrich Christian I was the absolute executive force of Lithuania.

King Friedrich Christian I of the Kingdom of Lithuania.

To Lithuania’s north the rest of the Baltic region was partitioned into German puppet states as well. The previously Russian Governorate of Estonia, which was in the northernmost reaches of the Baltic region, became the Principality of Estonia, whose constitution more or less mimicked that of Lithuania. The man selected to become the Prince of Estonia was Duke William of Urach, whose position was predetermined at Brest-Litovsk in the exact same fashion of his counterpart in Lithuania.

Out of what remained of the Baltics, a third nation was carved. The regions of Livonia and Courland both contained sizeable concentrations of German nobility and had similar cultures, so a unification of the two seemed reasonable. In collaboration with Livonian and Curonian nationalist movements, as well as the Latvian Provisional National Council, the constitution of the United Baltic Duchy was drafted in Brest-Litovsk and Adolf Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was selected as its first Grand Duke. The United Baltic Duchy would be a federation of cantons, each of which would have their own local administrations overseen by minor German nobles.

Flag of the United Baltic Duchy.

While the Soviet Republic was accepting of most cessions of territory, one proposals the Soviets contended was the establishment of a Belarusian state. Not only was Belarus culturally similar to Russia, or at the very least more so than its neighbors, but communist revolutionaries were common throughout eastern Belarus. Simply put, Vladimir Lenin and the rest of the Soviet high command viewed Belarus as rightful Russian territory, not some region with a substantially separate identity to that of its eastern neighbors. The German Empire, on the other hand, occupied a significant quantity of western Belarusian territory and had been negotiating the establishment of an independent Principality of Belarus. Neither the Germans or the Soviets were willing to cede Belarus to the other, and so a compromise had to be reached instead.

It was concluded that the Belarusian region would not be entirely ceded over to either the German or Soviet sphere of influence, but would be partitioned into an eastern and western Belarus instead. The Russian Soviet Republic would annex eastern Belarus, which was deemed Byelorussia in order to differentiate itself from its western counterpart. Meanwhile, the western half of Belarus under German military occupation was organized into the Principality of Belarus, with its capital in Minsk. Just like Lithuania and the United Baltic Duchy, the Prince of Belarus would hold absolute authority of his realm and was a German aristocrat; Prince Franz of Bavaria. That being said, Belarus was a predominantly Orthodox state and Franz was a Catholic, and therefore the local Belarusian people were not as willing to hand over as much of their government to their new monarch as the Baltic states were. A substantial amount of state affairs were mandated by the legislative body of Belarus (called the Rada), and all cabinet officials were selected by the Belarusian democratic government, not the Prince of Belarus.

And finally, there was Finland. For decades, Finland had been an autonomous region of the Russian Empire that was tied to Saint Petersburg via a personal union with Russia itself. Aleksei Brusilov had been tolerant of the Grand Duchy of Finland’s autonomy and mostly let the Finnish govern themselves in order to not gain yet another enemy, and Tsar Michael II’s liberalism gave the Finnish hope that sticking with the Russians would pay off. Once Tsar Michael II abdicated, however, the major political tie Finland had to Russia was demolished, as was Finland’s incentive to align with Brusilov’s increasingly authoritarian regime that would inevitably collapse. Therefore, on February 5th, 1918, the exact same day the Russian Empire fell to the Red Army, the Grand Duchy of Finland officially seceded from Russia and became an independent nation. In the days that followed Finland reformed itself into a parliamentary democracy, named the Republic of Finland, which was predominantly led by the Social Democratic Party. Therefore, Finland would not fall under the German umbrella; not only was it large and already self-sufficient, but the dominant Finnish ideology fundamentally opposed that of the Kaiserreich. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk did, however, ensure that the Republic of Finland’s independence would be recognized by the Central Powers and Russian Soviet Republic, and following the completion of Brest-Litovsk the majority of the world also recognized Finland as its own independent nation.

Flag of the Republic of Finland.

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was finalized and put into effect on February 27th, 1918. With one document, eastern Europe was completely altered. The Russian Empire was no more, an in its place Germany reigned supreme through its league of puppet states. At long last, the Eastern Front of the Great War was over, at least for the time being. But for Russia, the bloodshed was far from over.

Into Siberia

“If our worst fears are made manifest and the Red Army subdues all of the Motherland, the vast territory of Siberia will be the saviour of Russian democracy. That is where the proud guardians of liberty will escape Soviet tyranny.”

-Dmitry Verderevsky, circa March 1918

When the Russian Empire collapsed the Russian Civil War became a fight of life or death between the Red Army of Vladimir Lenin and the Green Army of Viktor Chernov. The Russian Soviet Republic controlled the grand urban and population centers of western Russia, and the Red Army was ready to pursue an offensive for Saratov. The Russian Democratic Federative Republic, on the other hand, was reserved to the southeastern cities in regards to urban centers west of the Urals, however, reigned supreme over Siberia. When Nikolai Krylenko was marching to Saint Petersburg the Green Army had set its sights on Siberia and seized the Trans-Siberian Railway as quickly as possible. When the Russian Civil War began Siberia was under the de jure control of the Russian Empire, however, few regiments guarded the vast swath of land that was Siberia, and therefore the RDFR managed to conquer all major Siberian cities with ease. Many locals even voluntarily joined the Russian Democratic Federative Republic, which guaranteed locals their own oblasts within the federation.

The Green Army also consolidated their grip on the Caucasus region, which was primarily in Federalist hands anyway. All that was needed were spare regiments to crush any remaining Imperialist holdouts. The bigger fish to fry was Turkestan, a region that had been invaded by Russia and forcefully integrated into the Russian Empire. President Chernov decided not to repeat the mistakes of his Imperialist predecessors, and with local leaders negotiated the establishment of a titanic autonomous oblast named the Alash Autonomous Oblast in the October of 1917. Alash would spend the majority of its resources on battling communist and secessionist militias throughout Turkestan is credited for bringing Central Asia under the control of the Federalists. And the Alash Autonomous Oblast was not the only settlement made with Central Asian locals. The Emirate of Bukhara declared its allegiance to the Russian Democratic Federative Republic and became a highly autonomous protectorate of the Federalists, as did the Khanate of Khiva. Once the Russian Empire deceased, all of Turkestan was under the control of the Federalists and was fighting for the Green Army.

In the early stages of the Russian Civil War combat between the Soviet Republic and the Federation had been very limited when compared to the conflict between the Red and White armies. The Soviets prioritized the war against Brusilov over the war to their south and placed the war against the Federalists under the command of Jukums Vacietis, who was clearly a skilled and competent commander, however, was unable to break the RDFR’s defenses (led by Alexander Kerensky), and before too long the southern front of the Russian Civil War resembled the trench warfare that had become all too familiar to Europe. Vacietis was admired by Lenin, but would not remain the commanding officer in the south for long.

Just like Vladimir Lenin, another great communist revolutionary of Russia had been watching the ensuing chaos of the February Coup from a distance. Leon Trotsky had been a prominent member of the Bolshevik movement, however, had been forced to escape the Russian Empire in 1907 and had hopped from nation to nation since the Great War began in 1914 was residing in the neutral United States of America when he heard of the February Coup and the subsequent establishment of the Russian Soviet Republic. Trotsky would excitedly attempt to return to home and assist his comrades, however, his ship on the way back to Russia was intercepted by the Royal Navy and Leon Trotsky was detained in a Canadian internment camp for the next few months. Trotsky would manage to escape the internment camp by inciting a riot after a collection of powerful speech and numerous dissidents would also liberate themselves in the July of 1917. Afterwards, Leon Trotsky made his way back to the United States and snuck back to Russia by initially sailing to the neutral Kingdom of Italy and then sneaking behind enemy lines through a sealed train funded, ironically enough, by the German Empire and returned to Russia on July 26th, 1917.

Upon arriving in Moscow, Vladimir Lenin celebrated the return of his comrade after nearly a decade in exile. Trotsky was appointed as the commander of a regiment on the southern front of the Russian Civil War nearby the city of Shelemishevo, and immediately pursued an aggressive strategy. Colonel Leon Trotsky did not follow the cautious strategy of Jukums Vacietis, and instead led daring charges into enemy territory, with plenty of support from whatever cavalry and artillery he could get his hands on. While at first Vacietis deemed Trotsky to be a reckless military commander better suited for the political cabal in Moscow, he was astonished when Colonel Trotsky stabbed through enemy lines in the August of 1917 and rapidly pushed south and eventually leading infantry through Pervomayskiy on August 19th, 1918.

From that point on, Leon Trotsky’s ascendance through the ranks of the Red Army was nearly guaranteed. By the end of September Trotsky had been personally selected by Vladimir Lenin to replace Jukums Vacietis and lead the southern front against the Russian Democratic Federative Republic. Under the leadership of General Leon Trotsky, the Red Army of the south would dramatically change. The military was heavily centralized under the leadership of Trotsky and artillery was rapidly produced under the advision of the Soviet Republic’s newest top general. Leon Trotsky also firmly believed in the power of high morale and would master the ability to boost the spirits of his men, while also cooperating with Soviet newspapers to glorify the Soviet cause and encourage voluntary admission into the Red Army.

To the Russian Democratic Federative Republic, Leon Trotsky was a brutal and powerful man. Cities were ruined by his invasions and countless soldiers and civilians alike had died at the hands of his tactics, therefore earning General Trotsky the nickname “Butcher.” But to the Russian Soviet Republic, Leon Trotsky was viewed as a great hero of the proletariat and even Lenin himself regarded Trotsky as the man who would crush the Green Army. Trotsky was regarded as an invincible general, one who had modernized and perfected the tactics of a past warrior who had once subjected all of Europe. For the Soviets, another nickname was required for one of their greatest commanders, one that would remind the proletariat of how powerful Leon Trotsky truly was.

For the Russian Soviet Republic, Leon Trotsky was the Red Napoleon.

A Soviet statue deeming Leon Trotsky the “Red Bonaparte,” created circa 1918.

Alexander Kerensky and his compatriots within the Green Army were no match to General Trotsky, however, were capable foes nonetheless and Kerensky would even copy Trotsky’s tactics regarding morale, and was popular amongst the soldiers under his command. Throughout the fall of 1917 Leon Trotsky continued to push into Federalist territory and managed to produce a handful of tanks that copied British designs, such as the Mark I. On October 2nd, 1917 General Trotsky conquered Tambov, and was well on his way to Saratov. Viktor Chernov attempted to appeal to the both the Central Powers and Entente for support, however, the Central Powers wanted to maintain good relations with the Soviet Republic and the Russian Empire was still considered a member of the Entente. The Green Army just had to carry on by itself and fight an increasingly superior enemy.

When the Russian Empire was annihilated in the February of 1918 the Red Napoleon had just conquered Balashov and was making his way towards Kalininsk. Kerensky tried his best to boost morale amongst his men, but the soldiers of the Green Army knew that they were fighting a losing battle. To make matters worse, Nikolai Krylenko, the man who had vanquished the Russian Empire, was coming south to fight alongside General Leon Trotsky. As the supreme commander of the Red Army, Krylenko was technically Trotsky’s superior, however, Vladimir Lenin advised General Krylenko to not keep a tight leash on Leon Trotsky. And surely enough, it was General Leon Trotsky who would invade and capture Saratov after a long and vicious battle on March 29th, 1918, thus forcing the Federalist government out east.

Impressed by the work of Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Krylenko made the Red Napoleon the absolute commander of the Soviet invasion of Siberia while the rest of the Red Army would finish of what remained of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic in southern Russia. This region was cut of from the rest of the Federalist regime, which had relocated itself in Omsk, and quickly fell to the Soviet onslaught. Yes, this region contained plenty of urban centers, however, compared to the Soviet Republic their ability to wage war was underwhelming and this particular branch of the Green Army was decentralized and disorganized. The industrialized Soviet military easily swept into the Caucasus and it was anticipated that soon enough the Russian Soviet Republic would extend from Saint Petersburg to Yerevan.

But the people of the Caucasus would not submit to the communists. Instead, the autonomous oblasts of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan all seceded from the Russian Democratic Federative Republic on April 20th, 1918 and formed the Transcaucasian Federated Republic, with its capital in Tiflis. The new republic modeled its institutions off of the RDFR in many regards, with universal suffrage for all men above the age of twenty-on being guaranteed by the Transcaucasian constitution. Transcaucasus also strongly protected the rights of labor unions, which also derived inspiration from the progressive and socialist policies of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic, however, was a presidential republic where the head of state (called the Sejm) would serve a two-year long term and govern free of the legislative branch (called the Ozakom), as a way to keep the central government of the TFR strong and unified.

Flag of the Transcaucasian Federated Republic.

While it was anticipated that a Georgian would be elected to the position of Transcaucasia’s first sejm, one candidate named Mammad Hasan Hajinski, an Azerbaijani, strongly advocated for the centralization of the TFR into a strong and stable federation, while still respecting the sovereignty of each of the provinces within Transcaucasia. Therefore, on April 27th, 1918 the Transcaucasian provisional government dissolved and Mammad Hasan Hajinski led the young republic instead as its democratically elected sejm.

As the first sejm of Transcaucasia, Hajinski (who chose to remain independent of political parties and build up a coalition of allies in the Ozakom instead) was tasked with not only keeping the TFR together, but also maintaining peace with the Ottoman Empire to the south. Prior to the Russian Civil War, the Caucasus region had been a frontline between Russia and Turkey, however, when the Russian Democratic Federative Republic seized the Caucasus in 1917 a temporary ceasefire was negotiated. With Transcaucasia independent, however, these treaties no longer applied to Hajinski’s regime and any Ottoman invasion of the Caucasus was completely permitted and justified. And so, the government of the Transcaucasian Federated Republic sat down for negotiations to secure a new peace with the Federalists of Russia out of the way. A peace treaty was secured in which the Ottomans would annex a chunk of Transcaucasian territory and in return form a non-aggression pact with Transcaucasia, which was internally building up its own military just in case the Turks broke their promise or for when the Soviets entered the Caucasus.

As Nikolai Krylenko moved south into the Caucasus and wiped out the local faction of the Green Army, many autonomous oblasts in the south saw joining the TFR as a preferable option to annexation within the Russian Soviet Republic, and throughout late April and early May the Kuban, Terek, and Dagestan autonomous oblasts seceded from the RDFR, only to join the Transcaucasian Federated Republic. When General Krylenko did reach the border of Transcaucasia, he did not invade the new republic, but instead decided to concentrate efforts on defeat of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic, which Vladimir Lenin and the rest of the Soviet high command viewed as the top priority of the Red Army. Therefore, the TFR was safe for the time being, and the Soviet Republic reluctantly recognized its independence on May 18th, 1918. Transcaucasia was still wary of the revolutionary state to its north, but for the moment its people could sleep easy knowing that the Red Army would not invade tonight.

On the other hand, Siberia faced the entire onslaught of the Russian Soviet Republic as the Green Army was annihilated by the increasingly unstoppable Red Army. Yes, what remained of the Russian Civil War was a long battle, but it was easily one-sided and as the rest of the world was embroiled in the fire of the Great War the people of Earth were well aware of which side would emerge victorious in Russia. Soon enough, the nations of the world would have to coexist with a communist republic, spanning from Moscow to Kamchatka. The Red Napoleon charged east and brutally killed any Federalist officials he came across on the way in an atrocity known as the Red Terror, and all the while the forces and resources of the RDFR were constantly depleted.

On September 29th, 1918 Omsk was evacuated as Leon Trotsky invaded the city and Viktor Chernov and his allies fled even further east to the city of Irkutsk. As the Federalists prepared for the inevitable, a plan was hatched within the Federalist high command to ensure the survival of Russian democracy beyond the Soviet Republic’s victory in the Russian Civil War. In the Russian Far East, the government of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic could go into exile and secure its independence through negotiations with the Japanese. It pained President Chernov to abandon the war effort against the Russian Soviet Republic, however, he very well knew that if the war against the Soviets continued the RDFR would surely perish and the flame of Russian democracy would be extinguished for who knows how long. If a deal was struck with the Empire of Japan, an increasingly democratic state, perhaps the dream of a democratic Russia could live on to fight another day, while the Federalists would rebuild up their forces in Siberia and prepare for the day Russia would be liberated from communist oppression.

The Empire of Japan happily supported the plot to secure the independence of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic. Not only would the Japanese earn a buffer state against potential Soviet aggression, but the sphere of influence of the Japan would also expand. The RDFR would be reliant on the Japanese in more ways than one, and Viktor Chernov also guaranteed that the Russian sphere of influence in Manchuria would be ceded to Japan, as would northern Sakhalin. On January 10th, 1919 the Treaty of Chita was signed, which guaranteed that the RDFR’s independence would be secured by the Empire of Japan, which deployed soldiers throughout southeastern Siberia in the following days while the Green Army evacuated to this Japanese occupation zone. As the Green Army retreated the advance of the Red Army accelerated, however, General Leon Trotsky would not capitulate the Russian Democratic Federative Republic. Instead, the Japanese declared that an invasion of the Japanese occupation zone in Siberia would be an act of war on the Empire of Japan, as well as the Entente. Therefore, The Russian Soviet Republic signed the Treaty of Irkutsk on January 20th, 1919 which recognized that the RDFR was within the Japanese sphere of influence of Japan and any attack on the Federalist regime would be an attack on Japan itself.

Finally, hostilities within Russia had ended. Vladimir Lenin had brought the revolution of the proletariat to the previously reactionary Russian Empire, and the Soviet regime only faced resistance in Central Asia, where nationalists, autonomous oblasts, and protectorates fought on. Leon Trotsky returned to Moscow as a hero of the Russian Soviet Republic, and became Lenin’s second-in-command, eventually replacing Krylenko as the leader of the Red Army a few months after the end of the Russian Civil War. Uncertain times were ahead for Russia, which was alone in the world as the only nation adhering to communism, but the working class in Europe was becoming especially discontent with the seemingly endless war between aristocrats.

The Russian Civil War was over, however, the revolution of the proletariat had just begun.

Is This the End?

“Japan and Germany are at peace. The war in Asia is over.”

-New York Times headline announcing the armistice between the Japanese and German empires, circa 1919

When Russia exited the Great War in early 1918 the naive world thought that the war was coming to an end. For the Central Powers, the victory in the east was worthy of celebration. Not only had the bloodshed that had consumed so much of eastern Europe concluded, but plenty of German soldiers were heading west, hoping to march into Paris and finish of the French within the upcoming year. The Entente was understandably nervous, and on top of low morale in France the bloody nightmare that was trench warfare in the Great War was about to get worse.

For the time being, however, the French continued to fight on. In the middle of the April of 1917 a Franco-British offensive led by the French officer Robert Nivelle, hence why the name of the offensive was the “Nivelle Offensive,” began and proved to be mostly successful. Nivelle was cautious to not oversell his offensive as a strategy that would turn the tide of the Great War, however, his men pushed surprisingly deep into German-occupied France, inflicting plenty of casualties on the German military while the French received relatively few casualties themselves.

The Second Battle of Aisne was especially successful. Starting on April 16th, 1917 the French and British began an invasion of territory held between Soissons and Reims, and through cautious planning, as well as British aid, a decisive French victory was secured within two days and the Germans were sent on the run up north.

By the start of June 1917 Nivelle was approaching the Belgian border and the military of France had turned its attention towards funding the Nivelle Offensive. Of course, the offensive would eventually slow down as the Germans amassed reinforcements and by the end of the June of 1917 the Nivelle Offensive had come to an end, however, by this point the German Empire had been kicked out of northern France and it was Germany who was on the defensive in the west. Robert Nivelle’s offensive had boosted morale not just amongst the men under his command, but throughout the entire French military. For the first time since the Great War began, there was a chance, however slim, that France could win the war against the Germans.

French soldiers under the command of Robert Nivelle during the Second Battle of Aisne.

In Asia, the Great War officially came to an end shortly after the Treaty of Chita and establishment of the Russian Federalist government-in-exile. After Japan had seized all of Germany’s Pacific territory (excluding the colony of Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, which was conquered by the British dominion of Australia) the war out east had more or less concluded, aside from a few naval skirmishes in the Pacific Ocean. The Kaiserreich had attempted to negotiate peace with the Empire of Japan in 1916, however, the pro-war government of the time refused. The situation in Japan changed following the 1917 Japanese elections. In 1915 the Kokuminto Party, which advocated for the transformation of Japan into a more democratic constitutional monarchy and increased naval funding, saw a significant gain in seats in the National Diet of Japan. When the 1919 election came around, it was clear that the Kokuminto would be a major contestant for leadership over the democratic Japanese government.

In 1918 the Kokuminto, Doshikai, Chuseikai, and the Koyu Club all agreed to merge into a single liberal Japanese political party, named the Kenpo Club, which managed to secure a plurality of seats in the National Diet upon its inception. On March 15th, 1919 a general election occurred and the Kenpo nominated Inukai Tsuyoshi to run against the incumbent Prime Minister Terauchi Masatake, an independent. The militant Masatake was a supporter of keeping Japan in the Great War, and argued that the Japanese must uphold the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and stand by their British allies. Tsuyoshi, however, argued that Japanese involvement in the Great War was no longer necessary with the German presence in the Pacific Ocean nearly nonexistent and also pointed out that the Anglo-Japanese Alliance had not been renewed in 1916 due to opposition from numerous parties in the National Diet, and therefore Japan had no obligation to stand by the British. Instead, Inukai Tsuyoshi advocated for an alliance with China instead, regarding a Sino-Japanese alliance as the cornerstone to Asia’s potential position of power in the upcoming decades of the 20th Century. Surely enough, the Kenpo Club’s democratic and Pan-Asian ideals won over a majority of Japanese voters, and on March 15th, 1919 the Kenpo secured a majority of seats in the National Diet and Inukai Tsuyoshi would become the prime minister of the Empire of Japan in the upcoming days.

Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi of the Empire of Japan.

Surely enough, Prime Minister Tsuyoshi would enter peace talks with the German Empire in the April of 1919 and the Treaty of Fukuoka was signed between the two belligerents on April 30th, 1919. In exchange for the Japanese exit of the Great War, nearly all German Pacific colonies would be handed over to the Empire of Japan, therefore kicking Germany out of the Pacific Ocean in many regards and increasingly Japanese authority throughout the Pacific. The British government was flustered by the end of Japan’s involvement in the Great War, however, the people of Great Britain had never really paid little mind to the Asian front of the Great War and quickly forgot about the Treaty of Fukuoka.

When Japan left the Great War, the Japanese not only removed themselves from European affairs to focus exclusively on the Pacific Ocean, but for the Central Powers it implied that the Great War was coming to its end. Within the span of a little more than a year two key members of the Entente had left the Great War and the Eastern Front had completely concluded. The French may have approached victory in 1917, but Germany only had one target now, and the Kaiser anticipated that the Great War would be over well before the end of 1920.

As German soldiers headed west the world asked one question.

Could there truly be peace for our time?

1918-Manmade Hell.png

Map of the World circa April 1919.
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And chapter two is finally out! :D

Thank you so much to everyone who has been patiently following Manmade Hell! Even after it took so long to write Chapter Two it seems as though this timeline has maintained support, and I can't thank you all enough for that! It's so awesome to see that this timeline already has a following, and hopefully you're all looking forward to what comes next!

Anyway, I'll be sure to work on the Africa interlude and get that our some time this November, but I'll take a bit of a break for now, so expect the interlude in a few weeks.
Chapter two was definitely worth the wait, and what an interesting cliff hanger it leaves us on.

The Germans standing poised for victory in the West, the Soviet Union emerging victorious under the gaze of the aptly named Red Napoleon, and Japan slowly expanding its sphere of influence across mainland Asia. And we are not even 1/5 of the way through the Great War yet, dark times truly lie ahead for this world.

Excellent work
Chapter two was definitely worth the wait, and what an interesting cliff hanger it leaves us on.

The Germans standing poised for victory in the West, the Soviet Union emerging victorious under the gaze of the aptly named Red Napoleon, and Japan slowly expanding its sphere of influence across mainland Asia. And we are not even 1/5 of the way through the Great War yet, dark times truly lie ahead for this world.

Excellent work
I'm happy to hear that you liked the latest chapter! The next chapter will be about the neutral powers of the world, but I personally enjoy early 20th Century US politics and Italy should be interesting, especially with the Italian declaration of war just around the corner.