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

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Chapter Three: The Sleeping Giants
Chapter III: The Sleeping Giants

“At long last, Japan has become capable of promoting a greater future for all of Asia. May the dawn of peace with Germany be the prelude to a greater peace on the Asian continent.”

-Japanese Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi addressing a crowd in Tokyo following the Treaty of Fukuoka

Japanese soldiers in Vladivostok moving south to Korea, circa 1919.

When one focuses on the history of the early 20th Century, nearly all attention is ceded to the Great War. After all, the Great War was by far the bloodiest conflict ever fought in human history. With that being said, however, the history of the powers that maintained neutrality throughout the duration of the Great War is also incredibly important, especially when seeking out the origins of the post-war geopolitical climate. Therefore, it is necessary to delve into the history of the “sleeping giants” of the Great War; the United States, Italy, China, and Japan in order to completely understand what the politics of the world were like during the Great War.

After the Empire of Japan negotiated its removal from the wrath of the Great War with Germany, the Japanese government immediately shifted its attention to its western neighbor, China. As of recently, China had been the victim of plenty of violence despite not being involved in the Great War. In the December of 1915, President Yuan Shikai of the Republic of China was declared the emperor of the Empire of China in an attempt to bring stability to the rapidly deteriorating Chinese government. Yuan’s coronation, however, was met with retaliation from those who still supported democracy and put up resistance to the Hongxian Emperor (the new title for Yuan Shikai) as southern Chinese provinces seceded and forged the National Protection Army to fight against the Empire of China and restore the destroyed republic.

Yuan Shikai, the Hongxian Emperor of the Empire of China.

While the Empire of China initially appeared to have an advantage over the secessionist republican provinces in the south, the unpopularity of the Hongxian Emperor would severely harm the war effort. The independent provinces loyal to the National Protection Army somehow overcame their shortcomings due to the vast array of discontent within the high command of the Beiyang Army. As pressure to abandon the Empire of China grew, Yuan Shikai abdicated from his position as the monarch of China in the March of 1916, and on July 14th, 1916 the National Protection War ended with a victory for the southern republicans following Yuan Shikai’s death in the prior June. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Empire of China, numerous members of the Hongxian Emperor’s Beiyang Army became warlords, and China fell apart.

The National Protection War was merely background noise as the Great War raged on, however, the Japanese were especially concerned with the crisis to their west. The fates of Japan and China were intertwined, and cooperation between the two became increasingly precious once Japanese imperialism entered the Asian mainland. By the time the Empire of Japan left the increasingly destructive and chaotic Great War, National Protection War had concluded and China’s stability was rapidly deteriorating. While the Republic of China was restored, warlordism was increasingly rampant and the internal politics of the Chinese democracy were becoming more and more polarized. Under the leadership of Sun Yat-Sen, the nationalist Kuomintang rose to become the opponent of President Li Yuanhong and Premier Duan Qirui. It was apparent to all in China that the government of the re-established republic was on the brink of internal collapse, and all it would take was one spark.

Unfortunately for the Republic of China, that spark did come. General Zhang Xun, a staunch monarchist who was previously loyal to the Hongxian Emperor, would invade Beijing in the June of 1917 and forced President Li to dissolve the Chinese parliament, and restored the young Puyi of the fallen Qing Dynasty as the emperor of China on July 1st, 1917. Li Yuanhong and his supporters would evacuate north to Manchuria, where Duan Qirui was tasked with protecting the rapidly deteriorating Republic of China after defeating an attempt to restore the Chinese Qing monarchy in Manchuria. Due to bad experiences with the institution in the past, Duan Qirui would dissolve the Chinese parliament, which caused Sun Yat-Sen and his allies in southern China to establish a rival republican government in the hands of the Kuomintang.

And thus, the Chinese Civil War had begun.

Less than a year after Yuan Shikai’s Empire of China was defeated, China was engulfed in an internal war yet again as the Republic of China shattered apart into factions of warlords. The Kuomintang-led Guangzhou Government of the southern provinces and the so-called Tianjin Government (named after the city of Tianjin, where Li Yuanhong’s government consolidated power following the chaos in Beijing) found themselves opposed in a war for control of one of the largest and most ancient nations to ever exist. The two governments immediately set out to consolidate their power, with Duan Qirui installing relatives into positions of power within the Tianjin Government, while the Guangzhou Government consolidated power by becoming a one-party military junta led by Sun Yat-Sen.

Premier Duan’s tendency to put his relatives in powerful positions would only harm the stability of the government he was supposed to keep together. In the shadows of the Tianjin Government, enemies of Duan Qirui rose up and would push for taking power away from the ambitious man. Li Yuanhong would retire from the presidency early in the August of 1917 and was succeeded by his vice president, Feng Guozhang, who intervened in the crisis involving his premier by pressuring Duan Qirui to resign, although there was much discontent produced by Duan’s underlings in retaliation that could have very well led to the return of Duan Qirui had not he personally insulted President Feng following his forced resignation.

When the Chinese Civil War broke out in the summer of 1917, the world ignored the crisis in the east. After all, the conflict was nothing compared to the international catastrophe that was the Great War and therefore was of little concern to European, or for that matter, western affairs. The Japanese, however, continued to keep an eye on China as Tianjin and Guangzhou clashed, and many Japanese political officials were fearful that the civil war could potentially risk their dreams of Pan-Asian collaboration. In fact, the Chinese Civil War was one of the many factors that contributed to the Japanese and Germans sitting down for peace talks in Fukuoka, due to many in Japan desiring to intervene in the Chinese Civil War rather than waste lives and resources on the seemingly pointless and increasingly deadly Great War.

Upon leaving the Great War, Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi shifted attention to China, and as the Russian Democratic Federative Republic stabilized Japanese soldiers were called south in preparation for any potential intervention in China. If Japan were to enter the Chinese Civil War, it was obvious which faction they would support. The hostile and nationalist Guangzhou Government would never become an ally of the Empire of Japan, and was anticipated to become a rival of the Japanese should Sun Yat-Sen and his Kuomintang emerge victorious over all of China. Furthermore, there were many pro-Japanese elements within the Tianjin Government, which would guarantee that diplomacy between the two regimes was not only possible, but would most likely go over well for the increasingly desperate Feng Administration.

In the November of 1919, the new premier of the Tianjin Government, Wang Daxie, briefly visited Japan and would speak in front of the Imperial Diet, imploring its members to support the Tianjin in its war against the Kuomintang. Wang’s diplomatic mission proved to be a success, and on December 2nd, 1919 the Japanese government, which had already been loaning resources to the Tianjin Government for awhile, agreed to deploy soldiers in China in order to fight the Guangzhou Government to the south. Within the next few days, history would accelerate as the RDFR would join its ally, Japan, in the Chinese Civil War and, soon enough, experienced Russian officers who had fought on behalf of the Green Army were fighting in China alongside the Japanese and Chinese. In order to consolidate an alliance, the three nations would meet in Tonghua to officially establish an official alliance. The Tonghua Pact, a mutual defense and free trade coalition, was formed on December 22nd, 1919, and ensured the cooperation of all three regimes (as well as the Japanese military occupation of the RDFR and Tianjin Government for the foreseeable future), while also becoming the first step towards the upcoming East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Step by step, Asia was moving closer and closer to a unified government.

Bloodshed in the Yangtze

“I remember the Yangtze River well. When I was a young man, fighting on behalf of Chinese democracy in the Tianjin Army, it was at the banks of the Yangtze where I saw the worst horrors of war firsthand and gazed into the eyes of death itself.”

-Premier Mao Zedong addressing the East Asian Diet, circa 1941.

Emblem of the Kuomintang, the supreme political party in the Guangzhou Government and its successor, the National Republic of China.

Once the Tianjin Government assembled a coalition of regional powers, the preparation for the long push south commenced. Of course, in order for the Tianjin Government to win the Chinese Civil War, internal stability would need to be accomplished first. Feng Guozhong would exit the presidency of China in the October of 1918, and was succeeded by Cao Kun following an election, while the Communication while the bureaucratic and labor unionist Communications Clique secured a majority of seats in the Tianjin Government’s parliament. It was uncovered that Duan Qirui had attempted to rig the 1918 Chinese elections in favor of his Anfu Club, however, such attempts were uncovered and Duan’s already collapsing political career shattered. With public support of Duan nearly annihilated, the disgruntled military officer would consolidate his remaining power in the provinces of Anhui, Shaanxi, Suiyuan, and Chahar and declare war on the Tianjin Government on January 8th, 1919.

Duan Qirui, the leader of the Anhui Clique.

Duan Qirui’s new Anhui Clique would not choose to realign with Sun Yat-Sen’s Guangzhou Government, therefore meaning that it would have to simultaneously defend against both Tianjin and Guangzhou. Japanese intervention in the Chinese Civil War was still nearly a year away, however, the severely weakened Anhui Clique could not take on both sides at once and is two rival factions were far more populated and better equipped. The province of Anhui was partitioned in half by the dawn of the April of 1919, while Tianjin Government turned its attention to what remained of Duan’s regime. The Anhui Clique was definitely a threat to President Kun (especially once a handful of pro-Duan military commanders defected), however, the Clique was no match to the Tianjin Government and would rapidly lose territory within months. Thus, on June 29th, 1919 the Anhui Clique would completely collapse and was reintegrated into the Tianjin Government, while Duan Qirui and a few of his most loyal officers would evacuate west, living out the rest of their lives in retirement in Xinjiang.

Therefore, when the Empire of Japan arrived in northern China, the Tianjin Government was a stable and moderately powerful member of the Tonghua Pact and was ready to progress south against the Guangzhou Government. Sun Yat-Sen had taken advantage of the distraction that was the Anhui Clique, and progressed both west and north. By the time the Japanese had declared war on the Guangzhou Government, the Kuomintang’s National Revolutionary Army (NRA) had nearly pushed the Tianjin Government completely out of the Anhui province, and if it wasn’t for General Sun Chuanfang, Jiangsu would have fallen into the hands of Sun Yat-Sen months ago and the Kuomintang would be invading Sandong.

Even though it had the strongest nation in Asia on its side, the Tianjin Government would be in a fight for its very existence throughout 1920.

Under the command of Hideki Tojo, the Imperial Japanese Army pushed for the Yangtze, hoping to contain the Guangzhou Government in the southern provinces. Thousands of veterans of the Great War, both Japanese and Russian alike, would progress deep into the Guangzhou Government, and by the start of the March of 1920, China was divided along the Yangtze River, where the two factions of the Chinese Civil War exchanged gunfire over Asia’s largest river. Not even Lu Rongting, the individual who had presided over the NRA’s invasion of Jiangsu, could cross over into the north and the same situation applied to his counterparts, who returned gunfire to him every single passing day.

As the Chinese Civil War shifted into a war of attrition, the two factions began to endorse a peaceful end to the bloody conflict. The leaders of the Tianjin Government had actually supported negotiations for awhile, and Sun Yat-Sen’s aggression had been the only thing preventing a ceasefire being applied. However, as the situation for a breakthrough by the NRA became increasingly more implausible (not only that, but the Tonghua Pact was investing more and more resources and if things stayed the same, Cao Kun would eventually be able to call himself the unifier of China) Sun Yat-Sen entertained the idea of a diplomatic end to hostilities. Increasing pressure from Lu Rongting and likeminded officers commanding along the southern banks of the Yangtze would be the straw that broke the camel’s back and on October 11th, 1920 representatives from both Tianjin and Guangzhou, as well as their respective allies, would arrive in Hangzhou to come to a peaceful agreement.

After half a decade of bloodshed, China was at peace yet again.

After days of negotiations, the two factions finally managed to come to an agreement. China would be partitioned roughly down the Yangtze River between two governments. In the south, the Kuomintang would be free to assert its authority and centralize whatever provinces it occupied, while the Tianjin Government would control the northern provinces, with the exception of Xinjiang, which had asserted its independence under the monarchist Yeng Zengxin, the very last remnant of the Empire of China. The two Chinas did, however, have to agree to give up the official name “Republic of China,” in order to avert disputes over which state was the true successor to the unified Chinese democracy.

In the south, President Sun Yat-Sen declared the National Republic of China (NRC), a one-party military junta clenched within the iron fist of the Kuomintang. The NRC was immediately quickly centralized, and Sun Yat-Sen was declared the South Chinese president for life. Once all political parties, excluding the Kuomintang, were banned in South China, political dissidents and rivals of Sun who refused to conform to his dictatorship, were forced into exile or would face imprisonment or even execution. The nationalist junta of President Sun would quickly begin its industrialization in the upcoming years, and upon the death of Sun Yat-Sen in 1925, his cronies would begin to clash over who would become the next president of the National Republic of China.

Flag of the National Republic of China.

In the north, the Tianjin Government would rename to the Provisional Government of China in accordance to the Treaty of Hangzhou, however, this term was short-lived. By the end of the October of 1920, a new constitution for the Provisional Government was approved and on October 29th, 1920 the Chinese Federation was declared, with its capital in Beijing. Just like the name implies, North China was a federal democracy, a move conducted in part to satisfy the numerous autonomous warlords and governors who had presided over their respective provinces throughout the duration of the Chinese Civil War. Cao Kun would lead the Chinese Federation as its first president until 1927, when he lost an election to the dominant Youchuanbu Party, which had governed the legislative assembly of North China since the election of 1918 back in the Tianjin Government. The Chinese Federation would adopt the flag of the Republic of China as its banner, which had been adorned by the Tianjin Government beforehand.

Flag of the Chinese Federation.

After the Chinese Civil War concluded and the ink dried on the Treaty of Hangzhou, the Chinese Federation and its allies would preserve the Tonghua Pact, which became the dominant peacekeeping force on the Asian government, especially whilst the great powers of Europe were distracted by their nightmarish inferno of a war. In the November of 1920, the Bogd Khanate of Mongolia became the fourth member state of the Tonghua Pact due to fears of a potential Soviet incursion, especially after Tannu Tuva fell to communism, becoming the Tuvan People’s Republic, a Soviet puppet state, near the conclusion of the Russian Civil War. Throughout the 1920s, the Empire of Japan would reduce its military presence in both North China and RDFR, therefore securing the autonomy of the two nations, however, Japanese military bases would always exist within the two states, especially along the increasingly militarized Yangtze River.

The history of Asia and Europe in the 20th Century were, in many ways, parallel to each other. One continent would enter the new century as the masters of the world, while the other entered as the servants of the other. One was plunged into an era of unimaginable horror and bloodshed, while the other moved towards a greater peace that would end previous chaos. And of course, one continent’s global domination would be absorbed by the other. As one sun set, another would rise.

Decision 1920

“Stronger than a Bull Moose”

-Popular 1920 presidential campaign slogan for Hiram Johnson

United States Capitol building, circa 1910.

The United States of America is notorious for staying completely neutral throughout all of the Great War. Aside from condemnation of controversial wartime activities, such as the sinking of the Lusitania or the Wehrstaat Declaration, and the selling of supplies primarily to the Entente, the United States would stay completely out of the mess that war the Great War. Of course, this was by no means unprecedented. Despite being considered a great power that rivaled even the greatest empires across the Atlantic Ocean, the United States had a history of not only staying out of foreign affairs, but also keeping other powers out of their own affairs in accordance with the Monroe Doctrine, which had been put in place for nearly a century when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated one day in the June of 1914.

President Woodrow Wilson, the first Democrat to reside within the White House since the presidency of Grover Cleveland, had actually campaigned (and won) in 1916 with the slogan “he kept us out of war” and intended to continue to preserve American neutrality. Instead, President Wilson focused on domestic concerns throughout the duration of his second term, and his actions would often infuriate northern progressives, Republican and Democrat alike. Despite serving as a the governor of New Jersey prior to being elected president in 1912, Woodrow Wilson was actually born in Virginia and was absolutely a southern Democrat. It was Wilson who would institute segregation upon federal offices, and discriminatory hiring practices were only increased by the Wilson administration.

President Woodrow Wilson of the United States of America.

Economically, Woodrow Wilson was rather populist, however, it was his socially conservative ideology that would get him more attention. The racism of the Wilson administration would continue throughout his entire second term, however, his suppression of labor strikes, many of which were put down violently, became especially prominent as the 1920 presidential election neared. Feminism would also grow throughout his second term, however, Wilson and like-minded Democrats were keen on ensuring that the rights of women would be not determined by the federal government, but rather by local governments within the forty-eight states of the United States. This, coupled with the outbreak of a vicious disease, named the Kansas Flu, in 1918 would diminish the support of the Wilson administration.

By the time Woodrow Wilson’s second was nearing completion, the president was increasingly unpopular and there was no way the Democratic Party would nominate President Wilson for a second term. Not that Woodrow Wilson would run in 1920 anyway, his physical health was declining every day, especially after President Wilson fell ill with the Kansas Flu himself. Therefore, the Democratic Party would have to find a new candidate for the presidency, and plenty of men took up the challenge to win the support of one of the largest political organizations within the United States. While William Gibbs McAdoo, Wilson’s son-in-law, appeared to become the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson suddenly took a gamble at being nominated for a third term by preventing McAdoo from winning the nomination. All this did, however, was doom McAdoo’s chance to become the next president and the Democratic National Convention selected Governor Carter Glass of Virginia instead, and Alexander Mitchell Palmer was chosen to be his running mate.

Carter Glass.

The Republican Party, the opponents of the Democrats, would retaliate to the socially conservative Glass by pushing for a progressive from former President Theodore Roosevelt’s sect of the party in order to win the support of progressives across the United States and paint the Democrats as a reactionary party that had stubbornly held back social progress for nearly a decade (which was not completely false, if it weren’t for the faction of progressive Democrats within the party’s ranks). Of course, more conservative members of the Republican Party were still present within the 1920 presidential primaries, most notably Governor Frank Orren Lowden of Illinois, however, the conservative policies of the Wilson administration pushed the progressives to the top and, following the death of Theodore Roosevelt in 1919, the former president’s personal choice, Senator Hiram Johnson won the support of the Republican National Convention, and Senator Irvine Lenroot of Wisconsin became his running mate.

The race for the White House had begun.

As the clock ticked down to the day Americans would select their next president, the complete contrast between Johnson and Glass became extremely obvious. While both men were opposed to American entry into the Great War, their similarities ended there. Economically, Hiram Johnson endorsed the anti-trust policies of the late Theodore Roosevelt and supported collective bargaining between labor unions and corporate leaders in accordance to his advocacy for direct democracy. Carter Glass used such policies as an excuse to label Senator Johnson as a socialist, a claim that was popular amongst the conservative sect of the Democratic Party, but seemed a bit more ridiculous amongst Republicans and moderate Democrats.

Socially, the two men were also opposites. Glass’ support of states’ rights would cause him to declare that he would leave the issue of female suffrage to local governments (like his predecessor), while Hiram Johnson eagerly endorsed gender equality as a way to win over plenty of American progressives with ease. Another major issue that the two candidates battled over was segregation. In order to not destroy all support he had in the southern states, Johnson never straight out endorsed pushing towards racial equality, however, he did announce his support of ending Woodrow Wilson’s policies of segregation in federal offices. Glass, on the other hand, was one of the strongest proponents of Jim Crow laws within the United States, perhaps even stronger than Woodrow Wilson himself. This support of segregation would lead Carter Glass to propose the implementation of nationwide poll taxes as a way to keep poor African-Americans from voting, although he painted such a proposal as a way to keep communists from potentially winning any elections, at a debate with Senator Johnson. To this, Carter’s rival would say, “I see, you seek to forcefully suppress the communists? Why don’t you ask Mr Brusilov how that worked out for him?”

Carter Glass’ controversial support of nationwide poll taxes to keep poorer Americans away from ballots was arguably one of the most harmful blows to his bid for the White House. Many moderate and liberal Democrats were deeply disturbed by such a proposal, which would cause a divide within the party. One prominent Democrat who condemned Carter Glass was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in Woodrow Wilson’s cabinet, and prominent progressive Democrat. After Glass’ announcement of supporting nationwide poll taxes was in the headlines of national newspapers, Franklin D Roosevelt announced that he would not vote for Carter Glass, deeming him a man who “would rather see democracy die than lose power.”

Roosevelt’s bold statement would turn him into a new symbol for progressive Democrats and an enemy of the conservative faction of the Democratic Party. In order to guarantee that his administration was still supportive of Carter Glass, Woodrow Wilson would fire Franklin Delano Roosevelt late in the September of 1920, which only further infuriated Roosevelt and his sympathizers. After losing his job, Roosevelt concluded that the Democratic Party was little more than a corrupt cabal of southern conservatives, and would invite several moderate and progressive Democrats to New York City. It was here that these like-minded politicians left the Democratic Party to forge their own new organization, named the Liberal Party, on October 10th, 1920. The founder of the Liberals, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, easily managed to become his new party’s first chairman, which automatically won him national fame.

Chairman Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the Liberal Party.

Due to having numerous policies that resembled the larger Republican Party, as well as choosing to endorse Senator Hiram Johnson rather than run their own presidential candidate in 1920, the Liberal Party quickly earned the nickname “Little Republicans.” That is not to say, however, that the Liberal Party did not have its own unique platform. The Liberals endorsed national female suffrage and Chairman Roosevelt in particular pushed for social welfare programs to help benefit the less fortunate of the United States, and the Liberals were especially opposed to poll taxes, one of the primary reasons why the Liberal Party had left the Democrats to begin with. While the Liberal Party did not openly consider itself an opponent of segregation, arguing that dividing black and white Americans in society was an affair of the states, opposition to poll taxes would turn the Liberals into opponents of restricting the African-American vote. Overall, the Liberal Party could be considered an adherent to the ideology of social liberalism, which more or less accurately describes the views of nearly all members of prominence.

The 1920 presidential election was held across the United States on November 2nd. Voter turnout was substantially large, especially due to fears that a national poll tax under a Glass administration would potentially prohibit plenty of Americans from ever voting again. If one were to look at an electoral college map, it would resemble numerous elections dating back to 1880. The northern states were solid Republican territory, while the southern states belonged to the Democratic Party. The west coast, the region Hiram Johnson originated from, easily went to the Republican Party, although anything within the Mississippi River and the Pacific Coast was a bit more contentious. In the end, however, this region was primarily won over by the ticket of Johnson and Lenroot, and by the midnight of November 2nd, 1920, it was obvious to the United States who would succeed President Woodrow Wilson.

After eight years, a Republican would be back in the White House.

Electoral college map of the 1920 United States presidential election.

While a victory for Hiram Johnson had been typically anticipated, especially when Franklin D Roosevelt formed the Liberal Party, the most devastating losses for the Democratic Party was in Congress. It was here where the Republicans not only secured a majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate, but the Liberal Party won numerous previously Democratic seats, especially in the northeastern states. As the days until Johnson’s inauguration in March began to pass by, the president-elect would start to endorse cabinet positions. Democrats were almost completely excluded from the upcoming cabinet of the Johnson administration, however, Liberals and a diverse array of Republicans would find positions in the executive branch.

Leonard Wood, a military officer from New Hampshire and progressive Republican, was almost immediately chosen to be the next secretary of war while Elihu Root returned to the position of secretary of state, which he had held during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency. Rumors of the nomination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the Johnson administration’s secretary of the navy would circulate, however, in the end Roosevelt chose to remain the chairman of the Liberal Party and the Liberal Admiral Joseph Strauss was chosen for the position instead. The moderate Republican Calvin Coolidge was chosen to be the attorney general under Hiram Johnson, however, the other cabinet positions were filled with mostly progressive Republicans, such as Senator Robert Marion La Follette of Wisconsin.

When Hiram Johnson was inaugurated to become the twenty-eighth president of the United States of America on March 4th, 1921, the United States Capitol building was surrounded by a vast crowd eager to witness the inauguration of Johnson firsthand. For it was obvious to the whole nation that a new era had come upon the United States, one of progressivism, welfare, and social progress. Women were almost guaranteed that they would have the right to vote by the end of the year, and surely enough the Nineteenth Amendment was approved less than a month into the Johnson administration, only to be succeeded by the more radical Equal Rights Act and Twentieth Amendment a year later. The masses of the American workplace celebrated as the advancement of their rights from the days of the Roosevelt administration had been promised to return. President Hiram Johnson would bring upon a new age of American progressivism, one that had not been seen for well over a decade.

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, was doomed to things far worse than anyone could have ever imagined.

President Hiram Johnson of the United States of America.

The Eye of the Hurricane

“Our nation finds itself within the center of a storm. I implore my successor to not succumb to this storm’s brutality, for I fear that this storm could blow down our nation with ease.”

-Italian Vittorio Emanuele Orlando’s farewell address, circa 1920

Flag of the Kingdom of Italy.

When the Great War began, the Kingdom of Italy had just barely managed to stay out of the bloodbath that had overrun the rest of Europe within just a handful of days. Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti and his successor, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, were keen on preserving Italian neutrality throughout the Great War, choosing to focus on the improvement of the Italian military in navy in case the Great War came knocking on the Kingdom of Italy’s door. As a consequence of the military buildup, by 1920 the Italian armed forces rivaled that of the belligerents of the Great War, and the Red Army was the only neutral military force in Europe larger than that of Italy.

Throughout all of Phase I, a desire for Italian irredentism, and therefore entry into the Great War, would only grow. Multiple Italian politicians, including members of Orlando’s Liberal Union, would encourage joining one side or the other of the Great War, however, as it became increasingly unclear which side would emerge victorious, the Italian people shifted away from purely endorsing the Entente, especially after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed. Besides, as the date for the negotiations guaranteed by the Treaty of Vienna. As the Germans became especially concerned with ending the war on the western front as quickly as possible, perhaps Italy’s opportunity to force whatever Rome wanted out of the Central Powers had arrived.

Surely enough, Austro-Hungarian and German diplomats would sit down with their Italian counterparts in Budapest on June 17th, 1920 to decide the fate of South Tyrol, Dalmatia, and Albania. The easiest territory for Austria-Hungary to cede to the Kingdom of Italy was Albania, which was technically not Austro-Hungarian territory to begin with. Instead, Albania was a nation that had fallen under total Austro-Hungarian military occupation after choosing the wrong allies in the Great War, and only a few Austro-Hungarian military commanders grumbled about the cession of Albania to the Kingdom of Italy. In accordance to the Treaty of Budapest, the Kingdom of Albania was transferred into the hands of the Italians as a protectorate with a local prime minister who would be overseen by an Italian governor-general, and King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy was crowned the king of Albania.

Flag of the Kingdom of Albania.

Other territory subject to debate via the Treaty of Vienna was more contested. Dalmatia was Austro-Hungarian land and had been in the hands of Vienna for quite some time, and it was therefore very embarrassing for Emperor Karl I to give up to the Kingdom of Italy. Still, ceding Dalmatia was nothing compared to the debate over South Tyrol and Trentino, the former of which was dominated by Germans while the latter was a valuable port to the Adriatic Sea for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Neither would be easy to pry from Austria-Hungary, even if the German Empire would in many ways be on the side of the Italians in order to keep the western front as small as possible.

In the end, the Kingdom of Italy would get to control Trentino, but not the German-majority South Tyrol. The cession of Trieste, Austria-Hungary's most valuable port, was even more unlikely than South Tyrol, however, some territory to the west of Trieste was given to Italy as a compromise. The Kingdom of Italy was also promised Tunisia, Corsica, and a vague chunk of territory in southwestern France if the Central Powers managed to capitulate the French. A five-year-long non-aggression pact between all involved parties was also signed in order to ensure that Italian soldiers would not be pushing for Vienna anytime soon.

The Treaty of Budapest was by no means ideal for either party involved, however, the Italians mostly viewed it as a victory and backed down on further aggression towards Austria-Hungary. The public opinion of the Central Powers became much more positive in Italy, and Germany and Austria-Hungary began to be depicted as nations that honored their treaties, as well as Italian allies. The Entente, on the other hand, became a target for future Italian irredentism, and France in particular was depicted as a nation occupying rightful Italian territory and a natural opponent of Italy, with the Napoleonic Wars often being cited by Italian nationalists as a justification for revenge on the French. With that being said, it was not like Italy really had a choice over its opinion on France. While the Entente had cared little for the Treaty of Vienna back in 1915, the Treaty of Budapest immediately destroyed any chances the Entente ever had at attempting to align with the Italian government. Instead, Britain and France became critics of Italy, and labeled it as a hostile state that threatened any potential Entente victory in the Great War.

One particular Italian man would take the nationalism born out of the Treaty of Budapest and take it to a horrific extreme that would permanently scar the entire world. Benito Mussolini had once been a socialist, and had even worked for the newspaper of the Italian Socialist Party, however, his nationalist views and desire to promote nationalist desires over actually benefiting any people would lead him to leave behind socialism and form his own new reactionary ideology. After the Treaty of Vienna, Mussolini became a strong supporter of a declaration of war on the Entente, and his new organization, the Italian Fasci of Combat (FIC), would reflect these views. Mussolini would blame the French Revolution and Marxism for the “mob rule” and shift away from a value on nationalism in Europe, and Mussolini believed that these views were only validated by the egalitarian views of the Russian Soviet Republic.

Therefore, the FIC quickly completely differentiated from socialism and became a different ideology altogether. Ultranationalism, reactionism, ultra-totalitarianism, militarism, and corporatism were all features of this new so-called “counter-revolutionary” ideology, and liberalism and democracy were quickly completely rejected as a threat to the preservation of a nation. Racial hierarchy was also promoted by Benito Mussolini early on, who believed that the French, and for that matter most Latin nations excluding Italy, had become inferior after succumbing to liberalism, and Mussolini despised the Slavs.

And thus, a new and sinister ideology was born, one that would plague the minds of millions and would slaughter even more. Our planet was ruined for decades by this one terrible idea, one that was arguably the biggest factor in the extension of the Great War by two decades. In the Italian parliamentary election of 1921, the FIC gained a handful of seats and would begin its climb through the ranks of Italian politics as the countdown to the conclusion of Italian neutrality and democracy started.

Fascism had been born.

Symbol of the Italian Fasci of Combat, and later fascism itself.

1921-Manmade Hell.png

Map of the World circa March 1921.

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what is dead is never dead but simply taking a break to make an amazing update :p
Thanks! I'm happy to hear that you like the latest update! As the timeline officially enters territory that is not just a retelling of OTL it's awesome to hear that you enjoy the latest chapter!
Also, just so people know, the next chapter will return to the Great War itself, and will most likely see the end of Phase One (I can guarantee now that Phase Two and Three will be longer chapter-wise), so expect a lot of chaos and whatnot.
Ok, let's start

Albania: in OTL by 1914 the nation was without a central goverment due to the malaria epidemic and the general infighting, Vlore and surrounding were occupied by Italy in 1915 with the agreement of all the other big guys. A-H giving free hand to Italy here will be neither easy nor simple, as it give to the italians the means to control the Adriatic sea. Wien will have probably occupied the north during the conquest of Serbia.
Trieste: Wien will give even a piece of Trieste to Italy only when hell will freeze, it's the most important port of the empire and a key factor in her economy, at max can agree in create an italian university there and concede cultural right and some sort of local autonomy (at least a cosmetic one). If they make such promise, everyone will know that is not worth the ink used in the treaty.
Dalmatia: the place own the other port of the Empire and can will give to the italian a foothold in the balkans and a mean to possibily attack the empire in another place, bypassing the alps. The max concession possible after long negotiation are the island of Pelagosa and some of the Curzolane islands (probably the Lagosta archipelago in the end).
Trentino: the italian part is the south one, the one that include Trento; South Tyrol is the german speaking one and is more at can't give Italy the second without the first and Wien will never give up Tyrol as it mean give to the Italians the second best defensive border in the entire continent. While Trentino was an imperial territory part of the empire for long time, at this stage can be ceded...but with a border military favorable to A-H. At max a little border readjustment like the west bank of the Isonzo can be obtained.
The rest of the Treaty (the part about France) will be keep very very secret as can be easily built as a casus belli for the Entente and frankly both Berlin and Wien will prefer being more vague about any future compensation to Italy in case of victory

Mussolini: well, first Benny was not Adolf, race was not such a big thing for him and fascism as was for Nazism (basically it was important but not crucial or central and more in a nationalistic/rethoric way than pratical) and he was a big fan of cultural assimilation; second without the massive change due to the italian partecipation to the great massacre aka more than a million of deaths, Veneto devastated, the economy in ruin, etc. etc. there will be no Fasci di combattimento, no massive weakness of the liberal goverment (hell, the agreement with A-H will prop them up greatly) or biennio rosso. Basically without Italy in the war, Benny will fade away or will reenter in the socialist, probably in the maximalist faction
I don't have time to read the update now, but about the map: Wasn't there mention of some sort of "Zaian Confederation" in Morocco surviving through this phase, an multiple other African revolts existing? I'm surprised nothing is visible on the map.
I don't have time to read the update now, but about the map: Wasn't there mention of some sort of "Zaian Confederation" in Morocco surviving through this phase, an multiple other African revolts existing? I'm surprised nothing is visible on the map.
A lot of the front lines in Europe and the surrounding area are subject to change at the moment, considering that I haven't done the latest chapter about Europe yet. For example, I have yet to change the Ottoman borders, however, it's safe to assume that there are in fact changes going on there. Also, African colonial revolts typically don't seem to be labeled on Worlda maps anyway.
Ok, let's start

Albania: in OTL by 1914 the nation was without a central goverment due to the malaria epidemic and the general infighting, Vlore and surrounding were occupied by Italy in 1915 with the agreement of all the other big guys. A-H giving free hand to Italy here will be neither easy nor simple, as it give to the italians the means to control the Adriatic sea. Wien will have probably occupied the north during the conquest of Serbia.
Well, obviously the Austro-Hungarians do not want to cede Albania to Italy, but it's not like they really have a choice. Not only are the Austro-Hungarians smart enough to realize that Albania is not worth a war with Italy, but the Germans would also really rather keep Italy out of the Great War, so Austria-Hungary is also pressured by its strongest ally to give into these demands.

Trieste: Wien will give even a piece of Trieste to Italy only when hell will freeze, it's the most important port of the empire and a key factor in her economy, at max can agree in create an italian university there and concede cultural right and some sort of local autonomy (at least a cosmetic one). If they make such promise, everyone will know that is not worth the ink used in the treaty.
Good point, I will be sure to change some things around here.

Dalmatia: the place own the other port of the Empire and can will give to the italian a foothold in the balkans and a mean to possibily attack the empire in another place, bypassing the alps. The max concession possible after long negotiation are the island of Pelagosa and some of the Curzolane islands (probably the Lagosta archipelago in the end).
Except a war against Italy isn't really realistic at the moment. Remember, the Italians are beginning to become supportive of the Central Powers, and the Treaty of Budapest involves a non-aggression pact anyway. I know those are breakable, but Italy joining the Entente won't happen anytime soon, so neither Germany or Austria-Hungary care much about potentially opening up a new frontline that will never even open to begin with.

Trentino: the italian part is the south one, the one that include Trento; South Tyrol is the german speaking one and is more at can't give Italy the second without the first and Wien will never give up Tyrol as it mean give to the Italians the second best defensive border in the entire continent. While Trentino was an imperial territory part of the empire for long time, at this stage can be ceded...but with a border military favorable to A-H. At max a little border readjustment like the west bank of the Isonzo can be obtained.
The rest of the Treaty (the part about France) will be keep very very secret as can be easily built as a casus belli for the Entente and frankly both Berlin and Wien will prefer being more vague about any future compensation to Italy in case of victory
Alright then, then I will probably swap around Trentino and South Tyrol.

Mussolini: well, first Benny was not Adolf, race was not such a big thing for him and fascism as was for Nazism (basically it was important but not crucial or central and more in a nationalistic/rethoric way than pratical) and he was a big fan of cultural assimilation; second without the massive change due to the italian partecipation to the great massacre aka more than a million of deaths, Veneto devastated, the economy in ruin, etc. etc. there will be no Fasci di combattimento, no massive weakness of the liberal goverment (hell, the agreement with A-H will prop them up greatly) or biennio rosso. Basically without Italy in the war, Benny will fade away or will reenter in the socialist, probably in the maximalist faction
Even if Italy does not enter the Great War, Mussolini will still be pro-Great War, and will still be kicked out of the Socialist Party of Italy. After he is kicked out ITTL, Mussolini still forms his own group, which supports interventionism and his own personal ideology. He would still reject Marxism after the Russian Revolution, so fascism would still be similar to OTL. As for the racism, as far as I am aware Mussolini was still never a fan of the South Slavs and his dislike of the French ITTL is born out of his desire to go to war with the French, although it takes a turn for the extreme.
Alright, so the issues with Austro-Hungarian cessions to Italy have been fixed, although the map had yet to be changed.
Interlude Four: The Cabinet of Hiram Johnson
Interlude IV: Cabinet of President Hiram Johnson circa March 1921
  • President-Hiram Johnson (Republican Party)
  • Vice President-Irvine Lenroot (Republican Party)
  • Secretary of State-Elihu Root (Republican Party)
  • Secretary of the Treasury-Al Smith (Liberal Party)
  • Secretary of War-Leonard Wood (Republican Party)
  • Attorney General-Calvin Coolidge (Republican Party)
  • Postmaster General-Nicholas Murray Butler (Republican Party)
  • Secretary of the Navy-Joseph Strauss (Liberal Party)
  • Secretary of the Interior-Robert Stirling Yard (Liberal Party)
  • Secretary of Agriculture-Henry Cantwell Wallace (Republican Party)
  • Secretary of Commerce-Herbert Hoover (Republican Party)
  • Secretary of Labor-Robert Marion La Follette (Republican Party)
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A very interesting update, with a nice and easy map to read to boot!
Thank you! I'm glad to hear that you like the history of the neutral nations, because the United States and Japan will play a pretty large role in the timeline, regardless of their neutrality in the Great War.
Hey everyone! Just to update everyone, I finished the latest chapter of Dreams of Liberty yesterday, which means that I will begin to work on Chapter Four of Man-Made Hell pretty soon, if not later this week! Expect the next chapter to come out some time in February.
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Chapter Four: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité
Chapter IV: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

“I am pleased to report that the offensive into Belgium is going well. At our current rate, the liberation of Belgium from German occupation should conclude within a handful of months.”

-Letter from Robert Nivelle to French President Raymond Poincare, circa July 1917

Belgian soldier fighting at the First Battle of Brussels.

Within the first handful of months of the Great War, it had become obvious to the world that fate was not smiling upon France. While the French Republic was undoubtedly a great global power, it was nowhere nearly as militaristically strong as the German Empire, which quickly overrun northern France by conducting the infamous Schlieffen Plan. If it had not been for the Battle of the Marne, Paris would have most likely fallen in 1914, which would have likely ended what became the largest and bloodiest war in history within a few months.

But fate would be more cruel to France. Rather than end the Great War relatively quickly and painlessly so that the French would escape with millions of lives at the expense of only a bit of land and possibly war reparations, the torture France was put through was extended across three decades of constant pain, destruction, and death. If the French were to lose the Great War after decades of combat, their nation would barely survive, and if the French won it would be at the expense of an entire lost generation and Europe would very likely be unable to ever completely recover from the unrelenting and brutal devastation of the Great War.

As the primary frontline of the Western Front, the French could never catch a break from the Great War. While the British could view the Great War as a more distant conflict across the English Channel, the French had no such luxury. It was French cities that were bombed by German artillery, it was French villages that became war zones, and it was French valleys that were burned from the surface of the Earth and confined to historical textbooks. The French population would undergo the worst hardships of the Great War, and by 1917 almost one twentieth of the French male population had been killed in combat. The morale of the French military was starting to decrease, and a significant victory was becoming increasingly necessary if France was to win the Great War.

Fortunately for the Entente, a much-needed victory would in fact occur. In the April of 1917, Robert Nivelle managed to defeat the Germans at the Second Battle of Aisne, and would continue to advance forward until reinforcements stopped the French invasion at the Franco-Belgian border. The Nivelle Offensive was not just celebrated in northern France, which was liberated by the offensive, but was celebrated across all of France. For the very first time in years, the people of France believed that the Great War would not necessarily be a lost cause.

Eventually, the French war machine would rise yet again. On September 25th, 1917 Nivelle would exploit an opening at the Battle of the Meuse, just south of Givet, and within just three more days, the town of Givet had fallen into French hands and the offensive into Belgium had begun. Robert Nivelle’s plan was to initially push north for the city of Namur, and then turn towards Brussels, the fallen capital of the Kingdom of Belgium. Another regiment in Maubeuge would simultaneously be moving north for Brussels, while the British navy would bombard the coastline of German-occupied Belgium. After the success of the Nivelle Offensive, the United Kingdom was happy to spare supplies and reinforcements to the Meuse Campaign, which was the best plan the Entente had for liberating Belgium after three years of brutal occupation, and the exiled Kingdom of Belgium eagerly sent thousands of soldiers back to Europe to participate in what was supposed to be the liberation of their homeland.

At first, the Meuse Campaign went just as planned. Robert Nivelle pushed along the Meuse River to Namur, which was liberated by a coalition of French, British, and Belgian soldiers, with combatants coming from across all of their colonial holdings, on March 12th, 1918. The army under the command of Sir John French of the United Kingdom in Maubeuge would also be progressing into Belgium at a good pace and was approaching the outskirts of Waterloo by the time the May of 1918 had begun. After a long campaign, Nivelle arrived at Waterloo alongside French, and together the two armies would defeat the Germans at the Second Battle of Waterloo (named in such a way to differentiate the battle from the much more famous First Battle of Waterloo of the Napoleonic Wars) on May 30th, 1918.

It was from Waterloo that the Entente arrived upon the entrance of Brussels. Together, two of the most renowned military commanders in not just Europe, but the world, descended upon the German occupation force of Belgium, which was under the leadership of Paul von Hindenburg and Moritz von Bissing. The Battle of Brussels would become a long and deadly conflict, lasting numerous fierce days as Brussels was retaken from German tyranny day by day. Even if the battle lasted many days, it was increasingly obvious that the Entente would win Brussels back, albeit at a deadly cost. After over a week of bloody combat, the German military completely evacuated Brussels on June 13th, 1918, therefore meaning that the Battle of Brussels had ended in an Entente victory.

French soldiers parading through the recently liberated Brussels, circa June 1918.

When Brussels was initially liberated, celebration broke out across western Europe. The German Hun had been kicked out of a city that had been occupied since the first days of the Great War, and for many living under the banners of the Entente’s member states this marked a turning point in the conflict. The German occupation of Belgium was on the run, and the exiled government of Belgium was already negotiating their return to Brussels. However, the Kaiser would not be giving up on Belgium so easily. The territory was paramount to any German victory in western Europe, and had to be secured if the Entente were to ever capitulate.

At first, the Germans attempted to retake Brussels through an offensive under the command of Paul von Hindenburg, however, this plan was a complete failure, and the Germans were vanquished by Robert Nivelle at the Battle of Bierbeek on July 22nd, 1918. The German Empire would attempt a second offensive in Belgium early within the September of 1918 once substantial reinforcements from the Eastern Front and the new German puppet states arrived, however, this second invasion would also fail, and Hindenburg was defeated at the Battle of Leuven on September 14th, 1918. It was become obvious that the defenses that orbited Brussels would not be easy to overcome with mere offensives, so the German military would resort to a new strategy of winning over the support of the local Belgian population. On November 24th, 1918 the Kingdom of Flanders was established from the Flemish region of northern Belgium, with August Borms as the first prime minister of Flanders.

Flag of the Kingdom of Flanders.

The Flemish military was put under the command of Moritz von Bissing, the former military of Belgium, who oversaw numerous executive authorities in a similar way to Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff’s control over the German Empire. In order to fuel pro-Dutch sentiments in Flanders, Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernest, a direct descendent of King Wilhelm II of the Netherlands, was coronated onto the throne of the Kingdom of Flanders shortly after the independence of Flanders, thus becoming King Wilhelm Ernest I of Flanders. Initially, Wilhelm Ernest I’s subjects did not support him or the government operating in his honor. The Kingdom of Flanders was, after all, a puppet state governed by a one-party puppet and German military junta under the control of the Frontpartij.

Over time, however, the Kingdom of Flanders’ population started to support the Frontpartij. Walloons still pledging loyalty to Belgium started to view the Flemish as traitors and a foreign enemy, which would many Flemish to turn to Flanders when Belgium was beginning to reject them. German propaganda was also very effective in fueling Flemish nationalism while also depicting the Walloons as a group that did not belong under the same banner as the Flemish, and France was depicted as a violent and aggressive nation that had threatened peace in western Europe, especially Belgium, for centuries. The Germans would also become seemingly merciful leaders, and would let the Flemish people carry on with their lives as long as they did not dissent against the Frontpartij or Bissing’s junta. The German Empire would even rebuild infrastructure destroyed during the Great War, which won over a sizeable amount of the Flemish population.

The Kingdom of Flanders was a useful tool on the Western Front, as it eliminated much of the justification of liberating all of Belgium, including Flanders, lost merit. A more organized military force in Belgium operating for the Central Powers was also a good tool that Germany had at their disposal. However, the Kingdom of Flanders alone could not turn around the war in Belgium. Even if the offensive into Flanders began to slow down, much of Wallonia and central Belgium was occupied by French and British regiments, and their occupation zone was only expanding. In the January of 1919 the British navy finally landed upon the Belgian coast, and Ostend fell under the control of the British on the 23rd of January. If Germany were to ever win the Great War, the military would have to carry out their next decision perfectly, or else lose Belgium. The German military command conceived of Operation Steuben, in which a German offensive south of Brussels would cut off the army of Robert Nivelle and John French from France, therefore starving off his occupation.

Operation Steuben was ambitious and required a large military force, however, the Germans had no other plan and needed to act swiftly, so Hindenburg took a gamble and accepted the leadership of Operation Steuben. In the February of 1919, the invasion began with the Battle of Hoeilaart, which was in fact a decisive German victory. Robert Nivelle sent John French to handle the German offensive, however, the Germans acted quickly enough to prevent any retaliation of significance from being formed by the Entente. French’s army was defeated at the Battle of Alsemberg on February 22nd, 1919, and a large battalion of forces from across the Central Powers would completely encircle Brussels after the Battle of Pepingen on March, 12th, 1919 decisively crushed the defenses of John French, who retreated into Brussels for an ultimate stand against Paul von Hindenburg.

The Second Battle of Brussels was one of the bloodiest battles in the entire Great War, claiming thousands of lives. What remained of the Entente’s entire invasion force of Belgium condensed around one city as the German Empire began its brutal siege of Brussels. Day after day, combat endured at the expense of the people of Brussels, who were unable to escape the fierce war zone. After the first week of fighting, Brussels had begun to starve and rations were distributed more to soldiers than civilians, which caused the latter to reject the Entente in favor of the Central Powers. The Flemish were especially supportive of the Central Powers, and formed militias to cripple the Entente’s war effort. Nine days into the Second Battle of Brussels, a group of Flemish revolutionaries would uncover the location of Robert Nivelle’s office, and by sneaking in as custodians, the group activated a hand grenade that killed Robert Nivelle in the process.

After General Nivelle was killed, John French assumed control of forces in Brussels, however, he would not carry on the fight for long. The Second Battle of Brussels was simply not worth the effort, for defeat was inevitable. If French surrendered, he would spare hundreds of lives, possibly including his own, while a continued fight would only prolong the inevitable and carve deeper wounds into Brussels. Therefore, on March 23rd, 1919, a single British soldier approached his German foe, waving a white flag in front of an army poised to murder him at a moment’s notice. After ten days of endless combat, the Second Battle of Brussels had ended, and Belgium was controlled by the German Eagle yet again.

For the French, the defeat at Brussels was an absolute humiliation. Not only had France lost one of its greatest officers, but the campaign that had cost the French thousands of lives had been destroyed within less than a month, and France was back to the position it had found itself in during the early months of 1917. The French could not stand the waste of lives that was the Great War any longer, but the French soldiers fighting for their lives within the trenches were the most infuriated. They had sacrificed two years of their lives to an apparently futile invasion, and they would simply could not stand the chaos of the trenches any longer. Soon enough, French soldiers began to refuse to fight, turning them against their own officers and towards new radical ideas championed by a new nation across the trenches and German tyranny.

The Mutinies of 1919 had begun.

Red Dawn

“No more deluded by reaction, on tyrants only we'll make war! The soldiers too will take strike action, they'll break ranks and fight no more! And if those cannibals keep trying, to sacrifice us to their pride, they soon shall hear the bullets flying, we'll shoot the generals on our own side.”

-Excerpt from The Internationale

Symbol of the French Section of the Workers’ International.

Since the French Revolution, France had always flirted with radical leftism. Of course, nearly all far-left movements within France had failed, and more conservative ideologies, from social democracy to monarchism, were the driving forces of French politics instead. However, the presence of socialism was always present in the shadows. Ever since the Paris Commune failed in 1871, had been hiding, and many groups had begun to integrate into the French Section of the Workers’ International (SFIO), a political party that participated within the larger and multinational Second International.

When the Great War began, the SFIO, and for that matter the rest of the Second International, decided to support the war effort against the German Empire as nationalism washed over all of France when the news arrived that the Kaiserreich was to invade France. While this spurred controversy within the SFIO due to a few prominent members advocating in favor of an anti-war stance, the SFIO continued to survive well into Phase One. And then, in 1917, the unimaginable had happened. A communist revolution had arisen, and in Russia no less. Socialist movements around the world were thrown into a frenzy following the October Revolution, and the course of the revolution itself was completely re-evaluated.

The SFIO was primarily supportive of Vladimir Lenin’s Russian Soviet Republic, especially once news arrived that Leon Trotsky had emerged victorious in Siberia and a Russian communist regime would completely control one of the largest nations on Earth. A handful of opponents of the Bolsheviks and advocates of the old ways of the Second International did protest SFIO support of the Soviet Republic, and would align themselves within the sphere of influence of Leon Blums, while anti-Great War members that supported Lenin’s new state would align with Ludovic-Oscar Frossard. Blum’s opposition to the SFIO’s new leadership, and for that matter the Russian Soviet Republic itself, would not last long, for an assassin would pierce the radical with one bullet on May 8th, 1919. The defeat of Robert Nivelle at the Second Battle of Brussels only further strengthened the anti-Great War faction of the SFIO, and on June 2nd, 1919 the organization voted to join the Third International, otherwise known as the Comintern. A month later, the SFIO renamed to the French Communist Party (PCF), with Ludovic Frossard as its secretary-general.

The PCF would strongly benefit from the outrage over the failure at Brussels, as well as the increased hatred of the Great War in general. Thousands of new members joined within the June and July alone, and L’Humanite, the official newspaper of the French Communist Party newspaper, started to fly off of shelves. While the PCF grew in popularity in several urban centers across France, especially Paris, the ideals of the French Communist Party would even manage to find its way into trenches. At first, L’Humanite copies were freely distributed into trenches, where soldiers were quick to sympathize with the message of ending the Great War and establishing a French Socialist Republic to abolish the bourgeoisie system that had oppressed the French for nearly all of history and had gotten France stuck in the mess that was the Great War in the first place.

As L’Humanite grew into one of the most popular newspapers in the trenches of northern France, the French military took action by banning the paper in warzones in the August of 1919, however, by this point it was too late. Thousands of French soldiers claimed to be members of the PCF, with reasons ranging from complicated theories on class oppression to the simple hope that the PCF would end the Great War and get the soldiers out of the trenches. The French foot soldiers found a way around the ban on L’Humanite, with family members smuggling in copies instead in whatever way possible. As French commanders came to this realization, they would only crack down upon L’Humanite even more, with many officers banning the importation of gifts to soldiers and others assigning brutal duties to soldiers found in possession of L’Humanite.

This correlated well with the start of the Mutinies of 1919. After the Second Battle of Brussels, hundreds of French soldiers started to disobey the orders of their officers in a fashion that resembled the tactics of general strikes within the workforce. By refusing to undertake the commands of their officers, the masses of the French military were able to demand better conditions, more time to visit home, and more liberty. Within the June of 1919, much of France’s defenses against the German invasion, spearheaded by Paul von Hindenburg, was rendered useless due to the Mutinies of 1919, which arguably allowed Germany to capture Laon on June 30th, 1919. Following the defeat at Laon, Ferdinand Foch assumed control of the French military, and quickly repressed the Mutinies of 1919, going as far as to institute death penalties upon any soldier in collaboration with the mutinies.

Marshal Ferdinand Foch, circa July 1919.

Foch’s brutal oppression of any dissent within the ranks of his military made him despised by many of his men. As news of execution began to be whispered through trenches, dissent only continued to grow. Mutinies only continued to grow into bursts of violence, with a few officers even being shot by rebellious soldiers. Foch was considered a failure, and was dismissed early in the August of 1919 and was succeeded by Philippe Petain, who ensured the soldiers under his command that he would be more kind than Foch, while still obviously condemning any dissent from his ranks.

Petain’s strategy of boosting morale seemed to work well. By giving into a few of the demands of his forces, as well as putting the socialist Maurice Sarrail in command of a battalion stationed nearby the city of Arras, the Mutinies of 1919 began to die down. By the September of 1919, the riots had been officially declared over and the French had returned to their typical routine of defending northern France from Hindenburg. The situation wasn’t perfect, for thousands of communists still resided within the ranks of the French military, however, they remained quiet for the time once their more outspoken comrades had been purged by Petain and Foch.

As 1919 came to an end, the Western Front of the Great War slowed down to a standstill. The German Empire had kicked all Entente forces out of Belgium, but at a deadly cost. Thousands had died in western Belgium and even more had perished in the invasion of northern France. A stalemate akin to the one that had existed years prior in approximately the same location was formed, and neither faction could break through enemy lines, even as the British Empire poured thousands of recruits from every corner of the planet into the trenches.

French soldiers on the Western Front, circa March 1920.

It was in this stable environment which rested upon an uncertain past that chaos emerged yet again. In 1920, President Raymond Poincare announced that he would be resigning from the presidency after holding said office for seven years. Poincare had undergone a rollercoaster in regards to popularity since the start of the Great War, however, the Second Battle of Brussels and the Mutinies of 1919 had seen his popularity especially plummet. Therefore, a new leader of the French Third Republic would have to be found, and there were numerous candidates for the French legislative branch to nominate.

Both Paul Deschanel and Alexandre Millerand had been names thrown around, however, the former’s mental health had been declining as of recently and the latter was deemed to liberal for a time when communists had found their way into the masses of the French military and communism itself was on the rise. Therefore, the French government would have to find a president that was not too liberal, while still managing to appease to the leftist groups of France. At first, Philippe Petain was considered, however, the marshal announced that he would not seek the presidency of France, instead opting to stay on the frontlines in northern France to combat the Germans. The former governor-general of Indochina and conservative Radical Party member, Paul Doumer, was nominated instead. By appeasing to both the conservative Republican Democratic Party and the more liberal Radical Party as a compromise candidate, Doumer managed to become the successor of Poincare and president of France on February 18th, 1920.

President Paul Doumer of the French Third Republic.

While Doumer had run as a Radical, his views were more in line with the Republican Democratic Party, and officially became an independent prior to his inauguration to appeal more to conservatives. President Doumer was incredibly critical of the French Communist Party, declaring that the party was sabotaging the French war effort for political gain, and would force Maurice Sarrail to resign in the March of 1920, officially due to his slow progression in comparison to other commanders, although it was apparent that the real motivation was to crack down on socialist authority in the French armed forces. The forced resignation of Sarrail irritated many of his soldiers in northwestern France, however, there was little they could do except complain.

The resignation of Sarrail caused a sharp drop in morale amongst many of the soldiers within the French military, and even Philippe Petain argued that it was within the best interests of the French armed forces to continue to staff Sarrail. Doumer, however, would not give into these demands and argued that the last thing France needed was an incompetent socialist fighting against the Germans, and Maurice Sarrail was replaced by Sergeant Andre Maginot, who quickly got to work at building up for a potential offensive while also preventing the spread of socialism within much of his ranks.

It was around this time that President Doumer began to institute another wave of purges, not unlike those of 1919 (albeit a bit more subtle), to stamp out communist dissenters within the ranks of his military. While no executions occurred as a consequence of the Purge of August, there were several court marshals and many soldiers were assigned to harsh activities as a punishment. Of course, the Purge of August could not stay a secret forever, and eventually French soldiers began to find out that Doumer was becoming as oppressive as Ferdinand Foch. This would only encourage the reignition of mutinies throughout the trenches of northern France, and by the end of August a crisis similar to the spring of 1919 had began.

In order to distract from the growing crisis, Sergeant Maginot would begin his offensive for Lille, named the Maginot Offensive, in the October of 1920. At first, the Offensive was going well. Maginot had been preparing for his invasion for months, and this preparation paid off. The Germans were quickly overrun at the Fourth Battle of Arras on October 8th, 1920 and the Maginot Offensive would continue to be as successful for the remained of August, although following the Battle of Lens the Offensive began to slow down with the arrival of German reinforcements.

By the February of 1921, Maginot’s battalion had arrived at Lille. After months of deadly combat, Andres Maginot had arrived at his destination and was ready for one last conquest. But the Germans were also prepared, for a coalition led by Otto von Below had been amassed with forces from all of the German Empire’s puppet states. Trench warfare immediately set in, and barracks were constructed along roadways to stop enemy invasions. The Battle of Lile began on February 22nd, 1921, and after the first three days, fighting proved to inconclusive, however, it was becoming apparent to French reconnaissance that the Germans easily outnumbered the forces under the command of Maginot. The sergeant would implore Philippe Petain to cede reinforcements, however, the French had their hands full on other fronts and all Andres Maginot would get were a handful of volunteers from France’s colonies.

By the fifth day of fighting, it was clear that the Germans were beginning to win. An offensive had pushed the French back a few blocks, and after two more days Maginot had been pushed back to Loos. While he did not officially declare that the Battle of Lille had officially been lost yet, a final offensive a day later that kicked the French to Les Riez proved to be the decisive defeat that Andres Maginot had been so fearful of. With this single defeat on March 2nd, 1921 Maginot’s forces had become outrage. All those casualties, all that combat, for nothing? Andres Maginot’s army would not simply mutiny. No, they would not take commands from the bourgeoisie any longer. By rallying under the leadership of Boris Souvarine, an antimilitarist communist within the ranks of Maginot (and previously Sarrail), the oppressed foot soldier of the French military rose up in Les Riez on March 5th, 1921, and after only a day of fighting Andres Maginot had been executed and the Vanguard of the French Proletariat (LGPF), otherwise known as the French Red Army, had been declared.

Within the next few days, numerous other officers would be overthrown in communist revolutions declaring loyalty to the LGPF, which drove the Western Front to a standstill. While the collapse within the ranks of the French military, deemed the Second French Revolution by the LGPF, would have been the perfect opportunity for the German Empire to invade France and conquer Paris once and for all, Paul von Hindenburg decided not to push through communist militias, believing that France would potentially capitulate soon to deal with Boris Souvarine’s new army and feared that an attack on a communist revolution would cause the Russian Soviet Republic to declare war on the Central Powers and invade the poorly defended puppet regimes of Germany in eastern Europe. Therefore, the Great War was temporarily only fought in the Balkans, Middle East, and the waters surrounding Europe as combat in France began to be put on hold.

President Paul Doumer was infuriated by the Second French Revolution, and used the apparent war within France’s own trenches as an excuse to outlaw the French Communist Party for inciting the Second French Revolution, and several members were arrested within just a handful days after the National Security Act was passed on March 12th, 1921. However, the majority of highest ranking members of the PCF would escape the wrath of Doumer and agreed that the time for joining their Russian comrades in revolution had arrived and officially endorsed the Second French Revolution and the Vanguard of the French Proletariat, agreeing to seize French cities in sudden revolutions. One of these cities was Paris, where a general strike of the Workers’ Force trade union (the union that affiliated with the French Communist Party) on March 17th, 1921 turned violent following police suppression. Within a handful of hours, Paul Doumer and his government had fled Paris for Blois, where a provisional government was established.

French communists celebrating the Storming of Paris, circa March 1921.

As Doumer and his coalition of conservatives assembled in southern France as revolution infected the largest French cities, the red flag was waved throughout the north. The French Commune had been declared.

Vive la Commune!

“The French proletariat, convinced that the forgetfulness and exploitation of the natural rights of man are the sole causes of the misfortunes of the world, have resolved to set forth these sacred and inalienable rights in a solemn declaration, in order that all workers, being able constantly to compare the acts of the government with the aim of every social institution, may never permit themselves to be oppressed and degraded by capitalist tyranny, in order that the proletariat may always have before their eyes the bases of their liberty and their happiness, the magistrate the guide to his duties, the legislator the object of his mission.”

-Preamble of the constitution of the French Commune, which was heavily inspired by the preamble of the constitution of the French First Republic

Flag of the French Commune, adopted by the Proletarian Revolutionary Congress shortly after draft of the Communard constitution.

Following the Storming of Paris, the priority of the LGPF and the PCF was to unite their forces together in order for delegates of the Second French Revolution to come together and form a single government. Under the leadership of Boris Souvarine, the LGPF managed to seize nearly all French territory in between Paris and what had once been Belgium, while the Brittany Soviet was growing on the peninsula of its namesake. By the end of the March of 1921, communist delegates convened in Paris to write up a new constitution for their government. The debate over the constitution of the French Commune more or less orbited around whether not the Commune would become a Marxist-Leninist Dictatorship of the Proletariat akin to the Russian Soviet Republic, or a more libertarian socialist republic of some kind adhering to syndicalist philosophies.

The “Marxist-Leninists” were not necessarily Marxist-Leninists in the same sense as Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik Party, for the exact ideology of the Soviet Republic did not exactly have a strong following within France. The young Maurice Thorez became the de facto leader of the Marxist-Leninist faction at the Constitutional Committee, and his coalition was nicknamed the Neo-Jacobin Club by his fellow, yet more libertarian, revolutionaries. Thorez’s support for a Communard dictatorship was mostly unpopular, however, it had a sizeable amount of legitimacy nonetheless due to it being the preferred faction of Vladimir Lenin.

The Neo-Jacobins found a rivalry with the Syndicalist faction, which was led by Boris Souvarine, and advocated for a more decentralized federation of democratic workers’ councils as the basis for the government of the French Commune, while still advocating for a violent revolution to rid society of the bourgeoisie. As the supreme commander of the Vanguard of the French Proletariat, Souvarine’s opinion was very significant, even if he himself was incapable of being at the Constitutional Committee due to him leading the offensive towards Brittany. The Syndicalists found allies within the largest group at the Constitutional Committee, the Popularistes, which was led by Ludovic-Oscar Frossard.

The Popularistes were the “centrists” of the Constitutional Committee, and advocated for the collectivization of the means of production while also supporting national centralization. The majority of prominent members of the French Communist Party were Popularistes, therefore giving the group an advantage at the Constitutional Committee, however, there were not enough Popularistes to dictate the entire constitution of the French Commune, thus meaning that compromises had to be enacted in order for all three factions to support the new administration.

After weeks of negotiations, the constitution of the French Commune had been completed. The Commune would become a federation of local administrations, called regions, which would govern local affairs that did not contradict the interests of the national government, with a three-fourths majority of the legislative assembly of the national government being necessary to override any regional laws. Autonomous regions, such as Brittany, would also exist, and were allowed to pass any laws that did not contradict the national government, and their interests could not be overridden by the national government. Autonomous regions would also be permitted to have their own personal militia, which could only operate abroad with consent from the national government.

The national government was to be governed by a unicameral legislative body, the Central Revolutionary Congress (CRC), which had the purpose of proposing and voting on laws while also electing the members of the executive branch, called the Presidium. The Presidium was led by the president of the French Commune, the Communard head of government, who dictated the policies of the Presidium. The other members of the Presidium were ministers, who oversaw the activities within their respective ministries in accordance to the interests of the president. The ministers would have to obey the orders of their president, with some notable exceptions to prevent the president from potentially becoming too autocratic (for example, the Minister of Justice was not required to arrest an individual if he believed that they were innocent, regardless of the president’s opinion), and every Presidium member was elected by a majority within the Central Revolutionary Congress and could be ousted at any time if a simple majority approved of a vote of no confidence.

In order to appease the Neo-Jacobin Club, the president held special powers in case of a national emergency. Article Five of the Communard constitution would turn the president into a dictator for an amount of time designated by a three-fourths majority vote within the CRC. If Article Five, or the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” was enacted, the president would hold total control over the Presidium and would not require the CRC to pass or propose legislation, therefore turning the president into a temporary dictator. The three things the president could not do as dictator were add amendments to the constitution, extend the time he was permitted to be a dictator, and infringe upon constantly guaranteed rights, such as a fair trial, however, Article Five otherwise gave the president seemingly limitless power.

Another topic of immense importance was how the Communard workplace would be governed. It was decided that the Syndicalist proposal for trade unions to collectively govern the means of production and distribution would not be utilized, for the Neo-Jacobin Club and Popularistes both agreed that such a system was not centralized enough, however, the Popularist plan for collectivized workplaces to be established with the consent of local governments was satisfactory enough for the Syndicalists to agree to such a system, and would therefore be put into place by Article Six of the constitution of the Commune of France.

Once the constitution had been completely ratified on April 14th, 1921 and every sect of French society had been revolutionized, with even Paris being renamed to La Ville Lumiere, the time came for the Central Revolutionary Congress to be elected in order for the members of the Presidium to be selected. The French Communist Party obviously won the vast majority of seats, however, Maurice Thorez’s Jacobin Party also secured a decent amount of seats, as did the syndicalist Travailliste Party. With the PCF holding the majority of seats within the CRC, the Presidium was destined to become led by said party, with Ludovic-Oscar Frossard becoming the first president of the French Commune.

President Ludovic-Oscar Frossard of the French Commune.

While the vast majority of ministers were members of the French Communist Party, a few were Travaillistes, such as Boris Souvarine, who easily became the Minister of the Vanguard, the Communard equivalent to a Minister of War. The Jacobins were incapable of securing any positions within the Presidium, which especially frustrated Thorez, however, they remained a significant force within the Central Revolutionary Congress nonetheless. Article Five was also enacted almost immediately, with members of all three parties arguing that a centralized Dictatorship of the Proletariat would be necessary for the reactionary French Third Republic to be defeated, and President Ludovic Frossard was authorized to be a dictator for exactly six months.

The establishment of the French Commune shocked the world. Communism had extended west, fueled by the hatred of the Great War. Doumer’s administration was on the run as northern France was conquered by General Commander Souvarine and the Brittany Soviet was united with its comrades halfway through the April of 1921. The British were terrified, and were quick to pull whatever forces they could out of Communard-occupied zones in order to continue fighting the Germans, as well as apparently the French Commune on whatever possible frontline. The German Empire was especially confused, and a temporary ceasefire fell upon warzones that had become occupied by the French Commune, with both Hindenburg and the Kaiser hoping that an agreement similar to Brest-Litovsk could be reached with President Frossard.

For many, the declaration of the French Commune appeared as though the Great War had finally come to an end. The Entente was doomed and could simply not continue fighting as long as northern France was occupied by communists, so surely a peace agreement would be reached. However, neither the Great War nor the Revolution would be over anytime soon. As crowds in Moscow and Lumiere waved banners of crimson in celebration of their respective revolutions, the Proletariat of one of the world’s oldest and most powerful empires had begun to grow discontent with the increasingly deadly world of the bourgeoisie that had existed for millennia.

The Revolution peered across the English Channel, and set its sight upon the British Empire.

The Lion of Arabia

“My Dearest Violet,

I regret to write to you that my health has only barely improved. While my injuries are healing, every single day I waste in this war becomes more and more painful. Even if the War in Mesopotamia is coming to an end, the War in France seems to be increasingly endless and pointless. First the Hun, and now the Bolshies? As much as I hate to admit, the Commune is right about one thing: this godforsaken war is meaningless.

Best regards,


-Letter from Captain Clement Attlee of the British Army to Violet Millar, circa March 1921

British soldiers approaching Mosul, circa 1920.

As its former allies descended into chaos and revolution, the United Kingdom barely carried on, continuing to carry on the fight against the Central Powers wherever possible. In France, the British Expeditionary Force had been battling with the Germans well into the beginning of the French Civil War. In the Balkans, the British would preserve Greek sovereignty by fending of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And in the Middle East, British colonial forces pierced deep into Mesopotamia alongside a coalition of Arab freedom fighters who had turned to British aid in order to defeat the Ottoman Empire.

It was here in the Middle East where the Entente experienced some semblance of sanity, even after the withdrawal of Russia as the Red and Green armies rose up. On every other frontline, the Entente was either falling against the onslaught of the Central Powers or was internally collapsing. But on the Middle Eastern Front, it was the Central Powers who fled battle fields in terror. Upon entering the Great War on behalf of their German allies, the Ottoman Empire had been declining in power for centuries as Europe grew in power from bathing in the resources exploited from their vast colonial empires. Turkish technological and militaristic capabilities simply did not match up to power of Europe’s largest powers. Therefore, a British victory in the Middle East appeared inevitable, even if London was situated across an entire continent away from Constantinople.

However, even if the Ottoman Empire was doomed to a defeat in the Great War, the British were still presented with a handful of challenges and setbacks. For example, Winston Churchill’s Gallipoli Campaign in western Anatolia was an absolute disaster for the British Empire, which was decisively defeated by the Turks by the beginning of 1916. However, the British carried on, with successful results arriving from Mesopotamia as the British Indian Army moved along the Euphrates River. The British also found success from funding Arab revolts in Hejaz after Great Britain gained in ally in the form of Sherif Hussein of Mecca, who was guaranteed an independent Arabian Hashemite Kingdom if he allied with the Entente, therefore initiating the Arab Revolt with the Battle of Mecca throughout the June and July of 1916, which solidified the independence of the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz under the leadership of King Hussein bin Ali.

Flag of the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz.

With British aid (primarily from Egypt), Hejaz would begin to encompass the surrounding territory, which only further fueled the flames of rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. Hejaz never got the British officer it was promised after said officer, Thomas Edward Lawrence, fell ill and had to stay away from the frontlines until he recovered, however, the Arab Revolt proved to be successful nonetheless. The Hashemites emerged victorious over the city of Medina on January 28th, 1917, however, at the expense of heavy losses. The Hejaz Railway continued to stay in control of the Ottoman Empire, and Turkish reinforcements continued to arrive in Hejaz to defeat the Arab Revolt. But the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz continued to fight on, and Prince Faisal bin Hussein led a battalion north and, despite heavy casualties, would slowly move along the coast of the Red Sea against the unrelenting attacks of the Ottomans.

Back in Mesopotamia, the British continued to push along the Tigris and Euphrates towards Baghdad throughout all of 1917. The end of Russian intervention within the same year, as well as the struggles of the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz, would mean that the British moved at a slower pace than anticipated, however, General Frederick Stanley Maude would in fact capture Kut on March 10th, 1917, something that both John Nixon and Percy Lake had failed to accomplish. With Kut under British occupation, General Maude anticipated that he would soon be invading Baghdad, however, no such invasion would be conducted for the time being. As Russia fell to revolution, the Germans increased their presence in western Europe, which diminished the ability for Maude to request reinforcements, and the British high command sent the majority of their reinforcements in the Middle East to the Red Sea, which was closer and promised more success anyway.

Therefore, General Frederick Maude would not be invading Baghdad anytime soon. Instead, he increased the defenses of Kut, which was subject to usually heavy sieges from time to time, and adopted the strategy of trench warfare to combat the Ottomans. By the end of 1917, Baghdad remained under the control of the Ottoman Empire and Maude had advanced only a few kilometers away from Kut, and it appeared as though this would remain the situation for the upcoming months. The situation in Hejaz, however, was much better. Prince Faisal continued to move north, and would capture Al Wajh on December 30th, 1917. This would cripple the Hejaz Railway, which began to fall apart after the Battle of Al Wajh. With the Hejaz Railway in ruins, a Hashemite victory appeared imminent, especially once the Anglo-Hashemite alliance converged upon the Levant.

With the Arab Revolt proving to be successful, the Ottomans sought support from their own European allies. Even though the German Empire was much more concerned about the frontlines of the Great War in Europe, the Kaiser had always been willing to cede a handful of reinforcements to the Turks. In 1918, Germany decided that they would send an experienced officer to Hejaz to combat the Arab Revolt, a man who had fought on both the Eastern and Western Front and whose military experience could be traced back to the Boxer Rebellion. In the January of 1918, an army sent from Berlin arrived in Jordan, under the command of General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.

The Lion of Arabia had been released upon his prey.

General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (nicknamed the “Lion of Arabia”) of the German Empire.

General Lettow-Vorbeck would quickly prove his competence at the Ma’an on February 2nd, 1918, in which his merciless guerrilla tactics obliterated the Hejazi offensive and, for the first time in well over a year, sent Prince Faisal on the run. For many months, the Lion of Arabia would crush his opponents with brutal tactics that, while undeniably successful, made him infamous around the world. Cities were burned and thousands of civilians died from both warfare and famine as a consequence of the rampage of the Lion. However, both the Turks and Germans permitted the continued utilization of these tactics in Arabia, for they both believed that defeat of Hejaz was paramount to the survival of the Ottoman Empire and therefore the authority of the Central Powers within the Middle East.

It is very likely that had the Entente not altered its strategy in Hejaz, the Hashemite Kingdom would have been defeated and Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck would be remembered as the man who preserved the dying Ottoman Empire for at least a few more years. After all, General Lettow-Vorbeck managed to undo a year’s worth of Hejazi progress within just a handful of months and the increased necessity for the British to reinforce Hejaz would only weaken the British invasion of Mesopotamia. However, in the British military would retaliate by sending over their own skilled commander. Winston Churchill, the man who had presided over the failed Gallipoli Campaign and had sought to rebuild his reputation by serving as a lieutenant colonel in France ever since, offered to lead a battalion in Hejaz, an offer that the British military cautiously accepted.

Upon arriving in Hejaz in the April of 1918, Colonel Winston Churchill set out to build up defenses against Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck by overseeing the development of intricate supply lines in collaboration with the Royal Navy. Churchill’s plan would prove to be successful, and is typically credited as the man who served the Lion of Arabia his first defeat at the Battle of Al Rayis on April 18th, 1918. Lettow-Vorbeck’s offensive was shattered, which allowed for Colonel Churchill to invade Yanbu alongside Prince Faisal just a handful of days later. Churchill’s success would see him be promoted from a colonel to a general approximately a month later, and by the July of 1918 Winston Churchill had become the commander of all British land forces in Hejaz. General Winston Churchill proved to be the perfect contrast to Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck by being cold, careful, and calculating while Lettow Vorbeck was notorious for quick and ambitious offensives.

As the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz began to move north against the Ottomans and Germans yet again, General William Marshall, who had become the commander of British forces in Mesopotamia after Frederick Maude succumbed to cholera in the November of 1917, saw an opportunity to quickly push for Baghdad. After many days of combat, the city of Baghdad was conquered by the British Empire on June 27th, 1918, and the Union Jack flew over the rubble of the fallen city.

And so, this was the situation the British war effort in the Middle East found itself within for the next three years. General Winston Churchill would slowly push back against the Lion of Arabia in the name of Arabian independence, while William Marshall crawled up the Tigris and Euphrates at an even slower rate (harsh weather, especially in the summer, would occasionally stop entire offensives), capturing ancient cities in the process. The Middle Eastern Front would culminate with the Battle of Damascus on April 19th, 1921. It was here that General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck made his last stand against Winston Churchill, before ultimately capitulating as his forces were encircled as the sun set upon both the harsh land of Arabia and Ottoman control of Arabia itself. A few days later, the Ottoman Empire would surrender to the Entente and representatives of the belligerents of the Middle Eastern Front would meet in Aleppo to negotiate a peace treaty.

The Treaty of Aleppo did not necessarily guarantee the borders that Sherif Hussein had been promised almost five years prior by the British, however, Hashemite hegemony was established nonetheless, with the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz annexing nearly all territory south of Damascus, excluding Palestine, which became a British protectorate, and the Hashemite Kingdom extended as far east as the Euphrates River. The Hashemite Kingdom would not yet rename to Arabia, however, a brief collection of conflicts against Jabal Shammar and Nejd in the 1920s would change this. To the north of Hejaz, the kingdoms of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Kurdistan, which would be led by Prince Abdullah, Prince Faisal, Prince Zeid of the House of Hashemite respectively. A Kingdom of Armenia was also carved out of Armenian-populated land of the Ottoman Empire, however, rather than a Hashemite as the king of a Christian Orthodox nation, the cousin of Tsar Nicholas II and former Russian Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich became the king of Armenia instead.

All five officially recognized nations established at the Treaty of Aleppo, including Hejaz, became de facto British puppet states whose foreign affairs would be handled by the United Kingdom in return for protection and infrastructure projects. While King Hussein bin Ali of Hejaz was initially opposed by such an action, which he feared would compromise his dream of a unified Arabian empire, he admitted that British support was a necessity for his kingdom to survive, and Prime Minister David Lloyd George of the United Kingdom guaranteed Hussein bin Ali that as long as the Hejazi did not harm British interests, their foreign affairs would more or less be left alone.

As the ink dried on the Treaty of Aleppo, a new era had begun for Arabia. The Ottoman Empire was a mere rump state while a British sphere of influence dominated all Middle Eastern land south of Anatolia. But the British forces who had fought in the Middle East could not rejoice for long, for the war in France continued. Worse yet, a storm was subtly brewing over the British Isles, and was just about to erupt.

Break the Chains!

“This bloody war will be the death of me.”

-King George V privately commenting on the General Strike of 1922

Prime Minister David Lloyd George of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

When Russia and France both fell to communism, Great Britain became the last great power of the Entente. The French Republic still survived, but could barely be regarded a threat when its northern half, which included its capital, was under the control of a communist state. Thus, it became the responsibility of the British to keep the Entente war effort alive by continuing to fight in the mess that was France and by utilizing the Royal Navy to combat the Germans upon whatever water the German eagle soared across.

The French Civil War made many Britons argue that the Great War was lost and that the time had come for the British government to enter into peace negotiations with the Central Powers. However, Prime Minister David Lloyd George was not yet ready to give up, and believed that a British victory was still possible if the French Commune was quickly defeated by a swift offensive and cited the success of the naval blockade of Germany, although the effects of the blockade were being mitigated as resources from German puppet states poured in following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The British victory in the Middle East was an especially useful morale boost, as plenty of new resources from Arabia fell into the hands of the British Empire and the Royal Navy introduced a blockade within the Black Sea in accordance to the Treaty of Aleppo, which had given the British the right to freely traverse through the Bosphorus Strait, as yet another way to win the Great War by starving off the German war effort rather than simply killing the German War effort.

The British Army made sure to permit former soldiers in the Middle Eastern Front to visit their families for a few weeks, which was celebrated by British newspapers, however, it was obvious that this was only temporary. Soon enough, the veterans of Mesopotamia and Hejaz would be fighting in France against the Vanguard of the French Proletariat, and by the June of 1921 all veterans of the Middle Eastern Front of the Great War that could continue fighting were under the command of officers in southern France, with Sir Henry Wilson operating as the highest ranking officer of all of these veterans, holding the position of field marshal.

In the months since the declaration of the French Commune, the Entente built up for an offensive towards Paris (or Lumiere, if the Communards were to be believed), whilst digging a new line of trenches through the middle of France to hold back the LGPF for the time being. In the July of 1921, David Lloyd George finally approved of the initiation of the Bourges Offensive and thousands of Entente soldiers charged across trenches into No Man’s Land against the forces of communism. Of course, Ludovic Frossard would not allow the revolution that he and his comrades had worked so hard for to simply crumble within a matter of months at the hands of the British imperialists. General Commander Boris Souvarine quickly retaliated by stopping the army of Field Marshal Wilson at the Battle of Orleans on August 14th, 1921, and the Bourges Offensive would begin to grind down into a war of attrition.

Regardless of the seemingly stagnant pace of the French Civil War, the conflict was still deemed a success by the British nonetheless. After all, by all means the Entente was winning in France, just at a much slower pace than anticipated. The Royal Navy was also proving to be a useful asset in the English Channel, especially due to the Navy of the French Proletariat (MPF) being little more than a militia of ships seized from either the bourgeoisie or the navy of the French Republic. The Second Battle of Orleans on October 7th, 1921 would prove to be a victory for British, and afterwards the British Expeditionary Force would resume its slow push north.

As it turned out, the largest threat to the British war effort was not in the trenches, but was rather found in the streets of London. It was here that Britons who had become sick of wartime protested the Great War and mourned as reports of casualties arrived day after day. While Prime Minister George’s wartime coalition, which united the Conservative, Liberal, and Labour parties into a single force, was not going to be pulling out of France anytime soon, the people were becoming increasingly angered by the Great War, especially the poor masses, many of whom were not even permitted to vote due to the right to vote being reserved to those who owned property.

While the Second French Revolution initially harmed the reputation of socialist organizations in Great Britain, their opposition to the Great War would turn many of these otherwise fringe political parties into some of the strongest advocates for the repressed masses of British factories. The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), an anti-war Marxist party formed from the unification of numerous like-minded organizations in 1920, especially profited from the growing anti-war sentiment, and would also benefit from finding allies in the form of numerous trade unions, and by endorsing the female suffrage movement in Great Britain the CPGB would only continue to grow in power.

As 1921 came to an end, a new crisis would emerge to harm the British war effort. In order to finance the Great War, the United Kingdom had to lower wages as a solution to increasing the production of cheap wartime resources, especially coal. This infuriated the masses of Great Britain, and starting in the February of 1922 the Trades Union Congress (TUC) ordered a general strike, in which the TUC demanded a higher national minimum wage, the guaranteed right of all British citizens of at least twenty years to vote, and an immediate end to British involvement in the Great War. Of course, David Lloyd George and his wartime coalition could not give into such demands, and the TUC’s general strike was deemed “a revolutionary move which can only succeed by destroying the government and subverting the rights and liberties of the people.” Therefore, the British government would not be negotiating with the Trades Union Congress, but rather attempting to suppress the General Strike of 1922 by any means necessary, including the usage of force.

A British soldier escorting a bus during the General Strike of 1922.

At first, it was believed that the trade unions would give in within just a handful of days and the General Strike of 1922 would wither away. This would not, however, be the case. Instead, support for the CPGB and other far-left political parties would grow and British war production would decline. In order to counter the General Strike of 1922, the British government approved of the establishment of a militia named the Organization for Domestic Security (ODS), which was tasked with keeping down any strikes. However, the ODS quickly proved to have unintended consequences as fascists and other far-right sympathizers applied for membership in order to suppress what they saw as yet another socialist rebellion, which would cause the ODS to only become more and more violent.

This would all culminate on April 3rd, 1922, when a regiment of the ODS under the command of Arnold Leese would open fire upon a strike in London. The workers would only retaliate by arming themselves with whatever they could find as a weapon. Within just a few minutes, much of southern London had become a battlefield as the ODS and their sympathizers (mostly law enforcement) fought the trade unionists and their allies amongst the masses, which primarily consisted of anyone of the lower classes of British society. As the news of the London Riot reached Buckingham Palace and Parliament, King George V and the British government were immediately evacuated to Cambridge and Oxford respectively to wait out the crisis.

After approximately an hour of combat, the unionists seized one of the ODS’ ammunition stockpiles, therefore meaning that the ODS was no longer just suppressing a violent mob, but rather a group of discontent workers armed with guns. The unionists eventually secured all of southern London, however, were stopped by barracks guarding the bridges over the River Thames. By this point, however, the revolution had already arrived in Great Britain. By April 4th, 1922 the London Riot was still going strong, and all attempts by the ODS to invade southern London had failed, while other regiments of the ODS were conducting acts of violence towards the Trades Union Congress, which they believed had embraced open rebellion against the United Kingdom. Within a day, all of Great Britain had erupted into a battlefield in which the reactionary militias of the British government were poised against the largest trade unions of the United Kingdom and their allies.

The Second Glorious Revolution had begun.

As war began in the streets of Britain (especially in Scottish cities and southern England), the TUC and fellow populist organizations, including the CPGB, arrived in Southampton to vote on whether or not open revolution against the United Kingdom would be endorsed. While such an action would have been unimaginable only a week prior, the London Riot permanently changed the fragile relationship between the classes of Great Britain. The more radical trade unionists believed that the ODS, and the British government itself, had begun the suppression of the British Proletariat and argued that if revolution did not begin then the bourgeoisie would reign without mercy across the British Empire for potentially an eternity. The moderates of Southampton did not want to turn to rebellion, however, with the wartime coalition aligning with the ODS, it was obvious that a compromise between the TUC and the British government was impossible, and thus revolution was necessary if the trade unions were to survive. Therefore, with a majority of delegates present at Southampton voting in favor of revolution on April 11th, 1922, the proletariat of Great Britain took up arms against capitalism in the name of a unified provisional government, the Workers’ Commonwealth.

Flag of the Workers’ Commonwealth, which was adopted from the Chartist movement of the 19th Century.

While the Workers’ Commonwealth initially began as a self-proclaimed socialist republic, and not a communist regime, this would begin to change as the members of the Commonwealth government became increasingly radical, especially as the Communist Party of Great Britain asserted more and more authority within the provisional government, and Albert Inkpin, the leader of the CPGB, was elected the first Comrade Protector of the Commonwealth, therefore becoming the Workers’ Commonwealths’ first official head of government. From this point on, the Workers’ Commonwealth would become an official communist state, with the ideals of libertarian socialism and Marxism of the Second French Revolution being encouraged by the United People’s Congress (UPC), the de facto legislative assembly of the Commonwealth prior to the Workers’ Commonwealth officially becoming a communist regime upon joining the Third International in the May of 1922.

As southern England fell into the hands of communist revolutionaries and the banner of the Workers’ Commonwealth flew over London, the wartime coalition of Great Britain carried on fighting both the Central Powers and Comrade Protector. Surely the Second Glorious Revolution would quickly fall, thought the government of the United Kingdom, which hid in Liverpool. Of course, any history textbook that details the 20th Century now says otherwise. The Workers’ Commonwealth would feast off of the corpse of a decaying empire for many years, and by not entering negotiations with the Central Powers, the Entente only doomed Europe to more bloodshed and unintentionally wrote the propaganda of fascist tyranny.

Soon enough, the world would know what man-made hell really looked like.


“War in the Alps! Mussolini’s Italy invades France!”

-Washington Post headline, circa November 1922

Benito Mussolini and a crowd of Blackshirts shortly after fascist seizure of power in Italy, circa September 1922.

When the Second French Revolution began and reports of crimson banners flying through the streets of Paris appeared upon the headlines of newspapers around the world, Benito Mussolini and his Italian Fasci of Combat (FIC) immediately took to the streets of Italy to boost their own personal support. Frossard’s revolution was the perfect piece of propaganda for the FIC, which had been claiming that the “inferior French way of life and values of liberalism” would lead to a communist revolution since the inception of fascism. Throughout much of 1921, the Italian Fasci of Combat grew into one of the most influential forces in the Kingdom of Italy and Benito Mussolini became a national celebrity, albeit a hated one for many.

Ironically enough, the FIC thrived under the leadership of Prime Minister Giovanni Bacci of the Italian Socialist Party, which had just barely managed to win the 1921 general election by branding itself as a modern solution to the growing economic crisis generated by the Great War and forming a coalition with numerous other left-wing political parties in the Kingdom of Italy. While Prime Minister Bacci was initially successful at aiding the Italian economy, the FIC would deem him the beginning of Italian communism and built up support against the prime minister.

And then, in the May of 1922, the unimaginable happened. Under the leadership of General Emilio De Bono, forty thousand fascists would march upon Naples, demanding the resignation of Giovanni Bacci and the establishment of fascist rule over the Kingdom of Italy. As Benito Mussolini put it, “Our program is simple: we want to rule Italy,” was more or less a summary of the FIC’s goals in the coup. The government panicked, however, King Victor Emmanuel III did not believe that the reactionary Italian Fasci of Combat was a threat to the Italian establishment, and therefore allowed Mussolini and his cabal of fascists to take control of the Italian government on July 18th, 1922. A month later, an election was called upon, however, Benito Mussolini’s utilization of intimidation and voter suppression, including banning the Italian Socialist Party and forcing Giovanni Bacci into exile, meant that the election was more or less artificial and was instead utilized as a tool of the FIC to gain absolute authority over the Italian parliament.

And so, the fascist demon reigned over Italy, and the claws of its tyranny pierced into democracy.

As Benito Mussolini consolidated power over the Kingdom of Italy, which became increasingly totalitarian as political opponents of the Italian Fasci of Combat were purged at night, the Italian military began to quickly mobilize, and in the October of 1922, the Italian military began to line up at the border with France. As the fiercest soldiers of the Kingdom of Italy stared into the decaying French Republic, it was obvious to the Entente that they would have to soon fight yet another opponent, and the French and British quickly sent whatever soldiers they could spare from the bloodshed of central France to the Franco-Italian border. Surely enough, war would come to the Alps on November 17th, 1922, when Mussolini announced to a crowd in Rome that the Kingdom of Italy had officially become a member of the Central Powers in accordance to a secret treaty signed in Munich, and was therefore at war with the Entente.

But Italy was not just at war with the French Republic. Benito Mussolini also made sure to send his reign of terror to war with the French Commune, therefore making the Kingdom of Italy the first member of the Central Powers to officially go to war with a communist regime. With that being said, however, the Kingdom of Italy did not border any French territory occupied by the Communards upon the Italian declaration of war, so the Italian war against the French Commune was reserved to violent purges of any suspected socialists within Italian-occupied land, who would be taken away in swift sweeps by Italian soldiers on nights ripped from tales of horror, never to be heard from again.

Meanwhile, Italy’s new ally, the German Empire, continued the quiet ceasefire with the French Commune, and for Germany, the Great War war only fought in Elsass-Lothringen and on the seas that encircled Europe. German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg stayed away from a war with the French Commune, in part on the basis that either the French Republic would either surrender or fall to the anti-war Commune, therefore meaning that any invasion of northern France would only waste men and prolong the Great War, and in part due to Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg’s hope to preserve peace with the Russian Soviet Republic to the east by not attacking the Communards. However, Bethmann-Hollweg’s days as chancellor were numbered. While the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk had definitely boosted the support of his administration amongst the German people, the British naval blockade of the German Empire had the opposite effect, and Theobald Bethmann Hollweg was forced to resign in favor of Georg Michaelis, a German bureaucrat who became the next chancellor on December 7th, 1922.

Chancellor Georg Michaelis of the German Empire.

Michaelis was a supporter of his predecessor’s policy of waiting for France to beg for negotiations, however, the new chancellor was viewed as a bureaucrat and not a statesman. The Michaelis administration was plagued with messy logistics and a stereotype was generated that the chancellor was more concerned with generating profit for German corporations than winning the war that Germany had been fighting for over eight years. However, what was arguably the worst mistake of Georg Michaelis was not as apparent to the German people. Michaelis became attracted to a reactionary party on the fringes of the German political spectrum, named the German Fatherland Party (DVP). This particular political organization was led by the wealthy Alfred Hugenburg, a staunch ultranationalist and monarchist, who was as wealthy as he was conservative. In 1921, Hugenburg and the DVP had gone as far as to officially become fascist, therefore becoming one of the largest fascist movements in not just Europe, but the world.

And out of all individuals, Hugenburg was the man Georg Michaelis turned to for assistance in the administration.

Hoping to gain more support from the far-right of the German Empire, Georg Michaelis offered Alfred Hugenburg the position of Secretary of Treasury following the resignation of Siegfried von Roedern in the March of 1922, a position that Hugenburg eagerly accepted. Surely enough, Hugnburg exploited his position by bringing more attention to the German Fatherland Party and its ambitions, especially the defeat of the French Commune. Such aggressive and bold declarations would win over many Germans, including Erich Ludendorff, who would go as far as to become an official member of the German Fatherland Party. With Ludendorff on Hugenburg’s side, the ascendance of the increasingly powerful reactionary appeared inevitable, and soon enough the demands for the resignation of Georg Michaelis were answered when Alfred Hugenburg became the chancellor of the German Empire on January 3rd, 1923.

Chancellor Alfred Hugenburg of the German Empire.

Just four days after assuming de jure leadership of the German government, Alfred Hugenburg would declare war on the French Commune. Within a handful of hours, the Western Front of the Great War had resumed after well over a year of nearly complete peace as Paul von Hindenburg led soldiers across No Man’s Land, which had only just started to regrow vegetation, to fight the unsuspecting Vanguard of the French Proletariat. But this was not the same type of war that Germany had begun all those years ago. It was obvious to the whole world now that the Great War would not be ending anytime soon, especially as the Russian Soviet Republic began to mobilize in retaliation against the invasion of the French Commune. This was a new conflict, defined by an ideological clash of socialism, liberalism, and reactionism.

On January 7th, 1923, Phase Two of the Great War had begun.

Man in the High Castle

“Edelweiss Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white
Clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow

Bloom and grow forever

Edelweiss Edelweiss

Bless my homeland forever”

-Edelweiss, by Richard Rogers (published circa 1959)

Sketch of the Reichstag.

It was a cold February day. Prince August Wilhelm, the son of Kaiser Wilhelm, sat in a chair, overlooking the streets of Berlin below across a large glass window. On a table next to him was a small glass of Heinrich Reissdorf-brand beer, of which the prince had only taken a few sips from. August’s room was quiet, but the German Empire itself was anything but. Alfred Hugenburg and his German Fatherland Party had only been in power for a little more than a month, and Germany had already seen dramatic change. Putting aside the declaration of war on Ludovic Frossard’s French Commune, the German Empire had become increasingly more militaristic, authoritarian, and reactionary, with the reputation of socialists being destroyed by the propaganda of Hugenburg, while trade unions were almost always suppressed in the name of state security. But August did not mind the reign of Alfred Hugenburg.

In fact, he quite enjoyed it.

Prince August Wilhelm was very much a reactionary, and was one of the few Hohenzollerns to openly join the German Fatherland Party, which he believed would not only restore monarchism to its rightful throne on top of the masses of Germany, but would crush socialism into dust. In fact, August had gone as far as to personally befriend the chancellor, and the two frequently wrote letters to one another.

As the prince reclined in his luxurious chair, the serenity was interrupted by shouts from outside. As August slowly lurched out of his chair to the window ahead, he noticed a crowd below, waving banners of red and shouting the chants of the German left.

“The people demand peace!”

“Hugenburg must go!”

As the crowd of socialists stopped in front of August’s palace, the prince couldn’t help but smirk. And then he laughed, grinning viciously upon the masses below, who dared to demand that the German nobility, whose power was guaranteed by God, must give into their demands. In one swift motion, August barricade his window with a silk curtain, and turned back to his chair to wait for one of his servants to arrive and accomodate his desires. Surely enough, one of August’s butlers quietly walked in just mere seconds later to inform the prince on what he already knew.

“Your majesty,” announced the butler. “Have you been made aware of the socialist protesters outside?”

“Do I look blind to you?” sneered August.

“Of course not,” replied the butler. “I offer my most sincere apologies.”

For a second, the prince stayed quiet, before declaring, “I want that mob out of my sight. Get the police to disperse those Bolsheviks as forcefully as necessary.”

“But, your majesty, with all due respect, your father does not condone your recent aggression towards leftist protests.”

“You are my servant!” growled August. “You will do as I say, and only what I say. Is that clear?”

“...Of course, your majesty.”

August remained silent for a while, before approaching his butler and snatching a newspaper (which would have been delivered to August regardless), and examined the headline in such silence that one could hear a needle drop.


One could not tell what was going through the mind of Prince August Wilhelm at this moment. He was a man poisoned by the evils and lies of fascism, as had become apparent to Germany in recent weeks. After a seemingly eternal minute, the prince uttered two sentences.

“Ready my automobile. I would like to pay a visit to the chancellor.”

End of Phase One

1923-Manmade Hell.png

Map of the World, circa February 1923.
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I enjoyed it quite a bit personally
Well, I think it definitely paid off, as I really enjoyed this update!
You all are too awesome! :extremelyhappy:

Also, would anyone want to see more narrations akin to the one at the very end in the future? I think they're kind of a fun way to build up certain historical figures before they actually become significant, although they would still take a backseat to the textbook-request style of the majority of the TL.