A Century of Randomization, Map I:Background: I’m doing an experimental bit of Timeline writing where I assign random values to the outcome of events, creating new potential “event chains” as the need arises (ie butterflies). This is the first map of this scenario, focusing on the critical 20th Century
Europe after the Great War, 1917-1921
War in Europe was inevitable, researchers say, as soon as Russian might was combined with French anger. The Constitutional Revolution of 1905 had stabilized Russia’s internal politicking enough for the Eastern behemoth to undertake a system of military modernization and industrialization, helped greatly by Western investments. This alarmed Germany, whose martial leadership had calculated the window of potential victory against Russia and France combined closing rapidly. However, they did not take into account Britain’s shifting priorities; as Russia grew stronger, so too did British suspicion. Now Germany seemed less a potential upsetter of the balance of power in Europe, and more a guarantor.
The British agreements with the Russians had fizzled out by 1917, and British-German cooperation was largely increased. The 1915 “Betrayal of Portugal” saw the fledgling Portuguese Republic lose her African colonies to British-Germanic machinations, sending her into a spiral that would eventually lead to a crisis in the chaotic post-war period. In turn, this alarmed the French, who viewed the expansion of German power in Africa, aided and abetted by Britain, as a threat to her own sphere of influence. She felt that Perfidious Albion had rose again to oppose her, and looked for new allies. Italy readily came to mind; froze out of the 1913 Congress of Budapest that resolved the Novi Pazar crisis and created the Triune Kingdom of Serbia-Montenegro-Albania, Italy felt no love for her erstwhile allies of Germany and Austria. Promises of Adriatic land drew the eager Italians forward.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was an incident at the disputed German-French border. French citizens gathered at the border, bellowing and yelling and insulting the alarmed German border guards. The French guards, in return, stood listlessly, smoking and laughing. What happened next was disputed; either the French citizenry rushed the border post, or the German soldiers fired across the border. Whatever the case, twelve Frenchmen were slain, and a brief exchange of fire that followed saw two French soldiers and five Germans join them. War scare rose, and Britain, trying its best to moderate fears, announced its support of the German account of affairs. This insult could not go unpublished- on June 7, 1917, the declarations of war were sent out,
Britain stayed out for the first week, until French ships in the channel misidentified a British vessel and blew it out of the water. This brought Britain into the conflict, arguably saving the Germano-Austrian alliance. For without Britain, the two would have been worn down. But with Britain, the two merely had to hold on as the British-German fleets destroyed their enemies and starved them of resources. German fortifications, built up after a transition of thought in the German High command, mowed down waves of French and Russian soldiers, who despite their advances were still incompetently led. Outside Europe, the Italian-French navies were swept from the Mediterranean and separated from their colonies. Desert trench warfare in the Egyptian-Libyan border lands saw heat exhaustion take as many lives as bullets. Fighting in the jungles of Vietnam and the plains of the Sahel, as well as the rivers of China and the wastes of Central Asia, followed.
The American war entry in 1919, under the successor to boisterous Roosevelt, Charles Evan Hughes, helped cement the end of the Franco-Russo-Italian hopes, though final offensives nearly did succeed in breaking the Austrian resolve (had not American reinforcements been rushed from the ports of Hamburg by special rail). The blistering counterattacks in the East, followed by the general confusion in Italy after the General Strike, made the writing rapidly appear on the wall. In 1921, an Armistice was signed and the war was over.
Peace negotiations would drag on for a year, but by 1922 the borders were pretty much settled. Bulgaria, the sole Balkan ally of the Germano-British (aside from Turkey, though they were arguably no longer a Balkan Power post Balkan War) greatly expanded, achieving its dream of hegemony, breaking the Triune Kingdom. The Turks, for their trouble, gained a few provinces in the Caucasus. Russia, represented by the Regency Council of the teenage Tsar Alexei, was castrated, with a “sanitary cordon” of states emerging- Finland, Livonia, Poland-Lithuania-Ruthenia, Ukraine, and Transcaucasia in Europe, Khiva and Bukhara in Central Asia.
France would get off relatively lightly territorially in the Metropole, losing a sliver of the remaining bits of Lorraine, but their foreign empire was eviscerated and divided between Germans and British. The planned “Tuareg High Chiefdom”, advocated by Lawrence of the Sahara and his allies, was not long for this world (though it does appear on this map)- greed would end it long before the decade was out. Algerie, meant to be a state under British influence, fell into civil war between Arab and French, with the British choosing race over politics and backing the Pied Noir.
Italy lost her colonies and Venetia (turned into the independent “Republic of St. Mark” under Austrian protection), and more importantly lost faith in her government. The decision to abandon Austria and Germany broke the nation, and the Italian populace made sure that their leadership knew they were unhappy. The rising tide of labor and right-wing movements would soon engulf Italy, the first of the defeated to experience the shock of radical regimes.
Though they had achieved victory, the British and Germans viewed each other with suspicion. British meddling prevented Mitteleuropa from being achieved, backed by American support for “freedom of government”. The new states to the East protected them from Russia, but aside from Livonia all ranged from ambivalence to hostility towards the Kaiser. Germany felt they had been stabbed in the back, with their gains mostly overseas (save for Luxembourg, an unfortunate fait accompli). Austria as well felt ill, with Franz Ferdinand’s dream of a Federal Empire blocked by Hungarian pride. The citizens of that Empire grew restless and tired of the gridlock in Vienna and Budapest, setting the stage for disaster.
The stage was set for even greater tragedy, and even as citizens praised the end of the “War to End All Wars”, the Angel of Death hovered just over the horizon...